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The Noldo and the Sinda

Chapter Text

Gil-Galad wandered the courtyard of his walled palace, eyes fixed upon the ground. Though he wished to meander aimlessly his footsteps paced brisk and urgent. He couldn’t help it. Tomorrow was the day.

In this very courtyard there was to be held a grand event – more a spectacle than official process but legitimate nonetheless. A trial by combat, as was the law in Lindon for those who disobeyed the King. Treason counted as such. So did attacking the Royal Guards who went out on innocent patrols every day. A Dwarf currently rested in the dungeons for killing three guards unprovoked. Gil-Galad shook his head.

‘Savage violence and careless idiots surround me. Just how am I supposed to rule a peaceful realm when not even roadside travelers can be trusted?’ He thought about the report given by the only surviving guard. The Dwarf had been asked about his intentions and appeared uneasy before swinging his axe low, hewing the feet of the elves surrounding him. Only the Chief Guard leading the patrol could shoot before he was killed too, and perhaps mourn the fate of his companions. Decapitated the moment they hit the ground. It had taken all his willpower to pierce only a lung and not the heart when the Dwarf turned to him.

Gil-Galad sighed, straightening his back. The soft summer breeze passed through his thin, chocolate brown hair. Sweet scents rose from the ground where no dirt or grass could be seen for how thickly covered in flowers it was. White petals drifted about, some settling upon the King’s head. A mere century old, Gil-Galad knew well that the world was not as gentle as it seemed within the walls of his palace. Beyond, threats roamed all over Eriador. Not only brigands encroached upon his realm but huge remnants of Morgoth’s wars walked, stalked and slaughtered. They were enormous creatures in forms so horrific and powerful that few scouts encountered them and survived to report back. An army’s main strategy upon sighting one was to run. Even with numbers in the thousands, the Wanderers were not to be trifled with. The sight of them struck dread in the hearts of fierce warriors and brewed potions of cowardice in brave minds. Gil-Galad was hounded day and night by concerned citizens and advisors alike – what was to be done? Weren’t the wars over? What’s that screeching at midnight?

‘Ugh. I wish Oropher could just take care of them.’ The King turned his handsome little face to stare up into cold green eyes. Watching him closely was his personal guard, Oropher the Cruel. A bloodthirsty Sinda of Doriath, Oropher had been following Gil-Galad for twenty years. Not a lot in the life of an elf, but a reasonable amount for one who’d just passed the stage of elfling. Gil-Galad sneered.

“You’re the only one in this entire kingdom who walks like a damned troll. I could hear you even with this wind.” As he spoke the wind blowed harder, enough to lift the majestic curtain of fine white hair Oropher had reaching down to his waist. Gil-Galad did not allow himself to become entranced. “What do you want?”

Oropher stood before him unblinking and stoic. Then he spoke, his thin lips moving with minimal effort.

“Tyelperinquar has returned.” He spoke the forbidden tongue only to please his King. He could barely pronounce it at all, and Gil-Galad scowled.

“That’s Lord Tyelperinquar to you. Manwë’s tits, do you ever respect him?”

Oropher said nothing, but thought nonetheless about the highly revered jewel-smith. ‘Stupid Feanorian git. I hope he forges his own empty skull into a plate.’

Running a hand through his unusually braid-free hair, the King asked what Tyelperinquar wanted. He found out soon enough as a clear voice called to him from across the courtyard.

“Are you going to stand there all day exchanging banter with your dog, or will you come over here for a more civilised discussion?” Standing in the eastern archway beneath many rows of adorned windows, Tyelperinquar the Lord of Eregion smirked. His lilting voice and perfect Quenya pleased Gil-Galad, who pushed past Oropher to get to him. Oropher however was a solid rock where he stood and did not budge, causing Gil-Galad to trip right over him. The Sinda looked down at his liege face down in the flowers. No expression crossed his face, not even as Tyelperinquar began cackling.

“Aiiii! As clumsy as ever, I see?”

“You shut up!” Gil-Galad rose and abandoned all pretense of formality. “I’m the most elegant of all the Noldor and you know it.”

Oropher snorted at that, unflinching as Gil-Galad whirled around and fixed him with a rather unpractised death glare. Oropher shot him one right back, and though it held little meaning or hatred Gil-Galad still nearly shat himself. It was a good thing he wasn’t wearing pants under his velvety robes. He clenched his buttocks and squared his shoulders, ignoring Oropher completely.

“Tyelpe. How have you been?”

“Bored I should say, but now very much amused. You never fail to put a smile on my face, meldonya.” Tyelperinquar gestured faintly from his chest outwards at Gil-Galad, smiling upon seeing reciprocation. From the corner of his eye he could also see Oropher staring at him, standing where Gil-Galad had left him. “Your puppy looks lost without you, Ereinion. See him off, will you?”

Gil-Galad turned and waved dismissively at his guard. “Get lost. I’ve better company now.”

Oropher left in silence, his heavy footsteps thumping into the distance. Once alone with the King, Tyelperinquar grinned brightly.

“Come with me. We have much to discuss.”

 

~

 

In the parlor on the fifth floor, Gil-Galad sprawled on a long white chaise. In this room, everything was a rich blue similar to the coldest depths of the sea. Tyelperinquar sat opposite him in a comfortable armchair with a crystal goblet of wine in his left hand. He sipped once, made no remark on the taste and continued his tale.

“…So yes, I was resting in my workshop when I heard the door creak. Who should enter but a sorcerer, clad in all black!”

“A sorcerer!” Gil-Galad gasped, feigning shock. “Whatever would one of those be doing in your city?”

“Seeking my fine services, of course.” Tyelperinquar hummed yet looked a little troubled. “He wanted to work on his own craft but I would not let him, sensing fell magics in the air. He threatened me, you know! Had a little stone in one hand and said he would set me on fire.”

“What did you do?”

“I didn’t believe him, of course.” Then Tyelperinquar’s breath caught in his throat, tension in his chest causing him to clutch at the front of his robes. He tugged open the first few clasps and revealed a fresh, red and yellow burn mark. “Shows how much I know about rune magic.” The memory of it was still too near for him to speak of the wound and remain unaffected. He shut his eyes and let Gil-Galad gawk. “It hurts, you know.”

“Then get it healed! Valar, that looks terrible. I’ll call Elrond right away.”

“No need.” said Tyelperinquar as Gil-Galad went to stand up. “I have already arranged for him to assist me this evening.”

“Before dinner, I hope. Sitting and swallowing mustn’t be comfortable with something like that on your skin.” Gil-Galad relaxed back into his former position, draped over the chaise in a most decadent manner. “Mm… so did you execute him?”

“No!”

“Why not?”

Tyelperinquar sighed. “He looked… interesting. I banished him, of course. He wouldn’t teach me a thing, nor collaborate with any of the others. Now, he’s probably wandering about roasting Dwarves or something. Not my problem.”

“I can’t believe you let such a dangerous elf get away! You should’ve imprisoned him and sought my judgement.” Gil-Galad’s anger raised the volume of his voice beyond what Tyelperinquar could tolerate.

“Shush, you. If he comes here you can give him a good dose of whatever justice you like. Just know that troublemakers have been so rare in Eregion that I’ve not thought of punishing anyone with death.”

Nearly livid, Gil-Galad desperately tried to calm himself down. He hated making a fool of himself in front of the more composed Lords he knew. Tyelperinquar was the haughty, mocking sort. Gil-Galad did not need that.

“Mrgh. Fine. I see him, I kill him. Now. Anything else?”

“This.” Tyelperinquar drank a little more and took something out of his right pocket. He moved gingerly so as not to disturb his sensitive, stinging flesh. “I made it for you.” Slid onto the table and illuminated by the gilt diamond chandelier above, a ring sparkled with many colours. Gil-Galad reached for it and slid it on at once, captivated by the rainbow faceted gem. In his awe he did not see Tyelperinquar’s expression change.

“Ooooh… it’s beautiful! What kind of stone is this?” Set in mithril, it was fancy enough to deserve a place on the High King’s index finger.

“Ereinium. I named it after you, shortly after crafting it with my own two hands.” Tyelperinquar beamed brightly, closing his eyes. “It is something I learned from my father, passed down from the creator of the Silmarils.”

“Fëanor…” Gil-Galad knew him only by name. “I would expect no less from one of his descendants. You’ve done well, Tyelperinquar. I love it.”

“Good.”

The two Noldor continued to chat over greater amounts of wine as the Sun headed West. Beyond the palace walls the citizens of Lindon were safe in their domed houses and those who walked the stone-paved streets did so peacefully.

Oropher watched the sky darken. Nobody needed him tonight.

Chapter Text

Come morning, Oropher was up and about following Gil-Galad as usual. He’d eaten two whole chickens for breakfast (with bread!) and thus had enough energy to last him until lunch. Gil-Galad wore long pale blue robes the colour of the early sky, the back draping long enough to touch the floor. Like most Noldor, he was tall but not so much as Oropher, who stood at a towering seven and a half feet. With a stern, young face and a robust body he looked every part the noble King his people deserved. Nearly all of Lindon’s citizens were survivors from Gondolin, at least in Forlindon anyway. Further south across the gulf in Harlindon, more Sindar and a handful of traumatised Teleri lived. There were enough elves about to make for two cities, living on the Western coast of Middle-Earth. The sea provided enough water to sustain life so plants grew in the fair realm of Lindon, and ships were built at the Grey Havens under Círdan’s careful watch. Anyone could sail to Aman if they chose. Except Oropher.

“Are you listening?” Gil-Galad snapped, turning on his heel to face his guard. “Clean out your fucking ears, I’m speaking to you.”

A passing servant raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Oropher rolled his eyes and looked down at the King.

“I am listening. You were saying… about Tyelperinquar…”

Lord Tyelperinquar. He wants a good show at the execution today-”

“Execution?” Oropher did not hesitate to interrupt, mirth in his deep voice. “I thought it was to be a trial.”

“Bah, nobody survives trials against you. It might as well be a public hanging.” Shaking his head, Gil-Galad turned to continue walking. Oropher strode after him with his back straight and legs stiff. “Also. You’re to wear no armour for this.”

‘Like I need it.’ Oropher’s smirk soon died as Gil-Galad turned left and entered the throneroom. Standing in the white marble-tiled hallway, he could hear something. A tapping. Like the beak of a bird against a thin slab of rock.

‘The hell is that?’ He turned a full circle, eyes flicking about. He saw nothing but his own thick, dark eyebrows when he looked up, and his hooked nose when he looked down.

Gil-Galad glared at him, standing in the middle of the throneroom. “GET OVER HERE!” He cared little for what the other guards standing about thought – he was the King and could yell at whoever he liked. “You’ve got places to be.”

“Mh.” Oropher wandered over to stand beside Gil-Galad as the tall golden doors opened. Light from the courtyard spilled through, illuminating the entire room. Someone handed him two swords, which he slid into the cross-shaped holder on his back. He began to walk.

Lining the path to the throneroom outside were many Noldor, all eager to see the King’s champion. Oropher wore only tight leggings and tall black boots. His scarred, pale upper body warmed in the morning sun, heavily muscled and glorious. Each slow step brought him closer to the central round in the courtyard where a ring of elves (including Tyelperinquar and Elrond) waited.

Gil-Galad cleared his throat. “Bring out the prisoner!”

The onlookers parted as a struggling Dwarf was brought forth. Oropher stood perfectly still, the length of his swords disguised behind his back and only the leather-wrapped handles visible.

The Dwarf writhed despite being held tightly by two strong guards, both of them armoured to their necks. He took one look at Oropher and growled in Westron.

“This the best you can do?”

Oropher smelt fear. He licked his lips.

“Nafni of Belegost! You are accused of the crime of murder, and an attack on my guards is an attack on Lindon itself.” Gil-Galad gestured to Oropher. “You are sentenced to a trial by combat against the Crown’s champion, Oropher the Mighty.” He had many titles, most of them insulting. “Win and you are granted your life. Lose and you may rest forever in the ground.”

“My people will avenge me.” spat Nafni, attempting then some broken Sindarin. “Give me some weapons!”

“Only so you may fight. Guards!” At the King’s command, Nafni was handed a single axe. He wasn’t happy with that.

“Two! I demand two!” He held up two fingers to demonstrate. The guard to his left smacked him in the back of the head and pushed him towards Oropher.

Elrond raised his brilliant blue banner. “Round one. Fight!”

Nafni didn’t move. He remained in a guarded stance, axe before his lightly armoured body. Oropher took a step towards him, closing the distance by two feet. He drew his swords, bending as they were a little difficult to maneuver out of the holder on his back. They were half his own height.

Silence stretched between the two fighters. Nafni shifted his weight about, staring into Oropher’s cold eyes. He’d never seen anyone with white eyelashes before. Then he jumped as Oropher dropped his swords. The elves began to murmur, what is he doing? Is that pity I see? Where is the bloodshed?

Tyelperinquar, impatient as usual, scoffed. “Lost your nerve, have you?”

Oropher didn’t even look at him. Nafni slowly placed his axe on the ground and asked in Sindarin, “Is this your mercy?”

Oropher breathed in. Blinked. Then bolted straight for Nafni, death in his gaze. Nafni ducked to sweep his axe off the ground and Oropher delivered a swift kick right into his downturned face. The Dwarf flew twenty feet into the crowd which retreated upon seeing Oropher chase his prey. Roaring in agony, Nafni raised his head only to have his bearded jaw gripped by a crushingly strong hand. Oropher pulled for a mere second and ripped Nafni’s head off backwards, spine flipping in a wide arc showering the ground with blood. He held it up, grinning triumphantly. Cheers echoed against the palace walls and the stone circle would need a good scrubbing soon. Oropher’s red-stained leggings did too but he never bothered with washing his clothes. Not the ones he went slaughtering in, anyway. Exhilaration rushed through his body and he waved Nafni’s head around until things quietened down.

‘Oh, that feels good. Haven’t had a good ripper like that in ages.’

Tyelperinquar gawked. “Is that all?!” He screeched like a constipated raven. “You promised me a show!”

Gil-Galad’s smile faded as he heard Oropher breathe in. ‘No, don’t answer him, Valar….’

“I can do you next, if you like.” Oropher picked up a sword and pointed it at Tyelperinquar. “You wanna fuckin’ go?”

The crowd tittered as Tyelperinquar grew red in the face, hands balling into fists. He turned his ire towards Gil-Galad and snapped at him.

“Your dog dares to threaten me? Ereinion, do something!”

Gil-Galad drew himself to his full height, imposing as all hell with shoulders squared and feet nearly in a fighting stance. “It’s not my fault you’re a little bitch. How many times have I told you not to provoke him?” He could see and knew well that after spilling blood, Oropher was always eager for more. Tyelperinquar, the last living descendant of Fëanor, was not one to be killed for his sharp tongue. Even though many thought he deserved it, Gil-Galad had to preserve his life. The King often had to step in to prevent Oropher’s impromptu killing sprees.

“Why, you…!” Tyelperinquar struggled to hold himself together, bursting with rage. The only reason he survived as a Lord and Master of his own little realm was due to Gil-Galad’s favour. Yet, he wanted to scream the boy King to pieces after being insulted before so many witnesses…

Oropher stepped closer, the point of his sword touching Tyelperinquar’s chest. “I wonder what colour your blood is, you dandy fuck.”

“Oropher, I command you not to kill him.” Gil-Galad tried to say as little as possible, hoping to diffuse the situation. Oh, but how dearly he wanted to see Tyelperinquar put in his place…! “Your work here is done. Come with me.”

Oropher’s anger flared then and he spun around, slicing through the air to throw his sword into the crowd. Someone lost an arm, and chaos broke out over the extra bloodshed. Gil-Galad whistled once and Oropher had no choice but to follow him. He knew what every one of his King’s cues meant.

Tyelperinquar could do little more than slink off into the distance, but not before giving Nafni’s corpse a swift kick up the ass.

 

~

 

“I can’t believe you did that!” Gil-Galad jabbed a finger into Oropher’s thick chest, berating the Sinda in a secluded room upstairs. “You’re not allowed to threaten Lords!”

“Lords are not allowed to demand service of me.” said Oropher with a firm, unyielding tone to his voice.

“Wh- yes they are!” Aghast, Gil-Galad punched Oropher in the stomach and ended up nearly breaking his own hand. “Augh! You are my servant and anyone can do anything to you if I say! You know Tyelperinquar is my friend, or at least pretends to be…”

“I am your guard, not your servant.” Oropher pushed the King’s hand away, not knowing the force he used. Gil-Galad’s entire arm was shoved aside and he nearly lost his balance.

“Don’t fucking touch me like that!” Stubborn as anything, Gil-Galad did not back down. “You want to disobey me, eh? Is that what you want?”

Oropher went silent. ‘I want to slit your damned throat, you whiny cunt. But no good will come of me saying that, now will it.’

“Thought not.” The King now wore the most smarmy look any Noldo could manage, which was impressively irritating. Oropher bit his own tongue and felt a little better able to control himself. “Now. I want you to apologize to Lord Tyelperinquar.”

“Eat my ass.” said Oropher, looking for the nearest exit. Gil-Galad grabbed his wrist but Oropher wrenched himself free and hissed. A glimmer of red shone in his eyes and the King knew he had gone a tad far with his expectations. But verbal assault was not to be tolerated, oh, no! So Gil-Galad raised two fingers. Oropher winced internally.

 

~

 

The rest of the day went by with a fair amount of tension. Oropher was made to scrub the blood from the courtyard but didn’t mind much – it was menial, gritty work and he could really throw his back into it. With a blank mind and busy hands, he cleaned. Elrond meanwhile was trying to calm Tyelperinquar who was far too near to an aneurysm for his liking.

“My Lord… is there anything that I can do for you?”

“You can bring me that filthy dog’s head on a plate or remove yourself.”

“I apologize. The King has ordered me to keep him from you, for your own safety.”

“Hah!” Tyelperinquar barked a loud, brash laugh. “Does he think I’ll break my own shoulder from slapping that miscreant so hard he’ll drop dead?”

“Sure.” said Elrond, tranquil on the outside yet amused on the inside. “Of course.”

Tyelperinquar felt a little better about himself and stretched, looking at the engraved ceiling. Here in the sunny lounge on the second floor, he’d been pacing until Elrond came to bother him. He turned to the herald, looking him up and down.

“What do you do with yourself these days, other than follow Ereinion like a lost puppy?”

“I study the scholarly and healing arts, milord. The same healing arts I used on you, if you haven’t forgotten.” Elrond gazed at Tyelperinquar with an even, cool gaze. ‘Talk shit to me one more time and I’m going to poison you in your sleep.’

“I haven’t forgotten. You’ve done me well, little one.” Tyelperinquar offered what was meant to be a genuine smile, but turned out as a rather thin, strained grimace. “Mngh. It still hurts, you know.”

“Of course it does. I am no Estë, capable of performing miracles. It will take time to heal.”

“Mhm…”

“Whoever did that to you must’ve been in quite the mood. I caught a mild curse in your flesh, you know.”

Tyelperinquar choked on his own breath. “CURSE?!”

Elrond cringed at the sudden outburst and nodded. “Yes, curse. Black magic, the sort of thing that would rot your mind had I not taken care of it.” ‘I saved your life, idiot. The least you could do is be nice.’

“What is this illuminati bullshit?” cried Tyelperinquar, pretending to faint. He slumped into the soft couch behind him, a hand to his forehead. Elrond’s own became creased as he frowned.

“Perhaps I did not remove it as thoroughly as I thought. You spout nonsense, milord.”

Tyelperinquar narrowed his eyes. “Do you offer insult?”

“Only the truth.”

“Truth which should be left unspoken. Leave me.” He waved his hand and sent Elrond off as if the proud Herald was little more than a common servant. Elrond grit his teeth and turned away. Of course he hadn’t purged Tyelperinquar’s corruption completely; such a thing would require putting his own life at risk. He did not believe anyone worthy of that, save his beloved King Gil-Galad. Walking down the hallway towards the stairs, he caught sight of someone in the throneroom. He held onto the railing and looked down.

There stood a figure cloaked in black, staring at the ornate throne.

“Excuse me!” Elrond called to whoever it was, hoping to see their face. They had none. Dread struck him the moment that empty hood turned up and darkness bored into his eyes. He felt it penetrate his very being, its purpose only to corrupt beyond measure. Then it was gone, and so was the being. The throneroom was empty once more. Elrond fell.

Chapter Text

Gil-Galad sat in the royal council room holding, well, a royal council.

“We are gathered here today to-”

“iS SoMEONE GEttING MArRIED?!?” Tyelperinquar yowled like a cat in a blender, drunk off his face. It was the only way he could tolerate Oropher in the room, guarding the door and staring at him. Gil-Galad slammed his hands on the oval table and demanded the turnt Lord to shut up and sit down.

“Now! We’re here to discuss something Elrond saw yesterday. Apparently, a suspicious figure was in the throneroom and managed to get there undetected. Dressed in black with the power of dark magic. Sound familiar?”

Nobody said anything, not even Tyelperinquar who thought it was his sorcerer-enemy but had been ordered to stay quiet. He’d drank enough to become strangely obedient.

Círdan, who had come to the council just to laugh at Gil-Galad’s shit leadership raised a fluffy white eyebrow. “Perhaps you should address the people and warn them to be on the lookout for this… dark magic user.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Gil-Galad turned his attention to Ambartur, the Commander of the Royal Guard. “Do that.” Ambartur nodded with a smug smile, looking as if he ruled the world.

“I would also suggest that you keep Oropher close by, in case this mysterious person intends to take your life.” Círdan tapped his slender fingers together. “He will protect you.”

A few eyes turned to Oropher, who remained statuesque where he stood. He’d not been listening at all, as understanding formal Quenya took more concentration than he cared to give. At the sound of his name, he blinked. Someone at the table whispered, “Can he hear us? Does he even know what’s going on?”

Gil-Galad shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. He’ll ensure no attempts on my life will be made. Not even the birds dare to shit on me with him around.”

“Your Majesty!” Círdan coughed, his pointy little beard trembling. “Language.”

“Hmph.” Gil-Galad rose from his seat. “If that’s all, then it’s settled. Doubled guards, knowledge to be circulated and all eyes watching for the intruder.” He glanced behind him and gestured to Oropher. “You. Come with me.”

Oropher followed along, resisting the urge to smack Tyelperinquar in the back of his head. The council disbanded and Círdan watched everyone leave. He put his head in his hands.

‘Ai, first the Wanderers, now this? Morgoth’s balls. Someone’s out to get us.’

 

Walking up the hallway to access the stairs near the throneroom, Gil-Galad had Oropher only an arm’s length away. It was how they usually went around together, Oropher in silence and Gil-Galad leading the way. After a short but stressful council meeting full of needless formalities and fancy Noldor being fancy, the King wanted nothing more than a nice, relaxing massage. He did not ask Elrond, who had attended the council and undoubtedly received some stress of his own. No, he went to lie down in bed after stripping completely naked and demanding Oropher to undo the knots in his back. Oropher sighed. He wasn’t looking forward to concentrating on being gentle when there was an ancient servant of Morgoth roaming about. Still, there was a duty to be done and it was his today.

‘After this, I’m going to eat something. Listening to kinslaying dipshits bicker all morning is hard work.’

He knelt behind Gil-Galad and reached for the oil beside the bed, something he didn’t like the look of one bit. Gil-Galad interrupted him with a swift kick.

“Not that one. The other one.”

Of course. That was the kind that spread burning lust across whatever surface it was poured on. It even made the endtable look seductive. Oropher picked up the tall, round bottle beside it and the second his fingers curled around the neck, it shattered. He winced.

“You’ll be cleaning that after. Now get on with it.” Gil-Galad lay on his stomach and waited. Oropher rubbed his drenched hands together and silently began to glide his square palms against the King’s back. A few streaks of blood joined the glistening oil as the shards from the bottle had stuck into Oropher’s skin. His rough hands felt little pain and for that matter, little sensation at all. He had to angle his head in such a way that he could observe the dip in flesh that his hands created, and judge how hard he was pressing from that. Gil-Galad’s low moaning also let him know if he was doing well. It was far too awkward when Elrond had to come in and heal broken bones from a bit of Oropher’s enthusiasm gone astray.

Time passed.

Eventually, Oropher realised Gil-Galad had fallen asleep and began plotting his great escape. It was only out of the room, but he had trouble staying quiet especially when it mattered most. Carefully he eased himself onto one knee, drew the other around to reach back and plant a foot on the ground. Up he got, watching the bed rise from where his weight had dented the mattress. He was almost twice as heavy as Gil-Galad, his footsteps louder and voice much the same. Now standing beside the King’s richly draped bed, he wiped his hands on the silky blue sheets to remove most of the lavender oil. He didn’t mind the scent too much and combed his fingers through his hair, shaking his head to loosen the strands a bit. His curly, swept-back bangs bounced at the sides of his head. One step towards the door turned into two, and though the floor creaked Gil-Galad did not wake.

‘I really must have relaxed him. Good, now I can go and have some peace.’ Oropher made his way downstairs and into the courtyard, across to the gates and through them to the bustling streets of Lindon. Nearest the palace was a market he often visited for fresh meat, the kind he could eat knowing none of the animals suffered for long. The hunters of Lindon killed cleanly with arrows to hearts and prayers to the Valar. Oropher used to decapitate in single strikes and bury the heads of anything he killed. Now he did not have to hunt. All he had to do was ask.

As the King’s personal guard he did not need money – everyone knew who he was and what he would do to them if he didn’t get what he wanted. Oropher relished being the most intimidating elf in all of Eregion. Today, his status got him the back half of a cow and three flagons of sweet red wine. He ate alone outside the mess hall where all the Noldorin soldiers took their meals. By the eastern wall of the hall there was a huge willow tree with soft white flowers dripping from long, thin vines. Under this tree he sat in the grass and broke bones with his teeth, chewed meat and watched the world go by. Internally he smiled. This was his peace.

picture of where oro sits

Chapter Text

 A soldier came up to Oropher as he was staring at the river, sipping his wine.

“The King’s looking for you.”

Oropher sighed. “Of course he is. What does he want?”

“You.”

Standing, Oropher gathered the few bones and flagons he had lying around. “Where is he?”

“In the throneroom. Look, he’s pretty pissed. You better go see him.”

“Or what?” Oropher tilted his head up and glared down his nose at the soldier. “Will you drag me to him, kicking and screaming?”

“Please no screaming. Anything but that. Just go. You’ve been told!” With that, the soldier sprinted off and promptly smacked into a wandering lieutenant. Screaming erupted and Oropher rolled his eyes.

‘What an idiot. Hm, I wonder what the King wants now.’

He found out soon enough when he walked through the open doors and was greeted by a big pile of crumpled robes. The robes shifted aside and Gil-Galad became visible.

“Do you see this?”

Oropher tilted his head to the side. “Uh…”

“It’s a bloody Morgûl! One of those… things!”

‘I don’t understand. Better not say anything.’ In silence, Oropher stepped forwards. Gil-Galad waved the robes around aggressively.

“You left me for Elbereth knows how long and I woke up with a blade to my neck.”

“But you’re alive.”

“I can fight, you know!!” Gil-Galad produced purple ceramic pieces from a pocket in the robes. “That bottle you broke still needs cleaning, by the way. I stabbed the bastard with one of these.”

“What about the blade? Can I see it?”

“Enough about the weapon! It disappeared, damn it.”

“Oh.” Oropher allowed himself to look dejected. ‘I wanted to see…’

“The coward vanished too, and all I have are the robes. It was a spirit, you know. A spirit in clothes. Go and find it, bind it somehow and bring it to me.”

Oropher spoke slowly. “You mean… like BDSM?”

“NO!” Gil-Galad’s eyes bugged out of his head. “Make it so that I can see what it looks like!”

“Er, your Majesty…” Elrond interrupted as smoothly as he could. “Spirits are by nature invisible, especially the evil ones…”

“I don’t care!” Gil-Galad waved his fists about and slammed them on the armrests of his throne. “Get me that Morgûl!”

So Oropher left, confused and annoyed. Elrond guarded the King in the meantime.

 

Outside, people moved out of Oropher’s way. He was storming around with anger in his eyes and nobody wanted to deal with that.

‘How the shit am I supposed to find a Mor.. Mor what? I don’t even know the word! It doesn’t sound like Quenya. Or Sindarin. Heeeeeehhhhhhh…’ Oropher knew very little about sorcery and the intricate names for evil things. He knew how to kill, and that was pretty much it. In frustration he punched the nearest wall once he got out of the courtyard and pulled his fist from the hole he’d made. A few loose bricks fell out and the nearby elves backed away. ‘Where do I go? What do I do?Why are they all looking at me, I fucking hate it when they do that…’

Oropher thought of one thing, and that was the tree he’d been sitting under less than an hour ago. He ran straight for it and climbed up, sitting atop the thickest branch he could find. After removing his clothes and tying them into a ball, he lay down. As a wood-elf he could balance up here without effort and give himself time to become calm. It was a little difficult due to thoughts of duty circling his mind – there was something he had to do, but he had no idea where to start. No matter how hard he thought, he could not find a solution.

‘Why do I have to be so damned stupid? Ugh, can’t he ask me to do something I’m capable of? Elrond can find whatever this fucking thing is. I’m staying here.’

‘…You’re pathetic, running from your problems like this.’

Unwilling to be disturbed by his thoughts, Oropher forcibly blanked them out. His eyes rolled back into his head and his face went slack as he entered a meditative state so strong, nobody could pull him from it but Mandos.

The sky darkened and unseen, the Morgûl roamed.

 

~

 

In the morning, another council was held over breakfast. An emergency one at that, due to the recent sighting of the Morgûl.

“So. The extra guards have been useless as this thing can make itself invisible at will.” Gil-Galad threw a book onto the table and sighed. “What now?”

“My liege, what’s that?” asked Cardavor, coughing a little as dust clouds came out of the ancient text.

“It’s all the knowledge we have about the servants of Morgoth. They should be all dead by now, but clearly the ones we can’t see are still around. Proof!” He pointed to the black robes in the center of the table. “Can anyone sense magical energy from that?”

Elrond tried and shook his head. “Just malice, your Majesty.”

“Excellent stitching, if I do say so myself.” Tyelperinquar’s snooty voice added nothing of value at all.

Lord Glorfindel looked to Oropher, who actually sat at the table as a part of the anti- Morgûl task force. He looked a bit uncomfortable, doubly so when he was stared at.

‘Shit, what does blondie want with me? Does he want to fight? I bet he does. Look at those tits. I’m totally going to fight him when this is done.’ Oropher glanced to Gil-Galad, who thankfully wasn’t paying any attention to him. Earlier, he’d raised three fingers. Oropher dreaded Sunday night.

“So the Morgûl has shown itself and is lurking about.” Círdan asked Gil-Galad, “What should we do?”

“Get rid of it.” The King turned to the most magically capable elf at the table. Elrond looked away.

“That’s really not what I do…”

“What about you?” Gil-Galad snarled at Oropher, who gave him a piercing look.

“I’ll kill it.” A moment of silence. Then, “If it has a body. I’m not sticking my sword into the astral plane.”

“Any… other suggestions?” Gil-Galad looked around. “Do any of you… like, ANY of you know how to do magic? Aren’t half of us Calaquendi?”

“Did someone say CALAQUENDI?” Glorfindel stuck his neck out and smacked his fist into the table. “Balrog slayer right here fam!!”

The King shook his head. “Okay, this isn’t working. Tyelperinquar, go and find some sorcerers, apparently they’re quite fond of you.”

“…it’s not like like Eregion is full of sorcerers…” Tyelperinquar muttered, looking mightily offended.

“Forgive me, but the only person I've heard mention sorcerers in the last century is you, perhaps I was-”
“You’ve only lived a century, my King. Please, settle down.” Círdan stroked his beard in thought as Gil-Galad spluttered.

“NOBODY HERE CAN FUCKING FIND ME A SORCERER?!”

A few of the military leaders giggled. They loved it when the King lost his temper.

“Face it, you have no idea what to do.” said Tyelperinquar with a smirk.

“You're the one who kicked a sorcerer out of your kingdom!” Gil-Galad whined, pointing an accusing finger.

“You're the one who said I should have killed him!”

Having reached the end of his eternal patience, Elrond stood up and put his hands out.

“Can you both be quiet, please? I think we can all agree that you're both without ideas, which is why we are having this Council – to try and come up with some.”

Tyelperinquar didn’t dare speak against the King’s herald and Gil-Galad was too shocked to say anything. After a long silence Círdan offered a suggestion.

“If we’re out of ideas for now perhaps we should reconvene at a later time…”

“Excuse me.” said Cardavor, standing and leaving.

“Can I be excused for the rest of my life?” asked Elrond, thoroughly done with politics for one age.

Oropher stood too, and saw Gil-Galad raise a finger. He sat back down.

“I am going to get my sorcerer and every single one of you is going to help.” The King pointed to a page in the book, which he’d been flipping through with one hand. “Morgûl carry daggers which can poison us, and I was lucky to have fought it off before it stabbed me. The daggers aren’t supposed to vanish, according to this…”

“Maybe it was an illusion.” said Tyelperinquar, rocking on his chair. “Or a ghost that wears clothes.”

“Illusions can’t do what that one did to me. It was… cold, and it sat on my chest.” Gil-Galad shook his head. “I felt the blade against my neck.”

Story time with the High King was just as interesting as watching paint try, due to Gil-Galad’s fledgling oratory skills. Círdan stopped him from continuing with a raised hand.

“I think we should have a look at your neck.”

“No need.” said Tyelperinquar. “He can’t be harmed by anything evil as long as he wears the enchanted ring I gave him.”

“Enchanted? What?” Gil-Galad looked at the ring on his finger, which glittered in the light.

“A protection charm for my dearest friend.” Tyelperinquar smiled sweetly and batted his long eyelashes at the King. Oropher threw up blood and collapsed.

The council was put on hold for the day.

Chapter Text

Two days passed. On Sunday, Oropher woke with a terrible headache and Elrond petting his forehead. He sat up at once, baring his teeth. Elrond jumped.

“Ah, you’re awake!” Elrond’s thin brows pointed down as he watched Oropher get out of bed. “Be careful.”

“Why?” Oropher scooped up a nearby cup of unknown liquid and drank it, shaking his whole body. “Eugh. What am I doing here?”

“You uh collapsed at the council, remember?”

“No.”

“Right. Well, your body seems to be under stress, and the King has asked me to look after you.”

Oropher pushed Elrond in the chest and ended up shoving him onto the bed. “I don’t need looking after.”

Squeaking like a frightened mouse, Elrond curled into a ball. He wasn’t wearing pants under his robes today and felt awfully embarrassed, all exposed on his back like this. “W-wait!”

“WHAT?!” Oropher shouted and the windows shattered. Elrond cringed, thinking to himself ‘I don’t need to deal with this…’

“…Good luck for tonight.”

Oropher steeled himself before he dropped dead from shock. Tonight. ‘I’ve been asleep that long?’ He could taste blood in his mouth and the remnants of whatever he’d just drank. Cinnamon and honey…?

Once Oropher was gone, Elrond sat up and adjusted his clothes. He could never understand why Oropher acted the way he did, or what was going through his mind (if anything did at all). He looked to the dented metal cup beside him on the bed and felt a dull ache in his chest.

‘How can someone like that even live?’

 

Downstairs, Oropher went looking for Gil-Galad. He was too tired to say much and when he found the King in good spirits, scowled. Gil-Galad beckoned to him.

“Stand to the right of my throne. I shall spend the day holding audience.”

‘You mean sitting your lazy ass down while I have to stand?’ Oropher nodded and stood where he was directed. On the other side, a generic guard holding the banner Elrond usually did glanced at him. Oropher paid him no mind.

The day wore on and elves came in and out of the throneroom. Everyone knew the King was looking for a sorcerer, one to kill the Morgûl and/or find the thing in the first place. Barely anyone in Lindon was practised in the dark arts, most using magic for restorative purposes rather than destructive ones. Elrond was only now learning how to purge corruption, and knew nothing about how to create it. Gil-Galad sighed.

“Where on Arda can I find a proper sorcerer?”

Just as he said that, the royal court hushed. Through the golden doors walked a figure cloaked in black, similarly dressed to the elusive Morgûl.

“Did someone say sorcerer?”

Gil-Galad nearly leapt from his throne, kept sitting by a sudden jellying of his legs. “You!” he shouted, staring at the hooded person. “Uncloak yourself in the presence of your King!”

“You do not rule me.” said the elf as he removed his hood, shown to be a tall and slender Noldo with braided black hair and silvery green eyes. With flowing elegance he took a few steps closer. “I am Illuvarion of Gondolin, the best sorcerer you will ever see.”

Oropher grew attentive at the sound of Sindarin. He knew of Gondolin from his own upbringing in Doriath – folks had talked about the Hidden City from time to time. This elf however was clearly a Noldo… what was he doing with a Sindarin name?

“Illuvarion? I’ve never heard of you.” Gil-Galad leaned forwards, trembling a little. Everyone in the room could sense power emanating from Illuvarion, ancient and supreme. “If you are as great a sorcerer as you proclaim, why do you stand here unknown and dressed like a servant of Morgoth?”

Illuvarion laughed at this, sounding both amused and slightly bitter. "A servant of Morgoth, you say? I highly doubt you have met many. I dress as I wish."

Gil-Galad narrowed his eyes. “You are in no position to doubt me, Illuvarion. Tell me, how did you come to Lindon and know of my search for sorcery when I only spread word two days ago?”

"In this, you are yet again incorrect; I will doubt who I may, for my own reasons." He narrowed his eyes back, a more cold and practiced look than that of the High King. "I came to Lindon as many do, upon horseback, if you must know the way which I travelled. Two days time is more than enough for most words to reach me; I stand here knowing this, do I not?"

Gil-Galad leaned to the left to confer with the guard who now took the role of temporary advisor.

“I don’t trust him.” he whispered, “What do you think?”

“I think he must’ve been here already when you sent out the request for sorcerers, your Majesty. I don’t think word could have travelled that far to bring someone we’ve never seen before to court…”

Oropher continued to stare, listening to the cadence of Illuvarion’s voice. ‘He’s a brave one, bantering with the King like that.’

Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, the sorcerer looked around the room. Unknowns, all. Briefly, he caught the gaze of the one he assumed to be a bodyguard, the tall Doriathian-looking elf. ‘Interesting,’ he thought, ‘someone willing to openly look at me.’

"Now that we've dispensed with these welcoming pleasantries," Illuvarion continued, "Perhaps you can enlighten me as to the reason you have so politely sought my services?"

“A Morgûl has tried to take my life and since nobody around here can find and kill it, someone like you is needed for the job.” Gil-Galad folded his arms, leaning back to sit in his throne. ‘Just how old is this guy? He speaks like Círdan used to at those councils in the First Age…’

"Ah, yes. More servants of Morgoth? You would think the Dark Lord himself dwelt here in Lindon." The sorcerer’s smile was devoid of mirth yet betrayed no malice. "Nonetheless, dispatching his servants is something with which I am well-acquainted. It has been an age for such things, or was."

“Right.” said the King, trying not to be offended by the notion that his own realm was full of evil spirits. “Get to it, then. Find it and get rid of it.”

Illuvarion sighed, making no attempt to disguise a fair bit of irritation. "I fear for our people, if this is what passes in the Second Age for gratitude."

He swept the heavy black cloak from his shoulders and knowing no one would approach, let it fall to the floorin a dramatic movement which seemed nothing less than intentional. Beneath it he wore extremely formal silken robes in shades of black and grey, a style worn ceremonially by the military elite and nobility of the last age.

"Perhaps someone may enlighten me as to what, or whom, I am seeking; I know not any details." His voice grew icy. "I would not trouble the High King with such important but mundane questions."

Elrond, who had been standing in the arched doorway to the right of the throneroom cleared his throat.

“It is a malevolent spirit that wore these robes and tried to steal my soul.” Elrond offered the robes to Illuvarion, approaching him with caution. “I stood on the balcony there and called to it, only to have my mind seized by darkness.”

Oropher rolled his eyes. ‘He’s so fucking dramatic.’

Illuvarion turned to face the doorway and fixed his eyes upon Elrond, a moment of recognition passing across his face. He nodded politely. "I thank you, son of Eärendil. Both for your information and your politeness."

Elrond inclined his head, quite familiar and comfortable with Noldorin formalities. Gil-Galad however seemed more intent on asserting his position over the sorcerer and clicked his fingers. Oropher snapped to attention at once.

“I will permit you to stay in the palace while you are searching for the Morgûl, since it could be in here just as much as it could be outside. If you would accept a room, Oropher here will show you the way.”

Illuvarion turned at this sound, his eyes widened slightly and lips taut. "You will not ever snap your fingers at me as a way to gain my attention. I am not your lap-dog, nor am I your servant. I will, however, accept your hospitality, and assume that perhaps this was a misunderstanding."

People seemed aghast at this, but the sorcerer paid them no heed. He turned to Oropher, and said in Sindarin, "I am grateful for your assistance, Oropher. Please show me the way."

While Gil-Galad looked ready to combust, Oropher lead Illuvarion through the doorway that Elrond had come out of.

“He was clicking his fingers at me.” he said in heavily accented Sindarin, making it clear where he was from and how long it had been since he’d last spoken his native tongue. “It’s… not a good idea to try and argue with him.”

Illuvarion shrugged his rather slight shoulders. His Sindarin was accented as well, though the accent was recognizably different from most; an older, harder-to-identify one. "He should not be clicking his fingers at anyone. It is rude, and unbecoming of him. And I will argue with whom I may; I answer to none but myself." He tilted his head to the side slightly. "I have not heard speech in the manner of Doriath in many long years. You are no elfling."

“I would hope not, looking like this.” Oropher gestured loosely to himself, being a hideously tall, musclebound beast. If elflings looked like him, fully grown elves might as well be Balrogs. “Nh…” He realized then, a little late perhaps, that while he’d been unconscious, Elrond had changed him into a loose tunic with grey breeches. He wasn’t wearing any shoes, something Gil-Galad usually forced him into for propriety’s sake. No wonder he felt so easy and breezy walking along the hallway like this.

Going up the stairs, he assumed Illuvarion would follow him. With a practiced motion honed by a lifetime of floor-length skirts and robes, Illuvarion gathered a handful of fabric in one hand. The last thing he wanted was to trip - it would be most embarrassing. He watched his odd companion climb the stairs before him. It was unusual for him to see Sindarin elves, at least in a context of peace.

My stars,’ he thought, ‘He is quite an unusual one.’ Being of slight build, he could not help but admire those built more solidly. This elf however was far larger and more muscular than any he'd yet met. ‘A warrior, perhaps? He certainly looks dangerous. Why is he doing a servant’s duty for the King?’

On the second floor, the floors were carpeted in navy blue with gold patterns swirling about. Oropher spotted a few elves walking in his direction, of high status with snooty expressions. He wasn’t in the mood for questions and had a duty to do. Just as someone raised a hand to beckon him over, Oropher grabbed Illuvarion by the wrist with the force of a vice and pulled him into a spare guest room.

Making a noise that was something between a gasp and a quiet yelp, Illuvarion had little choice but to be pulled. "Ai, what..." he began, but ungracefully stepped on his robe and lost his balance. He did not fall, however, not entirely, because his wrist was still attached to Oropher's hand. Oropher’s other hand could be felt supporting Illuvarion’s back so he did not collapse, and it then slid up as Illuvarion was righted into a stable standing position.

Oropher stepped away and looked around the room. It was clean and furnished, with gilded cream walls and tall candles beside the neatly made bed.

“This is your room.” said Oropher, thinking on what Illuvarion needed to know if he was going to stay here. “If you want food, you can ask the servants. Or me.” He shrugged.

"I... It will do well. Thank you." Illuvarion looked still somewhat surprised at having not fallen, and further at someone willing to actually touch him. ‘Well, I know he is not afraid to catch the black magic from me,’ he thought to himself. ‘How... oddly charming.’

"I will not require food, at least not on a regular basis." he said, straightening his robes and looking slightly flushed. "But... Hm. I will ask if I need anything."

Rather than the icy demeanor he had when in court, he seemed now much more quiet and calm. Almost pleasant. He touched Oropher's arm, and said, "Thank you. You have been of more help to me than anyone here, and treated me with more kindness."

Oropher did not feel the touch against his arm but saw the movement and recognized it as a friendly gesture. He gazed at Illuvarion, nodding his head slowly.

“I do what I can.” It was strange for anyone to speak of kindness to him, and he didn’t entirely understand. But it wasn’t unpleasant, talking to this particular elf.

His ears twitched as the voices of the other elves outside faded away, and he knew they’d gone downstairs.

“I should return to my duties.” he said, and turned to open the door. His hair swished behind him and nearly hit Illuvarion in the face.

Illuvarion watched the door swing closed – for now, he was alone. With a sigh, he put aside feeling oddly friendly. He had come here for many reasons, and none involved making friends. ‘Perhaps later,’ he thought. ‘How unexpected.’

There was work to be done.

Before he got to work however he winced, and flexed his wrist tentatively. ‘He damn near broke my wrist. Luckily, my right and not my left.’ Bandaging it using a strip of fabric from the satchel he had at his hip, he wondered to himself why he wasn't angry. Usually this would make him seethe. ‘He did not mean to, and I am not badly hurt. Plus, he was so kind to me.’

He stared at his bandaged wrist for a while, thinking. And then with a sigh, he performed some minor healing magic upon himself.

Chapter Text

Six hours after Illuvarion had arrived at Gil-Galad’s court, the afternoon sun began to head West. Oropher was following the King around outside, hands folded behind his back and feet crushing the flowers in the courtyard with every marching step. Gil-Galad breathed in the fresh, cool air and ran a hand through his hair.

In a shaded corner of the courtyard, Illuvarion was sitting alone, engrossed in examining some small pebbles he'd found in the garden. They were nothing special - just smooth rock, perhaps from a riverbed or the shore of the sea - but he enjoyed, from time to time, working with non-traditional materials in his jewel-smith work.

He became aware suddenly of the presence of others, and seemed to retreat further into the shadows than was perhaps actually possible. For most, anyhow. He was not seen.

“Looking forward to tonight?” Gil-Galad purred, reaching a hand back to brush his fingers against Oropher’s arm. “Six mistakes this week. I’m ashamed, Oropher.”

“I am not perfect.” said Oropher, schooling his face without much effort into an emotionless slate.

“You’re much less.” Turning around to face his bodyguard, Gil-Galad tutted. “Not wearing any shoes? You’re lucky no-one else is out here to see you looking like a Sindarin savage.”

“But I am a Sindarin savage.” Oropher tilted his head to the side, completely innocent. Gil-Galad snarled and turned away.

Unseen, the sorcerer rolled his eyes so hard he thought he might sprain one, or both. He somehow felt himself seethe at this exchange. ‘What kind of nonsense is this?’ he thought. ‘Ugh, that insufferable second-rate Nolofinwëan bastard.’ Illuvarion had seen quite enough of the Noldor being cruel to the Sindarin elves- perhaps the High King had forgotten this key part of his and Illuvarion's shared heritage, having not lived it.

The conversation continued.

“We shall see how well your savagery holds up against your honour. I have made sure to rest properly, in order to best punish you for your deserved six hours tonight.” Gil-Galad reached up and gently ran his fingers along the broad leaves of a nearby tree. The tree recoiled a little. As Oropher remained silent, Gil-Galad grew impatient.

“Will you not beg for mercy? By the Valar, you really are a shit conversation partner.”

“I am sorry.” lied Oropher, for it was all he could do. “I am still not… well versed in your language.”

“Of course you aren’t, you bloody Doriathian moron.”

Trying to remain composed, Illuvarion fought off laughter at the idea that Gil-Galad could punish anybody, much less... He stopped and thought for a moment, and then felt rather ill. ‘I didn't get kicked out of Valinor so that I could sit here and watch one of that useless Fingolfin's descendants abuse wood-elves for keks.’ Against his better judgement and still cloaked in shadow, he stood.

Oropher had begun to look rather sad, as Gil-Galad seemingly knew every one of his deepest insecurities. He always tried to look as tough as possible (causing many soiled pants along the way) to put forth the image of not having any. Any emotions, problems or doubts. But he had them, seen or not. And Gil-Galad knew.

“I should get Elrond to teach you, for I think he has the patience to deal with bricks and idiocy.”

“What do bricks have to do with this?” asked Oropher, thinking that he was to be taught how to count using small rocks or something. For a warrior like him, the only numbers he needed were ‘many enemies’ and ‘a lot of blood’.

Sighing quietly to himself, Illuvarion had seen quite enough. Once the two had turned their backs to him, he shed the misty magic that hid him in the shadows and slipped quietly into the courtyard. He made his footsteps heavy enough so as to be heard approaching.

"Good afternoon," he greeted the two as if he had just noticed their presence. "It is a beautiful afternoon, is it not?"

Gil Galad looked uneasy at the sorcerer's change of demeanor. Illuvarion gave him a bit of uncomfortable eye contact that pointedly demonstrated that perhaps the pleasant face was not what it seemed.

“Indeed.” Gil-Galad had no need to save face here with his guard and raised an eyebrow. “Out looking for the Morgûl, are you?”

Illuvarion made a practiced, graceful stretch in a show of being unworried. He rather resembled a cat, one that was well educated in interpretive dance. "Indeed not, at least at the moment. I have been quite involved in my work, some of which must wait until sundown, I am afraid. I trust you have been well?" He gave then a quick look to Oropher, an oddly understanding gaze which did not seem to mesh with the cool and rather formal conversation he was having with the High King.

Oropher had not been looked at in such a manner before and thus blinked in confusion before looking away. ‘How long has he been around, and has he heard what’s been said…? Ai…’

“Very well, yes. I was just discussing with my pet here how restful today has been. We are all quite grateful to have the threat of an evil spirit off our hands with you around.” Gil-Galad’s smile illuminated his face like a candle had been stuck up his ass. He looked a little strained. ‘Why is this guy talking to me? Get to work and get out of my face.’

"I am glad that you can see fit to make light of the situation." Illuvarion's voice had become rather icy, as he confirmed his suspicions of the King's intentions. "No, I have come to... to seek the assistance of your bodyguard. The work I am to perform is rather dangerous, and it would be foolish of me to put the court and the city at risk by failing to obtain the services of one who is physically capable of providing this kind of protection."

Oropher immediately perked up, his brows raising and ears reddening at the tips. ‘He… would ask service of me? Tonight? But that means… aWWWW YISS! I don’t have to be tortured!!!’ He did a mental fist pump and froze when Gil-Galad turned to look at him.

“Him?” The King looked to Illuvarion soon in disbelief. “He won’t be able to do anything. He’s already failed me twice at finding and defeating the Morgûl. What use could he be to you?”

Tilting his head to the side and making a tolerant smile, Illuvarion looked at Gil-Galad. "Oh, no, your majesty. You do not understand. I do not require his services to hunt or kill phantoms; that is my domain. The work I intend to do, as I said, is dangerous, but I believe you do not understand why I ask Oropher's assistance."

He gave Oropher a look that again, had an understanding to it that was out of sync with his conversation. Looking back to Gil-Galad, he kept himself from looking too satisfied.

"I seek his assistance, because should I fail in my work, I require someone capable of restraining ME."

“Uh…” Gil-Galad had no idea what Illuvarion was even on about. “There are plenty of guards that could help you with that. I have an army, you know. Surely two or three of them could make up for Oropher’s strength?”

Then Oropher, who was not allowed to speak, snorted.

“You might as well command the entire legion. Pah, two or three.” He rolled his eyes. Then he looked to Illuvarion. “I can restrain you if you wish. But I might hurt you. You are better off asking Lord Glorfindel, he is somewhat capable.” He assumed that Illuvarion needed to be held back from doing physical things by a good strong pair of arms. The last time Oropher tried that, he crushed someone’s chest.

Illuvarion laughed, though not in any malicious way, and made extremely intense eye-contact with Oropher. "I would prefer to leave Glorfindel to his wine, and to his Balrogs. It would honor me greatly if you would assist me with this. That is, if it is acceptable by the King, whose lands I only wish to protect."

“It’s no honour.” said Gil-Galad before Oropher could respond. “He’s a mere brute, and one that I am not responsible for if he hurts you.” He turned to give Oropher an intense stare of his own, and clicked his fingers for the Sinda to turn his attention away from Illuvarion. “You are not supposed to interrupt, either.”

Oropher looked away then, struggling to tear his eyes from Illuvarion’s. They were captivating and full of such a powerful will that he felt he was staring down Sauron himself. A very handsome Sauron at that.

“…The decision is yours to make.” Oropher said to no-one in particular, leaving Illuvarion and Gil-Galad to decide his fate for tonight.

Gil-Galad looked at Illuvarion. “Would you honestly not rather have some of my more controllable and intelligent guards?”

Illuvarion gave Gil-Galad a stare of the kind that turned many people's blood to ice. "Do you question my choices in this matter, your Majesty? Perhaps I misunderstood when I was told that I was to perform this duty; I had thought perhaps my needs would be fulfilled."

He fixed his silvery green eyes on the Sinda again, unwilling to suffer any more of Gil-Galad's nonsense and seething inside at the interaction he had interrupted.

"No, I seek the services of Oropher, for I have made note that he is both capable, physically, and as useful and intelligent as any of the others would be to me. I trust him, something which I cannot say for any of your guards."

Gil-Galad sighed. “He and I have things to do tonight. How long will you need him for?”

Illuvarion fought the urge to roll his eyes. "I know not. Perhaps all night. Are these things of greater importance than ridding your lands of this so-called Servant of Morgoth?"

Though he did not show it, Illuvarion felt rather dizzy and odd, the way one felt when getting away with something. He knew he was interrupting; he had done so willingly. He was not accustomed to very much in the way of kindness or gentleness in his interactions with others. However, something about this situation had made him feel deeply ill and seethingly angry. ‘He did nothing wrong, you coward. By whatever means, I will not let this happen. I have prevented too few injustices, and perpetrated too many to let this stand.’

Showing none of this anger or emotion, he smiled indulgently at Gil-Galad. "I seek only to accomplish the task with which you have entrusted me, your Majesty."

Gil-Galad turned to Oropher. “I’ll deal with you tomorrow night, then. Go with Illuvarion.” He raised one finger. Another hour.

‘Oh, that’s not fair! I didn’t even do anything!’ Oropher mentally protested and then sighed. “Yes, your Majesty.”

Gil-Galad nodded to Illuvarion and then left Oropher standing opposite the sorcerer.

As Gil-Galad left, Illuvarion glared at him, flecks of what seemed like fire flickering around his shoulders and in his eyes. The King undoubtedly felt rather uncomfortably hot, as though his clothes had lain in the sun. It would pass, and he was lucky he was walking away from the sorcerer, not towards him. Illuvarion had absolutely no desire to come across Gil-Galad until he could calm the utterly consuming hatred that currently coursed through him.

But when he looked towards the Sindarin elf who now stood before him, his eyes had become rather gentle again. Though his Sindarin was rather slow, and accented, he spoke to Oropher in his native tongue.

"Are... Are you alright?" Illuvarion asked. "Please... I do not know if you fear me, but if you do, please know that I mean you no harm."

Oropher blinked. “I fear nothing.” he said, and visibly relaxed once Gil-Galad was out of sight.

"Of course." Illuvarion nodded, and would not press further. He motioned up the path. "Come. Will you walk with me to my quarters?"

“If you require protection to there, I will provide it.” Oropher did his best to sound official and offered his hand to Illuvarion. He didn’t even realise what it meant – only that it felt natural.

Illuvarion hesitated a moment. It was infrequent that people were willing to touch him. But he took Oropher's hand then, and smiled. "Thank you." He felt a bit dizzy again, unfamiliar with being regarded kindly. A few moments passed, which perhaps felt longer than they were.

"Please, come." He did not let go. It did not feel as though he should. He allowed Oropher to walk beside him, falling into step beside the broad-shouldered Sinda. Oropher did not say much as he took Illuvarion to the second floor where his quarters were. He remembered them from this morning, and looked around to make sure nobody was watching. Someone was, an elf of the court at the end of the hallway looking with judgemental, beady eyes. There would be gossip later. He pulled Illuvarion into the room and shut the door.

The room was much as it had been when first he was shown to it; the bed still made, the food upon the table untouched. There were, however, several open chests of tools and various implements of both sorcery and jewel-craft scattered about the room.

Still hand-in-hand with his rather imposing companion, Illuvarion smiled.

"I thank you. Will you stay? I have no need of your assistance in anything pressing, but I would be glad of your company."

Oropher quickly nodded. “I will guard you.” He loosened his hand and went to stand by the door, adopting a perfectly statuesque pose with his hands behind his back.

Illuvarion laughed and regarded Oropher in an appreciative way; he was quite statuesque indeed. "I do not need you to guard me. Neither friend nor foe will enter this room without my permission. I desire only company. Please, sit. Or stand, if you prefer."

Unused to being asked for company, Oropher found himself at a loss. For a long time he remained by the door, looking like an abandoned puppy.

“I… am incapable of providing company of any quality.”

‘Shit, how can I even remember Sindarin this formal? Shit, shit SHIT’

Pouring wine into a crystal goblet, Illuvarion tilted his head.

"I find that you are doing well." He glanced away briefly. 'Ai, what am I doing? I am not the best company myself...' He looked up. "Would you care for a drink?"

Oropher nodded, reaching his hand out before stiffening it back. “Ah… I am not permitted to drink from that.” He gestured to the goblet and remained standing. “My… apologies…” Sniffing the air none too discreetly, he caught the scent of some damn good wine. The kind Gil-Galad never let him drink.

Making no attempt to hide his confusion at someone telling this huge, grown-ass elf-lord what he could and couldn’t drink from, Illuvarion asked "Is there some other vessel you prefer? If there is not, I can perhaps fashion something for you, though it will not be of legendary craftsmanship." He laughed, and tilted his head towards Oropher, smiling. Oropher raised both eyebrows, drawing them together in concern.

“If you… had something like a stone bowl or iron tankard…”

Illuvarion shrugged, and procured from one of his chests an iron chalice similar to the crystal one he held in his left hand, and filled it. "I hope this is sufficient. Please avail yourself of the wine; there is no end to the amount they will bring me if this is alike to other courts I have visited." He gracefully arranged himself on a low couch near the unlit fireplace. Frowning at this, he gestured towards it, and it was set alight. He wore silken robes of black and grey, as he had when he arrived, but less formal; he seemed more at ease than he had before.

“Thank you…” said Oropher as he took the filled chalice, drinking deeply from it with a sigh afterwards. “Mn…” He glanced around before sitting a meter away from Illuvarion on the bed. The lighting of the fireplace didn’t faze him much – it seemed like a normal thing for a sorcerer to be able to do.

Looking into the fire for a time, Illuvarion said nothing. Then, as though he had thought of something, he stood. With unusual grace for someone his height, he filled again his chalice, and sat next to Oropher. ‘Damn it all, what am I doing? I am so bad at this.’ He drank, and then looked to his companion.

"I am glad you are here. While I need little protection, I very seldom find those who will tolerate my presence, much less keep my company for longer than they deem necessary." Illuvarion paused, and tilted his head to the side, in a disarming sort of way; were he not seven and a half feet tall and drenched in dark sorcery, it would be cute. Oropher looked at him and then stated a fact.

“Your Sindarin is very good.”

Illuvarion brightened at this. "Th... thank you. I taught myself." He winced internally. 'Damn! Really? Nice response. Ugh.'

“You must be as smart as you look.” Oropher finished off his wine and played with the chalice, making it look quite small in his massive hands. “I have tried to learn your language, but it is not easy for me.”

Illuvarion, despite his efforts, blushed at this, the tips of his ears reddening. "Quenya is not an easy language to learn, for those who did not cre... For those who do not speak it natively." He held out a hand, slender, and adorned with several finely wrought rings. "Shall I refill your drink?"

'How long has it been, hundreds of years? I am the worst host in all Arda.'

Oropher nodded, feeling quite strange at having someone offer him this. Only the lowest of Gil-Galad’s sniveling servants once dared. And here, Illuvarion was politely hosting him in these quarters! He took notice of the glinting rings and stared.

“Those are some fine rings. Were you a Lord of Gondolin, Illuvarion?”

Refilling the chalice, Illuvarion returned, and shook his head. "Indeed not. I dwelt in Gondolin between military engagements. But I am, and have always been, a jewel-smith. These are creations of mine, as is the rest of my jewelry."

“Ooooh…” Oropher drank and continued to stare. Then he thought about something. “What kind of military engagements? I did that too, you know.”

Illuvarion sat once again next to Oropher, upon the bed. "My people were ever at war with Morgoth, in those days, as you know." He took a thoughtful drink. "I do not look it, I am certain, but I was a commander of our forces."

Oropher shifted a little closer to Illuvarion. “My people did not wish to fight, but I did.” He grinned proudly. “I’ll fight anything. When everything went to hell, I was King Thingol’s most successful warlord.”

"I have no reason to doubt this," Illuvarion said, smiling. "While I too am qualified to use the title of Warlord, my abilities were of no use when Gondolin fell. Perhaps we could have used your services then, eh?" He noticed the small shift in Oropher's positioning, and felt pleased. He too shifted slightly closer in return. Oropher noticed and after sipping his wine, asked a question.

“You do not fear me?”

"I do not." Illuvarion replied.

"Most with sense do." Oropher tapped his fingers against his chalice. "You... seem to have sense. More than most in this kingdom, at least."

Illuvarion shrugged at this. "Most with sense and without are unwilling to be in the same room as me, but you sit closely enough that our legs touch. No, Oropher, I do not fear you. I feel rather fondly towards you, in fact."

Oropher looked down at his legs and saw that his left knee was in slight contact with Illuvarion’s right. Being someone who sat loosely and took up quite a bit of space, he wasn’t too surprised to see this.

“I… didn’t know.” He moved his leg. Then he shook his head. “Fondly… We speak the same language, but I am not sure if you mean to use that word.”

"I rarely misspeak." Illuvarion flushed across his cheeks and up his ears. His voice was at nearly a whisper. "I said that I am fond of you, because I am. You do not need to move, I was not uncomfortable."

Oropher drained his chalice of wine, cast it aside and draped himself over Illuvarion with arms around the Noldo’s chest. “How about now?”

Illuvarion looked slightly shocked, but laughed. "Ai, no, still not uncomfortable. A bit surprised, perhaps, but not uncomfortable." He closed his eyes, briefly. "Definitely not uncomfortable." Then Oropher leaned more of his body weight on him, pressing his face into Illuvarion’s neck. He smelt of wine and raw, meaty masculinity.

“Now?”

Sharply inhaling, Illuvarion felt his ears redden. This was unexpected; he was suddenly aware that he was shaking slightly. "I... I do not think so. No. Ai, you smell good."

“Probably because I haven’t killed anybody today. Though, I do not mind the smell of old blood.” Oropher breathed in deeply, catching scents of smoke and ancient, unknown things. Then he stuck his tongue out and licked Illuvarion, from behind his ear all the way to the tip. “You taste clean, for someone who is not a Lord.”

Illuvarion gasped, stifled a moan, and grasped the sheets next to him. "Nh... Yes... I... Bathe frequently." He was barely controlling the urge, at this point, to... ‘To what? I don't know. What am I even controlling the urge to do?’

“I don’t.” said Oropher, “Not unless ordered to. I don’t even fit in half the tubs around here.” He laughed lightly, perhaps a little loudly behind Illuvarion’s head as he adjusted himself to closely inspect the Noldo’s hair. It was much darker and thicker than his own. Still trembling a bit and rather surprised, Illuvarion decided that he would just let himself be moved around in this way for now. His breathing was a little more shallow, and heartbeat much faster than it had been.

"I see," he whispered, unsure of what else to say. Oropher said nothing in reply, instead kneeling behind Illuvarion to wrap his arms around his chest. He did this as he did most things – with excessive force and not a lot of gauge for how tightly he was holding him. Illuvarion was grateful of the fact that by way of sorcery he was armoured by magic - in sketchy courts like Gil-Galad's, personal safety was a top concern. Unharmed, he sighed quietly, adjusting to being held. And then he rested his head upon Oropher's shoulder, eyes half closed.

Oropher did not know what this meant and seeing Illuvarion unharmed by his closeness, made the conscious decision to squeeze him tighter. TIght enough so that his own arms could feel what they were doing, and Oropher could receive the sensation of hugging someone. His mind wasn't active enough to make him wonder 'Why am I hugging a sorcerer?' so he just rested his chin on Illuvarion's other shoulder... and was comfortable there. Illuvarion was was more than happy to soak up the feeling of being physically close to someone, and relished it. For a time, he was still, heart beating quickly but breathing calm. He uttered a quiet, low sound and gently nuzzled his face against the side of Oropher's neck. Since Oropher was a little sensitive around his neck, ears and face he felt that and the proper amount of pleasure for it. Oropher turned his face towards Illuvarion's and licked him on the cheek a few times. Illuvarion smiled at this and purred softly, even though he was a bit unsure about the meaning of being licked so much.

"I... I would like to kiss you." he said, voice quivering with vulnerability. It was as much a statement of fact as a request. He wondered whether this was a terrible idea. He assumed it was; bad ideas seemed to be his particular curse. He held his breath.

Oropher blinked, his licking ceasing to end up with him leaving his warm, soft lips against Illuvarion's neck.

"What's that?"

This was not, in any way, the answer Illuvarion had feared or hoped for. Instead, it was slightly shocking in its innocence. 

"You... do not know?" He pulled back slightly so that he could look at Oropher with more ease. He brushed his fingers against the Sinda’s cheek and looked into his eyes, somewhat confused.

Oropher shook his head, hair swaying left and right. "I have little memory of what that word means. What is it?" Then he narrowed his eyes, a little playful. "Do you want to fight?"

Illuvarion inhaled. "No, I... I was not threatening you..." He started, but then paused. He felt as though he was far out of his depth here, a vanishingly rare feeling for him. ‘Have I done this, ever? When? Perhaps in Valinor? It has been so long...’

 "I... I can show you."

Oropher nodded and moved a bit so that he was looking into Illuvarion's face, draped around his upper body and quite heavy upon him. "Okay."

Despite having requested and then offered, Illuvarion looked a little hesitant. After a few languid blinks, he ran his hand down his companion's cheek, fondly.

"It is," he whispered, and touched his lips very gently to Oropher's. "...a way to show affection."

Oropher froze. He definitely had sensation in his lips; it was often why he liked eating so often. This.. was strange, wet and warm. It wasn't too unpleasant. He did the first thing that came to his mind and nibbled. This was a better response than Illuvarion had hoped for. Closing his eyes and putting his arms over Oropher's shoulders to pull him closer, he was absolutely fine with being nibbled upon. He sighed contentedly and made sounds that indicated that he was pleased. A small voice in his head tried to warn him that this could be a bad idea, but, being the Noldo he was, thought ‘Bah, fuck it. What's the worst that could happen? This is amazing.’

Oropher continued his nibbles, satisfied with the texture of Illuvarion's lips. He wasn't used to eating anything this delicate and concentrated on not ripping his companion's face apart with his pointy teeth. He wasn't thinking about anything, just doing. And that was the way he liked to do things. Illuvarion ran his hand through Oropher's hair and buried his face in his neck, purring. And then, did some nibbling of his own. His teeth were not sharp, nor pointy, but he was not seeking to do any damage. He contentedly lavished affection upon Oropher, leaving small nips and kisses all up and down his neck. Oropher began to squeak, grunt and squirm, thoroughly unused to feeling what he now was. He grabbed Illuvarion's waist with both hands, hard enough to injure internal organs. The nibbling he received he took as a good sign, so then he licked Illuvarion's lips as the Sindar often did to show affection. He knew not what the word for it was, despite Illuvarion having introduced it to him moments prior. Illuvarion threw his arms around Oropher's neck and in response to being licked, kissed him with more passion than he knew he was actually capable of, groaning a bit. This cued Oropher to the fact that there was perhaps something going on that he didn't quite understand, and he looked at Illuvarion.

'His arms are around my neck… he is light... and he is not trying to choke me. This... isn't a fight, is it?' He squirmed some more, looking a little concerned.

"Are you alright?"

'He groaned... is he in pain? I hurt him, didn't I?'

Illuvarion noticed Oropher's squirming and concern, and pulled back slightly to look into his eyes. "I am... fine." He seemed at a loss, betraying that perhaps he too did not entirely understand what was going on. "I... I wish to be affectionate to you. And to be close to you. You taste... And feel... So good."

His mind snapped back into focus. 'What am I doing? I did not come here to find myself passionately exchanging kisses in secret with the King's bodyguard. But yet...' Yet he was. And he felt no guilt for it. Indeed, he was elated. Illuvarion had grown so accustomed to solitude and isolation that he could not remember when last he had felt someone else's skin against his own, and he welcomed it now. Oropher had never experienced tender closeness, rather the thrill of battle and perhaps the sting of Gil-Galad’s whip against his skin. A thought crossed his mind.
“Why… do you want to be affectionate to me?”

‘We are not family… nor lovers…’

'By the trees,' Illuvarion thought. 'Has no one touched you with kindness? Ai, I want to be good to you.' It was a rather shocking thought, and a feeling that he did not recognize.

"I do not know what I am doing," he quietly admitted. "I am not accustomed to the acts of physical closeness, to being good company, nor intimacy of any kind. But I..." His voice faltered. "I know what it is like. The loneliness. Or perhaps anger... I desire to treat you well, and to please you in some way, for you are deserving of affection."

Oropher squinted. ‘You… do not know who I am…’

Illuvarion blinked a few times, as if he was hearing his own words hang in the air. He felt distinctly like he was falling, and shivered, though he was not cold. He gently took Oropher's face in his hands, and not knowing what to do, touched his forehead to Oropher's. This was to Oropher like the crashing of a huge ceramic bell to the ground, splintering into a thousand pieces. It was a deeply Sindarin gesture of love, though he had only ever seen and knew of it when others did it in Doriath. Mothers did it to their children. Husbands to their wives. Close friends and bonded warriors to each other. Oropher trembled and pulled his neck into his shoulders, retreating.

“You do not know what you do…” said Oropher, trying to keep his voice calm. “This… we shouldn’t. You… shouldn’t, with me…”

Illuvarion sat still, eyes wide. This gesture had meaning to his people as well, and he had not thought of this.

"I should not... Wh..." His words failed, and he looked down to his hands for a moment. He was shaking. "I did not seek to cause you distress. I... acted without thinking; it is what came to me..." Then he whispered. "Why... Should I not?"

“You do not know me… and you do not want to.” Oropher shifted away, looking sadly into Illuvarion’s eyes. “You have enough curses to deal with.” What he touched he broke, who he shook hands with he maimed, and whoever he served became twisted as they wielded his unnatural power. Oropher did not belong here in gentle hands with a face so close to his own. He closed his eyes.

Illuvarion caught Oropher's shoulder as he turned, a gesture bidding he come back.

"I see no curses here, and nothing to tell me my fondness for you is misplaced. I find you to be kind, and gentle, and I wish to be close to you."

Closing his own eyes then, Illuvarion whispered, "I know too well the feeling of being accursed; of being undeserving of kindness and gentle treatment."

He kept his hand upon his companion's shoulder. Oropher slowly opened his eyes, seeing through his frosty white lashes Illuvarion now gazing at him.

‘I do not… understand…’

“I am not kind, nor gentle.” said Oropher, trying to explain. “You… have not seen who I truly am.”

Illuvarion tilted his head to the side and thought for a moment. "And you have not seen who I can be. You will. But I would prefer that you think of me this way, and know that you are in rare company to see this side of me; I show it to few, and only those I believe are worthy of it." He shifted towards Oropher to better look at him.

"We are of a different time and have done many things; perhaps some less proud than others. We two are known to be brutal and heartless I would expect, given the roles we play. But you have not shown that to me here. I have seen nothing of you here but kindness, vulnerability and respect. I have given you the same, for I am happy to spend time with one I consider an equal."

Illuvarion felt his eyes become somewhat misty, and blinked. Oropher took three minutes to process what was said before daring to respond.

“Okay.”

‘Enough questions. I will not show weakness, vulnerability or doubt or whatever form it takes. If he wants to play instead of fight, I suppose I can try…”

He bit his bottom lip, chewed it and then licked Illuvarion’s nose. He looked very serious indeed, but by no means guarded or afraid. This was quite charming to Illuvarion, who had come dangerously close to indulging in that very Noldorin tendency to overanalyze. His face was serious but he was not quite able or willing to conceal that his eyes smiled. He then shed a bit of his precious dignity and did the same right back. While Oropher's more practiced Sindarin ways and greater size made him seem quite like a large cat, Illuvarion assumed that he probably came across as a very long, very serious kitten. He wanted to sigh and laugh at this, but did neither. Oropher then decided it was the right time to relax. He slid down to rest his face in Illuvarion’s lap and stayed there, pressing into his companion’s stomach. Here it was warm and a little soft.

Illuvarion smiled at this, finding it very sweet and cute in a unique way.With a little hesitation, he stroked his hand through Oropher's hair. "You have... You have beautiful hair."

'Ai, why must I stutter so? We INVENTED LANGUAGE. But no... He makes me so... lightheaded.'

“Myeeh…” said Oropher in reply, rubbing his face against Illuvarion. Curling up here was all he felt like doing, and that was what he did. Inwardly he felt a spark of positive emotion, one that began to bloom into legitimate joy. He always prided himself on his hair. Illuvarion, enjoying having his lap full of affectionate Sindarin elf-lord, continued stroking a hand through Oropher's long, silvery-white hair.

‘So fine,’ he thought. ‘How? It is as silk.’ He raised his hand, and let the hair flow through his slender fingers.

"Beautiful..." he said again, in awe. "Ai..."

Oropher suddenly had an idea, and turned his head so that he could gaze at Illuvarion. While his hair dripped through those fine hands, he took a section of it in his left hand and pulled. The entire lock came out and he didn’t even wince, despite his hair being very sensitive at the roots. He offered it to Illuvarion.

“For you.”

Illuvarion gasped, at this, though it was mostly due to surprise — he was unable to feel entirely shocked or dismayed. Much of the work he did with his jewelry involved much, much weirder things.

"You... Is this truly for me?" He was genuinely honored by this; he was vaguely aware that to the Sindarin elves, there were many customs and suspicions involving their hair. He accepted this as such, as if being given jewelry. "But I have... I have nothing to offer you."

“You have offered me yourself, which I do not intend to cast aside.” Oropher knew he’d basically thrown down the gauntlet for marriage, but knew Illuvarion had no clue about what this meant. It was a gift of hair that looked like mithril itself. That was all.

Illuvarion thought then for a moment, for he knew that things had become very ceremonial, and that was basically his jam. He pulled from his hair one of the hair sticks he used to hold it back from his face. Long, inky hair spilt down his shoulders and back, and he shook it back from his face. This item was crafted of true mithril, and at the top set with sparkling white and grey gems set to look like a small cascade of stars. along the side, it was engraved, in Quenya, presumably with a name.

"I offer this, as well, if mithril is to be exchanged in kind. I wish for you to have it. I crafted it myself, and it is singular in the world. More importantly, it has my name engraved, that you may know it." Illuvarion felt a tight feeling in his chest at this, for what was written there was not "Illuvarion."

Oropher took the stick and turned it over in his fingers, finding that it did not break at his touch. Then he looked at Illuvarion and said simply, “You know I can’t read, right?”

Illuvarion smiled, and shook his head. "Even if you could, perhaps you would be unable to read it, for it is in my language - this does not say "Illuvarion." This is engraved Silwë, for that is my name." He looked, for a moment, shocked that he had said this. And then, with eyes glistening he continued, "It means star-light, in my native tongue."

“Hmm.” Oropher nodded, looking over the engraving which did not make sense to him. But it meant Silwë, and he had a feeling this knowledge was also a precious gift. “Thank you. It is pretty, just like you.” Then he grinned broadly and tugged at Illuvarion’s robes with his teeth. Illuvarion looked pleased at this response, and flushed across his cheeks and up his ears, crimson.

 "I can't imagine my robes taste of much..." he said, brushing a hand back through his now-loose hair. Oropher tugged a little harder, and managed to undo the bottom clasp that held Illuvarion’s robes together. This offered a nice patch of skin where he pressed his face, intending to sleep there.

"I will, if you would prefer, undo the rest as well." Illuvarion found himself saying to no one's greater surprise than his own.

“Please do.”

Illuvarion stood, and undid the silver clasps that held closed the floor-length robe of black silk he wore. He turned, and in an unintentionally seductive way, shrugged his slight shoulders and let the dark fabric slip to the floor. He was still, then, clad only in his jewelry; smooth alabaster skin marred by jagged, ancient scars running up both ides of his torso from hip to chest. He hid nothing, and brushed his hair back over his shoulder.

"I am here." he said.

“Me too, if you would… have me stay…” Oropher looked around and then climbed properly on top of the bed, sitting like a slouchy cat with his legs out. “Tonight… I was supposed to sleep with the King.”

"I would have you stay." Illuvarion flicked his wrist and several of the brighter lamps and braziers in the room, which had illuminated it such that he could work, extinguished; the room was then lit in a much more subdued manner. "I am honored that you are here with me, instead."

“Mm…” Oropher kept his thoughts to himself. ‘Not much of an honour to have convinced an idiot like me that it’s safe to sleep in here… Ai, Gil-Galad is going to castrate me tomorrow. Maybe I’ll bite him.’ He then realized just how exhausted he was after all the fumbling affections he’d tried, and stripped off his tunic. Then breeches, and finally the stick he’d been given came out of his hair. He placed it on the nearby endtable and threw his clothes aside, rather unceremonious and careless with his own garments. Then he stood, stretched and gestured to Illuvarion.

“Sleep?”

Illuvarion turned down the silk sheets and feather-filled blankets the bed had been set with, and sank into bed, beckoning to Oropher, both arms open. "Come, join me."

So Oropher did, climbing to lay on top of Illuvarion and then asking, “You are not crushed? What armor do you wear that I cannot see?”

Illuvarion ran a slender hand down Oropher's back. "I am a sorcerer, you know. The means by which I do this are complicated, even to me, so I will not bore you. But you cannot harm me... unless I allow you to." Illuvarion arched an eyebrow at this, feeling clever. "You are so warm. It is nice."

Oropher began to laugh, the sound deep and pure. “Ahh~” He nuzzled his face into Illuvarion’s chest. “I could snap your neck if only you gave me reason.” The thought that anything could prevent him from harming someone was the funniest thing he’d heard all century.

Illuvarion laughed as well, and made a rather appealing writhing motion in response to the nuzzles. "Perhaps. Not this night, however."

“Mhm.” Hot-blooded Oropher warmed Illuvarion some more, nude and completely unashamed. He closed his eyes and rested his face, able to breathe just fine. He’d never fallen asleep on someone before. But it was becoming more and more attractive to him to just pass out here…

Illuvarion looked up and kissed Oropher's neck, just below hisear, then whispered "None will harm nor disturb you here. I will not let them." He then softly kissed Oropher's ear, purring with quiet affection towards him. The last thing Oropher thought before sleep claimed him was that nobody could hurt him, not even while he slept. His body would regenerate the most serious of wounds before it could die. Illuvarion breathed softly, drifting off to sleep and feeling rather overcome but also quite relaxed and safe. He ran a hand up Oropher's back one more time and whispered in Quenya, "Oh... No, he will never hurt you again. Not now."

Satisfied with this minor oath, Illuvarion buried his face joyfully in Oropher's neck and slept as though he had never known sleep before.

Chapter Text

While Oropher and Illuvarion slept, Gil-Galad paced. In his room he looked with dismay at all the items scattered across his bed. Whips, plugs, chains, an ancient copy of Fifty Shades of Noldor… What a disaster.

“I can’t believe that filthy soot-haired sorcerer disrupted my plans!”

“Only because you let him, my King.” Elrond bowed his head, standing beside the bed. “Perhaps if you were more firm next time…”

“There won’t be a next time!” Gil-Galad smacked his hand into the wooden post that held up the right corner of his bed’s canopy. Silver sequins trembled in the fabric above. “How dare he keep me from punishing that beastly guard of mine?”

Elrond shrugged. “Perhaps it is what he does. He sees injustice and seeks to prevent it.”

Slowly and with eyes wide Gil-Galad turned to face his herald. “Injustice?” He stepped closer, taking a knife from the bed. “You think what I’m doing is wrong?”

Elrond did not back down, maintaining eye contact with his King.

“Does it matter what I think? You will do what you like regardless of my advice.”

The knife went up to Elrond’s throat and drew a thin red line up to his ear. Gil-Galad wore a devlilsh smirk now, with eyes still showing more white than they should.

“That is no way to speak to your King. Dampen your arrogance lest I wet the sheets here with your blood.”

Elrond blinked. ‘Ah, he threatens me because he is frustrated and sees no consequence. Poor thing.’

“You know I love you, but you are making it a little difficult when you throw talk of my death around so casually.”

Gil-Galad’s hand began to shake. “You think me unlovable, Elrond? After all I have done for you?”

“I said nothing of the sort.” In no position to request that the knife be removed, Elrond did his best to remain calm. ‘It’s a good thing I am so well practised in banter. Anyone else would’ve been dead by now.’

The King snarled, slicing the air with a flick of his wrist. “I want you to find out just what Oropher and that sorcerer have been doing. I don’t trust Illuvarion one bit.” He turned to the bed, throwing the knife down. “Do as I say, or you will be the one punished here in the coming nights.”

Elrond left without a sound.

 

~

 

A few hours after sunrise, Oropher began to stir from his deep, peaceful sleep. Irmo hadn’t troubled him with dreams relating to what usually happened on Sunday nights, and now it was the beginning of a new week. Though the day had begun, the room was still darkened with the heavy grey drapes at the window remaining closed. The fire had been out for hours and except for Oropher's movements, the room was still. At first, Oropher did not know where he was. This wasn’t his own room, nor was it Gil-Galad’s. There was… something warm on his chest, neither blood nor spilt wine. It had little more weight to it than a young deer. Oropher cracked open his eyes and groped at his chest. What his hand came into contact with definitely wasn’t a deer. It was the back of another elf, a very slim one at that. At being touched Illuvarion woke up, at least somewhat. He had been very deeply asleep and was still held by the allure of rest. He half-opened one eye. ‘How long have I... Oh. I am not alone.’ Before he could quite finish considering this, he curled closer against Oropher and started to doze again. He had never been one for mornings.

Oropher did not mind much and remembered vaguely what had happened last night. Unaffected by the small amount of wine he’d consumed, he was in much less pain than usual on Monday mornings.

‘This is fine.’ he thought, closing his eyes and leaving his heavy hand flat on Illuvarion’s back. ‘I will stay here.

Still mostly dozing, Illuvarion purred quietly and nuzzled his face against Oropher's neck. ‘Oh. Yes, I remember now. How strange...’ He sighed contentedly, not wanting to wake his companion or to wake himself much more than he was. ‘Ai, this is wonderful. Perhaps if I stay asleep it will not end.’

Oropher was merely enjoying the moment until a polite knock sounded at the door. He twitched and at once held Illuvarion closer, enough to crush him like an egg.

Illuvarion's eyes snapped open and he was no longer by any measure asleep. "Shh," he said, seemingly unaffected by Oropher's strength. Leaving his sorcerous armour on was a good idea.

"Perhaps if I ignore it..." He nuzzled his face into Oropher's neck again. "Perhaps if I ignore it they will go away."

Oropher didn’t look convinced one bit and the knocking came again.

“Milord, please open the door by the King’s command.” A servant called out and Oropher’s heart sank.

‘Oh, fuck.’

Illuvarion grumbled to himself, annoyed at having to do anything so early in the morning, much less disentangle himself from Oropher and get out of bed. But he lifted himself on both arms, and kissed Oropher's cheek. "I will be right back."

Oropher loosened his grip with some reluctance as Illuvarion wrapped himself in previously discarded robes. Now in a makeshift dressing gown, he ran a hand through his rather tousled hair. He opened the door only wide enough to see who was there.

"I answer to my own command alone," he said, making a slight show of being sleepy and irritated, which he was. "Can I help you?"

The servant tried to peep around the crack in the door. Seeing little beyond Illuvarion’s face, he spoke.

“I’ve come for Oropher, who the King suspects is here with you.”

"He was here by the king's leave, if he has forgotten. My work kept me occupied past dawn, and I am resting. Is something wrong?" Illuvarion betrayed no hint of deception or worry.

“Please inform Oropher that his presence is requested in the throneroom as soon as possible.” said the servant before turning away and leaving in a hurry. He couldn’t help but be frightened of Illuvarion’s spooky early-morning demeanor. Illuvarion shut the door and went back to bed. Wrapping himself around Oropher's body again, he kissed the Sinda's cheek once more and whispered.

"I still require your... services." He pressed his face into Oropher's thick, warm neck. "But I unfortunately cannot keep you here forever, just a while longer. Will you stay?"

“The longer I stay, the worse I will have to deal with.” Oropher said what he knew and sat up, cradling Illuvarion in his arms. It still surprised him that the Noldo remained intact. “I do not know how I can hold you and not break you at once.” He looked deeply saddened then, and said “It is best you forget about whatever it is you want with me. The King… has plans.” He looked to where his robes lay on the floor, then to the endtable where Illuvarion’s gift of a hair stick remained.

"You can do this because I desire to have you hold me and possess the means to make this possible." Illuvarion leaned close, his cheek against Oropher's and whispered close to his ear, "I do not forget things so easily... Not... Not things such as this."

Oropher shivered visibly as his sensitive ears twitched at Illuvarion’s low voice. “I will hold you,” he murmured, not as quiet as he would have liked to be. “But I will want nothing else.”

"I thank you for this; being close to you brings me joy." Illuvarion’s lips still nearly touched Oropher's ear as he breathed soft words. "I will let no harm come to you, not for this night nor for any night to come. And... If you wish it... I move as I may, unseen in the shadows. I will come to you, should you wish to be with me."

“Mellon.” said Oropher, and turned his face to lick Illuvarion’s lips. ‘He will be my friend. But I cannot keep Gil-Galad waiting… even for something like this. I have to go.” Unsure of how best to make his escape, he pulled Illuvarion away from him by force and set him on the bed. Oropher stood in all his nude glory, thinking only of the torment the King would bestow upon him for not spending the night in his chambers. He strode towards the door.

Illuvarion gestured to the door which was not going to open by force or craft until he let it, so that the nude Sinda did not bail out of his chambers butt-ass naked.

"Oropher." He said. "Your... Clothes."

‘Perhaps I should go with him. I will deal with Gil-Galad.’

Oropher stopped mid-step to turn around and get his clothes as if he’d intended to do that all along. Without saying anything he dressed himself, tucked his dangly bits down one leg of his breeches and coiled his hair around the mithril stick. It wasn’t exactly disguised but still did its job, hiding the bald patch where Oropher had pulled out a meter of hair the night before. He did not look at Illuvarion. ‘He does not need to see my worry.’

Illuvarion finished closing the clasps along the front of his robe, and hoping to disguise that it was the same one he had worn the night before, put a silky crimson wrap around his shoulders. His hair he left long and unbraided, but did select and wear a circlet of silvery metal set with many star-shaped rubies to match his wrap.

"May I come with you? I am, of course, going to the same place." He thought a moment, and felt clever. "My... sorcery has tired me, and I did not sleep much. I would hate to become faint and fall."

Oropher did not understand entirely, for he hadn’t seen much tiredness in Illuvarion but wasn’t going to question it.

“I will catch you if you fall.” he said, and tugged at Illuvarion’s hand. “Walk beside me.”

"Thank you. You are very kind." As the door closed, the gentle elf who had inhabited the quarters the night before disappeared, and only dark things could be seen behind Illuvarion's silvery eyesThe  blood that flowed in his veins may as well have been fire. 'It begins, then.'

In the throneroom, Gil-Galad sat with his favourite spear in one hand, toying with it to keep his anger at bay. The moment he saw Oropher and then Illuvarion being dragged along too, he stood.

“What is the meaning of this?!” he roared, pointing his spear at Oropher. “What’s he doing here? I asked for you!”

Oropher released Illuvarion’s hand and folded his own hands behind his back. His hair looked mostly neat as far as Gil-Galad could see, but the back had many fine strands tangled together.

“He is tired.” said Oropher, approaching Gil-Galad with an expressionless face. “He worked very hard last night doing his sorcery to protect the palace.”

“In the comfort of his own chambers with you, hm?” Gil-Galad twirled his spear expertly. “How convenient for you to have escaped your duty of guarding me last night, only to stand watch over Illuvarion in his sleep.”

Oropher blinked and turned to Illuvarion, who stood a few meters behind him.

Illuvarion stepped forward. "I am very grateful to you, your Majesty. Oropher was of invaluable assistance to me. The art I practice is dangerous, and even when I have concluded my work the danger remains quite real, especially while I rest and am vulnerable." He smiled in a tolerant way that was at once reassuring and slightly infuriating. "I would not have been able to work as efficiently without his help."

Illuvarion’s formality embarrassed Gil-Galad, who could only think of the night he endured without sticking his spear into his misbehaving guard’s ass.

“So you’ve gotten rid of the thing, then?” Gil-Galad sneered at Illuvarion while at once beckoning Oropher over. Oropher didn’t budge. “Damn it, Oropher! Get over here!”

The Sinda walked over to stand behind and to the left of Gil-Galad as usual. He had a dead look in his eyes. He knew what was coming.

Illuvarion drew up to his full height, and while he remained calm of expression, small flickers could be seen around his shoulders and hands.

"I would ask, your Majesty, that you refrain from mocking or disrespecting me. If you have something to say to me, I advise you say it rather than sneer at the work I have done for you. Do you have a question for me? Have I somehow done something to upset you?"

“You watch yourself, little one.” Gil-Galad shook his head, still standing and with a fierce grip on his spear. “I merely want to know if you have gotten rid of the Morgûl yet.” He turned to look at Oropher sideways. ‘Oh, I’m going to have fun with you today.’

Illuvarion's eyes opened wide, and the embers became visible flames that licked around his shoulders. "Did I hear you address me as something other than my name? Little one. Let me be clear to you. You will never address me in this way. I have been tolerant of your disrespect thus far, both to me and to every member of your ridiculous court. I have watched you abuse your guard and I have seen you make a mockery of the name of the Noldor. I did not endure what I have to stand here and be spoken down to by the likes of you."

“I don’t care what you’ve endured and you certainly don’t have the right to boss me around in my own kingdom.” Gil-Galad’s furrowed brows and tiny pupils cued Illuvarion to his growing rage, as the sorcerer’s flames told the entir, awed and popcorn-eating court that he was pissed too. “I will do as I like, least of all to this worthless dog you seem so fond of.” He swished his spear back in a most careless swipe towards Oropher and didn’t even look at him. The Sinda flinched as the sharp point sliced across his open right eye, which he closed in an obvious wince.

‘Aaaaaah, I felt that. Fuck, he’s not supposed to actually hurt me in public! Damn it, damn it, okay, I’m strong, I don’t feel, this is fine…’ He closed his other eye too as a trickle of blood seeped down his cheek. ‘Shit, does it look like I’m crying? It will if I wipe that! Uuughhh… What do I do?’

Illuvarion hissed some things in very ancient Quenya and flicked a hand towards Oropher, who was now completely unwounded much to his surprise.

"Perhaps the boy-king should take a long walk on the ice to cool his impotent temper. It worked well for his ancestors who had no stomach for bloodshed."

“No stomach? What are you talking about? My ancestors-” Gil-Galad was cut off by the sound of raucous, howling laughter.

“BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Glorfindel nearly fell over the balcony. “HE JUST TOLD YOU TO GET FUCKED ON THE HELCARAXE AAAAAAAHAAHAH~”

“You shut up!” cried Gil-Galad as he threw his spear at Glorfindel, who caught it in one hand.
“Nice try!” Glorfindel winked and saluted at the King. “But you won’t defeat me just yet. You might want to, heheh, look after that sorcerer of yours. He’s about to burn your ass.”

Illuvarion grit his teeth."You speak to no traveling magician, child. Perhaps Glorfindel will recognize me, if I introduce myself as I should have. I am Silwë Rusënár of Valinor, Warlord of Angband. I am not here to play parlor tricks with the sorcery taught to me by the Valar themselves."

“Wait a minute. You’re on Morgoth’s side?” asked Gil-Galad, suddenly flanked by three guards on each side (including one rather upset looking Oropher). “Warlord of Angband? And I let you into my court?”

"Perhaps your grasp of history is weak. Our people laid siege to Angband for many long years, and through much wrath, bloodshed, and slain agents of Morgoth himself I earned this title. I served Fëanor son of Finwë, High King of the Noldor in those days." Illuvarion held his left hand away from his body slightly, showing it to be engulfed in white supernatural fire. "I do not serve Morgoth. I have endured much in the service of our people; I was with the first of the Noldor when we awoke in Arda. Do not test me any further, for you will find I am far more willing than you think to shed blood here."

Suddenly the golden doors opened and in walked Círdan, who’d been called by a snooping messenger eager to share some of the drama.

“Now, what’s going on in here that warrants such a good show?”

Gil-Galad pointed straight at Illuvarion. “He disrespected me and says he’s from Angband!” Illuvarion’s explanation went completely ignored.

“Well of course he would, don’t you know who he is?” Círdan shook his head. “Ai, you weren’t even alive to see half the battles he fought in the name of Fëanorian pride. Stand down, Ereinion. He does not respect us.”

“What? Why?” Sounding more and more petulant, Gil-Galad stamped his foot into the ground and nearly twisted his ankle.

“This is something ancient and terrible that is not to be discussed.” Círdan handed his bag of popcorn to a nearby servant who took it and backed away. Approaching the King, Círdan smiled kindly. “Come now. Let’s go for a walk outside.”

Gil-Galad took two steps forwards, guards trailing behind, and loomed over Círdan by standing on his toes. The tension in the air rose as Círdan’s face changed to display a certain kind of disappointment only an ancient bearded dude could. Then Gil-Galad slapped him.

Illuvarion moved across the room quickly, because he did not fancy being in the way when Círdan the Shipwright's eternal patience was at its end. He stood in front of Oropher, knowing perhaps there would be magic afoot that he could shield.

"Gil-Galad," he said. "You have gravely offended the Noldor this day, and I know I am not alone in my disappointment." Illuvarion’s words were lost as nobody was listening to him, al eyes focussed on what Círdan was going to do. The moment Gil-Galad’s mouth twitched into a smirk, Círdan smacked him so hard it twisted sideways.

“I cleaned your shit for a decade, you little cunt. Don’t you dare disrespect me.”

“E-eeh!” Gil-Galad’s eyes filled with tears from the pain alone. He’d never seen Círdan look so angry or offended before. “You… you can’t do that! I am your King!”

“You’re an ill-tempered elfling born into royalty and it is clear I have been too kind to you.” Círdan’s eyes took on a clear, bright shimmer the colour of pure crystal. “Now stand down and apologize to Silwë, Oropher and I. The Valar could also do with your utmost repentance.”

“Never- AI!” Gil-Galad was smacked again, this time on the other cheek. A frosty white handprint was left embedded in his face and he balled his hands into fists. “Stop hitting me! I’ll fight you! Guards!”

But the guards did not move, for they respected Círdan more than they were loyal to Gil-Galad. Oropher grabbed Illuvarion’s right hand and tugged at it. Illuvarion allowed himself to be tugged along, his rage quelled at seeing the satisfying sight of Círdan slapping the whiniest high king the Noldor had ever had; including Fëanor. Now as Oropher pulled Illuvarion into the shadows, hiding behind the thick curtain-like banners that flanked Gil-Galad’s throne, Círdan stood still. The King didn’t dare to hit him again and fled to his chambers. Círdan then apologized for him, and looking incredibly exhausted, left. Illuvarion pressed his body against Oropher's, facing him. He touched the Sinda's bloodied cheek.

"Your eye... Did I save it? Are you hurt?"

“I’m fine.” said Oropher, mildly shaken but displaying none of it. He blinked a few times, the sweet and smoky scent of his own thick blood calming him a bit. “Are you?”

"I am unharmed. The High King is lucky. If I see him behave such again, I might kill him." Illuvarion wiped some of the blood from Oropher's cheek. "Ai, I was so... Angry. Yet you did nothing... Why?"

He looked at the blood on his hand, and then surprisingly licked it off. Oropher furrowed his brows.

“What was I supposed to do?”

Illuvarion finished licking the blood from his hand, and looked at Oropher.

"I... Don't know. Fight him? Ai, it was my fault. I did not expect him to behave with such jealousy."

Oropher sighed. “If I fight him, I will kill him… and every Noldo on Arda will hunt me to the end of my days. I want peace, Silwë.” His unique pronunciation of Illuvarion’s more famous name was quite endearing to the sorcerer, whose gaze intensified. “If I can have peace for a few hours a day with the King tormenting me once a week, that is enough.”

Illuvarion felt his ears redden at someone using his true name. It had a very, very deep meaning to the Noldor; an honor reserved for family, close friends, and lovers. He did not mind it, and felt very fond at hearing this.

"...Tormenting? This is a regular occurrence?" He stopped, thinking perhaps he did not understand the situation, or perhaps his understanding of Sindarin had failed him. "But... Are... Are you lovers? I do not know if I understand."

Oropher shook his head. “DO not make me speak of it.” There was a biting edge to his voice, something like the brittle tip of an old sword.

Illuvarion put his arms around Oropher's waist and pulled him close, a surprisingly secure hug from such a slight person. "I will not ever ask you to do so."

He felt a bit self-conscious for a moment at having just embraced someone unbidden, but pushed the feeling away as best he could. Oropher did no pushing away at all and squeezed Illuvarion, taking care not to hurt him. He said nothing and stuffed his face into Illuvarion’s neck, breathing quietly there. A bit surprised at this positive response, Illuvarion felt a warm feeling in his chest. He reached up to stroke Oropher's hair in a soothing, affectionate way, enjoying being held and feeling warm breath against his neck. Oropher remained close to him and whatever was going on in the more brightly lit areas of the throneroom did not matter one bit. Nobody was looking for him now. He could stay here.

'This feels so good...' Illuvarion ran his other hand gently up Oropher's back, and squeezed him again. 'I could do this for hours. Should we just stay? Or go elsewhere?' He did not know the answer, so he turned his head a little and gave Oropher a delicate kiss on his ear. This action, like so many as of late, was completely unplanned. It simply seemed like the right thing to do. Oropher was content to lurk with Illuvarion in the shadows, unharmed and feeling much better than he had fifteen minutes ago. Illuvarion sighed. He too was feeling much better. He briefly wondered if anyone had seen them, but cared little. Whoever dared to pull him from Oropher now would find themselves less of an elf and more a pile of ashes.

Chapter Text

While Gil-Galad was busy regaining his confidence with a few servants in his bedroom, Oropher snuck out of the palace with Illuvarion. In the courtyard, he held the sorcerer’s hands.

“I must go and eat.” he said, almost drooling at the thought. “Will you join me?”

Illuvarion thought about this for a moment, for he both rarely ate and was not used to being asked to go anywhere except away.

"I will," he said. "Gladly."

Oropher took Illuvarion by the hand and guided him through the crowded streets of Lindon. By now, everyone had heard about Gil-Galad’s epic tantrum and questions were at the lips of many. Where was he? Did Círdan kill him? Who will lead us? Who is fit to do so, and not a little bitch? Oropher paid no heed to them even as they began to watch him, murmuring louder. He dragged Illuvarion into the mess hall where many soldiers glanced up. Illuvarion felt both distinctly out of place, dressed quite formally in storm-grey robes and sparkling jewelry, and at ease, for he had spent many years taking meals in places such as this. 'Military experience dies hard' he thought. 'I did not think to see the inside of a place such as this any time soon.'

Oropher walked straight up to the open window where over a counter, different kinds of foods were being served.

“What’ve you got for me today?” he asked, and the elf on the lunch shift recognized him at once.

“Something fresh.” The elf called another one over and together, they hefted up a headless, raw deer. It had been skinned and gutted, only muscle left clinging to its bones. Oropher knew it had not suffered in death and nodded to the elves before slinging the deer over one shoulder. Then he asked Illuvarion what he wanted.

Furrowing his brow, Illuvarion thought on this question. He did not know how long it had been since he last ate, and was not hungry. "I... Fruit, I suppose? Vegetables of some kind?" It sounded awkward, as if he had no idea what he even ate. The serving elf took one look at him and handed over a basket with various nuts and fruits in it.

“You look like you could use the sustenance.”

Illuvarion nodded, and took the basket. 'Will they ever stop saying that? It's not my fault the food of Middle-earth is subpar.' He looked at Oropher for instruction on what to do next. The fruits did look rather appetizing; Lindon was known for its fertile land. Oropher gestured with his head to Illuvarion and began to walk out, a little blood dripping from the raw neck of the deer he carried. Once outside he turned to go and sit beneath the huge willow tree he always ate under. Watching the river whilst seating in the grass with Illuvarion seemed like a good way to spend the day.

Illuvarion followed, seemingly unaffected by the fact that his companion was carrying a whole, raw deer. Without as much hesitation as one would expect from someone in such formal dress, he sat upon the ground, and inspected the basket of fruits and nuts he carried. 'Excellent. Wine.' he thought, for he was almost always more interested in wine than food. Oropher began to butcher the deer in haste, using a knife he had discovered stuck in the deer’s side. He was hungry enough to tear the meat off the bones but was a little concerned of what Illuvarion would think. He’d never had anyone willing to share a meal with him. ‘Better not fuck it up.’

Illuvarion was busy opening the wine he'd discovered in his basket of fruit.

"They know you, here." he said, more as a statement than a question.

“They do.” Oropher grunted as he ripped off a leg and began scarfing down the bloodied meat, pausing only to breathe. He figured his answer had been good enough and continued to eat. Stress made him hungry.

Illuvarion drank wine and leaned back on one hand. "What a peaceful spot. Do you often come here?" He looked at the basket, selected a few berries and ate them almost experimentally.

“Mhm.” Oropher nodded and continued eating. He devoured one leg, then another, and began to slice choice cuts from the deer’s body. Blood stained the grass and to Oropher, it was little more than liquid upon the ground. It didn’t bother him at all. Illuvarion continued drinking his wine, and touched the back of Oropher's neck, gently. "That is rather a lot of meat. Do you not eat other things?" Having found the berries acceptable, he ate a few more. 'Ai, at least pretend that you eat.’

The moment Illuvarion touched him, Oropher bared his teeth in a feral snarl, his knuckles white from how hard he gripped his food. He loosened his hold on the bone and tried to look normal as he remembered that Illuvarion wasn’t going to hurt him. He didn’t know that, but he liked to believe it.

“Gnh. I… uh… can’t really eat other things.”

Illuvarion withdrew his hand. "I apologize. I did not mean to startle you." He looked into the basket of fruit, and nuts, far more than he would eat, surely. "I cannot eat this amount of food, please, if you would like to have some of mine..."

Oropher blinked, looking into the basket. Certainly most of the stuff in there were things he couldn’t remember the taste of, aside from a few fruit juices. He paused for a long time, before breaking the leg bone in half. He left it on the grass and flexed his hand. “You will laugh at me if I try to eat any of that.” He looked defiant, and a little embarrassed. Not entirely understanding, Illuvarion took another drink of his wine, then tilted his head to the side as he often did when thinking or asking a question.

"Why would I laugh at you?"

“Because.” Oropher stuck his tongue out, and cracked a rib off to eat. Illuvarion ate another handful of berries and laughed softly.

 "I can hardly see why I would laugh at you; you have yet refrained from laughing at my lack of appetite."

Oropher chewed up meat, bone and all else before swallowing thickly. “Fine then. Give it here.” He gestured to the basket. With a shrug, Illuvarion placed the basket next to Oropher and smiled rather fondly at him. Oropher tried not to wince as he slowly stuck his hand into the harmless basket and attempted to pick up an apple with two fingers. His fingers met in the middle, having squeezed so hard without any effort that the apple split in two. He looked up at Illuvarion with a dead gaze. Illuvarion did not laugh. He did, however, smile, and take Oropher's hand.

"I see. If you would like, I will feed them to you, so that you do not need to worry." He felt his ears redden slightly at this, and wondered if it was a strange thing to offer. Oropher squinted.

“W…what, you think I can’t feed myself?” He blushed furiously, eyes darting around. “I… could eat you whole.” He clicked his teeth to demonstrate.

"You could indeed." Blushing too, Illuvarion looked away for a moment. "I... Do not doubt your capability to feed yourself."

Oropher by now looked like a roasted elf tomato, so embarrassed at the whole situation. He shoved his half-eaten deer into the shade and threw himself into Illuvarion’s arms, looking up at him expectantly.

“Nyeh.”

Illuvarion stroked Oropher's hair a few times, finding this quite endearing. He then took from the basket a handful of soft, red berries and held one close to Oropher's mouth. Oropher’s tongue darted out and licked Illuvarion’s finger, taking the berry for himself. He chewed it a bit and relished the taste, humming quietly. Satisfied by this response, Illuvarion offered another of the berries. He found the whole thing rather intimate, and blushed deeply at being so... something. He could not quite put his finger on what. Until his finger was put somewhere for him, namely in Oropher’s mouth as it was nibbled upon. Oropher closed his eyes and chewed, not enough to remove Illuvarion’s finger but to the point of causing pain. He didn’t mean to, of course. Just wanted a taste. Illuvarion made a quiet yelping noise, but rather than pulling his finger away or admonishing Oropher, he simply leaned down and kissed his forehead.  "You have sharp teeth," he whispered. He had never found minor pains such as this to be unpleasant, and endured much more intense pain on a regular basis in the course of practicing much of his sorcery.

Oropher continued to chew on his companion much like a toothing puppy, looking rather content. Then he released Illuvarion’s finger, peeping up at him with soft green eyes.

“They make for good weapons. I haven’t seen anyone who hasn’t been scared by my teeth.” He did enjoy being the fearsome warrior he was.

Illuvarion stroked Oropher's hair again, and offered him a piece of the apple he was eating. "Why would I be? You are not scared by the things I do. I could kill you where you lay, before you even knew I was planning to." He kissed Oropher's forehead again. "But I will not."

Oropher found Illuvarion’s strange threats a little unnerving combined with his light kisses and rolled his eyes. “I may not know much, but I always win a fight.” He took the offered bit of apple and shut up then, trying not to become irritated. People who thought they could best him in battle irked him to no end, even if they were as interesting as Illuvarion. Purring softly, Illuvarion ran his hand through Oropher's hair again.

 "I would have no chance against you. To be quite honest, I am not sure that even my sorcery would aid me well enough." He blushed, and looked away. "For one, I would be distracted."

“Oh? By what?” Oropher rolled oved so that he was face down in Illuvarion’s crotch, then raised his head as if preparing to do pushups in the Noldo’s lap. “What can you see on me that I can’t?”

Illuvarion blushed crimson, all up his ears. "By... You." ‘Ai, really? Say something. Something that is not ridiculous.’ "I find you to be... Ah... Distracting." ‘Nice one. Good save.’

“Distracting.” Oropher squirmed up to grab Illuvarion’s shoulders, placing his full weight upon them. Then, he spoke rather bluntly. “Do you want to kill me or fuck me?”

Taken rather by surprise, Illuvarion froze briefly. He was unaccustomed to being asked what he wanted in any context, and definitely not in this context. And then, before he could consider what brilliant thing he was going to say, he answered. "I do not want to kill you. I find you attractive."

Oropher stared into Illuvarion’s face, breathing a little heavily. He shifted up to sit in Illuvarion’s lap and then let out a low, feeble squeak.

“Eeeeee…! You really think so?”

Illuvarion buried his face in Oropher's neck, feeling as though his ears were on fire. He put his arms around the Sinda, and, steadying his voice, whispered into his ear, "Yes, Oropher. I do."

Oropher had no idea how to respond to this, too embarrassed and honestly flattered to do much. He went by instincts now as he often did, and licked Illuvarion’s face all over. He tasted of fresh blood and sweet berries with a hint of sorcerer-fingers too. Completely out of his depth for how to go about this particular interaction, Illuvarion closed his eyes and oddly enjoyed being licked. He was shaking slightly at having been asked such a bold question, and also at his own blunt answer to it. What he wanted to do was take his companion back to his quarters; he did not, however, have any plan to follow to that end. Dangerous folk such as Gil-Galad and Tyelperinquar roamed the palace. Here, at least there was some degree of privacy. Oropher suddenly captured Illuvarion’s lips and began to kiss him with a fair degree of aggression, the kind that was both dominative and possessive at once. Briefly, Illuvarion's eyes widened at this, and then he closed them for he very much enjoyed this. He pulled Oropher closer, unable to stifle a quiet moan. It was rather unlike him to fail to assert control, but in this particular situation he had no desire to do so. Oropher snaked his arms around Illuvarion’s slender shoulders and held him tight, moving down to sink his teeth into his companion’s neck. He growled something incoherently into the mouthful of flesh. Illuvarion gasped at this. He was feeling in a way he had never felt before, and did not know what to do. It would seem, however, that Oropher knew, so he decided that perhaps he would just see what was going to happen. Oropher wished to taste Illuvarion’s blood, as well as test his physical limits. He drew back for a moment, lips and teeth dripping red.

“Your armour?” he asked.

Illuvarion tried to not sound as though he was shaking. "If you are asking whether I am armored, yes. If you are asking whether I will remove it..." He was strangely intoxicated by seeing Oropher's lips wet with his own blood. "...I do not wish to die before I can be with you."

“But you are with me.” said Oropher, licking his lips. “And you taste sweet.”

‘See? I can feed myself just fine. Ai, his kindness is like nothing I have seen before… he is brave to face me thus, to stick his fingers in my mouth when I could eat his hand whole.’

Illuvarion found that he was quite enjoying this admittedly rather violent endeavor. "I am, indeed." He undid the top clasps of his robe then and exposed his lower neck and his shoulders. "If this is a taste you find appealing, I offer more of myself to you." His heart was pounding and he shivered as the words left his lips. Oropher pushed him to the ground and scraped his sharp canine teeth along Illuvarion’s chest, able to do so as they were slightly longer than his other teeth. Pointier, too, made for cutting meat. They drew red streaks in Illuvarion’s flesh and were soon hidden by thin, pale lips as Oropher sucked a mark over one pert nipple. He toyed with it using his tongue, and bit down hard. ‘That armour better keep those Noldorin nips attached where they belonged.’

Illuvarion arched his back at this and moaned. He was almost panting, soon becoming short of breath. He was grateful for the fact that while his sorcery protected him against attempts to rend parts of his body away and other fatal things, it still allowed.... contact. It was not something he had considered before. Now, Oropher had a magical barrier preventing him from eating Illuvarion alive while at once letting him please Noldo. Oropher chewed to his heart’s content, biting here and there, spilling all the blood he cared to (lots) while licking at Illuvarion’s body in reverence. He’d begun to feel bloodlust and regular lust awaken in tandem, his breeches tight and his sodden tunic sticking to his body. He tore the fabric away from his torso and pressed himself flat against Illuvarion, nuzzling into his stomach.

“I want you.” he snarled, closing his eyes. Like Oropher, Illuvarion was quite unfamiliar with the feeling of lust divorced from his familiarity with bloodlust. Regardless, he found that his instincts were serving him well. He felt primal knowledge fall heavy upon him and growled a response.

"Yes... And I want you."

Oropher rubbed his growing erection in the grass, breeches having already split to let it free. It was a monstrous thing, half the length of his arm and as thick as Illuvarion’s wrist. Now it was bloodied from what had spilt all over the ground and carried a fresh, earthy scent. Then there was the lust, bestial and overpowering. Oropher’s expression darkened, his breath coming in short pants through his parted lips. Illuvarion was still mostly dressed at this point, though drenched in his own blood and naked to the waist. He wasn’t wearing any pants. His breath too was coming short, and though partially clothed in the fabric of his askew robes his own arousal was clearly evident. He considered whether he should mention his inexperience with such things, as he watched Oropher's actions with increasing amounts of excitement and a kind of naïve confusion. Still, he growled from deep in his chest and writhed, unsure what to do with the electric feeling that grew somewhere near the base of his spine.

"Ai," he breathed. "What do I do?"

He did not realize he had said this aloud.

Oropher was still for several moments, confused. “You have not…?” He made a light thrust to push against Illuvarion’s thigh, the friction slick and pleasing. Illuvarion moaned wantonly at this motion. "No," he whispered. He half-opened his eyes and shivered."But... I do not want this any less."

Doubt swirled in Oropher’s mind. His first time had been with Gil-Galad, against his own will. Did Illuvarion not wish to do this with a life partner as the Noldor often did? As a Sinda, he had adopted wild, free lovin’ wood-elf ways that made an encounter like this nothing too serious. He wanted to bury himself deep in Illuvarion and reach the heights of emotion with his companion, with no forced falsities or torment at all.

“Silwe…”

Illuvarion gasped at this, and his eyes opened. He had not been called by this name, outside of ceremonial or formal contexts, in many centuries. Oropher had been the first to whom he had spoken it in private, granting permission to use it since he had abandoned it. "...yes?"

“Feel this.” In a few clumsy shifts Oropher had positioned himself atop Illuvarion, and eased his way down onto the Noldo’s length. He’d managed to shove those pesky robes far enough out of the way so that he could spear himself thoroughly, needing no preparation due to being so frequently taken from behind. Illuvarion gasped at this completely unexpected motion and unfamiliar feeling. He groaned, a raw and primal sound coming from deep within him. He clawed at Oropher's waist.

 "H.. how..." He forgot the question he was going to ask.

“You like it?” Oropher’s face flashed a myriad of expressions, more emotion than he’d probably shown in his entire life. ‘Gil-Galad certainly does. Agh, stop thinking about him… you are doing this because you want to… want to what? Repay Silwe’s kindness? Feel good in your dangly bits? Ungh…’ Without another word he began to rock back and forth, closing his eyes as his hair swished about.

Illuvarion raised his body, and put his arms around Oropher's neck, pulling him down towards himself. "I... I do." he breathed, somewhat in awe. "But... I... I want you. I wanted... you... to have me."

Oropher bent as bidden and groaned. “You will die if I have you. This, I know.” He continued his motions, impaling himself over and over again until he found the one place within his body that was notoriously difficult to reach. He whimpered softly. Illuvarion kept his arms around Oropher's neck and kissed him with deep hunger. He then pulled away slightly, and put his lips to the Sinda's ear. "I will not die. And if I do, I still will not die. I bid you take me." He smelled of lust, incense, and sorcery, and groaned at the further pleasure Oropher was giving to him. Oropher meanwhile only had to kneel a bit, let Illuvarion slip out of him and feel a little empty.

“You immortal fuck,” he hissed and yanked on one of Illuvarion’s legs. “If you die, I’m coming to kill you again.” Slick from the prior minutes of hot, wet fun times he pushed himself into Illuvarion and did not hold back. He went in all the way, stretching what had never been stretched thus before. Illuvarion did not gasp or cry out, to his own shock. He arched his back and growled deeply, clawing deep paths into Oropher's back with sharp nails, blood pooling at his fingertips.

"Ye...sss...." He groaned. "O... Oropher...." He bit him then, savagely, drawing blood though his teeth were not sharp or pointy as the Sinda's were. He licked at the wound, and then bit again. Oropher knew this as part of a claiming rite but also as a gesture of affection, and whether or not Illuvarion knew this didn’t matter. It was the next stage on from licking and Oropher unleashed a roar of pleasure, slamming into Illuvarion with all the force of a battering ram. Granted, he had one attached to his crotch, and was now pounding Illuvarion’s innards to pulp. Illuvarion knew, almost academically, that this hurt; however all it processed as was excruciating pleasure. He clawed deeper into Oropher's back, scoring deep red lines across the skin there, feeling flesh tear under his nails and arching his back at the sensation of that as well. Oropher certainly had thick skin.

"Ai, please, more..." he heard himself whine, and then bit into his lover's neck again, finally deeply enough to bleed such that he could just lick happily at the blood. Thick, sweet and rich blood poured from the meat of Oropher’s neck along with heated cries from his lips.

“Urghh…” He scraped a finger down the new wound at his neck, opening it further for Illuvarion. “Drink, if this is what sustains you.” The thought of nourishing Illuvarion’s lust and appetite aroused him past the point of belief. His hips worked on their own, thick length stabbing the magically-armoured sorcerer deep inside. Illuvarion let out a bestial growl which caught Oropher’s attention, and felt a hot rush of arousal down his spine. He licked at the Sinda's neck, blood staining his lips and neck. "You are perfection," he breathed hotly into Oropher's ear. "Incredible..."

Oropher could hardly believe or process what he was hearing and with his body aflame by the heat of Illuvarion’s ass, hissed.

“Sssssssssilwe….”

Illuvarion made a sound at this that was somewhere between a cry and a sob, and buried his face in Oropher's neck. "Yes..." he growled. "Oropher..." He no longer knew what he was feeling; he simply had no way to describe it, not to himself nor to anyone else. "Call... call me that again."

“S…Sil…wrh..wrghh…….ghk!” Oropher’s eyes went wide as his brows furrowed in confusion. He looked down, and saw the tip of a bright steel spear poking through his stomach. It did not harm Illuvarion, who was armoured enough to deflect the spear to the side, tearing a wider gash in Oropher’s body. Oropher’s shuddering thrusts ceased as he grasped at the now gaping wound, too shocked to comprehend the laughter behind him. Gil-Galad licked the tip of his spear and cut his tongue like an idiot, but continued to kek.

“So here I find you, traitor.”

Illuvarion opened his eyes and looked up. He did not like what he saw. He whispered some things and ran his hand over the wound in Oropher's back, healing both it and the exit wound in his stomach. Then, he looked at Gil-Galad. "If you're here about the Morgul," he said dryly, "I would ask you come back later."

“I am HERE,” Gil-Galad wrenched Oropher backwards by the hair and stabbed him again, this time through the neck “about my PET.”

Illuvarion stood, somehow disentangling himself and coming to stand a foot and a half taller than Gil-Galad, uncomfortably close to him. "Remove your spear," he said, devoid of emotion. "Or I will ensure you never hold one again."

“You don’t scare me, kinslayer.” Gil-Galad swished his spear aside and Oropher’s head rolled to the other. Oropher crumpled to the ground, gasping for breath. Gil-Galad kicked him then and smiled. “Not so strong now, are you?”

Illuvarion threw a hand towards Oropher, and his wounds faded. A red light seemed to glow behind the sorcerer's eyes, sickly, like a distant wildfire. "You are a coward. I am not the one here with a spear through the throat of another of the Eldar. You do not fear me? YOU SHOULD."

“Technically he’s not of the Eldar, being a dirty wood-elf and all.” Gil-Galad spat and Oropher managed to roll over, avoiding it. He grabbed Illuvarion’s ankle and pulled.

“Don’t…”

Illuvarion knelt next to Oropher, and cradled his upper body, and hissed some things in Quenya. The spear in the King's hand glowed white hot as though fresh from the forge. Gil-Galad’s first instinct was to drop it before it burned through the leather gloves he wore. Angered he stabbed right at Illuvarion, aiming for his chest. Illuvarion allowed the spear to pierce his armor, though not to rupture any organs. It was uncomfortable. He stood, still impaled on the spear.

"Hm. I've had better."

“You!!” Gil-Galad tried again, this time removing the spear to start trying to remove Illuvarion’s head. “You come into my kingdom and tarry in your task, you, urgh, you steal my idiot bodyguard, and you mock me with your refusal to die!”

Illuvarion raised a hand briefly as though he was going to say something, but then his face became a mask of shock. The spear cut through his wrist and severed his hand, Oropher watching it fall to the ground. Illuvarion threw himself in front of Gil-Galad, and howled some things in Quenya.

Before them stood the Morgûl, its presence chilling the very ground upon which it stood. Gil-Galad was gone.

Chapter Text

Unbeknownst to Oropher and Illuvarion, the Morgûl had been watching. Having cloaked itself in the carcass of the deer, it watched as Oropher consumed corrupted flesh and went hidden from Illuvarion’s sight. Being a spirit raised by Illuvarion’s own craft, the Morgûl was bound to serve him forever. But a spirit he was, with memory of his recently taken life. He’d been killed in haste, an innocent citizen of Eregion just so he could follow Tyelperinquar and spook him. Now however he saw what Illuvarion was doing, and sought to warn the King. He felt it was his duty as a Noldo to protect the kingdom’s best interests, and with a humiliated, guardless King what was to become of Lindon? Granted, giving Oropher necromantic food poisoning wasn’t the best way to go about it but it had weakened him enough. He’d been stabbed by ‘his King’ and Illuvarion had lost his hand to ‘said King’, which was just the Morgûl borrowing some of his master’s illusory powers. And perhaps a suit of Gil-Galad’s armour. The spear too, for he could not harm with the image of a weapon. Now as he dropped the pretense of being Gil-Galad, the Morgûl fled to where he’d been hiding before: in Tyelperinquar’s room. The poor Noldo had locked himself up ever since he’d heard of the sorcerer’s arrival. All the Morgûl could do was watch him, whisper to him in his sleep and try not to cast any shadows. Being a thing of darkness and ancient magic, it was a little difficult. But he tried. He held nothing against the Lord of Eregion.

In the grass outside, Oropher finally caught his breath. Gil-Galad’s armour and spear lay scattered about, along with his robes. He needed strength. So, he picked up Illuvarion’s severed hand and ate it.

lluvarion groaned. "Ai, Oropher, that was my hand..." He did some sorcerous triage to his right arm, thanking whoever that fate had saved his left, for he was left-handed; he took great care to mask how useless he was with his right. He would find a way to restore it, eventually, but the research would take much too long. He would go without for now. "Did it at least taste good?"

Oropher swallowed and seemed to be in a fair bit of pain. He nodded, staring at Illuvarion with wide, glistening eyes. Illuvarion thought back on the last time he had to do something such as this; during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, when he'd found himself without his right arm from the elbow down, thanks to a very impolite orc with a very sharp sword. Without his hand to reattach, it would take weeks. ‘Ugh,’ he thought. ‘Like Maedhros son of Fëanor, but more attractive and less stupid. And I'll eventually have my hand back.’ He couldn’t help but wonder just how the spear had managed to cut through his magical armour. Gil-Galad couldn’t use magic, could he…? Illuvarion crawled towards Oropher and sought to be held. He looked oddly vulnerable, irritated at the faltering of his sorcery that allowed for this to happen. Cradling his now-handless right arm as though he'd sprained his wrist, not lost his hand entirely, he nuzzled his face into the Sinda's chest. “It hurts.” he whispered.

Between the pain of suddenly missing a hand and the wrenching feeling of such intimacy being torn away from him, he felt nothing short of fragile. He wanted to weep. Oropher reached for him and then pulled his hand away.

‘He doesn’t have his armour. I will hurt him.’ He wanted to hold his companion but the fog in his mind prevented him from thinking clearly about what to do next. Sinking into the ground, his massive body stilled. Illuvarion leaned his upper body against Oropher's motionless form, exhausted by trying to renew the armour which he wore. The danger was very real now, and though this particular bit of sorcery was quite tiresome, mentally and physically, it was necessary.

"...Oropher." He whispered hoarsely.

“Mhh…” Oropher breathed and finally turned his head, having Illuvarion on his chest and being unable to touch him. “Silwe… I… I feel weak.” The Morgûl’s poison was working. Illuvarion sat up, tired but coherent.

"I will not harm you," he said, not understanding the reason for the Sinda's reluctance to touch him. He held out his hand and swept it down Oropher's chest, and his demeanor grew grave. He would need to somehow get his companion to his quarters; this was no inconsequential sorcery. ‘Dispelling this will be a fucking nightmare.’ He was unaffected however by this insidious necromancy; whether by luck at having consumed nothing tainted or simply because it was his own sorcery. Even now as it deadened Oropher from the inside, he did not catch the spooks. Still, Illuvarion did what he could, a superficial kind of curative magic that would at least allow Oropher to move about. Then, calling upon deep reserves of will to renew the unseen armour he wore, he motioned. "Come. I must take you to my quarters. You may lean upon me. You will not hurt me."

Oropher summoned his own strength in tandem with what Illuvarion had given him, rising with some difficulty. He grunted as he pushed his hands off the ground and stood, stumbling a bit as if the weight of his own upper body would unbalance him. His head felt full of clouds, heavy ones full of cold rain. He gazed at Illuvarion, a greyish tinge to his normally porcelain white face, and extended one hand. Illuvarion moved to the other side of Oropher's body, so that he could actually take his hand, and did so. Suddenly, a misty haze of what seemed like living shadow fell upon the two; their movement would be unseen. With as much haste as he could, he led Oropher back through the streets and into the palace. He extended his right hand to open the door to his quarters once they had arrived, a sickening reminder that he had no right hand. He dropped Oropher's hand, and opened the door with his left, and pulled his companion inside.

As the door closed, he put his arms around Oropher and stifled a sob. Oropher leaned heavily against the door, quivering. His unfocussed eyes converged to look at Illuvarion, and he felt a deep emotional pain at the sight of his sassy sorcerer so distraught.

‘Not everyone is as tough as me.’ he thought, carefully placing a hand atop Illuvarion’s head. ‘Losing a hand must hurt. I… It hurt when the blade came through my flesh before… more than usual. Why? Why am I now weak?’

Unknowingly answering the question in Oropher's head, Illuvarion steadied his voice and said, "This is supernatural, the poison within you. I will cure it, I know the way. But I advise you that it will be painful, both to you and to myself. Perhaps more painful than anything you have yet known. It will be worse for me, though I am accustomed to this type of pain." He motioned to Oropher to lay down upon the bed. "I will need, at first, to stand. But should you wish it... I will... I will hold you, during the part that is painful."

He had never offered this, before. It felt the right thing to do, yet strange. He knew how painful purging this type of illness was; unfortunately common in the practice of necromancy. When spirits went awry, bad things happened.

Oropher blinked. “I can withstand… any pain. I am tired, Silwe.” He sighed as he lay, still wearing only his bloodied, open breeches. He looked at Illuvarion through slit eyes.

Illuvarion simply shrugged. "I know this. But I would have it that you not withstand it alone." He helped Oropher out of his remaining clothing, then drew closed the curtains. The fireplace and braziers were lit, suddenly. "May I begin?"

Concerned on the inside and stoic on the outside, Oropher nodded.

Illuvarion did not bother dressing and simply shed his blood-soaked robes to the floor, standing before one of the braziers. Bowing his head, he began to whisper things in a language that Oropher did not understand. The room seemed to grow colder, and Illuvarion was cloaked in shadow and fire. He cast something into the fire, and then took a few strands of the hair Oropher had given to him, and cast those in as well. The room began to smell of incense, burnt hair, and a sharp, unidentifiable scent, a scent that smelt the way blood tasted. Without flinching he put his hand into the fire and withdrew what seemed like a handful of the flame come to life. He poured this into the chalice he had set next to himself and then slashed his right arm. Blood pooled in the cup. He sealed the wound and and whispered more things, then offered this rather sketchy looking concoction to Oropher. Oropher took the chalice, sat up a little to peer into it and took a deep breath. He drank it in one gulp even though it burned him inside and it was like being eaten alive. He scrunched up his face, gasping for breath as residual agony coated his throat. Illuvarion knew he had perhaps 30 seconds before he would be rendered immobile. He crossed the room, lay next to Oropher in bed, gently pulled the bedclothes over the both of them, and waited.

"Oropher," he whispered, "I am sorry. It will be cold, and then hot; you will feel nothing for a while and wonder if you are dead, and then it will feel as a layer of your body has melted. You - AGGGK." He stopped short as the pain took his words. Oropher made a similar sound and curled his hands into fists, enduring as best he could. It felt like an eternity for the pain to be over. But when it was, he did not feel as weak. Illuvarion, however, was far more weak than he had been. His method of purging this particular kind of corruption meant mostly channeling it through himself to rid someone of it. He lay still, breathing shallow, seeming far more fragile than usual. Oropher turned to look at him, then shifted close. He pressed his face into Illuvarion’s shoulder and was silent. Illuvarion had gained something, during this process. It was quite clear to him, now, what had happened. As the corruption and sorcery flowed through his very being, he saw. It was that bloody wraith. The one he'd summoned to terrify Tyelperinquar, that little bitch from Eregion.

Though he no longer had a hand with which to stroke Oropher's hair, he hooked his right arm over the Sinda's shoulder, holding his head. He lay quietly for a time, listening to Oropher's now-unlabored breathing.

"Do... Do you feel... Any better, melmënya?" He froze. He had meant to say meldonya, friend. Melmënya, that meant something very different. It meant "beloved." ‘Shit.’

Oropher recognized the word from that one time Gil-Galad had pretended to be nice to him. He opened his eyes just enough to peer at Illuvarion sideways.

“Mhm…”

"Good..." He whispered, still shaking from having uttered such a word. "I was afraid."

Oropher didn’t seem too fussed about anything and merely wanted to sleep. Exhausted from all that had been going on, he snuggled into Illuvarion’s neck. Content to let this be the case, Illuvarion tilted his head to lean against Oropher's. His mind, however, was too active to sleep just yet.

‘Was it, then, truly that little bastard come to interrupt? Or some twisted illusory reflection of my own original making? Perhaps I should... Ugh. Perhaps I should talk to the king myself.’ He felt nauseous at this idea, but knew he had to. ‘Of course I must dispel the apparition. Or bind its insubordinate ass to a rock and throw it in the ocean. Ai, and my words...’

The Morgûl meanwhile was whispering to Tyelperinquar, urging him to flee. “The sorcerer will destroy our people. He has already humiliated your King. Go back to Eregion and rule, Lord Tyelperinquar. Please.’

Tormented, Tyelperinquar covered his ears with his hands. “Stop it! Get out of my head! Leave me, whatever you are!”

The Morgûl was saddened at this, a hint of anger invading his voice. “When have you been so weak to reason?”

Elsewhere, Gil-Galad lay with a few servants in bed. They dozed lightly as the King remained awake in deep thought.

‘Oropher… did not protect me. He let me make an absolute fool of myself… Ai, my damned temper! Why can I not control it as the others can? Even… Círdan struck me, not with words alone but with his hand… Word must’ve traveled and here I lie, in hiding? This is no way for a King to act. I must face my people before they think me a coward.

Illuvarion, still battered from the warfare he'd waged with Oropher's corruption and missing his hand, dressed himself in long, blood-red robes.

‘I suppose I will be wearing my hair down for a while.’ he thought, unwilling to contemplate attempting anything one handed. He sat upon the edge of the bed, holding Gil-Galad's supernaturally tainted spear in his hand, and kissed Oropher's cheek. "I will return soon. Please rest."

Oropher did not want Illuvarion to leave but was loathe to cling to him like a lost kitten. He folded his arms over his chest and stared up at the ceiling, focussing on the fading sensation of Illuvarion’s kiss.

~

There came a polite knock at the door to the King's chambers. Gil-Galad sat up, untangled himself from the nude elves scattered about and pulled a fluffy white bathrobe around himself. Taking a ceremonial dagger from its holder on the wall, he crept towards the door. ‘Nowhere is safe. Not without Oropher.’

“Who is it?”

The door opened, though it had been locked. There stood Illuvarion, looking rather battle worn in some way, holding Gil-Galad's own spear in his hand. "I believe I have something of yours," he said, icily. "I have come to return it, and to speak with you."

Gil-Galad jumped back the moment the door opened and he knew foul magic was at play. ‘Does he not know to wait for doors to be opened? Or does he barge in regardless of the room-owner’s will? What kind of Noldo are you?’

“What are you doing… with my spear? Where did you steal it from?” Gil-Galad raised his dagger, holding it in the exact same way as he did his spear.

"I apologize for opening the door," said Illuvarion rather genuinely, shocking in itself. "But I feared - I believe rightly - that you would not open it to me."

Before answering the king's question about his spear, Illuvarion examined the king's face for traces of the jealousy and malice that would surely linger had he truly interrupted the tryst Illuvarion and Oropher had been having. Nothing but confusion, fear and anger could be seen in Gil-Galad’s handsome face. Raising the dagger to his own chest, pointing it outwards as means of protection, Gil-Galad retreated.

“Put Aeglos down.” That was his spear’s name, and he so hated to see it in hands other than his own. Illuvarion did so, the spear glowing with sickly purple light.

"I have not come to harm you, Gil-Galad. And I recommend you not touch this weapon - it is corrupt." Illuvarion looked piercingly at the King. No, he had not been there. Illuvarion was sure of it. "Your servant of Morgoth caught me unaware and tragedy was very, very narrowly averted."

Staring at his beloved spear on the ground, Gil-Galad tore his eyes a moment later to look at Illuvarion. “What of Oropher? Did he not protect you?”

Illuvarion made an attempt to mask the horrific fear he had experienced, wondering whether Oropher would die. "He too was unaware. The spirit came in your guise. I know not what twisted relationship you have with your guard, so perhaps you will not care. Oropher would have perished, surely. And I..." He raised his right arm, bandaged, missing a hand. "Distracted it."

Gil-Galad stared. ‘So he is doing something, fighting against it…’

“What kind of monster is this that could fell Oropher and you? Stealing my spear, too?” He looked completely lost.

"A wraith," Illuvarion said simply. "Necromancy. I know now what I must do to dispel it, and had either of us been thinking to be watchful..." ‘Fuck. Do something.’ "Even I would not expect apparitions and shadows to roam in the late afternoon. Even sorcerers relax from time to time."

“I see…” Gil-Galad then squinted. “Wait. What were you doing relaxing with Oropher? He is only meant to be with you for protection when you are actively hunting the wraith.”

Illuvarion maintained his neutral façade and considered his options, perhaps staring a bit long at the king. Gil-Galad stared at him right back.

“Well?”

"We were..." Illuvarion wanted nothing more than to spitefully tell Gil-Galad the truth. "...taking lunch."

‘Fuck, good job. That was brilliant.’

“….” Gil-Galad regarded Illuvarion with high suspicion, still gripping his little dagger tight. “Where is he now? I want to see him.”

"He is in my quarters, resting." Illuvarion saw no reason to lie. "The sorcery with which I purged the corruption from his body and mind is complex, dangerous, and extremely painful, both to him who I healed and to myself."

Gil-Galad pushed past Illuvarion to exit into the hallway and look around. “Take me to your quarters.”

"I will not do so. What concern is it to you? To my eyes you loathe him, and now you demand entrance to my quarters? You surely show him naught but abuse." Illuvarion was consciously restraining his voice from becoming a snarl. "And that he was brought back thus from near death moves you none."

Illuvarion narrowed his eyes. "I bid you speak frankly to me. Why, your Majesty, does it matter?"

“He has healed on his own from blows that would have killed me. You know not what moves me nor how I express it, and I would bid you to stop judging me with your creepy little eyes.” Gil-Galad turned to face Illuvarion properly. “He is my guard and I will see him well. He must return to his duties as soon as possible, what with you injured and this wraith on the loose.”

"I will judge whom I will. I have served the Noldor for good and ill since first we awoke, and I will not be spoken to thus." Illuvarion maintained cold eye contact. "He will be well. I have asked only that you answer my question."

Gil-Galad’s voice became heated. “It matters because he is my guard and for good and ill, must protect me. If he is dead or sick, he cannot do that. Thus I must pay attention to his wellbeing, though it is not my responsibility. Is that good enough for you, judgemental sorcerer?”

"No, it is not." Illuvarion challenged. "You wish to see him? Why, that you may call him an idiot and cut his eyes out? That you may torment him while he is too weak to fight back? How many hours is it now?"

"That was an accident." Gil-Galad hissed and swept his dagger along the wall, peeling a bit of wallpaper away. "You are not supposed to know of any of this. What has he told you?"

"He has told me nothing. Your own indiscreet lips have told me all I needed to hear." Illuvarion stood unmoved. "I ask again; what is he to you, and why do you care whether I know? Furthermore, what business is it of yours as to what I do outside your gaze?"

“Let me tell you.” Gil-Galad barely restrained himself from shoving Illuvarion in the chest and folded his own arms, fingering the handle of his dagger. “He is my guard first and a liability second. He is not permitted to interact with anyone other than myself for the sole purpose of just how dangerous he is. You may be able to protect yourself against his brutish strength with magic, but few others in my kingdom can. I keep him on as tight a leash as he will accept for the safety of everyone else, including myself. You do not know the depth of his relationship with me and never will. And you dare to ask as if you are entitled to this knowledge!” Gil-galad scoffed then and shook his head, his messy hair swishing about. He didn’t look very intimidating in his soft bathrobe at all. But still, he had stature and will great enough to show he was serious. “You have kept him from me and disrupted our weekly rituals – all that I do and all you despise is necessary to keep him under control. Thanks to your influence, I fear he will rebel. And when he does, we will all die.

"Weekly ritual." Illuvarion spat. "Have the stomach to call it torment, torture. You would not be the first of the Noldor to indulge this pastime. Perhaps it runs in our tainted blood."

“Say what you will, but I do what I must for a reason.” Gil-Galad sighed. “Now lead me to my guard or I will send out a search for him.”

Illuvarion brushed his hair back over his shoulder. "I suppose you think you are in the right. Many in power do. He has been gentle and kind to me and I will not, while he is in my care, allow you to abuse him.”

Gil-Galad had been staring intently at Illuvarion all the while trying to discern what was going through his mind. When the sorcerer flipped his hair over his shoulder, the King saw raw bite marks along with dried blood coating Illuvarion’s neck. He pointed with his dagger, eyes narrowing.

“What is that? Are you waxing lyrical about abuse when that beast has probably mauled you already?” He stepped forwards, holding his dagger to Illuvarion’s throat with intent to part his robes. “Let me see.”

Illuvarion seemed unconcerned about the king's knife. "I advise you keep your temper under control, and remove your knife. Why would I part my robes for you? You are not my lover, nor are you my friend. Would you have me disrobe here?" He laughed. He was willing to do it, if only to see the king squirm. Gil-Galad snarled and shoved open the door to his room, gesturing.

“In there, then.” He didn’t notice the complete lack of a lock on his door now, as the internal mechanisms had been melted away by Illuvarion’s fiery lock-picking magic.

Brushing the king's knife aside as if he was holding a loaf of bread, Illuvarion stepped into Gil-Galad's chambers. "You would truly have me disrobe." He laughed again, in somewhat of an infuriating way, as though this was some sort of indulgence for a child. Which it was, to him. He did not respect Gil-Galad at all.

“I would. I want to see what he has done to you.” Gil-Galad nearly tripped over his own spear which remained on the floor. He made his way to sit on the bed, where his servants were awake and watching. They trembled in fear at the sight of him and Illuvarion. Illuvarion shrugged. He assumed that Gil-Galad expected him to part his robes, and show his chest. He turned , deftly undoing his robe with one hand. Then  he shrugged his shoulders and dropped his robes to the floor, standing utterly nude. He faced Gil-Galad. His nudity did not make him seem vulnerable, as he was drastically taller than the king, and irritated enough that he air around him shimmered like the air above hot bricks in summer. He also seemed unconcerned; while the Noldor were notoriously private (as he too was in many ways), he was of Valinor, not Middle-Earth. In the Undying Lands, in the years of the Trees, attire was customary but not strictly necessary. He had no qualms with nudity. He was covered from neck to thighs in all manner of bruises and bites, particularly around his stomach, hips, chest and shoulders.

“This is what I work to prevent.” Gil-Galad gestured to Illuvarion’s body. “Why I would not have you communicate with him. He has injured you, a guest to Lindon. This is unforgivable.”

Illuvarion tried, but could not contain laughter. ‘The little shit thinks he attacked me. He really is an idiot.’

Gil-Galad tilted his head to the side, clearly confused and upset. “What are you laughing about?”

"Truly your Majesty, you would not begrudge a couple of soldiers of the old days a small indulgence in, ah... A bit of... sparring." He fought, successfully, visible arousal at the hot, vivid memory of Oropher's body on his. He did not successfully fight a slight blush and a bit more laughter.

You sparred with him? And you’re not dead? I find that hard to believe. He is an uncontrollable, savage creature.” Gil-Galad grew increasingly annoyed at the laughter and thought to command Illuvarion to shut up. ‘The skinny fuck probably wouldn’t listen.’

"Oh, no. It was... It was a draw. I would say, we both... won..." Keeping his composure physically was getting difficult, as he remembered Oropher deep inside him, hissing Silwë into his ear. "Just a bit of fun..."

“Fun. Against a warrior 900 times stronger than you? I doubt it.” Gil-Galad threw his dagger aside and turned Illuvarion around, looking at his ass. “Why is there bruising here?”

Illuvarion froze. "I would ask you refrain from touching me." ‘Shit. Think...’

Gil-Galad parted Illuvarion’s buttocks to see a terrible redness there, and bent to look inside.

“You…” His voice trailed off. Illuvarion bent then and turned with shocking quickness, and in moments his hand was curled around Gil-Galad's neck. He pinned the king against the door, and flames licked around his shoulders.

"I said do not touch me," he hissed. The hand at the king's throat was hot to the touch, though not enough, quite yet, to burn him. "Ask me your question while you still are capable of speech."

Gil-Galad was amazed at Illuvarion’s audacity and in fact quite appalled at this entire situation. Instead of getting angry, he grit his teeth and sighed through his nose.

“He raped you, didn’t he?”

Illuvarion dropped his hand, for this conclusion so shocked and amused him that he was incapable of anger any longer. He just about doubled over in laughter, and with his one hand, slipped his robes over his shoulder.

"You... You think..."

When Illuvarion stood up, clothed and red-faced, Gil-Galad embraced him.

“I am so sorry.” There was no sarcasm or malice in the King’s voice.

Illuvarion froze again, and repeated himself.

"Please, do not touch me." ‘Fuck. I have to talk Oropher out of this, Gil-Galad will kill him. Think.’ Stepping away, Gil-Galad raised his hands in defense. Then he clicked his fingers.
“You. Fetch Elrond, he needs to be healed.” A servant obeyed at once and dashed out the door, followed by Gil-Galad. “I’m going to find Oropher.”

Illuvarion sprinted to the window, vaulting the sill and dropping the five stories to the ground lightly as if he'd stepped down a staircase. He dashed then across the courtyard and up the stairs to his quarters, ducking through the door and warding it as though balrogs were afoot.

"I apologize," he said to Oropher, regardless of whether the Sinda was sleeping. "Things are complicated."

Oropher remained asleep and looked entirely dead, eyes closed and hands folded over his chest like a well cared-for corpse. Illuvarion bowed his head and whispered some things, and the air around the sleeping elf shimmered like a protective layer of air. ‘It will do.’ And then as he seldom did, he slipped a belt around his waist, wearing his sword at his right hip. ‘Sorcery may not be an option,’ he thought. He poured wine, and sat at the table to wait.

Chapter Text

When Gil-Galad and ten guards finally came to Illuvarion’s door, the banging was intense. Not only on the door, but in the room. Oropher was busy rubbing himself against Illuvarion in his sleep, now that the Noldo was laying beside him. Illuvarion had gotten tired of waiting for Gil-Galad to show up, and gone to comfort the recovering Sinda. Now, quite content to let Oropher rub himself against him, he was loathe to pull himself away; he would rather just return the rubbing. He knew that perhaps he could just ignore the pounding at the door and have a few moments with his extremely recently new lover. But the banging on the door came again, and something inside him changed. He stood, put his sword about his waist once more, and sighed. ‘How much blood will be shed here? Ai, Silwë, hold back a bit...’

His eyes were lit within by sorcerous fire, and small crackling arcs of lightning flickered at his shoulders and hand. His sword glowed too as though it were hot - it was cool to the touch, but highly enchanted. He was not, at this moment, fucking around. The High King he knew was expecting to find Illuvarion, but he was not in at the moment. Silwë Rúsënar, Warlord of the Noldor was here, and the King would have to deal with him. He had been pushed enough. The King would have a short while to make a case, and to listen to what Illuvarion had to say, but Illuvarion's self of old, of the Wars, was not much one for excessive talk. Sword and sorcery would do the talking here, if Gil-Galad could not be reasoned with.

“Open up, by order of the King!” A guard yelled from the other side of the door.

“That’s me!” cried Gil-Galad. “Illuvarion! I offer you my hospitality and you lock my property away?”

Oropher was just coming out of his deep sleep and caught a sense of urgency around.

“Silwë…” he moaned, reaching for the one who was not there.Silwë…!”

“By the Valar, are you two fucking in there?” Gil-Galad’s voice came again and Oropher curled in on himself.

"Be calm," Illuvarion told Oropher, with as much tenderness as he could draw in his current state. "I will be back shortly." Oropher only opened his eyes a crack and saw the room bathed in reddish light. ‘What the hell… is going on…?’

Illuvarion answered the door then, tensed. "I have none of your property here, unless you count the furniture. You turned and left before I could rightly tell you the truth of what happened, and I worried for what you may do."

“You have Oropher, my property by right.” Gil-Galad banged once against the door. “Open this door or we will break it down. Oropher stands accused of his crime against you and will be punished for it.”

Illuvarion opened the door. Despite the lightning about his body and the fire in his eyes, he was very cordial and welcoming. "There has been no crime committed here, your Majesty. Will you not listen to me?" He tilted his head, questioning. Inside, he felt as though his very fëa would burn through his skin. The guards backed away.

“Sorceryyyyyyyy!” one shrieked, before collapsing where he stood. Gil-Galad bolted through the open door and pulled Oropher off the bed, forcing him to stand.

“This is your fault!” he growled, shaking the sleepy Sinda. “You were supposed to protect me, not stick your cock into my guest!”

Oropher let himself be shaken, his head rolling back and forth. Illuvarion drew his glowing sword and spoke.

"I will warn you but once, your Majesty. Release him. He has done me no harm." He stepped to Gil-Galad's side. "I would hope you would not punish Oropher for my indiscretions. I am loathe to discuss my personal life but I will admit; I have, since arriving here in your charming city, sought... companionship. Happily, I found a very accommodating elf-lord with whom to spend some time. Oropher has committed no crime against me. You would not punish him for the fact that I... I am fond of, shall we say, rather unusual things?"

Illuvarion stilled his body from shaking in anticipation of combat. Gil-Galad raised an eyebrow, throwing Oropher to the floor. He rounded on Illuvarion, facing him with an unreadable expression on his face.

“You asked him to do… whatever he did to your ass?”

‘Well, fuck. I had hoped he would interpret that as finding someone who isn't Oropher.’ thought Illuvarion. He moved to stand between Gil-Galad and Oropher. "I did not say that. Is it your business who I find companionship with? Would you have me draw a map?"

“The only map I need is the scarring on your body and the fact that Oropher lies here, nude. Do you think me a fool?” Gil-Galad resisted the urge to kick Oropher, who now stood of his own accord. “Oh, good. You’re awake. Now tell me, what have you done to this frail little sorcerer?”

Oropher blinked slowly, rolling back his shoulders to loosen them a little. His whole body felt locked into place, stiff and hard. Then he realised he had an impressive erection pointing at Illuvarion, whose back was turned to him. He pushed Illuvarion aside and jabbed his finger into Gil-Galad’s chest.

“He is not frail.”

Illuvarion made to step towards Gil-Galad. He had gone hella emo, his eyes glowing as coal and the fire and lightning about his body seeming as armor. But at seeing Oropher's challenge to the king he held where he was, waiting. Gil-Galad smacked Oropher across the face, as if forgetting what that had gotten him earlier today with Círdan.

“You dare speak against me-”

“RRARGH!” Oropher roared incoherently as he snapped his head towards Gil-Galad, unaffected by the slap. Gil-Galad was shocked into a moment of silence and it was then that Oropher pushed him. The King flew through the doorway, his guards watching as he skidded close to the balcony railing. Elrond appeared to help him up, healing at once what he could. Broken shoulderblades, a near concussion…

Oropher bared his teeth, looking like a rabid orc. His ancestry was so unknown that he might’ve been partially so. He pushed Illuvarion back with a steady hand and glared at the guards.

“Get out.”

Illuvarion stood motionless, simply waiting. He scowled towards the guards who lingered. They all exited at once but Gil-Galad tried his way back in, held back only a little by Elrond.

“Your Majesty, please. Do you not see the bloodlust in his eyes?”

“He will not kill me. Not if I command him against it.” Determined, Gil-Galad wrenched himself from Elrond’s grip. Oropher then bent to the side, stuck his hands beneath the iron frame of the bed and lifted the entire thing up into the air. Wielding it like a chopping board in front of him, he grinned madly.

“Do you really think so?”

Illuvarion stepped forth then, putting himself between Oropher and Gil-Galad. "Leave." he snarled. "I recognize your position, and I recognize that this is your court and your home. But you have more to worry about than Oropher, because regardless of whether he will harm you, I DEFINITELY WILL should you come any closer, and will recognize no bid for mercy nor cessation. Leave, while you still can, that the Noldor will have a High King come morning and that this situation will not end with bloodshed."

He stepped towards the Gil-Galad, uncomfortably close, and held his sword dangerously close to the young Noldo's neck. "Do not test me, Gil-Galad, unless you wish to see whether I still am willing to spill elven blood, in the Second Age as well as the First."

“You will be dead tomorrow.” Gil-Galad hissed, and with a final hateful glance to Oropher who had betrayed him, backed away. He slammed the door and was gone with Elrond to plan an all out war against the sorcerer who was no longer welcome in Lindon. Oropher too was to be executed, and nothing Elrond could say would dissuade the King.

Oropher put the bed down and stared at it. Then at Illuvarion. “Nice sword.”

Illuvarion smiled. "Thank you. It has served me well, and will again." He stepped towards Oropher. "I have wrought nothing but trouble for you, but you have my word that you will not die tomorrow, nor in the days to come." He looked down and away. "This is all my fault."

“Yeah.” said Oropher, flexing his fingers. “But you will not die, either. You are my mellon, and I will root this entire castle from the ground if you ask.”

Illuvarion smiled again, weakly. "I will not ask this of you. Ai, you..." He put his arms around Oropher. "I am so sorry. I am not worth this trouble."

Oropher wrapped his arms around Illuvarion without thinking for armor or anguish and squeezed him tight. “Neither am I.”

Illuvarion stifled a sob, and buried his face in Oropher's neck. "I have been here two days and already... Already ruined... Almost everything." He looked exhausted, the fire and sorcery gone, and felt a bit unsteady. Oropher sighed.

"That's what happens when you go against Gil-Galad." He stroked Illuvarion's back, his huge hand heavy and comforting. "But look. So what if you ruined everything? That's kind of what you do, isn't it?"

Illuvarion laughed wryly. "Mm. Yes. It is." He sighed too. "I suppose I should rest, if I am to figure this out. I suppose I will seek Círdan, later. But, for now... Will you come lie with me?"

Oropher couldn’t refuse that, and nodded. “Of course.” He climbed onto the bed and went under the covers, twisting around for comfort.

Illuvarion slipped his robe from his shoulders, and then curled up next to Oropher, pressing his slender frame against the side of the Sinda's much larger body. "At least we have this now, I suppose."

“Mhm. Until tomorrow, when we’re both executed eh?” Oropher laughed softly and curled into Illuvarion, fitting his body nicely with him. Illuvarion ran his one hand through Oropher's hair sadly. "It would seem that way. I will prevent this, for the sake of both of us and for Lindon. The Noldor deserve a High King that is better than this."

“They’ll be hard pressed finding one.” said a voice from the doorway. Elrond stood there, head bowed so that his expression could not be seen. Illuvarion did not startle at this, but he did turn. "Good afternoon, Elrond son of Eärendil. Please, come in. Let me get out of bed."

Elrond did not wait for the elves to disentangle themselves. He remained where he stood, his banner draped around his shoulders, devoid of its pole.

“Círdan is dead.”

Illuvarion sat upright, bare-chested. "How?"

“The King…” Elrond shook his head. “He wields his spear like an elf possessed. At present he fights Glorfindel in the courtyard, who has challenged him in grief. There is sorcery at work, also.” He was trying his best to keep himself together despite wanting to fall to the ground and weep. “I would suggest you two leave before he turns completely mad.”

Illuvarion stood, wrapping a sheet around himself so that he would not bother Elrond with his nudity. “I will stop him. Doom will not come to the Noldor this day."

That fucking spear. You idiot, I told you not to touch it.

Elrond moved out of the doorway and looked at Illuvarion’s hand. “Do you… want me to heal that?”

Illuvarion was unsure whether Elrond meant his hand as a whole, or the wound left when it was severed. "I had planned to do so myself, but I have been... a bit busy. If you do not mind, I would be grateful."

“I will be quick.” Elrond glanced to Oropher who sat up, watching him. He approached Illuvarion and held out both hands. “Please put your wrist here.”

Illuvarion did so. He had no fear of this type of thing, having done it himself. He watched, however, with interest. Elrond was glad to have something other than sorrow to focus on and held Illuvarion’s wrist between two fingers. His other hand scored a sigil into the flesh closest to the wound, drawing an intricately detailed circle with his fingernail. Then he lifted that hand up, fingers clawed, and the sigil began to glow. Light green at his fingertips matched the writing in the sigil that turned a full circle, closing the wound. Elrond’s concentration was unwavering, his eyes wide and determined to see Illuvarion well. He placed a regenerative charm on the flat surface where once a hand had been, now covered in fresh pink skin.

“It will grow back.” said Elrond, looking a little weary. “Like the hand of a child to maturity.”

Illuvarion nodded. "I am familiar with this sorcery; however my aim is in general not the healing arts. I thank you. The research would have taken me a very long time." He stepped behind a screen briefly - his height made it seem as though it was a low one, but it was not. "May I speak with you a moment? After I have dressed."

“If you wish.” said Elrond, and sat on the bed. Oropher reached for him and Elrond flinched. “What is it?”

“What did Círdan do?”

Elrond sighed. “He tried to save you.”

Illuvarion stepped from behind the screen. He was dressed in black breeches and a knee-length carmine-red tunic, the type of attire typically worn under armor. Embroidered on the front and both sleeves of the tunic, in slightly darker red was an eight-pointed star with eight rays. The Star of Fëanor. He had pulled his hair back into a low ponytail, down his back in one long, heavy black length. "I ask you, son of Eärendil, to answer a difficult and perhaps awkward question, before I do battle with an angry child in the courtyard." He motioned to the door, where he could speak with Elrond in private. Elrond went to the door and Oropher spent a while trying to figure out why Círdan had died for him.

Illuvarion pulled over his chest some very impressive scale and plate armor, gleaming and well cared for, but ancient. It too bore the Star of Fëanor, in center of the chest. He asked, in a low voice, "What manner of madness have I come across here in Lindon? This centers around the king's bodyguard? I have walked in many courts, Son of Eärendil, but never seen the like of this. He would threaten me, kill Círdan, throw a lance at Glorfindel and then fight him? So that he can be abusive to some Sindarin bodyguard?"

Elrond sighed. “It is… a thing about dominance, remaining unchallenged, and feeling absolute in his power. He has nobody but himself, and Oropher is the only one who has protected him thus far. It is true that he has kept him beaten into submission, but only because he fears being alone. Now… I do not know what is happening.”

Illuvarion sighed. "I will not try to deceive you, given that the scene here is obvious. He is obviously a bit more to me than some random Sindarin bodyguard." He finished with his armour. Elrond nodded.

“The King loves him too.”

"I did not say..." Illuvarion stopped. "I see."

Elrond looked at the star of Fëanor on Illuvarion’s chest. He touched it with a finger, almost fondly. “This… is familiar.” He gazed into Illuvarion’s eyes. “You will fight well, I know it. I would urge you, however… not to confront the King.”

Illuvarion considered this for a moment. "I do not wish to fight him. I wish to stop him. If need be I will go unarmed, but not unarmored." He looked at Elrond who though young, barely more than an elfling, he knew to be wiser than his age would seem to allow. "What do you suggest? I know Glorfindel; I do not believe that even in these depths of madness and dark sorcery Gil-Galad will defeat him. But..." He stopped again and looked back at Oropher, a strange feeling heavy in his chest.

“There is a way of life we have grown accustomed to. Oropher protecting the King, the King’s rule being absolute, and outside interference being unwelcome. I… know the way Oropher has been treated is not right. But he has not shown the will to escape… He really could leave at any time.” Then Elrond shivered. “The King… has done things to his mind. Perhaps he is bound here by something not even I understand.” He looked into Illuvarion’s eyes. “Let Glorfindel kill the King and resurrect him afterwards. Glorfindel will be outcast, and we will have a hopefully more humbled High King leading us.”

"Take me to Círdan," Illuvarion said. ‘Perhaps I can right something, if he has not flown yet to the Halls of Mandos.’

Elrond looked a little uncomfortable but steeled himself and nodded. He wrapped his banner more snugly around his shoulders and gestured for Illuvarion to follow him. Illuvarion stopped, went to put his hand to Oropher's cheek, and kissed him gently. "I will return." 'The king loves him too. But...'

Oropher looked sadly up at Illuvarion. “Don’t die.”

"I will not. Not now." Illuvarion replied, and walked over to Elrond. "You... Are uncomfortable. Is it your wish that I refrain from doing what I am about to attempt? If this is so, I will stay my hand and remain here."

Elrond was troubled as he spoke. “If you can… bring Círdan back… I would ask that you do so. I just… do not want the King or Glorfindel to die. They are, though idiots, very dear to me.”

Illuvarion nodded, following Elrond as he led the way. "Returning Círdan to this world is less trouble than stopping the world's most stubborn Balrog Hunter from causing harm to the High King." Illuvarion softened slightly. "Glorfindel... Ai, that idiot. I have fought at his side many times. Reckless."

Elrond smiled at this, as Glorfindel was the best friend he’d had since the loss of his brother. He knew the blonde warrior all too well. “He is reckless, just like Oropher. Those two fight sometimes, and I am there to heal them after they’re done.”

Illuvarion blushed. 'Ai, what is wrong with you? Can you not hear a name mentioned? You are supposed to be thinking about bringing Círdan back to this world, not about Oropher.' He walked along, hoping Elrond had not noticed this, though the son of Eärendil was an observant sort and he knew there was a good chance it would not escape detection. Elrond glanced to Illuvarion and gave him a curious look. He said nothing however and once outside, lead the way around the side of the palace to where Círdan lay amongst soft white flowers. Elrond unwrapped the banner around his shoulders, revealing that his upper body was quite bloodied. He then sat Círdan up and shrouded him with the banner as if to keep him warm when he woke. He looked to Illuvarion. Illuvarion sighed. He knew.

"I am sorry. I.. There is nothing I can do. It has been too long. This would not be healing, it would be necromancy. Whether he returns to us is up to Mandos, now."

Elrond nodded, pressing his face down into Círdan’s chest. He was silent.

Illuvarion turned and walked silently back to his quarters. He had a rather grim look to him as he shut the door, and began to remove his armour. He did not notice Oropher laying in bed with company. There behind Oropher was Tyelperinquar, nude and with a little blood around his thighs. He smirked and opened one eye as Illuvarion approached. Illuvarion stopped in place when he noticed this scene and became very, very still, as something broke inside him and the consuming rage he had felt earlier rose again inside his chest. The flames and lightning that licked at his shoulders arose again, and his eyes went black. He said nothing. Slowly Tyelperinquar drew his finger along the inside of Oropher’s thigh, painting the outside with slick red as his hand moved. Oropher whimpered for his Silwe, who Irmo had sent in his dreams begging for him to wake up.

“So you arrive, Warlord.” Tyelperinquar purred as he turned Oropher’s head to look in Illuvarion’s direction. “Come to do the duty your wraith could not?”

"You will wish for death when I am done with you," Illuvarion said. His voice was hollow. He then extended his hand, engulfed in supernatural flame, and uttered a command. "Stand." Tyelperinquar did not have a choice in this matter. He rose in the air and stood on the bed, pointing a finger a moment later.

“How dare you wear the star! Take off your armour at once!” He seemed more concerned with his family’s dignity than being magically suspended while nude.

Illuvarion snarled, and was across the room in a moment. He wrenched Tyelperinquar's arm nearly from it's socket, dragging him to hold him against a wall. Tyelperinquar’s head made a sickening thud against it.

"You speak of honour and dignity? You are a disgrace to your family and a disgrace to this crest. I bled for your family, for an age. I traded the Undying Lands for your family. Your grandfather would be ashamed to know you, and glad he died before your miserable life began. I have earned the right to wear this. You simply resulted from what I can only assume was your accursed father's indiscretions in Beleriand."

“Easy there, child.” Tyelperinquar coughed. “Your sense of honour is twisted and you seem to remain loyal to a King long dead. The Silmarils are lost, you fool. And so is your sense.”

Illuvarion laughed, then ran his sword through Tyelperinquar's shoulder, pinning him to the wall. With a flick of his wrist, the Lord of Eregion was no longer able to speak. Stripping his armored hauberk from his body then, Illuvarion knelt on the bed next to Oropher. Oropher turned, his lips split and bloodied.

“Silwe…”

Illuvarion took Oropher's face in his hand. "Shh, I am here, yes..." He kissed Oropher's forehead.‘By the Valar, what has happened here?’ he thought, and none of the answers did anything but sicken him. Oropher tried to smile at the sight of his favourite Noldo, and as he did so a trickle of red escaped the corner of his mouth. He wore that pained, frozen expression of minute happiness on his face until his gaze darkened. Illuvarion cradled Oropher's body for a moment, checking to see that he still breathed. He did what sorcery he could, quickly, to generally stop the bleeding, for he did not know exactly whence it came to heal the wound. And then, eyes dead and with flames licking his shoulders and hand, he turned his attention back to Tyelperinquar. "You may speak, coward." His voice was chilling.

“Coward? It was not I who sent a spirit in my place to bother one who did not accept your cursed ways.” Tyelperinquar scoffed, his voice strained and shoulder aching. “You chased me here for what vengeance?”

Illuvarion did not seem to hear him. He whispered some words to himself, and his left hand glowed with flame. He dragged this across Tyelperinquar's naked torso, slowly burning him. "What have you done to him?"

“The wraith…. Ghh…. Gave him something to drink… it called me here to lie with him, to watch that he did not die…”

 

“The wraith…. Ghh…. Gave him something to drink… it called me here to lie with him, to watch that he did not die…”

Illuvarion clutched Tyelperinquar's throat. "And what, bid you molest his body? Did it tell you to strip? To paint blood upon his thighs?" He slashed another burn across Tyelperinquar's torso. "What did YOU do to him? ANSWER ME, and perhaps I will not leave you to bleed to death while I watch."

Tyelperinquar laughed, struggling to breathe. “So I did. Kill me, then, and remember what you are. A kinslayer, mindless and rooted in… the past…”

"One moment," Illuvarion said. He ceased with the flame, and with sharp nails gashed a deep wound across Tyelperinquar's chest. Blood flowed immediately. He held a wine chalice against it, into which the sweet liquid pooled. "My apologies, I grew thirsty. Opening wine with one hand is difficult.”  Then he drank from the chalice. "Please. Continue insulting me. Or perhaps you would like to tell me the truth."

"I did!" cried Tyelperinquar, hissing in pain. "Ffffgh..."

Illuvarion sighed. "Fine. Let us assume I believe you. The wraith bid you come here, to ensure Oropher did not die." Hand glowing with heat, again, he put it near Tyelperinquar's eyes. "And you took advantage of the situation, yes? This is quite a lot of blood, for one who was poisoned." Perhaps a few millimeters kept Tyelperinquar from being blinded. "What did you do?"

Closing his eyes, Tyelperinquar growled. “It wasn’t poison, you overzealous fuckwit. Remove your damned hands and let me concentrate.” He’d begun to sweat.

Illuvarion sighed again. "Could you, perhaps, refrain from insulting me?" He pulled his hand from Tyelperinquar's eyes. "Learn to count to two. I have one hand." He took up the chalice again and drank from it. "I grow tired of this."

“I can count but not see, what with your fiery magic. Ugh.” Tyelperinquar shuddered, in excruciating pain. His own flesh smelt like sugar-coated bacon frying. “That wraith… had put some sort of necromantic influence into Oropher, apparently by accident earlier today. That flask there…” He gestured with his head to the nearby table, which had an empty glass flask on it. “Had a potion in it which would purge the corruption from his body, letting blood as it did so. I had to watch him so he would not bleed to death… depending on the corruption, it was likely. That was what the wraith said… and he bled from the mouth, the ass, all of it. You really think I fucked him in his sleep? Melkor’s tits. You really are jealous. I’d expected more from a Calaquendi.”

Illuvarion pulled his sword from Tyelperinquar's shoulder, and the elf crumpled to the ground. "Forgive me if I find you nude and draped about his body a bit suspicious. As for expecting more of the Calaquendi? It was not the elves of Beleriand that followed your grandfather into exile, hands wet with the blood of their kin. You will meet few of the elves of Valinor who are not tainted thus. Perhaps you should expect less."

“I expect… what I will…” Tyelperinquar clutched his shoulder, struggling to rise. He braced himself against the wall, hand over the now gushing wound. He prayed for his blood to clot quickly though it was thin and flowed fast, due to his high blood pressure. “Ugh… the one time I look after someone out of kindness, I am brought near death because of it.”

"Hold still, you idiot, I will heal you." Illuvarion passed a hand over the burns and wounds he wrought across Tyelperinquar's torso, seeing them fade as he did. "If this truly was an act of kindness, I thank you, genuinely. If it was not, and I find that you have lied to me, I will be angry. I will not harm you further, however."

Tyelperinquar said nothing and shut his eyes, back against the wall for support. Oropher meanwhile remained unconscious, his body cold. Tyelperinquar’s warmth was no longer there, after all. Illuvarion turned, no longer interested in Tyelperinquar and went back to Oropher, not bothering to hide his concern. He lay next to him, pulling his body close, and cradled his head.

"No... Please, Oropher... Come back to me." he whispered. "You are so cold."

Oropher did not move, feeling like dead weight as blood started to leak from his eyes.

Illuvarion did not hide the fact that he had begun to weep, hot tears running down his cheeks. "Please... No..." He began whispering in Valarin to himself and pulled Oropher close, trying to use his own fëa to help him cling to life. This life essence seeped from his hands and into Oropher's rather lifeless-looking body. "Oropher..." he whispered, hoarsely. "Please, my love, come back to me."

Tyelperinquar raised an eyebrow at this. “It won’t work, you know.” He shook his head. “Nothing short of the Binding Rite will.”

Illuvarion looked up, pained, and emotional. "Difficult, when one cannot gain the consent nor the participation of the other." He put his head down upon Oropher's shoulder.

“I know.” Tyelperinquar sighed. “I tried to do it for my father. Difficult indeed.”

Illuvarion was with emotion, sharp breaths scraping his throat as he tried not to sob openly. Oropher lived, but would not stop bleeding. Just how much corruption was in him, wraith-born or not?

"Ai, how... My sorcery is useless. This cannot be simply the result of that bloody wraith of mine. This is..." ‘Fuck, what do I do?’ Illuvarion looked at Tyelperinquar, wounded and scared, too tired to hide either. He said, simply, "Please, leave me, unless you have any ideas. I am not a good person, nor have I claimed to be, and I did act towards you in malice. But if I am to know closeness and then lose it, I would prefer it to be alone."

Tyelperinquar shrugged. “Fine.” He left then and went to watch the fight between Glorfindel and Gil-Galad, curious if the King would actually die.

The binding rite,’ Illuvarion thought. ‘Ai, but would it work? I do not... I do not know whether there is a soul in all Arda to match my own. We will both die, if I fail.’

Illuvarion did not know that he would successfully perform this traditional rite of binding, which usually required two awake people, but he knew of another way.  Illuvarion was of the elves of Valinor, the Calaquendi, those who had dwelt there in the beginning in the light of the Two Trees. As such, his Fëa, his spirit, burned hotter and stronger than the elves of the current age, and he knew that he could perhaps lend this to Oropher, if the Valar saw fit. An ancient and rare bit of ritual, a kind of binding and sacrifice unknown to all but the few remaining Valinorean elves in Middle-Earth. He stood, shed his clothing, and fetched a dagger from one of his chests, then slashed it across his hand. Then, returning to the bed, cut a slash upon Oropher's chest, placing his hand over it. He felt the blood seep and mix, though Oropher had lost much of his own blood already.

"I call now upon the Valar, all you who may hear this," he whispered in Valarin, their language, the ancient language of Valinor, his home. "I am Silwë of the Noldor, awakened at Cuiviénen. I bid you witness this act, born of my love for he I hope to save from death. I bind my soul now to Oropher's that he may live, until his strength returns to him and he no longer needs me in this way. I sacrifice now my own Fëa, to strengthen his, as much as I may. That what corruption he has suffered will falter, and fade." He began to feel weak. This highly dangerous, rare ritual had begun to take effect. “You taught me to love, in this short time." he whispered to Oropher, as he began to fall unconscious, and pulled him close. "That is more than enough. Please... My love, come back to me. I wish to tell you."

Illuvarion fell still, and the matter was left to the Valar.

Chapter Text

Oropher’s soft, even breathing shuddered as he woke. Feeling heavy yet with a mild flame inside his chest, he turned and found himself pressed into Illuvarion.

‘Oh…? He is asleep…’ As far as he knew, nobody had come into the room after Elrond and Illuvarion had left yesterday and he’d been asleep for hours. Illuvarion however looked so weary, Oropher wondered if he’d slept at all.

“Silwë,” he whispered as he stuck his tongue out to taste Illuvarion’s parted lips. “Mlem. Wake up.”

Illuvarion was startled awake, and though he no longer slept he was too weary to do much but open his eyes halfway.

"It... It worked." He murmured, reaching for Oropher. "You came back."

“Eh?” Oropher’s hot breath trickled over Illuvarion’s face and neck. “I… was sleeping…” He continued to lick, even as a hand came to rest over his shoulder. Illuvarion squeezed Oropher's shoulder weakly, and felt tears come to his eyes. He buried his face in the Sinda's neck, hot tears wetting the skin there.

"You... I almost lost you. So much... blood." He sighed, breath catching in his throat. "I know not what happened... The wraith... Tyelperinquar... You were so cold..."

Oropher had no idea what Illuvarion was talking about, nor why he was so outwardly emotional. He could not understand it and instead let Illuvarion hide in his neck, pulse slow and steady.

“You… warm me.”

"Good." Illuvarion tried to compose himself, with some degree of success. He nuzzled his face further against Oropher's neck, shaking slightly. "When... When I came back, you were injured. Unconscious for the most part. You had lost so much blood. That little bastard from Eregion was here. He said he was trying to help."

“Tyelperinquar…?” Oropher furrowed his brows. “I don’t remember…”

Illuvarion sighed quietly, and pulled back to look into Oropher's eyes. "It does not matter now. I... My sorcery did not help. I asked the Valar for help. They heard me."

'What do I say? It all seems so bizarre.'

Oropher didn’t know what to say either and instead pushed his face forwards, licking Illuvarion all over. He was gentle, and intent on giving many warm kisses to his new Lord and Saviour. ‘By the grace of the Valar and my only mellon, I live.’

Illuvarion flushed red, and felt an odd rush of emotion that settled heavily in his chest. Still tired, he closed his eyes and enjoyed the affection. "I did... I did what I could. What I had to."

“And I live.” Oropher murmured, then went back to kissing and now nibbling Illuvarion. Illuvarion sighed softly and ran his hand up Oropher's back. "Of this, I am glad... Mmh, that feels good..."

“It is how my people show love.” Oropher whispered, finding the words spilling out before he could think of what they were. He threw a leg over Illuvarion and brought himself close, his movements sluggish but with purpose. Illuvarion felt himself grow very still for a moment, processing Oropher's words. Then, he pulled Oropher's upper body close as well, arm hooked over the Sinda's side.

"It is a good way," he whispered, and kissed Oropher's neck.

The two elves spent an hour smooching each other, Oropher scraping his teeth here and there but not drawing blood. He was so warm and cozy with Illuvarion that he’d managed to forget the rest of the world. Namely, the fact that Gil-Galad wanted to kill him because he’d pushed him yesterday afternoon. Illuvarion, however, prone to the unfortunate Noldorin tendency towards overthinking, had not forgotten this. He said nothing, more interested in the affection Oropher was giving to him than to the plan he would need to hatch. Nibbling on the side of Oropher's ear, he thought 'How do my people even show love? We exchange jewelry, I suppose, but that is rather formal. This way seems much better.'

Oropher was content to rub himself all over Illuvarion and get so tangled up with him that he could not figure out how to pull away. With both arms around Illuvarion’s chest and his legs twined with much more slender ones, he blinked.

“I think I’m stuck.” His lips tickled Illuvarion’s ear, where they were stretching to kiss.

"I do not mind," Illuvarion whispered. He wiggled a bit at the light contact with his ear. "Although if you wish it I will help you untangle yourself."

“No.” Oropher was keeping his voice so low it could only be heard as his lips shaped around his breath. “Stay with me.” Something supernatural and compelling had him willing to stay with Illuvarion until he starved to death. He wanted to be this close to the Noldo forever. This he knew, and it worried him slightly. Illuvarion was suddenly somehow vaguely aware that something worried Oropher, but could not quite imagine what it might be. He became mildly uncomfortable as well, for reading the minds or emotions of others was not a skill he possessed. He purred quietly and nuzzled his cheek against the very affectionate Sinda's neck. "Nhh, for someone brought back from near death you are so affec..." He stopped. ‘Oh no. The ritual... Temporary, yes, but...’ "Are you... Are you well?"

Oropher looked down, then up and wriggled against Illuvarion. His muscles could be felt flexing beneath his bare skin. “I… Silwë, I feel something…”

Illuvarion felt odd, himself. "I... Feel that I should, before you tell me of your feelings, whatever they may be, explain something to you." A feeling that was mixed dread and sorrow fell upon him, and joined the heady feelings of affection and desire. ‘He... Perhaps these are my own emotions.’ "You were near death. I did the only thing I knew; an ancient and obscure ritual to... I gave my own spirit to you, that yours would not fly away. This can have... It can have consequences. It is temporary, and you will recover."

'It was the right thing to say. Why do I feel so... So hollow, at saying it? Perhaps I am unlovable after all.’

Illuvarion blinked back tears. But from Oropher, they flowed. All the way down his cheeks to Illuvarion’s neck, they did not stop. Oropher’s heart beat faster.

‘What… what is this?’ It was not blood, which he had expected. Come to think of it, he could smell blood yet it was dry and all over the place. He sniffed, and buried his face deeper into Illuvarion’s neck. His nose went into the softest place it could find, and his eyebrows brushed against smooth skin. He whined quietly. Illuvarion held Oropher's head and stroked his hair. Tears wet his own cheeks as he did the big emotion.

"I... I do not know," he said, simply. "I do not know. Perhaps it is not of my doing. I knew only that I had to save you, at any cost."

Oropher nearly shit himself then. His eyes widened and he asked, “Can you… read my thoughts?”

Illuvarion's eyes widened as well and he felt as if his heart had stopped. "Can I do what?"

Oropher pulled himself back just enough to side-eye Illuvarion. “I just… thought about something… and what you said sounded like a response to it…”

Illuvarion looked shocked. "I... I didn't realize... I thought you'd said something..." His heart beat quickly now, and his ears reddened. "This is not... I mean... I have never..."

Oropher wiped his tear streaked cheeks on Illuvarion’s face and pressed his forehead to his bonded partner’s. “We… are bonded now… in body and mind… right?”

Illuvarion felt a swell of emotion. It was not what he had intended; he had thought that he simply would lend his own fëa to Oropher, for a time. A realization dawned on him. The Valar, it would seem, had other plans.

"Yes." He felt strange. "It is not what I planned..."

“I am sorry.” Oropher closed his eyes. “That… you felt the need to do all this for me.” Then he thought to himself. ‘He did not plan this. But… if he tries to leave, I will kill him. I cannot bear for us to be apart… though I am hungry… what should I do?’

'What have I done... It was done out of necessity, but... No. It was done out of... love.' Illuvarion was still. 'Ai, i do not wish for him to feel sorry. I feel so strange.'

Oropher knew not what he wanted other than to eat something and be with Illuvarion. He made an attempt to crawl out of bed, succeeding only in pulling himself and Illuvarion to the floor. He could feel his dangly bits trapped between Illuvarion’s thighs, and blushed.

“Gnh.”

Illuvarion blushed at this as well, and helped Oropher untangle himself. Briefly, however, he put his arms around Oropher's neck and touched his forehead to the Sinda's. "Take me with you," he whispered. "I cannot bear to be apart."

“You feel it.” said Oropher, “I know you do.” He swept the sheets from the bed and wrapped it around himself and Illuvarion, who he carried out the door and down the hallway. The first servant to notice the elven blob screamed and ran away, the second stepped aside to let them pass. This definitely was weird, and Illuvarion did not know how he felt about it. 'Ai, what if... There are dangerous people about now, what to do...? And what of my clothes?'

In an answer to Oropher's statement, he simply said "I feel... something." Whatever it was, it was not something with which he was familiar. Oropher began to sprint until he reached the streets of Lindon, where he ducked into an alleyway. There he found a few conveniently placed crates of melons that were to be sold today. He crouched over a crate then knelt, placing Illuvarion into it.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

Illuvarion didn't know what to say, wrapped in a bedsheet and now in a melon crate. "No. I am not cold. A bit confused, but not cold."

“Okay.” Oropher picked up a melon and split it in his hands, giving one half to Illuvarion before eating his piece whole. “I think we should hide. The King will probably be looking for us.”

Illuvarion realized that he had yet to compose a plan. "I must retrieve a few things. I can do so after a suitable hiding place is found." He thought on this. There were many hiding places in a city such as this, all of which seemed rather obvious. And neither he nor Oropher were inconspicuous. Oropher however was only concerned with keeping Illuvarion safe and finding food, so after eating three other melons he picked up the crate holding his beloved.

“Where shall we go?”

Illuvarion was having trouble focusing on a plan; all he wanted was to find safety and lay there with Oropher, for he had grown tired of interruptions to their closeness.

"The forest, perhaps?" He asked, thinking of the densely forested area just beyond the city. "It is close, and perhaps they will not think to look there, at least not yet."

“Ah yes, nobody would think to look for a wood-elf in a forest.” Oropher shook his head and pressed a kiss to Illuvarion’s forehead, holding the crate securely. “I… have an idea. You could get your stuff from your room, wearing a disguise of some sort… and I will kill Gil-Galad.”

Illuvarion looked dubious. As much as he loathed Gil-Galad, and wished to hide him in a cave and torture him to death, he had little desire to have the High King's blood on his hands just yet. "I do not know that killing him would be the best option..." He had an idea that rather sickened him, and he thought of how best to phrase it. "We could... Ugh. We could try the port. Perhaps someone's vessel is unguarded."

'Perhaps inappropriate, what with my experience in stealing boats, but hiding in a busy port aboard a ship of some kind may be just enough 'hiding in plain sight' as to be possible.'

Oropher slowly turned away from his peeping around to look at Illuvarion, completely exasperated.

“Really?” he asked, eyebrows descending. “Really?”

"Well, now that we've gotten 'wood elf hiding in the woods' and 'noldo stealing boats' out of the way..." Illuvarion sighed. He looked at Oropher rather tenderly, a bit tired. "Ai, I just want to go somewhere and lay with you for hours, and leave all the subterfuge and... All of this... For later."

It was a rather odd admission, from one who thoroughly planned so much and relied mainly on cunning.

“Alright, then.” Oropher nodded and began to stretch his legs. “Let’s go somewhere.” He took off running a moment later, energized enough to shoot up the willow tree he often ate beneath on calmer days. He set down the crate before he started to climb, and once on the lowest branch extended his hand. “Come on.”

Illuvarion climbed up the tree, following Oropher and surprisingly unimpeded by the bedsheet he wore. Oropher climbed higher and higher until he was fully disguised amongst the white flowers and green leaves. Illuvarion, while nimble, was not accustomed to climbing trees and followed more slowly than he'd have liked, not wishing to seem incapable. He finally reached the place Oropher had chosen. A thick, curved branch with enough space for both elves to sit and/or lie. Oropher spread himself out on the branch and gestured to Illuvarion to come and lay upon his chest.

“I will keep you safe.” he said. Illuvarion gladly took this invitation, but did not fully lie down. Instead, he gently put his lips to Oropher's, and gazed into his eyes for a moment, feeling quite emotional. Oropher was still in the moment of such gentle connection, intimate and secure. He smiled at Illuvarion, his emerald green eyes showing honesty as he expressed what he felt. In his mind. ‘I love you, Silwë.’

Illuvarion blinked slowly, and realized what he had been feeling. 'And I love you.'

Oropher did not see fit to question this and merely lay, with Illuvarion atop him and all the warmth in his chest reflected in the glowing sun. Midday and melons. What could go wrong?

Illuvarion didn't especially care what could go wrong. "Ai, Oropher..." he whispered, voice somewhat strained by emotion. "This... all of this." He did not know how to finish the thought. Oropher finished it for him.

“…is fine, I suppose.” He ran his fingers through Illuvarion’s hair, smiling. ‘It feels truly natural to be up here in this tree without a shred of clothing on… just each other.’ Illuvarion made a purring sound and nuzzled his face into Oropher's chest.

"Perhaps we will finally have uninterrupted time together." He laughed softly. "How complicated I've made things."

“Indeed.” Oropher continued to stroke Illuvarion’s hair and back. It calmed him. “At least we’ll be with each other now…”

Illuvarion felt very loved, an entirely unfamiliar emotion. "I... I have never wanted anything more than this," he said, surprised at the words as they left him. He ran his hand through Oropher's hair, letting the fine, silvery strands fall through his fingers. Oropher squeaked quietly and couldn’t help but smile. “Mmm…” Illuvarion found this noise charming. He buried his face in Oropher's neck and made soft, affectionate sounds as he trailed kisses up to his ear, and nibbled on it gently. Oropher blushed at once, feeling pleasure spread through his body. He closed his eyes and sighed, his hand reaching down to grope Illuvarion’s buttocks. Or perhaps to hold him there so he did not fall. Either way, his hand was going down to town. A bit hesitant still at physical affection, Illuvarion was encouraged and somewhat emboldened by this reaction and licked Oropher's ear.

"Do you like that?"

Oropher nodded and turned his head so Illuvarion could lick him some more.

‘Nhh, my one weak spot… it feels good…’

Illuvarion took this as the invitation it was, and ran his tongue along the outside of Oropher's ear. He kissed the very tip and took it between his lips, sucking on it gently for a moment. Oropher found that his dangly bits suddenly weren’t so dangly, and he gave a wanton sigh as his whole body relaxed. He squeezed Illuvarion’s ass, dragging his nails along the soft flesh. Illuvarion gasped quietly as he felt Oropher's nails across his skin, and could definitely feel this change in status from 'dangly' to 'not so dangly' against his stomach.

Licking Oropher's ear again, he whispered "Mm, you do like that, don't you."

“I doooo…” Oropher groaned as he squirmed a little, causing a few flower petals to fall from the branches above. “I… I am… sensitive… there…”

Illuvarion purred against Oropher's ear, and writhed gently against his body. "I see..." He licked his lover's ear again, and bit his earlobe. "Mm, I love the sounds you are making." Oropher was only becoming more aroused by all this and started to whine.

“Silwë… don’t tease me…” He thrust up into Illuvarion and managed to poke him in the stomach with his length. Illuvarion was still unused to being called by his true name, and felt a hot rush of emotion at hearing it. He was also quite inexperienced at this type of physical affection; while instinct drove much of his actions he still had little innate knowledge of what he would do, and when.

He did what came to him, which was murmur seductively into Oropher's ear, seeking further instructions. "What would you have me do, melmënya?" He did not feel odd at using this word, now, for Oropher was very beloved. Oropher tugged at Illuvarion’s hair.

“Do what you do with your mouth… a little lower.” He gestured, and grinned. “I need you.”

Illuvarion purred against Oropher's chest. "I have not done this before... But perhaps you can instruct me." He felt a shiver of arousal down his spine at this idea. "I learn quickly."

Oropher thought for a moment. “I will give you the knowledge.” He closed his eyes and thought clearly of what Illuvarion needed to do, bringing to mind vivid images and techniques. He was, after all, a professional at giving the succ. Illuvarion blushed and inhaled sharply at this, not expecting any presence in his mind but his own. It would take some getting used to. He did, however, find this all quite useful, and while he was not sure of his physical ability to do this well, at least he knew the general idea. Leaving a trail of hot kisses and small bites down Oropher's stomach, Illuvarion knelt between his lover's legs and paused for a moment, admiring the Sinda's naked body. He also admired the way in which Oropher was endowed - which was to say, impressively - and experimentally traced his fingers down his length. Oropher was already hard and with a pulse like his own heartbeat against Illuvarion’s fingers.

“Grip it,” he commanded.

Illuvarion wrapped his slender fingers around Oropher's length, enthralled by the fact that his hand seemed rather small in comparison. Having only one hand to work with, he waited for further instructions. The commanding tone Oropher had just used was much more exhilarating than he had anticipated, and he felt a dull, hot ache deep within him.

“Good,” said Oropher. “Now… move.”

Illuvarion did as bidden, running his hand down Oropher's length and back up. He was impressed by the heat that radiated, and heavily aroused as well. He purred to himself, and wished that he still had his other hand, so that he could run his nails across his lover's stomach. After what he felt were a few awkward tries to get used to what he was doing, he felt as though he had found a suitable method and continued, developing a rhythm to his movements. Oropher jerked up, head rolling to one side. He nearly fell out of the tree but balanced himself quickly.

“Ooohnnn….”

Illuvarion half closed his eyes and moaned quietly, enjoying the knowledge that he was apparently doing just fine. He bent, and in a hesitant manner ran his tongue up the underside from base to tip, exceedingly gently. He watched, eyes still heavily lid, to see what effect this would have.

“Harder,” Oropher breathed. “Nh, let me feel you…”

Repeating this a few more times with much more assertive force, Illuvarion groaned -this was very, very appealing. He found his grip had tightened somewhat and the rhythmic motions he had found awkward before came much more naturally now. Without being asked he took it into his mouth. Not much, for he was still slightly unsure of himself, but nonetheless sucked gently upon it, moaning. Hearing and feeling Illuvarion, Oropher made similar sounds. His deep voice thickened with lust, he felt the need to push himself a little further. So he did, and managed to fill Illuvarion’s mouth.

Making a sound that was somewhere between a gasp and moan, and a bit unintelligible because his mouth was full, he acted rather instinctively, creating what he felt was a pleasing rhythm to his gentle licking and sucking, consuming as much of Oropher's impressive member as he could. He left what he could not swallow to his hand. He opened his eyes and looked up at Oropher. Oropher looked proudly down at Illuvarion, grunting with pleasure as the succ began.

"Yes," he whispered, "So good. More." A dark edge took his voice then as he demanded service from his lover. He didn't know where the urge had come from - Illuvarion seemed entirely willing. Illuvarion had never taken kindly to being given orders, for he was used to being the one who gave them. More so, he was entirely unused to the idea of following orders, something he wholly refused to do.

Until now, it would seem.

Now, the very tone in which this demand was made him groan and sent hot, searing pleasure through his body. Apparently, to his own surprise, he /very much/ enjoyed the following of commands in this context. He closed his eyes and moaned wantonly as he did what he was told, without question or hesitation.

Oropher petted Illuvarion's hair, smiling at him. "Good, good...." He was thrusting already into Illuvarion's mouth, adoring just how fast his lover was learning. Illuvarion felt a shiver at being petted approvingly, and attempted to shift into a position where he could accommodate the thrusts Oropher made. He moaned again, a muffled sound, all too happy to accommodate any need his lover may have. Oropher soon reached completion in Illuvarion's mouth, the attempts to please him working all too well. Trying to contain all his lover had unleashed, Illuvarion coughed, spilling a bit. He had not quite expected this, and felt that he had done well enough for a first attempt. He passed the back of his hand across his mouth, and gazed at Oropher with adoration, feeling both devoted and achingly needful. Oropher looked utterly spent and melted into the branch upon which he lay.

"Perfect," he sighed.

Illuvarion was thrilled by this. Ignoring the grating feeling of want that was inside him, he lay upon Oropher and kissed the hollow at the base of his neck. "I am glad to have pleased you thus," he purred. "I have greatly enjoyed pleasuring you."

Oropher winked. "Now, it is my turn to please you."

Illuvarion moaned, unintentionally. He had not been entirely sure whether this was how it worked. "Good," he whispered. "I need you... So badly."

"Ask of me what you wish." said Oropher, panting a little as his eyes roamed over Illuvarion's body. Illuvarion paused at this. "I... Do not know." 'Damn my inexperience.’ Oropher began to giggle, still euphoric from his climax moments prior.

"Then I will have to show you." He pulled Illuvarion down and began to kiss him, savagely grunting and sighing with pleasure. Inhaling sharply at this, Illuvarion was quite happy to return Oropher's kiss. His was also savage, though he had not intended it to be so, and he raked his hand across Oropher's back. Oropher twisted himself to one side, trying to flip positions but ended up falling down to another branch, where he clung on with his legs.

"Ah! Silwë, um..." He looked rather embarrassed. "Join me down here?"

Illuvarion laughed, and climbed down. "Be careful. This sorcerer is quite done for the day. When it comes to sorcery, that is."

Oropher wiggled his ass around once he'd gotten himself around the branch, raising himself for Illuvarion to see. "Mhm. Well, would you like some of this?"

Illuvarion growled, driven by a very primal need to sate himself — yet another feeling with which he was unfamiliar. Words unsaid burnt in his mind, ‘I do not even know how to please myself, ai, what am I doing?' Aloud, his passion drove him, and he whispered with burning need "Yes. I would."

"Then come and get it." Oropher raised his ass further by arching his back, looking as inviting as he could His hair spilled down his sides and his muscles flexed in anticipation.

Illuvarion stretched his body atop Oropher's for a moment, kissing the back of his neck. "You will forgive me, I hope, as I do not know what I am doing. I... Pleasure is not something I am acquainted with." ‘Well, no time like the present to be honest about having the experience of an elfling.

"Then we'll have to change that." Oropher threw a sultry look at his lover. "Come. I am ready for you."

Illuvarion kissed the back of Oropher's neck again. "Mm, and I am ready for you." He moaned quietly as he took his lover from behind, and held for a moment, eyes closed. Besides the few moments the day before, Illuvarion had not had any experience in the receiving of physical pleasure; not by his own hand nor the efforts of anyone else.

He breathed, sharply. "It is new to me. This feeling. Mmh, you feel good."

Oropher was pretty stimulated and whimpered, clinging to the tree. "Nnnnh...."

Instinct took over and made up for the lack of practical experience, as Illuvarion rocked, gently at first, against Oropher. He clawed his hand into his lover's side, panting, driven to a faster rhythm. "How have... I never... Known this?" he whispered, almost to himself.

Oropher could only groan in reply, his inner channel squeezing Illuvarion with every thrust. The tree branch creaked as if it was going to snap but it remained strong, and hundreds of flower petals rained down on the two elves. For a while, growling deep in his chest, Illuvarion found the pleasure he had denied himself within his lover's body. The physical, primal, sexual satisfaction burned him within, however, in a most achingly beautiful way; a way most unfamiliar and intoxicating. Restraining himself from crying out so as not to attract prying eyes and ears. Illuvarion found within Oropher the release he sought. The suddenness and intensity almost frightened him. Shaking, he sank forward with his black hair spilling across Oropher's lower back. He was very still, but his quiet panting and occasional shivers indicated that he was not unconscious or dead.

Oropher was filled deep inside and felt so content he could just lay on this branch with Illuvarion in his ass forever. He sighed softly, closing his eyes. Perhaps ten minutes passed before Illuvarion was willing to move. He slipped from Oropher's body, breaking a physical connection in a way that made him feel almost sorrowful. But he stretched his body across the nude, content Sinda's, and nuzzled his head into his neck. "Is this... How it always is?" he whispered, almost reverently, pressing kisses against the side of Oropher's neck. "I hadn't... I mean. Release of this sort is... It is not anything I have felt before."

"Mm, it usually feels this good." Oropher enjoyed the kisses and smiled. "Better, now that I am with you."

Illuvarion kissed him a few more times, and unfamiliar words came to him. "Mm, you are the only one I would ever want."

"Good." Oropher licked his lips. "I would kill anyone who dared stand between us."

"You are perfection, melmënya." Illuvarion whispered, echoing the words he had breathed into Oropher's ear the first time they were together.

Oropher blushed deeply, Illuvarion's words seeping into his heart. "Only for you."

Illuvarion traced his finger down the side of Oropher's face. "Perhaps," he said, quietly, "It makes up for my own imperfection."

Oropher shook his head. "Don't say that. I want you because you make me feel like more than a beast. Nobody but a perfect being can do this."

Illuvarion felt something inside him melt. "Maybe there is some perfection in us both, unseen, then," he whispered. "For it is all we see in each other."

"Yea." Oropher squeaked, shifting around. "Hng! Lemme get up..."

Illuvarion slid off of Oropher, allowing him to move freely. He smiled, in a quiet and peaceful way.

Oropher moved to sit on the branch with his legs dangling over either side. His nipples had been scratched a bit but otherwise he was fine. He rubbed his ass around, sighing.

"Mm.. I'll have to get you to do that to me more often."

Illuvarion moved quite gracefully to sit with his back to Oropher, and leaned his head back to look sideways at him. "Any time." He kissed Oropher's cheek and made a low, affectionate noise. "And I will gladly provide you with any pleasure you may want, as well."

"You really do learn fast." 'Faster than me, anyway.' Oropher wrapped his arms around Illuvarion's waist and held him tight.

"Well, I have an incredible teacher to thank." Illuvarion let his right arm fall to his side, but put his left over Oropher's, covering one of his hands. "I have come to you knowing nothing."

"You know more than me in everything else, Silwë." Oropher nibbled the back of Illuvarion's head. "I only know what my body does."

Illuvarion laughed fondly at the nibbling. "I will teach you anything, melmënya. Anything at all. Reading, writing, counting, Quenya, whatever you wish to know."

"In time." Oropher thought of gaining Noldorin smarts and it seemed like a distant dream.

Illuvarion nuzzled against Oropher's neck again, placing a gentle kiss there. "We have time. I am not going anywhere." ‘Least of all to Valinor. Ai, stop that.’

"I want to." Oropher muttered.

Illuvarion looked sideways at Oropher again. "You want to... to go where?"

"Somewhere where nobody can bother us. Away from here."

Illuvarion nodded. Gondolin, Doriath, it was all gone. Both his adopted home and Oropher's true one. Valinor... That was lost too, at least to Illuvarion. "We have lost our homes," he said.

"I never really had one." said Oropher, mewling sadly. "Ooh... but..." Then he pressed his face into Illuvarion's neck. "I want to find one with you. "

Illuvarion blushed. "You... You do?" The idea that someone, even someone to whom he was bonded, would wish to live with him, find a home... It was so foreign.

Oropher nodded. "Somewhere among the trees, where there are no Kings and no guards and no..." his voice trailed off. A memory flashed in his mind.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Down marble-tiled halls lined with all manner of fineries, Gil-Galad lead Oropher to his own chambers. The few guards standing around took one look at their King’s face and the blank confusion on Oropher’s, minding their own businesses not a moment too soon. Oropher glanced at Gil-Galad walking to his left and just a little ahead of him, back straight and shoulders squared. His chest was puffed out as if he had something to be proud of, and Oropher guessed it was because he was finally going to punish him. There were two statues of Gil-Galad on each side of the door and Oropher wondered where they’d come from. It had only been a month since his arrival. As if noticing Oropher’s gaze despite having his back turned, Gil-Galad gestured.

“So you remember which room to return to at night.”

“Oh, fuck you.” Oropher shook his head. Gil-Galad wasn’t having any of it and reached to grab his guard by the neck and was surprised when Oropher didn’t dodge.

‘The damn fool doesn’t know what he’s in for, does he?

Standing just outside Gil-Galad’s chambers, Oropher stiffened as his neck was squeezed. This was Gil-Galad squeezing as hard as he wished, testing how much control he had. To Oropher, it felt like the hand of a baby squeezing his index finger. In silence he looked at Gil-Galad and tried to read his face. It wasn’t hard. A mixture of shock and distaste snarled at the Noldo’s lips, while his eyes went wide and their grey depths took on a sheen of ice blue. Suddenly Oropher was jerked into the room, Gil-Galad kicking the door open and pulling with all his strength.

“Urgh, you’re heavy.” Gil-Galad attempted to throw Oropher onto the bed, and the moment he released him there was a thump as Oropher grounded himself. Steady and controlled as always, Oropher turned his upper body to look at Gil-Galad in a slow, questioning manner. His face held nothing but suspicion, and even then it could only be seen in the subtle tightening of his eyes. The door shut by itself.

“My tact will be wasted on you, so I’ll get to the point. Undress.” Gil-Galad began taking the rings off his fingers, and Oropher twitched his own in an unconscious mirroring action. There was no response aside from the gentle tilt of Oropher’s head. Gil-Galad sighed, frustration and a growl edging his sharp breath. “Valar, have you grown denser? Strip for me, beast. I demand it of you.”

The polished wood floor creaked beneath Oropher’s languid footsteps and tension could be seen in his broad, muscular shoulders. He stopped just inches from Gil-Galad’s face, his back towards the grand canopy bed.

“How about I crush your filthy little face until the shards of your skull poke your lecherous eyes out? Would you like that, your Majesty?” How deeply he growled each word out in a slurred stream almost gave the impression that he was drunk. In reality, he was trying his hardest to keep his anger in check. He’d been putting up with Gil-Galad’s insults and general assholery for the entire day, and was near the point where he needed to break rocks apart with his bare hands while screaming at the sky to expel his rage. His breath came hot and furious through his nose, so fierce that Gil-Galad could feel it at his own exposed neck.

“Oh, you savage old oaf. Come now, don’t make this harder than it needs to be.” Gil-Galad laughed out loud as he ran a finger along his neck, dipping it into the folds of his many-layered collar. “Surely even an imbecile like you can understand that if you do so much as lay a hand on me, my guards will exterminate you before you can even say ‘Hi Mandos, sorry for bothering you but… Oh, look at that. I’ve been impaled.’

Oropher watched the finger-across-neck gesture and knew it was meant to be a threat. Oropher did not understand nor know fear, at least not yet. He knew unease from when he was waiting for this day but fear? No. He would die without knowing it, probably. It just wasn’t a part of his mental capacity to feel such a thing.

“What, you want to stick your spear up my ass again? That what you want, you filthy fuck?” Oropher spat at Gil-Galad, his voice beginning to rise. “Won’t feel a thing, believe me. It’s like you’re asking to die. Don’t touch me.” There was no action with his words as Gil-Galad had expected. Oropher’s hands trembled with forced restraint and it seemed as if he was going to pop a blood vessel, or at least have an aneurysm. The most infuriating smile Oropher had ever seen spread across Gil-Galad’s face and oh, how he wanted to rip those lips off.

“You’re not going to do anything to me, and I’d prefer it if you shut your crude little mouth, love.” Gil-Galad reached to undo the laces of his own pants and Oropher glanced down, reactions a little delayed.

What… is going on…?’

This time he let Gil-Galad push him. Like a great, ancient tree he fell back onto the bed and heard it creak in protest. There he lay, looking up at the star-embroidered canopy above his head. The King was upon him in seconds after having grabbed something from the table nearby. Oropher glanced to see a whip in Gil-Galad’s hand with a blade sticking out of the handle. Alarm pushed through the sluggish acceptance in his head and he grabbed Gil-Galad’s wrist. The blade went up one of his fingernails before he could break any bones. His sweet, metallic blood flowed down into his hand and down his wrist until Gil-Galad leaned to lick it up.

He wants to cut me up and eat me, right? Huh. I thought only the Laiquendi did that.’

‘You absolute piece of shit. He’s going to FUCK YOU IN THE ASS.’

“Ah…” Oropher opened his mouth to speak and was fiercely backhanded with all Gil-Galad’s strength. It was quite a lot, and he actually felt the impact on his cheek inside his mouth. He definitely had sensation there.

“Shush.” Gil-Galad said nothing after that and rolled Oropher over, seething under his breath about how difficult this was. Oropher could not be faulted for having heavy bones and thick muscles. He wanted to mock Gil-Galad’s weakness and say that if he couldn’t handle someone greater than him, maybe he should end his own life, but the wor\ds did not come. Now with his face in a pillow, Oropher’s hands were pinned above him. He could wrench them away at any time, but did not. Gil-Galad knew this and chose not to restrain him. It was much more enjoyable to mentally dominate the strongest elf on Arda, while taking whatever he wished. With his thick, warm fingers he pulled down Oropher’s breeches and gave him a harsh slap on the thigh.

“Stop laying there, you lazy clod. Get up and bend for me.

Oropher made no motion to show he was listening or even giving a shit, and Gil-Galad growled. “Do you want me to cut all your clothes off and leave you to run away naked?”

The sweeping muscles of Oropher’s legs clenched as he raised himself just a little. It was enough for Gil-Galad to yank his breeches all the way to his knees and leave them there, at the same time grabbing a pillow to keep Oropher up with. It was rather soft however, and would probably not do much.

“Take off your tunic.”

Oropher complied. His motions looked like he could not bear to move his own body at all, and there was a heaviness settling down in his mind. The more Gil-Galad asked of him, the less he found his tongue sharp and ready to throw back some scathing wit. Did he even have any wits? He did not know. He did not think. Oropher’s back was numb by the time Gil-Galad had finished flaying him. No voice came from his lips and barely a breath could be heard from his nose. With eyes shut, he kept his face buried in the pillow.

The first intrusion was an unwelcome one as Gil-Galad shoved the sharp end of his whip into Oropher’s ass. He cut enough to spill blood for convenience’s sake, thinking Oropher so far beneath him he did not deserve soothing, sensual oils. There was murder in his eyes beneath his fine, furrowed brows as Gil-Galad fucked his guard like a dog, attacking him from behind with his accursed blade all the while. Oropher stayed in his position and did not move.

When Gil-Galad lay sated with his sheets bloodied and Oropher still with nothing to say, he shook his head, smiling.

“Get out. I’m done with you.” The ever-unfeeling Oropher sat up then and Gil-Galad eagerly watched his face for any signs of pain. There were none.

Oropher made sure Gil-Galad had closed his eyes before he stole a cloak from a hanger nearby and wrapped it around himself, seeking to hide from the watchful Noldor. He did not think to hold his head high and stick out his chest while marching away in long, proud strides. He did not feel like a champion any more. Strangely enough with the warm, thick blood seeping through the clothes at his back and behind, he was cold. Shivers wracked his huge, hunched form the further he walked, and on purpose he avoided contact with any other elves which proved to be difficult in this densely-populated kingdom. Only when he was away from the palace did he find a secluded grassy place to lie down in and be still. There he lay until the night came, and he felt his body begin to heal.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Illuvarion shuddered involuntarily, trying to shake the images away. "Oh, Oropher..." he whispered, and pressed his face into Oropher's neck. "My love..,"

Now with necks and faces all smooshed together, Oropher could squeeze Illuvarion even tighter. He did so until he felt well enough to speak. "You... didn't have to see that. Sorry."

"There are many things which perhaps we do not wish each other to see." Illuvarion felt a deadening upon him, as he attempted to block the memory he knew was rising. ‘Let the ships burn.’ He shook his head. "But... But I suppose that we are, in many ways, each other, now."

"I suppose." ORopher was getting flashes of some spooky shit, and tried his best to ignore it. He knew these were Illuvarion's private thoughts.

Illuvarion leaned back in Oropher's arms. "I will admit to you that you will frequently see things within my mind you do not want to see or things you do not understand. It is my way. But some things..." He softened, and then smiled, thinking of Gondolin for a moment. He then whispered, "If you would like, I will... I will show you my home."

Oropher opened his mind and said, "Show me."

Illuvarion closed his eyes and thought for a moment, but what came to mind was not Gondolin. At first there were hazy images of stars and misty seas, white beaches; but then they grew clearer. Dense forests and rolling fields, a great white city of golden roofs and bells and silver streets; harbors upon the shimmering grey seas, and fantastic gardens full of life. Glittering pools, fountains. And the two great trees Laurelin and Telperion, gold and silver, bathing all the land in their light, before the moon and sun were made. Valinor.

Illuvarion thought a moment, and brought to mind someone. Black hair, silvery eyes, tall and uncorrupt, smiling. A smithing hammer in one hand, sitting on a bridge with a cat sleeping lazily next to him. ‘That is me. Or was.’

Illuvarion opened his eyes, and sighed. Oropher looked thoroughly astounded and was speechless, his admiration felt through the bond he shared with Illuvarion. Illuvarion smiled. "It was my home." He laughed quietly, thinking of the lazy, orange cat. "My cat's name was Airwë. It means Orange."

"Creative, hm?" Oropher laughed too. So did Illuvarion, a bit harder.

"Oh, yes. Our first High King was Finwë, he had three sons, all of whom he also named Finwë. The eldest, whom you know as Fëanor, had seven sons, and he named them all Finwë as well. We are a creative people, are we not?"

“Very.” Oropher buried his face into Illuvarion’s hair, muffling his deep amusement. “Mhueheuhuhueeh. Ai, you Noldor.”

"I am indeed." Illuvarion squeezed Oropher's hand. "Ai, my heart feels so very full. And to show you my home, it nearly breaks it with joy."

“Valinor truly is a beautiful place.” said Oropher, feeling very little of the hand squeeze but recognizing it nonetheless. “I’ve never been there. Only around Doriath and here, in Lindon.”

Illuvarion breathed out sharply. "My visit to Doriath was not pleasant. But I know it to be beautiful, from what I am told."

“It was nice enough.” Oropher did not smile. He fell silent a moment after. Illuvarion took Oropher's hand, and ran it along the highly scarred flesh up his side.

"I have souvenirs of my visit."

Oropher stroked the scars, inspecting them as he craned his neck to look. Then he rubbed his chest against Illuvarion’s back, his nipples poking out. “Me too. From hunting in the forest, and encounters with the King’s guards.”

Illuvarion was silent, trying hard to suppress the memories of his violent months confined in the dungeons of Menegroth. He tilted his head back to rest upon Oropher's shoulder. "I do not know what befell you there, and I shudder to know what has befallen you here. But I know that I will ever be grateful that I have somehow found you."

“Me too. You are the only one who has challenged what the King.. Gil-Galad… has done to me.”

"I am the only one, I would imagine, with the abilities to do so and live. The only one in this city who could hurt me is you." Illuvarion said, matter-of-factly. "And... And you do not wish to."

“No.” Oropher shook his head. “I do not want to hurt you… which is why you must have your armour on when I touch you.”

Illuvarion shrugged. "I rarely am without it. Sorcerers are not a welcome sort of folk in many places. And I am not a very likable sorcerer, at that." He softened, and quietly said "I will teach you to touch me gently enough that it is unnecessary, melmënya."

“You will…?” Oropher couldn’t believe anyone would be willing to teach him the near impossible – but here Illuvarion was, offering. “I… will be glad.”

"Of course. Anything." Illuvarion smiled. He looked back into Oropher's eyes, thoughtfully, and asked what seemed a slightly odd question. "Why do you call me Silwë?"

Oropher tilted his head to the side. "It's your name, isn't it?" He still had the hair stick with the engraved name twirled up in his long silvery locks

"It is." Illuvarion smiled at this. "It is just... For my people, names are rather important; we often take many. This is the name I was given first, it is my true name. Being that I had no others, I used it for many years, both here and in Valinor. I abandoned it when I fled Gondolin, and for these many years have found it loathsome to hear it spoken. But... You are the first I have granted permission to use it; it has been abandoned nearly an age. I... It is something one tells to their family, and those they love. I knew not whether you would call me this, or just know that it was my name. Most who know it, still call me by Illuvarion, my chosen name." Illuvarion blushed furiously, and was quiet for a while. "You cannot understand how happy it makes me to hear you speak it."

“As long as you are happy.” said Oropher, and snuggled with his beloved. “My precious Silwë. Meleth nín.”

Illuvarion closed his eyes, and smiled. He was too emotional at this to say anything for a time. He felt overly full of emotion, most of it dazzlingly good. It was an unusual, but very welcome, feeling. One he treasured, now.

"Melmënya." he said, echoing Oropher's sentiment in Quenya. "I love you, Oropher."

Chapter Text

Gil-Galad lay in bed while Elrond tended to his wounds. It seemed like only half an hour ago Glorfindel had been shirtless and screaming “Ay Gil ya shit cunt stop killin me mates" whereas really, it had been two days. Brought from the brink of death and absolute humiliation to a state of precarious stability, the High King was higher than usual. Elrond had given him some suspiciously purple mushroom soup to eat and it had eased his pain. It had also made him bubblier than a boiling pot of cheese, and he giggled when Elrond touched his forehead.

“Oh, Elrond… mhehhehehe, are you going to lie with me now?”

“You need rest, my King.” Elrond’s weary face and exasperated tone were all he could maintain at present. ‘If you don’t want to rest I’ll put you in the fucking ground, quicker than you can say Círdan’s Crispy Cranium.’

Gil-Galad made a soft “Mheee…..” and smiled. He wasn’t hotter or colder than usual and while his wounds were closing up, he was in no condition to be walking around. Elrond knew there were people who wanted him dead. It was his duty as the King’s herald to keep him safe, in Oropher’s absence. Tyelperinquar had left, seeing the imminent downfall of Lindon and wanting nothing to do with it. In Eregion, everyone would be waiting for news of the kingdom. It was ‘fine’, and Tyelperinquar was still in the King’s favour, thus able to remain the Lord of a wealthy land. In reality, Gil-Galad was more fucked than Oropher’s muscly ass.

Now that Tyelperinquar was out of the picture, Elrond could focus on the matters at hand.

“Sleep.” Elrond stroked Gil-Galad’s hair. “I must address the people in your absence.” The King still had a little corruption running through his body and it would take some time for him to master it. This could not be easily removed, not by Elrond’s craft. He could not speak to the citizens of Lindon with a sickly purple glow about him, a darkness in his eyes and a gravely depth to his voice. ‘He’s turning into a wight. I can only hope he is strong enough to overcome this.’

“I am afraid.” said Gil-Galad, fear quirking his eyebrows before his lips split into a wide smile. “Stay with me, my dear Elrond.”

“I can’t.” Elrond shook his head, finely braided hair falling like heavy ropes over his shoulders. “There is work to be done.”

 

~

 

Oropher sat in the melon crate cradling Illuvarion close to his chest. With the bedsheet over them both and his back unable to feel the hard wood digging into his flesh, he took the position of mattress. Illuvarion snoozed lightly, cheek pressed against a thick, warm pectoral muscle. He could hear Oropher’s heartbeat and feel him breathing. Thick white and green willow fronds disguised them from distant prying eyes. Illuvarion cracked one eye open and looked around, awakened partially by some distant noise. 'What time is it? How long have I been asleep?'

The midday sun filtered through the flowers and leaves, reflecting off the nearby river. Melons were strewn about, evidence of what the two elves had eaten in the past few days. Oropher looked very serious as he slept, brows furrowed and thin lips pursed. Finding Oropher's serious demeanor in his sleep quite charming, Illuvarion did not want to wake him. 'Have they not come looking?' He smiled in spite of himself, watching his lover sleeping, and snuggled closer to him. 'Ai, this cannot last. I must make a plan. One that involves no further bloodshed, I hope...' He seemed to have lost his taste for any further violence – it rarely brought good things to light. After torturing and threatnening his way to this strained peace, Illuvarion knew he had to think of something. Oropher meanwhile remained asleep until he was rested enough to wake. Upon cracking his eyes open he found a bee sitting on his nose, which he waved away before it plarped him. He looked around.

“Mnh…?”

Illuvarion leaned forward a bit and kissed Oropher's cheek. "You are awake," he said. "If only I could sleep as soundly." He was not unaccustomed to sleeping; in fact, it was one of the few activities he enjoyed. But he was unaccustomed to sleeping in a melon crate and basically in the open. He surmised that the spooky method of obfuscating his presence had worked. He knew this would be of use in the very near future.

“I die when I sleep.” said Oropher, yawning. “I do not dream.” His cheeks reddened a little for he was still unused to being kissed at all. “Silwe… what will we do today?”

Illuvarion kissed Orpher's cheek again. "Mm, I have considered the options, and none of them seem ideal..." He rested his head on Oropher's shoulder. He knew that perhaps the next words would be unwelcome, and sighed. "We must return, you know."

He loathed himself for saying this, but he was driven hard by an ingrained sense of loyalty. Not to the king, whom he hoped would fall down a hole and die, but to his people; he had served the Noldor for the entirety of his life - since before time was counted. But he also burned inside with his devotion to Oropher, new and unfamiliar yet consuming.

"I must do something..." He sighed again, and buried his face in Oropher's neck. Oropher squeaked.

“Hnnn…. You could just let me handle it. How about we kill the King, let Elrond rule and then run away?”

Illuvarion said nothing for a time, and was deep in thought. "We cannot. By right, it may go to Tyelperinquar, for he is directly descended of Fëanor, the second high king. He is useless." He sat back and ran his fingers down the side of Oropher's face, looking into his eyes with a mixture of sadness and resignation, but also pride. "My... My people would fall to ruin, melmënya.”

“Alright.” said Oropher. “Then we kill Tyelperinquar too.”

Illuvarion furrowed his brow briefly and looked away. Oropher tilted his head to the side.

“What, you want him to live?”

Illuvarion looked back, but also down. "I do not wish that either of those two idiots draw breath for even another day. But in my life, many times, I have done things I did not wish in the service of my people." 'Some of them you did gladly, liar.' He fought back images that threatened to become seen. 'Let the ships burn.' Illuvarion shook his head to clear it. 'NO.' His mind calmed. "I do not know what to do."

“Then I guess I will have to lead the way.” Oropher stood and promptly cracked his back over the edge of the melon crate, falling into a crumpled pile on the grass. “HRGH!”

"Are you injured?!" Illuvarion gasped, and knelt at Oropher's side.

“Agh, I’ll live.” Oropher sat up with some effort and groaned. “Ngh, my back… I’m getting too old for this shit.”

Illuvarion made to press his hands together, and was reminded again that he still had but one hand. Still, he held his left hand out towards Oropher, and then, moving close to him, ran his hand up the Sinda's back. An odd trail of glimmering light followed it then faded.

"Is this better?" he asked, and kissed Oropher's neck. Now without as much pain and a little healed, Oropher nodded.

“Mhm… thank you.” He turned his face to kiss Illuvarion’s forehead, then sniffed his hair. It was warm atop Illuvarion’s head, and Oropher buried his nose there for a few moments. When he pulled away, he’d made a decision. ‘I know what I will do.’

Illivarion stood, stretching in a catlike way. "If nothing else, I must find clothing." He laughed. "It would not do for me to run about nude. At least, not through the streets of Lindon."

“Then find something, or wear this.” Oropher wrapped Illuvarion in the bedsheet, standing up straight. He stretched too and sighed.

Illuvarion shrugged. "For now, I will simply hide the both of us from sight. I have no qualms with nudity." He flicked a wrist, murmuring some things in his native tongue. A misty, sorcerous obfuscating cloak enveloped the two elves. "I suppose it is time."

 

~

 

Gil-Galad sat on his throne. It was late in the afternoon and the effects of Elrond’s healing had worn off enough for him to sit and be serious. People were coming up and asking him all sorts of things and Glorfindel, as usual, was drunk. He did not respect his King, and Gil-Galad quietly feared for his life.

‘Where in the name of Morgoth’s cheesy toenails is Oropher?’

Suddenly the huge golden doors opened and Oropher strode into the throneroom, wearing nothing but skintight green leggings.

“High King of the Noldor Gil-Galad!” he shouted in Quenya, pointing an accusing finger straight at the shocked King. “I challenge you to the gurth’dagor!”

Gil-Galad rose from his throne, grabbing his spear. His guards tensed, all armoured and unwilling to see more blood shed in this space. “The what da what?” That had been Sindarin. Oropher took a moment to translate and continued storming forth.

“A battle to the death! YOU and ME. FIGHT ME!” To the entire court’s surprise, he did not sprint towards Gil-Galad and rip his head off. He stopped short of the central star in the throneroom’s floor and squared his shoulders, breathing heavily. Gil-Galad went down the steps beyond his throne, boots clicking against white marble.

“Why do you not attack at once?” He tilted his head to the side, highly suspicious. “You are a savage beast, unarmed and volatile. Why do you turn against me?”

“You killed Círdan. He was ancient and wise and a much better leader than you. I will not let anyone else in this kingdom condemn themselves by doing what must be done – today, you will die.”

“I am no kinslayer, Oropher.” Gil-Galad put his hands out in an open gesture, only to have his spear pushed into the left. He glanced at Elrond in shock. “What…?”

“You must fight him, your Majesty. Or you will shame us all.” In Elrond’s eyes a raw grief glistened, could be seen in the hardening of steel grey. Círdan had been a father figure to him, if momentarily. He had loved him.

Gil-Galad took his spear and growled. “Armour.” His guards obeyed and soon he was covered in full plate mail with only a golden circlet to protect his head. He smirked, but it was false.

“I will defeat you then, and trust in a more loyal companion to guard me. I should have known to choose better than a filthy, savage Sinda.”

His words hurt rather than insulted and Oropher’s brows went up. “You have commanded rather than earned my loyalty. I ask you, what loyalty is that? Fear of punishment? Of your fingers, your spear, your whip? No.” Oropher shook his head, took a deep breath and exhaled. “Elrond will witness this gurth’dagor, as will the rest around here.” He turned around. “Today you will see your King die.”

There were murmurs of agreement rather than dissent. Someone shouted from the balcony, “Kill him!” and another cheered, “For the Noldor!”

Looking around, Gil-Galad’s face fell. “What? Why do you support him? I am your King, have protected you since the day of my crowning, have--”

“Slain your mentor, abused your guard, shamed your people.” Illuvarion counted on his fingers as he walked through the crowd of elves clustered around the throneroom doors. “Yes, you’ve done much. But no longer.” Oropher turned at the sound of Illuvarion’s voice. In Quenya still he spoke.

“Do not heal me until he is dead.” He pointed to Gil-Galad, facing him now. Then he put forth his final demand. “Fight me. To the death.

“TO THE DEATH!” cried Glorfindel, working up a chant with the drunken elves on the balcony. “TO THE DEATH! TO THE DEATH! TO THE DEATH!”

Gil-Galad had never heard anything like this before. He pointed his spear at Oropher and then took a defensive position. “Fine.”

Oropher sprinted right at him, dodging the moment he saw the King move to stab him. He rolled on the ground and crouched, springing up to grab at Gil-Galad’s throat. Gil-Galad tilted his whole body aside but Oropher was large enough to be pulled by gravity right on top of him. They wrestled on the ground, Gil-Galad trying to close-combat the master of brutal kills. Oropher punched him hard in the chest and broke through his armour, the breastplate now with a huge hole in it. He pulled Gil-Galad’s robes through the hole and threw him across the room, growling. Gil-Galad got right up and began running towards Oropher, sweeping his spear from side to side. Oropher could not run fast enough aside and was slashed across the stomach before Gil-Galad got close enough to shoulder him. Face to face with the High King, Oropher clutched his stomach as his innards spilled out. Gil-Galad looked triumphant for a split second before Oropher sidestepped and got behind him. Pulling out his own intestines, Oropher looped his guts around Gil-Galad’s neck with his teeth grit in pain. Blood poured from his belly as he fiercely choked the King, grunting hot breaths in and out. Gil-Galad gasped for breath and scrambled to pull his restraints away, the sheer force of Oropher’s pulling drawing his head back. He sank his fingernails into the bared intestinal tissue and tore it apart, only to begin screaming as hot acid spilled all over his hands and neck. Free from being strangled to death he realised he’d dropped his spear but could not pick it up, hands now bone and a bit of muscle.

“AIIIiEEEEEE!!” he shrieked, sizzling flesh and a sour scent enveloping his senses. “SHIT!”

Oropher took this opportunity to punch Gil-Galad in the chest, sending him to the ground. He jumped on the King in a flurry of blood and rage and began tearing his armour apart, just enough to get his hands on flesh. Gil-Galad’s spasming kicks did little to push Oropher away, who was now determined to see him dead. The Sinda, with wild lust in his eyes, smashed through Gil-Galad’s ribs with his right hand. He stood, holding a still beating heart. Victory.

Chapter Text

The room was still, so still that if someone had dropped a pin or pebble, all would hear it. Even Glorfindel, who had watched with drunken revelry, had shut up. Everyone, in fact, at Oropher's gory, horrifying (yet somehow satisfying) victory, had shut up. Gil-Galad's mangled corpse lay on the floor, nearly unrecognizable. He on the best of days would have been no match for his former bodyguard. The stillness, though not the silence, was broken as Illuvarion, clad in long, formal black robes, stepped forward. He clicked his tongue at the remains of the High King, and though he held his hand out to the corpse, he turned and gave Oropher a smile.

"Please stand back, melmënya," he whispered. "It is dangerous."

Turning back to the corpse, now glowing faintly with a blue light, he examined the wounds remaining. Whispers began to move about the edges of the room. Had some wounds faded? 'Mm, it was good that I thought ahead.'

Illuvarion concentrated, holding his arms in such a way that if he had two hands, they would be pressed together. Silver and gold light enveloped him, and he threw his left hand into the air and then down, as if he were slamming it upon a table. There was a great howling, and then silence again. Lightning struck. The room went pitch black for a few moments, and when light found it again, the High King's body lay undamaged, though wrapped in the useless rags that once were his clothing. More silence. And then, Gil-Galad gasped as though he'd reached air from the depths of the ocean, and sat bolt upright. Oropher’s eyes widened.

“Didn’t I just kill you?”

Gil-Galad looked terrified. "Y...yes? Maybe?"

Illuvarion had turned his attention to Oropher, who was badly wounded. As the sorcerer whispered arcane words to him in Quenya, he began to heal. His guts went back into his body, whole and clean. His blood stopped spilling everywhere and though tired, he still had the energy to fight. He pointed his finger at Gil-Galad.

“If you fuck with me again, I’ll send you to Mandos for real.” He then tugged at Illuvarion’s sleeve. “Let’s go.”

Illuvarion looked at Gil-Galad. "I have saved your life this day, which I found loathsome. I can assure you, I will not do so again." He took Oropher's arm. "Come, let us retire to our quarters. I wish to bathe and to lie next to you in a true bed, unbothered."

Oropher nodded and went with Illuvarion to the second floor, where free from prying eyes they bathed and relaxed. Gil-Galad’s servants had already made the place accomodating after the previous scuffle in there, and there was a roaring fire warming up the room. Illuvarion stretched out upon clean sheets, hair still wet.

"It would seem that all it takes to gain favor in Lindon is to assassinate the king, and return him to life," he laughed quietly. "Mm, come here." He reached with his one hand for Oropher, who took his hand and kissed it gently.

“I’m here.” Oropher snuggled closer to Illuvarion on the sheets, laying down beside him. Illuvarion sighed, and it was apparent that he was more tired than he looked. He nuzzled his face against Oropher's chest.

"You were magnificent," he whispered, though that was definitely not what most people would have called the prior carnage. "So beautiful."

“I try.” Oropher blushed deeply, all the way to the tips of his ears. He wrapped his legs and arms around Illuvarion, squeezing him into the muscled warmth of his own body. “Mmmm… I’ve been waiting so long to kill him.”

Illuvarion looked pleased. "You did so admirably," he purred. "Ai, I do regret that I could not let him stay dead. But I would hope having his heart torn from his body will be a valuable lesson."

Wiggling happily against Oropher's body, he made quiet affectionate noises. "I expect he will be confused and perhaps make demands. I would ask you refrain from sending him to Mandos, there has been kin-slaying enough in Lindon these last few days."

“Fair enough.” said Oropher, “I didn’t plan to kill him again, anyway. I’m taking you somewhere far from here.”

Illuvarion tried hard to focus on Oropher's words. "Somewhere..." 'Kinslaying.' He shut his mind against the images. 'No.' "Some... Where..." He shook his head, almost frantic. 'NO. FOCUS.' The hazy images came. Illuvarion shut his eyes. Oropher bit Illuvarion’s nose then and growled at him.

“You’re getting distracted. Just don’t worry, okay? I’ll take you East, where there’s a huge forest far away from any other elves.”

-Illuvarion stood in his armour, at the end of a short pier. The havens burned, a sickening red light fell upon the clouds mixed with smoke. Few lived still; wreckage and bodies filled the streets. Then an elf barely more than an elfling spat at him in defiance when threatened. He drove his sword through the elf's throat, and kicked the corpse into the water.-

Illuvarion shook his head violently, trying to wake himself from the grip of this, and could not. "Somewhere east...?" He tried to focus.

“Yes. In the Greenwood. I’ve heard only animals and plants live there…” Oropher was growing increasingly disturbed by Illuvarion’s visions. “Ngh..”

‘He killed children?’

-Later still, an elf-maid of Aqualonde came at him. "You have slain my daughter in cold blood, coward. We had no weapons here." She was poorly wielding a sword stolen, he assumed, from some fallen Noldorin soldier.

"Then you will join her."-

Illuvarion curled in on himself. Confronted, Oropher didn’t know what to do and recoiled. He watched Illuvarion but saw only the images shared through their mental connection, born of the bond he had not yet consummated on his own behalf. The images were weak, but the screams were not. Illuvarion felt reality snap back into place and the blood-splashed visions faded away again. He felt hoarse and realized he had clawed into Oropher's back with his hand. Hot shame washed over him and tears wet his cheeks. He turned away, shivering and stifling sobs.

"No..." He whispered wealky. "Please... You do not want this. Me. I am tainted."

“Had you listened to anything I said, you would know that I want you to journey East with me.” Oropher narrowed his eyes, face hard and stern. “Will you lay here and cry or will you join me?”

Illuvarion looked confused, and turned back to Oropher. "You wish for... You wish for me to accompany you..." 'Thanks be to the Valar, perhaps he saw nothing... Ai, you must tell him if he did not... No, I cannot lose him, I will die.' "To go east?"

“Uh huuuuh.” Now annoyed (for he did not like to repeat himself), Oropher sat up and ran thick fingers through his hair. “East. To the Greenwood. Where we can live.” This time, he spoke in Quenya.

Illuvarion put his hand to Oropher's lips. "I would not bid a warrior of Doriath to speak a forbidden language." He smiled, weakly. "I will go wherever you wish for me to follow." Oropher was glad he’d understood this time, at least.

"Oropher..." Illuvarion looked a bit sad, but adoring nonetheless. "You... Are not bound to stay at my side. If you wish it, I will..."

“You are coming with me.” said Oropher, nibbling Illuvarion’s fingers. “Nmph. You are my meleth.”

Illuvarion smiled, and nuzzled his face gladly into Oropher's neck. "Melmënya, if you truly wish to have me at your side, I will follow you anywhere. Anywhere you wish."

Oropher laughed at that. ‘Oh, you will regret saying that after a time…’

Illuvarion chuckled quietly. "Why do you say this?"

“I didn’t say anything.” Oropher slung an arm around Illuvarion’s shoulders and pulled him in close. “You’re the one peeping into my head.”

Illuvarion blushed. Sometimes he couldn't tell what was said and unsaid. "I am not used to even the idea of being bonded to someone thus... It is something I never considered as a fate for myself. I do not yet know what I am doing."

“I do.” Oropher fondly pushed Illuvarion about. “Mm, going to get a nice tree to live in, kill some things to eat, not have to worry about clothes…” He started dreaming aloud. Illuvarion laughed, thinking perhaps his grasp of Sindarin had failed him.

"Living in trees? Ai, I obviously did not understand. Will you repeat, perhaps more slowly?"

Oropher looked at him, cold and serious. “Liv-ing-in-trees. You know, up in the branches? Hollowing out the trunks and making platforms to stand or sleep on? It’s how they did it for guard outposts in Doriath. Real comfortable and private, too.”

Illuvarion nuzzled his face against Oropher's chest, and then raised himself on an arm. "I see... I am willing to try this, should you wish it. Mmh, perhaps I may create for myself a workshop, for I have not had one of my own since... Since I left Valinor." He felt strange, having said it aloud. "By a stream... That little pool with the waterfall... And the foot-bridge... I built that. With my idiot cat sleeping outside, refusing to catch mice." He realized that he was reminiscing, describing something he once had, not imagining a future. Oropher listened in silence. Illuvarion felt a bit embarrassed, and lowered his voice.

"I... I rarely think of a future, melmënya. I have many years yet to come..." ‘Perhaps someday the sea will call me back... Perhaps not.’

Oropher sighed. “Do what you may, and think what you will. I want to go East and live in the Greenwood, where once King Thingol said I would find a home. You can come with me if you want.”

Illuvarion whispered, "I wish to be at your side. I would not think to create this for myself if I were not with you... Oh, the things I wish to create."

“You will be able to do anything you want.” Oropher smiled at his beloved Noldo and licked him. “I will make it so.”

Illuvarion lifted himself on an arm again, and looked lovingly down at Oropher, inky hair pooling on the Sinda's chest. His silvery eyes had an almost otherworldly shimmer to them. "I would have you wear nothing but the finest jewelry, wrought by my own hand... Fit not for a warrior, but for a King."

“And here I was thinking I could get away with wearing leaves in my hair.” Oropher laughed and played with Illuvarion’s hair, twirling it between his fingers.

Illuvarion purred fondly. "If you wish to do so. Perhaps I will fashion you things so that you can keep the leaves in place, my love." He kissed Oropher gently. "Or delicately wrought iron that looks as leaves, and branches do... With gems as flowers and berries." He looked wholly content with this daydreaming about his craft, in a very vulnerable, honest way. Oropher saw images of what Illuvarion considered and smiled.

“Beautiful.” Even while laying down, he still had the mithril hair stick in his hair. Now it poked out a little but he didn’t mind. “I never thought I would have a craftsman, scholar and Noldo for a husband.” He winked.

Illuvarion blushed at this, crimson, eyes wide. "I ... I mean... I never considered that I would be anyone's husband." The Noldo was endearingly lost for words. He'd never even considered the prospect of marriage, not once in his life. Oropher tilted his head to the side.

“Well, that’s what you are if you live with me and I love you, okay?” Illuvarion pressed his forehead to Oropher's.

"I would have it no other way." He smiled at this, though his ears still burnt and he felt a bit breathless. Those burnt ears were soon cooled by gentle licks and breathy kisses. Illuvarion wiggled against Oropher, pleased.

"Ai... Mm, I like that." He made gentle, purring sounds and ran his hand through his lover's hair.

“I know you do.” Oropher grunted and started nibbling down to Illuvarion’s neck. He spent long, sweet minutes sucking marks there until the Noldo’s skin was littered with red spots. The wiggling was soon replaced my more insistent writhing, and Illuvarion arched his back a bit to expose more of his neck.

"Mnh, here," he whispered. "More."

Oropher complied with a huge chomp to Illuvarion's neck, just where it was the most sensitive. His teeth sank in and drew blood, the pain stinging and zinging. Illuvarion groaned and just about lost his balance as he tried to steady himself with both hands, having only one to lean on. It hurt, but that did not matter; he liked the pain. The sounds Illuvarion was making enticed Oropher to scrape and mark all he liked – and that he did, until his lover was a writhing mess beneath him.

Illuvarion whined at Oropher quietly, between squirming around and leaving small bite marks of his own across the Sinda's shoulder and chest. The pain and feeling of his own blood dripping across his skin, and the sight of said blood across his lover's mouth was exquisite and he half-closed his eyes as he arched his back slightly, growling a little. Oropher quite enjoyed the little nips – no matter how hard Illuvarion bit him, unless he drew blood it was like a mosquito nibbling his flesh. He rolled on top of Illuvarion and smacked his thigh, squeezing him there.

“You’re deliciousssss…”

Illuvarion moaned wantonly. "Mhm, so are... you..."

He bit Oropher hard, drawing blood at the base of his neck, and then licked at the wound as the liquid seeped out. Oropher’s thick sweetness flowed just for Illuvarion to consume. He flexed his neck and shoulder muscles, rubbing himself against his lover until he’d worked up enough energy to urge more blood from his wound. He loved the feeling of it gushing and then running down his body as he knelt, pulling Illuvarion up with him. Illuvarion was not one to pass this up and lapped at Oropher's blood, content and feeling a warm satiety start to fall upon him. However, Illuvarion also felt another kind of warmth coming over him as Oropher's rubbed himself against the slight Noldo's body. Still licking hungrily at Oropher's neck, he moaned and whined a bit more.‘How good that he does not find this disturbing,’ Illuvarion thought. ‘He tastes so wonderful.’

For hours the two elves tasted each other, becoming acquainted with their bodies and unique pleasures. The sun went down, rising around the same time that Oropher woke. Today was the day. He was going East.

 

~

 

Oropher carried Illuvarion’s chest full of armour, jewelry and other fancy things as he walked through the streets of Lindon. Clothed in a tight black tunic with breeches that showed off his thick leg muscles, he breathed in fresh air. The sun warmed his whole body and he could taste freedom. Illuvarion slipped gracefully through the crowded streets. If it were not for the fact that both he and Oropher were a head or more taller than everyone in their path, he would have worried about getting lost. As it was, he did not worry, and even though he had only a basic idea of where they were headed, he followed. Upon approaching the docks of Forlond, Oropher squinted as the midday sun beamed into his eyes. Here at the Gulf of Lhun, all that could be heard was the sound of waves crashing against sandy shores and wooden piers. Oropher set Illuvarion’s things down and put his hands on his hips.

‘Now, how to cross…’

Illuvarion caught up to Oropher and shaded his eyes with his hand. Nervousness had begun to creep in. Dressed in a long grey robe, he pulled his black silken wrap tighter about his shoulders (though it was not cold) and sighed. He watched Oropher take a few steps towards the shore, bare feet sinking into wet sand.

"Ai, Oropher. What are you doing?! Come back!" A note of panic was in his voice. He worried that the Sinda would swim somewhere, and he would not be able to follow; for he did not know how to swim. "Wait!"

But it was too late. With a joyful “NYOOP!” Oropher plunged into the water and began zooming like a telerin speedboat on crack all the way across the gulf. It was a hundred miles to Harlond, the opposite quay from Forlond. He expected Illuvarion to follow and could hear nothing but the thrashing of water around his own propeller arms. Illuvarion looked about in a state of utter panic. A boat. He would find a boat. He saw a small craft moored to the pier and looked around. It would seem the owner was nowhere nearby. 'Well, I've done it before....’ With a movement that indicated he was perhaps much stronger than his slight body would appear, he pushed his belongings into the small boat, and slowly found an acceptable way to maneuver though his paddling was laboriously slow with only one hand. Oropher by now was far enough to look like a speedy black dot with glorious white mermaid hair. He lead the way as Illuvarion paddled. Illuvarion sighed. He loathed sea travel, and loathed being left behind even more. Once he was far enough from shore that he did not expect the owner of the boat to catch him, he examined the small sail. Likely a vessel for short travel such as this, he thought. With some difficulty, he unfurled the cloth sails. There was little wind. Manwë was not on his side today. It made no difference, Illuvarion was far beyond irritated at this point and done with trying to do this on his own. He drew up his left hand and called up a cold wind, chill as though it was from the depths of winter. Finally, the little craft began to move at a pace faster than a drowning cat. Cutting swiftly through the gulf would have been thrilling to most. It brought nothing but fell thoughts and a bit of nausea to Illuvarion. Oropher meanwhile was having the time of his life, determined and enduring the swim across the gulf. It was almost sunset by the time the hundred miles had been crossed. Illuvarion was in a foul mood by the time he finally moored his hastily boosted ride in Harlond. He glared at the boat as though it was personally responsible for his bad mood. 'Let the ships burn’, he thought, wondering if he could truly get away with setting it alight. Oropher was shaking himself dry nearby like a dog, hair swishing about wildly. Illuvarion sat on the dock, and put his head down on the chest that held his belongings. He was attempting to rein in his ill temperedness before Oropher saw him. A few of the resident Teleri and Sindar were beginning to gather, watching Oropher with some interest. Those who noticed Illuvarion stared, keeping a fair distance.

Eventually, an elf with long brown hair and kind, wise eyes approached Oropher.

“Who are you?”

Oropher grinned at him. “Oropher the Mighty, Champion of Doriath. I’m going to the Greenwood. Who are you?”

“Galion the, uh… elf, also of Doriath. I used to serve King Thingol. Where is the Greenwood?”

“Far east, just over there.” Oropher pointed into the distance, so far that no elf-eyes could see.

Illuvarion collected himself, smoothed his hair and came quietly to Oropher's side. He noted the elves who stared at him, though his mind was occupied and he did not think about why, only that it was rude. He nodded to the elf with whom Oropher was talking, in greeting. Galion looked at Illuvarion, tilting his head to the side. His finely braided hair shimmered with golden highlights as he did so.

“Who might you be?”

"I am called Illuvarion," said Illuvarion in rather formal Quenya. "I dwelt in Gondolin, before the fall."

Galion seemed to have a little trouble understanding him, but understood the name and place mentioned. Some of the white and blond-haired Teleri began to whisper.

“Gondolin… he’s a Noldo, look at him. Feanorian scum, no doubt.” They spoke in their own language, ancient and known only in a watered-down Sindarin dialect by those living in Harlond. Oropher understood it well but after what he’d seen in Illuvarion’s mind, wasn’t exactly moved to defend him. He needed these people on his side if he was to have safe passage East. He couldn’t read maps and wasn’t sure how well isolation in a forest with his newly begotten lover would go. Illuvarion softened at hearing the whispers. He understood Telerin fluently, but this dialect was quite hard for him to understand. He didn't want to - the tone of the whispers was familiar to him.

"I apologize," he said in Sindarin, with as much of a disarming smile as he could manage. "It was ill-mannered of me to neglect to speak your language. I am tired, and it makes me forgetful. I am Illuvarion, I travel east with Oropher, my partner."
“You look like you live in the palace.” said Galion, a few Sindar nodding around him. “Did something happen?”

“I beat up the King.” said Oropher, beaming proudly. “For what he did to Círdan.”
“Revenge against a kinslayer, eh?” said one of the Telerin elves, a long-haired Lord named Selinde. “Good. I’ve heard nothing but shameful behaviour regarding the ‘High King’.” The other elves pouted snootily in agreement.

Illuvarion blanched slightly at "kinslayer" but said nothing on the matter. He would need to navigate this social minefield expertly.

"Indeed, the state of the leadership in Lindon is disastrous at the moment." Illuvarion considered speaking in Telerin but declined to, at least for the moment. "It is largely the reason we have fled."

“Pah. When is Noldorin leadership anything but disasterous?” Another elf, an ancient Guard Captain by the name of Neldorion, rolled his eyes. “I suppose you two are going off to start a realm of your own?”

“Yes.” Oropher liked the sound of that. “I want to be King. But, I don’t know if anything lives in the Greenwood. So, if you guys want to come and escape the potential genocide Gil-Galad has planned, it will be good to join us.”

The elves considered it. Lord Beliond, a stern-faced Sinda, peered at Illuvarion.

“What about you? What are you doing leaving the land of your people? Surely you do not know how to hunt or climb trees.”

Before answering, Illuvarion leaned very close to Oropher and whispered, almost inaudibly, into his ear. "Please refrain from calling me Silwë or speaking to me in Quenya in the present company. If I misstep badly, there will be bloodshed. My Sindarin name protects me, here." He turned back to the elves. "It is true, I do not. But I am bound to no land, least of all Lindon, for my home is lost to me. And I am the subject of no king, least of all Gil-Galad. I go where my partner goes, for we are bound to each other." He twined the fingers of his left hand with Oropher's right. "I will learn these things."

The elves cooed, most of the Telerin remaining highly suspicious. Most of these were descendants of those who’d survived the First Kinslaying, only three having actually been there. Galion stepped a little closer to Oropher and looked up at him.

‘There’s Telerin blood in this one. No way can any Sinda be this tall.’ Like most of the Teleri, Oropher was over seven feet tall. The Sindar were a little shorter. Scrutinizing Oropher completely, Galion then stood on his toes and sniffed Oropher’s neck. Oropher did the same.

‘My, he’s weak.’ Oropher pushed Galion away with his nose. “So? Will you come with us?”

“Sure.” Galion shrugged, and a few others approached too. Five Teleri and sixteen Sindar, those who had taken refuge in Harlindon now were on their way to the Greenwood. Not one of them trusted Illuvarion. Galion however made an effort, and shifted over to him. lluvarion tilted his head to the side and looked at Galion. He studiously avoided looking at the suspicious Teleri giving him the side-eye. Galion suddenly pressed his nose into Illuvarion's neck and sniffed him, very very lightly making contact with his skin.

"Oh, my..." He drew back, and looked to Oropher. "Are you really going to be traveling with someone so dangerous?"

"I can handle him." said Oropher, now speaking only in Sindarin just like everyone else. "Oh... he's not used to our ways. Please use words if you want to make friends with him."

Illuvarion furrowed his brow slightly at being sniffed, but his curiosity got the better of him, and he could not hide a smile. "What do I smell like?"

“Like… when you put some meat on a fire, and the smoke comes through the leaves. It is clear you two are bonded.” Galion gestured with his head to Oropher, who smiled. “You, Oropher… you smell of raw power and ancient blood.”

“You smell like wine.” said Oropher, licking his lips. “What do you lot drink around here? Bring some for the journey.”

Galion nodded with glee and ran off to get several barrels of strong First-Age wine.

Illuvarion turned to the suspicious group of Teleri and Sindar, with a resigned and gentle look on his face. "I can speak your language," he said, in an old dialect of Telerin. "As well as Sindarin. I wish only friendship, or to be left alone, should you prefer not to interact with me. I mean no harm to any of you." He made a gesture of being unarmed, holding his arms out to his sides, the palm of his left hand open and the palm of his right hand missing, along with his hand. Lord Selinde squinted at him.

“As long as you don’t cause any trouble.” He bit his tongue to prevent from adding kinslayer. There was not one Telerin elf among them that did not hate the Noldor. It was kind of why they lived away from the Quenya-speaking folk in Forlindon, so they did not have to remember. They never truly forgot. But wine helped, and when Galion reappeared he was rolling several barrels along with some smaller Sindar who were eager to help.

“We’ll take a ship, it’s faster.” said Galion as he pointed to a majestic swan-shaped vessel floating nearby. “Around the southern coast to the Greenwood, right?”

“As long as this one doesn’t burn it.” said Lord Beliond, a dark anger in his narrow eyes.

Illuvarion sighed quietly at Lord Selinde. "You need not say it, you know. I can still hear it. I do not blame you for distrusting me. But I am old, and tired, and I simply wish to find a home with my husband."

Lord Selinde only shook his pretty blonde head in disgust and turned away. Illuvarion had started to become irritated and focussed his attention on the angry elf.

"One burns ships after arrival, not before." He shook his head. "I yield, treat me how you wish. If I must hide myself for the duration of the journey I shall." He bit his bottom lip hard enough to draw blood; the visions were coming again. He closed his eyes and calmed himself then looked at Oropher, hurt deeply and near tears. Oropher could not understand the emotions he was seeing entirely but felt to a degree Illuvarion’s pain. Without thinking, he strode over to Lord Selinde and shoved him into the sand.

“Do not upset my husband.”

Looking appalled and also with mildly fractured ribs, Lord Selinde scrambled to his feet and bared his teeth.

“Touch me again and I will drown you, you giant oaf.” A wave of dizzying pain hit him and he was on the ground again, face flushed with indignation.

Oropher smirked. “We share blood and kinship.” It was well known that those of Telerin descent could hold their breaths underwater for ridiculous lengths of time, some even able to breathe through the ocean. “I’d like to see you try.”

Illuvarion knelt and extended his hand, whispering to himself and mending Lord Selinde’s injuries. They were definitely painful no matter how tough he tried to look. Illuvarion kept his hand extended as he stood, offering him help to his feet. Lord Selinde absolutely refused to touch a Noldo with anything but a sword and turned over. Airy and graceful he stood, dusted himself off and walked away, steaming. Illuvarion visibly shrank at this rebuff, made a quiet, hurt noise and then turned and fled.

“Illu! Wait!” Oropher called out and immediately gave chase. The elves all stood around, looking hella awkward. Illuvarion was a ways down the beach. He sat with his knees drawn up and arms around them, face buried in the grey silk. He did not hide the fact that his slender frame was wracked with sobs; his frustration and self-loathing had finally gotten the best of him, and he wept. Oropher stood at a distance, watching him. He had no idea what to do. Taking what he hoped were calming breaths, Illuvarion looked out across the water, face streaked with tears. "I should throw myself in the sea," he whispered to himself, in Quenya, "Before I have a chance to ruin everything."

He did not. He did however stand, still unaware if anyone was watching. Sobbing again, he covered his face with his hand and bowed his head.

"I deserve it. Why should I... Why..."

He sank back to the sand, and curled up on his side. Oropher approached him then and scooped him up like a wet kitten from a deep puddle. He held Illuvarion and took him away from prying eyes. Illuvarion looked up after a while, and his eyes looked dead. He hid his face again, for tears still fell, and he had no energy left to stop them.

"I hurt," he whispered.

Oropher squeezed him close. “I know.”

Illuvarion was very still. "I do not know if I can make this journey. Would you have me bring this conflict with me? You kinsmen loathe me, and they are right to. I offered peace and they lashed out at me, also rightly. I am tainted. I would bring corruption to this new land."

He fought the sobs that threatened to overtake him again, and felt new tears flow hotly down his face.

"It is why I have ever been alone. Who would have this? I should have told you everything."

Oropher shook his head. “You are bonded to me, and will go where I go. We are both terrible people. Make peace with that, for you cannot change the past.”

"My peace with this will not change the fact that I seek to find a new home with a dozen people who would shed my blood at even the thought that I had wronged them." Illuvarion sighed, and pressed his face against Oropher's neck. "I had peace, I had made my peace... Until... Until I wanted to be something else. Something better."

“You are what you are, Silwe.” Oropher struggled to find words. “But I want you by my side regardless. If I am to have a kingdom, I need citizens, and those people will help make a little society. Wouldn’t that be nice? They don’t have to love you. I do.”

Illuvarion sighed. "I would hope that one day perhaps they will understand that I will suffer longer than their lives for what I have done. I already have. If you are to be their king, I would hope perhaps that they would not loathe his husband." He choked back another sob. "I... I want peace. I have no home in this world, and I will never again see the home I lost. I am old, melmënya. I am so tired."

“I know.” Oropher began licking Illuvarion’s face, cleaning him of tears. He nuzzled his lover’s cheek then and sighed. “Mn… I will have to organize things for the journey. When you are ready to go back, tell me.”

Illuvarion closed his eyes for a moment, willing strength and life back into his body, calming himself. He stood, and held out his hand.

"I am ready. I will go with you."

Oropher held Illuvarion’s hand and walked back to where the other elves were. There was no sign of Lord Selinde, but someone had gotten into the wine and everyone was getting hella turnt.

“Oh, there’s wine!” Oropher brightened up. “Come, love. Let’s drink.”

Illuvarion was more than ready to get into some wine. "This is a highly acceptable solution, melm... Meleth nín." He still felt uncomfortable even using the occasional Quenya words he often mixed with Sindarin, but gave a slightly weak, genuine smile. "Wine is always acceptable."

Oropher strode over to an open barrel, a Sinda handed him a tarnished iron chalice and he scooped up some wine. He offered this to Illuvarion, then was given a spare bowl to drink from himself. The wood it was made of was sturdy enough to withstand his strong hands. Illuvarion drank deeply at first. The wine was quite acceptable to him, as he was not very choosy. He disliked eating, but admittedly had a fondness for wine. He finished what he had in his cup more quickly than usual, and refilled it, then leaned against Oropher, head on his shoulder. Oropher drank bowl after bowl of the sweet, blood-red liquid. He stroked Illuvarion’s hair and leaned against the barrel, continuing to dip his bowl in to get more wine. This was successful until his weight overbalanced the near empty barrel and the whole thing tipped over, Oropher falling in. By now he was too drunk to realise his head and shoulders were stuck in a barrel and he roared in surprise.

“GWOOOOAHH! WHY IS IT DARK?!”

Illuvarion was turnt enough to think this was fuckin' hilarious, and for a few moments he couldn't' do anything but laugh. He still, however, eventually pulled himself together and helped pull his wayward husband's upper body out of the wine barrel. Oropher’s broad shoulders ached a bit and he was completely drenched, but happy to see his beloved nonetheless. The nearby Sindar were pissing themselves with laughter, the Teleri busy setting up the ship for tonight’s journey.

Illuvarion licked wine off of Oropher's face and laughed. "I couldn't leave you in there... I wanted more wine."

“And more me, I hope…?” Very pleased at the licking, Oropher made the cutest face he could, ending up looking more terrifying than any elf should. lluvarion kissed Oropher's nose, finding his terrifying rendition of cuteness rather cute regardless, and very endearing.

 "Always more you!" He laughed, refilling his cup. Then he winked at Oropher. "Ai, I am drunk. Let it not be said of the Noldor that they are unable to drink to excess."

“Most of us old folk drink to forget the monotony of life.” Neldorion said as he passed, gazing at Illuvarion and Oropher with mild amusement on his face. “Drink as much as you like. We will take more barrels with us to replace these.”

Illuvarion nodded at this observation. He giggled quietly and buried his face in Oropher's hair, next to his ear. "He thinks he is old..."

“He probably is.” Oropher nipped Illuvarion. “Some of the people who live here are first generation elves… or so I’ve heard.”

Illuvarion got an odd look on his face at this. "I do not recognize any of them."

“Eh, there are more elves living along the North of the coast. I lived here before I served Gil-Galad… some of these guys are older than me.”

Illuvarion thought back to the beginning. "Well, the only ones I remember, I suppose, are the Vanyar and Noldor... the rest either stopped along the way or did not go at all. There were, though, few enough that I would hope I'd recognize one or two..."

Oropher shrugged, too drunk to care much. “Is there any more wine?”

 

Time passed. The twenty-one elves scattered to gather their belongings, and by nightfall the ship was ready to set sail. Neldorion took the helm and after enough provisions to feed an army were on board, the boat set off into Belegaer.

 

Chapter Text

Illuvarion looked nervous, and clutched at Oropher's hand. He had never been one for the water, nor travel by sea. He had not willingly set foot on a sea-going vessel since he had come to Beleriand an age ago, not until he had sailed to Harlond. Gazing at the ocean, Oropher admired the waves. In silence he held Illuvarion’s hand, the wind blowing his hair in a glorious banner-like stream. Illuvarion pressed himself more firmly against Oropher, and broke the silence.

"I... I have only crossed the sea twice."

“Now thrice!” Oropher chirped, in high spirits as most Telerin or Sindar would be upon boating to a new land. “I won’t let anything happen to you. Don’t fret.”

Illuvarion looked rather nervous, still. "I cannot swim."

“You won’t need to once we get to the Greenwood. Besides, I can float. You can sit on me.”

Illuvarion laughed and kissed Oropher's cheek, reassured despite himself. "You are ever optimistic, my love."

“What does that mean?” asked Oropher, his mind too simple for pessimism at all. “It’s good, right?”

Illuvarion kissed Oropher's cheek again. "Yes. It's all good." He nestled himself closer for security and peered out across the waves. The visions of his second crossing of the sea did not come, though he knew they would at some point during the journey. Calm, however, he remembered a different crossing.

"It was much like this, the first time," he said. "But the moon was not here. Just the stars. So bright you could see them even reflected in the sea."

“Ooooh…” Oropher smiled at the thought. “I would love to see that.”

Illuvarion rested his head gently against Oropher's shoulder. "You have the moon, now. And the sun."

“And my shining star. My Silwe.” Oropher murmured.

Illuvarion blushed crimson at this nickname, a play on his actual name, and felt slightly lightheaded. "I... That is... That is the most beautiful thing I have ever been called."

“Mm…” Oropher nuzzled Illuvarion until a nice bit of warmth had blossomed between them. He ran his hands beneath his lover’s robes, spreading his fingers out to touch all that smooth skin. “Le melin.”

Illuvarion purred quietly. He enjoyed being touched, and kissed Oropher's neck. "Mhm... Le melin." He felt very affectionate at the moment, nearly (but not entirely) displacing his uneasiness at being at sea. Nobody else was on deck; everyone was below going about their own business. The two lovers had their privacy.

Illuvarion looked about, and turned to face his companion. Perhaps having his back to the water would help. He put his arms around Oropher's neck and ran his hand through long, silvery hair.

"Your hair is as the moonlight itself," he whispered, awestruck. "So beautiful..."

Oropher was thoroughly unused to being complimented and smiled softly. “You may do what you wish with it.” In his hair was still the hair stick, now twined around the litle bit of hair growing from the formerly bald patch.

"Had I both hands, I would teach you to wear it in the manner of my people... But I cannot braid one handed so I will simply run my fingers through it." He did so, and smiled fondly. "Mine is so heavy in comparison."

Oropher picked up Illuvarion’s hair, feeling it. “Maybe your brain extends into your hair. Knowledge holds weight, you know.”

Illuvarion blushed at this, and buried his face into Oropher's hair, next to his ear. "Mm, I do not know if that is the case. When it was cut, I was still as clever."

Blushing too and a little aroused, Oropher made several soft squeaking sounds. Running his hand through Oropher's hair a few more times, Illuvarion purred into his ear. "It would seem that I am fated currently to wear my hair down, in the manner of your people; and with the good fortune that I have found someone to run his hands through it. Few, until recent days, have seen it thus."

“It is worth being worn free, as the royalty of my folk do.” Oropher suddenly pulled Illuvarion close enough to kiss his lips, whispering against them. “You are the consort to a King, after all.” His voice had taken an unusually dark, sultry tone and his expression was serious enough to sway even the strongest of minds. Illuvarion felt a very warm heaviness in his chest and breathed, "And his most loyal subject, as well."

At this, Oropher moaned. It was a long, pure sound that not even the waves could disguise. Illuvarion found a slight hardness pressing into him, as Oropher did not even try to hide it what with their closeness and all. He grabbed a handful of Illuvarion’s loose hair and massaged his lover’s scalp, tugging a bit to move Illuvarion’s head into a better position. Said position allowed him to lick all the way up Illuvarion’s cheek, and then past his eyeball. The feeling was… odd, to say the least. Illuvarion moaned too, enjoying having his hair pulled in this manner. He felt as though he should have been slightly put-off by having his eyeball licked, but he found that, like many things, it did not bother him. Being a sorcerer exposed one to many odd sensations, to which one grew accustomed.

"And... of course... As a consort..." he whispered, "I shall endeavor to fulfill any needs you may ask of me."

“Bow.” growled Oropher, licking his lips. Absolute authority reigned in his deep voice. Illuvarion did, executing a well-practiced bow down on one knee, the type of which he had done many times as a military commander to many Noldorin kings. Oropher relished the sight, for his desire for respect and subservience had grown ever since Gil-Galad started mistreating him. Now, it was a secret kink of his that he indulged here under the night sky. He ran a hand over the tent in his breeches, leaning against the side of the ship in an openly dominative manner.

“Good.”

 Illuvarion stayed where he was. It would be rude to stand unless bidden; he'd spent enough times in enough courts to know that high status on the battlefield mattered little to those in power. Besides - despite his very, very controlling nature, he enjoyed this. Oropher was too engrossed in his power trip to ponder why, and beckoned for Illuvarion to approach.

“Come here. I have something you must attend to.”

Illuvarion stood, and stood in front of Oropher. He'd begun to feel very hot, though he maintained his composure. "Anything."

Here out in the open where anyone could suddenly see, it was a risky and exciting venture for the normally reserved elves. Oropher only saw it as proof of his power over Illuvarion in this moment – he loved him, he respected him, and oh, how good he looked when he knelt! Oropher unlaced his breeches and whipped out his giant greatsword.

“Dinner.” He smirked. Illuvarion knelt, and looked up at Oropher, a sly smile on his face.

"It is good, then, that I have not eaten."

Oropher stroked himself a few times, the wind in his hair making him feel as if Manwë himself was watching. The cool night and crashing waves of the deep sea enveloped the ensuing sounds of pleasure. Illuvarion set to the task of attending to Oropher's extremely impressive greatsword, though he had only done this once before. It was not too difficult a skill to learn. At first, however, he spent a time reverently lavishing gentle (and not so gentle) licks and kisses there, looking though half-closed eyes to see what his attentions were doing. His attentions were making Oropher grip the side of the ship, legs parted and head thrown back. His moans were lost to the wind, but his warmth was not. His slick hardness throbbed in Illuvarion’s mouth, beginning to drip sweetness down the Noldo’s slender throat. Illuvarion groaned, the sound muffled by the fact that his mouth was extremely full, and his hand was full as well. He closed his eyes for a moment, completely lost in a haze of submissive pleasure, a foreign feeling that in this moment was very welcome. Oropher then thrusted into his mouth, demanding more. With a sound that was somewhere between a yelp and a moan, Illuvarion made attempts to accommodate Oropher’s thrusts as fully as possible. He enjoyed the fact that his lover was currently in the mood to take what he desired, rather than ask for it. This realization elicited another muffled groan. In truth, it was in Oropher’s nature to take what he wanted, believing he needed to ask for nothing. It was how he’d lived his entire life. Now he was too aroused to fear Illuvarion thinking him arrogant and leaving out of disgust, so he plundered that sweet mouth for all it was worth. When he finally spilled himself, it was enough to keep Illuvarion nourished for days. Illuvarion took a few moments to compose himself, making a delicious sounding groan as he wiped his mouth upon the back of his sleeve. He remained kneeling for the moment, and looked up at Oropher devotedly.

"Have I pleased you, then?"

Oropher’s body shuddered from head to toe, a breathy “Oh!” escaping him as the final shocks subsided. He tucked himself away, then patted Illuvarion’s head.

“Yes. Rise, meleth nín.”

Illuvarion closed his eyes and smiled at being petted thus, then stood. He had a luminous quality to him, as he sometimes did when he was very relaxed. Oropher admired dat Calaquendi glow and wrapped his arms around Illuvarion.

“I… will lie with you tonight. Come.” He lead Illuvarion down into the cabins deep inside the ship. Well, less cabins and more a long room with bunk beds stretching all across the walls. His face fell. ‘No privacy…? Oh well.’

Illuvarion didn't seem to care about the lack of privacy. "I hope," he purred to Oropher, "That you will lie with me every night." Examining the sleeping quarters, he was thankful that the Teleri were as tall as he was, for the beds provided here were long enough for one over seven feet tall to lay comfortably. Oropher found most of the beds occupied, with one holding three Sindar all piled up together. Another had two Teleri cuddled up, Lord Selinde and Beliond nude and wrapped in silver silk sheets. Oropher saw fit to take the top bunk on an unoccupied bed and hauled himself up, nearly breaking the wooden frame in the process. He extended a hand for Illuvarion to follow him. Illuvarion took Oropher's hand, and finding that the bunk would hold the two of them, pressed himself closer to his partner. The sound of the waves lapping against the side of the ship still caused Illuvarion some distress; he simply could not help how uneasy it made him, though being comfortingly close to Oropher helped him be calm. Oropher nudged Illuvarion for a moment.

“I have to undress…”

Illuvarion rolled over and then thought a moment, back to what they had just been doing. No sense in not offering. He whispered, "Shall I help you with this?"

A certain light of understanding glowed in Oropher’s eyes. He nodded, and leaned in with arms raised so Illuvarion could remove his tunic. With surprising deftness for having but one hand to work with, Illuvarion got Oropher out of his tunic. He paused briefly to admire Oropher's very muscular frame, and ran his fingers across his lover's chest. Oropher made quiet noises of pleasure at this, similar to those the Sindar were making as they went about their own bed-business. It really was an instinctual thing.

Oropher then turned over, wiggling his ass at Illuvarion. Illuvarion found Oropher's quiet wood-elf noises to be very pleasant, and with a bit of effort, was able to unlace and peel his lover's breeches from his body. 'This would be easier with both hands. Ugh, it will be months! Perhaps years to fully function...' Satisfied at his work, he began the process of rather laboriously undoing a series of ties and clasps and buttons that held shut the front of his robe. Oropher, nude and a cool dude, saw this and went to help him. His massive, strong fingers were unable to get the fiddly buttons open however and he quickly became frustrated, shoving about the fabric with more force. Illuvarion was more than ready to relax, and sighed. "Just tear it. I can't tear it myself. I'll use the fabric for something else."

Oropher was all too happy to oblige and tore the robe to shreds. He then picked up his bare, beautiful lover and lay him to rest. He climbed on top of Illuvarion and snuggled with him, purring. Illuvarion looked up adoringly at Oropher, face framed in long silvery hair.

"Mmh." He ran his hand down Oropher's cheek. "The King of the Greenwood. It sounds good, melmënya."

“I’m sure it does, for you, my Queen.” Oropher joked and giggled, nuzzling Illuvarion’s nose. Raucous laughter erupted from nearby. A group of the Sindar thought this was the most hilarious joke they'd ever heard.

"Ay, good lookin queen though amirite?!" one agreed, "Good ears on that one though, jewelry and all!"  They all erupted again in laughter.

"The finest of any of the queens of the Noldor, I assure you." Illuvarion did not seem put off by the joke. He laughed and then nipped Oropher's neck playfully. "I suppose we cannot both be the King of the Greenwood. King-consort it is, then. I do not think they would believe me as a Queen, my love. Except for those two, I mean." He lowered his voice. "And I know that you are well aware of my physical qualifications, unless you would like to examine me again."

“Oh, I’ll examine you so thoroughly there won’t be an inch of your body I don’t know.” Oropher growled as he shifted down, and cared little for the volume of his voice. “Bend, meleth nín. I wish to… inspect you.”

Illuvarion shifted around, and bent his body as well as he could. He briefly considered the elves nearby, but as far as he could tell, they seemed to not have quite the same social code as the Noldor, and seemed mostly intent on their own bedtime interests. Among the Sindar, sex was a casual and shameless thing whereas with the Teleri, they preferred it to be more reserved. Oropher, as a free-lovin’ wood-elf, was used to seeing Thingol’s guards going at it in Doriath while on patrol. So he had no qualms about grabbing Illuvarion’s ass, spreading it while massaging the flesh and then sticking his tongue right in. Illuvarion groaned at this. He did not know what exactly he had been expecting, but he knew that the outcome was likely going to be something he enjoyed. And while the Sindar were rather open about things, Illuvarion was still both rather reserved and rather inexperienced, so he put his face down and stifled his increasingly short breaths and occasionally wanton moans against his arm. Someone on a top bunk decided to peep at what was going on as Oropher ate Illuvarion’s ass with expert, practised glee. He’d stuffed his face with so much flesh that he could hardly breathe, but didn’t need to that much. He licked, sucked and smooched to his heart’s content. Illuvarion’s body was so delicious! Illuvarion had long since given up on trying to somehow hide the fact that they were, in fact, doing some of The Butt Stuff up on the top bunk and wiggled very appealingly. He was pretty certain that he was being watched, but accepted it with a sort of "Well, there's nowhere private to go" resignation. Not that he had much time to think about that. He was too wrapped up in how good all of this felt. Oropher went as deep as he could with his long, hot tongue and the most obscene wet slurping resulted from this. There was an appreciative tittering from a couple of the Sindar, who had some very explicit but complimentary things to say about Illuvarion's body, and about Oropher's technique. Another wood-elf joined them, and they filled him in on the goings-on as they helped him undress. Said wood-elf was none other than a confused, curious Galion who now joined the pile of nude elves on the top bunk of a bed, watching the Anal Adventures. Oropher moaned into Illuvarion’s ass.

“Mmmm, you taste so goood….”

Illuvarion did not know how to respond to this, and moaned, clawing at the bed's silky sheets with his hand. Oropher soon began to stroke Illuvarion’s cock, seeking to bring him pleasure. Illuvarion gasped, not expecting this. But then he felt his hips jerk, on their own, mostly, to meet Oropher's skilled hand motions.

He groaned heavily. "Hnnn... Orrrropherrrrr.... You do such things to me."

“Mnghgngf.” was all Oropher said, his voice sending vibrations into Illuvarion’s ass. Illuvarion could not take too much of this and after a while, with a final shuddering groan, reached an almost unexpected completion, and had to try not to fall forward. He grew rather still, as though he was trying to take all of this in. Then, lethargy got the best of him and he sank forward a bit. Oropher climbed on top of him, uncaring for the messed up sheets. He lay on Illuvarion and nuzzled into his hair. Illuvarion wiggled around happily at the nuzzling. He turned his head ever so slightly and cracked one eye open to sneak a look at the elves who made up their audience. The elves had the cutest little :3 faces on and smiled at Illuvarion, giving a thumbs up.

Illuvarion smiled despite himself and laughed quietly. "Your people are odd, melmënya." He whispered, forgetting that he'd decided to speak solely Sindarin, in an attempt to not bother the other elves. "Though I see that they approve."

“We are how we are.” Oropher acted as Illuvarion’s blanket, covering him with muscular warmth. “What you see as odd, I find familiar.” Illuvarion stretched comfortably.

"Mm, I have few things I find familiar that are not of my own doing. I have been alone a very long time. I find many things odd. They must find me far more odd than I find them."

“We sure do.” said a random Sinda, peeping at Illuvarion from over the rails of his bed. Illuvarion shifted a bit so that he could raise himself on an elbow. Bare chested and covered with sheets and Oropher from the waist down, he looked at the random ass Sindarin elf, and laughed quietly.

"Oh? Shall I dare to ask why?" His tone was friendly a bit amused, not guarded or defensive.

“Myaaaah…” The Sinda flipped his hand up and down dismissively. “We’ll tell you tomorrow.” His eyebrows jumped around before he flopped into bed, laying on his back. Beneath him, the two Telerin lords were doing the dank makeouts. Illuvarion laughed and then, feeling rather nosy, took a look at the two butt-naked members of the Telerin nobility who were currently engaged in the competition to become the dank makeout champions of Arda. Lord Selinde was wrapped around Lord Beliond, white and blonde hair mingling like the light of the Two Trees. They were trading passionate, quiet kisses and rubbing against each other in the manner that waves lapped against the boat. Illuvarion didn't miss this imagery, and found it rather poetic. He almost forgot how much he loathed the both of them, and laid quietly for a while watching the goings-on. The Noldor were, if nothing else, very observant. The two lords were murmuring sweet endearments to each other, using name and title as if taking part in a sacred rite. But really, they were just noble kinky fuckers and were having a bit of fun. Illuvarion smiled at this exchange. He imagined that this could easily be the case for some of the Noldorin luminaries he had met, though he had seen nothing of the sort. And if he had, he likely would not have understood. His awareness of this particular kind of personal interaction was still very, very new. Oropher was beginning to doze off and the quiet sounds of pleasure reminded him of his early life. Now, he had someone to lick. He was no longer alone.

Illuvarion turned back around leaving the kinky ass Telerin lords to their roleplaying, and nuzzled his face into Oropher's hair, next to his neck. He stroked his hand through his sleepy lover's hair and down his back in a soothing way. There was nothing really to soothe, but it made him happy. Oropher eventually slept, comfortable with Illuvarion’s affections. Illuvarion, stilled by Oropher's gentle breathing, did not realize that he was falling asleep until he woke up the next morning.

Chapter Text

The ship sailed until it reached Lond Daer, a fledgling Numenorean port. Men bustled about carrying piles of timber to build new piers, some even working on ships. When the swan-shaped vessel came in and docked with Neldarion at the helm, many people stared.
“Ho! What brings the fair and magical Eldar to Lond Daer?” A bearded man raised one hand in salute. Neldarion jumped onto the newly built pier and was light enough to not go straight through, unlike Oropher who also jumped and ended up in the freezing water. Illuvarion froze as though he'd fallen in the water as well, though he was still securely aboard the ship. He looked around in a frightened way, and called down to Oropher.

"Ai, melmënya, are you hurt?"

Oropher hauled himself up using the sheer strength of his upper body and managed not to break the reinforced pillars that made up the anchored sections of the pier. He stood up, dripping and looking like an upset, wet cat.

“Megh.” He coughed and shook the water from himself. Neldarion meanwhile was looking at the man who spoke in Quenya.

“U wot m8?” Neldarion said in Sindarin, receiving a confused look in reply.

Illuvarion immediately saw that his services were needed and stepped onto the pier, steeling himself and fully expecting to find himself drowning. He did not, however, and stood before the bearded man. He was dressed formally as was his way, in long robes of black and stormy grey, a circlet of wrought mithril set with glimmering gems in the shape of stars across his forehead.

"Amatúlië" he said, greeting the man in Quenya. The man, whose name was Candaith, smiled in understanding.

“Hey!” He spoke informal Quenya. “I haven’t seen such pretty elves in a long time. What are you guys doing here?”

Illuvarion was pleasantly surprised to hear informal Quenya spoken by one of the Edain; he knew that it was spoken in Númenor but did not realize it was spoken with any fluency.

"Aiya!" Illuvarion nodded to Candaith. "I am called Illuvarion. We have come hither from Lindon. I travel east with Oropher, my husband, and a small company of our kind."

“Which one is your husband?” asked Candaith, looking around as the elves disembarked. Illuvarion tried hard to suppress a smile and nodded slightly towards a very wet Oropher. He felt bad then, and moved over to his partner's side, and put his hand on his moist shoulder.

"This is him."

“Someone get a towel!” Candaith yelled at one of the nearby dockworkers, who threw over an unused sail-cloth. Oropher took it and handed it to Illuvarion, so he could dry him. Candaith then grinned. “You two are cute. Come to replenish supplies? We’ve got plenty.”

Illuvarion tilted his head to the side for a moment, trying to process having been called "cute" in this context. He proceeded to dry Oropher thoroughly, and continued speaking with Candaith.

"I am not the leader of this expedition, but I am under the assumption that that is indeed why we are here. I am, with the exception of Oropher, who speaks some, the only one who speaks Quenya natively. Or, truly, at all."

Candaith nodded. “I see.” Then, Oropher spoke up.

“I’m the leader of this… journey.” He couldn’t pronounce the Quenya word for expedition properly, nor did he know what it meant. He only guessed the meaning from context. “We need some wine and food.”

Illuvarion looked around. "I... I require supplies of a different nature. Have you any among you who may supply me with the necessities for a small forge, and smithing tools?" He looked as though he was trying hard to contain excitement, though he seemed to glow a bit and his usually silver-green eyes had a more luminous silver to them. "I... I have not had my own in... It has been a long time." ‘I already have all the jewelcrafting materials I could ever need... New gems and stones will not be an issue, nor will metal...’ "It is for both fine smith-work and for finer work such as jewelry. I am not a blacksmith. It need not be of great size, but must be of superior quality, for the work I do." He realized he'd spoken much in his excitement, and felt a bit embarrassed. Candaith didn’t seem to mind and nodded.
“Sure! If you’ll stay a bit, I’ll get one of our smiths to talk to you. Take whatever you’re willing to trade up to that building over there and hopefully, you can get some good stuff.” Candaith smiled warmly at Illuvarion and Oropher, gesturing to the left. There appeared to be a market running and the sound of a hammer clanging on an anvil signified a nearby forge. Illuvarion looked through his satchel briefly - he did not have to even open his chest. He found inside a few bracelets, a fine-wrought iron necklace, an extra circlet... Any one of these items would be priceless to the Edain. Ancient treasure. Enough to buy him whatever he needed. But he stopped, strode back up into the ship and went to his chest. His armour was in there, both his hauberk and his more protective plate armour. He took a jeweler's chisel and closed his eyes a moment, feeling a sense of closure. Then, he prized the mithril and platinum Star of Fëanor emblem, set with gems and crafted in Valinor, from the center of the breastplate upon his hauberk. He folded it, placed it back in the chest, and walked towards the market. While Oropher negotiated things with Candaith, Illuvarion went looking to trade his stuff. Illuvarion knew what he was looking for, and walked through what seemed to be a bustling crafting district.

'I need the things with which to build a workshop, not the crafts that come from one. Hm.’

He came to the end of the street, and noticed a blacksmith shop that seemed dark - there was no smithing happening here. He ducked inside. Neither the door nor the shop was made to accommodate one of his stature. But as his eyes adjusted, he recognized that it was what he had sought. This shop was one at which smiths acquired the tools and equipment of their trade. He looked about, to see if the shopkeeper was in. Shopkeeper was currently out, nowhere to be seen. Illuvarion sighed.

"Aiya! Is anyone here?"

A few feet away from Illuvarion, something thumped to the floor. It was a dark, almost gelatinous mass that started movign towards him. Illuvarion started and moved back a bit. The familiar sensation of flames licking about his hand and shoulders ran across his skin.

"Halt." He narrowed his eyes. "Of what nature are you?"

The dark mass rolled up to the nearest workbench and leapt onto it, seen in the dim light to be neither wet or too shadowed. Blob monster was out of the question. Then, two triangular points stuck out from the top of it and twitched. Illuvarion did not flee, nor move at all, but flames danced around him like armour. He addressed the form.

"I have sought to be polite. Now I bid you answer me."

He thought a moment.

"Perhaps," he said, in Valarin, "I speak the wrong language?"

“Myee.” said the pointy-eared creature, staring at Illuvarion with bright amber eyes. Its curved tail flicked back and forth. It was a cat. Illuvarion laughed.

"Ai, you. My cat scared me thus from time to time. It is your way, yes?" He held out his hand. The cat leaned forwards and licked him, rubbing its face against Illuvarion’s hand. In the glow of the subsiding flames it could be seen as a reddish-coloured fluff ball with a slim face. Illuvarion knelt in front of the table, resting his chin on his arm, face to face with the cat.

"Where is your owner, little one?"

The cat pointed towards the door with a graceful paw. It then blinked at Illuvarion, ears twitching. Illuvarion stood and stroked the cat's head a few times.

"Ai, you remind me of my own cat." He turned towards the door, hoping to ask the neighboring shopkeeper where he could find the owner of the shop he was currently in. Then, the cat spoke in a deep voice.

“Did you need something?”

Illuvarion was hella startled and turned around. "That is no voice for a cat. For the love of Aulë, don't scare me such."

The cat jumped off the table and morphed into a tall, robust man wearing nothing but an apron and a few golden trinkets in his hair. His pointy beard went up and down as he spoke.

“Do forgive me. I have yet to perfect my vocal chords.”

Illuvarion tilted his head and looked skeptically at this figure. "To whom do I speak? And in what language would you prefer? I know many."

“Zimrathôn, apprentice jewelsmith of Lord Tamruzîr. Quenya, if you please. Who are you?” He spoke quietly, curious and calm.

"I am called Illuvarion."

“Illuvarion. Alright.” Zimrathôn nodded, running a hand back through his hair. A few locks stuck up, reminiscent of his formerly pointy ears. “You are here for smithing services, or something else…?”

"I seek to procure the equipment and tools to build and outfit a small forge and workshop. I am a jewel-smith, and do not need things of brute strength, but of fine quality. My work is exacting." He tilted his head to the side. His voice did not betray any mockery, as he said, "Forgive my curiosity. I did not know cats took to smithing, in Númenor."

Grinning, Zimrathôn bared his sharp teeth. “Eh, we do what we can. There are a fair amount of tools here, should you see anything you like. Have you items to trade?”

Illuvarion looked about. The tools of the trade were to be had here, as well as anvils of several sizes and the apparatus needed to run the forge itself. He made a list.

"To outfit a new shop, I realize, is rather costly and there are many things necessary. But I believe I have found all I might need. Here is my list." He slipped from his satchel the emblem he had taken from his hauberk. Of mithril, and crafted in Valinor as well, it had a faint glow to it in the dark shop. He gazed down at it a last time, the familiar eight-pointed star. It was set with small gems, of a kind he knew not how to find here in the east, white jewels that sparkled with an inner fire. He held it out. "I have this."

Zimrathôn inspected it, taking it between two fingers. At once he could see it was of very high quality, and a clearly well-cared-for artifact.

“Nice.” He purred. “My Lord will be pleased to see something like this. It should be enough to cover the costs of…” He looked over Illuvarion’s list. “All that.”

Illuvarion felt a deep, indescribable emotional pain at letting go of the crest. He remembered the day he'd finished it, affixed it to his hauberk. A cat had been there that day, too, though not a sketchy one that was now a mostly naked Númenorean blacksmith's apprentice. An actual cat, his cat.

'I hope he is well. Perhaps he's found a new friend...'

Gazing back down to his now-empty palm, Illuvarion realized that he had just, very symbolically, traded something of his past in hope of building a future. It made him feel lightheaded, and he stepped outside the shop to sit down upon an anvil outside the door. After a while, Zimrathôn brought out a massive crate with smaller boxes inside, each containing the things on Illuvarion’s list. Then, he set an anvil beside the crate and turned back into a cat. He sat on Illuvarion’s shoulder and licked his face.

Illuvarion did not seem entirely weirded out, but he raised an eyebrow. "I haven't seen much in the way of shape shifting since I left... Home. Which is your true form?"

“Beats me.” Said Zimrathôn, rubbing his cheek against Illuvarion. “Mm… Back home, a Maia let me do this. My Lord doesn’t know I can take a man’s form.”

"Back home?" Illuvarion was now interested. "Where is your home?"

“Numenor. I wish I could go back…” He adjusted himself and fit nicely into Illuvarion’s neck, his warm, soft body expanding and shrinking with his breaths. Illuvarion scratched Zimrathôn's head, despite himself.

"I was unaware of Maiar in Númenor. Perhaps it is someone I know!"

“Some guy with gold hair and a beard… I told him of my love for smithing, and he gave me the hands to do it with. I don’t really remember being anything other than who I am now.” ‘And endless days laying on the beach, watching my Lord pick up pearls…”

Illuvarion grew still. There was something fell to this. Something.... ancient, but familiar. This... He knew something. 'But what?'

'Aulë...'

'No, Aulë's kind are... Wait.'

Zimrathôn looked up and headbutted Illuvarion’s chin. Illuvarion absently petted the cat. There was something fell, though nothing truly evil. He had a thought.

"What keeps you here?"

“Where else would I go?” Zimrathôn mlemmed, his tongue flicking up and down. “There is nowhere with a forge or Lord that would sustain my needs.”

"What are your needs?" Illuvarion was beginning to wonder if he was about to make a stupid decision. Perhaps he would need to find Oropher...

“Somewhere to work, a place that is warm, and a hand to pet me. Also, food.”

"Well," said Illuvarion, directing the helpful Númenoréans who'd come to retrieve his purchases, "I sail east with my husband, we seek to make a home in the woodland realm east of the river Anduin. I have need of assistance, for I have lost one of my hands. Perhaps you will come with us?"

Zimrathôn blinked. “Sure.” He’d always been curious about elves, and his beloved Lord was growing old. He himself had about fifty years of life left and thought it was time for a change. “Carry me?”

Illuvarion picked up the cat, shrugged, and walked back towards the piers. At the piers, Oropher was helping to load crates of supplies onto the boat with Neldorion supervising. A few people were staring, wondering how he could lift so much. When he saw Illuvarion approaching with some guys he offered to take the anvil from the four who were carrying it. Illuvarion waved with his left hand, and in the crook of his right arm he held a fluffy reddish cat.

“What is that?” asked Oropher, holding the anvil under one arm.

Illuvarion set the cat down upon the pier. "My new assistant." He gave a small shrug, unable to come up with a good way to explain what had happened. "I... Can I talk to you a moment?" He beckoned away from the larger group. Oropher nodded, set the anvil down with a clang and wandered to a private section of the pier with Illuvarion. Zimrathôn leapt atop the anvil and lay down on it, the warm metal too tempting to resist.

"I arrived to the supplier, and no one was there. I was about to leave, and a cat jumped up and startled me a bit. I love cats... So I petted it a bit, and when I went to leave... It.. He... Spoke to me." Illuvarion ran his hand through his hair. Oropher nodded, face serious. "He took the form of a man, then, and told me his name, Zimrathôn. He was a cat, he said, in Númenor, who wished to become a smith. He met a Maia there who gave him the ability to do so." Illuvarion seemed unfazed by this, but a bit worried as to what Oropher might be thinking. "He wishes to leave, and I need an assistant, for I cannot do my work one-handed... So I brought him here. I do not know what to do, melmënya."

“Well, you already brought him here. You can hardly tell him to go back now, can you?” Oropher shrugged. “Bring him a long. It will be nice to have a pet.”

"I suppose not." Illuvarion smiled. "He is... Interesting."

“Mhm.” Oropher smiled too. “Did you get all your stuff?”

"I did." Illuvarion took Oropher's hand. "I left something of my past behind, in trade. For my... our... Future." He looked cautiously optimistic. Oropher leaned in and gave him a kiss, squeezing his hand.

“Good on you.”

Illuvarion looked at the cat, who seemed to have melted all over the anvil, snoring quietly. "He reminds me of Airwë," he whispered. "But he could not speak nor take human form."

“I’d like to see.” said Oropher, walking over to pick up the anvil and bury his nose in Zimrathôn’s fur. “Ooooi. You awake?” Zimrathôn raised his head lazily and said,

“No.”

Illuvarion stifled a laugh. He felt that whatever he was about to witness might be amusing. Oropher opened his eyes wide and recoiled.

“HEEEEEEEEEEH!” In shock, Oropher nearly dropped the anvil. Struggling to keep up the Quenya he asked, “Your… voice!”

“Shush.” Zimrathôn batted Oropher’s face with a paw. “I’ll bite you.”

Illuvarion laughed. "That was my reaction, as well!" Oropher looked at him and schooled his face into stoicism.

“Hngh. I’ve heard bears with more delicate voices than that.”

“I warned you.” said Zimrathôn, and did a plemp over Oropher’s hand. It didn’t hurt too much, and Oropher hoisted the anvil up a bit higher. Zimrathôn shifted to sit on his head, where it was hot from baking in the sun all day. “Zzzzz….”

Illuvarion looked thrilled with this. He picked up with his one good hand one last chest of goods to be stowed, and steeled himself to be away from solid land again.

 

~

 

On and on the elves sailed, now with a cat and fresh supplies. They went around the coast until they sailed into the Anduin, which was narrow enough to let everyone see the banks on either side of the ship. Illuvarion, bolder but still fearful of the water, gripped the railing a bit tighter than was necessary. The movement of the ship in these shallower waters was slower, and he did not fear quite so much being claimed immediately by Ulmo with one misstep.

"Oropher..." He looked at his partner. "Where... Where are we?"

“We’re in the Anduin.” Neldarion had told Oropher this, and he relayed the information to Illuvarion. “It’s going to be too shallow to continue soon, so we will walk into the nearest forest. Lorinand, I think it’s called.”

Illuvarion furrowed his brow slightly, and briefly disappeared to procure some dusty parchments and scrolls from his belongings. He spread a map upon the deck and looked at it. His own handwriting littered the carefully drawn landscape. "It... Will not be that simple. Well, it will. But you see..." He gestured towards a spot on the map. Oropher looked at it.

“What?”

"A mountainous region. My research, though I have not been here, at the time of drawing this map indicated that there will be an astounding waterfall as the Anduin drops into this vale from above. We will need to hike, if we are lucky; climb if we are not."

“What will we do with this ship?” asked Oropher, beginning to look worried.

Illuvarion shrugged. "At some point, either when we reach this barrier or when the river grows too shallow, we will be forced to leave it, I suppose. I am of the understanding, however, that various beasts of burden populate these lands. Cattle, horses, aurochs.”

“What the fuck is an aurochs?”

Illuvarion described a large, wild, wool-coated ancient type of bull or cow. "They roam in herds. I do not know how to domesticate animals, however, so perhaps it is of no use."

“I wonder if they taste good.” Oropher mused with a finger to his lip.

"They do," Illuvarion said. "And they are huge."

Oropher smiled, then he shook his head. “Don’t worry. We’ll find some way to get our stuff into the Greenwood. I don’t think any animals will want to carry our belongings if they see us catching and eating them.”

Illuvarion shrugged. He had not eaten since they set sail, save fruit and wine, and while indeed aurochs were delicious he had no desire to eat. "I will leave this up to you." He leaned forward and kissed Oropher gently. "Your leadership has not faltered this far, my King."

Oropher’s entire face flushed bright red and he parted his lips, sighing.

“I… do my best.”

Suddenly, Neldarion threw a stick at Oropher.

“Oi! We’re going to run aground soon if we don’t stop. Shall we moor here?”

Oropher nodded and rubbed his head. The sharp edge had poked him quite hard, but he didn’t mind too much.

Illuvarion looked crossly at Neldarion. "Was throwing a stick at him truly necessary?"

Neldarion shrugged and then went to throw the anchor overboard. Up ahead the sound of a waterfall could be heard crashing over rocks. Mountains akin to the ones drawn on Illuvarion’s map rose out of the ground, obscured by thick fog. Illuvarion stood, shading his eyes with his right forearm, and holding his map in his left hand. "Indeed I was correct. There should be, by these admittedly ancient estimates, a rather gentle path up, to the west. Above the falls is a lake, and the river continues, by my estimate, unimpeded."

Oropher had a thought. “I wonder if I can lift the boat…”

Illuvarion was fretting over some of his now-prized craft tools. He felt a sour mood come over him at the thought of abandoning it, but he knew that the fittings for a proper forge were not something that could easily be moved. He would have to leave much of it behind. As if reading his mind, Oropher offered.

“I can carry some of your stuff, you know.”

Illuvarion looked a bit embarrassed, fretting over his belongings when the task at hand was truly to move the company of elves (and one cat). "It is... It is nothing about which to worry."

“Of course it is. You’re worrying.” Oropher squeezed Illuvarion’s shoulder and nearly dislocated it. Illuvarion smiled, and cracked his shoulder back into place. "I am trying not to, my love. I am trying to think only of the good of our company as a whole."

“I see. Well!” Oropher smacked his hands together, rubbing them to create warmth. “I’ll at least carry your anvil. We can make a forge out of stones and stuff. Maybe dig underground until we find lava, I don’t know.” Illuvarion knew that he would not be able to argue his stubborn mate out of this, and simply kissed Oropher's cheek.

"I thank you, and only wish I could be of more use in carrying things."

“You can carry the cat.” said Oropher, shortly before said cat sidled up to him in human form. Still half-naked and wearing only his apron, he nuzzled Oropher.

“I can walk just fine if it would be of more help.”

The Quenya surprised Oropher, who nearly backhanded Zimrathôn in the face.

“Agh, you.” He patted the redhead lightly. “Fine. You can help carry the chests.”

Illuvarion sighed. "I will change clothes," he said. "Work must be done." He disappeared below the deck.

 

~

 

It was late in the afternoon as the Telerin said goodbye to their ship and walked with the Sindar, Noldo and Cat towards the Western path through the mountains. The Sindar had talked to a few animals that bore sacks of supplies, while those who could roll wine barrels did so. It was a long, hard trek up the mountainside. Illuvarion was glad of his decision to wear more serviceable clothing. Dressed simply in black breeches, a black, high-collared, military-style tunic and knee-high boots with a carmine-red sash about his waist, he was unable to hide his military service of more than an age, nor did he care to any longer. He wore a sword at his right hip - he worried that tensions would rise and he may face threats from "friends", as well as unknown foes. With little he could do in terms of carrying things, he sought to make sure nobody fell behind or became exhausted, and made his way back down towards the bulk of the group. Oropher lead the way, striding alongside a strong horse that carried what it said it could handle. He set the anvil and massive chest down before raising a hand, signaling everyone to stop. They had reached the top of the waterfall, and there was clean, fresh water to drink from the river that stretched into the distance. He felt exhilarated from such a good bit of exercise.

Illuvarion was glad of the fact that the Eldar were fairly tireless, for he had done quite a bit of climbing nimbly up and down the trail and making sure things went smoothly and that none were injured or left behind. He fought back a fair bit of irritation at the two prissy Telerin nobles who seemed to always find some way to impede his attempts at assistance, of them or if anyone else. He wanted to kick both of them down off the mountain, but he did not. Instead, he grumbled to himself in Quenya, out of earshot. He stood then and, indulging some of his Noldorin vanity, admired his reflection in the calm water. 'Ai, I always did look good this way.'

Oropher meanwhile sat down and drank a fair bit of water, letting the animals rest from carrying heavy loads. Satisfied with his appearance and still irritated at members of their company, Illuvarion walked over and sat next to Oropher. He leaned back on one arm, demeanor quite different than when he was dressed, as he usually was, in robes and in jewelry. "Well... We have come this far."

Oropher nodded, face dripping wet. His clothes were drenched all the way down his chest, too.

"Mhm. Still got a way to go."

Illuvarion nodded and laid flat against the ground to more easily get water to his mouth without having a vessel to drink from. He sat up, wet, and leaned back again."Indeed." He shook his long hair, now also wet, back over his shoulder. He thought a moment, and produced a length of red cloth, the same as the sash at his waist, from his pocket, and held it out. "Melmënya... Would you..." He looked embarrassed at asking for help with something so trivial. "Would you please tie my hair back for me?"

“Alright, I’ll lenda hand.” said Oropher, smiling as he took the cloth and began twisting it up in Illuvarion’s hair. He managed to pull all the hair back into a ponytail, surprisingly tight and neat. Illuvarion was thrilled to finally have his hair out of his face, but still felt the tips of his ears burning with indignation. Him, having to ask for help...

"Thank you." He sighed.

Oropher nodded and lay back in the grass. Illuvarion stretched, and leaned down close to Oropher. He then nipped the tip of his ear, gently, and said "Lend a hand? Really?" Laughing, though, he nuzzled his face against the Sinda's neck, and whispered, "It is good that I love you. Otherwise I would not laugh so at such terrible puns, and at my own expense."

“You can fight me, if you want.” Oropher turned to cuddle Illuvarion and squirmed against him. Illuvarion put an arm over Oropher's squirmy body.

"Mm, while I am dressed for true combat, I do not wish to fight you. I do wish to do this, however." He leaned in and stole a kiss from his lover, gently. His irritation at the Telerin jackassery was fast fading, and his mood improving. Oropher returned his kisses with a big steal of his own, opening his mouth wide and smooching the heck out of Illuarion’s face.

“Glermph.”

Illuvarion made uncharacteristically cute noises at this and pulled Oropher close to him. "Ai, melmënya..." He did not follow it with anything, just nestled his head happily against Oropher's chest, sighing contentedly.

Oropher was happy with this arrangement and lay with Illu, comfortable.

Illuvarion, relaxed now, started to doze off in the shade, breathing becoming quiet and his body still.

Oropher and his band of cool dudes made their way along the Anduin, finally catching sight of Lorinand to the left. It was on the other side of the massive river.Illuvarion had not said anything for quite a while, rather deep in thought. He looked across the river into the ancient forest there, and tilted his head to the side. "Elves."

"No shit." said Neldorion, face brightening. "Smells like Sindar! Let's go!" He started running, and Oropher followed him as fast as he could.

Illuvarion cursed to himself in Quenya, and took his sweet ass time following. He was finding that despite there really being little to become irritated about, he was becoming more irritated by more things the further into Wood Elf Territory™ he was taken.

Oropher yelled into the forest once he'd gotten a good distance in.

"AAAAAAAY! ANYONE IN HERE?"

High up in an ancient beech, Amdír lounged upon the talan he favoured for late-afternoon day-drinking. He heard a familiar voice, shockingly. "AY FAM IS THAT OROPHER I HEAR? GET YA ASS IN HERE CUZ!" He slid lightly down a rope and landed on the ground.

Oropher took one look at him and threw out his arms. "AAAAAAAY!" He leapt forth and crushed his cousin in a tight, squeezy hug.

Illuvarion stood back a ways, leaning against a tree. Wonderful. Yet more forsaken wood-elves. I cannot wait for these to treat me as well as the rest.

Amdír cheered and fist-bumped Oropher. "We had heard nothing of you, and thought you dead. Where have you been!? And why aren't we drinking yet?!!" He made a hand gesture and a number of giggling Sindar and Silvan elves went scurrying to find booze.

"Ah, I was caught up with some nasty Noldorin business." Oropher spoke a dirty Doriathian dialect that reflected his comfort and trust in Amdir. "But I'm going to live in the Greenwood! We've walked all the way from the waterfall."

Illuvarion coughed. Nasty Noldorin business. He closed his eyes and took a few calming breaths, trying to keep his ill temper from turning into seething resentment. At least, perhaps, they could not see his irritation, from where he stood, away from the group.

Amdír stopped and looked around, holding out his hand. He sniffed the air, and his eyes went wide. In the same nearly unintelligible dialect he warned, "I smell blood. You have been followed. The Noldor yet pursue you; we will end this."

Illuvarion gave up on trying to keep from seething.

Oropher leaned in and sniffed Amdir's neck. He could smell tension and something like crushed grapes.

"Ai, calm yourself. I brought one along with me, and rest assured as long as I am near he will not hurt you." He then gave his cousin a firm, friendly kiss on the lips. Another greeting, perhaps.

Illuvarion, finally out of his military clothes - perhaps thankfully so - wore semi-formal, silken robes of charcoal and mist-grey, and reluctantly stepped forward from the place he had been calling a small refuge in a sea of wood-elves.

"Even if he is not near, I will not hurt you," Illuvarion said, in Sindarin.

"Silence. I did not bid my cousin's prisoner to speak." Amdír dismissively waved his hand at Illuvarion.

Oropher set his heavy hand on Amdir's shoulder.

"I see the years have not made you any softer."

Illuvarion hissed through gritted teeth. "You do not rule me, and I will not be silenced."

Amdír glowered. "Restrain him or I will kill him myself."

Oropher felt a bit ignored and went over to Illuvarion, wrapping his arms around the feisty Noldo in a big, warm hug.

"Shh..." he whispered, using his best 'inside voice'. "For me."

Illuvarion wanted nothing LESS than to be hugged at this moment. He squirmed about, much like a cat that did not want to be held. "Let. Me. GO." His eyes were two deep silvery pools of hurt and pain. "If you are ashamed of me, I will go. They need not know my name or anything about me." He finally broke free, repelling Oropher with magic and will. Illuvarion turned to Amdír, nearly panting with hurt and with anger. "What he will not, I see, tell you is that I am his husband. Not his prisoner. Well, then. Now that everyone's met me, I will take my filthy Noldorin business elsewhere and stop ruining the Moriquendi Family Reunion of the Second Age."

He flicked a wrist, and he was gone.

Oropher sighed, turning back to Amdir.

"He's a bit, uh..."

"Arrogant." said Lord Selinde, stepping out from behind a tree with Lord Beliond beside him. "Please disregard the Noldo. He is nothing more than a bad decision."

Amdír was shocked. "Oropher. Don't play jokes like this. Tell your... friend, or servant, or whoever to come back, this is in bad taste. Pff. Husband." He nodded to the Telerin nobles. "It would seem so, yes. Terrible decision indeed."

Oropher shrugged. "He's probably gone off to sulk. Please, don't worry. He won't do anything."

Neldorion sipped his wine and worried, among the other Sindar who were drinking and getting to know the other wood-elves. Illuvarion hadn't gone anywhere. He was standing right where he'd been when he disappeared, cloaked in sorcery and trying to calm how utterly betrayed he felt. ‘Gone off to sulk. How... How could you.’

Amdír shook his head. "Well, we can only hope he doesn't come back, yes? For your sake, cousin."

Oropher shrugged. "Whatever."

'It's better I don't say much.'

"Anyway! It has been far too long since I have seen you. Please, do tell me how being Lord of Lorinand has treated you." Amdír began to go on about how wonderful it has been to be running his own personal wood-elf bonanza out here in Rhovanion, without all the filthy Noldor around to fuck shit up. Illuvarion fled through the woods, cloaked in shadow and weeping, openly. 'I should have thrown myself in the sea last time.' he thought, 'Before I had to learn that I was right about myself. Unlovable. Cursed. Tainted.' He looked around. 'I suppose the river will do. Perhaps Mandos will be kind, and at least let me see my cat.'

'I loved you...Why... Why did you do this?'

Oropher felt his lover's pain and it hit him like a sack of bricks. He collapsed, unconscious from the force - he'd not felt anything like this before, being so repressed.

Illuvarion gasped, the sensation of Oropher's sudden unconsciousness snapping him back to reality. He darted back through the woods, worried that violence had befallen his beloved. And before anyone could do anything, he was visible again, crouched over Oropher's unconscious form.

"I will kill whichever of you did this to him, if violence befell him."

Amdír felt a little woozy himself at all of this, and held a hand up, ready to tell his archers to fire. He would end this drama. "This has gone far enough."

Oropher looked pained as he lay, having blacked out from being unable to deal with the feels. The Sindar stared.

Illuvarion stood and snarled at Amdír. "You believe me not? What, are your Sindarin senses too weak? Here, if you cannot smell this in my skin, I will bleed." He took the sword he still wore at his waist, and cut his right forearm, and then smeared the blood across a curiously immobile and blessedly quiet Amdír's face. "You speak of the filthy business of the Noldor." he spat. "I visited Menegroth. I remember Doriathian hospitality." The shoulders and front of the robe he wore burnt away, the fabric falling away in embers, which stayed flickering about his now very naked form. "I was injured. I sought aid." He raised his arms, showing the violent scars down his sides. "I spent the next six months in some forsaken cavern in your precious city. Shall I tell you about how it feels to have thorns and sand put in the unhealed wounds caused by whips and knives? Or how it felt to have my hair shorn off? Or the burns?" I have come here seeking nothing - NOTHING - outside of a home, with my beloved. Peace. You seek to take away my redemption, and then curse me for being irredeemable."

Illuvarion gestured towards Amdír, in a way indicating that he was tired, and very done. Amdír stared and the extremely hurt, angry, naked sorcerer in front of him, whose blood was smeared across his face. "You do not lie."

Illuvarion did not move. "I do not. We are bound."

“BOUND?!” Lord Selinde spat, aghast. “However did you coerce him into that?”

“Disgusting.” Lord Beliond agreed.

Illuvarion stepped towards the two. "He was close to death; so close that I could not use sorcery nor healing to revive him. I cut my own veins and asked the Valar themselves for help, if even they would listen to one such as myself. That perhaps they would take my life for his, or use some of my fëa to revive him."

He glared at the repugnant pair of pretentious jerkoffs. They began to snicker.

“Bahahah, the Valar helping you, a filthy Noldo? And what was that you said about sorcery?” Lord Beliond looked to Amdir. “We should not trust him.”

Illuvarion felt his hand about Beliond's neck, and put his face close to the Lord's. "The only reason you yet live is because I have spilt enough of your kind's miserable blood to sate me for two lifetimes. I have had enough of your snide remarks and derision. Kinslayer. Do you loathe me so? Would you care to pen your name next to mine in that particular roster? Would the satisfaction be worth it? Never seeing the shores of... Oh, I'm sorry. Have you not been to Valinor? IT IS BEAUTIFUL. If this is a trade you would be willing to make, draw the blade at my side." He leaned closer still. "Exile... is a very... very... very... long... time."

Lord Beliond sneered with more disgust than was natural for an elf. “Everyone I have ever loved is dead because of your lot.” He then addressed everyone around. “See how base and cruel the Noldor are! Unable to hear the truth of their crimes!” He turned to Illuvarion then, squeezing the wrist attached to the hand at his throat. “Go on, then. Let me see Valinor from Mandos’s balcony.”

Illuvarion shook his head sadly. "I will not. The truth of my crimes. Trust me, I see. I see it every time I close my eyes, unless I try not to. I see it every time one of you whispers behind my back or doesn't trust me and I understand why. You shouldn't. But I have been living this punishment longer than you have been alive and your grandchildren will be in Aman while I still live it. Leave me be. I want nothing more than to find peace. Somewhere that I may suffer in relative privacy."

“Maybe you should stop being such a terrible, violent jerk and unhand me.” said Lord Beliond, pushing Illuvarion’s wrist away. He wiped his hands on his tunic, disgusted. Then he bent and inspected Oropher. ‘Is he dead?’

Amdír had been conferring with a small group of the Silvan elves, but this conversation did not escape him. He turned, and looked at the Telerin noble. "Haven't you done enough to torment him? Is this a game to you?"

Illuvarion stood for a moment, as hot tears fell down his cheeks, as they often did when he did not bid them stop. He sank to the ground next to Oropher and put his head on his lover's chest. Lord Beliond glared at Amdir and said nothing, instead going off with Lord Selinde somewhere private. Oropher's chest rose and fell with slow breaths. He appeared to be asleep. Illuvarion gave Amdír, still very skeptical of his presence in general, a genuinely grateful look and ran his hand down Oropher's cheek.

"O... Oropher? Melmënya? Wake up, it is... It is Silwë." He spoke so quietly that only Oropher could hear him. Oropher did not wake. Amdir raised an eyebrow.

“Maybe put him somewhere to rest. He does this occasionally when the world gets too much for him.”

Illuvarion stood, unconcerned with his present nudity. "Where shall I take him?"

“There’s a guest talan that way.” Amdir gestured, and though the Silvan and Sindar could see it, Illuvarion could not. Realizing this, Amdir sighed and gestured to some of his guards. They picked up Oropher and carried him off, scaling the tree like it was a ladder. Illuvarion sighed, and instead of asking for help, scaled the tree one-handed. ‘The Noldor don’t fuck around’ he thought, irritated. While he took forever to get up there, the guards said nothing as they descended. Oropher lay on a white-sheeted bed, arranged like a corpse. Illuvarion knelt next to Oropher, and then lay at his side, one arm over his lover's chest. He buried his face in the sleeping Sinda's neck.

"Oropher...”

Oropher was not ready to wake. He floated in a sea of black, ignorant bliss and knew nothing but his own forced peace. Illuvarion simply lay down at Oropher's side to wait, trying to keep from dwelling on the words said and actions taken. He spoke softly to himself in Quenya, to calm himself.

 

~

 

The next day, it was well past noon when Oropher awoke. He sat bolt upright in bed, alert. Illuvarion gasped, terrified for a moment. He had fallen asleep. Oropher quickly looked around. He wasn’t going to ask what time it was, how long it had been. He just knew he wanted something to eat. He bolted out of the talan and promptly went over the edge, falling fifty feet to the forest floor. Something cracked. Illuvarion dropped the fifty feet to the ground, and did not land quite as lightly as he would have hoped. He was uninjured, but it was not graceful. He went to Oropher's side, to see what may be wrong. He had a bad feeling.

Oropher had broken his neck, and looked more angry than anguished. “Ow, what the FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK?!” he roared, writhing around. “Who put me in a tree??”

Illuvarion knelt next to him, arms outstretched, doing his best to heal this. "Melmënya, please stop thrashing so I may heal you. Amdír, your cousin, put you there."

“Nngnghgh!” Oropher’s face burned with shame. ‘I can’t believe I fell out of a tree… I didn’t expect to be up there…’ He stilled eventually. A few Silvan were around, laughing at him.

Illuvarion kissed his cheek, lightly, and set about doing some serious sorcery to fix his beloved's broken neck. ‘Ai, I still... It still hurts, why does it hurt...’ He shook his head. Oropher looked at him as his neck was healed, feeling strange.

“What’s the matter with you?”

Illuvarion looked sad. "The... my meeting with your cousin and his people went poorly. And then, you..." He looked away.

Oropher sat up and sighed. “You’re a Noldo, meleth nín. I… was trying to be diplomatic… diffuse the situation…”

Illuvarion looked hurt. "You insulted me, and my people. When others did it, you did not stop them. When I left, you did not look for me, and when others said it a good thing, you said nothing. They called me your servant. Your prisoner. You did not correct them."

“It was going well!” said Oropher, insisting that he had calmed Amdir before he brought violence to Illuvarion. “I said what I felt was right, knowing that it would not hurt you if you did not hear. Do you think I spoke the truth about you, or stood there and listened, agreeing in silence? I did not.” His voice began to climb higher in volume, lower in pitch.

Illuvarion shut up and closed his eyes. Oropher stood tall above him and glared.

“When I do not know what to say, I say nothing at all. This you should know.” Then Oropher turned and walked off, scaling a tree moments later. Illuvarion stared off into the distance as his lover went to see what the others were up to.

Amdír was turnt af, laying on a couch with his head in the lap of a very satisfied looking Silvan elf. "AYYYYYYYYYY OROOOOOOOO"!~

Oropher smiled thinly. “Ayy. What are you doing?”

Amdír laughed in that musical wood-elf kind of way. "Wine, companionship, music... Life grows dull without it!" He laughed. "Meehehehehe, have you called off your attack dog or shall we be treated to another installment of your... "partner”’s... tiresome Noldorin drama?"

Oropher shook his head and flopped onto the couch, leaning on the Silvan who nearly collapsed from his weight. “He won’t be bothering us for a while.” He swept a goblet of wine from the table and drained it, groaning softly.

Amdír nodded. "Good. Can't you simply leave him somewhere?" He refilled Oropher's wine goblet. "He's intolerable. He gave everyone quite a show in some sort of attempt to convince people that he can FEEL." Amdír laughed as though this was the most hilarious thing he had ever heard of. "We've placed bets on whether it's possible to make him cry again, or if he will use that creepy sorcery."

Oropher drank his wine and let himself laugh, deep and thunderous. “Ahahah! He just used that sorcery to heal me after I fell right out of the talan.” Then he sniffed. “Mm, you got anything to eat?” Someone brought over a huge plate of cream puffs, which Oropher sank his teeth into for the first time. The delicious combination of two things he didn’t usually eat, sugar and fat, awoke his senses to a whole new world of indulgence. Amdír thought to himself for a while, which was hard, because he was heckin fucked up on wine, women, and dongs. He eventually, however, came to a solution to his cousin's problem.

"Just tell him to leave. What good is he to you?"

Oropher coughed. “Uhm. Well, he loves me.”

Amdír laughed as though this was the joke to end all jokes handed down from Manwë himself in a box marked "dope jokes".

"Oh please. No, no, Oro... Hueueueueue... Ahem. Please, I'm trying to be serious."

“Me too!” Oropher drank some of his wine. “He bonded himself to me.”

"Yes, I..." Amdír made a face like something smelt of death. "I smelled that. Why in all Arda would you do such a thing?"

“I didn’t.” Oropher sighed. “He did it to bring me from Mandos’s halls, removing some sort of Noldorin necromantic bullshit.”

Amdír looked grave. "This is unforgivable. He did this to you, you did not wish it. We will discuss this no longer. I will fix this problem for you, my dear cousin." He waved his hand. "Pfh. Love. I could burn his eye out and he would feel nothing. He's a Noldo, Oropher. They don't feel."

“I know, I know.” Oropher nodded and grabbed Amdir’s hand between his teeth, nibbling it. He thought for a while before saying, “He is dangerous. I would not have you approach him, for he wears sorcerous armor so strong it can withstand my force.”

Illuvarion rolled over, finally willing to allow his consciousness to surface again. His heart hurt and he felt betrayed, exhausted. He wanted only to go and find Oropher, pretend nothing had happened, and go to sleep. He wrapped himself in simple but ornately embroidered deep blue robes, armoured himself as best he could with his limited energy, and slipped unseen through the trees.

Amdír giggled. "Hehehehe... Well, we will have to enlist your help then, he won't expect it. Perfect!"

Oropher shook his head. “I don’t want to kill him.” Finishing his wine, he ran his hands through Amdir’s hair. “He is to be my consort once I become the King of the Greenwood. No-one else will have me.”

Amdír sighed. "Cousin, anyone would. You will be the King of the Greenwood! Do not curse yourself and your realm. You do not love this... thing."

“I haven’t felt this way about anyone before.” Oropher looked uncertain. “Unless he has somehow tainted my mind… I believe this love is true.”

Illuvarion was shocked that neither of them had noticed the fact that he'd come to sit in the branches of the tree, perhaps three meters away; shrouded only by cover of night with no sorcery. And, perhaps, by cover of alcohol as well. He drew his feet up, listening.

Amdír huffed. "Consort. Pff. You would have that demon? Pah. Love." And then, he leaned in and kissed Oropher in a very un-cousinly way.

Illuvarion was so shocked he couldn't make any noises or even move, as if Morgoth himself had sat next to him upon the branch and said ‘Hey, Silwë. Want to go marlin fishing?’

Oropher was shocked too, but pleasantly so. Kisses helped take his mind off just how much Amdir seemed to hate Illuvarion. He grabbed the back of Amdir’s head and kissed him right back, falling into the Silvan’s now very elf-filled lap. It was an open, dirty and tonguetastic kiss that Oropher thoroughly enjoyed. Illuvarion felt this as though he was actually there, and the reaction he had was sheer agony, enough that he wondered if even Amdír would feel it. He instinctively went to curl in on himself, but lost his balance. With a cry, he slipped through the branches and fell 40 feet... into the river. Oropher jerked his head up at the sound.

“What was that?”

Amdír was alarmed as well. "I don't..."

Splashing noises broke the relative silence, frantic. A yelp came among the splashes which sounded Elvish, but it was no Sindarin word Amdír had ever heard. Oropher scrambled to get out of his comfortable position and went to peek out of the talan. He saw Illuvarion drowning and remembered that he couldn’t swim.

‘Oh, fuck.’ Before he began to descend the ladder however he noticed someone speeding towards the flailing Noldo. It was Galion, in a forest-green tunic with matching breeches. He jumped straight into the river and swam for Illuvarion, grabbing him by the neck before dragging him back onto the grass. Illuvarion knew he was alive, as far as he could tell. It didn't smell like Valinor, he'd recognize that. He didn't want to open his eyes, for he knew that whoever'd pulled him from Ulmo's clutches likely wished to send him to Mandos' instead. Galion had no such wishes, instead shaking Illuvarion a bit. Illuvarion coughed uncontrollably as he sat up. He felt as though he had somehow inhaled the entirety of the Anduin's water, and half of it came up as he coughed. He was having trouble focusing his eyes, and wanted to lay back down and sleep.

Amdír fussed. "Ai, that blasted Galion? He has ruined everything! This could have been so fortunate. Now where were we."

Oropher turned back to Amdir, and now that Illuvarion was alive, he could go back to what he was enjoying. He quickly flushed negativity to the back of his mind and went to lay back with his cousin. Galion meanwhile sat on Illuvarion’s chest, bouncing up and down.

“Cough, damn it. You can’t breathe with water in your lungs.”

Illuvarion legitimately believed he was dying and coughed until Galion got off him – then he lay in a pathetic puddle, gasping. Galion looked around and saw many Sindar, some Teleri, looking quite disappointed.

“You should have let him die.” said a random, well-dressed elf. Galion shook his head.

“It is not my way.”

Illuvarion looked up. "Th... Thank you. But... You should have let me die."

Galion shook his head. “I said, it is not my way.” Then he stood up and shook himself dry, much like Oropher would. He offered his hand. Illuvarion did not look as though he wanted to go anywhere, but he took Galion's hand and stood, then looked away.

"Tell my husband that when he has time, I wish to see him."

“Okay.” Galion nodded, and held Illuvarion’s hand for a few moments. Then he released it, and looked a bit awkward. “Ahm. Are you cold?”

"I am." He smiled, weakly. ‘Ai, Oropher, what... Why?’

Galion pointed to a nearby talan. “I have some blankets up there if you want.” Oropher meanwhile was giving Amdir a good ass fucking, drunk and loud. Illuvarion kept getting flashes of images, things he did not want to believe were truly happening. He steeled himself, knelt and threw up yet more of the Anduin's waters in the grass. He looked up - part of that Fëanorian anger was back.

"Tell my husband that I am ill, and I need to see him. Send my apologies for interrupting his family reunion."

Galion went up into the tree and cleared his throat.

“Ah, Oropher… Illuvarion wants to talk to you…”

While Galion was away, Illuvarion pulled himself into the pile of blankets. He felt odd. Like he was not... fully there, physically or spiritually. His eyes fell closed. He was so tired. So weak. He had suffered, emotionally, mentally, physically, and his body sought rest. His fëa, however, felt very loosely bound. He felt and heard himself weakly call to his partner, but there was no response. The world felt as though it was slipping away from him. And though he was not dead, he fell deeply, deeply unconscious. By the time Oropher came to him nine hours later, he was still laying like a dead fish. Oropher grabbed him by the face and shook him around.

“Oi.”

Illuvarion continued laying there, not moving. He was breathing, but his breaths were laborious and shallow. Oropher sighed. ‘Well shit.’ He didn’t know what to do, so he curled up next to Illuvarion and tried to sleep. Illuvarion came to, but was barely conscious. He did not know he wasn't alone, nor where he was. Too exhausted to open his eyes, he coughed weakly, and yet more water came from his lungs. He lost consciousness again. Time passed. When Illuvarion finally reached enough consciousness to be aware of his surroundings, his first reaction was panic; he still felt as though he was drowning. He tried to sit up, but was too weak.

"Nnh." He coughed again.

Oropher twitched and stared at him, sleepy. “Silwe?”

Illuvarion felt sick. He made a sound that was between a groan and a whine, and attempted to turn away. All he managed to do was shakily shift his weight. He felt tears wet his face, so he closed his eyes. Oropher felt a little of Illuvarion’s pain through their bond and scrunched up his face.

“What’s wrong with you…?”

"You... Betrayed me." He coughed again. "I fell... I almost drowned... You did nothing... I was so cold... You were busy..." He inhaled sharply and heard, a sick, watery noise in his chest. He coughed, a harsh fit of wracking, choked sounds. "I am... I hurt. Is my love so worthless, as to trade it for... To lay with your cousin? Laughing at me?" Illuvarion sat up, kneeling and shivering. He pulled a blanket around his slender, huddled frame, and looked up with glassy eyes, wet with tears of humiliation.

"He is worthless. He does not feel. Why would you have someone such as him around? He is dangerous, a liability. Valar, just be rid of him. Useless." Illuvarion spoke, his voice hot with both hurt and shame. "Do these words sound familiar to you, melmënya? Where have you heard words such as these spoken, perhaps to you? Did they not hurt you? When the King saw fit to let his friends abuse you? When you were spoken to thus in public? Did it hurt, when none came to your aid, and all found it amusing?"

Oropher had many things to say but could not decide which to say first, and silence stretched on. He glared at Illuvarion, anger darkening his gaze.

“You equate sex with love, Silwe? Is that the way of the Noldor? Can you not see beyond your own fucking NOSE to what I have been doing?”

"No. I do not. Physical pleasure is something without which I have lived since time began, and I do not particularly equate it with anything. I equate love with dignity."

“You are a Noldo, damn it! You cannot expect my people to treat you as anything else! If I defend you, how do you think I’ll look? I have known Amdir all my life. I would not speak against him, for I know how quick he is to draw a blade.”

"I did nothing to you. I have done nothing ANY of you. I have... I have sat by while your kinsmen abuse me, silent. While your cousin abuses me. And... And you allow.. It. Laugh with them, in the name of "diplomacy". When you do not even speak my name, nor call me your husband; you did not even see fit to call me your friend, nor to give me even the barest dignity of saying I am not a prisoner or servant. Just that you will keep me from hurting anybody, as if that is something I intend to do. I understand perfectly well, better than each of you combined, that I am not one of you. But if my own partner, one to whom I am bound, will treat me only as they do, why should they feel that I am worthy of anything else?" Illuvarion choked back sobs.

"You are my everything. I adore you beyond words. You taught me to love, to feel. Were I not banned, I still would forsake Valinor to be by your side. If tomorrow Mandos himself judged me forgiven, I would stay with you still, if you would have me. Oropher, I love you. More than anyone has ever loved another, in all Arda. Is this... Is it not enough? I wish only for your love, your respect. I ask nothing of you but this. You... I felt so ashamed. I hurt. I thought... I thought..." He lost his train of thought and wept. Oropher meanwhile grit his teeth.

“What was I supposed to do then, fuck you on the ground in front of them as my people do to show that they are bonded? Prove to Amdir that you are indeed my mate and not a prisoner? Find myself outcast from the only family I have and the only elves who will accept me because I love a Noldo?”

Illuvarion tried to calm his breathing, though tears still ran hotly down his face. "I do not know. If I could, do you think I would not, in this moment, for your sake, be of your people? Perhaps I would have been Illuvarion of Doriath, master jewelsmith to Elu Thingol. Would that I had your fine, moon-lit hair, and that I could speak Sindarin with the lilting accent of your people, rather than the odd one of mine. But I am not he. I left my people, to become one of yours, as best I may. Because I wished to find a home with you, to find peace."

"It... Oropher... It hurts me. It is like knives, and I have no armour that will protect me. I feared this, sickeningly so. But I believed you... That you would not let harm come to me."

“I cannot protect your delicate mind.” Oropher snarled. “But I can protect your body, and through diplomacy, prevent things from coming to blows. But if you will just complain when I soak up Amdir’s insults about you, just so you can rest here before we move on, what am I to do? Without me, you would have been slaughtered by these elves.”

Illuvarion whispered, resigned. "I fell, last night. Nearly to my death. I know you saw this. I know that I had been saved and you did not need interfere. But I lay here... Cold, trying to cough the entirety of the River Anduin from my lungs; terrified that some of those forsaken Teleri would find me and do what the river could not."

"And I woke sometimes, over the entire night, from the most horrifying unconsciousness; I felt ever like I was still beneath the water. Shivering, alone. Trying to call for you, and unable because I cannot breathe water. How long, seven, eight hours? More?"

Illuvarion let out a small, hurt yelp, for he had no words to describe the pain.

Oropher blinked. "I was here, beside you."

Illuvarion looked confused. He had been sure that throughout the previous night he had been alone.

Oropher put his hand on his lover's chest. "Did you not notice?"

"I... You were here the last time I awoke..." Illuvarion felt panic rising. he worried that perhaps he was being lied to. Or that he was crazy.

"I was here." Oropher insisted. "I also... was very, very drunk.:

Illuvarion gave up on trying to make sense. He let out a sob, and then a long, aching cry, and fell against Oropher. "I... I... If you truly do love me, it... It is enough. Please... Will you hold me, for a while?"

Oropher said nothing and held Illuvarion, as requested. Illuvarion was less than comforted by this silence, and stiffened a bit. He bit his lip, deciding whether he would say something. Oropher merely held him without a sound.

Illuvarion felt tears well up again, and did not know the reason. "Is... Is something wrong?" He whispered almost hesitantly. "You seem... Something seems wrong."

Oropher looked down at Illuvarion and held his chin. He squeezed it a bit, then the cheeks, but said nothing. Unsure as to whether this was comforting or not, Illuvarion tried to be still. But, as the Noldor are prone to do, he could not stop dissecting and analyzing the situation. His breathing became shallow and quick, though he did not notice this; what he did notice was a rising feeling of anxious fear, of near-panic. Oropher was laying perfectly still now, and his hands went limp around Illuvarion's waist.

Illuvarion turned. "I... Oropher? Are.. Are you alright?"

Oropher closed his eyes. "I do not like when you doubt me."

"I do not wish to." Illuvarion stopped, making a decision. He said, utterly certain, "If you tell me something is so, it is so. I will not let my trust falter any longer based upon my fears."

Illuvarion softened considerably, the anxiety and fear fading as though bidden by his decision. "I have come this far, at your side. I will not doubt you now, as you did not doubt me in Lindon."

Oropher nodded then, and made a soft, low whine.

Illuvarion touched Oropher's cheek, in response to his whine. "Is there anything... Anything at all... I can do for you, now?"

Oropher shook his head. "I do not think so. Let me rest..."

"Shall I leave?" Illuvarion did not know what would be the right thing to do.

"If you want." Oropher muttered. "Ughnn..." He did not sound very well at all.

Illuvarion furrowed his brow. "Melmënya, I do not like this... You do not look well. I will see if I can do anything." He held out his hand, examining Oropher, in his sorcerous way, for any illness, injury, or corruption.

"You are under a great deal of stress, my love. I... I know that much of this is my fault, perhaps, but... Will you tell me what troubles you?" Illuvarion looked worried. He could not tell if this was emotional, or whether there was some unseen injury or illness.

Oropher shook his head. "No... I just... am tired..."

Illuvarion sighed, and resisted the idea to try and look into Oropher's mind and see what was going on. "Then you should rest. I will not trouble you. I will leave if you wish."

Oropher turned away from Illuvarion, curling into a small ball. Illuvarion reached out to comfort Oropher, but withdrew his hand. He liked this situation only fractionally more than he would like getting banged in the ass by a Balrog.

He was silent for a moment, then whispered, "Le melin." and climbed slowly down the ladder to the ground.

Illuvarion slipped a soft, dove grey robe over his shoulders. It was elegant, with darker grey embroidery of vines and leaves about the shoulders, but quite simple. Casual, for him. It was the kind that seemed common as everyday clothing among the Sindar, though he wore it most often under more formal robes, for warmth. Its clasps were easy to operate one handed, however, and it felt out of place to dress formally. He wanted to lessen the number of things about which he could be mocked.’Should I go barefoot? Is that their custom? Ai, I do not know where the slippers are that match this... I suppose I will try. I am sure they will find it hilarious.’

Amdir was reclining on a low tree branch, sipping some wine. He caught sight of Illuvarion and nearly fell out.

Illuvarion looked up at this. He bit his tongue, and waved.

Amdir sipped his wine. "Trying to imitate my folk are you?"

Illuvarion shrugged. "As good a time as any. May I speak with you?"

"You are. What do you want?"

"I have come to apologize. I acted poorly, and I regret it. I am a guest in your land, and it was wrong of me to let my wounded pride insult your hospitality." Illuvarion smiled. "I mean no harm to you, your land, or your people. I do not ask that you like me, or even try to. You have your reasons. I understand. I am sorry."

Illuvarion shrugged softly then. "You need not even accept my apology. Just know that I do feel, and what I feel is regret."

Amdir didn't believe Illuvarion for a second, but humored him nonetheless.

"Alright." he said, drinking a little more.

"I care deeply for your cousin, and I feel that I have done him a disservice in acting rashly." Illuvarion sighed, knowing this would get him nowhere, but wishing nonetheless to make known his honest feelings of regret. He looked down, trying to fight feeling vulnerable. "I... I do not know the ways of your people. I am sorry. I know only your language, and that you do not trust me."

"We have good reason." said Amdir, hanging upside down in the tree. "Whatever you do, you will never be one of us. But Oropher would appreciate it if you tried."

"I do not seek to be one of you. I cannot be. But I hope to do what I may to at least... Be tolerated." Illuvarion sighed. "I cannot easily change my ways, no more than you could suddenly hop out of your tree and speak to me about the history and politics of high Noldorin society, in Quenya. It would be ridiculous of me to ask this of you. But I hope to adopt new ones, for I plan to live among your people."

Amdir fell from the tree and drew himself up to his full height.

"You will never live among my people." He shook his head. "I will not allow it."

Illuvarion stood firm. "I do not plan to live in Lórinand, though it is admittedly beautiful here, and reminds me much of my homeland. I plan to live in the Greenwood, with Oropher. I have yet to see any additional Noldor for the Valar only know how long, so wherever I may live, it will be, in some way, among your people."

Amdir hissed. "Go and live in the Greenwood then. Make whatever life you choose there. But it will be long before I will welcome you into my land."

"I do not seek welcome here, Amdír. I do thank you for the hospitality you have extended to me, doubly so because I know that you loathe me." Illuvarion shrugged. "I am old, and I am tired. I do not seek conflict. I seek to do what I may to live peacefully here."

Amdir continued to give Illuvarion a fierce, hateful look. "Fine."

"I will leave, but may I ask a somewhat personal question?" Illuvarion tilted his head to the side.

Amdir raised a brow. "What?"

"I can see that you hate me, and I do not ask that you cease this, though it would be much easier on me. But I... I wish to know why it is that you seek to turn Oropher's mind, as well. I realize that you question his judgment, but we are a long way from even the furthest outpost held by the Noldor. I came willingly into these hostile lands to be with him, and he wished for me to come. What good has it done, your insistent hatred, other than to cause both myself and my partner heartache?"

Amdír narrowed his eyes, and did not say anything for a time. He was considering whether the Noldo was asking him an honest question, or whether he was simply baiting him. It was, however... It was a good question.

"I will answer your question. Oropher does not know what he does, most of the time. He does not think before he acts. He acts, and then others must either accommodate or repair the situation. I am attempting to repair the situation. You are foolish, and I have never seen a Noldo more blindly trusting; You are a whim of his gone on too long. I do not know that he is capable of the love you claim to seek."

Illuvarion looked unfazed. "You speak poorly of your cousin."

Amdír glared coldly at Illuvarion. "Who are you to accuse me of poor speech? He is not your cousin. You do not know him. He is rash, and he is... He is not... Oropher relies on instinct, for he has little else." He seemed to soften a little bit, as though he were speaking of a child who tries heckin hard to draw a tree, but then somehow falls down a hole. "He would not suddenly be beloved of a scholar. He cannot read, nor write. You are a fantasy."

Illuvarion looked at Amdír. "You are correct. I am not his cousin. I am his husband. And I know him damned well enough to know that he is not incapable, nor unintelligent. He is rash, yes, and reckless. Too strong. And no, he does not think things through, on occasion. But he is not stupid, Amdír. Certainly not too stupid to know how he feels."

Amdir narrowed his eyes. "He is stupid. What makes you think otherwise?"

"He learns, Amdír. Anything he is taught. Adapts. This is not the hallmark of stupidity." Illuvarion sighed. "It is a tragedy, how the world sees and treats him."

Amdir shrugged. "I think you're insane. Oropher is as thick as his dick, which as I know is quite thick. He cannot tell left from right."

Illuvarion furrowed his brow. "Would you speak now to me of Oropher as you did to him, of me? What have you to gain, speaking ill behind the back of your cousin?"

"I speak only the truth." Amdir stretched his long, slender limbs.

Illuvarion shook his head. "You speak only what you wish to call the truth. You spoke ill of me, though you know me not; you speak ill of your own cousin, whom you claim to love. I have no family, I never have. Oropher is all I have. I will not, and have never, spoken ill of him." He raised his right arm. "I loathe, always, to hear it done, and have from the first moment I met him. I believe in him, and ever will. I will come to his defense at all costs. I lost my hand to this, and nearly my own life later. I regret none of it."

Amdir began to laugh, high-pitched and musical. “Ahahahahaha! You are a fool, like all your kin. I grow tired of speaking to you, of listening to your nonsense.”

Illuvarion shrugged. "I appreciate you hearing my apology, and for your answering my question. You have been civil to me, and I thank you for this. Be well, Amdír." He turned, leaving the Lord of Lórinand to his wine, and wandered down towards the river.

Chapter Text

 

Illuvarion felt rather distressed about his meeting with Amdír and his unexpectedly insulting talk regarding Oropher. He climbed slowly back up the ladder to the platform on which he had left Oropher sleeping, a few hours prior. Oropher was laying on his stomach, staring at nothing. Illuvarion walked over, and laid down next to Oropher, also on his stomach, in the same manner. He did not say anything, thinking perhaps that he would simply keep him company. Oropher looked fairly depressed and groaned.

Illuvarion tilted his head to look at Oropher, eyes gentle and compassionate. He whispered, "If you wish to talk, I will listen. If you do not, I will simply keep you company."

Oropher's entire face seemed to be melting, and he'd flattened himself completely on the bed. He wished to be held, but did not say a word. Illuvarion held his arms open, offering. Oropher shuffled over and went limp in Illuvarion's lap. Illuvarion stroked his lover’s hair gently, saying nothing but making quiet, affectionate sounds. Oropher began to whine and could not understand why he felt so horrid.

Running the back of his hand down Oropher's cheek, Illuvarion whispered, "Everything will... Everything will be fine."

“Not for you.”

Illuvarion felt a chill. "Wh... what?"

“I know how uncomfortable you are around my people. I have tried to protect you, and you had the biggest hissy fit of the age.” Oropher’s anger bubbled over and he bit his own tongue. “Gnh!”

Illuvarion shrank, visibly. "I have apologized, to you and to your cousin."

“It still does not erase the fact and memory of what you did. How am I supposed to do anything when there is the threat of you acting out like this?”

"You have asked me to trust you. I do. I ask you to trust me. It will not happen again." Illuvarion had a rather steely undertone to his voice at this. "If you wish, I will swear to it."

Oropher sighed. “Fine, fine.” He got up then, still dressed in the clothes he’d arrived in. “You know what? I have something to do. We’re leaving tomorrow.” With that he left, mind blank by force. Illuvarion rolled over and laid flat on his back, staring up at the leaves. He didn't realize he was crying, until he realized he was making a pained, whining sound. A scratching noise could be heard from under the bed. Illuvarion lept up, fearing the worst. Zimrathôn scampered out and leapt right onto Illuvarion’s head, clinging to him.

"Good morning, Zimrathôn." Illuvarion sighed. "I suppose you've been there all night, listening to me weep and argue with my husband?" He scratched the cat behind the ear, and offered his lap instead of his head. Zimrathon carefully measured the jump before making it into Illuvarion’s lap, and rubbed himself on the Noldo’s stomach, beneath his robes.

“Mhm. It’s strange.”

"What is?" Illuvarion wiggled around, cat fur on his stomach was a bit ticklish. Zimrathôn spent a few minutes licking Illuvarion’s skin with his rough tongue before answering, voice muffled.

“The way you two are. I don’t know much of what you go on about in this language, but… it seems all your problems stem from other people.”

Illuvarion nodded. "This is true. Most people in this part of the world hate me. It would seem that their social custom requires that he pretends to as well. I was offended. He thinks I've no right to be."

Illuvarion thought to himself, ‘Am I really discussing this with the cat?’

“Hmmm….” Zimrathôn purred a little, falling back into Illuvarion’s lap and rolling on his back. “If it’s their custom, then of course he thinks what he’s doing is right. But if him behaving in line with customs offends you, then maybe you shouldn’t be present when he does.”

Illuvarion sighed. ‘ I am discussing this with the cat.’

"Well, yes. But perhaps he should have told me? I had no knowledge of this custom."

“He doesn’t seem to think about anything other than the present. I don’t think he has the capacity to.” Zimrathôn pawed at the air. “Maybe he didn’t consider it and thought you would just trust his judgement and let him deal with the situation?”

Illuvarion rubbed Zimrathôn's fuzzy, orange belly. "I suppose. Now I must fix things. If it is not shattered beyond repair." The only reply he got was a low, constant purring. Illuvarion wanted to break something, or maybe hurt someone, but he sat there with the cat dozing in his lap, trying to calm down. He had no idea why he HURT so much. This was beyond frustrating, it was... Something else. He laid back on the bed, letting the cat sleep on his chest, and tried to sleep. He couldn't.

 

Oropher had gone to Amdir, seeking to ask him some questions. Amdír was sitting in the tree where Illuvarion had left him earlier, in an unsettlingly thoughtful mood.

“Cousin!” Oropher called out. “I have to ask you some things!”

Amdír grunted, not exactly thrilled to be talking to Oropher right now. "Aight," he said, jumping down. "What is it?"

“Since I plan to run my own realm… I want to know. Where do you get all your food and wine from?”

Amdír rolled his eyes. "Ugh, just come out and ask the question, cousin. Yes, I said those things. But he wouldn't listen to me."

Oropher blinked. “Uh… I asked you about sourcing supplies…”

Amdír was having none of this evasiveness. "Bah, by the Valar. I know you sent your whiny boyfriend here to apologize, and he did an admirable job pretending he cares. He even dressed like us, said he wanted to learn our customs. I of course told him to get lost, but not before he challenged me. He thinks he knows you."

"I told him the truth. He is insane. And you are, well, as dense as a brick. Incapable, on both ends, of feeling anything. I told him he is mistaken, that what he thinks you have is a fantasy, and that I know you, and I know you do not feel these things." Amdír continued. "I don't regret it. Whatever he told you I said, there is the truth of it."

Oropher processed Amdir’s words for five minutes, staring at him all the while. As his eyebrows descended, he came to the conclusion that he did not like being insulted at all. Especially about his brain density. Angered, he shoved Amdir in the chest.

“Why would you say that? Illuvarion told me nothing, and I did not send him!”

Amdír gasped. "Ai, Oropher. Calm yourself. It is fine." Then, he laughed. "Here, with his one hand. Saying that he would not allow me to speak the truth of my own cousin."

Oropher was beginning to wise up as best he could. “What… did you say about me?”

Amdír furrowed his brows, as if he couldn't believe Oropher was bright enough to put him on like this, so he humored him and broke it down. "Your little Noldo plaything came down here and pretended that he was here to apologize. Very eloquent, remorseful. He wanted to learn about our people, I told him to go get fucked because we'd never have him. I saw through his whole ruse there. He actually did a good job of looking like he was hurt." Amdír stretched. "He then attempted, in the course of a conversation about why I would air my reservations about his very existence to you, to tell me to stop being mean to you, and that he is under the impression that you are some sort of unbridled potential rather than, as we all know, just some wood-elf berserker from backwoods nowhere with no education and no need for it. He said I was wrong, and I told him to go fuck himself."

Amdír groaned. "Oh, and some bullshit speech about his hand and saving your life or some fucking nonsense."

Oropher processed this over the course of ten minutes, standing still until he decided to grab his cousin by the throat. He pulled Amdir off the ground, letting him flail.

“I do not like when you slander me.”

Amdír coughed as he rose. "Slander? I speak the truth, cousin. Or has he convinced you that you too can be like the Noldor in crafty, cunning logic?"

Oropher did what he usually did when he didn’t like things, situations or people. He threw Amdir into the nearest tree with a surge of emotional force, enough to nearly kill him. Amdír groaned.

"Agh, Oropher, would you forsake your own blood for some filthy noldo? Do you believe the lies he told me? How he fought the King and saved your life and spoke with the Valar. As if you need some spooky outsider to help you. Why do you fight me, cousin? I am acting in your best interests!"

I killed the King, he did save my life, and as for the Valar, I don’t have a fucking clue!” He stormed over to the tree and squatted, hard and breathing heavily. “And you’re being a DICK!”

Amdír brushed himself off, aching, and grumbled to himself, perhaps a bit too loud. "I should have cut his fucking hair off, and seen how superior he felt then."

“Oh no you don’t.” Oropher jumped on Amdir and began to wrestle him in the grass.

Amdír growled. "I will not fight you over this. He is of no value, and I will not be injured for my saying as such. I warn you, cousin."

“You don’t get a choice.” said Oropher, and injured him anyway with a fierce bite to the neck.

Illuvarion did not walk all that quickly because he was weak, tired, had nearly drowned, and had been weeping for about six hours. But, he made his way to the impromptu wood-elf fight club arena and said "Stop, melmënya. You will kill him."

Amdír flailed around and bit Oropher hard enough to tear a chunk of flesh out of his right bicep. Oropher moaned heavily, closing his eyes for a moment before flexing and showering Amdir in blood. Then, smacking Amdir in the face, he turned to Illuvarion.

“It’s how my people settle disagreements.”

Illuvarion nodded. "Did he truly say he would cut off my hair?"

“Mhm.”

Illuvarion felt that he did not have much to say or add. Acting on impulse, he lay down in the grass on his side, and raised himself on one arm..

"So, am I... Do I just watch? Or is it a private thing where I leave? You can explain the custom to me after you are finished. But I will stay here, for now."

Oropher straddled Amdir, nearly stabbing him to death with his cock.

“It’s so hard not to kill you.” he grunted. “But you deserve it.”

Amdír was nearly choking trying to breathe. But he still had that smug asshole look on his face, and you just knew he was going to say something like "What in the name of the Valar is fucking WRONG with you, Oropher? Have you lost what little sense you had? Let me up." When he did, Oropher smashed his face with his own and shut him up with a fierce kiss. Amdír had had enough of all of this for one day, and flailed around. Fierce kisses were usually his thing, but this was just too much. He shoved Oropher's shoulder and growled at him. Oropher growled right back, skinning his lips until his sharp teeth and gums were visible. He stuck his neck out and hissed, actually drooling with excitement. Valar, how he loved a good fight! Illuvarion thought this was fucking amazing. He hoped Amdír would run away and die of his own stupidity by perhaps falling down a hole, rather than a more valiant fight to the death with his cousin. He moved back a bit, however, because he was wearing a light-coloured robe and did not wish to get it bloodied.

Amdír, however, was fucking OVER IT. He shrank back, face a mask of complete betrayal. How had he been betrayed? Only Amdír knew that, but he was not happy. "Stop, you fucking savage! Valar, you are intolerable! I will not fight in front of this outsider."

Oropher understood Amdir’s body language as a rather annoyed form of submission, and still breathing heavily he grinned.

“Haah… ahah, AHAHAH! You do not fight because you cannot win!” He stood up then and licked his lips. “I don’t want you talking shit about me again.”

Amdír glared at Oropher, and spoke in real backwoods Doriathian Sindarin. "Talking shit? Are you fucking joking? What, now you believe the words this filth has spoken over that of your own family? Are you fucking crazy, Oro?"

Illuvarion rolled over on his back, and looked up at the leaves. Not quite like Valinor. But there were places similar.

“Oh shut it, you noodle-armed cunt.” Oropher pulled down his pants and waved his ass at his cousin. Then, he scooped Illuvarion off the ground and threw him over one shoulder. “You insult me. My love here doesn’t. Can you see which one I prefer?”

Illuvarion had tried very hard to NOT end up with blood all over his clothes, but it was inevitable. He made a quiet *eee* noise, and then whispered,

"I... do I have to heal him? I do not want to."

Amdír grunted and rolled around on the ground. How had this all gone so wrong? He just wanted to make sure his idiot cousin did not do anything he would regret. Apparently, however, he was too late, and he feared that the Oropher and his unlikely mate were an unstoppable fountain of terrible ideas just waiting to happen. 'Fuck him, and fuck his pretty, spooky fuckin husband. Ugh. Valar, he hits hard. I'll get his dumb ass next time.'

Seeing that Amdir was okay, Oropher grinned and skipped off through the forest with his bits hanging out, pants askew. Illuvarion felt rather awkward being carried over someone's shoulder, given that he was well over seven feet tall, but it was fine - so was Oropher. He reached down and grabbed Oropher's ass. Oropher squeaked, pleased with this. Illuvarion wiggled around a bit with a smile on his face. He did not mind being carried, and he knew that he was definitely the least heavy thing Oropher had carried in recent memory. Illuvarion did, however, make a girlish shriek when some of Oropher's hair brushed against his bare foot.

"Aaah! What was that?!"

Oropher spun around and nearly threw Illuvarion into a tree. Gripping him tight, he whipped his head left and right.

“What? What is what?”

"My... uh... ahem." Illuvarion felt embarrassed, as he realized what had happened. "Your hair brushed against my foot. It surprised me, for I rarely am without shoes."

“Oh.” Oropher blinked. He then set Illuvarion down and made a sheepish face. “Eheh..”

Illuvarion shrugged and looked a bit self-conscious. "I thought to dress in this fashion, when I went to apologize to your cousin. He laughed at me. But I knew he would. I apologized again, thanked him for his time and civility, and went down to throw rocks in the river." A bit more self-conscious. "Melmënya, I am the worst wood-elf in all the lands."

“Well of course you are.” said Oropher, pressing his hand into Illuvarion’s chest. “You’re a Noldo.”

Illuvarion smiled. "I am, indeed. But I am your Noldo, it would seem."

“Indeed.” Oropher smiled too, his hand going up to pat his lover’s face. “And you’re going to help me figure out what I asked Amdir and received no answer to. Where are we going to get food and wine in the Greenwood?”

Illuvarion shrugged. "I would ask around to some of these elves, but... With the exception of Galion, they all hate me. Amdír's people must find it somewhere. Perhaps dwarves live hither, in the mountains? Or men?"

“Hmm…” Oropher screwed up his face. “We drink a lot of wine… that’s important… and it has to be good, ancient too…”

Illuvarion nuzzled his forehead against Oropher's shoulder, and then had a thought. "There is a Dwarf-kingdom nearby. The greatest, they say. I know not the extent, perhaps it is not accessible. But these mountains, that run to the west, hold the halls of Khazad-dûm. The kingdom of the dwarven-folk."

“Eeeew…” Oropher looked visibly disgusted. “I’ll just send Galion or something to deal with them. He’ll be my…” He thought for a minute. “Ambassador?”

Illuvarion nodded. "An ambassador, exactly. He seems likable, I am sure he will do well. And, if it comes to it... The dwarven-folk and the Noldor have traditionally had rather unusually good relations. I have not spoken their language in years — it is impossibly hard to speak, at that — so I do not know how good an ambassador I woul..." he stopped. "Dwarves. Dwarves would have the components I require for my workshop."

“Then maybe on the first trip there you and Galion can go together.”

Illuvarion shrugged. "Er... Come to think of it, perhaps he should go alone, on the first try. The other side, if there is to be an entrance here, leads out into Tyleperinquar's Amateur Jewelcrafting Club.  Erm, I mean, Eregion."

“More supplies for you then, eh?” Oropher nudged Illuvarion with a smile. Illuvarion blushed, and squeezed Oropher's hand.

"I promised to create wondrous things for the King of the Greenwood, did I not?"

“Indeed you did.” Oropher blushed too, leaning in to kiss Illuvarion’s forehead. Illuvarion rested his head against Oropher's shoulder, and slipped his arms around his waist. He sighed quietly, as though a great stress was falling away from him. There they enjoyed each other’s company while Amdir licked his wounds and the sixteen Sindar and five Teleri got ready to leave Lorinand.

 

http://noldorinart.tumblr.com/post/169077787325/the-noldo-the-sinda-adobe-illustrator