Ah, he had missed this. Amras claimed his beloved's mouth, relishing the feel of his mate's full
lips as they opened to him. For long moments they kissed until Hîthuldir pulled back with a
"Should you keep distracting me like that, I shall never finish combing your wild tangles,
much less plait it as you requested."
Amras rested his broad back against his lover's chest, leaning his head against an expanse of
collarbone. "I have been away too long; the thought of activities of a far more intimate
nature refuse to leave me."
Hîthuldir chuckled knowingly, bringing his head down so that his black hair slipped across
Amras' shoulders. "They torment me as well. We are not needed anywhere at
" His voice trailed off as Amras took his hands and clasped them across his
"Will you sit on the bed and prepare yourself, allowing me to watch?" Amras asked,
drawing the palms of Hîthuldir's hands down the planes of his stomach to his groin, where
his arousal was evident.
Hîthuldir's long fingers massaged Amras' erection through his loose breeches. "You know
I will do anything for you, especially when it comes to our bed."
"For which I will reward you most thoroughly," Amras said, his voice raspy with
"Of that I have no doubt," Hîthuldir murmured against the sensitive lobe of Amras'
ear, sending a jolt of desire pulsing through Amras to his straining shaft.
As Hîthuldir disrobed, Amras was struck yet again by his lover's pervasive elegance of
movement, so unlike his own. Amras perfunctorily removed his clothing before sitting back on the
floor. He drew up his legs, taking himself in hand while avidly admiring the lightly-muscled
expanse of Hîthuldir's frame. His pale skin was in stark contrast to his raven hair and eyes
as dark as midnight. Perhaps it was because Amras was a son of Fëanor and had been born with
an obsession for beauty and no small amount of pride, but he often liked to think of how they
must look together, his own ruddy tones and fiery hair mingling with that of his more luminous
partner. Their fëa were intertwined, their bond now centuries old, yet Amras never tired of
seeing his mate's marble skin, especially when flushed with pleasure.
Amras stroked himself, gazing heatedly as Hîthuldir ensconced himself in a panoply of
vibrant cushions on their bed. Their home was filled with opulent comforts, and they lacked for
nothing due to the wealth of the woods and grounds of East Beleriand. With a smooth gesture,
Hîthuldir poured some oil into the palm of his hand, lubricating his fingers as the rich
aroma of pine dissipated into the room. To Amras it was as though his very blood had become
molten, heat coursing through him until it gathered, aching and impatient in his cock.
Hîthuldir seemed to sense Amras' longing for him, his hooded dark eyes unwavering as filled
himself with three fingers, sliding them in and out at the same languid pace with which Amras
pleasured himself. Though he had been gone for well over two months on an extended patrol of his
lands which bordered those of his brothers Celegorm and Curufin, Amras relished the slow buildup
to passion. When Hîthuldir's motions grew more purposeful, however, and he began paying
attention to his cock jutting from its thatch of damp black curls, Amras decided it was time to
join his lover.
"How would you like to be?"
Hîthuldir lazed into the pillows, deliberating his options. Nothing was new to them, to be
sure, but certain ways suited their bodies to more pleasure than others. Where Amras was more
solidly composed, Hîthuldir resembled nothing so much as an aspen; milky and angular, yet as
strong as any metal forged by the Naugrim. In similar likeness to a tree stretching to the sky,
he preferred to stand. With an eyebrow raised in invitation, he got up from their covers and
walked to a set of exquisitely carved ebony handles they had fastened to a nearby wall at
shoulder height, his intentions clear.
"I would like to be here, Rusgil."
Amras shook his head. "We shall wear out the pattern of those beautiful vines if we continue
to use them so much."
Hîthuldir smirked over his shoulder, his feet firmly planted and his narrow arse offered for
the taking. "And I shall carve new ones, as many times as need be."
With an appreciative snort, Amras strode to him, stopping briefly by their bedside table to pour
a palmful of unguent into his hand and slicking himself with it. "It is a good thing that
you are so skilled," he rumbled before pressing into Hîthuldir, who bit back a moan of
pleasure. "Otherwise you might find splinters in your hands before long."
Amras covered Hîthuldir's left hand with his own, reaching around to grasp his erection in
his right. The privilege of experience led Amras to take his lover more roughly than usual, and
Hîthuldir bucked against him, demanding ever more with the language of his body.
"Rus, Rus," Hîthuldir panted, thrusting equally against Amras' thick intrusion and
into his wide hand as he clutched at the wooden wall braces.
"My treasure," Amras groaned into Hîthuldir's shoulder, sucking and biting at the
skin as he brought his beloved to his climax. Hîthuldir emitted a string of adulations which
in turn focused Amras back to his own release. He'd held back, the tension building until Amras
felt Hîthuldir's muscles clench around his cock, and warm fluid seeped through his fingers.
Cradling Hîthuldir's slick sacs in hand, Amras closed his eyes and allowed his spirit to
caress his bondmate, emptying himself with decreasing waves of satiation.
For a few moments they stood breathing heavily. Amras nuzzled at the small bruise he'd caused on
Hîthuldir's shoulder blade and idly fondled the skin of his lover's softening cock.
"I have missed you," Hîthuldir sighed, his hands still holding the handles for
purchase, neck arched backward. "Next patrol I should like to be in your
Amras nodded, stepping back from Hîthuldir. "We will be due out again come early
autumn." He dipped a thick cloth in a nearby basin of water, cleaning himself as
Hîthuldir walked over to do the same.
"I have heard strange tales, ripples of intrigue from near Gelion," Hîthuldir
said, raising a dark eyebrow. "Finrod Felagund appears to have left his caves and is up to
something. I suspect Amrod will soon call you to him now that he knows you've returned from your
Eyebrows furrowing, Amras finished his ablutions, wondering why Finrod was wandering around on
his lands. Still, Amrod would have sent a scout to fetch him if he'd felt Finrod was engaged in
threatening pursuits. "I would wish to report in to him, regardless." Amras walked over
to take his lover in his arms. "You know our patterns well, after these many
The rueful smile on Hîthuldir's lush lips affirmed this knowledge.
"Perhaps you would care to join me?" Amras queries, though he was nearly certain
Hîthuldir would say no.
After a slow, languorous kiss, Hîthuldir leaned back to give him a soft smile. "There
are wild things out in your lands, and sturdy Elves who I must ensure do not get soft. Another
time, Rusgil," he suggested, pulling a sweaty swath of hair behind his ear. "For now,
let us rest. You have returned, our bodies are satisfied—"
"For now," Amras interrupted with a smile, drawing a line down the middle of
Hîthuldir's chest with a finger. "But yes, I would very much like to lie with you. A
bed of earth bears little resemblance to this one, especially when you are not at my
The pair climbed up to lie on the woven coverlet. Hîthuldir stretched out on his stomach and
Amras on his back, his hands cradling his head. He spent a short time sending thoughts of thanks
to Oromë for his safe return and then, with a fond glance at his lover's back, Amras sank
* * * * *
Barach sat up in a flash, his heart pounding as if it were trying to burst out of his ribs. His
mouth was dry and he was breathing heavily as though he were still falling, screaming as he
plummeted toward the ground in his dream. Somebody had called his name, and had awakened him up,
"What?" he croaked softly. Clouds had covered the moon's light since Barach had gone to
sleep, and he shivered.
"You were dreaming," Brindal whispered from his right, his face cloaked in shadow.
"You woke me up."
"Sorry." Barach waited for a few moments to pass and for the vividness of the dream to
fade before lying down once again. He'd been on the back of a giant falcon, high above the earth,
elated at the sensation of flight. But then, as happened every time in the recurring dream, the
bird had swooped and turned and Barach slid off, hurtling through the air without hope of rescue.
Now awake, he squeezed his eyes so tightly, phantom sparks bloomed like flowers behind his
eyelids. He started when he felt a touch on his shoulder, followed by his friend's hurried
"It's all right," Barach said in a hushed voice. "You startled me, that's
He allowed Brindal to drape his arm over his side, the warmth and comfort especially welcome
after the cold terror of his dream. After a number of disapproving looks from his father, Barach
and Brindal were no longer as physically affectionate as they had been, but the cover of night
provided desired privacy.
"Was it that same dream? With the giant bird?" Brindal asked, the heat of his breath
against Barach's ear causing warmth of a particular nature to travel low to his belly.
"Yes. I don't know why I have it again and again. Maybe next time I'll have grown wings
Brindal chuckled softly at that.
"We'll be into the lands of the Nómin within a few days, so father says. Perhaps once
in their realm, the dreams will cease," Barach said hopefully.
Brindal planted two quick, dry kisses against Barach's neck, still sweaty from his nightmare.
"For your sake, I wish that as well."
The two young Edain lay in silence. Barach listened to the sounds of his kinsmen at rest, the
occasional snore or shift of a blanket, words mumbled on the edge of sleep. He'd assumed his
friend had fallen asleep and was regretfully about to extract himself from his embrace when
Brindal said in a low voice, "Do you think all those of Nóm's tribe are as unselfish
and loving as he has been toward us?"
Barach pondered the question, and then answered honestly, "I can't begin to guess. I
certainly hope so. He spoke well of his kin, spread throughout the land."
"So he did." Brindal gave Barach's hand a gentle squeeze and then removed his arm,
though he remained solidly at his side. "Sleep in peace," he murmured.
"And you," Barach replied, keeping his arms inside his bedroll despite his desires to
do otherwise. Perhaps in their new land he would be able to express himself fully, but he dared
not dwell on that overmuch. Night was for sleep, and tomorrow it would be back to the march.
Tales ran riot of what they would do in the safe haven of the vast wilds of the two Nómin
lords. Hunters they were, rarely seen, with fiery hair. Most of their kin had dark hair, the
Elf-lord had said, and they would welcome them even as other, lesser Elves to the south wished
nothing to do with them. How he could know so much Barach couldn't comprehend, but he was drawn
to the light that burned in his fathomless eyes. Nóm also wore a necklace with jewels that
seemed to glow with hidden fire. Barach had not been bold enough to ask him about it, but he had
noticed that when he spoke of the Dwarves in the north, his fingers caressed the luminous
Barach let his mind wander to the songs Nóm first sang and taught to them, and found that
sleep returned at last. The rest of his night was dreamless.
* * * * *
Amras patted the flank of his mare before departing the stables, smiling as Tálagor whickered
affectionately in turn. As he approached his twin's house, situated on stately grounds near
Gelion, he wondered what news awaited him there. Amrod had sent a letter requesting his presence
for a few days, but the note had been a formality. Since their earliest years, the two of them
had communicated without speech, knowing each other's pains and thoughts, able to summon one
another purely by wishing it. This ability had grown stronger as they aged, though in order to
retain a modicum of privacy, they had also learned how to dampen some elements in their
Amrod's squire, Gelinnas, opened the door before Amras had begun to ascend the front
"Greetings, lord," the young elf enthused, smiling cheerfully as he bowed, elegantly
sweeping his arm to welcome Amras into the house. "My lord is so grateful that you have
"There is naught amiss, is there?" Amras had not felt anything troubling in his twins'
silent summons, but he supposed it was possible.
"No, not amiss," Gelinnas replied, assisting Amras out of his traveling cloak before
taking his saddle bag and placing it on a carved wooden chair in the entrance hall. "It is
tremendous news, though my lord wishes to speak of it with you in person."
"We have returned from patrol not even four days," Amras mused, glancing to Gelinnas,
whose expressive face betrayed his excitement at whatever secret would soon be revealed.
"This news does not come from Maitimo, I trust?"
"No! No, lord Telufinwe," the squire said quickly, his light eyes round with surprise.
"My lord would certainly have ridden directly to you had that been the case." He
escorted Amras through a large, airy dining hall and out onto a greensward. These grounds had a
sense of ordered chaos to them, retaining some of the wildness of East Beleriand itself. In a nod
to necessity, Amrod retained a retinue of staff to tend gardens and facilitate animal
"Where is my brother?" Amras asked, his gaze drawn for a moment to the light
coruscating on the distant waters of Gelion.
"He is where he so often spends his free hours," Gelinnas said warmly.
"With his beloved falcons, then."
The squire beamed in affirmation, and Amras allowed himself to admire his limber beauty. Amrod's
appetites of the body defined the most profound difference between the two of them. While Amrod
kept almost exclusively male company, he did not often seek their delights in bed. Where Amras
often swam in pools of passion, though now exclusively with Hîthuldir, Amrod was nearly
chaste, preferring bonds of loyalty and friendship to that of a physical incarnation. Amras had
long since given up querying his brother as to how he had come to be that way. Amrod simply was,
and Amras loved him with all his soul regardless.
"And what of your dogs?" Amras asked to distract his thoughts away from the comely elf
and back to safer topics.
"Brego sired a litter of puppies this past May," Gelinnas said, obviously quite
pleased. "My lord has been taking him on short hunts, not many leagues from the
estate." He turned and gave Amras an inquisitive look. "Do you have dogs, for solo
Amras told the squire about his usual practices — which included no hunting hounds — as they
walked through the familiar woods to nearby fields which Amrod purposefully kept untamed. There
he trained his falcons, birds of prey for which Amras did not share a passion. Each time he
visited, however, he appreciated their beauty in flight and deadly skill at finding rodents and
other creatures. As they cleared a hill, Amras saw his twin's distinctive hair, gleaming russet
under the sun. Given Hîthuldir's earlier speculation, he was unsurprised to see another Elf
of similar stature with him, his pale hair worn in a set of simple braids running down his back.
The guest had his face turned up to watch the path of one of the falcons circling the
Amras took a quick glance at Gelinnas, who was trying unsuccessfully to suppress his awestruck
countenance. "So Felagund is indeed visiting. Doubtless he has everything to do with this
news you've been instructed not to tell me."
He picked up his pace, feeling the barest flicker of acknowledgment from his brother, a mothwing
touch that Amrod knew his presence was near. Both Amrod and Finrod turned around at his approach,
Amrod's expression one of gratitude. Amras walked straight to his twin, enfolding him in a firm
"Welcome back, beloved brother," Amrod said, one hand cradling the back of Amras' skull
before stepping back.
"I am always glad to be invited. Finrod! What an unexpected pleasure to have you in our
lands once again. How fares Nargothrond and your people?"
"They are well, thank you."
Finrod reached out his arm in greeting and Amras clasped it with both hands. The great hewer of
caves possessed strong features and a spirit shaped more of sturdy earth and wind than the fire
that burned in Amras and his brothers. Finrod was a driven creature, though generous of heart,
and an Elf Amras respected more than a great many others. Amras' focus drifted from the Elf
lord's striking celadon eyes to the necklace crafted for him by the Naugrim. It was exquisite
artisanship, to be sure. Amras was suddenly struck by the desire to have a ring or necklace
wrought for Hîthuldir, a token of his abiding love and desire.
"I have brought tidings to your brother of changes foretold to us, now come to pass,"
Amras sensed a ratcheting up in the squire's excitement, and he flicked his gaze to Amrod. His
twin seemed ambivalent about whatever this portend was.
"I am ready to be told," Amras remarked drily. "Poor Gelinnas here may bite
through his tongue if you do not speak further. I believe it has taken everything in him not to
tell me himself."
Gelinnas' cheeks flushed to a rosy shade, and Amras gave him a sympathetic smile.
"I have met the Edain, the second-born," Finrod said in a ringing voice. "I sang
to them, awaking in them a desire to learn our ways and taught them some of our
Amras stood for a time, startled into silence. "Where are they now? Do they dwell near our
"They had been on the eastern side of Gelion," Amrod supplied, reaching out his arm as
his falcon made its descent to the sturdy leather glove he wore. "A first group of their
tribe was escorted by Finrod to the eastern shore of Celon, and south of Nan
Amras stared at him as a flurry of unspoken words passed between them. Amrod had been perturbed
initially at such a presumptive act, but the second-borns were inferior and would in all
likelihood continue to travel west, not remain in their temporary encampment in eastern
Beleriand. Perhaps Amras should not have been so surprised by this news. Since coming to
Middle-earth, Finrod had been engaging in unexpected pursuits, but Amras still found he was
reeling at Finrod's audacity outside of his own realm.
"Lord Findaráto, I find your actions presumptuous. Were I more like my brother Caranthir, I
would demand in no uncertain terms that you take responsibility for the Men you befriended and
deal with them in your own lands. It was indulgent of you, and unconscionable that you did not
tell us before establishing this settlement within our borders."
Amras looked long and hard at Finrod to see if he was going to find it within himself to
apologise for bringing these non-Elven beings through their territory, but no such remorse
manifested itself. He let his ire smoulder for a few moments more before allowing his curiosity
about the Edain to overtake his profound irritation.
"That stated, I am of the same mind as my twin and I expect to be taken to the Edain whom
you have safely escorted through our lands."
"Of course. They are of noble character," Finrod said, tucking stray hairs caught by
the breeze behind his ear. "Also of handsome face and intelligent. They are not like us in
myriad ways, to be sure, but their eventual coming was long ago told to us."
"I do not debate that," Amras said, noting that Amrod was taking the falcon over to its
travelling cage. He hoped they would return to his house, as his stomach had just rumbled
audibly; his breakfast had been many hours ago. Gelinnas gave him a sympathetic smile.
"As Amrod has graciously taken no quarrel with you, then neither will I. You did tell them
that these are wild lands?" Amras asked pointedly. "It is one thing for these Men to
take up temporary residence in our realm, but I refuse to be held responsible for their
Finrod looked surprised. "No, Amras. I would not dream to ask that of you and your brother
and your people, spread out as you are and relatively few in number."
"They share our likeness," Gelinnas interjected, unable to keep silent about his sliver
of knowledge as their small entourage began the walk back to Amrod's estate. "But less
refined. They sing and play instruments, and wear rough clothing. Many of the males, they are
more like the Naugrim, or so my lord tells me," he said, his torrent of words slowing to a
"Like the Naugrim?"
Amras had a vision of swarthy savages, tools in hand, butchering parts of the woods to build
"With beards," Amrod said, stroking his hairless chin, and Amras then
"You have not spent much time with the children of Aulë," Finrod said to Amras,
keeping his tone light.
After a sharp glance to Finrod, he looked again at his twin, whose expression clearly said, He
knows better than to insult us in our own territory.
"No," Amrod said, replying on Amras' behalf. "And we prefer to keep it that way.
Their skills are legendary, as is the necklace you wear." He gestured at the stones
glittering around Finrod's neck. "But we are content not to have dealings with
Finrod let out an almost inaudible sigh, his fingers reflexively coming to rest on the
"Are you hungry, my lords?" Gelinnas asked just as another loud gurgle came from Amras'
"Yes!" Amras clapped a hand on the squire's shoulder and squeezed it before looking
over at Amrod. His twin held the birdcage, his eyes roving over the hills and woods that
surrounded his home. After all they had suffered, they had at last come to a period of peace.
Amras would be wroth if the coming of these second-born did anything to disturb that.
"They are not warlike?" he asked Finrod, startling the fair Elf's own reverie.
"The Edain? No, though by necessity they have learned to defend themselves. They are not
strangers to orcs and dark creatures."
They continued on in silence for a time until Amrod asked Amras about the small enclave of Elves
who lived and worked near his own home. They were more westerly from Gelion but yet a distance
from Thingol's protected lands to which the twins were not admitted entry.
"And Hîthuldir?" Amrod queried as they approached wide doors to the house. Another
of his staff took the falcon and heavy glove from Amrod, who spoke to him in hushed tones for a
moment. They were near the kitchens. A scent of vegetable stew wafted to Amras' nose and another
hunger pang clenched in his abdomen.
"He was well pleased at my return," Amras said, warmth settling in his chest, "as
you can imagine."
Amrod gave him a wry smile. "I could
imagine, but even between us, there are some
things that it is best that I not think about in detail."
Gelinnas flushed, and Finrod raised an eyebrow.
"A paragon of virtue, you are," Amras joked, shoving Amrod's shoulder slightly. "I
do not ask about your bedmates. We are allowed some privacy when it comes to matters of the heart
"I should hope so!" Finrod exclaimed, his full lips now spread wide with a grin.
"Gossip sometimes runs rampant even among my kinsmen, but thankfully no swords have been
drawn because of it."
The squire's face bloomed crimson. Amras wondered at once if he also preferred the company of his
own gender. There weren't all that many similarly inclined among the Noldor, but given Amrod's
and his own predilections, perhaps that was an additional reason why he'd sought to be in Amrod's
employ. Any further thoughts along that path were subsumed by those to do with a much-appreciated
lunch, featuring some of this gossip from Nagothrond. It was older news as Finrod had spent many
months with the Edain, instructing them and opening their minds and hearts to the Elvish ways of
the Noldor. To Amras' great surprise, these Men had had dealings with the Dark Elves to the east
of the mountains and already spoke their language, though it was somewhat sundered from their own
"I had not realised how enraptured you were until now," Amras confessed, his sentence
Finrod's eyes shone. His animated expression revealed pride, awe, sympathy: nimble emotions that,
like dragonflies, darted unceasingly across his strong face.
"I have, since coming to Beleriand, been consumed by interest in the other races who abide
here. That is not to imply that we are inferior, or unworthy of study, it's simply that I find
the Naugrim compelling, and now the Edain
I believe they will prove to be a boon to our
kind, though I have learned that they suffer far more weakness than we do."
"As long as they do not become a scourge and they do their part in defending this realm
against the dark forces to the north, I see no reason to have a quarrel with them." Amras
looked at Amrod, who nodded imperceptibly. They were, unsurprisingly, of one mind on the
"I invited you here for a brief spell so you can ride with us to this initial camp. Estolad,
it is called. Finrod's suggestion. Many of them now speak our tongue quite fluently, though they
are coarse in its utterance," Amrod said.
"Within a generation or two their own native language may be forgotten to them, as they may
speak exclusively in ours," Finrod said, again defending the Edain.
A cloud of disquiet settled on Gelinnas' face. "My lord Findaráto, I mean you no
disrespect," the squire said, nervously twiddling his spoon in his fingers. "But does
that not trouble you? They are not Elf-kind. Language is so much a part of who we are. From the
tales you have spoken of the Naugrim, they learned enough to speak with you and your people, but
amongst themselves, do they not parlay in words even you do not fully comprehend?"
Amras was captivated by the interplay of thoughts on each companion's face. After a hasty look to
Amrod, asking permission to speak with blunt directness to his squire, Amras received his
"Forgive me for speaking before you reply, Finrod," he said, and Finrod waved vaguely,
very likely contemplating something he'd honestly not yet considered. "Gelinnas, your mind
is fast and clever. Your thoughts are like some of the rainbow fish that jump out from the river,
then return to swim in the deeps. My twin is fortunate to have you in his ranks."
Gelinnas looked owlishly at him, then his face relaxed into an expression of beatific pride.
Lithe, loyal and a deep thinker: if Amrod didn't bed him on a regular basis, that was doubtless a
loss for both. Were he younger, and not so enthralled by Hîthuldir, Amras would do nothing
short of begging to discover Gelinnas' other skills.
"Thank you," the squire murmured, no longer able to hold Amras' gaze.
"Indeed, you have given me much to ponder," Finrod said as one of the kitchen staff
came to the table with a dessert course of fresh fruit and pastry. "Amrod, shall we four
depart tomorrow to see the Edain?"
"Yes. Amras, does this suit you?"
"Certainly. I do not know that I need personally to be introduced. Initially I would like
only to observe them. If what Finrod says is true, they will not perceive our presence unless we
make ourselves obviously known to them."
"I want them to know on whose lands they are guests," Amrod stated firmly, stressing
the final word. "From me they will be told of the two hunters, and not to stray from Estolad
without Elvish escort lest they fall prey to the beasts of the forests or any of our patrol who
think them to be spies or the enemy in disguise."
Finrod chewed a bite of tart, a thoughtful look on his face, and then nodded. "That would be
prudent." His expression softened, and he gestured with his fork at the fruit dessert in
front of him. "My highest regards to your cook and kitchen staff! This is exceptional. So
light and sweet."
Amrod smiled, glancing over at Amras before replying. "We are perhaps a more rustic group
here, but we do enjoy our creature comforts. I'll be certain to pass on your
The rest of the day Amrod took Finrod around the grounds, but Amras begged off, content to spend
time in his twin's meagre library. Small though it was, Amrod had more tomes than he did. Amras
lounged in the room, half reading and half dozing. The irony that Amras was more book inclined
than his brother was not lost on him, and he heard his lover's commentary on the topic in his
head as though he were there in the room. Amras retired early, attended by one of the youngest in
Amrod's staff who made sure everything in his room was to his liking. After savouring a glass of
potent wine from a vintage of fifty years or so, Amras blew out the candle at his bedside and
sank into a peaceful sleep.
* * * * *
A gentle knock roused Amras from a deep stupor and he jerked upright, his mind racing from the
vivid dream he'd been having.
"Yes? Yes! What is it?"
"I'm sorry to disturb you," Gelinnas' mellifluous voice sounded from the half-opened
doorway, "but breakfast is being laid on the table, and it is quite a feast. Eggs and fruit,
roasted potatoes with herbs—"
"Enough!" Amras smiled at the squire as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. "My
mouth is watering already. I shall make my way post-haste."
"I'll ensure there is still plenty for you, lord Telufinwe."
"Amras. You are like a cousin to me. Please, use my name, not my title. Do you not call my
Amras had risen from the bed and stretched, looking around both for a chamber pot and a
"Oh! Well, yes, but I
" His gaze slid over Amras' nude form like
quicksilver, then lodged firmly on his face. "He's my lord. Yes, lo- Amras," Gelinnas
said at last, stumbling over the familiar name. "Are you in need of anything?"
"Nothing that I cannot tend to on my own. I'll be down momentarily."
As the door closed, Amras glanced down at himself. He was in a state of semi-arousal from his
dream, the elements of which returned clearly. He had been driving deep into Gelinnas' shapely
backside. The squire had been anchored on hands and knees, Hîthuldir's shaft sliding in and
out of his mouth. Shaking his head, Amras forced the dream aside, tending quickly to his
ablutions and joining his brother and Finrod for breakfast. It was indeed a veritable feast, and
he ate with gusto. The ride to Estolad took a full day, giving their horses a rest at
mid-morning. The weather was pleasant, though a trifle hot. Gelinnas seemed to be especially
excited, and as they drew near to the settlement, Amras felt his own nerves buzzing with
anticipation. When they saw the substantial forest, Finrod rode ahead to alert the Edain to his
"I will go toward the western edge of the forest," Amras stated. "There I can set
up our bivouac, and then come and see these second-borns from a distance."
"As you wish," Amrod said agreeably, turning his horse to follow the route Finrod had
The squire rode at Amrod's side, giving Amras a jaunty wave as he galloped off. Amras had plenty
of time to think on his feelings about this race of Men and to wonder what effect they would have
on Elvish lands. From what Finrod had said, they were weaker than Elves in strength and had
already had dealings with orcs and other dark creatures sent from Morgoth. Amras suspected their
minds were softer as well, though perhaps with the influence of Elvish custom and knowledge they
would be able to stand against the darkness in the north. Beleriand was vast; surely the Edain
would be able to find their own place in it as the Naugrim had done. Amras guided his thoughts
back to his current tasks as he found a small clearing and pitched two tents. The weather was so
warm he thought about stringing a hammock to sleep in, but then dismissed the idea as folly. Back
at his own house, however, he could safely sleep out of doors if he wished as it was an area well
He evaluated his work, and determined that it was camouflaged enough. Untying his horse from the
tree where he'd secured her, Amras walked her slowly through the wide periphery of the woods
until he could hear voices. He remained hidden from view, cautiously approaching the area where
the encampment was situated. For a long time Amras gazed at the houses, their structure basic and
not organic in their makeup. The Edain were sturdy enough, as were the Naugrim. They looked much
like Elves, and yet not alike at all. Certainly they resembled Elves more than the Naugrim,
though nearly all of the Edain who had grown beyond boyhood had beards. Most had dark hair,
though there was a mixture of blond and chestnut. None had hair like his and Amrod's, however. He
watched their interaction with Finrod— their admiration and loyalty was obvious even from his
secluded viewing area in the trees. They were capable of tremendous depth of feeling for someone
not of their own race, and Amras found that heartening. The Naugrim were fiercely loyal, but to
their own. The Edain were armed and some wore short sleeves that revealed wide, muscled arms. He
was just turning to take his leave when he heard a male voice begin to sing.
He sang, his voice clear but rich, reminding Amras of the stringed harp that Finrod played with
such expertise. What struck Amras the most was not just the beauty of his voice, but that he sang
an Elvish lay. His articulation was imperfect, and it was obvious from the lack of nuance that he
was not an Elf himself, but the beauty of the song shone regardless.
Amras moved so he could see the young man who sang. He was young, though not as youthful as Amras
had initially imagined. Of average height, he had brunette waves that fell to his shoulders, and
an enraptured expression which revealed that he understood the words he sang. Amras leaned
against a tree, wanting to close his eyes to focus on his voice, but also wanting to watch the
youth, to witness his gestures and see the story of the song as evidenced on his expressive face.
From a depth of spirit he'd not felt in many years, Amras felt a compassion for this unnamed
second-born and he stood, mesmerized, for a time after he finished his song.
* * * * *
After a few weeks had passed and Barach realised he now thought of Estolad as home, he decided it
was time to speak candidly with Brindal. On a particularly sultry day, Barach asked Brindal to
join him at the stables, where he could speak freely without others hearing and giving him a wary
"Come with me," he begged. "The encampment can do without you for a time. It will
give us an opportunity to be alone," he added meaningfully.
Brindal considered it, seeming to understand the implication, and accepted. They had drifted
apart since arriving on the Elves' land, though it was Brindal who'd spent more time with the
other men, gently refusing Barach's embraces. Once they had some privacy, Brindal opened his
mouth to speak, but Barach beat him to it.
"You don't have the same feelings for me anymore. No, don't feel you need to explain
yourself. You don't have to. It's in your eyes."
"You're like a brother to me," Brindal insisted, clasping his hands on Barach's upper
Barach drank in his friend's earnest features, seeing the ghost of regret and knowing it would
pass away like shadow.
"Yes, like a brother," Barach stated, the finality a sadness for him, but he suspected
it would be a relief to Brindal. "Well then, brother."
He drew Brindal into an embrace, noting that his chest was broader now, and the scratchiness of
the beard on his jaw. Breathing in the familiar tang of musk in Brindal's sweat he closed his
eyes, committing it to memory, then patted Brindal on the back in the way any of their men would,
and stepped back.
"I don't suppose I could convince you to help Dimrath and me construct the northern
fence?" Brindal asked, the gesture a peace offering, Barach assumed. "You're clever
with wood. And your singing makes any toil far more enjoyable."
Barach shook his head, and wiped a film of sweat from his stubbled upper lip. "No. Another
day. I don't think we'll ever run out of things to do here," he noted wryly. As Brindal
quirked a smile, a thought crossed Barach's mind. "Do you think the two Hunters on whose
land we are, both of them, do you think they'll visit us?"
"The one did." Brindal shrugged. He began re-tying the thong of leather holding back
his hair. "He and Nóm were enough to make me quake in my boots. I think I might do
something embarrassing if I saw both of the Great Hunters at once!"
His impish grin made Barach smile in return, and eased some of the hurt of his heart. "Yes,
you have a point. Such hair on the one! Like a waterfall of fire."
"Elves can look quite different from one another, and obviously from our kind. Well, I'll go
fill my water jug and meet Dimrath. You're going on another walk, aren't you?"
There was a note of regret in Brindal's voice, a further salve to Barach's wounded
"Yes. I'll be back by nightfall."
The woods that sheltered their establishment had called to Barach since their arrival. At times
during his long walks, he half-imagined he could hear the trees speaking to him by name, giving
their leafy approval as he wandered for hours, becoming familiar with their variety and growth.
He felt he was guided to small open spaces, secret hideaways by trickling streams. These were
sacred groves to him, and he marveled that he was the first of his kind to sit, entranced, as an
occasional deer darted across the way. Brindal had joined him on some of his shorter arboreal
explorations, at least at first. Despite reprimands from his father about his lack of
contribution and wandering off where he might get lost or killed, Barach continued his sojourns,
though now they were nearly always solitary.
"Be careful!" Brindal called, and Barach turned around, surprised.
"The woods aren't dangerous. I've only seen birds and deer, and some scurrying creatures in
"Even Nóm said not to stray too far. There could be wolves, or worse."
"I'll take my dagger. And bow and arrow," he assured his friend, and Brindal's handsome
"Common sense for once. I'll see you before nightfall, then. I'll distract your father if
necessary," he said with a wink.
"Thank you. Until tonight, then."
Barach took a strategic route to where the stores were kept, trying to avoid his father.
Fortunately a woman who was sympathetic to Barach's perambulations in the woods was putting out
some herbs to dry, and she allowed him to fill a small sack with dried meat, grapes, and two
cakes of bread. He also filled both his water and wineskins. Thus provisioned, Barach took his
favourite path to the forest, thinking that a full day's walk and respite among the trees he
loved would help him in coming to a true resolution about Brindal. He wandered along, lost in his
thoughts, trusting his feet to lead him to the groves and sanctuaries he had found before. If
Brindal was to be brother only, did that mean that he, too, should try and look to one of the
women of their clan?
For hours he walked, letting the sussurative whispers of the pines and oaks guide his steps.
Deeper and deeper he was guided, though he paused at one particular grove new to him. There he
saw a bush of vibrant berries, and he collected some to add to his fare. The trees here were vast
in size, and perhaps fancifully, Barach believed they had many tales to tell; of large stags and
Elves singing songs of their creation, before there was a Sun. After a nap at the base of a
welcoming oak, Barach continued on, still absorbed in thoughts of Brindal, of the fact that he
wasn't drawn to the women of his kindred. Thoughts of other men to whom he was drawn came to
mind. There was Thalrath, with his laughing eyes and scarred cheek, and Briand, with heavy brows
and strong legs
Idly, Barach reached into his sack and sampled some of the berries. They were bitter, but not
unpleasant on his tongue, and soon he'd consumed most of them. He stopped for a moment to wash
them down with his wine and also to establish where he was. A hare darted out from behind a
thicket, wriggled its nose and, seemingly uninterested in him, hopped off again. He smiled fondly
at it before looking up into the tall, dense foliage above him. With a start, he realised it was
fast coming on nightfall, and he didn't recognise anything around him.
All at once a severe cramp in his belly made him double over. It was as though he'd been knifed
in the gut. Gasping at the pain, he collapsed to the ground, rolling from side to side in agony.
He retched, but nothing came up, and he moaned, then yelled in pain. Clutching at his middle,
huddled in a ball and delirious, he thought he saw a figure in the growing shadows. He tried to
reach for his dagger, gurgled as bile rose in his throat, and then knew no more.
* * * * *
him," Amras said, his voice hushed even though Hîthuldir had put the
Man under the influence of strong Elvish medicine which assured he wasn't conscious.
Hîthuldir laid his hand against the young man's forehead, nodded to himself, and then
returned his focus to Amras.
"The one who sang. I spent some time watching the encampment at Estolad, and this one had a
particularly fine voice."
"Memorable, evidently." Hîthuldir cast an appraising eye at the young man in the
bed and then back to Amras. "So not just his looks, but his voice as well?"
Amras gave him an innocent look. They had been together for so many ages, Hîthuldir knew
Amras had an eye for beauty, but chose not to act on any passing lusts he might have.
"It was his song that made me pause. How did you find him?"
"I was not the one who did. It was one of our horsemen on patrol."
"Ah, of course."
Before Amras had departed from his twin's estate, they had agreed that one Elf from each of their
respective regular patrols should visit the Edain encampment. Surreptitiously, of course. Not
that their presence would go unnoticed as Finrod had said he would continue to stay with them for
some yet-undetermined length of time.
"But you said that this one, Barach, was deep in the woods, nearer to our homestead than
Hîthuldir nodded. "Apparently he likes to venture into the forest. Alone." He
twisted his full mouth to the side. "Not the cleverest course of action. I wonder what made
him stray so?"
Amras took a long look at the young man, his face drawn from bouts of vomiting and other
unpleasant excretions. He did indeed have a comely face, a growth of beard coming in, but not as
full as the adult Edain he had seen. Finely boned, there was an appealing rough sensuality to him
even in his present condition.
"That," he replied at last, "I could not begin to guess. Did you find parchment on
him, quill and ink?" He looked over at Hîthuldir, now pouring them each a glass of
wine. "Perhaps he wished to make a map."
Hîthuldir gave a small snort and handed the glass to Amras, who accepted it
"Who would map the woods? No. He appears simply to have been wandering around."
"Hmmm. That is a puzzle." Amras took a mouthful of wine before speaking again.
"Has anyone notified the Edain? No doubt they are frantic with worry at the loss of one of
A patient look settled on his lover's face. "Already done. I took the liberty of sending a
messenger letting them know that one of their youths had been found ill and that he was in Elvish
Amras gave the other Elf an affectionate, grateful look. "You are most
Switching his wine from left to right hand, Amras reached out to his lover, intertwining their
fingers in a simple but deeply meant gesture of respect and gratitude. He stroked along
Hîthuldir's thumb with his own, looking fondly into his eyes. Barach moaned and fidgeted,
breaking the mood. Hîthuldir hurriedly disengaged himself, thrusting his glass into Amras'
free hand in order to tend to his patient. Amras sighed inwardly when he saw Hîthuldir go to
his mortar and pestle; he would be occupied for some time.
Deciding a bit of nourishment was in order, he left the glasses on a table and ventured out of
their suite, down a corridor and toward his own kitchen. The Elf on duty was peeling potatoes,
but stood when Amras approached. A quarter hour later, back in the master bedroom, the cook
approached with two bowls of stew that had been reheated over the fire. With a gesture the tray
was placed on a table near Amras' desk, and the cook departed with Amras' murmured thanks. Soon
Hîthuldir joined Amras out on their balcony where he'd gone to eat. The night was warm but
not stifling, pleasant with a breeze stirring.
"Thank you," Hîthuldir said, taking his bowl. The worry had been smoothed from his
face, Amras was pleased to see.
"Your patient took his tonic?" he asked as Hîthuldir blew across the bowl.
"Yes. I believe by morning most of the toxin from the berries will have been cleansed from
his body. He will be weak, though," he added contemplatively before taking a spoonful of his
"But not so weak as to be inarticulate?"
"No. You want to ask him—"
"A number of things," Amras interrupted, then gave Hîthuldir a look of apology.
"No doubt he is innocent, but what if he were actually sent out as some sort of pathetic
Hîthuldir nearly choked, laughing and wheezing all at once.
"You are the one who lauded his charms. Now you, as you and your brother would, perhaps
rightly, think first and foremost that we should be on alert. I would be hard pressed to
contemplate that my patient on the couch is anything other than a lost, poisoned
Amras glowered for a moment, then acquiesced the point. "Well put."
He drained his bowl, then stood, stretching, easing out his muscles from his recent two day's
ride. He gazed out into the gloaming, the first of the stars twinkling in the sky. A brief
thought to how different that one fateful night had been, when mist had clung to the lands and he
had followed the fevered cry to burn the ships of the Teleri, rose to his mind, and he
"Shall I lay my hands on you too?"
Amras felt Hîthuldir's wiry, strong arms encircle his waist as he stood comfortingly behind
him, a reminder that the past was the past.
"Is not one patient enough for you?" Amras joked, though he leaned his head back,
resting his hands atop his lover's.
"You are no patient." Hîthuldir's voice was pitched lower than usual, his breath
tickling Amras' ear in a way that sent a delicious warmth down to Amras' groin. Hîthuldir
eased his hands beneath Amras' tunic and under the loose leggings to begin stroking his stirring
"I would lay hands on you regardless," he husked, and Amras let out a shuddering groan
"I rode Tálagor for two days," Amras said, his voice growing unsteady as his lover
brought his cock deftly to life. "But I have not ridden you in some time."
"Ah, Rus." Hîthuldir gently rolled Amras' earlobe in his teeth before sending his
tongue into the sensitive shallow. Amras pressed back against his lover's now evident arousal.
"You know me so well."
"I should," Amras rumbled. "Let us go to our bed— the oil is there."
Hîthuldir, who had been wrapped around Amras like ivy about a tree, disentangled himself and
gave Amras a scorching kiss, cradling Amras' jaw in his hands. They made short work of removing
each other's tunics and leggings, and soon were prone on their bed, kissing passionately as their
hands roamed over the well-mapped terrain of each other's bodies. Amras pushed Hîthuldir
onto his back and glanced up at the bedposts, where leather thongs for restraint were tied
discreetly. No, he would just make certain his lover was hard and ready to press deep into his
Amras licked his lips, making certain that Hîthuldir was watching. He kissed down his
lover's torso, over his trembling abdomen with its hard muscle, and down to his legs, spread with
his feet planted on the bed. Hîthuldir's rosy cock jutted up from his body like a spear, and
Amras feasted on it for a time.
"No more!" Hîthuldir gasped, his fingers pulling at Amras' hair. "If I am to
fill you, you must first remove your mouth."
Amras wiped his lips with the back of his hand, giving his lover a heated look. He sat back on
his heels, taking his own cock, hard as a stag's horn, in his palm to give himself some
"And you must oil yourself," Amras said roughly, "else I'll not be able to ride
for a day or so."
Hîthuldir sat up and poured some of the pine-scented unguent into his palms before liberally
coating himself. Amras found he was subconsciously clenching his buttocks, rising up slightly off
of his heels in anticipation of his body sinking around Hîthuldir's long shaft. When he
deemed his preparations thorough, Hîthuldir opened his arms in invitation.
"I await only my rider," he said breathlessly.
Amras rose to his knees and straddled Hîthuldir's loins. His lover watched in rapt attention
as Amras came down to one hand, using the other to spread open his channel as he pressed against
the slick crown. It had been a long
"Love?" Amras said in a strangled voice, his frustration evident.
Hîthuldir held the base of his shaft and guided it in to pierce past the initial tight ring,
at which point Amras slowly eased down on him, gritting his teeth until the burn of fullness
changed to pleasure. Hîthuldir's bright eyes were closed in bliss, but his eyelids slowly
lifted once Amras had him fully sheathed deep within his body.
"You are a furnace," Hîthuldir murmured reverently. "I burn in you. You're so
tight, so perfect."
"Then now I shall stoke the fires," Amras said, his voice a rasp.
Slowly he rose up and then lowered himself on his lover's steely arousal. He picked up speed as
his muscles relaxed and he was able to relish the feeling of Hîthuldir thrusting far into
the reaches of his body. They soon found a fast rhythm, Hîthuldir gripping above Amras'
knees as Amras fell again and again against his pelvis. Hîthuldir raised his knees and Amras
leaned back as he jounced, stroking himself, the blood roaring in his ears at the sounds and
scents of their sex, musky sweat and the punctuated grunts as Hîthuldir drove into his
Without words, Hîthuldir intuited Amras' wish to change positions. He slowed and they
uncoupled so Amras could move to his knees. He took a moment to kiss his lover deeply, their
tongues sliding and delving into each other's hot, hungry mouths. Once repositioned, Amras
grasped at the headboard, awaiting Hîthuldir's welcome breach. Amras huffed low whines of
pleasure as his lover resumed his fierce ploughing. Amras felt his cock swing with each thrust,
urging Hîthuldir on to his end. Hîthuldir let out a keening cry and stilled as Amras
felt his completion pulse deep in his body. Hîthuldir drew himself out gingerly and then
Amras felt him kiss up the knobs of his spine.
"Thank you, love," he said into Amras' ear. "I would also like to use my
"By Eru, yes, do."
Amras lay on his back, his hand tangled in his lover's dark, silky hair as Hîthuldir began
to lick and suck his arousal with enthusiasm. His skill was well-honed, and soon Amras felt a
tingling in his sacs and knew that soon he would spend. Hîthuldir's head bobbed up and down,
and then his tongue deftly circled around the head before swallowing him down again.
"Ai! Yes, yes!" Amras moaned as his release thundered through him, the seed spurting
into his lover's mouth as his hips jerked erratically.
Panting, Amras collapsed back on the bed, waiting for Hîthuldir to join him. His lover
looked quite self-satisfied, licking at his swollen lips before spooning down at Amras' side,
flushed and sated. They lay in silence, Amras reaching out to his lover with his spirit, sending
unspoken words of thanks as Hîthuldir rested his head atop Amras' heart, slowly returning to
its more usual beat.
"What a joy you are," Amras said quietly, his fingers making patterns across
Hîthuldir's back. "You complete me."
Hîthuldir made a contented, humming sound and kissed Amras' chest. "Until the world
should end, we are intertwined." He shifted so his softening cock fit snugly at the top of
Amras' thigh, sprawling elegantly over Amras in a manner he could never tire of.
"There are, in this world, other forces that could sunder us," Amras gently reminded
him. "We have both seen battle, and doubtless will do so again."
Hîthuldir sighed, letting his finger trace a jagged scar at the top of Amras' right thigh, a
physical reminder of the fight at Alqualondë when Amras had been jabbed with a dagger.
Amras, too, knew where his lover's scars lay, gossamer and almost invisible against his pale
skin. Ever had Hîthuldir remained with the Noldor, loyal to Amras first and
"Let us hope that peace remains on this land for many long years," Hîthuldir said,
his voice hushed. "I have grown accustomed to us living together with time apart of only a
month or two. There is delight and contentment in your eyes, no longer haunted by events of your
Amras closed his eyes, mentally noting where each of his brothers resided in Beleriand. He was
closest, of course, to Amrod, though they all shared their father's fey legacy. They were also
set apart from many Noldor in that only Curufin had taken a wife. As far as Amras knew, none of
his brothers had a male lifemate as he had, though Maedhros was very close to Fingon and he
sometimes speculated on the particular depth to their mutual respect and adoration. If a call
came up for the sons of Fëanor, would he, Amras, be able to resist, remaining with
Hîthuldir and those Noldor in his realm, and letting the rest of his brothers serve in his
"Would that I were of another line," Amras said, the words bitter on his tongue.
"Though I do not really mean that. The fire that burns and destroys also gives heat and
light. It drew you to me."
Hîthuldir suckled tenderly on Amras' neck for a moment and then he got up on his elbow to
look at him, his features etched with his long affection.
"Yes, your fire drew me," he observed, his dark eyes lambent with remembrance.
"But it was not that fire alone, else I might have found your twin equally enticing. No,
Rus, my beloved, it was you. Your love of beauty, your dogged practicality, the play of your
muscles as you exercise, and the discovery that when you pressed your lips to mine, all of Aman
could have vanished and I would not have cared."
A profound satisfaction bloomed in Amras' chest at his lover's words. He knew these things to be
true, and the sentiment was not new to his ears. But the reavowal of Hîthuldir's love for
him was always welcome.
"I knew from the first time I truly smelled you," Amras said, smiling as he saw delight
dancing in Hîthuldir's eyes.
"You have always said so. You said I smelled of dreams and rain. What a romantic you
were!" Hîthuldir noted wryly, his head propped against one hand and the other drawing
lazy designs at Amras' hip and near his cock, soft and heavy between his legs. "How many
others had you bedded before you decided to pursue me so ardently?"
Amras groaned, rolling his eyes. "That was so long ago. I don't remember. But it meant that
I at last had an idea of what to do to please you when you did succumb to my
"And please me you did," Hîthuldir murmured, lying down to rest his head at the
hollow of Amras' neck. "I would stay with you regardless. Should your brothers take up that
insane pursuit of the Silmarils, or go pick a fight with Elu Thingol to do with your family's
honour, you know I will be at your side."
Amras was quiet, respecting the declaration for the incontrovertible truth it was.
"Let us bask in the peace that we have," he suggested finally. "The night is warm.
Can I entice you to sleep out of doors? I will set up the hammock."
Hîthuldir sat up and stretched, lithe and graceful like willow branches waving gently in the
"Yes, of course. But first I will check up on Barach."
Amras was momentarily startled— with their energetic lovemaking and intimate conversation, he had
forgotten all about the youth lying only a short distance away.
"Yes, that would be wise," he heard himself say as he eased off of the bed and went to
Once clean, he went out to the balcony, unrolled the woven hammock and hung it up from the hooks
he had installed when the house had first been built. The breeze had dissipated, and while very
warm, the air wasn't sticky. He padded into their bedroom to retrieve two small cushions, noting
that Hîthuldir was cleaning his teeth, soon to join him. Amras climbed into the hammock,
looking out toward the east and then the sky above. It was as though Aulë himself had flung
a handful of diamonds across the girdle of night. The thought of diamonds made him think of
Finrod's necklace once again, and wanting to have something crafted for his lifemate. Did he dare
travel to Nargothrond and ask the Naugrim himself?
Those thoughts faded as Hîthuldir eased to his side. Amras made room so they could fit
comfortably, still naked and smelling faintly of sex.
"His sleep is peaceful at last," Hîthuldir said quietly through a yawn. "We
shall want to have a broth and a jug of cold water brought to him in the morning when he wakes to
ease the discomfort of dehydration."
"Mmhmmm." Amras placed an arm protectively around his lover, though nothing could harm
them here. "I wonder how he will react when he discovers he is in Elvish care."
"We'll soon find out. Sleep well, Rus."
Amras noted that his backside throbbed a bit and he probably should have put some salve on
himself, but then decided he could deal with that in the morning. Soon he was sound
At some point before dawn, Amras awoke suddenly, though from long habit on patrol, he didn't
move, only opened his eyes. Barach stood at the side of the hammock, a blanket held around his
otherwise naked body. His eyes were wide but held no fear. Instead, he seemed to gaze on them
with relief and delight. Amras noted that the youth was absorbed in their bodies, which struck
Amras as odd since physically their races were nearly identical. When the boy's gaze finally made
its way to Amras' face and saw that he was looking back at him, he started with a gasp.
" he stammered. "I woke up. I didn't mean— I
He gulped and nervously pulled at the hair at his neck with the hand not clutching the
"Are you the other Great Hunter?"
* * * * *
Barach made it through breakfast, though he did so by keeping nearly silent. He was awed by the
Elves, even the kitchen staff. They were all elegant and eloquent. Vocabulary failed him almost
utterly. This was true especially when under Amras' gaze, or Hîthuldir's, the one who had
nursed him after he'd been found in the forest, he discovered.
"Thank you," he found he was able to say, again and again. "Thank
"You unintentionally poisoned yourself," Hîthuldir reminded him.
"I should have known better," Barach insisted, ready to start berating himself once
"You could not have. Just be glad one of my scouts found you and that Hîthuldir is
skilled in medicine," Amras retorted before giving his lover a fond look. The dark-haired
Elf was his lover, Barach knew this from having stumbled across them lying in each other's arms
in their hammock, just as he and Brindal had in their past under cover of darkness.
Barach remained quiet after that, not trusting his own voice.
The morning passed in a blur. Elves were everywhere, busy with their tasks. Barach shouldn't have
been surprised, seeing as how he'd been rescued by them, but it was all so novel. Elves. Their
very skin sang with songs he could barely perceive. It was
otherworldly. He had no other
word for it. Nóm — Finrod Felagund, he'd been told his Elvish name was — had sung with a
voice from beyond their realm, it seemed, and yet Barach tried to emulate it. A throat had made
those sounds that came from Felagund's mouth, had it not? An Elvish throat. One who had been born
under starlight, before the Sun.
Barach listened attentively to the Elves of the household. The house staff spoke to one another
in their tongue, and he tried to follow what they were saying. Things about food, which made
sense, working in the kitchens. It was similar enough to Felagund's tongue, and the more he
heard, the more he wanted to learn— everything. He knew enough to communicate passably, but he
wanted to understand the nuance of their speech.
"I think you should have a bath," Hîthuldir said before lunch.
Barach all at once was aware of how dirty he must seem, and smelling of his illness.
"Yes, please." He nodded vigourously.
"Come back with me to our rooms. There we have a large tub. I will ask that water be
"Thank you," Barach breathed, a thrill coursing from chest to belly when the dark-eyed
Elf gave him a warm smile.
Hîthuldir spoke quietly to one of the staff, and then motioned Barach to his side. He
followed Hîthuldir through the house and up a wide staircase to where he and Amras resided.
Even the curve of the pillars in the staircase was stately in comparison to their crude homes in
Estolad. Hîthuldir escorted him out to the balcony to a pair of surprisingly comfortable
"It will take a little time for the bath to be ready," he explained as Barach gave him
a curious look.
"Oh. Of course."
He was burning with curiosity about the two Elves. The one with vivid hair was the other of the
two Great Hunters, and he had a male companion. Did he dare bring that up?
"I can tell you have many questions," Hîthuldir said in a kindly voice. "I'll
accompany you and you may ask what you wish."
Barach's face flushed. The Elves were beautiful, and masculine in a way he'd never seen among his
own kind. The thought of being naked in front of Hîthuldir, especially given the kinds of
inappropriate images that had formed vividly in his mind since seeing them together, did not bode
well for him. His rescuer, however, either didn't notice, or chose not to say anything, and
Barach with some trepidation trailed after him to their bathroom. An Elf with dark tawny hair
stood by the side of the tub, set into the floor.
"Thank you, Amaldon. That will be all."
Barach thought he saw intrigue, or at least curiosity flicker on Amaldon's face before he bowed
slightly and left the room. Hîthuldir gave him an expectant look, so Barach plucked up his
courage, slid the slippers off of his feet, leaned over to take off his socks
and found himself in a heap on the floor. By the time he dimly recognised that he was
lying against Hîthuldir's torso and there was a glass of water at his lips, he realised he
must have become dizzy and lost consciousness, just for a few moments.
"I am so sorry, Barach," the Elf said as Barach drank. "I have encouraged too much
activity. You are still very weak. Let me wash you."
Barach attempted a rebuttal, but it was no use. He did feel much like a wilted plant, or most of
his body did. Alarmed, he put up more of a struggle as his clothes were removed, even though they
his clothes at all. Hîthuldir had already seen him naked. Maybe Amras too.
Maybe the whole staff.
"But— but," he said feebly, trying to cover his arousal, his cheeks burning. "I
must be so ugly to you. So hairy!"
To his surprise, Hîthuldir laughed, a light, infectious sound. Barach couldn't help a
stifled snort in reply as he was eased into the water. Elves were stronger than they looked,
given how slender Hîthuldir appeared.
"Unlike Amras, I have only seen one of the Edain, and that is you. Ugly is not a word that
would ever have come to mind. You do have more hair in some places," he continued, sliding
the back of his hand along Barach's jaw. "Some usually more hidden."
Barach had melted into the Elf's deft touch with his washcloth and soap that smelled heavenly. It
had a mixture of the pine in his favourite hidden groves and also a faint flowery aroma. When
Hîthuldir tentatively soaped his cock with his fingers, Barach stopped breathing for a
moment. Unbidden, he let out a rather undignified moan.
"Am I hurting you?" Hîthuldir asked.
"No. Oh, no. But—"
"Let me join you."
Mesmerized, Barach turned around and moved away from the edge to see Hîthuldir shed his
tunic, leggings and shoes before climbing in. He had no modesty, it seemed. He doesn't need
Barach thought a bit dreamily, wondering if he would wake up and find this had all been a
and Amras," Barach said, his voice hushed as Hîthuldir came and sat
behind him to soap up his back, the beginnings of his own erection brushing just under Barach's
"Amras is my heart's love," Hîthuldir said, his soapy washcloth now cleaning
Barach's most intimate places. "And a great joy to my body. He said you saw us asleep, and
you gazed in appreciation."
Barach hung his head, panic fluttering in his chest. "Did I see something I shouldn't
have?" he asked, his voice strained.
"No! Why would you think that?"
Barach was turned around to face Hîthuldir, concern on the finely-wrought landscape of his
"Among my kind, most men are drawn to women. Men are often like brothers to one another, but
not as you and the Great Hunter."
Hîthuldir's insightful gaze was like a torch, shedding light in depths of his spirit where
his shame and confusion lay.
"You would like such a companion."
Barach let out a shaky breath. "I would. But I don't think I'll ever have one."
Melancholy filled him even as he tried to quash it. He should be grateful he was alive, and in
the care of Elves whose healing skills were so advanced. It was indulgent to pine for another
Brindal, one who wouldn't be ashamed.
"I will speak to Amras further on this matter," Hîthuldir said soberly. Barach
started to protest, his gut clenching with anxiety of his true self revealed to the fiery-haired
"He'll kill me! I'm aroused by you!"
To his horror, Barach felt tears spring to his eyes, stinging and hot.
"Barach, child of the Sun, I'm flattered. Let go of your worries."
Hîthuldir's voice grew soothing, and he continued to murmur in the more complicated manner
of his native tongue, all while guiding Barach out of the bath and toweling him off. Once
dressed, Barach stood still, unable to move.
"Amras has always possessed an eye for beauty," Hîthuldir said, his flowing
garments covering the body whose memorable form was now burned into Barach's memory. "Am I
correct in assuming that you have never known the pleasure that two male bodies can bring one
Barach could feel his face grow scarlet. "No. My former cherished friend, Brindal
kissed, when younger, and felt
but always with clothes," he muttered,
finding great interest in his feet.
"You innocent creature," Hîthuldir said gently, pressing two fingers under
Barach's chin to raise his face. "Before we return you to your kin, Amras and I shall give
you a taste of the joys two males may share."
Barach's mouth went dry. "I— that
" he stammered, then cleared his throat. His
thoughts raced and his heart battered against his ribcage. "That's too precious a gift. It
was enough by far to save my life, but to share yourselves with me
" His voice trailed
off as the ramifications of such an act hit him.
"And if I did, then I'll go back to Estolad, and be alone," he continued mournfully as
Hîthuldir placed his hand at the base of his spine. He let the Elf guide him back into the
spacious bedroom and toward the main part of the house.
"You are young. The arrival of the Edain is new, yet. Many of your kind may choose to live
and serve with Elves and there, perhaps, you will find a new companion for your
"It's said that you live forever," Barach whispered. "No Elf would want me because
I'll grow old and die." A profound sadness filled his heart. "I should go back without
knowing, for it will only cause me to miss it. Miss you. More than I can tell I already
Hîthuldir made Barach take his arm for stability going down the wide staircase. "I will
speak with Amras. For now, eat and rest. The staff will make sure you are tended to, as will I.
You are my patient, after all, and I am pleased to see you recover so quickly."
The Elf's smile was a temporary salve, and Barach returned it. He hid his true feelings, or
tried, listening attentively during lunch and trying to memorise the faces and gestures of the
Elves at the wooden table, noting that the Great Hunter wasn't there. All too soon he would have
to go back to the encampment, where he would probably be chained to his house by his father so he
wouldn’t get lost again in the woods.
"Here. Drink this," Hîthuldir said, startling Barach away from his bleak thoughts.
He handed him a glass of something that smelled delicious and fruity, and Barach dutifully drank
"Let us go back up to our rooms. I will string up the hammock and you can
"My head is full of thoughts, all buzzing around like fireflies," Barach admitted after
excusing himself from the table and thanking all of the kitchen staff.
"What troubles you?" Hîthuldir asked as he unrolled the hammock from its
tucked-away space and began to string up one end and then the other.
"My father," Barach said through a yawn before covering his mouth, embarrassed. "I
don't think he'll let me go into the woods anymore."
He was so fatigued! With a dampened sense of shock, Barach realised what must have been in the
fruity concoction: a sleeping draught of some sort.
Hîthuldir took his arm and walked him to the hammock, helping him climb in and easing a
pillow under his head. "You will rest now," he said in a gentle voice. "Your
frenzied thoughts will be quiet for a time. Not for very long, just a few hours."
Barach wanted to protest, but instead he yawned again, barely able to keep his eyes open. Sleep
tenderly came and claimed him.
* * * * *
"All three of us, together?" Amras clarified as he walked through the orchard at
Hîthuldir's side. A scent of apples filled the air, bringing with it memories of an
afternoon he and Hîthuldir had spent hidden away, enjoying each other's bodies to the
"Not exactly," Hîthuldir said, the smile evident in his voice. "Though if it
came to that, I doubt you would mind, would you?"
"Mind?" Amras let his hand slide down from the small of Hîthuldir's back to cup a
buttock, relishing the feel of muscle as it moved with each leisurely step. "This
second-born, from what he revealed to you, he has barely kissed another. He is untouched, in
every sense of the word. Do you not think it would overwhelm him?"
"You are evading my question."
Amras harrumphed, moving his arm to drape across the back of Hîthuldir's waist. "You
know me in some ways better than my own twin. If you are encouraging both of us to teach Barach
for one night, know that I will not feel we have in any way diluted our bond."
"Oh Rus." Hîthuldir stopped and turned to kiss him, the soft gesture soon growing
deep and passionate. "Even if you bedded all of Amrod's comely staff, our bond would be no
weaker. We respect our feä's exclusivity by doing the same with our bodies, but this is a unique
Amras saw the mixture of amusement and love in Hîthuldir's eyes and had no doubt that he
"You have imagined us with others?" Amras asked provocatively, taking his lover's hand
and continuing their walk to the house.
"Of course. As have you. I share your worry about Barach, though I sense in him a tremendous
capacity for being a quick and enthusiastic learner."
Amras smiled widely at that. "Yes, beloved. But do not forget, he is first and foremost your
recently recovered patient. We cannot so exploit the pleasures of his innocent body that he
becomes ill again, this time due to exhaustion."
He could think of a great many ways to wear out the youth, and heat flooded his groin as details
rose to mind. That the two of them could share their centuries of knowledge would be something
new, and exciting.
"I will be certain that our affections wear him out only to the point that he sleeps
soundly. And I have both salves and tonics, should he be sore."
he?" Amras said, laughing as he opened the door to the back of the
house, leading into a large sitting room. He switched to high Elvish for a moment, just in case
Barach had been watching for them and was listening nearby. "He is a virgin, my love. That
is when the soreness is sweetest. But sore he'll be, for certain."
Hîthuldir rolled his eyes, but a smile traipsed on his lips nonetheless. "We will offer
ourselves, and let him decide."
"How could he say no?" Amras asked, wandering into the main kitchen to find something
sweet to nibble on. "Why would he?" He was genuinely baffled, given Hîthuldir's
description of what had transpired during Barach's bath.
"It could be too much."
Hîthuldir plucked a green apple from a bowl of fruit, nodding to one of the kitchen staff
before taking a loud, crunching bite. Amras watched him chew, then replied, "I wager that
he'll be willing to take that risk."
Amras spent the afternoon with Barach in decidedly non-amorous pursuits, showing him map after
map of Beleriand, the different Elvish territories, and where his other brothers ruled. Barach
seemed fascinated by all of the names, enclaves and cultures, and how vast and wild large
sections of the land were. He was particularly interested in Círdan and his mariners in the
western coastal lands of Falas.
"I've never seen the sea," he said, gazing at Amras with a look of awe. "Can you
describe it to me?"
Amras thought back to his experiences on the waters and brought the positive memories to the
forefront. Barach's expression was so earnest and curious, Amras found himself smiling.
"I assume you have seen lakes." He waited for Barach's eager nod. "The sea is a
lake that goes on and on to the horizon, far off to the west whence the Elves first came into
being. It is unknowable, how wide and deep the sea is. The waters are blue, or sometimes
blue-green, or grey, turbulent and foaming. Ulmo rules over the ocean and all waters in the same
way as Oromë is lord of the hunt."
Barach's eyes were wide with intrigue. "So have you always lived here? In
"No, lómelindi, I have not. Come, let us go for a walk in the birch forest, a short
walk," he amended, thinking both about Barach's strength later on that evening, but also the
dinner hour, which was quickly approaching.
"What did you call me?" Barach asked as he pulled on a hat, one Hîthuldir had
found rolled up in the Adan's belongings.
"Lómelindi. Dusk-singer, or nightingale. You do have a beautiful voice."
The young man blushed prettily, and Amras acknowledged to himself that perhaps he took an
unhealthy pleasure in causing such reactions. During their walk, Amras told Barach an abbreviated
version of his family's history, of his father and brothers, the Silmarils, how they had come to
Beleriand by boat. He decided that Barach should know the true story of Amras' heritage, so he
also told him of the kinslaying and burning of the boats at Losgar.
Barach had been enthusiastically munching on an apple as he listened with a keen ear until Amras
came to the part where his father had acted against Fingolfin and abandoned his people to their
"They are here now," Amras said, looking at Barach, whose expression was distraught.
"They walked over the Helcaraxë, massive sheets of ice. Some were lost, but Elves are
resilient. My brother Maitimo has only one hand now, and he wields his sword with more deadly
force than he did when he was whole."
Amras began to regret having been so candid in his tales. The poor Adan stood mute, sorrow in his
eyes, disbelief clinging to his features.
"When lord Felagund came to us and woke us up in a way, from our fear and ignorance, I
thought all Elveswould be like him."
His voice cracked, and Amras saw a lone tear slide down his cheek before dissolving into the
gleaming auburn bristles of his short beard.
"But you've fought and killed amongst yourselves. You and your brothers are exiled from
parts of this land. And for all of that, I would stay with you, if I could. Hîthuldir,"
he said, sniffing and brusquely rubbing his eyes on the shoulder of his tunic. "He's been
loyal to you no matter what, hasn't he?"
"From the very beginning," Amras said, taking the apple core out of Barach's hand and
tossing it aside before enfolding him in his arms. "I wanted you to know my history from my
mouth. If and when you do move on to more westerly settlements, you will hear very different
perspectives on the past. I am not proud of much that I have done at the behest of my father, but
I am bound to him, and I am proud to be a son of Fëanor. We are like comets, and I fear that
Amrod and I will blaze and fall. I only hope that it is in battle against the evils to the north,
not against other Elves."
Barach tightened his grip on Amras' tunic, and Amras rubbed his hand reassuringly against his
back. "You should not carry the burdens of my kin. Your kind have only just come into these
lands, and you will write your own tales. Please do not be sad of heart. Hîthuldir is going
to have strong words for me, I'm afraid," he said half to himself.
The young man shook slightly with a muffled, bark of a laugh against Amras' chest, and then eased
out of his arms. Amras stood still as Barach tentatively reached out a hand to cradle his smooth
jaw, the melancholy in his expression appearing to change to acceptance.
"I'll go to Falas and the sea, if I can find a way, and if the shipwright will accept
me," he said, letting his hand drop back to his side.
"Círdan is wise, and I suspect he would welcome men like you of stout heart and strong
"Don't forget the beauty of his voice. And face," Hîthuldir said brightly from
behind him, and Amras jerked his head around, having been momentarily caught off guard.
"Sorry, Rus! I did not mean to startle you." Hîthuldir laid his hand on Amras' arm
for a brief moment.
"Are you all right, Barach?" Hîthuldir asked with concern. "What have you two
been discussing, if I may ask?"
"It started as a geography lesson," Amras said, "but then turned to history. I
believe that I may have disillusioned our young guest."
"No, you haven't!" Barach insisted hotly. "And while I'm young, I'm no child, and
no innocent. I haven't killed any orcs yet, but I'm trained to wield a sword and shoot arrows. I
would stand by your side, just as Hîthuldir has, and defend you and your family's honour.
Even if it cost me my life. You saved it, after all."
"My beloved did that. I would not have you pledge fealty to me and my house, though I am
greatly moved by the offer."
Amras glanced at Hîthuldir and saw impatience in his gaze. He focused again on Barach, who
"There is no need to feel indebted," Hîthuldir said to Barach, his warm tones
surely meant to be soothing. The youth looked at him, his lips pressed in a thin line.
"What would please us both is for you to return to your people, whole and hale. Share with
them what you have learned of the Elvish enclaves and realms, and when you are a bit older,
venture forth to the west. Be a scholar and guide, and when you do leave Estolad, come and visit
us. I believe that Amras will always welcome you with open arms."
Amras nodded slightly, pleased to see a glow of pride on Barach's face.
"My house is always open to you," Amras confirmed. "But there are many hours
between now and tomorrow morn. Hîthuldir and I would like to gift you with knowledge I
believe you have not yet experienced. There are skills and delights you will be able to share
with another male, one who you deem worthy of your affections."
Barach looked startled at the change of topic, and Hîthuldir placed a hand on his shoulder.
"We will not force you, of course," Hîthuldir murmured, and the flush Amras had
begun to expect in the young Man made its telltale appearance in his cheeks. "It is an
offer, and one you need not think on now. My whole purpose in finding you both was to bring you
to supper. There are mouth-watering scents of veal cutlets, buttery rolls, and carafes of crisp
"I am rather hungry," Barach admitted, his gaze darting from Hîthuldir's face and
back to Amras. He took a deep breath, and Amras gave him what he hoped was an encouraging smile.
"You've given me so much already, but I think I would regret staying alone tonight and
didn't learn what you wish to teach me."
He fixed them with a coy smile. Perhaps subconsciously, he wetted his lips, the first sign of
desire Amras had witnessed with his own eyes.
"Food first. Carnal romps second," Hîthuldir said dryly, and the colour again
crept up Barach's neck.
"You're always so practical," Amras groused with good humour. He smiled as Barach let
out an embarrassed laugh, walking close to Amras' side as they made their way back to the house
where supper awaited them.
* * * * *
Hîthuldir busied himself finding the small decanter of miruvor and pouring three servings
into diminuitive glass flutes. Amras opened the doors to their balcony while Barach stood,
fidgeting with the hem of his shirt. Hîthuldir walked over with a glass of miruvor, noting
the ruddiness of his face, heated by the wine he'd had with their meal and also doubtless by the
praise that had been heaped on him after he'd sung two songs by request after supper.
"You do have a lovely voice," Hîthuldir said now, handing the glass to Barach.
"Sip this. It is very potent."
Barach did, his eyes fluttering closed as he swallowed the ambrosia. "That's like nothing
I've ever tasted." He carefully placed the glass on the desk at his side.
"And here something else that will be new to you," Hîthuldir said in a low voice,
wrapping his arms around Barach's upper back, pressing his lips to his slightly open mouth. He
sent his tongue along Barach's lower lip before sucking on it, closing his eyes when he felt a
moan breathed hotly into his mouth. With tongue and lips, Hîthuldir taught Barach the
subtleties and passionate dance of kissing, the lesson continuing on until Hîthuldir felt
Barach's arousal, steely and pressed against his hip. He drew back and surveyed his work on
Barach's glistening, full lips.
"Amras has yet another unique flavour," he said a bit raggedly. "Rus? Come enjoy
Hîthuldir began to move behind Barach, but Amras stopped him, kissing him soundly and
possessively. Hîthuldir melted against him, their tongues darting and circling in well known
patterns that never ceased to excite them both. Amras eased away from the kiss, his eyes hooded
and full of short, urgent messages Hîthuldir could read as easily as any tome in their
library: yours, mine, ours, now.
"He tastes of innocence, and ripe apples," Hîthuldir said, using a finger to trace
down the middle of Amras' chest, his shirt unfastened and his torso bared to his navel.
"And you accuse me of words of high romance?" Amras said, his lips quirked. He glanced
over at Barach, who was watching them, his fingers digging into his thighs near his groin, but
not touching the obvious mound between them.
"You two," he said, struggling for appropriate words. "Two men. Warriors.
Elves," he finally said, seeming exasperated with himself. "You're beautiful together.
Why would anyone say it’s not just as natural as a male and female?"
"I do not know," Hîthuldir stated, his hands cupping Amras' backside. "I have
only ever sought male company in matters of sex. Anything else is unnatural to me. Rus," he
said, slowly rocking his hips against his lover's groin. "I think it's time our Adan sees
you without hindrance of clothing."
"Indeed. I would see you both naked as well."
Hîthuldir made a pleased purring sound and stepped back from Amras, giving Barach a
reassuring smile. "May I undress you? And then we'll all get on the bed. It is large enough
for all three of us."
Barach nodded, his gaze riveted on Amras as the son of Fëanor quickly stripped and walked to
the bed, arranging pillows against the headboard. Hîthuldir wasted no time in removing his
own clothes. He was more leisurely as he undid Barach's shirt and then unlaced his leggings,
easing them down his thighs and calves. Once naked, Barach seemed ashamed, highly aroused, and
uncertain, a self-conscious storm of conflicting feelings.
watch?" he asked in a hesitant voice.
"By Eru, no!" Amras declared from the bed, working himself with one hand. "Well,
you can, but I would much prefer to have you join us. Intimately."
"May I?" Hîthuldir asked, letting his fingers graze along Barach's cock, which
twitched in response.
"Of course! Oh, oh
" Barach choked out as Hîthuldir let his fingers play in
the curls at the base before taking him in a firm grip.
"I want to taste you here, too," Hîthuldir said, pressing against Barach's torso
so the hot skin of their cocks touched. "But first, let's join Amras. He is quite a skilled
kisser. Between us you will discover just how much passion can be shared between two of our sex.
You have brought yourself pleasure alone?" he asked, and Barach nodded, his hands still
hanging at his sides as though afraid to touch him.
"Come, vibrant beauty." Hîthuldir breathed the invitation into his ear, so novel
with its rounded top but evidently as sensitive as an Elf's, given the groan that escaped
Barach's mouth. "Amras and I want you to explore our bodies. Obviously you find us
"By the Sun, I do!" Barach said hoarsely.
"Then come here." Amras patted the coverlet. "Don't worry about hurting us, or
using words. We will listen to the sounds you make, your sighs and gasps." He opened his
arms in invitation.
Barach turned and gave Hîthuldir a deep, thorough kiss, then walked swiftly to the bed and
crawled next to Amras. Hîthuldir followed close behind, wetting his lips in anticipation of
taking Barach's bobbing erection into his mouth. He let Barach have a few moments with Amras, but
he kept his fingers between Barach's legs. While they kissed and nuzzled each other,
Hîthuldir's fingers kept busy, rolling the soft sacs with their peachlike fuzz, and then
carding through the abundance of wiry curls at the base of his sex.
Amras eased Barach onto his back, still kissing him with abandon, and at last Hîthuldir
leaned over and took the Adan in his mouth, the crown fitting sweetly against his palate. His
excitement at pleasuring Barach with his tongue, taking him fully in his mouth until it neared
his throat and humming his satisfaction at his musky-salt flavour lasted only a few moments.
Sooner than Hîthuldir had expected, Barach's hips bucked and his thighs trembled. He cried
out as he climaxed, a wounded and surprised torrent of sounds while Hîthuldir swallowed and
then licked him clean. He slid up the bed and leaned across Barach, who lay panting, his face
crimson, so he could kiss his lover, sharing the Adan's taste.
"Mmmmm," Amras said thoughtfully once Hîthuldir eased back on his side, looking
tenderly at Barach. His eyes were wet, though he didn't wipe at them.
"Are you all right, precious sun child?"
Barach gulped and nodded, his gaze moving from Hîthuldir to Amras, and back again.
" He sniffed, and Amras placed a hand on his hip, giving it a
squeeze. "Touching myself never felt like that. Even imagining it was Brind— someone else.
Nothing came close to how you just made me feel."
"The touch of another enhances all delights of the flesh," Hîthuldir murmured.
"Due to our responsibilities, Rus and I often have spent months apart at a time, and we rely
on memory and our own skill in the interim."
"I'd really like to try that myself," Barach said, his voice cracking as he glanced
down at Hîthuldir's arousal. He cleared his throat and fixing his eyes on Amras' face, said
more confidently, "I want to please you both, if you don't mind my
Hîthuldir draped his leg over Barach's thigh, reaching over the youth's torso to grasp his
lover's jutting cock.
"It has been hundreds of years since I was last with someone discovering such treasures for
the first time. I consider this a privilege. After this night you will be an innocent no
longer," Amras noted. "Whomever you take to your bed should consider himself fortunate
"I feel that way now," Barach said softly, watching as Hîthuldir expertly stroked
Amras up and down.
"Then apply your knowledge of what felt good to you and use it on me. You and I shall trade
places," Hîthuldir said, placing dry kisses on the freckles he found on Barach's
shoulder. "Rus, you have the oil?"
Hîthuldir gave his lover's wide shaft a gentle squeeze, then released his grip. "Good.
Then you will fuck me and Barach, use your mouth and hands as you wish. If you want to watch,
that's fine. Much can be learned by observing, though you'll enjoy this night far more as a
participant." Barach's expression of surprise at Hîthuldir's blunt language made the
Elf chuckle as the Man crawled to Hîthuldir's other side. "It is always lovemaking
because Amras is my beloved, but we don't always use pretty words."
"You two are unlike Felagund in so many ways," Barach said, avidly watching Amras as he
applied a liberal amount of the unguent until his cock glistened from root to tip. "Much of
what I've learned here I'll treasure as my secret. Unless another Man arrives who's like
"Do not trouble yourself about the future," Hîthuldir said, using his fingers to
guide Barach's gaze to his own face. "You are here now. My body is an instrument for you to
learn to play, or if you prefer, you can watch us together. If you wish it, later, he or I can
join you completely."
thank you," Barach mumbled, scooting back so his mouth was poised
over Hîthuldir's straining cock.
"Now, love," Hîthuldir commanded Amras, pulling up one knee to his chest and
encouraging his lover's coupling. He closed his eyes at the familiar fullness, burning at first
until it transformed to pleasure.
"I'll never forget this night," Hîthuldir heard Barach say before his lips became
busy doing memorable things beyond the realm of speech.
* * * * *
In an early hour of pre dawn, Hîthuldir woke up, needing the chamber pot. As he returned to
the bed, he gazed at the form of his lover holding Barach in his arms, the youth's mouth open
slightly as he breathed in sleep. Hîthuldir was sore and a bit tender, but that would pass
in a day or so. The enthusiasm of both Amras and Barach was worth any discomfort. He slid under
the coverlet to spoon at Barach's side, careful not to wake him. He felt slightly conflicted
feelings for the young Man: in some ways, he was like a son, someone he wanted to protect and
instruct. But he would not have such feelings of erotic appeal to his own kin.
He was uncertain as to whether or not the Edain could receive Elvish blessings, but regardless,
he sent one soundlessly to him. He invoked the protection of the Valar and the hope that he,
though second-born with different customs and laws, would find someone worthy of his loyalty and
affection. Hîthuldir brushed a kiss against the warm skin of his shoulder blade, and then
drifted off to sleep.
. : ~ Epilogue ~ : .
Gelinnas turned his horse down the tree-lined path to lord Telufinwe's stately home. After so
many decades with Círdan , his mariners and their kin with their houses evocative of the
sea, the other Great Hunter's house of wood and stone seemed cumbersome to his eyes. That noted,
he was certain he would adapt once again to life in East Beleriand. He heard a bird call, but
recognised it to be a scout's disguised alert. Doubtless one of the household would ride out, or
he would be met at the welcoming expanse of front stairs. No individual, whether friend or foe,
approached Amras' or Amrod's realms undetected.
Reflexively he raised his right hand to the glass pendant that hung around his neck, his fingers
tracing around the shapely dark silver pearl that adorned the stopper. Taking both reins again,
Gelinnas hastened to the house, unsurprised to see Amras himself step out onto the landing as he
pulled his horse to a halt.
"My lord— Amras," Gelinnas corrected himself, seeing both happiness and sympathy in the
Elf lord's eyes. He laid a hand atop his heart and bowed slightly before dismounting and handing
over the reins to an equerry who had appeared seemingly out of nowhere.
"Dear Gelinnas," Amras rumbled, taking the former squire into a warm, comforting
embrace. "What a pleasure to see you. Amrod had notified me, so I knew to expect you some
time this summer, and that you would return alone. How are you faring?"
Gelinnas gave Amras a gentle squeeze and stepped back. "Well enough. It was no surprise,
though the permanence of it has added to my sorrow. I was able to share a lifetime with him.
Well, his lifetime, but it was so short compared to ours, far too short. I've mourned Barach, and
I don't live with regret for the choice that I made. I knew the time would pass too quickly, but
I cannot help having loved him." He paused, and looked at Amras' concerned expression.
"I did love him, from the depths of my soul. At times I have no consolation, for I don't
believe he will be there to welcome me in the undying lands. I don't know where the spirits of
the Edain go, and that sorrow I can't purge."
Amras gave him a rueful smile. "Come inside. You've had long journey, and rest and sweet
wine will do you good."
"Thank you." Gelinnas felt a bit of the weight in his heart ease at being in Amras'
"Hîthuldir will return from the training ground later this afternoon. He and I both
want to hear tales of your time with Círdan, what news came to you there on the western
shores, and, of course, about your life with Barach. More Men came from over the mountains,
swelling the numbers in Estolad. Many of the Edain have gone on to Dorthonion, and others to the
slopes of the Ered Wethrin."
"He was unique," Gelinnas murmured, allowing himself to be guided into Amras' home and
led to a canvas pavilion set up out on the expanse of lawn. "Such a voice, and generous
heart. I wish he had been Elf-kind," he said in a rough voice, his emotions about the death
of his lover at last rising to the surface. "But then he wouldn't have been himself. My life
seems so long now." He turned to face Amras, feeling a hot tear slide down his cheek.
"And yet I wouldn't change things. The gift was so tenderly given. I miss him, though he was
so frail at the end. Ninety-four. That's all! I wonder how many years must pass before the pain
Amras let out a sigh and ran his fingers through his hair. "I dare not guess. Here, have
this." He handed Gelinnas a glass of chilled wine, which he accepted gratefully. "And
tell me, if it is not too painful, what life was like among the shipwrights, living on the shore
of the sea."
Gelinnas felt the twinge of loss in his chest like a physical ache, but he also remembered the
words his beloved had said a few days before he'd died in his sleep: "Remember me when I
he'd said, his voice a rasp. "When you go to Amras and
Hîthuldir, tell them about our adventures, before I grew old. Keep our early years in your
"I will treasure them all,"
he'd insisted, the words both a commitment and a
"I've written about our time at the havens," he told Amras. "A recollection of
skills learned, cycles of the seasons, of the vibrant personalities among his people. I wrote out
a second copy when Barach's memory began to fade
will you keep it here, safe in your
"Of course. His memory and story will become part of the legacy of our time
At dusk that evening he stood with Amras and Hîthuldir, the pendant holding the last of
Barach's ashes cradled reverently in his hands. Per his lover's request, he was to release the
final physical remnants of his life on the grounds where, as he'd said, he had come truly to know
Hîthuldir chanted a soft prayer of protection and then sang a lament for the dead. As his
clear voice rose into the twilight, Gelinnas took the cork out of the sea glass pendant, its
teardrop shape only appropriate given the ceremony. He forced himself to remember Barach's face,
beaming with pride and wonder during their first sail on the open waters, as he emptied the ashes
into the caressing breeze and on the ground.
"May the Valar keep you, precious child of the Sun," Amras said, reaching out his hand
to Gelinnas. He took it, looking over at Amras through eyes blurred with tears. Amras nodded, and
Gelinnas put the pendant back over his head, refitting the pearl stopper, and envisioning the
young Adan, the copper in his beard glinting under a mid-day sun.
"Come to me," he begged in a hoarse whisper, "when I am parted from this life.
Loving Valar, let us be reunited. Until then, rest in peace, sun of my heart."
As Hîthuldir sang the last notes of his remembrance, Gelinnas look up at the sky. A star
streaked across the violet expanse, and he took a ragged breath. Fervently he believed that such
a portend meant his entreaty had been heard. Back in the house, he sat with Amras and
Hîthuldir. With a heart that burned with the fire of remembered love, he told the tale of
their unlikely courtship in Estolad and their subsequent life together.
That night he dreamed of their first time they swam in the ocean, and when he awoke, on his lips
he tasted the salt of bittersweet tears.
Hîthuldir= mist/fog — man (an Elvish name I made up)
Amaldon= Quenya — gentle (found via Merin Essi ar Quenteli: http://www.realelvish.net/)
According to the chapter on The Coming of Men, the Men/Edain referred to Finrod as Nóm, or knowledge.
Title slightly modified from a line found in Shakespeare's Sonnet 55.
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