Chasing Waterfalls: 1. Chasing Waterfalls

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1. Chasing Waterfalls

 

Imladris was a land of many waterfalls: plummeting majestically from the sheer cliffs that hid and protected the blessed realm, bursting from the summits and faces of lesser hills in dual cascades, filling the air with mist and rainbows. Those who visited Imladris never forgot its beauty, and the song it left in one's heart became a cherished memory long after other memories faded.

Yes, Imladris was a land of many waterfalls — but one of them was special to Elladan.

_______________________________

Elladan rode along the forest path as he had every day for the past two weeks, seeking travelers who were answering the summons of Elrond. His father had called a council to discuss the fate of Isildur's Bane, which had turned up unexpectedly, borne by a wounded halfling who even now was only beginning to recover under Elrond's care. Because Imladris was concealed, Elladan and Elrohir were sent to search the woods each day for those who might be wandering, lost, and guide them safely to the Last Homely House. They always split up to cover more ground and had been leading a steady stream of road weary Elves, Men, and Dwarves through the valley.

On this day the air was bracing with the chill of late autumn. The leaves on the trees had withered in anticipation of the snows that were still a month or so away. The weather had been remarkably mild this season, as though the darkness in the East had stolen every dark cloud from the sky, hoarding it like treasure in the skies over Mordor. Elladan was enjoying the crisp days and blue skies, the time he and his brother were able to spend at home instead of out hunting orcs. Even with the present shadow upon their doorstep in the form of the Ring, he was enjoying the respite from he and Elrohir's wilderness expeditions.

Ahead was a large hill with a distinctive outcrop of rock, behind which was a small waterfall. Elladan knew the cataract well. The water tumbled from a stream into a shallow pool at the base of the hill and then the stream continued on, linking up with the Bruinen several miles away. The waterfall was curtained on two sides by the walls of the hill, the face having eroded through the years until a semicircle of rock surrounded the pool. Elladan walked his horse to the water so that it might drink, surprised to see a horse with no saddle or tack grazing just beyond the stream. Yet as he rounded the hill and the waterfall came into view, he got an even bigger surprise.

Standing naked beneath the cascade was a strange male Elf, his head thrown back as the water flowed over his body. His hands were raised, directing the flow of water over his head and golden hair, the muscles of his lithe, lean torso flexing beguilingly with each movement, his pale skin glistening like a gem in the afternoon light. Elladan was entranced by his beauty and the wild aura he exuded. He sat transfixed upon his horse, staring openly, until the Elf stepped from beneath the water and shook out his hair in a prismatic spray. The Elf opened his eyes and noticed Elladan sitting there watching him. He looked startled but not the least embarrassed as his arresting blue eyes met Elladan's.

"Are you looking for the Last Homely House?" Elladan asked. He could think of no other reason why this Elf might be in the valley.

The Elf made no move to cover himself and Elladan found it difficult to keep his eyes from straying downward to the juncture of those lissome, marble-white thighs.

"Yes, I am Legolas Thranduilion, of the Greenwood. I am here for Lord Elrond's council," the Elf said.

"Prince Legolas," Elladan said, his attention snapping into focus at the name. "We have met before, but I doubt if you remember. I am Elladan, son of Elrond."

Recognition lit Legolas's eyes as he answered. "Of course I remember you. I was a child of seven years when you and your brother last visited my father's halls." He turned then and climbed out of the pool, retrieving his clothes from the grass where he had folded them neatly and laid them beneath a bush. Elladan watched his every move, the view from behind as inviting than that from the front, as Legolas dressed and tied his wet hair back with a strip of leather.

"Why on Arda are you bathing out here when my father's house has hot baths? The water must be freezing."

Legolas smiled. "I like the cold, and we do not have waterfalls in the Greenwood. I simply could not resist the opportunity. Nor would I enter your father's house covered in dirt from the road."

"I assure you, we have seen many travelers these past few weeks. No one expects them to be clean and dust free after their long journeys."

"Even so, I needed the respite, for my journey has been long indeed and I was weary. Now I am refreshed and ready to go on," Legolas said, mounting his horse.

"Have you met anyone else wandering the woods? Anyone lost and unable to find their way?"

"I have seen no one since I set out. I thought I might encounter others but there has been no one. Not even an orc. I must either be early in my arrival or late."

"In fact, you are neither, Elladan explained. "Elves of Lothlórien and the Havens arrived several days ago. Dwarves from Erebor have arrived but not those of the Iron Hills, and we also await the men of Gondor."

"So it is true, Elrond has summoned the peoples of all lands," Legolas said. "Is the other rumor true as well?"

"It is. A halfling carries it."

"That will never do," Legolas said with a frown.

"I believe my father agrees, but the decision of what is to be done will be left up to the council."

They arrived at the Last Homely House to find Elrohir in the courtyard with a tall black-haired Adan whom he introduced as Boromir. Servants stood by to show the newly arrived guests to their rooms but when Boromir had departed with his escort, Elladan waved the others away. "I will see the prince to his rooms," he said.

He showed Legolas the way and they chatted as they walked, talking of the council and the happenings in other lands. Everyone who had arrived thus far had brought news of battles and evil happenings that seemed to have spread to every corner of the free lands.

"The news from the Greenwood is no different," Legolas said, as he placed his pack on a chair in his rooms. "In fact, the tale I have come to impart is as grim as any you have yet heard."

"I am sorry you must be the bearer of it then," Elladan said.

"The Greenwood hopes the wisdom of the council will bring a resolution for the sake of all our realms."

"I will not be attending, but I will accept whatever duty Elrohir and myself must take on in order to ensure that resolution," Elladan replied.

"Of that I have no doubt," Legolas said, "for the deeds of the Peredhil twins are renowned among our people."

Elladan felt his cheeks grow hot at the blush that crept over his face, the unexpected compliment delighting and embarrassing him at once. Fortunately, Legolas either did not notice or changed the subject to ease his discomfort.

"The man who arrived today, Boromir of Gondor, you said was one of those still expected. Does his presence mean the council will convene tomorrow?" Legolas asked.

"I do not know. The halfling was wounded by the Witch King himself and is still recovering. Gandalf said he bore the ring through many trials to bring it here and it was only by the hand of Aragorn and Glorfindel that he succeeded. I believe father will call the council when the hobbit is able to attend."

"I have never seen a Hobbit before, though I hear they are a hearty, if somewhat provincial folk," Legolas said.

"I have not seen him since he arrived," Elladan admitted, "but he was followed here by three companions. They are pleasant enough. In fact, one Bilbo Baggins, the Ring Bearer's uncle and the one who found Isildur's Bane, is a nightly fixture in the Hall of Fire. He has been living here since he left the Shire several years ago. If you attend the evening's entertainment there, you will probably meet him."

"Perhaps another time. I have planned to retire after supper and maybe take advantage of the hot bath you mentioned earlier."

"As you wish," Elladan said with a slight bow, disappointed the prince would not be among the guests this evening. "Perhaps I will see you upon the morrow then. I could show you around Imladris if you like."

"I would like that very much," Legolas said with a radiant smile.

Elladan stepped out into the hall and paused a moment before hurrying away, his heart thrumming in his chest at what that smile did to him.

That night he and Elrohir barely spoke, for Elrohir was joining in the conversations at dinner and the Hall of Fire with enthusiasm while he was too distracted by his thoughts of Legolas. Nor did he sleep more than a few minutes that night. He longed to talk to Elrohir about his feelings for Legolas, question him about their propriety, but at the same time he feared his brother's response.

As he turned over for what must have been the twentieth time, his memory strayed back to the child he had met in Mirkwood all those years ago and how the youngster had shadowed he and Elrohir's footsteps during their all too brief visit. He had been pleased and flattered by Legolas's attention and in the intervening years he had, from time to time, wondered how the young prince fared. His thoughts then flashed to the sight that had greeted him at the waterfall and his stomach tightened into a knot of longing and fear. Legolas would spend a few days, give his report to the council, and then he would be gone. And he and Elrohir would go back to fighting orcs and visiting the Last Homely House much as the travelers did, using it as a rest stop between their ventures.

He sighed deeply and turned over yet again. For the first time in his life he felt frustration at his lot, irritation even. It was not fair that he and his brother must work to keep the lands safe from Sauron's foul creatures and not have the time or energy to build proper lives for themselves. Even as the thought entered his mind he chided himself for his foolishness. One look at the Mirkwood prince and now his whole life was in disarray? Ridiculous. He turned on his side, punched his pillow fiercely, then fell onto his back and pulled the covers over his head.

The next morning he rolled out of bed, rubbing his scratchy eyes and splashed some water on his face before heading to breakfast. He resolved not to make a fool of himself over Legolas. He would show him around the valley as promised and then try to avoid him the rest of his stay. He could not put himself through the heartache and humiliation that was sure to follow if he pursued his dream.

As it turned out, the decision was made for him for as he breakfasted with his family, Elrond made an announcement.

"Frodo is strong enough to attend the council. And all who are going to come have arrived. I have called the council for this afternoon." Elladan tried to school his features but Elrond must have picked up on something for he said, "Is there something wrong, Elladan?"

"No, not at all, father," Elladan answered. "I am only weary. Sleep was elusive last night."

"And why is that?" Elrond asked.

Elladan cursed his hasty response which, though true, was sure to raise fatherly concern.

"Only my concern about the council I suppose." He hoped this would satisfy his father and it seemed to have done the trick.

"Ah, yes. Well, we all have had our concerns on that score, but do not worry yourself. It will all be decided after today."

Elladan nodded and the conversation turned to the everyday business of the valley, but when he left the dining room, Elrohir followed him.

"You have not been yourself since yesterday afternoon when you brought Legolas to the house," Elrohir said.

Always straight to the point, Elladan thought, but he answered readily, lest Elrohir continue to pepper him with questions.

"I've just been distracted. It's nothing."

"Distracted by the prince, perhaps?" Elrohir grinned.

Elladan wished he could sink straight into the floor. "What makes you say that?" he snapped gruffly.

Elrohir's face fell and he took a step back. "I was jesting, Elladan," he said. "I'm sorry if I stepped on a nerve. Forgive me."

Elladan sighed. "No, forgive me, Elrohir. I am ill-tempered because you are absolutely right. I have not been able to get Legolas out of my mind since I met him in the wood yesterday."

"He has certainly grown into a beauty," Elrohir said.

Elladan wondered if his face could actually catch fire from the heat that suffused it. He nodded dumbly and Elrohir looked at him in wonderment.

"You are smitten," he said, and Elladan squeezed his eyes shut and hung his head. "There is nothing wrong with that," Elrohir said, placing a hand on his shoulder.

Elladan's eyes flew open and he shot Elrohir a look of startled pain. "Of course there is something wrong with it," he hissed. "He is from the Greenwood, and will return there after the council. We have our duties here. The whole situation is impossible."

Elrohir considered this. "Don't give up before you ever try," he said at last. "Obstacles can be overcome if both are willing."

"Yes, if both are willing," Elladan sighed.

He did not approach Legolas's rooms and he did not attend the council that afternoon. Instead he went for a ride in the woods to clear his head. The only problem was that his absent-minded wanderings brought him directly to the waterfall where he had seen Legolas the day before. He imagined Legolas standing under the water, the icy cascade flowing over him. He dismounted and went to the pool. Kneeling, he brought a handful of the cool water to his lips and drank, the water quenching his thirst and firing his hunger.

When he went to supper that night, he heard of the council's decision. Legolas would be part of a company of nine going to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring. Elrond himself had chosen the prince to represent the Elves. One of the Naugrim was going too, and Aragorn, Gandalf, the man from Gondor and the four Hobbits. Elladan felt ice settle in his belly at the news and pushed his plate away. He told Elrond he had snacked earlier and spoiled his appetite to avoid his questions about his health. He was determined not to let the night pass without seeing Legolas and he left to go to the prince's rooms. Legolas was not there and a servant told Elladan he had gone to the Hall of Fire.

When Elladan arrived he saw Legolas talking seriously to Aragorn. He took a place in the back of the hall, hoping he could watch Legolas from a distance for a bit before approaching him. He was wiping his sweaty palms on his pants when Legolas turned and spied him.

The prince approached and Elladan rose and greeted him with a wan smile. "Good evening, Legolas. It's good to see you. I'm sorry I was unable to meet with you earlier as I'd promised."

"And I came to extend my apology to you for not coming to the hall last night. I spent most of it hoping you did not find me ungracious in my refusal."

"No, I quite understood. I was weary myself and did not stay long before turning in," Elladan said.

"Are you weary tonight?" Legolas asked.

"No, not tonight," Elladan said.

"Then perhaps we could take a walk. I want to take that tour you promised."

"At night?" Elladan was surprised by the request.

"Imladris must be beautiful by moonlight," Legolas said and Elladan saw a hopeful look in his eyes.

"It is," Elladan agreed, barely able to believe his luck.

Imladris was indeed beautiful by moonlight. The night air was no cooler than the day had been and the stars shone clear and diamond bright in the velvety blackness of the night sky. The grass was wet with dew and in the distance a waterfall thundered. They wandered with no particular destination in mind, chatting about this and that. Finally, Legolas stopped and turned to look at Elladan.

"Do you know of the council's decision?"

"Yes, father told me. It is a dangerous quest and yet when asked you gladly agreed to go."

"I have not traveled often or far but this doom is laid upon us all. Elrond tasked me to go and my father tasked me to obey the will of the council." Legolas shrugged noncommittally.

Sometimes Elladan could not believe his father's audacity. First he had tasked Aragorn to win his kingship in order to marry Arwen, now he had tasked Thranduil's only son and heir to take part in the quest to see it done. Either Elrond thought the quest would fail and he would not have to sacrifice any of his children in the process, or he thought the quest would succeed, Sauron would fall, and he could deal with whoever was left standing before he sailed to Valinor.

"I do not know what my father was thinking when he asked this of you, but I shall hope for the safe return of the Nine," Elladan said.

"I am certain we shall all return safely," Legolas replied. "We each have our strengths and we will be that much stronger together. Besides, to stake the quest upon the halflings would be folly. They could never reach Mount Doom on their own."

All Elladan could think of as he gazed upon Legolas was how, even at night, his eyes were that startling, bright blue and how strong his aura was up close. So when he next spoke, Elladan was unprepared for Legolas's words.

"I had a crush on you, you know."

Elladan blinked at him in surprise. "Excuse me?"

"When I was little and you visited the Greenwood. I followed you around because I had a crush on you. In fact, I was jealous of Elrohir and wished him to go away, but you were always together and when he went, so did you." Legolas lowered his eyes at the next admission. "I tried to follow you back to Imladris but father's guards caught me sneaking out of the stronghold and made me go back to bed." He laughed diffidently. "I suppose it seems silly to you."

"I have my own confession to make. I have thought of you often through the years and wondered about you.

After Aragorn delivered Gollum and returned here, I asked after you, but he said he had not seen you."

"I was on patrol and did not return until after he had left. I had wanted to ask him about you as well," Legolas said.

"And then, when I saw you at the waterfall. . ." Elladan began, his voice thick with desire, but suddenly Legolas's lips had found his and the sound of the rushing water nearby pounded in Elladan's ears almost, but not quite, drowning out sound of his pounding heart.

They went into the forest and Legolas picked out a place under a spreading elm tree where the leaves had fallen so thick as to create a cushiony pile. At last Elladan was able to touch, caress, and explore the body he had so admired and Legolas responded in kind, his lips and fingers vitalizing Elladan, spurring him to impassioned boldness. They made love far into the night, parting just before dawn to go to their beds.

After that night they wasted no more time. Every minute they were able, they spent together. It was easy to think up an appropriate pretext. The twins would practice archery with Legolas, or go hunting with Legolas and, once they were out of sight of the house, Elrohir would vanish, leaving them alone. When Elladan's presence was called for, Elrohir would borrow his clothing and attend to the duty as his brother. After long practice, they had learned how to fool even their own father as to which of them was which.

Elladan and Legolas spent many happy hours in the forests and gardens of Imladris but their favorite place to meet was the waterfall and one could always count on the other to be there no matter what the time of day or night. They bathed together in the cold water and made love in the pool and beside the stream in the soft grass. And all the while, neither of them spoke of the quest or the fact that Legolas must soon leave.

When the day finally came, their parting was bittersweet and their final time together a rhapsody of passionate longing that Elladan kept in his heart through the months that followed. They did not see each other again until the riding of the Grey Company took him and Elrohir to Helm's Deep. When they met again, Legolas seemed almost a different person from before. He had seen and experienced so much in his travels, had formed bonds of friendship with Aragorn and also with the Nogoth, that Elladan could only vaguely understand.

The next few weeks passed in a whirlwind of stolen moments and battles that left them too weary to do more than exchange glances across a campfire. The final battle at the Black Gate was the most harrowing, but all had made it safely through, except for the man of Gondor Elladan had seen only briefly during his stay in Imladris.

When Legolas announced to him that he was planning to stay in Minas Tirith and help rebuild the city of Men before returning to the Greenwood to organize a colony to settle in Ithilien, Elladan was devastated. Yet he did not ask Legolas to return with him to Imladris for he understood that Legolas felt he had much to do and little time until the sea longing became too great and he must sail.

Eventually that day also came and Elladan could not bring himself to answer Legolas's summons to come to him before he and the Nogoth left for Valinor. He mourned the loss of his love as though Legolas were dying instead of merely leaving Middle-earth, and took to his bed for days. Elrohir tended him and comforted him as best he could but was not until Celeborn came to the valley and imparted the wisdom of his years that Elladan's melancholy was eased to the point where he could continue.

With the diminishing of Elrond's power, the valley was no longer protected through any means but the mountains that surrounded it and the patrols of the few remaining Elves, yet its beauty had not faded. The sea longing had never captured Elladan or his brother and they had decided long ago to remain in Imladris together until they were driven away or until their will to remain failed them.

Elladan's favorite place in the valley was where he had first discovered Legolas and every year on the anniversary of their meeting Elladan rode to the waterfall, and bathed in the cold water, no matter what the weather, as a tribute to the love he could never forget.

This year the sun was shining in a brilliant blue sky and the withered leaves carpeted the forest as Elladan made his anniversary ride. The air was chill but the weather was unseasonably mild for the time of year and Elladan was grateful. The water would be almost painfully cold, but he didn't mind. The only thing that kept him going these days was the thought of this yearly journey. He could hear the water long before the hill came into view and from somewhere a bird sang a carefree ode to the forest. His spirits lifted as a feeling washed over him he had not felt in unnumbered years and he urged his horse to a trot. As he rounded the hill, he saw a horse without saddle or tack grazing on the opposite side of the stream and his heart caught in his throat. Could it be. . .

It was! Legolas was standing naked under the cataract, his head thrown back as the water sluiced over his lean torso. Elladan gave a shout of joy that he was sure must have been heard all the way to the Havens. Legolas stepped from beneath the water and shook his head, sending a rainbow of droplets flying through the air. He greeted Elladan with a radiant smile that was mirrored in his arresting blue eyes.

"Well, I'm back."


This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: IgnobleBard

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Romance

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 08/19/09

Original Post: 08/19/09

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