Midsummer's Chance

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Midsummer's Chance

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As a visiting guest to Lórien, Thranduil’s presence was technically required at the Midsummer celebration. If it were really up to him, however, he would have stayed in his rooms, unwilling to be diplomatic and gracious. He was still reeling from the news received earlier that day. Nevertheless, he joined the Lothlórien elves, with a small mix of the Noldor, gathering around the base of the largest Mallorn tree of all. The Lord and Lady resided there, and had left the lofty heights to mingle with the crowd.

Bowls of food and platters of fruit, the sweet ripe bounty of the garden, were laid on cloths or small tables among the Mallorn roots. Wine was flowing freely as well, and few were choosing to abstain. Each season was heartily embraced and celebrated, no race more aware of Nature and her blessings than the Elves. Summer was a particularly amazing time, the pinnacle of Life at its strongest.

Thranduil walked among the people, trying to be pleasant and cordial as was befitting to his station, but his heart was far from it. Briefly, he talked to Elrond, whom he had not seen in person since the tragedy that befell their house at the loss of Elrond’s wife. Perhaps later they might spend a little time together and talk – Thranduil’s own wife had been lost in an attack as well a couple hundred years previously – but now was not the time. He wouldn’t mar the celebration with such morbid talk.

His mingling was aimless, merely polite, only really achieving direction when he headed for the refreshments. He heard the sound of Elf maidens giggling over the melodies cheerfully supplied by the musicians, and the sound made his head hurt. His charm or politeness seemed to have retreated into a corner for the evening. He vaguely worried about eventually causing a diplomatic incident in this mood. Another burst of laughter drew his attention, curiosity overwhelming his irritation for the time being. A gaggle of Elves stood very close to one of the tables bearing the wine, seemingly centered around one particular Elf.

It took a moment, but recognition finally settled. Haldir Beriorion. He had quite the reputation. Unfortunately, Thranduil was caught staring while attempting to remember the Elf’s identity, and curious green eyes met his from across the distance. The moment broke, however, when a raven haired beauty tugged on Haldir’s arm, drawing his attention away from Thranduil to more immediate concerns.

The feeling was nothing Thranduil could define, and years of practice helped him to push it to the back of his mind, focusing instead on escaping the noise, which was doing nothing for his temper. The party was based around the grand Mallorn tree, but it seemed that all of the Elves of renown; Galadriel, Celeborn, Elrond, the reborn Glorfindel were on its west side, which explained the larger crowd there. He made his way over to a nice section beneath the tree, less crowded, quieter and all around looking very pleasant. Thankfully he was unnoticed. The change from heavy, stifling regal robes to a tunic and leggings helped – they were also a damn sight easier to move in. His distinctive auburn hair was done up in a thick braid, highlighting his cheekbones and deep green eyes.

Settling on the lush ground, he took his glass, thoughtfully filled again, and just watched the celebrations. Observing people had always fascinated him from an early age, and there was nothing quite like it around Midsummer. There was always such joy on their faces, though on more than a few couples he wryly noted not a small amount of desire or lust either. Maybe it was something in the air.

He was thrown out of his thoughts by the sudden arrival of that Elf from earlier – Haldir. He hadn’t seen him appear and he felt a little abashed at his lack of attention to his immediate surroundings.

“Hello, my Lord. May I join you?” Haldir was more subdued with him than he was with his former company – nevertheless he was courteous and quite warm.

Curious, Thranduil nodded, saying lightly, “Of course. Not my tree.”

Saying quiet thanks, the Woodelf chose to forgo sitting in lieu of merely resting against the tree, cocking his head slightly and looking down at Thranduil. “You look disturbed?”

Thranduil contemplated attempting to salvage what little was left of his diplomacy, but at the moment he really didn’t care, choosing instead to shrug and take a drink of his wine. “It was not a great day?” he offered lamely. “I admit I’m not in the mood for this evening’s festivities.”

“We could leave the celebration. There are quieter times to be had in Lorien – much less stressful.” Haldir raised an eyebrow, sensing the tension in the king. “Join me?”

Thranduil looked at Haldir, weighing the offer, the outstretched hand, the warm, rich green eyes watching him as though the Woodelf could see the wheels turning in his head. “What about your companions, won’t they miss you?”

“No, not for long. This night offers many pleasures, most of which I’m sure they’ll partake of.”

“I see.”

“I assure you I don’t bite, my lord. Not unless one asks for it,” Haldir smiled.

The auburn haired king laughed out loud. “Well you have cheek, I’ll give you that,” he said, before taking the hand and rising to his feet. “By all means, take me to this quiet place.”

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This quiet place ended up being Haldir’s talan, built in the traditional Lórien style, becoming part of the tree, fashioned around nature. It was decently high up, ladders and fashioned walkways roped from tree to tree guiding them towards the Woodelf’s home. Thranduil watched with amazement as Haldir led the way. He was sure he himself looked fine and not too horribly embarrassing, but Haldir was a picture of grace, navigating each sky path with ease. Thranduil was quietly impressed, knowing that the further one lived from the ground the higher one’s status in the community was. What can I say? Every realm has its quirks. It implied that Haldir was perhaps not as common as he had thought, though it didn’t make much of a difference to Thranduil. He would have been equally willing to spend a peaceful evening in a hut thrown together on the ground, but it made him more curious about this Elf.

Instead of taking him inside as Thranduil figured he would, Haldir seemed to have other plans, settling on the wide ledge that surrounded the talan and dangling his legs over the edge. “We can stay here for a while. Unless we drink considerably more. Then we might want to consider moving closer towards safety.” His smile was wide and warm.

“I can see you picked up on my less than total ease with heights. You think I could not handle it with alcohol?” Thranduil challenged him, wondering what his response would be.

“Well, I confess that I didn’t bring you here to be blamed for your gruesome death after falling off the ledge while attempting to take a piss.”

Thranduil threw back his head and laughed, the blunt answer quite to his taste. So few people would dare talk to him like that. “Oh? Then what did you bring me here for?”

“Why for your charming conversational skills and sunny disposition of course,” Haldir teased lightly and, in any other circumstance, Thranduil would have been annoyed beyond belief, but not today, not with this Elf, surprisingly.

“Well I haven’t been displaying either of those much, now have I?” Thranduil frowned, joining Haldir on the wooden flats and urging him to open up the bottle.

“No, I knew what I was getting into when I saw you at the Celebration. You seemed as though you were about ready to burst a blood vessel.” Haldir’s lips quirked, though his tone was still quite respectful, Thranduil suspected that talent was learned.

“Bit of a risk you took, wasn’t it? I could have just as easily released my anger on you.” Thranduil knew full well he wouldn’t have minded a target right then – or now still at some moments.

“Yes, it was a risk of course. But with every risk come rewards.” Sensuous lips moved from a small twist to a full smile, hinting at more.

Thranduil’s curiosity peaked; he was sure the Elf was flirting with him. He could have laughed out loud, amused. Many wanted him, few had the boldness to flirt outright, seeking to curry favor first. The few that did flirt outright rarely wanted to take no for an answer, and became – pushy. With Haldir, he just had a sense of being appreciated.

Rich green met light green in a moment of silence, glances were exchanged before the Galadhel spoke. “What has gotten you in such a mood, if I might ask?”

Yet again, this Elf surprised him. He had thought the flirtation would continue, but Haldir seemed content to let it rest, instead filling Thranduil’s glass and toasting him.

Thranduil knew of course that he should not be talking to Haldir about these matters. The Council was trying to keep details as quiet as possible before they made a definitive move. Dscretion was key, but he had a feeling this Elf might perhaps know something. “You’ve heard of the White Council, I presume?”

“Yes of course. Wizards and Elves with a united goal of protection from an evil that has its roots in the Second Age.” Haldir shrugged. “No one thought I paid much attention to my history lessons.”

“"It was formed to combat the growing darkness of Dol Guldur at your Lady Galadriel’s request. We were called here to discuss our recent discovery.” Thranduil paused. “Haldir, you must know before I continue that this is not common knowledge and is not meant to be shared with anyone else. I must have your promise that no word of this will pass your lips.”

Haldir quietly considered, his cheerful grin fading before he nodded. “I promise I will not speak of it.”

“We have found the source of this evil. A Necromancer of terrible power. I would not speak his name here, but no action will be taken against him or any effort made to drive him from the land."

"Why would they not take action?" A note of concern laced through Haldir’s voice as he leaned forward, puzzled by this turn of events. "Surely they must have a good reason."

“It is Saruman’s doing, of course. He made a motion to the Council that we bide our time and learn more about the enemy, give him more time to search through his dark tomes and give us more ways to be rid of the Necromancer. No one seemed to be considering waiting before he suggested it, but in short order everyone came to agree with him in the matter and that decided it."

Thranduil looked over at Haldir who was watching him quiet and calmly. The light haired Elf considered his words for a moment before reaching out a hand to place on the King’s shoulder.

"Could it be that the Council sees something you do not? Maybe this is truly the most effective way?"

"Effective? My people are dying. That is not what I call effective in the slightest. I've had enough of those wizards, so intent on everything else but the people who are in need. I want the Necromancer dead, whatever it takes. But I lack the power to do it myself, so I am just sitting here doing nothing, waiting on the whim of the council."

"Think for a moment though, my lord. If we do rush the attack, what if we underestimate him or don't know how to destroy him properly? It would be a bloodbath. Surely you'd want to avoid that," Haldir pointed out in an entirely reasonable tone, much more so than Thranduil himself. It helped him to calm down and rephrase his next comment in a less harsh way.

“I’ve already considered that. And I’d consider it a necessary risk. I don’t even know how much longer we have to hold up before we receive help and this comes to an end.”

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The discussion of council faded away along with the sun slowly sinking in the West. They lapsed into silence, companionably drinking and looking down over the ledge to see the tiny people below. The celebration was going strong – it would no doubt last throughout the night.

“You can call me Thranduil,” he said suddenly, breaking the moment, He was unsure what had inspired him to say that, but once the words caught the air and settled he was actually comfortable with the idea. “Considering I am in your talan, one assumes this would be the right thing to do?”

Haldir looked up, surprised but smiling. “Thank you,” he said, pausing a moment before trying the name out on his tongue. “…Thranduil.”

“The name on your lips sounds vaguely exotic and foreign,” Thranduil laughed, and the Galadhel grinned.

“What can I say? I am an Elf of many talents.”

“Such as?” Thranduil knew he shouldn’t ask, that it was a clear opening for much more serious flirtation, but damned if he wasn’t curious.

“Kissing, for one.” Not surprising that Haldir took the opportunity to slip such a comment in, but what was unexpected was when he followed up with, “I confess I have spent a rather large time wondering what your lips taste like.”

Taken back a bit, Thranduil covered his surprise with another sip of brandy and, swallowing, slowly considering the Galadhel. “You are bold, very bold, Haldir. What have you done to achieve such confidence, or were you just born with it?”

He was fair enough, truth be told. He was not overly tall, and had a sturdy build, bulkier than most. His muscles lacked the signature leanness of their race, but he moved with a calm and easy grace - power under control. Light blonde hair fell thickly to mid-back, he had smooth fair skin, not pale but more like a creature of moonlight. His green eyes, knowledgeable and supremely confident, by no means arrogant as many Elves his age were inclined to be.

Haldir suffered the long look with no complaint, merely raising an eyebrow. “Like what you see?” he asked, looking sideways and turning that glance directly on Thranduil. Appreciative, a touch predatory, desire-filled, but not forceful.

You’re a force to be reckoned with, aren’t you, Haldir? You know what would make me bristle and you avoid it, but still are – very dominant. You are a heartbreaker, aren’t you? No wonder you have such a reputation as a charmer. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, Thranduil smiled back, not intending to make this exceptionally easy. “Of course, I’m not blind. You do know that I was quite happily married at one time, yes? What makes you think I would like males after that?”

Haldir nodded. “Do not misunderstand me, I like females as well, I love their curves, firm breasts pressed up against me, the soft, silken heat between their thighs. But sometimes I need the solid roughened lines of a male. From what I’ve seen, heard and noticed personally, I believe that you are like me in this. But if I have caused offense, then I do apologize and will desist immediately, of course.” For a moment, there was a flash of uncertainty in Haldir’s eyes. Thranduil decided that he quite liked seeing that there was possibly more to this Elf than just his reputation and near unnerving confidence.

Idly considering things for a moment, he leaned forward and pressed his lips against Haldir’s. He had no real intent for the time being, but curiosity as to the reaction. Several small kisses were exchanged, before Haldir deepened the kiss, Thranduil let him, enjoying the sensual slide of their tongues against each other, spiced with brandy and an underlying taste uniquely Haldir’s. It was not hurried or rushed, rather savored, each progression slow and, to Thranduil’s surprise, growing rather heated on his side.

They broke apart when the kiss ended, each taking a moment to breathe. Silence fell as they watched the sunset fade, lighting the fair city in shades of pink and gold. Haldir was the first one to break their reprieve, looking over to Thranduil again. The king felt the glance on him and he turned to look; Haldir’s eyes, seeming darker now and more sensual than before, drew all his attention. The corner of his mouth quirking slightly, he noticed that the clear green eyes seemed to be focused more on his mouth at that moment than meeting his own eyes, but a glance soon followed.

“I’m sorry,” Haldir murmured. “I must seem terribly forward to you, don’t I?"

“Yes, a bit, I suppose.”

"I don’t – generally go around asking royalty to my home, flirting with them and – kissing them.”

"No, I would imagine not."

“Midsummer is a time where life breathes the fullest. It is intoxicating, and the most vivid of the seasons. We celebrate it by taking more chances, trying to imitate the growth of nature. Not everyone interprets it the same way, but grows in the way that’s right for them. It’s about relaxing in equal parts to your work as well as pleasure, enjoying each moment of life right now. “

Thranduil laughed a bit, something inside of him shifting, changing…he tried to lighten the mood, distract himself. “So this means aiming for the King of Mirkwood? It’s an interesting choice…”

“I wasn’t aiming, it’s not a game.” Apparently Haldir hadn’t taken it the way intended. The expressive green eyes shuttered and he physically withdrew, creating a small but noticeable space between them. “I wished to approach you, but never thought that it would ever be possible in the slightest,” he said flatly, avoiding looking at Thranduil and staring out into the distance. “Then I caught you watching me, and I wondered…I suppose the wine helped rather a lot in my initial approach. I didn’t mean it as a feather in my cap.”

Thranduil was rarely left speechless, but this was one of those times. He reached out across the space between them, placing a hand on Haldir’s shoulder. The muscles stiffened for a moment, then relaxed underneath his touch. Haldir shifted, looking at him now. Still no words came, and Thranduil wound his fingers in the thick blonde hair, enjoying the feel of the silky strands while inwardly cursing his ineloquence.

Finally he just settled on an “I’m sorry” and leaned in for a brush of his lips against a smooth temple. “I’m not really used to this sort of thing anymore and I don’t know what to say. We don’t even have much of a chance of getting to know one another. I do not visit Lorien often, and you have a well established place here.”

“Oh, I know this is hardly forever.” Haldir leaned against the touches slightly, his jaw firming. “I might be young but I am not foolish enough to think this could grow into something like that. We wouldn’t have the chance.”

“This sounds – rather depressing,” Thranduil remarked lightly, surprised to find he was not content to hear the truth laid out as such.

“But it’s the truth, is it not? Once you leave here, you will go back to your life and I will go back to mine, that’s the way it is. Just – maybe our lives could intersect. If just for tonight?”

Haldir smiled, the slow easy smile Thranduil had been seeing all evening, but this time there was more behind it and Thranduil knew he wanted to say yes. When Haldir kissed him again, there was no hesitation, no more holding back and waiting to see what might happen. The world was a dark and miserable place still, but for tonight Thranduil chose not to think about that. Tonight he would take his Midsummer’s chance, take it and see where it led.
 

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Finis

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Beta: Keiliss