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Far Beyond Mirkwood, Chapter 3/?

Authors: Mary A and Malinornë
Pairings: Mainly Thranduil/OFCs
Warnings: Adult sexual situations, naked wet elves, naughty naked elves, naughty naked wet elves, and some threesome sex.
Disclaimer: This is a work of amateur fanfiction of the parody type and is meant solely for entertainment purposes, no profit is made.
Chapter summary: Mary and Mal enjoy their first day on the road to Rohan. When they reach their destination, the king has some surprises in store for both of them. Haldir and Thaladir are helpful.

~ Mary ~

Not long after lunch, we finally were able to leave Lorien completely behind us. The mellyrn had long since given way to other trees, such as tall fir and pine, as well as oak, birch, cedar, and beech, and then there were no more trees after we arrived at what I assumed was the very edge of the famous plains of Rohan. There was nothing ahead of us for miles and miles, in all directions, except for rolling hills covered with grass and sometimes a shrub or two.

The sky was an enormous blue bowl overhead, with fleecy clouds that made it look even bluer. There were birds, flocks of tiny ones, or single large ones like hawks or eagles, and every once in a while a V-shaped formation of geese. It was a treat to see them flying.

I could not calculate how long it had been since I had such an unbroken view of the sky from the ground, without a single branch or leaf in the way, because time always seems to stand still in Lorien, so it might have been a few weeks or a few months or maybe even a whole year.

Now that we were beyond the reach and influence of Galadriel's ring, it was more obviously the autumn of the year, summer had long past and the trees were losing their leaves. The grasslands were no longer the bright green of springtime, or even the lush gold of summer, but were dull colored, nearly gray, and patchy. It had rained recently, too, and there were puddles here and there, in the lower places on the road, that the carriage horses' hooves splashed through, but the air was not chilly and there was no reason to put up the carriage tops.

The new King's road was smoother and straighter now, however, and was practically free of bumps or curves. For many leagues, it was wide enough for two carriages to ride side by side. Our carriages had no drivers, the horses merely followed the leader, so I asked Miriel to coax our horse into pulling up next to Mal and Ithilwen for a while, so we could chat.

The king's concubine had recovered from her earlier motion sickness and had color in her cheeks again. She did not take it well when I told her how Haldir had been worried about her, and she turned even pinker, so I did not mention anything else about it. I was enjoying myself too much to make anyone else feel bad.

"I wonder how much longer until we reach Rohan," I said to Mal. She reminded me that all of that information was in Thaladir's itinerary, in careful detail, nearly hour by hour, except that the elves did not use hours to count time.

"Perhaps that is the problem?" she asked, with her sweet smarty pants smile. "You still don't know how to tell the time in elvish yet."

"Well," I said to her, sputtering as if I had been insulted, "of course I do." Of course, I did not, and even if I did know how to tell time in elvish, it would not have helped, since I did not have my itinerary. Mal did not have to know that.

"Get yours out then, and I will help you, it really isn't that difficult," she answered, because she knew I was lying.

"Good grief Mal, I just asked a simple question, I wasn't asking for a math lesson."

"Telling time is not math," she replied. "Or, not much, really," she added when she saw the face I made at her.

"There are numbers involved, aren't there?"

"What else do you have to do with your time?"

"Look Mal!" I shouted, pretending that I did not hear her last question, and pointed at a nearby hill. "The king is riding over that hill!" I waved at the non-existent Elvenking and then said, "Oops, you missed him," when she turned to see for herself, and then, before she could mention teaching me anything again, I said, "Don't you love it when he rides by us, and his hair is blowing back in the wind? He is dazzling, don't you think?"

What else could she do but agree with me and then I added more details about Thranduil that were equally, if not more, dazzling, than his hair. Like the way his black leggings and boots blended in so nicely with Amarth's shiny black coat, even their muscles seemed to flow as one, and other assorted niceties. When I had finally exhausted everything down to his flawless toenails, she waited for a moment before asking me again to pull out my itinerary.

"You do have one, don't you?" she added. She always had hers out, and spread open on her lap. Up until now, I thought it was just to make Thaladir happy.

"I certainly do have one," I answered as indignantly as I thought I should if I really did have one. "I am not as married to mine as you are, I guess."

The day drew on and Mal finally gave up trying to teach me how to tell time in elvish, grew sleepy, and wanted to nap, or at least close her eyes for a while. Our carriage fell back behind hers and Miriel kept me amused with the elves' version of the cat's cradle game. Only she called it 'diamonds and hearts' instead.

She took a thin ribbon from one of her braids and tied the ends together to make it into a circle, first, and then looped it over her hands in the usual way, with her thumbs out, and after pulling the threads in the normal manner, ended up with the large X in the middle, with a horizontal strand on top of it and below it, and held it out to me to make the next moves.

I could tell by her smile that Miriel was pleased when I was able to make a diamond shape, after she coached me through the steps, and then I made a few other simple shapes that I recalled from my own childhood.

After that I was hopelessly fumble-fingered compared to her, however, and mostly just watched in awe while the clever elleth made the stretched ribbon into various marvelous shapes, such as a line of trees, a castle, a swan, a dragon with wings, a heart, and a passable horse and carriage, if one did not mind square wheels on their carriage. I gave up trying to imitate her.

Then she told me a story, about an elf maid who traveled to the moon, using a series of string 'pictures' with the ribbon to illustrate. It was not a very interesting story, but the shapes she was able to make as she told it were funny and I made her tell it again, twice. Ithilwen would not let me wake up Mal to have Miriel show her, too. I thought it would be more fun that discussing what time of day it was.

~ Mal ~

The afternoon passed quickly. I was comfortable in my carriage, watching the landscape slowly passing by, and the king now and then venturing out on his horse at a run. He always returned after just a few minutes. I tried to keep my eyes on him whenever possible, turning my head in whichever direction the hammering sound of Amarth's mighty hooves came from; the sight of Thranduil riding with hair flying in the wind made me all warm inside. Whether it was he or his horse that got restless with the comparably slow pace of the rest of us, I do not know, but they both always seemed refreshed by the run.

According to my copy of Thaladir's travel scroll, we ought to arrive to the river Limlight before sundown. This river runs through the northern part of Fangorn forest, so when the sky began to change into evening shades before we had caught a glimpse of even one large tree, I became a little uneasy. Setting up camp in the plains didn't worry me; it was more an annoying feeling of being late. I had been unwell for a while earlier in the day, nothing serious at all, but I suspected that the lunch had been drawn out because of that. I hate being late. I know that the seneschal hates it even more, but the thought wasn't comforting.

When finally the gnarled shapes of giant trees became visible on the horizon I realized that I had, unwittingly, become comfortable with the idea of not sleeping on the threshold of Fangorn. Ithilwen didn't understand my hesitation at all. She was excited and only looked forward to meeting the trees and their herds. To me, the forest seemed to grow gloomier the closer we came.

I was relieved, but also surprised, when the seneschal announced that we had reached our designated camping area. It was nearly dark now, but enough light to see that we were still out in the open, with the forest quite some distance away. I took the chance to talk with Thaladir as he passed my carriage, before he would be swallowed up by organising our temporary camp. I had better approach him with some care - there was a slight wrinkle between his eyebrows already.

"Your Excellency, I am sorry that we had to make an early stop. I hope it's not because of me." I had felt fine ever since we reached the main road.

"My lady, have you not looked at your map?"

"Why, yes, Your Excellency." He looked reproachful and I added; "It is a very good map, and I study it as often as possible." That was almost true. I like knowing where I am and where I'm going.

"Then you will have noted that the road crosses the river in this spot, where passage with carriages is made possible by the existence of a shallow ford, and then follows it upstream for a small distance before reaching the perimeter of the forest proper." I had looked so much into the distance, staring at Fangorn forest, that I hadn't noticed the smell and sound of water nearby.

"Oh, thank you. Then this is where we are supposed to be?"

"Precisely, my lady. Now you will excuse me; several matters require my attention." He gave me one of those curt nods that tell that he's not unhappy, merely occupied, and walked off, peering into his notebook.

The last light of the setting sun faded rapidly, and while the few necessary preparations were being made - the carriages parked, horses released, a minimum of food items retrieved - it became dark. Very dark. Ithilwen and Miriel took upon themselves to cook, and they laughingly declined my offer of assistance.

"You do not see very well," Miriel explained. "Anarion will gather firewood." It was true that I would be of little help in looking for sticks on the ground, but at least I could have stirred the pot or so. It was one thing to do nothing obviously useful in a royal palace with a host of employed servants, but not being allowed to help out when camping outdoors made me feel in the way.

"Hey Mal, let's have a bath!" Mary suddenly stood in front of me, holding a torch in her hand, and looking excited. She was also half undressed, wearing only a shift that barely reached her knees.

"Are you crazy? It's pitch-black dark!" The idea would have been excellent if we had arrived earlier; thanks to Galadriel's grey dress I felt reasonably comfortable even after the journey, but it would have been nice to wash.

"So what?" she said. "The king is coming, too!" Oh. I suddenly realized I was happy to have something else to do than watch dinner being prepared. Besides, I wasn't going to let the two of them be alone in the water if I had a choice.

"Indeed I am," said a melodious voice from somewhere behind Mary, and a second later Thranduil appeared within the radius of her torch.

He was naked from the waist up and his skin gleamed with that irresistible coppery tone. His eyes were gleaming, too, and before I could make up my mind whether to undress by the carriage where the gown could be put away safely, or to hurry up before the king and Mary could slip away into the darkness, he picked us both up, one over each shoulder. I yelped, and Mary dropped the torch. Thranduil put it out with his boot-clad feet.

The water was only a short distance away, and he carried us there at such a pace that I at first believed he would jump right in. But, he put us down on a sandy patch, and I understood from the way my clothes mysteriously floated from my hands and disappeared into the air, that the king's seneschal was there to make sure no items would become wet or dirty from lying on the ground.

Or maybe, his real reason for being there was to steal a peek at some mortal flesh, now that we couldn't tell if he was looking the other way, for propriety's sake, or not. A river in the middle of nowhere was hardly a public place, and I would only be happy to provide some visual - or more - stimulation to this elf who worked so hard for the best of Thranduil and his kingdom. I took special care to make a full, slow, turn before stepping into the water.

My attempt at moving gracefully, worthy of a royal concubine, was thwarted by a stone that caused me to slip, and then completely ruined by the king, who scooped me up into his arms before I regained balance. He went a few steps to where the river was deeper, and, after a brief kiss, he dropped me. I landed with a splash next to Mary and from there it all deteriorated. Thranduil was in his most playful mood and took every advantage of being the only one to see properly.

~ Mary ~

Even though it seemed perpetual summer when were in Lorien, it did not seem to get as dark as early out on the road when there were no trees around to shade the sinking sun, but of course it did finally sink. Probably because I had nothing else to do besides stare at the surrounding monotonous plains, the sky became the most interesting thing in view. At least it changed.

The stars came out in the middle of the sky, directly overhead, where it was darkest, before the day's blue horizon, now tinged slightly pink, dimmed to purple. Miriel helped me identify the major players in the Middle-earth stars, and I made her tell me about Menelvagor, the Swordsman of the Sky, the hero of the elves in ancient days. That constellation would not rise until much later into the night, but I liked to hear his tale.

When Thranduil rode close enough to the carriages for me to talk to, I asked him when we were ever going to see water again. I was hoping for a chance to wash my face and hands. Although the road was paved with large, flat stones, the dying plains were dusty in places, and a fine grit had settled on all of us who sat in our carriages.

"The river Limlight is just ahead, do you see that line of brush there?" He pointed at something dark, lumpy, and shadowy that rose from the plains ahead of us.

"Is that the Fangorn forest?"

"No, the forest is further ahead, I believe they are holly trees growing along the river's edge." The reason we could only see their tops is that the river itself was cut deep into its bed, the trees grew right beside it, and the bank we rode on was elevated above them. The steep bank slowly evened out until the trees and the river were right beside us, the water sounded lovely. Thranduil rode ahead and came back when the carriages had finally slowed to a halt. He said a few words to Miriel, who left us alone, and then helped me out of the carriage.

"Are you ready for your bath?" In the gathering dark, Thranduil's smooth face had a shimmer at the edges, like the holly leaves did, of barely reflected starlight. "There is time before dinner."

Around us, voices could be heard as the elves made preparations for camping overnight. I could hear dry branches being snapped and chopped for fires. What if the elves were watching us? There did not seem to be much privacy for bathing, so I assumed the king was referring to nothing more than rinsing off my face and hands, maybe.

Thaladir was overseeing the unloading of foodstuff from the king's carriage; its open door, where he stood, revealed a glowing lamp lit interior. It was a bright rectangle in the distance. That reminded me of something more important than bathing.

"It's my night with you, right?" I asked. "Are we going to sleep in the carriage? On that great big bed?" I wondered where Mal would sleep tonight. Maybe Haldir could find her a nice holly tree to sleep in.

Instead of answering me, the king removed my dress.

"You aren't serious?" I said.

"March Warden," the king said, over his shoulder, "We will need a torch, and advise my seneschal that I will be relaxing in the river before dinner and wish not to be disturbed for the time being."

From behind me, I heard the slightest rustle of holly leaves and branches, which must have been Haldir's idea of a reply.

"He was there the whole time? Listening?" In the almost complete darkness I could still see Thranduil's dismissive shrug as he took my arm to lead me to the river. Before we had gone very far, Haldir returned with a torch, which he handed to me with a nice bow and smile, and then melted back into the shadows.

After we found Mal, I almost wished Haldir could have joined us, until we were actually in the water, where the king was more than enough elf for one mortal maid to handle.

We had no soap, so Thranduil wiped us both 'clean' with his hands, and they proved to be an adequate substitute. My skin tingled from his touch and the water felt glorious once I was used to the cooler temperature. Mal and I giggled and splashed and played with him, it was so nice after all that sitting to stretch my limbs and feel free.

In the water, it was even darker for the king kept us in an area surrounded by thick holly bushes where little starlight could reach. The water still reflected what little light did reach it and the dappled effect made Thranduil nearly invisible, even though his skin had a shimmer of its own.

Mal moved away from the two of us to swim and stretch and I used the chance to snuggle up to the king. "Do you want to fool around, majesty?" I whispered while clinging to his neck. I loved the way his lean fierce body felt against mine under the water.

"Not yet," he answered. "Dinner will be soon, and you will need some nourishment, first." Otherwise, he did not prevent me from hanging onto him, which was pleasant enough for me. Now that I was with the one person who probably knew very well that I had given my itinerary to Legolas, or at least would not care much if I even had one, I asked again.

"How many days until we get to Rohan, sire?"

"If this new road stays true, we shall probably arrive ahead of Thaladir's schedule," he replied. A big help that was. Without an itinerary, I had no idea how long we were supposed to spend exploring the Fangorn forest, first. I assumed that was high on the elves 'to do' list. It was not very appealing to me, however. I was enjoying not being surrounded by trees, for a change.

"Would you rather travel somewhere else with me for the next few days?" The king's surprising proposal was startling. I was speechless for a time and just gaped at him.

"Just me and you?" He nodded. "Alone?" He nodded again. "Really, do you mean it? I would, oh yes, I would!" I hugged him even tighter, but he pushed me away and looked at me with a serious expression. Even in the dark, his eyes shone.

"There is one condition," he warned.

Uh oh, a possible trap, I had to think fast. According to His Majesty's unwritten rule, I had to agree to this condition first, before I would learn what strings were attached. Being alone with Thranduil, all alone, was worth any possible price that I was capable of paying, so I said, "Okay! I don't care, whatever it is, I want to go with you."

"We will leave at first light," he told me, and for a minute I thought this was the condition.

"Fine with me," I said smugly.

"Mal will be joining us in my bed tonight," he added, and put a finger to my lips before I could protest. "You agreed," he reminded me, and then he said, because he knew what I was going to say to try to change his mind, "It is only fair, she will be alone for the next few days, without either of us for company."

"Okay, you win," I said, because he always wins, and that is why I love being with a king.

~ Mal ~

After some time, I felt I needed a break to recover my breath. There was no strong current and I decided to swim. Just a small distance away, I turned onto my back and floated. The elves on the shore were silent, and, except for the occasional chuckle from Mary and the king, it was as if I had been totally alone.

The darkness here was of a kind I hadn't experienced since before we came to Lórien. There were no other groups of elves in the vicinity, no settlements, no fires around us, no torches. Not even a moon. The only source of light was the cooking fire, and it spread its light only a few feet. Further away, it only added contrast, blinding my eyes and making the surrounding darkness even more impenetrable. All else I could see was a hint of a glitter on the water.

A floundering touch against my shoulder brought me out of my rest. It was probably just a fish, but it reminded me that somebody might worry if I'd stay away for too long. Something touched my shoulder again, and then came a gentle stroke to my calf and foot. Definitely not a fish. Only elves could have hands like that. I reached out and caught only air between my fingers. A second try, now below the surface, and in response to a caress to my knee, yielded nothing but water.

"Who is it?" I whispered, " keeping my voice low for no other reason than that the night was so peaceful.

"Is my name of such importance?" came the answer, just as quietly. The whisper made it hard to determine whose voice it was, except that it was male, and familiar. This time he remained still and I could touch his shoulder. In return, he put his hand on my back. It felt nice.

"Excellency?" It had to be Thaladir. Anarion was by the fire, Haldir had self-assigned guard duty, and judging from Mary's happy squeals the king was still with her.

"A title is of no consequence here," replied my companion, still holding his arm loosely around me. Another big word, and that hesitant politeness confirmed my suspicions. Apparently the seneschal had decided to answer to my unspoken invitation.

"Yes," I whispered when I felt his other hand on my belly, fingers tentatively moving upward. He then cupped my breasts, both of them, but made no further advances. Always the gentleman. It was very nice, but then I heard the king chuckle, and I knew that I needed, and wanted to return to him. He would always be my first choice, something Thaladir would understand perfectly. "Later," I told him, and swam away.

Almost as soon as I had come back to Mary and Thranduil, he said that dinner was ready. The few caresses we exchanged before that were exquisite, and made me feel sorry I had left him for even a couple of minutes, especially since it was Mary's night with him.

Ithilwen waited on the beach, and she had brought a torch, which made it considerably easier for Mary and me to dress and to walk to the fire without mishaps. Anarion handed out bowls with deliciously smelling stew, and when everyone had sat down, Ithilwen distributed goblets with fresh river water that she poured from a plain bucket. She explained merrily that the king's table doesn't have to look good to taste well, at which Thranduil chuckled good-naturedly, but I could see that the seneschal, who was sitting next to me, pursed his lips. I bet he had packed a fine pitcher somewhere and now berated either himself, or the wood-elves, for not unpacking it.

"Thaladir, Your Excellency?" I said to put his thoughts on other things. "You picked an excellent spot to stay overnight in. Thank you." I lifted my goblet in a hint of salute to him. "The water here is wonderful, both to drink and to swim in." He nodded and I suddenly noticed that his hair was completely dry. "Did you not bathe?"

"To my humble opinion, my lady, exterior purification is more efficiently carried out in daylight, wherefore I shall await Anor's coming before performing it upon my person."

"But, then, who was it that..."

"Furthermore, I have presently neither intent nor occasion to engage in licentious activities. Despite the refreshing effects of such frivolity, I find myself currently disinclined to divert my attention from the duties at hand." He was only frowning a little when he said that, and not at all while uttering 'licentious', so I didn't feel half as reprimanded as I would have before I really got to know him.

"Oh, sorry. Perhaps another time, then." I winked at him. He pretended not to notice, which was a good sign. The seneschal then finished his meal without talking to me again, not until he stood up to leave. Then he leaned close to me and spoke discreetly into my ear.

"Besides, His Majesty has informed me that he requires both of you this night. I bid you goodnight."

As he left, my eyes fell on the elf on his other side, a smirking one with damp hair. Haldir.

~ Mary ~

I could not stay upset for long over Thranduil's decision to bring Mal into his carriage with us that night. Jealously guarding 'my nights' with him did not seem as important now that the king was with us all during the day.

Back in the caves, I would often not see him for hours, especially if he was out hunting, or even for days if he was traveling on some type of royal business. As I had nothing else to do with my time there, except be envious about whatever or whoever else was demanding his attention, it was a lot easier to stay focused. It did not help matters that nearly everything else seemed more important than me.

Whenever I was apart from Mal, I missed her, and I always hoped that she missed me, but I knew for sure that she would miss our king. When she learned that we were leaving her here, well, it was not going to make her feel good.

So far, I had no clue about where Thranduil was going to take me, but I had lots of guesses. While we sat around the fire at dinner beside the glimmering Limlight, it hit me that Anborn might meet up with the royal tour while the king and I were off somewhere else. If we were traveling back to toward the east, then we might even run into him.

"Where are we going?" I finally asked the king, but in a whisper because I was not sure if he had told Mal yet, and I did not want her feelings hurt if she thought we were talking about secrets behind her back.

"Not far," he replied, and then added, as if it was helpful, "West." His eyes had a dreamy look in the campfire's light and I followed their gaze, he was looking at Mal. As soon as I saw who had his attention, she felt us staring at her and glanced our way, did a double take, and then looked worried. I waved at her and she frowned slightly. She probably thought that I was lording it over her because it was my night alone with the king, which is exactly what I would have been doing, if I did not have to share him.

"I bet Mal thinks I am making fun of her," I told Thranduil. "Can we go get her and go to bed now?" Maybe if he indulged himself first, he would be more forthcoming with details about tomorrow. Whatever made me think that was true, I cannot say, since it had never worked before... but hope springs eternal.

"An excellent idea," murmured the king, and he smiled at her, almost licking his lips. It did not bother me, I told myself, sternly. Not one bit.

"If it would make you happy," I finally said, and I thought with a quite pleasant tone, considering, "I can sleep out on the dirt tonight while you and Mal have the bed to yourselves." I began to stand up to leave, to show him that I was actually, maybe, serious. He caught me before I had barely started, grabbed me back to him in one arm, and grinned.

"That's more like it," he said, amused. He kissed me, hard, as a reward for being jealous, I guess. And he was right, as soon as I admitted it to myself, I felt better.

"Lets go get Mal," I whispered. In a way, he had issued a challenge to me, to keep his attention away from her, even if he did not want me to act on it. The trick was to keep his attention without being obvious about it, and with a mind-reading elf, that is not actually possible. But it is always fun to try.

As it turned out, Mal was not surprised that she was going to be sharing the king, someone had already informed her. But the concubine is much like the seneschal, anything out of the ordinary is a cause for concern, not celebration. She was suspicions, and she had every right to be. It was not my place, however, to tell her why she was being invited, or why I thought she was, since who knows what the king really did have in his mind.

"You don't want to sleep outdoors tonight, do you?" I asked her.

"Why do you suddenly care about my comfort?" she replied. We were both in the carriage by then, and the king was conferring with Thaladir in the doorway, his back turned to us. I felt helpless, like if someone did not stop me then I was going to blurt out the truth. I felt the urge to do something, anything, to not have to answer. So I grabbed her face in my hands and kissed her, shocking us both, which only made her more exasperated. "Why did you do that?" she gasped out. "That is exactly what the king would do!"

At first, I opened my mouth to say something back, but her words sank in, and I just stared at her, dumbfounded. It was the king who kissed her, not me, he had 'stepped in' to help me. He made me kiss her. I turned to look at him, as did Mal, we both had the same 'ah-ha' moment. The carriage door was just closing and he chuckled as he joined us.

"You asked for help," he pointed out to me, "and it worked," he said to her, and then he kissed her for real, as himself, and she did not have any more questions, or suspicions. "No more quarrels," he commanded, after he kissed me, too.

"I love it when you do stuff like that," I told him, when we were all three under the covers, naked, and he was still being more playful than lusty.

"No," he replied, shifting toward me, "you hate it. You will learn to like it, and then you will learn to love it, and then you will come to depend on it."

"Me too?" asked Mal, she was kissing his shoulder and her fine, curly hair spilled down over his chest. She finally was able to accept being a 'bridge' for our king, a sort of human transmitter for his desires, which is as close as I can come to describing it. At first, she had fought it, regarding it as fluffy-headed nonsense when I mentioned it, but now she was able to talk about the subject, when we were alone.

"My concubine has no choice in the matter," he said, tugging at one of her curls. "Even so, you will learn to love it, as well."

The king shifted again to lie flat, and we both took a shoulder, and kissed our way up to his chin. I got to his lips first, but it did not matter, Thranduil always shared his affection fairly. Our hands raced each other over his body. I loved his hard chest and flat belly, Mal did too.

"Are you saying that I had a choice?" I asked him. It was not hard to kiss Mal when we were like this, for the king's pleasure as much as for my own. Her soft lips were such a wonderful contrast to Thranduil's firm mouth, and we always giggled. But earlier, when I had grabbed her to kiss her, it was not in a friendly fashion.

"You asked for help," he repeated, and there was no more talking after that, for a while, as he arranged us in a posture new for the three of us.

Instead of having me do it, the king pleasured Mal with his mouth, a rare and delightful treat for either of us! He held her above him as he stayed flat on his back, her hands braced against the beds headboard. Despite that, he was still able to satisfy me as I rode him in much the same fashion as he rode Amarth that day, maybe a wee bit more bouncily.

Mal's back was to me, but I did not need to see her face to know she reached and went beyond the point of no return, I could tell it from the way her back muscles rippled, not to mention the noise she made. Not that I have anything to brag about, since I was being a lot noisier.

There could not have been an elf, or any other living creature, within fifty miles of that carriage, who could not tell exactly what was going on inside of it. If his mouth had been free, the king would have been laughing.

~ Mal ~

I do not know which of the two pieces of information I had just received surprised me the most: that I wouldn't be left out of Thranduil's bed for the night, or that my secret suitor in the water had been the March Warden, not the seneschal. But, the second one shocked me enough that I couldn't be happy about the first, not straight away.

For some reason, Haldir's presence always seemed to unsettle me. I desired him, but at the same time I was unwilling to let him see that. There was something in his attitude that annoyed me just as much as it enticed me, and that arrogant smirk was part of it. He was much too aware of the effect he had on me; his nose, unusually prominent for an elf, his keen grey eyes, his lean, yet muscular arms, but most of all, the natural way he simply was Haldir, proud and loyal March Warden of the Golden Wood.

But he was much too convinced that he could have me just like that. Oh, he could, the only way I could deny him would be if he was standing beside Thranduil and I would have to choose just one of them, and even then I am not sure I would have chosen the Elvenking. Not without thinking. But I had already thrown myself onto Haldir once, the first time we were alone when he came to Mirkwood, and the memory still embarrassed me. Perhaps that was why I tried to avoid him now even if I found him irresistible.

I could not help casting a last glance on him, which I immediately regretted. He was looking straight at me, in a superior but contented way as if there had been no doubt whatsoever that I would do exactly that. Then he smiled. For a moment, there was not the slightest hint of arrogance in his expression. Feeling torn, I closed my eyes and sent a thought of thanks to Thaladir for telling me I did not have to make any decisions about tonight.

When I looked up again, Haldir was engaged in a lively conversation with Anarion. I turned my head, meaning to ask Ithilwen for some more water, but instead I noticed that Thranduil, and Mary, were looking at me. The king's gaze was inscrutable, but Mary's was quite clear. She was not happy to have to share him with me. She said something to him, but whatever her intent, he continued to look at me, and now he smiled, too. I immediately wished it would be time to go to bed soon.

And it was. Mary behaved strangely at first; in the middle of a discussion she suddenly took hold of me, fiercely, and kissed me straight on the lips. It felt almost like Thranduil, and I found out that it indeed was. The odd experience was soon replaced with the real thing, His Majesty in a mood for merriment, and I quickly decided that it did not matter that I still did not fully understand his ideas about 'bridges'.

Neither did I care about Haldir, nor if perhaps Thaladir was standing outside the carriage listening and taking notes of unseemly sounds. Inside, there were only the king and his mortal ladies, only kisses and caresses, laughter and moans of pleasure. All was well, and when I finally fell asleep, entangled in a cosy nest of Elf-king and Mary, I felt well prepared for whatever the next day of travelling would bring.

~*~ From Thaladir's Notebook: ~*~

Status of daily schedule: Accomplished

Remarks: Onward journey successfully initialized, effected and, furthermore, completed, in some part owing to extraordinarily favourable road conditions, although, I dare say, not entirely without assistance from most meticulous planning. Lady Malinorne befittingly interested in said planning - however, regrettably, somewhat lacking in attention - and, not entirely surprising, nor proper, in my person. Lady Mary's behaviour has, until this time of night, been most remarkable!!! His Majesty is of late in a most generous mood: both ladies were brought to completion in a most noisy manner at the very least five times each. Long live Eryn Lasgalen!

To be continued...

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Chapter posted: November 30, 2006

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"Long live Thranduil, great Elf-king of Greenwood!"