THE BEST LAID PLANS, Erestor/Elrohir, Rating R

Warnings: smut, fluff, bad plot *lol*

Written for: Slashy Valentine 2009: request was for Erestor/someone. Can be Elf or Vala. Romance with smut! Something sweet and sexy. Happy ending is a must.

Disclaimer: Tolkein's. Not mine.

Author's Notes: How do I explain this one? *lol* It's not what I had intended to write. Indeed, I named it in honour of the fact that it really did not go according to plan! Every time I tried to make the plot get back on track Elladan popped up his head and demanded more lines like the drama queen that he is.

Summary: Elrohir falls for someone he shouldn't. Elladan intervenes.

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Elladan suppressed a snicker.

He and Elrohir had been playing chess with Erestor all evening. The dignified councillor had recently arrived in Imladris at their father's behest and the twins were delighted to have a new opponent. They had not had such a challenge for many a year, for few could stand firm against Elrohir's canny tactics and Elladan's bold proficiency. Erestor, however, was proving more than capable. Beneath that refined façade lurked as wily and cunning a mind as any Elladan had ever come across.

It was not Erestor's mind that had currently caught his brother's attention, however, and this was the source of Elladan's current amusement. Elrohir had not taken his eyes off the councillor all evening.

Not that he could blame him; Erestor was a striking elf. His strong, angular features were accentuated by the severe style of his long hair, which was pulled back from his face and pinned into place with dozens of tiny silver pins that dotted the elaborate maze of midnight-black braids like stars. In stark contrast he wore robes of brilliant white, embroidered with thick, black, florid swirls. Yes, striking was definitely the word for Erestor.

Elrohir's attraction was hardly surprising.

Elladan could hardly contain his glee. Long had he waited for Elrohir to finally show some romantic interest for he had many, many years of teasing to repay. Elrohir had laughed at Elladan's first, fumbling attempts at seduction and mercilessly poked fun at his inevitable failures. Not to mention the embarrassing incident the night he had managed to charm that exquisite yet notoriously frigid Galadhrim to his bed only to find his brother had thoughtfully redecorated his room - with raunchy sketches of underdressed ellyth. Elladan had not spoken to his brother for months.

Now, though, how the tables had turned! Now it was Elladan's turn to watch his brother stumble his way through the treacherous terrain of first love.

Oh happy days!

There was just one small problem. Elladan frowned as a petite elf appeared in the doorway and smiled hesitantly.

"Erestor?"

The transformation that came over the stately councillor upon hearing that single word was astonishing. Erestor's whole demeanour changed: his eyes lit up and his normally stern features softened into a warm and loving smile.

Elrohir lowered his eyes to the chess board, as if contemplating his next move.

"Mel," Erestor replied, his voice laden with a depth of emotion that had not been there before. "Are you finished for the night?"

"Yes. You?"

"Nothing I can't come back to." Erestor stood and addressed the twins. "Shall we resume our game tomorrow night?"

Elladan nodded in reply. "Of course. Good night, Erestor."

Elrohir mumbled something along similar lines, not looking up from the board as the pair left the drawing room.

Elladan sighed. Elrohir was never going to do anything about his little infatuation with Melpomaen around. He was simply going to have to do something about it.

Luckily, Elladan knew something Elrohir didn't.

"I don't understand what Erestor sees in that elf," he began. He was rewarded with Elrohir's complete and immediate attention.

"What do you mean?"

"Don't pretend you haven't had the same thought, 'Roh. Erestor could have any elf in Imladris. Why he's with that mouse of a scribe is beyond me."

"Maybe he likes them quiet." Elrohir shrugged, affecting a disinterested air. Elladan wasn't fooled for a second.

"Quiet, perhaps, but plain? Ai, don't give me that look. No one in their right mind would call Melpomaen handsome; not like Erestor is anyway."

It was true, as far as Elladan was concerned. Melpomaen was a friendly enough elf but he wasn't much to look at. He was a gawky little thing, all angles and joints and sunken eyes. It didn't help that he always dressed himself in drab browns that did absolutely nothing for him. Seeing him next to Erestor, one could not help but make the comparison and find him lacking.

"No, not like Erestor," Elrohir agreed.

"He deserves someone better."

"That's hardly any of our business, tôr."

"Maybe not, but I think if Melpomaen was my partner, I would want to know that he flirts with Berengur whenever I'm not looking, wouldn't you?"

Elrohir's jaw dropped. "Mel is cheating on Erestor?" He choked out, aghast.

"I know. Unthinkable, isn't it? He must have some talents we don't know about." Elladan suggested with a lewd smirk.

"Does Erestor know? Has anyone told him?" Elladan felt like cackling at the anxious expression on Elrohir's face.

"I doubt he'd believe it. Mel's got him wrapped around his little finger."

"We have to do something, Elladan!"

"Well, if you feel that strongly about it…" Elladan trailed off, resting his chin in his hand as if deep in thought. Elrohir leaned forward with bated breath. "…I suppose I could find a way to keep Melpomaen occupied while you talk to Erestor."

Elrohir froze. "Me?"

"He deserves to know, like you said, and you always seem to know what to say, tôr. I'm sure it would be better coming from you than finding out some other way."

"I… well…" Elrohir breathed out heavily and raked his hand through his hair. "I don't know if that's such a good idea, 'Dan. What if it upsets him?"

Elladan snorted. "Erestor isn't exactly a blushing maiden. If anything he'll probably find the nearest sharp object and go on a headhunt. He did fight in the war, after all. Oh, that gives me an idea!"

Elrohir looked at him warily.

"Oh, nothing like that. Honestly 'Roh, you have no faith in me. Here's the plan: tomorrow morning I'll collar Mel to help me with that weapons inventory we've been putting off and then you can speak to Erestor."

"I haven't said I'll do it yet!"

Elladan just smirked at his brother. "You said 'yet!'"

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Never had the library door seemed so intimidating. Elrohir gave his appearance another quick check, nervously brushing non-existent dirt from his clothing. He'd donned the dark blue and silver-grey shirt that everyone told him complimented his eyes, though now he wondered if that had been a mistake. He wasn't here to impress Erestor. He was here to give him what would most likely be terrible news. Erestor wasn't even going to notice what he was wearing.

Elrohir sighed and rallied his courage.

Erestor smiled at him politely when he approached and he fought back a surge of bitter jealousy. He didn't want polite smiles; he wanted the blazing adoration that he gave Melpomaen.

"Can I help you, Elrohir?" the councillor asked. The unexpected use of his given name drove all envy from the young peredhel and he glowed with delight. Not many could differentiate between him and his twin. That Erestor, of all elves, could do so filled him with joy and reckless hope.

"Yes. I mean… actually, Erestor, I thought you might need my help, since Elladan's borrowed Mel to help with the inventory."

Erestor's brow lifted in surprise and, though Elrohir fancied it was only wistful thinking, his smile deepened a touch.

"That was thoughtful of you. Thank you. Would you mind copying out some missives while I work on this contract?"

Elrohir nodded quickly and took the documents to the spare desk in Erestor's study; a small room built off the foyer of the library proper. At least he wouldn't feel so awkward, now that he had something to do with his hands. He glanced over at Erestor; the older elf was already engrossed in his work. His robes were red today, Elrohir observed, and it suited him. Bold and challenging, just like the one who wore them. Elrohir lingered on the well-defined chest before letting his appreciative gaze roam upwards.

Dark eyes met his own squarely, shrewd and unreadable.

Elrohir flushed at having been caught staring and hastily looked down it his work. What was he thinking? Ogling like an inexperienced elfling just shy of his majority! Of course, Elrohir sighed, it was not as though he had much more experience now than he had as an elfling. He wasn't Elladan, who could make friends at the drop of a hat and entice lovers with a single roguish wink from across the room.

In that regard, Elladan had always outshone him. Where Elrohir's strengths lay in the unassuming fields of healing and scholarly pursuits, Elladan was a consummate warrior. He had a self-assurance that Elrohir could never hope to match. Elrohir simply faded into the background, forgotten by would-be suitors in the presence of his outwardly-identical yet convivial twin.

Over time, he had learned to hide his resentment and envy behind laughter and childish jests.

It seemed almost cruel to him that he would finally find himself drawn to an elf that was immune to Elladan's charms, only for that elf to be unavailable. Elrohir sighed inwardly. What did it matter? He would try to hide his longing; to do otherwise would put a stain upon all their honour.

Enough self-pity, he chided himself. He was here for a purpose and the sooner he got it over with, the better! Elrohir glanced up and licked his lips nervously.

"I hope you don't mind us stealing Mel away like this," he started.

"No, not at all. We still see each other in the evenings," Erestor replied without looking up. "A change of company can be refreshing, don't you think?"

"I suppose that depends on the company."

The corner of Erestor's lips twitched. "I've no complaints thus far."

"Yes, but you already have some friends here. Melpomaen doesn't know anyone."

"There's no need to concern yourself over that. Mel may seem shy but he has always made friends very easily."

"But… don't you worry about the kind of friends he's making?" The scratching of Erestor's quill on parchment abruptly ceased and Elrohir found himself trapped by a cold stare.

"Melpomaen is a grown elf, Elrohir, and can take care of himself. That said, however, I will personally make a chamberpot from the skull of any elf that so much as harms a single hair on his head." Erestor took up the quill once more. "I trust you can pass this message onto his new… friends?"

Elrohir paled and nodded. A shiver of mingled fear and desire snaked its way down his spine. He had not realised how menacing those dark eyes could turn, or how possessive, and he wished he was the cause of it instead of that shy little scribe.

He couldn't think of anything to say after that. He spent the rest of the day in awkward silence, wracking his brains for some topic of conversation that would sound neither trite nor forced. Nothing came to him and so they continue to work in silence until the early evening bell chimed, announcing the imminent serving of dinner.

Elrohir did not waste any time in leaping from his seat. This had been a horrible, uncomfortable mistake and tonight he was going to tell Elladan exactly where he could stick his fabulous idea.

He was halfway to the door when Erestor called him back. He stopped and turned on the spot, reluctant to lose the progress he had made towards the exit.

"Here. I saw you reading 'Falmalinde' the other day and thought you might appreciate this. You may already have read it…" Erestor held out a slim volume that had obviously seen better days. Elrohir took it carefully and opened it to the first page. His eyes widened.

"No! I mean, this is wonderful! Thank you, Erestor. I'll take good care of it, I promise."

Erestor nodded. "I would not have given it to you otherwise."

"Given? You don't want it back?" Elrohir squeaked.

"I made myself a new copy a while ago." Erestor waved his hand dismissively. "Now go on, enjoy it."

Elrohir practically ran from the room, eager to devour the rare book of poetry. He was giddy with joy. It did not matter that that Erestor had only sought to offer the book to someone who would not let it languish unread on a shelf somewhere.

A gift was a gift, and he would treasure it.

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"Am I to assume that since neither Berengur nor Melpomaen are dead, you didn't manage to tell him, then?" Elladan asked later that evening.

Elrohir grimaced. "I tried. I can't just come out with it, 'Dan. You should see the way Erestor talks about Mel. He worships the ground he so much as thinks about walking on."

"That creature does not walk anywhere." Elladan scowled. "He runs. He trots. He skips. It's no wonder he's so skinny. I'm exhausted just watching him!"

"Oh, you poor thing." Elrohir laughed. "Bested by a mousy little scribe. Who would've thought it?"

Elladan narrowed his eyes at his twin.

Elrohir started running.

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As it turned out, Elrohir couldn't tell Erestor the next day either, nor the day after that. As the days slowly wore on and turned into a week, Elrohir had to admit to himself that he was not really trying.

He was glad for the chance to spend time with the object of his secret desire. Erestor always seemed to have plenty for him to do – filing, prioritising tasks, responding to simple queries, and so forth. His father was delighted. To Elrond, it seemed as though at least one of his sons had finally begun to take a more active interest in the governing of Imladris.

Elrohir did not tell his father that he didn't pay nearly as much attention to the work as did the graceful motion of Erestor's hand directing his quill over the parchment or the rich, velvet tone of Erestor's voice as he dictated the latest correspondences destined for Lorien and the Havens.

Working in such close proximity had, by necessity, improved their relationship. To Elrohir's relief, and pleasure, conversation began to flow without any of that initial awkwardness, starting with a discussion of the poetry Erestor had gifted him. Elrohir was a gentle elf but firm in his opinions, nonetheless. Their banter had grown so animated that one of their neighbours had been forced to ask them to keep it down.

Elrohir was happy; happier than he'd been for a long time. Yet, underneath that happiness there lay a deep-rooted confusion.

Erestor loved Melpomaen. It was plain for all to see. One only had to mention the small elf and Erestor would transform from the commanding councillor into a kitten.

Why then, had Erestor continued to bestow small gifts on him? The book was only the beginning. There was a hair clip, ostensibly to keep it out of the way while he was working, and the hand cream, which was meant to be good for removing ink stains. Each gift had an apparently sound and reasonable purpose, yet it was the quality of these gifts that was causing Elrohir unease. The hair clip, for example, was wrought in silver and blue howlite. The hand cream contained almond oil, which had to be imported at great expense from hotter climates. These were no trivial tokens.

Even more alarming was the subtle but unmistakable flirtation that had slowly developed. At first it might have been a mere brush of hands as he passed Erestor the inkwell, or a glance out of the corner of the eye. Now it was a knowing smirk when no one else was looking and offhand remarks that should have been innocent but were, in fact, anything but.

All of which led Elrohir to an unsettling conclusion: Erestor was attempting to seduce him.

This was wrong on so many levels.

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"Have you talked to him yet?"

"No, not yet," Elrohir apologised to his bother. Elladan just shrugged.

"Well, you'd better hurry up. The inventory will be finished soon, even with all the extra work Melpomaen found."

"What extra work?"

"Apparently we've been remiss, tôr. The regular stocktaking only categorises arrows by length. That doesn't take account of weight, spine and grain." Elladan rolled his eyes.

"You're joking. That must have taken you days!"

"It still is taking us days! If it wasn't for Mel I think my brain would have melted from boredom by now."

Elrohir snickered. "He talks?"

"Ha! I spent two days trying to get him to talk to me and now I can't get him to shut up! Once you get to know him, 'Roh, he is anything but shy."

Elrohir snorted; he had a hard time imagining that. "So what does he talk about?"

"Gardening, mostly."

"Gardening." Elrohir deadpanned.

"Hmm. That's why he always wears those nasty brown robes. Apparently they don't show the dirt."

"Huh."

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Elladan accompanied him to the library the following morning, throwing him an encouraging wink before heading to the natural history section to collect Melpomaen. Elrohir sighed and entered Erestor's study, mumbling some sorry excuse about the weapons inventory turning into a much bigger task than originally thought.

Erestor smiled enigmatically and nodded.

"I want you to go through these outstanding requests today. Write whatever chasers you need to."

Elrohir quickly settled himself in for the day's work and tried not to notice the small plate of nougat at his desk. It was difficult, though, for he had a sweet tooth and was rather fond of the rare treat made from honey, egg whites and roasted nuts.

Maybe he'd have just one piece…

"Erestor? I've been wanting to ask you for a while now: you've known Adar for a long time, haven't you?"

"Yes, since Lindon, in fact," Erestor agreed, watching the younger elf decimate the supply of nougat with no small amount of amusement.

"How did you meet? I asked Adar but he wouldn't tell me."

Erestor laughed then, and Elrohir stared at him in fascination. He'd never head Erestor laugh like that before. There had been dry chuckles and the occasional sardonic bark but not this warm, resonant growl of heartfelt mirth.

"No, that is not a story one tells to one's children. The truth of the matter is that your Adar and I were not always friends."

"So you were enemies, then?"

"Rivals would be a more accurate term. We were both in love with the same elf, you see. Or perhaps, we both thought we were." Erestor smiled faintly at the memory.

Elrohir tried to imagine Erestor courting his mother and came up blank. Neither could he imagine his father with Melpomaen. He didn't think Mel was that old, anyway.

"Who won? And who was it?" he asked eagerly.

"Nobody won. Ereinion decided he didn't want either of us and so we found ourselves in a tavern, drowning our sorrows as any sensible elves would. We've been friends ever since."

"Ereinion? As in Gil-Galad? Adar liked Gil-Galad?"

"He was a remarkable elf."

"Yes but… I just can't imagine Adar with an ellon. I thought he only liked ellyth," Elrohir choked out.

Erestor caught Elrohir's eye and held it. "Tastes change," he said.

Elrohir drew in a breath. He was doing it again, making double-edged comments that left him confused and frustrated in equal measure. Just what did Erestor want from him?

Elrohir had already decided he would not succumb to this strange courtship. He would not become Erestor's paramour, playing second fiddle to an unranked scribe. There was no honour in it, and no future. If he was honest with himself, Elrohir cared more for the future. Honour be hanged; if he thought it would get him Erestor's love he would have risked it.

Enough was enough, Elrohir grimly decided. Erestor's behaviour was disgracing them both and he should have put an end to it long before now. He was ashamed that he had let it go on this long, enjoying the attentions of one who should not be conferring them.

"Erestor," he began, "there's something I need to…"

SQUEAK.

Elrohir blinked. "Did you just hear something?"

"Yes, I did." Erestor shared a bemused glance. There was a muffled thump, then another. They stood slowly, listening for the source of the strange sound.

SQUEAK.

"What in Arda is that?" Elrohir frowned. Erestor gathered his robes around him and left the study to investigate. Elrohir followed, his curiosity piqued.

SQUEAK.

They turned a corner. Elrohir's jaw hit the floor.

There was Melpomaen, his head flung back and eyes closed in ecstasy, pushed up against a bookshelf by a broad-shouldered, dark-haired elf whose face was buried in the crook of Melpomaen's neck. The scribe's robes were open and had slid down his back, hanging loosely from his forearms and leaving his chest bare. A large hand grasped the small buttocks firmly while the other… Elrohir blushed right to the roots of his hair when he realised what that other hand was doing.

Well, that certainly explained the not-exactly-stifled squeaks Melpomaen was producing.

Beside him he felt Erestor stiffen and gasp audibly.

Two heads whipped around, eyes wide with horror and mortification. Melpomaen's blush easily rivalled Elrohir's while the other…

"ELLADAN?" Elrohir shrieked, as the ashen face of his twin somehow inexplicably pasted itself onto what he had thought to be Berengur's body.

Elladan attempted to stand bravely before what was sure to be his certain doom, stepping in front of Melpomaen in a protective gesture. Erestor's ruthless eyes raked him head to toe.

"You and I shall have words, Elladan," the councillor promised in a cold voice. Elladan swallowed hard and resisted the urge to cringe. "Mel? Are you alright?"

The scribe poked his head around Elladan, having hurriedly fastened his clothing. Then, suddenly, he grinned from ear to ear and smothered a snicker with his hand. Elrohir was aghast.

"Yes, of course, Erestor. I have excellent taste, have I not?"

Erestor glanced at the twins. "Indeed. I wondered how you were managing to make a simple inventory span a fortnight."

Melpomaen beamed. "I was running out of other ideas. I thought you could use the time."

"For which I am grateful. That does not mean, however, that I can let your actions go unpunished."

Melpomaen's face fell. Elladan looked alarmed.

"No!" Elladan pulled the small elf into his arms and glared at Erestor. "You will not lay a finger on him! If you so much as make him frown I will take all three hundred and twelve short swords in our armoury and shove them so far up your backside you'll be spitting steel 'til you sail!"

Elrohir was experiencing déjà vu.

Melpomaen dissolved into some sort of choking fit. "Elladan! You can't say that!"

"I can and I did!" Elladan announced vehemently. He cupped the small elf's jaw in his hand and lifted his chin so their eyes met. "I love you, Melpomaen. I love you and one day we will be bound, if I have anything to say about it. I will always, always, protect you."

The scribe's eyes filled with wonder as Elladan leant to claim his lips in a sweet and tender kiss. Elrohir goggled at his brother. What happened to 'No one in their right mind would call Melpomaen handsome?' Elladan had always been capricious but this was bordering on ridiculous.

"Elladan Elrondion!" Erestor snapped. "I have heard better proposals from dwarves. If you are going to court my nephew, you had better do so properly. And I expect you to ask for my blessing."

Both twins blinked. "N…nephew?" Elladan said in a small voice.

"Yes, my nephew, Melpomaen, the elf you just so happen to be groping! Can you not remove your hands from him for one moment?"

Elrohir couldn't help himself; he looked at his poor, terrified, confused brother and promptly broke down with laughter. Elladan opened his mouth as if to say something but nothing came out.

Erestor gave Elladan a devious smile. "Don't worry, Elladan. If you're not sure how to do it, you can watch me when I go to your Adar and ask for his blessing."

Elrohir stopped laughing.

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In the end Melpomaen had not minded being sent to his room. He was an intelligent little elf and quickly worked out that he could simply take Elladan with him. Elladan had agreed that this was a commendable course of action and the pair had fled before Erestor could finish rolling his eyes.

"I need a drink," Erestor declared. Elrohir nodded, not yet trusting his voice. Luckily, Erestor had a large decanter of brandy tucked away in a cool corner of his study.

The first he knocked back, hoping to calm his frayed nerves. Erestor did not bat an eyelid as he poured him a second.

"Forgive me, Elrohir. I should not have said that."

Elrohir stared at Erestor in dismay. He had turned back into the unreadable, aloof councillor that had first arrived in Imladris; the walls that Elrohir had worked so hard to breach restored.

"Did you not mean it?"

"It was… not what I'd intended."

"I see." Elrohir ducked his head, loath to reveal his heartbreak. For one beautiful, fleeting moment it was as though the Valar had answered his prayers. The moment had passed.

His melancholic musings were interrupted when Erestor took the glass from him and placed it on the desk next to them. Elrohir stared down at their hands. Erestor had not let go, and the councillor was warmer to the touch than he'd ever expected.

"I'd intended to ask you properly," came a velvet murmur.

Elrohir's head snapped up, his astonished eyes drinking in Erestor's ardent expression. It was everything he had once envied of Melpomaen - and more. Erestor's dark eyes burned for him, burned through him, and Elrohir could not fathom how he had hidden such intense passion.

"Yes," he breathed, "you should do that."

Erestor proceeded to do so in a way that met with Elrohir's whole-hearted approval, boldly claiming the younger elf with a tongue that proved to be as clever in close quarters as it was in the council chambers. The decadent taste of warm brandy tangled with the sweet, nutty aftertaste of Elrohir's nougat, an unexpected feast of flavours exploding in both their mouths.

So caught up in the intimacy of their embrace, Elrohir was hardly aware of skilful fingers winding their way into his hair until it was firmly, yet gently, pulled back. Elrohir gasped, arching into Erestor as that tongue moved to lash his neck with long strokes and the pale flesh was mauled by brandy-stained lips and teasing nips. Somehow, Elrohir had known that Erestor would be as commanding in this as he was in everything else.

"Ai, yes, pen velui, there is my answer," Erestor rasped, his voice rough with carnal appreciation.

Elrohir was too far gone to respond in kind, capable only of a low groan as their tongues clashed once more. He attacked Erestor with a newfound ferocity, drawing great breaths through his nose so that he would not have to relinquish the smouldering heat of that mouth. Fire surged through his blood, burning him from within, and Erestor fuelled it with knowing hands. Elrohir could only cling on for dear life as the fire roared into an inferno, scorching him from the inside out. He spilled with a quivering cry, collapsing against Erestor in panting, trembling turmoil.

Erestor held him close as Elrohir sought to rein in the unfamiliar chaos that had overcome him, running possessive hands through his hair and murmuring heartfelt words of admiration. Eventually, the peredhel's body calmed enough that Elrohir could meet Erestor's eyes. Erestor drew him in for a gentle kiss that seemed almost chaste compared to the wild passion of a few moments earlier.

"I knew you would be beautiful," Erestor told him.

Elrohir flushed, wondering how it could that he was embarrassed now, after the fact, and not during it.

"What about you?" he asked.

Erestor chuckled. "There will be plenty of time for me, pen velui. I'm planning on having all the time in the world."

Elrohir rested his head on Erestor's shoulder and decided that this was a very good plan indeed.

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Falmalinde – (quenyan) – songs of the waves

Berengur – bold heart

Pen velui – lovely one