Disclaimer: I own nothing, except the plotline and my precious, evil mind.
Warnings: BDSM. Be warned--this is a very naughty fic. I am a bad person and I promise I'll be spanked later (and hopefully often).
A/N: This is a continuation of my previous Unspoken story arc (and yes, I know, it is getting entirely out of hand.) Read them in order--Unspoken/Revelations/Changes/One Last Time/Quid Pro Quo--or prepare to be confused and to miss inside jokes.
By Rune Dancer
Elrond had not slept in two days. He had been feeling edgy even before his arrival at Lorien, but had put it down to the situation with Celeborn. He had promised Galadriel to sort it all out, but the attitude of Lorien's lord would ultimately decide whether or not he could keep that promise. Finding that, as Galadriel had promised, Thranduil was more than willing to join forces on the project had been both a relief and somewhat unnerving; being allies with Thranduil on anything, even something this frivolous, took an adjustment.
After their session in the glade, which had ended up taking most of the night but been very satisfactory to all concerned, Elrond assumed that the tension that had followed him about like a cloud for weeks would dissipate. In fact, the opposite was true. It was almost as if the recent upheavals in his personal life had allowed him to ignore something else, an elusive but growing anxiety that suddenly had his full attention. Yet, however much he concentrated on it, the cause of his restlessness remained just out of reach.
He had finally given up trying to sleep, settling for resting instead, but there seemed to be something preventing even that. The mattresses here were as good as those at Imladris, yet he could not get comfortable; the wine he drank at bedtime to try to calm his nerves had the opposite effect; supposedly soothing nighttime noises--rain dripping off the edge of the talan, for instance--maddened him. It almost felt as though someone was trying to drive him insane, as nowhere he went could he find peace. He visited the hot baths, but as soon as he arrived he wished to be somewhere else. He sat down to eat, and was hungry, yet it was almost torture to remain in his place long enough to finish the meal.
The constant restlessness was wearying, and he knew it was depleting his reserves of strength just when he needed to be at his best. He tried to tell himself to rest, eat and rejuvenate before the scouting party returned, for no one had any idea what they might bring with them. But he found it absolutely impossible to do so. He had finally requested Celeborn to provide several of his own healers to assist him, in case he could not focus enough to be of much use. When the Galadrim reported the immanent return of the scouting party with only one member in need of aid, his anxiety level should have decreased, as one patient with three healers was sure to receive more than adequate care whether he was at his best or not. Yet he looked down to see his hand shaking, just slightly, and by the speed of his pulse and the shallowness of his breathing, it might almost be thought that he was ill.
It was not until the party actually arrived at the talan that Elrond felt it: his nervous anxiety was transformed into a crashing, thundering deluge of genuine terror. He managed to hide his emotions well enough that he did not alarm the others, and could only hope they would recede after a time. Instead, the feelings grew even stronger, vibrating through him like a bolt of lightening under his skin. As Glorfindel mounted the last of the stairs, a bundled figure in his arms, Elrond had never been so frightened in his life.
Gildor was extremely glad to see the Golden Wood. The trip back had seemed endless, and he had felt completely frustrated at not being able to do anything substantial for Zirak. The elf was very weak but had consented to eat only once on the journey, and then only after almost an hour of wheedling by Gildor. He needed more aid than anyone in their company could provide, and Gildor had almost cried in joy when the border party who met them assured him that Lord Elrond had been waiting for them for four days.
Gildor saw the Galadrim give interested looks at the bundled figure riding before Glorfindel, but none were ill bred enough to enquire why, on a perfectly sunny day, he was muffled up as if against winter's chill. Gildor knew that Zirak's body temperature remained lower than normal, but thought the amount of swaddling Erestor had wrapped him in that morning was excessive. Still, it did have the bonus effect of preventing the Galadrim from becoming too shocked at the sight of his physical degeneration.
Erestor rode beside Gildor, strangely silent as he had been ever since Zirak was found. He looked a little pale, Gildor thought, but then, they were all tired after a very hard week's work with no breaks. The party reached the outskirts of Caras Galadhon, where the horses had to be left behind, and Glorfindel easily swept Zirak into his arms; he carried him as if he was weightless, which unfortunately was not far from the truth. They proceeded in a line up the spiraling staircase of the royal talan, finally reaching the main hall where a large number of elves awaited them, including several healers.
Erestor and Glorfindel exchanged a glance, then Glorfindel kept walking with his burden while Erestor posted some of Galadriel's Noldoran servants at the hallway's entrance to insure that no one followed them. Gildor and Haldir slipped by easily enough, however-- as members of the party they had, after all, already seen his injuries--while the rest of the waiting elves were turned away. It took about a minute for Gildor to wish he had been so as well.
Elrond moved like an old man, jerky and abrupt, as he approached the bundle Glorfindel so carefully laid on the examination table. He stretched a trembling hand toward the hood covering Zirak's face, but then snatched it back as if burned. He squeezed his eyes closed and moaned--a low, despairing, lost sound that seemed to go on forever--then folded up and would have struck the floor if Glorfindel had not caught him.
Gildor shivered involuntarily and glanced at Haldir, who looked as stunned as everyone else. The two healers surged forward, one to each of the collapsed elves, and Gildor moved also, knowing he wasn't needed but feeling strangely drawn to Zirak anyway. He had been his responsibility for the whole trip back, and he couldn't just abandon him now. So he was at Celeborn's elbow when the hood was drawn back, and the Lord of Lorien saw the face it concealed. Celeborn took one look, then staggered as if struck, putting a steadying hand to the edge of the table before he, too, ended up on the floor. Glorfindel uttered a warning, nothing coherent but apparently enough to convey some sort of meaning to Celeborn, who clamped his teeth hard on his lower lip for a long moment, then hoarsely ordered everyone from the room besides the healers, the stricken elves, himself and Glorfindel.
Gildor caught Haldir's eye and nodded. He had been about to protest, as he did not want to leave Zirak alone, but his lover's expression was eloquent, and he followed him out of the room. Haldir knew his lord better than Gildor; if he thought it imprudent to argue with him it would be well to heed his warning. They passed by the guards at the door and went down the corridor a good way before stopping. "What happened in there?"
Haldir shook his head. "I am not sure. But it is not wise to defy the lord when he is in that mood. We will no doubt find out soon enough."
Elrohir was greatly relieved to see the return of the travelers, as he desperately desired to speak with Erestor. After the disastrous attempt to deceive Thranduil, Elrohir had given the matter some more thought. He had managed to briefly pry Elladan away from his "new hobby," as he called his latest infatuation, and probed for any and all information about the king, but his brother was little help. He simply stated over and over again that Elrohir's odds of deceiving Thranduil about anything were slim to none. Elrohir had nonetheless concocted and rejected a number of plans, before finally deciding that what he really needed was expert help. Fortunately, he knew where to find an expert.
Unfortunately, Erestor was not looking all that helpful at the moment; indeed, Elrohir could not remember ever seeing him this agitated. Walking down the corridor after the rest of the party, he was fussing with the high collar of his robe as if it choked him. Still, Elrohir could not wait. That brief glimpse of Glorfindel had been enough to decide the issue--he couldn't lose him to the king; he would die if he did.
"Erestor?" His old mentor acted as if he hadn't heard, so Elrohir tried again. "Erestor!
"What? Oh, greetings, Elrohir." Erestor still did not look at him, his eyes on the door into the healing chambers, which had just snapped closed. Two of the Noldor took up guardian positions in front of it at only a raised eyebrow from Erestor.
"I need to talk to you. It's important."
"Yes . . . " For some reason, Erestor seemed unwilling to enter that room. He kept staring at the door, but did not draw any nearer to it. Elrohir didn't bother to question providence, but simply towed him into an alcove. One of the Noldor, he noticed, was watching them with a funny expression on his face, but Elrohir decided to worry about that later.
"It's about Glorfindel . . . and the king. I need your help."
Erestor still appeared distracted, but at least he focused on Elrohir's face. "What? Oh, I wouldn't worry about that. Everything will be fine."
"No. It won't." Elrohir sighed. He wondered how to explain the situation to Erestor, who had probably never known burning desire in his life. He wished for someone closer to his own age to talk to, but the only such person with whom he had any type of intimate relationship was Elladan, who had been completely useless so far. It was Erestor or no one, so he tried again. "Thranduil will try again. I have to stop him, but I don't know how. I was hoping you might have some ideas." Anything, Elrohir pleaded silently, I'll do anything, just don't patronize me and tell me everything will be fine.
Erestor seemed to realise his young companion's silent agony, for he smiled reassuringly as he tucked a stray strand of hair behind Elrohir's ear. "You worry too much, young one. Thinking has its place, but it can be over done. Try going on your feelings instead."
Elrohir fought the desire to scream. This was not what he needed! He had come after devious, detailed strategy, not platitudes. "I don't . . . "
"Hush." Erestor placed two fingers on Elrohir's lips and smiled, with a gentle, sympathetic look that effectively quieted him. "I promise I will take care of the king for you. However, I cannot work matters out between you and Glorfindel--that must be your affair, young one, and I suggest you do it soon. Never is anyone so vulnerable as when their heart is broken."
Elrohir looked at him, surprise and hope dawning on his face. Glorfindel heartbroken . . . over him? It didn't seem likely, especially with someone like Thranduil making his interest so obvious. On the other hand, Erestor was Glorfindel's oldest friend, so he should know . . . "What should I do?"
Erestor just shrugged. "In these matters, young one, I think you know more about his tastes than I! Just remember, he DOES love you. Trust that, and your feelings, and you will do well."
Elrohir hugged his former tutor tightly, feeling all his old affection for him come rushing back. All right, so Erestor had some . . . unusual . . . personal interests. That wasn't any of Elrohir's concern. He was a friend, and that was all that mattered. He doubted, of course, that Erestor could deal with the king as he'd said, but if all went well with Glorfindel, maybe it wouldn't matter. Elrohir hugged him again, then ran off down the corridor, feeling lighter than he had for days, and with plans to make.
Camthalion stood guard beside the door as he had been ordered, and watched as Erestor followed the young one down the corridor. He knew who the elfling was, of course, and although he remained as stony faced as usual, inwardly he seethed. It was not enough for this one to have so infatuated Imladris' seneschal that he would actually attack a member of the border guard--a thing simply unheard of, which had been the cause for much quiet discussion on their recent excursion--now he was openly flirting with Lord Erestor! It had taken all Camthalion's self-control to stand quietly as Erestor stroked and patted and fussed over the brat, murmuring words to him in a voice too low for him to hear, but they were words of love, no doubt, and possibly words of passion.
He repressed a growl and consciously lowered his heart rate to prevent any telltale flushing of his pale skin. It had been a shock at first, back at Imladris, when he'd realised his reaction to Elrond's counselor was more than just casual admiration for courage, beauty and a jaded wit that slightly shocked Camthalion even as it enthralled him. The attraction had been almost instantaneous, a twist in his stomach, a tingle in his groin when he awoke weeks ago to that strong, masterful voice, and found that it provoked in him desire and obedience rather than outrage and anger. When Erestor strode back and forth across the attic, his open black tunic whipping about his dark leggings, his midnight eyes flashing as he berated them for causing so much trouble to his well run household, Camthalion had wanted to kneel before him and beg forgiveness. Instead, he had done what his pride and lineage demanded, and defied him, informing him in a voice, which he had been surprised to hear remain level, that he had merely obeyed the orders of his mistress and would do so again. Then he had insisted on being released.
He could still feel the thrill that had coursed through him as Erestor had slowly, oh so slowly, walked over to where Cam lay trussed hand and foot alongside Elros and for some reason sopping wet. The impressions flooded back now in quick profusion, causing Camthalion to have to shut his eyes to keep them from showing: the charisma that had radiated from Erestor; the way his long fingers had stroked the leather flail he carried; how his nipples had been visible against the thin black silk of his shirt; the flash that had shown in his ebony eyes, enhanced by the sable brows that lowered to frame them, as his mouth hardened. In a few short minutes he had flailed Camthalion--with words alone--until he felt raw and aching, yet needful, too, as those wonderful eyes swept disdainfully over his form.
Soon, he and Elros had found themselves kneeling, heads bent, wrists still bound behind their backs, and although Cam could tell that his cousin resented everything being done to them, he himself had never felt so stimulated. He remembered the heat of Erestor's body when he came up close behind him, explaining that they would be taught a new set of rules as they had apparently never managed to learn the old ones. His voice went on and on, caressing, authoritative, disturbing, but not so much so as the soft touch of his long, unbound hair when as a strand fell occasionally against Camthalion's flushed face. Cam's robes were chill and wet, but he felt hot, consumed by burning need and desperate desire.
He had been lost from that moment, drunk on the strong, masterful, beautiful one who almost immediately became an addiction. He had tried to tell himself, as he told Elros, that it meant nothing--a quick romance that would soon be forgotten when they returned to Lorien--but he had known all the while that he lied. When he was finally allowed to tangle his fingers in Erestor's hair--long and sleek and black as the night--he marveled at its contrast with his pale skin, and knew. When he shuddered at the feel of those silken tresses soft against his back, completely unlike the hardness thrusting deep inside him, he knew. When they kissed until the entire world narrowed to that one exquisite sensation, and Erestor wrapped his legs around him, holding him with his entire body, he knew. He could not say it, especially with those impenetrable dark eyes on him, but there had never been, would never be, anyone else for him.
He had defended his dynamic lover from Elros' planned revenge, once Glorfindel freed them, but had quickly learned that Erestor needed no such aid. Camthalion had never before been taught how pain could so greatly enhance pleasure, or how submission could bring such dizzying freedom, but he and Elros had absorbed the new knowledge greedily. When they dutifully followed their new master back to Lorien, they were taught even more. Camthalion had tried not to tremble when Erestor brushed against him or to become aroused merely by his voice, as he did not want to seem overly possessive and scare him away. He gave off none of the usual signals of infatuation, forcing himself not to lean towards him whenever he came near nor to lick his lips when speaking to him, and fought down the urge to rush to his side every time he discovered some new technique, like an elfling wanting approval, but it took all his concentration.
He knew Erestor did not feel anything for him, other than as a favoured student, and so far he had kept his pride and his dignity by not seeking him out. But whenever he closed his eyes, he felt again those talented hands sliding over his body, those lips warm and unexpectedly soft on his, and that weight pressing him down. It was becoming more and more difficult to hold onto his icy facade, and he truly did not think he could manage it were Erestor to take the young Peredhil as a lover. Another of the Noldor would not have been so bad, for he had known them so long that they were all like brothers to him; they were everything to each other, had had to be, for the other elves regarded them as different, untrustworthy, unclean. And such a liaison would not have excluded him from Erestor's presence, any more than Elros had done. But Elrond's youngest was another matter. Camthalion stared down the hallway where Elrohir had disappeared, fiercely envying his effortless conquest of one who was far too good for him. Yes, something would have to be done.
As soon as he tried making the most tenuous of connections to the injured elf, white-hot fire erupted behind Elrond's eyes, and he staggered under pain such as he had never known. He neither knew nor cared when he was caught and lowered gently to the floor, for he had been drawn into another reality filled with nothing but blistering, incandescent waves of agony. It flooded his mind, ripped at his consciousness, tore at his control, until he knew nothing else but the pain, saw it as an almost living thing, possessing him, consuming him. Every nerve was fire, every breath agony, but behind the rushing, reverberating screams that filled his mind, was a voice, long unheard but never forgotten.
Deep within his mind it echoed, and he could not shut it out. He could not understand it at first, but slowly, over long minutes, he wrestled back a tiny portion of his emotional control, and focused on the distant echo, consciously willing it closer. Suddenly, another presence was inside his mind; every part of his being flooded by that disembodied voice and by a spirit that felt so alien and so familiar all at once. It was as if someone, or something, long imprisoned had been set free, although was so warped and twisted by its experiences as to be almost unrecognizable.
But Elrond knew it. Abruptly, he was transported back to a time before he was master of Imladris, when he had not been the wielder of vilya or a leader of the elves. When his name had not been renowned for daring deeds in battle or exceptional ability at healing. When he had been content to be known for only one thing--the beloved of a legend. His voice rough, its tone unsteady and trembling, Elrond finally uttered the name they had all been afraid to say.
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