Title: Solstice for Three / contribution in LASlash Anniversary Challenge 3/2006
Author: Ana Library Elf (lib_elf AT yahoo.com)
Beta: Chloe Amethyst (the kind and knowledgeable!)
Rating: PG-13 to NC-17 Romance and light angst.
Summary: Post ROTK. AU. A winter solstice celebration tests the 3-way relationship and diplomacy of Gondor's rulers: Aragorn, Arwen and Legolas.
Archives: LAS to start (OEAM, Aniron, and my Live Journal eventually) Feedback: Very much appreciated!
Warning: Het implied. (*g* I just like to prove 3-ways can work, A/L is primary, of course)
Disclaimer: I own no characters from any Tolkien book or movie. No profit, just sweat. However, I like to listen to the nice voices.
**Author's note: This can be considered a "prequel" to my other story "In Threes" where Arwen *mentions* that both pregnancies were "begetted" on one solstice night --- *wink, wink*
Question for anyone: Do you need to have read "In Threes" to understand this story? Inquiring minds are taking a survey --- thank you!
LAS 2006 4th Anniversary Challenge --- by Milady Hawke: Fiction "First lines" Chosen Line: "The party was only the beginning of what would happen tonight"
"Solstice for Three" or "The Begetting Night ---" *wink, wink, wink* By Ana Library Elf March, 2006
The party was only the beginning of what would happen tonight.
Starlight and moon shadows sculpted the city of Minas Tirith into sharp angles softened at the edges by a coating of mid-winter snow. It was early evening on this bright solstice night in the third year of King Elessar's reign and the mortal Fourth Age of Middle Earth. The official countrywide third anniversary would not be for several months, but this particular occasion seemed brimming with high spirits and burgeoning hope for the future.
Throughout this busy year the ruling trio of king, queen, and consort as well as royal advisors had been diligently rebuilding Gondor's foreign relations. Recent successful economic negotiations demanded a memorable celebration. The solstice date was an ideal time to acknowledge hard won diplomatic achievements and a growing sense of national prosperity. The mood of the city was festive even as the snowfall deepened, and the populace settled in for a long night of merrymaking.
The castle keep was no exception to cheerful activity, and was lavishly decorated with verdant garlands, vivid silk banners and thousands of flaring candles. The noble company within was equally resplendent and appeared to glow in richly hued winter velvets as they circulated through the huge banquet hall enjoying the holiday feasting and entertainment.
However, as the evening progressed, the most brilliant gem in the gathering of crown jewels felt rather less than glowing after he had politely accepted far more well-intentioned liquid cheer than was comfortable. Courtiers and other royal staff had come to admire the counsel and skill of the king's consort Prince Legolas, and in an excess of good wishes had importuned him to join in repeated rounds of congratulatory toasts. In keeping with a desire to build further good will for his king, the Greenwood prince had refused no one, and now the effects were catching up.
The golden Elf of Gondor was unfailingly polite and still graceful as he made his way outside for much-needed fresh air. How to describe feeling being both chilly and giddy at the same time? Happily frozen? Pleasantly numb? He acknowledged all of the above in an advancing state of oblivious hypothermia and turned a little melancholy as he contemplated the impulse that had taken him away from the gathering. More than one overheard conversation indicated some popular misconceptions regarding the relationship of the three royals. "Two spouses take away the king's strength," or "the prince and the queen are competing for attention." As untrue as they were petty, the words still hurt and disturbed the loyal archer. Though the love between the Dúnadan and his Elf was as passionate as ever, this night Legolas deemed that their public interaction had to be distant. It was better for appearances.
Needing to cleanse the negative thoughts, he inhaled refreshingly crisp air and opened slender arms to embrace the night's beauty and was embraced in return by moonlight and the nearby trees rustling a welcome.
The solstice revelry continued in loud abandon as the Elf drifted down the icy garden path further away from the main banquet hall. Snow dusted the already moon-washed hair and glittered gently on dark lashes and high cheekbones. Other revelers failed to notice the departure, and even had they looked into the manicured woodland, would not have seen any footprints on the thickening expanse of snow.
Inside, Aragorn stood with Faramir at one end of the happily congested hall and beamed in congenial benediction over the well-orchestrated party. He looked every inch the regal ruler in deep burgundy garments accented in Gondor's traditional black and silver with sable-edged collar and metallic slashed sleeves.
His mood was mellowed by fine wine and at the edge of awareness was the constant comfort of his bonded mates' mental touch. Arwen was like a low sustaining hum in his song of life and weaving above his own melody was a silver, counter-pointed harmony that danced over, under, and around the whole. Legolas was ever his own composition, yet always the unconditional joining enhanced the symphony of three hearts' music of the soul.
As if hearing a bit of the mental melody himself, Faramir also smiled in a rare relaxed expression that smoothed his usually serious mien. "It goes well, does it not, my liege?"
The king nodded. "Aye, well for this night *and* for our new trade agreements. Both owe much to you, my steward -- and to our double-edged Elvish sword, otherwise known as my observant wife and astute princely consort."
The noble chuckled softly. "It was the quiet Silvan Elf whose considerable court experience sniffed out the subtle contract wording that needed changing. I can still see the surprise on the Northerner's face when Legolas innocently questioned the last few paragraphs."
Aragorn chimed in. "Then the queen asked why the customs' figures on the first and third pages did not match. I had to admire the representative's skill in diplomatic backpedaling that allowed him to make corrections, and yet not admit any intentional deception."
Faramir's eyes glinted. "Indeed. I think your 'royal triple strategy' is becoming more accepted by our council every day and will not be underestimated again!"
As the two men shared further reflections, the female strategist in question approached from behind and slipped a warm hand through her husband's muscular arm. Queen Arwen looked especially lovely in wine-dark velvet matching the king's and setting off her creamy shoulders and gleaming ebony braids.
"Do I hear government duties being discussed on a night dedicated to gaiety?" She stated in mock dismay.
"'Tis true my dear; our thoughts are never far from obligations. Are your acute Elvish ears burning? We were complimenting you and Legolas regarding the trade agreements we settled so advantageously yesterday."
Her smile widened in acknowledgement, then turned pensive as she addressed Faramir. "I am glad you feel the council is coming to recognize our trio as the established royal regime. Their beloved king has gained acceptance for outside participation in Gondor's rule, but personal tolerance comes slowly."
Faramir spoke partly as advisor, partly as friend. "Never doubt the people's regard for you, or for the consort. Your role in the triumph over darkness has not been forgotten. In addition, the presence of Firstborn blood in the royal lineage is certainly counted a blessing." His gaze became considering. "Have the counselors been dropping subtle hints about the line of succession again?"
"Some not so subtle." replied Arwen tartly. She blushed a bit under her husband's warm look. "Perhaps our diplomatic success will distract them from harping on the issue of an heir."
Aragorn tried to make light of the subject, but some annoyance was revealed as he commented. "They are certainly rather impatient. It has not been fully three years since peace was achieved. Building a country *and* a family takes time!"
He was startled by his own vehemence and quietly examined the reaction. Memories arose of intimate pleasures with both his queen and with his warrior love and the king realized anew how grateful he was for a relationship that allowed him to love his prince with intense passion and his wife with gentle honor. Reflecting on their frequency of congress, he felt a small bubble of doubt surface and began to wonder himself why the lovely Elleth had not yet conceived. Could it be that his vitality was spread too far and was actually depleted by loving two spouses? He *refused* to go in that direction, and instead tried to remember all that he had heard in his time with Elves about multiple pairings. There was a memory regarding immediacy of couplings and fertility, if he could only recall how it applied to extended relationships.
Faramir sensed a need to lighten the mood and shook his head. "Now it is I who will chide you both. Let everyone see your happiness this night, for sharing jubilation is the surest way to overcome restraint and build bonds of friendship with even the haughtiest nobles!" He was relieved to see the king break out of abstraction and give an embarrassed grin.
"My friend, again you give us the best advice. What say you, my lady? Shall we mingle more closely?" Arwen smiled consent and Aragorn glanced again around the exuberant hall. "I also wish to find our third companion and show the court the fair side of three-way rule. Where has the wily Elf prince taken himself? I swear he is avoiding us. I have not seen Legolas since food and drink were served."
They had started down the stairs, but Faramir paused and looked uncomfortable. "I will seek him out for you, my lord. Indeed, I think he is more the diplomat than I realized." And with that cryptic comment, he gave them a gentle push onto the dance floor and departed.
As they were welcomed into the moving throng, many appreciative glances admired the beauteous picture they presented of handsome warrior king and stunning Elvish queen. This mingling was serving the exact purpose the steward desired and let the populace see the joy shared by their rulers.
Aragorn twirled Arwen in graceful arcs and raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "What, pray tell, did Faramir mean by that last remark?"
She was loath to break the spell of the moment, but realized only honesty would serve. "I believe he is correctly giving Legolas credit for being sensitive to current court discussion about the issue of succession."
"More like common gossip, I dare say --" muttered her partner.
Arwen smiled ruefully. "I fear that comments about 'competition' for the king's attention have made Legolas feel he needs to be shy of our company in public." She hurried on. "We know that is completely untrue, but the common people simply do not know us well enough to see our truth -- as yet."
"This situation is *not* acceptable and we may need to demonstrate that a triumvirate is more than just a title." Sterling eyes flashed dangerously and their dancing took on a vigorous edge.
Arwen utterly trusted her king, but could not help giving a small shiver now that a Ranger's instincts were aroused. This could get interesting or very uncomfortable, and for whom, she was not certain; it was just a matter of when.
As the dance ended they were surrounded by congratulatory couples pressing cups of mead into their hands for a series of victory toasts. Courtesy demanded a response and by the time several more dances had gone by and many more cups were shared, Arwen observed the shine in her husband's eyes had taken on a positively feral gleam. Oh. My.
Aragorn's usual equilibrium was definitely in a state of disturbance as he registered the lack of his consort's stabilizing presence. It was not that he disliked being solely with Arwen for such ceremonial evenings, but during seasonal changes, their three-way bond was especially sensitive and his naturally passionate nature craved their connection. The almost sensual energy he displayed on the dance floor sought a release, and Arwen felt her body responding.
As the call sounded for the midnight supper, Aragorn made a decision. Several things coalesced in his mind and his sure instincts for both diplomacy and strategic timing came into play. In the back of hall he also noticed the arrival of Faramir, and when the man gave an expressive shrug indicating a lack of Elf Prince, he felt his emotions surge with a new determination. "Citizens of Gondor, indulge me with a moment of your time." The hall quieted and the king
held Arwen's hand and the entire court's attention as he spoke. Power and primal energy radiated from his voice and focused every eye on the regal pair.
"This solstice has seen many blessings come to our fair land. We are healing from a time of darkness and we can be grateful to our own hard work *and* partnership with other races." He paused and looked round the room. "Since my coronation I have been blessed with two Firstborn companions. This royal triumvirate has enabled the success, peace and prosperity we now *all* share." There were nods of agreement among the colorful crowd.
"This night I, King Elessar, declare in royal proclamation, that Queen Arwen and Royal Consort, Prince Legolas are *equal* spouses and fully vested rulers in this realm." He gazed significantly at those nobles he knew were probably responsible for rumors of relationship "competition" and then uttered the final ritual words of canonization. "Let it be written in the royal statutes, and so shall it be."
There was a noticeable uncomfortable shifting in ranks, and finally one of the counselors raised his cup. "A toast to the triumvirate of Gondor!" Huzzahs rang out. "Three cheers for three superlative rulers of the realm!" The hall shook with resounding approval. Aragorn smiled.
Arwen released a breath she had not noticed she held, and let herself appreciate the finesse with which "Ranger instincts" had been implemented. Then she gasped as she was swung in a masculine hug, lifted and swirled out of the hall. The feral gleam was back in her mate's eyes for other instincts had been aroused and now demanded satisfaction.
The King shot one last glance at the edge of the dispersing throng, spotted a hovering Faramir, and barked orders. "Steward, you know the one I need. I want him in my chambers. Posthaste."
As the hour drew well past midnight, couples and other small groups filtered away to personal quarters for further private celebrations. It was a holiday tradition that carnal liberties taken this night were never criticized. It was a time for sharing the body and spirit as the diurnal dance of light and dark reached a momentary balance in the march of Arda's days. Offspring from these dates were considered blessed by sun and moon, and often possessed unusually even tempered dispositions. Solstice created a transition and an opportunity to change old patterns.
Faramir was creating many *repeated* patterns as he crossed and re-crossed the castle's halls in search of the elusive Elven prince. He was feeling rather frustrated when a whisper of vaguely familiar sound reached his ears.
The exterior garden was not a popular destination under a layer of icy white powder, and was solely occupied by an extraordinary being who was softly singing to the trees. The solitary Elf had leaned into one of the larger trunks and branches had sympathetically folded round in a snowy embrace that kept him upright. It was a long, complex ballad and the music was how Faramir found the Greenwood prince. By simply following the low, sweet melody to it's source he beheld an otherworldly vision, as if a living alabaster statue stood before him and somehow the frozen lips barely moved to emit the song.
The steward was entranced for a moment and then realized the seriousness of the situation. Legolas might be an Elf, but even so, one could take grave hurt from such sustained cold.
He leaped forward, brushing layers of rimed frost from delicate features. "My Lord, how came you to be here alone for so long?!" The tree released it's support and the slim figure avalanched into Faramir's arms.
There was a barely intelligible murmur. "Seemed best for now -- for king and queen."
"I was afraid you would say that" stated the noble as he carefully gathered up the limp Elf. The lean body in his grasp was thoroughly chilled and as clinging flakes shed everywhere, the prince's eyes slid shut in an unnaturally withdrawn state.
As quickly as possible, Faramir made his way back through the deserted corridors. He looked with concern at the utterly still, utterly exquisite chiseled profile cradled on his shoulder. Wet, golden hair clung like amber seaweed to a long white neck where thankfully, the advisor could see a slow pulse beat beneath luminous skin.
He found himself outside the king's chambers and taking a deep breath, unceremoniously thumped the heavy door with his completely soaked boot. It felt like forever as he and his fair burden dripped quietly on the stone floor. The thick door swung open to reveal King Elessar in naked, unashamed royal glory. Even distracted with worry as he was, the steward had to admit, the man before him was magnificent. The ruler's body glowed with vitality and battle instincts still thrived since a serviceable sword gleamed menacingly in the Dúnadan's right hand.
"What is the meaning of this disturbance?!" Aragorn began gruffly and suddenly registered who and what was standing before him. "Blessed Eru! What in the name of Elbereth has happened here –" he exclaimed, dropped the sword, and reached for the prince.
Faramir explained quickly. "I found him in the garden quite covered in snow, and he was -- er, singing to the trees."
Aragorn's eyebrows shot up as he knelt and checked the Elf's vital signs. "I think I understand."
The loyal advisor's eyes nearly bulged from his head when Arwen appeared next to her spouse in a sheer robe that revealed more than it concealed. She was a stunning vision and the human had a distant thought of how lovely the children of this couple might be.
She clasped a cold, unresponsive hand. "Legolas, meleth nin, you should have been here with us!"
Aragorn drew on field experience of hypothermia and his own considerable medical knowledge and began giving orders. "Arwen, please draw a warm bath, but mind, not too warm. I'll get some miruvor."
While talking, he scooped the defrosting Elf into his arms and headed for the immense four poster bed in the middle of the room. "Faramir, put on some dry clothes and get some rest. We will deal with the consort. Thank you, you have done well this night."
The steward nodded. Confident the situation was in good hands and grateful to take his attention away from an overwhelming physical presence, the noble bowed and departed.
Aragorn focused powerful, healing energy on the deeply chilled beloved form on the bed. In relief, he detected no serious damage, just a lack of surface circulation and lowered respiration. Snow soaked clothing was quickly removed and his hands tenderly explored unblemished skin and limbs for further injury. The prince was achingly beautiful even in damp disarray, and when Arwen returned from the bathing area she could not help but be struck by the image of true love that radiated from her bonded mates.
Arwen's own body was well warmed by conjugal activities concluded just moments before Faramir's arrival and yet – watching Aragorn's caresses stirred a new level of arousal and a curious double awareness of both observing and participating.
The king's robust form was backlit by red firelight as he bent low over the shadow-sculptured work of corporal art beneath his touch. Sword strengthened fingers gently massaged the Elf's extremities to encourage returning circulation and clearly worshiped the radiant flesh while under his ministrations the golden Elf was starting to awaken in more ways than one. The prince's back arched as loving hands moved across his chest and tightening peaks and then lifted the mithril pool of rich tresses to cup a shapely skull. The Man stole a swift, sweet kiss when closer inspection of peerless features revealed dusky lashes beginning to stir.
A whisper brushed a leaf-shaped ear. "Melethron, why did you *have* to pick the frozen outdoors for an extended round of singing?!"
An indignant mutter replied. "The *trees* were singing to me -- 'twas only polite to sing back."
"Of course. Now, if you will drink this --" and the king held a cup of sustaining miruvor to perfect lips "we will find out if you also sing in the bath."
Powerful arms slid around sleek limbs and Gondor's ruler carried his languid love toward the next room. Slightly damp silken strands tickled his chin as the prince curled into his embrace and Arwen went ahead with the miruvor, opening doors for them as she went.
The generous sunken tub was full of perfumed, steaming water and while Aragorn descended the artfully carved steps, his gleaming burden sighed in pure pleasure. Legolas melted into the heat and was supported by both fragrant liquid and gentle hands that stretched him into a semi-reclining position against a delightfully hirsute chest.
Arwen made a move to slip away, but the king's resonant voice forestalled the motion. "Daro. Please stay my queen. I would have you witness this."
The royal smile was extremely inviting and her eyes could not help but follow the strong, sensual fingers as they brought soft moans from the glorious immortal body undulating in the water. It was an incredibly arousing sight and she realized that her presence was probably increasing the stimulation experienced by her mates. Oh. My. This was a new level of exploration for their relationship.
Her breath quickened as she slipped into the far corner of the bath. "With pleasure my lord."
Aragorn licked his lips and proceeded to demonstrate a gourmet's ability to make a sexual banquet of the white and gold dish presented for his delectation. His attentions ranged up and down the ivory torso that rippled with powerful muscles ardently controlled. The deceptively lithe Elf gave as well as received, and in turn lovingly devoured the royal staff which had risen above the waves in substantial response to his amorous articulation.
A lambent white glow filled the pool and intense awareness expanded into a three-way connection of shared desire. A cascading trill of melodious sound emerged from the consort and announced his own heightened perception and invoked a harmonic chord from the king. Arwen gasped in conscious recognition of a blending of *all three* fëa and felt an amazing exchange of mental viewpoints swirl through the trio's link.
Her-his arms were full of silken-steel Elf prince. His-her eyes took in the vision of warrior limbs molded into rapturous embrace. Blazing joy shot through three bonded souls and burned away all fears and doubts concerning their life choice. Hearts beat together in spiritual rhythm and re-affirmed the blessings of unconditional love.
Aragorn's eyes were like roiling storm clouds ready for a lightning flash. Instead, an explosion of a different sort shook him to the core and surged out to engulf his mates. He was sheathed within the molten warmth of his Greenwood Elf when Arwen's appreciative outside observation penetrated their consciousness. The extra stimulation ignited a positively volcanic consummation and triple orgasmic shocks resonated through the bond.
A ringing masculine voice sang out a prolonged note of such pure ecstasy that their shared mentality reached a point of ultimate expansion, inhaled a last sweet breath of connection, and dissolved. It was a shattering, soul shaking, and immensely satisfying experience.
Wavelets lapped at the edge of the cooling bath and three very spent spouses sprawled quietly on the stone steps. There was a long moment of silence and peaceful reflection.
Aragorn's thoughts briefly touched on the memory he had sought earlier regarding Elven extended relationships. Now he remembered the reference, it went something like, "In multiple bonds, fertility increases when all partners in the relationship experience simultaneous or consecutive culmination." Hmm.
Legolas lifted a heavy head from his Dúnadan's shoulder and observed. "By Elbereth, *that* is what I call singing in the bath!"
Aragorn snorted and his lady chuckled as they exited the water and helped the still somewhat unsteady prince to his feet. Arwen departed for the Queen's chambers with an affectionate hug for her mates and a final comment. "Aye, we are blessed. In 'threes' we are bonded and will prosper. However, by 'twos' I know you are most happy." She draped a towel over the slightly blushing consort and winked. "So I bless you both for this night, and send *you* to further warm the king's bed!"
Aragorn winked in return, swooped upon his bemused Elf and bore him away to do just that.
And -- as the king carried off his unresisting golden prize, an internal voice wondered, was the party only the beginning of what would result from this night?
Elleth: Female Elf
meleth nin: my love
melethron: male lover
*AU Author's Note: The "reference" Aragorn remembers regarding multiple bonds and fertility is totally my own fabrication. Although I believe there *is* human medical evidence to support the theory that orgasm *does* stimulate ovulation. *Ahem*
Thank you for reading! Blessings. Ana April, 2006