A/N: This is dedicated to one of my fans. You know who you are.
Belegtur had heard about it, as had nearly everyone else. He was the only one, though, that knew the falsity of the charge. Elrohir had had no part in stabbing Celeborn. Belegtur regretted leaving Elrohir there to suffer, but he knew that if he was caught, they would put him to death without another thought.
That was not to say that Belegtur was averse to rescuing him. In fact, that was exactly what he planned to do. But that would take time and planning. Belegtur was reasonably sure that they wouldn't kill Elrohir like they would him, which gave him a little more time. Not infinite, though, as he was nearly certain that Elrohir would be sent away from Imladris. And that would just make his life miserable.
What he needed, more than anything was a plan. It was annoying to have to waste time on this, as there was a more essential mission at stake, but Elrohir was his bonded, and Belegtur figured that it was the least he could do to not make Elrohir pay for his crimes.
Elladan didn't really know why he was outside Esgaldur's door. The elf was hardly a friend, yet he had somehow slipped into everyone's confidence within a week of arriving. There was definitely something peculiar about this elf, yet it was the kind of peculiar that went unremarked and nearly unnoticed. Yet he raised his hand and knocked lightly.
Esgaldur opened the door after a few seconds, smiled, and let the younger elf in. "Please, sit down."
Elladan nodded and took a seat. "I'm not sure why I'm here." It was best to just tell the truth.
"You looked stressed earlier. Not all stress can be erased through physical activity like sword play. Mental stress still remains. It is easier to get rid of that stress if you talk about it with someone. Normally, I'm sure you'd turn to your brother or your father. Unfortunately, both are incapacitated. Then you'd probably turn to your grandfather or a friend such as Erestor. Both of them are too busy, have similar stress, and have their own problems to worry about. That leaves me."
Elladan smiled. "I suppose it does." He paused, trying to gather in his mind all that was weighing down on him so that it would come out coherently rather than an inane babble. "So, where would you like me to start?"
Esgaldur grinned. "How about the beginning?"
He had been reckless, as usual. Only this time he hadn't been quite as lucky. His body felt like it was on fire. There were so many wounds dotted all over his body. Time and time again he had been struck, but he had refused to stop fighting, refused to give in to the pain until the battle was over. He was no stranger to pain and refused to let it conquer him as it had so many times in the past. He had vague memories of Elrond finding him. Though he recalled little of what Elrond said to him, he knew that it had been warm and kind.
In a state of bleary half-consciousness, he realized that there was someone sitting beside him, holding his hand. Too sore to try to react, he relaxed and let himself sink into the soothing sensations of the half-sleep he was in the midst of.
This half-sleep, though, did not prevent him from hearing a voice. It took him a moment to realize that the voice was talking to him.
"Mellon, how could you be so foolish? I knew that you cared little about your life…the Valar only know why, but this was sheer recklessness. Do you know how many people care about you and were devastated to find out you were here? I am not the only one that loves you, mellon." There was a long pause. "You can't die, Erestor. I won't let you. If it ever comes that close, I'll bond with you and pull you back. I can't let you go. I don't know why you are the way you are and I don't know who hurt you, but I would give my life to see your beautiful eyes open again. Please do not leave me, Erestor. I could not bear the sting of that loss."
Erestor knew that he should work himself up to a state where he could respond. Making his best effort, he finally managed to say, "Elrond…what are…you doing here?"
"I'm here because you're here, mellon. You were wounded and you are my strategist. It is in my best interests to see you alive."
Erestor could not miss the change in Elrond's tone. Before, Elrond had been loving, even passionate. Now he was business-like. Not cold, but more formal than would be required for a friend. "Will I…live?"
"You'd better. Now, I must leave, mellon, but I shall return in the morning."
After a healthy pause, once he was sure that Elrond was gone, Erestor murmured, "Don't leave me, either."
After a healthy pause, once he was sure that Elrond was gone, Erestor murmured, "Don't leave me, either."
Erestor woke up from the vivid dream that he knew was a memory. He sat up in bed and ran a hand through his hair. Why had the two of them not just admitted their feelings? Maybe none of this would have happened. Erestor laughed at that thought. There was obviously still some clue, hidden deep within his past, that explained his odd actions. Perhaps there was something in Elrond's past, too, though he would probably never know the truth of that.
What he did know was that Elrond had been there for him when he had been injured. He owed it to Elrond to visit him. Not caring about the fact that it was the middle of the night, Erestor got up and threw some clothes on. Fumbling in the dark, he grabbed a candle and managed to burn himself only twice trying to get the thing lit.
Finally, he was heading down the faintly lit hallways. It took only a few minutes for him to make his way to Elrond's room; he had not failed to notice that their rooms were closer together than even Elrond's sons' rooms were to Elrond. There was a guard outside the door, but the guard let him in without a word.
The room was dark and Elrond had obviously been moved into bed. It wasn't clear whether he was sleeping or not, as he seemed comatose whether asleep or awake. Setting the candle carefully aside, Erestor walked over to the bed and sat down beside Elrond. He took Elrond's hand and kissed it gently. Lying down, he gathered Elrond into his arms. "Sleep well, mellon," he murmured.
"Wake up, Legolas," a voice said urgently.
Legolas sat up, rubbing at his eyes, and searched the room for the unwelcome intruder. It was Celeborn. "What are you doing up, Celeborn?" he asked. "You should be in bed. You're not…"
"I don't care, Legolas. I refuse to be confined to bed when there is so much happening here. But that's not why I came here. Erestor's not in his room."
Legolas mumbled a curse under his breath and got up, slipping quickly into some clothes. "Where have you looked for him already?"
"I haven't." Celeborn smirked. "I just know he's not in his room."
Legolas sighed and asked patiently, "What were you doing in his room in the first place?"
"I was going to wake him up." There was no mistaking the meaning of those words.
"Right," said Legolas. "Where are we going to look?"
"We should split up." They headed out of Legolas's room. "I'll check Elrond's room, you check his study and the library."
Legolas frowned, sensing that there was a deeper meaning to that. "Make sure to check on Elrond while you're there."
Celeborn nodded. "Of course." They parted, and Celeborn reached Elrond's room quickly. He opened the door quietly for some reason. He knew that Elrond would not be able to hear him anyway, but still he did it, probably out of habit more than anything else.
He stepped inside and immediately smiled when he caught sight of them. A small spark of jealousy also throbbed within him as well. Elrond and Erestor were curled up like lovers. It brought back memories.
It was probably more out of drunkenness and loneliness that they had ended up here. Both of them had drunk too much at the party. Elrond had recently ended a relationship and Celeborn had had a nasty fight with Galadriel. Somehow, they had ended up here in Elrond's bed.
Celeborn woke that morning with precisely no recollection of what happened. All he knew was that the body beside him was definitely not Galadriel's. That set him to wondering who it was. Forcing himself to a state of alertness, he slowly turned to look at his bedmate. He sat up abruptly when he realized it was Elrond. The sudden movement woke Elrond up, as well, who looked just as surprised. But he recovered first. He grinned lazily, seductively, and said, "Good morning, Celeborn."
That smile meant it took a few seconds for Celeborn to find his voice. "What happened last night?"
Apparently, Elrond had a better memory of last night, because he reached up, grabbed Celeborn's shoulder and pulled him back down. He kissed Celeborn's neck, delicately tracing a path up to his ear. When he finally reached it, he whispered, "Well, you suggested that it was best not for two Elf Lords to pass out in front of others and suggested we find somewhere more appropriate. I proposed my bedroom and you agreed. We came up here and you fucked me. Then we fell asleep. And now we are here." He moved away, lying on his back and staring up at Celeborn. "So where does that leave us?"
Celeborn bit his lip. He had always been particularly aware of Elrond's beauty and was glad that he had finally slept with him, even if he couldn't actually recall it. What he would like to do, more than anything, would be to make love to him. Instead, he sat up again. "I don't know," he admitted truthfully.
Elrond raised his eyebrow. "Are you going somewhere?." His hand fished around under the blanket and eventually found Celeborn's thigh. "I don't have to be up for hours yet, and neither do you."
Celeborn closed his eyes. He knew that he would regret this moment for the rest of his life. "No, Elrond, tis better if we end this now."
Elrond did not look convinced. "And why would that be?"
"Last night, I'm sure, was fun…but that's all it can be. I won't deny that I find you beautiful, but I live in Lorien, and you in Imladris."
"That can be worked around," said Elrond in a matter-of-fact, practical tone of voice. "And I refuse to believe that that is a good enough reason."
"Mmm," said Celeborn. "How about this, then? I am bonded. And I know my wife is scheming for Celebrian to bond with you."
Elrond pulled a face. "Delightful. But I think you're avoiding the real reason."
Celeborn sighed. "If I were to…if we were to have anything together…I couldn't bear for it to be a one-night stand. But that's what it would have to be. We would never have a real relationship." He leaned down and captured a sweet kiss, then rose from bed. "I am sorry, Elrond."
He shook the memory from his mind. Ever since that night so long ago, Elrond and he had been carefully formal to each other when they met. Celeborn knew that Galadriel knew about it, but she had never commented on it. It had just kind of faded away, but Celeborn had never been completely able to dismiss it. Vaguely, he wondered if Elrond ever thought about it. He doubted it.
As he approached the bed, Erestor began to wake up. Celeborn smiled at him and sat down. Erestor began to sit up and then realized that he had someone clinging tightly to him. That struck both of them as peculiar. Elrond had shown no voluntary motion over the past few days and now he had a death grip on Erestor's waist. As Erestor began to pull away from Elrond, a remarkable thing happened.
Elrond stirred, and opened unfocused eyes. He saw blurry forms above him. His mouth was too dry to be able to talk. Fortunately, one of these elves seemed to realize this and a cup was thrust into his hand. After taking a few cautious sips of water and focusing a little more, he recognized both elves. "Celeborn, Erestor, what are you doing here." After a moment's pause, he asked, "What am I doing here?"
Celeborn answered, "You had a breakdown, mellon. You've been out of it for three days. We've been trying to take care of you. How do you feel?"
Elrond thought about that. "I feel…complete, alive." He attempted to sit up, but his muscles were so stiff that he couldn't. "And sore," he gasped. "Very sore."
Celeborn smiled. "Hungry?"
Elrond nodded. "That too."
"I'll get some food, then." He rose from the bed and left the room, giving Erestor and Elrond a chance to be alone.
Elladan was heading down to breakfast when he saw Celeborn out of bed. "You should be in bed, Celeborn," he said, walking over to the older elf.
"Your father is awake," said Celeborn. "I'm getting him some breakfast…and no, you can't go see him right now. Go after breakfast. He's very weak right now. I don't want to overexcite him."
Elladan quickly saw through that. "What you mean is that Erestor is with my father, don't you?"
Slowly, Celeborn nodded. "Yes." After an short, awkward pause, Celeborn asked, "So did you do as we asked, and seek out Esgaldur?"
Elladan nodded, watching as Celeborn retrieved things from around the kitchen. It was amazing, but his grandfather seemed to know exactly where everything was. "Yes, we practiced in the yard, and then later we talked in his room…tell me, Celeborn, how is that this elf that none of us know anything about, has become so important in Imladris so quickly?"
Celeborn considered Elladan's question and realized that he had no answer to it. "I don't know, Elladan," he said. "Perhaps…he became useful to us after Erestor's accident and through his skilful handling of that, he won Elrond's trust." He realized what garbage that was, and said, "No, I really have no answer."
Elladan grinned. "I know. That's the problem."
Celeborn frowned. There was no mistaking that telltale sparkle in Elladan's eyes. "You like him, don't you?"
Elladan bit his lip. It was too early in the morning for a lecture. "I don't know, Celeborn…and I know that father won't approve, but…"
Celeborn leaned in close. "Whatever outward appearance your father presents, that is solely for the public eye. I know for a fact that more than anything else, he would want you to be happy. Don't worry about whether your father would approve or not. Go for it."
Elladan grinned brilliantly. "Thank you."
Celeborn laughed to himself as the young elf practically bounced out of the room. He reckoned it wouldn't be all that long before Elladan managed to capture Esgaldur's heart. Still chuckling to himself, he finished gathering everything on a tray and headed back to Elrond's room.
Elrond searched Erestor's face. Had Erestor finally come back to his senses? It appeared unlikely; there was still that sparkle in Erestor's eyes that had always been absent. Sighing softly, he said, "Erestor, have you…"
"Am I better? No, my lord, I am not. Celeborn and Legolas have told me something of my past, though, and I do dream about my past on occasion. There are a lot of things missing, though."
Elrond frowned. "I told them not to help you remember. I wanted the process to be natural."
"They had to. After you broke down, they wanted me to help relieve some of the burden of the work they had. I was their only logical choice." There was a brief pause. "I am sorry, my lord, that I have forced this burden on you. I am your Chief Advisor and I have let you down…"
"You're talking nonsense," said Elrond, reluctant to move. He still ached and didn't know how long the pain would remain. He would give anything for a massage (especially one from Erestor), but he knew better than to ask.
Erestor proved once again how perceptive he was when he asked, "Do you need a massage, my lord? That might relieve some of the tension from your muscles." When Elrond nodded, Erestor said, "Roll on to your stomach, my lord. That would be easier."
Elrond did as he was told and rested his head on his forearms. He thought about how nice this would be if Erestor was in full control of his memories. For Erestor to be doing this for sexual reasons instead of purely friendly ones. When Elrond felt Erestor's cool hands on his tense muscles, he arched his back and smiled to himself. Slowly, Erestor began to work the tension out of the muscles.
Elrond heard the door open and assumed it was Celeborn. He felt Erestor's hands leave him and rolled back over, feeling a lot better. Celeborn was eyeing both of them with amusement and (Elrond couldn't help but notice) a certain amount of lust. He remembered back to the night he and Celeborn had spent together. He had always regretted that nothing more had come of it. "Do you want something?" he asked.
Celeborn knew that there were many answers to that question, and he wasn't quite sure which one Elrond wanted to hear. So he opted for the safest one. "No, I just brought you up your breakfast. You need to build up your strength. Erestor, you need to eat, too." Celeborn had never participated in a threesome before, but would be more than willing to indulge Erestor and Elrond.
Erestor mumbled a word of displeasure when he left the bed and retrieved the tray that Celeborn had, for some reason, refused to actually bring over to them. "What work is there to be done today, Celeborn?" he asked as he buttered a piece of toast.
"You're not working today," said Elrond firmly. "I won't let you."
Celeborn grimaced. He knew what was coming. Part of him thought that it would be best to leave, but something tied him down and so he remained to listen to their fight.
"You won't let me? Since when have I needed your permission to work?" demanded Erestor, getting up from the bed.
Elrond attempted to grab Erestor's arm, but missed. "Listen to me, Erestor. You are still recovering…"
"I'm not an invalid, Elrond…"
"You're not right in the head…"
"Are you insinuating…"
"No, I'm just…"
"Well, I don't want to hear…"
"I am your lord and…"
"That has never meant anything to me…"
"I'm so sick of you…"
"Very well. I'm leaving, then." Erestor, having forsaken his usual control, stormed out of the room
Celeborn glared at Elrond. "I must say, you handled that wonderfully."
Elrond laid back on the bed, his eyes closed. "Please don't lecture me, Celeborn. I'm tired and I'm worried about Erestor. I love him and I want him back in my life."
"Well, you do a remarkably poor job of showing it…"
"I'm just concerned about him!"
"Then don't try to baby him. He needs your support, not your censure." Celeborn sat down next to Elrond, took his hand. "In a way, you are as much an invalid as him. You're staying in bed today…"
"No, I'm not…"
"I'm not giving you a choice, Elrond. I'm going to station guards outside the door. You're not leaving today. I'll send Erestor in to talk to you as soon as I find him and you will apologize to him."
"Are you trying to act like my father?"
"You need it." Celeborn couldn't help himself, he leaned down and kissed Elrond. What surprised him more than anything was that Elrond kissed him back, wrapping an arm around his back and pulling him closer. The kiss finally ended when both elves ran out of air. Celeborn grinned at Elrond. "Now, there's work that I need to get done. I'll be back later."
Legolas had a look of dismay on his face when Celeborn walked into their study a few minutes later. Concerned, Celeborn asked, "What's wrong?"
Legolas held up a piece of paper. "My father has demanded that I return. He has threatened to disown me unless I do so. He claims that I have remained here far too long and have duties in Mirkwood that I am shirking. I am," he looked down at the letter, " 'forgetting my obligations and acting like an irresponsible Elfling'. I don't know what I'm going to do."
"Well," said Celeborn practically. "I think that you should go home. I think we can handle things here now."
Legolas shook his head. "If it were just that…it would be easy for me to leave."
Celeborn knew precisely what Legolas was talking about. "Elrohir," he said. "You feel you have to remain because of him."
"What's going to happen to him?"
Celeborn shook his head. "I don't have a clue. We will have to see. Elrond will not order his son executed, I feel that it is safe to say that. He may banish Elrohir, there. If he does do that, I can see if I can press for the banishment to be to Mirkwood. Then he would be with you."
"That would not change the fact that he is bonded!"
"He will only be bonded as long as Belegtur lives. And Elrond will hunt down that elf. I feel that it is safe to say that Elrohir will not be a bonded elf for long."
"You forget something else, Celeborn. When Elrond slays Belegtur, it does not mean that Elrohir is simply released from the bond. He will be pulled along with Belegtur; I have met the elf, he is far stronger than Elrohir. That is what I fear."
Celeborn frowned. "Why would your presence help any, then?"
"I heard Elrond discussing it with Elrohir. If there is another to step in and create a new bond as soon as the old one is severed, he will have the strength required."
"Ah, and you wish to be this other elf."
"And does Elrohir know how you feel about him?"
Celeborn nodded. "Well, in that case, I support you remaining in Imladris, but your father and I have never been particularly close. My support would mean nothing to him, and neither would Elrond's. I know not what you should do, what you should tell him."
Legolas held his head high. "I shall simply tell him that I plan to remain here. He may do whatever he wishes to me."
"He will disown you, Legolas. I know that much about your father."
A momentary look of sorrow flickered onto Legolas's face, but disappeared quickly. "I don't care. I am sure that there will always be a place for me here in Imladris. I care not what my father does. To me, love is far more important than titles. Love is all that matters."