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Coming Of Age

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The celebrations last for a week, and by the actual natal day the entire Greenwood is reeling from strong drink and exhausted from dancing. Even the music begins to ebb, as singers lose their voices and skilled harpists tire in their trade.

 

This is not, after all, merely the anniversary of Thranduil's conception and his birth. For nearly a hundred years, since the first real growth-pains and coltish clumsiness of adolescence touched Thranduil's boyish body, the lad has been living in Lothlorien. Separated from family and from his own people, Thranduil has been fostered, to see the last remnants of vanished Doriath and-- Oropher hopes-- to learn a bit of gravity, and a check for his temper.

 

What he sees now takes his breath away. Thranduil has grown into a beautiful creature, a tall young elf with deceptively broad shoulders, his strong brow echoing his mother's and his jaw promising a regal future as he truly grows into his maturity.

 

The temper is not in evidence now, but Oropher knows better than to assume it cured entirely. Thranduil was always a sensitive child, impetuous in his pursuit of the things he desired, and quick to lash out when injured. If Celeborn and his kin had any luck teaching him the ways of statecraft and organization, Oropher is certain the boy will be another millennium in learning to apply them at all.

 

But, Oropher finds as he watches his son quietly observe his fellow elves from the head of the table-- the lad is far, far from the boy he knew before. The sensitivity remains; but there is an air of waiting now, of trepidation. As Thranduil meets his eyes from across the great lawn, Oropher shivers: his son is lovely, quicksilver as ever, and just as eager for his father's attention as ever.

 

Only now, he is fully grown, and Oropher has not seen him in a hundred years. Now, he is not the boy he was, and he is tinged with a stranger's allure.

 

And tonight is the birth-night of Thranduil's celebration, with all its... requirements and expectations, and Oropher has not yet been able to bring himself to make arrangements.

 

It cannot be an elleth. Thranduil is not ready to be wed, and a child born a year from today would have... unsettling political implications. No, the honored party must be male.

 

And, Oropher finds as he watches Thranduil drink from his cup, as he sees his son's hands fist upon the tablecloth and stretch against the linen, he wants to be certain that the experience is a good one, that the partner be gentle and affectionate, that Thranduil find delight and satisfaction in the act. He wants it to be meaningful.

 

Not until there is a polite cough at his elbow, and he finds his cup refilled by a pair of familiar hands far outranking the usual table-servant, does Oropher remember that there is a person he can absolutely trust, who will treat his son with tenderness, who will bear no child in a year's time... and who would doubtless be willing enough, for the joy of being Thranduil's first, to allow Oropher to keep an eye on the proceedings.

 

"Galion," murmurs Oropher, "I may need you for more than hauling wine-tuns tonight. Have you a mask?"

 

"Of course," says Galion, confused. "Do you need to borrow it?"

 

"I need you to wear it tonight, and serve my son," replies Oropher, allowing himself a wry smile as suspicion, then certainty, then shock all sweep across Galion's face in turn.

 

Galion sets the decanter down before he can drop it. "My lord cannot be serious," he says, his voice shaking. "I... I will do whatever you ask, but... surely the prince deserves better?"

 

Oropher looks him up and down: lean and young and dedicated to indoor work, Galion is hardly the muscled, powerful huntsman that so many popular love-songs describe, nor is he especially tall or wise-- in short, no hardship upon the eyes, but neither is he especially beautiful in any way that stands out. And besides...

 

"I will ask you a favor in return," murmurs Oropher. "One that may seem strange to you, but I trust you to honor it, and to honor my son as well. I ask, Galion, that the consummation take place in a certain chamber of my palace, where I may observe the proceedings from a draped alcove, and be sure of my son's well-being."

 

Galion goes white, then red. "My lord," he says cautiously. "I know it is not uncommon for elves of advanced age to take up with their kin in later life, as eons change the soul; but is this not, perhaps... a very unusual request? I swear to you, I would not harm him for any reason, on my life."

 

Even as Oropher waves his hand to indicate a misunderstanding, a dark thing sputters to life inside him, the first spark of a hidden want. "Nothing like that, Galion. I trust you absolutely, or I would not have asked you. But Thranduil has been apart from us for quite some time, and if you recall, his departure was preceded by... a number of mishaps. I cannot imagine that Lorien has entirely trained the mischief and temper out of him, nor can I be certain of everything the Lady has whispered in his ear. For your protection, Galion, I wish to observe. If this will not affect your performance?"

 

Galion is still blushing, his eyes locked on the tabletop with fierce attention, and Oropher reaches out to touch his jaw-- to catch his gaze-- and sees that Galion's nostrils flare and his lips part, that even if Galion has long desired Thranduil he is not unaffected by the Elvenking's beauty in its own right. Galion is translucent, a piece of milk-glass now colored by a rush of blood, and Oropher can see down to his bones.

 

"I see I need not worry," muses Oropher, and Galion holds himself very still, breathing quick and shallow, eyes still not meeting Oropher's own. "Wear your mask, then, and meet me at the door of my chambers at moonrise, and I will guide you to the place where Thranduil awaits your services."

 

Across the clearing, Thranduil is watching them both, and as Galion turns to flee Oropher's gaze shifts to his son's waterfall of silver hair and the way the lad's head tilts as he ponders the meaning of this observed exchange.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galion appears at the assigned time, masked and wearing a loose-flowing white robe of rather better quality than Oropher suspects Galion actually owns. Well, borrowed finery is better than no finery at all, and Galion follows meekly enough as Oropher descends into the new expansion of his tree-palace, where raw gypsum caves have been uncovered and are slowly being converted into lovely, graceful rooms. The result feels strangely out-of-doors, though only a few rooms have been converted and none of them is especially large; the room Oropher has chosen is colonnaded with the trunks of very old pines, glittering stalactites trickling between unnecessary rafters, lantern-lit and faintly misty, and draped with gauzy curtains to confuse the eye and open up the space.

 

In the center of the room is a bed, a very large one, with cushions strewn about it; and in the center of the bed, Galion arranges himself at the king's bidding, sitting at the edge of the bed, strangely shy and uncertain for his usual jovial nature.

 

Though, as Oropher circles the bed, arranging everything just so, Galion offers him a one-sided smile and remarks: "Does my lord prefer me clothed until his son arrives?"

 

Oropher huffs at this, trying to disguise a laugh. "You may go about stark naked whenever you like, so far as I am concerned, as long as you wear at least a breechclout to wait on my table," he says, but the joke slips away from him as he turns and sees Galion's worried face, and the way he toys with the hem of his robe.

 

It hurts his heart, to think of what will happen tonight. Perhaps he is cruel, to offer up Galion's body when Galion himself has such unclear feelings toward Thranduil. And perhaps he is nervous, though he knows Galion to be at least moderately experienced, because if Thranduil's first experience is unpleasant or impersonal or negative in any way, Oropher will never forgive himself.

 

It sits ill with him, to delegate this. But he supposes there is no help for it.

 

Oropher takes Galion's robe by the hem and raises it, lifts it like a curtain, exposing Galion's slim body from calves to waist, from thence to his shoulders, lines of skin and sinew that shift and tremble as they are undraped. Lovely, trembling. Oropher does not know how he thought Galion unremarkable. "My son will be delighted," he murmurs, and tells himself that what he feels is only regret for his own age and position, that he will never dally with a young elf like this again.

 

"It is my honor," says Galion, all seriousness, his eyes honest and dark; then a bell rings in the hall, and Oropher glides to his alcove behind the tissue-fabric, and the young prince himself arrives with four attendants, in robes of state.

 

Thranduil does not speak at first, while his attendants divest him of his robes and boots and unbraid his ear-locks, leaving him in knee-hose with his hair undone. His eyes, however, are fixed on Galion, whose mouth falls open and then clamps itself closed, who averts his eyes as the attendants unfasten the front-placket of Thranduil's robe and then fixes his gaze helplessly and with growing wickedness on Thranduil's exposed form.

 

By the time the attendants leave, Galion is every bit his normal, clever, smirking self, without any hint of the vulnerability that Oropher saw in his eyes through his mask. He extends a hand to Thranduil and beckons him closer, and his mouth twists where it is exposed by the tooled leather.

 

Thranduil hesitates. "I do not," he begins, then licks his lips uncertainly. "I am not... experienced," he adds, rubbing the nape of his neck, as if every word costs him tremendously.

 

"Rather the point," says Galion. Oropher settles into his couch behind the curtains and allows himself a smile as Thranduil's eyes flick from the floor to Galion's body, and as Galion warms to his task. "Come on then," says Galion, "I'm at your service, let me serve you."

 

It is not unheard-of, for a lad on his man-making night to decline the offer. Rare, certainly, but sometimes there is a secret betrothal, or the proposed partner is not to the boy's taste. For a moment, Oropher holds his breath; then Thranduil crosses the room and takes Galion's hand, and Galion tugs him down into an enthusiastic kiss.

 

For all his hesitancy before, Thranduil succumbs quickly to the spirit of the ritual, kissing Galion with a hungry mouth and hands that wander shyly from shoulder to back. He is a bit clumsy, but who wasn't on their own night? Oropher watches, stifling a laugh as Thranduil loses his breath, knocks teeth with Galion, and ends up tumbling onto the bed halfway out of his hose.

 

Galion laughs as well, stripping Thranduil of his last bits of clothing, but when the moment has passed and Thranduil is entirely naked, shifting a little as if he wants to cover himself, Galion looks down at him with scarcely disguised tenderness, his mouth soft and gentle beneath the mask.

 

Thranduil is beautiful, his coltish limbs sprawled upon the coverlet and his breast heaving. His mouth is flushed dark from kissing, and for all his shyness earlier he is unabashed, looking up at Galion as if memorizing the shapes of him with his eyes.

 

"I know you," says Thranduil at last. "You ought to take off that mask."

 

Galion bites his lip, considers it, shakes his head. "Your highness," he says, all apologies with a shadow of sorrow. "I dare not."

 

Thranduil searches his face for another moment, and Oropher-- a scarce few feet away, close enough that too loud a breath would reveal him-- can see what Thranduil must see, if the lad has enough wisdom to recognize it: heartbreak on Galion's face, the first premonition of regret, the realization that this one night will come with bittersweet memory on the morrow. "As you wish it," says Thranduil, his voice low and uncertain, and Oropher knows that the tightness around Galion's mouth is lost on him.

 

Then Galion leans down to kiss him once more, and Thranduil sighs into his mouth, grasping at his shoulders, finding a rhythm to the kiss that spreads into the clench and release of his fingers where they dig into Galion's flesh.

 

Galion is clever, and knows what is expected of him, and when Thranduil begins to buck against him he twines his arms about his prince and rolls him over, so that Galion lies beneath Thranduil and the prince's full form is exposed-- proof to Oropher of Thranduil's pleasure.

 

For he is obviously aroused, his cock long and heavy, his shoulders strong in their young wiry way, working and shifting as he kneels over Galion and kisses up and down his throat. Oropher struggles to still his breathing, to calm himself from the urge to shift his weight; he will not admit to himself what he feels.

 

He calls it pride. His son is strong, virile and lovely; what father would not be proud? Even a father who has not seen his son for a century-- even a father who remembers a tempestuous child, and has suddenly met a grown elf who resembles his long-dead wife.

 

Oropher has made a grave mistake.

 

Digging his fingertips into the muscle of his thighs, Oropher holds himself steady, willing himself not to lean forward, not to give voice to the singing tension in his throat. Tonight must be for Thranduil, for his comfort and delight and awakening; the boy needs the security and safety to seek his own pleasure, to take what he wants and learn the first rudiments of pleasing a lover as well.

 

Though... the boy is shy. Galion lies spread out upon the coverlet, arms twining about Thranduil's shoulders and neck, pulling him down again and again to kiss him; surely, any moment now, he will be crushed by Thranduil's hungry weight, his body borne into the downy ticking below as Thranduil ruts against him.

 

And yet the boy holds back. Not for lack of arousal: a spreading burning flush paints his throat and breast, and his brow tenses into a sustained question. His wine-dark lips are parted. His shoulders are drawn tighter than a bow.

 

All of him is pleading, and yet he will not take what lies offered. Galion's face is hidden from this angle, but Oropher sees how he hesitates, watches his kisses grow more tentative and sorrowful.

 

Galion thinks he is being rejected.

 

Even as Oropher perceives this, he knows it is wrong-- not how it is wrong, nor how it may be amended, but enough to know that Thranduil is not cold to his proposed lover, and to know that something Thranduil needs is missing. Touch him, he wants to say, and other things: Take charge, give directions, find the places he wants to be touched--

 

He forces himself to stillness. Galion is not a fool, even in misunderstanding; already, his hands-- stained with wine, a worker's hands, accustomed to service-- are seeking Thranduil's sides, stroking his flanks, tracing the lines of his thighs. Still Thranduil kneels over him, hands and knees supporting his trembling body as Galion thumbs the line of his throat and then the tight bud of his nipple, hair slipping about his shoulders to hide his face even as his breathing grows ragged and desperate.

 

Galion's palms smooth across the curve of Thranduil's buttocks, and for a moment something changes: Thranduil jerks in Galion's grasp, thrusting once against the air, and a sound escapes him that ferns like lightning through Oropher's entire body.

 

"Ah," muses Galion, and pulls Thranduil down against him by the buttocks, palming and squeezing and digging his fingers into the flesh and muscle. Now Thranduil responds beautifully, pressed into close friction with Galion's belly, arching his back with each thrust as if he can hold nothing back. He shudders as Galion's fingers sweep and glide, and writhes to guide them where he wants them--

 

Galion shies back, shifting his grasp to let him pull Thranduil against his body in long rutting strokes, and Thranduil moans pitifully into Galion's mouth. The mask is sliding askew now, knocked sideways by Thranduil's hungry kisses, and Galion must be blinded by it, but still he does not remove the thing.

 

It is a sort of armor, Oropher realizes, as the drapes between them are his armor, a disguise that protects his heart.

 

Thranduil seems to enjoy Galion's guidance, groaning in protest when Galion makes to let go of his buttocks, letting Galion set the rhythm of their thrusts; but, in time, he grows meek again, he hides his face in the cascade of his hair, and his motions grow more hesitant.

 

"What do you want?" murmurs Galion. "Tell me, my prince, and it is yours."

 

In response, Thranduil blushes so furiously that Oropher can see it spreading down his sides, and slips his hand between them, reaching down the length of Galion's belly and sliding his palm, carefully, fearfully, along the outer juncture of Galion's groin.

 

Galion tries to speak, to clarify, but as Thranduil explores and his body shifts to make more room, Galion's voice catches in his throat and he shudders, twisting his face away to groan into the coverlet. The movement between them gives Oropher such a view: Thranduil, now sitting upright on his haunches, knees spread wide and back arched, shoulders working as his hands cup and stroke and explore Galion's cock and balls, silver-white hair tousled and falling wanton across his back and chest-- and Galion, tormented, mask half exposing his face and blinding his eyes, but still moaning as if pierced to the heart, as if what Thranduil is doing cuts him to the bone.

 

Thranduil freezes, and Oropher sees the uncertainty in every line of his body, the way he fears hurting his new lover; then he settles back further, so that his flushed and swollen cock lies along Galion's length, and he clasps his hands about the both of them and thrusts. A bead of fluid appears at the tip of his cock; on the second thrust it spills, and smears across the head of Galion's cock, and Galion makes a broken sound and presses the heels of his hands into his eyes, pushing the mask entirely out of the way.

 

Then both of them freeze, and Oropher feels the throbbing anguish in his throat and realizes he has made a sound, choked out some meaningless syllable. He presses his palm across his mouth and bites the meat of his thumb cruelly; his other hand clenches against his belly, wanting to press against his cock instead, to stroke himself through his robes at the sight before him. How has he lost so much control? He will give himself away. He will ruin himself, humiliate himself, horrify and disgust his lovely lithe panting trembling son.

 

Galion, of course, takes the blame, letting his breath out with a long hiss; but Thranduil is worried, which makes Oropher wonder how awful the sound must have been that he made (he is wracked, he is aflame, his whole body is tight with need). He draws back, and Galion takes it as a cue.

 

Pulling his mask back into place, Galion settles back, spreading his legs further, and with one hand he reaches down to probe at his own entrance, offering himself to his prince as if he has always expected things to take this turn. For his part, Thranduil is shocked, his teeth sinking into his lip, his eyes wide. "But you," he says, and swallows. "You do not have to--"

 

"I want it," says Galion, but for all that Oropher is struggling against the mere weight of his clothing for his dignity, the sorrow and sacrifice in Galion's voice leaves him wounded. If Galion thinks this is what Thranduil needs, he will give it, though it breaks his heart entirely and leaves him without a shred of defense except the mask on his face.

 

It is not what Thranduil needs. Oropher knows this now as deeply as he knows the shape and taste of his own breathing. He might take pleasure in the mere friction of it, if he were not so sensitive, if understanding and self-blame had not already begun to pull him back from Galion's body, if he were confident and certain of his ability to give in return.

 

"Not like this," says Thranduil, his voice strained through its rich arousal. "I would hurt you."

 

Galion laughs, tight and false. "Not to insult you, but I've had bigger," he says, his attempt at flippancy ringing hollow.

 

"I would hurt you," repeats Thranduil, reaching up a hand to touch Galion's mask, and Oropher's heart swells with pride at his son's compassion. "Could we... do what we were doing earlier, instead?"

 

Galion coughs, but Oropher recognizes what was nearly a sob, and he shrugs away from Thranduil's curious fingertips upon the mask and pulls Thranduil's face down to his own to kiss him deeply. "Whatever you like," he says, murmuring in Thranduil's ear, pressing his cheek to Thranduil's own; and then there is another kiss, less tender and more passionate, and another after that which becomes a long press of bodies against each other and the undulation of muscle and bone. Oropher's heart hurts.

 

Again Galion's hands find Thranduil's buttocks, and again Thranduil responds feverishly; this time, though, Galion does not restrain his fingertips, and Oropher sees Thranduil's body convulse, and understands that Galion's fingertips have brushed against the crux, are even now (in longer and more wretched shudders) probing at his entrance, and Oropher bites his hand hard enough to bruise and presses the heel of his hand against his own aching cock.

 

"I want," begins Thranduil, and Galion's hand freezes in place, so Thranduil bites his lip instead and groans, and lets Galion continue to touch him.

 

Oropher wants to scream, to tear the drapes apart with his hands, to shake them both and put them with his hands as they both want to be placed. It is not fair, that Galion would offer himself to be penetrated, to maintain the propriety of serving a king's son, even though the intimacy might break his heart... but that he will-- for Oropher can see it even now-- that he will shy away from sinking his cock into Thranduil's body lest he violate the same rules. Even though Thranduil is arching, pushing back, spilling a hundred small sounds of pleading and desperation; even though it is all the boy wants, and all Oropher wants to see.

 

He can picture it now, Galion's thick cock spreading the boy open, Thranduil gasping and shaking and his thighs clenching against the intrusion even as his face goes slack, Galion groaning as his hips snap up into Thranduil's body and teach the boy the pleasure of being used--

 

It will not happen. Oropher cannot bear it.

 

Thranduil bucks back against Galion's hands, turning his head so that his face-- flushed and glassy-eyed and trembling in an expression of near anguish-- lies facing Oropher in his hidden alcove. Thranduil's cheek rests against Galion's breastbone, his mouth over Galion's heart, his lips working in voiceless sobbing pleas, and still Galion will not truly breach him.

 

Do it, Oropher wants to shout, he wants it so much, he will take you so beautifully. Galion is half mad with wanting, he can see: the way his head rolls back and his spine arches, the way his hips thrust so that his cock rides between Thranduil's thighs, the red and weeping tip emerging at the base of the boy's buttocks with each stroke. Oropher, safe in his hiding space, sees how Galion struggles with himself, how he presses his lips into Thranduil's hair, how he bites his own skin as he pulls himself back, how he refuses to kiss Thranduil's face in some ragged mockery of self-preservation.

 

"Please," says Thranduil at last, breaking voice into his wordless gasps. "Oh, please, just--" His buttocks flex under Galion's hands, and Galion takes mercy on him, with one arm shifting to cradle Thranduil's head against his breast and with the other hand reaching out to grope among the cushions where, Oropher knows, there is a vial of oil waiting.

 

In his shaking urgency, however, Galion knocks the vial away, and it clatters against the stone floor and skids over the knurled irregularity of the stone until it comes to rest against Oropher's foot. Thranduil gives an audible groan, knowing what the sound means, and Galion's teeth bare in an expression of simultaneous frustration and paradoxical relief-- for without the oil, he can hardly be expected to despoil the king's son, can he?

 

Thranduil groans again, a hint of despair in his voice, and Galion draws his breath through his teeth-- "Oh, my prince," he says, apologetic, and Oropher watches in an agony of conflict as Galion sucks at his own fingers, licks them sloppily, and then presses them into Thranduil's body, still holding him fast with the other arm.

 

The effect is profound, and immediate. A hollow open sound spills from Thranduil's mouth, ending on a tremor; his eyes open wide, the white showing around, and then hood; his whole body goes rigid, and then with a groan like a bough in the gale he arches his back and pushes himself backward, upward, to take Galion's finger deeper.

 

"Another," gasps Thranduil after a long sickening moment, and Galion casts a nervous glance to the curtains where Oropher sits, pressing Thranduil even closer.

 

"I do not dare," he says. "Your father would be angry if I hurt you."

 

"Surely it will not hurt," pleads Thranduil.

 

"There are different definitions of hurt," murmurs Galion wryly, "and your father is very protective of you."

 

"Not so protective," protests Thranduil, rolling his hips and wriggling against Galion's penetrating digit. "He sent me away, did he not?"

 

"To protect you," Galion insists, and Oropher closes his eyes with the sorrow of it, that Galion thinks Thranduil was fostered to prevent him from being seduced by a servant, that Thranduil thinks he was sent to Lorien out of rejection. A mistake, on so many levels, to turn his son into a young man out of his sight, to let him imagine himself unworthy in some way and to sever his early romantic ties.

 

"Either way I won't tell him," begs Thranduil. "Please, just-- just one more finger--"

 

Galion chokes, on lust or regret Oropher cannot discern, and thrusts again-- Oropher sees the profile of his cock riding against Thranduil's buttocks, frustrated and hungry, and wants to stroke it, to make better what his mistakes have hurt, to guide it into his son and watch the both of them take their full joy in each other. But Galion fears hurt, he sees now, and Thranduil needs more reassurance than Galion can give him. They are together, but separated by a wall of doubt and anguish, and there is a space that neither of them can fill.

 

And they are both so, so beautiful.

 

"Please," cries Thranduil, voice breaking.

 

Galion groans. "Your father--"

 

"My father would," pleads Thranduil. "He would, if he were here, if he were you."

 

There. He cannot possibly miss the electric effect of his words, how Galion goes stiff and tight, how his knuckles whiten in Thranduil's hair. "He would want to protect you," Galion says. "Like I'm protecting you."

 

"He would want me," insists Thranduil. "He would want me."

 

Galion sighs, a wretched sound of less pleasure than distress, and with a twist of his hand he sinks a second finger into Thranduil's body, bracing him against the shudders of intrusion; then, while Thranduil is still rocking helplessly under his fingers, he says, with awful tenderness: "Would you want him?"

 

Thranduil says nothing for a long moment. He must know, Oropher thinks, the enormity of the thing he is being asked; and yet the thought of him answering it, the thought of Thranduil craving his attention and his adoration and his caresses, drives the breath out of him with an endless blaze of desire that strangles him from belly to throat.

 

At last Thranduil collects himself, bites his lips and licks them, takes a steadying breath. "Can I want both you and him?"

 

Galion lets go of Thranduil's hair and presses the heel of his hand against his mask, over his eye; then, shaking his head fiercely, he pushes the mask out of the way, to cover his eyes with his palm instead. He attempts to answer, clears his throat, clenches his fist against his brow, and finally manages: "My lord may want anything he pleases."

 

It seems impossible to Oropher that Thranduil can fail to see the conflict that tears Galion apart; but then this seems to be Thranduil's way, that he sees what he wants but not how he is wanted, for Thranduil rides Galion's fingers with a furrow in his brow, little mewling sounds escaping him, ignorant of the way Galion's lips draw back over his teeth and his throat works, of the way his new lover swallows as he pulls his mask back into place.

 

"Ah, yes," Thranduil moans as Galion returns to the task of fingering him. "Oh, yes-- Galion yes-- like that, it feels so-- ah, more..."

 

Galion shakes his head, firmly, clearly not trusting his voice, and Thranduil protests with a long shuddering groan. "More," he whimpers, his voice coming out broken, giving his body over to its need and rolling his hips with glorious desperation as he thrusts against Galion's belly and impales himself on Galion's fingers.

 

Oropher lets himself, just for a moment, grasp his own length, wondering if he can bring himself off in quiet secrecy, wondering if he can slake his own lust without feeling the guilt of letting Thranduil go unfucked, of letting Galion go unblessed. "Please," says Thranduil, and Oropher strokes once, short and hard, then catches himself.

 

"Please," repeats Thranduil, "please fuck me, Galion, please-- please fuck me-- Ada--"

 

Too much to bear. Too much, to hear his son begging for him with his hole stretched open and his lover's unsatisfied cock weeping between his thighs. Oropher tells himself he will only signal to Galion, that he will be careful and silent and Thranduil will not notice him, and as he picks up the vial of oil and rises to his feet Thranduil calls for him again-- "Ada please--" and he nearly tears the drapes as he emerges in furious haste from his hiding place, oil in hand and breathless with insatiable need.

 

The tableau freezes; there is no sound in the room but Thranduil’s broken breathing and the long silk hiss of Oropher’s heavy hair falling across his shoulders, against his gown. Galion is pale as milk, bowing his head as best he can from where he lies on his back, pressed into the cushions by Thranduil’s body. He seems to have forgotten that he is only doing his duty, and as color floods back into his face Oropher understands that Galion is terrified of him, and ashamed to be seen like this with his king’s son.

 

Thranduil only breathes, his face upturned in disbelief, staring at his father as if seeing a phantom.

 

There is hope in his face, and love, and as Oropher composes himself and steps to the foot of the bed, Thranduil’s trembling voice rises: “Ada?”

Oropher’s voice fails him. From this angle, he can clearly see the way Galion’s fingers try Thranduil’s body, from the depression of his wrist against the pale skin to the flushed and swollen stretch of his fundament around Galion’s invading touch.

 

Even now, Oropher means to control himself. So Galion fears impropriety; so Thranduil craves his father's approval, even after all these years apart. He will give them his word, as a king, and his blessing. He does not allow himself to think of the privilege of watching.

 

"You deny my son," he says, meaning to be kingly; but his voice is hoarse and stumbling, and Galion takes it harshly, withdrawing his fingers and scrambling as best he can from under Thranduil's body, only to come to a halt when he reaches the edge of the bed.

 

"My lord," he apologizes, eyes dilated and face blank with dread. "I beg your forgiveness-- I see now you were wise--"

 

Oropher sighs. Thranduil twists onto his back and half-rises onto the support of his elbows, one knee flung out in the grace of his turning, absolutely unaware of his terrible beauty. His attention, Oropher notes, has not flagged an inch.

 

"You mistake me," says Oropher, finding his voice, though his eyes are caught inescapably on Thranduil's form. "My son asks pleasure of you, Galion; you need not withhold it on my account."

 

Thranduil tilts his head, a mannerism of his mother's, and asks: "May he remove the mask as well?"

 

A faint sound, a whisper of braced breath, slips from Galion's mouth, and Oropher takes pity and shakes his head. "In this, son, propriety must be maintained. Now, Galion--"

 

But Galion is trembling, and a memory comes unbidden to Oropher, of a night of fumbling and uncertainty, of his own delight in exploration and how easily it had turned to frustrated pursuit of completion. He remembers thinking, afterward, how he would have done it differently, how he would have spent more time kissing and given himself permission to relax.

 

"His throat," Oropher commands, and Galion manages to meet his eyes in query. "He wants you to kiss his throat," Oropher clarifies, and Galion glances to Thranduil, who colors.

 

As Galion returns to his side, Thranduil looks up at his father. "How do you know what I want," he asks, not defiantly but with his voice gone thick and breathless.

 

"I see what pleases you," murmurs Oropher, still standing at the foot of the bed with the oil clenched in his fist at his side, watching as Galion's mask scrapes Thranduil's jaw, as Galion, begins to kiss and ply his teeth gently upon the long line of his son's throat. Thranduil's lips part, and his eyes lose their focus and drift from Oropher's own.

 

And yet, as Galion warms again to his task and lets his hands palm across Thranduil's body, as he remembers the ways to touch for Thranduil to plead in wordless whimpers, Oropher sees that he still shies away from even his earlier boldness. Soon they are writhing together in thorough earnest, Galion gripping Thranduil by buttock and thigh and half-lifting him to straddle his own slim form, and still Galion does not spread the lad's buttocks again, does not motion for the oil which Oropher is still holding.

 

Almost without thinking, Oropher makes to open the vial, realizes at the last second that he will almost certainly splash it on his sleeves, and begins to shrug his long over-robe from his shoulders. Thranduil looks back over his shoulder, face only half-visible for the obstruction of Galion's tormenting of his throat and collarbones, sees his father's robe fall to the floor, and begs: "Oh please, Ada--"

 

Oropher strips to his hose before he convinces himself to stop. He does not mean to deflower his son, he tells himself; but clearly Galion is too vulnerable for this task, and Thranduil's need is great. He will prepare the boy, and then Galion will... will complete the task, and...

 

Thranduil's round buttocks and splayed thighs are before him like a goad. The lad's eyes are still on Oropher, dark and hungry, though his mouth is bruised and panting and whimpers spill from him with each suckling motion of Galion's lips upon his skin.

 

Oropher sets one knee upon the bed, just enough to reach; he leans forward, just far enough; he opens the vial, and he extends his arm, and he upends it so that the oil spills down the length of the cleft of Thranduil's arse and drips in viscous streams along his thighs.

 

With a deep breath, Oropher tosses the empty vial aside, thumbing the oil that has escaped onto his own fingers. Then he reaches out, shifting his weight so that he is nearly sitting on the bed, and with his forefinger takes up the longest stream of oil where it traces Thranduil's inner thigh and is beginning to smear the bed.

 

At his first touch, Thranduil goes rigid, pressing his face down into the bedding. Oropher's finger depresses the skin, slides upward, daring further until it crests the soft swell of flesh at the apex of Thranduil's thighs, until his palm twists with the angle and his hand is resting heavy and slick against Thranduil's ballocks, feeling the pulse and jump of the root of his cock.

 

Thranduil muffles his pleas in the bedding, and Galion leaves off his mouth's work to watch with wide eyes over the lean shapes of Thranduil's back, as Oropher sets his fingertips-- three of them, no sense in making delay, Galion has already begun the job-- at the soft ring of Thranduil's hole, and bears down, breaching his son.

 

Immediately, though his gasp is one of surprise, Thranduil pushes back against him, rolling his hips with shameless purpose, hungry and clutching around Oropher's knuckles. Oil slicks his passage, and Oropher finds himself able to push deep, to withdraw easily, to push harder-- he is, in fact, forced to grasp Thranduil by the hipbone with his free hand, his wrist resting across Galion's forearm in the process, to give himself traction for the thrust of his hand.

 

Thranduil sobs to the rhythm of Oropher's thrusts in a delirium of pleasure, only finding words to beg for more and to babble yes Ada yes until Galion's gaze of fascinated unease breaks and he returns to his task, pressing his mouth to Thranduil's ear and holding the lad's hips steady for his father's preparations.

 

"Oh," moans Thranduil, "oh Galion-- he's-- he's opening me for you, and you can-- you can fuck me--"

 

Galion responds with an agonized jerk of his hips and a sound of utter agony, broken in the middle as Oropher leans into his work and presses Thranduil hard against Galion's body. Oropher's hose are painfully constrictive, but he dares not remove them, instead leaning over his son's body and wrapping one arm about his waist and lower ribs to crush him in a steadying embrace from behind while his hand fucks the boy open. Galion's heaving chest beneath Oropher's forearm, where it cradles Thranduil and is crushed between them, is startling and smooth and burning hot. Galion's nipple is tight where it rubs against Oropher's wrist. The rhythm of Oropher's thrusts keeps the blunt shape of that nipple in constant rubbing motion against Oropher's wristbone.

 

Hunched over Thranduil's body like a rider on a sprinting steed, Oropher finds his face very close to Galion's, close enough to see the sweat that beads at the edges of his mask and the convulsive tremor of his silent open mouth as Thranduil is used so ferociously atop him. He looks helpless, broken, lost; so Oropher kisses him.

 

Galion's lips are dry, chafed from kissing, but his mouth is wet and inviting, and if at first he freezes in a paroxysm of uncertainty, he loses himself quickly. Soon he lets go Thranduil's buttock and wraps his arm about them both, sliding his hand up the length of Oropher's bare back until he is grasping his king's shoulder, fingers digging in tight to hold him while his mouth hungrily submits.

 

Galion is, Oropher realizes, so hungry to be kissed. Despite his wide, intimidated eyes, he is almost pitiful in his desperation, drinking Oropher in with helpless ardor. He does not even seem to notice when Oropher noses his mask away, leaving him bare-faced and open, gasping between kisses.

 

For Thranduil's part, he lies across Galion's belly in utter debauchery, spread and stretched, and dimly Oropher understands that while his son's cock is trapped and ridden between his and Galion's bodies, Oropher wants to see him much more thoroughly attended to.

 

So he sits back, reluctantly leaving Galion's mouth (and Galion sags back against the bedding, letting his head fall with a soft thump as he gasps each breath like a plea), disentangling himself from the two; and with the hand that had before been driven againt Galion's nipple, he reaches down and takes up Galion's cock.

 

Galion's ballocks are high and tight, and at the first stroke of Oropher's hand his cock pulses as if preparing to spill. Galion chokes out a broken cry.

 

"Will you fuck my son," asks Oropher, gently, and he can see the tension in Galion's eyes now with the mask pushed away, the knotting of his brow as he weighs his lust and need against the breaking of his heart.

 

But Galion, though he licks his lips and tries to speak, though Oropher ceases his thrusting to allow him breath and time, cannot bring himself to speak the words of consent. Thranduil protests and pleads, but he knows as well as his father that they cannot compel this of Galion-- that even against the needs of a king and his son, a servant must protect himself and hold his heart and body sacred.

 

"I cannot," whimpers Galion. "I want to-- I am so-- so ready-- but tomorrow, tomorrow I will be in despair."

 

"Don't you want me," cajoles Thranduil, rolling his hips so that his cock leaves a wet weeping smear between them. Oropher feels the resulting shudder around his fingers, and thinks he will die.

 

"Unbearably," replies Galion, hoarse but steadying himself. "More than-- than anything. More than is my right, in my position. Only... my young lord, you will be wed someday, and sire children of your own, and where will I be for all my wanting?"

 

His words hang between the three of them like a prophecy of doom, and Oropher shivers under them. For the first time, Thranduil settles into gravity and stillness, pulling himself up on his elbows to look down at his first lover; then, with great tenderness, he presses his lips to Galion's forehead, a paradoxically chaste kiss for a young prince with his father's fingers still stretching his hole and his cock swollen and weeping under his belly.

 

Then Thranduil turns his head so that he is facing neither Galion nor Oropher, and says in a strong voice that nearly hides its disappointment and sorrow: "Then let us finish this, and go back to our places."

 

Galion is stricken to silence, and it seems the mood will be broken. Then Oropher withdraws his hands from arse and cock and sits back on his haunches.

 

"You need not learn self-sacrifice just yet," he says, pressing one palm on his son's lower back. "You are still just a boy, at least for this night, and Galion is not the only one here who wants you."

 

Thranduil tenses, and Oropher sees his back arch subtly. "If I am wanted," Thranduil says, hesitant but hopeful, "then let me be used."

 

"Oh, you are indeed wanted," Oropher hisses, pulling Thranduil back against him roughly by the hips, so that he is dragged against Galion's body and his arms lose their traction. "And you will be used well," he adds, grinding his cock in its restrictive bindings against Thranduil's buttocks until the laces of his hose redden the lad's sensitive skin.

 

Thranduil moans into Galion's chest, and for his part Galion strokes Thranduil reassuringly, though Oropher sees Galion's other hand thread into Thranduil's hair to grasp it at the nape of the neck to hold him steady for his father's penetration, and the sight makes Oropher's pulse pound in his ears as he snaps the laces of his hose and pulls himself free.

 

"Please," groans Thranduil, muffled against Galion's skin. "Please, Ada, I need you, please fuck me-- please."

 

"Hush," murmurs Oropher affectionately, resting his cockhead against his son's stretched hole. "Hush, and hold still," and with one long sure thrust he sheathes himself in Thranduil's body to the hilt.

 

The pressure is intolerable, the heat a furnace. The throb of it feels like a fist in the gut, and by the way Thranduil squirms and his feet scrape at the bedding, it cannot be much less intense for him either. Galion holds Thranduil’s head steady and soothes his back with long gentle strokes, though Oropher can feel how his thighs tremble and see the dart of his tongue between his lips.

 

“Relax, my little one,” murmurs Oropher, when he can speak again; Thranduil is tensing up around and beneath him, forgetting the languid desire of the moments before. “Does it hurt too much?”

 

“It burns,” whimpers Thranduil. “It burns, oh, it is so much—”

 

Oropher steels himself. “I will withdraw, if you wish it,” he says, though the pulse of his cock is headier than wine and he needs nothing so much as to draw back and thrust again, to pound his son open until his hole is red from use.

 

Instead, Thranduil chokes out a protesting whine. “No! Ada! Don’t leave me, don’t…”

 

Before he can finish, Oropher eases back, drawing himself out until the crown of his cock pops free of Thranduil’s body and only the tip remains inside, and lets him tremble there pleading while Galion pets his hair and murmurs consolation. Oropher stares at the junction of them, lips parted, awed at the swollen darkness of his cock against the white and dusk-rose and pink of his son’s splayed ass; then he pushes in again, bearing inward as Thranduil howls in desperation, and rolls back at the end of his thrust to draw back again.

 

The pace is slow, slow enough that he can feel each twitch of muscle and see how each inch of his length disappears inside, and Thranduil moans and sobs and begs for it the whole time. When the boy begins to struggle for control of the pace, arching his back to press his buttocks back against his father’s body, Oropher gasps: “Galion, help him,” and Galion stills the boy’s hips with one firm hand on his lower back and, with the other still fisted in Thranduil’s hair, tilts his head and kisses him.

 

It is a free and thoughtless kiss, open and wet, and Oropher in the extremity of his self-control is forced to stop for a moment as he watches Thranduil’s greedy tongue plunder Galion’s mouth. Galion groans into the kiss, tormented, and though Oropher can see how desperately he wants the kiss, he knows how it must pierce his servant to the heart.

 

For Thranduil, overwhelmed and drowning in sensation, is a delight of aggression and helplessness; but Galion wants tenderness, connection, love. Oropher was right to fulfill this duty himself, and to save Galion the anguish.

 

Now that his cock is sinking into his son’s open hole, Oropher also finds that he cannot imagine letting anyone else have this first.

 

He leans down, presses his mouth to Thranduil’s back in a soft kiss, and murmurs, “If I fuck you harder, can you take it?”

 

Galion breaks their kiss and groans and shudders at the mere words, and Thranduil struggles for breath as he licks his bruised lips and whimpers: “Give me all of it, use me hard.”

 

He kisses Galion’s cheek and jaw, seeking Galion’s mouth, and Galion closes his eyes and tenses, his face drawn into an expression of pain. Oropher sighs, embraces his son with one arm, and pushes with the other until they are both sitting upright, Oropher kneeling back on his haunches and Thranduil upright in his lap with thighs stretched across his own and knees not quite reaching the linens, impaled and powerless and pushed down so far on his father’s cock that Oropher imagines the weight of his length inside must make Thranduil’s belly bulge.

 

Galion is left below them to stare and wipe his mouth and gather his senses. His cock is hard and red and weeping, but although his belly glistens with the precursors of Thranduil’s inevitable spend, his own cock is only slightly smeared with the droplets that ooze out of it. He has not been nearly enough touched, Oropher thinks ruefully, but no help for it—the vulnerable heart is more important than the hungry cock.

 

Thranduil gasps with the effort of enduring his penetration, and rocks in tiny transfixed motions against Oropher’s body. His back tenses against Oropher’s chest, and the crown of his head is pressed to the side of Oropher’s face, the scent of his hair sweet and wild as oak-leaves in spring.

 

“Is it too much,” Oropher whispers in Thranduil’s ear, and in return Thranduil shakes his head jerkily, distracted.

 

“Nearly,” the boy gasps, “but—but I want it, I want you to make me feel—”

 

Oropher bows his head to kiss Thranduil’s shoulder, then the side of his throat, then pins Galion—still panting and open-mouthed—with his gaze. “To make you feel helpless,” he croons into Thranduil’s temple, still holding Galion’s eyes and watching blatant longing drain the guard from his face. “To make you feel as though I give you whatever pleasure you find? To feel how your father owns your body, and uses it for your own good?”

 

Galion’s hand curls on his belly, then tightens into a fist, then splays in awful distress as he strokes his own skin from navel to groin, bucking. The sight of it makes Oropher’s cock twitch, which in turn earns a whimper from Thranduil. Oropher feels the boy reaching, and swats his hand down, biting him gently on the shoulder. “I give you pleasure,” he hisses, “it is my gift to you, my lovely son. You need not earn my love, only accept it. Watch, now, and in a moment I will give you more.”

 

Thranduil sobs with need, but Oropher is still watching Galion, who shudders as his knuckles graze his cock and draws his hand back in an attempt at self-control. His knees draw up, and the insteps of his feet rest alongside Oropher’s calves, unconsciously offering his own body as a brace. Eyes dark with enjoyment, Oropher leans his son forward until Thranduil’s hair swings forward over his shoulders and his hands clutch back at Oropher’s body for support, then leans back himself and takes the boy’s waist in his hands, curling his fingertips tight across the arch of bone at each hip.

 

“Please,” begs Thranduil, clinging to his father’s sides as he is bent forward, and Oropher grips him harder and lifts him just a bit, pulling himself back from the impalement.

 

“I will give you everything you can take,” promises Oropher, and thrusts up into his son’s body with hungry abandon, pulls back and thrusts again, gives himself over to the furious pace of fucking and lets Thranduil scramble for support. Thranduil’s hands slide across his skin, losing their grip, and as Oropher’s hips snap up into him and jolt him off-balance he cries out and grabs for Galion’s braced knees and holds onto them for dear life. Oropher does not relent, reveling in his son’s wails and moans, watching as Galion loses his self-control entirely and begins to stroke himself hard in time with Oropher’s pace.

 

The tightness, the wrench of muscle, is almost agony. Thranduil can scarcely make words, so distraught is he with sensation. He curls forward until his breast is almost resting against Galion’s knees and his hair is brushing Galion’s belly, swinging with each thrust, tangling with Galion’s hand as he strokes and smearing in the precome that Galion is rolling across the head of his own cock. A dark flush spreads across Galion’s breast; he is close to spending.

 

Oropher is selfish; he wants Thranduil to break first. “Galion,” he calls, “push him back onto me.”

 

Galion, true to service, leaves off his own stroking and pulls his hand away—though it takes him a moment of staggered breathing to regain control, and his cock leaks a slow sticky thread of precome down onto his belly—and rolls upright from back to buttocks to knees, putting his hand in the center of Thranduil’s breastbone and gently guiding him backward as Oropher falls back and pulls him down.

 

In a moment, Thranduil is supported at an angle by his father’s hand between his shoulderblades, and held fast on Oropher’s cock by the other hand on his hip; Galion smoothes his hands across Thranduil’s chest and sides, and kneels between Oropher’s slightly parted knees and Thranduil’s splayed thighs to kiss and suckle at Thranduil’s nipples.

 

“So pliant,” murmurs Oropher, feeling Thranduil relax into his support and let his arms fall back to help lift his weight against the bedding. “So biddable, and so brave. You will endure much in your life, Thranduil, and not all of it as pleasurable as this, although perhaps some of it less demanding,” and with this he tilts Thranduil back just a bit and then fucks up into him, thrusting forward as much as in.

 

Thranduil shudders generously and gasps. “That was—strange,” he says, but Oropher gives him no time to consider it, only withdrawing and thrusting again, aiming as best he can for the faint firmness of this sensitive spot. On the second strike, Thranduil nearly convulses, and his fingers clench in the linens; on the third, he tightens so frantically around Oropher that it breaks the pace.

 

“Do you like it,” asks Oropher, but Thranduil only shivers, gasping for breath, tension in his arms and back but body struggling to relax. “His face, Galion—does he like it?”

 

“He does,” groans Galion, cupping Thranduil’s face in his hand.

 

“Tell me,” says Oropher through his teeth, and Galion searches Thranduil’s face and replies:

 

“His mouth is open, his breath is quick, he is flushed red. He is beautiful, my king, and thoroughly aroused.”

 

Oropher rocks back again, thrusts forward, feels the head of his cock roll aching over his goal, and feels the thread of orgasm begin to draw tight in his own body as Thranduil cries out and jerks and struggles and still manages to take it and breathe yes with each sobbing gasp. Galion watches the boy’s face closely, palms roaming over his body and wrapping at the nape of his neck and stroking through his hair, and all the while Oropher can see Galion’s heartbreak written all over his face. Galion licks his lips and then bites them; Oropher knows that he regrets the last kiss, the innocence of earlier kisses erased by Thranduil’s frantic arousal and replaced with something darker and more vulnerable in Galion’s eyes.

 

“Galion,” he says, to break that spell of misery. “Serve my son.”

 

He means for Galion to find distance, to let his hands work in service rather than love, to guard his own heart; but Galion, with something like relief in his eyes, sinks low upon the bed and disappears from Oropher’s sight.

 

Oropher can feel his shoulders and elbows finding purchase on the bed, and then Thranduil convulses and a babble of empty syllables gushes from his mouth, choking into bitten-off curses and pleas. Galion is sucking the boy, Oropher realizes.

 

Very well. Not unknown among elves, certainly, though most prefer to lie heart-to-heart if not face-to-face. The effect on Thranduil, certainly, is incredible; he makes as if to thrust, then shudders, then rocks on his father’s penetrating length as if the stimulation is all he can bear.

 

Wet heat rolls from Thranduil’s ballocks down to Oropher’s, smearing Galion’s saliva between them. The motion of Galion’s insistent mouth and Thranduil’s spasms is like a hammer-beat between Oropher’s legs, and he picks up the rate of thrusting again, letting each aimed strike compel him wantonly toward his own climax as Thranduil begins to beg in earnest, then to panic.

 

“Oh—you have to—to stop,” Thranduil moans, frantic fingers clutching at skin and then spreading in helpless ecstasy. Oropher nearly relents, fearing that his son has changed his mind so close to the end, but Thranduil continues: “Something is—is happening in me, oh Ada, Galion, I can’t stop—”

 

Ah, the poor lad, the denial of youth and the nature of elves. Galion has had lovers, flings, momentary romances; he knows what pleasure only the company of another elf can wring from elven flesh. Oropher has been wed, and taken no lovers since, though now as his body grows liquid and taut in preparation for climax he begins to regret his own celibacy.

 

Thranduil has never taken a lover, never been opened or fucked, never buried himself in another’s mouth or body, never spilled his seed in groaning bliss. Now his hands clutch uselessly against Galion’s shoulders as he finds himself wracked and unravelling, tormented past bearing, descending helplessly into increasing tremors and small breathy moans without any understanding of what awaits him.

 

The knowledge of what now moves implacably over his son’s body, the anticipation of his own moment of crisis, tears the last shreds of control from Oropher’s desire. He fucks his son brutally, mercilessly, his aim holding steady only by sheer force of will, and as the first pangs of climax begin to throb in his ballocks he feels Galion’s moan end in a choke. Thranduil’s hole quivers and clutches around him. The boy’s body stiffens, jerks, shudders rhythmically; the breath stops in his body and his back arches until the muscles stand out like cords.

 

And all the while Oropher crests his own peak of pleasure and presses up into his son, feeling the throb of his heart and the pulse of his orgasm as one, feeling the heat of his own spilling seed while his son convulses about him, pouring out broken cries as Galion swallows his spend and holds him steady on his father’s cock.

 

Then the moment subsides, and Thranduil falls back on his father gasping. Galion withdraws, choking, and struggles to regain his breath; Oropher lies utterly spent and exhausted, the flutter of his own softening cock almost too much to bear as he slowly recedes and slips from his son’s body with a gush of liquid and a departing twitch.

 

He rolls Thranduil to one side, watching the boy’s eyes dip closed and his breathing soften into the trance of sleep that so powerfully follows young lust. Drowsing, the boy looks younger, more vulnerable, the first hints of kingship dissolved entirely from his face. His brow is open and his lashes dark upon his cheeks. He has never looked so much like his mother.

 

Oropher heaves a sigh of growing sorrow. “He is not for us,” he reminds himself as much as Galion, watching the lad sleep. “He is for some elleth with dancing eyes and a fierce smile, and for the sons and daughters he will father. How can I bear it?”

 

Galion twists onto his side, and Oropher sees that he is still hard and aching, that his breathing will not slow, and that he makes no effort to touch himself. Clearly he does not expect to finish, now that his service is complete. His eyes are so bright with anguish that Oropher’s heart aches to see them.

 

“How can he be so beautiful,” Galion whispers. “Why must I be so fascinated? Am I to cut out my heart, or feel it break inside me?”

 

Oropher will never have his son as a true lover, he knows. Whatever he desires, there is no place for it in tradition or in society. Even if he cared to flout both, he knows that Thranduil’s love for him is not that of a true joining, that it is the sum of father-worship and burgeoning lust, that it will pass in time just as his own passions of youthful dalliance passed.

 

For Galion, there is not even as much. Companionship, delight, even the flickerings of young romance; if Galion cared less for him, the two might have played at tender sport for decades, learning the joy of their bodies in each others’ company.

 

But Galion loves him. Oropher sees this as clearly as if it were graven on Galion’s breast. The memory of this night will be a torment to Galion in coming years, and burden him with sorrow and longing for many more. Galion reaches out a hand to rest it on Thranduil’s slumbering side, and Oropher sees that he is hard and unsatisfied and does not even care in the face of such hopeless want.

 

“Let me distract you,” asks Oropher of his servant, and Galion turns to him, a question on his face. Oropher gently pushes him back, and Galion complies, clinging and embracing as Oropher stretches over him, kissing his throat and his jaw, stroking his side with a palm, mouthing an apology into Galion’s skin.

 

When Oropher kisses Galion’s mouth, he tastes tears, but Galion takes his tongue with hungry urgency and opens eagerly for him. Perhaps, with his eyes closed tight, he is imagining Oropher’s son instead; but Oropher can forgive him that, when he has asked so much and been given so much more.

 

“Let me,” he repeats, and rolls his hips against Galion’s own, rubbing his body along the other’s cock, slicking him with oil and with his own spilled seed. Galion gasps in some wretched echo of relief and bucks up into him. Oropher follows his rhythm and rides him in swift desperate strokes despite the over-stimulation of his own cock, which is half-hardened again but too spent to fully rise. It almost hurts; but he accepts the pangs and shudders of too much as Galion ruts up against his belly and clutches at his shoulders in heartbroken surrender and opens wantonly to his kiss.

 

In a moment, Galion begins to tense, and his lips grow taut across his teeth under Oropher’s mouth. Oropher thrusts against him in sustained rhythm, at once aroused to painful excess and burning with the loss of the body between them; and as Galion stiffens and spills and gasps for air, they are both mouthing the same name, the name of a memory whose substance they cannot keep.

 

Afterward they lie in the disheveled mess of the mattress, Galion curled against Oropher’s side and Thranduil deep in even-breathed slumber just beyond them. Oropher feels hot tears pooling in the hollow of his shoulder, but says nothing just yet; his own throat is too tight to bear speech.

 

In the end, they gather themselves, according to the requirements of the ritual; the servants will return in a while with hot water and linens, and Thranduil will receive his bath in silence before retiring to his own rooms to meditate. Oropher pulls on his own robes and hose, then dresses Galion with his own hands, gently fastening the robes at his throat and re-affixing the carved mask.

 

When they are both clothed, Galion bows his head and turns to leave, but Oropher catches his hand and draws him back.

 

“He is not for us,” Oropher says, grave and kingly as if he stands before a court. “He is not for pleasure, nor I fear even for love, though it breaks all our hearts. But if you can bear secrecy for the sake of the kingdom, and accept solace rather than the happiness you deserve; I will be yours, Galion, since we share this thing.”

 

Galion looks at him, transfixed, the hollow despair in his eyes slowly dawning into a harder, more determined sorrow; then he embraces Oropher about the waist, burying his face in Oropher’s shoulder like a lover seeking comfort, clinging so tightly that his fingers dig into Oropher’s skin. And as Oropher wraps him in his arms and presses his own face into Galion’s hair, Galion murmurs: “My king.”