tuxedo_elf: (Tree Light)
Title: An Educational Visit
Author: Tuxedo Elf
Pairing: Elrohir/Legolas
Rating: PG13
Beta: [info]keiliss
Summary: Elrohir travels to Mirkwood to learn more about the reclusive Silvan Elves. What he gets is a lesson in love, jealousy and heartache.

For Naledi Seren.



In the days that followed Elrohir spent most of his time in the company of the Prince. His initial impressions had been all but forgotten and he found Legolas to be a most agreeable companion. They had much in common – a love of hunting, reading and music, as well as a shared hatred of the burden placed upon them by the titles they had been born to. It was through these shared feelings that Elrohir began to understand the Silvan people and to appreciate their culture.

Legolas had taken a leave of absence from his regular duties in order to be Elrohir’s guide and teacher. As such it meant that their days could be unhurried and pleasant, choosing each morning what would be the most beneficial activity for that day.

It was one such morning, three weeks after Elrohir’s arrival that found Elrohir having grown tired of one particular aspect of the realm. Suggesting they explore the protected areas of the forest, he began to forage amongst the plants that grew everywhere, picking leaves and tasting them, saying very little to Legolas as he discarded each one.

Legolas watched for a while, before curiosity and mild frustration got the better of him. “What on Arda are you doing? If you are looking for medicinal herbs, I have passable knowledge, but I fear I am not the best guide... though I could summon a healer.”

Much to his surprise, Elrohir blushed and shook his head. “No... it is not that.” He shifted awkwardly, wondering how to explain what he was doing without causing offence. He would have come alone had he been more at ease with the vast forest. “I am looking for... tea leaves.”

Legolas blinked. “Tea? I did not think you liked tea, I do not recall seeing you drink it at any meal.”

“I... that is...” Elrohir sighed. “I do like tea but am... not that keen on the particular brew served here.” He looked apologetically at Legolas, waiting for his response.

There was silence for a few, worrying moments and then – Legolas laughed. “And here I thought you were an intelligent Elf!” he teased. “You should have asked weeks ago, instead of going without for so long!” He shook his head in amusement and rested his hand on Elrohir’s shoulder. “Come – I do know where the tea leaves we use grow and there are many other plants nearby – perhaps we can find something to your liking.”

Elrohir chuckled in relief. “Perhaps I should have asked, but my father always insisted I be polite when I am a guest – I did not want to offend!”

“It will take far more than a criticism of our tea to offend me,” Legolas assured him, as he changed their direction. “Although I should warn you, I have never brewed my own tea. This could take all day.”

Looking over at Legolas, Elrohir smiled. “I am not in any hurry.”

All day had not been a bad estimation. Late afternoon found both Legolas and Elrohir gathered around a table in a corner of the vast palace kitchen, surrounded by pots and cups. They had declined any help offered to them by kitchen staff and had made a number of brews from the leaves they had brought back. So far, however, none had been successful. What it had been, was highly entertaining.

Elrohir made a face and spat out a mouthful of his latest concoction. Although the Elf Lord had been trained by his father to recognise a great many plants, his education had not included how they tasted. “That was worse than the last one.”

Legolas laughed. “Surely not!” He picked up the cup and took a sip, gagging almost immediately much to Elrohir’s amusement. “Ugh, I did not think it was possible!”

“I did warn you!” Elrohir smirked. “It is your turn to make the next one.”

Legolas shook his head. “Oh no, not again. Father will kill me if I poison his distinguished guest. The last attempt came close enough!”

Elrohir chuckled. “Coward,” he goaded, a sparkle in his eye. It was strange, before that morning teasing the Prince would have been out of the question. Yet an afternoon of playing with tea leaves seemed to have lightened the formality between them.

“Is that a challenge?” Legolas was not one to back down from a dare and reached for the leaves. “Well... on your head be it, I take no responsibility if you spend the rest of your stay in the company of the healers.” He began to crumble leaves into yet another bowl.

*******

The next morning found both Elves with a mild stomach ache from the varying mixtures they had consumed. A suitable brew had never been found, yet Elrohir went to breakfast with a smile on his face, feeling more at ease here than ever before. His friendship with Legolas had taken a great leap and made the day’s excursions more than worthwhile.

“I see you are still alive,” Legolas grinned as Elrohir seated himself.

“Barely,” Elrohir teased dryly. “It is a good thing indeed you are a prince, not a chef.”

“I did warn you...” Legolas sipped water, having no desire to have tea that day.

“I suppose you did!” Elrohir turned his attention to the apple juice. Clearly he was going to have to alter his habits while he was here.

It did, therefore, come as a surprise when a small tea pot was set in front of him by a smiling maid. “Compliments of the chef, my Lord. He hopes it is to your liking and asks that you submit any requests to him from now on, if it is not too much trouble.”

Elrohir took a sip and immediately breathed a sigh of relief as several flavours, all pleasant, filled his mouth. “I will do, my thanks...” He blushed as the maid giggled and hurried away.

Legolas grinned. “I think the chef wants us to stay away from his kitchen.” It was no surprise though, as they had left quite a disastrous mess behind them.

“Can you blame him?” Elrohir had to laugh and leaned over to pat his new friend on the back.

Across the room, neither noticed a dark and jealous gaze being directed at the visiting Elf Lord.

*******

That afternoon, Elrohir found himself alone while Legolas had tea with his father. Although he had been invited, he understood the importance of family time and had not wanted to intrude. Instead he made his way to the library, along with a handful of leaves he had been unable to identify the day before.

He pushed open the great doors, still marvelling at how impossibly light they were, and went to look for someone to point him in the right direction.

He frowned when he realised that the workroom was empty, save for the Elf who had so unsettled him the last time he had been there. Still, perhaps he had judged him unfairly, it was not unheard of to be somewhat distrustful of strangers, especially here where they had so little contact with the outside world.

“Excuse me...” He smiled politely as he approached the desk, causing the young Elf to look up.

“Yes, My Lord?” The voice remained quiet and respectful, but largely emotionless.

Elrohir placed the leaves on the desk. “I am looking for information on these plants, I have never seen them before.”

There was a moment of silence as the councillor examined them, then he stood. “Follow me, please.”

Picking up the leaves, Elrohir did so, keeping easy pace as the Elf led him down the long rows of books and documents, until he finally stopped by one of the free-standing wooden shelves.

“All the information you desire should be here, My Lord.” There was a pause and then he spoke again. “They do not have them where you come from, My Lord?”

Elrohir smiled. “No... some I had read about, but these are entirely new to me. It is quite exciting to find something so different from what I am used to.”

“Is it only the plants you find of interest, My Lord? If it is not to impertinent a question...”

“Oh, not at all!” Elrohir shook his head. “This whole realm is fascinating. I have been here just three weeks and already I have learned so much. Of course I have had your Prince as my guide and that has indeed been a blessing. He is a wonderful Elf, Mirkwood must be very proud of him. I am glad I am able to call him friend – in all my travels I have never met anyone like him.”

“You are lucky... I have never set foot outside Mirkwood.” There was wistfulness in the young voice and a stiffness Elrohir couldn’t quite identify.

He was lucky, Elrohir knew that. He had been born into a life that afforded him many opportunities and though rank could sometimes be a burden, he would never wish to change it. “Perhaps you will one day... you are young yet.” He smiled encouragingly.

“Perhaps,” the councillor conceded, though he sounded unconvinced. “I must return to my work, My Lord, please let me know if you require any further assistance.”

He left quickly, Elrohir smiling softly as he disappeared from view around the shelves. Maybe he had been wrong about him after all.

*******

It was the first of many visits to the library for Elrohir. While Legolas told him much, he enjoyed reading further into the customs he learned about and making notes to take home and add to their own library. Sometimes Legolas came with him, helping in research and many of these visits ended with them talking quietly on a comfy sofa at the far end of the library.

Elrohir came to love those quiet times, even dragging out the things he needed to find in order to spend more time there. The easy companionship he had found with Legolas was a delight and he knew his feelings for the Elven Prince were deepening. He said nothing though, unsure if Legolas felt the same way and unwilling to spoil their friendship. He had several weeks yet, he could wait.

However it was only a week later when they found themselves rained off from an afternoon’s expedition through the forest to the base of the mountains. Instead they curled up in the almost deserted library, talking and laughing quietly as they exchanged stories of family life. Elrohir listened with pleasure to Legolas’ tales of his childhood and with some sadness as he told how he had watched the forest fall into darkness, despite his best efforts.

“My father did his best,” he said softly. “Yet in the end we lost even more ground. We are only grateful that the current size of our realm has not been further diminished in the past few centuries.” He sighed. “This is our home and I cannot bear the thought of losing it completely. There have been Elves living here since the dawn of time and although I suppose that must end one day, I do not want it to.”

Instinctively, Elrohir moved closer, offering solace with a light touch to his friend’s arm. “It is wonderful here,” he agreed. “I have already learned so much – you have a rich history and intricate culture... it deserves to continue for many years to come.” He paused, choosing his words carefully. “Perhaps, now that I have been here, you could visit Imladris? It would help our realms to become closer, even to aid each other in times of need.”

Legolas smiled slightly. “I would like that... I have rarely had a chance to leave Mirkwood and have never travelled very far... I would certainly like to cross the Misty Mountains and visit your home.”

“You would be very welcome...” Almost without realising it, he had found himself at a crossroads. He knew he should sit back, resume the casual conversation they had been having, let things stay as they were. Yet what he knew was proper was suddenly inconsequential to what he wanted, and before he had time to question himself again, he leaned forward and kissed Legolas softly.

“Elrohir...”Legolas’ breath caught at the unexpected kiss. His heart raced, caught in the wonder of this unexpected miracle. He had been steadily falling for Elrohir over the past weeks, yet never had he dared dream that the feelings might be returned. “I thought it was just me...” he smiled and actually blushed, almost embarrassed by the admission.

Hearing that his feelings were returned made Elrohir’s heart leap with joy. “As did I... but I could not help myself...” he blushed. He felt awkward now, never having been so unsure about another’s feelings before.

“I am glad... I may not have acted myself... you are our honoured guest, after all!” Legolas chuckled. “Yet now that you have...” He gently pulled Elrohir closer and kissed him back, more confidently than Elrohir had, already sure of a positive response.

Wrapping his arms around the Prince, Elrohir willingly returned the kiss, deepening and enjoying it as he explored the new dimension to their relationship. All of a sudden, the weeks he had left in Mirkwood seemed far too few.

Nearby, skulking behind a high shelf, jealous brown eyes watched them. Slender hands clutched books tightly and a spot of blood glistened on the lip that had been bitten hard in rage. How dare he? The Prince had always been his only desire, from the day they first met. He had worked hard to be noticed, to be worthy. And yet... still the Prince did not even know his name, while this newcomer, this interloper already had what he had coveted for so long. The dark eyes narrowed. He would not allow it to be so.

**********

The days that followed saw Legolas and Elrohir spend more time together than ever before. Conscious of their limited time together they sought to make the most of it, and for several days Elrohir’s cultural studies took a back seat as he enjoyed getting to know Legolas better than he had before. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that things were going almost too quickly, but he could not bring himself to slow things down. Even though the change in their relationship had come suddenly, it still felt right.

It was therefore quite unfortunate when Thranduil’s trade dealings became so involved that Legolas was forced to resume some of his duties, reducing the time they had together. Still, they made the best of what they had, and Legolas found himself working harder and faster in order to complete his tasks and leave duty behind for a while.

Elrohir also forced himself back to his studies, trying to stay productive, lest his father question how well he had made use of his time while away. He smiled to himself, feeling that it was already well spent, even if not quite in the way originally intended.

One morning, unable to find Legolas before he was swept into council meetings, he left a note in the Prince’s office. Slipping it onto the top of the pile of work, he could not help but hope that it would be a far more pleasurable thing to come back to than another long and dreary missive. As long as no one added to the pile before he escaped from the meetings.

Content in his plans, he slipped away, first to the library and then to talk to some of the traders who sold their wares around the palace grounds.

It was purely by chance that the young councillor had been sent to the Price’s office to retrieve a document that had been forgotten. He had been pleased to go, if only to have his existence and efficiency noticed. He had just found what he was looking for when the note from Elrohir caught his eye. With only the barest hint of guilt troubling him, he read it, jealousy flaring anew as he took in the tender words. How long had he dreamed of saying such things to the Prince and to hear them said back? He gritted his teeth in his fury and then, without another moment of hesitation, slipped the note into his own pocket before heading back to the meeting.

******

Elrohir poked his toe idly at the basket that sat on the ground next to him. It had been several hours now since he had left the note for Legolas and he was surprised that he still had not shown up. Surely the meetings were finished by now... he had never known them to go on this long. “I will wait a little longer...” he said quietly, though there was no one there to hear him. The Prince had probably just been delayed, though he was troubled that he had not even sent word. Sighing, Elrohir partly climbed the tree, until he could perch on the edge of the hollow that made the old oak so distinctive. The hollow itself was large and smooth – and just big enough for two grown Elves who did not mind squeezing in together. Elrohir’s intent had been to have a romantic and private picnic; unfortunately it was turning out to be far more private than he had expected and decidedly unromantic.

Finally, when the sun showed signs of beginning to set, he gave up. The food was spoiled now anyway and it was obvious that Legolas was not coming. Confused, hurt and hoping there was a good explanation, he headed back to the palace.

Depositing the basket in the kitchen, he made his way back to his rooms and called for a bath to be drawn. Yet the long soak did nothing to improve his mood and he knew he had to find Legolas and speak with him. Deep down he knew he might be over-reacting, yet in so new a relationship such a blatant lack of communication bothered him greatly.

He had barely dried and wrapped himself in a light robe when there was a knock and a call at the door.

“Elrohir? Are you in there?” Legolas’ voice sounded far less apologetic than he would have expected. Opening the door he offered only the smallest of smiles as he let the Prince in.

“There you are!” Legolas smiled broadly. “I was wondering where you had been all day!”

Elrohir stared incredulously at Legolas. “I have been waiting for you at the hollow oak all afternoon! I left a note in your office asking you to meet me!”

The smile on Legolas’ face faded and he frowned. “I did not see a note – where did you leave it?”

“On your desk, right on top of the other papers.” Elrohir felt his frustration increasing, he was sure it had been visible. Even if more had been put on top of it, Legolas always claimed he went through everything.

“Perhaps it fell off...” Legolas offered, though it sounded weak, even to him. “Let us go there before dinner and I will show you that it was not on my desk.” He knew he sounded a little defensive, but he disliked knowing that Elrohir thought he had deliberately let him down.

“Very well... let me dress...”

“Thank you...” Legolas leaned in, kissing Elrohir before he could protest.

Elrohir smiled despite himself. “I will not take long.”

True to his word, he was soon dressed for dinner, looking lordly indeed in dark blue leggings and a tunic that ended just below his knees. Fine embroidery was worked subtly around the seams in the same deep colour, making the outfit elegant without being overbearing.

“You look wonderful,” Legolas complimented, earning himself another smile. Indeed, the Prince was feeling much more at ease as they made their way to his office.

It did not last. Heading over to his desk, he lifted up the first paper on the pile – and there below it, was Elrohir’s note.

“I... I...” He felt lost for words; absolutely certain it had not been there before. Utterly abashed, he looked up into Elrohir’s accusing gaze. “Elrohir, I swear to you, I did not see it. I do not know how I missed it – perhaps it got caught up with something else and I did not notice.” It was unlikely, he was normally very careful, but he could think of no other explanation.

“Perhaps...” Elrohir sounded unconvinced and still hurt.

“Please...” Legolas turned to him, daring to step close. “I am sorry. I must have been careless and missed it. It was not deliberate, I promise you. Forgive me? I will be more cautious in future. Believe me, I would much rather have spent the afternoon with you, instead of going through armoury supply reports.”

Elrohir sighed. He was still angry, yet he could see no reason why Legolas would lie to him. There were a lot of papers here, it was not hard to believe that occasionally something would get missed. And it was unreasonable to end an otherwise good relationship over what seemed to be nothing more than a misunderstanding. He smiled slightly. “Very well. But next time I want my notes to take top priority!”

Legolas breathed a sigh of relief. “You can even have your own tray!”

End Chapter 2
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