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He’s tired when he gets back, the poor thing. Though Lindir is waiting to take his cloak and horse and bring him good food and wine, he yawns between the little kisses he scatters over Lindir’s forehead. Lindir’s scooped up for a proper kiss, his hands woven into Elladan’s dark hair and his mouth filled with the honeyed, intoxicating taste he’s missed for days. But then he has to gently push away, bow to his lover with his leave and promise to return; he has duties to attend to.

And then he’s back in Elladan’s arms, and they take a stroll through the garden, Elrohir on Lindir’s other side but not holding Lindir’s hand like his brother. His breathing is slow and sleepy, and finally he bids them a good night. They were on the road too long, keeping everyone safe. It leaves Elladan and Lindir to find a quiet spot amidst the gardens and settle down in the plush grass.

Lindir suggests sitting; he wants to tie new braids into Elladan’s hair, but Elladan tugs Lindir down to lie with him. Lindir stretches out flat on his back, and Elladan rests half on Lindir’s body, like using Lindir for a pillow. Elladan’s cheek is warm against his chest, too many of their robes in the way. But they’ll have time for that in the days to come. Time seems to be endless in Imladris, even in the long lives of elves. They talk for a little while, and then they simply bask in the fading sun and each other’s presence. Even in silence, Lindir enjoys Elladan’s company more than any other. He used to think he could never feel such devotion for another man—his dedication was already in his work, in service to his lord. But then Lord Elrond’s eldest son began to court him—him, a lowly attendant, of all people—and slowly his buried lust was fanned into a very real love, and now it’s all Lindir can do not to run to Elladan whenever they’re in sight.

He still tries to be good, of course. He still has his duties. The things he does for Elladan in the dark of night could never be guessed from the way he bows so demurely in the day. It surprises him that Elladan doesn’t hide more; he lies with a mere servant out in the gardens for all to see, and he’ll touch Lindir, speak adoringly to Lindir, kiss Lindir in the middle of court. Now he does nothing but drink in Lindir’s presence as Lindir does with him. He lets out a gentle sigh as Lindir threads one hand behind Elladan’s head, petting him with feather-light strokes. Every Elven warrior deserves to be pampered, but Lindir will go the distance for Elladan that no other could.

For a long, long time, they lie like that, with the lilting, far-away music from minstrels in their ears, and the floral perfumes wafting idly through the air. Lindir’s mind slows from all his chores and drifts pleasantly along memories of Elladan’s affection and hazy ideals for the future.

And eventually, the sun begins to set. It’s the sign that Lindir must move on, though he could lie like this for an age if he were allowed. But he has things to do. He must ready Lord Elrond’s robes for tomorrow, check on the kitchens for the upcoming week’s meals, see that Elladan and Elrohir’s armours have been taken care of, and go over and tidy Lord Elrond’s study for the day. And if he doesn’t complete those things soon, they’ll back him up for his night duties—another set he must complete before he retires to Elladan’s chambers, or draws Elladan into his.

But when he whispers, “Elladan,” no answer comes. He stills his thoughts and listens only to his lover’s breathing, and he thinks, perhaps, that Elladan has fallen asleep.

Shifting subtly along the grass, Lindir does his best to curl around Elladan, bringing them as close as he can and finding a view of Elladan’s handsome face, hardened from too many battles but softened with sleep and the warmth of home. He looks so very peaceful, so beautiful, that Lindir doesn’t have the heart to wake him. He deserves his rest, and from the look on his languid features, he’s having pleasant dreams.

The sun withers down, the light changing from yellow to orange to rose. Lindir still has Elladan’s company, but it’s better when they’re both awake, and the guilt settles in to stay. He manages to shift again, lift to at least sit up, with Elladan’s head nestled in his lap and one hand still entangled in his lover’s hair. He debates, for a while, leaving, slipping silently from beneath Elladan and returning to what he must do, but then Elladan would wake alone, after so long on the road. He doesn’t deserve that. A few times, Lindir means to wake him, but can never quite manage to put that intent in motion. By the time the stars are peaking through the darkness, Lindir hasn’t moved.

For the first time that evening, someone comes to interrupt them. Lindir looks up at the quiet footsteps to find Lord Elrond strolling through the leaves, tall and regal and quite as handsome as his son. Lindir can’t stop an embarrassed blush from staining across his cheeks. He bows his head, and when Lord Elrond stops before them, Lindir murmurs, “I apologize, my lord.” He feels very small and very foolish. He’s never disappointed his lord before, and he never wanted to. But when he allows his eyes to flicker up, Elrond has only a soft, fond smile on his face. He’s never treated Lindir poorly, though Lindir feels terrible himself.

“I am glad you are so devoted to keeping my son happy,” Elrond answers, his voice too hushed to wake the elf between them, blissfully unaware. Even when Elrond scolds, it’s gentle. “But I believe Elladan has had enough rest, and perhaps next time, he should be roused.”

“Yes, my lord,” Lindir answers, more agreeing than reciting, and then, once more, “I am sorry.”

Elrond makes no note of apologizes he didn’t request, though Lindir means them all the same. Elrond’s hands draw together in front of him, clasping as he calmly continues, “It is too late now. Perhaps it would be best to retire for the night; it grows cold outside this time of year.” Lindir’s cheeks turn ever pinker, and he dips his head in acquiescence.

He draws his hand along Elladan’s cheek, thumbing his smooth skin, and purrs, “Elladan. Elladan, please wake.” Though he keeps his voice somewhat quiet, the combination of that and his hands brings Elladan back, and he makes a sudden noise, stretching languidly in place.

His grey eyes peer open, and he smiles first at Lindir, then murmurs tiredly, “Ada.”

“Next time you wish to detain an elf,” Elrond responds with one lifted brow, “it should not be one with duties.”

Perhaps only because he’s still groggy, Elladan mutters, “I am sorry.” Then he lifts a hand to rub at his eyes, and Elrond smiles indulgently, turning to leave.

Before he goes, he offers, “Lindir. You work very diligently, and perhaps it is time you were given rest as well. Please take the night off.”

Lindir breathes a quick, “Thank you, my lord,” but still feels embarrassed and still bows his head in shame. His lord has always been to kind to him. Elrond takes his leave, and in his wake, his son shifts to sit up.

Alone, Elladan says, “You did not wake me.” It’s something of a question, and his dark brows are drawn together, as though lost. When Lindir merely nods, Elladan elaborates, “I cannot believe you missed your duties.”

Lindir opens his mouth, but confirming it any more is too shameful, so he only bites his bottom lip, chewing it once before trying to explain, “You looked so very... peaceful. I wanted you to have that.”

“I did not think you would neglect your job for anything.”

Burning up, Lindir darts his hands to his face, covering it to murmur, “I am sorry,” but Elladan’s long fingers twist around his wrists. His hands are pulled aside, and Elladan presses forward to kiss him, lingering chastely over his lips.

Then Elladan chuckles, grinning deeply, “You are cute.” Lindir’s too flustered to reply, and so Elladan kisses him again before sighing, “I am glad to know you love me as much as I love you.”

Lindir doesn’t think it would be possible to not love Elladan. He clearly has the better deal. He pulls his wrists away from his captor so that he can throw his arms around Elladan’s neck, clinging to Elladan’s broad shoulders and holding close the warmth he’s missed. Until Elladan must leave again, Lindir plans to spend every moment with him possible, barring, of course, times when there are other jobs to do.

Elladan gathers Lindir easily up in his arms. His strength shows, even in his lithe body, as nimble as any elf. When he lifts to his feet, he takes Lindir with him.

He kisses Lindir’s forehead and purrs, “Perhaps we should celebrate this discovery by lying in a proper bed.” Lindir smiles and holds himself back from suggesting that he doesn’t deserve such a thing; perhaps he should be punished by the eldest son of his lord for his naughtiness. Elladan would probably delight in such games; he delights in most new, exciting things, like telling Lindir stories of all the places he’s been.

Lindir leans his head on Elladan’s shoulder, and Elladan carries him out of the gardens.