Dinîf en Qualen
Sniffing the air, he realized that the kitchens had to be close, as delightful fragrances drifted up his nostrils. His stomach growled softly, reminding him he hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Ah, but dinner would be served within the hour.
Motion to his right attracted his attention and he raised an eyebrow, seeing a white bunny hop his way. It had long, fluffy ears, a shiny coat and came to a halt in front of him, sitting on his hind legs. It almost seemed like it was looking at him.
Legolas smiled, extended his hand and let the animal take in his scent. When the bunny didn’t move away, he carefully gathered it in his hands and placed it in his arms, stroking the long ears.
It had been a while since he had felt this much at peace. The smile slowly faded and a frown returned in its place. Melancholy, regret and even depression crept into his heart, making him sigh, distressed. Losing himself in the simple motion of stroking the soft fur, he bowed his head. Loneliness crashed in on him and almost caused tears to appear in his eyes.
Loneliness… He had been lonely for so long. He had hoped to find a mate, the other half of his soul, but he had either been disappointed or betrayed when his would-be lovers admitted that they were mostly attracted to him because of his appearance. Why couldn’t anyone look beneath his so-called beauty?
Many potential lovers had sung about his long, golden hair and eyes that sparkled like sapphire. But when he stood in front of the mirror and studied his reflection, he couldn’t see that fabled beauty. All he saw was a terribly lonely Elf.
His father had assured him that the day would come when he would find true love, but he had given up on that hope. Once someone looked into his eyes, they seemed lost and hardly ever tried to get to know him. The real him. If only he could shed his beauty and search for love that would be true to -him-, not his looks.
Suddenly, and interrupting his musings, one of the cooks appeared in the doorway, an angry frown on his face. Legolas didn’t know why, but he quickly covered the rabbit, which had comfortably settled in his arms, with his cloak, hiding it from view.
The cook scowled, and his eyes narrowed, as if searching for something. Spying Legolas beneath the tree, he addressed the blond. “Excuse me, but have you seen a rabbit? It is supposed to be part of tonight’s dinner, but it somehow escaped. I am hoping to catch it again.”
Legolas didn’t plan on letting the rabbit being part of dinner and shook his head. “I am sorry, but I cannot help you.”
The cook sighed, disappointedly, and returned to his chores, leaving Legolas behind. The Elf pushed back his cloak and stared at the large, brown eyes trustingly looking up at him. “You were very lucky, my little friend. If I had not saved you, I would have found you on my plate tonight.”
It was hard to believe that such an accomplished warrior and hunter like him would take pity on a fluffy bunny. But he patted the animal’s head and then placed it on the ground. Feeling the grass beneath its feet, it immediately sprinted away. He envied the animal its freedom. Maybe it had a mate out there, and now they would be united again.
Shaking his head at that thought, he tiredly pushed himself to his feet. He couldn’t help but wonder if he would be alone for the rest of his long, immortal life. But at least he still had his father and brother. And maybe he could befriend Elrohir as well. Another deep sigh fled from his lips and his slumped shoulders revealed his weariness as he headed for his father’s quarters, hoping Thranduil would spare him a moment and talk to him. He needed his father right now.
Thranduil regretted having to leave his lover for even a brief moment, but he had agreed to move into Elrond’s quarters and was now collecting his belongings from his quest rooms. The soft knock on the door made him smile, knowing exactly who was standing on the other side of it. “You do not have to knock, Legolas.” For as long as he could remember he had shared a bond with his youngest that had never been established between himself and Valthoron.
“I did not want to… interrupt anything,” said Legolas shyly, but with a smile on his face. “You might have been busy… with Elrond.” Having searched his feelings where his father and Elrond were concerned, he had found that he felt happy for them. His father had suffered in silence for so many centuries that he was glad the half-Elf had finally come to his senses. How Elrond could ever have rejected his father was beyond him. Thranduil was one of the most passionate, intelligent and caring people he had ever met - and he had met a lot of people during his wanderings all over Arda.
Thranduil cleared his throat, slightly nervous. He knew Legolas accepted this union, but he still felt a little hesitant to discuss this matter with his son. “I… uhm, Elrond asked me to collect my belongings and… and to move in with him.” Blushing slightly, he smiled apologetically at his youngest. “If you do not mind, that is.”
Legolas smiled ruefully. “Ada, I want you to be happy. You should know that.”
But Thranduil tasted the pain and sorrow beneath those words. After catching his son’s gaze, he rested a hand on Legolas’ shoulder, squeezing reassuringly. “Your time will come.”
Legolas shrugged, unconvinced. “I doubt that.”
Hearing those words greatly pained Thranduil. “If only I could take away your sorrow. You were never meant to carry such a burden.”
“At times I wished I had not been graced with your looks,” admitted Legolas in a choked tone.
“But it is more than just your looks that blinds everyone who looks at you.” Thranduil gathered his son’s hands in his. “There is this incredible radiance inside you and it shines from your eyes. People cannot help falling in love with your warmth, that radiance.”
“But they never love me for who I am, just for the way I look.”
“Legolas, do not give up. Not all people are that shallow. One will come that looks further than your looks and will love you for being the warm and caring person that you are.”
“I wish I could shed this skin and… and…” Legolas stuttered, uncertain what he wanted to say. “Why was I not born… ugly?” He gladly gave in when his father’s arms came up around him, holding him close. “I want to have what… what you and Elrond have. Why can’t I have that?”
Thranduil sighed, deeply. Legolas’ pain was his pain. Soothing his youngest, he said, “Try to find comfort in the company of the twins. Spend time with Erestor and Glorfindel; maybe their presence will distract you from your troubles.”
Legolas’ eyes met his father’s. “I cannot do that. They are happy. My presence would only cause them distress, especially Erestor.”
“You could not cause –anyone- distress, Legolas, not even if you tried.” Thranduil probed his son’s eyes. “You cannot help attracting people, Legolas. It is this light… and it shines from within you.”
Legolas meekly accepted his father’s words, which he had heard countless times before. “But I am still alone.”
Thranduil worried about his son. It wasn’t good for someone of Legolas’ age to be alone, to be without a mate. The solitude could turn into grief and then he would lose his son to Mandos. Maybe it was about time he intervened and found his son someone worthy to love?
Elladan dismounted, happy to see that his twin was already awaiting him. Walking toward Elrohir, he noticed the sadness in the dark eyes, and instinctively, he clasped his brother’s shoulder, pulling him in for a hug. “What is wrong, Elrohir?” His brother would never be able to hide anything from him, and most certainly not pain or sorrow. They were an open book to each other. “What causes you such sorrow?”
“Legolas…” whispered Elrohir, crestfallen. He fell into step beside his brother when Elladan headed for their rooms. “I spent the entire afternoon in his presence and we have so much in common. His mother sailed for the Undying Lands as well. He seemed so sad when he mentioned losing his mother only one day after reaching his majority… And he has an older brother as well.”
Elladan sighed. “Your feelings for him are deepening.”
“Aye,” murmured Elrohir. “I can only think of him. His eyes, the light that shines from them. Oh, brother, I can tell he is a warm and caring person. But I cannot spend any more time in his company. You –must- trade places with me. Ada asked if I could take Legolas to the Bruinen tomorrow and show him the borders. I cannot do that. My heart is breaking, knowing he is this close and that I cannot tell him how I feel.”
Elladan closely studied his brother. “Aren’t you overreacting, brother? You only met him a few days ago. How can he have such an impact on you? Granted, he is beautiful, but…”
“Aiya…” Elrohir sighed, distressed, and placed his right hand over his heart. “I can feel it here. I have never felt anything like it before. Elladan, brother, did Ada not tell us that an Elf can die of a broken heart? Mine feels broken. I wonder if that means I will die after Legolas has left.”
Suddenly Elladan grabbed his brother’s shoulders tightly and shook him. “Come to your senses, brother! You are not going to die!” What had gotten into Elrohir? “You are in love, but that feeling will pass once Legolas leaves for Mirkwood. The feeling will fade in time.”
Elrohir’s gaze darkened, saddened. “I do not want him to leave. I want him to stay. To hear his voice, to bask in his inner glow.” Growing angry, he shook off his brother’s hands. “You cannot possibly understand!”
“Brother, calm yourself. You are beginning to scare me!” Elladan persevered and regained a hold on his brother’s shoulders. “We are going to see Ada now. This cannot continue.” The truth was that Elrohir was scaring him. It almost seemed like his twin was losing his sanity. “Ada will know what to do.”
Elrohir bowed his head, realizing Elladan had made a valid point. He was not acting normally and a part of him understood that he was losing control. When he had been with Legolas, he had felt at peace, cherished, warm, but now that the blond was gone, he felt cold and lonely. “Help me, Elladan. I do not know what is happening to me.”
“We are going to talk to Ada,” decreed Elladan, determined. “Now.”
Elrond looked up in mild surprise at seeing his sons enter, but one good look at Elrohir told him that something was amiss with his youngest. Rising from behind his desk, he quickly advanced on them and turned Elrohir’s face toward the sunlight, closely probing the haunted eyes. “Ion-nîn, what weighs this heavily on your mind?” Looking at Elladan, he caught the twin’s nod. “You may leave, Elladan. I will talk to your brother.”
Elladan left his father’s study and wandered aimlessly through the corridors, ending up near the guest rooms. Why was he here? Looking about, he saw that Thranduil’s door was ajar. Unable to help himself he remained quiet, listening to the King’s soft and caring voice. Whom was Thranduil talking to?
“You could not cause –anyone- distress, Legolas, not even if you tried. You cannot help attracting people, Legolas. It is this light… and it shines from within you.”
That was Thranduil’s voice all right, soothing and calming. And apparently he was reassuring his son. A sudden, distressing thought entered his mind. Had Legolas realized how upset Elrohir was and now felt guilty? But no, he knew his brother better than that; Elrohir wouldn’t show his feelings that openly to Legolas.
Then Legolas’ voice could be heard, as light as butterfly dancing in the wind. “But I am still alone.”
The blond’s tone made Elladan flinch. Alone? Why would Legolas be alone? He probably had a group of admirers at home, throwing themselves at his feet. Maybe some of them were more than admirers? Lovers even? But no, that didn’t make sense either, for then Legolas wouldn’t feel lonely. What a tangled web this was!
Feeling like the intruder he was, he backed away from the doorway and ventured outside in need of some fresh air. Bowing his head, he wondered when everything had become so complicated.
“Sit down,” said Elrond, gently guiding his youngest son to the chairs close to the fire that was sparkling in the fireplace. “And now tell me what is wrong.” Seating himself opposite Elrohir, he clasped his son’s hands tightly, letting the younger half-Elf know he would do whatever he could to relieve his pain.
Elrohir averted his eyes and wondered what to say.
“You can tell me. You should know that.” Elrond now truly felt worried. Elrohir had never hesitated to trust in him. His heart faltered when a sudden thought startled him. “Is this about my relationship with Thranduil? Do you disapprove? Would you prefer…” He wasn’t sure if he could give up on his love for the golden-haired Elf, but it this love caused his youngest son to be in pain, he would have to sacrifice his personal happiness for the sake of his son. Elrohir was so very dear to him!
Elrohir’s eyes widened at hearing his father ramble uncontrollably and he quickly squeezed Elrond’s hands, cutting him short. “Nay, Ada, I am happy for you and Thranduil. I approve with my entire heart. Your love for him is… not the problem.” But his love for Thranduil’s son was. “I cannot tell you,” he whispered, embarrassed.
By now Elrond was fairly sure this was about matters of the heart; a heart which Elrohir might have lost to someone...but who? Who could have conquered his son’s heart? Who had recently entered their lives and possessed the inner beauty to enrapture his son like this?
“This is about Legolas,” said Elrond in a soft, understanding tone, having reached the only possible conclusion. Elrohir’s stricken expression confirmed his thoughts. “What did he do?”
“Nothing,” sighed Elrohir, distressed. “We spent the afternoon together and I… liked his company.” After drawing in a deep breath, he finally confided in his father. “I liked his company too much.”
“Too much?” Elrond studied his son from beneath an arched eyebrow.
Elrohir shifted on the chair. Did he really have to spell it out to his father? “I think I am in love with him,” he admitted in a tiny voice. His eyes downcast, he shivered, wondering what his father had to say about this. “I did not plan it. It just happened.”
Elrond continued to rub Elrohir’s hands, tightly cradled in his, and waited for his son to calm down. Once the shy, dark eyes met his, he said, “Legolas is very fair and younger than you are.” Thoughtfully, he studied his son. “Will you tell me how this started?”
“It happened when he arrived at the night of Eridhren’s last rites. Thranduil and you were about to retire and Elladan and I did not want to disturb you so we welcomed Legolas instead. That was when I felt it for the first time. It felt like liquid light traveling through my veins, warming my body from the inside out. And when he is near I feel lightheaded and warm. I cannot bear the thought of being away from him and even now, talking to you, an ache burns my heart.” Breathless after his long speech, he drew in a deep breath. “Ada, I do not want to feel this way. I know it is wrong.”
Elrond frowned, concerned. “Why do you think it is wrong to feel this way?” He slowly realized that Elrohir was truly troubled by his love for Legolas. The fact that he had mentioned an ache in his heart alerted Elrond, only too familiar with the concept of grief. He had seen his wife fade and he never wanted to see something that sad ever again.
“Because…” Elrohir shrugged, growing timid. “Because of you and Thranduil. I should not love Legolas in that way. Now that Thranduil and you are lovers, I feel like I should love Legolas like a brother - but not in –that- way. By Elbereth, did that make any sense?” Looking at his father, he found amusement in Elrond’s gaze. By the Grace of the Valar, how could his father find any of this amusing? He was in serious, emotional distress here!
Elrond allowed a small grin to break through. “Correct me if I am wrong, Elrohir, but are you tormenting yourself like this because I am in love with Legolas’ father?”
Elrohir nodded, curtly. “I cannot be attracted to him in that way, but my heart refuses to listen. Ada, tell me, what do I do? How can I stop these feelings, this desire to be near him?”
But Elrond didn’t answer just yet. First, he asked, “What does Elladan think of this attraction you developed for Legolas?”
Elrohir shrugged again, and leaned into the comfort of the chair, appreciating the fact that his father was still holding on, gently rubbing his knuckles. He had been worried about Elrond’s reaction when finding out about his crush. He wasn’t sure how he had expected his father to react, but he was glad Elrond was patient and understanding. “At first he said I should stop fighting these feelings and give in them. But now he realizes as well that I am losing control and he dragged me here to talk to you.”
“So Elladan approves of this attraction?” Elrohir’s eyes were weary when they met his, and Elrond realized he had to tread carefully.
“He does, but why I do not know.” Elrohir’s eyes were beginning to fill with tears. “Ada, tell me what to do, for my heart cannot take any more of this.”
Elrond nodded once. “What does your heart tell you?”
“My heart?” echoed Elrohir, “My heart tells me to conquer his and cherish him.”
“And your mind?”
“To stay away from him. To deny these feelings inside me. My heart and mind and are war with each other and I feel adrift on these emotions.” Suddenly Elrohir leaned in closer, pulling his father’s hands close to his heart. “Please send me away. Send me to ‘Lorien to visit my grand parents, send me anywhere, but please do not make me stay here.”
Elrond firmly shook his head. “I won’t do any of that, but I will ease your mind.” Elrond pushed his chair closer to his son’s and made sure he had Elrohir’s undivided attention. “First, I want you to know that your feelings for Legolas are normal. You are in love, Elrohir, and your body sings with love and affection for the subject of your desires. There is –nothing-, absolutely –nothing- wrong with feeling this way.”
“But he is Thranduil’s son!” Elrohir was close to bursting into tears.
Elrond smiled warmly. “Love comes in all forms, Elrohir. The fact that Thranduil and I are lovers does not mean you cannot pursue Legolas. If anything, I commend you on your choice. I do believe the young Princeling and you are well suited for each other. If it is reassurance you sought, know that you have it. If it was permission to pursue Legolas, you have that as well. But you do not have my permission to run away to ‘Lorien and deny these feelings. Elladan is right, you know. You should rejoice at feeling this way.”
But Elrohir wasn’t convinced yet. “And what if he does not want me? What if he does not feel the same way about me?”
“This won’t be easy,” admitted Elrond. “I do not know Legolas’ feelings. Maybe you should try to befriend him first? Once he realizes what a kind and caring person you are, you might be able to take the next step. Do not rush this. Let friendship blossom between the two of you first, and should your feelings be mutual, then act on them.”
Elrohir was calming down, hearing his father’s reassuring words. “Then you do not think it is wrong for me to feel this way?”
“I don’t,” said Elrond, smiling dotingly at his son. “You reached your majority many decades ago. It is about time you fell in love and took a mate. But do not pressure Legolas. Let him come to you instead.” Elrond bit his bottom lip, uncertain if he should add the observation he had made earlier, but in the end he decided to tell Elrohir. “I watched Legolas and you earlier. When you were not looking, a very pained expression surfaced in his eyes. I might be wrong, but my instincts tell me he is very unhappy.”
“Unhappy? Why?” Elrohir straightened his shoulders at hearing this new information.
“I do not know why, but he seems lonely to me.” Elrond frowned, wondering why someone as beautiful as Legolas would be burdened by loneliness, but that question led him to his answer. He had seen it many times before; Elflings who had grown to be exceedingly stunning had been lonely because hardly anyone dared to approach them, and the ones who did usually didn’t look further than the outward appearance. Maybe Legolas had experienced too many of those courtiers and had lost the hope that he would ever find that special one who would love him for who he was. “Give it time, Elrohir, and at your young age, you have plenty of that.”
Elrohir slowly wiped away his remaining tears. “I cannot believe you said that.”
“What did you expect me to say?”
“That I should stay strong and not pursue this.”
“You were wrong then,” said Elrond, teasingly. “Do you feel better now?”
“I do,” said Elrohir, smiling weakly. “I feel… relieved.”
“And tonight you will have the pleasure of joining Thranduil and I for dinner. And did I mention Legolas will be there as well?” Elrond beamed at seeing the glow return to his son’s eyes. “Maybe you could take him for a walk in the gardens? And I will keep Elladan occupied. Do not worry about deserting him.”
“Thank you, Ada.” Leaning in closer, he freed his hands and folded his arms tightly around his father’s shoulders. “Thank you to talking to me.”
“You are always welcome, Elrohir. Always.” He hoped he had managed to soothe his son’s mind, and he might even talk to Thranduil about this development. He didn’t think anything wrong with trying to enlist his lover’s help.
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