Legolas carefully took in the sight of the masked elves who were filling the designated area. It was decided by the Lothlorien Love Fest Safety Committee, which basically consisted of Celeborn and Galadriel, that blindfolds in an area with bonfires was too risky even for elf-kind. Consequently, everyone was masked instead of being blindfolded. Although it perhaps gave everyone the allusion of being unseen and unknown, Legolas would have been able to know in the dark who was who.
Beside a tree, a lone ellon was leaning against the trunk. With a feral grin, Legolas knew who it was and why he was here. Though Haldir had never before been present at such events, this time, there was a mystery. And a mystery seemed something that the young warden was simply too curious about.
- - -
Somehow, Erestor had managed to make it through the last few days without running into Lord Glorfindel. On occasion, they had nearly crossed paths, but the former Lorien elf knew the woods too well to be stumbled upon. He had made his decision – as much as he wished to go, he would stay hidden away during the festivities. Earlier in the day he had raided the royal library for a number of volumes he had never finished during his time living in Lothlorien, and planned to make use of the days he would have now.
His mind was so focused upon his evening reading, that for once since he had been managing to stay clear, he did not escape Lord Glorfindel. "So, there you are!" came the familiar voice from council meetings and late nights spent working by candlelight on things of importance that could not wait until morning. "They have been looking for you."
"G- uh- g-good evening, Lord Glorfindel, I, uh... they?" Erestor gasped as he looked to what Glorfindel was holding. "M'lord, have you been honored to be, uh, chosen, as-"
Erestor was cut off by a boisterous chuckle. "Me? Surely not, I am far too old for the role. That is who have been trying to find you, Erestor. The other eleven; you are late." Glorfindel held out the feathered wings, and Erestor stumbled backwards. "Something the matter?"
"Orophin promised me..." Erestor shook his head. "There must be a mistake. They must have meant another elf?"
"Another elf?" questioned Glorfindel, not seeming at all convinced.
"Yes, another elf-"
"Erestor, I was told your name, and it was I who was sought out to bring these to you, for it was assumed that I would know where you were," explained Glorfindel, absently fluffing the feathers on the faux wings.
Wringing his hands, and thinking to the description that Orophin had told him, Erestor shook his head. "Please, m'lord, I am sure many would think this an honor, but I am terribly afraid that I just will not do in the role."
Glorfindel looked over the young scribe curiously. "Why not?"
- - -
Legolas's path carried him around others who were already beginning to greet one another in a more than friendly manner. Twice, he was nearly stalled on his way to his destination, but both times, the prince managed to avoid those who would otherwise have had him.
He did not approach Haldir directly; instead, Legolas walked around the tree, then leaned over the warden's shoulder. "Dilly-dilly," he said in the most regal way possible, then snickered in spite of himself.
"What the fuck was that?" Haldir turned slowly to regard the ellon next to him. From the costume and stance, it was obvious he was one of Thranduil's sons, but to Haldir, they were all alike.
"That was my password, not a very good one, but when you're the youngest of twelve brothers, you tend not to get a say in such things." Legolas brushed an imaginary speck of dust from his sleeve.
"Ah." Knowing now who was behind the mask, Haldir rested against the tree again.
"Bored already?" teased Legolas. Haldir shrugged. "Or have you sampled all you wish tonight?" Haldir blushed slightly, and Legolas chuckled. "There's always room for one more," he teased, his hand creeping over to rest on Haldir's thigh.
The warden practically jumped out of his skin, skidding away from where Legolas stood, puzzled. "Thank you, I, uh, I... I'm done," muttered Haldir, hurrying to leave.
Legolas caught up with him some ways away. "So soon? It's hardly begun. My apologies; I did not mean to disconcert you."
"No, no, I... good night," Haldir said quickly, trying to lose the ellon following him. Unluckily for Haldir, Legolas had spent quite a few nights in dark forests with rangers, uhm, tracking... things...
- - -
"Well, I..." Erestor's mouth gaped open as he floundered for words. "Uhm, I, ah..."
"You are young, you are, dare I say beautiful, and you are quite innocent looking. `Tis all the qualifications that are necessary."
"With all due respect, m'lord..." Erestor let out a sigh and said in a low voice, "Please, allow me to take my leave and simply tell them you could not find me. I would prefer not to be seen as some sort of whorish slut-"
"What?" The tone in Glorfindel's voice changed drastically. "You think you are being asked because they wish to make a mockery of you?"
Erestor meekly bowed his head, swallowing hard. "N-no, sir."
"You think that this honor is some sort of joke?"
Shaking his head rapidly, the scribe declined to answer.
"Do you have no pride in your homeland and your people?"
Tears were threatening now, and Erestor grabbed for the wings, nearly ripping them from Glorfindel's grasp. Stomping a few feet away, he stopped, sniffled, and looked miserably around.
"Now what is wrong with you?" sighed Glorfindel.
"I... I don't know where to go," he replied in a small voice.
Glorfindel closed his eyes, counted inwardly to ten, and approached his young apprentice. "Here, this way. The baths; that is where they are. I will take you there."
`Because you think I will run away otherwise,' thought Erestor, and he wished that he could.
- - -
It was at the river that Legolas caught up with Haldir. "If I didn't know better, I would think you had never been touched before, warden."
Halting in his tracks, Haldir looked over his shoulder, still masked. "What makes you say that?"
"You flinched at a love festival. A masked one, at that. Would you like to know what I think?" asked Legolas, stepping closer and closer.
Saying nothing, Haldir, waited until he and the prince were face to face, and finally asked, "What?"
"I think... that you think you cannot forget your station for a single day. I think that you, like so many of the other soldiers here, would benefit greatly by holding this sort of celebration more than once a year."
"Thank you for your comments; they shall be taken under consideration," noted Haldir.
A moment passed in silence before Legolas burst out laughing. "Do you know what I just realized?"
"What?" Haldir had now crossed his arms and looked quite unamused.
"I doubt you have ever been kissed before. Have you?" Legolas did not wait for an answer. Grabbing hold of the front of the Lorien elf's shirt, he yanked the warden forward into a hasty, and somewhat sloppy considering Haldir's surprise and inexperience, kiss. "Very nice. Work on that; I expect improvement for next year," said Legolas, before leaving Haldir to stand at the edge of the river, face flushed and mouth half open.
Legolas smiled to himself as he rejoined the festivities, soon being invited into a secluded glade by Rumil, three anonymous ladies, and a young border guard who was quiet, but was obviously going to be quite a lot of fun. Part of the prince wanted to go back to the river for a moment and tell Haldir who his secret admirer was, but the rest of him decided it was better for Haldir to find out on his own.
- - -
Once the pair had reached the hot springs, Erestor took one look around and panicked. "They're all gone! Oh, great, I'll be the laughingstock."
"Why do you say that?" asked Glorfindel, kicking aside a tunic. The area was littered with copious amounts of clothing that had been removed when the other cupids were getting ready, which was now just strewn about every which where.
"Because I have no idea what I am to do," admitted Erestor. "I have never been to one of these functions; I have no clue what they look like." Sitting down on the nearest bench, he tossed the wings beside him. "I will look even more foolish than I imagined."
"No, you won't. I can help you. Take off your clothes," instructed Glorfindel, walking about and gathering up various assorted items.
"What? Why?" Erestor defensively drew a hand up to the collar of his robe, pulling the folds together.
Glorfindel rolled his eyes. "I'll order you if I must- remove your clothing, and put this on," he said, flinging a white loincloth in Erestor's direction.
Catching the garment, Erestor crinkled his nose. "Is there no other? This is going to be... quite small and awfully tight," he said as he examined the white cloth.
"That," drawled Glorfindel with a leer as he joined Erestor on the bench, "is the point."
"Oh." Erestor set the loincloth atop the wings and carefully began to undress, folding each item of clothing neatly before proceeding to the next. When he was in nothing but his own undergarment, he gave Glorfindel a pleading look. "Can I not use this one? It is white."
The older elf could not help but smile. "Trust me, you would stand out, and it is better for it to be tight, than for it to be loose."
"Why is that?" asked Erestor as he untied his and let it fall to the ground.
"We don't have the time for me to explain all of the reasons," replied Glorfindel with even more of a smirk, and Erestor blushed and remained quiet as he tied the restricting garment. "Now, put on your wings, and then sit back down."
Erestor did as told, and perched himself on the edge of the bench seat. "Now what?"
"I wish we had time to properly curl your hair, but we do not." Glorfindel took hold of one of Erestor's braids and began to unravel it. "Help me with these, but don't pull on them. Perhaps we can make something of it."
The tight braids Erestor had woven into his hair after his washing that morning made his normally straight brown hair ripple over his shoulders and down his back. Glorfindel fluffed it up a bit before retrieving a small, low stool and dragging it over to the bench. "Try not to blink while I fix your eyes," he said, picking up a palette that contained thick paints of black, pink, white, and red.
"You certainly know a lot about this," commented Erestor after he had been beautified to the standards of a cupid, with his hair cascading down his back, rosy cheeks, and sinfully red lips. His darker than usual lashes fluttered as he looked over to Glorfindel while he cleaned off the brushes he had used. "Forgive my asking, but have you attended many of these celebrations?"
"There is no need to ask for pardon, and yes, I have, but never here. This is my first time in Lothlorien." Glorfindel set the brushes aside and looked around the area almost wistfully. "We had something like this, long ago, in Gondolin."
"How much is our festival like the one you knew?" questioned Erestor, shifting to adjust the tight cloth that covered him. "I suppose you had cupids there."
Ruefully, Glorfindel smiled. "Actually, we did. But not quite as you know them. Ours were... not as modest."
Erestor let out a loud laugh. "Not as modest? Please, do tell," he added, his current state giving him extra boldness as some form of defense.
"It would be more fun to show you." Glorfindel strolled around the area, between the pools of warm water. "I have a confession."
"Oh?" Erestor waited for Glorfindel to continue.