She looks so happy, Elrohir thought to himself.
He sat in the hall of kings, in the white city of Gondor, watching his sister laugh at yet another of the hobbits' jokes, Aragorn at her side, their hands entwined on the table. Their wedding had been a thing to be remembered for all time, and he was certain its tale would be told for many centuries ere it faded from the memories of men. Yet the songs were lively still, and the eve was yet young with the gloaming hours only approaching.
Elrohir looked off to the side to see his brother and father watching as well. How his father must have felt watching Arwen, he could not even imagine, for truly, it had never crossed his mind that he ought ever be separated from the one he loved, and in his father's case, it had happened many times. It was a testament to his strength that he yet lived, though that he would see his wife again soon had rejuvenated him surely, for Elrohir hadn't seen his father laughing and dancing as he had done this day and would again this eve in many a century.
Elladan was another matter entirely.
His brother, ever regal, ever poised, had danced with so few - Arwen and Galadriel and a young woman who had so shyly asked for a dance - yet already he seemed weary. He had a sombre look on his handsome face as he looked out over the couples dancing. Such a dark look on his face Elrohir hadn't seen since their youth when a venomous cob bit his leg and Elladan stubbornly watched over him through the night to ensure a speedy recovery. He wondered what could have been on Elladan's mind to catch him with such a glower on such a joyous occasion.
Though Elrohir wondered if he seemed any better as he sat at the back of the room watching the proceedings. He must have been no better off for soon enough the white wizard approached and sat beside him.
"Only two people sport such a look during a wedding, young elf-lord: the jealous, and the grieving - though in some cases it may be both," Gandalf spoke to the room, though not nearly loudly enough to command it.
Elrohir flushed, for he'd believed his thoughts well guarded. Though I suppose it is no use trying to hide such things from some people. The truth will always come out, after all.
"You are correct, Mithrandir, on both counts. For though my heart rejoices at my sister's blessing, so too is it heavy with nigh unbearable sorrow, for my own love can never be."
"Come now," the wizard said, "Is this truly what you believe? In the face of such revelry and celebration, to think that love could not bloom in the most unlikely places?"
A curious looked crossed Elrohir's face, "Besotted I may be, but blind I am not. I am loath to approach... Him." He paused as he spoke the word, evaluating Gandalf's reaction, though there was none. "I could not live with myself, alone, should he deem me unworthy - or worse."
"What could possibly be worse than that boy saying no?"
The wizard seemed genuinely confused, and Elrohir even more so for it, "He may wish me exiled, or mayhap imprisoned. He may wish never to speak to me again, and that is more than I could bear. I would gladly welcome Mandos before such pain."
"Come now, Elf-knight," Gandalf stood and a great shadow seemed to be about him, "Surely you do not expect me to abide by these ill thoughts." And as he lowered himself once more into his seat, "You are in need of respite, young elf lord. I believe you will find that the king's private bathing chambers are well separated into different baths for family members, and that one of them has already been prepared for you. Mayhap a moment of reflection therein would be of great help to you."
Elrohir considered disregarding the suggestion, but a raised, furry silver brow told him otherwise. He thanked the wizard before searching once again for his brother, for he no longer sat by their father, who was no longer seated at the same table, but dancing once more with his daughter - as they should be - though the disappearance of his brother had Elrohir concerned.
He spoke to Aragorn briefly, thanking him for the celebration, and promising that he would return later, but was excused from the evening should he require it, for which he would be eternally grateful. Hence, Elrohir found himself walking slowly back to the room that had been assigned to them - himself and Elladan - for ever had they shared most things, though a bed they did not, in recent years.
A door in the very back of the room let upon a large but private suite of deep stone baths, all separated from one another by large wooden fences, decorated with a light creeping ivy, still young, and probably one of the first of Arwen's home decorating.
It seemed, however, that while Mithrandir had been correct about a bath being filled, the room was already occupied, for he could easily spy steam rising from the farthest hidden section, and raiment the colour of the lords of Imladris lay neatly folded on a chair by the wall.
Elrohir approached, recognizing the circlet placed on the pile of clothes, and the dark leather boots next to them - expensive black leather from the south - if he recalled correctly, for he'd had them commissioned himself, in secret, as a begetting gift for Elladan some years past.
Noticing his own steps start to falter, Elrohir clenched his fists and walked more quickly to that dividing fence, peaking around it, and stopping in his tracks at the sight that greeted him.
Elladan, it seemed, had only just stepped in, for he was yet unaccustomed to the heat of the water, and only knee deep in the bath. His hair was loose, unbraided and unbeaded. His pale skin reflected in the water by candle-light. The tips of his fingers played lightly in the water by his hips as he took another step into the tub.
Elrohir breathed deeply, and finally, fearing he would reveal his position in the strangest of ways, chose instead to make himself known, "Could you use some company, brother?"
Elladan spun around, eyes wide, his hair fanning out behind him, "Brother! You scared me. How many times have I told you that sneaking up on me when I'm naked is rude?"
Elrohir barely huffed a laugh before quieting down and looking at his feet, hands clasped before himself, "I forget, brother. I do not consider your state of undress when I seek you out, only that it is you I wish to see."
"You flatter me, Elrohir," Elladan spoke, reaching out a hand, "I would invite you in, but you are wearing far too many clothes to sit in a tub of water, much less one this warm. The house-maids of Gondor certainly know how to prepare a steaming-hot bath."
"I will join you, brother, if you would give me but a moment to do so."
"Aye, you have a moment, and many more, for I've yet to overcome the fear that this water will burn my bollocks off."
At that, Elrohir laughed out loud heedless of who might hear in passing, for truly, no matter his mood, Elladan always knew exactly what to say to make his heart sing once again.
"Please brother," Elrohir snorted, "You musn't make me laugh so when I've only one foot on the ground. The consequences of me falling into the bath would be quite catastrophic for you."
"Indeed, I fear I would lose more than my bollocks," Elladan looked down at the water with worry, "My hair might well burn off my scalp."
Elrohir's head snapped up at this, eyes strained on the dark cascade of Elladan's hair, "Do not even suggest it. I would mourn its loss no doubt as much as you." He pulled his tunic over his head before wiping a fake tear from his eye, "Could you imagine, me, with a bald twin? How would the people ever mistake us for one-another again?"
"You could always shave your head?" Elladan's laugh trailed off into a hiss as he took another step down, finally bringing the water to his waist and sinking down to his shoulders in one move. "We could be Arda's first bald, elven twins."
Elrohir glared at his brother at the mere suggestion that he would shave the hair from his head, and a wicked thought entered his mind, hinted at only by a smirk, which Elladan caught all too late. Thinking the best way to enter the pool of hot water to be as quickly as possible, Elrohir dipped his toe in for a taste, flicking it at Elladan, and before his twin could bid him wait until he had moved away, Elrohir quickly descended the steps into the tub, creating large waves that licked up Elladan's shoulders and neck, narrowly missing his face.
"You menace!" Elladan gasped, "You could have burned my eyes out of my very skull!"
"Come now, brother. You know I could never harm your pretty face," Elrohir said, though his face fell and the lightness of their playful banter faded. He sat back against one of the mid steps and pressed his back to the side of the bath with a sigh. "Why, brother? Why do we insist on such formal language? Have we grown so far apart?"
Elladan looked at him with a look of such surprise and hurt, as though he hadn't realized, or had hoped that Elrohir himself wouldn't.
"Dost thou no longer wish for such familiarity with thine other half?"
"Ai Elrohir, must you always be so perceptive?" Elladan mumbled, but in the large empty room, the words were louder than he'd intended and Elrohir caught them anyway.
"I do not try to be. Is it so strange that I would know you better than any other, for ever have we spent most of our days with each other? That we have not these past months makes little difference in the face of centuries, does it not?" Elrohir seemed small as he spoke, his hands clasped together near his chest, over his heart. "Dost tho-"
The younger twin's eyes snapped up to Elladan's, wide with fear but gentle with concern, for so rarely did Elladan raise his voice that surely something but be terribly wrong with him.
"Do you not think I have ceased this familiarity for a reason? Perhaps I am no longer comfortable referring to you as... Well, as one would a lover."
Elrohir felt a jolt running through his chest, grabbing his heart in a vice, "But brother, ever has this been our way, with no harm meant to any and no harm done to all. How then came you to despise it so?"
Elladan met Elrohir's gaze and the pang of anger that had so suddenly befallen him fell away, "I do not despise the endearment, Elrohir, only its implication. You know as well as I that such familiarity has ever been reserved amongst married pairs, for even with Arwen, such terms were never used, and yet with you..." A deep breath fell from Elladan's lips and finally, he too, lay back against the side of the tub. "I believe it ought to be something special, something only to be kept between myself and my own lover, and to use it now feels wrong somehow."
All at once, it seemed the air had left the room - like the thickness of the steam had consumed all that he should have breathed, and Elrohir was left staring through the spot where his brother once sat with no sense of time or space or even whether he had ever existed. It seemed to him suddenly that his entire life had been an elaborate dream, concocted by some ill-meaning wizard and he had not felt the first jolt of awareness returning to him, like the moment you awaken from a sleep enforced by healing herbs, only to find that the numbness you feel was not due to sleep, but to some poisonous toxin flowing through your veins.
Aye, that was it. He'd fallen asleep after taking his father's draught following the ambush and he'd only now awakened. Elladan was still there, still watching over him, still calling his name, but it was too late. Elladan had already been taken away from him, for they were no longer of the same world. His name... Elrohir.
He blinked several times and finally took another breath, only just noticing how close his brother had become. Elladan was sitting beside him, or kneeling in front of him really, as close as he could get without sitting on Elrohir's lap.
"Breathe, Elrohir! Please!"
And so at his brother's desperate insistence, Elrohir agreed to grant his wish. A deep breath, then another, and another, with Elladan guiding him, until once again he breathed regularly.
"Elrohir, brother, what was that? Thou hasn't had such an episode since... Since we lost mother."
"I know, brother, and yet..."
"What could possibly have put thee in such a state?"
"T'was but a shock, brother, nothing y-" Elrohir slowly glanced up at Elladan, hardly believing his words, "I thought you..."
And Elladan closed his eyes, head bowed forward, allowing his hair to nearly hide his face, "I cannot..."
Elrohir tentatively reached forward to brush his brother's hair away, only to be taken into a crushing embrace.
"I cannot lie anymore, Elrohir. I cannot hide, for thou hast seen through me as thou art ever wont to do," Elladan pressed his cheek against Elrohir's as tears welled up in his eyes. "The truth is, I have found one with whom I would share my life, but they cannot return such a love."
And Elrohir's heart thundered in his chest, joy and pain in equal measure, struggling to the forefront of his mind, for finding such a love ought to be a joyous occasion, but if Elladan thought it so impossible, then Elrohir's own heart broke for him, and for himself.
"But, if thine efforts are sincere..." Elrohir tried to comfort him, but in his own pain found so little to say that would sound genuine. "Surely, they would not think you less than comely?"
"I have never doubted that they do, for ever do they seek me out with their eyes, if not their hands, so too have they pleased me in appearance, and yet, I know not how to approach them, for so profoundly do I fear that they would not only reject me from their heart, but from their life."
This gave Elrohir pause, for surely it could not be that Elladan felt about his love, the same way Elrohir felt himself, but so it was. Oft it had been their way to experience shared thoughts and emotions, whether wanted or not, but this? For this love and this pain to be shared by them both, surely t'was an evil joke played on them by some dark being, for such a coincidence could not have simply come about. The universe could not be so cruel.
"Elladan, I think, perhaps the easiest thing to do, would be to simply tell them?" Elrohir tried, placing a light, caring hand on Elladan's shoulder, and the other on his lower back. "For surely, no pain could be worse than what thou hast already imagined? If thou believest so strongly that they will reject thee, then thou sufferest as though they have already done so. Thou hast nothing more to lose."
"Nay, that is false," Elladan whimpered and pulled away, "For they know not whom they are, and they know not that they are the cause of such a wound."
"Oh brother, whom could cause you such pain, and remain so blind to it?"
Elladan was quiet for the longest moment, and finally, with a face as blank as fresh-fallen winter snow, he met Elrohir's eyes and expelled a soft, barely heard, "You..."
Elrohir's eyes welled up with such tears, he hardly noticed them until Elladan was wiping them away. His breath was soft and shallow, a whine caught in his throat. "H-How?"
"I know not, brother," Elladan whispered, bowing his head once more, "I know only that somehow, somewhere, somewhen along the way, I loved thee more than I ever had before. I fell in love with thee, and so we fell apart for sure I could not let such affection burgeon into something more, but watching thee from afar only made me see thee more clearly, and of course, made me miss thee all the more."
Elrohir shook his head in disbelief, "You speak the truth?"
"Aye," Elladan looked up, tears streaming down his face just as they had down Elrohir's moments ago, "Please brother, send me not from thine sight. Keep me ever in thine arms, for without them, I have found I lose the strength to stand."
Elrohir sat in shock, holding his brother by the shoulders, letting his words sink in, and finally understanding them to be true. Elladan loved him - loved him - as Arwen loved Aragorn, as their father loved their mother. Ai, it was his very dream come true, and he hardly knew what to do now that it was granted to him.
His eyes met Elladan's once again, only for his attention to be caught by his lips as they parted for a breath, and he knew then what to do. Elrohir placed his hands along Elladan's jaw now and offered him what he hoped was a comforting smile as he pulled him in for a kiss.
Stars exploded behind his eyes as their lips finally met, and a whine left them both before they crashed together, for though they had hardly noticed it, they'd been heading into this moment for so long now, it was impossible to stop - not that either would have wanted to if they could. Hard and soft at once, they kissed and kissed until they did so with open mouths - needing to breathe, but utterly unwilling to part even for a moment.
Elrohir's hands slipped from Elladan's face to pet his shoulders, while Elladan pulled him ever closer, finally slipping onto Elrohir's lap and wrapping one arm around his brother's waist, while the other went to the back of his head to hold him. For minutes they kissed, wild and passionate and like children, for neither had sought the pleasure of another, instead ever choosing their own hand and the occasional mirror. Until at last, when even their savage love became too much for their lungs to withstand, they pulled apart and leaned their foreheads together.
And a sigh of overbearing relief.
"It is thee," Elrohir said, bringing his fingers back to trace Elladan's jaw, "as it has always been, and always will be. I love thee more than thou hast ever known."
"Aye, I have known," Elladan replied, "For such love has been my own, but so too has thine suffering, as we have suffered together, though apart. Let us never do so again. Let us instead rejoice in this love, and its blessing."
"Aye, but let me love thee more," Elrohir said shyly, "For ever have I love myself in silence and in shame, and I would do so no longer if I could love thee good and proper, now and forever."
Elladan gasped and pulled away completely to get a proper look at Elrohir, "Do I hear thee clearly, brother? Thou wish..."
"Yes, Elladan - my brother, my heart, my love, my entire life. I would love thee now, that the world might know thou art mine."
Without another word, Elladan slipped back onto Elrohir's knees, seating himself there and gazing up at him uncertainly before sliding his hands over his brother's chest and down toward his soft cock.
The angle was awkward. It took him a few moments of twisting his hand back and forth to figure out the best way of going about this, by which time the mere thought had Elrohir half hard with anticipation. Elladan took his brother's cock in hand and began gently stroking it, his own cock beginning to take interest in his activities, though it remain untouched.
Elrohir tilted his head back against the edge of the bath, his hair fanning out about him, his breath coming out in heaving gulps. His hands clenched and unclenched at his sides - gripping Elladan's knees like they could keep him from falling into this spiralling pleasure - until Elladan brought them to his own cock, wrapping them both around his prick and urging Elrohir to move. Quickly he took to the movement, though not ungently so, and matched time with Elladan's hands on his own.
What misgivings he'd had earlier seemed silly now, for had he not thought exactly this? That ever they had shared in their thoughts and emotions, the most of which was their pleasure, save when one hide from the other? How blind they had both been, but no longer. The toils and hardships of their denied love would never again be.
Submitting himself to the throes of passion, Elladan pulled Elrohir's hands from his cock, and brought them both to his ass, encouraging him to pinch and knead and do with it what he will.
"It is thine now," Elladan said, before a keening moan was ripped from him as Elrohir pulled him closer now that the cumbrous mess of their hands were no longer in the way, pressing their erect cocks together, and pulling Elladan up and down with a strong grip on his cheeks, spreading him and clutching him tightly.
Elrohir heaved a breath before leaning forward to capture Elladan's lips once more. Their mouths opening, leaving way for their tongues to meet and it was strange and new but so wonderful and intimate. It was everything they wished it to be, though their tryst wouldn't last, for such urgency they both felt.
Elladan's body was wracked with trembles as Elrohir, cunning-handed as ever, slipped one hand between them, grasped their cocks at the head, and with what strength he could muster in the awkward positioning, jerked and twisted until Elladan reached his climax, following him over the edge only a second later.
Elrohir sobbed in relief, pressing another kiss to Elladan's petal-soft lips, before releasing them both and leaning against him to catch his breath.
Hale and whole at last, Elrohir thought in relief. He wanted to say more, but could hardly find the words.
Hale? Or defiled?
Elrohir's eyes flew open and he nearly smashed his head against his brother's in his hurry to look up.
Aye, brother. It is I.
But how? Father said it was too late for us to develop such a gift.
And I thought father would smite me for asking him if I should bed my brother, sometimes people are wrong.
"Thou truly..." Elrohir burst into laughter, "Father?"
"Aye, father," Elladan replied, "Thou wouldst have seen us earlier in the hall. Thou spokest to the wizard at the time."
"Indeed, I did, though I knew not he had anything of this special magnificence planned," a sombre looked crossed Elrohir's face for but a split second, "I was certain such a conversation could only lead us astray, and tear our relationship asunder."
"Nay, no more brooding, brother," Elladan spoke softly, "Let us be done with this darkness. Let us not tarry here much longer, lest we are caught red-handed, as it were, when the maids return to clean our mess."
The twins laved one another then, offering to scrub each other's backs and wash each other's hair as they had done in childhood.
The celebration in the main hall had reached its zenith, but would be short two young elf-lords, for they would not be returning, choosing instead to escape to their shared room to spend an evening in quiet company and contemplation, arm in arm, side by side, watching the last of the daylight vanish over the mountains.
"What did father say?" Elrohir suddenly asked.
"He said he would rather I bed thee, than hear about it in anymore detail."
And together they laughed.
And together they stayed.
As they would ever more.