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Ecthelion, Lord of the Fountain of Gondolin, slowed as he neared the door to Maeglin's private chambers. Even though the door was closed, he could still hear the groans and grunts of Maeglin and another. His lip curled. Ever since Idril had rejected Aredhel's son and chosen Tuor, the nephew of the King had grown only more insolent. Ecthelion had already borne witness to Maeglin's recent hotter temper and sharper tongue, and had on more than one occasion privately pulled the elf aside to fruitlessly berate the spiteful creature for it. Now, apparently, he was to gaze upon his love-making as well.

On reaching the door, he halted and gritted his teeth. Mentally, he reminded himself that he was not here to pass judgement on them. He was only a messenger, here to summon Maeglin before the High King of the Noldor. The reason for the summons, Ecthelion could only fathom, but he doubted Turgon intended to berate Maeglin for his digressions. When it came to his nephew, the King seemed unable to impose any kind of limits. Everyone had their own theories as to why. Glorfindel, Ecthelion's childhood friend from Valinor and Maeglin's chief tutor, attributed Turgon's weakness to guilt. But guilt for orphaning Maeglin was no reason for turning the then-brat into an even more insufferable monster. Ecthelion knew that most in the kingdom shared in his relief that Idril had rejected Maeglin. The very idea of Maeglin seizing the crown of High King of the Noldor frightened him.

He raised his fist, schooled his face into something which he hoped resembled neutrality, and knocked loudly.

The sounds from within fell silent. "Enter," Maeglin called tersely.

Ecthelion hesitated. What of the maiden's dignity? He did not wish to embarrass...

"I said 'enter'," Maeglin repeated, his voice already noticeably colder. "The door is unlocked."

Ecthelion swallowed and opened the door to enter the study beyond.

He blinked when he found himself faced with a much less awkward situation than he had anticipated. Maeglin was sitting calmly at a desk on the other side of the room, facing him, and looking impeccably dressed in a black tunic. His long black hair lay smooth and silken about his shoulders, and there was not a hint of pink in his pale, arrogant face. However, there was no mistaking what he had heard, the smell of sweat and that dark fruity scent in the air, Maeglin's distracted expression, and the fact that Maeglin's long hands were not visible.

"Ecthelion," Maeglin said coldly, his black eyes narrowing ever so slightly. "What can I do for you?"

Ecthelion glanced at the desk, under which he knew the body of Maeglin's lover was hidden. When he looked back at Maeglin, he noticed to his astonishment that there was the faintest of smirks on the elf's face. Was Maeglin not even abashed at having been caught in this act of lechery? "King Turgon has asked for your presence. He is in his gardens."

Maeglin scowled, the expression temporarily marring his beautiful face. Then, still frowning, he looked down between his legs and under the desk. Ecthelion heard a gasping and gagging sound from beneath the desk and hurriedly averted his eyes.

"I am sorry, pet. I will make it up to you later," Maeglin murmured softly. The gagging noises continued, coupled now with Maeglin's quickening breaths. Occasionally, there was a bumping sound, as if of a head knocking against the underside of the desk.

Ecthelion looked at the close door and was just about to excuse himself when he heard Maeglin's breathing begin to slow and deepen. He looked back, just as he saw Maeglin's hands reappear from below the desk and heard the hidden lover begin loudly gasping and coughing out loud. Maeglin took a key out of his breast pocket and bend down. Then he repocketed the key and, with a cold smile towards the elf hidden behind the desk who was still wheezing, he gracefully stood and approached Ecthelion.

"Look after him until I return," he said quietly. Then, without waiting to hear Ecthelion's flustered response, he strode from the room, closing the door behind him.

Ecthelion stared at the door for a few moments, and then looked back at the desk. Him? Maeglin's lover was male? He walked over to the other side of the desk and gazed down at the elf lying on the floor on his side, still half-under the desk. Although like Maeglin, he was dressed, he looked utterly destroyed. Gold buttons from his torn white shirt lay strewn about the floor, and his long golden tresses lay mattered and tangled across his face, heaving torso, and the floor. Next to his thin, bruised wrists upon the tiles lay a pair of unlocked hand cuffs, the reason, Ecthelion assumed, for the key.

It was then, when the bruised and battered figure suddenly attempted to lift himself to his hands and knees and some of the curtain of golden locks fell away from the elf's handsome face, that Ecthelion recognised him. It was Glorfindel. He stared for a few moments in stunned disbelief and dismay.

Glorfindel sought to rise to his feet, but ended up bumping his head against the corner of the desk. A quiet whimper escaped his lips, an alien sound to Ecthelion who had never heard his friend sound so vulnerable in all his life. Spurred into action by the noise, he bent and, with one arm under Glorfindel's nearest armpit, and another supporting the back of his head, helped the tall elf to his feet.

Glorfindel glanced sidelong at him, then looked away and sagged back against the desk. Semen was smeared about his lips and mouth. He was still breathing heavily. On looking down, Ecthelion saw the reason why straining against the elf lord's tightly laced pants. His face clouded and he opened his mouth, but Glorfindel preceded his enquiry with his own utterance.

"Hush," he breathed, and raised one of his bruised hands to wipe his mouth with the back of it. Then he looked full at Ecthelion, his blue eyes sharp. "I do not wish to hear your accusations so be silent on them."

"I was not about to chastise you," Ecthelion replied irritatedly, though in truth, he had indeed intended to do so. "I intended only to ask when this affair commenced."

"Two weeks... maybe three," Glorfindel exhaled and closed his eyes, "but our relationship has been brewing with some strange fire for many years."

"Maybe three?"

"That depends whether his groping me during a tussle in the barracks that week was intentional or not." Glorfindel sighed again and lolled his head from side to side, then back. Finally, he straightened and looked back at Ecthelion, a frown knitting his beautiful face. "You knew I was inclined towards my own sex; why then do you look so troubled?"

"Does Turgon know of this relationship?"

Glorfindel snorted softly. "Perhaps not, but as I told you before, he indulges Maeglin's every desire. Why should he care with whom his nephew plays within the privacy of his own rooms?"

"You are not Maeglin. You are the tutor to whom Turgon entrusted Maeglin's education. Is there not a possibility that Turgon might see you as the instigator of this affair should matters turn sour and Maeglin turn his back upon you?"

Glorfindel laughed softly. "Maeglin may be a thorny rose, but he is no bramble to use this affair to manipulate me."

Is he not? Ecthelion wished he shared Glorfindel's conviction. His best friend had always been the more generous and forgiving of them. Also, the weaker, when it came to a beautiful face, and Maeglin was certainly a beauty, though a dangerous one.

"Regardless," Glorfindel said quietly, and suddenly leaned towards him to press a finger against Ecthelion's lips, "you are berating me, as you said you would not, so stop your mouth, you deceitful judge." He smiled gently, then pulled away and turned to cross the room to enter through a door upon the other side. He left the door open so, seeing as their conversation was unfinished, Ecthelion followed. On the threshold, he paused and cast his gaze across the vast bed in the centre of the room. The deep mattress and freshly changed, white sheets invited, but Ecthelion did not miss the mithril rings embedded in the headboard, nor the gaping chest opposite the foot full of other items wrought of metal and leather. Seeing, the direction of Ecthelion's gaze, Glorfindel closed the lid of the chest.

"It appears that Maeglin is no stranger to intimacy," Ecthelion commented dryly. He watched Glorfindel make his way over to a table beside the window and pour himself a cup of water from the jug standing there. In the sunlight, the golden haired elf, with his pale smooth skin and long, lean body, looked little older than Maeglin.

Glorfindel replaced the jug and, lifting the cup, looked sidelong at him. His blue eyes were narrowed slightly. "Are you suggesting that I have been grooming him?"

"Nay."

Glorfindel drained the contents of the cup. Then, placing it back on the table, he looked away towards the windows. There was a brooding expression on his fair face. "Even so, it is strange. How could he have learned so much without a tutor? All I can think is that he has had a former lover; he certainly seemed no stranger to intimacy when we first lay together." He picked up the jug again and refilled his cup. "Perhaps, if there is no other lover, I am to blame indeed. After all, he is my student. We have been so close for so many years that it is quite possible that he has been using me as his role model. Also, I indulge him too. I, too, failed to protect both him and Lady Aredhel at court that day."

Ecthelion said nothing. He had not attended court that day, and not borne witness to the death of Aredhel, who had thrown herself in front of Maeglin to protect him from his father. She had lost her life by protecting him and Eol had lost his life for attempting to kill him, and for killing her.

The Lord of the Fountain looked around and searched his mind for some subject to change the mood. He looked again at Glorfindel's torn shirt and tangled hair. "Do you intend to bathe?" he enquired.

Glorfindel shook his head, still looking at the view out of the windows. ''Nay. He will return. ...Eventually."

There was a brief silence. Ecthelion followed his friend's gaze to the windows, to the view of the northern Encircling Mountains above the lush, green plains, bright under the afternoon sun.

He looked back at Glorfindel and noticed then that during his contemplation of the Echoriath, the golden haired elf's gaze had shifted onto him. There was a calculating look in his friend's eyes. Their eyes met for a few moments. Then a slight smile quirked Glorfindel's lips and the elf's gaze dropped to Ecthelion's feet and began to slowly ascend.

Ecthelion flushed. "Now I have no choice but to chastise you," he uttered quietly when Glorfindel's gaze returned to meet his. He was unsure if Glorfindel was playing or serious, but either way, he admired his friend's skill.

Glorfindel's smile widened to a smirk. "Please do," he replied as he stalked towards him. He wrapped his arms around Ecthelion's neck and kissed him forcefully, grounding his body against Ecthelion's. He snorted with laughter when Ecthelion jerked back. Arms still slung around the neck of the Lord of the Fountain, trapping the dark haired noble close to him, Glorfindel grinned at him.

"I was not jesting, my dear," he chuckled.

"Clearly," Ecthelion acceded.

Glorfindel leaned in and kissed him again. This time, he did so gently. His lips were slightly chapped and damp. When Ecthelion opened his mouth in response to the caress of his friend's tongue, he tasted water and beneath it, the taste of something which he could only attribute to Maeglin's seed. Elbereth, but Glorfindel was a fool to toy with Turgon's nephew.

When Glorfindel released his lips and began trailing kisses along his jaw and neck, Ecthelion realised that Glorfindel fully intended on not merely teasing him. Briefly, he wondered if Maeglin would care. He dismissed the thought almost as soon as it arrived. Glorfindel was not the unfaithful type.

However, the fact that Maeglin did not care only raised more questions. Why did Maeglin not care? Was Maeglin himself unfaithful? He shuddered when Glorfindel returned to kiss him upon the lips and elf's hands unwound from his neck to begin undoing the fastenings of Ecthelion's tunic. Ecthelion slipped a thigh between Glorfindel's legs, and slid his hands to rest, splayed, across the elf's buttocks.

His mind returned to what Glorfindel had said of Maeglin's familiarity with intimacy. Who had taught Maeglin, if not Glorfindel? He rocked Glorfindel gently against him, provoking a growl from the other elf as his shaft came into contact with Ecthelion's thigh.

Eol? Had it been Eol? Glorfindel began tugging at Ecthelion's tunic and distracted, Ecthelion released his friend to shrug the garment and the unfastened undershirt off his shoulders. He cast them to the floor, then yelped when Glorfindel, his arms now around Ecthelion's waist, began pushing him back towards the bed. His calves hit the side and, trusting his position, he let himself fall backwards onto the deep mattress.

Glorfindel discarded what was left of his shirt, then undid his pants and, still smiling, followed him down. As he drew in line with Ecthelion, his long golden hair dragging lightly across Ecthelion's skin and draping around their faces, affording them an illusory curtain of privacy.

"So what do you wish for, my dear?" he whispered. A hand pressed down upon Ecthelion's crotch and Ecthelion gasped and arched up. Glorfindel chuckled again. "My mouth is rather tired," he said softly, "but I am sure that we can find a suitably gentle alternative." He lowered his head and began trailing kisses down Ecthelion's chest, snickering at the other's moans. When he arrived at his breeches, he deftly unfastened the laces and slipped his hand under the confines of the loincloth to grasp his erection and pull it free. Ecthelion shuddered as he felt the cooler air of the room touch it, then whimpered when Glorfindel began massaging him in his hand, his skilled fingers dry and cool.

Glorfindel bent his head and began kissing and licking along the underside of the swollen shaft. Curious to watch, Ecthelion propped himself up on his elbows and lifted himself slightly. However, on looking towards the end of the bed, his gaze was arrested not by Glorfindel's bent head, but by the tall black-clad figure standing at the ajar bedroom door and observing them both with a cold smirk upon his lips. In his right hand, he held a wine goblet. His left hand was tightly clasped. Judging from his relaxed pose leaning against the jamb, he had been watching them for some time. As their gazes met, the elf's eyes glittered unpleasantly, though perhaps it was the light.

"Glorfindel, halt," Ecthelion gasped.

Glorfindel stiffened and looked up to follow his gaze towards the door.

Maeglin's brow rose, smirk still insitu. "Oh do not stop on account of my presence, pet," the elf said quietly. "I expect to join in shortly, after all." He raised his left hand and let slip from his fingertips the hand cuffs that they had left in the study. They dangled there, twisting and turning, winking and blinking in the bright sunlight.

"You will both indulge me, of course," Maeglin continued in his cool voice, his gaze descending pointedly upon Ecthelion. "Will you not?"

Stradded on top of Ecthelion, Glorfindel turned to look enquiringly down at his friend. Behind Glorfindel, unseen by the golden haired elf, Maeglin's eyes narrowed and the King's nephew raised his goblet in a silent toast.

You manipulative little...

"But of course," Ecthelion found himself saying, in spite of himself. Because really, what alternative did he have than to bend to the will of his King's favoured nephew? Besides, the elf truly frightened him - there was no better word to describe the depths to which the monster unsettled him. A dangerous rose indeed.

Maeglin's smirk broadened. "Excellent," he breathed.
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