Warm and comfortable in bed, Lindir was feeling very content. Fluffy blankets were piled all over him and it was barely dawn, so he had no intention of moving for at least another couple of hours.
Unfortunately, the other occupant of the bed had other ideas.
Lindir made a noise of protest as the blankets were thrown back, letting cold air into his previously warm and cosy cocoon. Forcing his eyes open, he was just in time to see Rúmil pulling the drapes back, letting in the pale dawn light.
A moment later, the Lórien Elf’s shoulders slumped in disappointment.
Trying not to laugh, Lindir called out. “Rúmil… it is too early. Come back to bed…” He shook his head in amusement – it was Rúmil’s first time out of Lothlórien and he was excited about many things – though there was one thing in particular he was desperate to see.
“Still no snow,” he sighed, flopping back onto the bed and pulling the covers over them again.
“I am sure it will snow before your time here ends,” Lindir said reassuringly. “I do not recall a year when it did not.” Rolling over, he curled up to his lover. “Though next time you throw the drapes open like that – I would advise putting a robe or leggings on first.”
Realising he had been quite naked when standing at the window, Rúmil blushed. It was fortunate that the early hour meant that that no one had seen him in all his glory – except Lindir.
“I did not mind,” Lindir chuckled. “I just do not want to share you!”
“I do not want to be shared either,” Rúmil replied, still red-cheeked. He snuggled a little closer to Lindir, remembering that snow or not, he was still glad to be here.
Lindir was glad as well. He remembered the first time they met – his first visit to Lothlórien, at Yuletide one hundred years ago. It had been the first time he had been away for Yule and he had feared the season would be spent alone, but then he had met Rúmil, who befriended him, inviting him to spend the day with his family. So he had gone and, somewhat to his surprise, had enjoyed himself greatly. Not long after that, they realised that their feelings went deeper than friendship. It had been the start of a long and sometimes difficult relationship, each struggling with being so far apart from the other.
Eventually Rúmil had declared that enough was enough. Requesting leave from his duties, he had applied himself to passing the rigorous tests required to become part of the diplomatic company that often travelled to many places outside Lothlórien – including Imladris. A decade ago, he had finally been accepted and now at last he was here, on his first trip outside the Golden Wood.
Though several centuries away from his childhood, the world outside the woods was so fascinating and incredibly different that the childlike wonder he found in it all could not be suppressed. Lindir found it charming, though he tried not to point it out, knowing Rúmil would be embarrassed by his behaviour if he knew. Worse still, he might stop and Lindir refused to spoil his fun, preferring instead to go along with and enjoy it.
In this way, the days passed in a cheerful blur. Many of Lindir’s mornings were taken up with practicing for the Yuletide concert, but Rúmil was content to sit and listen, so it was a far more enjoyable rehearsal than usual.
The afternoons were left free for whatever they wished to do and Lindir delighted in showing Rúmil the wonders of Imladris. It was all new to him, from the sloping vales and crashing waterfalls, to the foods eaten and the traditions of the season. In sharing these things with Rúmil, Lindir discovered a new appreciation for them as well, things he had long since taken for granted becoming special again.
Evenings and nights were spent alone, holding, loving and finally sleeping. Each moment was treasured and even in slumber, they remained close.
Yule Day dawned bright and cold and for once, Lindir woke before his lover. Stretching in bed, he shivered slightly at the cold air. There was a chill in the air that had not been there the day before and, with a smile, Lindir realised why. Rolling over, he put his lips to Rúmil’s ear. “Rúmil… wake up.”
Ever a light sleeper, Rúmil blinked, waking easily and looking at his lover in confusion, for Lindir rarely woke him. “Good morning… are you well? You are awake early…”
Lindir chuckled. “Look out of the window…” He grinned at Rúmil and the Lórien Elf suddenly realised what he meant. Barely pausing to grab a robe, he rushed to the window and threw open the drapes. What he saw made him gasp with amazement before falling silent.
Everything was white. The paths were indistinguishable under the blanket of snow and the wooden roofs were completely covered. The bare branches of the trees all held a light covering and the window opened slowly as snow was pushed off the ledge.
Breathing in the crisp, clean air, Rúmil looked on in wonder. Reaching out, he touched it carefully, almost surprised by how soft it was.
“This is amazing, I have never seen anything like it!” He turned to Lindir in wonder. “It is beautiful…”
Laughing, Lindir gave Rúmil a quick kiss, before pushing clothes into his arms. “Get dressed and we will go outside before the real Elflings wake up!”
Rúmil rolled his eyes at the jibe, but did not bother to respond. He was excited after all - it was hardly his fault that, at five hundred years old, he had never seen the wonder that was snow.
As soon as they were dressed, Lindir led them outside. The air was still chilled though the sky was clear – it felt clean and refreshing. Rúmil walked carefully over the soft whiteness, not wanting to spoil the scene.
Until the first snowball hit him.
Gasping as cold snow slid down his neck, he turned to find Lindir grinning at him.
“Lindir! That was cold!” he protested. When it was sliding down your neck, snow was suddenly rather less beautiful.
“Wimp,” Lindir teased, bending down to scoop some more snow into his hands.
“I am *not* a wimp,” Rúmil huffed, watching carefully as the minstrel formed the snow in his hands.
Laughing, Lindir threw the snowball. “Prove it!”
Managing to dodge that one, Rúmil took up the challenge. Scooping up a snowball of his own, he hurled it at Lindir.
The minstrel moved, but not quite quickly enough and the snowball caught him on the arm. He retaliated immediately and before long a snowball fight was in full swing, the Elves’ laughter echoing throughout the gardens.
The cheerful sounds woke others nearby and, while some might have been annoyed at having their sleep disturbed, most were happy to join the couple and by mid-morning the gardens were filled with laughing, happy Elves. Rúmil found himself caught up in a friendly battle, himself and Lindir aided by several others as they hurled snowballs at Elrond’s sons and their friends, though neither side ever decided who won.
At last the games came to an end and the cheerful, but cold and wet, Elves were ushered into the Great Hall. Curling up on a large, comfortable sofa, Rúmil pulled Lindir into his arms, kissing him enthusiastically. His eyes were bright and he could hardly stop smiling. “Happy Yule, love.”
“It is indeed!” Lindir agreed. “I am glad you were able to come here at last.”
“As am I… I hope it is the first of many!” He was sure it would be, because he knew he would do whatever was necessary to be with Lindir each year. He had let too many years slip by and would not do so again.
A mug of warm, spiced wine was pressed into his hands and he sipped it gratefully. As the wine began to warm his chilled body, Lindir started to sing, his voice filling the room with a Yuletide carol. Outside, the snow began to fall once again.