Hospitality by Halrloprillalar

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Story notes: WARNINGS: Cliches and freaky badness. Movie-Based.

CANON: Inspired by the movie, background from the books, turned out AU.

Thanks to Laura for great beta, as always.

February 23, 2002
In Lorien did Celeborn
A city build atop the trees,
Where Celebrant the river ran
Past forests perilous to man
And down unto the sea...

Sunlight filtered through the leaves, dappling the forest floor. Legolas breathed deeply as he walked through the fragrant grove. He loved the children with whom he travelled, but here in Lothlorien he welcomed the chance to be alone or with one of his own people for a time.

Legolas laid his hand on smooth silver bark. Beneath his fingers, he felt the sap slowly rising, the roots seeking water deep within the earth, the growing rings that told the years of the tree, only a few score greater than Legolas himself. Here he was at peace, here he could rest.

He stood by the tree until he heard someone approach. Turning, he saw Haldir, marchwarden of the Galadhrim. Legolas was glad, for of all the folk of Lorien, he most wished to call Haldir friend, and perhaps more. Already that day they had spent a silent hour together, watching in the grey before the dawn.

"Well met, Haldir," said Legolas, smiling. "But I heard you coming. What of your woodcraft now?"

"You mistake courtesy for incompetence." Haldir stopped, his face shaded by the tree. "Had I known there was still need to impress you, I would have my knife to your throat even now."

Legolas laughed. "You've come to cheer my loneliness." He clasped Haldir's shoulder. "Will we hunt or sing or walk together under the trees?"

"No," said Haldir. A breeze came up and a few strands of his hair drifted over Legolas' fingers. "Celeborn, Lord of Lorien, bids you to wait upon him, Legolas. I have been sent to fetch you." Haldir took the hand on his shoulder, holding it between his own. For a moment he looked as if he would speak words from his heart, but instead he dropped Legolas' hand and turned away. "We must go now, for Celeborn bade me hurry."

Legolas wondered at Haldir's reticence, but did not speak of it. Together, they climbed the winding staircase to the top of the tallest tree. On the talan was a chamber. In the chamber was Celeborn. He was seated on a wooden chair, plain and well-crafted. Another like it stood beside him, empty.

"Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood," Celeborn said, "I desire to speak with you a while." Silver hair spilled over his shoulders and in the dim of the room it seemed to glow with an inward light.

Legolas bowed. "As you wish, my lord."

"There is much I wish to learn of you, kinsman." And Celeborn questioned Legolas closely about his home, his father, and his companions. Legolas answered circumspectly and sometimes wondered at the questions. Celeborn was stern and his eyes were searching.

Legolas remained on his feet throughout the interview and knew that Haldir still stood behind him, though he could not see him. High windows were open to the breeze, but the room felt close.

When Celeborn paused and leaned back in his chair, Legolas inclined his head to the empty seat. "Lord Celeborn, where is my Lady Galadriel?"

A shadow passed over Celeborn's face. "Not here, that is all I know." Abruptly, he stood. "She is not here."

Legolas was taken aback, for he had only thought to be polite. He felt Haldir shifting, standing straighter perhaps. Almost unknowing, he straightened his own back and squared his shoulders.

"But you are here, Legolas." Celeborn walked slowly once around Legolas and stopped in front of him.

Legolas stiffened, sensing the change in Celeborn. Where he had been stern, now he seemed almost cruel. The hand was gentle that reached out and stroked Legolas's face, but a fingernail creased his cheek.

"You are here in Lorien." Celeborn's breath was hot and his face dark and his hair a cold bright mantle.

Swiftly, Legolas stepped back but Haldir blocked the way, taking him by the arms. Celeborn stooped then, and kissed him.

Between one heartbeat and the next Legolas took stock. Celeborn's mouth was hard and demanding, his hands gripping Legolas' face. He did not press himself to Legolas, but Legolas could feel the sudden force of his body all the same. He wished to pull away and teach Celeborn that he was not to be trifled with. But he could not act in haste.

Behind him, Haldir stood, chest solid against Legolas' back, cheek laid against Legolas' hair. His body seemed locked in place and yet he trembled slightly. His hands on Legolas' arms were cold as river water. And Legolas knew that Haldir was afraid.

It shocked Legolas, more than Celeborn's sudden kiss. He'd not expected Haldir to fear anything, much less his own lord. And Legolas began to be afraid himself. Yet Haldir defied Celeborn in one thing, at least: he held Legolas, but did not restrain him. If Legolas broke away, Haldir would not prevent him, he was sure, and might give him aid.

Celeborn drew back and reached past Legolas to touch Haldir for a moment, then returned to his chair, sprawling at his ease. Perhaps this was over. But in Celeborn's face desire shone like a naked blade. "Legolas, will you play with us?"

It was not a question and so Legolas did not answer. He stood tall and felt Haldir breathing deeply against him. Haldir put his mouth to Legolas' ear and spoke so softly Legolas felt rather than heard him. "I'm sorry."

And Legolas knew he must endure, whatever happened. He could not earn the enmity of Lorien before the quest was done. But he would not forget.

Celeborn did not move from his seat, except to wave his hand. "Haldir, make him ready, and then yourself."

So Haldir turned them both so that they faced each other. He looked Legolas in the face as his hands found Legolas' tunic. The message in his grey eyes echoed the words in Legolas' mind. Not like this.

Even now, as his skin was laid bare, Legolas thought of breaking free, of confronting Celeborn and making Haldir fight along side. But his path was already chosen and when Haldir drew his hands over Legolas' chest and pushed the tunic to the floor, Legolas only tried to block out everything but that touch.

Haldir turned his hands to his own grey cloak and Legolas stretched out to help him, to take some pleasure from this pain, but Haldir shook his head, a warning in his face. Legolas let his hands drop to his sides.

When Haldir was done, they both stood stripped to the waist, and Celeborn looked on. "Touch each other." Celeborn's voice thrummed in the air like a note from a plucked string.

So they touched each other, looking not at Celeborn, but only at each other. Legolas ran his hands over Haldir's shoulders and down his chest. Haldir was broad for an elf, and stocky. The skin beneath Legolas' hands was hot now, and it warmed him.

Haldir stroked Legolas' back and buried his face into Legolas' neck, contriving to whisper once more in his ear. "He is mad, Legolas. The lady spurns him and it has broken him."

Legolas pressed his cheek to Haldir's, sliding his hands under Haldir's hair. "Why do you allow him?" His eyes flicked to Celeborn and he was chilled. Celeborn still sat, resting easily, hands steepled. But his eyes burned and they were fixed on Legolas. He smiled and Legolas shivered as he looked away.

"Others in his power...I cannot act alone." Haldir raised his head and touched his forehead to Legolas'. Legolas looked into his eyes and knew he spoke the truth, and that there was more untold.

Brushing Haldir's flank with one hand, Legolas traced words onto his arm with the other. The lady?

Haldir closed his eyes a moment and Legolas knew there was no help there. Legolas' anger was stirred, and his pity, and he drew Haldir close, hoping to strengthen him with his body. They clung for a moment, and then the order came.

"Legolas," said Celeborn, "on your knees."

Looking Haldir in the face, Legolas hesitated. The words were not repeated, but the silence grew heavy and at last it pushed him downwards. He fixed his eyes on Haldir's and did not look away as he knelt.

And all fell away but that, surpassing the intimacies of the body. Holding Haldir's gaze, Legolas built new surroundings in his mind, the quiet grove, starlight above, proud affection in Haldir's face, quiet joy in his own. In Haldir's eyes he saw a glimmer of the same vision.

But when Celeborn came up behind him and began to stroke his hair, Legolas dropped his eyes and all was dark until the end.

When at last Celeborn loosed his fingers, Legolas stood, burning, fighting the shaking that took his limbs. Reaching from behind, Celeborn caressed his face once more. "I give you leave to go, Prince of Mirkwood. And also to return, if it be your desire."

Catching up his tunic, Legolas gave no reply and turned to go. But Haldir Celeborn did not release, so Legolas made the journey down alone.

He spoke to no one, but went back to his grove, to his tree. There he pressed his body close to the trunk, seeking to clear his mind. But now there was no peace and he feared the tree would catch his sorrow.

After a time, he felt a touch on his shoulder. "When this is done," Legolas said, "if the world still stands, I will return. And we will put an end to this."

And he turned, put his hands in Haldir's hair, and kissed him.

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his silver hair!
Do not trust his heart of ice,
The elven lord, but fear betrayal.
For he has never taken sail,
nor seen the lights of Paradise.
Chapter end notes: Poetry derived from Kubla Kahn by Coleridge
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