"Elladan, please be quiet!" Elrohir winced and buried his head in his hands. "I feel like I've been clubbed around the head by a troll!"
Aragorn smiled from across the table and poured a cup of coffee, which he nudged in Elrohir's direction.
Elladan chuckled, tugging playfully on Elrohir's hair and jumping a step back before he could strike him. "It's your own fault, you drank too much."
Elrohir glared at his twin. "You drank just as much and you are fine. I think I am feeling the effects for both of us." He took the coffee and sipped it gratefully, a frown crossing over his face as if he were trying to remember something. Likely last night's events. "Elladan!! What was I doing with Legolas last night?!" he suddenly cried. "What were we both doing?!"
"Dancing, you fool." Elladan laughed again. "And I am surprised Estel hasn't had our heads for it, I don't think he was very impressed by it!"
"No, I was not very impressed by it," Aragorn replied. "But there is nothing I can do about it now. Just please remember in the future that, although I do not object to anything - or indeed anyone - you may want to do, that there is a time and place for everything. And my ballroom at my son's birthday is not the place to be working Legolas into a sexual frenzy." He poured himself a cup of coffee, allowing himself a smile at Elrohir blushed scarlet and buried his face in his hands. "Elrohir, you look dreadful."
"Thank you. I feel dreadful." Elrohir gave a weak smile.
"What happened to Legolas after that, anyway?" Elladan asked. "I didn't see him after he went outside."
"I don't know," Aragorn said. "More to the point, what happened to Eldarion? I was looking everywhere for him." He had received a severe talking to from his wife about the argument, and had been trying to find him to make things right again. Arwen had said if they hadn't sorted things out with Eldarion by this afternoon then she would be calling them all together and forcing them to talk things through.
"Eldarion?" Elladan shrugged and looked out of the window. "I really couldn't say."
"You know something?" Aragorn looked askance at him.
Another shrug was his answer.
The door opened before Elladan could reveal anymore and Eldarion ran in. Aragorn rose to his feet instantly, Eldarion was clearly distressed and all of yesterday's ill feelings were forgotten in an instant at the sight of his son in tears. He knew tears did not come easily to Eldarion.
"I'm sorry!" he cried, flinging his arms around Elrohir. "I'm sorry!"
"Eldarion, whatever is wrong?" Elrohir pulled him down into the chair and hugged him against his shoulder. "Shh... come on, tell me."
"I've been feeling so dreadful about what I said yesterday," he sniffed. "I didn't mean to insult you or upset you..."
"It's all right," Elrohir kissed his cheek. "I forgive you. I do not blame you."
"And what about you?" he looked at Elladan uncertainly, like he was more unsure of him offering forgiveness so easily. "I did you wrong as well, even though I did not say it to you."
"It must have been a shock for you seeing us like that," Elladan said honestly. "I cannot blame you for what you said." He ruffled his hair. "We've had worse said to us, I won't hold it against you. We still love you."
Eldarion smiled, running a hand through his hair to straighten it again. "And I still love you, both of you." He took a breath. "I needed to speak to you Elrohir, when I woke, and then I remembered that we weren't on speaking terms and I had to come and make things right. I had no right to say what I did."
Aragorn felt proud, but a little surprised to see his arrogant son being so humble. He had grown up quickly. He was learning understanding at last. Very different to the ranting brat of yesterday. He felt suddenly concerned. What had happened?
"It's all right," Elrohir assured him. "You're my family, Eldarion, I would never hold a grudge against you. You hurt my feelings if anything, but I am not angry with you now. Now what did you need to speak to me about? Would you rather we go somewhere private?"
Eldarion nodded. "I did something last night..." He glanced across the table and shut his mouth with a snap, as if he had only just noticed his Aragorn was in the room. "Father, I am so terribly sorry for how I behaved yesterday." He hung his head.
Aragorn smiled at him. "It's forgotten." He walked around the table to hug him. "And we were just wondering where you got to last night. I don't recall seeing you for the second half of the party."
"Oh... Oh... I..." Eldarion floundered on his words.
Aragorn was truly worried then. Eldarion never kept anything from him. They had always had the sort of relationship that did not warrant secrets, even in the last few months as Eldarion had been growing more stubborn and independent.
"I just retired early."
Aragorn knew for a fact that was lie. Eldarion's room was the first place he had looked for him. "Could I have the truth please?" "I..." Eldarion clammed up again. "I do not think you want to know. Please do not question me further about it."
"I do want to know, Eldarion," he confirmed, starting to lose patience.
"Oh Estel, let him be!" Elladan said with a smile. "He was probably with a girl, he doesn't need you to know all the gory details!" he winked at Eldarion.
Aragorn wondered at that moment what Elladan knew. Or rather *how* he knew.
"Is that right, Eldarion?" he asked, feeling a little hurt that Eldarion did not want to share something so important with him while he was obviously intending to tell Elrohir about it. "Were you with someone last night?"
"Yes," Eldarion whispered, glaring hard at Elladan.
"No!" Legolas burst in, breathless, flinging the door back on its hinges. "What he has to say to you will hurt you all and I would not have him speak it! It was my fault!" He dropped to his knees before Aragorn and clasped his hand.
Aragorn frowned in confusion as Eldarion jumped to his feet and paled. He wondered if there had been something odd in the wine last night. "Legolas, get up," he tried to pull him to his feet. "You know you do not have to kneel before me. No one does, least of all you."
"Yes, I do." Legolas kissed his hand. "I do this time. I have done you the greatest wrong a friend could ever do."
"Legolas, don't!" Eldarion begged, his voice rising several notes in pitch.
"He has to know!" Legolas cried. "Eldarion, I cannot keep this from him, I know you made me swear to last night but my conscience cannot take it!"
"What is going on?" Elrohir said, voicing all of their bewilderment.
"Last night after I went outside," Legolas took a breath. "Oh Aragorn, I do not know how you will forgive me for this… Last night, I met Eldarion outside. I was drunk but I will not use that as an excuse..."
Aragorn looked up at his son and saw him gulp. "Legolas..." he whispered, praying that the Elf was not about to say what he thought he was. "What are trying to say me? What have you done?"
"I have bedded your son," Legolas whispered softly and Aragorn felt a tear splash onto the back of his hand. "I will take any punishment you wish to give me, I deserve it."
Eldarion dropped back into his chair and stared at the floor after giving one fleeting terrified glance at his father.
Aragorn could feel the eyes of the twins on him but he could only look at Legolas. The Elf refused to look up and meet his gaze and still knelt on the floor with his head lowered. He could not believe what he had just heard - that his dearest friend of over a century had stolen the virtue of his youngest child.
Betrayed. He felt betrayed. But not angry. Hurt, maybe. Resentful, even. But definitely not angry. Though he wanted to be.
"It was not all his fault," Eldarion cut in to the building silence. "Father, do not punish him. He was drunk and I seduced him. He could not stop me. Punish me, if you punish anyone, but do not hurt him."
Aragorn pulled his hand free from Legolas's grip. He knew Legolas too well to believe he had allowed a boy to seduce him. "Get up," he ordered firmly.
The Elf rose slowly to his feet and raised his head to look him in the eyes.
Aragorn looked into the dark blue of his eyes. Who was he to blame? He could not blame Eldarion; he had felt the same lust for the Elf when he was a youth. He had pursued the same lust, knowing just the same that it would get him nowhere. "You are but a boy! Come back when you are older!" Legolas's scornful laughter rang clear in his ears as if it was yesterday.
Legolas had turned him down for being too young, yet he had accepted Eldarion. Over a century had passed, and Eldarion was nearly two years younger than he had been then, and Legolas had taken him. Obviously not against his will, but against all morality and decency.
Before Aragorn's body could reason what his emotions were telling it to do, his fist swung and punched Legolas under the chin, knocking him backwards. As anger finally grasped him, he lunged at him, raining blow after blow upon the pretty face until blood ran from the Elf's nose and from a cut on his lip. He felt the hands of one of the twins (he did not know which) try to still him but he shrugged them off as if they were air as his temper boiled over.
"Father! Stop it! Please!" Eldarion grasped his arm and stopped him.
"Stop defending me!" Legolas cried at the prince from his prone position on the floor.
"Stop treating me as a child!" Eldarion suddenly roared. "Legolas, you did not treat me as a child last night, that is why you are here begging forgiveness on your knees before my father! You said last night that I was not a child! You let me seduce you! I was man enough then so stop talking like I was some poor defenceless babe that you took advantage of." He turned to Aragorn. "And Father what right do you have to say who I sleep with?"
"You are eighteen years old, Eldarion, and only just!" he said, trying to restrain his temper. "And you are my heir. That gives me some right to say who you lie with."
"It is not as if lying with Legolas is going to produce an issue!" Eldarion laughed mockingly.
He slapped Eldarion for his impertinence. "That is not the point."
"When will you just let me go my own way!" he shouted. "I am more than capable of controlling my own actions. Just because you had an over-sheltered upbringing does not mean you have to treat me the same way! How old were you before you were allowed to sleep with someone?"
"I do not think I have to answer that!" Aragorn retaliated. "But if you must know... If you must know I was 21."
"Just after you left Rivendell?" Eldarion assumed.
"It is irrelevant!" Aragorn said, blocking out the fact that what Eldarion was implying was true. "I did not have a father, I was raised by Elrond and guided by Elladan and Elrohir." He glanced at the twins. "And they brought me up well. They looked after me and taught me everything I needed to know. And if at any time they appeared to smother me, it was for my own good. I learned that. They tried to stop me going after Legolas and I did not listen to them..."
"Estel!" Elrohir tried to silence him.
Aragorn closed his eyes. He had not meant to reveal that detail.
"You *what*?!" Eldarion cried. "You lusted after Legolas?! How dare you try to stop me?!"
"Because I got hurt!" Aragorn told him. "It got me nowhere."
"You are just jealous!" Eldarion lashed out at his father. "You are jealous because I achieved what you could not. You cannot bear the thought of me with Legolas when he turned you down."
"I feel like a prize piece of meat," Legolas whispered only just loud enough to hear. "Though I suppose I deserve to."
"Stop simpering, Legolas," Aragorn struck him again.
"Estel," Elrohir stepped in front of him and placed both hands on his shoulders before he could hit the Elf again. "Eldarion is right, he is not a child anymore."
"Then he should stop acting like one!"
"Did I act like a child last night, Legolas?" Eldarion said. "While you are in the mood for confessing everything, tell them! Did I act like a child?"
"Eldarion, that will do," Elladan interrupted.
"No! it will not do!" Eldarion continued to rant. "Legolas, tell them! Tell them!"
"You did not act like a child!" Legolas cried, flinching in anticipation of another blow from Aragorn. "It was I that acted like the foolish youth."
Aragorn pulled away from Elrohir and swung his arm back ready for another strike at Legolas.
"That will do, all of you!" Elladan suddenly shouted, stilling Aragorn's hand. "Estel, for goodness sake calm down and take a seat. Legolas, stand up, wipe your nose and do the same."
Aragorn sunk into the chair behind him. Legolas slowly rose to his feet and acquired a seat near the window.
"Estel, the first thing I want to say is that you have no right to try to forbid Eldarion his lust for Legolas," Elladan asserted. "It is clear no advantage was taken of him."
"He is my son, and he is still young," he argued. "And Legolas should know better."
"Legolas was extremely drunk last night," Elladan interjected. "I doubt he would have been able to take advantage of Eldarion. It's more than likely the other way around."
Aragorn felt like he was 19 again, getting nagged by the twins, not wanting to hear what they were saying but knowing it was true.
"Legolas turned you down when you were a year older than Eldarion is now, saying you were too young," Elrohir pointed out. "And before you jump down my throat I am merely saying that he would not take deliberate advantage of Eldarion. He turned you down when you were nearly 20 years of age because he thought you were too young. If he had not been completely intoxicated, he would have done the same with Eldarion. And he loves you as his friend; he would not do anything to hurt you. Look at him, he feels terrible."
"*I* took advantage of *him*!" Eldarion cried. "I know it, and he knows it deep down! But he will not let me take the blame."
"I can't," Legolas said softly. "I should have stopped you. I am three thousand years older than you, Eldarion. It's just not right."
"Mother is over two thousand years older than Father!" Eldarion argued. "And please don't tell me that's different!"
"Eldarion, it is," Elladan crouched at his chair and took his hand. "I know you think you're grown up, but you still have a long way to go before you're fully mature."
Aragorn blinked away tears he had not realised were forming. He remembered how Elladan had once said similar words to him, only not so kindly. He had been scolding him for being stupid, for acting like a child in the name of trying to show them all how grown up he was.
"And you have grown up, a lot," Elladan continued to hearten Eldarion, "and we're all very proud of you. It shows how much you've grown up by the way you won't let Legolas take the blame for you, you would not have done that a few years ago. But please understand why your father is trying to protect you, and that is all he is trying to do. He loves you, and I love you, and Elrohir loves you. We all do. Look at what's happening here and try to understand why we wanted to stop you going after Legolas. Elrohir and I know better than anyone how much something like this can hurt a family. We tore our family apart with our relationship."
Aragorn stared at his foster brother. He had never seen Elladan talking so frankly before.
"But you two are inseparable," Eldarion whispered. "You could not have stopped for anything. I can see that, even if I do not understand it. I could have stopped, but I didn't want to." He bit his lower lip. "I just wanted to show you all that I could..."
Elladan smiled at him. "No one wants to treat you like you're a baby, but sometimes we wish we still could, it's hard to think of you as being an adult. You're the last of the children, it makes us feel old!"
Eldarion gave a little smile.
"And Estel," Elladan reached and took his hand also. "You have to start letting go a bit. Eldarion's taking responsibility for himself now and you have to let him. We know you feel betrayed, but is this really worth losing your only son and your dearest friend over? Neither of them are to blame. Legolas probably had not a clue of what he was doing. And as for Eldarion… had things been different when you were a youth, and Legolas had been willing to sleep with you, would you have turned down the chance just because we had forbidden you to?"
Aragorn shook his head with a sigh. Elladan was right, as always. "I would not have," he admitted.
"I'm sorry," Eldarion apologised, "to all of you, I have acted so foolishly and selfishly. I did not think how many people this would hurt. I just wanted to show you all." He glanced at the twins. "And when I saw you two dancing with Legolas last night I was so jealous. I just wanted to show you."
"Well, now you have," Elrohir said, "and it has shown us a thing or two, hasn't it Estel?"
Aragorn looked across at Legolas, then at Eldarion. He did not want to forgive so easily. Both had betrayed him. Legolas especially. Though he had been his friend for longer than he could remember, and he had fought beside him in the great War of the Ring, he did not want to find forgiveness that quickly. His pride prevented him, even though his heart wanted him to.
"Aragorn," Elrohir said firmly.
Aragorn's head snapped up, startled at the sound of Elrohir calling him by his true name.
You have been among Men too long, Estel, Elrohir's thought seemed to pierce his mind. You have forgotten you are an Elf at heart. Let it go.
"Yes, it has shown us," he said. "I am sorry Eldarion. I will try to stop treating you like a baby. But I hate the thought of you growing up and growing away from me. I hate the thought of you not being my child anymore."
"But we can be friends instead?" Eldarion said with a tearful smile.
"For pities sake!" Elladan pulled them both to their feet and pushed them close together. "You stupid stubborn humans. Eldarion, give your father a hug!"
With a choked laugh, Eldarion put his arms around Aragorn's neck and hugged him tightly. "I'm so sorry," he whispered.
"So am I," Aragorn whispered back and kissed his cheek. As he released Eldarion, he saw Legolas stand to leave. "Legolas, stay," he said, catching his arm.
"Do you forgive me?" Legolas asked nervously. "Can you forgive me?"
"I forgive you," Aragorn told him. "We have been friends for too long for me to hate you." He reached for a napkin from the table and pressed it to Legolas's nose to clean up the blood. "But if you do anything like that again..."
"You will murder me," Legolas said without humour. "I know."
"Father," Eldarion said with a smile, "may I ask one thing?"
"Yes, anything," Aragorn told him.
"May I take leave before Gimli learns of this?"
Back to Fiction