"Merry", Pippin asked bewildered as they entered the large Hall of Fire, "Why do the males dance with males?"
Merry pretended to think over it deeply, but had no answers. He hated to admit that he did not know, so cunningly, he diverted Pippin's attention to the food trays. As the younger hobbit gorged down the delicious dishes, Merry turned his attention back to the hall. Near the fireplace, Strider was talking softly with Lord Elrond's daughter. Merry smiled, a few days ago, he would have never believed Strider capable of love. In a corner stood the lord who had helped them reach Rivendell safely, Glorfindel, Merry remembered.
He turned back to watch the dances. He had not noticed this anomaly until Pippin had pointed it out. Males dancing with males for a romantic duet?
"Aye, Master Hobbit", Gimli's deep voice was sarcastic, "They do that often. It is worse in Thranduil's lands where I believe Master Bilbo has been in his youth", his voice lowered to a softer volume, "I have heard that they even sleep with each other!"
Merry gasped in shock at this revelation. He did not believe it, but dwarves, as Bilbo said, spoke of only the plain facts always. If Gimli said so, then it must be true. How odd!
"Why do they do that?" Merry asked Gimli.
The dwarf merely shrugged as he watched the dancers swirl gracefully and said, "They cannot be blamed for trying all possible things in their immortal lives. Eternity can be a bore. And anyway, elves are fleeting, shallow hearted creatures."
Merry was not satisfied with this explanation and looked around. A smile lit his freckled features as he recognized Strider and his lady love walking towards them.
"Strider!" he called out, the ranger smiled amiably and approached him.
"Why do males of the elves dance with males?" Merry asked bluntly.
"Errr30;", Strider turned to the dance floor and watched his foster-brothers waltz, "I have asked many people over many years, Master Merry, and I have never got an answer for that. I assume it is because there are not enough women around."
"Do they", Merry cleared his throat as Gimli smirked, "sleep together?"
Strider glowered at Gimli who merely smiled and raised his ale goblet.
"I am most sure they don't", Strider said with a passive expression on his face.
Loud cheers erupted from the audience as Elrond Half-Elven walked to the dance floor and bowed gracefully. The rest of the dancers moved out and gathered around the sides clapping lustily.
"Does he dance?" Pippin asked shocked, "He doesn't look that type!"
"You would be surprised", Strider muttered, "He dances much better than those braggart brothers of mine!"
The said brothers came to join them on the sidelines and one twin remarked, "I hope Arwen has luck in finding the true terror of Imladris."
Presently, the lady came dragging a taller elf, dark-haired and black-eyed. Merry had seen him at the council.
"Ah!" Legolas said as Gandalf and he joined them, "Erestor! I have missed his dances."
"He said he lacks suitable partners", Gandalf grinned, "I suspect he stopped after dancing that night of the Solstice with the twins. They were stepping on his feet all over that he was unable to walk for weeks!"
"We did no such thing", the twins exclaimed.
Merry watched in fascination as Erestor raised Elrond's hands to his lips and brushed it lightly. As the music began the crowd quietened and the pair began the dance.
Merry was shocked by the depth of expression on the dancers' faces as they swirled and moved fluidly in a blur of robes.
"How do they dance with those big robes?" Pippin asked amazedly.
"Because they must have done this hundreds of times", Gimli grumbled, but his eyes were warm as he regarded the pair.
Merry gasped as the music reached a crescendo and Elrond performed a perfect spin before resting his head backwards along Erestor's shoulder. His broader body moulded to fit within Erestor's arms as their hair intermingled. As the crowd cheered applause, Erestor closed his hands over Elrond's waist and they stood silently for a long moment, their eyes closed and small smiles playing on their lips.
Merry could have sworn that Elrond's hands were inside Erestor's black robes at the moment. But then they separated and walked away leaving the dance floor free for the younger pairs.
"Are they lovers?" he asked Strider shocked beyond his limits, "I thought he was married!"
"They were both married", Gandalf took over as Strider sent him an imploring look, "And yes, they are lovers."
"Isn't it wrong?" Pippin asked wide-eyed, Gimli chortled, "I mean, they are both males!"
"Yes", Boromir chipped in disgustedly, "How can they disgrace themselves before lord and land so?"'
"Elven society cannot be easily comprehended by men or hobbits", Gandalf said quietly, "Only wizards and dwarves who have greater experience in dealing with them, can understand their life."
"You mean even dwarves know of this and don't criticise them?" Boromir asked scandalized as he looked across at Gimli.
"We don't follow it", Gimli said quietly, "Survival rules. We couple only with opposite gender. Elves, on the other hand, are said to form bonds, maybe the prince could explain it."
"I can", Legolas said easily, "Though, Lord Gimli, I wish you would call me merely 'Legolas'. The title is irksome."
Boromir, the hobbits and Strider waited expectantly as Legolas sipped his wine and winked at Gandalf and the twins.
"Elves seek bond-mates, who complete the other half of our souls", Legolas said, "Often, those of us in positions of great import marry for convenience and alliance. Lord Elrond's marriage was for political reasons."
"What about your father?" Boromir asked hesitantly, "We have heard tales of his beauty even down south."
"He is as beautiful as you?" Pippin asked astonished.
Gandalf chuckled and remarked, "Our young Greenleaf takes more after his grandfather. His father is truly a magnificent sight for sore eyes. Especially in passion, I am told!"
"He was attracted to both genders and much sought after", Legolas laughed, "Then he met my mother. They were bonded-mates. I guess their marriage had the least politics."
"She was a beautiful lady", Gandalf said raising his goblet, "As was the lady of Rivendell."
"What of you, Legolas?" Merry asked his friend. They got along so well that he could not believe that the elf was a prince.
The twins and Strider laughed and jeered, "Come, out with it, dear Greenleaf! We won't let you leave without an answer!"
Legolas rolled his eyes as he said, "My dear Merry, I am afraid that I am yet underage to take a lover. My father will roast me alive if I do that!"
"Your father cares nothing for rules. I should know that!", a deeper voice answered as Elrond came to join them, Erestor walking behind him.
"A dance, ernil-neth?" Erestor offered his hand to Legolas, "I would love to dance, but Elrond has had enough for this night."
"Certainly", Legolas smiled at the company and took the extended hand before they walked off to the dance floor.
"And what is the topic that has such harmony?" Elrond raised an eyebrow as he sat down next to Gimli.
"Your lovelife, Ada", the twins laughed as Elrond choked on his wine before turning a crimson shade that matched his silken robes.
"Indeed", Elrond spluttered, "I wonder what is so interesting about a six thousand year old elf's life?"
"We told them everything, Ada", Strider laughed as Elrond glared at his sons.
"Lord Elrond", Merry asked interestedly, "May I ask you something?"
"Yes", Elrond smiled his usual serene smile.
"Is it different from doing it with a woman?" Merry asked boldly.
Gimli's flagon fell to the floor. Strider cringed, the twins laughed, Boromir sniffed disapprovingly and Gandalf groaned. Elrond bit his lower lip thoughtfully as he watched the two dancers twirl wildly about before turning to face Merry.
"I would not know, Master Merry", he got to his feet and bowed, "For I have never done it with a woman."
His jovial goodnight was missed by everyone as they looked incredulously at the three children of Elrond.
The twins glared at their father's back before saying, "He is rather into adoption."
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Merry's Question by JDE
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Table of Contents
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