Written it and it still takes weeks to get it up. Ah well, finished now. Hope you've enjoyed it. Thanks for all the reviews.
For all Haldir's fevered imaginings about his brothers' reactions to The News, they seemed to take it admirably calmly.
"I suppose you're wondering what Elladan has that made me change my mind," Haldir asked finally.
Two silver-blond heads shook.
"Not really," Orophin said.
"Not at all," Rumil confirmed.
"You see, our rooms are right next to Elladan's."
"And the walls are rather thin."
"And you're both rather loud."
They grinned wolfishly. "So it wasn't hard to guess," they said in unison.
Haldir had flushed a dull red and started talking about the weather.
But it certainly could have been a lot worse. For once Haldir was really grateful for having befriended the prince of Eryn Lasgalen, since the impending nuptials of love-em and leave-em Legolas rather overshadowed his own. Haldir, among many others, kept expecting to hear that it had been broken off. Yet days went by, a date was fixed, outfits made, decorations selected and a feast prepared and still Legolas was betrothed. The sizeable collection of friends that Elrohir had made in the Greenwood started praying that the prince wouldn't leave him at the altar. Elladan concealed various restraints in his ceremonial robes in case he tried it.
So it wasn't until Elrond and Celeborn arrived and started fussing over him that Haldir really had a chance to worry. It didn't help that Elrond's stunningly enthusiastic welcome of his son's supposed husband-to-be made him feel horribly guilty for deceiving him. It wasn't an emotion he was used to, or keen on. Stronger than this, however, was fear of what the two – three including Thranduil – elven lords would do to him when they discovered this was all a sham. He suspected it would hurt.
The big day began abruptly, with both his brothers landing on his bed at the same moment and very nearly catapulting him onto the floor. They he remembered what day it was and acute nausea was added to his pounding heart and shaking hands. It took considerable effort to get himself out of bed and start the day. And he hadn't taken more than a dozen steps down the corridor before he began to wish fervently that he'd stayed there.
"Tiny hitch," Elladan said, after he'd run his hand over Haldir's backside in a manner which he seemed to think passed for a greeting.
Knowing the peredhil's talent for understatement, a 'tiny hitch' could be anything from a missing button on his tunic to a crazed balrog within lashing distance.
"Which is?" Haldir asked, trying not to panic.
"I lost Elrohir."
Haldir halted and yanked Elladan into a broom closet.
"Well, this is nice," Elladan said, running his finger along a shelf and coming up with a finger load of dust, "but your bed would probably be more comfortable."
"What do you mean you've lost Elrohir?" Haldir demanded, too distracted even to give him a dirty look.
"I mean I lost him," Elladan repeated. "As in, I can't find him, I don't know where he is, I . . . "
"He's not with Legolas?"
"No. Night before the big day and all that, they're not supposed to sleep together. So naturally Legolas' room is the first place I looked. Word of advice - avoid him. His attendant accidentally put the wrong oil in his bath and now he smells like a flower garden. I got there just in time to rescue the poor thing from having the oil bottle forcibly inserted in him."
"Which is nothing compared to what Legolas will do to us when he finds out Elrohir is gone," Haldir exclaimed. "Only one person has ever stood Legolas up in his entire life and he went off to Valinor three days later. And that was just for a tryst - this is his wedding! If Elrohir doesn't come back soon you'll have to travel to the four corners of Arda just to reassemble enough of him to bury."
Elladan grimaced. "Under normal circumstances, I'd just think you were being a drama queen. With Legolas . . . you're probably right. Which is why under no circumstances can Legolas find out."
"You don't think he'll notice if his husband-to-be doesn't show up?"
"But what if you can't find him?"
"I'm not going to find him. You're going to find him. I'm going to pretend to be him."
Haldir stared. "Oh no," he spluttered. "Oh no, no, no, no, no. You can't marry him."
"Why not? I'm not married to anyone else."
"Well not yet," Haldir said. "I mean, not at all. I mean . . . you just can't."
"Well I know it's a bit unorthodox, but I'm sure the Valar will understand that it's an emergency. Besides, if you find him it won't need to go that far."
"But you don't know where he's gone! He could have left Mirkwood! He could have left Arda!"
"He's only been gone a couple of hours. Minor case of cold feet. He's probably trembling under a table somewhere. Wouldn't you if you were about to be married to Legolas?"
"I do not tremble," said Haldir, who was.
Elladan smirked. "Be that as it may, this is really nothing to worry about. Against all the odds – not to mention the laws of common sense – Ro really loves him and will get himself to the altar. We just need to worry about Legolas."
"And us," Haldir reminded him.
"We'll do that later. Right now I have to go report to Adar, pretend to be Ro and explain why I'm not there. And listen to his pre-marital advice, which is a laugh since what he knows about wedded bliss would fit on a leaf stem."
Haldir gulped, remembering that Lord Celeborn had summoned him for a similar talk.
"Elladan," he said, "couldn't we elope? Now?"
"Well, we could," Elladan agreed, patting his shoulder. "But I certainly don't want to be the one to explain to Legolas that you've run off with his fiancé."
By the time the appointed hour rolled around, Haldir was a nervous wreck.
A mercifully short meeting with Celeborn had left him more prepared for Mandos than matrimony (perhaps fortunately, since he had little doubt that was where he would be headed by the end of the day), since in a brief half hour his Lord had managed to shatter every illusion Haldir had about him. By the time he'd escaped, he'd understood quite clearly why Galadriel had elected to go to Valinor on her own. Some elves might believe the whole 'special connection to Arda' thing, but he knew better.
And then, just to calm his nerves, a run in with the newly de-scented Legolas. He was decked out in silver and gold, drawing every eye in the palace and then blinding them with the light reflecting off his tunic.
"Haldir," he demanded, without even a nod of greeting. "Have you seen Elrohir?"
Haldir's eyes darkened. He'd certainly seen Elladan pretending to be Elrohir, putting up with the heart broken elves simpering over him far too good-naturedly for his liking. He'd had no idea that Elrohir was so admired.
"He's around," he replied shiftily, trying to remove a stubborn knot from his hair. "You're not supposed to see each other before the wedding anyway."
Legolas snorted. "No one keeps that rule. You and Elladan certainly haven't."
"We hardly count. We're only doing this to help you anyway."
"True," Legolas agreed. He grinned at Haldir. "So, what kind of escape plan have you fixed up?"
Haldir's whole body chilled. "Elladan told me that you were taking care of it," he said faintly.
"Did he?" Legolas said, sounding idly amused. "Well it's a pity he didn't tell me, isn't it? I supposed you'll just have to figure something out for yourselves. You've still got twenty minutes. I'm off to find Elrohir."
So, before the day was out he'd either have to turn husband or kin-slayer. Not an easy decision.
Guests had gathered by the time Haldir got to the hall, intent on causing harm. A large screen had been set up at the back, divided in two by a curtain. Haldir slipped behind it, fought off an elleth who wanted to twist flowers into his hair (marigolds – ridiculous when he only looked really delectable in cool colours) and slipped round the curtain and into the second half.
He'd have seen red even if Elladan's tunic hadn't been crimson. Pretending to be his brother was one thing, kissing Legolas was quite another.
Common sense, coherent thought and propriety abandoned him, replaced by an intense need to cause the prince of Mirkwood physical pain.
The assembled guests had an inkling that something might just be wrong when a roar of outrage reverberated round the room. A moment later the elegant carved screen came crashing to the ground with two blond ellyn on top of it.
Legolas had been caught by surprise, but he was too much a warrior not to recover and quickly attacked. Haldir, too intent on causing his former friend pain to remember his training, resorted to attacking any part of Legolas he could get a grip on – starting with his hair – until he found them both being forcibly restrained.
He tried to turn his ferocity on his captor, until two more sets of hands grabbed him.
"Haldir, what in Elbereth's name are you doing?!"
Haldir looked up at the very familiar voice to see Elladan. Elladan looking bemused. Elladan looking bemused and wearing a royal blue tunic.
"I'm stopping Legolas from kissing you," Haldir muttered, barely audibly.
The concerned onlookers started to look amused.
"Well, obviously that wasn't me," Elladan told him, as the galadhel was released from Glorfindel's vice-like grip.
"Obviously," Legolas growled. Thranduil still had a tight hold on him.
Haldir turned sheepish eyes to the red-clad twin. "You found Elrohir, then," he said weakly. "That's good."
"There were a few moments' silence. Then Legolas' dangerous gaze shifted to his soon-to-be-husband. "What does he mean he found you?!"
While Legolas and Elrohir held a heated discussion in fierce whispers behind the resurrected screen, which the guests tried to pretend they weren't straining to hear, Elladan and Haldir had a few words of their own.
"So you were really going to fight Legolas over me, huh?"
"It seems so."
"Because you thought we were kissing."
"It looked like you were."
"You know how you could make sure I'd never kiss Legolas? Or anyone else?"
"Bind to me. For real. Today."
"If I must."
Rumil and Orophin, who weren't ever pretending not to listen, elbowed each other in the ribs and grinned.
In many ways the actual ceremony (aside from Legolas, whose face grew progressively greyer and pastier with every word until, upon being informed that he was now a bound elf with a husband, leant heavily against Elrohir looking ready to faint) was rather an anti-climax. As it was it took much of the evening (much of the next century, if he was honest) for Haldir to convince himself that it had actually happened and he had really doomed himself to eternity with his stubborn, infuriating, trouble-magnet of a husband. What Legolas thought of his new position no one knew, since he and Elrohir had vanished to their nuptial chambers before half an hour had elapsed.
"I'm surprised you two are still here," Glorfindel commented, as he joined a rather despondent Haldir and handed him a glass of Thranduil's strongest.
"Every time we've tried to escape one of my brothers has proposed a toast," Haldir said tightly. "And now Lord Celeborn won't let Elladan leave his side."
Glorfindel laughed. "Well, you have eternity together, after all," he said.
Haldir bit back a rude retort. "As will you when you are bound," he said instead. "Have you and Thranduil discussed dates?"
"Most likely it will not be for several years at least, to give Eryn Lasgalen time to recover from this one."
"I take it you are pleased to win your bet?"
"Very. I didn't doubt I would. Most may assume that Legolas has Elrohir at his beck and call, but I suspect Elrohir doesn't have trouble holding his own."
Haldir's brow furrowed. "But your bet was about myself and Elladan," he said.
Glorfindel chuckled. "My dear Haldir, no one would ever bet on you and Elladan. Thranduil wagered that Legolas and Elrohir would never wed."
Haldir thought about this calmly for a few moments and then rose. "Do excuse me a moment," he said politely to Glorfindel, before heading off in a direct line to his dark-housed spouse.
Elladan spied his mate's expression en route and knew he would have Mordor to pay as soon as he was caught.
"If you would excuse me just one second, I have to run for my life," he told Celeborn. And fled.
Thus the last that was seen of the binding mates that day was Elladan of Imladris running out of the assembly hall with Haldir of Lorien hot on his tail.
So nice to see everyone getting along.