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Far Beyond Mirkwood, Chapter 30

Authors: Mary A and Malinornë
Pairings: Mainly Thranduil/OFCs
Warnings: Literally dirty sex as well as some naughtiness on horseback (no animals were offended during the writing of this chapter)
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: Unexpected gifts brighten a rainy day (and night!) as the royal travel party with Mary and Mal draws nearer its ultimate destination.

~ Mal ~

I was glad that we were leaving. Eryn Mithren suddenly appeared bleak to me, its trees an ugly shade of grey or sickly yellowish green, its elves a chattering crowd that tried my patience. How could they bear to live on platforms in the trees, with no real walls and barely any roof? Why on earth had they left the comforts of their homes in Mirkwood for this outpost in the south?

The answer had seemed evident only a day before – who would not travel to the end of the world for Legolas, to be with him and to make a new elven realm where the land needed healing? Now I saw in him a young elf, a dear friend I enjoyed spending time with, but not the very reason for my existence. Although his kisses had warmed me through a night full of nature’s magic, the idea of more than that seemed a lovely fancy now, over with the night. In the light of day, the very idea of leaving Thranduil seemed ridiculous to me.

I had needed the shock of watching my Elvenking embrace Helca, my nemesis and Mary’s from Thranduil’s court in Mirkwood, to see clearly. The enchantment was broken. Jealousy had proven stronger than love, at least false love.

The sense that I had Helca to thank for not making a complete fool of myself grew on me during the early morning hours. When I saw her having breakfast with Thranduil and Legolas, I knew I had to tell her.

I approached them with confidence, surprised with myself for not feeling angry or upset in the slightest. I glanced at the king, who raised an eyebrow.

“What a beautiful morning,” I said amiably, to nobody in particular, but with an eye on Helca. “I hope that you have rested well.”

“As well as could be expected,” replied Helca with her usual chill. I did not miss her sultry glance towards Thranduil, a poorly disguised hint about who had supposedly occupied her during the night. I refused to take the bait.

“There’ll be time to rest later,” said Legolas cheerfully. “Ada and I talked all night; we had some of the most interesting and important conversations of my entire life. I wish there could be time to tell you some of it, but I guess I’ll have to leave it to him.” He shrugged. “It’s a pity you have to travel on so soon, but I will always remember the very special gift you gave me for my coronation.” He smiled shyly – and then he winked. Our eyes met as I smiled back and I felt a pang of affection, though as for a family member, not a lover.

“I will remember it too,” I told him.

“How sweet,” remarked Helca. ”The memories of mortals are a joke,” she told Thranduil. “Renk always tells me how he will keep remembrance of this or that, yet never does. I believe it must be one of the blessings the Powers bestow on the short-lived creatures.” She gave a laugh.

Then Thranduil did something that made me want to grovel at his feet. Not only did he not laugh with his graceful financial advisor, but he rose, offered me his elbow in a very gentlemanly way and then seated me beside him, very close, on the same live bench of curved tree-branch.

“Indeed, they are blessed in many ways,” he said and gazed at me with a hunger in his eyes that made me blush. “Do you not agree, Helca? Pure logic will not explain why you are so taken with your merchant friend.” Thranduil’s hand on my thigh made me imagine Helca in a similar situation with the abominable merchant. I shuddered.

She made a sour face. “He is useful to me,” she declared.

Now Thranduil laughed. “Perhaps then, my lady, we ought better discuss other things. I have received your report on the state of my finances – which is excellent as always and I thank you for your services to our people. Is there anything else we need to talk about before our ways part?”

There are many things I could say about Helca, but she has never been stupid and now she realised it was time to be serious again. “Sire, if I may have your ear a little while more, you may be interested in the expected proceeds of Renk’s investments in Aglarond and the trade in artefacts along the coast.”

I felt my cheeks heat at the mention of this trade and wondered for a second if Helca knew that her beloved was making a fortune off pink marble dildos. Thranduil chuckled.

Helca frowned. “I assure you, Majesty, that this business already makes a serious contribution to the crown.”

The king chuckled again. “Of course. You may deliver your report in full.”

I kept a straight face for the entirety of Helca’s very detailed account of Renk’s trade in ‘cult objects’ as she called them. Thranduil thanked her duly for her diligent service to him and she appeared very pleased to hear his praise.

“I want to thank you, too,” I said, and embraced her – she felt cool to the skin but was of course not made of ice, whatever her name and attitude might suggest. Her bewildered look was worth any number of humiliating comments in the past.

“Whatever for?” she asked.

“His Majesty may tell you,” I said.


“Indeed I may,” he said pointedly, in a voice dripping with honey, “if your work will continue to satisfy me as well as it has so far.” This time the joke was on her and apparently not the least bit funny.

~ Mary ~

On the day of our departure from Eryn Mithren, I stayed out of trouble by waiting in my new royal carriage. While I relaxed and stretched out on one of the soft leather seats, I looked out the window and noticed that my entourage, Elladan, Elrohir, and Feredir, were approaching. They stood together at a distance from me, and chatted.

The interior of my newest royal domain was more than fit for Middle-earth's newest princess and I savored the sensation of dwelling within a dream come true. Even if Mal had changed her mind about staying here with Legolas, I was still going to ask for a crown, or at least a title, a proper title. If I could find some time to be alone with Mal, I would ask her to think up some clever elfy title for me, without telling her why.

I stroked the lushly padded seats that were made of velvety suede leather, tinted a pale forest green, and I even bounced a little bit to test their springiness. For a moment, I pictured Thranduil's hard thighs underneath me, instead of the cushion, and it made me a little dizzy.

With a sigh, I abandoned my daydream about the king and concentrated on the interior walls. They were painted a creamy pale yellow, with the scrolled window frames and seat edges picked out in gold. There were tiny lamps above the doors on the inside and the outside. The top overhead was made of fabric, and had creases where it would be folded up to make an open carriage.

"This really was a nice surprise!" I called out the window to the twins, who did not act surprised to find me there. Elladan grinned at me as if he knew something that I had yet to learn, a really annoying habit of his, and I wondered what he was going to tell me now as he ambled closer.

"There is another surprise waiting over at the river's edge," he said, still grinning. Elrohir, who came to stand next to his brother, was covering his mouth and pretending to cough, but I could tell that he was grinning, too, by the sparkle in his eyes. Feredir was the only one of them who kept a straight face, and he appeared truly grim, and avoided my gaze.

"What is it?" I asked Elladan, not necessarily wanting to know, since I was safe in my carriage and was planning to avoid everything else until departure time.

"You mean, ‘who is it?'" Elrohir said, and he winked at me! Now I was interested. Who could have come to Eryn Mithren that I would feel surprised to see? I made a fair guess.

"Is it Gimli and the dwarves?" The twins told me that I was not even close, but assured me there was nothing to be afraid of, if I went down to the river with them. I decided it must be some elves, maybe Glorfindel and Elrond? Who would come this far to congratulate Legolas?

"His Excellency will have my head if I delay our departure," I said.

"Lord Thaladir was the one who asked us to find you for these particular surprise visitors, darling," replied Elrohir. I made a face at him and I was not convinced I cared to see anyone else, surprise or not.

Finally, Elladan, never one to allow me time to think about what he wanted me to do, opened the door and held his hand out to me. "Will I be happy to see these... um... persons?" I asked him.

With the barest tug on my hand, I was swiftly unseated and found myself standing outside of the carriage.

"You will be, eventually," Elladan replied, somewhat smugly. The look in his eyes meant that I should trust him now or face the humiliation of being told, ‘I tried to tell you, but you would not listen', by the smirkiest-faced elf in Middle Earth, at some point in the future. He took my arm into his elbow, and his brother took the other side.

"Could you at least tell me if they are elves?" I tried, while being led back to the river at a fairly fast pace. "Because if they are, then I would at least like to be covered up properly, and I left my old cloak back in the carriage." I turned my head to see over my shoulder, knowing I would see Feredir there, and I was happy to see him this time.

"Will you please run back for my cloak?" I asked him, with my nicest smile.

"You worry overmuch about your glow, darling," said Elrohir, jerking me back to face him.

"In the broad daylight, it is not very noticeable at all," added Elladan.

"I agree," added Feredir, with something almost like an emotion in the tone of his voice, and I turned my head again to look back at him. "By hiding yourself," he continued, "you but draw even more attention to the parts of your body which are visible still. You would do better to practice remaining calm, and telling the truth." It was the longest speech I had ever heard him say, and I just stared back over my shoulder at him. I had not noticed before how pretty his eyes were.

"So, they are elves?" I finally managed to say, but before Feredir could answer me, I was brought to an abrupt halt by the twins. When I turned my head forward, and saw who stood before me, my knees buckled and I nearly fainted. I would have fallen straight down if I had not been held up by the twins. Under the layers of dresses I wore, my skin was instantly drenched as I shook with fear.

"Surprise," said Elladan, softly, and he patted my hand gently.

"Eo..Eowyn! I mean Lady... Lady Eowyn!" I stammered out, and the only reason that I did not cover my neck with my hands was the death grip the twins had on my arms. They half way guided, half way forced me into a curtsey

It was her, Lady Eowyn, in the horrible flesh, standing before me as tall and straight as the sword she wore buckled to her waist, only she was more beautiful, and terrifying.

"It is certainly serendipitous to find you here, Lady Mary," Lord Faramir, who was standing there next to her, said. That did not sound good to me, whatever it meant. I braced for impact.

We were all standing at the edge of the clearing beside the river, where the horses were brought to water them, and I saw an eagle. His noble head would dip into the water as he drank, then he would lift his beak and search the skies above for a few moments, and then he would dip his head again. It was sinking in slowly; Faramir and Eowyn had come here by that eagle. Why did they come here?

The silence grew awkward, and all that time, while we stood at an impasse, Elladan had been patting my hand. He stopped now, and held my hand out to Lord Faramir, who bowed over it in his proper manner.

"They are happy to see you," Elrohir whispered in my ear.

"I can see that," I hissed back at him. "But why are they happy to see me? That's what I need to know."

"As you can see," Elrohir announced to the royal visitors, "Lady Mary is not feeling herself today, poor darling. You will have to excuse the lack of her usual exuberance." At this, Lord Faramir lifted an eyebrow in an unspoken question.

"She has been put on a diet by His Majesty's seneschal," Elladan hastily replied. "We believe this has weakened her."

Immediately, Lady Eowyn sprang to my side, but, instead of strangling me, she was bending over and hugging me with her powerful arms. "You poor wee thing," she said, as she held me like I was a little lost child. "Let us take you somewhere where you can sit and rest."

Within moments, I was seated between her and Lord Faramir, and presented with a wineskin. I was still so terrified of imminent death that I nearly retched at the sight and smell. It was hard to ignore their concern for my well-being, however, and I had to beg Lady Eowyn to stay put and not demand any answers from Thaladir.

"The seneschal won't hear a word you say, anyway," I said. "He is in such a tizzy today with keeping to the official schedule."

The twins sat down across from us, neither of them would think to turn down wine, but Feredir had disappeared. Elladan mouthed the words, ‘I told you so', but without smirking.

As it turned out, my life was not only not in danger, but I was gratefully and profusely thanked by Lady Eowyn for the improvements I had precipitated in the Waterfall Cave. I could only sit, stunned, while she told of how she had dreaded spending her upcoming nuptials in that, as she put it, ‘dreary drippy hole', and she was very pleased to learn how I had insisted on suggesting various methods of making her honeymoon destination more cozy and romantic.

"We are on our way there, after we celebrate for a time here with the new Elvenking, Legolas," Lady Eowyn said. "I want to make an inspection of the improvements made to the fortress cave thus far."

Lord Faramir had not run off to hide behind her skirts, or to confess to his sexual indiscretions with me, but instead had been busy trying to create a more comfortable wedding bower for his bride-to-be. I was so relieved that I could not stop grinning while we said our good-byes to one another.

The twins escorted me back to my carriage. From the distance I could see that the other members of the party were all in place and we would be leaving at any moment. I kept looking back over my shoulder, since it had only just that instant occurred to me that Feredir might be staying in Eryn Mithren, and I tried not to feel upset. Where could he be?

The twins left me at my carriage door and then loped off to find their horses. Thaladir was by my side almost instantly. He was close to smiling at my timeliness, and, after thanking me for not delaying the departure, he opened the door for me with a slight bow. It was the closest he came to being nice to me in many months, and I was almost happy to be leaving Eryn Mithren, until I remembered Feredir.

I sat back in my carriage seat and noticed a soft bundle on the seat opposite to mine. When I lifted it, a flowing silken length of fabric poured over my hands. It was a cloak, with a deep hood, and slits cut for my arms to fit through. It smelled like Feredir, and I knew he had left it there for me. I was almost glad to be leaving him behind. I could fall in love with an elf like that, which is never a good idea.

~ Mal ~

As soon as breakfast was finished and everything packed into the carriages – including Mary, who had spent most of the morning in hers (applauded by Thaladir) – the signal was given. We were leaving.

A fine rain began to fall as we said our farewells. It was hard to part from Ithilwen and the other Mirkwood elves who remained behind, but I found that I had accepted the fact already at her wedding. I was happy to climb into the carriage and spend some time in this cosy cocoon, listening to the rain and the muffled clatter of the horses’ feet on the damp road. Elladan and Elrohir’s merry voices were sometimes to be heard as they shouted jokes between themselves and to Mary. I was content not to join in the fun. The past days had held at least a month’s worth of emotional turmoil – what I needed now was peace, quiet and solitude.

The Anduin river was wrapped in mist, which made the ferrymen’s work even more remarkable. They took us across to Pelargir, horses, carriage and all, before Thaladir could even begin to show irritation over any violation of his meticulous travel schedule. If indeed he still kept one: the old elf had behaved much more calmly since we came to Eryn Mithren. It must have done him good to be among elves again.

The town began to appear out of the mist as ghosts of tall-masted ships that slowly exchanged their ethereal form for the rounded shapes of fishing boats. As we came closer, rows of grey boat-houses became visible on the embankment while beyond them rose buildings of stone. Most of them were only one or two storeys high and yet they marked Pelargir as a town proper, not merely a fishing village and ferry station.

We had a simple meal in the town square, at one of the many booths that dealt in smoked trout – a local delicacy of great popularity and deservedly so. The fish was truly delicious and, I noted happily, Haldir was busily procuring more of it. He put the large bundle of waxed cloth into a wooden box that was tied in place on top of Thranduil’s carriage. It looked a bit funny, but was a better alternative than making His Majesty’s makeshift throne room smell like a fishmonger’s.

Our journey continued northwards on the western side of the great river through a landscape of plains, criss-crossed with narrow brooks. Each of these made the carriage rattle and shake, a remarkable change from the even swinging over the paved road, or I might not have noticed – this kind of travel was highly sleep-inducing.

~ Mary ~

When we made our final stop for the night, somewhere in-between Eryn Mithren and Minas Tirith, and, knowing Thaladir, probably precisely half way, to the inch, I put on my new cloak for the first time. There was something special about the fabric, I could tell by the way it shimmered even in the dark interior of my carriage, and I decided to test it on the elves. If it was magic, they would know. The hood of the cloak was cowl-like, and when I pulled it up over my head, it fell in soft folds around my face, hiding everything except my eyes.

For the first time since I had landed in Middle-earth, I actually was able to sneak up on an elf, and I was not even trying, so I did not enjoy it as much as I could have. As I walked along, the mysterious cloak had wrapped itself around my body in such a way that nothing showed, yet without binding my legs or tripping me. It was remarkable. I spotted the twins first. They were gathering wood from the forest floor for the cooking fires. Elrohir bent and picked up a sizable branch right in front of me.

"Hello," I said, when he stood up straight, and the small stack of branches he had been carrying went flying into the air. He was so clearly startled that it startled me! I looked behind me to see what had frightened him so, but there was nothing to see. When I turned back, he just stared at me, and his hand reached out to pull part of the hood from my face. With a slow smile curving his lips, he tugged at the fabric and rubbed it between his fingers.

"This is truly a priceless garment," he said. "Did Aran Thranduil gift this to you?"

"Maybe," I said. "I am not really sure, but I hope to find out now. Have you seen him?"

"I am here," said the most wonderful voice in Middle-earth. When I turned to him, I pulled the hood back from my cloak to see his handsome face, but Thranduil replaced it for me. Like Elrohir, the king fingered the fabric before pulling it over my face again. "Leave it," he said. "Follow me now." He did not bother to extend his arm to me, but turned and walked off toward the carriages. I had to hurry to catch up with him.

We ended up beside his carriage after an interesting walk. Along the way we had passed Haldir, Thaladir, and Mal. Each of them acknowledged Thranduil, but when I nodded to each of them, neither of the elves had nodded back to me. It seemed that only Mal saw me, although her eyes were a bit puzzled when she looked my way. It seemed to mean something; however, I was not exactly sure what. Elves do not always react to someone familiar to them, especially if they have more important things to think about.

Thaladir quickly stood next to the carriage door, a good soldier, and opened the door for the king. Usually, Thranduil would just leap in and expect me to follow him. Tonight, he stood and crossed his arms over his chest, and nodded me in before him. There must have been something about the lamplight in the carriage that affected my cloak, which I was rapidly beginning to believe might be enchanted, because I heard audible sounds, like indrawn breaths, when I stepped inside.

The king laughed.

"Do you like your new carriage," he asked.

"What just happened?" I replied, suddenly certain he was not going to answer any questions.

"Never mind that now," the king said, drawing me closer to him. He ran his hands over me again and I could tell he liked the way it felt. It felt good to feel his hand on it from the inside, too, but I was too curious to be deterred, yet.

"I do mind it now," I said. "I know there is something magical about this cloak, what is it made out of?"

"In truth, I should not tell you, for I fear you will not feel inclined to appreciate it as much as you do at present."

"Your Majesty, you must believe me when I tell you that I would love to own an enchanted cloak, I would dearly love and very much appreciate having something magical. Mal got to drink an ent-draught and then she almost became a queen...." At that, the king's eyebrow shot up, but he made no effort to stop me, even though that eyebrow made me pause. "Well," I continued, "I don't know why you think I wouldn't appreciate it."

"Feredir gave this to you," he said.

"I knew it was him! It smells like him, somehow." The king grinned, as if he was hearing the punch line to a silent joke. I bent my head and took another smell of my cloak and said, "Or, maybe it smells like Mirkwood?"

"This mantle was made for a high-elven maid, whom Feredir pursued, to no avail. She was too proud." As the king spoke, he watched my face with interest.

"Was she very beautiful?" My voice came out an odd whisper, and I realized I had been stung with jealousy at the thought of Feredir courting an elleth. "She must have been very short, for a high elf," I added, because the cloak was not too long on me, it was perfect. I smiled to think how Feredir must have made it shorter to fit. Then I remembered something.

"It seemed to me that the elves couldn't see me out there," I said, waving my hand toward the door. "When we were walking past them, they ignored me. But when I looked at my cloak in the dark, back in my own carriage, it had a faint glow to it. I swear it did."

"Come," Thranduil said. He drew me next to the window and then put out the lamplight. The carriage was plunged into darkness. I looked down at my cloak and saw the clear flickers of a unique sheen dancing along the folds. The king opened the shutter, and pale starlight came in, for the clouds had passed. "Hold your sleeve up," he said, lifting my arm up to the window.

I was fascinated. Where the starlight hit my sleeve, there was a shadow. Where the rest of my sleeve was in the shadow of the carriage wall, there was that shimmering glow on it. It made no sense.

"It makes perfect sense," said the mind-reading Elvenking, while he lowered his face to mine. "I will tell you tomorrow," he added, right before he kissed me senseless.

~ Mal ~

The grey skies over our heads persisted all afternoon. Mild drizzle was followed by heavier drops, then a veritable cloudburst poured down over our heads and turned the ditch-banks into mud. The paved road was, however, still passable and Thaladir pressed on. Stopping too early for the night would mean less sleep in the morning. For once, Mary and I both agreed with him without questions. When we finally drew to a halt, the grey dusk was turning into starry twilight.

Alas, the change of weather was not to last! As soon as we had downed a delicious fish dinner, it began to drizzle again. The elves were not bothered by it, but I quickly took refuge in my carriage for the night. The vehicle standing still was even cosier than when it was moving, and the upholstered seat wide enough to serve as a bed bore promises of sweet dreams as well as hot embraces.

I knew I would have neither. I’d had enough of peaceful rest already and too much time with my own thoughts. Did Thranduil really want me back? What if I had ruined everything between us beyond mending? Maybe he was only holding on to me out of a sense of duty and would leave me as soon as we reached Minas Tirith. There’d likely be no lack of townspeople willing to take over an elf-king’s discarded mistress!

He wouldn’t do such a thing, would he? I needed Thranduil very much, there and then, to show me that he cared about me. I needed his body, too. The physical yearning for him was making me more miserable by the minute. If only he would send for me! I knew he would not. If my doubts were exaggerated and he would still have me, it was nevertheless Mary’s turn to spend the night with him. The unfairness of it was unbearable seeing as Elladan and Elrohir had hardly strayed from her side since they arrived.

Not even Thaladir would pay me a visit, it seemed. He was under orders from the king to keep me company on my lonely nights and I knew he had not regarded this duty a burden. Not before I had betrayed Thranduil. Now it appeared more than likely that the Elvenking’s seneschal wouldn’t have me either.

I bewailed my bitter fate feeling terribly sorry for myself. I was all alone in this depressing world, and increasingly uncomfortable. It was the Elvenking’s fault – it was he who had spoiled me so thoroughly I could hardly spend a night without male company. Now it looked like I was going to face two such nights of misery in a row.

I stared through the window out into the darkness. Nothing. I felt the burning ache in my eyes that is the signal of tears and tried to blink them away. Then a shadow passed on the other side of the glass. A gentle knock was heard and then the door opened slightly.

“Something amiss, my lady?”

If only it had been Thaladir – he would understand me, see what I needed and amend the situation swiftly and without embarrassing questions. But Haldir! I didn’t want him to see me like this. He would think me foolish, on top of his not being very attracted to mortal women in the first place. Yet I did not want to be alone again and lying to an elf is never a good idea.

I nodded.

He opened the door a little more and arched an eyebrow.

“Come inside,” I said.

He leapt through the opening with ease and soundlessly closed the door behind him. I shifted to make room for him by my side. His cloak was damp and he smelled fresh with rain. I should have invited him to take it off, but was afraid to seem too forward. The humiliation of having him decline staying with me would be even harder to suffer than the physical discomfort of unresolved sexual need. I would rather state clearly that no offer to stay would be given.

Instead, I remained silent.

So did he.

After a while the silence became annoying, but I was also beginning to feel somewhat happier. Unfortunately, my desires were just as bad. “Thank you, Haldir,” I said. “I shouldn’t keep you, I know you must be on guard duty.”

“Not at all,” he replied seriously. “Elrohir relieved me before I came here. Do tell me if there is something else I can do for you.” He paused. “Anything.”

I almost told him. I opened my mouth and was going to embarrass myself horribly by saying what I wanted him to do with me.

Then his warm mouth closed on mine, and a second later it was gone. The gleam in Haldir’s eye intrigued me, but still I dared not hope too much for a continuation. Shaken, I stuttered, “Would you... get Thaladir... please.”

“If that is your wish, my lady, although perchance I could carry out the service you desire from the old elf just as well as he.”

That elf knew precisely how to make me mad with lust beyond reason.

“Haldir...” I pleaded, not certain for what.

“I am here.” If there was a hint of a smirk on his lips it was gone before I could register it.

“Will you...” I couldn’t make myself pronounce the rest: ‘will-you-please-take-me-hard-and-fast-and-now-now-now!’ Instead I placed his hand on my chest – and nearly swooned from the sensation when he ran his fingertips over my aching nipples. “Kiss me,” I pleaded.

He complied, filling me again with impossible heat as he enclosed me in a hard embrace. I lost all inhibitions. I fisted his hair. I raked my nails over his back and tore at his damp cloak. I would have pulled him over me on the carriage seat had I been strong enough. All this he endured and I could tell that his own desire was thoroughly ignited as well.

“Do anything you want,” I moaned when I felt him press against my thigh, “and don’t be gentle. Please!”

“Come outside, then,” he said in a low voice as he disentangled himself from my embrace. Now I am sure he smirked.

I followed Haldir out into the darkness, sobered somewhat by the fresh air. The rain had ceased but all was wet, and where we went, in among the bushes by the brook, water was dripping from the branches.

“Wait,” he said. Then he removed his cloak and spread it on the ground. He took my hand and I lay down.

Then he proceeded to remove my clothes, and his own, all of them, not only the items necessary to accomplish our coupling. Cold raindrops fell on my skin.

“I’m wet,” I complained.

“I am delighted to hear it,” he said, smiling sweetly as he crouched by my side.

“No! It’s cold.”

“Did you not tell me not to spare you?”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it!”

Then his hot tongue began to follow the tiny trails of water. Now here, now there, in nature’s random pattern. It was excruciating. When finally he covered my shivering body with his warmth I was beyond the edge in seconds. The scent of wet leaves filled my nostrils as his well-aimed thrusts pressed us into the dampened ground. Cold rain, hot mouth, skin burning and shivering simultaneously. Haldir knew exactly what he was doing, and he did it with excellence.

Afterwards he carried me back, wrapped in the muddy cloak. The dirt did not worry him – he would take a dip in the nearest brook before putting on his clothes. That was a bit more excitement than I was willing to experience and I decided to delay my own bath the few hours remaining until dawn. I fell asleep almost as soon I got into the carriage. But first, I kissed Haldir goodnight.

I woke to a morning with grey clouds but they did not bother me anymore. Haldir had done a lot more than merely share his body to ease my physical discomfort. His careful attentions delivered with honest delight had re-established my trust in my own value as a woman. No longer did I fear that Thranduil would drive me away – had not his anger when he thought he’d lost me shown already that he cared?

As soon as the sun began to look out through the clouds I begged a ride with the Elvenking on Amarth. Simply sitting there in front of Thranduil with his body against mine made me feel so sheltered, protected and cared for that I laughed out loud.

The Elvenking chuckled, too, and took both my hands into one of his. I leaned back against his chest and we kissed for the first time in days. Gently, sweetly, then hungrily until I felt myself relax and melt into him and his kiss completely. I relished this surrender and the secure assurance that he would never let me fall. Not from his horse, nor in any figurative sense.

“Now,” he said afterwards, “I believe, you have something to tell me.”

I reluctantly woke up from my blissful state. Thranduil had kept his voice low but I could not tell if he was as serious as the tone indicated. His lips playing with my ear suggested otherwise.

“You mean Haldir?” I replied.

“That is for some other time when you can show me precisely what he did with you.”

“Then do you mean my part in the trade with the dwarves that Helca spoke of yesterday? I did tell you everything about it long ago, did I not?”

“The trade in ‘artefacts’ is not what I had in mind. Thaladir informed me already of every detail of it – including those you did not mention – an amusing and quite stimulating tale.” He paused before whispering in my ear: “Is it true that you kept something for yourself as a memory of the experience?”

“Absolutely not!” As pleased as I was with his interest, I was still somewhat embarrassed over my diplomatic mission in Aglarond.

“What a pity.” He made an audible sigh and then his hand began a slow travel down my inner thigh. “I have at times felt inclined to try it for myself as my seneschal reported some highly interesting observations of your reactions.”

I chuckled. “You know I would never refuse you, but I can safely promise that my reactions to your natural self will always be more gratifying than anything achieved by artificial means.”

My words were quickly put to the test as his fingered pressed at the junction of my thighs. The strong feelings that overwhelmed me surprised me just as much as the sense of loss when he removed his touch.

“Really?” He touched me again with the same result. “Then you are no longer ‘in love’ with my son?”

“Please, please will you take me back?” The folly of my adventure with Legolas had become more evident the more I had thought about it.

“Indeed,” Thranduil said drily, “Helca spoke truly of the faulty memory of mortals. I have never left you – you have the same place in my bed as always.”

His statement made me happy, but it was not what I had longed to hear. “Only in your bed, my liege?”

“In my thoughts as well and in my soul, my heart if you must. Only remember that it is different with elves.”

“I will never forget that, Thranduil. I promised when I met you that I would be content with the love you could give me. I will not ask the impossible, only that you forgive me.”

“I will consider it.” He stated it blankly and it shocked me. Had I misjudged him so?

“Consider, Your Majesty?”

“You heard me correctly. I am much too fond of hearing you beg to let you off the hook so easily.” I turned my head just in time to see him wink. “I wish not to delay our travel, or you could begin forthwith, but the Citadel of Minas Tirith has good beds. And thick walls.” He touched me again and chuckled when I squirmed against him.

“I love you,” I said.

“I know.”

~*~ From Thaladir's Notebook ~*~

Status of daily schedule: Accomplished

Remarks: His Majesty’s departure from Eryn Mithren, however regrettable the necessity of onward travel, was effectuated in a most timely manner, hence sound reason to expect our likewise timely arrival in the Guarded City. Furthermore, both of His Majesty’s mortal ladies are in a high mood at this crucial part of our journey, which bears witness of his excellent skills in caring for their respective needs. Long live Eryn Lasgalen!

To be continued...

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Chapter posted: February 28, 2010

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