Moving carefully, Glorfindel raised himself on one elbow and looked down at his sleeping lover. He couldn’t resist brushing a lock of hair from Legolas’ face, and then dropping a whisper-light kiss on his lips, but still Legolas did not wake.
Clearly he had worn Legolas out.
Glorfindel couldn’t resist a smug smile when he surveyed the trail of clothing that led from doorway to bed. His grin broadened when his eyes fell on Legolas’ shirt, with its long rip from collar to hem. He had shown remarkable restraint yesterday, from his arrival in Minas Tirith with Elrond’s household all the way through Arwen and Aragorn’s wedding ceremony, and even through the interminable feasting and speeches that had followed. Not once during that time had Glorfindel exchanged more than the coolest of glances with Legolas, let alone touched him or spoken with him. He scarcely knew how he had contained his need. Only when the newly wed couple had left had he stepped behind Legolas and clasped his shoulder. To all outward appearances it was merely a friendly gesture, but the words he murmured were anything but comradely.
“My room. Now. I’m going to ride you so hard, you won’t be able to get out of bed for a week.”
Well, he’d done his best to live up to that promise, Glorfindel mused as his eyes roamed Legolas’ body, taking in the vivid oval bruises that were scattered liberally across the prince’s skin. Not that Legolas had complained. He had responded with an enthusiasm that had stoked Glorfindel’s lust to even greater heights. Their reunion after a six-month famine had been explosive, to put it mildly.
But now, as the first light of dawn crept into the chamber, Glorfindel saw for the first time beyond the marks left by last night’s exertions, to the traces of exhaustion and strain that had not been there at their last meeting. Glorfindel was concerned. Surely Legolas should have shaken off the effects of the quest by now. In all the centuries he had known and loved Legolas, he had never known him to get as worn down as he appeared now. What had happened? Struck by a surge of tenderness for his young lover, Glorfindel was determined to lavish all the care onto him that had been absent whilst they had been apart.
He leaned down and kissed Legolas’ brow. “Sleep then, beloved,” he said, knowing that even asleep, Legolas would be able to hear. “I’ll fetch us some food. I won’t be long.”
The servants were just beginning to set out the breakfast dishes in the dining hall when he arrived. It didn’t take Glorfindel long to assemble a tray with some buttered bread, fruit, and a jug of apple juice. He also added a small pot of honey, chuckling to himself as images of all the places he could spread it formed in his mind. Bread didn’t feature at all.
On returning to his room, he nearly dropped the tray at the sight that awaited him. Legolas had shifted in his sleep and now lay sprawled on his front. The blankets had slid aside, revealing all of one long, lean leg and allowing a tantalising glimpse of the curve of his backside. Glorfindel hastily deposited the tray on the bedside table and shed his clothes before sliding into bed. He drew Legolas into his arms and trailed kisses along his shoulder and up the side of his neck.
With a sigh, Legolas turned in Glorfindel’s arms and snuggled close. “I missed you so much.”
“I wasn’t gone that long.”
Legolas chuckled and nuzzled the crook of Glorfindel’s neck. “Every minute away from your arms feels like an eternity. However, I was talking about the quest.”
Mention of the quest reminded Glorfindel how worn Legolas was looking. “We haven’t really spoken of that yet, but I can see something’s happened that weighs you down. Won’t you tell me about it?”
A shadow passed over Legolas’ face. “Something has happened, and I will tell you.” Then he grinned: the same mischievous smile that had captivated Glorfindel’s heart all those years ago. “But later. I have other, more pressing needs just at the moment. As I hope you do, too. It took me an age to arrange the blankets just so while I was waiting for you to return. I hope the sight didn’t leave you entirely unmoved.”
It did Glorfindel’s heart good to see Legolas look more like his old self. In reply he pressed closer, so Legolas could feel exactly how affected he had been. After that, all thoughts left their minds save the need to join their bodies.
In the end there was no need for Legolas to explain. Some time later, as they lay with limbs entwined, a keening wail from the skies pierced their blissful haze. Moving like one asleep, Legolas rose and went to kneel beside the open window. He leaned out, gazing up at the sky, swaying back and forth as he followed the gulls’ flight. To Glorfindel’s horrified eyes it looked as though he was poised for flight. He was just about to leap out of bed to grasp his arm when Legolas turned to speak, his face filled with wonder.
“Can you smell the breeze? It’s blowing from the south this morning.” He drew a deep breath. “The sea must be mighty indeed for its song to call to me across this great distance.”
Glorfindel was shocked to see tears spill down his cheeks. He hurried over to Legolas and folded him in his arms. For a moment Legolas remained unyielding, and continued to gaze at the gulls. But just when Glorfindel was considering shaking him to snap him out of his fugue, the Wood-elf collapsed against him and began to sob. His next words were incoherent. All Glorfindel could make out was: “You’ve seen the sea. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Not knowing what else to do, Glorfindel simply rocked him in his arms and murmured gently until the sobbing eased. “I’m sorry, beloved,” he said finally, “I should have warned you when I knew you’d be travelling to the south.”
At that, Legolas managed a faint smile. “How like you to take responsibility for something beyond your control. You can’t protect me from everything, you know.” He wiped the tears from his face. “Galadriel herself warned me to beware of the sea. I accompanied Aragorn on the Paths of the Dead knowing full well what might happen.” In a few words, he described that dark journey and the effect of hearing the gulls’ cries. “I was so enthralled by them I scarcely knew what I was doing,” he said at the end. “It was only Gimli yelling at me that brought me back to myself. If it hadn’t been for him I might have missed the whole battle.”
Glorfindel went cold with shock. “It happened during battle? Sweet Elbereth, you could have been cut down!” He clutched Legolas even closer. “Remind me to thank Gimli next time I see him. Thank the Valar someone was looking out for you. How I wish I could have been there.”
“I’m not entirely helpless, you know. I can look after myself.” The note of irritation surprised Glorfindel.
“Yes, I know that, but I’m always happier when I can be there to watch over you.”
Legolas drew back slightly and studied Glorfindel, frowning. “So when you came to fight beside me in Lasgalen, it wasn’t, as I thought, to aid us against the Shadow, but to keep an eye on me?”
“Well of course I wanted to make sure you were safe. Why else do you think I begged Elrond to let me join the Fellowship as well?
As soon as the words were out of his mouth he wished he could take them back. In the heat of the moment he had quite forgotten that he’d never told Legolas that. He had known exactly how Legolas would react. He closed his eyes, waiting for the storm to hit.
Legolas didn’t disappoint. He tore himself from Glorfindel’s arms and leapt to his feet. “You asked to accompany me? I can’t believe this! So what you’re saying is you think you’re superior to me because of your greater age and experience, and I can’t manage without you?”
“You don’t trust me!”
Glorfindel tried to catch Legolas’ arm, but he shrugged him off, spitting oaths that would make an orc’s ears curl. He picked up his breeches and pulled them on and then snatched up his shirt, uttering more curses when he saw the ripped cloth. He flung it down, glaring at Glorfindel, and then stalked to the wardrobe and tore one of Glorfindel’s shirts from its hanger.
While this was going on Glorfindel simply pulled on a loose robe and sat on the bed. He was used to his lover’s fits of temper and knew them to be short-lived. He would wait until Legolas had calmed down before trying to explain himself; nothing could be gained by trying to reason with him while he was in this mood. He bit back a smile as Legolas buttoned up the over-large shirt all askew. Laughing would certainly not improve matters. Only when Legolas pulled on his shoes and opened the door did it dawn on Glorfindel that Legolas really meant to leave.
“My love, wait!”
Legolas turned, his eyes blazing. “Do you have any idea how it feels, to find out the one you love above all else believes himself to be superior to you? Well I’ll tell you one thing – maybe you are older and more experienced, but at least I’ve never got myself killed!” He stormed out, slamming the door so hard that the breakfast dishes rattled.
Glorfindel thumped the wall. This was not how he’d planned their first morning together.
By the time he had washed and dressed he felt happier. Legolas’ temper would cool quickly enough, and if things followed their usual course, they would spend the rest of the day in bed making up. The only trouble was where to look for him. Maybe Gimli would know. Glorfindel had been astounded to learn of Legolas’ friendship with the Dwarf, but by all accounts they were almost inseparable. Musing on his lover’s reasons for forming such an unlikely friendship, he went to seek out the Dwarf’s chamber.
As he approached the door that a maid directed him to, he saw it was ajar. Smoke wafted out, making him wrinkle his nose. Evidently the Dwarf enjoyed smoking a pipe as much as Gandalf and the Hobbits did.
He was about to knock when a voice boomed out. “This is my room, and if I want to enjoy a quiet smoke while watching the world go by, then by Mahal that’s what I’ll do. If you want fresh air, then go seek it elsewhere.”
“I fail to see how you can watch anything go by in this fog. Just how long do you intend to sit here?”
Glorfindel’s heart lifted to hear the second voice: it was Legolas. And he spoke with a bantering tone that suggested that he had recovered from his ill temper. He stepped closer to the doorway and peered through to see a small but cosy chamber furnished with a low bed and two armchairs on either side of a large window. Gimli sat in one of the chairs, puffing away at a long, elaborately carved pipe, while Legolas was perched on the sill of the open window.
“I’ll sit here for as long as I like,” said Gimli. “Or at least until you decide to go back to Glorfindel and sort out that ridiculous argument. He must be-” At that point Gimli glanced up and met Glorfindel’s gaze. He gave the Elf-lord an approving nod. “On second thoughts, I think I’ll go and see what those young Hobbits are getting up to. Now those are folk who truly appreciate the fine art of pipe-smoking.”
Legolas looked up, and sprang to his feet when he saw Glorfindel standing in the doorway. Glorfindel took a hesitant step into the room, his gaze locked on Legolas. He scarcely noticed when Gimli stepped past him and shut the door after himself. He opened his mouth to speak, but Legolas got there first.
“Forgive me; I shouldn’t have said that about getting killed. That was cruel.”
Glorfindel silenced him with a kiss. “Hush; I’m the one who should be asking for forgiveness.”
He would have said more, but just then more gulls flew overhead, their wails filling the room. Legolas buried his head against Glorfindel’s shoulder. They stood there like that for some time, until the calls dwindled into the distance.
“Do you want us to sail?” Glorfindel asked eventually.
“No, there’s so much of Middle-earth I still want to see. And friends I can’t bear to leave behind.” Legolas smiled and gave Glorfindel a swift kiss. “What about you? I thought you’d want to stay in Imladris with Elladan and Elrohir.”
“Aye, I’d like to stay with them for as long as possible. When Elrond sails I’d like him to know that I’ll do my best to persuade them to join him.”
Legolas wound his arms more tightly about Glorfindel. “Ai, Arwen’s loss is a bitter blow. It would be a great comfort to him if you stay.”
“Would you live with me in Imladris then?”
Legolas shook his head. “I hate the thought of us still being apart, but it’s too far from both the forests and the sea. I wouldn’t fare well there.” He took a deep breath. “Aragorn has asked me to form a colony of Elves in Ithilien, to help heal the woods there. It’s tempting. It’s so beautiful there, and it’s close enough to the coast that I’d be able to visit it occasionally.” He looked up hopefully. “And maybe in time you could even persuade the twins to join me there, so that we could be together.”
Glorfindel tried to hide his dismay at their separation, but had to agree that Imladris wouldn’t be the right place for a Wood-elf stricken with the sea-longing. “It sounds idyllic,” he said at last. “I think you should accept. I dare say Elladan and Elrohir will be spending enough time in Minas Tirith for us to see each other fairly often, even without them moving to Ithilien.”
Legolas smiled. “I’ll build a home for us both. Just think what it will be like, making love in the treetops every night, and then watching the stars twinkling through the branches as the wind rocks us to sleep.”
“Ai, why did I have to fall in love with a Wood-elf? What’s wrong with good solid houses made of stone, and bedchambers that don’t sway in a breeze?”
“Well, talking of solid chambers,” said Legolas, playfully nipping the side of Glorfindel’s throat, “perhaps we should return to yours. I believe we have unfinished business: last night you promised to ride me so hard I wouldn’t be able to get up for a week. Yet here we are, both out of bed and fully dressed, and it’s not even noon. You have some serious work to do.”
Glorfindel grinned and pulled him towards the door. It briefly crossed his mind that they had failed to deal with the issue that had caused their argument, but then dismissed the thought. Let Legolas mention it if he thought it important.
To be continued