Title: The Prize Chapter 9/?
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Warnings: Mention of past abuse.
Summary: Faramir is given to Haldir of Lorien in payment for an insult to the Elf by Denethor. Alone and afraid, he realizes that things aren't always what they seem.
Haldir knew Rumil would most likely speak with the Faramir, who was nervously sitting on the couch as he talked with Orophin in the kitchen. He had no idea what they would discuss, but only moments after entering the kitchen and pouring a small cup of Elven wine, he found himself already missing Faramir. Turning toward his younger brother with a sigh, he studied him for a moment in silence. “Get it over with, tôr, (brother),” he said softly. “I know you have something to say.”
Orophin knew his brother well enough to know he'd wish to cut to the chase right away. "I do...and I imagine you'll want to throw me out that window other there, but I wish to know just how those bruises got on Faramir? I hope I know you well enough to know you didn't do that to him...but...I am concerned. You can tell me it is none of my business, of course..." Orophin said, taking a drink of his own wine.
His fingers tightened on the cup in his hand, and Haldir’s eyes narrowed. “Of course I didn’t do that to him,” he said levelly. “I would never hurt him. I lo…care too much about him to harm a hair on his head. And though it *is* none of your business, I will tell you anyway. It was Elarin. He tried to…” His voice trailed off, and his face flushed with anger as he remembered the scene he’d returned home to earlier that day. Realizing he was in danger of crushing the small porcelain cup, he sat it down quickly and looked toward the door, needing to assure himself that Faramir was indeed all right. “He tried to…rape Faramir when I left to meet with Lord Celeborn.”
Orophin's eyes widened slightly when he heard his brother almost say the word love - at least he was almost certain of it. Then as Haldir continued he felt his stomach knot. "He...Elarin? Oh, Gods...we should have never let him come with us that day," he said leaning against the counter heavily. "He...you...did you kill him?" he asked matter-of-factly. He knew he certainly would have if someone had attacked the person he loved.
Haldir knew his brother could see the rage in his eyes as he thought of the Elf that was, even now, being told he would never step foot inside Lorien again, nor would he be sailing to Aman. “No,” he sighed. “I wanted to. But…Faramir asked me not to. He was afraid for me. He put his fear and anger aside and stopped me from killing Elarin, because he feared I would be punished for killing him. I had him taken to the prisoner’s quarters, and honestly, if I hadn’t been reluctant to leave Faramir’s side since it happened, I would have slipped away and killed him later. The only thing holding me back now is that I’m afraid Faramir would be afraid of me if he found out.”
Orophin ran his hand over his face and shook his head. He felt that he wanted to kill Elarin himself. "Gods...he…even after that, Faramir stopped you? Just how on Arda did he manage *that*...you are hardly the type to just give up on your anger so easily," he asked in wonderment. He couldn't imagine getting Haldir to stay his hand in a situation like that, and Faramir was so...small. Well, he was tall, but he was reed thin and just didn't *seem* to have the sort of grit or strength he imagined needed to stop Haldir when he would have been so angry.
Haldir’s anger drained away as suddenly as it came, and he smiled ruefully. “He simply…asked me to stop,” he shrugged. “That’s all it took.” Looking down at his feet, Haldir sighed after a moment. “I think I’m in love with him. No…I know I am. I just want to protect him from everything and everyone. He’s agreed to stay in Lorien, but as a free Man. He says he cares for me…but other than that, I’m not sure if he feels only gratitude or…something more.”
For a moment, Orophin realized he was gaping and quickly picked up his cup to take a drink to cover it. "All it took was him asking?" he said, grinning into his cup. "I was about to say that if you didn't know you were in love with him, I was going to point it out to you. No one I know could just stop you with mere words. Not even our parents, at times," he teased, remembering their youth. "If he says he cares for you, I'm sure that he does. He doesn't seem the type to state things falsely. And after all, caring...isn't that far from love."
Chuckling softly at both himself and Orophin, Haldir spared another glance toward the living room, where, no doubt, Rumil was asking Faramir a million questions. “Oh, I know. I would do anything for him. He’s the only one on the face of all of Arda who could have stopped me from killing Elarin this morning. And I know he cares…but I want more. I want him to love me or at least see me as more than a friend. I mean…have you really *looked* at him? The way he smiles, the way his eyes light up when he’s happy, the innocence he possesses down to his very core that he swears isn’t there? How could one *not* love him?”
Orophin smiled as Haldir went on about Faramir's virtues. "I'm half afraid to look too closely, I know how hard you hit," Orophin teased, "But he is lovely, anyone can see that, and...he looks at you as if you hung the moon, Haldir. Maybe you haven't noticed that because you are too caught up in how you feel about him, but he *does* look at you with more than friendship, I think."
Haldir’s smile widened as his brother spoke, and he felt his heart jump. “You really think so?” he asked, unable to keep the excitement and longing from his voice. “Or are you just trying to make me feel better…you *did* say that after you said you know how hard I hit…”
Orophin laughed and shook his head, he'd never seen Haldir look so...happy before. "I honestly meant it...he watches you with such adoration, if he doesn't love you in return, I'd be quite shocked, to be honest. Maybe, he just needs time? It can't be easy for him coming here as he did, plus he's been ill...just give him a little time...and yourself. You've fallen rather quickly yourself...you...I know you and he are sharing a bed, but...that *is* all right?" he asked carefully. He worried that maybe he was pushing for too much information, but he wanted to confirm his thoughts.
If Haldir had been the type of Elf to blush, he would have done so now. He wasn’t, however, and he met his brother’s gaze carefully. “I’ve only held him throughout the night so far,” he said. “And…I never thought I would say this, but sometimes, simply holding him is enough. He fits against me so perfectly, and when he’s ready, *if* he’s ever ready to share his body with me, then he will know how much I love him, simply from the way I touch him, I think. And he’ll know that I don’t see him as simply my ward…or my friend. I see him as so, so much more already, but I need him to know that *before* we make love…not after.”
Nodding, Orophin smiled. "Then time is all you need...even if you are feeling a bit impatient at the moment...although...you have considered that even if he is free that as a Man in Lorien he doesn't have the same...rights as Elves. And after what happened with Elarin today...I suggest that you stake your claim, either as his guardian or as his mate, Haldir. Others need to know that he is *not* a slave. I am sure they will learn soon enough, but you know how rumors are around here. If you made a clear claim on him...a respectful one, unlike the way he was brought here...it would be better for him."
Haldir knew his brother was right. He’d thought about this all afternoon, but had hesitated to bring it up with Faramir, afraid that he wouldn’t *want* to be seen as his mate, even though Faramir had said they were mates in all but one manner. But until someone made it clear that Faramir was not in Lorien as anyone’s slave, he would be at risk of other incidents like the one with Elarin. Though there weren’t many Elves in Lorien as immoral and cruel as Elarin, Haldir was sure there were a few lurking within the borders of the Golden Wood. “I know, Orophin,” he sighed. “I am only afraid that would make him *feel* like property. Or that he wouldn’t wish to be tied to me in such a manner. I told him from the first day that he was free to be with anyone he wants. What if it’s not me he wants?”
Orophin sighed and set his cup back on the counter. "I swear you can be thick headed sometimes...just talk to him. Ask him. He's young, but in the world of Men he is an adult. I'm sure he can honestly answer if he wants to be your mate or your ward. Either way it would protect him and...give you both time to find out about the possibility of more. At least give it some thought...I like him and after hearing what Elarin did, I worry for him," Orophin admitted. He was much more like Haldir in mannerisms, so it was saying a lot for him to admit he liked the young Man.
“You are right, again,” Haldir said after thinking over his brother’s words carefully. “I think I at least owe it to him to ask him what he wants.” Crossing the room, he gently elbowed Orophin in the ribs as he headed toward the doorway and back to the living room. “Who’s the older, wiser brother around here anyway? Don’t get any ideas about taking over just because I’ve fallen in love. I can still hit harder…and I’m much, much meaner than you’d even think about being…”
"Ooof," Orophin gasped as Haldir elbowed him. "Hey...now...just trying to be helpful. Besides, who cooked you dinner?" he teased, grabbing the tray of cups as they started to go back into the other room.
Faramir looked up as they entered, and Orophin had to suppress a grin at the way Faramir's eyes lit up when he looked at his brother. //Oh he loves you...I've never seen someone light up like that when they looked at someone else.// He set the tray on the table next to the food. "Hope we didn't keep you waiting too long?"
Faramir shook his head though his eyes were still on Haldir. "Not at all...thank you again for inviting me."
Haldir crossed the room to stand before Faramir, smiling broadly. Offering his hand, he helped the young man to his feet and tangled their fingers together. As sparkling blue eyes gazed back at him, his heart felt lighter than it had all day, and he vowed to speak to Faramir as soon as they returned home…to at least let him choose if he wanted to be known as Haldir’s mate or not. Orophin’s words made him feel hopeful, and before he even knew what he was doing, he brought Faramir’s hand to his lips for a soft kiss as they sat down at the dining table. “Don’t worry,” he said in a stage whisper, “I think Rumil cooked tonight instead of Orophin. We’re most likely safe.”
Faramir found himself smiling at Haldir as he stood before him and offered his hand. He took it and stood, feeling his heart skip as Haldir tangled their fingers and led him toward the table. When they sat down and Haldir kissed his hand in front of his brothers like that, he felt his face color, and he smiled happily. "I'm always safe with you," he whispered.
Rumil passed a plate of rolls across the table to Orophin and grinned, and as his brother took the plate he saw the answering grin flash for a moment. "We *both* cooked," Orophin corrected as he set the plate down in front of their guests.
Haldir would have snorted at the very least if he’d heard his brother, but Faramir’s words had thoroughly undone him. “Yes, you are safe with me,” he said softly, completely forgetting about their audience. “I’m glad you know that, dear one.” He sat silently for several moments, simply staring into the blue eyes before him before he heard Orophin loudly clearing his throat. “Sorry,” he murmured, forcing himself to look away, though he didn’t release Faramir’s hand under the table. //I think it’s time to try eating with my left hand anyway.//
Faramir had felt completely lost in Haldir's eyes and for the tiniest moment felt as if he might kiss him despite their audience, but the moment was shattered when Haldir finally looked away. He was incredibly happy that Haldir hadn't released his hand. The two of them spent most of their meal eating with just one hand as their others remained tangled together just under the tablecloth. Faramir tried to think of when and how he could tell Haldir how he truly felt, and he longed for when he could *show* him. He enjoyed their meal though, talking and laughing with Haldir's brothers. Faramir realized he felt completely relaxed with Haldir's family. The teasing between the three of them made him miss Boromir a bit, but he hoped to write to him again soon, assuring him again that he was truly happy here in his new home.