Disclaimer: I do not own LOTR, or any of its characters. Tolkien created them, wrote them, published them, and is stuck with them for all eternity. I should be so lucky...

Master of the Game

Summery: Lord Elrond is left behind after the last ship sails for Valinor. Bored to tears, he decides to journey to Mirkwood to find Gimli and Legolas, and join them in their adventures. AU - sort of. Non-canon. PG-13 for mature situations and language.

Chapter 1

20 Questions

Lord Elrond, the Half-Elven, strolled through the gardens surrounding his home in Rivendell. It was a glorious spring night - the air fragrant with sweet blossoms; the sky lit by a soft yellow moon and the twinkling of a million stars. He was serenaded in his wandering by the whispers of crickets and the rustle of the breeze as it blew gently through the dew-laden trees.

He couldn't have been more bored if his life depended on it.

"Why did I EVER get off that ship?" he asked himself for the six billionth time. "I could have - right now, at this very moment- been having wild, unbridled, feverish sex with Celebrian in Valinor! But noooo, I just had to make one more potty stop before we left!" He mentally slapped himself upside his braided head.

He remembered running up to the dock, holding up his leggings with one hand, calling out after the ship as it pulled away.

"STOP! You forgot me!" he had cried, waving his free hand in a frenzy.

"I told you to go before we left Rivendell!" Gandalf had shouted back, waving goodbye. Frodo, Bilbo, and Galadrial had stood on deck, snickering and waving.

He had stood there and watched until the ship disappeared from sight.

"Really!" Elrond thought, picking up a stone and skimming across a small pond, "they didn't have to leave without me...it isn't like they didn't have ETERNITY to get to Valinor! I'm sure they all thought it was very funny. 'Let's leave Elrond to walk Middle Earth forever - Ha, ha, ha.' Bloody mother-in-law was probably the instigator. Never did like me."

"So, now what do I do? I could go and move in with Aragorn and Arwen...wouldn't he just LOVE that! I could spend all my time doing the eyebrow thing whenever Aragorn got too close to my daughter." Elrond snickered to himself, enjoying the mental picture. "Nah, I really would like a grandchild, and there is nothing that is more of a mood-spoiler than a meddling in-law - I should know. Galadrial ALWAYS turned up at the most inopportune moments!"

Perhaps I should go and visit Rohan - take in the sights. I always did like that city. A little muddy, perhaps, but the food is good. Nah, Eowyn still blames me for Aragorn falling in love with Arwen - as if that were MY choice! Still, she'd likely beat the crap out of me if I showed up."

"The Shire, then, perhaps," he thought, skimming another stone. "The ale is quite strong there, and they DO know how to party! Nah...every ceiling there is only five feet high - I'd spend the entire time bent over in half. My butt would be too easy a target for those bizarre little Hobbits. Especially Merry and Pippin - I never knew two more annoying creatures. They short-sheeted my bed when they were here last."

"Forget Fangorn. I've no wish to hobnob with the Enks. It takes them an hour to get out a sentence. I always feel like I have to physically yank each word out of their mouths. Plus, all they ever want to talk about is 'trees this, and the forest that'...freaking environmentalists."

"Mordor is out of the question. I truly dislike the heat - it wreaks havoc with my hair," he pondered, twirling a braid in his fingers. "The humidity frizzes the hell out of it.

"The Mines of Moria are no picnic anymore since Gandalf fought the Balrog and ruined the architecture. Not to mention that the Dwarves were all killed by Orcs and the Cave Troll...likely to be no good conversation THERE any time soon!" Elrond sighed, and walked to a stone bench in the garden. Planting himself, he crossed his legs, his fingers drumming a beat on his thigh.

"Mirkwood, then? A visit to King Thranduil? Now, there's a thought! Nice, clean, Elven environment...lembas to die for! They talk to the trees, but at least they aren't uppity about it. I could even look up old Gimli and Legolas...the Dwarf, at least, is always good for a laugh!" Elrond smiled at the idea of a trip to Mirkwood.

"It's decided, then!" he thought, pleased with his decision. He stood and started to walk back to his rooms, his spirit uplifted for the first time since he missed the boat.

He climbed the whitewashed staircase that led to the upper levels of his home, and entered what had once been his private quarters. Now, of course, all of Rivendell was his private retreat, since all of the other Elves had gone on to Valinor. Without him.

"Bloody mother-in-law," he repeated to himself again, yanking open the armoire that held his robes. He pulled out a leather satchel and began packing what essentials he thought he might need for the journey.

"Let's see...formal robes? Yes, I suppose Thranduil will want to have some type of celebration when I arrive...he'll use any excuse to instigate some drunken debauchery. What else? Hmmm...perhaps the lighter weight robes as well - I don't remember how warm it gets in Mirkwood this time of year. Don't want to sweat my ying-yang off in this woolen one if it winds up being too hot," he thought, folding and stuffing the robes into his valise. He tossed in some personal hygiene items as well, then tied up the satchel with a long, leather thong.

Running down to the kitchen, he searched the cupboards for any lembas that might have been left behind by the departing Elves. He found a few loaves, wrapped in leaves and stored on a high shelf. Taking them, he tossed them into a travelling pouch. He took the pouch with him back up to his rooms.

Setting the valise and travelling pouch on the side of his bed, he quickly undressed for the night.

He flopped onto the bed, fully intent on getting an early start in the morning. His last conscious thoughts were of himself, wringing Galadrial's neck on the shores of Valinor. He fell asleep with a smile on his face.