Part 1 – The Intruder
Elrond walked into his bedroom after a long, busy day. Feeling utterly drained, he should have managed to get away hours earlier but at the very end of the day, Celanor had been brought in with an Orc arrow firmly embedded in his thigh and it had taken him the better part of two hours. He had to remove it, clean the wound properly, get him settled and convince him that it was not poisoned, and he was not going to die. On top of it he had to manage to persuade him that it was probably not a good idea to try and pledge his eternal love to Master Erestor with his last dying breath unless he was sure it was his last dying breath. If not, the chances were good that it would be – after calling Erestor away from the fire, the wine and Glorfindel’s company.
He was bone weary, as he had been for months now, tiredness more of the mind than the body .He wondered if he was suffering from mild depression. He had all the symptoms, he had no appetite, some nights he found it difficult to slip into reverie without first reading for hours, and life generally seemed to have little joy to it.
This was of course quite possible, but if he was honest with himself, Elrond was lonely. He worked long hard hours, but there was no one at the end of the day to share his worries or to listen to the troubles and triumphs of his day. The best he could hope for in an evening was perhaps a little conversation in the Hall of Fire, and then a retreat to his lonely rooms.
Well, at least he could still enjoy the pleasures of a long, hot bath. Not only would it release some of the tension in his muscles, it might even relax him enough to help him to sleep. He had been looking forward to this for hours.
He had already peeled off his outer robe before he noticed a figure lying under the light cover on his bed. As he was even more tired than usual,he quickly glanced around to make sure he was actually in the right room. Yes he was. He cautiously made his way over to the bed and stood still, staring down and feeling utterly confused.
It was dark on this side of the room and the figure was completely obscured by shadow, which made it difficult to even be sure of its gender or hair color. Both of which would, he assumed, offer a clue to the identity of the intruder.
Peering through the darkness, he caught a flash of light hair. This was little help as the world was full of fair-haired elves, and quite a few of them lived in Imladris. But the strong form that lay outlined under the sheets spoke of a warrior, which narrowed it down by half. He tried to remember how many of Glorfindel’s guards were blonde and stifled a groan. He watched intently, trying to tell from the rhythm of his breathing whether he was in reverie. Judging by the even rise and fall, the ellon was.
Elrond always liked to think there was a logical reason for things, and he was certain there was one to explain the presence of an uninvited elf in his bed. However, lacking the facts, he had to make a decision – to wake his ‘guest’ or to let him sleep while he himself sought his rest elsewhere. He would have preferred to wake the silver haired elf, but the healer in him hesitated. It was never a good idea to startle an elf out of reverie; the shock could be most unsettling.
He went across the room and lit a candle, which he brought back and placed beside the bed. He stood frowning for a minute, his hand reaching out and hovering over the strong form, indecisive. The figure turned slightly in his sleep, with a soft sigh and he had a clearer view of the face. He drew back his hand as though he had been bitten. This had all suddenly become a whole lot more complicated, and he now really had no idea what to do next.
After a few more minutes of indecision – and Elrond normally had no time for indecisive people – an idea occurred. While it wouldn’t solve the problem for him, it would at least give him a little time to decide how to deal with the situation and settle on the right thing to do. Elrond was a great believer in doing the right thing. It didn’t necessarily make him any happier, but that was just the way he was.
He left his sleeping ‘guest’ and headed for his original destination – the bathroom. Whatever else happened he was going to have that bath, if he was totally honest with himself (which he really would prefer not to be) who knew what the future might bring? At least he would be bathed and refreshed and able to deal with almost anything.
Being as quiet as possible, he ran a nice hot bath into which he poured sweet lavender and rosemary oil, and then undressed, revealing the lithe form beneath his clothes. He stepped into the relaxing bath and leaned back in the water purring. The wet warmth encased his body and he sighed, stretching out one long, shapely leg, glistening from the oiled water and rested the perfect foot on the rim of the bath. He had always been a little vain about his legs and couldn’t help feeling it was a pity there was no one there to appreciate the sight.
Slowly he ran his hands down his body, enjoying the sensuous warmth that enfolded him, soothing away the tiredness he had felt earlier. The tension flowed slowly out of him and he released a soft, pleased groan, momentarily forgetting the ‘guest’ in the bedroom.
He rested his head back and closed his eyes and felt the world begin to drift away from him. His wandering hands smoothly massaged away the knots that formed during the day and he could not hold back yet another moan of contentment. Then he remembered that there had been a reason for keeping as quiet as possible. How could he have managed to forget something as unusual as an apparently naked elf in his bed?
He tried to keep a curse from escaping his lips and wondered if he should rouse himself from the bath somewhat sooner than planned and go see if he had awoken. The water was no longer as warm and inviting as it had been and he was beginning to feel just the slightest bit exposed, naked in the tepid water.
Having made up his mind he rose and stepped out of the tub and stood, dripping wet, his skin gleaming faintly with oil, water running in glittering trails over his shoulders, chest and thighs. Reaching for the towel, his heart lurched in his chest when he heard a voice say, unbelievably,
“Please don’t do that – it would be a terrible shame to hide such beauty.”
Spinning round to face the doorway, he was greeted by a most arousing sight. Wrapped seductively in the silk sheet and clearly naked under it, stood Haldir, Marchwarden of Lorien, with a wicked smile on his face and a truly impressive erection more outlined than concealed by the fabric.
“Haldir? Would you mind telling me what exactly it is that you are doing here?” Elrond asked, ignoring the request and wrapping the towel firmly around his waist.
“Waiting for you,” Haldir answered reasonably. “You took a little longer than I expected. Being asleep when you arrived was certainly not my original intention.”
“Waiting for me? Has Galadriel sent me a message that I should know about?” Elrond asked, clearly puzzled.
Haldir was grinning by now, and appeared to be greatly amused. “No, no message, my lord, I am on my own time, a long overdue leave of absence.”
“Well as always you are welcome here, but I would hardly expect to find you in my rooms uninvited. Why were you in my bed?” Elrond wasn’t stupid, and a part of his mind already had the answer to this question but he was trying very hard indeed to ignore it.
“As I already explained, my lord – waiting for you.” The interloper replied, making a small, suggestive movement of his hips, which was more than enough to draw attention to the evidence of his admiration for the figure before him.
Elrond turned crimson at the blatant response. “To what purpose may I ask, Haldir? Explain yourself at once.”
Haldir did not answer but slowly prowled over to where Elrond stood, tightly holding the towel up with one hand.
“I think you might really find it preferable to allow me to take charge now, my lord,” he said softly, “Of the towel I mean, of course.”
And without giving Elrond a chance to react, he reached for the towel and snatched it away from the elf lord’s grasp, leaving him exposed to his appreciative gaze.
The warm water had brought a soft glow to his skin, which still glimmered silkily from the bath oil. His long, dark auburn-lit hair was coming loose from the knot he had tied it in atop his head upon getting into the bath and now hung down over his shoulders, chest, and back in a provocative, unruly cloud, with soft, silken tendrils clinging to the damp skin.
Haldir’s mouth literally watered as he looked upon this stunning sight and he had to make a huge effort to keep his voice and breathing even. He did so, knowing how essential an aura of calm would be at this point. It would be very easy for the vision before him to panic and order him to leave. He also knew that if he had misjudged lingering, covert glances, efforts to seek out his company and other small signs, instinct and experience had been certain could mean only one thing…well, all the control in the world wouldn’t save him. At the very least he would be ruined. If Elrond’s famous temper was anything to go by, he was more likely to wind up seriously injured AND ruined.
He reached out with the towel in his hands and said, quietly “First, I think you might need my assistance in getting dried, my lord.”
“Dried?” Elrond asked, trying to keep his voice from coming out as a squeak. “Haldir, this is ridiculous, have you lost your mind? How dare you do this!” The attempt at outrage was not, however, very impressive.
“All you have to do,” Haldir continued as though he had never spoken. “Is keep quite still, my lord and allow me.”
Having said this, Haldir knelt down and gently, putting a hand behind one foot and lifting it onto his knee, began to dry it carefully, one toe at a time.