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LOTR: NEXT GENERATION IN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL

Chapter Text

The alarm clock rang three times before it ended up being badly thrown against the floor.

Not another day of school. I won't take it. I'm not going to get up. I'm not going to get up.

"Ilweran, time to get up!"

I won't get up. There is not a thing in the world that will convince me to leave this bed. There just isn't.

"Ilweran, I said time to get up!"

If I pretend to be asleep, he'll probably leave me alone. Maybe he'll think I'm sick and then I can skip this torture. Yes, I close my eyes now and go back to sleep.

At the very moment he closed his eyelids again, someone started knocking loudly against the door of his room.

"Ilweran Greenleaf, if you don't get up immediately you'll be in serious trouble!"

Oh, no, he's standing at the door waiting for me to come out. It's getting bad. I have no way out.

He stood up, his blond hair sticking to his face, and opening the door, found the figure of his father standing before him, looking at him with folded arms.

"Yes?"he asked.

"Well, good morning little prince, someone's been keeping late hours.... again" replied Legolas, looking at him.

"Umh" smiled the other nervously "does this mean I can go back to sleep?"

The adult made a hand sign that allowed no reply.

"Downstairs. Now."

Ilweran at that point gave up, but he would try again the next day.

As he had been trying for many years now.

In no time at all, he dressed and tried to fix his long hair that he wore but would never cut.

Everyone in his family wore it, so why break that beautiful tradition?

Then he grabbed a black backpack, stuffing in bulk his books, and most importantly, his basketball uniform, one of the most precious things he could have.

Ilweran Greenleaf was sixteen years old and? was an ordinary teenager , or at least that's what he thought he was.

Probably everyone at his age thought they were a little insulting, and tried to become someone. And he already knew what he wanted to become: a very famous basketball player, as difficult as that might be.

Meanwhile, he had already become a point guard.

I wonder if I'll ever be able to become somebody. I hope so, otherwise I'll have to end up doing some job where I'll be exploited, and no girl will ever want me and I'll end up living in a basement...

These were the usual morning thoughts to which he punctually let himself go.

But at sixteen there was so little time to think....

"Ilweran!" Legolas called to him again.

"I'm coming!" he answered immediately.

 

Downstairs, Legolas lived his day with frenzy, as always.

Being a single father of a teenager was not easy at all, it was a demanding job, but it was also very satisfying.

When Ilweran decided to cooperate.

"Ilweran" he complained laying a plate on the table. "How about waking up earlier next time? Look we have to hurry, if I'm late for work they'll take money out of my paycheck! You're interested in this too!"

In the midst of all the commotion, however, he managed to hear the sound of the doorbell. Without even checking to see who it was, he opened the door.

"Dad!" he exclaimed. "Hello, I wasn't expecting you!"

"I can see that. Always running, aren't you Legolas?"

Thranduil was Legolas' father, always very present, sometimes perhaps too much so, and with a certain critical eye towards everything.

He'd practically raised his son on his own, too, so he understood him easily... sort of.

"Tell me about it!" He exclaimed. "it's your grandson's fault. Ilweran!"

Thranduil shook his head, rolling his eyes. He had told him too many times, he had always been too soft on that little boy, a little sternness wouldn't hurt.

"All this commotion for what? To get to that accounting firm thing where they suck the blood and life out of you?" he asked.

"Well," he wheezed, "it's the only job I could find, and it's the only one that allows us to live a decent life. Unless you want to provide for us, I have to make do."

Thranduil made to answer, but before he could do so, he heard heavy footsteps coming from the stairs. Ilweran had finally decided to come down.

"Ah, at last". Legolas sighed. "Come on eat.

"I don't have time, I have to hurry to get to the school."

"But we agreed that I would accompany you!"

"I know, but" he said, smiling nervously. "Don't be upset, but the way you drive, I think it would take me longer than walking!"

"What?" he asked. "Hey, wait, you're not even going to say hello?"

The teenager rolled his eyes.

"Oh, Dad, so you're the one making me late!" he exclaimed, giving him a fleeting kiss on the cheek, a gesture she then reserved for Thranduil, who opened his eyes wide - bye to both of you, don't wait for me, I have training!"

"You should also think about studying" he exclaimed, although he knew he wouldn't be heard. "I mean, why does that guy always do everything in a hurry?"

"Yeah, who knows, with a calm and organized guy like you"- said Thranduil drinking from the glass the orange juice still whole.

 

And so, Ilweran's run had begun, and it was a real blessing that his physique was trained. And like his body, his mind was racing as well, drawing up a long list of things he should do.

I absolutely must not miss practice.

And I also have to do my math assignment. Heck, I forgot to study , if I get another F Dad will kill me for real this time.

Alright, Sabia could probably make me copy something.

To think so hard, he didn't even realize he had arrived at "Minas Tirith", as well as the high school he attended.

With a gasp, he managed to get to his own locker, which just that day seemed to not want to know how to open.

"Damn it!" he complained. "But why all of them to me?!"

"Late again" a female voice suddenly said behind him.

Ilweran turned around, meeting two eyes as blue as the sea, beautiful and sweet, but never as much as the maiden they belonged to.

"Come on Shauna, are you scolding me now too?" he complained.

"I'm doing this for you," she rolled her eyes and opened the locker for him, "You have too much on your mind, you've always been like this since you were a child."

"Well, lucky then that you've always been there for me" he said smiling and blushing slightly. Didn't have to be a genius to understand what particular sympathy linked those two children. The fact was that they had grown up together, so neither of them had ever thought of taking a step that could turn that friendship into something more.

And then there was also a tiny, tiny detail to take into consideration: Eldarion, Ilweran's best friend, who had a slight tendency to hit on many, many girls, including Shauna.

"Good morning friends, am I disturbing you?"  Asked the dark-haired boy, appearing behind the blond's back.

"Hello Eldarion, but no, you come at the right time"  blurted the latter, rolling his eyes.

"Come on, don't make that face, today I want you loaded, we have training. If we win the final this year, it will be the..."

"Third year in a row, I know. Don't remind me."

"Hey, hey, you're the best on the team!" exclaimed the other.

"Not as good as you, Captain" - he said smiling.

The two were not only linked by a deep friendship, but also by the common passion that had brought them to be part of the same team.

Immediately after, Eldarion's attentions settled on Shauna.

"Oh, Shauna, sweet Shauna, sorry, I didn't even say hello".

"Hello Eldarion" she said smiling. "Tell me, what is your secret of good mood?"

"Obviously you, my dear. What would you say if, after school, we went away somewhere, just you and me?"

Ilweran brought a hand to his face: he found his friend's courting ways somewhat...improbable.

"You're very kind, but I have singing class, and you have practice. So it will be for another time!"  she said, smiling amiably, giving him a peck on the cheek and later, walking away.

"Ah," sighed the brunette, "she's crazy about me."

"Oh, yes"  replied the other.

 

The bell that marked the beginning of classes rang shortly after. Ilweran and Eldarion headed for their classroom, where chaos obviously reigned. They both headed towards a desk, where a frail, brown-haired girl kept her eyes fixed on a book.

"Hey, Sabia!" Ilweran called to her. "Please, you have to let me copy today, I haven't studied anything!"

Sabia Tuc looked up, but her attention had immediately shifted to the other boy.

"Eldarion!" she exclaimed blushing. "Hi, I, here... I..."

"Hi Sabia, you look as pretty as ever!" -replied the other.

"I... I pretty? Really?"  she asked, fidgeting further.

"Of course! " he exclaimed grabbing her hand. "I love girls who are sweet and a little bit shy".

Before he could add anything else, a well-aimed kick hit him in the back.

"STAY AWAY FROM MY SISTER, YOU LATIN LOVER OF MY BOOTS!"

It was Una, Sabia's twin sister, who had spoken. The two were practically identical, except that the first was blonde, the second brunette.

"Ouch!" complained the other. "What's the matter with you?!"

"What's the matter with me? Nobody messes with my sweet little sister, do you understand? Because if you even try to touch her, you'll regret it!" she exclaimed facing him.

"Excuse me!" shouted Ilweran. "We were talking about me. Sabia, will you help me, yes or no?!"

"Eh... yes, of course!"

"Maybe someone should brush up against you, to get you to calm down a bit!" Eldarion then countered. A sentence that would cost him dearly, as Una tended to be very aggressive... when she wanted to be.

She hit him in the center of the diaphragm, so that at least for a few seconds he was out of breath. Then she grabbed him by the arm, forcing him to bend over. No one would have been willing to believe how much strength lay behind that short little girl.

Fortunately, Una's attempt to kill him was curbed by the arrival of the math teacher.

"Tsk!"  she exclaimed. "Saved by math, but imagine that!"

"Oh" he gasped. "What did you say that one was good at?"

"Painting" replied Ilweran.

"Ah... I would have said judo."

 

If Ilweran's life was hectic, Legolas' was no less so.

In his existence, he would have liked to find himself doing more than just being a stressed-out accountant. But alas, those were the unexpected things that happened when one's life suddenly changed.

And his life had changed just over sixteen years earlier, when his little Ilweran had come into the world, so suddenly, without anyone expecting it. He had done everything for him, he had tried not to let him lack anything, to give him affection, understanding and an education.

And so far he had succeeded, although there was still much work to be done, after all, adolescence was a period so ... complicated.

He had never lacked help, from his father (more or less) and his friends. But having someone to love beside him was something different.

Something he had never had, and something he would have longed for.

To say that hers was an easy life...would have been a flat out lie. But he was trying to get by, however he could.

As long as he had Ilweran, he didn't need anything else....

"Legolas" one of his colleagues called him suddenly. "You have visitors".

"Visitor, me?" he asked surprised. "And who could it be?

Usually no one ever came to visit him at work.

But this time he was visiting an old friend.

"Gandalf!?"  he exclaimed, smiling. The elderly man with the long gray beard returned the smile.

"Yeah, that's me, Legolas. I hope I haven't disturbed you, though something tells me you might not mind that at all."

Gandalf the Grey was certainly a man...over the top, he loved to travel and didn't like to stay in one place for too long.

When he could, though, he loved to go back to where he came from.

Gandalf and Legolas were very close, everyone in their group had been, for many years now. And chatting with him, very often, proved liberating.

"So Ilweran goes to high school now?" Gandalf asked. "And to think that when I saw him he was little more than a twelve year old wren".

"Yeah, he's grown up a lot. And so has Shauna, Una, Sabia. They're very friendly, just as we all are."

"Good, that makes me very happy. And you've already told him about..."

"About?"

"Oh, you know what I'm talking about. You haven't told him yet?"

"I... no, not really."

"But Legolas!"

"Look, I know. I just don't know how to tell him, he might be upset."

"At five he was small to understand, same thing at ten. Now I think he knows old enough. The more time goes by, the worse it will be."

"I wonder why everyone does nothing but tell me the same things"

"Maybe because we're your friends."

"Well!" he exclaimed nervously, "it's not just me who has to do my part, there are two of us. I don't intend to take on all the responsibility myself"

Gandalf at that point realized that it would be better to change the subject, it became impossible to talk to Legolas, when certain keys were pressed.

"Alright. Look, how would you feel about a reunion? After all, it's been a while since we've all been together... like the old days."

"Yes" he said more calmly. "I'd say it could be done. The others will be happy."

 

The hours of class had passed quickly, and fortunately for Ilweran, the hours of training had arrived, the hours in which he could finally give his all and demonstrate his skill, given by his physical prowess and his not bad reflexes.

On yet another basket, Eldarion signaled the team to stop.

"That's enough for today. Ilweran, less eagerness, or you'll get dizzy."

"Yes, I'm sorry - he wheezed, tying his hair that was giving him discomfort - it's just that I can't calibrate the strength".

"Ah, that's all right, between now and the finals you'll manage. I'm really looking forward to that day, also because it's my last year. Next year I'll have to focus on exams, and guess who will be taking my place?"

"Oh Eldarion, you know I'm not ready!"

"Of course you are, you should just learn to be more confident. You're handsome, strong, charming, what reason do you have to feel insecure?"

"Yes"  he replied. "You're right, I have no reason. I... I am strong!"

"That's the spirit! Oh, my dad's here to pick me up, I'll say hi, buddy!" he greeted him, patting him on the shoulder.

Ilweran watched him walk away, and saw him go to meet the man whom he had only a few times had occasion to see, but with whom he had never spoken.

The latter had looked at him, and with a fleeting gesture had greeted him.

He had greeted him back.

Who knows what it felt like to have a family... like the others.

"Ilweran!" Shauna's voice suddenly exclaimed.

"What is it?"

"Hurry up, we have to go to your house, didn't your father warn you?"

"No" he did rolling his eyes and throwing the ball back. "It's always the same!"

Chapter Text

From the house of Legolas came a festive noise as it had not happened in a long time. It had been a good idea of Gandalf's: it had been a lifetime since they had all been together.

And while the adults were talking about the good old days, the younger ones were sitting around, rather bored to tell the truth.

"Why don't we watch a movie?"  blurted Una annoyed. "It's better

than doing nothing.

"We can play hopscotch"said Sabia.

Oh, Sabia, we're not six anymore," Ilweran pointed out, "and it's dark.

"Alright!"  said  the other twin got up.  "So I'm going to go and get something to drink, maybe with a little alcohol we can liven up the evening."

Shauna rolled her eyes, sighing. The evening wasn't going so bad after all.... after all, she had Ilweran's company.

Ilweran had turned to look at her, hinting at a smile.

Shauna Gamgee Baggins had been his best friend for as long as he could remember, and she was the prettiest, nicest, sweetest, smartest girl he had ever met. It was only some time ago that he realized he had feelings for her that went far beyond simple friendship, only because of his shyness he had never been able to declare her.

And the same problem pressed poor Shauna, who didn't know anything about boys. In short, at sixteen she had never even had her first kiss, unlike her peers.

They both needed a push. Sabia watched them, observed them exchanging sweet and intense glances that didn't contribute to making her feel a little, how should put it, too much....

Meanwhile, in the living room, "The fellowship of the ring" as their group was called, was definitely having a lot more fun than the boys.

The particular name of the group went back several years, to the period before Frodo and Sam's wedding. The latter had had to go through the pains of hell to find an engagement ring that would suit his mate, and given his particular tastes, it hadn't been easy. For this reason he relied on the help of his inseparable friends, who from that moment on were always called "The fellowship of the ring".

Frodo and Sam were married, and had Shauna as their only precious daughter. Peregrin called Pippin and Meriadoc called Merry were also married, and the twins were enough to fill their lives. Then there was Gimli, a happy bachelor with a passion for drinking and the delicacy of a radiator when it came to romance.

Boromir was an okay guy, sometimes a little gruff, but ultimately very kind. Gandalf was the oldest member, but with a spirit that was still young. And then there was Legolas. He was nothing special, or at least he had convinced himself of that.

Their glasses were filled to the brim with ale, which had even come to stain the floor.

"Hey, Gimli, be careful," Boromir said, patting his friend on the shoulder, "otherwise Legolas' homely nature will take over."

"Tsk, sissy stuff. That's what happens when you do a woman's job"  blurted the other.

"Subtle as ever, eh?"  asked Frodo.

"Ah, leave it, I'm used to our little friend's lovely attitude"  joked the blond.

"Little friend who?!" he blurted out. "Is it my short stature?! I can hurt you a lot if I want to, stretchy!"

That reaction had made the others, who often amused themselves by teasing him, laugh out loud.

"Ah, I haven't had such fun in a long time!"  Pippin exclaimed. "I's a shame, all that's missing is Aragorn!"

Immediately, Merry elbowed him in an attempt to shut him up.

All the others had in turn gone silent and glared at him. That name had, unfortunately, become something of a taboo.

No one ever mentioned Aragorn, at least not in front of Legolas.

The latter smiled nervously.

"Oh, come on, that seems like an overreaction."

No one had believed that statement of his though, they all knew him too well.

"Well, Ilweran might hear us"  ventured Boromir.

"Boromir, please!"  exclaimed Frodo, who very well knew the sufferings of what was one of his best friends.

"You haven't told him anything yet, have you?"  he asked.

Legolas stiffened at that point.

"No, not yet. If you really think it's that easy, you tell him."

"Oh, I will gladly do it!" he exclaimed. "What do you think, you can keep him in the dark all the time? Sooner or later he will find out, and when he does, it will be a tragedy!"

"Why do you insist so much that he should know? For sixteen years we've been doing great, it's going to be that way for just as long."

"We're not only worried about him," Frodo said calmly, "but also about you. After him, you had no romance. We know you haven't forgotten him."

The blond sighed slowly.

"I haven't forgotten it, in fact. But I must come to terms with it. Aragorn has his own life now, a family. Besides, if he really had been interested in me, or in his son.... he would have come forward much sooner."

He had ended the sentence with a note of sadness. True love only met once, and it had happened to him. Too bad that love was also impossible.

"Umh, umh" Gandalf made at that point. "Come on, that's not the case, this is a reunion, not a funeral!"

 

In Ilweran's room meanwhile, Una had returned with a more than satisfactory haul.

"Hey, look what I found on the kitchen table!" she exclaimed smiling. "Some whisky! I love whiskey, it makes my throat burn!"

"Oh, but maybe you shouldn't drink it" her sister suggested. "It might hurt you."

"Ah, don't worry about it. Would you like to favor you? Ilweran?"

The boy wasn't even listening to her though. Throughout the day he had been a little head over heels.

He was surrounded by happy, perfect, normal families. Logically speaking, you needed two parents to make a child. So why did he only have one? It was a question he had always asked himself, but no one had ever answered it. And with time he had learned to do without asking. Now though, that thought had come back to haunt him, especially when he saw his best friend Eldarion together with his father, they seemed so... in sync.

"Llwean?" Shauna called to him. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing... a stupid thought..." he answered vaguely.

"Come on!" exclaimed Una. "We're your best friends, talk to us!"

"Yes" whispered Sabia. "You can talk to us."

The blond guy rolled his eyes.

"Eh okay. I was just thinking ... why don't I have both parents?"

The three girls fell silent. That was a question none of the three of them could have the answer to.

"That's it," Shauna replied, "I don't know ... Maybe you should ask your dad."

"I did a bunch of times when I was a kid, but he never answered. Then as I got older I realized that talking about it made him feel bad, so I avoided asking. I was left with the doubt, though. He must be a bad person if just talking about it hurt him so much...maybe he abandoned us."

"You don't know that!" Shauna exclaimed.

"No, but it's the most plausible explanation. Otherwise, why hide it?"

The girl shrugged.

"Ah, you're asking too many questions for my liking," proclaimed Una, already thoroughly hungover, "Go over there and ask him more forcefully, right?

Ilweran nodded. Una wasn't wrong, and he was old enough to understand certain things, his father wouldn't have said no to him.

"You're right" he made stealing the bottle of whisky from her hands. "I'll ask him... tonight!"

The evening passed quickly, and when they were all gone, Legolas prepared to settle the last things before going to bed. This had been an extremely tiring day, more so than the others.

Ilweran suddenly appeared, arms folded, by the door.

It had been a long time since she had asked him questions of that nature, and the thought of having to deal with it probably scared him more than having to receive an answer.

"Ilwran?" Legolas asked. "What are you still doing up?"

"Oh, I'm not sleepy. I'll give you a hand" he said moving closer to him, trying to take time to think. How could she get to the speech in a way that was not too direct? Or maybe it was necessary not to go around too much?

Damn, if I keep thinking about it I won't ask him anything. Alright, I'll try to be gentle.

"Um...Dad?" he called to him.

"Yes?"

"Something's been bothering me since this afternoon."

"What is it?"

"Here" he looked away. "I know you don't like the talk. It's just that very often I wonder why... I mean, why don't I have two parents like everyone else? This makes me feel.... different."

Legolas froze, feeling his own heart stop. It wasn't the first time she had asked him that question. She had asked it once at five, then at eight, at ten, at twelve, but each time he had deflected the question. Now that he was sixteen, however, he knew that deflecting wouldn't be so easy.

"You see... sometimes things don't go as we want them to" he said, bending his gaze "Sometimes you fall in love, you think you've found the person with whom to spend the rest of your life, and then ... then instead, everything vanishes, inexorably. And you find yourself alone... raising your child..."

His tone had become strange, broken, Ilweran sensed it immediately. He knew immediately that he had made a mistake, the last thing he wanted was to see him cry or feel bad.

"Dad, no sorry, don't cry!" he exclaimed hugging hi.  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel bad!"

"It's not your fault, it's mine for being too sentimental. I'm sorry, I'm sorry that all this is making you feel strange."

Ilweran at that moment took to thinking. From the words she had told him, then his theories had to be correct. Legolas had to have been with someone who had broken his heart, and that someone was the same parent he missed. But if that was indeed the case, he didn't want to hear about it.

"No," he said looking at him, "No, you don't have to be sorry. I'm okay with that. As long as it's you and me, I don't need anything else."

Legolas was surprised by that farce. Then he hugged him again , giving him a kiss on the head. That time he had been able to tell a half-truth, or rather a quarter-truth, since a much more complicated story was behind it. Ilweran had decided: he would not ask for anything more. After all, he didn't need to know anything, he was happy as he was.

 

The next day it was the same old story, Ilweran woke up late and Legolas had to call him five hundred times before he woke up.

And like every day, the sixteen year old found himself being late. This was going to be a very long morning.

He was greeted as soon as he arrived by the infamous biology teacher that the students affectionately called "Gollum".

He was a rather creepy man, he had a dual personality, one helpful and kind, the other sadistic and gruff. He probably suffered from schizophrenia, but that was all the more reason to torment him.

Now the classroom was dismayed with cackling and giggling and paper airplanes flying in the direction of the hapless Gollum.

"I was saying!" he exclaimed ."Before Mr. Greenleaf came in late and interrupted me ... you have to do a research paper on the Darwinian theory of evolution ... and you will have to hand it over to me .... in two days."

At that moment snorts and groans rose into the air.

"Ah, two days?!" exclaimed Eldarion. "How can we finish it in two days?"

"I would have explained it if only his majesty had not interrupted me!" exclaimed the teacher beside himself . "You will do it in pairs. So at least you'll combine half the brains you have to do at least a decent job. That's it and I don't want to hear any arguments, am I clear, you little vandals?"

Another laugh, then total chatter. Una, Sabia, Ilweran and Eldarion had taken to talking amongst themselves.

"I'm sorry for you, but I already have a study partner," said the first one, "You'll see, my sister and I will do the best research."

"Yes, but this time could you do something too? Last time I did all the work" snorted the second one.

"Ah, that's not true, I helped you put paper clips in the sheets to hold them together!" se protested.

"Yeah" she sighed. "What about you?"

"Of course Ilweran will work with me!" exclaimed Eldarion. "We can go to my house in the afternoon."

"Your house, really?"  asked the blond man curiously. Although he had known his friend since his first year of high school, he had never been to his house. In fact, he didn't even know his family, apart from his father, who had seen him more than once.

Anyway, he accepted without too much pretense, after all, he could not imagine that, by accepting, he would be much closer than he thought, to the answer of his questions.

 

Legolas left work early that day, and when he returned home, he had the nice surprise of finding half of the kitchen flooded, due to a broken pipe.

Among all the things he had to think about, now this.

Of course, Thranduil came to find him, always ready to console him in his time of need.

"Yes... all right" the younger man made on the phon.  "What? But he's gone crazy, it's too high a price! I... oh, fine, whatever!" he exclaimed, then ended the call. "Fifty dollars just to repair a pipe, are you kidding me?"

"What can you do," replied the comfortably seated father, "times change."

"Yes, but my salary is always the same" he blurted. "It's such a stressful time.... And I'm afraid that my bad mood will affect Ilweran too, he has other things to think about, school, basketball, the life of a teenager in short."

"Ah well, if you don't want to then I better flash you a smile, because he's coming, with a friend of his"

"With who?" he exclaimed nervously. Looking out the window, he could indeed see his son arriving in the company of a young boy he knew all too well.

"Oh no" he turned pale. "He's coming here with Eldarion! What do I do, leave them outside?"

"Legolas, don't be ridiculous, he's just a little boy. And you're supposed to play it cool."

"Right, right" he replied taking a deep breath. "Then..."

In saying this he opened the door. He knew about the friendship that existed between the two boys, the thing had obviously never made him crazy, but he could not oppose so, without an apparent reason.

"Um...hi guys" he greeted.

"Hi dad, were you waiting for me?"

"Hello!" greeted the brunette.

"Um... hi" he greeted, smiling nervously. How could she look at him without being reminded of the man she loved? They were practically identical.

"I just stopped by to warn you that I'm going to study at Eldarion's house"  Ilweran said at that point.

"What! Wait... why?!"

"It's for a quest."

Legolas almost felt like passing out. He couldn't allow his son to go to the other's house... it wasn't advisable as a thing at all.

"But can't you do it here?"  he tried to convince them.

"I'd love to, but unfortunately my computer is broken. I won't be late, I promise!"  he exclaimed, waving cheerfully.

"But... but... I"  he whispered. He couldn't add anything else. Two minutes later, his son was heading towards the house where Aragorn lived, and it didn't look good at all.

"Damn" he then exclaimed. "What am I going to do now! But of all the friends he could have had, him?"

"Well, they're brothers, no wonder they get along so well!"  Thranduil pointed out to him.

"But that's not the point! The point is that Aragorn and Ilweran have never been too close, and the fact that they might be in the same house, worries me."

"Pff, go figure. Knowing Aragorn, he'll pretend it's nothing. That irresponsible guy, that's why I never liked him. He already hurt you once, if he tries to do that to Ilweran too, well, I think I might not be so nice anymore"

"Oh, maybe you're right," he sighed, "Maybe I'm worrying unnecessarily. Aragorn would never say anything to him, he wouldn't jeopardize his marriage."

"Yeah, and I think you should stop thinking about him instead. It's been sixteen years, you can't keep going after him."

"But he's the father of my child. And I'm deeply in love with him."

"I know that. But if you want both you and Ilweran to be okay, maybe you should try to move on, don't you think?"

Legolas sighed despondently, bringing a cup of tea to his lips. His father was right, continuing to chase after him would only hurt him. But he loved Aragorn, they had loved each other, and he was certain that the latter still loved him too, very deeply.

"I will try to find a suitable solution," he sighed, then changing the subject, "but what about... what about you and Elrond?"

"What?"  the other asked, feigning indifference.

"Well... you're still dating, aren't you?" - he asked smiling.

"Pff, that doesn't concern you at all."

"It does if he's going to be your new partner."

"Ah, what new partner!" he blurted embarrassed. "And why would I want to stay with such an unbearable man all my life?"

The younger man held back a laugh. Love could work miracles sometimes, even with a guy as austere as Thranduil.

 

After ten minutes of walking, Eldarion and Ilweran arrived at the Strider house. A very large house, modern and very nice to look at.

The blond knew how well off his friend was, and he wasn't surprised. His father was of noble origins and his mother was a very famous divorce lawyer. To him, all that luxury was simply unbelievable, which is why he couldn't help but look around in amazement

"Wow, this is amazing!" he exclaimed.

"I think you'll like the inside even better, come on!"  said the other, dragging him along. Eldarion had been right, the inside was even better than the outside, everything so tidy, quiet and cozy.

Sitting on a desk near the living room, Ilweran could see a beautiful raven-haired woman, all intent on writing something on her laptop. It had to be her mother for sure.

"Hi Mom " greeted the boy. "This is Ilweran, my schoolmate and best friend".

The woman smiled, offering him a hand.

"Nice to meet you, I'm Arwen."

"Ah... the pleasure is all mine, ma'am" replied the blond shaking his hand shyly.

"We're here on a quest!" exclaimed the other. "So now we're going to lock ourselves in our room!"

"Alright, then I'll come by later to bring you something"  Arwen finally said.

Ilweran let his friend drag him to his room, where they studied for the next two hours, between interruptions and many breaks.

The blond thought that it must be very nice to live there, in another normal family. Eldarion had a father and a mother who took care of him. He had a father who was technically his "mother", since she had given birth to him. He didn't feel that he was missing anything, he didn't lack affection or understanding... but he liked to imagine himself in the shoes of his friends that he envied so much.

In no time it was eighteen o'clock, and the search was only half done.

Oh," Eldarion sighed, stretching, "I'm exhausted. I need a chocolate break. Would you like one?"

"Ah, of course"  he replied, continuing to write.

"Alright, I'll be right back then!"  he exclaimed.

 

Downstairs meanwhile, Aragorn Strider was back after a day of work. Being the head of a trading company wasn't easy, but it gave a profitable income as well as an important position.

When he arrived, his wife Arwen walked up to him, greeting him.

"Eldarion is upstairs with a friend of his, one Ilweran. He's a really lovely guy."

Upon hearing that name, the man froze. In his place, a normal person would have turned a blind eye and gone on to something else. But Aragorn was not a normal person, and knowing that in his house there was the boy who would unknowingly unite him and Legolas for life, excited and intrigued him at the same time.

"I see," he replied, "I'll go up to the bedroom."

Obviously his target was not the bedroom, but the son's room, in which Ilweran was standing. The latter was getting on with his work since his friend was taking so long. His hair went in front of his face, but it was still possible to see his concentrated expression.

Aragorn walked down the corridor, arriving in front of his son's room, where the door was open. He had never seen him so close up. He was almost unusually beautiful, identical to Legolas.

As he watched him closely, he had leaned against the doorframe. It had been a good sixteen years since she had known of his existence, yet she had never addressed a word to him beyond a simple greeting. And after all, how could he, how could he become attached to someone who was part of himself but with whom he would have no way of being? He had a family, a marriage, and to blow it all over one night of passion...it was absurd.

After a while, Ilweran finally realized he was being watched. The two both gasped the moment they looked at each other.

"Excuse me!"  exclaimed the blond. "I didn't see you."

"No, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have stood here staring at you. Did Eldarion leave you all alone to study?"

"He went to get some chocolate, but maybe it was an excuse not to be here"  he said smiling. Aragorn at that point approached, looking serious.

"You and Eldarion are also on the same team, if I'm not mistaken."

"Yes, I'm the point guard. They count on me a lot, even your son. He wants me to take his place as captain next year, but I don't know if I'll be able to."

"Come on, and why do you think that?"

"Well," he said, stopping writing, "I don't have the leadership skills, I'm not good at leading a team. In fact, Eldarion always tells me that I'm insecure, and he's right. But I really want to become someone. And I want my father to be proud of me."

"I" he whispered. "I think he is regardless. I mean, every parent is proud of their child. I understand that ... you love him very much."

"Of course, how could I not love him, he's always taken care of me all by himself, he's really done a lot, and at the very least I want to be a good son."

He smiled again. His exact same smile. He wasn't surprised that Legolas had had to do so much. After all, he had never been there.

"Sorry to intrude...but how are you two doing? Economically I mean."

"I mean," he sighed, "my father works as an accountant, but he doesn't take much. We live as best as we can. That's part of the reason I want to be a basketball player, so I could earn a lot of money, and we could both be okay."

Aragorn looked at him, smiling, his eyes full of admiration towards the son he had never dared to acknowledge.

"That's really a nice gesture."

"Thank you" he smiled. "Oh, but Eldarion wants to be famous too. Maybe we'll become one together"

"My son has often told me about you. He says you're like a brother"

"And he is to me" he said, smiling . "If we weren't children of parents who were different, I'd think we really were!"

If only Ilweran had known how much truth lay behind that sentence... but of course he would never have known, or at least that was what Aragorn had convinced himself of.

"Sorry I took so long!" Eldarion suddenly exclaimed, coming out of nowhere with two cups in his hand. "But I drank the first two and had to make them again... Dad, what are you doing here?"

"I was just keeping your friend company while you were busy doing something else" - he joked.

"Oh, I'm sorry Ilweran, did my father bother you?"

"No, not at all. He's very nice."

"You should see him in the morning at seven as soon as he wakes up, he's not nice at all"

"Thank you Eld, I will remember this compliment of yours when you ask me for money" he made rubbing his hair and making him laugh.

Ilweran let out a smile.

"I'll leave you two alone now, sorry for the intrusion" the man finally said, leaving. When he had closed the door behind him, he let himself go with a deep sigh. How many more years would he last?

It was common knowledge that the truth always came out, especially when feelings were involved. It would have been a lie to say that he had forgotten Legolas altogether; in fact, he hadn't forgotten him at all....

He had probably taken to thinking because of the guilt that was resurfacing in him for never being there.

He didn't necessarily have to turn his life upside down, however, he could do something small to make life better for Ilweran.

The latter didn't know it yet, but that meeting would set off a series of events that would change his life forever.

Chapter Text

It was common knowledge that Thranduil wasn't the romantic type, but the truth was that his family didn't know him as well as he thought either.

Probably if he had given them confirmation every time he was asked a question about his personal life, he would have blown the tiring mask of the tough and impossible he had built over the years. There was one person, however, who had rarely been able to see past that mask: he and Elrondd had been friends for a lifetime, but recently something had changed. Perhaps the fact that they almost always found themselves together, the fact that they complemented each other given the two diametrically opposed characters, had caused the spark to burst.

Elrond was the only one who could make his heart beat faster and at the same time make him angrier than ever. He was the only one who knew his every flaw and weakness, which is precisely why Thranduil could not stand him.

In short, years spent building a reputation, shattered by love. Both had been bound by the sad fate that had seen the death of their respective wives, many years before. They had always helped each other, in a way. It wasn't hard to guess what feeling bound them together, too bad there was nothing official yet.

"And tell me, what excuse did you make this time?" Elrond asked pouring some wine in the other one's glass. "Sooner or later your son will stop believing in you".

"Legolas is smarter than he looks" said the other. "He already imagines that I am here with you, I do not need to tell him anything. And your daughter, on the other hand, she does not tell you anything?"

"She doesn't know, and I don't think she imagines it" he said smiling. "Who knows how she would take it if she found out that the person I love is the father of her husband's lover"

"I'm not following you" he huffed. "And anyway, Legolas is not her lover. He's only been there once."

"Yes, and from there Ilweran was born."

"Yeah. You're not supposed to put up with me or them, and instead you seem to be on our side."

"I'm not on anyone's side really. Of course it wasn't easy to keep the secret from Arwen, but I can't judge. When love comes, it comes, and it goes against every moral and other law. Don't you think so?"  he asked, smiling affably.

"Pff, love. Love brings trouble and nothing more"  he blurted with folded arms.

Elrond put the glass on the table and humanly approached the other man's face, who tried not to show any emotion in his gaze. His heartbeat and the blush on his cheeks, however, betrayed him quickly.

"Oh, come on. We both know you like to be tough. But deep down you can be sweet too."

"Touch me again without my consent and I'll give you the sweet stuff."

"You do like it. You're blushing"

"It's the wine!"  he hastened to say.

What Thranduil didn't quite understand was that the more he acted that way, the more Elrond was inclined to give him attention.

But he didn't mind after all, he just wouldn't admit it so easily. The Moor approached him, intending to give him a kiss.

The other closed his eyes, determined not to oppose and already looking forward to the eventful evening that was waiting for him...

However, his cell phone started to ring at that very moment.

"Oh, what the heck!" he exclaimed taking the phone. "And now who is it? Hello?"

"Dad, it's me!"  exclaimed the voice on the other end.

"Legolas!" he exclaimed nervously. "You know not to call me at this hour!"

"I know, I know, I'm sorry! It's just that Ilweran hasn't come back yet, what if something happened? Maybe he found out something, and ran away from home!"

"Oh, what are you talking about, do you think he runs away from home so suddenly?"

"Of course, it's easy for you to be so quiet... " as he was speaking, the door opened, and Ilweran quietly made his entrance . "Ah, there you are, you're back! You could have warned me you'd be so late, line up to your room now!"

"My, what a welcome!" Puffed the smaller one, raising his arms to the sky.

"It's okay, he's back. Ah, how's your date going?"

"Legolas."

"Yeah?"

"Go to hell"  he concluded closing the call and putting down his phone.

"Everything alright?"  Elrond asked.

"I have a son who is a bundle of anxiety and nerves, how can he be?" he asked despondently.

"Oh, come on, there's no need to stress" he said gently, getting up and positioning himself behind him, starting to massage his shoulders. "It's normal that he's counting on you, you've always been there for him."

"I know that" he whispered suddenly calmer. "But if he would at least listen to me. It gives me so much to think about."

"Sssh" whispered the other. "Relax, okay? Now you have nothing to think about."

In saying this he had leaned over his neck, kissing him, a light contact that was enough to make Thranduil quiver.

He was playing it so hard and instead it only took the most complete nothingness to make him melt. Then he turned, resting his lips on hers so that he could quietly resume what he'd interrupted moments ago.

Legolas felt decidedly calmer now, and he well understood how much his reaction had been exaggerated. He also knew that if he didn't relax he would have a nervous breakdown, but he couldn't help it, he had become quite agitated over the years.

In contrast to him, Ilweran was very quiet and bored, lying on the bed in his room with the basketball in his hand, which he twirled deftly on one finger. He thought back to the day he had spent at his friend Eldarion's house, and the kindness of the latter's father. He had really enjoyed conversing with him; he gave him the idea of a very helpful and good person. Yes, he could say that Eldarion had been very lucky. All of a sudden he heard footsteps coming from the stairs. Legolas opened the door, smiling kindly at him.

"Hey" he called him. "Aren't you hungry?"

"No, thank you. But why did you get angry?"

"Sorry, it's just... it got dark, and I was worried about not seeing you come back."

"Oh, but I was in Eldarion's house, what could possibly have happened to me?"

Legolas stiffened. There were actually countless things that could have happened being in the "enemy's" house, but of course his son couldn't know that.

"You're right, it's just... I'm not very comfortable when I know you're with Eldarion..."

"What are you talking about? He's a good kid, and his family is a good one, I met his parents today."

"Really?" he asked surprised.

"Yes. His mother is very nice, and his father too, we talked a little bit. I think you should make friends, then you would feel more comfortable."

Legolas almost had to laugh. Of course, why not embark on a nice friendship with the father of his son, after he had broken his heart, it was a nice idea, wasn't it?

"Oh, well... yes, maybe sometime... I might.... anyway now, it's late... I'll leave you... I'll leave you alone..."

Ilweran stood up, looking at him.  He wanted to say something to him, but he was sure it wouldn't do any good. His father was strange, and he didn't understand why. Legolas knew in turn that he was strange, and how could he be comfortable? He had a terrible feeling that something was going to happen, and generally, when he had a feeling, it was hard for him to be wrong.

 

Aragorn definitely felt like a stalker in standing in front of Legolas' house, waiting for him to come out. Yes, he knew he'd probably get into trouble, but when he put an idea in his head, it was hard to remove it. Besides, his talk with Ilweran the night before had given him a lot to think about. And probably, acting that way would put a good damper on his guilt.

But how could he talk to him without sounding crazy? Or without making it all seem too weird?

Hello Legolas, long time no see, huh? How have you fared since I decided to end things with you?. Maybe, no.

Or. Yesterday I had a chance to talk to our son. He spoke so highly of you. No, that makes me sound too much of a suck-up.

I... I'd like to do something to help you, I know I've never been there.

No, he wouldn't take me seriously, how can I!

His thoughts were interrupted when she saw Ilweran leaving the house. He stiffened, trying to pretend that he just happened to be there, leaning against his car. In fact, he even hoped the other didn't see him, but it's not like put there he was passing by just in observation.

"You?" asked the younger man. "Hello, but...what are you doing here?"

"Ah, hello Ilweran" he greeted trying to appear calm. "Oh, nothing much, I just like to get some air in the morning before going to work. Is that your house? No kidding."

"Yes, it's my house" he replied strangely . "Are you sure you don't need anything?"

"I'm... sure yes, you can rest assured"  he said smiling.

Ilweran nodded, and then turned away. That attitude was rather strange and suspicious, but he didn't think too much about it. After all, what could have happened?

Aragorn sighed when he saw Ilweran walking away, thankfully he hadn't asked too many questions, but the truth was that the worst was yet to come. He waited another twenty minutes before he saw Legolas come out of his house, and when he saw him, his heart stopped. Although they lived in the same city, although their children were close friends, they hadn't seen each other in years, and most likely had tried to ignore each other all that time. But he was still as handsome as ever, and as always he was able to make his heart beat like nobody else.

The man shook his head, he wasn't there to brood over the past. The blond had not seen him yet, he was heading towards his car.

He took a deep breath, going after him.

"Legolas" he called.

The other immediately raised his eyes, almost instinctively. It could not have been his voice, there would have been no reason... but it was him, right in front of him. He immediately felt a lump in his throat that prevented him from breathing. For a moment it seemed as if time had stopped. It had been so many years since he had looked into his eyes, since he had been so close to him, since he had heard his voice.

It was made even more difficult by the fact that he was still in love with him after all that time.

But he couldn't afford to let it show, so he let out a deep sigh.

"Aragorn," he said, "what a nice surprise. What brings you to these parts?"

"I was... I was taking a walk and I saw you. It's been a long... time since we've seen each other."

"Yes, long enough I should say. Now excuse me, but I'm late for work"  he said opening the door and getting into the car. Promptly Aragorn approached though.

"Listen. I'd like to talk to you about something, I know I'm catching you off guard, but it's important."

Legolas couldn't believe it. What did he want to tell him after all that time? Maybe it had something to do with Ilweran? Maybe something had happened?

"I'd love to, but again, I'm late, so if you don't mind"  he concluded coldly, slipping the key in. Aragorn snorted, ready to give up, but luck seemed to be on his side this day.

The engine didn't make the slightest noise and when the blond realized this, he widened his eyes.

"Oh, no" he put his forehead on the steering wheel. "I don't believe it, the engine can't have failed, not now! And now how am I supposed to get to work, flying?"

"I'll drive you"  said the other promptly. Legolas looked at him, unable to understand what he had in mind.

"It doesn't seem... the case..."  he said embarrassed.

"It does seem like the case to me. I have the car right there."

"But didn't you come for a walk?"

Aragorn mentally called himself stupid.

"Yes... a walk with the car"  he said trying to look as convincing as possible. The other shook his head, and realizing he had no other choice, agreed. He would have preferred to be a thousand thousand miles away from Aragorn, after all that time he was no longer used to it and he felt very uncomfortable.

The discomfort increased particularly when he found himself in the same car as the other. He didn't want to meet his eyes at all, on the contrary, he didn't even understand why he had accepted a ride from him, it was an absolutely improper thing to do. And he felt nervous... a lot.

I'm an idiot, what's going on in my head?

All right, take it easy Legolas. Everything will be fine, you just need to keep quiet and not talk at all.

It would have been easy to do what he had decided, if only Aragorn hadn't decided to mess up his plans.

"I assume Ilweran told you about our conversation yesterday."

The blond stiffened.

"Yes...he mentioned something to me just now. Why? Is something wrong?"

"Absolutely not" he reassured him. "Before yesterday he had absolutely no idea what kind of person he was. I enjoyed conversing with him and he also spoke very highly of you."

"Oh, did he?" he said, smiling nervously.

"Yes, in particular he praised your selflessness and the fact that you took care of them all by yourself"

"Well... I wasn't really alone, but yes... I managed."

"... Because of me"

The other man looked at him at that point, widening his eyes: the conversation was becoming awkward.

"Oh... that was a while ago. I got away with it in the end though."

"Greatly, I would say. But I'm not here to talk about that anyway."

"What then?"

"Ilweran also told me about the delicate economic situation you're in. I didn't think you were doing so badly, and it's also true that I could have done more, but maybe it's not too late. So I was thinking that maybe... if you'd like to of course, you could come work at my company."

Legolas turned to look at him, a little stymied.

"What! But... no!" he exclaimed. "I don't need your charity."

"It is not charity, and you should not be so proud."

"I am not proud at all. What, is it guilt by chance that makes you talk? I'm here, let me down"

"Legolas, please" he huffed rolling his eyes.

"Thank you for the ride"  the other one did, closing the door again. "You have been very kind, but if this was just another way to try to get closer to you after all that has happened, it has failed miserably. We are no longer anything Aragorn, and you decided that."

"I know " she answered, glaring at him. "Well, if you change your mind, you know where to find me".

After that the man drove away in his own car, while Legolas stood there looking at him. How dare he come to him after all those years like it was nothing and act like a friend?

And then working together with him...that was absolutely out of the question.

He had to stay out of trouble, he couldn't get romantically involved, not again.

Yet that rapprochement of his had been incredible.

And it had been all thanks to Ilweran.

 

The latter obviously couldn't imagine the meeting of his own parents. He was quite bored during math class, and would surely have fallen asleep if only Eldarion had not caught his attention.

"Pss" he called him. "Ilweran, did you hear that?"

"What?"  he asked distractedly.

"About Tauriel Elvs, the senior. She's throwing a party at her mansion, all the seniors are invited, doesn't that sound great?"

"Yes, except for one simple fact: none of us are eighteen."

"Ah, who cares!" he exclaimed. "We can infiltrate, no one will notice, and besides, you definitely look older."

"No thanks, I'll pass."

"Ah "he rolled her eyes. "Twins, are you with us?"

"Where there are parties and alcohol, I'm there too" -affirmed Una.

"But ... but Una, it could be very dangerous, what if we get into trouble?"  asked the sister rightly.

"Ah, don't worry, I'm good at these things. We'll both be there."

"Good. Only you are missing."

"I don't feel like it, Eldarion. And Shauna's not even coming."

"You say that. I already asked her and she said yes. This could be the perfect opportunity for me to win her over, and maybe it could also be your chance to impress a girl"

Ilweran widened his eyes, sensing a feeling inside that probably had to be jealousy. Eldarion was his best friend, but he could be a real jerk sometimes, and the thought of leaving him alone with Shauna... didn't bode well.

He'd never gone against the rules, and probably infiltrating an age-only party could have been dangerous.

It was only one time, though, after all, and if he was careful, no one would get hurt.

"All right" he rolled his eyes. "I'll be there!"

"Good!" exclaimed the other happy. "You'll see, we'll have fun, I'm sure."

The blond smiled nervously. Who knows why, but he didn't have a good feeling. In his naivety he could never have thought that everything he did, automatically involved also Legolas and Aragorn.

The former was quite agitated, more than usual actually. The day at work had passed more slowly than usual, and moreover the meeting with Aragorn had shaken him up quite a bit. For a long time he had tried to ignore, to change, to try to get to know someone else, but it had all been in vain. Imagine now that he had tried to get closer to him! It was easy for the other to come back after all those years and play the good Samaritan. But on the one hand, he found his gesture very selfless. He was at a crossroads: he could have ignored her request, and continued to live the life he always did, with nothing changing.

Or he could accept, get a job and a better life, and maybe make something change.

But what am I going to think. He is thought, he didn't want to be with me once, he won't want to be with me now either.

Unfortunately, giving him further thoughts were the numerous bills to pay, added of course to the plumbing that needed fixing and the broken car. He would have wanted to run his hands through his hair and pull it out one by one as he read the exorbitant figures on the bills. With the salary he had, how could he hope to pay for everything?

To distract him from his thoughts there was the doorbell.

It was Thranduil.

"Hello Legolas" he greeted, glancing at the table. "But what happened?"

"What could have happened? More and more to pay for!"

"If you want I can lend you some money."

"No, dad, please. I'm already in too much debt, and then sooner or later I'll have to fend for myself!"

"Then sell your kidney, I don't think there's any other way!"

"Well, actually there is a solution" he sighed despondently.

"Let's hear it"  declared the other with folded arms.

Legolas swallowed loudly. His father did not like Aragorn at all, for reasons that were rather obvious. If he had known about their conversation, he would have been very angry.

"Here.... " he said trying to get at the conversation another way . "You know who gave me a ride today? Aragorn!"

His expression immediately changed.

"Aragorn? That Aragorn? And you went with him?!"

"Well, I had to get there somehow. Anyway...we talked a little bit.... and well, yeah in short. He was very kind to me... and he even... made me a very, very... interesting job offer."

"No!" he exclaimed promptly. "I forbid it! You haven't already accepted, have you?"

"No. However, now that I think about it, I could use it."

"No way, don't think about it! Surely he will want to frame you."

"But he's been nice.

"Oh, and he was kind too when he let you raise a child on your own, wasn't he? You've got to think of your son first."

"It's really for Ilweran that I want to do this, I don't want him to miss anything."

"And he won't miss anything. We've always managed, we don't need help from that one. What do you want four bills to...?" in taking the sheets of paper in his hand, he immediately let them go with his eyes wide open. "What?! How is it possible that in two you consume all this water!"

"We are extremely clean people!"  he exclaimed annoyed.

He knew that his father's reaction would be more or less the opposite, but in the end, the decision was up to him. Working for Aragorn did not necessarily imply a relationship with him, if not a working one. However, he had no certainty, anything could happen.

Ilweran noticed his pensive demeanor as they sat at the table in the evening, but said nothing to him, after all, he too had things to think about. He was going to infiltrate an "adults only" party that weekend, that would mean drugs, sex, smoking, all things he knew but had never abused. The thought made him nervous, and even more so the thought of being found out.

Knowing his father... he would have had a heart attack.

Legolas at that point cleared his throat.

"Ilweran, can I ask you a question? Do you ever think about the fact that... you're missing something?"

"In what way?"

"Well... we're not exactly well-off. I was just wondering if you...were okay with that."

The other rolled his eyes, thinking hard.

"It's not that I'm sick. You taught me to make do from a young age. I have food, clothes and a roof over my head, though sure, it would be nice not to have to make do... but why are you asking me this question?"

"So... I was just thinking..."

"Did you lose your job?"

"No, no!" he exclaimed nervously. "Absolutely not, don't worry. You don't have to think about yourself, it's my job to think about you, not the other way around. Agreed?"

Ilweran nodded, a little weirded out. When he finished eating, he got up, locking himself in his room.

Legolas walked over to the phone, grabbing it and turning it over in his hands. He didn't want Ilweran to settle, he wanted to give him the best. Maybe it was a rash, illogical choice, one that would bring him trouble but...

At that moment it was what he felt he wanted to do.

He dialed the number, which had remained the same over the years and had never been deleted. After three rings, Aragorn's voice answered.

"Hello?"

The other took a deep breath.

"Aragorn. I am Legolas."

"Legolas. I wasn't expecting that."

"Yeah, I wanted to ask you something."

"Tell me"

"Is that offer of yours still good?"

Chapter Text

 

Ilweran rolled his eyes. Legolas was rather strange that morning. More than usual he meant.

"Well?" the eldest asked, showing yet another piece of clothing he had tried on over the course of the morning . "How's this one?"

"Yes... nice" he said distractedly.

"Ilweran, you said the same thing the last three times"  he pointed out contritely.

"Well, I'm sorry, but it's not like I know much about it. Besides, you still haven't explained to me why all this care in dressing today."

Legolas took a breath. He still hadn't told him anything about his new job, and surely that would be the most suitable moment, as well as the only one.

"Alright" he began to say. "I wanted it to be a surprise but I think it's useless now. I... found a new job..."

"Really?" he asked . "Cool, and where?"

"In... a trading company"  he said nervously.

The younger man arched an eyebrow.

"A trading company? No, that's not really for you."

"Oh, well, thanks for the moral support"  he replied, adjusting his tie.

"How did you find it?"  he asked with arms folded, looking suspiciously at her.

"Um... a friend," he answered hastily, "you don't know him."

"You don't have friends I don't know. Are you hiding something from me?" he asked looking him in the eyes.

If it was only one thing he had kept from him. Legolas didn't feel like telling him about Aragorn at all, not just yet. The less those two came into contact, the less likely Ilweran would find out the truth.

"Oh, who cares," he said, smiling, "The important thing is that from now on our lives will change for the better. Now excuse me, but I really have to go, I'll be back at six, have a good day" he concluded, giving him a peck on the cheek.

The son shook his head. Now he had the confirmation, his father was strange. But for the moment he had other things on his mind.

A little later he arrived at school with his usual sleepy attitude. He was greeted as always by Una, Sabia, Shauna and the ever-present Eldarion, who was particularly enthusiastic.

"Oh, there you are!" he exclaimed surrounding his shoulders with an arm. "So, are you ready for tomorrow night?"

"To get me into serious trouble? Well, sort of."

"Stop being boring, the girls and I have a plan."

"And what would that be?"

"It was my idea," Shauna pointed out, proudly, "the twins and I told our parents we were going to have a very quiet and totally sober evening, at your house!"

"I'm surprised at you, Shauna" Ilweran remarked . "You're usually a good girl."

"I am indeed!" she exclaimed. "It's just... I'd love to go to a real party like the ones on television, but you know how my parents are, they still think I'm five. So it's settled.

"Yes, and what's my excuse?"  he asked skeptically.

"Easy, you can tell your dad you're sleeping over, while I'll tell my parents I have an evening study group instead."

Ilweran's eyes went wide.

"If we get caught, we'll get killed."

"They won't find out" Eldarion reassured again. "With these angel faces we have, who could possibly suspect us?"

The blond would have so much to say for himself, but if he did he would surely be reminded of how boring he was. Afterwards, he let Shauna take his arm, happy that at least at that moment Eldario wasn't trying to flirt with her. Who knows, maybe that could actually be a chance for him to finally make a decisive move.

Usually Legolas cared a lot about his appearance, but that morning he had wasted even more time on it, without knowing why.

I probably just want him to see me looking good.

No, but what am I going and thinking. It's just that for a certain kind of job you have to be neat and clean.

He let himself go to these and even more varied thoughts as he waited for Aragorn, since his car was still broken and the other had kindly offered to pick him up for a change.

"Alright" he sighed, talking to himself. "I mustn't be nervous, after all we'll only be working in the same place for a few hours a day, probably forever... what could possibly happen?"

He almost gasped when he heard the horn. Aragorn had pulled up in his shiny, very expensive black car, rolled down the tinted window, and then shifted his sunglasses slightly, giving him a smile.

Legolas had to summon all his self-control not to let slip a few inappropriate phrases. He was terribly handsome, and almost the blond had the impression that he was doing it on purpose.

"Good morning. I see you're all cleaned up, you look very good" complimented Aragorn.

"Thank you" he answered pretending indifference . "You too... look well. Is the place very far from here?"

"Not very, it will take us about fifteen minutes" he said, signaling him to come up.

"Oh, alright" he did bringing his hair behind his ears. "Then, then let's go..."

Legolas had stiffened and was absolutely tense, being there with him he liked it, and this was absolutely wrong. He wasn't supposed to like it, he was supposed to chase away every strange feeling he was feeling. He was married, and what had been there was years old now.

"Did you tell Ilweran about me...?"  he asked suddenly.

"Well... no, not really. It's just that..."

"You don't trust me, do you?"  he said, smiling.

"Um..."

"You don't trust. You're afraid I'm going to find out the truth."

"Pff, no" he rolled his eyes. "All right yes, that's it. It's just that it would be quite traumatic for him to find out that you're his father. And then... he'd hate us both. Me for keeping it from him and you... for well..."

"For not being there" he sighed. "I know. But you can rest assured, I'm not going to meddle in his life. It's enough for me to know that he's okay, he's happy and he's a good person."

"Yeaa" he did, stretching his voice. "That's all it takes..."

At that point Aragorn decided to change the subject. And among the thousands of questions he could have asked him, the most inconvenient one came to his mind.

"Are you with someone now?" he asked. "I mean, I guess after all this time, you've found someone else to be with."

A perfect question. Legolas would have liked to answer yes, that there was another important person in his life, that he had forgotten. But from his lips came something else entirely.

"No... no one" he whispered.

"Ah" said the other embarrassed. "I understand..."

"I'm not interested in finding love. I have Ilweran, I don't need anything else."

"Of course, I didn't mean that. I know it's hard, but I hope there are no hard feelings between us, and we can have a peaceful working relationship" he said looking at him.

Legolas smiled nervously. It was very difficult to have no hard feelings after everything that had happened, and even more difficult would be to maintain a simple working relationship.

"Ah... of course"  he replied.

"I'm glad. Ah, we're here"  Aragorn said then, approaching.

Legola pointed his gaze at the imposing grey structure before his eyes. It was very fortunate that they had arrived early, the situation was becoming very awkward. He followed Aragorn, who led him inside, where there were offices upon offices, and many people passing by greeted him, with great admiration in their eyes. Legolas thought that the figure of Aragorn must be very appreciated and respected, and deep down even he didn't doubt that he was actually good at his job. After all, he had always admired him too, in every sense of the word.

"Here, this is your office" he told him after taking the elevator up to the eighth floor. "Ae you fast with the keyboard?"

"Enough" he said looking around. "Are you sure you want to leave me already on the first day alone?"

"Don't worry, for now you just have to take care of what's written here in these papers" he pointed to a stack on top of the desk. "Anyway my office is right next door, if you need it."

"Enh... all right. See you later then" he greeted with a snowy smile, and then took a long breath when he was finally left alone. Everything around was very cozy, warm, with a nice view thanks to the large windows, definitely nothing like the hovel he was in before. He took another breath.

"Well, then..."  he said as he sat down and began.

The day passed fairly quickly and pleasantly. It was nowhere near as stressful as his old job. Aragorn had come by more than once to ask him if everything was okay, if he was comfortable, etc., and Legolas had always replied very hastily that everything was perfect. He didn't want him to think too much, nor did he have any intentions of getting his hopes up. Aragorn had helped him out of mere duty, certainly not because he still felt something, even if the innermost part of himself said completely the opposite.

When six o'clock struck, Aragorn again offered to accompany him home. The atmosphere was much less tense, as the conversation had been purely business-related. Legolas was pleased and told him that he would be happy to continue.

"I'm very glad that you got along well. Then from next week you can start."

"Well, that's great news" he said smiling, then looked away. "Ah, Aragorn... I didn't even thank you... without you I wouldn't have known what to do".

Only later did he realize the excessive sweetness of that sentence.

"You don't have to thank me"  he said smiling . "I did it with pleasure. I am happy if I know that you and Ilweran live well."

"Yes" he said nervously. "Ah here I am. Thank you very much for the ride then, see you next week!"

If only he could have, Aragorn would surely have told him something else, but Legolas turned away quickly.

Without knowing why, he couldn't help but smile.

The first day had gone... fairly well, though he had no idea how he would do the other times. He kept thinking during the dinner hour, while Ilweran and Thranduil talked about something else entirely. Only one question in particular caught his attention.

"How was your first day at work?" - the younger man asked naively. Legolas widened his eyes as Thranduil turned to look at him suspiciously.

"First day on the job?"  he asked.

"Yes. Father has a new job, didn't he tell you?"

"No, he didn't tell me anything" he said throwing a dirty look at his son, who would have wished to disappear at that very instant.

"Well, I'll tell you, then. A friend of his, got him a job."

"No kidding"  made the other smiling nervously.

"Yeah - he did shaking the plate and getting up - dad, tomorrow night I'm going to sleep at Eldarion's".

"What! I thought I had already talked to you about this talk of spending all your time with that guy!"  he exclaimed contritely.

"Oh, come on, what's one time!" he blurted, rolling his eyes.

"Ah, all right," he sighed, "but just this once."

Perhaps fretting would be pointless, after all Aragorn had been clear, he had no intention of meddling in his son's life at all, so he could rest easier. When Ilweran left, Legolas immediately realized how his father's eyes were fixed on himself.

"What are you getting so upset about? After all, there's nothing wrong with it," Thranduil said sarcastically, "if you spend your time with Aragorn he can spend time with his brother, can't he?"

"Oh, please!" I would have told you," He exclaimed.

"You didn't have to agree. I know you well, you'll get romantically involved."

"That's not going to happen, I'm not a kid anymore, I know what I'm doing, you'll see that everything will be fine!"

Thranduail let out a deep sigh.

"Alright" he said stymied. "If you want to work for that... go ahead. But I don't want to see him come into this house, or I couldn't be so nice."

"That won't happen" he reassured him. "I'm not going to bring him in here."

"Tsk, I hope so!"  exclaimed the other.

 

The night passed quickly, and the long-awaited day of the party had arrived. Llwrran had never been to a party, especially not one that was X-rated. It would have been fun in parts, even if the more reasonable side of him told him he'd get into trouble. But by now it was too late to turn back. When the afternoon came, he packed up his things, and then headed for his friend's house, which he was obviously not going to sleep at, only this Legolas could not know, and must not know, or he would have a heart attack.

Around 9:30, the two boys and three girls, found themselves at a common point. Now there was the problem of how to get to the villa, which was quite a distance away. The only one with a driver's license was Eldarion himself, but he absolutely could not have taken the car that belonged to his father.

"I say we take the bus!" exclaimed Una. "Surely it's less dangerous, I won't get in the car with this one."

"We should find a car first" her friend pointed out. "Do any of you have one?"

Ilweran had noticed how thoughtful Shauna was, so he had taken to looking at her. Well, actually, he had taken to looking at her because he also thought she was very beautiful: her blonde hair was half pinned up, and a simple midnight blue dress wrapped her up perfectly.

"I have an idea," she proclaimed, "but I think I'm going to need to bring out all my cute and tender self. Follow me!"

The other four looked into each other's eyes, unable to figure out what she was referring to. They soon discovered that their destination was the home of old Gandalf, who owned a car but in fact never used it because he much preferred to walk.

"How exactly are we supposed to convince him?" Ilweran asked.

"Leave it to me"  Shauna shushed him, ringing the doorbell. Soon after, Gandal, with a nightcap on his head, made his appearance.

"Oh, what a nice surprise" he greeted cordially. "What are you doing here, my dears?"

"Hello Uncle Gandalf," Shauna greeted, twisting her hair between her fingers, "am I disturbing you?"

"Oh, no I was just drinking my evening chamomile tea. What can I do for you?"

"Here" she did adopting the wide-eyed technique. "I could use a little favor. You see, we have to go to a party, but we don't have a car, so...I was thinking...that maybe...we could borrow yours."

"Mine? Oh, I don't know, that could be dangerous."

"Oh, please, we'll be careful. We're responsible guys, you know."

"I don't doubt that, my dear. But...do your parents know about this outing of yours?"  he asked suspiciously.

"Of course," Shauna affirmed, smiling nervously, "in fact, it was their idea to ask you. So... could you do this big favor for your little friends?  I beg you."

It had always been hard to resist Shauna and those sweet eyes of hers, from an early age. And besides, by now Gandalf was too old to hope to stand up to her.

"Alright" he decided. "Take it, be careful."

"Thank you" said the girl smiling. "I adore you".

And just like that, the game was up. Ilweran was amazed by her friend's persuasive skills, which had practically saved their evening. Having borrowed her keys, all five of them jumped into the small red car and sped off towards the villa.

 

Fifteen minutes later they arrived at their destination. They were very surprised to see the amount of people there, the deafening noise of the music, and the immensity of that mansion. But after all, it was normal, their schoolmate Tauriel was as popular as she was rich.

"Wow," whispered Shauna as she looked around, "This is absolutely prodigious."

"That's cool!" exclaimed Eldarion pointing to the pool in the garden. " I definitely want to take a bath."

"Me, I want to go inside and drink!"  exclaimed Una taking her sister under her arm. "Whoever wants to follow me!"

Since the place was pretty big and confusing, they all decided to stay together. The inside was even better than the outside, it looked like a real disco, moreover the blue lights gave everything a very suggestive atmosphere. There were also myriads and myriads of boys and girls, definitely older than them, coming out from all sides. The mood was high, as well as lechery, it was not difficult in fact to see couples secluded that let themselves go to effusions very inappropriate.

However, none of them felt out of place, none except Ilweran of course.

"Too cool!" Exclaimed Una. "Whoever gets to the liquor table first doesn't drink anything!"

"Hey!" exclaimed Shauna. "Wait for me!"

Instead, the two boys stood back, leaning against a wall to avoid being swept away.

"I told you you'd like it"  said Eldarion satisfied.

"Oh, yeah, really great"  he did rolling his eyes.

"Come on, don't be so floppy! You have to have fun! See how many girls older than you are there, make friends, throw yourself into the fray! In the meantime" he did casting his gaze on Shauna. "I'm going to go do my job."

"But... " he tried to say  "Oh, never mind..."

Sometimes he wished he had the confident character of his best friend, he wouldn't have had problems with Shauna for example. And instead, as he had expected, he would find himself being a wallflower.

But not for long really. Ilweran hadn't noticed that someone had been watching him from afar. It was a girl at least as tall as him, with long reddish-brown hair, and wearing a little black dress that made her look bigger than she was.

"Hello"  she greeted, approaching with a glass of Quattro Bianchi in her hand. When Ilweran looked at her, his eyes widened: it was Taurile Elvs, the organizer of the party and the most popular girl in the school. And she was addressing the word right to him.

"Um... hi" he greeted nervously. "Nice party".

"Thanks"  said the other looking at him. "Are you a senior too? I don't think I've seen you before"

"Ah... of course I'm a senior, just... no one pays too much attention to me.."

Tauriel smiled mellifluously.

"You're not even eighteen, are you?"  she asked.

The blond sighed.

"Ah, no. Look, I'm sorry I crashed your party, but it was my idiot best friend's idea. If we're disturbing you, though, we'll leave right away."

"Oh, no," she said grabbing him by the arm, "You don't bother me at all. I didn't think kids would have the guts to infiltrate an adults-only party. I like rebels."

Her mannerisms were strangely gentle. Usually, people like her didn't waste time talking to people like him. And besides, Ilweran wasn't used to talking to girls older than him.

"Ah... then... then it's fine..."

"Let me guess" she exclaimed, biting the straw with his teeth. "You play basketball, don't you?"

"How do you know that?"

"A tall guy like you would be wasted if he didn't do this," she said, letting out a giggle, "but I do archery. Not at school of course."

"Really? Cool, I would have loved to learn archery, I just never got the chance."

"Rich people have to do rich people activities," she sighed, "but if you really want to, I could teach you sometime."

"Yes," he said, smiling, "you could do that."

"But first you have to tell me your name," she said, coming exaggeratedly close.

"Um," the other blushed, "it's... it's Ilweran."

"Ilweran,s" he repeated, slowly moving his lips as red as roses, "it's a pleasure to meet you."

The closeness of the two had certainly not escaped Eldarion, who had been distracted for a moment from his asphyxiating flirtation to glance at his friend. He had been pleasantly surprised to see that he was getting acquainted with an older girl.

"Wow, bravo Ilweran!" he exclaimed. "That's how you do it!"

Shauna, next to him, turned her gaze in his direction. When she saw the blond man standing next to the beautiful, tall, shapely and seductive girl, she felt a sensation inside her that most likely had to be jealousy. She knew about the special relationship that existed between her and Ilweran, but seeing him next to a girl who was practically his opposite shattered her self-esteem.

However, she restrained herself, it wasn't like her to make a scene, so she decided to sink all her discontent into the alcohol, even though she wasn't used to drinking. She grabbed a glass on the table containing sambuca and drank it all at once until her throat burned.

Wow," Eldarion said, shocked, "you're really going for it.

Sulking, the other handed him the glass.

"Get me more," she muttered.

The conversation between Ilweran and Tauriel was meanwhile continuing to become strangely too intimate. The blond man could see how the girl was getting closer and closer to him, but it would be stupid to think that she wanted to hit on him. And he fervently hoped she wasn't, because he wouldn't know how to act.

"'It's amazing I've never noticed you before,' she did, brushing a lock of hair away from his face, 'you have such an amazing beauty. And what beautiful hair, is it yours?"

"Of course it's mine"  he replied embarrassed.

"Oh, you're so cute," she said, smiling, "unfortunately boys my age are all so conceited. I'd definitely like someone sweeter and who loves me for who I am, not just for my beauty and money."

"I'm sure you'll find the right one," said the other, "you just have to keep looking."

Tauriel smiled, moving closer again. She was really enraptured by the boy's sweet and naive mannerisms, a bit childlike really,.

"Sometimes you don't have to look," she said languidly, "sometimes you just have to stop and look at what's around you."

Now the girl's hand was right on his face. The situation was getting hot and he couldn't tell if he minded or not, but he felt very uncomfortable. So he moved away, before the other one could make any unconscious gestures.

"Um, I'm going to get a drink, I'll be right back!" he exclaimed, moving away. Tauriel watched him walk away, smiling. She was a real predator, and seeing her prey run away only increased her desire to chase it.

Eldarion had meanwhile crept between the tables, hoping to get a glass for his "beloved". The latter was rather strange, he had to admit, but he would take care of her morale.

His hand soon met Sabia's, who was also reaching for a glass.

"Eldarion!"  she exclaimed, blushing.

"Sabia, that's where you were. Has your sister abandoned you?"

"Actually, she's dancing there," she pointed to a wild Una, "she's already gone."

"Wow... what a chick," he said, smiling, "you should find something to do too, Sabia. Maybe you could get "someone to ask you to dance."

No one invites me," she sighed, "I'm a nerd, and I'm not pretty at all, so why should anyone bother?"

Eldarion then, from the height of his several extra inches, placed a hand on her head, making her blush completely.

"Hey, you don't get to say that. You're more than a nerd, you're nice, sweet and very, very pretty.

At those words Sabia had the impression that her heart leaked out of her chest. It was the first time Eldarion had ever said such a thing to her, and it made her think that she probably had a chance too.

"Eldarion, I..."

The boy's attentions, however, soon shifted to Shauna. The latter had apparently found her own way to replenish her alcohol supply, for now, with red cheeks and a silly smile on her face, she was attracting the attention of all the people present, with very improbable dance moves and maniacal enthusiasm...

"Shauna?!" he exclaimed in shock. "But what...?!"

In the meantime, poor Ilweran, trying to escape Tauriel's attentions, could no longer find his way around.

"Oh no, I'm lost. I'm definitely lost. What do I do now?"

He took two steps backwards, not realising that he was crashing right into Shauna.

"Shauna!, !he exclaimed. "Huh? What's wrong with you?"

Indeed, the girl had a stunned look on her face and could barely stand.

"Ah, there you are!"  she exclaimed, grabbing him and laughing . "You're very, very bad. I was angry with you because you were talking to someone else... but now... no, I'm not anymore..." she hugged him. - she then hugged him. When Ilweran sniffed her, he realized why she had that attitude.

"Shauna, you're drunk! How much did you drink?!"

"Oh, you're so dear to worry about me. I'm not drunk though, I only had two drinks... or maybe it was twelve?"

"Not good!" he exclaimed, grabbing her by the hand. "I must sober you up."

"Ah, leave me alone!" she blurted out. "I have fun, and the audience loves me. Do you want to see how good I am at dancing? Put your hands up!"

"Oh, no, no" the other one said, bringing a hand to his face.

It was amazing how alcohol was able to completely inhibit things like shame and modesty, of course, but people really seemed to enjoy Shauna's performance.

"Shauna!" he exclaimed grabbing her- "What are you doing?"

The other smiled.

"Sweetie... you're jealous, aren't you?"

"I..."

"Come here, I'll take care of you"  she whispered grabbing him by the nape of his neck and giving him a not at all chaste kiss. Ilweran's eyes went wide, he knew he absolutely had to stop, but he couldn't, after all that kiss was what he had always dreamed of, albeit in a different way.

He let the music in his ears stun him and the girl's scent intoxicate him. He kissed back in the same way, while applause and cheers went up in the air from everyone present... except Eldarion, who had been watching the whole thing, shocked.

No," he proclaimed seriously, with a hint of nervousness, "he couldn't have done it.

 

The evening at Greenleaf's house was very quiet, and Legolas could not imagine that it would not be for much longer. He had called Ilweran on his mobile a couple of times already, but the other had not answered. He didn't worry too much; probably, distracted as he was, he must not have heard the phone. However, the thought that he was at Aragorn's house, despite the latter's reassurance, did not leave him one hundred percent at peace. So he had decided to de-stress by reading a good book.

But the ringing of the doorbell distracted him from his plans. He went to open it, very surprised to find Frodo standing in front of him.

Frodo," he called, "hello, but... what are you doing here, has something happened?"

"Oh, no," the other answered, smiling, "it's just that Shauna forgot her bag of money, documents and everything, so I thought I'd bring it to you."

"Huh?" he asked. "But Shauna isn't here.

"But she is here," said the other, convinced, "she, Ilweran and the others were supposed to meet this evening.

"I can assure you that this is not the case. Ilweran is not here. He's at Eldarion's" he narrowed his gaze- "Or so he told me."

"What do you mean?"

A thought took hold of Legolas' mind. He did not know why, but now he was beginning to get the feeling that Ilweran had lied to his face.

"Would you excuse me for a second?" he said, stepping away for a moment and grabbing his mobile phone. He didn't want to call Aragorn at home, he had promised himself he wouldn't do that unless it was for work-related matters, but this was an emergency. So he looked up his number and then called him.

Of course, Aragorn was perfectly calm as well, ready to spend an equally quiet evening with his wife Arwen.

But even his plans were soon sidetracked by the insistent ringing of his mobile phone. He was very surprised when he realised it was Legolas, and did not hesitate to answer.

"Hello? Legolas?"

"Yes, it's me. Sorry about the time. I just wanted to know... Is Ilweran staying with you by any chance?"

Aragorn arched an eyebrow.

"No, not at all. Isn't he studying with Eldarion?"

The blond let out a sigh. evidently, they had all been very cleverly deceived.

"I have the impression that we're being played. I can't believe it," he put his hand to his forehead, "I advise you to go and find Eldarion, because I have a feeling they're going to get into trouble. Now excuse me, but I have to find my son and then kill him."

"Wait...!"  he tried to stop him, in vain.

"Is everything alright?" - Arwen asked.

"I'm not... I'm not sure anymore..."  he replied confused.

Legolas meanwhile had gone to meet his friend Frodo, an unfriendly expression on his face.

"Well?"  asked the other impatiently.

"Come on," he said through clenched teeth, "we must find them."

Chapter Text

The situation had escalated and Ilweran could not bring himself to regret it.

Shauna had actually kissed him. It had been his first ever kiss, and it had been absolutely incredible. He'd imagined it to be more intimate, without the noise and applause around and without the girl of his dreams being drunk, but it had been amazing nonetheless.

And he still felt butterflies in his stomach, not even if he'd been a silly thirteen-year-old girl.

Now, however, Shauna had broken away from him, and stepped onto the stage that stood in the middle of the standard dance floor. She'd picked up the microphone and begun to sing, too bad that instead of her sweet, white voice, an off-key, unpleasant singing had spilled out.

Who knows if he would have remembered. If not, it would have been a disaster, he didn't want to be the only one to cherish the memory of that kiss.

"Damn," he complained, "even when I'm lucky I'm unlucky!"

From the way he stood, with his gaze bent, he became aware of a shadow in front of him. For a moment he was afraid it was Tauriel, but was immediately more relieved when he looked up and realised it was Eldarion.

"Oh, Eldarion," he sighed, "you scared me... I thought you were... someone else."

Only later had he noticed how nervous his friend seemed. He was looking at him, arms folded, almost as if he wanted to kill him.

"I mean, have you lost your mind?"  he asked.

"Huh?! Why, what have I done?"

"What have you done?!" he exclaimed. "Are you stupid or what? You know I like Shauna, and what do you do? You kiss her, in front of me by the way!"

"Actually, she kissed me," he pointed out, "and what was I supposed to do?"

"Maybe pull away. I would have done that if I had been in your place."

"Oh, I doubt that!" he said nervously, getting up and trying to get past him. "Now leave me alone."

But Eldarion grabbed him by the arm. When Ilweran looked into his eyes, he noticed how red they were. He too must have been drinking too much.

Eldarion," he said, "let go of me, you're hurting me.

"Ah, it hurts? What about my broken heart then? That hurts too."

"Oh, come on, don't be a baby, it was just a kiss, alright?"

Eldarion let out a nervous giggle. Then he punched him in the face. The blond, surprised enough, put his hand to his nose and then to his jaw, pleasantly noticing that nothing was broken.

He had never been the aggressive type, and surely the fact that Eldarion was also drunk should have convinced him to let it go. In theory. He looked him in the eye, and finally returned the gesture. Unwittingly, the two had started a full-blown brawl, complete with cheers and applause. Thrown to the floor, they were trying to get the better of each other. They had never fought, not even in jest, but now they were not hesitating to give each other a good thrashing.

Shauna, a little higher up, soon noticed the situation, but since she wasn't in her right mind, she thought about making it worse.

"Hey, heu, look, a fight!" she exclaimed. "Come on, cheer up, raise your hands!"

A more than inappropriate intervention, since no one, apparently, had any intention of separating them.

 

"I mean, can't this thing go any faster?"

"If you don't like it, then get out and walk, you hear?! It's enough that you bothered me just because your children are delinquents, there was a game on tonight!"

"Oh, so sorry you're the only one with a car big enough to take us all there!"

Legolas, crammed into the back seat along with Gandalf, Frodo, Merry and Pippin, brought a hand to his head as Sam and Gimli lovingly insulted each other. The situation was tragic enough without those people adding to it.

"I don't understand Gandalf, how could you believe Shauna's stories, and more importantly, how could you give them your machine?!"  exclaimed Frodo.

"I'm sorry, but I'm old and easily convinced!" the elderly man justified himself.

"Did they at least tell you where they were going?!"  Merry asked.

"Umh," he said thoughtfully, "yes, I think they were going to a party.

"Ah, great, that will be very useful"  said Legolas.

"Don't worry, I know how to find them"  Frodo said, taking out his mobile phone.

"What are you doing?!" asked Pippin. "We've already tried calling, and no one answers."

Oh," he rolled his eyes, "I just want to use the GPS. At first I had no idea how to use it, but thanks to Sam's stalker-like nature, I learned it too. So I can easily track Shuna, wherever she is."

"You guys are scary"  Pippin noted.

"Ah, that's it! Gimli, you just have to follow the information I give you, alright?"

"Alright!" exclaimed the other, accelerating all at once. "But hold on tight, if I hurry I might still be in time for the second half!

 

At the party, meanwhile, Eldarion and Ilweran showed no sign of breaking away from each other. The former had now straddled the latter, landed him on his stomach, and even brought an arm under his neck to better immobilize him.

"That'll teach you to steal the girl from the others!"

The blond, however, determined not to make a bad impression in front of everyone present, found the strength to free himself and to reverse the parties.

"She's not your girlfriend, why can't you understand that? All you can do is be a cheap womanizer!"

"You're just envious!" he exclaimed. "because all the girls are after me and you don't get any!"

"Oh, yeah?!" he exclaimed, pinning his arms against the floor. "They're only after you until I get to know you better, you idiot!"

The crowd around them had grown even larger. Tauriel, intrigued by all the hubbub, had approached and was quite surprised by Ilweran's resourcefulness. Ilweran had realised he was being watched by her, which would be all the more reason not to make a bad impression.

"Look how cute," the girl smiled, "I hope they're fighting over me."

"Hey, hey!" Sabia suddenly exclaimed, the only one still lucid  "we have to stop them, don't just stand there, do something!"

"Hey, you, little girl," the older one restrained her, "stay in your seat, it's fun."

"It's not funny at all!"

"Ch boring. Maybe first you should take care of that crazy girl on stage who keeps cheering the audience on. She's your friend, isn't she?"

Sabia followed suit, spotting Shauna giving chants worthy of a stadium.

"Damn!"  she exclaimed, sliding into the crowd. Tauriel shook her head, then turned to look at what had become the main attraction of the party.

After several minutes of idling around, Legolas and company had arrived at the huge mansion full of people. They got out of the car and looked around.

"Ah, so this is where he went? I won't let him out for a month, as soon as I find him"  Legolas muttered.

"All right," said Frodo, "perhaps it is best if we do not part. I don't like this place at all."

"Pff, let's hurry up," said Gimli, "I've got better things to do than hang around with a bunch of idiot children.

So it was that the large group entered the wolf's den, immediately feeling the chaos of that overcrowded place.

"This doesn't look like a children's party to me," Sam noted with folded arms.

"Indeed it is not," said Frodo.

"Oh well, I see that at least something good is there" Gimli did. "Alcohol. Who will join me!"

"I'll gladly come!" -exclaimed Pippin.

"What?!" Merry exclaimed after him -"Come back here immediately, you two!"

"Oh well," said Gandalf, backing away, "perhaps I'd better wait outside, this is no place for me."

"Weren't we all supposed to be together?" asked Legolas.

Gandalf, however, had stepped back, and his attempt to escape was soon thwarted by two buxom blonde girls in skimpy blue and red dresses.

"Oh, hello," greeted one of them, "what a surprise, it's nice to see a mature man in the midst of all this horde of young boys."

"Yes, indeed," said the other, clutching her arm, "why don't you come with us?"

"W-what?  Gandalf asked, trying to pull himself together, "Oh, my dear girls, please, I don't think so."

"Come on, don't be shy. It's not every day one gets to make interesting acquaintances."

"Besides, we are of legal age. We should look freely at older men, shouldn't we?"

At that point Gandalf, who felt far too old to reply, but young enough to accept the invitation, smiled.

"Oh, well, since you insist so much, then I will gladly come!"

"Huh?" asked Legolas. "Gandalf, wait! Oh good, we lost him too! Now what?"

"Hmm," Frodo said, "all right, forget what I said. Legolas, let's split up. Sam and I will go this way,,, see you later!"

"Wait! - he tried in vain to stop them. It was incredible, at last his worthy companions had fallen victim to that glitter. But they were not there to enjoy themselves.

"All right," he snapped, "I'll do it myself!

As he said this, he started walking, doubting whether or not he would get out of there alive.

"I mean!"Shauna, who had now become the mascot of the evening, exclaimed, "What is this, a funeral or a party? Make yourselves heard!"

"Shauna!" exclaimed Sabia, grabbing her by the arm. "stop being silly, we have a problem!

"Come on, leave me alone!"  said the other, laughing.

"But Ilweran and Eldarion are beating each other up, will someone listen to me for once in their lives?" exclaimed the other in exasperation, in a vague and futile attempt to drag her along.

Legolas knew it would take much longer on his own, but since his trusted friends had abandoned him, he had little choice. The stench of smoke and reeds was stifling enough to make him cough, and on top of that, that combination of 'flashy' lights was going to his head.

"Ilweran!" he called, trying to overcome the volume of the music. "Where the hell are you?"

He could not imagine that his son was hunched over on the floor, his hands in Eldarion's hair. Both of them were now relieved. The blond's nose was barely bleeding, the other already had an obvious bruise around his eye, and they looked at each other quizzically.

"Eldarion," he called with a deep sigh, "that's enough.

"Enough? I say enough! - he exclaimed. "you shouldn't have challenged me!"

"Oh, God, please," he said, raising his eyes to the sky. He was surprised that the effect of the alcohol had not yet worn off, and wondered how much longer he would have to go on. Fortunately, he had the good sense to turn around just in time to see the silhouette of Legolas, who, judging by his nervous look, must have discovered him and been looking for him.

"Fuck!"  he cursed, barely bending down before Eldarion threw a punch at him. Eldarion's gesture went awry, resulting in him falling to the ground. The blond had meanwhile bent down and started walking on all fours in an attempt to escape his friend and not be seen. They absolutely had to get away before they were seen.

Then he pulled himself up, aiming his eyes at Shauna and Sabia who was trying in vain to get her out of there.

"Shauna!" he exclaimed, making a thousand thousand signs with her arms. "Shauna!"

"Ilweran!" the other called languidly, "What's wrong, did you miss me?"

"We must leave now!" he exclaimed.

"I can't hear you, maybe you need a little more cheering? All right then!" he exclaimed. "hey, guys, my friend Ilweran wants your support, why don't you give him a round of applause, eh?"

"No!" he exclaimed, bringing his hands to his head. At that moment the worst thing that could happen to him happened. A whitish, almost blinding light shone down on him, putting him practically in the centre of attention.

Ah, perfect. You spend your life wanting to be the centre of everyone's attention and when that happens, it happens at the wrong time.

Legolas' attention had also been drawn. The latter was finally able to spot him. He gritted his teeth, approaching at a leisurely pace, while the other silently begged to disappear instantly.

"Ilweran Greenleaf!"  he called harshly. The smaller one remained motionless, his eyes wide.

Shauna had imitated him, realizing only in that moment of newfound lucidity what had happened.

Frodo and Sam immediately glanced at her.

"Shauna?!" they exclaimed in unison. She smiled nervously, then let out an even more nervous giggle.

All eyes were now on them. And though it seemed as if it couldn't get any worse, just then a rather... unexpected guest arrived.

"Eldarion!"

Legolas gasped instantly upon recognizing that voice, while young Strider merely crawled against the floor, still stunned.

"What the...?"  he whispered.

Legolas saw Aragorn arrive out of nowhere, looking agitated and with an expression that spoke for itself. When he too became aware of his presence, they stared at each other for endless seconds.

"Aragorn?"  he asked trembling, unable to control himself.

"Legolas?"

Ilweran was still motionless. He found it somewhat odd that the two of them knew each other.

And in the end, the evening had ended rather... unexpectedly.

 

"No! Dad, please don't take away my mobile phone, how can I do without it!"  Shauna exclaimed pleadingly, without even the strength to stand up, and nauseous as hell.

"You should have thought of that before you did something so stupid!" exclaimed Sam, pushing him into the car . "and not only that. Say goodbye to your singing lessons for a month. And forget about leaving the house too, Shauna Gamgee Baggins. You can count on it!"

"Shame, shame on you both!" Exclaimed Merry furiously with folded arms. "what is wrong with you?!"

Pippin and Una were in the middle of a terrible hangover, and were completely knocked out.

"But why are you scolding me too?"  asked the other annoyed.

"Because you're a bad example, that's why, but we'll deal with it at home, eh, don't worry!"

The only one who remained silent was Legolas, who brought his hand to his head. Ilweran stood a little further away, trying to stop the nosebleed, walking alongside Gandalf, who had, to his dismay, been retrieved.

The blond tried not to notice Aragorn approaching him.

"I'm sorry," he apologised, "Eldarion told me everything. It was his idea, but I will punish him properly."

"It's... It's not just his fault," she said without looking him in the eye, "Ilweran is old enough to understand these things."

"At least he didn't get into trouble," he sighed, "he got caution from you."

Legola blushed, feeling her own breath catch. The more time she spent beside Aragorn, the more she felt how difficult it was to hold back what she had held back so well for sixteen years.

"Oh, and thank you for warning me. If it had not been for you I would never have known anything."

"Duty," he said, trembling. He did not know if it was the cold or something else.

Aragorn noticed, and took off the heavy brown jacket he was wearing.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"You're cold, I don't want you to catch a chill," he answered gently, placing the jacket around his shoulders.

The moment they were close, Legolas shivered again, and he had the impression that the other was shivering too. Their blue eyes met for a few more seconds, seconds in which they remained as close as they had been in a long time.

There had always been attraction and chemistry between them. But not only that. There had always been love, but given the circumstances, they had always pretended otherwise.

"Do you... do you want me to walk you home?"

"No," he said backing away with a great effort, "my father is coming to get me and Ilweran."

"Oh," he said, hinting at a smile, "then perhaps I'd better not show my face. I wouldn't want to try and defend myself against him trying to hurt me."

Legola laughed, a laugh that lit up her entire face. And then they looked at each other again. For a moment they both had a moment of weakness in which they wanted to blow it all to hell, but they didn't.

The sound of the horn startled Legolas, and he stepped back again.

"Well... we're off. See you..."  he said in a whisper. The man stood looking at him, almost maniacally. It wasn't just a feeling he had, his self-control was probably really going down the drain.

Legolas and Ilweran climbed into the car and immediately noticed Thranduil's unpleasant expression. Thranduil also had a cigarette between his fingers. He never smoked, only occasionally when he was very, very nervous. And the reason for his nervousness was the fact that his date with Elrond had been interrupted, only of course he would never admit it.

He turned to look at his son, who was silent.

"I wish I could understand how you can lose a boy of sixteen" -he blurted.

"I didn't lose him, he snuck out" he did, throwing the youngest a glare. "and then it happened to you too".

"Yes, when you were three!" he exclaimed, grabbing the steering wheel and lashing out angrily. "both of you need to go a bit straighter!"

Put the cigarette away," he scolded, reaching for the offending object, "not in front of Ilweran.

"After all he's seen out there, he won't be so upset."

"I said put it away!"

"Can you please stop shouting?" He ventured to say . "My head hurts."

"Tsk, alright, so it's my fault?! Is that what you're trying to say?" continued the other, ignoring his son. "I do my best, but I can't be perfect. Why do you do nothing but criticise me?"

"Because I have to make you understand what you're doing wrong!"

"Well, I don't need your help!" he proclaimed coldly. Thranduil then fell silent, and stopped looking at him to turn his gaze to the road. Finally, silence returned, but it was tense.

Ilweran sighed, tired. He would have liked to drift off to sleep, but he knew he would get a lecture as soon as he arrived.

Twenty minutes later they arrived at the house. The youngest entered sluggishly, hunched over. His head throbbed, but he knew that even that would not save him. Legolas looked exhausted and bitter. He turned to look at him, glaring at him.

"Since when did you start telling lies, Ilweran?" he said aloud, ignoring the fact that it was very late - how could you think of going to such a place, anything could have happened!"

"But nothing happened. You know I have enough brains to know what's wrong and what's not."

"It doesn't matter! It's a dangerous world out there, you should have told me where you were going! And besides, look what you've done to your face!"

"It was that idiot Eldarion."

"I don't care, serves you right, next time maybe you'll think twice before you lie to me! Now go to your room at once, you're grounded."

The other wrinkled his forehead.

"Well, if that's what it is you tell lies too! - he exclaimed - for example, you haven't told me how you and Eldarion's father know each other. In fact, I'm sure he's the famous friend you mentioned.

"That doesn't concern you."

"Ah, so what I do concerns you, but what you do doesn't?"

"Yes, that's right! Because you're a kid and you still don't understand certain things!"

The other clenched his fists, furious.

"Stupid."

"What did you say?"

"I said you're stupid! If you didn't want trouble, you'd have done well not to give birth to me!" He exclaimed angrily, turning his back and walking up the stairs even more angrily. Legolas felt that sentence as a terrible stab in the heart. He understood that saying anything would be useless. He felt like a brute indeed. Ilweran was not the one telling lies, he was the one who had always hidden the most important thing from him. But he had done it for his own good, or at least that was what he tried to tell himself over and over again.

He let himself fall onto the sofa, clutching Aragorn's jacket to himself. He had forgotten it was his, but he would return it to him later. Now that he had it in his hands, he could smell the perfume he loved so much. Then he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

 

 

 

Sixteen years and a few months earlier...

"Please, God, please. Let it not be true, let it not be true."

Legolas' eyes, strangely reddened, were fixed on the white stick he held in his hands. He had felt a pang in his heart at the same instant he had looked at him. It couldn't be true, not to him, not now. In his hands he held his truth and what would inexorably become his future. But he was not ready, and more importantly, he had never expected this. He leaned his back against the wall in an attempt to support himself. How was he going to do it now? And above all, how was he going to tell Aragorn?

He was so distraught that he could not even speak. Fortunately, however, he had enough strength to warn Thranduil.

Thranduil had immediately rushed to his house, and when he had climbed the stairs, he found his son looking stunned, motionless.

"Legolas!" he called, grabbing him. "Legolas, pull yourself together, it's me!"

The other barely moved. It was almost as if he had been motionless to try to hold back tears more easily.

"It happened," he whispered, "it really happened..."

"Ah," the other man looked up, "you should do it again."

"I've already done it four times" he stated harshly. " I don't need another test. I don't believe it... it can't be..."

Once again his self-control had gone out the window and the tears and all his despair and fear took over. Thranduil would have loved to tell him that he was a fool, that he had been irresponsible, as he was used to doing. But he could not. He simply hugged him, hoping to calm his hysterical crying at least a little.

Come on," the older man whispered, "it's not as bad as it sounds.

"In that case it is!" he exclaimed, "How can I? I am alone.

"You are not alone. You have me. And though I don't like to admit it, you've also got that... that idiot who now has to take responsibility, because if he doesn't, he'll know a very unkind side of me."

"He'll never do it!" he exclaimed. "he's married, he already has a family of his own! He told me, he warned me that we couldn't be together, but I insisted, and... I gave myself to him. I didn't think this could happen... for one time that..."

"One time is enough. Anyway, I don't care if he's married or whatever. He can't just leave you to your own devices. If you won't tell him, I will."

"No!" he exclaimed, "I'll tell him. Though I don't know how. I'm terribly afraid, I don't know anything any more."

"Courage," he consoled him, "it is not good for you. Dry your tears and go and tell him. It concerns us both."

Legolas let out a deep sigh, hoping to calm himself as much as he could, wiping his burning eyes.

Probably saying it would be the easy part, what he was certain of. There was a little sprout of life growing in him, and it had left him more shaken than happy. But that was normal after all, in the situation he was in. What he did not know was what Aragorn's reaction would be.

He could never forget the one night of passion that had brought them together. For they had always loved each other, ever since they had known each other, and it did not take a genius to realise that Aragorn's marriage had been planned for anything but love. She had tried to make him understand in every way that feelings were more important than duty, but Aragorn had not listened, for he now had his own life, his own family, and a name to live up to that he could not tarnish. So they had given themselves once for them. Once only.

And now he found himself in difficulty But one thing was true It was a difficulty that concerned them both. That's why she had told him, almost ordered him, to meet. He didn't care how busy he was, it was urgent.

As he waited for him, sitting on a bench not far from his house, he wrung his hands, nervous, wondering what was going to happen to his life now, since he didn't even have a steady job, he was young and completely inexperienced.... He needed him.

He saw him arrive after almost twenty minutes. Years could have passed, but her heart would have leapt every time she saw him. He was so beautiful... he was almost a light, but one that would not be his, perhaps. Perhaps Aragorn would be convinced somehow.

He stiffened as he saw it coming. He did not look particularly pleased.

"Well?" Aragorn asked as he approached him, "What was so important that I had to leave a business meeting?"

Legolas did not look at him, preferring to keep his gaze straight ahead.

"I've been sick. We haven't seen each other in almost two months."

The other's gaze seemed suddenly pained.

"I know, Legolas. But we agreed to drift apart after that. At least until our feelings would fade. After all, you've always been my best friend, and I don't want to lose you."

"You know that's not true," he said seriously, "ours has never been just a simple friendship, there has always been something more. But you preferred to marry someone else."

"I have to do what is right. My father wanted me to carry on the business and get married. And especially now that I have a child, I can't afford to indulge in sentimentality. Even if that... means suffering..."

"You're not the only one who's suffering."

"I mean, did you really make me come here just to talk about that?"

"No, not really. Just promise me you won't get mad."

"All right, fine. I won't get mad, now will you tell me what's going on?"

The blond let out yet another exasperated sigh. Then he turned, finally finding the courage to look at him.

"I'm expecting a baby."

A faint "huh?" escaped the other's lips. He would have expected anything but such news. News that now changed everything.

"What?" he asked, "you... but are you sure it is mine?"

"Aragorn!"

"Sorry, I just wanted to be sure . Gee... what now?"

"And now you must tell me what we must do. Because I'm willing to take responsibility, but what about you?"

"I... but I already have a family..."

"What about me? - he asked - he is also your son."

"But I didn't want that to happen."

"Neither did I, but since it has happened, we have no choice. You can't pretend nothing happened. Aragorn, please. I love you, and I know you love me too. This is probably some sort of chance for us to really be together."

"No, Legolas, that would be too difficult. I can't have two families, I can't leave the one I have.... "

"For me?" he asked . "Because I am not worthy to be near you. I'm just a poor, deluded little boy compared to you, aren't I?"

"I don't think so at all. But we had decided to end it, for both our sakes. Besides... you don't have to keep him if you don't want to."

"Don't say that even in jest!" he exclaimed furiously. "it's my baby and I won't kill it!"

"All right, calm down," he pulled him by the arm, "I just mean that you'd probably have a hard time alone.

"Ah," he asked through clenched teeth, "so you've made up your mind. You don't want to know, do you?"

"Legolas... I was caught completely off guard. I would like to do the right thing, but I don't know what that is right now!"

After that sentence, the blond found nothing more to say. He had deluded himself, at least for a second, that everything could go well, that everything could go according to his plans. But life was not a fairy tale, and that was the proof. They loved each other, why couldn't they be together?

But what Legolas now felt was not only love, it was also anger, disappointment and sadness. He needed him, but he also needed his own dignity. Barely holding back tears, he stood up again.

"Alright, then I'll relieve you of your decision!" he exclaimed . "If you don't want to know anything, go ahead with your perfect life. But forget about me, forget that I exist. Don't worry, no one will come to know, so your perfect reputation won't be jeopardised. See you never!"

"Legolas, wait!" he exclaimed, trying in vain to stop him. Legolas, however, did not answer or turn around. There was too much anger and disappointment in his heart to even look him in the eye.

He walked quickly enough to reach home almost immediately. Thranduil gasped when he heard the door open.

"Legolas?" he asked as he stood. "Legolas, is that you?"

His son, however, stood still. He did not seem stable, almost as if he might fall at any moment.

"Oh, Legolas" he went to him, supporting him.

"If he loves me, then why does he not just stay with me? Why does he have to make me suffer?"

"I don't want to tell you, but maybe he doesn't love you as much as you think."

"Then... then why did he... stay with me?"

"I don't have the answer to your questions. You're still young, and it's not a nice world out there. And who knows why I'm not surprised that Aragorn backed down.

"'Pff,' he smiled bitterly, 'he told me I could get rid of it if I wanted to. As if a child is something you throw away. I don't want to get rid of it. But I'm scared, I don't know what's going to happen to me, what should I do?"

"Nobody really knows at first.But it will come naturally - she lifted her face to him. "everything will be fine.

We've been through a lot, we'll get through this. And you should smile. You're having a baby, not a death sentence."

That sentence drew a laugh from him. He had been so busy despairing and fearing that he had not even realised what a long adventure he had been thrown into, against all his expectations.

 

 

Ilweran had woken up early, not that he had slept much of course, because of the throbbing headache. He had also had a violent argument with Legolas, which in itself had caused him problems. In short, the evening had turned out to be a disaster. It was Sunday, but he had no intention of staying cooped up in the house with the bad atmosphere.

So he got dressed and went downstairs. Legolas was still asleep, stretched out badly on the sofa. Perhaps it would have been better not to wake him.

No, it was better not to, also because he did not feel like arguing. He wondered if Eldarion had fared as badly. Yes, Eldarion... his best friend with whom he'd had a wonderful fight. Who knows if he could talk to him now without getting punched. It was probably still very early to go to his house and try to talk to him, but he absolutely needed to confide in someone, and that someone was him, who despite sometimes acting like an idiot, was still his best friend.

So he grabbed his jacket and closed the door.

On a Sunday morning the streets were deserted, and the fresh air helped him to get his thoughts and ideas straight, after all, so much had happened in the course of a single evening. When the time became a little more decent, he approached his friend's house with his hands in his pockets. He knocked, hoping that he would not be turned away badly because of the time. Opening the door was Eldarion's mother, already well dressed and made up.

"I know it's very early, but I would like to talk to Eldarion.

"Oh, of course, don't worry. Eldarion has been awake for a while. Assuming he even got a wink of sleep. Please, come in."

Even more embarrassed, the boy entered and was led through the house he had only been to once before. Arwen arrived in front of a door, only to knock.

"Eldarion! - she exclaimed - you have a visitor!"

Without waiting for an answer he opened the door and the blond could see his friend sitting on the bed, an ice pack over his eye.

"Mom? Ilweran! Hi, please come in."

"I'll leave you two alone" Arwen finally fixed. Ilweran turned to look at him. Eldarion looked much gentler now, nothing like the night before.

"Your eye still really hurts, huh?" he asked.

"Quite a bit, but I think I deserved it," he said, smiling, "sorry, mate, I wasn't myself. I would never have hit you."

"It's my fault too. I should have left you alone instead of starting a fight with you."

"You did good defending yourself, I have to admit. When I saw Shauna kissing you I couldn't see it anymore. But I got unnecessarily angry, after all she was drunk, you on the other hand were a victim of circumstances. I mean, you didn't kiss her because you like her".

Ilweran looked away in embarrassment. He had to be a real dumbass not to understand certain things, but since peace had been found, he had no intention of bringing up such a subject.

"Eh... yeah... Rather, did your parents get very angry?"

"Quite a bit, especially my father. He says if I don't get my act together he'll stop giving me money and send me off to do military service.... The latter scares me more than the former, as discipline and I don't get along well. What about your father?"

"He got angry, a lot.  And we had a very violent fight, too."

"I'm sorry, if only I hadn't had that stupid idea."

"It wasn't too stupid after all."

"You're only saying that because Tauriel Elvs has shown interest in you, right?"

"But how can you remember that?!"

"I remember all the important things, me!"  he exclaimed laughing, immediately blowing away all the anger of the night before.

Legolas would never, ever have woken up had it not been for the arrival of Thranduil, who had taken to shaking him.

"Legolas!" he called. "Legolas, wake up!"

Rather reluctantly, the blond opened his eyes, stunned.

"What the... What time is it?"

"It's past two," he huffed, "it's not like you to sleep so much, and since you didn't answer, I came here, I thought something had happened.

As soon as he had put his thoughts in order for a moment, Legolas pulled himself together.

"Ilweran? Where is he?"

"I don't know," he said with a shrug, "he's not in his room."

"Oh, no," he said, bringing a hand to his face, "I ground him and he runs away. He doesn't even take me seriously."

"Well, it's age," replied the other, husking his voice, "but maybe I should mind my own business."

Legolas immediately sensed that dig, remembering the heated discussion of the night before. He had been very sorry about it, and it was clear that Thranduil had been too, although he had never admitted it.

"Dad," he called, "listen. I'm sorry about last night."

"Sorry for what? For telling me you don't need me? No, but you're right, you're a big boy now and you can do it on your own."

"It doesn't matter. I'll always need you. You've always been there, you not only raised me but you helped me raise Ilweran. I think if you hadn't been there, I would have been lost."

At that point the older man's expression seemed to soften.

"After all, apart from the fact that you're always anxious and lose your son all the time, you're a good man.

The other smiled.

"Maybe you should leave him alone for a while before you call him."

"Yes, so maybe you can take a few hours for yourself too. And you should eat something, too. By the way... whose jacket is that?"

Only then did Legolas remember the jacket Aragorn had lent him. He blushed suddenly, straining a smile.

"It's mine, of course! - he exclaimed - I pulled it out of a drawer. Anyway, it's actually late, and as you say, it's not like me to stand here and do nothing!"

Thranduil shook his head. Who knows why he sometimes had the impression that his son was hiding something from him?

 

Ilweran and Eldarion had ended up spending the whole day together. Eldarion didn't want to go home yet, he wanted to wait for things to calm down first. Or at least that had been his plan, until Legolas had called him.

"I am at Eldarion's house at the moment" - he had replied coldly.

"Oh, then I'll... pick you up."

"If you insist"  he had concluded. Of course, the idea of going to Aragorn's house didn't excite him much, but after all, it was only a few seconds. When he arrived, he let out a long sigh before knocking.

Opening the door was Arwen, who gave him a smile.

"Legolas."

"Hello Arwen," he greeted nervously, "I have come to collect my son."

"He's here, come in!"

Arwen and Legolas knew each other, or rather, they knew of each other's existence. For Arwen, Legolas was a long-time friend of her husband's, from whom he was estranged. And to Legolas, Arwen was merely the impediment between him and Aragorn.

"The boys are in there"  she pointed. The blond approached, catching sight of the two talking. It was amazing how much they actually looked alike, but they were brothers after all. He sighed.

"Umh," he said, stretching out his voice, "Ilweran."

"Dad" he called - "hi emh.... Eldarion, I'll see you tomorrow at school, okay?"

"Oh, alright."

The two of them then reached downstairs, but as chance would have it, Aragorn was returning just then.

"Aragorn! - he exclaimed.

Legolas," said the other, surprised, "what are you doing here?"

"I... came to fetch Ilweran, actually."

"Oh, hello Ilweran."

"Um... hello..."

"Yeah. We were just leaving anyway. Sorry."

"Oh, but why don't you stay for dinner with us?" Arwen asked.

"Huh?" he asked nervously . "At your place?"

"Yes. We never have many guests, and besides, it would be a good way to bring you all closer together, wouldn't it?"

Ilweran looked at them very suspiciously.

"I... we, we wouldn't want to disturb."

"No disturbance at all! Isn't that right, Aragorn?"

The latter smiled as best he could.

"Of course."

"Um... then... I think that's fine"  he whispered.

It was only a matter of a few hours...

It was going to be a fun evening.

Chapter Text

How could he have thought it would be a fun evening?

It was absolutely terrible! He didn't belong there, he shouldn't have been in the house of the man who had once been her lover, especially not with Ilweran. The latter was already suspicious enough for obvious reasons, Legolas could tell by the way he looked at them. And that is also why he tried not to meet his gaze, nor that of Aragorn. It was obvious that the latter was also very embarrassed. I mean, what happened to the simple, pure working relationship? It had all gone wrong, definitely.

Arwen had taken notice of the strange silence, unable to understand it. It probably had to do with the fact that being together after so many years must be causing some embarrassment. He thus decided to dampen the atmosphere.

"Of course it's strange, our children are best friends and yet we've always spoken so little, isn't it funny?"

"Yes, very funny..."  Legolas remarked, his gaze still drooping.

He wanted to disappear. On one side he had the man he loved, on one side his wife, who had been betrayed profusely, in front of him his son and on the other side his son's brother. The situation could have become dramatic in an instant.

Ilweran did not understand a thing, and it was making him very nervous. How could the three of them possibly know each other? Legolas had never mentioned anything to him, and he was sure Eldarion didn't know either.

In fact, it was Eldarion who asked the question that had been plaguing his mind, almost as if he had read his mind.

"How exactly did you two meet?"

Legolas felt the food go down his throat, which made him cough violently. Aragorn glanced at him, as if to say: be quiet, I'll sort this out.

"We were... very young when we met. Legolas and I went to the same school and... well I was the popular one, charming and nice, while he was..."

"A loser"  whispered the blond sadly.

"Well, not exactly. Anyway, people liked to annoy him, so one fine day, I stepped in to defend him. And from there ... we became best friends, we even had a posse. And we were always together. As he said that, he turned to look at him, and Legolas looked back at him. Those had been golden times in their youth, the times when their initial friendship had matured into something much deeper.

"But then you never spoke to each other again," Eldarion added suspiciously.

"That's true," Aragorn sighed, "but you know, after marriage, things change and a man has his priorities. I had and still have a family, so I... pushed friends away..."

"That's stupid."

"But Eldarion!"  Arwen scolded him.

"No, you're right" Aragorn calmed her down. "It is indeed a very stupid thing."

And she turned to look at him again. Legolas felt himself dying every time, and then, with those looks, what was she trying to say to him?

"Actually, it's a shame that a friendship like yours has been lost over time," the woman added at that point, "maybe it wouldn't hurt if you all got close again, would it?"

The blond brought a hand to his face. This was an absolutely terrible idea. Aragorn was already her boss at work, she couldn't go out with him like in the old days, that would be... weird. And very unseemly.

"Oh, Arwen, I don't think that's a good idea, with all the commitments I have."

Legolas knew that at that moment, the only thing he should have done was keep quiet. But alas, his instincts were greater than anything, and led him to speak without thinking.

"I think it's a good idea," he said slowly, "the others would be happy too. Then he forced the best smile he could muster, a smile that Aragorn could not interpret.

Now he was in trouble. Now he felt irresponsible. Now all his efforts had been in vain.

But perhaps there was hope that Aragorn would refuse.

"Well... if you insist, I don't see why not," he replied good-naturedly. At that point, Legolas had to hold himself back with all his might to avoid letting out a groan of despair.

Fate was playing against him, and so was his heart. Ilweran still would not speak. There were too many things that didn't add up. Why, for all those years, had neither Eldarion nor he known that their fathers had once been friends? It wouldn't have made sense to walk away and keep it a secret, unless there was a fight or a serious reason behind it.

But he highly doubted that was what it was. And then there was something... the way they looked at each other, the way they spoke to each other. It was all too strange.

Fortunately, dinner was over, more or less soon. Legola couldn't wait to leave, she had already made too much trouble for that day. Aragorn seemed to have noticed his hurried manner, so he had gone over to him, while the other was preparing to go home.

"'Legolas,' he called, 'I am sorry if you felt embarrassed. Sometimes Arwen has absurd ideas."

"No, she has been kind. Now... Well, I can see why you married her."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, she's beautiful, kind, successful. The right match for you."

"Yes... thank you" - he replied, not very convinced actually. The blond looked at him intensely, hoping he would say something like "I certainly didn't marry her for love". Even if that was the case, and he was sure it was, he would never admit it.

"Anyway, you don't have to get close to me, us, if you don't want to. I was just saying."

"I'm reluctant to accept just because I don't want you to feel uncomfortable."

Why would I feel uncomfortable? Ah yes, maybe because after sixteen I'm still madly in love with you, and apparently I'm not too good at hiding it either. But I can't let you see me as weak again. I've already gone after you too many times.

"''Ah, why should I feel uncomfortable? After all, it's been a long time since that time. And I've already put a good deal of thought into it."

He had smiled as he said this, but anyone could see how false that smile was. Aragorn probably noticed it too, judging by the way he was looking at him.

Ah, by the way, I also came to return this to you," he said, handing him the jacket he held in his hands, "it's amazing, in all these years you haven't even changed your perfume, it's the same as always.

Only later did he realise how equivocal that sentence could actually be.

"Do you even remember my perfume?"  he asked, smiling.

"No... please, I don't even remember when I was born. Emh, Ilweran! Ilweran, we'd better go! So, thanks eh. See you, tomorrow. Ilweran!"

"Yes, I'm coming!" exclaimed the youngest one reaching him, then turning to the other one. "goodbye."

"Bye Ilweran, bye Legolas"  he whispered, closing the door again. Finally he let out a sigh of relief. He remembered perfectly why he had fallen in love with him. For his manners, for his big heart, for his courage. For though it might not seem so, Legolas was brave. And he was the only one alive who had truly stolen his heart. A heart that he continued to guard, despite all his efforts to pretend it had never happened.

 

Ilweran was very quiet even as they drove home. Apart from the fact that they still hadn't cleared up their argument from the night before, and then with all those doubts plaguing his mind, he wouldn't know what to say.

Legolas had noticed his mannerisms, and was genuinely afraid that he had picked up on something, after all his son was very intelligent. When they returned, Ilweran preceded him. He would probably have gone to his room without speaking to him, but Legolas did not want them to remain cold.

"Ilweran," he called, "do not tell me that you are still angry about last night."

The younger man remained motionless, only to turn away.

"Yes, I am angry about last night. It's not nice to be told you're a kid and don't understand anything."

"I'm sorry, Ilweran. But you had me worried and I got angry, you know how I am."

"Yes, I know," he sighed, "but you don't really think those things, do you?"

"No, of course not!" he exclaimed. "No one understands me better than you do. But will you promise not to lie to me any more?"

"All right, and I promise," she sighed, "but you too, don't lie to me any more, not even a little, all right?"

"I promise."

"All right. Then since I was right about you and Aragorn getting to know each other... can you tell me why you never said that?"

The older man felt the blood chill in his veins. He had just promised him that he would tell him no more lies, but the circumstances did not allow him to keep his word.

"I didn't think it was important," he stammered.

"But why? I mean, from what I understand you were very close friends."

"Best friends. But sometimes you need to grow apart, for both our sakes."

At that moment Ilweran sensed something that was indeed true, but to which he had not found a connection that would be more than logical. After all, however, she could never have imagined it.

"Oh!" he exclaimed. "I get it, you're in love with him!"

"What?!"

"Yes, that's why you've drifted apart! I could tell by the way you looked at each other! And after all these years, the love has never faded. It's something incredibly romantic. Besides, if you got together, Eldarion and I would become like brothers."

"Hold on, hold on!" he exclaimed. "All right, fine, that's probably true. But I have to stay in my place. He's married."

"Yeah, but I think he wants you too! And I think you should have fought to be with him instead of leaving him for another woman."

Legolas smiled.

"Ah, kind of like you're fighting not to leave Shauna to Eldarion?"

The younger man at that point turned red as a pepper.

"AND HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT!"

"Everyone knows, actually, because you can tell," said the other, "you really do have a romantic nature."

"Ah, silence!" he exclaimed whimpering. "No one understands my suffering, I'm going to take a cold shower!"

That reaction made him laugh a lot.

But then he became serious again. Ilweran was absolutely right. He was in love with him, and it was quite obvious.

The fact that they were approaching each other so quickly must have been a sign of something wonderful, but on the other hand he wanted to remain realistic, after all, he was no longer a boy.

 

Even Aragorn couldn't help but think of something other than Legolas.

It was his fault they had drifted apart, his because he had behaved badly and treated him in a way no one deserved to be treated. Legolas, however, really did not seem to hold a grudge against him.

He may have seemed like a responsible man, but he was not at all, and he realised it every time he looked into Ilweran's eyes. He had left them both alone, and now, after sixteen long years, his responsibilities came back to haunt him. He must have been afraid to give up back then. Now he would have been happy to spend time with them, but Llwean didn't know his true identity and he had another family to think of. Eldarion had sensed that something was wrong, his father was quite pensive, he could see him sitting by the desk in the living room, absent-mindedly filling out some papers. That strange story he had told him at dinner could only seem true up to a point, he could not shake the thought that something important had been omitted. Aragorn then, feeling that he was being watched, turned around and saw the son leaning against the doorframe, arms folded.

"Eldarion?" he called. £What are you doing there?"

"Nothing... I was just thinking. I never thought you and Legolas would have such a strong bond."

"You were quite surprised by that."

"Well, yes. Because I can't understand why you two would just walk away from each other like that" he said as he approached. "Are you sure you said everything you were supposed to say?"

Aragorn felt very uneasy at that point, but he tried not to let it show. He smiled nervously.

"Absolutely, why do you think that?"

"I don't know. You were just weird when he was around. You seemed thoughtless, but at the same time you seemed happy... and I mean as happy as you ever are."

"Oh, that's an exaggeration, it was just nice to see an old friend again. We're a bit like you and Ilweran... you...you love him very much, don't you?"

"Eh? Of course I do!"he exclaimed. "It's strange, sometimes I feel like a brother."

"Yes... strange," he whispered, "you take very good care of him."

"Ah, I just want him to learn to be strong without me. Besides, I am his captain, so he must obey me."

Aragorn let out a half laugh. He was not at all surprised that they were such good friends. Eldarion was acting like a big brother without knowing it. Perhaps if he had known the truth, he would have been pleased.

But what am I going to think... but of course he wouldn't be happy, we're talking about betrayal anyway.

"One of these days I'll come and watch you play" he said then.

"Really?" he asked. "Loudly. And how are you doing with work?"

"I'll find the time, don't worry."

Eldarion smiled, pleased.

Perhaps now that he and Legolas were closer, he could approach Ilweran without letting him find out. He had said he would not interfere, but in all likelihood... he was beginning to grow fond of the boy.

 

The next day...

The week began with the usual rigmarole, Ilweran woke up late as usual and had to run to try not to be late. His group was waiting for him, only the three girls had dark faces, surely because of what had happened two days before.

"Hello everyone" he greeted, noting Una's dark aura. "But what happened?"

"Oh, nothing she's upset because we're grounded" - Sabia replied.

"We all are," Shauna commented with a sigh. As soon as he heard her voice, Ilweran turned to look at her, blushing suddenly and feeling his heart do a backflip. He remembered exactly what had happened on Saturday night, but apparently she didn't remember anything, much to his enormous misfortune.

"Emh... hello Shauna" he greeted.

"Ilweran!" she exclaimed. "Oh dear... hi... I feel so embarrassed."

"AH, you don't have to worry!" he exclaimed. "I enjoyed it."

"Really?" she asked, arching an eyebrow. "That's strange, I thought you were angry because instead of helping you while you were fighting with Eldaron I only made the situation worse.

"Huh?" he asked, smiling nervously  "so you don't remember...? anything? Nothing else?"

"Um... is there anything I should remember?"

If Ilweran could have he would have sunk. They had had their first kiss and she remembered nothing... absolutely nothing. Their first kiss... it was absolutely hidden in the shadows. She forced a smile again, probably to keep from crying.

"No... absolutely..."

"Good morning!" Eldarion exclaimed, coming up behind the blond boy. "Ilweran, I hope you are in because we have a pretty tough workout ahead of us today."

"I wonder how you have all this energy after the destructive weekend we had"  he huffed, turning his  back on him and trying to open her own locker. At that moment, the corridor was literally lit up as Tauriel made her entrance, resplendent and always well dressed, her long hair reaching past her shoulders. She ignored all the eyes on her to turn her attention to the shy, awkward boy who had kidnapped her from her party. So she approached him, and when she was close enough, she put her hand on his shoulder.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, "oh... Tauriel... what... hello."

"It's good to see you back in one piece," said the other, "I was sorry you left like that..."

"Oh, um, yeah... me too."

The between girls and Eldarion had taken notice of Tauriel's arrival, and while Shauna found herself turning up her nose at it, the Moor couldn't resist wooing her.

"Oh, hello!" he exclaimed, "my name is Eldarion Strider, and I'm Ilweran's best friend."

"Oh, yes, I know who you are," he said, not showing much interest in reality, "you're the one who threw a punch at him."

"Umh... yeah, that's right."

"Anyway, I thought we could spend some time together. After all, didn't you tell me you wanted me to teach you archery?"

"What? Really?" Eldarion asked. "But Ilweran, we have basketball practice."

"Amh... I'm on it. Listen Tauriel, I know I said that, but you know, I have a full, full, full week..."

"Even the weekend?" she asked mellifluously.

"Um no, the weekend... I think I actually have it free."

"Well, no problem then," she said smiling, then casting a glance at Shauna who was struggling not to make a jealous scene, "oh, I remember you, you're the one who used to do the stadium chants."

"My name is Shauna. And you better not forget my name."

"Why is that?"

"You never know" the other replied. The two looked at each other intensely, giving off a certain aura of rivalry right away, which everyone noticed.

"Then I'm counting on you, Ilweran," Tauriel said again, winking at him, "I'll be waiting for you!"

"Um, yes, of course," said the other, smiling nervously. The girl then turned her back on them and swayed away, under the furious gaze of Shauna and the other two.

"Who does she think she is?" Una complained.

"Lelwran seems to like her, though. Maybe I'm wrong, Ilweran?" Shauna asked harshly, clenching her fists.

"Yes... I mean no! I mean... She's much nicer than she actually seems."

"Yeah, I say she just wants to sink her claws into your innocent flesh," Una added.

"On me?"

"Oh, and what if she does?" Eldarion asked, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "She's a woman, I suggest you take advantage of her.

"Of course!" Shauna exclaimed. "You men are all the same! I really don't understand you!"  she concluded, turning her back on them and walking away. Ilweran immediately sensed the other's jealousy, and indeed Eldarion had understood as well, too bad he had misinterpreted.

Wow," he said, letting out a whistle, "my Shauna is angry. That's absolutely fantastic, I can console her now, I'm going, see you later okay, remember the training."

"But... oh gosh" he huffed rolling his eyes. It was no use, he had always been unlucky in love... sort of. He couldn't understand how Tauriel was giving him all that attention, and despite trying to convince himself that there was nothing wrong with it, he couldn't be too sure.

The day had also begun with frenzy for Legolas, who had officially started his new job. It was a good thing too, because at least working hard allowed him to take his mind off the man who happened to be only a few metres away. He fervently hoped that he wouldn't come to see him, since he had apparently got into the insane habit of visiting him.

But of course, there was never a time when his prayers were answered.

"Hey," Aragorn said as he entered, "are you all right?"

"Yes, all very well I'd say. You can stop worrying, I'm an adult after all"  he said smiling.

"I'm glad to talk to you. But if it bothers you..."

"Oh no, by all means. You're the boss, you can do whatever you want" he looked down. The thought of having her blue eyes fixed on him made him feel embarrassed. Why was he still there? What did he want?

"The twenty-first of March," Aragorn said suddenly. The blond looked up, surprised.

"What?"

"The twenty-first of March," he repeated, "is the day you were born. It took Legolas a few minutes before he reconnected Aragorn's statement with what he had said the night before just for fun.

"You remember it, then"  he said trying not to show a smile.

"Yes, the first day of spring. The day of rebirth. Yes, I'd say it suits you. You remember birth somehow... a flower blooming..." - he said, looking into his eyes. Legolas tried to banish the blush from his cheeks. He was falling for it again, but he did not love him, or at least Aragorn was convinced of that.

He forced a smile.

"You remember mine, but Ilweran's?"

Aragorn tightened his lips. It was obvious he did not remember, and obviously Legolas had not expected him to.

"The sixth of September," he said decisively.

The other rolled his eyes.

"The fifteenth of April."

"Are you sure it wasn't September? I remember it was a beautiful day."

"It was raining," he said, "and yes, let's say I'm pretty sure."

"Oh, well," he noted embarrassed, "there's actually a lot I don't know about him. I don't know what he likes and doesn't like, I don't know his favourite colour, his favourite food, but I do know his dream. He wants to be a professional basketball player.

"Yeah," he sighed, "that's stuff you could have known anyway... if only you hadn't refused."

Immediately his tone had become cold, icy, as if he wanted to point out all the resentment he had felt during those years and that had never really disappeared.

Aragorn did not answer, what was he supposed to say? He knew how right the other man was. He cleared his throat, embarrassed, then turned his back to him. Immediately Legolas realised that he had certainly gone too far. After all, he should have pretended not to.

"Amh, Aragorn. Sorry, it's just that sometimes I'm too impulsive"- he called after him as he stood up.

"You don't need to apologise, you spoke the truth. I've never been there."

The other bit his lip. He absolutely had to change the subject and tone down that tense atmosphere.

"Amh... listen, the others and I are meeting tonight, why don't you come too!" - she asked without thinking.

"Me?" he asked, "are you sure you should?"

"Sure, after all we agreed. I'd... like to, that is" he said, smiling nervously.

Aragorn smiled back.

"It would please me too. I accept the invitation."

"Good, perfect. Then... I'll get back to work... yes..." - he concluded as he sat down.

He had no idea what his head was saying, in fact he had no idea about anything lately. His heart and mind were in constant conflict, and he wouldn't know who to listen to.

Of course, there had to be a reason they had grown so close again.

Evening came, and as planned, his friendly party soon filled his thing with loud laughter. But there was no sign of Aragorn.

Perhaps he had decided not to come after all - which would have given him some relief, but made him feel sick. It would have been nice to spend time with him, like the old days.

His friends had noticed that something was indeed wrong with him.

"Heiy, hey, what's wrong with you man? You're pretty sulky, did something happen?"  asked Pippin.

"No," he replied, absent-mindedly swirling his beer in his glass, "nothing happened."

"Now, now, you can see that your eyes are shining," added Boromir. "In my opinion, dear Legolas is in love with someone but wants to be mysterious."

"In love? With whom? Do we know him?!" asked Frodo.

"Oh, I'm not in love at all, what are you thinking of?"

"About time, too, don't you think?"  Gandalf asked, quietly smoking his pipe.

"Ah, look, when I need a marriage agency, I'll come to you, alright?" - he asked nervously.

There's no need to get angry, we worry about you," said Boromir, with a certain tone of provocation, "also because, after all these years, certain needs become impossible to restrain. What's the point of doing everything yourself?"

Legolas choked on the ale he was drinking and then coughed.

"But Boromir!"  he exclaimed, blushing.

"What? We're all adults here."

"Oh, please, don't make me vomit"  Gimli blurted out, trying to make his heterosexual opinions prevail.

A general laugh broke out. Legolas was trying to keep his wits about him, but apparently his good humour must have been evident to everyone. He didn't feel any different, but maybe he was.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door, which left everyone a bit stunned.

"Um... we're not expecting any more guests, are we?" Gandalf asked.

Legolas did not answer. He simply stood up and opened the door. In front of him stood Aragorn, who could not help but smile.

"Hello Legolas."

Aragorn smiled back, not caring that it might seem strange to the rest of the group, who were rather surprised to see their old friend after all this time.

"Hey!" Eldarion exclaimed, trying to get their attention, "I'm here, too.

"Oh, hi, sorry Eldarion," said the blond, "Ilweran is upstairs with the others. Please come in, don't stand there in the doorway."

When Aragorn made his entrance, he immediately noticed how all eyes were on him, which made him feel quite embarrassed.

"But what is he doing here?"  Gimli asked, unable to contain his astonishment.

"Gimli!" - rebuked Legolas.

"Oh, it's all right," said the other, "it's normal. It's a long time since I've seen... all of you."

Gandalf then stood up and, still with his trusty pipe in his mouth, approached him. He stared at him for a long time, with an indecipherable expression to tell the truth. But then she smiled.

"Well... welcome back," he said quietly, almost as if nothing had happened.

 

"You'll be at the basketball final, won't you?"  Ilweran asked, lying on his stomach on his mattress.

"Oh, I don't know if I'll be able to be there," said Shauna apologetically, beside him, "it coincides with the prom, and I have to sing, I've already promised the organisers."

"But you can't miss it!" he exclaimed. "Come on Shauna, do it for me.

"Why don't you ask your Tauriel to come, I'm sure she won't say no to you.

"She's not my Tauriel, and besides, she's not the kind of girl for me. We're just friends."

"With a girl like that, it's impossible to be friends," she snapped.

The door of the room opened slowly, and Eldarion entered.

"Evening!" he exclaimed, smiling.

"Eldarion?" Ilweran asked. "But what are you doing here?"

"My father was to come here tonight, yours invited him. So he brought me too."

"He invited him?" asked the surprised blond. Then immediately he let out a smile. There was a good chance that the two of them would end up together, after all, if it was true love, it would easily win over marriage and other adversities. But now he had to convince Eldarion of the goodness of that feeling, which would not be easy.

"Eldarion!" he exclaimed, grabbing him by the arm, "I have to talk to you! You know, I think my father is in love..."

"Oh, I'm glad..." -he said confused.

"No, no, no, I mean with your father!"

"Huh?" he asked. "What are you talking about?!"

"Think about it, it would all make sense. I'm sure they both loved each other, but then your father married your mother and in an attempt to forget about each other, they grew apart. But in truth they still love each other, they can get together, wouldn't that be beautiful?"

"No!" he exclaimed, "I don't want my parents to break up, and my father is not gay."

"How can you be sure?"

"I just know! Why are you telling me this anyway?"

"Because I want them to end up together. And maybe you could help me."

"Not a chance. I don't mean to ruin their marriage, it's not nice to meddle in a relationship."

Oh, yeah, too bad you're always doing it without realizing it with me and Shauna.

"Oh, fine, whatever," he blurted out, "any of you got an idea?"

"Hey, don't do anything stupid!"

"A date"  Shauna proposed.

"Shauna! Ilweran, no! I forbid it! They can't be together, it would be too weird, I don't want to be your brother."

"Now that's an idea!" exclaimed the blond, ignoring his friend . "We need a date just for the two of them, and only then can love be born."

"It won't work," said Eldarion, "because now I'm going to tell him everything."

"Don't you dare! - he exclaimed grabbing him - if you go and tell everything, I'm going to tell your father about the time you stole his money to buy drugs".

"It wasn't drugs, it was cigarettes, just once. And you wouldn't dare."

"Oh, yes, I would dare. Drug addict!"

"Fine, whatever!" he exclaimed. "But you won't be able to convince him, my father loves my mother too much to even think of cheating on her."

"That remains to be seen, friend!" exclaimed the other, amused.

 

Downstairs the atmosphere had definitely relaxed and Aragorn was now talking to everyone as if nothing had happened. Legolas was sitting next to him without saying a word, but he was smiling, he was happy to have him beside him, it was as if they had gone back in time.

The only one who actually stood a little apart was Boromir, who had been most surprised to see him.

"So now you're a big shot in the trade?" Sam asked . "Now I understand why you are so rich.

"That's right," said the other, "Legolas works in my company."

"Ah, yes, you didn't tell us that, Legolas," said Merry mischievously.

"I would have told you!" he exclaimed.

"You two seem to be getting along very well... I mean, after all... it's a good thing..."  he said.

Frodo not very convinced.

"Yes... it's a good thing, I know"  said the blond looking at Aragorn.

Boromir at that point stood up, abruptly.

"Excuse me, I'm going outside for some air."

Everyone else looked at each other.

"What's wrong with him?"  demanded Gimli.  Aragorn knew exactly what was wrong. So shortly afterwards, with an excuse, he got up. He went to the back porch, where Boromir was standing. He came close to him, and when the other noticed, he tried not to look at him.

"What did you come for?"

"I came to see if you were all right."

"No, I mean what you came to do tonight. You shouldn't be here."

"If I'm bothering you, I can just leave."

"It's not that!" he exclaimed. "I am extremely happy to see you again. But you disappeared, Aragorn, for sixteen years".

"You know I had to."

"No one forced you."

"Nothing would have changed between us."

"I know that. But at least we would have remained friends."

"Come on... don't tell me you still have feelings for me."

The other glared at him...

"Years ago I stepped aside because I knew I wasn't reciprocated, and what do you do? You go and marry a woman, all of a sudden. It's the stupidest thing you've ever done. And now you're acting like nothing happened. Well, I can't act like nothing happened."

"What do you want to do?"

"I don't know. I was calm, but now that I've seen you, I doubt I can be. I'm sorry."

With that, he walked away. Aragorn sighed. Yes, Boromir was in love with him too, or at least he had been years ago. He had even confessed to him, but Aragorn had always seen him as a friend. The other had accepted that rejection, though probably not entirely. And surely the fact that they had now met again had only rekindled old wounds.

He returned, trying not to think about it, and sat down again next to Legolas.

"Oh, Aragorn," Frodo exclaimed, "we were talking about similarities."

"Yes indeed, we were saying that you and Eldarion are two peas in a pod."

"Oh, no, he's more like his mother. Usually my children never look like me" - he replied with what was meant to sound like a joke but really wasn't.

"Ilweran does, he has your eyes" stated the blond without thinking.

"The rest he got from you, peer luck" - he said sadly. At that moment the atmosphere became dark again. Gandalf pulled himself together.

"Oh come on, don't sulk, fill my glass instead!" he exclaimed cheerfully.

Contrary to what everyone thought, the evening passed pleasantly, and in the end even Legoas was able to let himself go. Around midnight the guests were getting ready to leave.

"It was a good evening Legolas, we should do this more often."

"Anytime Aragorn, Ilweran and I would love to."

"Yeah... Ilweran... I've been thinking about him... I mean, I know I told you I didn't want to get involved. But I'd like to spend my time with him."

"Eh... but... it's not that..."

"I'm not going to tell him anything. I know I've never been there, that's why I wanted to ask your permission."

No, I can't say yes to him. It's absurd, he had his chance years ago, and he blew it. If I say yes to him now, he'll know I'm doing it for me too.

Reject. Reject. Reject.

"If... you'll be as careful as you say not to let him find out... You may as well do it" he said sadly.

Well played, idiot.

When he looked up, he noticed how Aragorn was approaching him.

"Thank you, Legolas. I am grateful, truly."

He was almost close, that for a moment the blond had the urge to kiss him.

For that he had to pull back hard.

"Don't thank me. I'm doing this for him."

Lies and more lies. He had done it for both of them.

This was not going to end well at all.

Chapter Text

Ilweran had stayed awake all night thinking about how to bring the two of them together. By now he had made a myriad of films in his head, despite Eldarion's disagreement and the "marriage" issue.

Aragorn was nice and he was sure that together, he and Legolas would make a good couple. Yes, everything would have been perfect, but given his father's difficulty in indulging in any kind of romantic relationship, he would have to put his foot down somehow. He awoke strangely early in the morning, immediately attracted by the smell of coffee downstairs. Legolas and Thranduil stood as they did every morning.

"Something tells me there was some revelry here last night. Maybe it's all the glasses thrown about on the table."

"Yeah, look, I didn't have time to clean up, we were late, why don't you clean up?"

"What do you think I am?" he asked, taking a biscuit. "A cleaning lady, perhaps?"

Ilweran's arrival was announced by her shuffling.

"Morning!" he exclaimed cheerfully.

"Oh, dear," said Legolas, "you're awake at this hour? It is a miracle.

"Yes, I know," he said, rolling his eyes, "Dad, listen, I've been thinking... I mean... maybe you should go out a bit more often."

"What do you mean? I go out enough already?"

"Yeah, I know. I do mean... a different kind of outing... a bit more intimate... with Aragorn for example."

Legolas widened his eyes, wanting to shut him up, but not really knowing how. Upon hearing that name, Thranduil had immediately looked up.

"Aragorn?"  he asked.

"Yes. I have discovered that he is his former best friend. You must know him."

"No, I don't believe I have the pleasure of remembering," he said, glaring evilly at his son.

"Ilweran!" he exclaimed. "That is a very kind thought on your part, but... but... Aragorn is very busy, and so am I, and besides, I can't leave you alone all evening, it doesn't seem right."

"No problem, grandfather will look after me, won't he?"

"Ah, of course!" replied the other nervously. "I'll look after you, what's the problem?"

"See? So you guys can go out and have fun! Please, I'm sure it would do you so much good, so much good!" he exclaimed pleadingly.

Legolas sighed at that point.

 He was trying, he was trying very hard not to give in, but apparently his son was also trying somehow to bring him closer to Aragorn.

"I um... alright, I can think about it... but..."

"Great, you won't regret it! - he exclaimed, smiling - but I have to go now, otherwise I'll be late for school! See you later!"

"See you later" - he greeted the other nervously, clutching his coffee cup in his hands. When he looked up, he realised that Thranduil was frowning at him.

"What did Ilweran mean?"

"Ah, nothing... you know how kids are, they say a lot of things."

"Legolas."

"Ah, all right," he rolled his eyes, "Aragorn and I have become closer than we expected and ... he was here yesterday as well."

"What?! he exclaimed, taking yet another biscuit and starting to bite into it nervously. "There are myriad men in the world, and you have to spend your time with him? You risk ruining everything, you and your recklessness.

"Listen, Aragorn and I are just friends, there's nothing wrong with that, not least because we have a son in common. And speaking of which..."

"What?"

"He asked me if he could... if he could get close to Ilweran again."

"I hope you told him no."

"Well..."

"I don't believe it, but what's your brain telling you?! Why don't you get married directly then, I guess! I warn you, I won't accept it, I just won't!"

"Dad!" he exclaimed- "Stop it, you're eating all the biscuits."

"It's your fault I'm nervous! And you're going to get into trouble, just know that!"

Legolas rolled his eyes. Yes, he already knew he was going to get into trouble, but unfortunately the situation was getting out of hand without him being able to do anything about it.

Instead, it was in Llewran's hands, who was unknowingly bringing his parents together.

He had arrived at school with an enthusiasm that certainly hadn't gone unnoticed by his best friend.

"Hello everyone, nice day, isn't it?" he exclaimed, smiling.

"What's with the good mood?" Eldarion asked, arching an eyebrow as he was now forced to look at him suspiciously. "You've been up to something, haven't you?"

"Me? Absolutely, absolutely, doing something with this angel face? No kidding. Rather, I hope you're fit, because we've got another slack this afternoon, wonderful, don't we?"

"What's wrong with him?"  Shauna whispered.

"Maybe you should try asking his dealer" he huffed.

It was rare for Ilweran to be so cheerful early in the morning, but he would soon discover the reason for such a good mood.

The school hours passed slowly and tediously as usual, and finally, in the afternoon, there was basketball practice, which was particularly tiring. This would be Eldarion's last year playing at the school, and he wanted to end his career as "captain" with a fantastic victory. Obviously all his trust was placed in Ilweran, his best friend and playmaker.

"Guys!" he exclaimed. "We have to start working on our plays. I've already written something on this paper, if it doesn't work we should change it. In any case, you Ilweran are our fulcrum, our chance to win, after all you are the quickest and the fastest".

"Does that mean that all the responsibility rests on my shoulders?"  he asked a little frightened.

"No, not all of it. About half of it. So, as I was saying..."

"Eldarion!"  Sabia suddenly exclaimed, coming up behind him.

"Sabia? What's going on?"

"The headmaster wants to talk to you. Right now" she stammered.

"But I have training now."

"Please Eldarion, go to him, you know he gives me the creeps, and the role of headmaster is stressful enough."

"Oh, all right!" he tossed the ball to Ilweran, "I'll be back in doubt, you go on without me!"

"Alright then," sighed the blond, "let's get started.

Immediately the hard training began. Having such a big responsibility was stressful, but Ilweran would do his best. He was completely focused, so focused that he did not notice that one of the usually empty seats in the stand was occupied.

Aragorn had kept his promise, had weighed in some time from work and had come to watch them. Eldarion was not there, however, and so his attention was exclusively on Ilweran. He was surprised at how skilful and focused he actually was. He was sure that one day he would succeed in the world of basketball, and thinking about it he felt for the first time proud of the son he had always kept away. It was a feeling he had already experienced with Eldarion, but absolutely new in one respect. After all, this was the son of his one true love.

The thought made him quiver. By now, had it not been for his choice, they could have been a family, and he would have experienced so much that he had lost. If Llewran had ever known the truth,.... he would have hated him, and he would have been right.

His attention was drawn to the same boy, who had stumbled and fallen while running.

"Ouch, damn it!"  he exclaimed. At that moment it was natural for Aragorn to get up and go to his aid.

"Ilweran! he exclaimed - Ilweran, are you all right?"

"Huh? Are you? What are you doing here?"

He paused, realizing how strange his manner actually was.

"I... came to see you and Eldarion... I thought you'd been hurt."

"A little, but it happens all the time!" he sighed as he stood up. "alright guys, take a break. It's weird seeing her here, she usually never comes to the loosening."

"Please Ilweran, call me by my first name. I know that anyway, but I promised."

"Oh, it would be nice if my father could see me too, but he has to work, he's the only one who supports me. But he will be at the final, because it is very important. I really hope I win, everyone is counting on me."

"I'm sure you'll do a good job, you're a smart boy like Legolas was at your age."

The other smiled.

"I never would have thought you would have become friends at school too. And that you were the one who always defended him. But it's actually not that strange, he is a bit weak."

"Oh no, he's not weak at all, in fact, I think he's the stronger of the two. I think he's the braver of the two. He has faced many things. I mean, he even raised you by himself."

"Yeah, that's true. But I wonder why he was alone. I mean... everyone has two parents, I only have one. And he also bets that the person who left him must have been a horrible person, because every time I try to talk about it, he gets sick."

Aragorn felt a tightening in his stomach.

"Probably. But it's also likely that this person was just a bit of a coward."

"Well, he shouldn't have been. A child is raised together, not abandoned like he did. You have no idea who he might be? I mean, you were his best friend..."

"We... we were already far apart when it happened."

"Oh, right. Well, I'm sure with you next to him it would have been easier, he would have had his best friend to rely on. We would have been like family."

"You're right..."

Ilweran soon remembered his plan, and decided to put it into action.

"Umh... well, maybe it's not too late. I mean, you can make up for all the lost years. My father told me he would be very, very happy to go out with you... alone. But he's ashamed... so you'd better ask him."

"Legolas actually said that."

"Oh yes. But what can you do, he's a bit rusty. So are you going to ask him?"

"Well... why not..."

"Great!" he exclaimed. "I mean... great for you, of course..."

Aragorn could have sworn, but he had the impression that Ilweran was doing everything he could to bring them together in a decidedly unfriendly way. Was that possible?

Eldarion returned just then, surprised to find the two of them conversing.

"Dad, what are you doing here?"

"Oh, hello Eldarion. I came as I promised, but I didn't find you and Ilweranm i entertained."

"Ah, I see. Well I advise you not to be entertained too much. Let's get back to training, immediately" he said taking Ilweran by the arm and dragging him with him.

"See you then!"  he greeted the blond cheerfully.

Aragorn returned the greeting. He wondered if what Ilweran had said was true.

Besides, it wouldn't hurt to try.

Maybe it was a stupid idea, but he had to put that doubt out of his mind.

So when he left the school, he immediately called Legolas on his mobile phone, even though he was still at work.

Legolas was indeed genuinely surprised that Aragorn was not around that day, and probably even sorry.

He was even more surprised when he saw his call on his mobile phone at such a strange time.

"Hello?"

"Hello, Legolas. Is everything all right there?"

"Oh, yes. Your empire won't collapse if you're absent for a while. By the way... how come you're not here...?"

"Because of a promise I made to Eldarion. I attended his basketball practice and... Ilweran was there too."

"Did something happen? Is that why you called me?"

"Heavens, no," he said, smiling, "no, actually I called you because . I wanted to ask you something. Would you, always and obviously want to, go out with me?"

Legolas almost fell off his chair. No one had asked him such a question since high school, and the fact that he was the one asking it was quite strange. Then he had the strange feeling that his son had a hand in it.

"You've been talking to Ilweran, haven't you?"

"How do you know?"

"Because he's trying to arrange a date between the two of us, that's how I know."

"Well, smart boy. So you don't want to?"

He did want to, but if he agreed, so much for all his good intentions. As usual though, the words slipped from his mouth without him being able to stop them.

"Ah... why not. After all, it's just an outing between two old friends."

"Yeah... Let's say like... tonight at eight?"

"Tonight? Yes," he whispered, "that would be fine."

"So be it, then. I'll pick you up at eight, see you later."

"Alright, alright. See you later then, bye."

When he ended the call, he brought his hands to his head, blushing.

 It had been years since she'd experienced feelings like those she usually had when going on a date with someone.

"Oh... I'm going out with Aragorn. OK," he whispered, "all right..."

He was in it up to his neck now, but she absolutely had to behave and not let a friendly date turn into something decidedly less chaste. It was not convenient, after all Aragorn was married and he... he was simply in love.

Of course, when he returned home, Ilweran was delighted to hear that his plan had worked. Thranduil was not so pleased, however, and he had not failed to point this out.

"If that fellow does things with you that he shouldn't do, it will be very, very, very bitter pain!" - he had said furiously.

Now Legolas was beginning to understand where he had inherited his much apprehension from, only he was not as good at hiding it.

"It's just an outing between friends."

"Oh, right, and I was born yesterday of course!"

Fortunately Ilweran was ready to put all the cheerfulness that was needed.

"I'll be all right, you'll see. You needn't worry about me. In fact, why don't you go upstairs and get ready?" he asked, pulling him by the arm.

"There are still two hours to go!" - exclaimed the other.

"So little? Then you'd better hurry up!"

 

The atmosphere at Strider's house was a little more tense. Aragorn was preparing for what would be a sort of rendezvous after so many years, and it made him quite nervous, which was very strange, since he was never usually nervous.

Eldarion had taken notice of his strange manner and his particular care in dressing. It rather stunk to him, considering his best friend's malicious intentions.

"Where are you going?" he asked him.

"Out... with Legolas..." he answered distractedly.

"And that's it?"

"Well? What's wrong with that?"

"Oh, why should you go out alone, it makes no sense at all!" he exclaimed.

"Eldarion, I would like to remind you that I am the father and you are the son. Since when do you even bother?" I asked, taking the stairs.

But maybe since my best friend decided to break up your marriage, that's when!

"But can't you stay home tonight?" he asked, running after him. "And then tomorrow you have to get up early, and..."

"Oh, what's the matter with you?" Aragorn asked, looking up at the sky. "It's almost as if you want to stop me from going out.

"Ah, you got it!" he exclaimed nervously, turning to his mother  "Mum, aren't you going to tell him anything?!"

"Honey, it's just an outing with friends, what on earth am I supposed to say to him?"

"Oh, nothing..." he blurted quietly, rolling her eyes. Obviously he was the only one who knew Ilweran's intentions, which was why no one could see what was wrong with it.

He also had to come across as the crazy one in the situation.

"Well, I'm off then," he said, "I'll be back soon."

Eldarion watched him go, running his hands through his hair. It was not at all difficult to imagine whose fault this was.

"Ilweran," he said through clenched teeth, "you stupid  I swear you'll pay for this."

The same nervousness had seized Legolas, who walked nervously waiting for the other to come and get him,

All right, calm down. It's not the first time you've gone out with him, it's just that you're alone now, and it's been a while since you've been alone. Poor me... I feel sexually and emotionally repressed, I hope he doesn't notice.

A noise suddenly made him wince.

"What was that?"

"It's just the horn, dad" exclaimed Ilweran. "Go on, and make sure you have fun.

"Yes, all right," he said agitatedly, "I'm going, I'm going, I'm going..."

"Be sure not to come back late!" exclaimed Thranduil. "And above all... don't do anything you shouldn't. Hold back your repressed instincts, because I don't want any surprises."

"Dad!!" he exclaimed, blushing. "I'm not a child anymore, what the heck!"

Ilweran brought a hand to his mouth to stifle a laugh. Thranduil was behaving towards Legolas just as Legolas was towards him.

"And you!" Thranduil exclaimed, pointing at him. "Get to bed now!"

"What?! But it's only eight o'clock!"

"Never mind, good children should sleep a lot!"  he blurted.

Legolas let out a sigh. Then he gathered his courage and went outside, where Aragorn was waiting for him in the car.

He tried to put on the best smile he could, while also trying to hold back his nervousness.

"Hello Legolas" he greeted Aragorn.

"Hello," he said, getting into the car, "so where are you taking me?"

"Wherever you want to go" he said smiling. The other cleared his throat, blushing.

"I'd be hungry."

"Oh, very well, I know a restaurant you'll definitely like" he answered him.

Aragorn took the wheel and after about ten minutes they arrived at a restaurant that already looked very luxurious from the outside.

Legolas opened his eyes wide.

"Wow, I know this place, though I've never been here. Won't it be a bit expensive?"

"Ah, don't worry about it" he told him with a wink.

After that he went after him, and then together they hurried to the table where they would spend the evening. Legolas was certainly not used to such treatment, and it only made him more uncomfortable.

They sat down, and the blond man cleared his throat, looking away "'Are you nervous?" asked Aragorn.

"Me? No, not at all."

"It's been a while since we last went out."

"More than sixteen years for the record. Well, and to think we're here because Ilweran was so insistent."

"He's really adorable. I think he'd want us to be together."

"But... you're married..."

"I know. But it wouldn't be anything strange. After all, I'm her father."

"Oh, yes," he said, grabbing a glass into which Aragorn had previously poured champagne and bringing it to his lips, "I think he has some sort of empathy for you."

"And do you mind?"

"No, it's just that if he ever found out the truth I think he would suffer."

"And you're going to keep it from him? I mean, I understand that he hates me, but I think he's a big boy now."

Legolas choked on his champagne.

"Aragorn, what are you saying, I don't hate you!"

"Oh... and that I thought that after everything that had happened, you hated me."

"Well, maybe at first I did a little," he whispered blushing, "but what was I to do? Bitterness wouldn't help me."

"Yes," he whispered, reaching out and grasping his hand, "if I could go back, I don't think I would make the mistake of letting you go.

Legolas felt his heart leap. He was touching him, and it caused him a myriad of different emotions. And if he kept looking at him, he would give in.

He brought the glass to his lips again, drinking it all in one breath.

"Maybe you shouldn't go so hard."

"Ah, it's OK!" he exclaimed, smiling nervously. "His cheeks redder than before. "I'm used to it!

 

There was actually a reason Thranduil had sent Ilweran to bed so early. He would not be alone for the rest of the evening.

Elrond was with him, and given the excessive romance between the two, it was not advisable for a sixteen year old to be around.

"Why, I can't believe it," said Elrond with amusement, "you let Legolas go with Aragorn? You are making great strides my dear."

"You think it's funny, don't you?" asked the other nervously, swallowing large spoonfuls of vanilla ice-cream. "I'm the one who gets stressed anyway. Especially these days, I'm nervous, and Legolas doesn't help. However, he's an adult now, so it's not like I can constantly check what he's doing and who he's with. I just hope he doesn't do anything stupid, we both know what happened last time."

"Come on, take it easy. If those two are attracted to each other, there's nothing wrong with them getting together. After all, that's how it was for us too."

"That's different!" he exclaimed. "We were already adults and much more mature when we got together, and we weren't married to other people. And I'm surprised you'd say that, I'm talking about Argorn's marriage to your daughter."

"I doubt they married for love. On Arwen's side at least, there is love. On Aragorn's side, I really don't know. He probably just married the wrong person."

"Tsk, I'd better not change my mind. I would never allow Legolas to marry him."

Elrond let a smile escape.

"You're sweet when you worry about others."

"And you're insufferable when... well let's say always"  he said as he stood up.

"You worry about your son's love life, but you should also think about your own."

"Huh?! What are you implying? I... I'm already thinking about it" he whispered, unable to hide the blush on his cheeks.

Elrond approached him slowly, grasping his hands.

"Thranduil," he called, "I'd say we've been together long enough. So... I was thinking... why don't we move in together?"

A very faint "huh?" came from his lips. He wouldn't have known what to say, but the answer came from above, without him expecting it.

"Yes! Go on grandfather, say yes, you're great!"

Thranduil had looked up and realised that Ilweran, who had arrived a few moments earlier, was looking down at them from the stairs above.

"What are you doing here! I told you to go to bed, go now!" - he exclaimed embarrassed.

"I want to know what you're going to say to him first, and I'm not leaving until you do!"

"Oh, what the heck!" He exclaimed. "I..."

"Then Thranduil? Would you accept?"

He hated it when Elrond tried to mess up his tough guy facade. Not least because he almost always succeeded. He bent his gaze, trying not to meet hers.

"I... accept..."  he whispered. Elrond smiled, sank a hand into his hair, and then leaned in to kiss him. Before he could do so, however, Thranduil raised his eyes and looked murderously at his nephew.

"Alright, you don't need to tell me anything, I'm going, I'll leave you two alone"  said the other amused.

When he had gone, Elrond approached him again and kissed him.

Unfortunately the moment was interrupted by the ringing of a bell.

"Oh, dear God," said Thranduil in exasperation, "who is it now?"

He went to, open the door, only to be confronted by the sullen figure of Eldarion.

"You?"  he asked.

"Um... hello..." he said, he greeted, then noticing Elrond - "Um, grandad? What are you doing here?"

"I... I was... wait, I'm the adult and I ask the questions, you should be home by now, what are you doing here?"

"I came here for Eldarion. Is he home?"

"Yes, and upstairs."

"Good. I'll go to him then, so go ahead and do your thing" he said hastily.

"I can't believe it! "Thranduil exclaimed. "why does everyone know?"

"They'll know because of your dreamy look, won't they?" - Elrond asked mischievously.

"Don't even think about it, I'm not in the physical condition," muttered the other.

 

Aragorn had begun to doubt that Legolas was used to taking alcohol. He had guzzled glasses of champagne and wine, and now that they were out of the restaurant, he could hardly stand up. But at least his nervousness had been erased and replaced by a strange good humour that amused him somewhat.

"Aragorn! - he called cheerfully, dragging him by the arm - you're too slow, can't you keep up?"

"The car is that way, Legolas."

The blond swelled and cheeks like a child, then moved closer to him, making sure that the distance between their faces was zero.

"Let's not go home, I don't want to."

"I don't think you're in any condition to walk."

"Are you kidding?" he asked, stepping back. "I'm super informed!"

Since this was obviously not true, Legolas almost fell to the ground. Aragorn acted on instinct, spreading his arms and grabbing him, noting how incredibly light he was.

Despite the fact that it was not a real hug, he immediately felt embarrassed, a feeling that mixed perfectly with a strange sense of happiness. Too bad he was the only one who was nervous of the two, as the other was laughing his ass off. Legoas had now taken to looking at him, his pupils dilated and his cheeks boiling. If he'd been sober he probably would have backed off without too much praise, but reason appeared inhibited.

"You're handsome, you know that?" he asked. "And I like you a lot. Why don't we go somewhere where no one can see us? Then we can indulge in some much more intimate play."

"Legolas, you are completely drunk!" He exclaimed with amusement. "You wouldn't have said such a thing to me otherwise!"

"You have no idea of the myriad things I would say to you," He said, grabbing his face, "I like you, and I know for a fact that you like me too. Why stay apart, then?"

The moment he had grasped him, Aragorn had remained motionless. Legolas might not have been himself, but he soon realised that every gesture he made and every word he spoke was dictated by his deepest will. He lost himself in her eyes, suddenly feeling hot.

He had not forgotten certain sensations, he had only put them aside, and to experience them again now was extraordinary. He reached out a hand, caressing his cheekbone.

"Perhaps you are right, Legolas. I probably like you, too. And how could I not like you?"

The blond smiled again, stupidly. Then he leaned in again, resting his forehead on hers.

"But it's not like I just like you. I love you Aragorn, always have and always will. So now I'm going to kiss you."

It all happened too quickly for him to be able to stop it. Legolas had approached him and very naturally placed his lips on hers. Aragorn knew that the wisest thing to do would be to pull away, but he could not, for the moment they kissed, all his will was gone and he was blissed out. He was completely enveloped in her intoxicating scent, which he had missed for so long, and then he sank his hands into her long hair, holding it close to him as Legolas embraced him.

Legolas would only realise later that all his efforts had been in vain and that the simple kiss had broken down all the walls Aragorn had tried to build for himself.

The blond broke away a little later, noticing pleasantly that the other man was breathing heavily.

He had let him kiss him, and he had enjoyed it bloody well. Only now did he truly realise how much he had missed it.

"Legolas," he whispered shakily, "I..."

Before he could add anything, however, they were distracted by the deafening sound of honking horns and the blinding light of the car's headlights.

In the heat of the moment, they had not realised they were in the middle of the road.

A voice exclaimed, "Hey! What the heck are you doing in the middle of the road?"

It didn't take long to recognise the voice and Gimli's ungentlemanly manner, who had leaned out of the window shaking a fist.

"Oh, dear," Aragorn whispered.

"Huh?" Gimli asked. £Aragorn? Legolas? But what are you doing there?"

"Gimli!" Boromir called, sitting next to hi. "Will you move, what is it..."

As he too stuck his head out of the window, he had noticed the figure of Legolas clinging to Aragorn, which forced him to restrain himself from the urge to go out and punch him.

"You two," he said nervously, "what a nice surprise."

"Hmm, hello Bormomir," Legolas greeted cheerfully, still clinging to Aragorn.

"You two are very close, what do you know!" he exclaimed, clenching his fists.

"No, it's not what you think. Legolas is a little tipsy..."

"I'm not tipsy at all!" he exclaimed. "I... I'm perfectly fine!"

"Oh, he doesn't know what he's saying," he said, smiling nervously, noticing how badly Boromir was looking at him.

"Well, we wouldn't want to spoil your romantic date at all, so we'll be going!" Finally the other exclaimed, fed up. "let's go, Gimli."

"But... wait!"  Aragorn tried to call in vain. Boromir seemed to be very angry and he had the impression that as soon as he had the chance he would give him a piece of his mind. As if he didn't have enough problems already.

"Damn, he's really angry, you've done it."

"Why?"  the blond asked smiling. "I kissed you, but you didn't mind.... did you... did you?"

He was now too close again and the passion had been rekindled. Aragorn knew that if he kissed him again, he would give in totally. Legolas, however, could not reach his destination.

He pulled back, bringing his hands over his mouth.

"Oh man... I have to run somewhere... now...!" - he exclaimed, moving away quickly.

Aragorn remained motionless, a complete dumbfounded expression on his face. Salvation had come at the last second.

But who was he trying to fool, he was already lost.

 

"You are completely out of your mind! I say, how did you come up with such a thing?"

Despite Eldarion being furious, Ilweran couldn't take him seriously.

"You laugh? I don't find anything to laugh at, you're a home wrecker!" he exclaimed, still furious.

"I haven't done anything wrong," he said, raising his arms in the air, "if you're really so sure of your parents' strong bond, you shouldn't worry."

"I... that's not the point! You don't do these things, and you also knew I didn't agree with it."

"You see too much of the negative side of things."

"You see too much of the bright side! Why do they have to be together?"

"It's just... I feel like they have a special connection, that's all. Maybe I'm wrong, but you know how stubborn I am. I'm just looking for a way we could all be happy."

Eldarion seemed to calm down at that point, probably due to his friend's suddenly more serious tone. He had sensed only at that moment that what he was doing was not being done out of evil, but at the same time he could not be on his side. It would have been too strange.

"I understand what you mean," he said gently, "but you know I won't be able to agree, don't you?"

"I know that. Just please let me try. If it doesn't work I'll drop it, I swear!" he exclaimed.

"Oh, all right, if you insist, I won't interfere."

"Thank you Eld, you're a friend!  he exclaimed enthusiastically.

"Yes, yes, whatever you say," said the other, looking up at the sky.

Suddenly the doorbell rang, and Ilweran immediately imagined that it was Legolas.

"Oh, they must be here!"  he exclaimed, dragging him along.

 

Legolas had more or less sobered up in the worst possible way and now found himself with a great headache and great embarrassment. Aragorn was supporting him, standing in the doorway.

"I don't believe it, how could this happen?" he complained.

"You went a bit hard."

"I'm sorry, I don't know what got into you."

"That's alright, I had a good time"  he said smiling.

They looked at each other for a long time, but Legolas couldn't maintain eye contact, he remembered quite well what he had done and said, and it made him feel like a real fool.

"Legolas"

"Aragorn."

They called to each other at the same time, and then smiled nervously. It was obvious that there was much unfinished business.

But Thranduil opened the door and when his gaze met Aragorn's it was total embarrassment.

"Hello," the younger man greeted, stretching out his voice.

"Legolas, you're back sooner than expected, I'm glad."

"Yes, well... the evening has taken an unusual turn..."

"You... - stepped closer to him - you reek of alcohol. Have you been drinking? Are you such an idiot?!

"It's alright, really, I just need to lie down..."

"Oh, hello there!" exclaimed Ilweran, appearing out of nowhere, "are you back already? How was your exit?"

"Eldarion, what are you doing here?" asked Aragorn, noticing his son.

"Nothing," he answered hurriedly. "Now that you're back, can we go?"

"Yes, you may go, definitely - Thranduil said, pulling his son by the arm - I will now take care of him, have a good evening".

Aragorn stood there staring at the closed door as his son looked at him reproachfully.

"Well?" asked Thranduil, "what are you doing? Is that any way to let yourself go? And it's a good thing you're an adult."

"My head... please..." he complained, sitting down on the couch.

"Oh, so, how did it go? - Ilweran asked again - why aren't you telling me anything?"

"Ilweran upstairs, now" Thranduil ordered in a tone that allowed no reply.

"But..."

"Now"  he repeated.

"Oh, all right, what the heck" he huffed obediently.

"Don't think you can escape questioning. What happened? You're a wreck. Did you have sex?"

"Dad!" exclaimed Legolas in exasperation. "I am sick and all I want to do is rest and feel like family, but all you care about is whether I gave in to my desires or not?"

"Oh well, sorry to worry about you, but I think I have a right to."

"We didn't do anything, alright? There was just... just a kiss"  he said blushing at the very thought.

"Just one kiss? Just one kiss? You're kidding, right?"

"I was drunk, I wasn't myself."

"Oh, I think you were quite yourself!"

"Look, I try to act like I don't care, but it's not that easy."

"I know it's not easy, but Legolas, do you understand that the situation is complicated? You've already broken up once, what makes you say that this time might be different?"

"I... I don't know. But you know... I felt happier than ever, after so long."

"Oh," he sighed, "that makes two of us then. Elrond asked me to move in with him and I... accepted."

"You did? - he asked - is it official then? It's not that you lecture me so much, but you're the one to watch after all?"

"Please, I'm too smart and intelligent to get into trouble," he said offended.

Legolas smiled, then let his head fall back on the backrest.

That kiss was vivid in his mind and firmly imprinted on his lips.

From that moment on, there was no turning back.

Chapter Text

Legolas had dreamed of kissing him.  And it was an extremely vivid and exciting kiss. But then he woke up and realised that it had not been a dream.

It had really happened, she had really kissed him, and Aragorn had played along. He had let himself go.... he dared not imagine what would have happened if he had failed to restrain himself.

His father was right, it was all becoming too dangerous, dangerous for him, for his poor heart. He understood very well what the issue was, he had to get away from him, but he didn't want to.

He absolutely did not want to. His feeling was now more awake and vivid than ever.

Ilweran had noticed that morning how pensive he was. He did not know what had happened the night before, but Legolas' manner boded well. For he was worried, but he also seemed happy, with a new light in his eyes that he had never had before. And that was good, his plan was probably working.

Even Eldarion had taken notice of Aragorn's strange mannerisms as he tried to pretend nothing had happened.

The boy had promised his friend that he would not interfere, that he would let him, but how could he not interfere if he, his family, was involved?

"What did you do yesterday?" Arwen asked her husband.

"Ah, nothing much, we talked a lot" he answered distractedly.

"Just talked?"  Eldarion asked suspiciously.

"Yes, Eldarion. Why?"

"Nothing, nothing at all" he mumbled in reply.

"Good, I'm really glad you two are getting closer! How long has it been since you were together?"

"Sixteen years" - she answered in a whisper, but loud enough for her son to hear. Sixteen years, exactly the same as Ilweran. It was a bit odd that the two hadn't spoken to each other since the boy's birth, just about.

Or was it simply a coincidence? Probably. Then why had his brain started to formulate a thousand thousand thoughts?

"I'm going to school!"  he exclaimed hastily, getting up with a snap.

Aragorn watched him walk away. His son was asking too many questions, but he doubted he understood, he was trying to keep the secret.

Secrets, in fact, since I had now betrayed his wife again, even if it was only a kiss.

He shouldn't have agreed, but now...

They shouldn't. She needed to clear the air with him, and if that was the case, they would walk away. Again. And then they'd get closer.

It was all a bloody vicious circle.

 

Another school day had begun for Ilweran, a day that would take a very peculiar turn. The atmosphere was decidedly cheerful, although Eldarion couldn't help thinking, it was all too strange, and he didn't even know why. By now he was convinced that there was something he didn't know and probably never would know, something Ilweran had a lot to do with.

"So," he exclaimed as he came up beside him, "how was your outing last night? Did your father say anything to you?"

"Not really. He's been too mysterious lately, this is the thanks he gets for letting them go out together" he said offended.

"Yeah, well, I can understand..."

"Why are you asking me that question? Oh, let me guess, you changed your mind, didn't you?"

"No way, stupid!" He exclaimed nervously.

"Alright guys, but enough bickering," Sabia interjected, "we've got a maths test, so maybe we'd better hurry up."

"Oh no," complained Llwaren, "not maths, I suck at that. I'll take another F my father kills me, I feel it."

"It's because you don't apply yourself"  said the other.

"No, and because it's too stupid" joked Eldarion.

"Thanks, talking to you is a real confidence booster."

Listening to the conversation was Tauriel, who found herself more and more often next to Ilweran, and this was no coincidence. Being the good predator she was, she wouldn't let that boy she was so interested in get away, so she had made a habit of listening to his every conversation. She walked past him, trying to make it look casual.

"Oh, hi Ilweran!" she exclaimed. "Sorry, I was just passing by and couldn't help overhearing your conversation."

"Yeah, randomly, right" mumbled Shauna.

"If you're having trouble with maths, can I help you?"  -  she questioned mellifluously. Ilweran looked into her eyes, blushing, his tone was gentle, but his gaze declared quite different intentions.

"Oh... no, I wouldn't want to inconvenience you. Besides, you have to teach me archery too, I wouldn't want to be a burden."

"I don't mind at all. It's a real pleasure for me to help those in need... and to make myself... useful."

In saying this she had approached slowly, perhaps too slowly. Shauna glared at her and at Ilweran, who was feeling quite distressed. What was one to do in such cases?

Should one refuse politely or accept?

He was good at giving advice to others, but for himself... he had no idea what to do. But after all, the offer was kind.

"Well... if it pleases you..." he replied shyly.

"Great. Then I'll come to your place later at four, alright? Bye Ilweran!" she exclaimed, then winking at him.

Unbelievable, it was almost as if he had already arranged everything from the beginning.

Eldarion patted him on the shoulder.

"Well, congratulations! - he exclaimed - you're getting better and better, whether it's what happens when you and your beauty find yourselves alone or not, right?"

"Ah, don't even joke about that!" he exclaimed. "as if someone like her would waste herself doing such things with me."

"You only say that because you're a poor little virgin!"

"Shut up!" he exclaimed blushing. "Why do you have to say that in front of everyone?!"

Shauna looked at them cruelly. She couldn't believe Ilweran had agreed, but at the same time, what could she possibly say to him? She was definitely not his girlfriend, and absolutely not comparable to Tauriel. Maybe Ilweran was changing his mind? Maybe he didn't like her anymore?

At the mere thought he clutched the books he held to his chest more tightly.

"I'm going..." she said slowly.

"But where are you going?"  asked Ilweran.

"None of your business!"  she exclaimed furiously, running away.

"Leave it," said Eldarion, "I'll take care of it."

Ilweran sighed. He had the impression that his actions were only driving the girl he loved further and further away.

He was in denial. On the upside, however, he had earned some sort of date with the most popular and desired girl in school.

But he didn't know how good that was.

The thought of being alone with her didn't exactly make him excited. Besides, what if Eldarion had been right? What if Tauriel had intended to aim for something else?

That was going to be a big problem. He was rather shy and didn't really like to talk about it.He knew how children were born, since Legolas had given him the classic speech when he was ten years old, which was given to all children. And he had also added: "Refrain from doing anything until you are old enough".

But when was old enough? Ilweran did not think he was, and besides he would have preferred to give his virtue to someone he loved.

Probably anyone, Eldarion himself, would have told him he was a silly little romantic boy.

And he was probably making too much trouble for himself.

After all, he wouldn't have an answer until the time came, a time that came sooner than it seemed.

He probably didn't need to be influenced by the fact that they would be alone in the house, with no one to watch over them. And they could therefore do... anything.

Tauriel talked at length on the way home, but Ilweran didn't understand, he was too busy panicking. When they arrived home, he pushed the door open, noticing with regret that no one was actually there.

"Well," he whispered, "here we are."

Tauriel entered, looking around.

"What a lovely house!" she exclaimed. "Shall we sit here?"  she asked, pointing at the sofa.

The blond nodded, flustered.

"Yes... um... make yourself comfortable."

"Are you alright?" she asked. "You seem rather agitated."

"Me, agitated? - he asked, smiling nervously - absolutely, I'm so calm..."

Oh, no. I'm an idiot, a total idiot. What kind of man am I if I can't even handle a situation like this?

He took a deep breath, and then sat down next to her. The tension was high, but controlled, also because Tauriel was actually doing what she said she was there for: she was helping him to understand mathematics and algebra exercises that he would never have been able to solve on his own, while they seemed so clear when explained by her.

So there was more than beauty in Tauierl, she was also good at school.

They sat close together, but Ilweran was careful not to touch her, not knowing what might happen to her body. Even if he had no shady intentions, Tauriel was still very beautiful, as well as curvy, and the fact that she dressed so tight didn't help him.

"... And this is the result," Tauriel said, "would you be able to do it again yourself?"

"Huh?" he asked. "I... I don't know... I can try."

He lost the pen between his fingers, staring at the blank sheet of paper. It wasn't that he didn't understand, but knowing that his eyes were fixed on him made him more than a little nervous. Surely the girl must have noticed how intimidated her poor prey was, because with apologies she had approached him and placed her hand on his wrist, forcing him to look at her.

"Sweetie, I think you're too agitated."

"Agitated? But no, I'm perfectly calm!"

"I'm not the one making you nervous, am I?"  she asked mellifluously, batting her eyelashes.

"Absolutely not, why would you upset me?" he asked, straining a smile. Apparently Tauriel had no intention of speaking, however. She had moved much closer, and had lifted herself slightly enough to force him to remain motionless.

Oh no... this isn't really happening.

"Tauriel?" he whispered intimidated.

"Don't make that face," she whispered in his ear, "I know you're probably not very experienced but... just let it go, don't worry."

It was all absurd. He couldn't let himself go like that, because even though his body was ordering him to indulge certain instincts, his heart was ordering him to stop. How could he decide what was right?

It was the girl herself who thought of the right answer, and she approached him with her lips pressed to his. Ilweran tried in vain to move away, to step back, but he was pinned against the sofa and wrapped in her arms. He closed his eyes, feeling himself being robbed by those lips as red as roses that surely would not have stopped at such a chaste gesture. The boy felt himself immediately heated up, and felt most of his senses give way to such pleasant contact. Reason was struggling desperately to win over the senses.

But Ilweran had never been too strong and willing, and he would probably be lost among the

her fragrant hair and soft hands, had it not been for the timely arrival of Legolas, who, opening the door, found himself confronted with the scene of his son with his lips glued to those of a decidedly older girl.

"Ilweran?!" he asked in shock.

"Oh God!" he exclaimed, rising up, his eyes wide open. "Dad... what... what...?"

The situation was definitely awkward. The only one who seemed to be at ease was Tauriel, who had been pleasantly surprised by Legolas' arrival and did not fail to point it out.

"Ilweran, is he your father? I would have said your brother."

"Emh," said the eldest, laughing hysterically, "and who are you?"

"Tauriel Elvs" she made shaking his hand. "Nice to meet you. Now I see where your son gets his good looks from."

"Alright!" exclaimed Ilweran nervously. "It's been a nice afternoon, but it's getting late. Do you mind if I see you at school tomorrow, eh Tauriel?"

"Oh, no, not at all," she said, casting a languid glance at Legolas, "it's been a real pleasure meeting you. See you tomorrow, bye, bye sweetie."

Saying this, she walked away, swaying. When there were two of them left, Legolas looked up at his son, who appeared distraught.

"Ilweran Greenleaf, is there something you wish to tell me?"

"I do not need to say anything at all. It's not what it looks like, we weren't doing anything."

"Her lips were glued to yours."

"Yes, well, I didn't mean for that to happen!" he exclaimed. "I feel so humiliated... and agitated".

"Son, are you sure you're not gay? Because there wouldn't be anything wrong with that."

The younger man turned to look at him with red cheeks.

"Come on!" he exclaimed. "I feel violated in my intimacy and you question my sexual orientation! That's no way to behave!"

"Oh, come on, I was only joking," he rolled his eyes.

"Well, don't joke!" he exclaimed. "it's not that easy. I wanted to back out, but my body wouldn't respond. And then... I'm in love with Shauna, so..."

"Well, but you didn't do anything, so you have no reason to blame yourself. It's normal for your body to have a different opinion, I think it's age. Anyway, I would advise you not to do anything, not with the first person that comes along, at least."

"You of all people are telling me this?"  he asked, bringing a hand to his mouth afterwards, realising that he had let slip something too much. "No!" he exclaimed, "I didn't mean what I said!"

"Don't worry, it's not a lie after all. And it is precisely to save you my trouble that I am telling you this. Now excuse me, I'm going upstairs."

Legolas was making an effort to smile, but it was obvious how his gaze betrayed him.

If Ilweran could have he would have punched himself. He had been a fool, a true fool.

Legolas, however, did not feel any smarter. He was good at giving advice to others, but not to himself. And he was also thoughtful, Aragorn had not been heard from all day, which had led him to believe that he surely wanted nothing more to do with him. And he would have been right, too, with all the embarrassing things he had said after kissing him. He brought a hand to his face. He certainly wouldn't have minded if Aragorn had called him now and demanded his attention. If only that mobile phone had rung....

After dropping onto the mattress, he went straight from thinking to dreaming. The vibration of the mobile phone next to him woke him up. Still sleepy, he answered it.

"Hello?"

"Legolas"

"Aragorn? Has something happened?"

"No, it's fine. Listen, I need to talk to you. Can you come or shall I?"

"No, I'd better come. If you come here, Ilweran will get excited."

"Alright, then. I'll wait for you."

Legolas ended the call. Despite the fact that he had done nothing but wait for that call, he now He felt worried by Aragorn's tone. What did he want to tell him? That it would be better to end it there?

He had no intention of going through the same things as sixteen years before, not again, he would not accept it.

What a fool he had been to give in. If only he had been detached from the start, none of this would have happened.

These were the thoughts he let himself have as he made his way to Aragorn's house. His heart was pounding and he was so afraid of having to suffer again.

He rang the bell, taking a deep breath.

I knew it would end like this, how stupid of me.

He opened the door, barely smiling.

"Hello Legolas, please come in."

"Umh," he looked around, "there's no one here?"

"No, it's just the two of us. But don't worry, I won't keep you long."

"What did you want to talk to me about?" he asked, sitting down on the sofa next to him.

"About us... You know, I've been thinking a lot about what happened the other night..."

Here he comes, here he comes.

"I think that... for both our sakes, it's best if we just stick to a simple working relationship."

Legolas had held his breath. He wasn't going to say a word, he wasn't going to get angry or plead with him.

It would have been only one question he would have asked him, and that, without knowing it, would have put the other in trouble.

"Are you sure?"

A very simple question that shaken all of Aragorn's convictions.

"No, Legolas," he whispered, looking into his eyes, "I am not sure at all."

"Then," he whispered, "don't do it. Not again, please."

He had promised himself he would not beg, but he had been stronger than he was. And then there was something different in the way she looked at him. And her warm breathing was now irregular. They were alone, close together, the attraction about to explode like never before. It had been years since they had last touched each other in a certain way, and it was clear that they both yearned to do it again. Just like their first time, it was Aragorn who took the initiative and finally sent years of distance and marriage to steal a kiss from his lips.

Legolas could scarcely believe it, he was convinced he was dreaming, but never was there a sharper feeling than that. He kissed her back, and let himself be held close, captured by the feeling that he had already experienced but was new to one side.

They had to stop, they should have, for both their sakes, so as not to make a mistake as they had done once before... but it was too late.

They had given in to what they wanted and longed for. There was nothing left in the world but the two of them.

A passion years old was consumed. When they both came to their senses, they hardly realised that they had sunk back into their feelings for each other.

And above all, they did not speak. There would have been no need to add anything. Or maybe Legolas did not speak out of fear, fear of being told "it was a mistake" or something like that, since he had already had enough of those words.

When it was time to go home, he began to dress, with his back to Aragorn who, he was sure, must have had his eyes on him.

Why was she looking at him without a word? Was he probably lying already? With the luck he had, it wasn't difficult for that to be the case.

"Emh" he whispered twisting his hair in his fingers, suddenly. "I know what you're thinking. That you probably think that after this thing... that happened... I'm demanding something from you... but... but I'm not really demanding anything, really..."

"I didn't say that, Legolas..."

"Ah, ah, no? Well... it was just to... to clarify!" he answered, getting up. "but I really have to go now..."

He wanted to leave before hearing something that could hurt him and break that wonderful dream.

Legolas," he called, "I would like to see you again..."

Aragorn did not even know why he had said that. Not only had he given in, but now he wanted to be a lover again.  It was stronger than any will of his.

"See me again? In what sense?"

"In that sense. Only if you want to."

Legolas at that point was seized by a frenzy and a happiness that he would not show, however, not immediately at least.

"I'll think about it" he said, trying to hide his smile. "see you soon."

After that he went out and left him there, while Aragorn watched him, biting his lip.

 

He couldn't believe it, it had really happened! And he was so happy that he almost felt like a young boy, new to love.

But one thing was certain: if he had managed to hold back in front of Aragorn, he would not be able to hold back in front of his family. Ilweran was the first to notice his strange good humour.

"Where have you been?" he asked.

"Me? Nowhere, why?"

"Because you've been missing for a while. Besides... you're especially happy," he said with folded arms, "is there something I don't know?"

Legolas smiled dreamily.

"Nothing important," he whispered, absent-mindedly stroking his hair.

"Legolas?" Thranduil's voice called. "Ah, there you are, where... What is wrong with you?"

"There are two options, either he is very happy, or he has smoked pot"  declared Ilweran.

"Very happy, eh?" Thranduil asked, looking at him suspiciously "Ilweran, why don't you leave us alone for a moment. Your father and I need to talk."

"Ah, you guys are always kicking me out, that's not fair at all!" he mumbled, climbing the stairs.

"Oh, believe me, I'd rather not stunt your growth," he whispered, then approaching his son, "Legolas Greenleaf, is that a hickey on your neck?"

"Huh?" he asked distractedly. "What neck?"

Thranduil took a deep sigh.

"Alright, I don't want to know anything, because I'm already sick as it is, and I don't intend to get nervous. But you tell whoever's giving you hickeys, that next time, you do it somewhere not visible to my eye, am I clear?"

"Clear..."

"And stop looking so dreamy! God, what..." he interrupted himself for a moment, bringing his hand to his mouth . "we missed the nausea too. You're going to make me die sometime."

Legolas, however, was not even listening to him. He was totally in the clouds after the fantastic hours he had spent with Aragorn.

But now there was a question: should he give a negative answer to his question, or a positive one?

The only thing that made Ilweran happy was knowing that his plan was probably working, and he was almost certain of it. Unfortunately, going back to school didn't make him very happy, especially after what had happened with Tauriel. In the corridors he dreaded seeing her again, it had all been so awkward.

"Oh, look who's here, the conqueror!" Eldarion exclaimed as he saw his friend arrive. "so, how did it go?"

"I don't want to talk about it. He almost made an attempt on my life."

"Huh?" he laughed. "oh, what's with your face, don't tell me you backed out?"

"BECAUSE WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE?"

"I would have gone for it, my dear!"

"Ah, sure, easy for you!"

Shauna, who was standing next to them, slammed the locker door hard, drawing their attention.

"Excuse me," she said seriously, "I have class now. Eldarion, you and I will see you later."

"Of course sweetie" he said winking at her.

"What?" asked Ilweran, "wait, what's this all about?"

"Oh, Shauna and I started dating. Finally, huh?"

"What?" - she whispered.

He couldn't believe Shauna had succumbed to Eldarion's advances, it was absolutely impossible. So he went after her, he needed an explanation.

"Shauna!" he exclaimed. "Shauna, wait!"

"What?"

"What is this? You... and Eldarion?"

"Yeah... so what?"

"But... I thought you liked me..."

"I thought you liked me too, but I guess I was wrong."

"Wait!" he exclaimed. "You can't... you can't go out with him!"

"And why not, let's hear it?

"Because... because you kissed me, that's why!"

"Huh? But I never did that."

"Yes you have..." he answered, looking away. "at Tauriel's party. Only you can't remember anything."

"Oh," she blushed, "well, it doesn't matter, you've found someone else to kiss now anyway. I really hope you two are happy together."

"But Shauna, wait!"

Unfortunately the girl did not listen to him in the least. His love life was falling apart before it had even begun.

"Oh, damn" he complained.

"Ilweran!" Tauriel suddenly exclaimed, the very last person he wanted to see at that moment.

"Oh... hello Tauriel."

"I've been looking everywhere for you"  she exclaimed. "I was thinking, since I have to teach you archery, maybe I could come to you, just so you don't get into trouble."

"Yes... alright... whatever you want."

"Good!" she exclaimed. "and listen... will your father be there too?"

"I... yes, I think so. After all, he lives with me."

"Perfect"  she exclaimed. "Then I'll see you later, I can't wait!"

Ilweran greeted her lazily with a hand. Any other boy would have felt lucky in his place, but he was not like the others, he had always known that. He was a fool.

 

Legolas hadn't slept much, but he wasn't in a bad mood. After all, how could he, after the fantastic afternoon he had had.

Even at work now, he couldn't think of anything else, especially when the subject of his thoughts was just a few feet away from him.

An answer... an answer. The answer was obvious, the most "logical" one, but it was not the answer he wanted to give him.

On the pretext of handing him some papers, Legolas knocked on the door of his office.

"Come in"  a voice answered shortly after. When the blond entered, he noticed that Aragron was nervously nibbling on the cap of a pen.

"Good morning" he greeted.

"Hello Legolas"  he whispered.

"I brought you these and then... well... an answer to the question you asked me yesterday."

Aragorn looked up, waiting for an answer that would not come, not vocally.

at least. Legolas' lips curved into a mischievous smile. He went to the door and closed it.

"Legolas" -he whispered.

"I would say my answer is more than clear," he said as she walked up to him, bringing his face close to his and stroking it, "I have missed you."

Aragorn closed his eyes. He had missed him too, everything, his every touch, his every word.

He grabbed him by the back of the neck, drawing him to himself.

"I have missed you too.

Chapter Text

For Legolas and Aragorn, it was as if those sixteen years had never passed. Passion had broken out unstoppably, and they had begun to see each other every day, or rather, every morning for the record, since it was the only part of the day when they both had no "family" commitments. This obviously meant skipping work, but for Legolas that would not be a problem.

It had been days of total happiness and carefreeness, as if one of them was not married and cheating on his wife. Aragorn couldn't explain it, but it was as if he was in another dimension where he couldn't care even if he wanted to.

They loved each other and nothing more, as two good lovers should have done. And although no one liked to live a relationship in secret, it seemed to suit them just fine, at least for the moment.

Legolas breathed a sigh of relief. Yet another relationship, yet another consummated passion, had left them quite exhausted.

"Wow... I don't remember you being so..."

"Like what?" asked the other, beside him.

"So... passionate."

"Well... I have to admit, you're no slouch yourself. Must have been the years of abstinence."

"But listen to him," he muttered, "who says I've been abstinent?"

"Can you deny it? - he asked, smiling.

"Stupid!" he exclaimed, giving him a cushion on the face. "tonight the others and I are together. Will you join us? I would love to."

Aragorn looked at him, and seemed to actually think about it for a moment.

"Will Boromir be there?"

"Of course he will. All together, it implies that he is too. Why?"

"It's... nothing" - he muttered, turning away.

"Aragorn!" he exclaimed. "what's the matter?"

That, too, was something of a secret, a secret to Legolas at least. The thought that he would have to see Boromir again after the last time unnerved him greatly.

"Do you remember when we went out the other night and you kissed me?"

"Let's just say I remember it well enough. Why?"

"That's it... you probably don't remember but... I don't know. We met Gimli and Boromir... And they saw us..."

"Oh. Well, it's not a problem, they'll keep it a secret."

"That's not the point - sighed - Legolas... Boromir... he's sort of... in love with me."

"Huh? "Let's say in love with you?" But since when?"

"For more than sixteen years," he said, smiling nervously, "I don't think he ever stopped."

"And you say that to me, Aragorn?! He is my friend!"

"He's my friend, too. We were much younger and unconscious when he came out to me, but he knew of the bond between us, so he had decided to step aside. I don't think he's ever forgiven me for walking away like that though. I think he'd go crazy if he knew that you and I had entered into a relationship again..."

"But think, are you more afraid of him than Arwen?"

"Yes, because if he wants to he can hurt me a lot."

"You don't have to worry. No one will understand any of it... no one... will ever know" he whispered, not very convinced actually.

He was happy, it was true, but how long could that story go on in secret? Would he really be content to be just a lover?

Until that moment, all she had wanted was to have him. But now that he had him, he realised that he wanted something else, like a stable relationship and a real family.

And for the first time in those days, all his certainties were questioned.

"Are you sure, Legolas? Are you sure this is okay with you?"

He could not be sure. He probably would have liked more, but he was afraid that would ruin everything. He didn't want to lose him, not again.

So he forced a smile.

"Yes, that's fine with me. Then you will come, won't you?"

"Yes," he said, smiling, "I will come."

Then she placed a kiss on his lips, which would soon lead them into unbridled passion again.

 

And while his father was having the time of his life, Ilweran was hopelessly depressed by the emerging romantic relationship between Shauna and Eldariom.

Nice friend to steal my girl. Fine, Shauna's not my girlfriend, and that he didn't know anything about it, but he should have known better! Oh, who am I kidding, it's my fault, only mine, that I'm always so indecisive, stupid and shy. Damn!

"Ilweran? Are you there?"

The boy awoke from his thoughts.

In thinking so hard he had completely forgotten that he was in the company of Tauriel, who, as promised, had gone to his house to teach him archery.

"Yes, sorry, I was just thinking."

"Sweetheart, you should pay more attention if you want to learn," she said, holding out her arrow and closing one eye. It was immediately fired, hitting the target carved on a tree.

"I'll never get it," he complained.

"If you don't even try," she said, looking around, "but hasn't your father arrived yet?"

"He's at work, I think," se said, taking the bow in his hand, "why?"

"Oh so. Of course I don't mind your grandfather's company either" she said smiling and waving to Thranduil, who was standing by the back door watching them. With some reluctance she returned the gesture.

What a girl... I wouldn't want to be in Ilweran's shoes.

The latter took aim, or at least tried to, with the result of missing the target very narrowly.

"Damn, that was close!" he exclaimed.

"Not bad, sweetheart, definitely not bad," complimented the other.

The two were suddenly distracted by the sound of a car door being closed: it was Legolas.

Tauriel's eyes lit up.

"Hello"  she greeted warmly,

"Hello," he greeted, "what are you doing?"

"Tauriel's teaching me archery... I mean, trying to teach me, since I'm so bad at it."

"Denied? You can't be denied, it should be in your DNA. I used to be an archery player too, and I was the best," said the oldest.

"Really?" asked the girl, batting her eyelashes repeatedly. "oh, that's wonderful. Why don't you try shooting?"

"Oh I don't know, I'm afraid I'm a bit rusty."

"Come on, I'm sure you're not!"

Legolas at that point let himself be convinced. He hadn't picked up a bow in years, and to return to it was rather strange, as well as stirring up some melancholy. But he immediately found the skill he had thought he had lost: he fired the arrow, which immediately hit the target.

Wow," Ilweran said, "that's great! Do it again, do it again!"

"Ah, now I'm tired, Ilweran, you try it again," he suggested, handing him the bow.

"It's really amazing"  whispered Tauriel with shining eyes. By now her interest in Legolas was more than obvious: Ilweran was tender and gentle, but he had that extra something she could not explain and she liked him.

She turned to the boy, who was trying to argue with the bow.

"Ilweran... just out of curiosity... Is your father seeing someone?"

"Ah... no, not that I know of,"  he replied.

"That's weird. And do you know what kind of women he likes?"

"Um..."

There's a slight problem, he likes men. Unless you change sex, I don't think he could ever be interested in you. Ah, I can't possibly say that, it's too direct.

"'He doesn't like them!" he exclaimed. "I mean, in the sense that he's not interested in romance at the moment."

"Is that so?" she asked mellifluously. "but I say he'll soon change his mind".

The look in Tauriel's eyes was disturbing: Ilweran seemed to have realised what her shady intentions were, but at least for the moment, he would not give it too much thought.

 

"You're back early. Are you sure you were at work?"  Thranduil asked with folded arms. The other looked at him, his expression speaking for itself.

"I... yes."

"You've been seeing each other again, haven't you?"

"Oh" he sighed. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean for it to happen, but it did. What can I do, I'm still a human being, I couldn't resist."

"You don't have to feel sorry for me, but for you and your heart. You know how I feel."

"I know!"  he exclaimed nervously.

Thranduil sighed.

"There is something I need to talk to you about."

Legolas then looked at him again, his tone definitely as worried as he had ever heard it.

"What is it?"  he asked.

The other tightened his lips. Usually he was the one who listened/solved his son's problems, not the other way around. But this time he doubted that anyone would be able to save him.

"I... wait..."

"What? You wait for what?"

"You idiot! What? A baby, of course!"

Legolas at that point assumed a total idiot expression.

"EH?! What, but how? How... how did that happen!"- he exclaimed.

"Are you really sure you don't know how it happened?"

"I know how it happened!" he exclaimed.  "I meant, how is it possible? At your age you should be careful!"

"At our age? - he asked offended - look who's talking!"

"Oh, well, I didn't expect that at all! Does Elrond know?"

The other changed expression.

"No, he doesn't."

"And why don't you tell him?"

"I don't know how he might react. It's not like it was planned."

"Oh please, this is Elrond we're talking about, the kindest, quietest person I know. I'm sure he'll take it well."

"And what if he doesn't? And besides, I've forgotten how to deal with children... you're right, I'm too old for this."

His tone was now hysterical, and Legolas had the impression that he was seeing himself again sixteen years ago. So he hugged him, before he could burst into tears.

"Oh, you're not old at all, I was joking. Don't worry, I think the second time is harder than the first. And then I'll help you. You helped me, I can't help but return the favour."

"Really?" - he asked.

"Of course. But you must tell Elrond, he has a right to know."

"Yes, you're right," he sighed, pulling away from the embrace, trying to compose himself as best he could, "all right, now stop panicking, I need to calm down. It's going to be alright... alright..."

His manner, however, was particularly agitated. Legolas sighed: that was another thing to add to the list of "strange events that were changing his life".

For better or for worse, he could not yet say. Then he looked at Ilweran, still trying to hit the damn target.

He could understand his father better than anyone. He'd reacted far worse when he'd known he was expecting Ilweran.... and the months that followed were hard to forget.

 

Sixteen years and five months earlier...

 

"I want to die... kill me... kill..."

Legolas could not finish the sentence, caught by another sudden and violent gag that forced him to shut up.

"...Me" he complained feebly, in pain.

"Strange," Thranduil said from beside him as he held up his hair, "usually nausea goes down, but yours only goes up."

"Thank you very much, I hadn't noticed that at all!" he complained. "it's killing me!"

"Come off it, no one's ever died from it, I guess. Oh, don't look at me like that, I was only joking!"

"It's not... the... time... to joke!" he struggled to finish his sentence, before he was forced to remit again.

Somehow time had passed, sometimes so slowly that it seemed almost agony to live. If Legolas had said that he had forgotten about Aragorn, that would have been an outright lie. He had not forgotten about him, in fact he kept waiting for him, he kept hoping that sooner or later he would change his mind...

But the days went by and Aragorn did not return, while he shut himself away more and more... and inside the house.

"Alright, I don't want to get rough!" Thranduil exclaimed. "but at least you could go outside and get some air, it's good for you!"

Legolas, sitting down badly on the sofa, gasped, uttering something unintelligible. Even if he wanted to he wouldn't have the strength, he felt too weak.

The only thing he wanted was to sleep, which he did most of the time, since it required no effort.

When someone knocked on the door, he heard Thranduil open it and say something.

"Hello Elrond. Sorry, the house is a mess."

"Ah, don't worry about it" he replied kindly. "hello, Legolas, how are you?"

"I am as you see me"  he mumbled.

"Sorry he's hysterical  smiled nervously at the other. "Legolas, be a bit nicer."

"Don't worry, Arwen was the same when... amh, sorry Legolas"

"It doesn't matter," he complained dramatically, "nobody thinks about me anyway. No one loves me. It's all going wrong."

"Oh no, there goes the victim phase" - his father complained. Elrond walked over to him, looking kindly.

"Come now, it is not true that no one loves you. Your father, your friends and even I... we are here to help you."

"But you should hate me. I almost stole your daughter's husband."

"I don't hate you at all. In fact, between you and me, I'm rooting for you."

"But that doesn't make any sense."

"That's probably true, but that's the way it is. What I'm saying is that you can't shut yourself off, you have to react. Also because in a few months you'll have very little time to weigh yourself."

"Don't remind me!" he exclaimed. "I am not able to. They should teach you how to take care of a child."

"I'm afraid there is no such thing. Don't worry, it all comes very instinctive. I know all you want is to have the man you love by your side, but... that's the way it was Legolas, don't blame yourself."

Arms folded, the blond restrained himself from crying. The pregnancy had only increased his already terrible sensitive nature.

"He chose the other family.... and left me..."

"There he goes again, crying"  Thranduil rolled his eyes....

"I feel like complete crap"  he whimpered, resting his head on Elrond's shoulder.

"Oh, now, now, that's not necessary. Come on... It's been... it's been..."

"Um... you've got a knack for it," Legolas whispered, "I'm glad you and my father are together."

"Hey, I never said we were together!" Thranduil exclaimed, blushing.

The three were distracted by the "ding dong" of the bell.

"Who is it now?"  gasped Legolas.

"Your friends," he said, "I invited them. You need to laugh and amuse yourself, but since you don't want to go out, I weighed in! Please boys, come in!"

Legolas wiped his face, settling himself better on the sofa.

His friends came in one by one, and seemed very happy to see him.

"Hello Legolas!" Frodo exclaimed, walking up to him and hugging him. "we missed you! How are you?"

"Hello Frodo... I am... well.... more or less fine..."

"Long time no see," said Sam, "we thought you didn't want to see us anymore."

"Absolutely, it's not about these."

"Oh, well... I think you look absolutely great!"  Merry exclaimed.

"Fit? You've put on a lot of weight since we last met," Gimli muttered.

"Gimli!" Frodo exclaimed, "He's expecting a baby, you know!"

"Ah, right..."

"Your father explained everything," said Sam, "I can't believe Aragon... yeah I mean, I can't believe he'd leave you to your own devices, it's just not like him."

"I was wrong too. He was married, we should have refrained from doing anything... and instead..."

"Well, but some things are done by two. He should have taken responsibility... and instead..."

"Instead I lost him forever."

"Well, if you've lost love, we've lost a friend. I doubt he will still want to be with us after this."

Boromir, who had remained silent until that moment, clenched his fists. The situation for him, without anyone knowing, was already tragic enough, and now, even the thought that Aragorn would probably never speak to him again was driving him mad.

All this just because he and Legolas had done something that would have been far better not to do.

"I say instead that Legolas is right. He is to blame as well!"

"Boromir! What are you talking about? Frodo exclaimed.

"It doesn't matter... it's true..."

"Yes, well, he knew what he was getting himself into, and besides... Aragorn already has a family. It's obvious he's prioritising the latter over a one-night stand."

"Hey, now you're exaggerating" Gimli muttered.

"Ah... forget it!"  he exclaimed nervously, getting up and trying to calm down the bad mood that probably no one could understand.

"Never mind him, Legolas. You know how hysterical he is," Frodo told him, "you must rest assured, the Fellowship of the Ring never abandons one of its members."

The other smiled.

"But where will I find more friends like you?"

"Nowhere! Rather... have you decided what you are going to call him?"

"Surely a name that means 'crazy murderer who tries to kill me'."

"It can't be that bad.

"It is. After this... I won't have any more children... I swear.... Anyway, I guess I'll... I'll find the right name... when the time comes..."

He let that bitter sweet memory fade. He almost laughed to think how dramatically he had taken her pregnancy. And then he thought of Boromir's reaction, which might actually have made him realise something. His position could not have been easy; he had had to put up with the fact that he was carrying Aragorn's child and that Aragorn had moved away. He would not have been at all surprised if she had hated him.

Especially now that they had started seeing each other again.

Evening came. Both Legolas and Aragorn had to pretend that there was nothing more between them than a friendship still in the process of being rebuilt. And as chance would have it, Gimli and Boromoir were also pretending that they had never seen any kiss. Even if Legolas, at one point, had found himself forced to ignore the murderous glances the latter gave him. Boromir knew what he had seen, and he was certain that these two were hiding something, and he did not like it one bit. He had already stepped aside too many times. Did he or did he not have the right to seek his own happiness?

And you didn't have to be a genius to sense that there was tenderness between those two, you just had to pay attention to the way they smiled or looked at each other, the way anyone would want to be looked at, the way he would want. And he couldn't think of anything else, while everyone else was having far more pleasant conversations.

"So Eldarion's going out with Shauna," Sam said, "can I just relax, or should I give him a talk first?"

"Oh... I think you can relax," Aragorn replied.

"If he's not like you, sure."

"Yeah, um, thanks Sam!" Legolas exclaimed.

"Never mind," Aragorn reassured him, "what's past is past, so there's no need to dwell on it."

"Well said!" Gandalf exclaimed, sitting comfortably in an armchair while smoking his pipe . "It's amazing how amicably you've made peace with each other after all that's happened".

"Yes... truly incredible"  Boromir mumbled, looking ruefully at the blond, who cleared his throat.

"I, um... look, I'm going to get a drink from the kitchen, you... you go on talking without me!"

Saying this he slipped away from the murderous gaze of Boromir, whose discontent was growing more and more intense.

Ilweran, for his part, was no better. It was hard enough to know that his best friend was with the girl he loved, but even seeing them there together was too much. Sabia was in the same mood as him, and Una was rather annoyed. Eldarion was so... unbearable, and also Shauna seemed frozen, despite posing as his girlfriend.

"My darling, you're tense do you want me to give you a massage?"

"No, Eldarion, there's no need," she said, giving Ilweran a glare, "in fact, maybe there is."

The other snorted. Now he was beginning to doubt whether she was doing it on purpose, but what had he ever done wrong? He was just a poor victim of circumstance.

"How clingy you are" -Una muttered.

"You're just jealous because no guy is chasing you!"

"What did you say, you idiot?!"

"Easy, easy" whispered Sabia. " emh... does anyone want to accompany me to powder my nose?"

"Good idea!" Shauna exclaimed. "gentlemen, we'll be right back.

When the two boys were alone, Eldarion approached his friend.

"Huh? What do you think of that? I don't know how Shauna changed her mind."

"I wonder about that too"  he answered annoyed.

"What's wrong?" he asked. "don't tell me that things are going badly with Tauriel?"

"Oh, she's not the girl for me."

 

"Again with that? You should stop suffering from a sense of inferiority."

"It's not that, it's that I... I like someone else!"

"Someone else?" he asked. "ho?! Do I know her?"

"No... no, forget it..."

"She must be special, if your mood changes so often" he said patting him on the shoulder. "look, I'm going to get something to drink downstairs. come...."

"But... oh, never mind"  mumbled the blond with folded arms.

How could anyone be so clumsy as not to realise that the answer was right under his nose?

 

"I just don't understand you Shauna, if you don't have feelings for him, then why are you in it?" asked Una contritely.

"Keep your voice down!" exclaimed the other. "why? Well, I'm trying to make him jealous, but it doesn't seem to be working!"

"And you're waiting for a reaction from Ilweran? You know he's completely stuffed."

"Yes," Sabia added, "when it comes to you, he doesn't understand anything anymore."

"Really? she asked flattered and then turned serious - then why does he spend his time with that one, eh?"

"Oh, you blessed, naive, silly girl!" exclaimed Una. "if you really like her, then you should do everything to fight, otherwise she'll win. And you want her to win?"

"Hell no!" she exclaimed. "But what about Eldarion? He... I mean, he really wants me..."

"Ah, don't worry," she said, casting a glance at her sister, "there are those who will console him greatly."

"Huh?" blushed the other - what the..."

"Not a bad idea, not a bad idea. Thank you Una, you're good at this, I don't understand why no boy comes after you."

"I don't understand why you all say that!" she proclaimed offended.

 

In the meantime, Legolas had moved to the kitchen, hoping that the atmosphere would calm down in the meantime. It wasn't easy to keep a relationship secret, it had already been difficult at the time, so much so that in the end everyone knew about it, except the person concerned. But now everything was different, Ilweran was in the middle, and Eldarion too... their sake.

He sighed suddenly when he realized that two arms were holding him from behind. He recognised immediately that it was Aragorn.

"What is taking you so long?"  he whispered in his ear.

"Aragorn!" he exclaimed nervously . "What are you doing here? Get out of the way, go that way, or you'll make everything obvious!"

"Oh, come on, it's all right, all quiet. Besides, I have the vague impression that you don't mind my attentions."

"How stupid you are, of course I do, but I'm afraid it's not... the... time..."

The tone of his voice had dropped, however, as he was already at the mercy of purely carnal cravings. Aragorn forced him to turn, and after their eyes met, he brought his lips to hers. A bold move, of course, but as was the case most of the time, they had practically forgotten that they could be seen.

As chance would have it, however, it was someone whose reaction would have been worse than anyone else's: Boromir. Boromir had become suspicious when he saw Aragorn running after Legolas, and had followed him. Now he was faced with confirmation of his doubts. Immediately, jealousy and anger took over. All that time he had waited for him, he had hoped he might have a chance.

But to be second again... no, he couldn't accept that.

"You!"  he exclaimed.

"Boromir!  Legolas exclaimed. "what... what...?"

"What am I doing here, eh! Well, what's the matter, I'm getting used to interrupting your intimate moments anyway."

"Boromir, wait, I can explain" Aragorn did.

"Explain? Why should you explain to me? After all, I'm not important, it's not me you're cheating on. Despite knowing how I've felt about you for over sixteen years, what do you do? You go back to this guy!"

"This one?!" Legolas exclaimed, stepping forward. "Have you forgotten my name?! Don't blame me, if you had told me how you felt beforehand, then probably none of this would have happened!"

Eldarion, who had come downstairs at that very moment, was attracted by the noise coming from the kitchen. He noticed that his father was also embroiled in what appeared to be an argument.

"Don't mess with me, it would have happened! You were always in first place, before me, at least this time you couldn't back off!"

"It just happened, I didn't plan it!"

"Guys...!"

"Oh, poor you, you're always a victim, aren't you? No, you're selfish. That's why you never told Ilweran that Aragorn is his father, not to protect him, but to protect yourself!"

Eldarion sensed that information, which immediately sent his brain into overdrive.

No... it wasn't... it wasn't true... I must have misunderstood.

"Don't you dare bring up Ilweran, you don't understand anything, you don't know what it's like!"

"You're the one who doesn't understand anything!"

"That's enough!" Aragorn exclaimed, pulling them apart. "I will not allow him to speak to you like that, you are friends!"

"I will not be friends with such a fake!"

"I false?! But how..."

"Legolas, leave it. Boromir, calm down now, will you? It's nobody's fault."

"Always defending him, my compliments. But you're only good with words, because you're no good with actions. I'm out of here!"  he muttered finally, leaving.

Legolas let out a sigh It was definitely not like him to fight like that.

"Legolas, I'm sorry..."

"Hell, he's right, I'm selfish... I'm just so bad."

"Hey," he whispered, hugging him, "if anyone's bad here, it's me. Don't worry, don't think about it.

Eldarion meanwhile had remained motionless, his eyes wide and his breath short. He hadn't misunderstood, it was all true. Not only were those two together, but... Ilweran, his best friend... was his brother.

They were more than just friends. And no one had ever told them anything.

He headed for the bathroom. He needed to moisten his hot face with water.

"Go to the others. If they ask you... at this point I think it is pointless to keep it a secret," Aragorn suggested.

"All right," he whispered, "what about you?"

"I'll be right there, I just need to get my head together" - the other smiled at him.

Legolas left.

It was amazing what a strange turn the situation was taking.

Soon Ilweran arrived in the kitchen, his eyes reddening.

"Ilweran. What happened?" he asked him.

"I came to get some water."

"No, I mean what happened to your eyes. You look like you just cried."

"Yes... because I'm a jerk!"

"What happened?" -he whispered gently, moving closer to him.

"It's about Shauna. I've always loved her, but I never had the courage to make the first move. And now she's with Eldarion and I can't stand it. He's always been the handsome, popular and loved one of the two."

"Hey, don't say that," he said, putting a hand on his shoulder, "you have your good points too. And if you really love Shauna, I think you should tell her, Eldarion will come to terms with it."

"But shouldn't you be defending your son?"

"I defend the righteous!" he said, smiling nervously.

"Oh... I'm happy to talk to you about it.  I'd love it if you and my dad were together. Because I could tell, you know, that he has feelings for you, and you too..."

"Ilweran"

"If I were right... would you get together?"

"My dear, it's not as easy as it sounds. I am married."

"I know but... I wouldn't mind having you as a father" -he said smiling.

Aragorn felt a tightness in his heart that had lately become omnipresent and suffocating. He wanted to tell him not to worry, that he was there, that he wanted to be near him and that he loved him.

 Eldarion came out of the bathroom at that moment, remaining motionless to observe the two: his brother and his father. And Ilweran knew nothing of it.

He felt a mixture of jealousy, disbelief and anger inside.

"Um..."  he said, clearing his throat.

"Eldarion"  the adult called him.

"Dad, can we go? I don't feel well."

"Oh... yes, of course. Take care Ilweran, hang in there."

The other smiled.

Aragorn reached the living room. The others looked at him, saying nothing, but making it clear they knew.

"EMh... we're going... see you at work"he said turning to Legolas.

"Yeah... Aragorn... well.... then... bye."

Their first instinct was to kiss, but they had to restrain themselves. Eldarion walked out of the house in a completely subdued mood. He had just discovered something he would rather never have discovered.

Chapter Text

Terrible. Terrible. Terrible.

Now the one who was depressed was Eldarion, after the discovery that had caused him an existential crisis. It must have been a nightmare...

How could he have a brother and only find out now? Why had no one ever told them anything? Above all... why Ilweran?

He wouldn't be able to look at him the same way now.

And the other didn't know anything, absolutely nothing, he was living in total bliss.

"Isn't Shauna with you today?"  Ilweran asked, but got no answer.

'How am I supposed to live with this burden on me?

"Eldarion!" he called. "Are you there or not?"

"Huh? Ah... sorry... Shauna... no, I haven't seen her recently."

"Recently? She's your girlfriend and you don't even know where she is?

The other however replied with a shrug. Una then elbowed her sister.

"Oh, look, Shauna's coming!"

Ilweran immediately turned to wade in. She had rosy cheeks and such long eyelashes.

He had always enjoyed looking at her.

Aragorn had given him good advice; the problem now would be to put it into action. But he had to take some courage. So he took a deep breath and walked over to her.

"Hello Shauna, I need to talk to you" he said quickly.

"Me too"  she admitted.

"Great, then why don't you guys go talk while we leave?"  Una asked, dragging the other two behind her.

The girl took to twisting her hair between her fingers nervously.

"What do you need to tell me...?"

"You first."

"No you first..."

"All right, then..."

"Yeah, well..."

"I'm sorry!" They then exclaimed in unison.

"Wait, why are you sorry?" Ilweran asked.

"Because I'm a horrible person," he sighed, "I only got involved with Eldarion to make you jealous. I know, those are things that shouldn't be done, but I was so angry at the time. I think I have an inferiority complex.... and I can't stand the fact that she's around you all the time..."

The blond at that point felt his heart start to race. She had done all this just for him... to get his attention.

At that moment, he felt his heart go completely into overdrive.

"Amh... emh... no, you're wrong!" he exclaimed, grabbing her hand. "It's not like that! I mean... I mean, Tauriel doesn't interest me in that way."

"But... but you're with her all the time. And she seems to like you..."

"Oh, believe me, I'm not the one she likes. And even if she did... It's another girl I... like..."

Shauna's expression finally softened and she smiled. It was a perfect atmosphere for a kiss, a real kiss this time. In fact, they both leaned in closer with their hearts in their throats and butterflies in their stomachs.

"Ilweran!"

Shauna wanted to throttle the owner of that unbearably high-pitched voice. Tauriel was there, and she hadn't noticed, or maybe she was pretending not to notice, that she had interrupted an important moment.

"Sorry!" Shauna exclaimed. "We would be talking!"

"Yes, I can see that, cutie- he squared her- so, Ilweran? Are we going home together again today?"

"But... but... I really..."

Shauna placed a hand on his shoulder, looking at him, as if to give him some sort of permission.

He was no longer afraid, he trusted his words and knew how much the boy was too kind to say no, not only to Tauriel, but to anyone.

"Go ahead," he told him quietly. Ilweran was very surprised; he was sure Shauna was summoning all her strength to let him go. He answered with a nod, and then reached for Tauriel, who took him under her arm. Tauriel looked at him, but her jealousy was broken by something else: the thought of what she would have to do next.

 

Eldarion could not get the thought out of his head. He was trying very hard not to think about it, to convince himself that it was all false, but he couldn't. After all, he had known from the beginning that something was wrong, but he had never imagined that it was even this. He was nervous, and he knew that if no one gave him an explanation, he would not be comfortable. So he went to see his father that afternoon after school. He did not want to hear vague answers or, even worse, denial, he knew very well what he had seen and heard.

Aragorn heard him arrive and could immediately sense the tension that must be plaguing him.

"Eldarion," he called, "are you all right? You look terrible.

I would like to see you instead!

"I need to talk to you... right now," he said in an icy tone of voice.

The other gave him all the attention he could offer.

"I'm listening.

He took a deep breath. There were so many things he wanted to ask and tell him, so many that he did not even know where to begin.

The questions followed one another in no particular order.

"Tell me the truth... you... have you always been alone with mum? You've never been with anyone else since you've been with her?"

Aragorn did not understand the reason for that question, which obviously put him on edge.

"Why do you ask that question? Do you have any doubts at all?"

"Well... let's just say that when I found out you had another child, the doubt came to me"  he said in an incredibly calm tone.

The man at that point paled, immediately sensing that the other knew everything.

"Eldarion... you..."

"I heard everyone yesterday. So Ilweran is your son?" he asked, clenching his fists. "You betrayed my mother and you're still doing it...!"

"Eldaron, please, it's not like that!"

"Then how are they?!" he exclaimed. "Because it seems to me that I don't understand anything anymore, it seems to me that everything I knew is actually a lie!"

"Listen to me, please," he pleaded, grabbing him by the shoulders, "I loved Legolas, but I had to marry your mother... let us say, out of duty. But I had never stopped loving him. And so it happened... what had to happen. I never stopped loving him, it's true, but in spite of everything, I chose you, I chose you..."

"Oh, good, you're a hero, then! - he exclaimed - don't talk nonsense! You should have told me everything. You should have been honest!"

"Things are not as easy as they seem, Eldarion. I had responsibilities."

"And I had the right to know that my best friend is actually my brother! - he said with shining eyes - do you realise what it means to find out after all this time?! Why didn't you tell us, why?"

"Because.... Legolas and I broke up back in the day and we didn't want anyone to suffer..."

"Yeah, look at that result!" -He exclaimed.

"Eldarion, please," he pleaded, "I know you're upset, but I really do beg you... don't say anything... not to your mother... not to Ilweran. please... they mustn't find out like this..."

"But I do, don't I?" he asked furiously.

Suddenly his phone began to vibrate. He looked at it: it was a message from Shauna saying, "We need to talk.

He knew that phrase was never a good omen, but at least it would be a good opportunity to get some air.

"I'm going out!" he exclaimed. "Don't wait for me!"

He slammed the door violently. Aragorn sighed. He could not believe that he had ruined years of secrets in that way. And as if that were not enough, now one of his sons knew, and how right he was, now he would hate him.

 

Eldarion's mood was already terrible, and Shauna's words certainly didn't help, Not just family problems, now love problems, where he thought he'd found happiness.

"No, I don't understand you," he said, trying to remain calm, "explain to me why we should break up? Did I do something I shouldn't have?"

Shauna sighed despondently.

"Eld, it's not you, I'm the problem!"

"What are you talking about? You're amazing, wonderful, perfect..."

"I'm not perfect!" she exclaimed.  "Eld... I'm sorry, I made fun of you. I got involved with you but not out of love..."

"What?"

"I like someone else?"

"Who is it?" he asked nervously.

"I can't tell you."

"Shauna!"

"It's Ilweran!" she exclaimed. "I've always liked him. I'm so sorry, I love you, but..."

"Go..." - she whispered.

"But Eld..."

"I said go..." he proclaimed seriously.

He didn't want to hear any more. The anger began to rise.

He wasn't going to tell Ilweran anything. Telling him would only make everything more real. At that very moment, the last thing he wanted was to have him as his brother.

 

The very thing Aragorn feared so much had happened. Eldarion had found out everything and had done so in the most terrible way. He was a total mess, he had been certain, until that moment, that he was able to keep the secret that would otherwise have ruined his seemingly perfect life and his family.

Poor Eld. Because of me he is suffering now, but how could he understand? Deep down, I don't understand either. Hell, I should have taken into account that something like this would happen, and instead I assumed I could get away with it!

His wife Arewn had noticed his bad mood and had also taken notice of the fight between him and his son, obviously ignoring the reason for it.

"Has Eldarion gone out?"  she asked him.

"Yeah," he sighed, "he's hard to deal with."

"Oh," replied the affectionate, placing a kiss on one cheek, "it's age. Whatever it is, he'll get over it."

Aragorn ran a finger over that same cheek. It would not pass, or at least not as easily as he had hoped.

He was in big trouble, or rather, they both were, both he and Legolas, since that way Ilweran would be only two steps away from finding out the truth in an absolutely terrible way!

That is why he had called him urgently, telling him that he had to talk to him. And Legolas, who as always lived in anxiety, had rushed immediately to that request of his, arriving at his home with shortness of breath.

"Here I am!" he exclaimed, "what has happened? Is it serious?"

"Keep your voice down!" he whispered with a hand on his face. "Are you asking me if it's serious or not? It's more than serious, it's catastrophic."

"You're scaring me now " he gasped . "What happened?"

"Eldarion knows,' he said in one breath.

"He knows? Does he know about us?"  he asked in a low voice.

"He knows about us! He must have heard us the other night. It's a terrible thing, he's obviously upset, what if he tells Ilweran? The situation is critical enough as it is!"

"Oh no... all right, let's be calm," he sighed, "maybe you should try to explain it to him..."

"How can I explain it to him! What am I supposed to say then? I'm sorry son, but have I really been cheating on your mother all along?!"

"Well... yes! After all, it's the truth. He's old enough to understand by now."

"And Ilweran, then?! He's old enough, too, but I don't recall you ever bothering to tell him the truth."

Aragorn bit his tongue, knowing that he had let slip something too much. Something too much that had made Legolas stiffen.

"I had to protect him. From all the evil and suffering I was going through. But now things have changed. I promised myself I would tell him if things became serious and if you" he looked at him. "left Arwen."

"But I can't leave her like this! Not after a marriage and a child!"

"Well, you made a child with me too, but you didn't hesitate to leave me!" he exclaimed angrily - why did you come back then, eh Aragorn?! Because you were bored and thought it would be fun to rekindle the fire of passion? For me this is not a game! Because I love you!"

That sentence made him shudder. It had been so long since he had heard it, not from him at least.

And him? He loved him. It was obvious that he did, but he had always been too cowardly to show it.

"This isn't a game to me either!"  He exclaimed nervously.

"Well, if that's the case then choose, and this time let it be for good! Because.... I admit it, I'm not at all okay with continuing to be a lover!"

"But you said..."

"I lied, because I didn't want to lose you. But now I realise that it's not worth living a relationship with you if it has to be hidden from everyone's eyes. But one thing is certain, Aragorn. Something will have to be given up, unfortunately.

It was the first time Legolas had spoken so harshly, but he was right, not everyone could win, it was clear that someone had to suffer. They stared at each other for what seemed like endless seconds, so much so that they did not even notice the ringing of the bell.

It was Arwen who brought them to their senses, opened the door and looked out.

"Excuse me," she whispered, "Aragorn, Boromir is at the door."

"Huh? Oh yes... yes, show him in..."

He then cast a glance at the blond.

"I'd better go now," he whispered, "I'm waiting for your answer."

An answer from him. He hadn't been able to make a decision for sixteen years, so how could he expect to do it overnight?

Only one thing was certain. They could not go on like this, especially now that Eldarion knew.

Shortly afterwards Boromir made his appearance.

"I saw Legolas leaving," he said, "now will you have him come to your house? And maybe even have sex on your bed?"

"Boromir, please, I'm not in the mood," he blurted, "what are you doing here?"

"I wanted to see you, after what happened the other night," he said with folded arms, "I mean, although it may not seem like it, I don't like fighting."

"Neither do I," he sighed, relieved.

"The fact is, though, that I meant what I said. You always had eyes only for him and never considered me. I was just the friend, the one you laughed with, joked with and asked advice from."

"Boromir, please..."

"No, now I want you to listen to me. If I had known you were going to marry someone else anyway, I would have fought a lot harder. Do you remember? I stepped aside because I wanted to see you happy and what is helped? Not at all, because now you are unhappy anyway!"

"The fault is not yours. It's mine."

"I could help you. There must be a reason why after all this time we've been given a chance to reconnect! But if you don't give me a chance too, how can you be sure otherwise?"

The other closed his eyes. He almost had the impression that he was hearing the exact same words as Legolas.

"Indeed I cannot be certain, but right now the situation is much more difficult than you think!"

"Then throw it all away and choose me! That's all I'm asking of you, to give me a chance! You'll have to make a final decision sooner or later!"

Now he too was talking to him about choices. Was it possible that it really all depended on his will? And possible, too, that he was in the middle of a triangle (even a square one if you counted Arwen) that he couldn't get out of?

A choice... a choice... but what could have been the right choice?

 

For Legolas, the right choice would have been to get back together. They loved each other, after all, for as long as they could remember, and it would have been foolish to do otherwise.

Unfortunately, he also knew how difficult Aragorn's position was, but he wanted her to make up her mind for real and choose him.

He didn't think he could take another rejection.

He slipped the key into the lock, realising that the door was actually open, which was odd enough, but he didn't think any more about it than he had planned.

He threw everything on the sofa, crossing the dark living room. Then he arrived in the kitchen, where the light was on. Could it be that she had also forgotten to turn it off?

He turned on the tap, his throat was crying out for water. But someone behind him had been watching him, someone with a pair of feline eyes and lips as red as roses. Tauriel was a predator, and when she spotted her prey, she had to take a bite. And the harder it was to catch, the more exciting it became.

She bit her lip, taking a step. Legolas had not noticed her yet, he had brought the glass of water to his lips. He looked a lot like Ilweran, but she was sure that behind that shyness was a real man ready to give her a night of dreams.

With a jerk, she grabbed him by the arm, and when he finally realised he wasn't alone, the water went down his throat, making him cough.

"What the...?! You! Tauriel? You gave me a scare, but what are you doing here? Ilweran isn't even home, how did you get in...?"

"Oh, I have my ways," she said, smiling, "and besides... I didn't come here for Ilweran."

Something shifted in Legolas' mind, something that made him realise how ill-intentioned this girl was. She had started to walk towards him, but he had begun to back away, frightened by her ruthless hunter's eyes.

"Oh well, I'll be here any minute, we can wait together."

"I'd like to do something else with you, actually," she whispered, almost completely resetting the distance between their lips, "I know what you're thinking. How could I have resisted all this time this beautiful girl who only wanted to give me attention?"

"No, I'm not thinking that at all!"  he exclaimed, grabbing her shoulders.

"Let yourself go," she whispered, "Ilweran won't know anything about it... I swear, he won't regret it."

"I'm too old for you, Tauriel, really!"

"Oh, is that the problem?" she asked, smiling. "Don't worry. I am young, but I am already a woman... You can see that well enough, too."

Legolas swallowed heavily, certain that he had no chance and that Tauriel would soon kiss him. But he didn't like women, and especially not little girls, it was indecent!

But Tauriel had already pinned him down, and if someone hadn't saved him then he would have been lost, he wouldn't have known how to defend himself!

The whole house was suddenly lit up. Legolas turned his head, with hope in his eyes. Ilweran was there before him, having just returned with Thranduil and Elrond. The thing that common was their shocked expression, especially that of the youngest, who could not believe his eyes.

"Dad," he whispered, "what are you doing?"

"Um..."

"Oh, Ilweran!" Tauriel exclaimed promptly. "Hello, I came to see you, but you weren't there, so I decided to wait for you."

"Am I mistaken, or were you on fire?"  asked Thranduil, annoyed.

"Not so! Tauriel was falling and I caught her, didn't I Tauriel?"

"Absolutely," she said, smiling, "oh... I'm probably in the way, sorry, I'll go."

"Yes, I'd better see you to the door, young lady," muttered the other.

Ilweran was still wide-eyed. His father had always been hopelessly fond of men, and the fact that he had caught him almost kissing one of his school friends upset him somewhat.

"Dad," he called, "please, you didn't kiss, did you?"

"No!" he exclaimed, "absolutely not. I'm afraid I'm in your friend's way."

"I find this very disturbing!"

"That's the last straw!" Thranduil exclaimed in annoyance, as he turned back to the three of them. "That girl deliberately tried to seduce me! A man like me cannot stand such treatment!"

Fortunately, his reaction had elicited a laugh and consequently dampened the atmosphere.

And at least the strange advent had allowed Legolas to shake off the sadness that would otherwise have plagued him. But after all, he had always been quite good at hiding his discontent, even from Ilweran, who had no idea of the quarrel between the two. He smiled, but with sad eyes, and that would be enough until... yes, until Aragorn gave him a definite answer. But would it be another sixteen years before that happened?

"My son is hiding something from me," Thranduil muttered, as bad-tempered as most, "I mean, he's acting stranger than usual, and to make matters worse, he won't tell me anything. Children... first you raise them and then they turn their backs on you, typical..."

"You make too many problems for yourself," Elrond told him gently, "and I don't know why I have the impression that this is not good for your health. I mean, look at you, you're so pale."

"Huh? - asked the other, feeling a dizziness - I'm perfectly fine".

Thranduil," he said with folded arms, "are you hiding something from me too?"

Yes, something very big, actually, but I don't have the courage to tell you. How would you take it? I don't want to end up like Legolas, I don't want to be alone too, I wouldn't stand for it.

"Absolutely nothing" he answered coldly.

"You don't convince me," she replied, grabbing him by the arm, "if there is something about you, I think I have the right to know."

His tone had now changed and was as severe as it had ever been.

The fact that he was being cornered unnerved Thranduil even more.

"I said there is nothing there!" he exclaimed. "Are you going to get serious now? Leave me alone!

Elrond immediately released his grip on his arm. But at the very moment he had done so, the other had realised that he had gone too far. He was always austere and nervous towards him, despite the sweetness with which he treated him.

"Elrond..."

"No, it's fine," sighed the other, "you're nervous, I understand, if you won't tell me the reason I can't force you to tell me. I'll leave you alone."

He had hinted at a smile, but his eyes said anything but happiness. Thranduil watched him walk away. If only he had been able to treat the people he loved better, this probably wouldn't have happened. But he wasn't good at showing his feelings; he considered it a weak thing to do, in a way.

But I am weak, after all. And I'm also a fool, as well as a coward.

He turned off the light, then returned to the living room. Legolas was sitting cross-legged, with his head in the air.

his eyes glazed over. She had always scolded him whenever she had seen him cry, but this time he couldn't do it even if he wanted to.

"Legolas?" he called softly.

"Can you come and give me a hug?"  he whispered. He hadn't asked someone to hug him in a long time, especially not him.

But Thranduil did not hesitate. She sat down next to him and hugged him, as he had asked.

"Well?" he whispered. "Shall I go and kill him?"

"And what good would that do? I'm the stupid one."

"No... you're not stupid... I am."

"I heard you arguing. I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. It's my fault. I'm a horrible person."

"I don't think that at all. You're just like me, you can't be horrible."

"And that... is that supposed to be some kind of compliment?"

The younger man smiled.

"I love you."

"... I love you too..."

 

The next day...

 

Ilweran was late, and this time more than usual. The courtyard was empty and if he didn't hurry up, he wouldn't make it to class in time, which is why he had taken to running.

There was only one thing that could distract him from his run.

"Ilweran!"

The caller was Shauna, who had approached him shyly.

"Shauna?" he called. "Are you late too?"

"Actually I was waiting for you... well... I need to talk to you..."

"About what...?"

"I... left Eldarion..."

"Huh?!"

As it happened, Eldairon was also late, and in a foul mood. The previous day had been horrible, and besides, he was mad at the whole world. He stopped when he saw Shauna and Ilweran talking together.

His first instinct was to go over there and make a scene, but he managed to restrain himself and hear what they were saying.

"But why?" the blond asked. "Why did you do that, he's my best friend!"

"I... I couldn't keep being with him - he said, bowing his gaze even if I did let some time pass, it wouldn't have helped. Because I want you and I don't want to keep keeping you away!"

"But Shauna..."

"I love you," she said, squinting and blushing, "forever."

Following those words, Ilweran blushed too. It was the first time a girl had ever said "I love you" to him, but he was sure that if it had been someone else, it wouldn't have been the same. Shauna was there, her cheeks flushed and her blue eyes bright. She was looking at him, and he was looking at her. For too long they had simply been acting like friends, and it was time to stop pretending. So they moved slowly closer, and when they were close enough, they kissed, this time being able to feel every sensation that came from it.

Eldarion stood there motionless, jealousy and anger taking hold of him. Nothing could hold him back this time.

 

It had been a rough night for Aragorn, and he had to fight sleep to keep from falling asleep at his desk. Between Eldarion, Boromir and Legolas, he no longer knew how to behave, they all demanded so much of him, and he was unable to decide without hurting anyone!

He loved Legolas, but he also loved his son and Boromir.

The stakes were too high...

There was a knock at the door of his office.

"Come in," he answered weakly. He expected it to be anyone, perhaps even Legolas.

But no, it was Boromir.

"Boromir!" he exclaimed, jumping up. "What are you doing here?"

"If I'm bothering you I'll leave" he muttered.

"No, no, no, it's not that, it's just that I wasn't expecting a visit from you."

"Yeah, well... I was tough last night. Every time I promise myself to treat you right, but I never do."

"No... I understand... after all I deserve your mistreatment"  he said, letting out a giggle that did not convince Boromir. He was suffering, they were both suffering and all he wanted was to make him happy as best he could.

"I am sorry that it is also my fault that you are in this situation"  he said, approaching her.

"It's not your fault, I repeat, I'm the one who got myself into this mess".

"I just want to see you happy, really happy. And do you know why? Because I love you."

He had moved closer, and the fact that she had told him she loved him had agitated him somewhat. In certain situations certain things were automatic, so he was trying to keep his distance.

"Boromir... Boromir please..."

"I can't let you go, not again..."

With a jerk she pulled him by the arm and slammed her lips to his. Aragorn remained motionless, shocked, without any strength to react. He was kissing him, for real, he had not imagined it.

The door opened. Legolas had made a habit of not knocking, and this time it was temporary. The papers he was holding fell out, and his heart stopped.

Chapter Text

Eldarion felt a chill run down his spine. What he was seeing was too much.

He had endured too much. The discovery of his true brother's identity, the fact that Shauna had left him for his brother, the kiss....

He felt like he hated it.

It wasn't Ilweran's fault, he knew that, and yet in that moment he couldn't help but blame him for all the hurt he was feeling, perhaps because for the first time, he felt envy, when it had clearly always been the other way around.

He stepped forward, slowly. When Shauna noticed, she immediately pulled away from Ilweran, bringing her hands in front of her face.

"Oh God, Eld..."

"Eld?"  Ilweran called to him in a low voice.

His gaze was almost... inhuman, and the blond had the impression that he could have killed him just by looking at him.

"You bastard!" he exclaimed, railing against him . "So, you're going to do the girl I love behind my back?"

"What?! What are you talking about?! It's not what it looks like!"

"It's not what it looks like?!"  exclaimed grabbing him by the shoulders. "You are a traitor, a liar! And you say you're my best friend?"

"Stop it!" Shauna exclaimed "You're out of your mind!"

The boy gave her a terrible look, making her shudder.

"How long were you two together! You two had an understanding, tell the truth! And you, you seriously left me for this one?!"

"This one? But Eld..."

"Don't call me Eld! What's the matter, did the envy get too much? Of course... your best friend, popular, beloved, captain of the basketball team, who was with a beautiful girl... had become too much for you!"

"That's enough, stop it!" he exclaimed, pushing him.

 It was a gesture he had never indulged in, and it surprised even the raven-haired man, who only got angrier.

"You stop that!"he exclaimed, pushing him in his turn - it's all your fault, because of you everything was ruined!"

"I don't know what you're talking about, I didn't do anything, damn it! You're the fool who never understood how I was, who never knew how to read my feelings! All right, I was jealous, well, you wanna blame me?! You have everything, a family, popularity, everyone admires you... and what about me?! How can you blame me?"

"I can blame you and I can do something else too!" he exclaimed, throwing a fist in his face.

Llwera stepped back, one hand on the punched spot as Shauna felt the knot in her throat grow more unbearable.

"No!" she exclaimed, putting herself between the two of them, "stop it, I won't let you hit each other!"

"You get out of the way!" Eldarion exclaimed, grabbing her by the arm. "don't get involved!

Something snapped at that moment inside Ilweran. He had never laid a finger on anyone, not least because he wouldn't have the strength, but in that instant all the anger was out, and above all, no one could treat the girl he loved like that.

"Leave her " he exclaimed going against him and pushing him, forcing him with his back against the ground. He pinned him down, but it seemed that not even that could stop the other's wrath.

"Don't touch me, it's your fault, it's all your fault!"

"My fault?! You're the one who's always been too dumb to look beyond your nose!"

"Oh, is that so?" he exclaimed, rising up and pushing him away. "Since I'm too stupid, you can forget that I exist! In fact, just pretend I'm dead, and we'll get it over with! Go to hell!"

Saying that, he pulled back and started walking at a brisk pace. Ilweran was still stunned, he couldn't understand exactly why this had happened, but he didn't even have time to recover when Shauna was on top of him.

"Ilweran, please go after him and talk to him! We can't just let him go like this!"

Actually, the idea of going after him didn't excite him much, not after how he had treated him, but demanded an explanation.

"You are right!" he exclaimed. "Eldarion, wait!"

 

It took about five seconds before Aragorn and Boromir realised they had been caught red-handed. The former in particular could read the anger and disappointment in Legolas' eyes.

"Legolas," he called to him, suddenly turning pale, "what...?"

What? You're asking me what? What is wrong with you? Having fun behind my back, huh? I'll take care of you now!

Something snapped in him, something he couldn't explain but which literally screwed up all his calm and thoughtfulness.

"What the fuck are you two doing?!" he exclaimed furiously.

"Legolas!" Aragorn exclaimed. "wait..."

"I think someone's rather angry"  Boromir noted.

"You!" exclaimed the other, pointing at him. "Are you making fun of me?! No, I mean, are you serious? I thought you were my friend, I thought you were a good person!"

"I haven't considered you my friend for a long time now!" shouted the other pushing him. "For about sixteen years!"

"Guys, please" made Aragorne exasperated. "Everyone can hear us!"

"Ah, I don't care!" exclaimed Legolas. "I have been silent for too long, now it is my turn to speak! What do you think, that by doing so Aragorn will fall at your feet?"

"Surely I would make him much happier than you, who are nothing but a weakling and have always caused him nothing but trouble!"

"What?!"

"Guys..."

"You don't know shit. You've always been there for me, but you've never actually been there. Double-crosser and traitor!"exclaimed Legolas.

"Maybe I got that way after being good for too long, what do you think?" - replied Boromir, facing him.

"Stop it, both of you! You must not harm each other."

"Are you afraid I might lay a finger on this one?" Boromir asked. no, not a chance. Sorry to disturb you, I'm leaving, forget about me!"

"But, wait...!" - Aragorn tried to stop him, but to no avail. Legolas looked at him with folded arms.

"Aragorn."

"Legolas, whatever you're thinking is wrong! It all happened so fast. What a mess..."

The blond sighed. He had probably gone too far with his reaction, but he felt much better now.

What happened to his maturity? And of that friendship? Was it right for it to end like that?

"Alright, let's go find him!"  he muttered at that point, dragging the other behind him and trying to put aside, at least for a while, what he had seen.

 

Ilweran was beginning to flounder, but he couldn't stop, he couldn't afford to lose his best friend, despite the words spoken, despite everything that had happened.

"Eldarion, will you stop, damn it!"

"Leave us alone!" exclaimed the other, coming up to a red light and crossing anyway. "You've already made enough trouble!"

The blond was forced to squeeze in as he did, in the middle of traffic, at the risk of getting run over.

Of course at that moment, Boromir and Eldarion, without knowing it, were experiencing the exact same frustrations. The former had gotten into his car and with his hands on the steering wheel had driven away quickly. He didn't want to know anything more about Legolas; their friendship was officially over.

He hated him, because because of him he had always been second best, always put in the shade, and he would not be able to take any more humiliation.

As it happens, his destiny and Eldarion's were about to meet, in a fatal way.

The boy noticed him, and thought that getting into the car was a good way to escape his friend's unbearable attentions.

He held out his arm, signalling to stop.

"Eldarion?"  Boromir asked, pulling over.

"Can you give me a lift?" -he asked agitatedly.

"Yes, of course, come in."

"Eldarion!"

Ilweran appeared at the end of the street, running like a madman.

"Damn!" exclaimed the other, grabbing the door, "Why don't you leave me alone!"

As he said this he made to enter.

"Wait, wait!" called Ilweran. "Don't go!"

Incredibly, he had managed to reach him, and had managed to grab the door, at the risk of hurting his hand, and slip in with him.

"Ilweran!" exclaimed Eldarion. "Leave immediately!"

"I'm not leaving! I must explain to you first!"

"I don't want to listen to you, I don't want to listen to the words of a traitor! You stole my girl!"

"Well, I see it apparently runs in the family"  muttered Boromir, who had taken to driving.

"I didn't steal your girl, Eld, it's not like that. Shauna and I have loved each other all our lives, but you couldn't see that."

"Oh, right!" he exclaimed. "then why did she get involved with me?"

"Because she wanted to make me jealous!" he exclaimed. "I probably should have told you sooner, but you know I'm shy, and you liked her too, I didn't want to lose you".

"Oh, look at the result! - he exclaimed - I never want to see you again, Ilweran!"

The blond at that point was seized by anger and many, many emotions, and grabbed him from the shoulders.

"Why?!" he exclaimed. "why are you so angry with me? What have I done to you?! Talk to me!"

"You want me to talk to you?! - he exclaimed - alright, I'll tell you, you....!"

Maybe Ilweran wasn't meant to know, at least not yet. Eldarion made to open his mouth, but a blinding light distracted them. They did not realise in time, but Boromir did, and he had indeed tried to brake.

But he could not make a time. A lorry hit them, and after that it was total darkness.

 

Legolas and Aragorn had spent the whole of the next hour searching for their friend who had left, but to no avail: Boromir seemed to have disappeared into thin air.

There was much tension between the two, a tension that would soon erupt into a furious argument.

"Where could he have gone? I hope he doesn't do anything stupid!"  Aragorn exclaimed.

"I would worry about something else if I were you!" exclaimed "I say, what on earth were you doing?! How can you kiss someone else like that, just like that?"

"It seems to me that I have already told you that it was not as it seems!"

"Then how is it, Aragorn! Because I'm having a very hard time not thinking that you're just playing with me!"

"Dammit, it's not....!"

Aragorn made to answer, but before he could do so, Legolas' mobile phone started ringing off the hook. Legolas was surprised to realize that it was an unknown number.

Then he answered.

"Hello? Yes... it's me..."

Aragorn did not hear him speak again. He could only see his expression go from angry to strange, almost shocked. Only then did he realize that something was wrong, and it was natural for him to leave the discussion they had just had behind.

When he then saw the mobile phone slip from his hands, he became even more worried.

"Legolas!" he exclaimed. "what's going on?"

He turned to look at him, her eyes glassy. Strangely enough, no words were needed. One glance was enough for him to understand what had happened.

 

Well, a good day to die, I must say. I would have preferred to do a thousand thousand other things, become a basketball champion, graduate, get a job, get married, have a family, and die an old man.

But no, apparently someone decided that's how I should die.

Or at least I think I'm dead. I hear noises around me, but if I try to move I can't. And then, what are these strings holding me?

Damn it, release me!

But probably no one can hear me.

 

These were the words that flowed through Ilweran's mind in no particular order, like a river.

But in fact he could not have reacted even if he had wanted to. He was not dead. It was more accurate to say that he was somewhere in between, but he could not know that, and that was probably why he felt so calm. To be suspended between two worlds, between life and death, was extraordinary, and if he had survived, it would have been a great story to tell...

 

Legolas had felt his heart break into a million pieces. And he had been so shocked that he had not even found the courage to react. He simply could not speak anymore.

This must be a joke... it can't be. God, let it be so.

He had prayed for a long time that the doctors had been wrong, but unfortunately that was not the case: Ilweran, Eldarion and Boromir had been in a very serious accident, and all three were dying.

He had heard no more than that. Otherwise it had all seemed so muffled, so distant.

Then Arwen had joined them and burst into tears. Why couldn't he? Why did he have to be the victim of that calm, that indifference, so frustrating?

"Will they survive?" Aragorn asked. "We need to know!"

"It is too early to tell. The two boys are in a serious condition and for the moment they are in a coma... while the other one... well... honestly, I don't think he will, but who knows?"

In a coma The last thing he wanted was to see his son hooked up to a machine for who knows how long.

He looked into Aragon's eyes. God only knew how much he wanted to hold him and comfort him at that moment, but he couldn't, for Arwen was in his place. The other could not help but feel guilty. His children were in danger, and if he had lost them... no, he didn't even want to think about that.

"I must see my son Ilweran," the blond man suddenly proclaimed, "now."

"So do I!" exclaimed Aragorn, almost instinctively.

"Sorry, immediate family only," the doctor replied.

The two looked into each other's eyes. Now Aragorn would have loved to say who he really was, what his true role was, but he could not, it was not the time.

Legolas armed himself with what little courage he had left and began to face perhaps the most difficult moment of his life.

 

Thranduil had joined him immediately afterwards as he was trying to hold back tears. His emotionality was strange, and had probably been heightened by his pregnancy.

Surely, however, even under normal circumstances he would not have been able to hold back. Ilweran was in danger, how could he stay calm?

He was in pain, and the only thing he needed was a squeeze, a hug from his loved ones.

Elrond arrived shortly after, and when he did, the two looked at each other, slightly embarrassed, after all, they had not spoken to each other since their quarrel.

"Elrond"  he barely whispered.

"Thranduil," he said as he approached, "I got here as fast as I could. How are they...?"

"I don't know... Legoals just walked in, Arwen and Aragorn the same. I'm dying of fear. Es and they don't have to make it?"

"Hey, now is not the time to think negative. They'll both be saved."

"What if they don't? I don't know if I could take it. If only... if only I'd been a little more affectionate with him, if only I hadn't always been so strict..."

"You don't have to feel guilty."

"Yes, I do, I do. Because I don't know how to take care of the people I love, I don't know how to keep them close to me, and they always end up drifting away. I'm the one who pushes them away, like I did with you."

"Away, away, you didn't push me away, sometimes it happens to fight" he said approaching his face. When the other looked into his eyes, he realised how shiny they were. Was he... crying? Him?

"Thranduil, what are you...?"

"I'm sorry, all right? I would have told you at another time, but I was afraid you wouldn't take it well. I am with child, Elrond. And if you go and I'm left alone, what am I supposed to do? You can see that I'm not at all good at this sort of thing, not any more, at least, it wasn't planned, and what if..."

Elrond had shushed him, bringing a finger to his lips. He didn't look angry at all, or annoyed, he was smiling.

"Thranduil, you didn't even give me time to respond."

"Are you pleased?"

"You ask me if I'm happy that the person I love is expecting a child from me? What do you say? I would never have left you. Never. We've been together for a lifetime, and it'll stay that way."

"Now I feel stupid..."

"Oh, come here," he said, hugging him, "thank you for telling me. I needed some news to lift my spirits. That means you're coming home with me, right?"

"You're ready to put up with my every bad mood, my every birthmark, and my every insult?"

"I've been doing this my whole life..."

 

Legolas had entered the hospital room where Ilweran, motionless and helpless, stood. He had myriad wires attached to his arm, and his face scratched in several places. He approached, almost trembling.

He couldn't look; it was too horrible a sight.

The last time he and Ilweran had been in a hospital together was... was when he'd come into the world. Then that was it. He had always been fine. But now, by some strange twist of fate, there he was, dying.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

 

Is someone there? I don't like not being able to see, what if someone comes in and tries to hurt me? Not that it could get any worse, of course.

 

"Ilweran"

 

Dad?! Dad, is that you?! Good thing you don't know what happened. Or... maybe they told you. Please don't be angry...

 

He approached again and bent down, grabbing his hand, which he couldn't return.

"Ilweran," he called again, this time unable to hold back her tears, "you little..."

 

What? Are you crying? No, I'm not! I didn't mean to make you cry, please forgive me. If only I could shake his hand too... but I can't! Damn it! How can I make him understand that I feel it? How do I get out of this situation?

 

It was too hard a reality to bear. His son lying there, with a machine allowing him to breathe, his son who could no longer have any certainty for the future. He couldn't bear it, he was certain that if he died... he would probably follow him

"Ilweran, please. Don't stop fighting, I... please... There are so many things you still have to do in your life, so many things you need to know... and you can't give up... because you are strong."

 

Me strong? I doubt that very much. But yes, I will fight, I don't want to die like this, not now. I will do my best, I swear.

 

He brought his other hand to his face. He prayed silently, in his head, without finding the strength to do anything else. Outside, meanwhile, the storm had broken out.

Just like sixteen years before, same place, same rain...

 

Sixteen years before...

 

When Legolas had been told that labour was painful, he had not imagined it to be so painful! It was the most unbearable thing he had ever experienced, of course he was going to die!

"You want to go faster dammit?! I'm dying!"

"I get it!" exclaimed Thranduil nervously. "but I can't run, there's an absurd storm, can't you see it?!"

"No I don't give a damn, hurry up and...". Fortunately, he was interrupted by a fairly strong contraction.

"Hey, hey! You'd better hold on, my stain won't become a hospital!"

Holding back... it seemed easy for the others who were watching... but for him it was not.

He wouldn't have any more children after that, he was sure of it.

"Fuck!" he exclaimed. "but how do people have children every day, it's awful!"

"Legolas!" exclaimed Thranduil, turning to the people around him . Sorry about that, a bit nervous, it's the first time".

"First and last. What happens now? What are they going to do to me? They'll kill me, won't they?"

"No, no, they'll kill you! They'll put you under anesthesia and you won't feel a thing, it'll be like sleeping!"

"Stay with me anyway."

"But..."

"Please..."

"Oh" he sighed  "all right, whatever!"

He owed it to her. Spending that moment alone was difficult enough.

Legolas had not realised, until that moment, what he was really getting into. His life would change forever. And he was afraid and doubtful, he wanted to have the person he loved by his side, but that was not going to happen. But there would be no time to be afraid. He fell asleep soon after because of the anaesthesia, and the last thing he heard was thunder, outside.

He woke up after what seemed like hours. He had slept well, however, as he had not for some time. Rolling onto his side as he was, he brought a hand to his belly, realising that it was now flat and pulling, probably due to the stitches.

"Well, well awake!"  exclaimed a voice beside him. Legolas turned slowly. It was Thranduil, holding a tiny but red-cheeked child in his arms, wrapped in a blue blanket.

"Dad," he called, "you were really beside me the whole time."

"Not at all, and that I wanted to spend my time with him," he said, pointing at the child, "don't you want to meet your son?"

his son. Up to that moment he had not yet idealised the thing, but now it was all real and he was stunned, despite the nine months of psychological preparation. The other handed him the baby, whose eyes were half open . He was very graceful and his hair was so blond as to be invisible.

Legolas remained interdicted for a few seconds, feeling a myriad of different sensations. Unbelievable that the little one had been inside him all that time... unbelievable... that they had done it.

"Oh... hi... so you were the one kicking me all those times, huh?"

Gently she stroked his cheek. Nona could tell exactly who he looked like, but it was probably too early to tell.

He was a perfect baby. From his great love. But he wasn't there. And that was very sad, he had imagined that moment in a very different way.

"So, in nine months you still hadn't decided what to name him? Do you know now?"

He looked out of the window. The storm had disappeared, and now a rainbow painted the sky.

"Yes," he whispered softly, "his name will be... will be... Ilweran".

The baby then let out a verse, almost as if he had guessed that that would be his name from now on.

 

The very child he had raised, held and nurtured now lay motionless, frozen and with a dull face. Legolas could not think that he would die; he absolutely had to have another chance.

He had called him that for a specific reason, because after a bad thing there is always a good thing. And he had been the good thing after so much suffering.

"Don't worry, Ilweran. I trust you. There's always a rainbow after the storm."

 

 

***

 

"Ilweran" comes from "Ilweranta" which is supposed to mean "rainbow" in Elvish.

Chapter Text

The minutes passed and seemed interminable. No change on Ilweran's part, neither for the better nor for the worse. He was simply static, his eyes closed, motionless.

Legolas had not moved away for a moment. He had continued to hold her hand, in the vain hope that she would awaken. And from that position he was adamant.

The waiting room, meanwhile, had filled up: Shauna sat, nervously swinging her legs and biting her fingers.

"I don't believe it," she whispered, "it's my fault, it's all my fault. I'm the one who turned them against each other."

"Oh, come on" did Una. "It's not your fault, accidents happen."

"Yes it is my fault!" she exclaimed harshly. "because if one of them dies... I swear... I swear she'll never forgive me!"

Down from there she had begun to cry, unable to contain herself.

The twins were silent in front of her reaction, certain that no words could console her.

A little later, adding to the confusion, were two more people that none of the three had ever seen. They were two boys a bit older than them, good looking, probably had to be twins too.

"Hi... I guess we're all here for the same reason..."  said one of the two.

"And who are you supposed to be?" Una asked.

"We're Elladan and Elrohir," replied the other, "Eldarion's mother... is our sister..."

"But... but really?" he asked, observing them both with a vague note of interest. To Eldarion they also looked like him, but at the same time they were slightly different.

"Oh, boys," Elrond said at that point, appearing out of nowhere, "I'm glad you're here."

"We got here as fast as we could" sighed Elrohir. "how is Eld?"

"Better than you think. He's awake."

At that moment there was a general sigh. Shauna had brought a hand to her chest, feeling the latter definitely lighten.

Eldarion was awake, but Ilweran was not. Not yet, because he would have to wake up... he couldn't accept his death...

 

I want to wake up. I want to wake up. I want to wake up. I don't want to keep sleeping. I have to find the strength to stay here, to not go, even if it all hurts, even if I feel weak. There are those who love me in this world, I can't afford to leave.

 

Ilweran was struggling, though no one could have told, in seeing him so helpless.

Legolas, still clutching his hand, had now fallen asleep, he had not been able to stand the fatigue, or perhaps it was simply a sort of defensive weapon, to avoid feeling too much pain.

 

I open my eyes. I have to open my eyes. Why can't I?! I have to live, I have to wake up. I must be the one to win.

 

Ilweran suddenly felt his heartbeat speed up, as well as his breathing. He almost couldn't explain it, but it was as if he was regaining strength, even he didn't know from where.

Then he shuddered, almost as if he had dreamed of falling into the void.

He finally found the strength to squeeze back, as hard as he could.

Since Legolas was not sleeping soundly, he noticed it, but did not pay much attention to it: he had imagined it so many times, that he thought it was once again a figment of his imagination.

Another effort, and then he managed to open his eyes, or rather, to open them wide.

He was awake. He turned his head slowly to the right and saw Legolas, whose eyes were still closed. He had been there the whole time, he had felt it, and for that he would be grateful.

"Papa," he whispered faintly, "I am here... I am awake..."

Upon hearing his voice, my oldest suddenly woke up. He opened his eyes wide to see him, however he was also quite interdicted.

"I... am dreaming" he whispered . "And what a beautiful dream..."

The smaller man couldn't help but laugh.

"You're not dreaming, I'm really awake!" he exclaimed more forcefully.

"Are you... are really awake?" he asked in a trembling voice.

Ilweran nodded, and when Legolas was finally convinced that what he had before him was not a dream, he found the courage to embrace him as he had never done before. Ilweran returned the gesture, happy that he had survived.

"I was afraid you wouldn't make it! I feared the worst!" - Legolas exclaimed, unable to hold back tears, this time of joy.

"You told me to fight, and I did."

"Did you hear me?"  he asked surprised.

"I heard everything. Thank you for staying."

The other smiled, caressing his face.

Aragorn happened upon the door at that very moment. All along, he had been worried about both him and Ilweran.

But now that he had seen Ilweran alive and well, the fear was gone.

He smiled as he saw the two of them embracing, barely holding back the tears of emotion. Ilweran noticed that he was being watched, and when he looked at him, he was well pleased to see him.

"Hello Aragorn!"  he greeted cheerfully.

What he really wanted was to go over and hug him, because he was his son, and he needed to do that. But he was forced to hold back.

"Hello Ilweran" he greeted him in turn. "I'm glad to see you're okay."

"I'm happy too!" he exclaimed. "but... well... Eldarion... he..."

"Oh, he's fine. He's awake."

"He's awake?!" he exclaimed jumping out of bed. "I must go to him at once!"

"Stop!" Legolas exclaimed. "You can't get up yet!"

"I can manage!" He exclaimed with difficulty. "I need to talk to him!"

The moment he had woken up, everything had come back to his mind, their fight, the words spoken. He didn't care about anything anymore though, the important thing was that he was alive, that he was okay, because he was like a brother to him, and he couldn't bear the idea of losing him.

With difficulty, he reached Eldarion's room, which was not far from his own. There he saw Shauna, the twins, Arwen, and the twins Elladan and Elrohir. The girl, upon seeing him, immediately walked over to him, encircling his neck with her arms.

"Ilweran!" she exclaimed. "You're awake, awake! I can't believe it, you're here, but... what are you doing up?"

"Well, I'm due for a visit too, aren't I?" he asked cheerfully as always.

The blond lifted his gaze to catch sight of his friend. The latter seemed to be fine, he had no serious injuries, apart from a broken arm, but his expression said something else.

He cleared his throat, moving closer.

"Hey..."  he whispered.

"Ilweran. Stupid, you shouldn't try so hard" he said looking away.

"Don't worry about me, I'm fine. And I'm glad you're fine too."

"Pff, why are you worrying about me? After everything I told you..."

Ilweran at that point completely changed his expression. He had been reacting strangely the whole time, trying to mask his doubts and worries. He was giving in now, however, and that would prove to be a good thing, because he really needed to cry.

"I don't care, alright!" he exclaimed. "I don't care if you insulted me, punched me or whatever! I was afraid you might die, I cared more about you than about me! And you know why! Because you're my best friend, you're a brother to me! And I can't lose you, do you understand?!"

His words struck him deeply. Ilweran had never spoken to him like that, and now, as if that wasn't enough, it was also making him feel guilty.

Guilty because he had hated him, for no reason at all, guilty because he had only accused him for anger. But it was clear they were both victims of a secret. And the fact that they were really brothers explained why they had such a close bond.

He wiped his eyes, preventing a tear from slipping away. He never cried, but now it would be impossible not to.

"You should hate me..."

"I would never hate you. But if you hate me, that's okay. The important thing is that you're okay."

"I... I don't hate you" he admitted. "I love you. And if... you and Shauna want to be together.... well, that's fine with me..."

"But...!"

"I owe it to you. After all, if you hadn't followed me, you wouldn't have almost died."

His lips had curved into a smile, and from that simple gesture Ilweran knew it was all right. Then she hugged him.

Rarely had they hugged over the years, and they even wondered why.

Shauna sighed happily. She was glad that the two of them were friends again, that they were both okay. After all, she needed both of them in her life.

"Sorry, sorry, excuse me!"

The voice that reached their ears shortly after was very familiar.

Tauriel, out of breath, had come up to them, in her usual very brisk manner.

"Oh, Ilweran!" she exclaimed, grasping his cheeks. "as soon as I heard I came at once! I'm so glad you're all right!"

"Tauriel?" he asked with difficulty . "How... how did you know?"

"I... I warned her..." said Sabia shyly.

"What?!" blurted Una. "pff, nice move!"

"I was so scared!" exclaimed the girl with a certain theatrical attitude. "but the important thing is that you're alright"  she turned to Eldarion, who was looking at her in a scowl. "oh, and of course it's important that you're alright too, yes!"

"Thank you"  mumbled the other.

"Well, I'd say everything is going to be fine now! "exclaimed the blond. "I hope we'll recover soon, so we can go back to school and play basketball, we have a championship to win!"

Eldarion, however, upon hearing the word "basketball," had become even more saddened, and his friend took notice.

"Did I say something wrong?" he asked.

"No, Ilweran... it's just that" he whispered. "I... I won't be able to play basketball anymore..."

"What?" he exclaimed. "What are you talking about?! Of course you can, you're our captain! You can play, can't you?!"

His gaze had then crossed that of Arwen, who had shaken her head.

"The doctors said that the way he fractured the bone in his arm, he won't be able to play anymore, or at least not like he used to."

"Huh... huh?"  he asked feebly. He suddenly felt weak. Eldarion couldn't give up on his dream, he couldn't, playing basketball had always been his great ambition.

"But you can't give up!" He exclaimed. "you can't do that! It was your dream!"

"It was my dream, in fact" he whispered. "I would like Ilweran, but I can't!"

His tone was harsh, a sign that surely countering would be useless. He could not find the strength to add more. Now he understood her much bad mood, now he understood - no, he understood nothing. Because Ilweran had had more luck, and if only he could have, he would have preferred to give him some of the luck he had had, just to see him happy.

 

In the end Legolas, as usual, had not been listened to. Still, he was glad that Ilweran was well and had cleared up with Eldarion.

He let out a sigh: they had come close to a tragedy, but luckily everything was solved.

Aragorn came up behind him. Sensing his presence, the blond man turned around and caught sight of his expression that didn't actually speak volumes.

"They're both fine" he sighed. "I can't believe it, it could have ended so badly..."

"But it didn't"  he replied softly.

"You don't look very happy, actually" he noted. "are you still worried?"

Aragorn made to open his mouth: he was not only worried, he was also confused. Until that moment, he had been living in a glass bubble that had been broken. Reality had literally run over him, putting his children in danger.

Before he could say anything, however, a young female doctor interrupted them.

"Excuse me. Are you related to the patient in room #12?"

"You mean Boromir?" Legolas asked. "well... no, we're his friends. He... he has no living relatives that I know of..."

"Can we see him?"  Aragorn asked.

"The situation has unfortunately only gotten worse" sighed the woman. "I'm afraid there's nothing more we can do."

"What?" exclaimed the other. "but what do you mean, you should try to save him!"

"Aragorn! Excuse him, he's nervous."

"We have tried, but there is nothing more to be done" he repeated. "if you want to see him... go ahead. Perhaps you should greet him properly."

The two looked into each other's eyes, feeling their hearts stop. They couldn't idealize the fact that Boromir was going to die, but as soon as they saw him, it immediately became incredibly real.

He was lying there, unrecognizable in the face because of his injuries. And he was in pain, it was obvious.

Friends... Legolas doubted that he would still see them as such.

"Boromir"  he called softly.

The other looked up, surprised to see them.

"You... you... here?"

"You need not exert yourself," said Aragorn, "the doctors have told us that your wounds are very serious."

"And how could they not be? The truck hit me full on. The boys... they..."

"They're fine. They're both fine..."

"Ah," he mouthed, "I'm glad of that," he then turned to Legolas, "your son is just as pushy and insufferable as you are."

"Yes, I know" replied the blond with a bitter smile, unable to hold back the tears. "Boromir, I am sorry. I'm sorry if because of me you've always felt put in the background, I'm sorry I didn't understand sooner..."

"No" he gasped weakly. "no... it is I... it is I who is to blame for everything. Me, because I've done nothing but feel envy, because you.... you are strong"

"Strong, me? What are you talking about..."

"It must probably be due to the fact that I'm on the verge of death and I don't think with my head anymore" he affirmed, finding the strength to smile.

"Hey" said Aragorn. "you're not going to die".

"I'm not a fool, Aragorn" he whispered. "I'm sorry to leave like this. Maybe I could have been better with both of you. I really loved you, Aragorn. And Legolas... I'm sorry for everything I said to you..."

The blond instinctively grabbed his hand, while Aragorn shook his other.

Even for them, everything bad that had been there seemed to have been erased.

"Don't go... we are a group, we have always been together!" Legolas exclaimed.

"Well, you can see that you will have to do without me from now on. And you, Aragorn... you've never been good with matters of love... don't let it slip away, mind you..."

He smiled, and immediately coughed. He abandoned himself with his head on the pillow, then exhaled a long, suffering breath.

"Boromir..."  the blond called weakly.

The line on the monitor that marked his heartbeats, however, was now flat.

Aragorn let go of her hand. He would not have cried, it was not like him, unlike Legolas, who had shed too many tears that day.

The two of them then moved to the corridor. The blond sat down, resting his elbows on his knees and his forehead on his hands, while Aragorn, through a round of phone calls, warned the others about what had just happened.

They couldn't believe he was gone.

Aragorn walked over to him, sitting down next to him.

"The others will be here any minute."

"I don't believe it," he whispered, "I can't believe it. If only we hadn't fought, none of this would have happened..."

"There are two of us then who feel guilty. I'm the one most responsible, because I should have looked out for his feelings a little more, and instead....

Probably, if we hadn't gotten back together, none of this would have happened."

Legolas immediately looked up.

"What do you mean?"

The other sighed. With everything that had happened, where would he have had the strength to continue to keep that relationship a secret?

"I... I think maybe it's best if we take a break."

The blond felt the blood chill in his veins. The same scene, the same words, the same feelings as sixteen years before.

"A break?!" he asked, clenching his fists. "why? Is it Boromir?"

"No... no, no, no" he answered. "it's just that... the situation for now is delicate. Eldarion... he's very shaken up, he's just learned that he won't be able to play basketball anymore. He... and Arwen, she's upset too, they both need me, and Ilweran needs you."

"What are you trying to say?" he asked harshly.

"I'm trying to say that for the time being it's best that we each devote ourselves to our families!"

"Ilweran and I are your family!" He promptly exclaimed. "fuck, don't you care about him at all?"

"Please don't shout" he pleaded with him.

"No, instead I'm talking now! Sixteen years ago you told me the exact same thing, that you had to think about your family, and now what changes? Nothing! I say it's yet another excuse!"

"It's not! I care about both of you..." he whispered, making to grab his arm.

"Don't touch me!" he exclaimed. "Stay away from my son, do you understand?! You've never been there, for you there's only ever been the other family! Stay away from both of us, I hate you!"

He had finally got it all out, told him clearly what she thought, which then corresponded to the truth.

He was not an object, nor was he a pastime. He had been hurt so many times, that now he was as if frozen.

Aragorn, for his part, had not found the strength to reply. He had deserved it, but Legolas had been wrong about one thing: it was not true that he did not care.

Chapter Text

A week had passed since the accident, and if Ilweran had slowly recovered, the same could not be said for Legolas.

It was over, and rightly so. The relationship between him and Aragorn had led to too many unpleasant events, the accident, the death of Boromir.

Yes, Boromir...

He couldn't help but feel guilty thinking about it. If he had only known earlier that it would end like this, he probably would have acted differently, but it was too late to think about it.

It was late.

He didn't need to think about Aragorn or anything else. It was time to put an end to it and concentrate on the only thing that mattered: Ilweran. He had almost lost him and the fear had been great, perhaps too great.

Thranduil watched as his son sat glassily on the sofa. He would not scold him or say anything, he could only imagine the pain he was feeling.

"Legolas," he called slowly, "I do not mean to be rude, but I think you should wake up."

"A wake-up call?" he whispered in a low voice. "Boromir is gone, and it's all my fault."

"Oh no, don't start. It's not your fault, it's nobody's fault. These things just happen..."

"If only I hadn't gotten involved," he whispered, ignoring him, "none of this would have happened by now."

His father sighed, going to sit next to him.

"Not necessarily, maybe it would have happened anyway. The thing is, Legolas, you must go on. You have to do it for Ilweran, he nearly died. And besides... I can well understand how difficult the situation is for you, but you must grit your teeth. I'm with Elrond, I'm going to have a child of his, as a result it's like we're all family..."

"Yeah... cruel irony"  he said, hinting at a smile.

"Good, that's the way I want you," he replied, smiling in turn, "now... why don't you run and wake your son up? He's going back to school today. And you need to get back to work."

"No" he brought a hand to his face. "I don't want to go to work."

"Don't be a baby and hurry up" he mumbled sternly.

 

The fact that he had come so close to death had not affected Ilweran too much.

Funnily enough, he had missed school incredibly.

When he arrived, he looked around as if he had been absent for who knows how long. Immediately Una, Sabia and Shauna took one look at him, walking over to him.

"ILWERAN!" whimpered the eldest Tuc, squeezing him. "I'm so glad you're back, so glad!"

"Cough, Una, I can't breathe"  mumbled the blond.

Then he looked up and met Shauna's heavenly eyes, who was smiling and had approached him.

"Hey"" she whispered with her hands behind her back.

"Shauna... I'm so happy to see you, to see all of you. I was afraid I wouldn't come back."

"Don't even joke about that!" One pointed a finger at him. "rather, where is that fool Eldarion?"

Ilweran made to answer that he did not know, but there was no need.

The boy appeared behind them. It was obvious that something in him had changed; he no longer had that confident expression on his face.

It had been such a terrible experience that Eldarion had decided that the secret he had discovered would stay that way. Ilweran did not need to know.

Ilweran approached him, and when he got close, he looked him in the eyes.

"Strider"

"Greenleaf"

They had never called each other by their last names, which made it a rather unusual gesture. A gesture that was followed by a sincere hug.

Ilweran patted him on the shoulder. Eldarion could no longer play basketball, and he could only imagine how much it hurt him. How was he going to take his place? He was the point guard, it was different from being a captain.

The two of them were joined by the three girls, and side by side they walked into the school.

 

If his son had managed to bounce back with his head held high, he would too. Although the situation was a little different since he would find himself working closely, then seeing every day, the person who had broken his heart for the second time.

"I don't know if I can do this"  he sighed.

"I didn't raise a coward, I raised a brave man" Thranduil nudged him. "Go. And don't let your emotions get the best of you."

"Pff, easy for you"  he whispered.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Nothing!" he exclaimed. "I run away, see you later!"

Immediately he left the house, jumped into the car and reached his office.

Okay, everything is fine. I just have to hope that Aragorn won't come by, and after all, why would that happen? He's just the boss.

Nervously he sat down near his desk, taking to sorting out some papers. He didn't have the heart to lift his gaze, what if she saw him?

Emotional as he was, especially at that time, it would have been impossible to keep up with him.

In fact, the whole time Aragorn had done nothing but wait for his arrival. He had seen him come in but hadn't found the courage to approach him. Legolas was the stronger of the two, the one who had been able to put an end to their relationship. He, on the other hand, who was the weaker of the two, could not find peace. In a short time too many things had happened, one of his closest friends had left and most likely his son would have to give up his dream of becoming a basketball champion.

The end of that unhealthy relationship would be good for everyone... everyone but them.

He decided to approach, with a trivial excuse.

"Good morning."

Legolas shuddered to hear her tone of voice so strangely quiet.

"Um" he lifted his gaze. "Good morning..."

"Did you finish checking those papers? I could use them."

"No... actually I'm just getting started"  he admitted.

"Alright, that's okay, take your time"  he reassured him.

The conversation was already dead and after all Aragorn was not surprised. Legolas had clearly yelled at him about how much he hated him.

"How... how are you?"

"How am I?" he asked in an argumentative tone. "fine, of course."

"Legolas, not talking at all seems absurd to me."

"Well" he said coldly. "do you want to know how I am? I am ill, as is obvious. Fortunately my son is quicker to recover than I am."

"I'm... I'm glad he's okay at least..." he whispered.

"And... Eldarion on the other hand? How is he?"

"Oh he... yeah, he's pretty good. Of course, he's a bit down in the dumps, but I guess that's normal."

"Yeah" - the blond man lowered his gaze.

I mean, what's he waiting for to leave? Take it easy Legolas, don't panic, don't get emotional.

"Anyway, I think I'm to blame,"  Aragorn said suddenly.

"Huh? What?"  he asked confused.

"Boromir's death. I should have put a stop to his feelings from the start..."

Legolas, however, signaled him to be silent.

"I don't want to talk about that right now. You need not worry, it is no one's fault, and I will learn to move on as I have once before. You're my boss here, that's all..."

His tone was as incredibly icy as ever. This greatly affected Aragorn, who at that point could not retort. He turned away as Legolas intended, and continued to think about the fact that... it couldn't all end like this.

 

As for Thranduil, he had now moved in with Elrond, too bad their quiet time was short-lived....

Elladan and Elrohir, his youngest children, had come home for a time as they were studying abroad.

If dealing with a barely twenty year old with a temper and a love of clutter was difficult, dealing with TWO guys like that was practically impossible.

"This then" he looked around, nervous. "I didn't move here to be a caregiver for two sassy kids!"

As he said this he bent down, picking up some clothes scattered on the floor.

To make matters worse, one of the twins was madly into metal music... loud and at all hours of the day and night.

Thranduil tapped against one side.

"Elladan," he called, "would you mind turning down the volu... oh, imagine if he can hear me!"

Elrond heard him, and then decided to go to his aid.

"What's going on?" he asked him.

"What's going on is that your kids are going to drive me mad!" He exclaimed, pointing his finger at him. "they are so undisciplined..."

"They're just kids" he said amused. "and then you'll have to get used to it."

"Ah, don't say that even in jest. Because my son is going to get my genes, not yours, those are defective."

"If you say so"  he tried to hold back a laugh.

At that moment Elladan decided to go out, with headphones firmly implanted in his ears.

"Ah, finally!" exclaimed Thranduil.

"I'm going out with Elrohir, see you later!" exclaimed the boy ignoring him.

The blond looked up, then entered the room left open.

"Oh my God" he complained looking at the mess. "God please don't let my son inherit the genes of disorder!"

 

The day hadn't been all that bad. But it had only been the first of a long series of long and all the same days.

As if that wasn't enough, it had started raining and the traffic was hell.

Legolas tried to see through the fogged glass, but all he could make out was the light of two car headlights. A car that nearly ran into him, giving him a huge scare.

"AH!" he exclaimed, taking off his belt and opening the door. "You idiot, what are you doing?!"

From the tall car immediately emerged another man, which wouldn't have been a problem if only he hadn't been so... cute.

The latter smiled at him.

"I'm sorry, unfortunately with this rain I can't see anything"  he apologized.

Legolas shook his head to come to his senses.

"Well, be careful anyway, it could be dangerous."

"Oh, is he hurt? Do you want me to take you to the hospital?"  he asked, getting closer.

"Ah, don't come any closer, I'm fine"  he mumbled.

"Alright, alright" he said smiling. "but I can see that you are soaking wet, at least let me make it up to you by offering you a coffee".

Legolas squinted his eyes.

This one is blatantly hitting on me! Don't even think about it Legolas, you are done with men.

"Thanks... but no thanks, I have to get home. It's been a pleasure, but I really have to go, goodbye"  he said hastily, getting into the car.

"... My name is Faramir by the way!"  exclaimed the other one.

The blond pretended not to have heard, but in fact he had heard everything and very well too. He couldn't hold back a laugh. He found it quite sweet that someone wanted to hit on him, besides making him feel very flattered.

But that was hardly the case.

He started driving again, leaving behind the young man who had surprised him so much.

 

Finally, the afternoon classes had arrived. Ilweran Eldarion, Shauna, and the twins were walking down the hallway.

"Guys, meet me out in the courtyard in five minutes! - Shauna exclaimed - we have a lot to talk about!"

"GUUUUYS!"

The squeaky voice that took them by surprise belonged to Tauriel, who pounced on them.

"Doesn't this one have any other friends to go to!"  muttered Una.

"Oh Ilweran, you've come to your senses, what a beauty," said the girl, wrapping her arms around him and looking at Eldarion, "and you're here too, El... umh..."

"Eldarion."

"Right! What are you guys up to?"

"We have to go to a meeting" Una made. "and you're not invited."

"Please!" pleaded the girl. "is that a problem for you?"

"Well..."  Ilweran rolled his eyes.

"I would say.... Which is fine"  Eldarion shrugged.

"Yay!"

Una brought a hand to her face.

"Strider, if I didn't like you before, I really hate you now."

The group number shortly thereafter went to a quiet corner of the courtyard so they could talk in peace. They were joined by Elladan and Elrhoir as well....

"What are you doing here?" Shauna asked.

"I invited them, is that a problem?"  Eldarion asked.

"Absolutely not! Please, have a seat!"

"Oh no" Una opened her eyes wide. "it's like having three Eldarion, I'm dreaming" she turned to Elladan, who sat down next to her. "you npn't be as stupid as that champion of your nephew, are you?"

"Find out if you're brave enough"  joked the other making her smile, and while Sabia blushed at finding Elrhoir next to her.

"Alright guys, listen to me" Shauna spoke. "we're here for something important. We need to help Ilweran. The basketball team is important, he's the one who has won the most championships in the whole school, plus it's a dream of his to become a professional player."

"Uh, can I be a cheerleader!"  Taurile exclaimed brightly.

"Um... yeah" Shauna lifted her arms. "Ilweran doesn't think he can do it, but we're here to show him that he can be a good captain, he can try with us!"

"Emh, emh!" Ilweran cleared his throat. "Shauna, you are all very kind. But first thing.... You people don't know anything about basketball!"

"Exactly, so you can teach us!" she replied.

"Yeah... but even if I did I can't be the captain!"

"Why not?" Eldarion asked. "you're the only one who can do it".

"I'm the point guard, even if I wanted to, we can't take the point guard away from the team."

"Eh... right. Well? Isn't there someone else?"

"I'd avoid naming someone else on the team captain."

"Then ask someone outside the school, it is an extracurricular activity after all!" Sabia interjected.

"Now that's an idea!" Shauna exclaimed. "twins, you guys know how to play basketball, right?"

"Only me," said Elrohir, "but not much, and I've got studying to think about anyway, so I'll pass."

"Well, great" huffed Eldarion. "and our team is out of the league!"

"Don't say that!" exclaimed Ilweran. "I promise you that we will lead the team to victory, my word! All we need is a leader, one who is fearless, brave, stern, and not afraid to put himself on the line."

As she spoke Shauna had taken on a thoughtful expression.

"Maybe.... Maybe there is someone who fits the bill."

Ilweran looked at her, shivering.

"Shauna...please...you're not thinking about..."

"Ilweran, but she's is perfect!"

"Oh no" he whined. "Everyone, but not her..."

Chapter Text

A few days later...

 

The resumption of work had probably helped Legolas and his bad mood. Sure, a part of himself was anchored in suffering, but otherwise he had forced himself to move on and find his good mood again.

And that of course had nothing to do with the fact that he had met a very nice and kind man....

"Legolas, what are you thinking?"

The blond heard himself being called by Sam.

Finally he and his beloved 'Fellowship of the Ring' were getting to spend some time together after the unfortunate events that had happened.

And of course Boromir was sorely missed. There was an empty place in the group, but it was and would remain united.

"Nothing, I'm not thinking of anything," he said, looking thoughtfully at the poker cards in his hand. They had improvised a game to pass the time, despite the fact that he wasn't very good at it.

"Look, we know you well" Frodo pointed his finger at him. "you're thinking about something... or maybe someone."

"Oh," he huffed, tossing the cards onto the table, "don't you people miss anything?"

"Come on, Legolas" Gandalf called to him quietly as he smoked his pipe. "I want to guess.... You've met someone, haven't you?"

The other would have loved to deny it, but in the face of the evidence, how could he? His hesitation immediately dashed any chance of getting out of that strange conversation.

"I knew it" Merry pounded his fist on the table. "who is he?"

"Is he cute?"  Frodo asked promptly.

"More importantly, is he rich?" added Pippin.

"Enough!" he blurted out blushing. "You're meddlers! Anywa" his tone softened for a moment. "yes... he's cute... his name is Faramir, but I don't know if he's rich or not..."

"Ah, that's great," Sam said, "I mean, it was time to move on.

"Brake, brake, brake!" Legolas signalled to him to stay calm. "I haven't moved on with anyone! I've only seen him once and I'll probably never see him again!"

"Ah, such nonsense..." Gimli merely muttered, as he sipped a glass of ale.

"Well, what do you know, maybe fate will take its course" Frodo gave him a mischievous smile. "there would be no harm in making a new life for yourself."

"You know what?" he said sarcastically, getting up. "it's very kind of you to worry about me, I guarantee that the moment I need a marriage agency, I'll come to you and ....."

His sentence was interrupted by a sound from outside, specifically the sound of a horn.

"Oh well, she's here" - said Frodo.

 

The same sound had come from upstairs. Shauna had come down the stairs, followed by her large group of friends.

"I still say it's not a good idea, though"  Ilweran rubbed his palms over each other nervously.

"Oh!"  Shauna rolled her eyes  "look Ilweran, Enya is the only one who can save us and if you want to keep your promise then shut up!"

The blond brought a hand to his head as Eldarion approached him.

"What is so special about this Enya?"  he asked.

"Let's just say she looks like an angel and has the character of a devil, pff" he huffed. "come on..."

Frodo went to open the door.

"Enya!"  he exclaimed, smiling.

The young woman in front of him had long ash-blond hair, blue eyes and a proud expression that distracted attention from her short stature.

"My dear Frodo!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around his neck, "I have missed you, I have missed all of you!

The others greeted the newcomer with joy, all except Gimli, who looked at her as if he wished she were not there. And of this Enya noticed.

"Gimli," she said, bringing a hand to her side, "I see you are growing gruff."

"Tsk, Enya," he called, "and you're getting more and more irritating."

"Oh, thank you!" she turned for a moment, shouting something. "Dad, hurry up with those suitcases! - Then she looked at Sa.  "where's my little Shauna?"

"She's in the other room, waiting for you," he answered.

The woman then walked away.

Shortly afterwards a grey-haired man came through the open door, trying to drag some suitcases behind him.

"Enya! Ah, I'm an old man, it shouldn't be work for me!"

"Uncle Bilbo!" exclaimed Frodo. "I'll help you, don't worry, Enya has already gone to torment the boys. She hasn't changed one bit."

"No she hasn't, she has the same temper as her father. Thorin was like that too"  he said sadly. Frodo bit his lip, not knowing what to say. The situation would surely have turned sour had it not been for Gandalf.

"Well, is that any way to greet an old friend?" the latter said cheerfully.

 

In the meantime Enya had reached Shauna and hugged her.

"You're so pretty, so pretty! You're too cute!" she exclaimed- "and tell me, do you already have a boyfriend?"

"Yes, but this is not the time to talk about it!" she said embarrassed.  "emh, emh. Aunt Enya... Una, Sabia and Ilweran you already know. This is Eldarion, and he was... I mean, he was the captain..."

"Ah, nice to meet you Eldarion. You're puny for a captain."

The boy smiled nervously, turning to Ilweran.

"Does he always do this?"

"Believe me, you haven't seen anything yet"  he huffed.

"So, from what Shauna told me, you called me because you need me" - she said with some solemnity.

"Um yes" Ilweran cleared his throat. "Eldarion can no longer be our captain and I can't take his place. So we have turned to you."

"Mh" she said proudly. "I played all four years of high school, and always led my team to victory. If only - her gaze darkene. " if only I hadn't blown it. One basket, in my senior year, one basket separated us from victory. Ah, what does it matter? The important thing is that I'm there for you!"

"So you'll help us?"  Eldarion asked happily.

"Of course. Therefore take me to your team!"

 

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE BASKETBALL TEAM HAS DISBANDED?"

Eldarion was more than certain that he was going to have a heart attack before long. Unfortunately, Headmaster Saruman had told the truth, and he had also been very clear.

"I'm sorry, but unfortunately I don't know what to tell you," he replied, "some have moved and some have quit, and you know better than me that if there's not the right number of players it's impossible to play."

"But that's not possible!" Ilweran huffed. "we go away for a few days and this happens?"

"Calm down guys, calm down" Enya was serious. "There is always a solution."

"There is a solution, you could recruit new members"  said the headmaster.

"Yes, and how? It's not as easy as it sounds, you need to choose the members of a team carefully"  Eldarion ran his hands through his hair, exasperated.

"Mmmh" Enya's eyes lit up, a sign that she must have had an idea. "what if the rest of you were to replace the team?"

"Huh?! Us?!"  Shauna asked.

"But we don't know anything about how to play!"  exclaimed Una.

"I agree, it's a bad idea"  said Eldarion.

"Would that be a problem for you?"  Ilweran asked, turning to Saruman.

"I do not know. I don't usually mix males and females on the same team and..."

"Oh, come on, old man, don't give us that archaic talk and give us consent!" Enya exclaimed.

Saruman sighed in annoyance at the woman's arrogance.

"All right, all right. But please don't make me regret it."

"Don't worry, I won't," she said, smiling in amusement.

Ilwerane and Eldarion looked at each other in amazement. They had no idea what would come of it.

 

A little later the group gathered in the garden of Ilweran's house, and they were joined by Elladan, Elrohir and the vivacious Tauriel.

The tension and excitement was palpable, after all, how could they become a winning team in a short time?

"All right, guys, listen up," Enya said, "unfortunately, I don't have the ability to perform miracles yet. So you will have to work hard! I have already failed once and I will not fail again. Even if I have to make you spit blood!

Sabia raised a hand.

"At least we could have time, I don't know... for a quick snack?"

"No snack, no nothing! We have work to do, and pity no one!"

If Enya's mannerisms had intimidated the boys, the same could not be said for Tauriel, who boredly filed her nails.

"Isn't this one a bit short to play basketball?"  she asked quietly.

Enya arched an eyebrow.

"Listen to me under some kind of reddish Barbie, you don't have to be tall to be a good player! Anyway, I'll decide the roles now: Ilweran is the point guard, as planned. Shauna, you'll be the shooting guard, Una and Elladan will be the small and big wing respectively Elrohir, who is the tallest, will be the pivot, is that clear?"

Sabia timidly raised her hand.

"And what do I do?"

"One very important thing. You are to be on the bench. It sounds obvious, but it's important, because if one of them gets hurt, you have to replace him, clear?"

"Clear"  she sighed

"Well, at least someone will keep me company" Eldarion sighed.

"I'm obviously going to be a cheerleader, right?"  said Tauriel.

"Absolutely. And now," Enya took the ball in her hand, "we will begin with practice, and know that I will show no mercy."

At that moment Thranduil appeared through the back door.

"Excuse me guys, do you happen to have..." he froze suddenly when he saw Enya.

The guys immediately noticed that the two of them were glaring at each other, hinting at an old rivalry. Enya smiled in amusement and walked towards him.

"Look who's here..."

"Enya," he called contemptuously, "My God, the boys must be desperate to come to you."

"You're just as soft as I remember you. Of course" she looked at him. "i found you a little fat, blondie."

He gave her a venomous look.

"And you've gotten shorter, dwarf."

"Alright, alright!-" Ilweran intervened to separate them. "there's no need to get excited, grandpa you can go, it's alright.

In the end the boy managed to avoid a war between the two, and the gruelling basketball practice began. For the Ilweran, Elladan and Elrohir it was not difficult considering the experience they had, unlike the girls.

"Put more energy into it!" Enya screamed like a madwoman. "Shauna, more strength in those arms. Watch me make you do weightlifting and push-ups three days in a row! And you little sisters, don't be so clingy."

"It's so scary..." Sabia whispered.

"Give me the strength not to go crazy..." said Una nervously.

"Girls, I thank you, but you don't have to do this," said Ilweran, "I mean, you have your own commitments, you with singing, and you with music and painting."

"Don't worry Ilweran, we girls are able to do two things at once. Although I still have to figure out how I'm going to play and sing at the end of the year party."

"Thank you, you're really great"  Ilweran said this addressing, at least on the surface, all three of them, but it was obvious he was addressing one person in particular. And Shauna understood that. She tried to lean in and kiss him, but was obviously held back by Enya.

"And you!" gave the blond man a smack on the head.  "don't think you can beat around the bush just because you're the play maker go, go, go!"

 

The hours of work had passed quickly enough for Legolas and fortunately there had been no sign of Aragorn.

And thankfully, he found himself thinking. And now he could enjoy a well-deserved coffee break.

He walked up to a machine and slipped in a five dollar note.

Too bad the machine didn't seem to want to give him change.

"Oh no," he huffed, "come on, come on!"

To the aid of the "blond prince in trouble" came a not entirely unexpected knight.

"Amh, do you need a hand?"

Surprisingly, the other immediately recognised him. His first reaction was to back away.

"You..."

"Good, good, take it easy, I know what you're thinking and no, I'm not a stalker. My workshop is nearby, that's all."

Legolas approached cautiously. Now that he was watching him closely he realized that he was cuter than he remembered.

"Emh.... Didn't you offer me help?"

"Ah yes of course. I know these little machines well, you have to hit them a bit sometimes"  he said tapping against it. Shortly afterwards a clanking sound was heard, certain that the machine must have released the coins.

"Oh, there you go."

"Thank you," Legolas ducked to take the money, "I don't know what I would have done without you."

"Well, maybe this way I can make it up to you for the other time"  he said smiling and making Legolas smile as well.

"That's alright. I'm sorry I called you a moron."

"Ah, it's okay, I'm not too good at driving. You could tell me your name though, that would make me feel better."

"... My name is Legolas...."  he said flattered.

"Oh, a lovely name, Legolas"  he repeated.

Talking to Faramir turned out to be very pleasant, and besides, how casual could it be that they had met for a second time?

 

Aragorn came out for his break at that very moment and froze when he noticed Legolas talking to a man. Who was this man and why was Legolas smiling at him like that and why were his cheeks red?

A powerful jealousy seized him. He had to get closer and investigate, and he would do it with the excuse of a coffee.

"Evening, Legolas"  he greeted, trying to appear cold.

"Amh" the blond stretched out his voice. "hello... "

"A friend of yours?"

"This is... Faramir. Faramir this is my boss, Aragorn Strider."

"Ah, I know him by reputation of course, pleasure" he said shaking his hand.

"My pleasure"  Aragorn returned the gesture, squaring him.

"Be sure to hold on to an employee like Legolas," the other said, casting a glance at the blond and making him blush.

Aragorn noticed this and huffed in annoyance.

"I will."

"Well, you'd better get back inside now "Legolas realised it would be best to go. "See you, Faramir."

"See you, Legolas."

Aragorn, out of the corner of his eye, had watched everything, had seen the looks Faramir was giving Legolas, and he didn't like it one bit. Agreed, they were no longer together and they were nothing, but at least he wanted to try to protect him so that he wouldn't suffer again.

 

"I'm home!"Legolas returned, knocking on the door.

"Ssssh" Thranduil shushed him. "Ilweran is sleeping."

And indeed, the boy seemed to be in a beautiful dream, lying badly on the couch.

"Oh," Legolas kissed him on the forehead, "Enya must have scrambled them."

"Yes. You seem rather cheerful."

"Me?" he asked "no, I'm still the same."

"Legolas, come on. You know you can't lie to me."

"You're right. It's not a big deal, it's just that I met this man and..."

"Met who?!"

"Look, don't get your hopes up. We're just acquaintances."

"You know, I have no objection to you starting a new life, in fact, if it can help you forget about Aragorn and the rest, I can only be pleased. You just have to take it slow, I don't want you to get hurt again. And also make sure it's someone who might be good for your son as well."

"There, you see? Did I tell you no mental films? I'll be fine, don't worry" he said walking past him.

"Where are you going now?"

"To sleep."

"But how can you not help me move your son to his bed?"

"Ah, I wouldn't want to strain you, you're so frail these days" he teased him.

"Tsk.... ungrateful son."

Legolas locked himself in his room. After lying in bed, he looked at the phone screen. In his hands he clutched a note that Faramir had handed him fleetingly. Now, he liked him, of that there was no doubt, but did he really feel ready to start again?

I still love Aragorn, that much is certain. But I can't keep chasing after him, I have to start again and I have to start from here and now!

Resolute, he wrote a message and then sent it to the number.

Faramir answered immediately, almost as if he had been waiting for nothing else.

It was the right thing. This was the way it had to be.

Chapter Text

It had been a strange day. That is what Aragorn found himself thinking as he sat at the table with his seemingly perfect family. His wife Arwen seemed to take no notice of his vacant stare as she continued to talk about who knows what.

But Eldarion, he had noticed. Since he and his father had had that heated discussion several nights before and after the accident, they had not had a chance to return to the subject. Maybe neither of them really wanted to, but pretending that nothing had happened would be impossible.

The boy was aware of the true bond that united him to Ilweran: he was his brother!

But for everyone's sake he had decided to keep quiet. But what about his father? What were his intentions?

Because from his attitudes he seemed to be on the verge of breaking down, he seemed constantly poised between light and darkness.

But then again, that was how Aragorn really felt. It was hard enough trying to make peace with himself, but to do so with the knowledge that another man could make Legolas happy was impossible.

The image of him and Faramir talking in an affable tone closed his stomach momentarily.

He stood up, letting his chair screech against the floor.

"Sorry, I've lost my appetite, I guess I'm not well."

"Of course darling, don't worry about it" Arwen smiled at him, and he tried to reciprocate.

Eldarion watched him again, and then decided to go after him: he couldn't continue to stay silent.

The man went to take refuge in his study. He did not know how long he would last.

For sixteen years he had pretended, he had worn a mask that had saved him.

Now that mask had fallen and his feelings were exposed to the sun. How much longer could he pretend to love Arwen?

She was so good, and he was behaving so badly towards her.

It wasn't fair, but then again, it wasn't fair to complicate Legolas' life any more either.

The last time they had tried, they had almost lost everything.

Eldarion tapped a dagger on the open door, drawing his father's attention.

"Eld, are you all right?" Aragorn asked.

Since the incident, he had learned to be far more caring and attentive to his son's needs.

"I should be asking you that. What is wrong?"

"Ah, it's nothing" he reassured him. "I'm just a little tired."

"Dad - his tone and his gaze were now serious - there is something, we both know it. After the accident you are not the same..."

The man lowered his gaze. It was all so obvious, so transparent, that anyone would be able to read his ills and emotions.

Even his own son.

"It's for him, isn't it? You still love him, that's why you're hurting."

"Legolas and I agreed that it would be best if we went our separate ways" he lied. "it's only fair, I have my family, he has his."

"No, it's not fair!" he exclaimed. "I have been trying, but it is not easy to live with such a heavy burden. Ilweran is my brother, and I cannot treat him as such. And besides, he doesn't know anything, so I'm afraid he'll be the one who suffers the most. Why can't we all be together as a family?"

"Eld, it's not as easy as it sounds," he sighed, "we've tried to be together twice, and it didn't work."

"Maybe you haven't tried hard enough, or maybe you don't have the courage to go through with it. Sooner or later you'll have to decide whether to move on or retrace your steps."

He was right. Continuing to torment himself was not going to help anyone, quite the contrary.

"Amazing that a teenager is even wiser than I am" Aragorn hinted at a smile. "you're right, I'll have to make a decision."

The discussion died there. Eldarion hoped his father would make the decision that was not the right one, but the one that would make him happy.

He loved his mother, he didn't want to see her suffer, and he liked his family as it was. But that wasn't reality.

For sixteen years he and his brother had lived without knowing of each other's actual importance. Things couldn't stay this way forever.

 

The next morning...

 

Legolas was sleeping blissfully. He was finally getting his proper rest, without nightmares and constant awakenings.

He actually woke up with a start, because of the ringing of his cell phone.

Immediately he answered, not caring about the sender of the call, in a slurred voice.

"Hello?"

"Good morning, little prince " the voice was clearly Faramir's . "wake up, it's too beautiful a day to lie in bed?"

"Faramir? " he asked surprised, then looking at the time from the screen. "but it's seven in the morning, what's going on?"

"You'll find out in a moment. Open the window."

No, it couldn't be.

He got up, and immediately opened the window, letting the sunlight shine in. In front of his house was Faramir himself, and the fact that he was there shocked but thrilled him at the same time.

"Oh my God," he laughed, still talking on the phone, "when I told you where I lived, I didn't think I should expect this."

"So why don't you come down?" the other asked, looking down at him. "I have a coffee here for you.

"I thank you, but... I have to go to work."

"Ah no, no work today. You call in sick, because I want to take you for a ride, and know that I won't take no for an answer, Mr. Greenleaf."

How could he have refused? No one had ever done anything so foolish and tender for him.

Besides, what could have been wrong with taking a day off?

"All right," he said, smiling, "give me five minutes and I'll be there."

"Good, very good"  concluded the other smiling.

Calling in sick was not at all difficult, also because it was the first time he had been away from work. The city in the morning had a completely different atmosphere, the air was fresh and it was even possible to hear the birds singing.

Despite the cold air, the two of them walked along a path that led into a park with green lawns.

Being there, with a hot coffee in hand and having a pleasant conversation, was very relaxing. Legolas had to realize that when he was talking to Faramir he wasn't actually thinking about anything.

"Know that because of you I forgot to wake up my son. So if he is late for school it will be your fault."

"Ah, is that so?" the other smiled. "I would love to meet your son. What's his name?"

"Ilweran. He's sixteen and he's the love of my life. Oh, and he looks exactly like me, too."

"Oh, then he must be just as adorable and charming."

The blond man downed a long sip of coffee, feeling his cheeks become hot: his ability to give cold compliments was incredible.

"Then am I to assume that your husband or partner might tear my head off at seeing me with you?" he joked.

"I'm not married," he replied quickly, "and I don't have a partner. With Ilweran's father here...let's just say it didn't work out."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I guess it couldn't have been easy."

"Sometimes it wasn't. But I had my family and my friends. We always managed together, although...I admit, I do miss the presence of a partner sometimes.."

"I guess so, but let me tell you something. From what I know of you, I can say that you don't need a man to feel complete."

Another compliment that made him bloody blush. Faramir was simple in his mannerisms, but he was able to make his heart warm.

"What about you?"

"Oh, I've had several girlfriends in the past, before I realized that...I was attracted to something else" he looked at him. "but I've never been married. Let's just say I'm waiting for the right person."

Legolas looked down at his now empty glass.

"Good luck with that, then. As for me, I guess I'm not made for love."

"Anyone is made for love. And let me tell you something, if the father of your child lost you like that, it means he was a real jerk."

The blond man had to laugh.

"Really?"

"Absolutely. If I had someone like you next to me, I wouldn't let her get away. I'd treat you like you deserve, I'd make you feel specia"  their eyes met. "I mean... I'd keep you with me..."

The other sighed, smiling awkwardly.

"It's nice to hear you say that..."

"Yeah" he cleared his throat. "listen, I know my mannerisms are a little transparent."

"A little..."  laughed the blond.

"But know that I don't want to cause you any trouble or hurt you or rush you. I like you, but I want everything to come into its own...if it's meant to be. So for now just know that if you ever need a shoulder to cry on, advice, anything. I'm here. And I'll be there as long as you want me with you."

Legolas shuddered at those words. Or maybe it was the wind. The fact was that those words warmed him further.

Faramir's eyes were clear, limpid and sincere. And sincerity was just what he needed.

"I thank you"  he whispered faintly.

 

"DAMN IT, DAMN IT, DAMN IT!"

Ilweran, as always, was finding himself running to get to school at a decent time. But this time the fault was not his own. It was usually his father who woke him up, too bad Legolas had decided to leave early that morning without a trace.

"You're going to have to explain that one to me!"  he exclaimed as he crossed the schoolyard, at the risk of choking on a brioche he was eating.

He arrived panting in the hallway, where she spotted Eldarius, Tauriel and his three best friends talking amongst themselves.

"Here I am, I'm here!" he exclaimed.

"Ilweran, what have you been up to?" Shauna asked.

"This time it's not my fault! I'm going to die" he wheezed. "I'm going to die!"

Eldarion looked at him, actually he had been staring at him for a while without realizing it. His conversation with Aragorn had made him think a lot. He didn't want Ilweran to suffer at all, but he couldn't rub the truth in his face like it was nothing either.

Then maybe she could make him understand...somehow.

"Eld, are you okay?"  Sabia had spoken.

"Umh yes, I'm fine" he answered hastily. "sorry."

After that he turned to Ilweran, while the girl looked at him sighing. Now it was clear as day that she would have no hope with him, especially given her shy and reserved nature.

And Tauriel seemed to notice, she could smell such things even from miles away.

"Oh, dear little Sabia... I know how you feel..." -she said theatrically.

"Huh? What are you talking about? Besides, if my sister sees you talking to me, she'll get mad."

"I'm talking about Eldarion. You like him."

"I do, that is... can you tell?"  she asked embarrassed.

"Absolutely I do. If you want something you have to take it" she brought an arm around her shoulder. "now, not to brag, but I'm very experienced with these things. Maybe I could advise you..."

Sabia felt intimidated by his manner, but maybe some of his advice would come in handy.

While the two were talking, Eldarion turned to Ilweran.

"Hello"  he whispered.

"Hey" the blond returned the greeting. "how are you Eld? You look so serious."

"Oh no, I'm fine, I was wondering if..."

His attempt to create an approach was interrupted by the bell.

Yikes. Well, no harm done, we'll talk about that later.

After several hours of class, recess finally arrived.

The whole group went out into the courtyard to enjoy the sun that had finally decided to come out. Ilweran was sitting on a little wall, between Shauna and Eldarion.

The latter was finding a way to approach the "siblings" talk but without appearing too weird.

"Umh, Ilweran" he exclaimed uncertainly. "would you have liked to have a brother?"

"Hmm? Why that question?"

"Well, it's to know. I'm an only child, and I'd like to know what you think."

"Hmm, maybe I wouldn't mind. A brother is always company."

"Oh yes, I think so too - he decided to go into a little more detail - and what would you do if maybe you met a person and that person told you that... you're brothers?"

Ilweran arched an eyebrow.

"What are you babbling about? Such a thing is impossible."

"Oh yes, such a thing is impossible" -sighed the other exasperated.

Shauna, however, had heard their conversation, and it seemed rather strange. Eldarion himself was strange, which made her think that something was wrong, something that Ilweran was also a part of.

And since the latter was now her boyfriend, she absolutely had to know.

 

"Talk! I want to know!"

"Shauna, what do you want? Come on, I couldn't even be here!"

"Eld, I want you to talk!"

Shauna had decided to go straight to the hard way. She had dragged Eldarion into the women's bathroom, and after that had begun questioning him.

"There's nothing wrong!" exclaimed the Ravenclaw. "everything is fine!"

"If everything is all right then why did you ask Ilweran all those strange questions? Besides, you're strange yourself. I don't want to meddle in your affairs, but if he has anything to do with this, I want to know!"

Eldarion swallowed. Shauna's blue eyes seemed to be looking down into his soul. Lying to her would be impossible.

Her lips barely trembled.

"Ilweran is my brother..."

The girl's breath caught for a moment.

"What...? What are you talking about...?"

"That's right" sighed. "his father and my father were together once. And from there well, he was born. I didn't know about this until recently."

"Oh my God" Shauna brought a hand to her head. "this is incredible. You and Ilweran are brothers. It almost sounds like the plot of a movie!"

"Please Shauna, you absolutely must not tell him anything, please! If he finds out like this I'm afraid he'll suffer too much!"

"But how can I hide something like this from him? How can we? Eld, he has to know!"

"I know, I know, and it's my intention to tell him, just calmly, okay? We were about to lose each other once, I don't want it to happen again!"

Shauna sighed.

"He is so lucky to have a friend like you. And I'm so stupid, I wish I didn't know, but I do now. And that's okay, I'll try to keep my mouth shut."

"I thank you."

"Don't thank me. Now we'd better get to practice, I can already hear Enya yelling at us..."

 

A little later...

 

For as much as Legolas had promised himself he would only spend a few hours in Faramir's company, he had ended up spending the whole afternoon with him as well. They had taken long walks, eaten out, and even taken a bunch of pictures. It had been as pleasant a day as he'd had in a long time, and Faramir turned out to be very kind, thoughtful and friendly.

The other had accompanied him all the way home, just so he could enjoy his company again.

"It was a beautiful day, we must do it again!" he affirmed.

"Yes, but maybe wait until I have the day off!" laughed the other.

"Agreed. And next time bring your son too, I think we'll get along very well."

"Yes, we could" he smiled mischievously, then became serious. "thank you, Faramir".

"Thank you. Feel free to text me anytime."

"Oh, of course."

Faramir walked over, and placed a kiss on his cheek, or rather, more correctly on the corner of his mouth.

Llegolas smiled radiantly, and before blush took possession of his face, he opened the door and slipped into the house.

However, there was something neither of them could have imagined. Pulled over across the street, Aragorn was watching everything from his car. The fact that Legolas had called him in to call in sick had not convinced him, and so he had taken to following him.

It had been a damned stupid and immature thing to do, at his age anyway!

But his doubts at least had been confirmed. Legolas was seeing himself off with that bumbling mechanic, and that didn't sit well with him.

He clasped his hands on the steering wheel. He was hers, it belonged to him. He couldn't let anyone take him away.

Legolas sighed once he entered the house.

Certain feelings dated back to his adolescence. He felt his heart pounding, could that be a sign? Maybe it was possible to start over after all.

He heard footsteps coming from the stairs. Ilweran stood in front of him with his hands on his hips.

"Where have you been! Does this look like the time to come back?"

The older man squinted, having for a moment the feeling that the roles had been reversed.

"I'm sorry Ilweran, it's just that I had to rush out and forgot to warn you..."

"And to wake me up! But where have you been! And don't tell me 'at work' because I don't believe you!"

"I just went out with a friend of mine, that's all..." he said as she walked past him.

"A friend of yours? Who is he? What's his name? What does he do for a living?"

"His name is Faramir and he's a mechanic. He's a nice guy, but what's with all the questions?"

"Well, I want to know, if he's going to be my future father..."

Legolas looked at him, feeling petrified.

"Ilweran, what are you saying...?"

"Well, what would be strange about that? I have never seen you with anyone since I was born"  he said, raising his arms to the sky.

His father looked into his eyes.

"Would it please you if I had someone important in my life?"

"Well, that would be weird. But yes, I think it would be cool. Make sure you choose well, though."

Legolas smiled, tenderly tousling his hair.

"You're a little man."

"Oh, thank you," he mumbled, blushing, "and next time you go out, at least leave me a note!"

"Yes, sir!"  he exclaimed laughing.

 

The next day...

 

Aragorn drummed his fingers nervously on the desk. He had not slept well at all last night, not after what he had seen.

Maybe it wouldn't do either of them any good, but he absolutely had to talk to him.

Legolas didn't feel weirded out when Aragorn summoned him to his office.

It probably had to be something work-related, so he introduced himself quietly.

"You sent for me?"  he asked.

"Legolas" Aragorn looked at him. "ome in."

The blond sat down.

"Well, how are you? Since you called in sick yesterday..."

"Oh, ah yes - I'm fine, just got a bit of a cold, but I'm fine"  he said nervously.

"I see" Aragorn thinned his gaze, then began to circle around - I suppose you've found someone who can make you feel better..."

"What... what are you talking about?"  he whispered, feeling the blood chill in his veins.

Aragorn grabbed the swivel chair and forced him to look at him.

"I saw you with Faramir"  he proclaimed quietly.

Seeing his fiery gaze, Legolas shuddered. Was that jealousy he could read?

"Did you... follow me?"  he asked indignantly.

"Exactly. And know that this was a grave offense to my pride. Well? Are you seeing him? Are you together?"

"What does it matter to you? You never cared, I don't see why you should care now!"

The blond made to get up, but the other promptly grabbed him by the arm, drawing him to himself.

"Whether you like it or not you will always belong to me" he said caressing his lips. "you have my mark on you. And somehow you and I will always find each other.

Legolas wanted to run away. Because there, in that grip, too many emotions and feelings were coming out.

But Aragorn didn't seem to care, and kissed him, showing him for the umpteenth time who he really belonged to.

Chapter Text

A kiss that lasted a moment. A moment that brought down every wall Legolas had tried in vain to build.

His lips, her warmth, her possessiveness drew him inexorably to him. But this time, as difficult as it was, he had to be strong and listen to his pride.

He pulled away as soon as he could regain his strength. When he had pulled away, he could finally breathe again. Aragorn looked as stunned as he did, but Legolas did not give him the chance or the time to recover.

He slapped him across the face, sharp and decisive. It was not like him to be violent, but this time he felt it was necessary.

How dare she violate him again? How could he treat him like this, like an object without a will?

Aragon shivered slightly at the contact of his hand with his own cheek.

In fact, he hadn't even felt any pain, and if it hadn't been for the noise he probably wouldn't have even noticed the slap itself.

Now they stared at each other. Legolas stepped back, his face shamefully flushed.

"How could you..." he whispered indignantly.

"Come on, it wasn't the first time I kissed you..." he replied immediately.

"That's not the point!" Legolas found the courage to look up and also the tone of his voice. "we had an agreement, you were to stay away from me!"

"I don't recall ever agreeing to that!"

"Well, you have no choice!" he exclaimed. "you can't behave like this, we're not two kids, not anymore. We have our own lives, our own families, we've come this far because of a choice that was yours!"

"I'm trying to make it right!" the man approached him again, causing their breaths to collide once more - perhaps in the most misguided, illogical and immature way, but I am trying."

Legolas was afraid to falter before his eyes, before his gaze so intense. But then he told himself that he absolutely must not give in.

"I'm sorry, but I don't care. What is done is done and cannot be changed, but I can certainly change the present and the future. I'm trying to rebuild my life, you better do the same..."

The blond's tone appeared cold, but Aragorn would not be fooled.

"Rebuild your life? With that one?"

"That one has a name. Besides, so what if he does? He's kind, he's a good person, and he certainly shows that he cares about me more than you have over the years."

Then she turned her back on him. He no longer wanted to look at his face.

"This is absurd, you can't be serious. Trying to forget me with the first man who passes by is ridiculous and pitiful, it's not like you, Legolas".

The latter suddenly felt a tug at his heart, probably due to the fact that the other was telling the truth. But he would not have admitted it, he would not have given him that satisfaction.

He looked at him again, this time with a furrowed brow and tight lips.

"And you think you can judge me?  You speak of yourself, who left Ilweran and me to our fate only because you did not have the courage to break a love that never really existed. I could have been yours, but obviously it was right that things should be different. Do you know what you are? You're a coward. And I don't need a coward by my side!"

Those words came from his lips as if he were spewing venom. And because of that, Aragorn had not dared retort. He had remained silent to be insulted, for after all, Legolas was right, he had always been right.

Courage had never been one of his greatest gifts.

Legolas did not wait for his reply. He left as quickly as he had come, a great rage eating at him from within.

But this time he didn't want to feel bad, or suffer, or think. Even at the cost of committing some madness.

And he already knew what the appropriate madness was...

He left the office before his shift ended, but after all, what did it matter? At that moment, his mind was in total oblivion and he only wished not to suffer.

He remembered that Faramir was not working that day. So he headed straight for his home, having driven nervously and over the limit to get there as quickly as possible. He had not warned him, no message and no phone call. That was probably why when the man heard the doorbell ring, he expected to find anyone but him.

"Legolas?" he asked once he had opened the door. "but what are you doing here?"

The blond man's gaze did indeed appear indefinite. But Legolas did not want to talk, he did not want to give any explanation, he just wanted to jump. To the letter.

He threw himself on him, surrounding his neck with his arms and capturing his lips in an almost wild kiss.

Faramir's eyes widened in disbelief at first and he found the strength to pull him away.

"Legolas," he called breathlessly, "what are you doing?"

"Well?" he asked, "I thought you liked me."

"Indeed I do! - he answered at once - only I do not understand this gesture that means..."

The other approached with a mischievous smile.

"What do you think it means?"

This time Faramir felt uneasy, certain that he could not refuse him. His attitude was strange, just moments before he had offered him his friendship, and now he was coming like this, with strange intentions for his head.

The blond kissed him again, with the same passion as just before. Faramir allowed himself to be kissed, and indeed, gladly kissed him back, as his excitement grew without him being able to stop it.

They were moving too fast, he realised, but after all, what would be the point of putting a stop to such unbridled passion?

"Legolas," he managed to call his name, between gasps, "are you quite sure about this?"

Yes, was he sure? Was he sure he wanted to give himself to one man, even though he loved another? It was undoubtedly wrong, it was undoubtedly against his morals. But he needed to stop thinking, to forget.

So he smiled convincingly.

"I'm very sure..." he whispered, drawing him to her.

After obtaining his "consent", Faramir felt calmer and freer to go all the way.

It was pure passion for both of them. Legolas kept his eyes closed the whole time, emptying his mind, feeling the immeasurable pleasure but also a deep sense of guilt. Having sex out of spite was never a good idea, but it was too late.

They consumed their passion, their excitement and their sensations, until there was nothing left.

It was only when it was all over that Legolas realised what had happened emotionally: he had slept with someone else out of anger, out of a stupid sense of revenge, and now what?

He tormented himself with a thousand questions as he nervously twisted his hair between his fingers and Faramir, beside him in bed, tried to catch his breath.

He had been rather surprised, Legolas had given him the idea of being rather passive in some respects... but he had been very wrong, he had never seen a more passionate person than him. Only now the same questions plagued his mind.

So he decided to clear his throat to break the awkward silence.

"Well? How am I supposed to interpret all this instead?"

Legolas continued to stare straight ahead.

"How do you interpret that?"

"Well, I interpret it as some sort of declaration on your part. Maybe you like me too, but that's just my assumptions, it's certainly not the truth..."

Finally the blond looked at him, and from his eyes Legolas could tell that the other was looking for an answer. But what to answer?

He liked Faramir, and it was undeniable that he got on splendidly with him.

His heart, however, beat for another man.

No, I must stop. There is no point in continuing to pursue an impossible love when I have him at my disposal, who seems to really care about me. Maybe it's all rash, but why deny me the chance to rebuild my life?

"It's true," he replied, "I'm sorry for showing up so suddenly, it's not usually like me to jump into certain... things..."

"Wow... so you must really like me" he said smiling. "so what does that mean? I mean.... Is it fair to say that we are in a relationship?"

Legolas thought about it for a moment.

But yes, let it be so. I don't see why I should back out.

"Yes... it is correct to say that we are in a relationship" he replied.

Faramir's smile widened. Then he moved closer and placed a kiss on his forehead.

"I thank you for giving me this chance. I promise I will do my best to make you happy..."

"Yes... me too..." whispered the blond, trying to smile back.

After that he was smothered in a gentle embrace. He'd probably gotten himself into a lot of trouble, but he'd do anything to make that fledgling relationship go smoothly.

Obviously, however, the more time passed, the more clarity returned, and the more Legolas felt he could not keep such important news to himself.

He needed to talk to someone, to get advice from someone wiser.

He put on his clothes and after saying goodbye to Faramir, he left, not for home, but for Elrond and Thranduil. Thranduil was the only one who could have listened to him and given him, in spite of everything, an objective opinion and advice.

"But what has happened to you?" his father immediately knew something was wrong when he saw him coming. His son appeared dazed, tired and pensive.

"It's a long story, you might want to sit down"  the younger man sighed, dropping down on the sofa.

"Stop treating me like I'm sick" he replied testily, patting his belly. "well?"

"All right," he began, "do you remember that... 'friend' of mine I told you about?"

"Yes, about..."

"Well... how should I put it... in a moment of anger on my part, we... we ended up sleeping together."

Thranduil's eyes widened.

"Okay, maybe I'd better sit down. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!"

"Would you mind lowering your voice?"

"I would mind very much. And you also accused me of making too many mental films, and now you're telling me something like this. You said you wouldn't run, but then what does that mean in a 'moment of anger?"

"I was furious because of Aragorn," he explained quickly, "I couldn't take it anymore, because the more I try to pull away, the closer we seem to get. We had an argument, so because of my stupid sense of revenge I did what I did."

"You don't play with people's feelings" he scolded him.

"In fact, I'm not playing. I have decided, I have to make a new life with someone who really cares about my happiness. And in fact Faramir and I are together now."

"You're together?! But you barely know him!"

Legolas huffed, fed up with all those clarifications.

"Shouldn't you be happy?!"

"I'm happy if you get a new life, but he recommended you not to run" he brought a hand to his face, then sighed. "oh well, I suppose it's done by now. It doesn't matter to me here, it rather matters to your son, I think you should tell him."

"And indeed I was thinking about it. Only I'm a bit afraid he might react badly."

"Why? Because his father has got involved with a man he hardly knows? I'm sure he'll take it very well," he said sarcastically, "just find the right words. Ilweran is smart, I'm sure he'll understand."

"Yes... I hope so. Does that mean I have your approval?"

"We'll see about that as soon as I get to know this one" he said arching an eyebrow, already ready to let his over-protective nature take over.

Legolas smiled, feeling more relieved, if only in part.

Breaking such news to his son would be no picnic.

 

Christmas was just around the corner now, and that could easily be guessed from the temperature, which was dropping all the time.

This, of course, hadn't stopped the boys from their continuous training, which justifiably wasn't paying off yet.

Enya and the team had arranged to meet at the school gymnasium in the afternoon, and once there they had started their warm-up.

Or at least that was what they were supposed to be doing, because in reality there were those who had their minds on something else entirely, like Shauna, who had sat down next to the pensive Eldarion to talk.

I think I'm becoming a sort of obsession, I can hardly sleep at night," he sighed, "but how can I do it? I'm not good with words, especially when a subject is so sensitive!"

"Tell me about it," the girl said, "I feel guilty, I'm hiding something important from Ilweran, and even though I know it's not my place to tell him, I can't help thinking about it."

"I know, but I can assure you that it will all be over soon," he said firmly, "continuing to be vague probably won't do any good, so at this point we might as well be direct!"

"You've made up your mind?!" Shauna exclaimed.

"Yes... I just don't know how, I mean, it takes the right time. Maybe I could invite him to spend the Christmas holidays at my place, I'll create the right atmosphere and tell him everything."

"Oh dear... do you think he'll accept?"

"Of course he will, I'm his best friend. It'll probably be the craziest Christmas he'll ever have a chance to spend but, hey, yours truly here will lose his mind if he keeps it up."

He laughed at the girl, who patted him on the shoulder.

Without realising it, the two were literally being watched by Tauriel and Sabia. Sabia appeared very nervous, and had begun rubbing her hands together insistently.

"I don't know if that's a good idea..."  she said suddenly.

"What do you mean? We've talked a lot about what men like and now you want to back out?" the other one said. "you have to be firm, otherwise you will never get what you want. And you want to be a loser?"

"A loser? No!" she exclaimed promptly.

"Fine, then go!" she said, giving her a gentle push.

Sabia took a deep breath. She knew she wasn't good at relating to boys and had no sex appeal, but as Tauriel had told her, it was all a matter of conviction.

Holding the breath she had caught just now, she walked over to Eldarion, not thinking about the embarrassment she would probably make.

"Hey," she called.

"Sabia," Shauna greeted promptly, "what's wrong, your expression is so... strange..."

Indeed, her friend's cheeks were flushed and her lips were tight.

She lowered herself until she was face to face with Eldarion.

Tauriel had told her a very specific thing: "be bold and direct and tell him clearly what you want!"

"Eld," she called, her heart pounding, "I want you to kiss me!"

The boy squinted his eyes.

"Huh? Have you been smoking?"

"I haven't smoked at all," she said firmly, "I'm serious. I want you to kiss me.

"What are you talking about? I can't kiss you!"

"Why not?" she asked, moving closer. "maybe I'm not pretty enough?"

"It's not that, it's just that kissing you would be like kissing... a sister!"

That sentence echoed like an echo in poor Sabia's head.

That's why he didn't like her, why he saw her as a... sister?

Disappointed and heartbroken, Sabia stood up, and with her gaze down as if she had been a whipped dog, she silently walked away.

"That was definitely an embarrassing thing"  Shauna proclaimed under her breath.

"Hey!" Enya exclaimed at that point. "but where are you going? Sabia, come back here!"

"I'm going to go check on her, I'll be right back!" Elrohir exclaimed.

"Huh? No! Wait, I need you! Oh, damn!"  she cursed in exasperation.

Tauriel put her hand in front of her face at this scene: she was so natural at being fabulous and perfect in everything, why was it so difficult for the others?

She had to admit, though, that Eldarion's reaction didn't shock her too much: that boy had been strange lately, too thoughtful and absent-minded, and since curiosity was indisputably "womanly", she decided to ask.

So she approached him, who was now left alone.

"Apparently you broke her heart"  she said with one hand resting on her side.

"Huh? In what way?"

"Oh" she rolled her eyes, sitting down next to him. "she likes you. And for a long time too."

"What?! But... I didn't know..."

"Of course not, you men never understand anything."

"Gee, I'm sorry," he sighed, "I'm bad at this."

"But how, a handsome guy like you? Weren't you the one who was ruthlessly courting Shauna?"

"Yes, but she chose my best friend. By the way, weren't you the one who was ruthlessly courting him of all people? As well as his entire family..."

"Funny. Well, as charming as I am, it didn't work out for me. I guess we're both unlucky when it comes to love."

"Yeah, but I don't really care about that right now. I've got other things on my mind."

"I thought so. What's going on? I may be pretty but I'm also smart, you know?"  he said, smiling.

"Really? Well, let's just say I have 'family' issues, but unfortunately I can't tell you more than that."

"Oh, you're mysterious, I like that. All right, Eld. If you need a girl... a beautiful, intelligent girl to confide in, know that I'll be happy to listen."

Eldarion looked up in surprise: this was indeed the first time the two of them had ever had a real conversation, and in this particular case Tauriel didn't seem like the usual bimbo she probably pretended to be.

"I'm in" he concluded with a smile.

 

Sabia had literally run away, and with her head down as it was, she let herself fall to the floor of the long empty corridor with her back against the wall.

She probably didn't have a chance, she wasn't particularly beautiful, intelligent or gifted. She was just an ordinary teenager with a broken heart, and at that moment it seemed like the greatest catastrophe that could happen to her.

Elrohir had rushed over to make sure she was all right. He had chased her down and when he saw her slumped on the floor he was worried.

"Hey," he called as he approached, "Sabia, are you all right?"

The girl lifted her gaze, showing bright eyes.

"Can a broken heart make you well?"  she asked.

"No, I guess not" he sighed as he sat down next to her. "from what little I've seen I have to assume it's unrequited love."

"It's to be expected anyway," she said resignedly, "guys don't look at girls like me..."

"And why not?"

"Why not? I mean, do you see me?"

"Yes, I see you, and you're a pretty girl with a big heart. Isn't that enough?"

Sabia blushed, feeling the tears slide down her cheeks.

"It's not enough for me"  she barely whispered. Elrohir noticed her tears at that moment. Despite his lack of confidence, he allowed himself to embrace her. Sabia was puzzled for a moment, but she didn't mind the contact, the warmth and scent of the boy was... reassuring.

"You're doing well, don't underestimate yourself," he told her simply.

The girl just smiled through her tears, remaining motionless in that sweet grip.

At that same moment, Una and Elladan had been sent out by Enya to look for their respective brothers. Needless to say, little Tuc was quite angry.

"I don't know if I should pick on Tauriel or your stupid nephew, what do you think!" she exclaimed.

"What do you want me to say?" The boy huffed. "everyone gets two spades.

"Ah, be quiet! I thought so, you're an idiot like Eld. Rather, where is my sweet sister? I'm the only one who can comfort her right now!"

The two advanced down a long corridor, then crossed another. As they came out of the corner, they noticed two figures sitting on the floor, hugging each other.

"What?" whispered Una. "This then! How dare your brother put his hands on my defenceless little sister?"

"Ah, be quiet!" she grabbed her by the arm.  "you know what they say, don't you? "You know what they say, don't you? 'Nail on the head', and that's exactly what Sabia's doing."

Una narrowed her eyes in annoyance.

"I'm not going to let another individual from this crazy family make her suffer."

"I wouldn't worry about her, but rather about you. In fact," he said slyly, "I think you like me."

The girl restrained herself from laughing.

"You? Like me? But please, you're not in my league. Getting involved with someone like you will be the last thing I ever do.

With folded arms, Elladan squared her.

"We shall see. In the meantime, I think something is already blossoming between our brothers."

Una clenched her fists furiously. He was probably right, not only about Sabie and Elrohir, but also about everything else. This, of course, had to remain a secret.

Legolas returned to his home after dark. It had been a tiring and full day to say the least: he had quarrelled with Aragorn, had slept with Faramir and had even started a relationship with the latter.

He still could not believe that he had jumped in like that, it was all so absurd and surreal.

When he returned, he realised that Ilweran had not yet returned.

He took out his mobile phone: Faramir hadn't sent him any messages since they had separated, which was rather strange.

To make matters worse, he was also starving, but he had no desire to cook. He was probably going to spend a very boring evening doing nothing.

Or someone could suddenly ring the doorbell, which in fact happened shortly afterwards.

Legolas probably had to expect that the only one crazy enough to show up at home as if nothing had happened would be Faramir himself.

"What are you doing here?" he said, smiling.

"I missed you," he replied with a shrug, "and then I was thinking that maybe we could spend an evening together. Unless you need to do something else, of course."

"Oh, no... I don't have to do anything.... " he said opening the door to let him in and then noticing a bag she was holding. "what is it?"

"Well, it's dinner time, so I thought I'd bring some sushi."

"And how did you know I love sushi?"  he asked curiously.

"I didn't," he admitted, "I just found out."

Legolas laughed, and then made him comfortable in his house. They ate, talked and joked a lot. Then, at a certain point, the situation became hot, and the two of them ended up in a whirlwind of passion, probably much more intense than the previous time.

Ilweran dragged himself to the front door at that very moment. He was dead tired, since he had recovered from the accident he had the impression that he had lost some of his stamina.

He opened the door with his keys, but when he found himself inside, he was surprised to find the lights on but the living room empty.

"Dad?" he called, throwing the keys and the rucksack into the corner, "where are you?"

He arrived in the kitchen, seeing no one. Then he heard noises coming from upstairs, so he thought there could be three possibilities: either thieves had broken into the house, or an assassin had entered the house, or Legolas was dead and now his ghost was wandering sadly around the mansion.

Determined to find out what was going on, he slowly climbed the stairs, turned his ear to the right and realised that the thumps and noises were indeed coming from his parent's room.

So he walked over, put his hand on the doorknob and opened it. And at that moment, Ilweran regretted not having considered a fourth, more plausible option.

He remained motionless with his eyes wide open. In the meantime, Legolas gasped, instinctively covering himself with a sheet while Faramir clung to him, still stunned.

"Ilweran!" he exclaimed, completely red in the face, with only the desire to disappear -"Um... I can explain!"

The boy, however, did not reply. It was too awkward and surreal a situation to say anything. So he closed the door again, as if nothing had happened.

On the other side, Legolas now brought a hand to his forehead: he had been racking his brains for hours to find the right words to use with him, and now everything had gone wrong. That was the worst way to find things out.

"Damn," he cursed, "what now? He's going to be so mad at me!"

"Don't worry!" Faramir exclaimed as he put his clothes back on. "I'll talk to him!"

"You?! I'm not sure that's a good idea!"

"Don't worry, I can handle teenagers, don't worry!" he reassured him.

Ilweran had made his way to his room, and in a catatonic state sat on his bed. No one could blame him, after all he had just caught his father doing naughty things with a man.

Still panting and barely dressed, he reached the boy's room.

He held out his hand, "How do you do, I'm Faramir".

Ilweran, however, frowned at him.

"I'm not sure I want to shake it, who knows what you did with it."

"Right, you're right. Look, I know what you're thinking, but please don't be angry, you must try to understand that..."

"But I'm not angry," she interrupted him, "I just wish my growth hadn't stalled."

"Wait... you're not angry? Or upset?"

"Not really. You guys are together, aren't you?"

"I, well...yes, it's fair to say we are..."

"And do you really love him? Because if you do I don't have a problem," he said seriously, "because he's suffered a lot, I know he has, and if you're here to make him happy then there's no problem. But if you make him suffer, then you'll have to deal with me.

Faramir smiled, amused and surprised by her reaction and her sense of protection. She brought a hand to his head.

"I figured you were so smart. Don't worry, it's not my intention to make anyone here suffer."

"Very well" Ilweran smiled. "then if that's the case welcome to the family."

That was fine with Ilweran. He had never understood why his father had never rebuilt his love life, and now that the opportunity had presented itself, he couldn't have been happier. After all, everyone deserves a second chance, and he certainly wouldn't be the one to get in the way.

Legolas caught up with them, his breath catching.

"Ilweran!" he called. "before you say anything, know that I was going to tell you, I was just waiting for the right moment!"

Faramir and the boy gave each other a knowing look.

"Look it's alright"  said the former.

"Eh...?"

"No need to justify yourself" said the son. "I'm glad you found someone. Just do me a favour: next time you're doing your thing, lock up."

Incredulous but also incredibly relieved, Legolas looked at him, and then at Faramir.

Everything was going so well, I think that was supposed to be a sign.

A sign that he had finally found his way.

Chapter Text

"This is a bad, bad idea. I'm not even sure I want to come."

With folded arms Thranduil had openly declared his intentions to the delight of poor Elrond.

"Come on, it's just a matter of getting to know him. Do it for your son at least"  the other tried to console him.

"I for my son would have to do something else, like take him, tie him up, put him on a plane and send him to Antarctica, so that no one can lay hands on him! I understand that we're all terribly charming in this family, but a little space wouldn't hurt at all!"

The matter was very simple: Legolas had invited them, along with his other friends, to spend an evening together at his home, and while there he would officially introduce them to his... fiancé.

"Modest," Elrond smiled, "but still, you can't stop such things from happening. Besides, what would be more convenient, staying here or going and seeing for yourself who your son is in a relationship with?"

Thranduil seemed to think about it a little, but in fact he knew very well what the correct answer was.

"Oh, all right," he mumbled, "but I can't promise to be nice."

"Don't worry, I don't expect it after all," said the other, amused.

The two of them then made their way to Legolas' house, where the entire Ring Company was already there, along with the boys.

But Faramir was nowhere to be seen.

"Well, when is our expected guest arriving? "Merry spoke. "I am curious to meet him, is he not ashamed?"

"Ah, I don't think he's coming," Gimli mumbled, "and he'd already be off to a bad start..."

"Why, you're an expert when it comes to love relationships?" - Enya beside him teased him venomously.

"Definitely more than you, blondie!" - Exclaimed the other angry.

"Guys, please," Legolas tried to keep them calm, "behave yourselves, don't make stupid jokes, and above all.... I beg you, don't make me look bad."

"Bad impression? - asked Pippin, pretending to be offended - we are talking about us!"

"That's exactly what worries me" sighed the blond.

In the midst of all this commotion, the latter luckily managed to hear the bell ring.

"OK, he's here!" he exclaimed. "be on your best behaviour!"

"Oh, and open that door!"  exclaimed Gimli with very little grace.

Legolas rolled his eyes. Then he opened the door and shortly afterwards the impeccably dressed and handsome figure of his fiancé made his appearance.

"Hey, sorry I'm late."

"That's alright -he smiled a little embarrassed - come on in we were waiting for you."

"Oh dear, I hope I make a good impression" he let out a nervous giggle, then followed the blond inside.

"Emh, emh - Legolas cleared his throat to get his friends' attention - guys... I want you to meet Faramir, my... boyfriend. Faramir these are my best friends and fellow adventurers."

"Hello..." the man greeted with a hand. An awkward silence suddenly fell around them, and Legolas hoped his friends weren't up to something stupid, but it was hard not to think about it, given their curious, surprised and even a little wary expressions.

When it seemed to be getting too awkward, it was Gandalf who saved the day.

"Well, welcome to this crazy company," he said, taking his pipe out of his mouth.

The blond sighed, certain that he would thank him later.

The others were also strangely friendly despite their initial reaction, and of course peppered the poor newcomer with questions.

"But are you completely gay? Or are you bi? Because you know there are people who like both women and men" Pippin had immediately started with a personal question.

"Well, I've been with a lot of women, but yeah... I'd say I only like men now..."

"And tell me" Frodo lowered his voice. "have you and Legolas... had... sex yet?"

"Huh? But... but really I..."  he blushed completely. Fortunately, his fiancé himself came to his aid.

"He grabbed him by the arm and said, "All right, that's enough of that, sorry, my friends are acting like children with a new toy.

"Ah, that's all right, they're nice..."

Faramir, however, would not rest, and he understood this as soon as he met Thranduil's gaze, who until then had been quiet without speaking or doing anything. Elrond had his arm around him, trying to keep him quiet.

"But good evening"  he greeted the blond in a very unfriendly tone.

"Amh" Legolas smiled nervously. "he is....".

"I am his father. He is my mate. And Legolas is my son, if that's not clear to you."

"Ah yes I understand. It's a pleasure to meet you" he said shaking his hand.

"Ah it's so nice that you can meet each other - she lowered her voice - I beg you be nice to him, he is expecting and is more nervous than usual"

"Ah he's expecting? Congratulations, you know you can't really tell?"

Thranduil arched an eyebrow, squaring it.

"All right, that's one point in your favour, but know that I'm keeping an eye on you."

Elrond held back a laugh, drawing him closer to him.

"Alright, I'd say that's enough introductions, come with me Thranduil."

"Yes, I'm coming" he huffed. "you know, that guy knows how to butter me up at least, unlike you!"

Legolas put his hand on his face in exasperation. Could it be that everything was so absurd and embarrassing?

"Ah, I'm sorry..."

"And for what? I'm having a good time. I understand that everyone wants to protect you, you're a special person."

In saying this Faramir had moved so close to him that their breaths clashed. Legolas smiled flattered.

"Yes well... let's just say you know how to make me feel special too" he whispered, stroking his chest with his fingers.

Crammed into the not exactly large living room were the boys.

Eldarion, Ilweran, Tauriel and the two sets of twins had started a game of Uno. The only one who didn't belong there was Shauna, who was sitting separately at a table with Enya, holding some poker cards without really looking at them.

And the adult had indeed realized that something was wrong.

"Come on, what do you need to tell me?" -she said, throwing the cards onto the table.

"Huh? How are you sure I need to tell you something?"

"Well, it wouldn't make sense to ask me to play a poker game since you don't know how to play it, when all your friends are doing something else. Come on, tell me, do you have a problem with Ilweran?"

"Well.... Sort of..."

"Trouble in bed? You've already done your thing, haven't you?"

"Ssssh!" shushed her blushing nervously. "no, and don't say such things, if my parents hear you..."

"Then what's the problem?" she asked impatiently.

Shauna sighed.

"The thing is... I've come to know a secret about Ilweran."

Enya's expression became strange at that point. It was as if she already knew what the girl was going to tell her and was only waiting for confirmation.

"He... and Eldarion are brothers. I mean, they're sons of the same father!" -she whispered.

Enya looked at her for a few seconds.

"I know."

"Huh?! What do you mean you know?"

"Well, what's the big deal? We 'grown-ups' all know."

"Ah, great everyone knows this secret except the person concerned! That's going to make things even harder for me!"

"Harder? Why?"

"Because... I can't keep it from him. Ilweran is my boyfriend and I... I mean" she blushed. "I feel I love him, and I feel guilty about it. What should I do?"

Enya sighed noisily.

"I'd be lying if I said I couldn't understand you. I can imagine how you must feel guilty. The thing is, sometimes... love makes you weird.... And it doesn't make you change anything anymore."

Shauna had taken notice of how Enya had turned her gaze in Gimli's direction as she spoke.

"Eh, but it's serious here anyway!  I know you want to tell him, but please don't. It's not your place to tell him. It's not your place to talk about it.

"Yes, and what if he finds out in a bad way? He might take it out on me!"

She turned her gaze towards Ilweran.

The latter looked so happy and carefree as he laughed with his friends.

"I have won!" Tauriel exclaimed. "I'm the best, the prettiest, the most..."

"We get it, you can stop now!" exclaimed Una, shushing her and making the others laugh.

Eldarion immediately looked at the blond. This was the perfect opportunity to invite him to his home during the holidays.

"Um... Ilweran," he called, "you..... Will you be doing anything in particular this Christmas?"

"Oh no, I don't think so. I think I'll spend it at home like I do every year."

"Good! I mean, that is... maybe you could spend the holidays at my place, maybe just a few days..."

"Huh? I don't know Eld, what if I disturb you?"

"Ah nonsense my family is your family!"

Literally.

Ilweran scratched his mind.

"Well yes I think that can be arranged."

Eldarion sighed relieved. All he had to do now was to organise a speech within his mind, and then turn it into words.

The evening was going on one way or another. It probably would have been perfect if it hadn't been for the little voice in Legolas' head, probably the voice of his conscience, the one that kept telling him how wrong what he was doing was.

However, he did not seem willing to listen to his conscience or his heart. It was the ideal situation, what he had always wanted, the only Stop it. What's the point of dwelling on it? Can't you see that everything is perfect now? You have your friends, your family, a man who respects you and loves you... stop thinking about him.

The doorbell rang again, distracting him from his thoughts.

"Were we expecting someone else?"  Faramir asked. Legolas shrugged, however, getting up to answer the door. Of course he should have expected that perfection to be interrupted by none other than the subject of his thoughts. Aragorn barely flinched when their eyes met. The last time they had seen each other they had parted in the worst possible way.

That is exactly why Legolas would have loved to throw a punch at him: how dare he show up at his doorstep and interrupt a practically idyllic situation?

And as if that were not enough, the silence around them had fallen, given the embarrassment. Aragorn had barely lifted his gaze enough to catch sight of Faramir.

"Excuse me... I've come to fetch my son..."  he said with an astonished look.

"Legolas, isn't he your leader? Do you remember me? We met once."

"Emh yes, our sons... are friends..." he whispered wishing to disappear.

"Yes, I remember you. I note with pleasure that... you are friends... or maybe something more" he said in a neutral tone.

Faramir's lips curved into a smile.

"I would say so."

That answer had been a real blow to Aragorn's heart, but he tried not to let it show. It was indeed difficult to be put in front of the facts. And despite his best efforts, Legolas could see his disappointment. And that, that very moment, was when he felt guilty.

A few minutes later Aragorn and his son were in the car. Eldarion could only imagine how his father must be feeling. His father was leaning over the steering wheel, an indefinite expression on his face.

If they loved each other, why didn't they just get together?

"Eld, put on your seatbelt..." whispered Aragorn.

"No."

"What?"

"I said no. I say no to everything!" he exclaimed. "I mean when are you going to stop? When are you going to decide to give up your duties and think a little more about your feelings?"

"Eld, we've talked about this, it's not as easy as you think," he sighed nervously.

"Because you're married? Well, I'll tell you what then. If you don't talk to mum, if you don't tell her what's going on.... I will!"

Aragorn was taken aback by that statement. He had never imagined that his son could go so far.

"You're joking, aren't you?"

"No, I'm serious. Because one cannot always live with lies and regrets, and it is far better to tell the truth than to wait and..."

"All right, Eld, all right," he interrupted him, "I'll tell her."

Eldarion with folded arms arched an eyebrow.

"Do you really mean that, or are you just saying it to tease me?"

"No... no, I mean it," he whispered, "you're probably right. Probably living a lie is easier. I've heard myself called a coward, I don't want you to think the same."

The boy sighed.

"Good I'm glad you think so. And anyway... I don't think you're a coward. And know that I will support you in this."

Aragorn smiled faintly.

He knew he could count on his son, a little less on his own courage, but Eldarion's words had served him well. He had continued the masquerade for far too long.

 

A few days later, it was December twenty-third. Legolas, Faramir and Ilweran were now spending a great deal of time together, as a family usually did.

That particular evening, Faramir had decided to take the two of them out to eat at an excellent sushi restaurant.

"I love everything! - Faramir exclaimed, dipping the sushi in soy sauce. "Faramir, you're a genius!

Faramir, you are a genius!" "Ah, no, I know your taste well," he said, smiling, "well, tomorrow is Christmas Eve, do you have any plans, Legolas?"

"No, not really. I don't usually do anything special. How about you?"

"Well, I don't usually do anything special either, but this year... it's a bit different..."  he said, changing his tone and expression.

"What do you mean?"  the other asked curiously.

"I... actually I was thinking of leaving... for Paris..."

"Paris? But that's great, I know it's a beautiful city, though of course I've never been there..."

"I was actually thinking of going there with you and Ilweran."

The latter, who was about to take a bite of sashimi, froze.

"Eh..." Legolas squinted his eyes. "with us? Ma.... I really don't know.

"Come on," he tried to convince him, "it's just a journey. Wouldn't you like a change of scenery, to see new places?"

"I'd like that," Ilweran interjected.

"Yes, but we can't just go like this..."

"Legolas, if you say yes, I guarantee this will be the most memorable Christmas of your life" Faramir laid a hand on his, making him shiver.

That was such a sweet thought, and from a certain point of view it was also a step forward in their relationship. What reason would he have to say no? He'd never been anywhere, and then it was about going with him and his son.

"Eh... and that's fine, if you put it that way then..."

"That's so cool! - exclaimed Ilweran - I've never even been on an aeroplane, who knows what it must be like!"

"You'll find out soon enough, because I've already bought the tickets."

"Ah, yes?" Legolas smiled. "did you know I'd say yes?"

"I hoped so" he smiled back.

"Um... before we go home though, can we stop by Eld's? There's something important I have to tell him!"

The boy hadn't forgotten about his engagement with his friend and would now find himself declining, but he was sure the other would understand.

After that excellent dinner, Ilweran had himself escorted to Eldarion's house, praying inwardly that he would not take it too badly.

"Ilweran?" called the boy, opening the door. "what are you doing here at this hour, has something happened?"

"No, nothing has happened," he reassured him, "it's just that I have something to tell you and I preferred to come here... you know when you asked me to spend a few days during the holidays together?"

"Yes, I remember."

"Well... I hope you don't mind, but I don't think I'll be able to come."

"What? Why not?" he asked. "Because... you won't believe this, but Faramir has decided to take me and my father to Paris. It was a last minute thing and we're leaving tomorrow! I... I hope you don't mind, that is..."

Eldarion wouldn't have minded, but that would have blown all his plans. But after all, what could she say to him? She couldn't stop him from leaving, let alone get angry. He just had to put on a good face.

"That's... great news. No, don't worry, of course I won't get angry, after all, it's a chance to take."

And this way his chance would be missed, again.

The blond smiled at him.

"Thanks Eld, I knew you would understand. So you're coming to see me off in the morning, right?"

"But... but of course..." he smiled at him.

"Perfect, I have to go now, think there's still packing to do. I'll see you tomorrow then!"

"Yes, see you tomorrow!" - she greeted him with a smile that only served to disguise his dissent.

That news was bad news, now what?

She closed the door and turned around with a sigh. In that instant he realised that Aragorn was standing there, a few feet away, looking astonished and with the expression of someone who must have heard everything. And he could read the deep disappointment in his eyes.

Yet Eldarion did not speak. A glance was enough; words would have been too much.

 

The next day...

No one expected such news, but in spite of that, everyone came to Legolas and Ilweran's house to say goodbye before they left.

"Is that any way to tell me such things?" Thranduil looked annoyed and even sleepy, for it was barely eight o'clock in the morning. "you didn't even give me time to prepare myself psychologically."

I'm sorry, but it was all decided at the last minute," his son tried to console him, "you must rest assured. I'm an adult now."

The other sighed despondently.

"Alright but... be careful, OK? Don't talk to strangers and call me when you get there and" his voice cracked. "I'll miss you so much..."

"But!" Legolas hugged him immediately. "but Dad, I'll be gone a few days, it's not like I'm leaving forever. Oh dear, the pregnancy hormones..."

"I'm fine, I'm fine" he tried to come to his senses. "it's just that we've never been separated this long. And tell Faramir to take care of you, otherwise I'll kill him."

"I will, don't worry" he reassured him.

Ilweran was also getting ready to greet his friends, who had come especially to greet him.

"And good Ilweran," said Una, "we want lots of pictures. And keep in touch."

"Don't worry, I'll be in touch every day."

Shauna walked over, adjusting his scarf.

"Paris is the city of love, did you know that?" She whispered. "so I hope this helps you think of me?"

"I... I'll think of you no matter what..." he replied with some embarrassment.

"Ah" Sabia sighed dreamily. " you're so tender!"

Shauna smiled amusedly.

"Be sure to have fun. And a lot of it, because I'm afraid when you get back Enya will make you work three times as hard."

"Ah, yes, I'll try to have as much fun as I can."

The girl raised herself up on her toes, and clinging to him she placed a gentle kiss on his lips, while Eldarion watched them.

It almost seemed as if the words were pressing against his lips to come out, but that was probably the wrong moment.

The friend then turned to look at him.

"Eld, aren't you going to tell me anything?" he asked.

The other felt his heart skip a beat. He had to tell him, he had to do it now, in that instant, he felt it was right. But then he noticed her happy expression

Indeed, Ilweran had never been so happy and carefree as he was at that time. And who was he to spoil that moment? Just when he was about to leave for the first time...

No, that was not the case. He would think about it later, but this time it would be better to keep him living in illusion, however wrong it was.

"... Bring me a souvenir..."  he said, smiling nervously.

"Even two!"  he exclaimed.

"Ilweran!" Legolas called out to him. "come, we must go!"

"Coming! Then I'll see you when I get back. And merry Christmas!"

The boy turned his back on them and his friends stood there, watching him.

Eldarion bit his lip. Why did he have the feeling that nothing would ever be the same again?

 

Parallel to that moment, something very important was happening, only no one could know it.

After spending a sleepless night thinking, Aragorn had gotten up and gone downstairs. His wife Arwen was already dressed and made up, putting the final touches on her things before leaving the house.

She became aware of a presence behind her, and when she turned she saw her husband and his stunned expression.

"Honey, are you all right?"  she asked.

The man looked up into her eyes.

It was now or never.

Chapter Text

Two weeks later...

 

Eldarion bellowed something indefinite, annoyed by the light piercing through the glass and illuminating the room.

Outside, a white blanket of snow covered the streets, trees and houses.

Christmas had passed, and a new year had arrived.

The first few moments he could not remember exactly why he had woken up so early.

Then, as soon as he had settled his thoughts, he gasped, jumping out of bed.

"Ilweran!" he exclaimed, "Ilweran's coming back today!"

Then he dressed quickly, went downstairs and almost collided with his father.

"But where are you going so soon?"

"Ilweran!"  exclaimed the boy, opening the door and running off, leaving Aragorn standing there, his eyes slightly glazed over.

Just like two weeks before, the boys saw themselves in front of Ilweran's house. A few minutes later a black car parked in the driveway, and shortly afterwards the blond man stepped out of it, smiling at the sight of his friends.

"Guys"  he exclaimed in surprise. "I can't believe it, but you're all here!"

Immediately Shauna threw her arms around his neck and pulled him close.

"Of course we're here! I missed you, I missed you so much!"

"You too!" the boy returned the hug. "I missed all of you! Eld..."

The other approached him, barely smiling.

"Welcome back, buddy. How was Paris?"

"Very cool!" he exclaimed. "there's so much I have to tell you!"

"Well, I see you're finally back!"

That extra voice undoubtedly belonged to Enya, who had shown up there by surprise.

"Oh, hello Enya"  greeted Ilweran.

"Hello, dear. Did you have a good time?" she asked all too politely.

"Very much, thank you."

"Good"  then she changed expression. "because now you'll have to make up for the two weeks' training, do I make myself clear?!"

"But"  the blond man widened his eyes. "yes, ma'am!"

Legolas got out of the car, rolling his eyes.

"Enya, don't give me too much of a hard time about it."

"Don't worry, you!"  she reassured him.

Legolas shook his head, and then turned to Faramir who was still inside the car.

"I'll see you later then..."  he said, smiling.

The man smiled back in the same way.

"See you later."

The blond man looked at him walked away, with an excessively dreamy expression and look.

"Let's go!" Enya pulled him by the arm. "the others are waiting for us inside!"

As for his son, in fact, his inseparable group and his father had wasted no time in visiting him and finding out all about the trip.

"You've seen the Eiffel Tower, haven't you? And the museum of Le Louvre?"  asked Frodo curiously.

"Did you eat the snails?"  asked Pippin.

"And frogs' legs?" -+ Sam added.

"No, I haven't eaten anything strange, and yes, I have seen everything you have listed. Paris is an extremely romantic city."

"How wonderful," Enya whispered, then cleared her throat, "I mean, not that it's for me here..."

Legolas let out a laugh.

"We'll probably go back one day, and maybe visit other cities in Europe..."

As he spoke, however, he had not noticed how the attention of one of his friends had turned to something in particular.

Frodo's eyes sparkled as he noticed a small glint on his friend's finger, something that probably no one had noticed.

"Oh, my God," he whispered, "what is that?"

At that point it was inevitable that all attention would go to the ill-fated Legolas, who had hoped until the last moment that no one would bother him.

"This?" he asked nervously. "it's nothing, it's just..."

Thranduil, who had not spoken a word until then, studied his expression, typical of when he was trying to hide something.

"Legolas, this is..." Enya spoke. "it's an engagement ring!"

"Huh?!"  exclaimed Gimli, who had not been paying too much attention to the conversation so far.

"An engagement ring? You're getting married?"  Sam asked.

"And you didn't tell us anything! Traitor!"  Merry exclaimed.

"No, no, no guys, slowly, I can explain!"

Thranduil, however, did not allow him to speak further. With a snap he stood up.

"Legolas," he called coldly, "over there. Now."

The son felt his blood run cold in his veins. Of all of them, his father's reaction was the one he feared most.

When they had moved, Legolas could see him breathing deeply.

"Please tell me this is all a joke."

"It's not a joke," he said quickly, "but will you at least let me explain?!"

"What is there to explain?! A marriage proposal is not a joke!"

"I know," he sighed, "just listen to me, alright?"

Thranduil crossed his arms over his chest, highly doubtful that an explanation would calm him down, but he would listen anyway.

 

A few days earlier in Paris...

 

It was only a few minutes before midnight of the new year. For the occasion, Faramir had taken Legolas and Ilweran to the Eiffel Tower, from where there was a breathtaking view, to say the least. The entire city was illuminated by different coloured lights, creating a striking contrast. It was also snowing slowly, which made it all the more spectacular.

With his eyes wide open, Ilweran started taking pictures, completely engrossed.

And Legolas, he felt good too. He had never seen or done anything too special in his life, and just being there was extraordinary. In those days he had thought of nothing but his family and his relationship with Faramir, which was practically going well.

The two of them, a little further away from Ilweran, looked straight ahead, talking in low voices.

"Thank you for bringing me here. Everything's perfect, really" he whispered.

"Well... I think it could be better..." -Faramir replied.

"Come on, you think so?"

The man looked at him more seriously, but still Legolas could not understand. It was only when he saw him kneel that he realised something.

"Faramir...?"  he asked, bringing a hand to his chest.

"I know, I know what you are thinking. We have known each other only a short time, yet in that short time we have come together, you have welcomed me into your family... and I I have become very attached to you," he began to say, slipping his hand into his pocket, "and I know you probably think I'm crazy. Maybe I really am - he pulled out a box and opened it - Legolas will you marry me?"

Midnight struck and Legolas thought he was dying.

He could not believe she had actually asked him. He imagined something like this would happen much later, and now he didn't know whether to feel happy, excited or desperate.

He, too, was growing more and more attached to Faramir, but a step as important as a wedding, he wasn't sure he would be able to, especially because of that insistent and constant thought of Aragorn.

"I..."

"Before you answer I want you to know one thing. This ring I am giving you is a promise to me, a promise that I will take care of you and Ilweran, that I will love and respect you, and try to erase the suffering you have gone through. I'm not telling you to marry me right away, but please accept it, and when you feel ready then we'll think about what to do."

How can I say no to him? He makes me happy, he thinks of my welfare, and he really wants to build a future with me. He gives me security, and security has always been what I have longed for most in life.

It's a promise... and I know it's a promise he will keep.

Legolas knew that he would most likely have to think about it, because that was a serious commitment he had to fulfil and carry out.

But as he tended to do so often by now, he decided to go for it.

So he smiled.

"Yes, Faramir. I accept."

Happy as can be, the other slipped the ring on his finger, and then rose to kiss him, while the snow was still falling over their heads.

 

 

 

"And that's that! Do you understand now?"

Thranduil sighed.

"Yes, I understand. I see that you are thoughtless!" he exclaimed.

"I thought you would be happy" - he replied disappointed.

"The only thing I want in my life is to see you happy, but not like this. I mean... couldn't you wait? You made an important commitment anyway, in the middle of which there are another person's feelings! And how is the Ilweran grip anyway?"

"He's overjoyed for me..."  he whispered.

"Oh," sighed the other, "I've always wanted you to rebuild your life, but I didn't want you to rush things like this. What happens if you change your mind? How do I know you no longer love Aragorn?"

The son looked at him seriously.

Even if I were to still love him, I would reject all feeling towards him. I would force myself to forget him so I would be happy.

"I am sure. I love Faramir now. And that's all there is to it"  he answered in a neutral tone but with an expression that was not exactly convincing.

 

 

In the meantime, Ilweran was telling his friends about his journey, which was also joined by Tauriel, Elrhoir and Elladan.

He appeared very enthusiastic, Eldarion could see that. He was happy, calm and relaxed, unlike his, who had a thousand thousand thoughts on his mind at the moment. The blond man noticed this, for as he spoke his friend appeared absent.

"I bought a lot of souvenirs for you. Knowing Europe is so different from America, you should come here too Eld..."

"Eh, what?"  he asked distractedly.

"I knew it, you weren't listening to me. I've noticed your strange expression ever since I arrived. What's going on?"

The boy sighed.

"It's nothing much. I just have some family problems..."

"Nothing much?! This is no big deal?!"

"It's nothing Ilweran, it's just problems between my parents."

"They... what? They want to break up?"

"I do... but don't ask me why, that would be too complicated to explain."

Yes, it would be complicated to explain to him about the blood bond between them and the fact that their respective fathers had been lovers.

"I'm sorry," the blond man replied, "I never expected anything like that."

"Sometimes, unfortunately, love can end," Tauriel intervened, hugging Eld, "I know, my parents are divorced too."

"Yes Tauriel, I know you understand me, thank you" he sighed, enjoying her embrace and her scent.

"Hey... but when did you two get so close?"  Ilweran asked.

"Well, pretty blondie, let's just say that while you were gone, I took care of consoling poor Eld..."

"Ah," he replied curiously, "and you don't have a problem with that, Sabia?"

"No, Eld and I have worked it out, haven't we Eld?"

"Absolutely."

The blond looked at them circumspectly.

"What's going on here?" looked at Sabia, who was standing very close to Elrohir. "you're not having an affair with each other, are you?"

The two blushed visibly.

"Well, I wouldn't have said it like that, but... we're very fond of each other," the boy replied.

"Yeah, sure, just don't get too attached," Una mumbled.

Then Elladan grabbed his firmly, amused.

"Una and I are also very close, only the little one doesn't want to admit it.

"Who are you calling a little girl, you stretch?!"

Her reaction made everyone present laugh. Shauna slipped into Ilweran's arms, looking very persuasive.

"I can smell love in the air," she whispered.

That was a sort of signal to her friends, who realised that it was probably time to leave them alone.

"Alright, we're leaving," Tauriel pulled Eldarion behind her, "we're going to guard the door.

"Guard the door for what?"  Ilweran asked confused, while his friends giggled without explanation.

When they were left alone, Shauna threw herself on his lips with an overwhelming passion, to say the least. Ilweran gladly reciprocated, feeling instantly heated and... aroused.

"Wow, Shauna, you're so passionate" he whispered.

"I've really missed you. So much so that in these days away from you I've realised that there's... something I'm looking for..."

The blond grabbed her hands and looking into her sea-blue eyes, he couldn't help but understand and read about cravings and emotions they probably shared.

"Oh" he blushed. "Shauna, are you sure? Your first time... with me?"

She shushed him, however, placing a finger to his lips.

"As far as I'm concerned, we've waited long enough."

Those words were worth more than any reassurance or permission.

This time it was Ilweran who kissed her, and then what had to happen happened. They consummated their first time full of tenderness and new discoveries, with the knowledge that it would be unforgettable.

 

Shortly afterwards...

Ilweran straightened his shirt and his hair, which appeared to be ruffled. He still couldn't believe what he really was, and how naturally he did it.

He never thought it was possible to be so happy.

He went downstairs. Shauna sat composed in her chair, and on seeing him she gave him an intense smile.

The blond reciprocated, while his friends let out mischievous giggles at the secret they were finding themselves guarding.

"Excuse me," Ilweran said suddenly, "I'm going out for a moment."

"What?" Legolas called -"where are you going at this hour, it's dark!"

"I know, I know, I just need some air, that's all" he reassured him.

He opened the door and went out. The snow on the roads showed no sign of melting and there was a pleasant silence all around.

He was smiling without even realising it. This new year had begun in the best of ways, first Faramir's marriage proposal to his father, then that... everything was strangely perfect, and he didn't want anything to be ruined.

Aragorn eyed him in the distance. He too needed air, especially at this time. Contrary to his son, the new year had started in the worst way, his life had become even more complicated.

The blond soon realised he was being watched, and when he realised who it was he raised a hand.

"Hello Mr Strider!"  he exclaimed.

"Ilweran," he called as he approached, "hello... what are you doing out in this cold?"

"I needed some air..." he sighed with a smile, a manner that Aragorn could not escape.

"You look rather cheerful."

"Um... really? - he asked, blushing - well, yes, actually, I am quite cheerful..."

"What's this about, may I ask?" he asked curiously.

The boy's cheeks puffed up.

"Can you keep a secret?"

"Yes, of course."

"All right," he whispered, "you know Shauna? She's my girlfriend, and tonight we're... I mean... you know...!"

Aragorn was pleasantly surprised by that statement.

"Really? Good, I'm glad for you"  he replied, smiling.

"Thank you! Everything has been so perfect. I mean, at first I didn't know how to do it, but then it all happened by itself..."

Ilweran did not wonder why it was so easy for him to talk about such a sensitive subject with a stranger.

"It is strange that you are talking about this with me," the man said, "shouldn't you be talking about it with your father?"

"I have the impression that if I told him, he would panic and tell me that I am too young and that I must be careful, etc."  he replied, raising his arms to the sky.

Aragorn held back a laugh. Indeed, it was very Legolas-like.

He had always imagined him to be the more apprehensive of the two. Together they would probably make a good team.

That thought was immediately swept away when Ilweran changed the subject.

"Um... Eld told me about you and your wife... I'm sorry..."

"Huh?" he asked. "oh no... don't be sorry... unfortunately things don't always work out."

"I think you should try to save your marriage. You are a family after all. Now I can understand what that means too."

"What do you mean?"  he asked.

"Well," he whispered again, "you may not believe this, but Faramir asked my father to marry him and he said yes!"

Aragorn felt his heart break into a thousand pieces. He had imagined that such a thing could happen, and yet now he could not believe it.

Legolas married to another...

But after all, he too had once married another woman...

Ilweran, who had not noticed the change in the man's expression, continued speaking.

"Finally my father will be happy,' he sighed, 'and we will be a family. And I'll have that figure I've always lacked".

Those words brought the man back to reality and he couldn't control himself too much.

"But... he's not your father, you're aware of that, aren't you?"

"Of course I'm aware of it, and yet he acts as if he were."

"But... - Aragorn was trying to understand - you have another father... did you never get curious about who he was, to meet him?"

Ilweran became serious, then remained silent for a few seconds.

Then he answered with a coldness and disarming simplicity.

"He has abandoned us. If he did not want me, I do not see why I should want to meet him. He has chosen his own path... which will surely never meet mine."

Another blow to her heart. Ilweran was right, he was right about everything, and perhaps that was why it hurt so much.

He had not been there for his son and now the latter seemed elusive.

He made to reply, but was held back by the arrival of Legolas.

"Ilweran! I have told you a thousand times to bring your phone when..."

He left the sentence hanging as he became aware of the extra presence.

"What... are you doing here...?"  he whispered.

"I... was just... I ran into him..." he stammered.

"That's right" Ilweran intervened. "I'm going back inside now though, I'm starting to feel cold. See ya!"

The boy said goodbye and Aragorn watched him go without a word.

Legolas did not have the strength to move. It was so strange to have him standing there after all that had happened.

"Um... what did you talk about...?"  he whispered.

"Nothing important," he said seriously, "and by the way, congratulations on your upcoming wedding..."

Legolas felt the air fail him. It was inevitable that this would come out, but he probably wished it hadn't.

"I... did Ilweran tell you?"

"Who else? Legolas... how can you marry someone else?"

"How?!" He exclaimed furiously. "how could you marry another!"

"I told Arwen everything!" he immediately interrupted him.

"Eh... eh?" he asked feebly. "everything? You mean everything...?"

"The only thing I have left out for the moment is that Ilweran is my son, but of course I will tell her about that too. Just as I told her about our history."

The blond man began to shake.

"Why did you do that?"

"For you. I did it for you."

Legolas lowered his gaze.

Good, you fool. You should have thought of that before. Now what am I going to do with this demonstration of yours?

"Well... I'm sorry... but I'm afraid... it was useless..." he whispered with her back to him.

"Legolas, please!" he exclaimed. "perhaps it is not too late for us!"

He did not have the courage to turn around. His eyes stung and his heart ached.

Being strong was too painful.

"It is. It is late now."

Chapter Text

Aragorn struggled to keep his eyes open. The psychologist talked and talked, but in truth he was not listening to her.

Arwen, on the other hand, appeared very attentive, her hand possessively entwined with his.

Several days earlier they had decided, or rather, she had decided, to go to therapy.

She had been very angry when she had learned of her husband's betrayal, but when she had calmed down she had agreed that it would be better to try to resolve the matter.

This had surprised Aragorn not a little. He had expected Arwen to leave him, but no, she was still trying to hold on to her.

And this was really scaring him, he was afraid that the situation would only get worse.

After all, there would be nothing to save.

After yet another session, the two walked out of the psychologist's office. Aragorn sighed deeply.

"Well" Arwen sighed in turn. "what do you think... about all this?"

"Are you talking about the fact that we're... that you're trying to salvage our relationship? I don't know what to think... the thing is, I didn't see this coming..."

"Neither did I. I should leave you, I know. But maybe there's something we can do. I want to believe there's a reason you married me, I want to believe you have feelings for me."

Aragorn, however, could not retort. What was he supposed to say? He was now completely at the mercy of events.

Nothing mattered anymore. Nothing mattered, not with the knowledge that he had lost him...

 

Legolas, unlike his, seemed full of life and desire to do, or at least he was good at pretending. By now he had made up his mind and he wasn't going to back down: he was going to get married as soon as possible, and obviously Faramir had been happy with the news.

He was working hard to try to organize everything for the best and above all... quickly, thanks also to the precious help of his friends.

"Do you want the tulip or the white roses?"  Frodo asked as he flipped through a magazine.

"Who told you I want flowers?" Legolas retorted, arching an eyebrow.

"But at a wedding there must be flowers, maybe you'll even put some in your hair."

"Uh-huh, very funny" he said rolling his eyes.

It was rather comforting to see so much enthusiasm in his friends.

No matter how much he tried to prove himself happy, he had the impression that he was only running to keep his feelings towards Aragorn from taking over. Once he got married everything would be fine, of that he was certain.

Ilweran was also quite cheerful and had taken the whole "wedding" thing very seriously.

"Events like this take someone with good taste," he told his friends, "so... here I am..."

"Ah, and you would have good taste?"Una taunted him.

"Look" he mumbled. "you girls are all going to be bridesmaids and dress in... Tiffany green."

"Oh my God, you're not even supposed to know what Tiffany green is!" replied the other bringing a hand to her face.

Eldarion however just couldn't bring himself to participate in that speech. He couldn't have rejoiced at something that made his father feel so bad. And then there were Ilweran's words of a few nights before: Aragorn had told him everything, and this had upset Eldarion a lot: in part he could understand his anger, but on the other hand... he just couldn't understand it. He was nervous, furious. For himself, because he had not yet been able to find the words, than for Ilweran, who sometimes seemed so obtuse!

He tried to restrain himself from saying something unpleasant, unfortunately not succeeding.

He pounded a fist on the floor, drawing the attention of the others.

"Eld?" whispered Shauna.

"I don't understand you though," he said through gritted teeth, "how can you be happy?"

"What are you talking about? It's a wedding, not a funeral!"  the blond answered promptly.

"Doesn't all this seem a little strange and rushed? Don't you think there's something going on?"

"What are you trying to tell me, Eld? I just don't understand you."

Eldarion understood that at that moment all the tension accumulated in those days was slowly coming out.

"Even if they get married, Faramir won't automatically become your father. That's not how it works."

Ilweran wrinkled his forehead, feeling a great anger rising within him. What could he possibly know about what she meant?

"And how does it work, tell me. Making a child and then abandoning it?"

"Maybe there's a reason he abandoned you, but you don't know that."

"I don't want to know that!" he exclaimed. "a child is not abandoned, never. Besides, if he really wanted to, he would have sought me out. He doesn't seem to have done so. That is because he cares nothing for me. Do you think you can know better than I do?"

"I think I can know better than you!" he let himself escape. "you act like a child, and talk without knowing....!"

"And you! What do you know?!" he exclaimed as she approached his face.

The others around them had fallen silent. They remembered well how it had turned out the last time they had argued, and feared the situation would escalate.

But Eldarion managed to regain some self-control. If he spoke, everything would fall apart, and that was not the right way to tell him.

So he stepped back, slowly.

"You're right, I don't know anything" he sighed. "I'm sorry... I just worry."

Ilweran seemed to calm down as well.

"It's okay. And you don't have to worry. I'll be fine, I assure you."

The Moor forced a smile, crossing Shauna's gaze.

They both knew he would suffer, unfortunately it was inevitable.

 

Come evening Aragorn often found himself wandering aimlessly. It helped him to think and reflect about everything that was happening. Arwen had not reacted as he had expected, which had put him in a difficult situation.

If she had gotten angry and let him go it would have been easier. But now she wanted to try to start over, wanted to try again.

He knew he couldn't, but he was afraid that denying her would break his already fragile heart, and he already had too many broken hearts on his conscience. Not to mention Ilweran's words.

How could she step up and tell him the truth, given how he felt about it? It would have been impossible...

He looked up. Without realizing it, he had arrived in front of Elrond's house. Elrond had never scolded him too much, on the contrary, he had always been on his side. And perhaps he would have been the best person to talk to, even if it meant coming to terms with his better half, but after all, it didn't matter much.

He walked over and knocked on the door with his head down like a whipped dog.

Opening it was Thranduil, with a frown and a very unpleasant expression.

"You?"  he asked.

"Um, hi. I know this probably isn't a good time, but... can I come in?"

"Well," he squared him, "if it was just my house I'd say no, but since it's also Elrond's house I'm afraid I can't."

Not very enthusiastic he allowed him to enter. Aragorn looked around, feeling rather uncomfortable, until he spotted Elrond sitting on the sofa with his legs crossed.

"Aragorn" he called to him. "hello... what good wind brings you here?"

"I... no, it's just that I love to walk a lot, and I found myself here, so I thought I'd stop by and say hello..."

"Oh, that's nice"  Thranduil added sarcastically.

The other shook his head.

"How are things with Arwen?"

"Well... how could they be? She's convinced that things will work out, but I'm not of the same opinion."

"She must have a lot of nerve to give you another chance after what she did. You didn't just deceive one person, you know what you deserve?" The blond pointed his finger at him. "to be left by both of you."

"Thranduil, please" Elrond tried to calm him down. "I think Aragorn knows about the mistakes he has made."

"Unfortunately, I know it well. And I'm very confused, I don't know what to do. On the one hand I have Arwen and Eldarion, who are my family, but so are Legolas and Ilweran, they just don't want anything to do with me."

Thranduil cleared his throat.

"Look, I want to be honest with you. You've caused enough trouble for my son, this has gone on for far too long..."

"Does that mean you're okay with his marrying a man he barely knows?"

"I... no, but that's none of your business. Besides, if I had to choose between Faramir and you, I'd choose him a thousand times over!"

Aragorn brought a hand to his face.

"Elrond, what about you...?"

"You know that despite the position I find myself in I have always been on Legolas' side," he said quietly, "of course, you have deceived and betrayed my daughter, and that does not sit well with me at all. Besides, Legolas is like a son to me, and it would be nice if you did not make either of them suffer any more. So you must do what is right... and maybe what is right for you is to be alone, at least for the time being".

The man did not answer. He had never considered taking a break from everything and everyone.

It was clear that everyone yearned for the quiet life, and it was clear that if he did not know what to choose, he would do better to be alone, but the thought of Legolas marrying someone else whom, he was sure, he probably did not love, drove him mad.

More disconsolate than ever he left the house, his head full of thoughts.

It would have been nice if someone had told him what he simply wanted to hear.

"Nice evening for a walk, isn't it?"

The man recognised the voice immediately: it was Gandalf, with his ever-present pipe.

"Amh... Gandalf," he said surprised, "yes, well... apart from the cold..."

"You know, I'm used to taking my evening walk, and it's been a while since I've seen you around here. You look pensive, bad time I guess."

"You imagine right. It's all crazy" he huffed. "I can't let go of Legolas, selfish as it is. Rightly everyone tells me to step aside, it's the wisest thing, but I can't."

"Maybe" Gandalf looked very relaxed. "maybe it's not the right thing to do..."

"What?" he looked at him. " what do you mean...?"

"Aragorn, I am old, but I still know how some things work. You have been afraid for too long, and now Legolas has shut himself away, but I doubt he does not love you anymore. If you truly love him, then I think you should simply win him back..."

The man widened his eyes: that was exactly what he had wanted to hear, but he had never imagined that it could be Gandalf himself who was saying it.

"So you're telling me to try again?"

"Oh, I didn't say anything at all," the elder replied with a knowing look.

Aragorn then understood. Gandalf was always the same, but he was extremely wise, and with that advice he had opened up a world to him.

By now he had forgotten how to reach people's hearts, and perhaps the time had come to remember...

 

The next day...

Not only had Ilweran taken the matter of marriage very seriously, he had taken it even more seriously than Legolas had.

It was early morning, about seven o'clock, and the boy had the brilliant idea of going to wake his father in a not-so-subtle way.

"GOOD MORNING!"  he exclaimed, jumping on top of him.

Legolas woke up startled.

"But... Ilweran!" he exclaimed. "what are you doing?!"

"Now you know what it means to be awakened at this hour!" he pointed his finger at him. "you absolutely must come with me!"

"Huh? Where?"  he asked sleepily.

"You have to get married, don't you? So you're going to need a new dress... and I'm going to help you pick one out."

"Now? But we haven't even set a date, and you have to go to school!"

"Oh, don't be a party pooper!" he exclaimed, pulling him by the arm. "you should thank me, I want everything to be perfect, you deserve it!"

"Alright, I get it!" he exclaimed impatiently. "then we'll go today, it's a pity the shops don't open until nine o'clock.

Ilweran smiled mischievously.

"Oops."

After that traumatic awakening it would have been useless to refuse Ilweran's proposal. He seemed so happy with the way things were going.

And after all, he couldn't blame him. Somehow they would finally be a normal family, something that had always been denied to both of them.

Though she had always imagined her family to be a little... different.

He thought about this as Ilweran stood staring into the windows of a shop.

"Wow," he said, smiling, "you're going to wear white."

"And who decided that, you?"  he asked.

"The bride always wears white.

"Oh, so I'm the bride, am I?"  he asked, laughing and mussing his hair, making his son laugh as well.

When Aragorn saw and heard them laughing from afar, he thought that fate was probably lending him a hand.

He had decided to listen to Gandalf's advice and, strange but true, had decided not to think. He would jump, and what would be, would be.

So he assumed the most normal expression he could, so as to hide his repressed stalker nature.

He approached them, waving.

"Good morning."

"Ah, good morning!"  Ilweran exclaimed.

Legolas cleared his throat. Needless to say, the agitation would have liked to take over, but he had to force himself to keep it at bay and appear indifferent...

"Hello, um... Aragorn..." he stammered.

"What are you doing out so early?" he asked.

"Nothing much, shopping..."  he answered vaguely.

"It's for her wedding," Ilweran added, "we're here to choose her dress."

"Yes, precisely, thank you Ilweran..."

Aragorn tried not to look surprised by this news. Of course fate was such a mockery.

"Ah, well..."

"Yes, but my father and I have, shall we say, slightly different ideas," he thought for a moment, "hey, maybe you could give us a hand."

"No, no, no!" exclaimed Legolas, smiling nervously afterwards. "Aragorn surely has better things to do..."

"Actually, I'd be free."

The blond looked at him, wanting to kill him. What was he up to?

And besides, what kind of joke was that? Why would his ex-boyfriend help him with something that had to do with his own marriage?

"And... all right... if it's not a problem..." he replied.

To Ilweran's delight, Aragorn joined them.

They entered a shop selling men's clothing, and immediately the teenager took to putting his hand on everything, leaving no room for an opinion from Legolas. He then sent him into the fitting room with orders to try on everything. And after having eliminated the colour white, blue, grey and brown, Legolas tried on an ordinary black dinner jacket.

"Well?" he asked as he spread his arms, "how does this look? Please tell me you like it, because I'm tired."

Ilweran looked at him. "I don't know, what do you think, Aragorn?

The latter looked at Legolas. It came natural to him to imagine him beside him to take that important step that had been abruptly skipped.

"Beautiful" he whispered without thinking, then came back to himself. "I mean, the dress is beautiful, and it suits him well.

"Yes, but... " the boy continued to observe. "Faramir will also wear black. What if it clashes?"

"Come on, don't be ridiculous..." - huffed Legolas.

"No, no, I mean it!" he exclaimed. "Mr Strider, would you be so kind as to try on a dinner jacket and stand next to my father?"

"Eh... what?"  he whispered.

"Alright, I'd say that's enough"  Legolas laughed only to avoid having a nervous breakdown.

"Please, do this for me!" the smaller man joined hands.

"I... all right, if you ask me like that."

Ilweran cheered, not knowing that behind his back his father was trying very hard to stop himself from killing him.

He dared not think how embarrassing that would be.

Even Aragorn did not really realise this until he was confronted with the reality of the situation: he wore a dinner jacket very similar to Legolas' and with evident embarrassment he joined him, without the other daring to look at him.

Ilweran looked at them with shining eyes, and then a smile came to his face.

"Wow... you look so... beautiful."  he whispered.

At those words Legolas found the courage to look at him, and when he lifted his gaze he blushed to see that Aragorn was already watching him.

It was strange, it was a little embarrassing, but it was also extremely sweet. This was what they had both always dreamed of, moments like that, a marriage that had never happened, a family that had been divided. When they looked into each other's eyes, for a moment the world around them seemed to disappear.

"Faramir will be very lucky"  Aragorn whispered, smiling.

Legolas, of course, did not reply, only felt a lump in his throat. Yet he smiled at him, even though it was so strange to hear him speak like that.

He was the one she had always dreamed of having by her side.

"Amh," Legolas snapped back, "then I guess we can take this."

"Yes," Ilweran replied, "I would say we can."

For those brief moments, Aragorn had experienced those moments he had denied himself, the moments with his family.

All three of them together were so perfect that he had forgotten all other evil thoughts.

As they left the shop, Ilweran took them both under his arm.

In those moments they were what they should have been.

Legolas and Aragorn looked at each other: this what they had always hoped for, this what seemed so real that they could grasp it.

Was there still a chance for them?

An idyllic moment that was brutally cut short.

The two adults had not noticed anything until Ilweran stopped: in front of them Arwen was staring at them, surprised and also visibly furious.

All four of them froze, remaining silent, a silence that only foreshadowed a stormy storm.

Chapter Text

Legolas felt as if his breath had stopped.

It was almost automatic for him to grab Ilweran by the arm and take him behind him, as if he wanted to protect him, even though he knew that he was the one who needed protection.

Even Aragorn remained motionless: that was the last thing he wanted, his wife and his former lover there, together, with Ilweran looking at them questioningly. If Arwen had spoken, the latter might well have understood everything, and that would have been the worst way.

The woman, for her part, looked really furious, probably no one could have stopped her wrath.

All stiff and with a certain coldness, Arwen approached the two of them: she looked at her husband first, then she passed her gaze to Legolas, who returned the look without understanding exactly what was going to happen.

The blond barely had time to see her expression change into a grimace, and then he saw her reach out a hand, and finally felt something touch his right cheek. She had indeed done it, Arwen had slapped him, and she had done it with an anger and violence that was nevertheless justified.

His son and Aragorn were petrified at this unexpected gesture, or perhaps not so much in fact.

Legolas stood still for a few seconds, then brought a hand to his cheek whose skin burned.

"Well, my heartfelt congratulations!" Exclaimed the woman. "you are a home wrecker!"

"Arwen!" Aragorn stopped her promptly. "please, I don't want a scene!"

"You don't want a scene? And what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to keep quiet while you spend your time with this one?!"

"It's not what it seems" the blond tried to say. "we weren't doing anything...!"

"Ah, don't you try to talk to me, do you understand?" Furious Arwen pointed her finger at him. "I know, I know everything. You're his lover. And guess what? You can only aspire to be more than that, because..."

"Arwen" Aragorn rested a hand on her shoulder. "that's enough now."

His tone was cold and incredibly serious.

As for Legolas on the other hand, tears had taken to pinching his eyes. He didn't think they would ever get that far, he felt humiliated, incredibly hurt by those words, probably because they represented the truth.

Without hesitation he grabbed his son by the arm again and dragged him away with him before all his pent-up feelings and emotions exploded at once.

Aragorn tried to call him, he would have loved to run after him and hug him, and probably he would have done it later, but not before talking to Arwen: the situation was getting out of hand.

 

Soon after, the two of them arrived home. Ilweran hadn't understood a thing; he had been picked up and tossed from one side to the other without anyone giving him an explanation.

When they had arrived, Legolas had closed the door and then collapsed on the floor with shortness of breath.

Ilweran then stopped in front of him, also tired, while the sentences shouted by Arwen echoed in his head: was it possible that those two were really lovers? And if so, why had he never noticed?

He approached cautiously. Legolas looked very tried and it was as if he was holding himself back from crying.

"Dad?" he whispered softly, his voice trembling.

At that point, the other could hold himself back no longer. He threw out all the weight and pressure that had been gripping him for weeks, hoping that he might feel better.

Immediately Ilweran reached down and hugged him tightly, more than anything he hated to see him suffer.

"I'm sorry" Legolas whispered, returning the hug. "I'm sorry for everything."

Ilweran then pulled away for a moment.

"You don't have to apologize to me for anything, however, I want you to be honest: is it true that you are her lover?"

His father blinked repeatedly: Ilweran probably wouldn't link that fact to Aragorn's true paternity, and in part that made him feel better, but the question of being his lover still remained.

"True, but it was only for a short while. I'm sorry Ilweran, I didn't want you to know" - he said sorry.

"But... just with him?" he asked astonished. "he is the father of my best friend".

The other really tried hard not to reveal the truth.

"I know...I was wrong. Just swear to you, it's over, really, for a while now too"

Ilweran watched him carefully. As usual, he wasn't going to ask any more questions,because growing up he had learned that talking about certain things could make people around them suffer, and as much as that news had upset him, he would keep quiet.

"If you really tell me it's over I believe you, it just makes me so strange" he sighed. "they're going to break up because of it."

"No, I don't think so - he replied trying to hide the sadness in his words - Aragorn loves Arwen, not me. And also, please, don't mention this to Eld, I think he already has his own problems."

"All right - he sighed - I'll try. Just... don't cry anymore now, okay?"

Legolas wiped his eyes and then smiled weakly.

"I'll try."

 

 

Aragorn and Arwen had also returned home, only the atmosphere was much less peaceful, indeed, the two were now conversing animatedly.

"Arwen, how did you come up with such a scene?"

"You can't tell me anything at all! I'm struggling to rebuild everything, and what are you doing? You walk around with him in broad daylight like nothing happened!"

"As I have to tell you, Ilweran had asked me for help with a matter concerning the marriage. Why do you even bother anyway? Legolas is getting married now!"

"That doesn't make me any calmer, you're married too and yet you cheated on me!" she shouted.

"Keep your voice down!" he shushed her. "I think everyone heard you already, you could have avoided saying that in front of Ilweran, he's just a kid."

"Oh, and why is that? It's only fair that he knows his father is a family ruiner, I just hope it's not hereditary!"

Aragorn at that point couldn't hold back any longer: the nerves shared were too many, and hearing Arwen talk like that about his family, his other family, drove him insane.

"Don't talk about them like that, especially don't talk about Ilweran like that!"

"Why! Why do you care about him so much!"

"BECAUSE HE'S MY SON!"  he exclaimed.

At last he had been able to say it, at last the whole truth had come out.

Arwern hadn't retorted, she had just slowly backed away with a hand over her heart. For a moment she almost felt as if she were going to faint.

She would have expected anything, but not that. That was too much.

"What...?" she whispered.

Aragorn sighed in exasperation.

"I haven't told you the whole truth. It's true, Ilweran is my son, but he doesn't know that."

"How is this possible?" he asked with a hint of a voice.

"We were newly married when it happened, and Eldarion was still very young. When Legolas told me he was expecting a child I was a coward because I abandoned him, I didn't want to leave you and Eld, but now I realize I made a huge mistake. I have two children and I should have been there for both of them, instead...instead I chose."

He'd finally gotten rid of the burden he'd been carrying around for sixteen years, at least with Arwen. The latter now looked disappointed and exasperated more than furious and her eyes filled with tears.

"You've kept it from me all these years... My God!"

"Arwen, what was I supposed to do? I had chosen you, I couldn't just tell you like that!"

"You've been lying to me all these years! Not only were you and Legolas lovers but you also had a son! No... he will never have what is rightfully mine."

"What?" he asked surprised  "what are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about the fact that by staying here we will have no way to solve this!" she exclaimed. "you'll always have him around, that's why I think... the only option is to move to another city if not another country."

Aragorn felt something inside him break: what was Arwen up to?

She couldn't just take him away like that.

"If that's the case why don't we just break up and get it over with?"

"Because I'm not going to let you go!"

"Well, and I'm not going to come!"

"Then let me put it this way, if you don't come I'm going to take your kids away. After all, with one of them you've already been separated, so I guess you're used to it!"

That was a low blow: why did he have to make another decision, why did he have to choose between his ifigli?

He loved them both, he was sure of it, but he also loved Legolas, and to separate from him altogether would be too hard this time

 

Come evening Ilweran had collapsed in his bed, and this turned out to be a good thing for Legolas. Faramir would be arriving shortly, despite the fact that the blond was not exactly in the mood.

Of this the man noticed, and because of this he couldn't help but ask him what was wrong.

"What's wrong with you? You've had a strange expression ever since I arrived" - he said, inviting him to sit next to him.

Legolas joined him thoughtfully. Maybe it was time to tell him the truth, approximately, after all if he was going to spend the rest of his life with him, it was right that he should know.

"I" he sighed. "think I need to talk to you..."

"Wait.... Whatever happened, is it about us?"

"Not exactly... it's more about Ilweran" he brought his hands to his face. "as you well know he never knew his father.  The latter left us as soon as he knew he was going to be born."

"Yes, you had mentioned that sad story to me."

"Well, the thing is... he's always been closer than you think."

Faramir looked at him curiously.

"Who are you talking about?"

"I speak," he whispered, "I speak of Aragorn, Faramir. He is the father of Ilweran."

For a few moments the other remained interdicted. Legolas assumed he was going into a rage, which was why his reaction surprised him.

"Aragorn? " he asked. "really? I don't understand, and how is it possible that he doesn't know?"

"I, um... I never told him. Aragorn has another family... well yes, he was the fruit of betrayal, as bad as that is to say. But I don't understand... why aren't you angry?"

Faramir shrugged.

"I can't be angry about something that happened years ago. It's obvious you've been with another man, I just didn't expect it to be him, that's all. But if you have two separate lives now, I don't see what the problem is, I respect his role."

I wish, I wish we had two separate lives. We're actually all too close.

"Wow" he whispered. "I didn't see that coming. No, you don't have to worry, he has no role, Ilweran will never know about him"

"If I may say so, you should tell him. Surely he was wrong to abandon you, but it is right that your son should know. You know he would hate you if he found out, don't you?"

"Unfortunately I do. I don't know if I want to tell him, I'm afraid that it could ruin everything".

"Hey - he squeezed her hand - nothing will happen. My word."

Legolas smiled at him finding so much reassurance in those eyes.

Whether everything would be alright or not, that unfortunately was not to be known.

 

Some time later.

 

February fourteenth, Valentine's Day, the holiday of all lovers, for some even the first. Even at school there was a different air that smelled of love and chocolate.

Ilweran closed his locker and when he did he found himself in front of Shauna who was looking at him with two languid eyes.

"Happy Valentine's Day, honey" -she said smiling.

"Shauna. Happy Valentine's Day to you too!" he exclaimed noticing her hands hidden behind her back "what do you have there?"

The other pretended not to understand. Then she revealed the mystery.

"I made some chocolate with my own hands, I hope you like it" she said handing him a red, wrapped box.

"Really? You made it yourself? Thank you!" he exclaimed happily. "actually I have something for you too, why don't you look in my backpack?"

Curiously and as if she had been a child, Shauna began to rummage through it, finding a very cute honey-colored teddy bear.

"Oh!"  she exclaimed with sparkling eyes.

"I know you like soft and cuddly things, so....."

"That's beautiful, thank you Ilweran!"  she exclaimed hugging him tightly and feeling herself shortly afterwards being encircled by his arms.

"Hey" he said after a few moments of silence. "do you think Enya will be better today?"

"Uh-oh, I doubt it" she laughed taking his hand.

The two of them walked towards the gymnasium, finding their friends already there, but they were busy doing something else. On one side Elrohoir was handing roses to Sabia, who was blushing violently. On the other hand, Elladan tried to give his gift to Una, who tried to refuse, despite the blush on her cheeks. And then there were Eldarion and Tauriel, standing close together looking languidly into each other's eyes.

"I'd say love is in the air today..."  Ilweran said, running a hand through his hair.

Shortly after, however, the friendly atmosphere was interrupted by Enya, who arrived like a bolt of lightning.

"All right little ones, that's enough!" she exclaimed. "it's time for all the lovey-dovey, get busy!

There was a great sigh of disapproval. Shauna rolled her eyes, who knows, it might help her soften up.

"Auntie," she called, "what are you going to do today?"

The other looked at her, arching an eyebrow.

"What am I supposed to do? It's certainly not a special day!"

"But... but yes it is" Ilweran understood the game. "it's the festival of lovers."

"Ah! I'm not in love. In fact, I never have been, and I certainly never will be."

"Hmm, that's too bad," Shauna said, "Gimli thinks so too. Poor guy, I think he's so gruff because he's alone. I'm sure he would love to go out with you, at least for today..."

At that point Enya's expression changed, no matter how hard she tried to hide it.

"You... you really think so? Would you like to spend this day with me?"

"Of course!" to speak was Ilweran. "after all he likes you, he's just not good at handling feelings. You're an independent, strong woman aren't you? Well, then you make the first move."

"Mmm.... You have a point"  she said firmly. "and that's fine, all right. I'll ask him out. Yes, I have decided. Ah you... you guys just work out on your own, I have a dress to buy and a phone call to make!"

Enya almost disappeared in a cloud of smoke. The two looked at each other, laughing like crazy.

Maybe it was going to be a good day for everyone.

Faramir had asked Legolas out, and he had obviously been thrilled. He was already preparing himself for the evening that was to come. While he was looking at himself in the mirror and braiding some locks of hair, however, he had for a moment the feeling of fainting, as well as a strong nausea.

She clung with one hand to the sink, stopping for a moment and exhaling a long breath. It was strange that he felt sick out of nowhere, after all he hadn't even been subjected to much effort.

Maybe it was something he'd eaten, or maybe he'd had little sleep.

He decided to open the medicine cabinet and see if something was right for him. Searching, however, he found something that made him think pregnancy test. He immediately had a shock: he remembered that he had had the same symptoms for Ilweran.

Maybe this time too...?

At the mere thought his heart froze in his throat. He wasn't ready for something like this, not again, not... at that moment.

He immediately grabbed the box: there was only one way to find out the truth, although he wasn't exactly sure he wanted to know.

But he did it, he did it because after all he needed to know. While he waited for the result he chewed his fingers, pacing nervously back and forth. Another person in her place would have been happy, waiting for a child from the man you love and that you would soon marry... so why couldn't she be happy?

Why did he feel only anxiety and worry?

After two minutes she lowered her gaze, and when she saw the result he could breathe a sigh of relief: negative, and for this she thanked heaven, although it was not a normal reaction. What would have happened if it had been positive?

Would he and Faramir be inextricably linked, as had happened with Aragorn?

This thing that had happened, this missed opportunity, was now making him think about his feelings more than ever: it was clear as day that this was a "one-way" love.

He was startled by the shrill ringing of his cell phone.

Legolas gasped, then picked up the phone and realized it was Faramir.

"Hello?" he answered, trying to disguise his tone of voice, still shaken.

"Legolas," he answered, "it's me. Listen... I have a customer here who left me a car to repair, and alas it's rather urgent. Unfortunately, I don't know what time I'll be able to get there."

The blond man just sighed, a little disappointed.

"Don't worry, work is work. I... I'll wait for you here..."

"I'm sorry. I'll make it as soon as I can. A kiss."

Legolas huffed as he closed the call: I mean, was his first Valentine's Day to be spent moping around?

He decided he would wait for him, but not before getting some cold air, he needed it after the scare he had.

So he put on something heavy and went outside, starting to walk aimlessly. What was supposed to be a short walk actually turned into something longer, as without even realizing it he arrived at the park where he had walked with Faramir a few months earlier.

Obviously there was no one there, but this made everything even more pleasant. He sat down and took a deep breath of the cold air.

His mind went blank and for a few brief moments he thought of nothing.

For a few brief moments... because shortly after a voice distracted him.

"What are you doing here alone?"

Aragorn sat in the bench next to his, his hands in his pockets.

Legolas did not move. He still had what had happened about a month before firmly in his mind, and after that they had not seen each other again.

"I'll take the air. What about you? Don't you have a wife?"  he said coldly.

"Yes, but we are in no mood to celebrate" he decided to get up and approach. "Legolas. I'm sorry about what happened. I was very annoyed that Arwen said those things to you..."

"It doesn't matter, she's right anyway"  he said hastily.

"Yes... emh... she knows... about Ilweran I mean. I told her."

Finally the blond decided to look him in the eye.

"You told her? And how did she react?"

"She went ballistic," he sat down next to him, "and she also says that after this she's planning to move out, after Eld finishes school. And she says that if I don't follow her, I'll never be able to see our son again. Yes, she blackmailed me."

"That's crazy. But you know... Faramir knows too, and he took it pretty well. He also advised me to get a move on telling Ilweran the truth."

"Yeah... I give good advice. I'm sure he'll be a good father to him."

Legolas nervously rubbed his hands together, thinking about what had happened just before: he didn't know why he said it, but those words slipped from his mouth almost instinctively.

"I... I thought I was expecting a child with him"  he whispered in a low voice.

Aragorn gasped

"Eh....?"

"But it wasn't like that, it was a false alarm. The thing is that I was relieved, this is not normal, I don't understand!" - he exclaimed.

"Surely you're just scared for the last time. I don't think you should though... he wouldn't abandon you..."

"I know, the thing is that I..... I don't think I love him enough to want to have a child with him..." he admitted.

"Then why do you want to marry him?"

He didn't answer. It would have been too hard to explain.

"It's complicated. And no matter what, Ilweran's father is still you!" he said, changing the subject.

"Being a father is not only about making children, but also about raising them and teaching them how to live. The other time for a few brief moments, being with the two of you, I felt and saw what we could have been if only I hadn't been such a coward."

"Are you...so regretful?"

"To death. The fault is mine. You deserved no harm, and you still don't now."

Legolas smiled, feeling his heart beat a little faster than before.

They were close, and strong was the need on the part of both of them for physical contact, however minimal.

With the excuse of moving, Legolas slid his head onto his shoulder, resting it on it.

Aragorn didn't move, not wanting to ruin anything, not wanting him to move.

Though briefly, Legolas could enjoy his warmth. He didn't know why he was reacting that way, but it was as if his heart had melted. He had once again stopped thinking, perhaps because he had everything he needed right there beside him.

Chapter Text

Legolas and Aragorn decided to get up from the bench and walk home.

The latter had wrapped his arm around the blond's waist and the latter had been delighted. Now they were finding themselves embraced, walking close together almost as if they had been a couple.

Of course that way... the cold was much less annoying.

"So you're not angry with me anymore?" Aragorn asked.

"I am always angry with you. But I admit you can be tender when you want to be."

"Tender, eh? I'm not sure that's the right term, but I'll take it."

Legolas laughed. He was loving that moment, for all worry was wiped away in an instant.

Screams suddenly caused the blond to gasp and he clung more tightly to the other.

The two immediately recognized the figures of... Gimli and Enya!

Enya was walking briskly, well dressed and carrying a handbag with a furious expression, to say the least.

"So woman, stop!" exclaimed Gimli.

"No way! It was a bad idea to ask you out, you really don't know what it's like to date a woman!"

"Oh, but how did I know I'd have to foot the bill?"

"You're kidding, right?!"

In bickering the two had not noticed that they were being watched. Aragorn and Legolas were trying hard not to laugh.

Only at one point did Enya notice them.

"You?"

"Um, hello Enya. I'd say you're not the only one here who's surprised," Legolas said.

"You?!"  Gimli repeated. "don't tell me you're back together."

"Uh, no," Aragorn cleared his throat in embarrassment, "we're not together... are you?"

"Don't even joke about that!" Enya exclaime. " this one couldn't be with me in a million years".

"It's me who doesn't want to be with you! Damn, what a hell of a woman!"

Legolas bit his lip to keep from laughing, then grabbed Aragorn under his arm and decided to leave the two of them to their adorable relationship problems.

Afterwards they took to talking in whispers.

"Those two like each other."

"Like each other? I dare say they love each other," Aragorn said, "you can tell by the way they fight.

"And are you perhaps an expert in love?"

"I cannot say. I have only been in love once in my life," he said seriously.

At those words Legolas felt his breath catch in his throat. They had arrived unnoticed in front of his house, yet he could not move.

"Oh... oh yes?"  he whispered.

The other nodded, moving closer.

"Many years ago. And I am still in love with the same person."

Legolas shivered as he felt him so close. He did not want him to be so close.

For otherwise he knew he would give in to his own desires, and that was not good. He was getting married. He was with another man.

Faramir himself was very surprised not to find Legolas at home and also very worried, where could he be at that hour?

He drew the curtains and when he realised that his fiancé was out there with none other than Aragorn, he felt a pang of jealousy he had never felt in his life.

He decided to go outside.

Legolas gasped when he noticed him and promptly flinched.

"Hey..." he called.

"Legolas, where have you been? I thought I'd find you at home"  he said harshly.

"I'm sorry, I was out getting some 'air and then" he looked at Aragorn. "I ran into Aragorn and we stopped to talk."

Faramir looked at the man evilly. He had never felt jealousy towards him, but since Legolas had told him the truth about his paternity it was a little hard not to.

"I see. How would you like to go back inside?"  he asked.

"Eh... yes, of course."

"I... I'm going now," Aragorn finally added, "see you."

With folded arms Faramir watched him go. When he was completely gone, he looked at Legolas.

"What were you doing with that one?"

"Huh? I told you, I met him."

"By chance? I doubt chance is running the show!"

"Faramir... are you giving me a jealous tantrum perhaps?" he asked surprised.

"Well, what would be strange about that? You were together once!"

The blond man rolled his eyes.

"There's no reason to be jealous."

"Look I've seen the way he looks at you and I've also seen the way he was close to you, that one was about to kiss you"

"Have you made a habit of spying on me now too?"

"I think I have every reason to worry!"

"But you don't! And do you know why? Because I can defend myself. Suffering has made me stronger, so I know how to behave!" - he proclaimed angrily, putting an end to the argument. Faramir's jealousy was more than justifiable, but this demonstration had annoyed him.

Perhaps because he was actually right. Aragorn wasn't just hanging around, there was a reason for it and he was strangely pleased.

This was not good. This would ruin everything.

 

The days passed and quickly March arrived. Preparations for the wedding were steady, but much slower than Legolas had intended. He was trying not to think about Aragorn, but the more he didn't want to think about it, the more he was reminded of him.

Of course for Aragorn the situation was no better. Arwen had remained firm on her decision to leave and that was why she had decided to talk to Eldarion about it, face that the end of school was almost upon us.

"I have decided that we will move as soon as you finish school" he told him quietly.

Eldarion understood that that decision had to be the consequence of something very serious.

"Move? But we can't move, mum! I have everything here, I have my friends!"

"I'm sorry, but I have no other choice. Family is more important and I'm afraid that if we stay here everything might fall apart."

Eldarion lowered his gaze. He doubted things would work out that way.

"Daddy told you everything, didn't he?"

"Everything? What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about the fact that I've known certain things long before you have. I know that Ilweran is my brother."

Arwen smiled bitterly.

"Good, then I won't have to force myself to tell you. I think you'll agree with me then."

"No I won't agree. I don't want to get away from him."

"Having the same blood doesn't make you brothers."

"Yes it does! We have always been together, there has always been chemistry between us, and that was the reason! If you want to break up, go ahead, but don't put me in the middle."

Eldarion," he called harshly, "you are still too young to understand such things, I know what is best for you. Me, you and your father will leave and make a new life for ourselves."

"But you don't understand him, do you?! He doesn't love you and I never will, not here or anywhere else, but what's the use of talking about it, you're too blind to see the truth!"

Eldarion didn't care that he had been too harsh, he had spat out what he thought without a second thought. Now he felt terrible, and the only person he wanted to talk to was Ilweran himself.

Llewran was so worried when he heard the other was so worried that he immediately went to him and they saw each other outside, even though it was about to rain.

"Eld!" Eld exclaimed panting. "Eld, what happened?"

"The end of the world, that's what. My mother wants us to move when the sole is finished."

"What? Why?"

"Because... everything that happened..."

"What? No way! Eld... there's no reason! My father is with Faramir now, they're getting married! Where's your mother? I want to talk to her!"

"No, no, no it's better not!" exclaimed the other at the mere thought of what his mother would do if she found him in front of her.

"But Eld... don't go away. You're my best friend. You're a brother to me."

Tears stung young Strider's eyes. Months of stress were weighing on his shoulders. He embraced him.

He wasn't like a brother, he was a brother, and it was unfair that they had to part.

"I love you Ilweran.... please always remember that..."

"Eld... I love you too. We'll work this out, I promise."

The blond held him tightly, as if to reassure him, not knowing that he would probably be the one who would need to be comforted very soon.

 

As for Aragorn, the latter was feeling a lot of pressure. Arwen did not want to change his mind and he knew that if he did not do as she wanted he would take Eldarion away from him, and that should not happen. However it had become impossible to hold back his feelings towards Legolas, he didn't care if the latter was about to get married, he was sure it was all a set up.

That is why he had sneaked out and begged Legolas to meet him. At first the latter had declined given Faramir's previous reaction, but in the end he had given in, after all he wanted to see him in the same way he wanted Aragorn.

The blond arrived before him, snowy and with a knot in his stomach, almost regretting having accepted.

The other came up behind him.

"Legolas" he called.

"Aragorn. What has happened?"

"Are you all right? We haven't seen each other since Valentine's Day, and I got the impression that Faramir was annoyed."

"It's all right, really. You, on the other hand, seem agitated."

"I seem agitated simply because I have reached the limit of my endurance. Arwen wants to leave, but I don't want to."

"Well... then don't go..."

"But I can't lose Eldarion, but I can't lose you, either!"

"Aragorn... that shouldn't matter to you."

"It does matter to me!" he exclaimed, grabbing his face. "I'm a fool, alright? I'm also a coward, just like you told me. But Legolas, I understand that your marriage is all a set-up, I understand that you are doing everything just to forget. This is wrong, please don't get married for this reason, don't make the same mistake I did."

Legolas wanted to burst into tears, he was able to read so far into his soul.

"Aragorn, please..."  he whispered in a choked voice. He had tried to hold back, but finally he had begun to cry, albeit softly.

"Please don't, don't cry, I can't stand seeing you like this anymore."

"I can't be with you. Even if deep down I love you and I always will, we've already tried twice, maybe it's just meant to be!"

"Nothing is written. Please..."

"Forgive me... forgive me, but I don't have the courage to try again. We must think of the good of our families, of our children. Eldarion is already suffering enough, and I don't want Ilweran to suffer as well."

"But he will suffer. And you will suffer too."

"I will be fine. I love Faramir and he loves me."

"And that's all right with you? To be content?"

"As I always have."

His hand was clasped in Aragorn's. He felt immense difficulty in pulling away, but in the end he did not know how he managed it either. Aragorn watched him walk away, but he could not afford to lose him again, for he felt that this time would be the final one.

Legolas returned home in a catatonic state. He almost believed he was on the verge of madness. Faramir was there, sitting on the sofa watching TV.

He had not even noticed that his fiancé had returned.

The blond stared at him with wide eyes.

"Legolas? " he suddenly asked. "what's going on?"

It was now or never. It must be as it must be.

"Faramir," he said neutrally, "I want us to be married now."

"Eh... now?" he asked. "but Legolas, there are still many things to..."

"I want us to get married now. Tomorrow if possible," he declared seriously, "I don't want to wait any longer. That is what I want."

Faramir was rather surprised by his wish, but on the other hand he was extremely flattered. Hhe approached him, clasping his hands.

"Legolas... if you feel ready, I have no problem" - he said, looking into his eyes.

The other returned the squeeze, quivering.

After he did it would all be over, he was sure. His troubles would be over.

"I'm ready," he whispered firmly.

And the next day it was, just as Legolas wanted. Of course it was not going to be the wedding of his dreams, but after all he did not even want to, the important thing was to perform the act that would unite him with Faramir forever. Friends and family had been notified the night before, and some the morning of.

The wedding was to take place in the garden of an ancient villa and all the guests were already there, despite the last-minute warning.

"I don't like this," said Thranduil, "there's something going on, it's all been done in too much of a hurry."

"I think so too," said Elrond, "but we must be positive, perhaps Legolas was looking forward to the wedding."

"I very much doubt it," he declared.

Nearby, Ilweran was adjusting Eldarion's tie.

"Now that's more like it," said the blond.

"Yeah - the other smiled nervously - Ilweran... are you sure this is good for you, for you?"

"What are you talking about? Of course it's fine. My father loves Faramir, and it's only right that they should marry. Don't worry about me" - in saying this she patted him on the shoulder.

Eldarion tried to smile, but could not. He had the feeling that this was going to end very, very badly.

Ilweran joined the four bridesmaids, Tauriel, Shauna, Sabia and Una, dressed strictly in Tiffany green.

"I hate these shoes," complained the last one, "and I hate this dress."

"At least you look like a girl now," Tauriel commented.

"What do you mean you, ugly...!"

"Hey, hey - the blond stopped her - this is no time to argue. You all look wonderful, especially you Shauna."

"Oh, thank you," she replied blushing, "you're beautiful too, you look like a groom."

"Oh, I think I know whose wedding is next"  Tauriel snickered.

"Um, alright" he cleared her throat. "I'm going to go and see how Faramir is, you... you don't touch anything and keep quiet."

It was really hard to check that everything was perfect.

Under the wedding arch, Faramir looked rather nervous, after all he was about to take an important step.

"Hey" his future stepson joined him. "how are you doing?"

"Except for the nausea and nerves, I think fine..."

"Come on, no need to be nervous. You'll see that everything will be fine. Although I have the vague impression that my father will be even more nervous than you, which is why I'm avoiding talking to him. In any case, know that I am very happy to have you in my life."

Faramir smiled.

"I am happy too."

Legolas walked in agitation. He was really going to do it, he was going to take that step and he would never go back.

Yet he was not as radiant and happy as he should have been. And of course, he was only getting married to try to forget, and that was wrong. Perhaps he would learn to love Faramir, though.

"Nervous?"

He immediately recognised Gandalf's gentle voice.

"Ah, a little... after all, it is an important step."

"Yes. You know, I have been to many weddings in my life and yet I have never met a groom with such a happy expression"  he said sarcastically.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I am happy."

"Legolas... but is that really what you want? Are you sure this will make you happy?"

No I'm not sure, but I can't do anything but try. At least I'll be able to do something good with my life.

"I won't find out until I do," he said harshly, "now, excuse me, but I have to go and get married."

After that she walked past him without adding a word.

All his friends were quivering as they waited for him.

"I love weddings, I hope I don't cry" whispered Frodo.

"Ah, please, I have a vague feeling that this wedding will fail" said Gimli.

"And stop being such a bad luck bird" Enya scolded him.

A few seconds later Legolas' arrival made everyone sit up straight.

As he strutted up to his future husband, Legolas could see many things: the old life he hoped to leave behind, the worry in his father's eyes, the happiness in those of his friends and his son, who believed he was finally happy.

But that was not exactly the case. Faramir greeted him with a smile that warmed him for a moment.

Ilweran sat down next to Shauna, squeezing her hand. He was certain that everything would be fine from then on. Finally.

 

'Faramir Wenhan, do you take Legolas to be your husband?

His answer was clear, decisive and concise.

The blond felt himself skip a beat.

Legolas Greenleaf, do you take Framir to be your husband?

One answer, one word, two letters. Those separated them from his destiny.

"I..."

"STOP IT ALL!"

Too bad an unexpected guest had decided to make his theatrical entrance: Aragorn would not back down and he had proved it well by showing up at his wedding.

Legolas thought he would die when he saw him there, while Ilweran looked at him questioningly, not understanding. But the rest of the guests, they understood what was going to happen.

Gimli muttered something that said:

"I said this wedding would be off."

Chapter Text

It must have been a nightmare, otherwise Legolas would not have been able to explain it: he could not believe that he, his ex-boyfriend, the man who had deceived him so much, had come all the way there and had interrupted his marriage in a rather scenic way.

But the real question was... WHY?!

Everyone there was wondering, especially the man himself.

"Legolas," Faramir called, "what is he doing here?"

The blond obviously did not answer. He did not think he would go that far.

Even Ilweran was surprised.

"Eld... but what...?"  he whispered.

"I don't know... I really don't know anything" - he answered immediately, also surprised.

The time had come to take matters into his own hands.

"Aragorn," he called, "what are you doing here?"

"It seems more than obvious to me," he answered, stepping forward, "I am here to stop you from making the biggest mistake of my life."

"Well, I thank you!" Faramir added, but Legolas waved him off.

"I do not know what you are talking about. This is a happy day."

"It is not, and we both know it. I love you Legolas, and I know you love me too. It has always been that way, for the last sixteen years."

A murmur went up and Ilweran's eyes went wide. He was sixteen years old.

Was it true that for those same years that feeling had never faded?

Legolas would have liked to answer and deny it, but he could not, and Faramir could see that.

"Legolas... is it true?"

"Of course it is not true!"he exclaimed agitatedly. "we closed down a long time ago!"

"That is not true," Aragorn replied calmly, as if he had nothing left to lose, "we never really closed. Because there has always been something that brought us together."

Tense moments, long and seemingly endless. He would speak, he would really say it.

"Don't say it."

"I'm sorry, but we've both been holding back too long. Ilweran is the thing that has brought us together all these years. Because he's my son."

Shortly afterwards, sighs of disbelief were heard, but the only one who had not opened his mouth was Llwran himself, who had been hit by those words like a speeding train and had now remained motionless, sitting between Shauna and Eldarion who had looked into each other's eyes. They had known that moment would come, but not like that.

And now that it had come, Legolas had fallen completely silent.

The marriage was ending, or rather, not ending, there.

 

Soon after...

"Let me beat him, let me beat him! I swear I'll kill him!"

"Thranduil, no, please" Elrond tried to calm his companion's ire. "In the condition you are in you should avoid it."

"Don't tell me I should avoid. I'll tear his head off, as I should have done many years ago!"

Nearby Aragorn was animatedly conversing with Legolas, Faramir and the Fellowship of the Ring.

"How could you do such a thing? - asked the former -of all times, of all places, right here, right now!"

"And when was I supposed to do that? We had reached the limit anyway."

"Perhaps after Legolas and I are married," said Faramir.

"Nothing would have changed, in fact, one thing would have, Legolas would have been trapped with you!"

"How dare you, you..."

"Guys, calm down" Enya spoke. "this is not the time to fight."

"This is the time. Everybody's being a good guy, right? Why didn't you guys keep it a secret all these years, huh, huh?"

"Hey, take it easy, we couldn't help it," said Sam, "if you'd had the guts, this wouldn't have happened."

"You still dare to go against me? I know very well what I did, but you are no less!"

"That's enough, everyone, stop it," said Enya again, "there's a lot of shoveling going on here and no one's paying attention to the most important thing! Ilweran! Why is no one talking to him?

Legolas and Aragorn glanced at each other. No one had spoken to him yet because simply talking to him would be too difficult.

 

Ilweran, in a completely catatonic state, sat on the grass in the garden, his eyes glassy. That sentence was still ringing in his ears.

He, Aragorn's son? Was he the very person he had always despised, the person who had abandoned him?

And he had had him all this time without knowing anything about it.

Why had no one ever revealed such an obvious truth to him?

He felt so stupid now in thinking back on it, he felt so... empty, like his whole life was a lie Or indeed it was.

Shauna and Eldarion approached cautiously. They could only imagine how upset he might be.

"Emh... Ilweran..."  the girl said. He turned to look at him with two totally blank eyes.

"Emh... hey "spoke the other. "I know you're upset. I was upset too when I found out. I didn't want you to find out like this."

"You knew."

"Recently. And I was trying to find a way to tell you anyway."

"We wanted you not to suffer too much though... I guess we were too late"  Shauna made.

"You didn't want me to suffer, huh? And how do you think I look now?"

"I'm sorry, I can understand how you feel..."  Eldarion tried to say.

"Don't come any closer. In fact, stay away from each other."

"But Ilweran. You don't understand, we did it for you!" said Shauna.

"For me? For me? If you wanted to do something for me you should have told me right away! You all lied to me. I thought you were my friends, and Shauna, I thought you loved me."

"Indeed I do!" she exclaimed with tears in her eyes.

"I doubt it very much. Leave me, I want to be alone."

"But Ilweran... Don't turn your back on me like that, I ... I am your brother."

The blond turned to look at him angrily.

"I don't care."

After that he walked away, leaving the two alone.

 

By mutual agreement Aragorn and Legolas decided that the latter would talk to Ilweran, it was not the case that Aragorn would make the first move, not for the moment at least.

So the blond approached his son, with great anxiety in his body. For years he had tried to find the right words, yet now every effort seemed futile.

Ilweran had his back to him, not allowing him to see his own expression.

"Ilweran?" he asked feebly, as if he were afraid.

The boy turned slowly until his gaze met hers.

"Take me home" - he hissed.

"What?"  asked the other, surprised.

"I said take me home," he repeated in the same tone as before.

Legolas did not have the courage to reply: his son's reaction was strange, he seemed far too calm and it was precisely this that frightened him. He decided to please him and, after jumping into the car, accompanied him. During the short journey, a heavy silence followed. Ilweran did not seem to want to talk, although he was bursting with anger.

Once they arrived, the boy immediately got out of the car and hurried home.

"Ilweran?" Legolas called after him. "where are you going?"

"Leave me alone!" he exclaimed angrily.

"Please, if you would at least give me a chance to explain..."

"There is nothing to explain!" he exclaimed. "you have lied to me and you have done so for sixteen long years. How do you think I can be, huh?"

"I... I wanted to tell you, but I didn't know how."

"No you didn't, otherwise you would have. But good for you," he said contemptuously, "you live a lie, just like everyone else does!"

"Ilweran, I only wanted to protect you!" he exclaimed, grabbing him by the arm.

"Don't touch me! - I don't want to talk to you now, I don't want to talk to anyone. You're a liar, a traitor, you don't know what it means to love someone...!"

At this umpteenth truthful insult, Legolas hit him in the face, but only to shut him up.

Ilweran was puzzled for a moment, but immediately gave him a wicked, resentful look.

Without adding a word, he headed for the stairs.

"Ilweran!"  he called to the other, already regretting the rash gesture he had made.

The boy, however, without listening to him, went into his room and came out with a backpack filled to overflowing.

"Where are you going now?"

"Away from you!"

"At least tell me where, I'll take you!"

"No! I don't want anything to do with you," she looked at him with contempt but also with sadness, "you were my hero and now you have let me down."

Those words were like a sharp blade straight to the heart. It was to avoid disappointing him that he had always kept silent, and now it had all turned against him. There was indeed a deep disappointment in Ilweran's eyes, as well as a desire to hold back tears.

And Legolas let him go, for after all, he was right about everything.

What should have been the best day of his life had ended up being the worst.

 

Shortly afterwards...

 

Faramir had soon caught up with his lover, who looked quite desperate, and he could obviously understand why.

"Dad, is Ilweran at your place?" he asked nervously as he spoke into the phone.

"Yes, he's here safe and sound"  sighed Thranduil on the other end.

"Please, can you put him on?"

"I can try. Ilweran, your father wants to talk to you."

"TELL HIM HE CAN GO TO HELL!"  exclaimed the boy angrily.

"Um... he said that..."

"I heard," he sighed, "it's fine... try to calm him down, the important thing is that he doesn't do anything weird."

"I'll try. But sooner or later you'll have to sort this out face to face."

Legolas nodded, and then closed the call and threw his mobile on the table.

Faramir walked over to him, certain that he would have a meltdown soon.

"I'm sorry it turned out this way. Ilweran didn't deserve to know this way."

"The fault is all mine. I'm responsible, I should have told him."

"Yes well... let's just say that Aragorn had a hand in it too. Where did he get the idea to pull that stunt?"

"He... did it because he loves me..." he said, bowing his eyes.

"Then is it true what he said? That you have always loved each other?"

Legolas trembled. What was the point of continuing to lie? After all, the reality was more than obvious by now.

"Even if we did there could be nothing between us. Not anymore."

"Then it's true. I cannot believe it, so why were you going to marry me?"

"Faramir, please, this is too long to explain. I don't have to think about myself right now."

"Yes you should, you should! What are your intentions? Because I am in love with you Legolas, and I would like to know if you are with me to try to forget or something else."

The blond lifted his gaze, meeting his eyes as good as his soul was. And he had always lied to him, had lied to everyone, only because he lacked the courage.

Perhaps he was not the best person to accuse Aragorn of cowardice.

"I really thought we could start a new life, you and I," he said with tears in his eyes, "I tried, but I could not."

"Then it is as I thought," he added indignantly, "I was a rebound."

"No, Faramir, it's not like that..."

"Perhaps it is good that we are all separated for a while. Ilweran from you... and me too..."

"Please..." he pleaded with a hushed voice.

But Faramir did not listen to him; after all, he would have no reason. He was right to go away and leave him alone like this, as he deserved to be.

These were the just consequences of keeping something so important quiet for so many years. In one day he had lost his family and the chance to start a new life. It was over.

 

Aragorn knew he had been too rash, but no matter, it was over. Legolas and Ilweran had suddenly disappeared from his sight, which had worried him not too much. So he had decided to go to their house, after all he had much to discuss!

When he arrived, however, he found the lights off and the windows closed, which was strange.

He tried knocking, but received no answer.

"What are you doing here?"

Legolas' voice came from behind him.

"Legolas but... what are you doing out here?"

"The house is too empty for me..." -he said, shrugging.

"Empty? What does that mean? Where is Ilweran?"

"Not here of course. What did you expect him to understand? - He asked as he approached - why did you do that? Why didn't you leave me alone? We could have started a new life."

"It would have been a life of lies. And I am tired of lies. Forgive me, I know it was all too rash but... it was time."

As Aragorn looked at him, he realised that the other man must have cried a great deal.

"I did not think this day would ever come. In my mind I imagined that if it ever did, we would become one of those happy families you read about in fairy tales. But this isn't a fairy tale, it's real life, and real life doesn't give you anything. I made a mistake, and it's right that I should pay."

"We were both wrong," he rested a hand on her shoulder, "so if there are consequences we will face them together."

Legolas could feel her warmth. It was what he needed, to have him there, because that revelation had undone all his attempts to ignore his feelings.

They had surfaced so easily that Legolas could not have stopped them. On the one hand he should have hated him for ruining everything, but on the other hand he had been the braver of the two, for once.

Finally he collapsed and it was only natural for him to literally fall into his arms.

And Aragorn grasped him tightly, holding him and sharing his own pain.

"It will be difficult," he whispered, "but one way or another we will get through this."

Legolas listened to her words and pulled himself closer to him. Could this be the chance they had both been waiting for?

 

"Let me get this straight, you guys knew about this and... you told us nothing?"

Una seemed to have gone ballistic, and she wasn't wrong after all.

"We couldn't tell you," Shauna said, "can you imagine what might have happened?"

"Exactly what has happened now!" said the other. "good heavens... Eld and Ilweran brothers, are you kidding me?"

"Sooner or later you'll get used to the idea," Eldarion muttered, "and right now my brother hates me anyway."

"Oh no," Sabia put her hand to her face, "what happens now?"

Silence fell. No one knew exactly what was going to happen.

"Eld, maybe you should talk to him" Tauriel suggested.

"I've tried, he doesn't want to talk to anyone, and unfortunately he's right - she sighed - I should have told him right away when I knew."

"Me too," sighed Shauna, "I hope he doesn't hate me now."

"What hate?"  mumbled Una - right now we have to be more united than ever, and help Ilweran. Of course, it might be better to let a few days pass, but... we'll be there for him."

Her friends nodded. It was obvious that they would be there. Probably no one could understand how he really felt, but they would do their best.

 

Not only was Ilweran angry, he was sad, bitter and disappointed. Everything he had ever succumbed to had been nothing but a big lie.

"All right," Thranduil spoke, "I don't want to put my finger on it, but I don't think running away is the right thing to do."

"Look, I'm mad at you too. You lied to me, too."

"Hey, don't take it out on me. I was only respecting your father's wishes."

"Why didn't anyone tell me anything?"

"Because it was not easy" Elrond intervened. "Legolas suffered greatly when Aragorn left him and in this way he tried to protect you. One does many things for one's children, sometimes wrongly."

"Yes, well, I would have preferred to find out some other way that the man who abandoned me is no less than... him! Oh my God, I have a father, and a brother too!"

"Well yes. Now that you know that, you must take note of it" said Thranduil.

"Ah, no. I am not ready. I don't want to acknowledge it, I don't want things to be like this. I was fine before, why did everything have to change?"

"I don't know, Ilweran, I just don't know."

"Now... excuse me, but I would like to be alone."

Elrond and Thranduil glanced at each other, deciding to leave the boy alone.

The latter let himself fall on the couch, distressed. Staring at the ceiling, a few tears streamed down his face. Until now he had kept from crying, but now it was impossible.

It had all been one big lie. And all he could ask himself was... why?

What had he ever done wrong?

Chapter Text

A few days later...

Nothing had changed from this time. Ilweran remained where he was and Faramir, still too much burdened by that disappointment, didn't even show up.
Legolas was alone, the only thing keeping him company was some messages from Aragorn, who urged him not to give up and to resist because sooner or later everything would be solved.
But Legolas strongly doubted it. Not only had he lost the man he had almost married, but more importantly he had lost Ilweran! He no longer answered his calls, he was no longer there.
And it was all his fault! Only now she thought of how many times she could have told him, but she hadn't.
How? How was he going to fix this?
Ilweran was in pieces, and in those days he hadn't left the house, not even to go to school, let alone to basketball practice.
And for that his friends were worried, especially Eldarion and Shauna who had been accused of being traitors. And in part maybe it was true, who knows.
Their friend's absence was felt too much. As much as they and the rest of the group had realized the importance of sticking together, no one could talk or joke normally, not even Tauriel, who was usually so lively.
That afternoon they met in the school gym. It was spring now, and it was starting to get quite warm there.
Enya arrived listlessly, tossing her own bag into a corner.
"Alright guys, let's get started" she said slowly.
"How can we continue like this?" Eldarion asked. "Ilweran is the playmaker".
"He is righ" added Elladan. "if he continues like this Ilweran risks to close in on himself and maybe he will quit us too".
"No!" Shauna exclaimed "he would never do that."
Enya thinned her gaze: the blond had been missing from training for a while already, and that was not good. They had a championship to win, and now was not the time to feel sorry for themselves.
"Shauna's right. He wouldn't do that, not least because it's my turn to talk to him now."
"Look she's not listening to anyone!" Eldarion exclaimed.
But she glared at him.
"He'll listen to me. You stay here."
After saying this and without further explanation, Enya walked towards Ilweran's temporary hiding place.

Thranduil gasped when he heard the doorbell ring so impetuously.
"Who is it that dares to disturb me?" he asked, struggling to get up due to his advanced pregnancy.
When she opened the door she was shocked to find herself in front of none other than Enya.
"You?! What on earth are you doing here?!"
"Take it easy blondie. Where is your grandson hiding?"
"What do you want with him?
"I need to talk to him, so let me in.
"I doubt he'll want to talk to you.
"I'm going to talk to him anyway," she said as she came in, "so in the meantime why don't you take a nice chamomile tea and stay here quietly."
Thranduil glared at her, but didn't stop her. After all, someone had to talk to Ilweran, and she was the most suitable person.
Ilweran was literally rolled up on a mattress, with his head sunk into the pillow and music blasting loudly in his ears.
For days now that had become his favorite position.
That's why he didn't even notice when Enya entered. The latter approached, removing his headphones.
"Hey!" he exclaimed. "eh? Enya?"
"I say, does this look like the way?" she asked with her hands on her hips. "you haven't been seen for days. Your friends and the team need you!"
"Oh, leave me alone. I'm not in the mood" he mumbled.
"I don't give a damn. Wake up Ilweran, you need to fight back!"
At that point the blond man sat down on the mattress.
"Ah I should react?" he asked full of rancor. "and sure, after all, it's a piece of cake to move on after what I found out, isn't it?"
"I'm not saying it's easy," she sighed, sitting down next to him, "but you can't close yourself off like this, it won't solve anything."
"It's just that I wonder why I had to find out like this. Why?"
"Because sometimes you make mistakes. You have to consider yourself lucky."
"Lucky? Do I look lucky to you?"
"Yes, because at least your parents are both alive," she said seriously, with a glint in her eye, "my father died when I was two, and I don't remember anything, I only have a few photographs. And no one will give me back the moments I've lost, but you Ilweran, you are still in time."
Ilweran calmed down upon hearing those words. He had never seen Enya so serious. She was probably right, but on the one hand... he just couldn't go on.
He clenched his fists.
"How can I pretend that nothing happened?" he trembled.
"I'm not saying that. Go ahead and take your time, but don't live with a grudge. Someday you might regret it" she stroked his head. "ah, you're a strange little blond boy you are. Please come back soon, we need you."
"I'll do my best. Thank you for coming."
"You're welcome" she jumped up, cheerful again. "Enya solves everything. Now maybe I'd better leave, before your grandfather comes and kicks me out badly. Don't forget about our talk."
"Don't worry" he reassured her by waving goodbye.
A few seconds later he was alone again. Those words had unlocked his mind that was now running, a continuous succession of thoughts one after the other. He had started thinking again and it was agitating him. He couldn't and didn't want to stand there and do nothing.
His gaze fell on the window. Probably if he had gone out there, no one would have noticed.

The only positive note in that disastrous context for Legolas was Aragorn.
Aragorn who had now moved closer, as if that was some sort of starting point. Sitting around the table in his home and across from a cup of coffee they were talking as close as they had in a long time.
"What about your wife?"
"Well, she knows that everyone knows now. She didn't want me to come, but I ignored her."
"Oh dear. Is she still convinced she wants to go?"
"Alas yes. I'm beginning to doubt that she wants to keep me to herself out of love. More likely she wants to do it out of spite."
"Oh, what a situation."
"At least you and I are able to talk now," he rested a hand on his, "I know I've probably made things worse, but at least now we've gotten so far down that we have to get back up, don't we?"
It came instinctively to Legolas to shake her hand.
"Is it possible to do that?"
"I don't. All I know is that I love you, Las."
He smiled and blushed at being called that. She wanted to kiss him so badly, too bad... a third guest arrived.
Faramir had entered behind her back. Obviously, as his almost/missing husband, he had the keys to the house. The man stopped on seeing the two.
"Faramir" he called to the blond man.
"I see you didn't waste any time"
"No" he stood up. "we weren't doing anything!"
"At least you could have the decency not to let him into our house".
"It's his house, not yours" said Aragorn.
"Quiet, please. You've already ruined everything."
"I haven't ruined anything. Legolas doesn't love you, so..."
"You're trying my patience, you know."
Legolas brought a hand to his face. It was an unnerving sight to see the two of them arguing. Saving him, more or less, was the phone that had taken to ringing.
"Sssh" he signaled the two to be quiet. "hello? Dad?"
"Amh... hello Legolas..."
"Wha... what's going on?"
"What's going on? No nothing, it's just..."
"What? You're making me nervous."
"As in... I can't find Ilweran anymore."
"HUH?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T FIND HIM ANYMORE?! IS IT POSSIBLE TO LOSE A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD?"
"Calm down! I didn't lose him. I found the window open and the phone on the bed. I don't want to freak you out, but I think he ran away...Legolas?"
Escaped. One of those words no parent ever wants to hear.
"Las, are you all right?" Aragorn asked. The blond, however, did not answer
Directly he fainted.

Shortly after, Legolas opened his eyes: when he did, he found himself in front of Aragorn and Faramir who were waving a newspaper in front of his face in an attempt to make him recover.
"He has recovered!" exclaimed the latter.
"Legolas, are you alright?" - asked the first.
"No," he answered quickly, "I am not well. My son has disappeared, and this is terrible! I must go and find him!"
"Stop, you almost fainted!" Faramir tried to stop him.
"Never mind," he said with difficulty, "I must find him. Warn everyone, do me this great favor."
"Ah" sighed Aragorn. "his stubbornness knows no bounds, but he is right: we must find him".
Shortly thereafter, the tranquility of their friends was totally turned on its head: no one had seen Ilweran and everyone was scrambling to find him.
"What did you say to him, you inconsiderate bitch?" Thranduil pointed a finger at Enya. "I know it's all your fault!"
"Relax, I had nothing to do with it. He would have no reason to run away because of what I told him!"
"Come on "old man" Gimli intervened in favor of the woman. "you can't blame her."
The latter turned to look at him, surprised that he was defending her.
"Oh, thank you."
"Old me?! And who am I supposed to blame, huh?!"
"Quiet!" Aragorn shushed them. "I'm trying to talk to the police!"
Legolas meanwhile paced nervously, trembling.
"What if something happened to him? I'll never forgive myself!"
"Don't worry, Legolas" Frodo tried to reassure him. "Gandalf and the others are looking for him, you'll see he can't have gone far."
"Maybe it was only the folly of a second" Sam added. "you know how teenagers are"
"Yes, I do! It's costing me my health though!" he complained.
Shauna, sitting up, nervously waved her legs. She couldn't believe that Ilweran had disappeared, she knew those things very well how they went, when someone their age disappeared they were never found again.
"WHAT IF THEY KIDNAPPED HIM?" Tauriel exclaimed.
"Thank you, you sure know how to console people" Una scolded her.
"Girls, please, this is not the right time - Eldarion stopped her - come on Shauna, we'll find him, Ilweran is not stupid".
"I know " she said with an astonished look. "it's just that I can't believe he left like that. Oh no, maybe he really hates me."
Legolas heard those words.
"But no Shauna.... He is not capable of hating."
"I hope so..." she twisted her hair nervously between her fingers. "I even gave him my first time, I don't want anything to happen to him..."
"WHAT?!" exclaimed Sam. " YOU DID WHAT?! HOW COULD YOU!"
"Sam, calm down" Frodo tried to hold him back.
"CALM DOWN, MY ASS! HE DID THE RIGHT THING RUNNING AWAY, IF I SEE HIM...!"
"All right, all right" Faramir stood up. "I'm not going to stay here and do anything, I'm going out to look for him too."
"I'll go with you" Aragorn told him.
"I'd rather not."
"It will be quicker if there are two of us" he stated in a tone that allowed no reply. Faramir didn't seem too happy about it, but if he wanted to help, then all the better for him.
It was dark outside and that made the search even more difficult. The worst was already feared, anything could happen in Ilweran.
Aragorn and Faramir, side by side, were continuing straight down the long road ahead of them.
"You haven't been a father for sixteen years, now suddenly here you are worrying!" - exclaimed the second.
"Look, there's no point in you continuing to accuse me, okay? All I can do is try to make it up to you somehow."
"Yeah, sure, make it up to you. Why do you think he ran away? Because of everything that happened, it's obvious."
"I... I know" he sighed "just don't remember. If anything happens to him it will be all my fault."
A short while later they fell silent and in that time Faramir could see a great bitterness in the eyes of the "enemy".
"No... I'm sure he's fine."
"I hope so. Maybe I should have left things the way they were. Maybe you would have been a better father than me."
"It may be yes, but it may also be no. That wouldn't have changed things, you would have always remained his real father and... sooner or later it would have come out anyway, so better now than later. Even if you did interrupt my marriage badly."
t's true" he admitted. "I'm sorry I ruined everything. Unfortunately, however, I cannot lie about the fact that I love Legolas: it has always been so and so always will be."
"I know. And sadly I realize that... the same for him as well. And I fear that he will never love me as he loves you."
Now that they were alone they could better understand each other's motives and feelings. Until that moment they had hated each other, now however they felt it was unnecessary.
"Well... he would have learned to love you" he shrugged.
"We'll never know" he looked around. "maybe we'll have to go that way".
He pointed to a road that turned right at some point, and Aragorn decided to follow it. Strange but true, but for the first time he was feeling his rival in love close, as if he had been a simple friend.

Ilweran sighed deeply. He was sure that no one would find him: in the park near the house there was a small mound made of earth, and because of the darkness no one could see him.
It was quiet, the air was fresh, and it blocked the flow of his thoughts.
He had also closed his eyes.
"Ah, so that's where you were hiding."
The blond man gasped. When he turned around he realized that next to him was Gandalf.
"Ah, it's you - he sighed - thank goodness, I thought it was someone else. How did you know I was here?"
"Actually I didn't, I just happened to come here. You're making everyone worry, my dear boy."
"Yeah, right," he replied stymiedly, "nobody cares about me."
"Come on, that's absolutely not true. You are loved by everyone, by your friends, by Shauna, by your family."
"Oh, of course my family - he rolled his eyes - you mean the one who has lied to me all my life?"
"The situation can't be easy, I realize that. But running or hiding doesn't do any good. All you can do is make something positive out of it."
"Something positive?" he asked skeptically.
"Sure, you always have to see the positive in things. And soon, when the anger has passed, it will come naturally to you. Just... don't punish your parents. They suffered too, and you're suffering too. There's no point in adding more suffering."
Talking to Gandalf was always liberating given his immense wisdom.
Between his words and Enya's, Ilweran had to look for ways to cheer himself up, even if momentarily he couldn't.
"How would you like to go back?"
Ilweran seemed to think about it.
"And that's fine. But that doesn't change things."
"It's a start already" -he smiled.

Soon after...
Aragorn and Faramir returned empty-handed to Legolas, who meanwhile continued to worry and imagine the worst things that could happen to his son.
"Well?" he asked anxiously.
"I'm sorry," replied the former, "we haven't found him."
"What do you mean - he almost felt like crying - oh Ilweran..... But where is my baby...?"
Shauna looked around, and at some point her eyes lit up.
"He's there!"
And indeed the blond was advancing towards them flanked by Gandalf.
Legolas finally felt all tensions and fears leave him, and without a second thought he went to him and hugged him tightly as he had never done before.
"Ilweran! You're here, you're all right! I feared the worst!"
The boy, however, did not respond to that embrace; he did not feel ready yet.
"Yes, I'm fine he flinched. A disappear ten minutes for air and see what happens."
Aragorn leaned closer. He wouldn't know what to say. After all, he could see that Ilweran was still angry and shaken.
"I'm... sincerely glad you're all right" he merely said.
The son, as cold as ever, nodded his head. Then he turned to Eldarion and Shauna, who were quivering to embrace him but were forced to restrain themselves.
"Ilweran..." called the girl.
"From tomorrow I go back to school," she said coldly, "and to training. I'm not doing it for you, but for the good of the team, let me be clear."
Neither of them dared to say anything. That was fine for the moment, the important thing was that Ilweran was okay.
Legolas brought a hand to his heart at seeing him like this.
"What happens now?" he asked.
"Now I will keep an eye on you... I promise" - Aragorn whispered.
Faramir sighed and then met the gaze of his now ex-boyfriend.
It was clear they had a lot to talk about, but they would do that later.
The scare had been great, but all had turned out well in the end.

Chapter Text

Arwen looked at her husband in annoyance as he prepared to go to work. She had the impression that she was slowly losing everything she had ever had. In fact, she had probably already lost it, because at that moment Aragorn was as far away from her as ever.

"You're going to see that again today, aren't you?" she asked, alluding to her lover/ex-boyfriend.

"That one has a name," he adjusted the cuffs of his shirt, "and anyway, I don't know... maybe."

"I can't believe you'd go to such lengths," she said bitterly, "to rush in there, to break up his marriage, to reveal to Ilweran that..."

"It had to be done. I waited far too long" - he said firmly, looking her in the eye.

"However, what I said weeks ago still stands. It's a choice you have to make."

"Why must you force me to choose? Love between two people can end, I don't see why punish me!"

"It's not because of that. It's because you lied to me, deceived me, made me think you loved me..."

"So you're going to take my son away from me?!"

"You won't have time for him now."

"Of course I'll have time. All right, do what you think best. But that won't make me come back to you anyway"  he whispered, giving her a dirty look.

Arwen almost shuddered, but tried not to let it show.

Was she losing her mind? That she was turning into a psychopath?

It wasn't like her to do such things, and yet lately she couldn't behave any differently.

"I'm going to work," Aragorn muttered angrily as he walked past her.

 

Ilweran had been back at school for a while, but no one could recognise him anymore.

He had changed, he had blocked his feelings, a sort of involuntary defence to prevent himself from suffering. The problem was that it had made him incredibly cold and apathetic, which was not like him.

At least on the field, however, his pent-up anger was very useful, given the energy he put into it... perhaps too much.

"Ilweran, take it easy," Enya called back, "if you keep this up, you're going to be tired in the first five minutes.

"Don't worry about me," he mumbled, "I can manage perfectly well."

"Ah," she sighed, "your stubbornness knows no bounds."

Eldarion, Tauriel, Shauna and Sabia, sitting on the bench, watched him, just as they had watched his sudden change, which was not exactly welcome.

"Oh no," Shauna complained, "I'm afraid Ilweran will never be the same as he was before. What if he stays like this? Cold and apathetic?"

"Ah, I don't think so," Tauriel consoled her quickly, "it's just a period."

"Yes, but now he's mad at me."

"And me," Eld rolled his eyes, "I'm an idiot, there's nothing I can do about it now.

"If you'll allow me," Sabia spoke, "I don't think anyone should do anything. Ilweran needs time, that's all."

"I think little Sabia is right," Tauriel said, "and if Ilweran doesn't come back the way he was, I swear I'll beat him up!"

Eld rubbed his aching head. He had too many problems to think about, including his almost certain move to another city.

He hadn't told anyone but his brother, and it weighed on him in no small part.

"What's the matter, sweetheart?"  Tauriel asked.

"Nothing... it's nothing..." he lied. He would have told them what the problem was, but not right then.

He looked up: Ilweran seemed quite wild and his physical prowess was incredible. He accidentally gave Una a shoulder bump, causing her to fall.

"Ouch!" complained the girl, "hey!"

"What do you want? Why don't you pay more attention?"

"Hey" Elladan interjected. "how dare you, apologize to her!"

"And don't you get involved!"

"I do meddle, Una is my girlfriend."

The latter blushed violently. She didn't remember agreeing to be his girlfriend, but that statement had pleasantly surprised her.

"What's this all about?" Enya scolded them. "Ilweran, calm down!"

"I am calm as can be, it's this one who's annoying."

Intrigued, the others approached.

"Guys, are you alright?"  Shauna asked.

"Mind your own business."

"Ilweran," Eld was shocked, "will you stop that? It's not like you to treat people like that."

The blond man narrowed his gaze.

"Oh, and I suppose you're here to lecture me, are you?" he said contemptuously. "yes... because you're better than me... you're the one who had everything... you're the chosen one".

"Now stop it."

"Why? You know too that you won't last. Soon you won't be able to bother me with your nonsense anymore."

Eldarion's eyes widened. He wanted to throttle him so badly at that moment.

"What do you mean, Eld?"  Tauriel asked.

"Ah, why, you haven't even told your girlfriend and our friends?"

"Ilweran please..."

"Then I'll tell you. Poor Eldarion is going away at the end of the year. Oh yes, that's right, to another city, maybe another country. I guess his mother didn't take the affair between his father and mine well."

His brother glared at him.

Stupid... stupid Ilweran. Why are you doing this to me? It wasn't fair for them to know like this.

Tauriel approached him.

"Is it true, Eld?"

He sighed.

"Yes, it's true. I swear I was going to tell you, just not now."

"After all, it's not your forte to tell the truth."

"Alright, that's enough!" Enya was furious. "I don't like these things. You're brothers, start acting like it!"

"I really don't want anything to do with this one!"

"That's enough now, out! Get some air."

"Sure, I'd love to go!" he exclaimed.

Shauna watched him leave.  She absolutely had to do something.

"Wait for me, Ilweran!"

The blond, however, ignored her. He was suddenly blocked by the girl herself.

"Hey... wait" she gasped.

"What do you want?"

"Please don't treat me badly" she pleaded with him.

"I'm simply treating you the way you deserve to be treated."

"Can't you stop being so angry?"

He looked at her.

"No I can't. You would behave the same way!"

"That's not true. I wouldn't treat my friends badly."

"You lied to me, in fact, you hid something very important about me!"

After a bad training session, Ilweran had returned home. It had been a hard day, he had argued with practically everyone. A few months ago it wouldn't have been like this. That wasn't him, he knew better, but he had no choice.

He couldn't be like he always was, maybe he didn't even want to be, who knows.

When he got home he realised that his own nerves had not calmed down at all.

Doing things like drinking camomile tea and punching a pillow would have been too easy. No, something stronger was needed here.

So he had an unhealthy idea: he knew that Thranduil hid cigarettes somewhere, as he had fallen out of the habit of smoking a few from time to time. Ilweran had never even tried smoking; the thought of smoke passing through his throat was quite repulsive to him.

But it was also true that a cigarette could calm his tense nerves.

He searched through the various drawers in the house. He found his booty in the bottom drawer of the living room chest of drawers.

There were only a few, but since they had been practically forgotten, no one would notice anything.

So he grabbed one and decided to smoke it outside, so as not to leave any traces.

He took a lighter with him, and when he arrived in the driveway, he brought it to his lips and lit it.

He inhaled deeply, then coughed.

"Oh," he complained, "man, that's disgusting."

His initial reaction was one of revulsion, but as the minutes passed he seemed to grow calmer.

Aragorn was finding himself passing through there on his way to Legolas.

He had not spoken to his son since that time... that time when he had revealed everything to him.

The thought of not being able to speak to him pained him greatly.

The man caught sight of him, and he probably should have kept walking without speaking to him, but as soon as he saw him fuming he pounced on him.

"Ilweran!"

The boy lifted his gaze, heartbroken.

"What do you want, you?"

"What are you up to?! Since when do you smoke?!"

"Since now, it's to calm my nerves!"

"No! - he exclaimed, grabbing the cigarette from his lips - it's bad for you!"

"Hey, give it back!"

"Not a chance. Like it or not, I'm your father, and I care about your health."

"Oh, that's touching," he said sarcastically, "I was much better off before."

"Ilweran... you can't avoid it forever, you are aware of that, aren't you?"

"I'm only aware of the fact that I don't want to deal with anyone, because my family lied to me, as well as my friends and even my girlfriend!"

Aragorn could read a lot of pain in that angry tone.

"One day you will understand that we did it for you."

"But that day is not today. Now would you mind giving me back my cigarette?" he asked, holding out his hand.

"This one comes with me. You'll ruin your lungs, it's no good if you want to be a basketball player."

"Tsk " he gave him a dirty look. "all right, what a killjoy."

The man rolled his eyes. Ilweran had never been a reckless, reckless teenager, but he feared that suffering would change him for the worse.

There was one person who had followed him... and it was none other than Arwen.

Arwen, who had been hiding behind a tree, could watch the boy damn himself and talk to himself.

At first she had felt she hated him, after all he represented the very union between Legolas and Aragorn. But now she did not know what he felt, perhaps pity.

That is why he approached him. Ilweran did not notice her until she was less than a metre away.

"Oh!" he gasped, "she..."

"Take it easy, I don't mean any harm."

"You're not here to insult me, are you?" he asked.

"No, that's not why I'm here. I saw you talking to my husband just now."

"Ah yes," he muttered, "what a pain in the ass."

Arwen had to smile.

"All fathers worry."

"He's not my father. He didn't raise me, he wasn't there."

"He hasn't been there because... he's had us to think about"  she sighed, realising perhaps for the first time that she wasn't the only one in that situation who was suffering.

"Couldn't he have been there for both of us? - she asked bitterly - all that we lost, all that we didn't live. He didn't want me."

"I... maybe I'm not the best person to talk about it, but I think if he could have been there for you. You're not so different from my son. Maybe you shouldn't hate him, he's your brother."

"I hate everyone right now."

"Yes - she held back a laugh - I can understand."

Arwen didn't understand why she was entertaining herself by talking to him. She had never stopped to read about his suffering.

Ilweran was not to blame. Maybe... maybe it wasn't anyone's fault and maybe she was taking it too hard.

Love could end...or not be born at all. She knew that.

"Take care," she sighed, "you've almost died once already, don't let those who love you worry."

The boy did not reply. Smoking had made him sick, so he doubted he would do it again.

He didn't know how he would cope the next day and the day after that.

All he knew was that anger was the only thing he could hold on to.

Chapter Text

Ilweran hadn't smoked a cigarette in those days. The first time had already been enough for him and it had been quite disgusting, so it would have been useless to continue to vent his nerves in that way. Everything was falling apart, he had no family, no friends, no girlfriend... his apathy had led him to this, and although everyone advised him to go on, he couldn't do it.
Maybe he was too weak!
Sharing the same house with the twins Elladan and Elrohir certainly didn't help, because as much as they argued outside they also argued inside.
"Hey" the first one called him back. "do you mind turning the music down? We're trying to study here."
The blond man had looked up and in a sign of defiance had increased the volume of the music.
"Are you kidding me?!" Elladan exclaimed.
"No, I wouldn't dare" the other man taunted him again.
"I'm warning you, my patience has a limit."
"You don't scare anyone!"
"Come on!" Elrohir also intervened. "one cannot even study in peace?"
"Tell that to this little boy here. Maybe if you put your head in the toilet you'd learn to be a little more respectful."
"Don't you dare touch me," she challenged him, "you'd better leave me alone."
"Why, or you'll cry?"
That was too much for Ilweran, and although he wasn't the violent type, he didn't think twice before jumping on him. Elrohir obviously intervened on his brother's behalf.
"Two against one, you are unfair!" he shouted in fact.
All those shouts were heard by Elrond and Thranduil, who immediately rushed to them.
"Hey" exclaimed the former, separating them. "stop, what on earth are you doing?"
"It's all his fault" Elladan exclaimed. "he has to get out of here!"
"You don't tell me what I must and must not do, you idiot!" he exclaimed.
"That's enough now, both of you stop it!" this time Thranduil spoke. "you should be ashamed of yourselves, we are a family and we should behave like one."
"I have nothing to do with this one."
"Well neither do I also have to do with someone who uses ladybug hair clips!"
"I only use them to stay home, you idiot!" he exclaimed extending a hand towards him.
"Stop it!" Elrond said immediately. "Elladan, Elrohir, this is no way to behave!"
"I had nothing to do with it" he quickly justified himself.
While those four were arguing though, Thranduil felt a not inconsiderable pain in his lower abdomen, which immediately made him realize what was about to happen.
"Um... excuse me..." -he said feebly.
"Alright, alright, then since you don't want to cooperate you're grounded, both of you!"
"Guys..."
"Why we do and he doesn't, it's not fair...!"
"We do as I say!"
"ELROND!"
The latter turned around.
"What is it?"
"I don't want to disturb you," he said with a hint of sarcasm, "but I think this is it."
"Are we there? - she looked at him - now? At this very moment? Does it have to be?"
"What do you think I'm deciding...? ouch!"
"All right, all right, all right" she grabbed his hand. "just breathe, okay?"
"What are we supposed to do?" asked Ilweran.
"Into the car now, and without a word," ordered the other in a tone that certainly allowed no reply.

In the meantime, poor Legolas had found a way to console himself. Now that he was no longer on the verge of getting married he felt much less guilty, even if he still thought it was all madness.
The lights were soft and in their hands he and Aragorn were holding a glass of red wine, remembering the good old times.
"Do you remember that time we went camping?" asked the latter.
"No kidding, the most destructive night of my life. I also remember very well how I fell into the lake and got soaked to the bone."
"Yes, but then I picked you up and carried you to the fire. I saved you, if it wasn't for me you would have caught a nasty cold."
"Oh, then I owe you."
Aragorn laughed. Standing there and talking quietly about their past was quite pleasant.
"Eh... we've been through a lot together... we've grown up together."
"Yeah... maybe life has more in store for us to experience together, too, who knows?"
Legolas stiffened at those words. It had always been his dream, not so secret really. The thing was, he had always played the role of lover and maybe it was time to stop.
"I'd like to say no, but if we're here in spite of everything, I guess there's a reason. We have never stopped loving each other in all these years, it's absurd."
"It's not absurd" he shrugged. "it's love... very simply."
The blond man cleared his throat.
"Maybe I shouldn't say this but right now it's so, so much I want to kiss you.... you say it's a problem?"
Aragorn smiled grabbing his face in his hands.
"No, it's not a problem."
Then he moved closer to him and after a long time they could give each other a proper kiss, a kiss that was really just a starting point for something deeper, given how much they wanted each other. The blond man's phone had been ringing off the hook, and even though Legolas had tried to ignore it, he had been forced to answer it.
"Ah, who is it now?" he read the name on the display and opened his eyes wide. "hello, Ilweran? Honey, are you okay?"
"Hi.... yes, I'm fine, the same can't be said for grandpa."
"Eh... wait... you're not going to tell me that..."
"Yeah, maybe you'd better come"
"Fuck."
"Huh?"
"Nothing, I'm coming... yes, I'll be right there.... bye"
"Is something wrong?" Aragorn asked.
Legolas smiled nervously.
"Well, I'm about to be a big brother, I have to run."

It had been strange for Ilweran to talk to his father after what had happened, and it had given him pause. He had to admit, he had missed him a little.
"I swear if I make it out alive I will kill you with my own hands," Thranduil complained as he lay on the hospital bed, "you stupid Elrond, you are to blame."
"I know, the fault is always mine" he sighed.
"Rather, is my ungrateful son on his way?"
"Yes, I just called him" Ilweran replied.
"Ah, good, at least this way I'll get the fav back.... ah!"
"You shouldn't talk"
"I'm too old for that"
"You're only old when it suits you, huh?"
"It's not funny... ah...."
"Oy" Elladan groans. "I daren't imagine the pain"
"You guys had better get out" -suggested Elrond.
"Can't we stay?"
"No, and then even if it were believe me, you do not want to see. Don't worry Ilweran, I'll take care of him."
And so the three boys were forced to go to the waiting room.
"I will never have children" proclaimed Elrohir.
"Sure, who wants to have them with you anyway?" his brother scoffed.
"Boys, this is not the time."
"Not the time? But if you've been breaking up for days, now you're telling us it's not time?"
"I know, but now is not the time for real."
"He's right" sighed Elrohir.
"Ah, all right" he huffed.
Ilweran huffed Shortly after, the blond man turned towards the entrance, spotting Legolas fumbling his way towards them... along with Aragorn.
"Ilweran" he wheezed - how is he doing?"
"I don't know, I think fine" he said with folded arms. "were you two together?"
"We, that is..."
"Yes, we were together" said Aragorn.
"I see. Well, all we can do is wait."
The situation was strange now. All three stood next to each other but without speaking, and for the first time Legolas did not know what to say.
"How are you Ilweran?" He whispered at one point. "I haven't seen you for too long."
"I feel as if I have already told you that I am well."
"I'm your father, I can tell when it's not true."
"What the heck, nothing gets past you"
"Aragorn told me you've been smoking"
"You ratted me out!" he accused him.
"It was only fair he should know, we're your parents."
"Yes, it's too bad you only remembered now" he replied argumentatively.
"Ilweran, not if now is the right time".
"You probably have no idea what it's like to live for sixteen years with a conviction that in one day is completely disassembled! I feel betrayed, weighed down and above all... I can't trust you anymore!
"You are absolutely right," Aragorn replied, "there is no justification for what we have done. Just please...don't hold a grudge against us forever. It hasn't been easy for us."
"For you it was very easy, I think."
"Ilweran" -Legolas called back to him.
"What is it? Is it true? He was living the good life while we were making the sacrifices. He doesn't care about anything, about you or me."
"That is absolutely not true" - Aragon replied sternly.
"Ah, do you mean to say that you love him? That you love me too? You don't understand - he looked exasperated - you are not my father. You haven't been there.... you haven't been there..."
His angry tone had given way to a more than obvious sadness.
Aragorn understood this immediately. It was true, he had not been there, except passively, and it was more than fair that his son did not recognize him in that role.
"All right, let's all stay calm now," suggested Legolas, "you must understand Ilweran that the situation was much... heavier and more complicated."
The boy wiped his eyes, from which tears would have otherwise threatened to come out.
"I try hard to understand it but I don't understand it instead. I don't know how long it will take me to forgive you" - he finally said.
Legolas and Aragorn cast a glance at each other without saying anything. To force him would have been useless and counterproductive.
There followed another endless minutes of silence. With folded arms, Ilweran fell asleep on the chair with his head against the wall, Legolas found a comfortable bed on Aragorn's shoulder.
After a while the silence was broken by a wail.
Legolas gasped, and Aragorn reassured him by smiling.
"Congratulations" he said to him.
A little later the door opened and a nurse came in carrying a cradle that looked more like a glass cage.
Immediately they were all around it.
"Wow, how cute boy is that!" Ilweran exclaimed, immediately regaining his good mood.
"Cute girl" the nurse corrected him. "it's a she".
"A she? I have a sister?" asked Legolas, still in disbelief.
The rosy-cheeked child had a few dark blond hairs, and her eyes were already bright.
"They have decided to call her Yaren" -said the nurse again.
"She is beautiful" whispered the blond stroking her cheek. "welcome, Yaren. How is my father?"
"Fine, he's getting some rest now. I'm glad to see that this little one is already loved by everyone."
"Oh, you can say that again" Ilweran added, completely taken with the newcomer.
Arwen arrived exactly at that moment, followed by Eldarion. Immediately she headed for the cradle, in a hurry.
"Oh," she said touched, "so he's born! How cute he is!"
"She" Legolas corrected her. "it's a she".
The woman lifted her gaze and then crossed those of her ex-husband. They all found themselves there, which was rather awkward.
"Excuse me, I'm going to get a coffee, I need it" Aragorn said at that point hoping that no quarrels would break out.
Fortunately, perhaps also thanks to the arrival of Yaren, she did not seem intent on creating arguments.
"Did... everything go well?" Arwen asked.
"Huh? Ah yes... everything is fine..."
"I see. You know... it's kind of weird. In all sincerity, I detest you."
"I gathered that."
"But at the same time we're part of the same family. We have a sister in common now, our parents are together, we had a child by the same man..."
"Yes, I see what you mean" he interrupted her.
"Maybe" Arwen smiled nervously. "fate is teasing me. Or maybe it's trying to tell me something."
"Arwen, please - for the first time Legolas was addressing her as if she were a friend and not an enemy - do not take Eldarion away from Aragorn, do not force him to follow you. You said it yourself that we are family now."
"I know. And I thought that this way I would save that same family... now I'm honestly not sure anymore" she interrupted herself when she heard Yaren complain. "hey...
hi baby. Know that you are very lucky. You have just gained as many as three older brothers, a sister and two nephews who will always protect you."
Legolas had to laugh. He doubted that that brief talk would change things. But maybe, who knows, it could be a place to start.
Of course, Ilweran and Eldarion had not been able to ignore each other. Or rather, the former had even tried, but the latter had decided to talk to him.
"Hey... what a face, you should be happy."
"I am happy" he answered haughtily, "I'm just not happy to see you".
"Face it, we're part of the same family now, and I'm going to be Yaren's favorite, so..."
"Hell no" mumbled the blond, making him laugh.
"I'm very glad to see you. Can we talk for a minute?"
"What about?"
"I miss the old Ilweran. The good, kind, caring one. My brother."
"Stop saying that. I know, I miss him too, but it's not my fault. It's like my heart is sealed shut."
"Then open it again, what the heck" he huffed. "you know what I think? That you're weak."
"Hey!"
"That's right! Because a strong person doesn't need to shut down. You're angry and hurt and disappointed, and you're right. And I know you can't get over it all overnight, but at least make an effort, and really make an effort! The others and I are there for you, and so is Shauna...who you treated badly..."
It was so true. How wicked he had been to her, she who had always been so sweet and attentive to him. And he had acted like a jerk instead.
After so long he was again learning to feel things like guilt.
"Yes, I treated her badly," he admitted, "damn it, now what do I do?"
"Go to her and apologize! You love her, don't you? Then go."
Ilweran looked around indecisively. Eld was right in spite of everything.
"All right, I'll go!" he exclaimed.
"Bravo!" he complimented.
"Hey Ilweran!" Legolas called to him seeing him running away. "but where are you going?"
"Ah, he's just going to solve his love problems" -Eld answered him.
Aragorn arrived at that instant.
"I saw Ilweran running, but where is he going?"
"To solve his love problems" he said simply, shrugging.
As he ran, Ilweran couldn't help but keep telling himself how stupid he had been. Treating his friends badly...his girlfriend!
He had to make it up to her somehow.
After a frantic run that had left him breathless, Ilweran had arrived at his destination.
Panting, he rang the doorbell. A little later Sam opened the door.
"Sam" he called. "hello... Shauna is in the house.
"Yes, she is, but you can't come in," he answered, squaring his face.
"What? But I need to talk to her, please!"
"Not after what you did"
"Look, I'm sorry that I took her virginity, all right?!" he exclaimed exasperated. "but now I really need to talk to her."
"Now you can just forget about it, you traditional..."
"Sam," Frodo scolded him, "don't be rude! Excuse him Ilweran. Come in."
"Thank you - he sighed - a thousand times thank you."
He entered, walking up the stairs as Sam glared at him.
The door to Shauna's room was open and Shauna was sitting comfortably on her bed with headphones in her ears.
Ilweran saw her and silently came up behind her, covering her eyes with his hands.
"Huh?" the girl asked, taking off her headphones. "what the...? Ilweran?"
"It's me."
"But... what are you doing here? Did something happen?"
"Actually, something happened. What happened is that I came to my senses, at least in part, and realized how stupid I was to treat you badly!"
Shauna blushed slightly.
"I was very hurt, I admit it."
"I know and I'm sorry! I took it too hard and took it out on you and the others who just wanted to help me instead. I'm afraid they won't want to see me again."
"But who, our friends? No, I don't think so, they'll understand."
"And you? Do you understand?" he whispered, moving closer.
She smiled radiantly.
"I understand. I'm glad you apologized to me, I wasn't hoping for that anymore."
"Oh, thank goodness!" he exclaimed embracing him. "now I feel much better, much better! Oh, and by the way" he took out his phone, showing her a picture. "I want you to meet my aunt. Her name is Yaren.
Shauna's eyes lit up.
"Oh, how sweet she is! She kind of looks like you, you know?I love children, maybe one day we can make one or two."
Ilweran cleared her throat.
"I'd love to."
Shauna moved closer to her lips, and after weeks they gave each other a deep, intense kiss, full of emotion and even a generous hint of excitement.
"Emh, emh."
The two turned away. It was none other than Sam who had interrupted them.
"The hands are held in place."
"Sam, don't be boring" Frodo scolded him again. "Ilweran, would you like to stay for dinner?"
"Me? Yes, I'd love to" he happily agreed. Shauna clung to his arm.
Now that they were back together more than ever, things were going to get better.

Meanwhile, Legolas and Aragorn had stepped out of the hospital for a moment to get some air.
"Did Arwen say something to you?" he asked him.
"Yes, but strangely she was kinder than usual. She said we're family now and she's not sure she wants to go through with what she wants to do...I don't know, it's weird, what if she's playing us?"
"She might be, but strangely I think she's not."
"The thing that scares me is that everything, even our relationship, depends on her."
At that point Aragorn had to smile.
"Does this mean that if it were up to you you would get back with me right away too?"
"Eh... I didn't say that."
"But that's what you meant."
"And stop reading between the lines" he huffed, blushing.
"Hey, you lovebirds!"
The two immediately recognized Faramir's voice.
"Faramir!" Legolas exclaimed, throwing his arms around his neck. "I'm so happy to see you."
"Oh, me too. Congratulations, you've had a little sister. Now she's going to take all the attention away from you, I hope you're not jealous."
"No, I think I'm long past the jealousy stage."
"Good. Hi Aragorn, I'm not interrupting anything, am I?"
"No, we weren't doing anything" said the blond.
"Of course" Faramir looked extremely mischievous. "well, you're in a good mood, it would be good to let off steam in a certain way."
"Well, that would be fine with me" Aragorn did.
"Will you stop talking about these things! In front of me, by the way!"
"Ah, come on" Faramir laughed. "poor Legolas is so sensitive, have you noticed that nothing lasts?"
"Yes, indeed I did notice!"
Legolas turned as red as a tomato. The two of them had gone from being love rivals to friends teasing him about his sexual prowess.
"That's really cool!"
"Come on, I'm just teasing you. What I'm saying is... don't let each other get away, or I swear I'll kill you this time, my word."
The other two looked at each other without speaking. They had already lost and found each other far too many times.
Maybe things would be destined to work out for that one time.

Chapter Text

Babies were cute, but they had one big flaw: they cried too much.
During the day, at night, when they were hungry, when they were sleepy and when they wanted attention. Now that there were six of them in the house, living together had become a bit difficult, though at least it had dissipated the problems with the twins.
Too bad the mood was a little low due to the lack of sleep.
Thranduil was cradling Yaren, actually he had been doing it for about half an hour, with a tired expression.
"Yaren, please, daddy loves you but if you don't sleep I'll have a nervous breakdown."
"Maybe he's hungry"-suggested the grandson.
"She ate a little while ago."
"Maybe she needs to be changed?"
"Changed that too"
"What other problems can a newborn have?" Elladan asked exasperated.
"Sssh, if you shout you will make her more agitated. But where has Elrond got to, that fellow leaves me alone like this!"
"I didn't leave you alone" he shouted from the other room. "I'm just trying to make some order, everything is out of place."
"Well, excuse me if among other things I didn't have time to clean up!"
Ilweran restrained himself from laughing. Having a baby had to be wonderful but also difficult, who knows how some people managed to raise them alone.
"Can I take her?" he asked.
"Do you want her? Be my guest!" he exclaimed, handing it to him as if it had been a sack of potatoes.
As soon as the little one took her in his arms, the baby instinctively shut up, looking at him with curiosity.
"Hey Yaren, aren't you crying now?" she said, smiling.
"That's perfect, please hold her, I haven't enjoyed some silence for hours!"
"Right now I have to go to basketball practice, but if you want I can take her with me."
"With you? By yourself? Outside?" he asked worriedly.
"Technically I'm not alone, plus I'll be careful, trust me."
"I'm only saying yes because tiredness doesn't make me think. Alright go, I'll finally be able to sleep properly!
And so Ilweran together with Elladan and Elrohir walked towards the school pushing the stroller. They looked almost like the playbill of some comedy.
By now it was late spring and it was starting to get hot. That's why when they arrived they found the rest of the group in the outdoor basketball court.
"Hey, you didn't tell me you and Shauna had a baby" joked Eldarion.
"How funny you are. For some strange reason Yaren doesn't just cry with me, so I brought her here."
Immediately all the girls were around the baby to cuddle her.
"How cute she is" said Sabia.
"I want her too" Una did.
"Oh, I love her" Enya seemed the most taken with her. "and I love babies."
"Maybe you should have one too, I think you'd make a good mother" - said Shauna.
"Do you really think so?" - she asked dreamily as she imagined herself with a baby. The real problem was to find a man to do it with, and she even had half an idea, too bad it seemed highly impossible
"Alright guys, So, it's a little while before the end of the year game, and you all have improved a lot, but it's not enough. You guys know I demand perfection."
"Ah" Sabia swallowed nervously. "what if something goes wrong?"
"What could possibly go wrong?"
"I don't know, but you know how these things are, there's always something wrong."
"Sabia Tuc, don't panic. Besides, you're our ace in the hole, if something happens you'll be the one on the field."
"I wonder why that doesn't calm me down" he swallowed.
And so the boys began their training while little Yaren rested, finally, in the shade.
In front of the mirror Aragorn was adjusting his tie, and thoughtful as he was he gasped when he saw Arwen pop up from behind him.
"You gave me a shock" he sighed.
"What did you think, I was going to pop up with a knife and stab you in the back?"
"Well, it could have been."
Arwen let a half smile escape and then turned serious again.
"There's something I need to tell you. I've been thinking and I think it's only fair to start divorce proceedings."
Aragorn widened his eyes, surprised. He had never expected such a decision from his wife, but it had made him extremely happy.
"Really Arwen?" he asked.
"Yes... however I have decided that anyway Eldarion will come with me. I have decided, we will move to Italy."
Immediately the man's happiness was blown away.
"What... what?" he stammered. "but... I thought that..."
"I want to rebuild my life. And then you can come visit whenever you want."
"But he's on the other side of the world! You can't take him away from me!"
"Eldarion needs his mother."
"I'm not saying he doesn't need to be with you, but not on another continent!"
"I've already given you what you want, you can't take my son away from me too!"
"What I want? This isn't a game, Arwen!"
"That's exactly why. I'm sorry, but right now he's all I have left."
Saying that Arwern walked away without adding anything else, leaving her husband there alone. For a moment he thought he had succeeded, but it was clear that it could not all be as easy as he had hoped.

The one who had already received the news long before him was Eldarion himself. While his friends were training he had let himself fall to the ground, cell phone in hand and a vacant expression. He didn't want it all to end like this, he didn't want to walk away and leave his friends like this. He didn't even want to build a new life, he liked his own life.
Panting Ilweran caught up with him, noticing his discontent.
"Eld, what's with the face?" he asked.
"Why do you think? Because of my transfer. I can't do it" he complained exasperated.
"Guys " Shauna called them back. "are you fighting again?"
"No, actually I'm consoling him."
"Consoling for what?"
Eldarion sighed despondently.
"It's official. I'm moving. To Italy. Far... far away from here."
As soon as Tauriel had heard those words she threw her arms around his neck with tears in her eyes.
"But you can't really leave! There's me... and the others!"
"I don't want to leave either, but what can I do?"
"No" Ilweran almost had an instinct to repl. " you will not leave, my word."
"What? How can you be sure?"
"In fact, I'm not sure, but it's not fair for you to be punished for something you didn't do."
His tone was full of determination. The anger, which still existed, had been channeled in a more positive way, or at least in part.

Meanwhile Aragorn had reached Legolas to inform him of the terrible news he had received.
Immediately the blond tried to find a solution to that problem, which however seemed to have no way out.
"But can't we, I don't know, get a lawyer involved, social workers?"
"That will never work "Aragorn sighed. "Arwern has a job, financially she's fine and she's a good mother, they would have no reason to take Eld away from her and put him in my care."
"Then let's accuse her of being crazy! I don't even think it's a lie! She can't do this to you, it's not fair. She's forcing you to choose, I know she is!"
"But I'm not going with her" he approached him. "here you are."
"But your son... " he whispered. "maybe we're doing it wrong again."
"Hey... no. Don't back out again, or it will all have been in vain."
Even if he wanted to, how could he back out? Aragorn held him so tightly, metaphorically and physically, that he would have no escape even if he wanted to.
Instinctively, he hugged him. They had to hold on, because once again the world around them was trying to separate them. This time they would have to fight like they hadn't done the previous two times.
They broke away when they heard the door open. Ilweran had appeared along with Yaren, with his usual indifferent expression.
"Ilweran" Legolas looked surprised.
"If I interrupt anything, I'm leaving."
"No, no, no!" said Aragorn immediately. "you're not interrupting anything, and besides this is your home."
"Did you bring the little one?" asked the other.
"Yes, she prefers to be with me. She has done nothing but cry until a few hours ago."
"Ah, you're better with children than I ever was" Aragorn tried to lighten the mood, but failed, and in fact received an elbow from Legolas.
"Why are you here?" the latter asked.
"To talk. About your relationship. I heard that Eldarion will have to leave ... and obviously this is a consequence of you getting back together."
"We don't ... not yet, I have to get divorced first" explained Aragorn.
"Yes, but I don't want him to leave!"
"Neither do I. But then at least we'll be a family."
"We wouldn't be regardless because I would have my brother far away. Besides, to be honest, if I have to choose between the two, I prefer him. He's always been there, you haven't."
"Ilweran" Legolas made to say something, but Aragorn interrupted him.
"You're right. But you see, the thing is, your father and I love each other. I would never let Eld go, I don't want to choose anymore."
"But why shouldn't you choose?" he asked almost sadly. "you've raised him up to now and I... I can't need something I didn't even know existed. Besides, I'm going on seventeen now, you've missed everything."
"I know, but it's not too late."
Ilweran cleared his throat. His tone sounded different now, he sounded almost...rehearsed.
"In my opinion you shouldn't choose me, that would be selfish. But I guess for the umpteenth time my opinion doesn't count, does it?"
"It does count" this time Legolas spoke. "please... be patient. At least move back in with me..."
"Honestly, I don't feel like it, it's already strange knowing you two are together. Besides, the end-of-year game is only a few minutes away, and I have to concentrate."
"We'll be there. I'll be there, too" - Aragorn told him.
And for a moment in Ilweran's head, the image of the perfect family he had always wanted materialized and now seemed almost a reality.
Too bad reality wasn't as easy as fantasy.
"As you wish" he said with a shrug. Then he walked away.
"Hey" Aragorn laid a hand on Legolas' shoulder. "everything will be fine."
"How can you be sure?"
"I don't. I just know."
All that confidence heartened him, yet the blond felt he had something important to say, not to him, but to Arwern.

The latter left work at a specific time that Legolas had learned by now. Lurking outside his office he looked more like a stalker than anything else.
The woman walked elegantly past him, and when Legolas saw her he immediately grabbed her by the arm.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, "you! You gave me a shock!"
"I'm sorry, but I had to speak to you immediately" he answered her. "Aragorn told me that you want to leave."
"Well, I don't see where the problem is. You guys can be together and you'll be rid of me!"
"But Aragorn doesn't want to be away from any of his children. Please Arwen don't...don't be selfish!"
"Thinking of the good of my son is not being selfish!"
"Oh, and your son's good would be to take him away from his friends and everything else?"
"What did you expect? That I stand by while you play happy family? You took away the man I love!"
"He was never yours!" he said without thinking. "his heart has always belonged to me. And I'm sorry, we made mistakes, but why should our children have to pay the price? Please... I understand what's going on in your head... but I'm afraid you'll hurt Eld..."
Arwern felt affected deep down, but tried not to let it show. The thing was that she felt really sure that this was the right choice, then he came and put a thousand doubts in her head!
"You should hate me," he said in a broken tone, "and you should be happy not to have me around anymore. Believe me, it will be the best choice for everyone!"
"But... wait!" Legolas tried to stop her, but the woman had run away.
There was too little time left to act and choose... but choose what?
They couldn't be separated now that they had finally found each other.

The next day at school...

Ilweran seemed to have regained his bad mood. But the good thing was that his friends seemed to be pretty down in the dumps as well.
"Hey guys" Eldarion tried to console them. "it's not like I'm dying."
"Well... it's very similar to a death" Una proclaimed. "we've always been together, it's not fair for you to leave like this".
"But you can come and see me. And I will come to see you."
"We used to see each other every day, now there will be miles away and also a plane to catch" huffed Shauna.
Tauriel rested her head on her boyfriend's shoulder, with a mixture of resignation and sweetness.
"I've never believed in long-distance relationships... but maybe I should start. I want to get lots of letters, not texts. Those are more romantic."
"Of course, as many as you want. Italy isn't so bad, and besides, the food is good."
"Yes, but don't cheat on me with some local girl!"
"Stop it," proclaimed Ilweran, "he's not going anywhere."
"How can you say that?" Eld asked.
"I say it because I'm tired of others having to decide for us. Besides, you are my brother. I hated you when I heard but now I don't want you a thousand miles away. I may run away, I may do some crazy things, but they won't separate us."
"Wow" Eld was surprised. "I didn't...expect that."
"Family always protects itself" he said with a certain solemnity. That phrase that had crept into his head was starting to make him think about a lot of things.
He would do anything to protect Eld, just as his father had done anything to protect him. After all, it was the same thing, wasn't it?
"Alright guys, but right now let's not think about it! We need to be charged up, the end is near!" said Una.
The two brothers looked at each other. The word "end" could really mean the end of everything. Or a beginning. This remained a mystery but would remain so for a short time .

Chapter Text

Time had flown by, and the final had come that early June evening.
The grandstand was already full, which made Enya not a little nervous. Yes, she, usually so brave and confident, was nervous. Had she done a good job? More importantly, would things actually go as well as she hoped?
"What are you looking at?" Una asked curiously.
"Nothing! - she exclaimed. He didn't want to scare her unnecessarily. "I was watching our crowd, all those people are there for us."
"I love the fans!" Tauriel exclaimed in her ponpon girl outfit. "I'll make sure we only cheer for us!"
"Are those our opponents by any chance?" asked Shauna.
On the other side was another team whose members were completely different from them, tall, powerful, and more than a little unpleasant looking. That made them look terribly strong and frightening.
Enya could see the expressions of her little friends change.
"Don't make those faces. They will have the strength probably, but we have the intellect, and that is definitely more important. Now I don't want you to panic, so run and warm up while I do the honors!"
Her tone was encouraging, but in truth it only served to hide a great deal of anxiety: what chance would they have of winning against those monsters?

A large part of the grandstand had been occupied by the Fellowship of the Ring, who obviously didn't fail to make themselves heard.
"I hate this," muttered Gimli, "why do you always have to put me in the middle?"
"Because we're a group, where one goes the others go" Frodo chided him.
"So if I want to go to the toilet you all follow me?"
"You know what I mean. Besides, you should be glad to see your almost-girlfriend."
"Shut up!" he shushed him.
Legolas and Aragorn had found themselves sitting next to each other. Arwen was there too, a few feet away, but they had preferred not to even look at each other
"And who would have thought we'd find ourselves here together" said the former.
"Yeah. It would be nice if it was like this all the time...if only I didn't feel so constantly threatened" huffed the other.
The blond clutched his arm to try to reassure him: school would be over any day now and Arwen seemed adamant about her choice. It seemed they had no choice but to surrender to the facts: the easiest thing would be to break up, but neither of them wanted to break away from the other by now.
"Is this seat free?" a voice suddenly asked.
"Yes, I think so," replied Legolas. As he turned around, he realized that the voice did not belong to a stranger, but to Faramir, followed by Thranduil and Elrond. In the latter's arms Yaren was sucking greedily on her pacifier.
"Hello!" he exclaimed. "you're here too!"
"Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world!" Faramir exclaimed.
"Neither would I," said Thranduil casting a glance at Aragorn, "I see that you are together. Apparently someone never learns."
"Please, can we avoid arguments? This is an important night."
"Right, he's right" Faramir said as he sat down next to him and then whispered to him. "so, are you two together?"
Legolas shook his head in exasperation, then was distracted by Merry's voice.
"Look, there's Enya there, but where is she going?"
"I believe she is heading to meet the coach of the other team" suggested Gandalf.
When Gimli heard those words he could not remain indifferent.
He watched Enya walk all strutting and nervous, towards an unknown figure.
The young woman arrived at her destination, clearing her throat.
"Um, hello" she cleared her throat. "I think we should introduce ourselves. My name is Enya Durin Baggins. Are you...?"
The man turned around: he was the most disturbing figure she'd ever had the misfortune of facing: surely at least seven feet tall, a thick halo of misery around him, hollow eyes, an expressionless face, and a voice so grave it shook.
"Call me Sauron."
Enya trembled. Even the name was scary, but she had to try to prove herself calm.
"Ah... original. I hope we can play smoothly and with sportsmanship, and most importantly have fun, because fun is what matters, right?" she asked with a nervous smile as the other got closer and closer to her face.
"I don't know who came up with something like that but...I'm certainly not here to have fun. We're going to win, we're going to tear you apart, and you can be sure of that...you strange little girl."
If this had been any ordinary person Enya would have responded in kind. But she was completely stuck, the guy seemed to suck the life and breath out of her.
Only when he had moved away she could breathe again, but now her nerves were high again. Perhaps she had underestimated her rivals a little.
"Enya, are you okay?"
Asking this was the most unexpected of people.
"Gimli," she answered, surprised, "I am... yes, I am fine, why?"
"Because you're pale and most of all you're shaking. You're not going to be frightened by that one?"
"No, of course not! I'm not afraid of anything, not at all!" she exclaimed.
"Good, because there's no use being afraid. You're a winner."
Enya smiled sincerely flattered by that compliment. For once, her pride and iron armor were slowly going down the drain.
She lowered her gaze.
"Would it be too much of a favor if I asked you to stay here? You know how it is...to handle the nerves better."
Gimli was surprised, but that request pleased him. It was amazing how he could converse without arguing.
"No, it's not too big of a favor. I'll gladly do it."
As the two talked, the team tried to warm up, despite the somewhat low mood.
"I'm small, if any of those big men there hurt me, I'll kill them!" huffed Shauna.
"Don't worry," Ilweran told her, as determined as ever, "count on me, I'll lead the team to victory!"
Legolas and Aragorn had decided to go to their son, just to give him some comfort, despite the latter seemed not to need it.
"Hey" the former called him back. "you look well."
"You? Together?" he asked surprised.
"I hope it pleases you that we are both here" said Aragorn.
"Amh... I don't know, I guess it pleases me. So you're together then?"
"Not" Legolas looked at his companion. "not exactly. Wouldn't you be okay with that?"
"How can I be sure he's good enough for you? Just because you had me doesn't mean you have to be together necessarily."
"Ilweran, please" Aragorn seemed to be speaking to him with his heart on his sleeve. "give me a chance."
"Ilweran, Ilweran" Shauna pulled him by the arm. "come on, we have to get started, quick!"
"I have to go now" the blond proclaimed coldly, looking at them with a vacant expression.
Aragorn sighed despondently and Legolas laid a hand on his shoulder to try to comfort him. They would have a way to solve that problem, or so he hoped.
Shortly thereafter, the two teams came face to face. There was a distinct difference, perhaps all too obvious, and Ilweran realized this, but they would not lose.
Enya went to sit on the bench with Gimli, Eldarion, Sabia acting as reserve, and Tauriel.
The game began. Sauron's team looked determined and perhaps a little brutal, and Sauron was watching the scene with a disturbing expression to say the least.
Elladan and Elrohir were brilliant to say the least, they had improved a lot in those months, as well as Shauna and Una. The ball was thrown to Ilweran, but perhaps for the first time the boy couldn't catch it, as he was overtaken by one of the opponents who calmly went to stuff the ball into his own basket.
"Damn it!" exclaimed Enya. "alright, after all it's only one point, I have to stay calm".
Too bad that little event had hurt Ilweran's self-esteem a bit. Or maybe it wasn't that, maybe it was everything that had happened that had hurt him, all the things left unsaid, all the open wounds, the stupid pride that kept him from moving on, his family that he missed but still couldn't forgive and the fear for an uncertain future.
And all those emotions had decided to come out that very night.
He was absent, even his companions realized this. And to make matters worse, poor Una was literally thrown to the ground by one of the rival team.
"Hey!" Elladan immediately went to her rescue. "that's foul! Are you hurt?"
"That jerk spun me around before knocking me over. My ankle hurts, how am I supposed to play?"
"What's wrong?!" Enya exclaimed going over to them.
"She can't play, I think she hurt her ankle."
"Damn it. Alright then" she turned back. "Sabia, you come!"
"Huh? Me?" exclaimed the girl in panic. "but I can't go myself, I'm no good."
"Hey, hey, here we do what I say!"
"But... but... but..."
"Come on" Elrohir encouraged her. "I believe in you, come on."
She blushed deeply, feeling like a deep push.
"Alright, I'm going."
"Good sis, show those rednecks who's boss" her sister high-fived her.
"I'll try."
After that little incident, the game resumed quietly, but Ilweran was still not there. Opponents passed him by without him being able to do anything, as if he was at the mercy of events.
"Ilweran!" Shauna called out to him. "is everything okay?"
"Yes... yes, everything is fine" he lied hastily to her.
No, that everything was not okay. Her heart was beating faster than it could have and there was too much responsibility on her shoulders, not just for the game, but for everything.
By the time halftime came, the team had scored but two points, and that wasn't good; the opponents had a clear lead.
"Hey, hey, everybody get over here!" he called him back. "guys, wake up and hold on! The other team is playing slightly unfairly."
"Then let's pay them back in kind!" said Elladan.
"No. I know you're strong, I've seen the potential in each of you. Ilweran, I'm talking to you too, focus, you seem a bit on the clouds."
"I apologize, I will do my best."
Eldarion however seemed rather worried. By now he had gotten to know his brother well, and when he had that strange expression nothing good ever happened.
"They're a bit strange, don't you think?" Faramir asked.
"Yes, indeed yes. And Ilweran seems a little distracted, which is not like him," Legolas noted with a hint of concern.
On the field, Ilweran sighed. It was as if he felt overwhelmed by a thousand different emotions, fears and sensations that made him lose all sense.
At the starting signal, the game resumed and his teammates now seemed much more motivated. Ellaldan threw him a ball, and when he realised he had to go to the basket, he raised his face, but remained motionless. His friends shouted at him to go, but he seemed not to hear them. His vision began to blur.... as if it were raining, and at that point it was clear to everyone that something was wrong. That's why there was almost silence.
He was about to have another breakdown, different from the one he had the time before, mainly out of anger. Now there was only sadness, fear, fear of not being able to do anything, fear of not being able to start again.
"I can't" he only whispered. Then he dropped the ball, and walked away, almost running, under the shocked gaze of the audience and the two teams.
"Ilweran, where are you going?!" Enya exclaimed.
"Hey... What happened?" Tauriel asked.
"I don't know... but nothing good" Eldairon answered her.
Legolas and Aragorn looked into each other's eyes in fear. If Lweran had run off like that in the middle of an important game, it was obvious that something major had happened.
Lweran had left everything behind and run to his dressing room. He was sick, and not just mentally, physically too. He had the feeling he couldn't breathe, as if he might faint at any moment, not to mention the tingling in his face that only made things worse. That was the ultimate collapse, that was the bottom he had finally reached.
His friends came after him in fear.
"Ilweran, what happened?!" Eldarion asked.
"The... leave me alone..." he gasped, bringing a hand to his head.
"Do you feel ill?" Enya asked. "talk to us!"
"I said leave me alone!" - she exclaimed angrily.
Adding to the confusion were Legolas and Aragorn. The former's eyes widened as he saw his son in this condition.
"What's wrong with him?"
"I don't know, we are trying to understand" Shauna said.
Aragorn approached him and, looking at him, could come to a conclusion.
"I think it's a panic attack. You'd better go back to the field and try to hold back the crowd. We'll take it from here."
"I'm staying!" Eldarion insisted.
All right, but we're leaving," Enya concluded, "take care of him.
So it was only the boy's parents and brother who remained with him.
"Ilweran... Calm down," Legolas whispered.
"Shut up... you don't know what I'm feeling right now."
"Hey... hey" Aragorn forced him to look at him. "calm down, you must try to stay calm, to breathe."
"I can't! And you don't tell me what to do!"
"Breathe slowly, try to listen to me."
"Why?" he asked as a tear streaked down his face. "you... you were never there... you abandoned me..."
It was the last thing he managed to say before he let out a soft cry that gradually became more and more heartfelt, as if it had been a child trying to hide. Legolas put his hand over his heart, seeing for the first time how much his son was suffering from the situation.
Instinctively Aragorn grasped her face in his hands.
"I know, I know, and I am sorry for that. I know forgiving me will be difficult, but there is one thing I want you to know. I love you Ilweran, I've always loved you, even if I've been too cowardly to show it."
Finally he embraced him for the first time, and Ilweran let him, even if he wanted to he wouldn't have the strength to pull away, and besides he didn't want to.
Legolas joined them and joined the embrace. For the first time, all three of them were coming together, aware of what they were to each other.
Now that Llwera was safe in their arms, he could breathe again. This was what she had always dreamed of, not just the two of them, but all three of them. That moment of discovery surely outweighed all the pain he had felt in those months, and a smile appeared between his tears.
"I love you too... I love you both" he whispered in a choked tone.
"Oh, Ilweran" said Legolas touched, looking at Aragorn, who softly returned his look.
Eldarion watched them contentedly, happy that things were finally coming together. Even if it meant stepping aside, being away from his family, it was still fine.
What he didn't know, however, was that Arwen had also witnessed the scene. A scene that had incredibly moved her. She had been hurt, and perhaps Aragorn had not been a good husband, but that did not make him a bad father either, and he had proved it in that instant. She would never have admitted it, but she felt proud of him for finding the courage to go through with it. Maybe separating him from his children wasn't fair.
"Mum," Eldarion called. On hearing his voice the three of them broke away from the embrace.
"Arwen?" Aragorn called to her.
"Sorry," she said in a broken voice, "I wanted to make sure nothing had happened."
Ilweran wiped his face, at that moment regaining the vitality he thought he had lost.
"No, everything's fine. I'm ready to get back on the field. And this time... I swear I won't make trouble, after all, I promised one person that we will win!"
"Ah, Ilweran, you're back to your old self!" his brother exclaimed happily.
The blond boy turned towards his parents.
"Thank you. Maybe... maybe I should take back what I said. He's not good for you... he's just perfect for you... and he's perfect for me too..."
"I'm... glad you think so" Aragorn gave him a genuine smile.
Perhaps he had succeeded. Perhaps he had succeeded in regaining her trust and, more importantly, in making a connection.
"Emh, emh" Enya came out of nowhere. "I don't want to interrupt this idyllic moment but... if you don't come in two minutes we'll be disqualified!"
"We can't allow that!" exclaimed Ilweran. "emh, see you later!"
"Good luck!" Legolas exclaimed.
Aragorn encircled his shoulders with an arm.
"You say I had good timing?"
"Perfect," replied the other, smiling, "as always."

A few seconds later Ilweran returned to the field, more charged than ever.
"Here I am!"
"Ilweran!" Shauna exclaimed. "you scared the hell out of us!"
"I know, I'm sorry, but I promise it'll be fine now. How long are we?"
"22 at 4.... " huffed Sabia. "I don't know if we can do this."
"But yes we can, come on. We've fought so hard to get this far!"
"Alright, you're right" said Shauna. "Tauriel, go with the cheering, we need to charge!"
Tauriel did not ask for it twice. The match began immediately afterwards and despite the difference in points the team now seemed truly determined, led by Ilweran who had found the right spirit and who above all wanted to make them all proud, but above all himself. He had found the courage to forgive and to look ahead, and nothing scared him anymore.
He scored a first basket, then a second and a third. The crowd went completely crazy and surprised by this sudden change, and the opposing team seemed as frustrated as their coach.
Yes!" Enya exclaimed in the latter's direction, "these are my boys, don't get so cocky any more, and h?!"
"Damn, your son is really strong!" exclaimed Faramir in the direction of his friends.
"Well... what did you expect, he takes after me" said Legolas smiling.
"No, he takes after me."
"Alright, don't fight. Look, another basket!"
With wide eyes Eldarion stared at the scene before him. Now they were even and there was very little time left until the end. Ilweran, however, did not seem willing to let those big men who played dirty walk all over him. He was more than certain that one of them would push him in an attempt to make the basket miss.
He looked at the members of his own team. He saw Sabia feint at one of the opponents (she had become quite confident by now), then throw the ball to Elladan, but he couldn't catch her, as it was stolen from him by an opponent. Shauna, however, got in the way and, small as she was, managed to catch it.
"Ilweran!" she exclaimed. "the ball is yours!"
The blond went wide-eyed. As soon as he had the ball in his hand he turned to his right, seeing a guy from the other team about to run at him. He wasn't going to let anything or anyone ruin that epic moment for him.
Silence seemed to fall again. Ilweran dribbled, then took a leap, stretched his arms and finally kicked the damn ball into the basket, scoring the winning basket!
There was a roar of acclamation that echoed through the surrounding air. Ilweran fell down and did not understand what had just happened. He saw his friends literally running up to him and hugging him.
"Oh my God!" Tauriel exclaimed jumping up and down. "we won!"
"Yes," Enya shouted towards Sauron, who had nervously thrown a fist at the wall, "WE DID IT, THEY DID IT!"
"Hey," Gimli walked towards her, "I told you so..."
"OH, SHUT UP!"
As she said this, she grabbed him and very simply kissed him passionately. Shortly afterwards she pulled away. The two looked into each other's eyes, amazed at what had just happened. But in truth... they had waited too long. So they kissed again, and this time they would not pull away so easily.
"They won" Legolas looked moved. "oh my God, I can't believe it, I'm so happy!"
"I'm happy too" Aragorn looked at him as if he was watching him for the first time. "oh Legolas, I love you."
"Amh.."
He could not add a word as the other kissed him.
Faramir cleared his throat in amusement, especially noticing how Thrandui beside him glared at them.
Oh well," he tried to ease the tension, "it's the heat of the moment.

On the field, meanwhile, Ilweran was trying to recover.
"We won!"
"Of course we won - said Una - you were amazing, epic, magnificent!"
"You're our hero" Shauna clung to him. "my hero."
Without any demeanour she kissed him, making her friends laugh.
"Emh, emh, sorry" Eldrion stepped forward.
"Eld" Ilweran smiled at him. "so... can I keep my promise?"
Elder smiled, stepping closer and hugging him.
"You succeeded perfectly."
The blond returned the hug, happy to have succeeded in his intent and to have honoured his promise.
"Guys, guys! - Shauna called out to them - it's the party now, the end of the year party. But I have to perform! Girls, with me, we have to change. And you guys too, you don't want to come so I hope!"
"We'll be right there," said Ilweran, "there's something Eld and I have to do first."
The elder brother did not understand. He was dragged by the younger one towards the grandstand.
"Hey!" - he exclaimed, calling out to Legolas and Aragorn.
"Ilweran! You were amazing!" said the former.
"More," said the latter.
"Alright, alright, now you're embarrassing me though. Um, um, since technically now... we're all family. Eld won't have to leave, will he?"
The two looked at each other, not knowing what to say. This was not up to them, but to Arwen.
The latter appeared behind them with a strange expression on her face.
"Mom..."
"Boys... I've rarely seen two brothers as close as they are."
Ilweran begged her, "I know you hate me, but don't take Eld away. If you let him stay here, I'll take care of him and he'll take care of me... I promise."
"Ilweran, I don't hate you" she lifted her face. "I don't hate you Legolas, or even you Aragorn. I have realised that I cannot hate anyone, for it is no one's fault. Love cannot be decided... it just happens."
"What does that mean?" the man asked.
"It means that you're a wonderful family... that we all are, really, and I can't break it up like this... Eldarion needs me... but he also needs you... so... we're not going anywhere."
Filled with joy Ilweran looked at his brother.
"Thank you, thank you, a thousand times thank you!"
"Arwen, I do not know what to say" whispered Aragorn.
"I simply did what I should have done before. I must admit, in spite of everything...you make a fine couple. Because after all this fuss, I hope you do get together."
The two looked at each other smiling.
"You can count on it."
"Since it ended well then now you all have to come to the party, so are we going or not?"
"Yes, I don't see why not" - Aragorn decided.

Shortly afterwards...

One of the gyms had been set up as a hall for the end-of-year party, dressed as if it were a disco. It was already full, and soon Shauna, Una, Sabia and Tauriel arrived, well dressed, perfumed and made up.
The first one took the stage. She had been waiting to perform in front of the school since the beginning of the year, and to think that she had feared she would not make it.
"Emh, emh" she cleared her throat at the microphone. "hello everyone. My name is Shauna and... I'm going to liven up the evening, hope you like me!"
"You rock, Shauna!" soon came her cheers from the boys.
She blushed, and after that the music started.

"Wow, cool" Eldarion said as his brother hugged him.
"Modestly that's my girl" he hugged him even more. "the more I love you."
"Oh" Elladan mussed his hair. "now don't make me cry."

 

[Everybody makes mistakes... Everybody has those days...

Everybody knows what I'm talkin' 'bout... Everybody get's that way... Everybody makes mistakes... Everybody has those days...

Everybody knows what I'm talkin' 'bout... Everybody get's that way...]

Aragorn walked through the crowd dragging Legolas behind him.
"Aren't we getting a little too old for this?" the latter asked.
"Come on, walk on, who knows where the others are?" asked the other.
At a certain point they were forced to stop. The man had collided with Thranduil, who had not reacted, but had simply turned and looked at him with a terrible expression. Elrond behind him tried to put on a good face.
"Emh... perhaps it is time to bury the hatchet?"
Aragorn extended his hand, making the first move.
"I... I agree."
The other watched him again. Slowly he shook his hand. Then suddenly his hard expression changed to a softer one.
"Welcome to the family" he said and then hugged him, under the surprised gaze of the other two. That was some kind of real miracle!
"Erm," Thranduil shrugged shortly afterwards, "I'm sorry, sometimes I get emotional. Anyway, I think your friends are waiting for you."
"Thanks dad, you're always the best!" - Legolas smiled at him.
"Oh yes... you are the best," Elrond whispered with a hint of malice, making him blush.
The other two moved a few feet away, finally joining the rest of the group.
"Ah, you made it!" said Faramir cheerfully.
"So you were really waiting for us?"
"Of course we were. Now the Fellowship is truly complete," Frodo added.
"Does that mean you want me back?" -Aragorn asked.
"What a question, of course it does. You don't know it, but we've been waiting for this moment for ages" - made Sam.
"Well... I'm really touched, no doubt about it."
"Ah, don't worry - Legolas clung to his arm - but... sorry, where's Gimli?"
His friends played dumb.
"I believe he is a little busy with other matters."
"Ah, I think I understand. Hey Aragorn, would you like to dance?"
"Do you dance? I didn't know that and I don't want to miss it."
Slowly Frodo approached Gandalf.
"Do you think those two will now stay together forever?"
"I say yes," he replied, "because finally everything is now as it should have been from the beginning."

{Nobody's Perfect!

I gotta work it!

Again and again 'till I get it right

Nobody's Perfect!

You live and you learn it!

And if I'm messing up sometimes...

Nobody's perfect}

Ilweran was having the time of his life he hadn't had in months. Now he could say he had it all, he had his happiness, his family, messy, large, strange, but absolutely perfect as it was.
He turned his head, seeing Legolas and Aragorn not far from him, who could finally be together without having to hide.
The former lifted his gaze and realised he was being watched.
"Ilweran!" he called, not sure if he could be heard.
The smaller one smiled and ran towards them, throwing himself into their arms. Now that he had found what he had missed, he would cling to it with all his might and never let go.
Sometimes even the most disastrous stories could have their happy ending...

{Nobody's perfect! You live and you learn it! And if I'm messin' up sometimes, Nobody's Perfect! I gotta work it! I know in time I'll find a way, Nobody's Perfect! You live and you learn it! Cause everybody makes mistakes, Nobody's Perfect..}

A few months later...

"And this is the story of how Legolas and I met, got together and broke up. In the end I did what a real man should do, the right thing for others."
Faramir spoke almost as if he were acting while Haldir, Legolas' cousin, watched him with dreamy eyes.
"No one would have done that for you. Perhaps it is not a bad thing that my cousin let you go... at least you are free now, no?"
"Oh... you bet" he said winking at him.
There was a real ruckus and bustle in Legolas' house that day.
"Courage Yaren" Thranduil held Yaren in his arms. She was now learning to talk and walk. "say "papa".
The baby girl laughed as if she were teasing him.
"You're having fun, aren't you?" he huffed.
"Perhaps you should try some simpler words," Elrond suggested.
"There is no simpler word than that. And anyway get lost, now it's my turn to keep it."
"All right, how touchy we are."
The two were interrupted by the arrival of Gimli and Enya.
"Hey, happy couple," Thranduil called to them, "Enya, am I mistaken or have you put on some weight?"
The woman gave him a dirty look.
"I'm pregnant, what did you expect? You don't seem to have been in very good shape when this happened to you."
"Sorry, you know how it is" Elrond cleared his throat. "do you know yet if it's a boy or a girl?"
The two looked at each other. Enya's eyes sparkled.
"It will be a boy and his name will be Thorin."
"Oh, that's really sweet. Thranduil, are you moved?"
"No!" he exclaimed nervously, "it's just that these clothes are tight and they make me cry, that's all!"
"Yeah! Excuse me, but where are the bride and groom?"
"Aragorn is here somewhere. Legolas, on the other hand, has been missing for a while".
Not far from them Aragorn was trying to hold back your guests.
"Oh," Merry looked at him touched, "I've been waiting years for this union. But where is Legolas?! Someone please go and get him!"
"Easy, easy," said Arwen, "you know, the bride always waits."
"But you were on time for our wedding."
"I don't like being late. And speaking of which, I think we should hurry. Can someone go and collect our children?"
The boys, finding the house too cramped, stood outside.
"And this!" Una pointed to her own turquoise dress. "that's a nice colour for a bridesmaid's dress!"
"Alright, I get it, I don't have good taste, but what can I do" - Ilweran huffed.
"You're all beautiful" Elladan took Una by the hand. "but I have the most beautiful girl."
"Um... you're embarrassing me" replied the girl.
"No, I have the most beautiful girl!" - exclaimed Elrohir clutching Sabia.
"Ah, no kidding," Tauriel intervened, "Eldarion obviously has the most beautiful girl. I mean, have you seen me?"
"You never fail, sweetheart," her fiancé said softly, wrapping his arm around her hips.
Shauna had extricated herself from that conversation and clung to Ilweran.
"What do you say?" The latter asked. "shall I tell her that no one can compete with you?"
"Oh no, I'd be too embarrassed - she whispered - you know, I'm glad everything worked out."
"Me too. Thanks for everything you've done for me."
"Well," he said, moving closer to her lips, "maybe there's a way you could thank me."
Their lips were a few millimetres apart, but the idyllic moment was soon interrupted.
"Guys!" Gandalf called to them. "we must prepare to go!"
"Already?!" Ilweran asked. "sorry, but where's my father?!"

Everyone kept asking about Legolas, but in truth he had not escaped, he was in his room, looking very agitated. Not so much because of the wedding, more because of the pregnancy test.
He had been feeling rather strange recently and had decided that after the wedding he would seek confirmation of his doubts. But the curiosity had been so great that he had come to choose the wrong moment! Or maybe it was just the right one.
He paced back and forth nervously. After two minutes he looked at the result, ignoring the voices below urging him to hurry up.
His breathing stopped: positive.
Immediately he felt like smiling. It wasn't something he had planned, kind of like the first time, but the thought of having to start all over again made him instantly happy.
"Legolas?" Aragorn appeared through the doorway suddenly.
Immediately he hid the test inside a pocket.
"Yes?" he asked nervously.
"We must go," he leaned closer, "nervous?"
"Um... a little.... You know, I almost got married once and got interrupted, is that going to happen now too?"
"Ah, don't worry, it won't. In the end, I don't know how either... we made it. And finally we could be together just the three of us..."
"Well... I'm not sure it'll be the three of us."
"What? What do you mean?"
"Hey, hey! - Ilweran caught up with them out of breath - we have to go, hurry up. Wow, you guys look great."
"Well, thank you Ilweran. Our son is right, we should go."
Legolas looked at them both. Surely they would be happy to receive that unexpected news, and surely he would reveal it to them right after the wedding.
Ilweran took them both under his arm.
"Shall we go?" he asked happily.
"Yes" Legolas looked at them both let's go."
This was the perfect ending to a story as long and troubled as theirs. In fact, it wasn't an ending, it was a beginning.