A Conspiracy of Flowers

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'A Conspiracy of Flowers'

 

A Conspiracy of Flowers

 

"Great big pods, bigger than an elf, yes. And they just … swallow you up. Blink and you're gone. Tha’s… that’s wha’ happened to Ristorchammad. Hammadristor. Whatever - damn stupid name. Anyhow. Went for a walk an’ just… never made it back."

 

Erestor rolled his eyes. "Shouldn't someone get Gildor off to bed, or at least stop filling his glass? Those stories get wilder by the minute. It's embarrassing really.  At his age he should be an example for young elves to look up to, or… something."

 

Elrond sighed. "Helping him off to bed might be for the best, yes.  Elladan, perhaps you could…"

 

"Not me," Elladan said at once. "I'm not going within an arm’s length of him when he's drunk."

 

His father gave him a puzzled look. Erestor, who had heard the stories and could tell a few of his own, suppressed a grin.

 

"Bad case of wandering hands," Elladan explained. "Doesn't care who or what it is - give him enough to drink and he starts groping."

 

"I hardly think he'll confuse you for your sister," his father said dryly. "You should be quite safe."

 

"I don't think Gildor really minds if it’s in a skirt or pants, Elrond," Erestor suggested, picking his words carefully. Maglor and Maedhros had been so aware of raising their purloined twins in an armed camp that they had been a bit over protective. This meant Elrond was startlingly naïve about some things. He sat blinking now until comprehension dawned, at which point his face took on a quite scandalized aspect.

 

"Good grief! Well, we'll have none of that around here. The Mighty alone know what Celebrían would think."

 

Celebrían had received an extremely liberal upbringing from parents who were pretty much shock-proof. Erestor suspected she spent a good deal of her marriage shielding her husband from life's more unsettling realities.

 

"And they watch us," Gildor proclaimed, his voice rising. He lay sprawled in his chair, his jerkin partly undone and was waving his goblet in the air. "You don't think they do, but I've seen it. Great huge things, pretending to be flowers, picking up all our conversations and repeating them to that lot over the sea. How do you think They always know what's going on here? Spying, I tell you. SPYING!"

 

"No, this really has gone far enough," Elrond snapped. He beckoned to a couple of off duty warriors. "You two. Escort our guest to his room, would you please. Right now, look sharp. And – and make sure he keeps his hands to himself."

 

Gildor was in no mood to go to bed and had to be helped quite firmly from the chair, then grasped resolutely by the arms and led off. As he reached the door to the Hall of Fire he twisted to look back over his shoulder and shout, "Spying! You go and see for yourselves. The truth is out there, just you're all too blind…"

 

Elladan nodded. "Yes, the truth is out there. Right. That's all I need in my life, talking flowers. Rohir could add them to his butterfly collection though, I suppose."

 

~*~*~*~*~ 

 

"If we go down here we should come out near the stream. Nice and private. Just watch out for the brambles…"

 

It was a few days later, and Erestor and Elladan were looking for a secluded spot for -- rather obvious reasons, given Elrond's likely reaction to his son and his senior advisor getting down, dirty and naked together. This time they chose a thickly-forested and usually deserted slope on the east side of the valley and struck out from the path, hoping to find an open space. Which eventually they did.

 

It had been almost two weeks since they were last able to sneak off together during the day. Almost oblivious to their surroundings, they sank onto the grass kissing passionately. Clothing came off and was discarded where it fell; they were used to hurrying things along for fear of discovery, and even the peace of the little glade with its sheltering trees and clumps of bright flowers failed to slow them down.

 

Elladan had taken his pleasure first, and he now lay on his back with his legs up around Erestor's shoulders, his hands resting loosely on the councillor's forearms while Erestor thrust into him at a good, steady pace, intent on making the road to bliss last as long as possible. Temporarily sated, Elladan had time to look around at the soft grass, the way the trees seemingly huddled together, the strange, bright flowers, quite unlike any he had ever seen before.

 

He let go of Erestor and rubbed his eyes. Was he imagining it, or were the flowers - moving? And yet there wasn't so much as a breath of wind here. He noticed there were no birds calling either, the only sounds were of sex, and panting, and something else --- jarringly familiar.

 

"Ery. Hey, Erestor. Wait. Wait, I said!" He punched Erestor's arm for added emphasis.

 

"What the fuck…?" Breathing hard, Erestor slowed but didn't quite stop pushing into Elladan. His long, black hair was coming loose, and he shoved it impatiently out of his face. "What's wrong, I'm almost…"

 

"Hush a minute and listen."

 

"Listen? Listen to what?" Erestor sounded outraged.

 

"Shut up!"

 

Erestor grasped Elladan’s buttocks and knelt up, drawing him higher and closer. They stayed like this with Erestor still moving shallowly in and out while they listened.

 

"…oh my fuck, it's your father! Where…?"  Instead of trying to pull out of Elladan, the normally quick-witted councillor froze. Elrond had a distinctive voice and both of them could hear it now, although it was very soft and the quality seemed – strange, as though it was coming through a pipe.

 

When they heard Celebrían say, "Yes, I'll ask Mother about that, dear. More tea?" there was no longer any need for Erestor to withdraw. His prick shrunk in on itself as though attempting to hide and slid out of Elladan with a sad, wet little sound.

 

"What the…?"  

 

Erestor moved off of his lover and they slowly sat up, turning towards the other side of the glade, which was where the voices seemed to be coming from. The flower heads were moving back and forth as though nodding, and the sound of tea being poured was coming from right in their midst.

 

They stared at one another, blankness slowly edging towards horror. "That's - that's impossible," Elladan breathed. "What, how…?" Elrond’s heir was the latest in a line of warrior princes, and his immediate instinct was to crawl over there and investigate. Erestor, older and wiser, grabbed hold of his arm and dragged him back.

 

"Are you out of your fucking mind?" he hissed. "This is it, this is exactly what Gildor keeps talking about, and no one ever believes him. The Valar, creating special plants to carry tales back to Them. It's as though… something is relaying everything your parents say to those flowers there, and they - they must be passing it all on to someone in Valinor."

 

Elladan looked a little ill. "Ery, there's a pot plant in Father's study that looks a bit like one of those big blue ones with the frilly leaves."

 

Erestor nodded, his mind finally starting to work again. “Dan, have you any idea where the plant came from? Was it a gift, or…?”

 

Silence. “Um, I think Círdan gave it to him.”

 

“Ah. Right.”

 

“He wouldn’t - would he?” Elladan asked softly, reached out to tidy Erestor’s hair back from his face.

 

“He always had a good working relationship with Ulmo,” Erestor said dourly.

 

“And you think…” Erestor’s hair was tumbling down around his shoulders, his brown eyes were unusually dark and smouldering; under most circumstances Elladan would have found him incredibly hot, but the worried look rather ruined the effect.

 

Erestor shook his head. "I don't know what to think, but any thinking - or talking - should be done away from here. Get your clothes on, this isn’t a good place to be."

 

They dressed hastily, helping each other as best they could and saying very little. In the background, Elrond and Celebrían continued discussing plans for Círdan’s visit, for Celebrían to spend a couple of months with her mother once the Redhorn Pass was free of snow,  for Elrond to perhaps try wearing his hair in the new style from Lorien… It was eerie and completely unnatural. As was something else.

 

"Ery? You ready to go?"

 

"Just need to put my boots on. I can’t find…"

 

"You might want to carry them."

 

Erestor looked up sharply. "What do you mean?"

 

Elladan pointed wordlessly towards the ranked blue and yellow flowers. Erestor became aware the voices had grown fainter, and the flowers were moving their heads back and forth as though - looking for something. He grabbed his boots, stopped looking for errant hair clasps, and shot to his feet.

 

"Come on, let's get out of here. Fast."

 

~*~*~*~*~

 

"What do we tell Father?" Elladan asked as they headed back out of the woods. Erestor was in the lead; they were holding hands and moving as fast as they could without actually breaking down and running.

 

Erestor glanced over his shoulder at him. "What, you think he'd believe us? He'll just think we've also been drinking whatever Gildor chucks down his throat five nights out of seven. No, I don't think so. And how would you explain what we were doing there together in the first place? We need to keep this to ourselves for now. Trust no one. Though there’s one thing we have to do."

 

Elladan followed his thoughts easily. "Yes, I know," he said grimly. "Soon as we get back there’ll be a nasty accident, and Ada’s plant will be history."

 

“And after that we’ll go talk to Gildor,” Erestor said. “See how much he knows about those elf-eating pods when he’s sober. We need to find them before they come looking for us.”

 

~*~*~*~*~

Beta: Red Lasbelin