by Chloe Amethyst
Gift For: Artemis
Translation--cabor = frog.
Imladris, Spring 2949, Third Age
Despite their claims that any passage of time seemed but a little while to Elven folk, the lordly residents of the Last Homely House frowned upon any instance of tardiness. Estel’s hurried gait reflected this knowledge, as he was about to be late for official business in the courtyard. A very rare visit of members of Eryn Lasgalen’s royal family were arriving today, and their official welcome into the courtyard and Elrond’s home was choreographed to be a grand occasion. Every lord, guard captain, advisor, head scribe, and even the senior cook was required to be present for the welcoming, which would begin precisely as King Thranduil’s forward guard were spotted crossing the Stone Bridge. Estel cursed as he heard the welcome songs begin, which meant he was officially late.
As Estel raced through the hallways toward the courtyard doors, he blamed not himself but his long tunic for his lateness. He had celebrated his eighteenth birthday only weeks ago, and one of the gifts he had received was an entire set of the finest clothing he had ever owned, courtesy of his foster brothers. They told him he was now a man and must put away the shorter, simpler tunics of his youth in favor of more mature attire. Now his wardrobe was filled with short tunics of tough, heavy leather for errantry, as well as long ones made of the finest velvets and silks for official events in Imladris. He was wearing the longest and best one now, a slate blue silk with flowing sleeves embroidered with silver knot work. Underneath, he wore a finely woven linen under-tunic of pale grey.
This was the first time Estel had worn this tunic, and it came to just below his knees. He felt a bit silly in a garment this long and impractical, though he acknowledged its beauty. At least his Elven brethren had not given him formal robes as they would wear, so long they would drag upon the floor. Thankfully, Estel could still see his ankle boots. But as he was moving across his room after putting on those boots, he walked too close to his sword stand, and one sleeve caught and tore loose a seam. In a panic, Estel ran clear to the other side of the huge house to where the seamstresses had their workrooms and begged one to make hasty repairs. Once sewn back to rights, he fled toward the courtyard doors, praying to any Vala who would listen that the Mirkwood delegation would take its time making its appearance.
Finally reaching the doors, Estel was out of breath and red faced from exertion. The doors were open wide and he could just see his foster father’s hand extending to embrace King Thranduil’s forearm as he began to run down the stone steps. Halfway down, he caught sight of a grey and white blur that leapt up from the bottom of the stairs to pounce at his feet. Trying in vain to recover his balance and not step on his assailant, he flailed his arms and twisted his body, yet ended up in a heap at the bottom of the steps.
He lay there long enough to blink a couple of times, and then looked back up the stairs to see Elladan’s cat, the guilty beast, staring down at him with interest. Raising his head, he briefly invited the fantasy that perhaps no one noticed his fall. The sting in his knees told him they were both scraped, and looking down he saw the fresh holes in his leggings. His new tunic was covered in dust and bits of leaves that he tried to brush off as best he could. Slowly he looked toward the crowd and saw dozens of Elven faces staring at him in astonishment, and right in the middle of them with eyebrows raised were Lord Elrond and King Thranduil. If there were any mercy in Arda, he thought, the ground would open up right then and swallow him whole.
"Are you all right?"
There was a light tug on his elbow, as the musical voice inquired after Estel's well-being. Getting to his feet, Estel gazed into the fair face of the one helping him up. A fairer Elven face he could not remember seeing. Pale golden hair fell down beside the pronounced cheekbones, above which, large blue eyes looked upon him with kindness and concern.
"Umm, yes, I'm fine," Estel replied meekly. "Thank you. Thank you very much." Estel knew by the elaborate gold leaf pattern embroidered onto the Elf's green velvet tunic that he was a member of the royal family of Eryn Lasgalen. The Elf nodded slightly and smiled at him, and despite Estel's embarrassment, he managed to smile back, at least until he looked up again and realized the others present were waiting on him.
Trying to regain what he could of his bruised dignity, Estel made his way over to his father, the blond Elf following behind and then stepping into place beside King Thranduil. Estel bowed low to his lord father and then to the king.
"King Thranduil, may I present my foster son, Estel, of the Dúnedain." Lord Elrond had a gift for continuing on in any situation as if even the worst possible gaffe had never occurred. Estel thought a wind could have come and blown the roof off Imladris at that moment, and Elrond would not even bat an eyelash, pushing ahead with the official welcoming.
"I trust that is not part of some Dúnedain welcoming ritual," the Woodland King said as he eyed Estel from the bits of leaves in his hair to his scuffed up boots. "I hope you are not damaged, young man."
"N-no, Your Majesty. Welcome to Imladris," Estel stuttered. He was thankful his head was still bowed so the king could not see the bright scarlet of mortification on his cheeks.
"And may I present my son, Prince Legolas," Thranduil replied, and the Elf with the gentle smile who had come to his aid at the bottom of the stairs stepped forward and bowed, first to Elrond, and then to Estel.
"I am honored and most thankful to be a guest in your valley." Legolas raised his head and his gaze fell softly on Estel.
Estel turned his head to look upon the tall, slender Elf who was the king's son. "Welcome, and again my thanks, Your Highness," he said somewhat shyly to the Prince, whose smile seemed to brighten. Then thankfully, the formal welcoming was over and all were dismissed. The Mirkwood delegation wasshown to their rooms where they were to rest before dinner, while the residents of Imladris made themselves ready for the royal banquet that evening.
Estel retired to his rooms to clean up and wait for the tower bells to announce the dinner hour, and found Cabor, Elladan's cat, sitting on his bed. "So there you are, traitorous one." Estel sat next to the cat and pulled him into his lap, then stroked his back. "Now I know why Elladan named you as he did. You leap like some giant, furry frog!" Cabor glanced up into Estel's face impassively and then began to knead the top of his thigh and purr. "Don't think I won't give your master a full report upon his return. Then again, perhaps silence about this incident is best or I risk teasing for the rest of my life. Don't I have enough trouble trying to measure up as a man living among Elves without your help? Hmm?"
Into his thoughts came the visage of Prince Legolas, his kindness, and his charming smile. With a sigh, Estel fell back onto the bed and stroked the cat as his eyes closed. When he nodded off for a brief nap, he dreamt of hair that shone like gold and blue eyes that glittered like starlight.
Lord Elrond had summoned Estel to his study before the banquet. He found his father sitting behind the endless stacks of scrolls heaped upon his desk. Estel had changed into another set of formal attire, and hoped his father had forgotten his less than impressive entrance at the welcoming. He cleared his throat softly to announce his arrival.
"Ah, my son. Come in, Estel. Sit down." Elrond moved to a set of chairs near the windows that bordered one side of his office and Estel sat next to him.
"You wished to see me, Ada?"
"Yes. That was quite an astonishing entrance you made inthe courtyard today. It may be a first here at Imladris."
His hope disappearing, Estel felt the crimson returning to his cheeks. "Yes, Ada, and I'm terribly sorry if I embarrassed you. That darned cat of Elladan's has not stopped ambushing me since the twins departed. Thranduil's people must think I'm a complete fool."
"Oh, I don't know. If I were fond of games of chance, I would wager there's not any Elf in high office that hasn't committed some sort of egregious protocol error at some point in their lives. Have I ever told you of my dinner with Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel, just after I announced my intention to court their daughter?"
"No, but I have a feeling you are going to tell me. You do know that the bells will sound for dinner in less than an hour."
Elrond twitched an eyebrow at him. "Anyway, we were having a lovely dinner together, and I was trying my best to be terribly charming, graceful, astute, and well-mannered so they would give me their daughter's hand. Then it came time to serve dessert. Bowls full of berries between leaves of delicate pastry were set in front of each guest. Then we began to pass a bowl of fresh cream whipped with sugar for garnish. As I picked up the spoon, it slipped out of my hand and crashed onto the table where it bounced once and flew back into the air, sending its share of the whipped cream flying. The glob landed smack onto Lord Celeborn's nose. Then to make it all worse, I started to laugh."
Estel looked at his father with astonishment, and then gave him a huge grin. "You are making this up."
"No, I assure you. Every word is true. Alas, when I came to my senses and realized none of the dinner guests were laughing with me, I thought my courtship days were over. Obviously, I was forgiven." Elrond's grin was equally large.
"But that's not why I called you here, Estel," Elrond continued. "With Elrohir and Elladan on errantry, I was wondering if you would entertain Prince Legolas for a few days. His father and I will be meeting in private negotiations for several days, and then Prince Legolas will be required in about a week to help my staff iron out details. In the meantime, I don't want the prince to be bored here. I would like you to be his companion and show him Imladris, introduce him to the members of the court, and so forth. I know you will take excellent care of him and represent our home to its finest."
This was the first time Elrond had asked Estel to take on the task of being primary minder to such an important dignitary as Thranduil's son, and he smiled at his father's confidence in him. However, a part of that smile was from the memory of the prince's fair countenance and friendliness. "Yes, Ada, I would be delighted!"
During the first half of the week, Estel introduced Legolas to what must have been scores of Elves. They also watched the guard execute various maneuvers in drills, compared Mirkwood and Imladris techniques in battle, and as Elves were very fond of them, engaged in various contests of target shooting and swordplay. Although Estel could already best many Men with years of experience beyond his own, he still could not hope to beat even abelow average Elf at target shooting. Legolas managed to best even the finest of Imladris' archers, and Estel's sense of inferiority grew with every victory. Swordplay was much the same, although Glorfindel swore that one day Estel would be competing with his best warriors. Still, he had much to learn, and he had fallen on his backside in defeat so many times he was sure his arse was one giant bruise.
The prince's treatment of him, no matter how poorly he felt he compared, never changed. Legolas was never boastful, always full of thanks and praise to his competitors for their efforts, and his easy smile rarely left his face. After any competition, he was ready with a grin to accompany Estel to the next diversion. Even more astonishing was Legolas' request that he be called simply by his name with no recognition of his status. Estel began to feel that the prince really valued his companionship, but could not quite understand why an Elf so much his superior in age, rank, and skill would do so. Whatever the reason, Legolas' attention made him nearly giddy at times.
When they had run out of things to do within the grounds of the Last Homely House, Estel suggested they go on a hunting trip through the valley for a few days. Legolas, as always, was quite eager. They packed provisions, loaded their quivers with plenty of arrows, and set off at dawn one morning, walking west toward the glade where Thorin and company had first met the Elves as they journeyed with Mithrandir to Imladris. Here in the lands surrounding the glade, they set up their first camp.
Initially, they had debated whether to stay on the ground or ascend to a tree for sleeping, as Legolas was accustomed to when traveling without the silk tents and dozens of guards that accompanied a royal entourage. Estel, with eyes lowered, somewhat sheepishly explained that unlike Elves, he could not sleep on a limb in a tree like a bird with his eyes closed, or Legolas might end up hauling his broken carcass back to the House of Healing.
"The ground it is then, and no matter," the prince replied with his charming smile.
As they sat around their fire in the evening, Legolas asked Estel many questions. He asked about his earliest memories and if he remembered the times before coming to Imladris. He asked about Estel's mother and birth father, and Estel told him what little he knew of his father's history. All Estel had ever heard was that his father was a Dúnadan noble, and was brave and worthy of praise for his deeds. Legolas' gaze never fell from Estel's face as he listened intently, apparently genuinely interested, never fidgeting or showing impatience. Estel felt as if there was complete acceptance sitting next to him in the form of this golden Elf, and it was a feeling he never had truly allowed himself to experience before with anyone other than his foster father and brothers.
Then Estel asked Legolas to tell him of his own home and family, and Legolas shared with great intimacy the details of his life, especially his grief over his mother's death, which caught Estel by surprise. Usually Elves were never so quick to share their private lives, especially with a man. Surely, Legolas saw him as a trustworthy and worthy companion. A longing began to fill Estel's mind and heart. Though these shared experiences brought them together, he felt a powerful need for a further closeness he did not yet understand, a need for belonging, a need to share something he could not quite name.
In the grey light before dawn the next day, Estel suddenly came awake and was aware of a warm stickiness covering his groin inside his leggings. Memories of his dream flashed through his mind, of smooth, long limbs wrapped around him, long fingers caressing his body, and golden hair catching the sunlight. He rose as silently as possible so as not to wake his companion and cleaned himself up. Now he knew. He had fallen in love. But what to do about it, he had no idea.
Legolas and Estel spent the day pursuing a small herd of deer whose tracks they spotted shortly after breaking their fast. In this Estel felt at his most comfortable, for he had become a fine tracker and woodsman, and often bested the Elves with his skills. As they made their way through the underbrush, Estel could not help his frequent darting glances to Legolas, and was quite gratified to find the Elf glancing at him just as often. Mere glances progressed to the briefest of touches: a hand brushed across each other's backs or elbows, legs brushing together for an instant as they stood. Estel's longing turned into a hunger, yet he was afraid to do anything about it as he did not know whether Legolas was feeling the same way or merely being his open, friendly self. It was becoming maddening not knowing.
Eventually the small herd came to a deep pool fed by a spring and stopped to drink. The two companions crouched down behind a bramble thicket and observed. As the hinds bent down to the pool to drink, tiny spotted fawns stood close to them. Apparently, the deer had been traveling back to where they had left their fawns hiding in the thick underbrush before going out to graze.
"I believe I've lost my taste for venison just now. How about you, Estel?"
"I agree. I've always thought venison was overrated anyway," Estel said with a grin. "We've still got dried pork and berries in our packs, as well as waybread."
"With that and good company, it will be a feast!" Legolas chuckled for a moment and then locked eyes with Estel. They stared at one another, as if unable to pull away, for several moments, and Estel felt his heart pound. The sharp cry of a hawk close by startled him into breaking his gaze first, but even with his inexperience he knew something significant had passed between them.
After a while, with the deer long gone from the pool, the companions decided to set up camp next to the water. They lazed on their backs on blankets enjoying the sun on this unusually warm spring day, listening to the birds and watching the squirrels dart from branch to branch above them in the trees. They had pulled their boots off and wiggled their toes in the cool earth. Both were drowsy with sunshine.
"I want to thank you."
"For everything. For your friendship, for shepherding me around these past several days, for making me feel so comfortable. I had not expected such an enjoyable time when we first embarked on our journey."
Estel sat up and leaned on his elbow toward the prince. "Think nothing of it. It's been my pleasure. It sounds like you were dreading coming here."
"Well, no, not exactly dreading." Legolas sat up and leaned to look at Estel. "But given the history of our two kingdoms, and growing up with rather, well, prejudiced stories about Imladris, I was a bit worried. I knew my father would be deeply engaged while here, but I feared I would be wandering about on my own, except for servants in tow, awkwardly trying to mingle with a people who might not really want me here. An outsider. What I actually experienced could not be farther from that, and I have you to thank for it."
Estel glanced down shyly. "I'm afraid I, too, didn't know what to expect. My father and brothers have always filled my heart with their love, and I know they will always do so. But I still hear whispers from time to time from some of the Elves about the "outsider" that became part of Lord Elrond's family. And when we visit the villages of Men, they also do not know quite what to make of me. I had feared the worst from your people, especially after my less than competent entrance."
They both laughed lightly at the memory of Estel sprawled at the bottom of the courtyard steps with Cabor staring down as if the human had lost his mind to put on such a display.
"But you, Legolas, have put me at ease with your kindness and with your acceptance of me. I am grateful." Estel paused for several heartbeats before continuing. Softly he spoke, "I shall never forget you."
Before Estel could quite register what was happening, the distance between them was shrinking fast. Then he felt a pair of soft, supple lips lightly cover his. Closing his eyes, he wondered if he was dreaming again, but the sensations were too real to be of his imagination. Legolas pulled back slightly and gazed into his eyes, looking for any hesitancy. Giving him none, Estel felt those lips press once again to his, but harder and more insistent this time. Being a novice in the arts of love, Estel briefly wondered what to do in return, but quickly enough he found himself following Legolas' lead, while a heat began to build in his groin and belly. The prince placed his hands on either side of Estel's head as he kissed him. Estel reached up and twined his fingers in Legolas' soft, fine hair as the kiss deepened even further.
Legolas pulled back just as Estel was running out of air and brought his kisses down to Estel's neck and ears. When he pulled Estel's earlobe into his mouth, Estel's toes curled and his now rigid cock began to ache against the tight confines of his leggings. He thought he ought to be doing something wonderful in return for Legolas, but these new, exquisite sensations held him practically paralyzed except for his quickening exhalations of breath.
The next thing Estel was aware of involved his clothing, as Legolas had unlaced the ties at the top of his tunic, and with a great pull, snatched both it and his under tunic over his head. He pulled his thoughts back up from his groin long enough to realize he should do the same for Legolas, and soon they faced each other bare-chested in the sunshine.
Estel reached out his hands to stroke the impossibly smooth skin of Legolas' hairless chest. He felt the hardness of lean muscle underneath the pale flesh as he ran his hands down to the Elf's abdomen and around his ribs. Legolas leaned forward and kissed him again, gently pushing him down onto the blankets until he was horizontal and could feel the length of the Elf’s body against his. Estel felt the hardness from Legolas' groin pressing into his hip, and issued a groan as his desire grew even greater. As the Elf's lips moved down his chest to caress a nipple, Estel fought against himself to maintain his control and not to spend too quickly.
Kneeling between Estel's legs, Legolas began untying and then pulling off his leggings. A thought passed through Estel’s mind that this was a momentous occasion: his first experience of sharing his body with another, and a new chapter of his life was about to begin. How fortunate he was that this should occur with such a wonderful being as Legolas. All such lofty thoughts fled immediately south when Legolas finally had his leggings off and took Estel's cock in hand, beginning a slow stroking that was infinitely more pleasurable than when Estel did this himself, alone in the dark.
Looking into Legolas' eyes, the young man discerned the same hunger, the same intense need for their physical connection that he was feeling himself. The Elf worked his own leggings off, and glancing down Legolas' lithe body, Estel saw the Elf's own sex standing erect against his belly. He reached down to touch and felt the softest of skin over hard iron. This had to mean it was almost time: they would shortly be making love. He might not know firsthand all the mechanics of the act, but he was confident he could simply follow his companion's lead into bliss.
Eventually, Legolas rose up and fished a small silver pot out of his pack, similar to those that stored salves for use by Imladris' healers. He returned to Estel's side and lay down on his back, putting his arms around Estel's neck and pulling him down for another consuming kiss. When they broke apart, Legolas pulled the lid off the pot and collected a dollop of a slick ointment onto his fingers. Setting the pot aside he pulled his knees up toward his chest. He reached his hand down to his opening and pushed the salve into his body and then spread it all around his entrance. Estel had never seen such an erotic sight in his young life, and he was sure his eyes looked as wide as saucers.
With his slick hand, Legolas reached out and caressed Estel's cock with the slippery substance, and with his other hand reached behind Estel's neck to pull him closer. Estel was now lying on top of Legolas and staring into his eyes, his knees resting in between the Elf's thighs.
"I want you inside me, Estel," the Elf whispered.
Estel had never been happier to comply with a request as he was at this moment. His sex twitched with anticipation and his heart felt swollen with love.
Unfortunately, he began to realize the rest of his body had frozen. His inexperience had gotten the better of him and he hesitated, not feeling terribly confident of knowing the best way to go about this. Of course he knew which body part went where, but he figured there were probably other details he was missing and he didn't want to make a fool of himself at the single most important moment of his young life.
Legolas noticed his hesitation, of course. "Is there anything wrong, Estel?"
"Umm, well, ah…"
"Estel, have you never done this before?"
Biting his lip, Estel gave a quick shake of his head in response.
"Really? One as fine as you are? There has never been anyone?"
"Well, once when I was nine, Ada caught me with a human girl my age who said she'd let me peek under her skirts if I'd pull down my knickers. I'm afraid we were found out well before anything happened. Elven hearing, you know. I got one month stable duty for that."
Legolas let out a soft laugh. "Oh dear! I suppose that's no surprise with your Ada and brothers hovering over you if they were anything like mine were. I thought for a long time I might end up one of Mirkwood's oldest virgins."
Surprisingly, none of Estel's old feelings of awkwardness came over him. Instead, looking at Legolas' soft and shining eyes, he felt relief and the same acceptance he had felt before.
"Nothing to worry about, Estel. Don't be nervous. Just feel." Spreading his legs wide, Legolas reached down with his long arm and once again took Estel in hand, guiding him to his entrance. Legolas then took two deep breaths. "Now push, slowly."
Estel did just that, stopping when he felt resistance, and then applying more pressure with Legolas' encouragement. Before very long he had sunk into the Elf's body up to his sac. He was surrounded by an intense heat and squeezing tightness that forced him to concentrate hard on not coming right away. When he felt under control again, he slowly pulled out and pushed back in again, repeating a bit faster each time until he reached a delicious rhythm.
Estel felt his mind going blank, all his attention running down to the sensation around his cock and the growing tightness in his sac. But he held on long enough to observe Legolas closely. The Elf's eyes were closed, and his head was tilted back with his lips parted as he panted. Legolas had reached down to his own sex and was stroking it hard in time with Estel's movements within him. With nearly every thrust in, Legolas gave up a moan. Relieved to see that Legolas seemed to be in as much bliss as he was, Estel's mind tossed all thoughts away other than reaching completion.
Estel’s climax came upon him as a sudden storm, with his mind roaring and his cock spurting hard over and over again as he let out a long groan. He collapsed onto Legolas and felt the Elf's thick essence spread over his belly and chest. Legolas then wrapped his arms around the Man and held him tight, kissing his temple and nuzzling into his hair, whispering words of affection and praise.
They disengaged only long enough to grab a cloth to clean up a bit, and then Estel was suddenly consumed with an overwhelming tiredness. They held each other close as they dozed.
The companions, now lovers, spent the next two days among the groves, meadows, and moors before returning to Imladris. They paused often to make love, and Estel received every experience as a delightful education in love. In his heart, he gave thanks to Elbereth for sending Legolas to love him, and he began imagining all the delightful days they would spend together over the years. His happiness seemed boundless.
That was until the reality of their situations came creeping back into his mind the closer they grew to the Last Homely House. Estel knew that Legolas would have to return to his duties to his father and king, go back to the Greenwood, and leave him behind. There was no way he could go with him, as he could not leave his foster father to whom he had sworn his service, and who often hinted that it had been foreseen that Estel would play a great role in preserving not only Imladris' future, but that of many lands. Estel had no idea what exactly this meant, other than his father and the other lords of Imladris were preparing him for something, so he must remain. Perhaps when it came time for him to begin his own errantry, he would reunite with Legolas and they would grow together in love. He could not know for sure. Despite the ache these thoughts left in his heart, Estel turned his mind to making the best of the time they had left together.
After they reached Imladris, Legolas was immediately pulled into meetings with top advisors of both realms for the painstaking process of ironing out the small details of every tentative agreement reached between Elrond and Thranduil. The hours Legolas spent in meetings behind closed doors ran late into each night, followed by debriefings with Thranduil until the dawn. Sometimes, Estel would hover outside the doors for a few minutes, longing for the day's session to end and his lover to emerge. Eventually, he threw himself into his own duties to ease his pining.
There were nights when Legolas could get away, and the two would come together either in Estel's rooms or in the gardens under the moonlight. They made love as if they were starving then, but kept quiet so they would not be discovered. The pleasure was always exquisite, but they were the most bittersweet of unions, knowing that separation was only days away.
The morning finally dawned when all the notable residents of Imladris assembled very early in the courtyard for the official farewell. Elven songs full of wishes for safe travel and abundant blessings rose with the sun. Estel stood in the courtyard also, next to his father and right across from Legolas. They gazed into each other's eyes and attempted to convey all the love and longing they could with only a look, without breaking the outward impassivity that protocol required. When it came time to clasp forearms in farewell, their grips were not typical of warriors, but gentler and almost caressing. Neither knew when they would touch each other again.
Thranduil's company mounted up and began filing out of the courtyard and toward the Stone Bridge. The Elves began to disassemble and return to their duties. Eventually, Estel was the only one who remained. He looked far ahead and caught sight of Legolas' golden mane. At that moment, the Elf turned to look back at him. After a few moments, he turned back and continued on out of sight.
Estel felt a single tear course down his cheek and quickly brushed it away. He then made a vow to himself and to Legolas that they would reunite one day. There was no reason to believe it would never be. Their song had not yet been written into the music of Arda. Estel promised to live up to his name and trust in the music of what happens, whatever that might be.