And I'm spent.

In case anyone wonders, the title is a reference to the movie 'In and Out'.

Thanks to all that have read and reviewed this story. Hope you've enjoyed it! : - )

'Part 6'

A stranger would have found it hard to determine just which of the four elves at the altar was the groom, since they all looked horribly nervous and more than a little green around the gills. Haldir held his hands behind his back to stop himself reverting to his childish habit of biting his nails. Elbereth, would they just hurry up?

Out of the corner of his eye, Haldir saw Linisse and Elrohir exchanging looks. Linisse looked particularly lovely, quite the prettiest of the three bridesmaids in anyone's opinion. Elrohir was a very lucky elf.

The music began and all four males straightened up. Elladan put his hand on Legolas' arm in what just about passed for a friendly gesture. If it stayed there a fraction too long, no one seemed to notice.

Haldir's breath caught in his throat as Alariel entered. Her eyes locked with his as she came up the aisle and for a moment he forgot she was here to be married to Legolas. He almost stepped forward to stand by her when she reached them. Fortunately Elrohir had the presence of mind to grab him as he made to move.

"Patience," Elrohir murmured into his ear, his amusement audible, "today is not your day."

Haldir looked gratefully at him. He was beginning to wonder whether the nervous breakdown his brothers had been predicting for centuries had finally happened.

Elrond stepped up in front of Legolas and Alariel and began the ceremony.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today . . . "

Try as he might, Haldir couldn't take his eyes off Alariel. A fine representative of Lorien he was, standing gazing at the bride. He prayed Lord Celeborn would never hear of this, since he would doubtlessly tease him unmercifully in his own unique way.

". . . And now I must ask - does anyone here know of any reason why Legolas, prince of Mirkwood and Alariel, lady of Rivendell, should not be joined together this day?"

"I object!"

Strange, that hadn't been Elladan's voice.

Why was everyone staring at him?

Oh, dear Valar!

"I would have to object too," he heard Elladan say from beside him.

Haldir dared a look at Thranduil. His face seemed to have turned to stone. Strangely, Elrond didn't look even slightly perturbed, although he did seem a little bemused.

"Haldir?" Elrond said, one of his eyebrows quirking just a little. "Since you were first. On what grounds do you object to this union?"

Well, he couldn't very well make things any worse.

"I think . . . " Haldir said slowly, still not entirely certain himself what was going on, ". . . I think I may be in love with the bride."

Alariel's head snapped round. She stared at him, her expression one of complete and utter astonishment.

"I see," Elrond said, completely unruffled, as a wave of murmurs broke out among the guests. "And Elladan, do you also think you may be in love with the bride?"

Elladan shot a glance at Legolas. "No father," he said, loudly and clearly. "I KNOW that I am in love with the groom."

Even that didn't seem to surprise Elrond. "Well," he said. "In that case, there doesn't seem to be much point in carrying on with the ceremony. Unless the . . . happy couple . . . still wish to go ahead?"

"Not really," Alariel said, her eyes still locked on Haldir.

"Legolas?"

"Huh?" Legolas said, tearing his eyes away from Elladan. "Oh, no, I can't say that I do."

Any further comments that might have been made were drowned out by what could only be described as a roar.

"Now, Thranduil, calm yourself. There is no need to overreact," Elrond said composedly.

"Overreact?" Thranduil repeated, his face starting to turn red as he clenched his fists. "I have spent the last year doing everything in my power to insure that this alliance was protected and now it lies in ruins. On top of that, I now discover that the one who has enticed my son into this disobedience is none other than your own offspring! How is it possible for me to overreact?"

"But nothing has been ruined," Elrond said, his grey eyes beginning to twinkle in a way that told the onlookers better than words ever could exactly where Elladan had inherited his terrible sense of humour. "If Legolas and Elladan should feel that they wish to be bonded, I am quite prepared to recognise that union."

Thranduil stared at him. His colour began to shift towards mauve.

"You . . . you led me to believe that you would only accept a traditional marriage," Thranduil spluttered. "One that would produce offspring."

Elrond finally appeared mildly surprised. "I am sorry if I gave you that impression, Thranduil," he said. "It was quite unintentional."

"Do you mean to say that I have been through this nightmare for nothing?!"

HE's been through a nightmare? Haldir thought.

"A simple misunderstanding, which I would gladly have cleared up had I been aware of it," Elrond said calmly.

Thranduil looked as though he might explode at any moment. Legolas and Elladan, on the other hand, were gazing at Elrond with something akin to hero worship in their eyes.

"Legolas, I grant you leave to remain in Imladris for as long as you shall desire," Elrond said, as Thranduil began muttering dazedly to himself. "And Elladan, for my part, you are free to go to Mirkwood whenever you choose. Take some time to celebrate your love as it should be celebrated . . . and then we will speak some more."

The next thing anyone knew, Elrond was being hugged half to death by his youngest son.

"And Thranduil," Elrond said, when he was released again, a strange light in his eyes. "I do not think you need to concern yourself about a delay in the cementing of our alliance. For, unless I am very much mistaken, Elrohir has a request to make of you."

Elrohir stepped forward, looking uncharacteristically nervous." King Thranduil," he said. "When my brother and I resided at your court last spring, I'm afraid I also took a little more advantage of your hospitality than I intended. I . . . I fell in love with your daughter, and she with me."

He reached out and took Linisse's hand. With a quick glance at her, he continued.

"We plighted our troth to each other before I left and, since all is prepared for a wedding, we would ask for your consent for us to be bound to each other this day."

Thranduil's brow puckered in confusion. "But . . . but . . . I thought you were the one who preferred males," he said pathetically. "Why else would I have allowed you to spend so much time alone with my daughter?"

A mischievous grin appeared on Elrohir's face, making him look more like his brother than he had in a thousand years. "A simple misunderstanding, which I would gladly have cleared up had I been aware of it," he said, drawing a small smile from Elrond.

Thranduil's completely floored expression suggested that events were moving a little too fast for him. He looked from Legolas and Elladan to Linisse and Elrohir to Elrond quite a number of times before his gaze finally landed on Alariel.

"What . . . what do you think about all this?" he asked her, in what tried and failed to pass for a composed tone.

Alariel finally unfroze and moved to Haldir's side. The vulnerable look was back in her eyes as she looked up at him.

"My lord, I find I can bear it very well," she said shakily.

Thranduil's last shred of sanity deserted him. "What in the name of the Valar have you put in the water?!" he exclaimed.

Before he could stop himself, Haldir began to laugh. And a moment later, all three couples were clutching at each other, helpless with mirth.

"I think perhaps," Elrond said dryly. "That is one question it would be wise not to ask."

***

"So, I trust the wedding went off as planned?" Lord Celeborn said, as Haldir stood in front of him to give his report.

Haldir shifted his feet slightly. "Not exactly," he said.

Celeborn raised an eyebrow. "What, precisely, does that mean? Have Prince Legolas and Lady Alariel not been married?"

"Actually, no," Haldir said, quite sure that Celeborn already knew what he was telling him. "Lord Elrohir of Rivendell and Princess Linisse of Mirkwood celebrated their marriage instead."

"And Prince Legolas?"

"I believe he and Lord Elladan are planning to be bonded at some point in the future, once King Thranduil has accepted their union. So in a millennia or two."

"Dear me," Celeborn said. "And what of Lady Alariel?"

Haldir gulped. "I . . . brought her back to Lorien with me," he said.

Celeborn smiled. "I take it, then, that this vacation has been something of a success?"

"I think so," Haldir said. "Overall."

Then he looked at Celeborn with a pleading look in his eyes.

"Just please do not ever make me take another one."

FIN