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Lord and Guardian - 6 & 7

Part 6/?


The Welcome

Rated G.
Elrohir and Haldir face Celeborn and Tinendel. An uncomfortable meeting for all concerned, which leads to more angst on all their parts.

Nothing was said as they made their way through the city towards the center of it. Elrohir did not know what to say, and it seemed to him that Haldir's thoughts grew darker as they went. It made him wonder what he might be missing or have missed, but now was no longer the time to ask the questions that plagued his mind. So he kept silent, looking forward more and more to the evening that was to come, when it came. It was not as easy as he would have liked it, putting thoughts of Shadow from his mind and what had happened, not when Haldir was not as near. There was something about the other Elf that brought a bit of light into his life, which made it seem somehow easier. Before he knew it the steps were rising before him to the talan above. He glanced over at Haldir but said nothing, giving him a little smile instead as they left the horses in the care of one of the younger lads there.

Haldir's heart had indeed grown heavier as they approached the large talan. He could think of nothing but how he would react upon seeing Celeborn again. His mouth grew dry, his throat hoarse, and his whole body tense one hand had been deeply buried in Nim's mane, the other tightly clenched by his side, to control the trembling. Perhaps he is not there. Perhaps only the Lady is present... The encouraging thought immediately became drowned by a darker one. What if his lover is there? Must I see them together? His stomach lay heavy as a block of ice as he lifted his head to look up the winding stairway, unable to see who would be present in the reception hall.

Looking over to Elrohir as they left their horses, Haldir's heart lifted for a brief moment at the little smile from him. He brushed his fingers casually against Elrohir's, giving them a little squeeze - it felt comforting knowing he was there. And later they would meet in his talan - he clung to this thought like a lifeline as they ascended the long stairs. Ashen pale, eyes wide with fear, he cast a last quick glance at Elrohir before turning his eyes to the ground as they entered the platform.

Elrohir was not sure what thoughts were going through his own, or Haldir's mind right then, instead he turned his hand to catch Haldir's, giving it a comforting squeeze - at least he hoped that how the Guardian felt about what he gave him. Glancing up as they climbed, two figures stood just visible above them, their backs turned towards the two ascending the staircase. Elrohir recognized Celeborn, but he could not tell who the other Elf was although there seemed something familiar about him. Yet at the same time... Pushing such thoughts aside, he realized would much rather simply have had Haldir show him to his talan instead of coming here, something in the air was not right. A quick glance over at Haldir showed not only he felt that way, so did the other Elf, perhaps even more so. Running a hand through his dark hair and taking a deep breath, he continued.

Entering the platform, Haldir was relieved to find that the two Elves had their backs turned to them, busily studying a large document laid out on a desk in the innermost corner. At the same time, his stomach still sat heavy as a stone upon seeing the same tall, dark-haired Elf standing next to Celeborn as he had seen that fateful morning. Assuming his most formal Guardian stance, staring stiffly into thin air with his face void of expression, he took his position beside the entrance. In a flat voice, he announced, "My Lord, I present Lord Elrohir of Imladris."

Celeborn stiffened for a moment as he heard Haldir's voice ring out clear and emotionless behind him, announcing the arrival of Elrohir. He had not been expecting the youngest son of Elrond, but neither had he quite been himself these last few days. While he had both longed and dreaded seeing Haldir again, he had not wanted it to be like this, under these circumstances, knowing that while Elrohir stayed here, he could say nothing to Haldir. What he wanted to do most was to pull the Guardian into his arms, bring his lips to his and kiss him in a way he had never kissed anyonewell, save Tinendel perhaps, but that was something different all together.

Tinendel had been eagerly studying the map Celeborn had spread over the desk as he pointed out areas of interest in Lothlorien and explained changes and improvements done during his absence. When he heard Elrohir being announced, he turned to see the two Elves by the door. He felt pleased to recognize the young dark-haired Elf as the son of Elrond, whom he had not seen since he was a young Elfling, running around with his twin brother. Now he appeared, fully-grown and stunningly beautiful. Beside him stood the very Guardian Celeborn had been pining over the last couple of days since that disastrous morning. Equally handsome, tall and well built, with silken light blond hair, midnight blue eyes, and an archer's strong chest. Oh, yes, he could definitely understand what Celeborn saw in this one.

Celeborn took a moment to calm himself, pretending to continue looking at something on the map before slowly turning around. He smiled at Elrohir, though he could not prevent his gaze from straying to Haldir rather than staying on his young grandson. Not to say he did not enjoy seeing him, for he did. Celeborn walked over to put his hands on Elrohir's shoulders and smiled.

"Welcome, Elrohir! It has been too long since you were last in Lothlorien." Glancing past him and finding no other visitor, he continued. "I take it Elladan did not accompany you this time?"

Celeborn's gaze drifted to Haldir once more - he did not let it linger as long as he would have liked. Less so, for Elrohir was speaking and he forced his attention back to his words. "... came on my own. Thank you for your hospitality. I do not know how long I will stay, but I will be willing to help out should it be needed."

Elrohir seemed close to catching something he had missed, but pushed it from his mind as his imagination. He gave his grandfather a quick hug, knowing that such a demonstration of affection would be over looked in this situation with only Haldir and the other Elf present. Stepping back, Elrohir bowed slightly.

Haldir kept his gaze firmly straight forward, not looking at anyone in the room, but could not help noticing from the corner of his eye that Celeborn cast him several glances. Why is he doing that? Does it amuse him to see my pain? His stomach twisted, even more so as he could also feel the eyes of the unknown Elf on him. Haldir involuntarily clenched his fists, already hating the other, not even knowing his name. All he wanted was to get out of there, feeling as though he suffocated. Where is the Lady? Why is his lover here with him? Is it official? The pain pierced him like an arrow, and he fought to stay in control, though he felt he had begun to tremble from the effort. Forcing himself to breathe normally, he concentrated on not moving a muscle, clenching his jaws tight shut.

Elrohir did not notice Haldir's discomfort as his back stayed slightly turned to the other Elf. Still, he could feel the tension in the room between the three. He knew not the cause of it, but it existed nonetheless, and he felt glad when Celeborn spoke once more, breaking the uncomfortable silence that had settled between them.

"Ah, forgive my manners, Elrohir. This is an old friend of mine. Tinendel, my grandson, Elrohir. Elrohir, Tinendel. And of course, I believe Tinendel you know of Haldir, though I do not think the two of you have met yet."

Tinendel gave Elrohir a wide smile, and shook his hand in a friendly manner, taking it in both his own. "It is a pleasure to meet you again, Elrohir. The last time I saw you, you only reached to my chin, and now you are almost taller than me."

He then turned to Haldir, and still smiling took his hand and shook it. "I am pleased to meet you too, Haldir. I have heard much praise of you, the Guardian of the Wood." He noticed that Haldir returned neither his look nor his handshake, only nodding formally with a void face and empty eyes. Tinendel sighed silently - obviously the guard was still very upset with what he had witnessed that morning. This would need to be dealt with quickly, for both Celeborn's and Haldir's sake.

Celeborn's words stung Haldir. So an old friend, is he? How long have they been lovers? Haldir's whole body stiffened when Tinendel grasped his hand. He loathed the feel of his fingers on his skin. Although the other appeared friendly and gave him a wide smile, he hated him. Avoiding his eyes, he nodded most formally. "Thank you, my lord." Inwardly, he gritted his teeth, aching to give him a fist between the eyes. Get away from me!

Celeborn forced a smile on his face, trying to keep his gaze from staying on Haldir too long. The Guardian was uncomfortable and did not want to be here, that much Celeborn could read and it hurt even if he knew he deserved it. Turning his back on Elrohir and Haldir, his eyes slid closed for a moment, reopening to find Tinendel looking at him. He gave his friend a slight nod before turning back to the others. "Of course you must stay for dinner. Undoubtedly it has been a long trip and you wish to rest, but perhaps a small repast?"

Elrohir hesitated for a moment, glancing at Haldir with a slight smile for him. "Forgive me, I would, but I have already agreed to be entertained by Haldir's company this evening. Besides, it would seem that you have your own..."

Celeborn glanced quickly between the two of them, his heart skipping a couple of beats as he wondered if something had occurred between the two of them. They were indeed both beautiful, though he could never see Elrohir in any other light than the little spindly boy who had once run through the Golden Wood with his brother. Shaking off the thought, Celeborn pushed erotic thoughts of Elrohir and Haldir together from his mind. Had it been possible that he had indeed read Haldir totally wrong or... Enough.

"I see. Well, then perhaps the following night? What say you the four of us dine together?" Celeborn turned to Haldir with a slight smile. "I do hope that you will still be with us, or had you planned on returning to the borders once more?" Celeborn asked, unable to keep the slight hopefulness from his voice. Not that he looked forward to the talk that he knew must come between them, but the thought of getting it over and done with, without having to dwell upon it for too much longer...

Haldir started when Celeborn suddenly spoke to him. He had shut his mind out so effectively that he was almost not present mentally anymore. What does he mean? Is he inviting me for dinner? To see him happy with his lover?

Uncomprehending, his eyes involuntarily slid to Celeborn's for the briefest of moments. The second he met his lord's gaze he fell drowning into those sky blue eyes that pierced his heart; almost making him fall apart - then he tore his eyes away and his face returned to a stone mask, answering with a flat, metallic voice, "Yes, my Lord. If you say so my Lord, but I do believe I am on the roster for the watch tomorrow, my Lord."

Elrohir sighed, but bit his tongue against saying what he wanted to say. He had hoped that Haldir planned on getting his schedule changed so that they could spend more time together.

Celeborn's smile died on his lips at the cold tone in Haldir's voice. Finally, he just nodded, turning away. "Then perhaps the three of us will, if you are so inclined as to join us Elrohir." His outlook had dimmed noticeably as he turned to them, again picking up the glass of wine that sat on the table next to the map.

With another glance at Haldir, Elrohir simply nodded, knowing that he would need to have dinner with his grandfather one of these days. Tomorrow would do just as well as any other. At least at this point in time anyway. "I would like that," he replied quietly.

Haldir returned Elrohir's glance swiftly, not wanting Celeborn to notice. He had answered as he did because he could not endure the torture of having a meal in the presence of these two lovers. But not wanting Elrohir to think he would not try to change watches, he gave him a tiny wink and a twitch at the corner of his mouth, before returning to stare blankly ahead as before.

Elrohir saw it, but made no response - there was something here he was missing. He did not doubt that he would probably hit himself over the head for not noticing whatever it was when he found out -and he would find out eventually. Nor did he miss the fact that Celeborn's demeanor had seemed to dim even more as he looked away from Haldir to find the Lord of Lorien watching them with a quiet gaze. There was something deeper in his eyes, but before Elrohir had a chance to figure out what it might be, it had gone.

Indeed, Celeborn had caught the look and it only seemed to clarify everything he had thought before. Forcing it back, he knew he had to remain in control. "Thank you for escorting my grandson here. You may leave now," he said quietly, addressing Haldir in an almost, but not completely neutral voice. "You are still invited to join us for the meal tomorrow, however - if you can not make it... it is understood." The words were out and said. Celeborn was not sure he could stand to have Haldir there as he was for much longer without losing his control all together. He knew it was perhaps the coward's way to simply dismiss him, yet Haldir seemed to wish to be there no more than Celeborn wanted him to be. Ne, that was not the case... Celeborn wished him to be there, yet he could not seem to say anything right, especially not with the misunderstanding that still lay between them, nor could he escape from the images of his grandson and the one person he truly desired above all others together...

Haldir quickly turned and headed for the stairs. Out of sight from the hall above, he could finally breathe again - the very relief of escaping that room almost made him collapse. He had intended to be stone cold - but the look into Celeborn's eyes had almost killed him, and the added agony of his lord's lover standing there, staring intensely at him, and taking in everything... Haldir had to support himself with both hands on the railing, his shaking legs almost refused to carry him. His throat burned, his breath hitched, and his eyes brimmed with tears unshed... Before reaching the forest floor, however, he had regained his control, and walked swiftly away towards the guardroom to find his brothers.

Tinendel had said nothing, just stayed in the background observing everything, every glance, every movement. He had always had a keen eye for details, facial expressions and tones of voice - and the air in that room had been so heavy with things unsaid, it could have been cut with a knife. He had noticed the quick exchanges between the guard and Elrond's son, the looks, the sigh, the wink - not to mention the unusual fact that the young lord intended to dine with the guard - there was a connection between these two that required examination. The fact that the Guardian's eyes had widened to black when meeting Celeborn's eyes, contradicting the ice in his voice, had not escaped him, neither had Celeborn's changing expressions - he knew him well enough to know he was in deep agony.

They had retired into the library, Elrohir talking with his grandfather for a while, but Tinendel had been mostly quiet, contemplating what had passed in the reception hall. When Elrohir finally took his leave of Celeborn, Tinendel stayed. He had a feeling Celeborn might need him.


Part 7/?


Troubled Hearts

Rated G
Celeborn suffers greatly from Haldir's coldness and Tinendel tries to comfort him. This brings back memories and causes him no little pain.

Celeborn felt slightly bad at the relief he felt when Elrohir departed. He leaned back in the seat, letting his eyes slide closed as his grandson left the room. Something dark hung in the air over Elrohir's head as well, though he had not spoken of it. Still, it had been obvious and Celeborn knew he would have to try and get it out of him sooner or later. However, so far Elrohir had deflected all his discreet inquires with surprising ease. Slowly, he brought his hand to his face, Haldir and all that had happened flashing before his closed eyes. The images returned all the hurt that had come with it. He felt like weeping, though he did not let the tears come, nor did he turn to look at Tinendel although he knew the other elf had stayed in the room. I cannot do this, he thought, pressing the heel of his hand against his eyes.

Tinendel sat in the other chair, looking intently at his dear friend. He could imagine how he felt, Celeborn had never been good at hiding things from him, and he could read in his face that his heart was breaking after having Haldir act so cold toward him. Also, he suspected that Celeborn might have felt the connection between the Guardian and Elrohir just as strongly as he did. When he saw the lord press his hands against his face, Tinendel carefully moved his chair to sit beside Celeborn. Without speaking, he gently pulled him close, stroking his hair with one hand, his back with the other, to provide some silent comfort.

Celeborn did not fight as Tinendel pulled him close, for his friend remained one of the few who understood what he felt and always had. Still nothing was said as he moved closer to press his face against Tinendel's neck, his body shaking slightly as the tears finally came. He had pent up his grief for so long, many years before the incident that had caused Haldir to run from him.

Holding him tightly, Tinendel pressed his face into Celeborn's hair, kissing it softly, nuzzling into it. Whispering soothing words with no meaning, he stroked his hands slowly up and down his back, tangling them into his hair, wishing there was something he could do to ease his pain. But at the same time, he knew that Celeborn really needed this; he had held back far too long. The room was silent save the soft, muffled sobs coming from the silver-haired Elf as Tinendel held him and simply let him cry.

It was some time before Celeborn finally settled down, though he did not move from the safe embrace of those arms. "You saw it, did you not?" Celeborn asked finally, lifting his head a little from Tinendel's shoulder, resting his cheek there instead.

Looking at Celeborn with great tenderness, Tinendel gently raised a hand to stroke damp strands of hair from his wet face, and then proceeded to wipe some of the tears away from his cheeks, softly kissing his forehead. Still holding his other arm around him, he hugged him tight. "Yes," Tinendel whispered. "I saw it too. What will you do?"

"Is there anything I can do?" Celeborn asked finally, closing his eyes. "Perhaps I was mistaken in thinking what I thought. I only imagined what I thought I saw..." Yet even now he could not quite bring himself to believe it. He needed to speak with Haldir, but the thought of meeting that cold voice once more, the stone image that had been warm and soft before, brought a few new tears to his eyes.

"There, there." Tinendel bent down to softly kiss the tears away, his heart bleeding for the pain in his dear friend's eyes. "I think the problem is that you do not know. You only think you do. You must find out what he really feels for you - and most important, you must let him know how you feel. I think all this is based on you two misunderstanding each other."

"And what if I was wrong? Then what? What if he turns away from me? What then should I do?" Celeborn asked softly, refusing to look into Tinendel's eyes, unable to bear what he might see there. He was tempted, sorely tempted, to simply lose himself in his friend, but he would not do so knowing he would only be using Tinendel and denying himself at the same time.

"At least then you will know, and be able to move on. You cannot go on like this. This not knowing is breaking your heart," Tinendel whispered, pressing his face to Celeborn's cheek, tenderly kissing a stray tear from the corner of Celeborn's eye, nuzzling into him. He was almost overwhelmed by a wave of tenderness for him, reminding him of the feelings they used to have for each other when they were lovers long ago. In Tinendel, those feelings had never died.

Simply letting Tinendel do what he liked, Celeborn said nothing for a long time, knowing his friend cared and worried. Yet he did not know what to say that would make it better. Tinendel knew too well what was going on inside his mind already. "I will talk to him tonight then," he said finally, with a soft sigh.

"How will you do that?" Tinendel remembered what Elrohir had said, almost feared to remind Celeborn. "Your grandson will be there." He folded both his arms around the other Elf's shoulders and pulled him as close as he could, resting his forehead on Celeborn's, softly rubbing their noses together, as they used to do long ago. "He should not know about this."

Celeborn swallowed, unable to help but meet Tinendel's gaze. "Then I will go later, after he should have left... I do not know how much longer I can wait without going mad." He bit his lower lip, refusing to think about the other possibility; that Elrohir would still be there when he arrived. Celeborn could not think of that, he would indeed go crazy if he were to dwell on it for too long.

Tinendel looked deep into Celeborn's eyes and read his thoughts in their depths. "You fear he will not have gone," he whispered. "What is between them? Have they been close before?" Seeing the sky blue eyes clouded by pain again, he immediately regretted his words, and closing his eyes he pressed his face against the other's.

"Not that I know of," Celeborn admitted, glad for a break from those eyes as they closed. "Yet I would be a fool to ignore what I have seen between the two of them. If I am wrong, if it was indeed Elrohir that Haldir longed after, and not I? I do not know what to think..." It hurt even to say it, his voice breaking slightly as he did so.

"Shhh, love, do not weep again, lest I start too," Tinendel murmured into his face, kissing more stray tears away. He trembled slightly, his pain and concern for Celeborn, and the intense emotional closeness they shared caused the suppressed feelings for his old lover to wake again, and he feared the pain that inevitably would cause him. He had never stopped loving Celeborn, although he had left him at one point because he could not resist his need for adventure - but in his heart he had wanted Celeborn to ask him to stay with him. His lover had not asked him that, and he had left for a while, intending to come back to him again - but when he did, the fair Galadriel had come to Doriath, and Celeborn's heart had been taken.

Letting his own eyes close, Celeborn finally nodded slightly, though the question had not been answered. He knew there was no good answer for it, knew he did not know what he would do were it to be shown impossible. He tried to push the thought from his mind all together, but it would not go away completely. "Thank you, my friend," Celeborn whispered, closing the distance between them to kiss Tinendel gently on the lips. "I know not what I would have done had you not been here." He ignored the fact that this would most likely not have happened if Tinendel had not been here.

Feeling Celeborn's lips on his own made Tinendel tremble, and he returned the kiss with passion, trying to ignore the nagging thought that he was just exploiting Celeborn's emotionally instability at the moment. No, I am not using him. I love him. There, now he had admitted to himself what he had not dared to admit before, although he would still not acknowledge why he had come to Lorien this time, not even to himself. Raining butterfly kisses all over Celeborn's face he asked slowly, "Do you want me to talk to Haldir for you? Then you would not need to go."

It was a tempting thought, much more so than he cared to admit even to himself, but he simply caught Tinendel's eyes. That look nearly made him say yes, but he did not. "No, I must do it for myself. It would not help matters were you to go to him to try and talk to him," he said softly.

"Probably not," Tinendel admitted, nuzzling deep into Celeborns hair. "I could sense his resentment - I think he hates me, and blames me for his own misery." At least it had seemed like misery when he had seen him in the doorway that morning, although he was growing more uncertain now, thinking about Celeborn's theory that he had loved Elrohir all along. "Perhaps...  No, it is nothing. Elrohir must not know."

"He will not, if we can keep him from knowing," Celeborn agreed quietly, standing up and pulling away from Tinendel as he did so. Walking over to the window, he sighed. "But it might not be possible to keep him from knowing all together..."

Tinendel rose too, coming over to stand beside him, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. "I promise I will try to shield him. But there might come a time when we will have to tell him. Please let me help you to sort this out." Leaning his head on Celeborn's shoulder, he stared out the window.

Celeborn simply nodded slightly. "He will, but we must wait and see. There is something about him, something that speaks of much sorrow," he replied, closing his eyes before staring out into the forest without really seeing it.

"Yes, I noticed a grief in him. Perhaps it might have something to do with him coming here alone. He would not speak of it, though," Tinendel agreed, stroking Celeborn's hair slowly.

"Aye, I noticed," Celeborn replied, leaning against Tinendel with a quiet sigh. "It seems that there is more sadness than joy at the moment."

"I think that goes for us all," Tinendel whispered, mostly to himself. "There is no real happiness in any of us..." Closing his eyes tightly, he tried not to think of the memories that threatened to surface.

Celeborn was quiet for a time. "Perhaps you should speak to him. He might be more willing to speak to you where he would not to me."

Sighing, he turned to Celeborn, nuzzling into his hair. "I will try to speak with him. Perhaps when he comes here to dine tomorrow? He used to like talking to me when he was a child."

Celeborn gave his friend a quizzical look, wondering what sorrow it was he spoke of that he had not before mentioned. He had not seen it in his eyes when he arrived, yet he wondered now if he had been too distracted by his own pain. Celeborn brought his hand up to brush Tinendel's cheek gently. "Thank you," he said quietly, again.

"You are welcome." My love, Tinendel added silently to himself. He had nothing more to say, simply stood there, feeling Celeborn close to him, leaning into his touch. Looking deep into the sky blue eyes of the silver-haired Elf next to him, he finally let his emotions take over, and leaned over to kiss Celeborn tenderly on the lips, closing his eyes.

There was not much more to be said. It was understood between them though perhaps not in the way Celeborn thought it was. He did however, return the kiss with tender passion, the way they had once kissed before. Only this time it would not lead to anything more.

Lord and Guardian - 8 & 9