evocates: (Misc: Masked like a lover)
• just another dreamer • ([personal profile] evocates) wrote2013-09-03 02:47 pm

[FIC] Lord of the Rings: without songs or tales

1) I finished a 32.8k fic about Boromir/Arwen/Aragorn and it's at the beta's. Yes, you read that right. Threesome fic for over 30k words. I don't know either.

2) I had wisdom tooth surgery yesterday and today was once more 'way too many things to do help omg'.

3) 'Way too many things to do help omg' basically summarises my life right now. I hate everything. Again.

4) Here, have a fic. I don't remember when I finished this. Possibly early August? Something like that. It's for [livejournal.com profile] slashy_santa, so I am only posting this now.

6) I think I convinced myself to ship this pairing now. Ahahahahah. /faceplants

without songs or tales

Characters/Pairing: Imrahil (Prince of Dol Amroth)/Elladan (Son of Elrond)
Rating: PG
Words: ~5370
Disclaimer: All recognisable characters belong to the Tolkien estate. I’m just playing with them.
Summary:
There were only two meetings between Imrahil and Elladan, and those two were both too much and not enough. For IdrilsSecret’s prompt for Imrahil/Elladan romance at Sultry in September 2013.

Imrahil saw the Peredhel Princes on the battlefield as they leapt from the Corsair ships. He watched their long dark hair fly outwards, spreading like wings, more magnificent than any cape could be, no matter how skilled the hands that wove it. His heart jumped to his throat at the very sight, choking his breath, but he did not call out; did not have a chance to voice a single sound, for at the moment another orc attacked him. A timely interception indeed: Imrahil was reminded that they were now besieged by the armies of the Enemy, and the time for softer emotions laid in the long past and far future.

Yet he could not help himself: his eyes strayed frequently to Elladan’s blade, watching those broad shoulders – almost too broad to belong to an Elf – raise the sword until the tip glinted in the sunlight.

Imrahil’s own line was that of Nimrodel and Lothlórien, not Imladris and Numenor, but he found himself straying, marvelling at the sight of Gondor’s King reborn, for surely Elladan resembled at the moment Elros Tar-Minyatur, the first Numenorean High King. His mouth ached to call out the Peredhel Prince’s name, to cry out in admiration, but he swallowed the cries.

His heart grew at the moment despite himself, and Imrahil felt his ferocity grow. Darkness encroached upon Gondor and the Fate of Men hung in the balance – the future was uncertain and might be destroyed. Nay, he would stave off the destruction of Men as much as he could – he would give his heart to battle once more, though his body might have been weakened by age. He would do such a thing, so he could approach Elladan and let loose the words that sat so heavily on his tongue at this moment.

He allowed himself one last indulgence, noting that Elladan was kingly in look, before he turned back to the orc blade crashing down onto his head. Imrahil raised his sword, blocking the blow, before he dove back into the fray and allowed the red roar of his battle-heated blood to take over his ears and crowd into his sight.

As he spun on his heel, catching sight of one finely-pointed ear, Imrahil could not help but appreciate the subtle irony of meeting Elladan once more here, on the fields of Pelennor.

Did they not once meet amongst orcs, with their blades drawn and flashing? Imrahil should have known than that their second meeting would not occur unless it was on a battlefield, and the sight of each other would never escape the taint of orcs hovering at the edge of their visions.

Such, it seemed, were the lives of warriors like them. Princes they might be named and grand titles they might hold, but Imrahil knew that Elladan Halfelven was a warrior as much as – or far more – Imrahil himself.

*

The scent of the sea was well-known to all of Dol Amroth’s citizens: salt and cleanliness, Ulmo’s very breath that chased away all darkness and ash, leaving only whiteness rubbed smooth by salt grains.

Imrahil knew in his young heart that it was weakness, yet at the moment he could not help but ache for home. Surely if Men were made of waters, he could leap into the Anduin and let the strong currents carry him home to the oceans and white, clean shores where he belonged. If he was made of waters, then the grime and muck of the orcs would stick onto his skin no matter how often he washed; the stench of their passing would not sink so deeply into him that he felt as if it was all he smelled of. Yet it was not his quest: Imrahil was no mere son of Adrahil and brother of Finduilas any longer. In the eyes of Gondor’s war-torn laws, he was a full-grown Man, and a Ranger of Ithilien at that.

He leaned against a tall tree, looking up to its leaves and not recognising it. Imrahil had been parted from his Company for some hours now, the orc pack’s attack scattering them. He had done a foolhardy thing, chasing his prey along the forests of Anduin until he had become hopelessly lost, the branches and leaves alien to him.

At least he had not been a coward, he told himself. He ran towards the orcs, not away. Yet that was but a weak comfort, for the sun was setting and the shadows elongating, and all noises of deer and squirrels transformed in Imrahil’s mind into the possibility of orcs sneaking up on him. He had exhausted himself practically flailing at every noise.

Even his eyes ached from how often he had widened them, trying to catch sight of the darker shadows that would herald an orc’s approach.

Imrahil sighed to himself, rubbing a hand over his eyes. He leaned against a tree, squinting at the ground hoping to find some twigs to make a fire so he could set camp or even a torch so as to continue the hunt. Or perhaps, he thought wryly, he looked for wood to create a flame to send a beacon to his prey so they would charge towards him and save him to effort of trying to find them in the dark.

Nay, that was a foolish though; pure suicidal folly, far more foolhardy than anything he had done up until now.

“These are dangerous woods for a Man, much less a boy,” a voice suddenly said.

If he was to ever tell of this tale in the future, Imrahil would keep his silence about how loudly he yelped, how his fingers stumbled on the hilt of his sword, and especially how he tripped over his own feet in his attempt to sit up. His scabbard went flying from how hard he pulled at it, but his blade was naked and shining in the dark as Imrahil whirled around.

“Peace, child,” the voice continued, sounding amused. “I mean no harm to you.”

“Who are you to speak in the dark?” Imrahil demanded, his eyes narrowing as he searched the copse of trees. Curse the waning moon and the heavy clouds that obscured all possible starlight!

“I am no enemy of yours. If I was, you would not have the breath or blood to voice that question,” the voice continued. “My name is Elladan, if the knowing of my name assuages your worries.”

The name was a familiar one. Imrahil found his hand dropping back to his side, though he kept caution tight in his heart. Any Man could lie, he knew, and yet he did not think the stranger was lying. Truth to be told, Imrahil’s heart was cautious but his mind told him that this stranger was no Man at all. He was educated strongly in Sindarin – as benefitting the mythical heritage of his House – and if the name was a true one, it said much.

"I did not think Elves roamed these parts," he said cautiously. Pausing, he tried to swallow the rash words, but they burst out of him insistently: "Will you not step closer so I might look upon you instead of speaking to shadows?"

He heard a laugh, low and rumbling, much unlike the clean, clarion bells he heard that Elven laughter was.

"Do you not fear my blade in the dark any longer?" Elladan asked. “Though I do not think you will see me even I step closer, for the skies are dark tonight.”

Imrahil parted his lips to speak, but he was cut off almost immediately by the sound of footsteps. There was suddenly a hand on his wrist; though he jerked hard, the grip was far too strong for him to shake. He was pulled forward, and his fingers stretching out, groping blind in the dark and finally finding a strong, broad shoulder. He held on tightly, confused, and felt his own shoulder ached slightly at the stretch upwards.

Tall, Imrahil noted, almost dizzied. Elladan was taller than himself, and solid besides, and Imrahil found knowledge settling gently in his chest.

“Your home is far from here, Elladan of Imladris,” he said, and congratulated himself on the steadiness of his own voice. “Is not the valley further in the north?”

“The scent of the salt-sea lingers upon you, stranger, and I presume the cries of gulls are sweeter than the song of sparrows to your ears,” Elladan returned. “I have seen the sea; it is far south; we are both long from home.”

Imrahil started, surprise once more deadening all words in his throat. For long months he had gone by a false name, hiding his true identity – he wished to learn the skills of a warrior and a Ranger without the hurdles of the rightful treatment owed to the heir of the Prince of Dol Amroth. Surely this was a sign of the vaunted senses and foresight of the Elves, he thought to himself.

“You have not asked for my name,” he heard himself say.

Though he could see naught in this all-consuming darkness, Imrahil would swear forever more that Elladan smiled at his words.

“I give my own freely,” Elladan said. “Names are gifts of great import, stranger, and they should be given at the will and wishes of the bearer.”

“Imrahil,” he blurted. “’Tis my name.”

“Imrahil,” Elladan repeated, the Sindarin lilt in his accent curling his lips and tongue around the name like a caress. Imrahil shivered at the sound; he had never heard his name being spoken so. “From which sea do you hail?”

“Dol Amroth,” he said, and winced at his own incaution. He could barely see the Elf in front of him and he knew Elladan could overpower him easily from the strength he felt beneath his hand; yet he could not help but trust this stranger, as if the blood in his veins was calling towards one he knew well.

Elladan chuckled, seemingly unaware of Imrahil’s thoughts. “Shall we not gather wood for a fire, Imrahil of Dol Amroth?” he asked. “I hold an unfair advantage over you at this moment, and ‘tis not one I wish to keep.”

Frowning, Imrahil looked around himself, his hand moving almost involuntarily towards his sword. “Will the orcs not be drawn towards the flames and light?”

“The stench of yrch in this place is long gone,” returned Elladan, and there was a steel in his voice that made Imrahil wonder once more why an Elf had ventured so far South, away from his home. “We will not be discovered tonight, and neither will they be found. As the price for our safety, I must head north quickly once dawn breaks.”

We must,” Imrahil corrected him, his youthful brashness rearing its head. “I will not be left behind in this hunt; ‘tis why I am here.”

There was a long silence before twigs cracked underneath Elladan’s feet, signalling his approach. “Let us leave that discussion for the morrow,” he proposed, his voice a calm murmur still. “Will you wait here while I scout for wood?”

The question was a strange one, Imrahil thought wryly, for there seemed little other way for them to build a fire. He knew he was often named proud, but his pride did not make him foolish enough to suggest switching places; he knew that he would take far longer to find wood – if he could find any at all in this swallowing darkness.

“Aye,” he said finally. “I will await here.”

And he did: with his hand on his sword, body tense and hearing sharpened to every sound, so much that when Elladan returned less than a thousand heartbeats later, he nearly jumped straight into the air.

“Do you not make a sound when you walk?” he snapped, and immediately ducked his head, colour flooding his cheeks at his own rudeness. How much like a child must he look to this immortal Elf!

Yet Elladan seemed to take no offence, for his laughter was rich and genuine. “Nay,” he said, chuckling. “They do not. If you wish for it, I might step on some twigs as warning.”

Imrahil’s pride warred with itself: he wished to declare that there was no such need, yet at the same time he did not want for another repeat of the embarrassment of being so visibly taken aback. He rubbed hard at his own eyes, releasing a long sigh.

“’Tis your feet, and thus your decision to make,” he said gruffly, digging into his waist pouch for his flint. “Will you not hand me the wood to light?”

Elladan laughed once more, but Imrahil busied himself with the twigs, trying to ignore the soft cries inside his mind that told him to apologise for his rudeness. He was fearful of the stranger when Elladan first approached him, but now he was only a little annoyed, for he could not help but feel discomfited by the Elf’s presence. It was similar to his emotions when faced with the strong warriors of Gondor: he knew that they were capable of overpowering him, and his innate pride at being the son of Adrahil was difficult to quash no matter his efforts.

He pondered those thoughts as he tried to strike the flint while blind with his fingers stiffened from the cold. His Ranger training held true, however, and soon they had a small fire going, the heat chasing away the chill from his body. He rubbed his hands together, lifting his eyes.

Though it was surely undignified and unbefitting the rank he had given Elladan, Imrahil could not help but gape at his first true look at the Elf. For Elladan was broader than even Gondor’s weapon-master, his build strong as any warrior of Man. Even sitting down, he seemed to tower over him, looking little like the lithe, slim figures of Elves that Imrahil had heard stories of, and Imrahil wondered once more if he had been lied to.

“You look little like an Elf,” he accused, unable to prevent the words from escaping his lips.

Elladan only cocked his head to the side, half-smiling. “Your eyes are sharp with the aid of the fire indeed,” he said, sounding strangely unoffended. “Aye, ‘tis true. I am no full-blooded Elf: I am Peredhel, the Half-elven. Though the Elvish blood runs strong in the veins of my siblings, it seems to escape my grasp.”

There was but one Peredhel well-famed enough to be told in the stories of Men.

“Your pedigree is grand indeed,” Imrahil said, feeling himself flushing even deeper with the full realisation of the one who was recipient of his bad humour. “Forgive me, my lord; I did not recognise your name.”

“There is no need for apology, son of Adrahil,” Elladan replied, his smile widening further as Imrahil tried to hide his reddened face. “I have done little to merit songs to be sung for my sake, so I do not expect my name to be well-known amongst the minds of Men, especially this far South.”

“Indeed, these forests are far south from Imladris,” said Imrahil, scrabbling for some manner of equilibrium. He looked at Elladan again, noting that the creature seated across him was a strange one indeed: for though he had a Man’s build, his face was as flawless and unlined as any Elf’s, and those eyes contained years far beyond any Man’s ken.

“Is this the reason why you have travelled far from home? To make your name known?”

Elladan chuckled, the sight of his eyes curving upwards, destroying the marble-smoothness. “Nay,” he said. “I am come to the Anduin for the same purpose as you do, Imrahil of Dol Amroth – I am here to hunt the orc pack. News of it has reached indeed.”

Unbidden, Imrahil felt his anger rise in his throat. “Do you not trust the abilities of the Rangers of Ithilien to cleanse these lands?” he declared hotly.

“Do not take my words as insult, I beg you,” Elladan cut him off with a raised hand. “’Tis my own nature that is to blame: I rejoice in the hunting of the Enemy’s dark armies more than most Elves.”

The light in Elladan’s eyes had changed, shifting to a gleam that Imrahil had always seen in the eyes of seasoned warriors who found their hearts’ joys in battle.

So strange Elladan was, more Man than Elf! Imrahil could not help but think that perhaps this Elf was one who belonged in this world tainted by the Shadow, separate from the Elves from the tales and legends he knew. Despite rumours of his own house’s ancestry and the proud bearings of his sisters, the Elves always seemed to belong to a far remote world; a world that was long past, lit by the Two Trees, which the Sun in comparison was naught but a mere burning ember.

Yet Elladan burned now, his eyes brighter than the small fire between them. Imrahil’s breath caught in his throat, and he found his hand slowly balling into a fist. He exhaled, forcing his hand to uncurl, for surely his thoughts were ridiculous. Yet he could not meet Elladan’s gaze.

“So I see now,” he said instead, slowly. “Though I know not if your words are true, for I know little of Elves aside from the legends told, though ‘tis said in Gondor that my family has Elven blood in our lineage.”

“Aye, you do,” said Elladan, and the certainty in his voice made Imrahil dart a startled glance towards him. “You have an Elf’s bearing, my lord, and an Elf’s colouring, and it shows your blood true. Silvan it is, I judge. Though,” he frowned, “’tis strange: any marriage between an Elf and a Man is oft a tragic one, and thus sung of and told, yet I have not heard of any such marriage that took place as far south as Dol Amroth.”

“Silvan?” Imrahil started, and he knew he was gaping once more. In his boyhood he had dreamt that his supposed Elven heritage was true (often in the vain hope that an Elven ancestor or long-distant cousin would rescue him from his studies), but he had never expected the rumours to be confirmed, much less by an Elf.

“Aye, Silvan, most likely from the Woods of Lothlórien,” continued Elladan, seemingly oblivious to Imrahil’s shock. “I know not for sure, but I would venture a guess that your ancestress was a handmaiden of Nimrodel, Amroth’s Lady. Nimrodel was lost after crossing the Ered Nimrais, and none know the fate of those who followed her.”

Oh, but that his father could hear these words! Surely he would be both joyous and dismayed. Imrahil could not help but laugh, shaking his head.

“An Elven handmaiden is well-suited to be the mother of the Princes of Men!” he cried. “Not all of us are Beren, and we are not so fortunate to find a Princess such as Lúthien.”

Later on, he would look back to this moment and wonder why he did not doubt Elladan’s words, not even for a single second. Surely, he would think, he could not have given his trust to the Elf so easily? Surely there was a quality of his voice that made his words, as outlandish and sudden as they were, so simple that it was anathema for Imrahil to not believe?

“A handmaiden is not unworthy,” said Elladan mildly. There was a strange wistfulness in his voice as he continued, “Nay, not all Elves are Lúthien: the doom that holds us in its thrall are oft too plain for songs, and we live out our lives singing the tales of others without any made of our own.”

Imrahil would not understand those words for two score years and more. Its significance would only sink down to his bones when he looked upon the Captain Thorongil and knew him as Elessar Telcontar, and heard of his requited love with Arwen Undómiel. Yet now, he was lost, unable to understand, only capable of giving clumsy words to one who was so eloquent.

“You are a Prince of a great House, and in your blood runs that of legends,” he said, leaning forward and almost falling into the fire. He caught himself, and continued fiercely, “Surely there will be songs made of your deeds!”

“I am no Prince,” returned Elladan. “Blood matters far less amongst the Elves as it does Men. Minstrels mislike my nature, and I daresay there will be none who will sing of it.” He looked melancholy for another moment before shaking his head hard. “Nay, let us not speak of this. ‘Tis of little worth, for surely those who accomplished great deeds are not motivated by the wish to appear in songs.”

Suddenly bereft of the topic that so roused his blood, Imrahil sank back onto the grass. His fingers twisted at the soft, vulnerable blades, tugging them out of the soil in an effort to calm his heart.

“Pray tell, my Prince, what our conversation shall be?” he grumbled, and regretted the moment the worlds escaped his lips. His eyes flew upwards, widening. “My apologies—”

Elladan’s fingers were smooth and warm on his lips.

“I propose, Imrahil,” he murmured, once more caressing the name with his tongue, “that we silence our tongues, and spend the hours until dawn far more pleasantly.”

His hand fell back to his sides, yet Imrahil was frozen. He swallowed, forcing his mouth to voice to work with some effort.

“I do not understand,” he said, and closed his eyes in shame at how he shook, how his blood started to pound in his ears. He could barely believe- he took a long, heavy breath. “Do Elves not love only once in their lifetimes?”

“Aye, they do,” Elladan said quietly, as if loud words would shatter the fragile, nameless thing slowly stretching between them. “Yet I am not an Elf, Imrahil. I am Peredhel, and in this manner I am more Man than Elf.”

Surely there were more words to be said; surely it could not be so simple. They were Princes both, burdened by the weight of their Houses’ dignity and reputation, and having romps in the forest were beneath them. Yet as Elladan drew even closer, his breath skirting Imrahil’s jaw, he knew there were no eyes beyond the two of them. He realised, too, that he could trust Elladan to not speak of this to any other soul.

Perhaps they would not even speak of this amongst themselves. What reason would they have to meet after this night?

Imrahil closed his eyes, exhaling softly into Elladan’s mouth as thin yet plush lips touched his own. Their bodies pressed against each other, so near that there was naught Imrahil could see.

Fitting it was, Imrahil thought. For it was in darkness that Elladan had first found him, and now in darkness once more he would know him well. There was no need for light; not between them.

***

When Imrahil had last heard those footsteps, he was but a boy. Then, his sister Finduilas was newly married to the then Steward’s son Denethor. Now Denethor was dead along with his sister’s firstborn, and the years had carved its lines on Imrahil’s face and set aches into his bones. Yet he was fortunate, for his memory had not dulled, remaining as sharp as a new-honed blade.

No longer could he feel and think like the youth he once was, but Imrahil smiled nonetheless as he turned from where he sat on a rock at the back of the camp, watching the tall, broad figure approaching him.

Elladan seemed to have diminished through the years. Or perhaps – he thought, amused – it was simply that Imrahil himself had grown stronger and wiser, and the millennia-old Elf no longer seemed so intimidating to him.

“The fields of Pelennor are wide and flat, and there are no hills,” he began, the words coming to him easily despite the space of decades that lay between them. “There is little I can see from here, and I know not if I am glad for it. I wish for the sight of Dol Amroth, yet my heart balks, for I know the seas are not blue but grey, dirtied as it is by the filth of Mordor.”

The footsteps grew ever closer, and Elladan dropped down next to him, his legs folding gracefully as he sat. Imrahil took a long look at him, and the words of his Swan Knights brought themselves forth in his mind: they were afraid of addressing the sons of Elrond not only for fear of speaking to an Elf – for they had no such qualms in addressing Legolas – but because they were afraid that they would mistake Elrohir for Elladan, and vice versa. Imrahil understood, yet he could not help but laugh at hearing those words, for the Men under his command did not know Elladan like he did. They did not notice the slightly broader shoulders, and the much wilder look in those grey eyes.

“You have grown, Imrahil of Dol Amroth,” murmured Elladan, returning his gaze. “The uncertain boy who met me upon the banks of the Anduin has long vanished, and in his place I see a solemn lord weighed with heavy cares.”

Imrahil chuckled. “’Tis the fate of Men to age,” he pointed out. “Though the blood of Men flows in your veins, my lord Elladan, you seem untouched by the years that have passed since our first meeting.”

“Aye.” Elladan inclined his head. In that fleeting moment before their eyes ceased to meet, Imrahil saw the warrior’s brightness dim, replaced by a soft, quiet grief. The sight twisted his heart in his chest, and he surprised himself, for he had long thought that his affections for the Peredhel had long since faded.

Not so, it seemed.

He reached forward, fingertips nigh brushing Elladan’s skin, before he dropped his hand.

“’Tis strange indeed: ‘‘twas on the eve of battle and in midst of a war that we first met, and we meet once more at the end of the same war, at the eve of another battle,” said Imrahil, not quite knowing where the words were drawn from.

“Battles and war rule this age, Imrahil,” said Elladan. “It was born from the ending of the Last Alliance, and I have no doubt that it will end with this as well.” His eyes were distant as he looked east, towards the burning mouth of Amon Amarth. “The Fourth Age, if it comes, will belong to Men.”

Imrahil reached out, the back of his hand brushing gently over Elladan’s shoulder. “Is this Age not yours as well?”

A soft chuckle resounded in the still, waiting air around them. “Aye, I was born in the Third Age. Yet I found myself dreaming of the yesteryears more and more often, regretting the Ages that have passed by me and which I know only from legends and tales. At times, I hear the crying of the gulls.”

“Then this will be our last meeting,” replied Imrahil, and he was surprised at the grief he found in his own voice. “The seas you take towards the West are not mine; the gulls you hear have cries different from those I am used to hearing.”

“I hear the gulls, aye, but I know not if I will sail.” Elladan turned towards him, and his hand was as strong as ever on Imrahil’s own. “. If Elessar gains his wish and becomes King, 'tis my sister who will be his Queen. I will not leave her; for the rest of her new-mortal life I will stay in Middle Earth, but afterwards…” He shook his head.

What reply could Imrahil give to such a statement? Even if he lived through this upcoming battle, he would be dead and the Princeship of Dol Amroth would belong to his son long before Mandos called for Undómiel.

When the words came, they were tinged by a bitterness that he himself did not understand. “What draw will Middle Earth have for you, once it has become the dominion of Men with the Elves long faded? If ‘tis victory we all hope for, then the days of orcs are numbered, and there will be none of them to hunt in the end.”

“Change,” whispered Elladan, and he leaned forward. It was incautious, yet Imrahil ignored the dangers of prying eyes and allowed their foreheads to touch. Elladan’s hand curled around his neck, tugging lightly on the small strands there. “’Tis change I wish to witness.”

His breath curled over Imrahil’s cheek before he continued, “I look upon you, Dol Amroth's Prince, not in grief about your ageing, but in envy. You change with the world, while I remain inert, and Middle Earth has left me behind.” He chuckled mirthlessly, pulling away and shaking his head. “I am Peredhel, aye, but I cannot give up my immortality as my sister plans to, for there is none whom I love dearly enough to surrender the possibility of meeting my mother again on the Undying shores.”

Elf and Man both Elladan was, and though Imrahil had lived his life as one of Men, and the touch of Elven blood in his veins was light, he thought he could understand. Elladan was torn between two worlds: one ever-new and strange, with few ties he could hold onto; the other familiar yet fading away, pulling him from all that he knew to new lands that would remain the same for the rest of eternity.

For the first time, he regretted meeting Elladan so early in his life, at a time when he did not understand the weight of time. Yet what if they had? Imrahil could not imagine giving up his children and his wife now he knew them; to him, that night with Elladan had always been a dream instead of anything he could grasp.

Perhaps the Elven blood in his veins was far too diluted to bridge the gap. Once, he thought that he was no Beren; it seemed that he was no Elessar either. No; those who could serve to bind the worlds of Elf and Man together were greater beings than he – Imrahil might stand on the boundary of the world, but there were far too many chains anchoring him onto the world of Men, and he would never be able to leave it.

(He wished, suddenly, for a chance to meet Tuor, one of Elladan’s forefathers. He would ask him how he could live within the realm of Valinor; to be immortal when he was born mortal; to live in a world where none changed when all he knew before could not bear to stay still.)

Elladan’s shoulders seemed small now in Imrahil’s full-grown hands. He grasped them, thumbs gently placed atop the hollow of Elladan’s throat, feeling his strong, steady pulse. Elladan let out a small sigh; behind his dark head, Imrahil could see the Sun rising above Mount Doom. Dawn approached, red as blood, coloured by the fires of the mountain they would pretend to attack.

They would have only hours left of life together. Even if they lived, the gulf between their worlds could not be bridged. Their fates were common ones, leading them away from tales and legends instead of towards it. Imrahil knew he did not need for tales to be written and songs to be sung of them, and yet…

He closed his eyes, silencing his thoughts as he leaned in to kiss Elladan, to cross the only gap he could reach with his lips and hands. He found himself wishing desperately for the youthful rashness he had once called his own. It might be foolish to hope, yet Imrahil had learned through these long decades of war that any hope was precious, and any Man with hope could do much, if not all. Yet, in his heart where his brazenness once resided was emptiness once more.

Too early and too late both, and like Andreth and Aegnor, they were left only with the dreams of what could be.

It would serve them well enough, he thought. It would have to.

End

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