17. An Uninvited Third Party
Legolas entered, raising an eyebrow as he saw Haldir’s state of undress. His glance flickered to the closed door of the bathing room, but his face remained grave.
“I am sorry to disturb your evening, but I wanted to ask your advice.”
“Mine? Whatever could you need my advice about?”
“You were recently in Dale, were you not?”
“I was,” acknowledged Haldir. “What of it?”
The other Elf paced around the room. “You know, then, that Dale is only recently rebuilt under King Bard, after the slaying of the dragon Smaug. You may not have heard all the details of the battle against the Goblins and Wargs that followed, in which my father and our people fought alongside the Dwarves and Men. Suffice it to say that many fell in that fight, and although we were cheered by the crushing of the evil creatures and the death of the dragon, still my father holds the Dwarves in some measure to blame for our losses. He makes no overt sign, save for one; though Elf or Man may beg shelter from him and he will give it freely, if a Dwarf should do the same, he levies a heavy toll in silver and gold. I would like to persuade him otherwise, lest he get a reputation throughout Erebor for greediness, but I have spent little time beyond our borders and my opinion will carry little weight.”
“What would you have from me, then?”
“Tell me, Haldir, do you think that my father does well in this matter?” Legolas’s fair face was troubled. “How think you I might convince him to change his custom in this?”
Haldir gestured to a chair and urged Legolas to sit. Going over to the chest and pulling out a tunic, he said, “I agree that for a king to appear miserly rather than generous is a blow to his reputation. But I cannot see that my persuasion would make a difference. Or are you asking me to give you ideas with which you might argue?” With his back to the other, he slipped into fresh garments.
“You might. . .” Haldir was interrupted as the door to the bathing room opened and Melpomaen stepped out, fully dressed but with damp hair.
“Haldir, where did –” Melpomaen cut off. “Good evening, Legolas, sir.”
“Good evening, Melpomaen. Your friend and I were just talking about the problem of Dwarves.”
“Ah, only that my father treats Dwarves quite differently from Elves or even Men, and I am not sure that this is a good idea. I was asking Haldir what he thought.”
“I believe that the best thing to do would be to bring it up in the context of finance generally,” said Haldir. “King Thranduil is not charging the Dwarves for hospitality to raise money, is he? It is solely because he does not quite trust them, and still holds them to blame for your recent losses. But that makes little sense; surely it was not Dwarves who killed your people? Perhaps if you suggested that he ask all guests to pay – and when he objected, inquire why it should be necessary to charge Dwarves, in that case?”
“Perhaps,” said Legolas doubtfully.
“I will be speaking with the king tomorrow,” Melpomaen pointed out. “If you wish, and if the conversation falls that way, I could mention that the Men of Dale treat all alike. Was there not a Dwarf in King Bard’s court, a messenger from Dáin, when we were there?”
“You were staying in the king’s household?” Legolas inquired. “What errand had you in the city that brought you there?”
Haldir shot a repressing glance at Melpomaen, who flushed slightly. “I had a message to deliver to someone in the king’s household, and we were offered hospitality,” Haldir said, not wishing to make either the identity of that someone, or the significance of that message, known before its reply had reached the Lord of the Golden Wood, whose concern it was.
“Well, that would be an argument which might do some good; my father would not wish to fail in open-handedness next to the king of Dale.” Legolas paused. “It is not that he is really greedy, you know, nor even that he hates Dwarves – mistrusts them, perhaps, but that is no more than is to be expected in these perilous days. I think it is only that he does not quite realize what he is doing, and how it might seem to others.”
“Of course,” assented Haldir, and Melpomaen murmured agreement.
Legolas stood and smiled. “Thank you for your counsel, friends. I do apologize for having intruded like this.”
With his hand on the knob, he spoke, seemingly to the wooden doorframe. “I would suggest that you make sure to cap that flask of oil, though.” And with that he left.
Haldir sat heavily on the bed.
“He knows,” said Melpomaen.
“It seems likely so.”
“But he did not act unkindly. Do you think, perhaps, Thranduil’s folk do not see a pairing of two binn in the same light as they do in Lórien?”
“I don’t know,” said Haldir. “It’s not exactly something that the guards converse about on duty, after all! Certainly I haven’t brought up the subject.”
“Maybe you should. . . or I should. Somehow. If we are to be here for months yet, it would reassure me to know how they feel here.”
“Perhaps,” but Haldir’s eyes were worried. “I don’t think that Legolas will say anything, at least not intentionally.”
Melpomaen stretched. “No, he won’t, I feel sure.” He crawled across the bed and knelt behind his lover, wrapping his arms around Haldir’s chest. “I think I’m glad he knows,” he whispered in Haldir’s ear.
“Why in Arda do you say that?”
“Because I’ve seen him look at you. Oh, nothing too overt, but he pays just a little more attention to you than to any of the other men in the company, and I don’t think it is just because you are a stranger. He doesn’t look at me in the same way. No, Dír, I think it’s that lovely golden hair of yours,” he ran his fingers through the gleaming mass, “or maybe your handsome face,” drawing a finger along the line of Haldir’s jaw and down his neck, “or just the way you move, with that wild-animal, danger-leashed tension.” He ran his hands across Haldir’s chest and down to the firm thighs.
Haldir chuckled. “I think you are mistaken, Maen. I certainly have never noticed any such thing.”
“You’re too modest. I’m sure I’ve seen some appreciative looks that went a bit further than simply admiring your skill with a sword.”
Abruptly pulling away, Melpomaen sprawled on the bed, gazing up at the ceiling.
“What is it?”
“Just wondering. . . if they do not mind, here, such a bonding as ours, would you not consider staying?”
“We cannot stay forever,” Haldir reminded him. “As soon as the spring comes, I at least must return to Lórien with the message from King Bard.”
“Not stay, then, but we could come back, afterward?”
“But we don’t even know if we would be accepted, Maen.”
“But if we were.”
“I don’t know.” Haldir shook his head. “I would have to think about it. You know that I love you, you know that I want to be with you for the rest of our days – but I miss our home, I miss the Golden Wood, and my brothers and family. It would be hard to leave them forever, too.”
“I see,” said Melpomaen, his voice husky. He flung one arm over his eyes.
Haldir stretched out beside Melpomaen and pressed against him.
“I am not saying no,” he whispered. “I don’t want to say no. But I have to tell you the truth, meldanya. Even if it seems that others – not just Legolas, but all of Mirkwood – would accept the notion of a pair of bonded binn, I find this land strange. My forefathers may have lived here, but they are long gone, and I am a child of Lórien. I could live here for a time, and with you I could be content, but I would still miss my homeland. Would you not also someday yearn to see a mallorn once more?”
Melpomaen was tense beside him. “I hold trees less dear than I hold you, Dír.” He took a deep breath and sighed. “But you are right that we can make no decisions yet in any case. We will see what gossip and common wisdom have to say about such matters.” He uncovered his face and pulled a wry grin. “Though I don’t think questioning King Thranduil tomorrow would be the best idea!”
Haldir lifted a hand to brush his lover’s dark hair away from his thin face. “Probably not. But I will see what I can find out, too.”
Taking Haldir’s hand, Melpomaen said, “Yes. If you happen to see Legolas alone. . .”
“I will discreetly inquire if he has anything he needs to tell me about local custom, perhaps. Or something of the sort.”
“All right.” Melpomaen moved their joined hands down to brush suggestively across his groin. “I must say, seeing Legolas look at you made you look even better to me as well.”
Haldir laughed again. “I still think you were seeing things that weren’t there, but I’m flattered.” He swung a leg across Melpomaen’s hips and half-knelt, hands on either side of the other’s head. “Since we’re unlikely to be interrupted again. . .”
He leaned down and kissed his lover unhurriedly, tracing the outline of Melpomaen’s lips with his own tongue, then gently parting them to dart within and probe the moist recesses of his mouth.
“This is for you, Maen,” he said, pulling back. “What would you have me do?”
Melpomaen’s eyes opened. “Let’s go back into the bathing room.” As they rose, he reached for the oil flask and capped it.
Undressing for the second time that evening, they slipped into the water and sat facing each other, their legs entwined, embracing. The water lapped gently around their chests and shoulders as they kissed, hard mouths softening in the caress of tongues and lips. Haldir took the initiative, teasingly nibbling, then unexpectedly thrusting his tongue into Melpomaen’s mouth to capture his breath.
The press of Haldir’s leg between his thighs, against the base of his groin, the feel of Haldir’s strong arms around him, the taste of Haldir’s mouth in his own – Melpomaen’s excitement rose with each moment.
Haldir could feel Melpomaen hard against his own hardness, but repeated, “What do you want me to do, Maen?”
“Just hold me like this for now; I like the way you feel against me. But I like you inside me too.”
“Ah, then.” Haldir ran his left hand down Melpomaen’s back, cupping his buttocks, then slipped a single finger inside, feeling for the spot that he knew would give his lover the greatest pleasure. He caressed the place even as he used his other arm to draw Melpomaen’s body more tightly against him.
Melpomaen groaned, burying his face in Haldir’s shoulder.
“Yes? Is that what you want?”
Melpomaen managed a nod, too intent on the sensations to speak.
Haldir turned his head slightly and bit Melpomaen’s neck. “Anything you want, Maen,” he promised. “But you have to tell me.”
Another nod, then Melpomaen said, “Touch us both.”
As Haldir continued to move his finger inside Melpomaen, he leaned a bit away and slid his other hand between their bodies, pressing their two members together and rubbing with a firm stroke. The warm water felt different from the oil they generally used for their lovemaking, and he enjoyed the unusual sensation. Melpomaen was thrusting slightly against him, urging him on.
Knowing that he was giving such pleasure to his lover increased his own passion, and Haldir had to work hard to hold back until Melpomaen was ready. He could feel the blood pounding between them, beating in syncopated delight as they moved together.
“Oh, Dír, now,” came the throaty whisper, and Haldir flickered his finger, feeling Melpomaen tense and still, then quiver as he pumped his release into the water. Seconds later Haldir reached his own peak, and let his hand float away to curve around Melpomaen’s back, carefully pulling the other finger out past the tight barrier.
They leaned together, tiredly happy, held up by each other and by the water itself. At last Haldir said, “Comfortable though this is, meldanya, I don’t think we’d better sleep here, or we risk drowning by accident.”
Melpomaen agreed sleepily, and they climbed out, taking turns drying each other off before collecting their clothes and emerging into the outer room. Melpomaen turned down the bed and slid between the cool linen sheets, waiting for Haldir to blow out the lamp.
“What’s this?” Haldir bent down and picked up a piece of parchment next to the door. He read it, biting his lip.
“What’s what?” asked Melpomaen, who had already closed his eyes.
“Nothing, we can talk about it in the morning,” said Haldir. Dousing the light, he stretched out next to Melpomaen, but lay wakeful, wondering how to respond to a note that read, “See me before you go on duty tomorrow. L.”
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.