Title: The Prize Chapter 10/?
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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.
It was already dark when they entered their talan after leaving Rumil and Orophin’s, but Haldir was determined to broach the subject of Faramir’s protection with him before they slept. He kept remembering Orophin’s words and the way Faramir had gazed into his eyes over dinner, though he’d also prepared himself just in case Faramir decided he wanted to be seen as someone else’s mate…or leave Lorien all together. It was a very big step for Haldir, but for Faramir as well. If he were to be seen as Haldir’s mate, then all the Lorien Elves would be friendly with him, but no one would dare flirt or ask to court him. If Faramir wanted someone else, Haldir was prepared to offer that he simply could be seen as Faramir’s guardian, instead of mate, and he would have his choice of who to be with should he find himself attracted to another Elf. He hoped with all his heart, however, that Orophin was right, and that *he* was the one Faramir wanted.
Keeping a firm grip on his companion’s hand, Haldir led him over to the couch and lit a candle instead of heading toward the bedroom. “I know it’s late,” he said softly, as he gently urged Faramir to sit beside him. “I was hoping we could talk for a moment before we retired, though.”
The evening had been one of the most enjoyable Faramir could ever remember. Haldir's brothers had made him laugh and made him feel a part of their family, and Haldir had been so perfect. They had stared into one another's eyes, even fed one another a time or two, and at times it felt as if they were the only two people there. As Haldir lit a candle and led him toward the couch, Faramir quirked his eyebrow and sat down. "Is...is something wrong?" he asked, suddenly worried that he had said or done something wrong at dinner.
“No, nothing’s wrong,” Haldir assured Faramir. “In fact, everything has been so perfect since I met you…with a few exceptions, of course, none of which were your fault, that I wanted to ask you something. Before I do, however, you need to know that you are completely free to say no or think for as long as you need to before answering me, because your answer will directly affect us both.”
Faramir stared at Haldir and then nodded. "All right...but...you are worrying me a bit," he admitted softly. He couldn't imagine what Haldir wanted to discuss, and he felt himself grow a bit nervous despite Haldir saying nothing was wrong.
Haldir took a deep breath and reached up to gently twirl a lock of Faramir’s hair around his finger before he even realized what he was doing. The fingers of his other hand were still tangled with his companion’s, and he squeezed them lightly before telling himself that it was now or never. “You see, dear one, in Lorien, Men really have no rights at all. Our laws are very different from yours, which is why El…that *Elf* whose name I cannot bear to speak any more…thought he had the right to touch you. For you to be safe, and for us both to be assured that no one would dare touch you, you need to be seen as someone’s ward. Or…or mate.”
Feeling his heart skip as Haldir's finger gently toyed with his hair, Faramir felt a soft smile play on his lips. As Haldir spoke about the laws of Lorien he nodded, suspecting something like that. "You are meaning officially, aren't you?" he asked, feeling his heart pounding in his chest as he waited for Haldir to go on.
“Yes,” Haldir said softly. “So I was wondering…I know we’ve already talked about being seen together, and I still want that. But if you would possibly consider…well, I mean, if you’d want that, if you would like to …you know…but if there’s someone else that you’d rather…” His words trailed off, and he felt his face color in a blush that was very, very seldom seen on his face. “Oh, by the Valar, this is ridiculous! Faramir, would you consider officially being my…mate? Or…if you prefer, you can always be my ward. Or…Gods. When I mess something up, I *really* mess it up, don’t I? It all sounded much better in my head.”
Faramir tried to follow Haldir's words, and after a moment he found that he had to bite his lip to keep from giggling at how incredibly sweet Haldir was when he was flustered. Then as the words dawned on him he startled a bit. //He wished for me to be his mate? Officially?// Raising both his hands to hold Haldir's face between them he looked into sparkling and worried eyes. "You haven't messed anything up," he whispered. "Yes. I would be honored to be your mate...officially, Haldir. You...Gods, you have no idea how much I would love that...but...you are certain? This...this can't be an easy decision for you, we've known one another such a short time, and I know you wish to protect me but...please, tell me this isn't *just* about protecting me?"
Releasing a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, Haldir felt himself relax almost as soon as Faramir’s hand cupped his face so tenderly. “No,” he whispered. “It isn’t about just protecting you, dear one. It’s about…wanting everyone to know that I…love you. Most importantly, it’s about wanting *you* to know that I love you.”
When Haldir said the words I love you, Faramir felt his heart stumble in his chest and without thinking, he crawled into Haldir's lap. "Say that again," he whispered when Haldir looked at him oddly, he smiled. "Say you love me again," he repeated as he stared into Haldir's eyes.
This time it was Haldir who took Faramir’s face between his hands, even as his throat was suddenly dry and his stomach felt as if a million butterflies had been set free inside. But the reassuring weight of the man he loved settled firmly on his lap gave him the courage to continue, and he took another deep breath before he could manage to speak again. “I love you,” he whispered. “I think I fell in love with you when you first looked at me…or the first night when you snuggled close against me in our bed.”
Faramir smiled happily as Haldir spoke, and before he could stop himself, he pressed his lips to Haldir's gently at first, loving the way their lips felt against one another's. Drawing back and looking into Haldir's eyes, he couldn't seem to stop smiling. "I love you, too," he whispered. "I'm not quite sure when it started, but I knew at dinner the other night that I love you..." Before he could say anything else he pressed his lips to Haldir's again.
Haldir felt something warm and wonderful open up inside him as Faramir spoke. He wasn’t sure how it had happened, and he hoped with every fiber of his being that what Faramir felt wasn’t gratitude. The way the soft, perfect lips fit over his own, however, made him believe the words were true, and he completely gave himself over to the kiss. His hands moved down to wrap around Faramir’s waist and pull him closer as his lips parted, and he granted the man he loved access, deepening the kiss and feeling as if his heart were ready to fly from his chest. //He loves me? I don’t know how or why, but I swear I will thank the Valar every single day for as long as I draw breath for bringing him into my life and letting him see his way clear to love me.//
Faramir sank into Haldir's arms, so incredibly happy that finally they were sharing a *real* kiss, the way Faramir had wanted the night before. When Haldir's lips parted he was slightly surprised, he'd assumed that Haldir would wish to control their kiss and found his heart touched by the simple act of allowing *him* to control it for the moment. His tongue tentatively licked at Haldir's lips and then slowly slipped beyond smooth teeth to taste and explore his love's mouth. Haldir tasted sweeter than he could have ever dreamed, and he barely realized he had his arms and legs wrapped around Haldir's body. It felt warm and perfect being in his arms like this, tasting the Elf’s lips against his own and *knowing* that Haldir wanted him. Not the way others had wanted him in the past, but truly loving and caring for him.
Haldir’s hands moved over Faramir’s back, as if memorizing the way they fit together, just in case they never shared this again. But the softly whispered words ‘I love you’ still rang in his ears, and he sighed into the kiss, tilting his head back and letting his tongue slide alongside Faramir’s, truly wishing neither of them would have need to breathe anytime soon, because he didn’t want this, their first kiss, to ever end. Faramir tasted delicious, as Haldir knew he would, and he wondered how on all of Arda he’d been around this incredible man for over a week without sharing these kisses before tonight.
After long moments, Faramir finally had to draw away for a breath. Resting his forehead against Haldir's he dragged in a ragged breath and smiled as his fingers wove through Haldir's soft hair. "What...how do we? Umm...having a difficult time thinking after kissing you like that." He laughed softly. Finally getting his wits about him again, Faramir leaned back to look into Haldir's eyes. "How does one go about officially being someone's mate in Lorien?" he asked curiously, though he was already wishing to forego the answer in favor of kissing Haldir again.
Haldir laughed as Faramir said he was having a difficult time thinking…and knew exactly how he felt after the most perfect kiss of his life. Maneuvering them both so that Haldir was laying on his back and Faramir was laying on top of him, he locked his hands around his lover and sighed happily. “Well, we could simply tell everyone, or I could just go around calling you ‘meleth’ all day, or...we could *really* make it official and let Lord Celeborn conduct a ceremony.”
When Haldir lay back on the couch, Faramir rested his head against his chest, listening to his heart beating rapidly as his own. "Telling everyone seems an awful lot of work, though I don't mind being called 'meleth'," he said with a grin. "What sort of ceremony?" he asked curiously. If someone asked him a few weeks ago in Gondor if he thought he would be in love and planning on telling everyone around that he was going to be someone as wonderful as Haldir's mate, he would have thought them mad.
Pressing a kiss to Faramir’s temple, Haldir closed his eyes and simply enjoyed holding the man he loved. “It’s all rather formal,” he explained. “Dress robes, witnesses, music, dancing, more food than you can imagine. All we have to do is show up, exchange vows before the Valar, then relax and enjoy the first day of the rest of our lives together as one heart and one faer…or, rather, as Men know it, one soul.”
Faramir listened happily as Haldir explained and smiled as he drew back to look at him. "And you'd want that? I mean...obviously you want us to be mates since you asked, but...I mean, the ceremony? You'd want that?" he asked curiously. He didn't want Haldir to feel obligated to something so formal like that if he would prefer just telling people and that be it.
Haldir nodded at once. “I’d want that,” he said softly. “I never dreamed I would even consider it, but I would love to share that with you. Though I think all of Lorien will be surprised to see that I do, indeed, have a heart, I want them to know without the slightest doubt that it belongs to you and only you. Do…you want a ceremony as well, or would you rather we simply tell everyone?”
Faramir smiled and nodded. "I do want a ceremony, I just wanted to make sure that you did," he whispered. "I imagine your brothers will be surprised...oh Gods, I need to write to Boromir," he said with his eyes wide. "He will be shocked to say the least." Leaning back down, Faramir kissed Haldir tenderly, nipping his lower lip gently before he drew away again. "You've made me incredibly happy...the happiest I've been in years, in fact."
“I intend to make you happy forever,” Haldir whispered, licking his lip where Faramir’s teeth had gently grazed over it. “I was so afraid that you’d want to simply be my ward, and leave it at that.” Burying his face against Faramir’s neck, Haldir took a deep breath and smiled. “Gods, Faramir, I love you so much. And when you write your brother, I hope you will tell him that he needn’t worry about you ever again. I was going to suggest we meet him somewhere – either here or Minas Tirith, or somewhere between, so he knows that you truly are safe. Though, now that we’ve planned a ceremony, you could invite him to attend.”
Faramir smiled as Haldir said that he intended to make him happy forever. He didn't have a single doubt that he would. "I think that my father might have a problem with us inviting him, so we'd have to ask him secretly and then...I'm not sure how he would work out a way to come here without father finding out. Maybe...maybe I can write to him again and ask him to meet with us later? I just...I fear that if my father finds out, he'll find some way to stop us or at the least ruin it," he said softly after thinking for a few moments.
Nuzzling against Faramir’s neck, Haldir nodded and closed his eyes, breathing in the scent of the man he loved. “He won’t stop us,” he promised, “but you’re right – it might make things difficult for Boromir. We can meet with him anytime you like, though…I know you miss him already, and I have no doubt that he’s worried about you. Besides…I don’t think I want to wait, meleth. It would be weeks before he got the message and made his way here, and I want to marry you as soon as you’re ready.”
"I'm ready now, so I guess as soon as we can arrange it?" Faramir asked, smiling happily. It seemed awfully soon, he supposed, he had only known Haldir a week, but he was certain of how he felt. No one had ever made him feel this way, and he knew that how he felt about Haldir would never change...well, perhaps it would, but only by growing stronger. "You don't think it is too soon, do you? I...I know how I feel and that my feelings won't change if we made things official tomorrow or a year from now, but...you are sure? I...I know I'm not exactly a, well...I'm not really worthy of being your mate seeing that I'm a Man, and I came here as...even less than that. I know you love me and care about me...but...I just want you to be absolutely sure."
Haldir rolled over on the couch until they were lying side by side. “Faramir,” he said softly, letting one hand rest on his lover’s cheek as his thumb trailed lightly over his full bottom lip, “you came here by the grace of the Valar to be the love of my life. No matter how your journey started, this is how it ends…with you and I, together, in love and happy beyond our wildest dreams. I am sure of my love for you, pen velui, but in my heart I know that it is I who am not worthy of you. So it is you who must be sure…sure that this is what you want, sure that you aren’t mistaking love for gratitude or trying to repay me for doing…or not doing…what you expected when you were brought to Lorien.”
Faramir shook his head as Haldir spoke. "I am sure of how I feel about you. There were times, the first few days that I thought I should offer myself to you, that I should 'thank you' in the only way I knew how, but you didn't want that. I have to say a part of me felt...rejected at first. Here you were the first person I'd been 'given' to that I really *wanted* to be with that way, and you didn't want me!" he said, laughing softly. "Then...tonight when I spoke to Rumil, I realized that you might care for me, might love me as much as I love you, and you did want me...but didn't want me to assume why you did. You wanted me to choose someone myself, someone *I* wanted and not who I felt obligated to choose...and I have."
Letting his fingers card though Faramir’s hair, Haldir pressed his lips against his love’s in a soft kiss before pulling away. “I wanted you from the moment I laid eyes on you,” he confessed. “You’re right…I wanted you to choose. And, Gods, I cannot tell you how happy I am that you’ve chosen me.” Pulling Faramir close against him, Haldir held him tightly and closed his eyes. “I love you, dear one…so, so very much.”
Smiling as Haldir pulled him closer, Faramir snuggled against him. "And I love you," Faramir whispered in return. He leaned up and pressed a soft kiss against Haldir's lips and smiled. "You have no idea how much my life has changed for the better since I came here. I know you find it hard to believe what I was forced to do before...but I hope that you understand that what I had to do was *never* who I was...I...I didn't even realize that until tonight myself. Rumil...made me see that," he said softly.
“Oh, love,” Haldir whispered, “I have never, *ever* thought that was who you were. I hope you know that. The first time I laid eyes on you, I thought of you as the most beautiful, breathtaking Man I had ever laid eyes on…and since then I have come to know the goodness that lies in your heart, despite everything you’ve been though in your short life. Despite what you might think, meleth, you have an innocence about you that makes me love you all the more.”
Faramir frowned when Haldir said he had an innocence about him. He'd said that before to him, and it always puzzled him He wished he were innocent. He wished that he could give Haldir the one thing that had been taken from him by his own father's orders. He swallowed hard at the thought and shook his head. "I still am not quite sure I understand what you mean, but I'll take your word for it." He grinned and leaned his head against Haldir's shoulder. "I suppose we both see things in one another that we don't really see in ourselves. I know you don't see yourself as kind and generous, but you are."
Haldir laughed softly and shook his head. “No, I don’t see that in me at all,” he agreed. “I just see myself as trying to make the Man who has stolen my heart happy…that’s all.” Pressing his finger to Faramir’s lips before he could speak, Haldir sat up and pulled his lover into his lap. “Do you think my soon-to-be-husband would allow me to carry him to bed and kiss him a few thousand more times before he fell asleep, or do you think I’m pushing too far?”
When Haldir pressed his finger to his lips, Faramir smiled and wrapped his arms around Haldir's neck as he pulled him into his lap. "I don't think you would be pushing too far at all...I love your kisses." Faramir held tight to Haldir, and he kissed his cheek tenderly. "I can't believe you asked me this tonight...Gods, I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep, to be honest."
Gathering Faramir close, Haldir nibbled lightly at his neck as he stood up and headed toward their bedroom. “I’m not sure I can, either.” He laughed. “But if we find ourselves unable to close our eyes, at least we can get up early and speak to Lord Celeborn. Though…I must confess, I don’t think he’ll be surprised. I already told him I was in love with you. And I might have mentioned it to Lady Galadriel as well.” Gently laying Faramir back on their bed, he felt another rare blush color his face and neck. “And the guard outside their talan. And…well, maybe a few other Elves as well…”
Loving how powerful his future husband was, Faramir simply wrapped both his arms and legs around him and snuggled against Haldir as he carried him to their bed. Drawing back to look into Haldir's eyes, Faramir laughed with his shock. "You told...told people? I...really?" he asked, laughing softly. "You amaze me, love." He watched his love as he lay down next to him, and Faramir reached out to trail his fingers over Haldir's cheek. "You really do amaze me with your strength, your beauty, your grace, and your heart."
Haldir smiled and simply enjoyed looking at the man he loved, marveling at each smile that touched his lips and each sparkle in his eyes that shone even in the dim moonlight. “I just couldn’t keep it to myself,” he said softly. “You amaze me as well, meleth. Every single thing about you.” Pressing his lips to his lover’s once again, they shared another deep kiss, and Haldir pulled Faramir on top of him. He wanted Faramir in every way, but could still sense a single thread of nervousness somewhere deep inside him. Faramir would decide where, if anywhere, their kisses led, and Haldir realized that if all they could share on this night was more of these sweet, perfect kisses; he was more than happy with that.
Faramir felt completely lost in Haldir's kiss and before he could even think, his love had pulled him to lie atop him. He found himself unable to stop kissing Haldir, and after long moments he drew away only to nuzzle against Haldir's neck. He was happier than he ever remembered being, and his heart was pounding heavily in his chest. He wanted Haldir to take him, to show him exactly how he felt about him, but part of him wished to hold back. Wished to wait until they truly were bound, if only to have their first time together be absolutely pure. That was a regret he did have, that he couldn't give his future husband the gift of his virginity, but maybe it would mean more after they were bound. But what if Haldir didn't wish to wait? He could never deny him anything. Nervously, his fingers trailed over the lacing of Haldir's tunic as he gazed into sparkling blue eyes.
Haldir smiled up at his lover as he licked his lips, which were already red and swollen from their kisses. He could feel Faramir’s length pressed against his hip, and his own strained against the fabric of his breeches. The doubt in the blue eyes above him, however, kept him perfectly still, resisting the urge to shift his hips against the Man he loved. “What are you thinking?” he whispered.
"It's silly," Faramir said after a moment of awkward silence. He wasn't sure if Haldir would laugh at him or simply smile and think him very naive.
“No, it isn’t,” Haldir said softly. “Please…tell me. I can feel you holding back, and there’s no need. I swear I won’t think it’s silly.” His hands clasped behind Faramir’s back, and he looked encouragingly up at him. “Please?”
Faramir smiled and took a deep breath as Haldir coaxed him to tell him what he'd been thinking about. "I...I just don't know how to say it. I...I love you, and I want you...Gods, I want you very much...but," his words trailed off as he tried to think of how to explain himself. "But...I...would you be horribly disappointed if we waited...to...to um, well...be intimate until after the ceremony? I know it seems really silly after the life I've led before coming here, but...it is the only thing pure I can hold onto. I can't give you my virginity as I would like, and...I...oh, it is silly. I shouldn't have said anything." Faramir's words had run together as he'd spoken quickly, and his face was bright red as he buried it against Haldir's neck, feeling foolish.
Haldir’s eyes filled with tears at Faramir’s words, and he tightened his embrace. “It isn’t silly at all,” he said softly between kisses against the warm skin of his lover’s neck. “It’s romantic and beautiful, and I think it’s a lovely idea. I want you, meleth, like I’ve never wanted anyone before in my life. But just knowing that the first time we make love, it will be as a married couple, makes it all the more special. Though please know that I think you are the most pure, innocent, and perfect being to ever walk the face of Arda just as you are this moment.”
Faramir closed his eyes and snuggled closer to Haldir as he said that he thought it was a lovely idea. "I don't know how you can know about my past and say such things...but I love you all the more for it," he whispered softly. In truth he did want Haldir very much at the moment, and he could feel that Haldir wanted him. Their arousals had been trapped between them this whole time. But it just seemed important to him to wait. Maybe...maybe even to prove to himself that just like Rumil said, he wasn't a whore. "Plus, this gives us even more reason to make sure we wed quickly," he said teasingly as he drew back to look into Haldir's eyes, surprised at seeing tears there.
Haldir leaned up and nibbled at Faramir’s bottom lip as he laughed. “Have I mentioned that you have the best ideas of anyone I’ve ever known?” Slowly rolling them back over until they were laying side by side once again, he let his hands move underneath his lover’s tunic. “Gods, I can’t wait to marry you and kiss you from head to toe and back again. For tonight, however, how about if we remove these pesky tunics so I can feel your skin against mine?”
Faramir laughed and arched into Haldir's touch, unable to help himself. The feeling of his love's strong hands moving against his skin like that was more than they'd ever done, and he loved the way it felt. "Yes...I think you have some of the best ideas, too," he teased. His fingers moved against the laces of Haldir's tunic, and he realized his hands were shaking slightly. He was already having second thoughts about his idea of waiting, but he knew it would be better for him if he did.
Haldir’s fingers were shaking as well, but he finally managed to unlace his lover’s tunic and push it back from his shoulders even as his own was removed and thrown to the floor. He knew that if their breeches were removed as well, there would be no way they could hold back, so he simply slid down in the bed and pulled Faramir against him. Already, their hearts seemed to beat as one, and he lost himself in the feeling of having the man he loved so close. “Tell me more about the things that make you happy,” he said softly, trying to get both their minds off the desire that was apparent between them. “And tell me how you want our bonding ceremony to be.”
Faramir's hands roamed greedily over Haldir's chest for the first time, allowing himself to touch the Elf he so desired. He felt as if he were torturing himself, though, and after a few moments his hands stalled, and he giggled as Haldir slid down in the bed and pulled him close. "What makes me happy? I suppose you mean besides you?" he teased. So he began to tell Haldir about the things he loved and enjoyed, and they discussed how the ceremony would be. He wished to keep it simple, and since he really knew no one except Haldir and his brothers, he hoped to keep it limited to just them if they could.
True to their words, neither Man nor Elf slept that night, and when the first rays of sunlight streamed through the window above their bed, they were still whispering and making plans between countless, perfect kisses. Neither of them felt sleep-deprived, however, and as they slipped quietly from their talan to speak with Lord Celeborn, most of Lorien was still asleep. Haldir and Faramir, however, didn’t even notice.