by Ana Library Elf
Email: lib_elf ATyahoo.com
Beta: Chloe Amethyst (the kind and knowledgeable!)
Rating: NC-17 by the end.
Disclaimer: I own no characters from any Tolkien book or movie. No profit, just sweat. But sometimes I hear nice voices.
Summary: AU, Post ROTK. Party planning can be difficult, especially when it involves a three year anniversary celebration for Gondor, 3 royal rulers, 3 fellowship friends and three times A/L try to have sex! Shameless pandering to 3 Year LAS Anniversary Challenge, 2005.
Warning: Het A/A implied. MPreg. A bit fluffy. (I *love* to read angst, just prefer to write happy!)
Archive: ALSlash (others welcome, just LMK)
Feedback: Always welcome and appreciated.
Author notes on Names: "Rhis" Noldorin for ravine or narrow valley. "Cleon" English variant on male name "Clio"
"In Threes" Setting: Minas Tirith, Third Year of the Fourth Age
Chapter One: Preparations
It would be three years since the coronation of King Elessar. Three years of hard work to rebuild a land and a people with the help of staunch friends such as Prince Legolas, the Steward Faramir, Eomer of Rohan, the support of Elven rulers, and many other loyal subjects. Finally the realm was flourishing, and this was the year a celebration would mark that prosperity.
In a main hall of the royal keep, frantic activity that distinctly resembled a roiling anthill carried on the elaborate arrangements for the anniversary gathering. Like the eye in the center of a storm, a golden figure stood in the middle of human turbulence and effectively organized chaos.
The consort's willowy form clad in a flowing green silken tunic and soft brown leggings moved gracefully among the bustling servants. Luckily for all the messengers seeking his council, the elf was easy to spot as there was always a beam of sunlight attracted to his gilded tresses, or a reflected glow that singled out the bright being inside the stone fortress. He solved problems, issued orders, and encouraged the progress of many disparate projects with easy manners and consummate negotiating skills. Outward beauty and inward grace combined to facilitate leadership and inspired renewed efforts from tired workers.
A Gondorian servant knelt in the circle of calm and dared to peer up at the regal visage while cringing at having to bring annoyance to a fair and gentle master. "I am sorry Milord, but the Head Cook bade me take your answer back to him immediately."
Legolas sighed and drew on years of diplomatic patience to deal with the needs of a kitchen artist whose services were most valuable for this event of great importance to the household, and to the entire city of Minas Tirith. The resonant voice betrayed gentle humor as the prince answered. "And of course today *all* his requests are urgent. Yes, tell him he may commandeer a wagon to retrieve the needed supplies. And if he needs anything else, you have my permission to use *your* judgment in the matter." This last was said with a gleaming smile that brought a silent determination within the young man to succeed or die trying to please his noble Elven lord.
The royal staff held deep respect and affection for the right hand of the King and on this occasion all labored with a keen desire to gratify the prince and ultimately their beloved ruler. It was inevitable that the plans for so large an undertaking as a country-wide anniversary would be complicated and exhausting. The organization had been going on for months and while Queen Arwen made many decisions, most of the job fell on the slender, capable shoulders of the King's closest friend and Royal Consort, Legolas, Prince of Greenwood. The strain showed but slightly, leaving the elf a bit slimmer than usual, but unfailingly polite and expertly managing to assign duties and complete necessary tasks. Recently his appetite had been uncertain, but he ascribed the unusual sensation to stress and maintained a staggering level of productivity.
This was the last day of preparations before the main events on the morrow. Colorful tents bloomed in the fields along with spring flowers where years before an epic battle had raged. Though the fearful memories had faded, many remembered those days and reminded the new city arrivals how lucky they were. Beginning with daylight, there would be a parade through the steeply curving streets that would end in the center of the pavilions for a continuous program of food, entertainment, and games of skill. In the evening a huge banquet would be held in the castle, echoed by similar tented tables outside the fortress wall. It was to be a time of grateful celebration for what had been achieved by sacrifice in the past and cooperation in the present. This was a joyous anniversary for Gondor's people as well as for the royal triumvirate of King, Queen and Consort.
A sudden rush of activity indicated new arrivals and a need for official greetings as well as staff assistance. Legolas strode into the outer courtyard and with a slight tightening of the finely honed jaw, braced for a distasteful interaction. He recognized the livery of the escort and the origin of the large traveling carriage disgorging several brilliantly robed visitors. These were guests from Harad and members of a powerful, self-serving noble family known to support whomever held power, but also to deal in the slave trade and anything else that brought profit. They were a necessary, but unpleasant addition to the diplomatic mix of invited dignitaries from the further reaches of Fourth Age Middle Earth.
"Greetings Lord Rhis, and welcome to Minas Tirith on behalf of King Elessar and the people of Gondor."
The tall noble turned to find the source of the melodious voice, and beheld an equally tall being fairer than any he had ever encountered. Glinting veins of gold reflected from the fall of hair that swayed forward with the slight inclination of the athletic figure. The well-tailored clothing gave no hint of this one's station, but of course the visiting lord took it for granted service was being offered.
Flawless features set in the whitest of skin regarded the visitor with a calm expression that betrayed no emotion other than neutral civility. The dark eyed Harad noble felt a magnetic attraction and focused on the exquisite lips as the words were spoken. His own smile broadened to an expression that could only be called lascivious as he took a step closer to the Elven prince.
"Most welcome indeed to find one so fair at my beck and call. How much did the King pay for you?"
Without a facial flicker, Legolas took a step away and allowed an icy tone into his voice and a glacial look chilled the azure eyes. "We do not have slaves in our land. You are our guests and our staff will generously provide for your needs. Respect is given and expected in return. As I am *sure* you would agree?" A refined eyebrow arched questioningly as the statement hung in the air.
"Of course." He returned a smooth answer. "I am always eager to give -- *respect* to one as well-favored as yourself. I trust you will grace our company for dinner?"
"My duties will not allow me to attend, but I am sure your meal will be pleasant. May you have an enjoyable stay in our city. Namarie, gentlemen."
A speculative, calculating gaze followed the retreating form and lingered on the supple outline of leg and thigh revealed in snug leggings and draped tunic. Lord Rhis considered his options and determined to have more to do with this beautiful servant of the new upstart King of Gondor.
Returning to the main hall, brilliant aquamarine eyes searched for any sign of Estel, or his personal staff. It had been a long day, and many hours since the King or his trusted advisor had seen each other. In a momentary lull the Elven courtier swiftly stepped behind an arched doorway and leaned against cool stone. A long fingered hand briefly rubbed aching temples. He wished intensely for an escape into columned trees and dark earthed paths. With a decisive nod, he moved into hallways and away from the central activity. The plans were securely underway and really needed no further advice from him, and if he wasn't available; the well-trained staff would just have to figure it out. He focused on seeking relief and finding his King.
Moments later the crowned head of Elessar could be seen at the other end of the hall making way through the dissipating crowd. The ruler's strong hand reached to clasp the shoulder of the same young apprentice who had been a kitchen messenger a short time before.
"I am seeking Prince Legolas. Where is he?" There was a touch of impatience in the rich voice.
"Sire!" The boy dropped to his knees immediately. "I spoke to him earlier, but I do not know his whereabouts."
The King of Gondor wanted his elf, and he wanted him now. A stormy look gathered in the sterling eyes.
Nearby, an older servant took pity on the lad's confusion and stepped forward. "My Liege. I believe the prince left by yonder hall. He may be seeking needed refreshment." The man bowed with a pleasant look and took a gentle liberty. "Perhaps you might do the same. Shall we have a tray sent to your chambers?"
The noble features relaxed. "Thank you." He focused on the dignified figure. "Cleon it is not? You have been with this household many years and are wise in the ways of testy rulers." The elderly servant smiled as Elessar continued.
"Send something *reviving* within the hour. I leave it to your excellent comprehension to locate where I will be at that time."
"Yes, my Lord. We will seek you out." Cleon's eyes definitely twinkled.
The King pivoted to the hallway leading outside and with a flare of ebony velvet swiftly departed to track his golden quarry.
Cleon addressed the apprentice and two other staff members. "You will have a food tray prepared for the King's quarters, and deliver it to the antechamber. If the inner door is closed you will depart quietly. Do I make myself clear?" There were understanding smiles and nods as the three left to create a portable feast for the King and his Consort.
In another part of the upper floors, Arwen was busy arranging guest chambers for further arrivals and had her own train of assistants. She looked forward to the grand festivities and to hosting many fair visitors, including those from the Elven courts as well as Dwarven delegations. Gimli's folk had already arrived and she gave orders to make sure food and ale was provided for their comfort as the end of the day drew nigh.
She paused by the window embrasure looking down at the small forest reproduced in the arboretum below, and caught her breath while resting a hand on her still slim waist. She had not yet disclosed to anyone that at last a royal heir was thriving below her heart. She knew the quickening had been recent and it seemed that both the land and her body had waited for healing restoration before blooming with new life. Tomorrow she would tell Elessar that he had a son in his future.
Arwen smiled as she caught sight of a radiant form that moved into the garden trees far below her vantage. The Woodland Prince cast a lunar soft glow in the gathering twilight as he drifted into the ranks of arboreal growth that he himself had helped to plant. In another moment she observed the quick stride of her comely husband as he advanced onto the carpet of green and unerringly followed the invisible Elven trail.
She loved them both and blessed their love for each other and expanded that blessing into the regeneration of Middle Earth. If Estel was the sun that caused the land to revive, then Arwen was the night star to calm his energy and Legolas was the mystical moon that inspired dreams and made possible the balance between day and night.
She had never envied the intense passion that ignited between the two men; rather her love embraced theirs and preferred the more temperate affection she experienced from her King. In a deep sense, she understood that her mortal sacrifice had created an intimate bonding with Aragorn's human side, while his Elven inheritance craved an immortal joining that only the Greenwood Prince could provide. These two most beautiful of Elven kin would make the best of the years they had with this bright, burning man, and their trinity created a more perfect union than ever a single pair could have provided. She sighed in contentment and returned to preparations.
In the cool, leafy shadows Legolas leaned against rough bark and inhaled a welcome mossy scent. The trees were new to this earth and reached eagerly for the elf's consciousness. He felt caressed by tendrils of perception and wordlessly they shared a suspended breath in the endless flow that was the heartbeat of Arda. The small grove rejoiced in the elf's presence and communicated messages of seedling growth, and also began to convey images related to human generation. Questions formed in the prince's mind, but at that moment, a familiar touch stroked the satin neck and turned him toward a human sigh.
"I have needed you all this day, melethron. Did you not feel my call?"
"Aye, my King."
He rested a weary forehead against an inviting black velvet shoulder. "I have missed you. Our tasks are almost complete. Tomorrow, the anniversary celebration will be a gift to the restored spirits of our people."
"The only gift I desire is you, ernil guren, prince of my heart. It will be good for the citizens to rejoice. Tonight I wish to celebrate us. This is our time as well." Hands no longer as rough as they once were, cupped a pointed chin and made the sweetly bowed mouth available for a lengthy, ardent kiss. Pliant lips willingly parted and the prince provided a thorough welcome.
The scent and feel of his consort always felt as fresh to Elessar as the first time they had ever touched and their connection was a healing bond that filled the human with life force. He wrapped his arms around the leanly muscled back and completely enveloped the body that warmly molded to his own. One hand found its way under the soft tunic and followed the swell of firm hips to velvet skin at the waistline. The other tangled in lush mithril tresses as his tongue took on the delightful task of tracing delicate whorls and arches of a pointed ear.
The prince was backed into the tree's support with a blissful moan as the hunter pressed his advantage and dragged the shirt lacings open, baring a glowing ivory throat and chest. Soft nips became hard bites as the King closed in on a favorite target and latched onto a vulnerable pink tip with his entire mouth, suckling the erectile flesh. Legolas was beyond words and simply hummed a harmonic note of pure ecstasy as his long fingers combed brown ringlets.
The tree resonated into the elf's consciousness and in an inspired visionary response the prince opened a mental link for his beloved to feel the pulse flowing through him and connecting with the white light surrounding everything in the garden. Elessar gasped and felt his own pleasure surge into the energy as Legolas again brought their mouths together. It was a joining that went beyond the physical and took them out of their bodies for several long moments. In spiraling stages they returned to mere flesh and became once more aware of their surroundings. Distant voices could now be heard and reminded the lovers they did not have complete privacy. The prince shrugged the open shirt back over his shoulders and attempted to restore some measure of decorum.
Gray eyes burned into sapphire pools of light. "You never cease to amaze me."
"And you never cease to find new opportunities to share our love. Hannon le, my shining King."
"That remains to be explored. Your King requires your presence in his chambers. Immediately."
A half smile quirked the flushed lips. "No need to command, my Lord. Should we not –"
He got no further. "No more *shoulds* for me today. Immediately means *now*" Suiting actions to words, the Gondorian ruler swung an arm of steel around the slender waist and propelled his elf forward. Constrained to move or be unceremoniously pushed, the prince gave a silvery laugh and darted gracefully ahead of the man.
Easily racing away in the leafy gallery, the elf was a fading glow that disappeared into the archway in an astonishingly short time. Left behind, the King wasted several frustrated minutes searching for the circlet that had been dislodged from his brow and then impatiently followed his flighty lover.
Inside the fortress the royal consort rounded a corner of the now deserted hall and abruptly came face to face with Lord Rhis and two of his strapping body guards. The Lord's eyes dilated perceptively as he took in the flushed countenance and slightly disheveled appearance of the Elven courtier.
"Mae govannon, as you would say, my fair one. I was hoping we might meet again." As he spoke the Harad noble slowly walked around the prince, inspecting him from shining head to shapely toe. He stopped when he had Legolas between the guards on one side, and himself on the other.
"I think I see what kind of *duties* have kept you busy." The insolent stare made the meaning quite clear and the elf blushed a becoming deeper rose in silent annoyance.
A sudden inkling of danger brushed the prince's senses, but he could hardly believe there was a threat in his own territory. That little bit of over confidence was his undoing. A slight flickering of the dark brown eyes was the only warning before the two servants behind him exploded into violent action. One attempted to lock an arm around his throat, the other to pull his feet off the ground.
They were fast and professional, but he was an elf, and he was faster and stronger than they ever expected. He twisted, kicked, and almost succeeded in disabling the men except for the dark lord who had at first stepped aside, then abruptly lunged forward with a small square of harmless white cloth. However, harm was quickly revealed when a sickly sweet odor enveloped the prince's nose and mouth. He reacted instantly, jerking his head back, and whipping a bright arc of moonlight hair away from the human's clutch, but it was too late.
The drug was extremely potent and the guards felt the quicksilver being in their grasp go suddenly limp. Rhis stepped forward swiftly and caught the sinking body in a tight embrace. To anyone looking down the hall it would appear as if the visiting lord was simply supporting the lithe form collapsed into his arms. He inhaled the enticing scent that wafted from the lustrous strands spilled over his shoulder and smiled in satisfaction. No one did look, and in another moment the overcome elf was easily gathered up and borne rapidly down a side corridor.
Chapter Two: Uncivil Conduct
Gimli was in search of his host to pay proper respects and turned into a torch-lit hallway as Elessar entered the same vicinity from the outer garden.
"Just the man I wish to see. Greetings, my friend. I wanted to thank you for my family's fine accommodations." The curling auburn mustache quivered above a grin as he made a short bow. His elegant leathers creaked a bit since he was wearing stylish Dwarven metal work on every possible belt and buckle. An ornamented, serviceable axe rested securely in a belt loop that was equally decorated.
"Or should I be formal on this occasion and call you My Lord and King?"
"Never formal with me, Gimli. Here you are always an honored friend." A small frown lifted from the royal brow as the King returned the dwarf's smile, but he swept the hall with an uneasy, questing glance.
"However, at the moment you *can* call me tired and frustrated with all the current formalities."
Again, Elessar gazed around the area and registered no visual sign of his aureate elf or felt any mental warmth from the more subtle bond to his beloved's consciousness. His sense of unease was growing as he was sure that minutes ago he had felt a flash of surprise or anger through their connection, but now there was a disturbing lack of sensation.
"Master Dwarf, did you seen any evidence of our impulsive elf in this hall a moment ago?"
"Not a leaf. Is he playing a capricious Elvish game with you?"
"Perhaps. Or perhaps he has sprouted wings because if he is truly on the way to our chambers, I should be able to see his flight down this hall. But I do not. And my tracking instincts are aroused."
Gimli arched a bushy brow and remembered that the instincts of Strider were always to be trusted. "Then let us search for your wayward imp and finish the game, if indeed it is one."
"Good thought. I will check our intended destination, as he may be there and chide me for my tardiness. Would you sniff yonder side hall? And if there is nothing to report, come back this way and I will meet you, with or without our wandering elf."
"Aye, my captain. I will make sure to tease the lad if he is trying to hide from you!"
His King nodded and quickly left while Gimli trundled around the corner of the indicated hallway. A short way down the marble tiles a glint caught his eye. It could have been because he was close to the floor, or simply because anything shiny and yellow would draw a dwarf's attention. He picked up a small clump of glossy, honey colored hair. He knew Elven tresses when he saw them. He had a treasured locket that contained several precious strands from Galadriel and he would recognize the feel and hue anywhere. These could only belong to one person in this household.
They were not a few casually shed filaments; this handful was a tangle that looked ripped from a rich collection. Gimli was not an expert tracker, but he scanned the floor for more evidence and observed scuff marks on the shiny marble. He deduced that they would have to be from heavy footwear and since the castle staff wore soft shoes; it indicated probable visitor activity. His suspicions were now fully aroused as he added up the facts: missing elf, signs of scuffling, and said missing elf's hair on the scene. He hurried down the corridor he now recognized as one of the guest wings, and loosened the axe on his belt.
Lord Rhis had not believed his good fortune when he encountered the lovely golden servant so soon after resolving to either entice or constrain his company for the evening. In his own premises any servant was fair game, and he took it for granted that similar behavior was tolerated here. He was surprised at the skilled and fierce resistance of the elf that spoke of a warrior's training. He had supposed him to be a household steward of some rank, and was fooled by the slender frame and gentle bearing into thinking him easy to subdue. If not for the powerful drug, he would not now be carrying the alluring being in his arms. His grip tightened on the sinuous torso as he enjoyed the feel of lean muscles under thin fabric.
The Harad group reached their suite undetected and the lord proceeded to spread Legolas on the large bed in sumptuous disarray. He dismissed the guards and turned to relish the compelling picture presented on the brocade coverlet. The prince could not be other than graceful even when unconscious, and the display of shapely limbs, tumbled, lustrous locks, and most of the silken shirt ripped away from gleaming shoulders was temptation enough for any lustful mortal.
A foreign hand brushed aside a swath of bright hair tangled in dark lashes and continued to follow the sweet line of an upswept ear. An uneasy murmur came from the ivory throat as a lingering caress traced the exposed neck and paused before undraping the rest of the elf's contoured upper body. The velvet skin begged to be touched and Rhis felt an electric shock as his hands stroked down the flat, creamy abdomen. He was just about to loosen the legging ties when he was startled to be addressed by an indignant, muted voice.
"*What* do you think you are doing? Remove your hands!" The prince's eyes fairly blazed as he came to slow awareness and pulled away from the invasive pawing.
This is too soon, thought the Harad noble. Normally, the paralysis lasted much longer and allowed a satisfactory period of exploration. In a frustrated huff, he tried to pin down the prince's slender wrists as the willowy form struggled underneath his heavier weight. It was even more stimulating to feel the writhing of the supple body despite the panting voice that spat furious invectives.
"Son of an Orc! Release me immediately!" The prince raged angrily as his muscles refused to respond, his head ached fiercely, and he wrestled unsuccessfully on the slippery bedspread.
Rhis stared down possessively at the exquisite features glaring back at him. "And why should I do that, my sweet servant?" He watched in fascination as the cobalt eyes ignited in blue flame.
"Because, either I – " He gave a particularly vigorous thrust. "or -- the King -- will kill you!" The elf was gradually working his way toward the edge of the bed and freedom when he felt his stomach give a rebellious heave. He stilled suddenly, while dusky eyelashes fluttered closed and his face turned bone white.
He swallowed convulsively. "And -- I am about to be unwell. Very unwell!" With strength made desperate by extreme discomfort, the prince twisted to the side of the bed and reached for a chamber pot that he knew was stored under every guest bed in the castle. Rhis was completely surprised by the action and rolled in the opposite direction.
The unfortunate elf proceeded to fulfill his prediction, and empty what little contents his stomach held into the homely vessel. The visiting noble was quite nonplused and became even more flustered when he heard a loud pounding on the door and raised voices.
"Prince Legolas! Are you there? It's me, Gimli!" The dwarf had indeed followed some of the shoe tracks to the correct door and was now disputing the right to enter. He heard the prince's voice in a distinctly distressed reply and without further ado swung his axe between the stunned Harad guards. The door lock shattered and a determined rescue party of one burst into the room.
He spotted his partially clothed friend curled on the bed, with deathly pale face, and one long fingered hand covering his eyes. Lord Rhis was standing nearby and staring in a peculiar way at the forlorn figure.
"Did you say *Prince* Legolas?" He addressed the intimidating dwarf who looked quite threatening with his axe aloft and fiery beard that appeared to shoot angry sparks.
"I most certainly did. Prince Legolas, Consort to the King of Gondor."
Rhis visibly blanched and grew round eyed.
Gimli growled. "What have you done to him? You spawn of Morgoth!"
Rhis found his voice. "I think I may have made a mistake."
Gimli advanced to the bed and placed a gentle hand on a bare arm. "Master Elf, are you hurt?"
The Prince did not stir, but whispered. "Nay, Gimli. Just glad you are here."
Rhis sputtered. "I did not get to -- I mean, *nothing* I did nothing to him! He became ill, I was just helping him, and he passed out. I was going to call someone –"
An imperious voice and matching regal figure swept into the room. "That would be me."
The King had followed the sounds of conflict, and taking one comprehensive look at the scene; he crossed the room in two strides and was immediately beside his elf. Sensitive hands moved quickly over the quiet form and luckily for the Harad visitors, found no injuries. He gestured for the dwarf to hand him a glass of water, and as he supported Legolas to drink, turned a searing glance on the shrinking foreign noble.
"I believe I see what almost happened here and be sure that if it had, we would now be looking at your head on the other side of the room." Rhis audibly gulped and fully comprehended the folly of his actions.
The refined voice continued with coldly suppressed fury. "Start packing. You have violated our hospitality and our code of conduct. You may tell your leaders that another representative will be tolerated if they can behave with *proper* civility."
The Harad courtier nodded in chagrined silence and realized that he was getting off easily compared to his own country, where by now he would surely be a dead man. He looked with reluctant admiration at the King holding the lovely creature he had almost possessed and vowed to convey the information to Harad that Gondor was not to be trifled with or underestimated. A ruler with such strength and immortal grace under his control was indeed a formidable power to be respected.
The warmth of the elf's body and faint mental contact relieved some of Elessar's concern as he encircled his consort against his shoulder. Ruffled, gilt strands brushed his cheek and a familiar woodland fragrance comforted his own senses.
In a much softer tone he spoke over the bowed, tawny head. "Thank you Gimli, for finding my missing Greenleaf. I do not think teasing will be in order."
Gimli snorted. "We will save it for another time. Anything else I can do?"
"Make sure they leave tonight. My guards are outside."
The dwarf hefted his axe with a satisfied smirk. "Be glad to!"
Sitting on the guest bed, Elessar tightened his grip around alabaster shoulders. "Can you stand meleth nin?"
"Aye. I would like to *walk* out of here."
The King swirled his own short cloak over the prince's fair flesh and assisted him to leave under his own power. Thankfully for the elf's dignity, no other staff witnessed his final arrival at the royal apartments cradled in the arms of Gondor.
The ruler sat his companion on their own bed and observed his wan face and listless demeanor. The tray of food was still awaiting their attention and Elessar insisted that Legolas eat a few bites and drink more liquids.
"Do not trouble yourself over this. We will simply rest tonight. We do not have to celebrate and you do not have to tell me the story now."
The prince felt an uncomfortable wetness stinging his eyes and tried to calm the fluctuating emotions surging through his heart. Foremost was pain at disappointing his lover on a night they had planned together, and second was embarrassment at having been physically overpowered in home territory.
"Hannon le, meleth. I feel foolish. I am sorry about tonight, and today I should have been more alert --"
He was stopped with a light kiss. "No more *shoulds* remember? Rest now, play later."
The prince was gently pushed back, long legs lifted up, and was constrained to stretch out as the king of his heart contemplated the ethereal beauty he was blessed to possess. A comforting hand stroked the luminous brow and sent healing energy to the distressed consort. Too weary to protest further, the golden elf of Gondor sank back on the deeply feathered mattress and obeyed the royal command.
(Of course there has to be *three* chapters.)
Chapter Three: Celebration and News
Even the rays of Anor were eager for the anniversary day to begin, as dawning shafts of light bathed the white city in renewing streams of energy and benediction for the joyful celebration. It was just daybreak, and the procession that would initiate events was assembling in the elevated fortress plaza. Glad sounds of musical practice, voices raised in excited discussion, and the stamp of many hoofs echoed up to the royal chambers.
Arwen stepped onto her private balcony and waved to the industrious staff teeming on the walkway below. All was proceeding in good order, thanks to the detailed organization achieved by the prince consort and her own diligent assistants. She enjoyed moments like this, able to see successful activity completed, and yet still be alone with her own thoughts. She realized that today would be full of obligations, but luckily none of the three royals would be needed in the early morning parade. At the massive banquet in the evening they would be required to appear in full formal regalia so a brief period of calm was a welcome respite.
Across the inner courtyard the marble edge of a sequestered balcony could be glimpsed facing away from the current commotion. A banner of white curtain billowed on the morning air indicating the chamber windows were open and the occupants probably awake, but screened from any observation by height and exclusive location. These were the King's apartments and as was often the case, Elessar and Legolas spent their nights together, and as much of their mornings as possible with each other, before responsibilities demanded separate attention.
It might be an unusual marriage arrangement to outsiders, who would never criticize a beloved ruler, but Arwen thoroughly appreciated having a husband who spent much of his intimate time elsewhere, and allowed her generous personal freedom. When she and Aragorn did come together, it was a refreshing interlude in a life of duty and "noblesse oblige."
Moving away from the balustrade, Arwen considered her universe of past and present and counted her blessings. Her mind returned to those family members still upon the shores of Middle Earth. Her starry sky encompassed the twin planets she grew up with as brothers, as well as a human sun and immortal moon. She knew the twins shared a unique bond, and extended a loving, unfailing loyalty to her royal union. In a surge of understanding, she saw that the two sets of men in her world represented a parallel of true love, and it was she who could provide unconditional acceptance and a calm counterbalance. Mortality had a price, but the joy of being able to create a purposeful, productive life in this existence far outweighed the loss of impervious, unchanging Valinor. It was enough.
In the King's apartment, the consort found he had had enough of reverie, stretched languorous limbs, and turned to contemplate his anchor on this earth. His King lay next to him still asleep, and the well-muscled body was delightfully warm and furry next to bare Elven skin. Elessar lay with one arm extended across the ivory abdomen, and even in sleep one strong hand curved up in possession of a sculptured pectoral. Slightly rough fingers unconsciously compressed over an erect peak and the sensation flowed directly to Legolas' groin. Breathe quickened, and the prince realized his nipples were almost painfully sensitive. He squirmed away and rubbed his chest in surprise at the intense, but not unwelcome stimulation.
His head still ached slightly from the previous night's unfortunate encounter but all aches were forgotten as a truly impressive kingly scepter was deliciously displayed in a tangle of discarded sheets and nested brown curls. A playful, lecherous smile curved the talented, rosy lips as the prince ventured a delicate taste of the royal rod. Soon the meal became much less delicate.
Elessar's eyes widened in sudden realization that his erotic dream was going on right here and he was about to –
"Mmmmm, ah, ah -- Le--- go---las!" And words deteriorated into a long cry of ecstasy as the consort devoured warm liquid refreshment.
Licking slightly swollen lips, the prince smiled archly. "Does Gondor surrender to Greenwood?"
Pewter eyes glinted balefully from half lowered lids. The deceptively relaxed physique suddenly exploded into action as the human swarmed all over the elf, grappling the sinewy, lithesome form into the sheets with relentless strength. The lively wrestling match went on for several minutes as the limber skill of the elf was pitted against the weight and clever tactics of the wily ruler.
Elessar knew the weakness of his Greenleaf and in one unfair move, latched his mouth onto an ear tip, pinched fingers around contracted nubs, and suckled and massaged unmercifully. He felt the prince go limp, then quiver uncontrollably as the King suddenly released the ear and dove like a hawk for the milky column rising responsively from between creamy thighs. His hands never let go of the pebbled tips while he ingested the aroused elfhood and was rewarded with an unusually quick culmination of pearly immortal essence.
Legolas writhed convulsively, stimulated almost into unconsciousness, and after one last ripple, sank back so unmoving into the demolished bed that Elessar became concerned. His hands cupped the high-planed cheekbones as he peered into the silvery, unfocused eyes.
"Meleth nin, where are you? What is happening here?" Silky strands spilled through brown fingers as his thumbs smoothed a racing pulse in the extended, unblemished neck. Awareness slowly returned to the sea-washed gaze.
"Estel?" The elf's use of that name was a sign he was not yet himself. He blinked slowly and absently rubbed his chest.
"Still tired from last night?" Inquired the king.
Legolas sighed. "Perhaps. I don't know. Sorry, I seem to be so sensitive."
He sat up and looked down, where the nipples were still contracted and unusually dark against the snowy skin. "By the Valar, your touch here was good, but almost painfully so." He smiled and softened any imagined criticism with a slow kiss on the strong jaw. The next moment the crystalline eyes went unfocused again.
"Oh no, not again." The elf paled and clenched bloodless lips. "My love, excuse me – now!" And without any further explanation the consort jerked hastily to his feet, and with less than customary grace hurried into the nearby bathing facilities.
Elessar went to the closed door and heard unmistakable sounds of stomach distress as the prince refused to answer his call and continued for some minutes to remain locked in the chamber. When he emerged, he was almost transparently pale and did not push away the insistently supportive arm Elessar immediately wrapped around the slim torso.
"We are calling the royal physician, *now*" He pulled once on a cord that summoned servants.
"How long has this been going on?" The tone commanded a response.
Legolas closed his eyes and thought a moment. "The nausea was just recent. Well maybe not, I have not been able to eat large meals for about a month, but I thought it was just stress and that drug yesterday –" Elessar shrugged on a light robe and handed a sky blue wrap to his consort just before the servant arrived to take orders for the royal physician.
"And the breast tenderness?" Elessar the healer was speaking now, and Legolas looked up reproachfully as the human's touch probed the recently abused flesh.
The elf flinched slightly, but did not object. "Recent. Now wait a minute, you *cannot* be thinking what I think you are?"
Elessar rested his hands on the archery trained shoulders and looked steadily into the innocent sapphire gaze. "Why not? It does run in your family. We thought you were not capable, but perhaps the time was not right until now. It is a blessing of the Valar."
To the King's utter amazement, Prince Legolas, Son of the Greenwood, one of the Fellowship Nine, fearless archer and slayer of dark enemies, allowed huge tears to run unrestrained down his cheeks and buried his face in long white hands.
"Not now! It's too soon! I wanted to help Arwen –" he wailed and and continued to sob in a rather heartbreaking manner.
This emotional reaction more than any other symptom, convinced the King that his Greenleaf was indeed *pregnant*
Abruptly, the content of the prince's last remark sunk into Elessar's mind.
"What do you mean *help* Arwen?"
"It is what the trees were trying to tell me last night --" hiccupped the elf. "Remember in the garden? Just before you came they were sending images of their own seedlings, and then there was a picture of Arwen – and then -- me!"
He sniffed dolefully. "Now I know what they were saying; they are having children and so are we! I have always wanted to help Arwen raise a child."
The King swallowed hard, both happy and stunned at the news. "But won't you still be able to?" he asked, and then watched in dismay as the beautiful ultramarine eyes filled anew with tears.
"No, I'll be too busy -- because -- because I am having *twins* !"
"Holy Elbereth! I mean, that's wonderful – but how do you know?!"
"The trees know." He stood and began pacing the room, angry tears still streaming down the sharp chin. "I love children, but I don't want to be a burden, and I won't be able to help either of you in a very short time."
Elessar grabbed his consort's arm and pulled him into a tight embrace, forcing the bright head onto his shoulder where he continued to weep silently. "Daro, Legolas. Stop worrying about everyone else! We have an entire household staff willing and able to assist both of you."
He shook the slight body gently, realizing that stern words were better at getting through to the distraught elf. "Listen to me, I am not helpless and you are *not* the only one able to organize things. You will have to accept help. We will work together."
The prince took an unsteady breathe and looked into shining gray eyes. "You are right, Melethron. We can do this." He gave a watery chuckle. "I hope you and the dwarf will not laugh at me when I get too big to ride a horse!"
"No, we will simply find something bigger. Perhaps an Oliphant will do."
The physician entered to find the King supporting the swaying prince as they both laughed uproariously at some private joke. He cleared his throat to get their attention.
"Excuse me, my Liege. I was told the consort needed my attention. What seems to be the problem?" He smiled indulgently. "Other than an excess of mirth."
Elessar sobered immediately. "Thank you for coming so quickly. We have happy news for myself and for the kingdom. Both the Consort and the Queen are pregnant."
The man's eye's dilated. "Happy news indeed. Congratulations. I had heard that some male elves can conceive but this will be the first one I have ever seen. I will find the best healer in the land to assist us."
The very fact that the learned practitioner was able to admit he needed expert advice was reassuring to the King. Elessar interjected. "I do know some Elven healers trained by Lord Elrond before he sailed. The hands of the King can do many things, but we will need experienced assistance. I want the best of care for them and I want it to start now."
The physician bowed. "I agree. Meanwhile, I would like to examine his highness, as many of the same physical symptoms will probably apply to both pregnancies."
The prince needed some persuasion, but eventually the examination was completed and the verdict was yes, three months into pregnancy, and yes, with a family history of twins, the likelihood was great that he was also blessed with two growing lives. The prince was sure it was two, but the physician would wait to have more physical confirmation than an arboreal dream. The fact that Legolas was not yet showing any abdominal swelling was due to the lengthy gestation period of Elven pregnancy, up to twelve months before delivery. It was going to be a long year.
As the royal triumvirate entered the banquet hall that evening an enormous cheer rang out in the immense chamber. Some hint of the announcement to come had spread through the crowd, but no one spoiled the actual pronouncement other than with the huge preliminary approbation.
Elessar was so proud of them and their union that brought peace and prosperity to a deserving people. He stood between the two loveliest beings in Middle Earth and smiled till he thought his heart would burst. They were all wearing the black and silver raiment of Gondor and looked otherworldly in beauty and grace. Arwen's hair was dark as a raven's feather and her eyes truly did shine like stars. The King was majesty personified in winged crown and broad shoulders that supported the weight of the realm and a sweeping, silver-edged velvet cape. It was the prince that caught the heart and made breath stop for just a moment as if hearing a song just one step away from heaven. He was a little too slender, but it made the pure, luminous angles of face and form all the more prominent and he shone as if lit from within.
The food and festivities began, and near the three head chairs were also ranked Gimli's family and Arwen's two brothers, Elladan and Elrohir. Many toasts were spoken and finally the anniversary banquet was made even more joyous by King Elessar's announcement that Gondor would be blessed with heirs from *both* royal spouses within the year. The exact number was not yet disclosed; it would be a pleasant surprise for later.
The cheering went on and on, and underneath the noise Gimli tugged at Legolas' sleeve and spoke into a blushing leaf-shaped ear. "So that was the reason you could not keep anything down with that barbarous visiting noble!"
He received a quick nod and mortified look in return as the prince tried to think of an appropriately squelching reply to what he knew would develop into an endless teasing repetition of an embarrassing incident. Nothing inspiring came to mind until he noticed Arwen in conversation with her brothers and he remembered past taunts from that source as well. A golden opportunity presented itself to playfully even all scores.
There was a lull in the swirl of conversation at the head table that allowed the prince to catch the attention of Arwen, wink meaningfully, and jump into the gap. The king was momentarily away from the table and missed the exchange.
"Arwen, should we not think ahead and plan for our poor over-worked husband to get some child care assistance?" The consort gestured to the small group around them.
Her eyes gleamed in appreciation as she went along with the lead. "Absolutely, my fair partner. Next year at this time my brothers *will* be back for another anniversary celebration and I am sure we can count on a long visit for the 'uncles' to get acquainted with their new cousins."
The elegant twins sensed a trap, but in this situation, how could they refuse?
Legolas continued. "And how could my friend Gimli not also lend his aid? He is like family to us, and will surely offer to help."
Borne along on the tide, Gimli stared helplessly across the table as the other pair nodded in mesmerized acquiescence. Their sister always got what she wanted.
The Dwarf tried one last means of escape. "Well, I am sure these famous Elven warriors can handle two little babes just fine without my help. I wouldn't want to spoil a family affair."
The prince's charming mouth curved innocently. "Oh no Gimli, they *will* need your help. It will be one each for the three of you. There will be *three* new heirs by next year."
Gimli eyes bulged and two sets of flying black brows shot up.
There was a chorus of horrified male exclamations cut off by Arwen's softly authoritative voice. "You have already agreed to come back next year. It is settled." She smiled sweetly. "Now enjoy your wine, you have a whole year to contemplate the blessed event."
Gimli snorted and looked hopefully toward the queen. "Who is the one *blessing* us with twins?"
Now it was the consort's turn to smile sweetly. "That would be me."
"By Durin's beard! Now we're in for it, Greenleaf's twins will be worse than those two!"
Legolas pretended offended dignity. "Now you have hurt all our feelings! What will the king say to that?" Gimli took a deep draft of his ale. "Nothing, if he is smart. He already knows trouble comes *in threes*"
There was general shared laughter and much more friendly banter over a very long, satisfying evening.
Much later, the three future babysitters found new fuel for productive teasing. Arwen had happily confirmed that she was also about three months into a parturient condition, and in a very private conversation it was revealed that the dual begatting date was probably on the *same* night during a winter solstice festival.
And *that* is a story best left for another time.