Diversionary Tactics, Pairing: Legolas/Melpomaen, Rating: PG-13

Fandom: LOTR FPS

Prompt: 07. breakfast

Word Count: 1186

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Tolkein's. Not mine.

Summary: The morning after the night before, Legolas covers his tracks.

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Considering the merrymaking that had occurred the previous night, Legolas' absence from the breakfast table was hardy surprising. Of the few that were there, most had simply not gone to bed at all and were treating the light meal as more of a supper. The low level of attendance was appreciated by the servants, whose numbers were also severely depleted.

By noon, Imladris was beginning to return to some semblance of order. The subdued quiet of the morning was gradually broken and the deserted hallways sounded with footsteps once more, even if the owners of those feet regarded one another with rueful smiles. The day following celebrations of such magnitude were always somewhat tender affairs for those lucky enough to have been included.

When the table in one of the smaller and more exclusive dining halls was laid for the afternoon meal, however, the lack of a certain woodland prince could no longer go unnoticed. The seat next to Lord Elrond was glaringly unoccupied and, although the social gaffe was graciously ignored by their host and his sons, Greenwood's ambassador was mortified.

Galion discreetly motioned to a passing page and whispered into his ear. Under the table, a carefully folded piece of parchment exchanged hands. The page nodded and left.

This was also not commented upon and conversation continued along matters inconsequential.

It was during the second course, another tiny, one-bite palate cleanser, that Legolas finally made his appearance. He comported himself with his usual self-confident assurance and poise, quietly apologising for his tardiness as he took his seat, but Galion's trained eye perceived the embarrassment beneath that façade.

His smiles were a shade too quick, as were his hands, and his eyes darted nervously from one person to the next. There was a crease in his collar, another in his trousers, and his belt sat awkwardly at his waist where it had been fastened in haste. It was obvious to everyone that the prince had been caught unawares.

Elrond brushed aside the apology with one of his own.

"Forgive me, Legolas," he began, for the unassuming prince had long ago requested that they forego the encumbrances of titles, "I thought you left the festivities early, else I would have arranged for someone to rouse you."

To Elrond's chagrin, and everyone else's amused surprise, his apology did not have the desired effect. The faint pink grazing Legolas' cheeks grew to a rosy-eared flush and spread right down to his crumpled collar. With an all too noticeable fumble, his butter knife fell onto his dinner knife with clink and a clatter.

The decorative candle in the centre of the table flickered and danced, buffeted by the sudden surprised exhalations; the prince's response was awaited with baited breath.

Legolas licked his lips uneasily. "Quite understandable. After my impromptu demonstration of Greenwood traditions, I felt it wise to keep a low profile. Glorfindel seemed keen on speaking with me, whereas I deemed it prudent to leave that particular conversation for a later date."

By the end of his explanation, both twins were struggling to hide their snickers. Even Lord Elrond could not stop the corners of his mouth creeping upwards.

"Yes, indeed, though I suspect it was not so much the tradition as it was the subject. Glorfindel is a devoted champion when it comes to our little Melpomaen."

"We did warn you, if you recall," said Elrohir.

"You warned me not to hurt him. You never said anything about kissing him," Legolas pointed out, resulting in a fresh round of grins.

"Where Mel is concerned, they are one and the same. He is not very experienced in the ways of the heart…" Elrond trailed off, seeing the prince's eyes widen in apparent horror.

"Not very experienced?" Legolas repeated in a tight voice.

"I'm afraid not. I'm certain he was not distressed, however, for I saw him enjoying the company of his friends not long after."

"I… I see," Legolas managed to choke out. He hardly knew what to say. They thought Melpomaen was an innocent? His Melpomaen? The same Melpomaen that had practically molested him the first day they met and whose cock had performed a rather spectacular celebratory dance in his backside only last night? His little poet certainly hadn't exaggerated when he said his friends were overprotective!

Elrond gave him a sympathetic look. "As I said, Melpomaen will be fine. You should not concern yourself over it."

"Thank you, Lord Elrond. Had I known, I might have employed a gentler technique."

Elrond blinked. "It seemed a chaste enough kiss to me. You would not have foregone the act altogether?"

"No, of course not. It is one of our honoured traditions, after all." At this, Galion snorted quietly. Legolas glared at him.

"Fascinating," Elrond said. "Perhaps you could enlighten us as to its origins?"

"Aye, now this we must hear!" Elladan added. "Perhaps it is time for a similar tradition to appear in Imladris."

"I quite agree," said Elrohir. "What say you, brother? Should we take it in turns or spar for the honour?"

"You will do neither." Elrond glowered at his sons, who shrank back in their seats but did not stop grinning. The idea had quite tickled their rampant imaginations.

Galion uttered a quiet chuckle. "Perhaps it would surprise you to hear, Lord Elrond, that this particular royal prerogative was introduced in much the same fashion as your sons suggest?"

That caused a curious brow to rise. The twins looked questioningly at Legolas, who gave an embarrassed smile and half-shrug in reply. Normally the prince would think twice before relating this particular tale but today he was more than happy; it would doubtless be an excellent diversion from a much more sensitive topic.

"It's true," he admitted. "It was my grandfather that began it. My father tells me that when Oropher first came to the Greenwood he fell in love with a Silvan maid. Despite all his attempts to court her in the traditional Silvan ways, she would have nothing to do with him, and so he decided he would have to woo her as a Sindarin would."

Galion snickered and, with a shared smirk, motioned for Legolas to continue with his tale. Legolas grinned.

"Unfortunately for the maid, none of the Silvan people knew what was custom for the Sindar and what was not, and thus my grandfather invented all manner of interesting traditions. We decided to keep the ones that worked."

Elrond's grin split his face and slowly, he began to laugh. It was a deep, warm, heartfelt sound that soon had everyone joining him. "Oh," he gasped, "I can just imagine Oropher doing that. He was a crafty one, your grandfather."

"So I'm told." Legolas tried not to preen. After all, at least some of that craftiness had been passed down through the generations.

"And you are duty-bound to continue this most noble tradition, of course." Elladan couldn't resist a little dig.

"Of course."

"Hmm… do you think we will be at war when Glorfindel kills you?"

"Elladan!" Elrond sharply admonished. He was brought up short when Legolas began to laugh.

"Probably."

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