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Kiss from a Rose

Chapter Text

Lindir couldn't sleep. His loose hair stuck to the back of his neck as he tossed on his makeshift bed- seldom did he take part in scouting expeditions and, Lindir mused grimly, for good reason. The heavy, humid air was near-stifling in the dirt streaked canvas tent Lindir lay in, and with a defeated groan he rose to leave the tent.

Outside, the sky was clear and dark, and the air fresh against Lindir's skin. Running his hands through his hair the mistral thought about how he had got himself in this situation- though, perched as he was on a fallen tree trunk, plaiting his hair under the few bright stars above him, he could admit his situation wasn't as distasteful as he had felt before. His place in the scouting party had been arranged by his lord Elrond during the unpredictable king Thranduil's last visit: a feast, guided by the recent influx of Dorwinion wine (a gift from Elrond's esteemed mother-in-law) and Thrandruil's unsubtle hints towards 'a celebration of some sort: dancing, minstrels, and wine enough to loosen up these Imladris elves,' had led to a rather inebriated Elrond praising Lindir's achievements to the haughty king of the woodland realm and his son.

Lindir, red-faced but mute by Elrond's side, had listened as the conversation had transitioned from his 'attentiveness and endearing compliance,' to troubles in Mirkwood regarding Orc sightings- and then, to Lindir's utmost horror, back to him.

"I'm actually leading an expedition to monitor Orc movement in a moon or so," Legolas had commented, swaying with slight inebriation.
"Yes; my Legolas is always on the front lines," slurred Thranduil proudly. "He is both a scholar and a warrior." A smug smile: a challenge.
"As is my Lindir," Elrond stepped forward, holding a hand to Lindir's back protectively. His Lindir! The wine- or perhaps his proximity to Elrond; he did not know, caused Lindir to blush a further shade of red.

Thranduil's imbibed gaze fell onto Lindir's flushed face at the mention of his name and he smiled guilefully.
"If that's the case, you can join Legolas's party. I'm sure your extensive skills will come in handy."
Lindir blanched. "My lord-" turning to Elrond. But Elrond, intoxicated as he was, would not condone any underhand comments directed at his diligent assistant, and with barely-contained belligerence he cemented Lindir's role in the scouting party.

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Lindir's hair, now freshly arranged into an intricate  braid, fell to his back as he sighed wearily, still mildly frustrated with his state of affairs. A quiet noise by a great tree behind him roused his attention, pulling him from his reverie. With some fear he swung around.Orcs? Not a singular sighting in the few days it had taken to trek through Mirkwood and now- a rogue Orc? A coordinated attack? Less-than-savoury scenarios dashed through Lindir's mind as he stood, poised, with a mossy branch in his hand.

Legolas laughed as he slipped from the shadows of a tree near Lindir.
"I thought I heard something. It's quite warm in the tents, is it not? And I love what you've done to your hair- I can never plait mine like that."
Lindir stood, surprised yet relieved to see the blonde prince. "I am sorry if I disturbed you. I am not used to camping."
"I can tell," grinned Legolas, before sobering slightly. "I'm sorry about that, by the way. My father can be-" a pause.
"Competitive?" Lindir supplied.
"And headstrong, yes. But you have nothing to fear except some nights of discomfort. Our scouting expeditions are entirely precautionary."
Lindir laughed nervously. "That's a relief. I don't think that this," raising his branch "would be very effective against an orc attack."
"You never know." Legolas grinned. "But it is late- we should talk in the morning." He left in the same way he had arrived; noiselessly and inconspicuously. With a resigned acceptance Lindir returned to the stifling canvas tent he had been assigned.

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The morning rose bright and clear. The air was still and the leaves of the great gnarled trees were silent and unmoving under the bleak blue-grey sky. Lindir rode trepiditiously upon a pale horse beside Legolas, who was mounted upon a lean chestnut mare.
"She's called Laurë Lambe," the blond elf stated proudly, stroking her neck.
"An unusual name," remarked Lindir with some amusement.
Legolas smiled mischievously. "Ada named her- as a foal she escaped from the stables and crept up behind him during an important conference," he paused to compose himself. "Imagine Ada's surprise when she tried to eat his crown!"
The two laughed loudly, drawing disgruntled stares to them from their travelling companions.

As the group traipsed through a clearing in the silent woods, a chill seemed to fall and Lindir's horse bucked beneath him, snorting nervously. Legolas lifted a hand to silence the party, inspecting their surroundings with some anticipation. With a measured hand he drew an arrow from the quiver resting on his pack and soundlessly urged his mare forth: all was still as he nocked the arrow, but Lindir couldn't shake the unease he felt as his friend surveyed the path they were to ride down. The air was too still, the creatures of the woods too quiet. Had the trees always been so old and dark? Lindir tried to calm his heart. Think about home; think about Elrond.

An unearthly screech broke the silence as a large brown owl swooped past the party, its amber eyes flashing with a fierce intent. The bird was large, much bigger than Lindir had known owls could be, and it's near-reptilian talons carved some thin lines of flesh from Lindir's horse. His steed reared, screaming, and unseated it's rider who fell back with a cry of fear and pain as he was jerked from the saddle. A quick hand caught him as he fell, and Legolas, suspended between Laurë Lambe and Lindir, laughed shakily as he pulled Lindir up.
"Do not fear. The sicarian owl is a guardian of Mirkwood. Your horse must smell of Rivendell; you will not be harmed now that the owl has seen me."
Lindir smiled gratefully as he, once again upright, calmed his steed. Brushing wild strands of hair from his face, he glanced at the bracken where the offending bird of prey was tearing at an unsuspecting brown rodent. The greenery behind the bird shifted and an arrow flew forth as Lindir turned to thank Legolas again.

The owl ascended with a panicked screech and Lindir was left staring numbly at the arrow protruding from his right shoulder. Time seemed to slow, and as he touched the shaft, he wondered why his shoulder was throbbing so, and what the sickly green paste smeared on the arrowhead was. With a quiet groan, Lindir what down onto his horse as his vision blurred and flickered. The last thing he saw was the party of Orcs as they emerged from the undergrowth, and Legolas's grim face as he let his arrows fly.

Chapter Text

The clean marble pillars of Imladris were bright under the earnest sun's gaze, and the flowers of the ornamental garden had reached their peak growth, sprawling prettily in the level beds they lay in. White and yellow blooms seemed to glow against the stone walls as Elrond paced through the courtyard. It had been so long- nearly a month- since Lindir had been delivered back to him, injured as he was. But despite Elrond's attentions, Lindir failed to heal consistently. After a few days resting he had deemed his injury stable and had faithfully gone to serve his lord, only to relapse and fall even more ill.

Elrond strongly suspected foul play: his loyal assistant was strong enough to brave through a flesh injury, but the strange green paste found in his wound was of a dark nature and Elrond thought it to be an arc poison that ailed Lindir so. With an agitated sigh, Elrond moved from the position he had adopted by the intertwining yellow Elanor vines, pausing only to pluck a single white rose from a nearby bush. A rose for Lindir, he thought fondly, allowing himself a tired smile.

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Lindir lay on a thin mattress in the infirmary. His shoulder, swathed in gauze and Elrond's herbal concoctions, was ever-throbbing, and his head ached similarly; during the battle he had fallen from the flighty grey horse he rode upon and cut his head against an unfortunately positioned rock. Staring at the high white ceiling until his eyes blurred, Lindir thought miserably about Elrond- he had been aghast when Legolas carried the bloodied Lindir into Rivendell. And what had Lindir done except further his concern? Within a week of his return, he had forced himself to rise and continue his duties, only to fall unconscious in Elrond's empty room when delivering his lord's afternoon tea. Elrond must be so disappointed in him, Lindir decided, his face crumpling as the blurring in his eyes solidified into tears. Whimpering slightly he curled into a ball; after some moments of despair he fell into a deep yet disturbed sleep.

He was walking through Imladris in his usual robes, his hair combed tidily and his silver circlet- a gift from Elrond- neatly arranged upon his forehead. The sun was bright but heatless, and Lindir couldn't help but shiver as he moved towards the fountain his lord was waiting at. The air was sharp and cold; much more severe than Lindir was accustomed to at Imladris, and by the time he reached his lord, it was difficult to breathe.
"My lord," Elrond turned at the sound of his voice and smiled, surprised.
"Lindir! How are you, my dear?'
Lindir was suffocating. the thin sleeves on his arms were dusted with frost and each breath he took gave birth to a fresh icicle that scratched within his lungs. "I'm well, my lord. And you?"
"All the better for seeing you, my dear. I was so worried-" Elrond paused, mildly perturbed. Lindir watched anxiously as he seemed to grimace in pain, dropping his hold on Lindir's hands.
"My lord?" He faltered.
"I have a gift for you," Elrond beamed, his face once again masked with warmth towards Lindir as he produced a white rose. Lindir gently took the offerred bloom and smiled at his lord. The icicles that pierced his ribcage softened their attack: the rose melted the ice that plagued him, for it was hot- excruciatingly so. Elrond gazed lovingly as a panicked Lindir released the rose that bit his skin so fiercely.
"Do not fear. It cannot hurt you." Elrond laughed gaily, cradling the searing rose he had rescued from the floor. Lindir looked up from his burning fingers as Elrond, once again frozen in an expression of pain, seemed to speak without moving his mouth. With a concerned cry, Lindir reached for his lord, but did not reach him: an owl screeched above them and Lindir woke, screaming as his freshly bandaged shoulder burned with a white-hot fury.

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Elrond moved through the library holding his freshly plucked rose. He was to visit and redress Lindir's wounds soon, and as was habit from his previous visits, he was selecting a book of poetry to read to his poor assistant. After perusing the varnished shelves for some time, he selected a small, leather-bound book of second age ballads he knew Lindir had a taste for. Content with his gifts, he set off to the infirmary for his second visit that day.

Elrond entered the private room in the healing wing that he had had Lindir placed in and quietly walked to his bedside, not wanting to disturb him from his sleep. Kneeling by his tormented attendant, he began to remove the yellowed bandage and soured ointment from Lindir's shoulder. With a large, damp sponge, Elrond gently wiped the wound clean, wincing sympathetically upon viewing the fresh purple streaks that marred Lindir's pale skin. After soothing the inflamed flesh with a freshly made poultice, he re-dressed the wound and settled by Lindir's side with the book of ballads. With a fond look at his sleeping assistant, he began to read.

"Through the flowers of ice and snow
the golden hearted seek to gain
their fire-born equal of blood and love
by the fountain that rains silver.

A comforting touch between the two
broken only by a single white bloom
ensures the bond made of their minds
can not be harmed by grievous flames."

Elrond stopped his recital as Lindir awoke, visibly distressed. He groped at his shoulder, panting in fear- his eyes were wide and unfocused, and his face feverish. Elrond caught his hand between his own, instantly calming the alarmed minstrel.
"My lord?" Lindir looked at him, mystified.
"Hello Lindir. It is good to see you awake." Elrond smiled reassuringly and took the rose from beside the poetry book. "I have a gift for you."
Lindir's eyes, which had been clouded with confusion, cleared.
"You're not here." He said calmly.
Elrond raised an eyebrow. "I'm not here?"
"No," Lindir confirmed, taking the rose from his lord. "You brought me a flower. You aren't real: I have conjured you because I want you to be here."
"I can bring you flowers every time I visit," Elrond offered with an amused smile, looking fondly at Lindir. "But for now you must rest: I have re-dressed your injury."
Lindir lay back down obediently as Elrond collected his belongings and moved silently to the door. "My lord?"
"Hm?"
"Thank you for the flower," Lindir smiled forlornly. "And..I love you."
An astonished Elrond turned around, but Lindir was already asleep.

Chapter Text

Elrond was troubled - Erestor could tell. The lord and his chief advisor had been sitting in Elrond's office for some time now, poring over the fresh batch of documents that came with King Thranduil's upcoming visit, but Elrond's stack of pages had not changed in height: Erestor had nearly finished his. With an over exaggerated sigh, the ebony-haired advisor dropped his quill and raised an eyebrow at his distracted friend. Elrond did not react. With a roll of his eyes, Erestor tugged the untouched sheaf of parchment from his unfocused lord's loose grip.
"What ails you, my friend?" He questioned, concerned. Elrond blinked, surprised to be pulled so suddenly from his thoughts.
"My apologies, Erestor. I have been distracted." At Erestor's questioning tilt of the head, he elaborated. "It is Lindir." His chief advisor nodded - he knew Elrond's assistant well; he was a fine minstrel and a worthy opponent at chess, and many a night Erestor spent enjoying a game or two with him.
"He is not improving?" Erestor enquired.
"He is improving a little," assured Elrond. "But..he. Well. Yesterday we shared a strange conversation in the midst of his fever, and, convinced I was some apparation of his mind, he admitted he had feelings for me.." he trailed off, uncertain of how to proceed.
"And?" Erestor prompted, to no avail. "Is that not good news? Do you not return those feelings?"
Elrond grimaced. "I dare not think about that."
"Then what in Arda have you been thinking about whilst I-" the dark haired ellon gestured towards the over-embellished invitations that covered Elrond's desk "- slaved over the preparations for our great and mighty lord and saviour, king Thranduil of the woodland realm?"
The lord of Imladris could not help but laugh at his friend's sarcastic tone. "Yes, Thranduil can be quite a challenge," he admitted, fingering one of the finely written pages with amusement "but I was actually thinking about how I should explain to Lindir that he doesn't love me." Seeing his advisor's face, he hurriedly continued. "Because he doesn't love me! He's injured and vulnerable to the Orcish poison in his blood. There can be no other explanation for his lack of healing and his fevers - he himself admitted that he thought me to be a hallucination. In the depths of his fever, nothing he says is coherent, and that applies also to what he thought of me." Elrond paused, distressed. "It's true!" He insisted, noticing Erestor's bemusement.

His chief advisor stood, straightening his robes and smoothing his dark mane before leaning towards Elrond.
"My dear friend, you must know I hold you in the highest esteem. You are widely regarded as clever, patient and diplomatic, and all in Imladris would trust you with their lives."
Confused, Elrond opened his mouth to speak.
"-but sometimes you can be an idiot." A flick of the dark hair. "You are in denial of your feelings and would rather dismiss your poor assistant's than face your own," Erestor silenced Elrond's indignant protests with a dark look. "You say that he is sick, confused: by that logic, the only moral response is to decline the advances he makes and to focus wholly on his healing-"
"That is what I'm doing!" Elrond interrupted angrily. He too had stood up and was now facing his friend. Some papers fluttered to the floor and Erestor noticed ink had been spilt in Elrond's temper.
"Elrond," he pursued, in a gentler voice. "I am  not saying this to upset you. I need you to see that pushing Lindir away isn't worth what you think it is. It will not ease your conscience regarding Celebrían-" Elrond winced, lessening his hold on an ink-stained sheet "-or help poor Lindir heal from his wounds any more efficiently. You cannot be so blind to truly think Lindir's feelings are a byproduct of his current affliction? Have you not seen his face when he looks at you, or noticed how he dotes on you so? He would do anything you asked him to do: he even travelled through Mirkwood for your sake, despite obviously never have handled a weapon against anyone but your sons-"
"The twins are skilled with their weapons.." Elrond protested weakly. He had sat whilst Erestor spoke and was now running ink stained hands through his hair.
"I hadn't finished. Your sons, when they were Elflings. Just look at yourself! You need to talk to Lindir." Erestor finished his speech and crossed his arms with an exasperated look at Elrond, who was now thoroughly upset.
"You are right. Thank you, Erestor!" The lord of Imladris fled from his office, leaving his disgruntled advisor and ruined paperwork in his wake.

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It was significantly darker when Lindir awoke, and he deduced he had been asleep for nearly five hours. He had been having a most peculiar dream, he mused, where his lord Elrond recited his favourite piece from Bröcean's third book of ballads and promised him flowers. Lindir sighed wistfully: Long had he strived to earn Elrond's affections, if not love, but his lord had remained on the other side of his title and Lindir could only serve him.

Humming sadly, the minstrel turned over in his bed and reached for the water on the side table. lifting the glass to his lips, he wondered at the lack of pain in his head - recently the ache had been ceaseless, often pulling him from his thoughts and dreams with particularly vicious waves of pain. Bemused, Lindir tenderly traced the print of his injury over the bandage, but no fresh hurt came forth. His curiosity now piqued, the brown haired elf moved from the nest of blankets on the bed to a slim mirror resting against the far wall. Slowly, Lindir peeled away the still-clean bandage and used it to wipe away the unneeded herbal poultice on his brow. His breath hitched as he, bewildered, stared at himself in the mirror. An awestruck elf looked back with unbelieving eyes: where there had been a worried gash stretching from his hairline amd through his left eyebrow, there now lay a thin, pale scar.

The sudden progress in his healing was unexpected and Lindir, beaming, rushed back to his bedside to find his circlet and dress appropriately for his duties; now that his injuries had improved, he reasoned, he could return to Elrond and finally continue with his normal life instead of sitting in the infirmary uselessly.

Excitedly combing his hair and pulling on his circlet, Lindir reached for two hair bands to secure his braids, only to freeze in his movements. Some centimetres away from his hand sat a single white rose: a rose that Lindir knew he had seen before, but definitely not since he'd woken. A feeling of dread descended and settled on his skin as he tried to remember the details of his dream. He and Elrond, treading through the gardens...a fountain - a rose.. Lindir picked up the rose from his table tentatively. But the dream couldn't have been true, he assured himself, touching the light petals. Because then he had burned under the rose's touch, and awoken to Elrond, who- oh Valar. Lindir's heart sunk and, trembling, he tightened his hold on the pale flower, causing the purple thorns to cut into his hand.

"I confessed to him." He whispered weakly. He could hear a strange sound keening in the distance, like a lost elfling or an injured animal, and as Lindir's legs failed him he realised the curious whine was him, crying into his bleeding hand.

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Elrond burst into Lindir's room in the infirmary, his hair tousled and his hands ink stained. He had come from his office, and despite his usual need to be immaculately presented to friends and peers alike, he was focused only on seeing his endearing assistant.
"Lindir, I- oh! My dear, what is wrong?" The affronted lord knelt by Lindir, who was sobbing on the floor, a blood smeared rose crushed against his chest.
"Peace, Lindir! What has happened?"
The tear-streaked elf looked at his lord and frantically wiped his cheeks, choking on his grief.
"Nay, my lord: I am fine," he lied, clutching at the flower with white knuckles and stained fingers.
"Then why do you cry so? And you are bleeding!" The healer in Elrond took control, and ushering Lindir to his bed, he knelt at his feet to attend to Lindir's damaged hands. Carefully he placed the rose onto Lindir's lap, avoiding the thorns, and wiped away the mixture of blood and tears on Lindir's palms. Glancing sympathetically at his charge, he applied a white cream to the cuts and collected bandages from a nearby drawer whilst Lindir hissed at the pain. With deft, measured movements, Elrond bandaged the distraught minstrel's hands and then gently reclaimed the flower, upset at the thought that his gift had caused Lindir's wounds.

Elrond took a shaky breath. "Lindir, I would like to talk about what you said to me earlier.. I've been thinking and-"
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean it - it was the fever speaking." Lindir's solemn face watched Elrond. His heart hurt; it seemed to be clenched in a fist of ice and every word of denial caused the pain to blossom further, but Lindir couldn't stand to hear the words of disgust and rejection he knew would come pouring from Elrond's lips.
"It was just the fever speaking.." Elrond repeated slowly. "That's.. good to hear. I.." he paused to compose himself, adopting a strained smile that didn't reach his eyes. "I hope you're feeling better now. Try not to hurt yourself again." With a short nod he left the room, his footsteps echoing in Lindir's ears as their facade cracked, panicked tears rolling down pale cheeks.
He doesn't believe me, Lindir thought. He knows and he's disgusted by it.
He curled up into a miserable ball on the blood-marked bed, thinking frantically of how to fix the mess he was in.
I need to prove I don't like him. If he thinks..no. I need to stop him from hating me. I.. I need to...

The exhausted elf fell unconscious to the sound of his own crying whilst the damaged rose lay in the doorframe. In his quarters, Elrond lay on his back, staring at the ceiling. Lindir's blood had dried with the ink on his hands. He closed his eyes.

All were alone that night in Imladris.

Chapter Text

The next day rose bright and cloudless, clear cornflower blue skies stretching over the creamy marble of the Last Homely House East of the Sea.the weather was perfect, and it was with little resistance that the people of Imladris accepted that the beautiful atmosphere of the sunny, cheer-filled halls would soon be interrupted by the ostentatious Thranduil and the commotion he would bring with his less than kingly behaviour.

Elrond rose early for the occasion; Thranduil required intensive preparations and even the slightest mishap in the busy schedule planned could cause him to act obnoxiously superior to his house for the duration of the visit - although, Elrond thought as he entered his bathing chambers, Thranduil already held a condescending demeanor towards any elves he deemed lesser than himself, which were most. The sound of running water was heavy in the spacious room and Elrond allowed himself some moments of peace as he sat by the bath in silence, running his hands slowly through the scented water. there was much to do in the hours awaiting the visit but Elrond wanted only to lie in his bath after the stress and upset of yesterday,  and with some melancholy upon remembering yesterday's events, he stripped and entered the warm, oil infused pool with a relieved sigh. Lying back in relaxation as the hot water tended to his muscles, he eased his hair from the thick braid he slept in and rubbed a white soap into the tresses. Rinsing the creamy paste from his hair, Elrond shut his eyes and slid under the water, massaging a pale herb scrub into his scalp. Soap suds and bubbles rose from beneath the surface and they burst in unanimity.

The door to Elrond's chambers opened and a thought consumed lindir entered, holding a pile of fresh robes and an ornate crown, larger but no less intricate than Elrond's everyday circlet.unaware of his bathing lard, he placed the pile neatly on the bed and moved cautiously to the mirror. The steam that clouded it blurred his features somewhat, dimming the shine of his hair and concealing the thin scar on his brow. His face was pale and wraithlike, and his neck seemed a stark contrast against the red robes he had chosen for the day's events. With a tentative finger Lindir wiped a line of the mirror clean of condensation, inhaling the soapy air that tried to consume him. The room now seem to be full of an oddly fragrant mist, and a movement in the fast-disappearing streak of clear mirror caught Lindir's eye. Who was in his lord's chambers? Quickly arming himself with a silver hairbrush, Lindir spun around in a fighting stance, only to see his bemused lord wrapped in a towel. Distantly reminded of his encounter with Legolas when he held a branch rather than a gilt brush, lindir bowed to Elrond, cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
"My lord," he uttered. "I have brought your robes."
Elrond smiled. "I saw. Le hannon, Lindir. But what were you going to do with my hairbrush?"
"I..uh.." Attack you with it? Throw it? Lindir didn't have a suitable answer. "May I brush your hair, my lord?" No. Not the reply he was looking for.
Confusion and then a pleased surprise moved across elrond's face. "Of course." He sat by the mirror. "I'm glad you've healed, Lindir. I can't believe I ever put you in that position in the first place, and I am so sorry to have done that-" he ignored Lindir's protests. "But you've seemed to heal so suddenly; I am afraid of another relapse. Do not put yourself under any unnecessary strain today."
Lindir smiled, carefully brushing out his lord's damp hair. It smelt like chamomile. Lindir inhaled deeply. "I thank you for your concern but I feel well today."
Elrond's smile faltered slightly and his spirits dampened. "As opposed to yesterday?" He asked gently.
"A minor setback," Lindir assured him. His heart had slowed it's movements again, held tight in a fist of unconscious fear. "I was merely feeling the stress of failing my duties."
"You have failed no one." Firm, caring. "but I hope we can move past yesterday's events, for today still to come and you know how Thranduil can be," A light joke. Lindir should have been happier than ever, indulging in his closeness to his lord - who, Lindir realised, was still in a state of undress - and enjoying their private conversation. but instead, his heart was trapped, beating like the wings of a caged bird, and his despair was so strong he could taste it, sour and unmoving on his tongue. 'I hope we can move past yesterday's events,' What could he do to convince his lord he wasn't madly in love with him, to remove the disgusted thoughts he could practically feel Elrond emitting, feel crawling over his skin and suffocating him? Probably not play with his hair whilst he's naked, Lindir thought bitterly. He placed the silver brush onto the dressing table and bowed to his lord, ignoring the look of confusion directed towards him.
"again, I thank you for your concern, but I must attend to today's preparations. I hope to see you at the feast." He avoided Elrond's eyes and left the chambers somberly.
Elrond sat in front of the mirror, cradling the warm brush in his right hand. The condensation had lessened; all that remained was a final drop of water suspended at the top of the frame. As Elrond watched, the small bead of water ran down in an eccentric line across the reflection of his left breast. His heart hurt.

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Lindir weaved through the bustle of the East Wing's main corridor and slipped through a passage to the library. He really didn't have time for an impromptu meeting - still he needed to check the culinary arrangements and the state of the wine cellars reserved for Thranduil's visits - but he couldn't ignore the message Erestor sent through a rather anxious Ellith. Lindir didn't blame her; all of Imladris's residents were nervy and unsettled in the days awaiting Thrandruil's arrival - his unexpected temperament could either enhance the festivities or set a note of discord running through the last homely house. Spotting the dark haired advisor sat in the corner nearest to the door, he moved past the haphazardly stacked pile of books - Erenian's sonnets, he noticed idly - and made his way towards Erestor. Noticing the minstrel, Erestor rose with a smile and moved to greet him.
"Lindir, I thank you for coming on such short notice."
Erestor, although higher ranking in the faintly established hierarchy of Imladris, was first a friend, and it was with ease Lindir replied "it is always a pleasure to converse with you, Erestor. But-" he paused "I can't deny, the subject of this visit is rather different to those of the past, and I am curious of why you would summon me on such a busy day to talk about-"
"About Elrond?" Erestor interrupted. He took Lindir's and guided him to a table. "Maes, sit. I'm sure you'll agree that things have changed a lot recently."
Lindir nodded, his politely interested face masking his thoughts. Erestor was talking plainly but there was a tone to his voice that suggested he knew more than he let on.
"I take responsibility for the work I have neglected to do after the expedition. I should have-"
"Lindir." Erestor's eyes were soft. He does know, Lindir realised. The Advisor continued, his words laced with sympathy. "I have spoken with Elrond; he informed me of what happened a few days ago, and I heard of yesterday's events through Arwen."
"What did the lady know of yesterday's conversation?"
"Only that her father was very distressed."
Guilt pooled in Lindir's stomach and he grimaced. Erestor was a good friend. He knew that he wouldn't react as Elrond had, but Lindir wasn't sure this discussion would be confidential as Erestor bore the title of Elrond's chief advisor. Erestor watched silently as Lindir contemplated his plight and came to the conclusion there was little left to lose.
"It's terrible, Erestor. I didn't know it was him; I thought I was asleep. And I've tried to cover it up but he doesn't believe me and now he hates me - I can see the disgust in his eyes every time we speak: he thinks I'm abhorrent. I need to prove I don't like him but I don't know how to and-"
Erestor caught Lindir's shoulders, breaking his explanation. Confused and somewhat indignant, Lindir opened his mouth to protest but was promptly silenced again.
"I've already told Elrond this, and now it is your turn: you're an idiot."
Lindir blinked at his friend. "I-"
"Everytime you two are left in a room together something goes wrong because you don't communicate. Do you really think he hates you?"
"Yes! you should have seen him, Erestor. He can barely look at me. And my job is to serve him! I saw him this morning and he practically said I needed to forget my feelings for him."
Erestor raised a dark eyebrow. "Arda, there's a lot you're wrong about. Look, I know your feelings are returned. Has he actually rejected you?" Lindir opened his mouth to speak but Erestor continued, vexed at Lindir's brainlessness "No. He hasn't. You are just too quick to panic and assume his every thought towards you is negative"
Lindir scoffed. "I think I would have heard him say  that he likes me." The minstrel commented dryly.
"Really? Then what /did/ he say?"
"He seemed glad when I said I didn't actually like him. But I don't think he believe me because he left right after-" Lindir caught Erestor's pointed look "..oh.." in a smaller voice, "you're right. I am an idiot, aren't I?"
"Most definitely" Erestor smiled. "But we can fix this."