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The sky was black with the barest hint of purple tinted clouds. A storm had gathered and would soon vent its fury on the residents of Imladris. There was a bite in the air as it was the end of autumn. Everyone was safely tucked in his or her beds, with the exception of a precious few.

Two elves who had not turned in for the night were Prince Legolas Thranduilion and Chief Councilor Erestor. They were sitting in the latter's quarters, playing a game of chess. Low murmurs or the scrape of the pieces on the wooden board could barely be heard over the keening cry of the wind. Erestor, listening to the despairing sound, shivered slightly.

"It's seems Arda is wishing to tell us its sorrow this night," he commented, moving his rook as he spoke.

"Mayhap, indeed," was the only reply he received from his opponent.

Legolas contemplated his next move, and Erestor took the opportunity while refilling his glass to look at the prince. The dancing firelight caught his gold mane and transformed his tan skin to something beyond words - he seemed to be made of molten gold. For the millionth time he was brought to the realization of how different they were.

'Opposites,' Erestor mused, twirling the cordial in the cup. 'Day and Night, Anor and Ithil.' He was thrown out of his reverie by Legolas's voice telling him that it was his move.

After due consideration he moved a pawn to counteract Legolas's knight and studied the prince. Their friendship had not been easy, considering how seldom they had been given the opportunity to enjoy each other's company over the years.

Legolas had been quite young when they first met, but his love of literature had gained the interest of the Chief Councilor. From that time forward late night talk of lore and books, interspersed with closely fought games of chess, had become, for them both, the focal point of Legolas's visits. The negotiations, which were the official purpose of these sojourns and of which Erestor had become quite fond, soon became of secondary importance.

In spite of his best efforts, Erestor felt drawn to Legolas. The words 'in love' came to mind, but he ruthlessly pushed them down. After all, Legolas was a Prince and a warrior while he was just a Councilor, no matter how elevated his position might seem. With a bitter twist of his mouth, he looked down at his hands. They were smooth, many of the calluses he had acquired during his warrior years had disappeared after years of welding a quill in place of a sword.

Legolas interrupted his deep and dark thoughts concerning his hands again.

The perusal of the board took longer as his mind wasn't on the game at hand, focusing instead on the prince calmly sitting across from him. He finally moved his queen, choosing to take the offensive. Using the guise of watching his opponent's face, he continued to study Legolas.

Legolas had a very open face, but Erestor knew it was only a variant of his own mask. Behind the facade of innocence and youth, Legolas possessed a cunning mind to rival his own. The dark blue eyes hid secrets from him, one of the traits making Legolas so intriguing to Erestor. Many an elf's mask had fallen under the sheer force of his will, but Legolas still remained a mystery. His form was angelic appearing - hair seemingly spun of gold, creamy skin and blue eyes - and few looked beyond that and rather chose the surface appearance.

This was quite similar to his own situation, now that Erestor thought about it. General consensus had it that he was a recluse with a fierce cold anger and was to be avoided at all costs. Cold and calculating was how he seemed, while Legolas appeared light and pure. But there are layers to everyone and even lovers seldom reach the innermost core of another's fea.

Unknowingly, he had picked up one of Legolas's defeated pawns and was rolling it between his slender fingers. Over and over the fingers twirled the piece, sometimes slowing with the pace of his thoughts or speeding up as did the turmoil that was his organized mind. This time, however, he noticed when Legolas moved and was able to counteract him quickly.

Just as Legolas was about to take his turn at the game the window blew open under the force of the storm that had been growing steadily wilder through their game. While Erestor's head was turned towards the window, Legolas moved his piece and stood.

"I'll get it."

Erestor sat unmoving but still watching him out of the corner of his eye. Legolas moved with such grace and reminded him of a large feline. He closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair.

"Have you moved yet?" Erestor asked absently after a moment.

He was startled when he heard the much-desired voice seem to come from behind him.

"Yes, and I believe it is checkmate." The words were whispered in his ear, warm breath ghosting over the sensitive tip.

Willing his emotions back under control again, he looked down at the chessboard. His carefully protected king was trapped. Much like his heart, he thought with a quirk of his lips.

"It very much seems that it is. Would you like to play one more game to let me avenge myself?" Erestor asked, turning his head to glance at Legolas from the corner of his eye.

"No, I fear that I must retire for the evening." He brushed a finger across Erestor's jaw line. "And I could tell that your mind was far from the game tonight."

"Was it that apparent?" Erestor smiled self-deprecatingly.

"Sadly so."

Legolas strode over to the door leading into the corridor. Erestor followed and leaned against the doorframe, watching as Legolas turned to say goodnight. Erestor could immediately tell something was different by Legolas's body language. Nothing really prepared him for Legolas leaning in closer, tilting his head up slightly as Erestor was taller by two inches.

Frozen for some reason he could not comprehend, Erestor watched as the mouth inched nearer. By reflex he closed his eyes and felt the soft brush of Legolas's lips. The kiss ended almost as soon as it began, but it brought a flare of hope to Erestor's doubting heart. He felt Legolas move away and gently cup his chin.

"Goodnight, Erestor." Legolas's voice had deepened slightly and retained a solemn air. Erestor met his eyes. It hadn't been his first kiss, and he had certainly experienced better, but somehow a flush crept across his cheeks. In lieu of his usual cold facade, he found himself -much to his dismay- stammering his farewell.

Legolas gave him a cryptic smile and turned, leaving Erestor standing in his doorway with a slightly dazed expression. His fingertips rose to rest on his lips for a moment, then he seemed to shake himself, and withdrew into the room with a smile on his face.

As he prepared for bed, Erestor felt an excitement that he had rarely experienced as he waited for the new day to come. A day in which feelings could be told and love expressed.




Beta: Keiliss