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It’s a beautiful day, if a little chilly, and for once, Lindir doesn’t mind the early morning rush. The café’s filled to the rafters with happy couples, and even the outside tables are in constant rotation—a mean feat given the sprinkling of snow still piled up around the edges of their patio. The sun’s out, the patrons are smiling, and the air smells thickly of sugar and chocolate. Most days, Lindir prefers the café to be quiet, even if it means less tips, because he’s not exactly a people person. But the business is easier to tolerate when it comes with bubbly love—the good cheer feels contagious.

Feren doesn’t think so. He’s still single, and for some reason, that bothers him, even though Valentine’s Day is an entirely Man-made tradition that has no bearing on Elves. He stays mostly in the back, making sandwiches and grumbling about it, while Meludir and Lindir work the til and counter. All their mortal coworkers have requested the day off, and Tauriel kindly gave it to them. Most of today’s customers are mortal, although a few Elves seem to have adopted the holiday, and every time Lindir serves a cute couple with pointed ears, he can’t help feeling his stomach pinch.

It’s not an Elven holiday, he reminds himself. And he’s not a young, insecure lovebird that needs the extra pampering, even if he does appreciate the sentiment. He tries to keep that more mature view as he moves out onto the patio, wiping down the few vacant tables for when they’ll inevitably be filled. Besides, he doesn’t need his own celebration: he can be happy for other people. Meludir’s single, and he is. Lindir’s happy for Tauriel and her weirdly short, hairy boyfriend, who brought her a silver bracelet and a badly written but still sweet poem.

As soon as Lindir finishes up his table, a pair of pretty mortal women claim the empty seats. Lindir moves onto the next one—the only empty one that’s left. He tries to hum quietly along to the lilting love-song on the radio inside, but the chatter’s so loud that he can barely hear the melody. Two stanzas in, he’s interrupted by someone clearing their throat.

Lindir straightens up and turns, ready to offer the table, only to find Elrond standing in front of him. They missed each other in the morning, both having early shifts at work, but Elrond must have a break between classes at the university. He gives Lindir a smile that sets off fireworks in Lindir’s heart, just like it always does. His handsome boyfriend fills him with just as many feelings as when they first got together, and even before that—Lindir pined for ages.

Elrond, apparently, felt the same way all along, and now he treats Lindir better than any boyfriend could hope for. Elrond extends one arm, offering a bouquet of pink and red flowers. Lindir can feel his cheeks flushing just as bright as them. While he gratefully accepts them, Elrond leans forward to kiss Lindir’s cheek. If he weren’t at work, Lindir would pull Elrond in for a full on make-out session, because Lindir couldn’t be happier to see him.

“I know it’s a mortal tradition,” Elrond tells him, voice smooth and low: always music to Lindir’s ears. “But I couldn’t resist the excuse to let you know how much I appreciate you.”

Lindir’s sure he’s grinning like an idiot. Even though it’s not what Elrond said, he babbles out, “I love you too.”

“And I adore you, my songbird. I’m afraid I have to be getting back to the university now, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve booked a reservation for us tonight, after you get off work. I’ll pick you up, if you’re amenable.”

Lindir nods furiously—he’d follow Elrond anywhere. And he’s delighted for it. “I’d love to, thank you.”

Still smiling beautifully, Elrond pulls Lindir in for a one armed hug, Lindir’s hands still full of flowers and a dirty rag. He leans into Elrond instead, breathing in the rich cologne and raw scent of his lover. Even as Elrond pulls away again, Lindir knows he’s beaming.

Elrond leaves as quickly as he came, but it’s the thought that counts. Lindir trails back inside to put his new flowers in water and stew in all his joy.