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The King's Vineyard, Chapter 41

By: Mary A
Beta: Malinornë
Pairing: King Thranduil/OFC
Rating: R for mature sexual content
Disclaimer: I am only borrowing Tolkien's elves for story-telling purposes and am not seeking profit or glory from their use. Well, maybe glory, but certainly not profit!
Timeline: In the years following the Battle of the Five Armies in Bilbo's story and before the Ring Quest in Frodo's.
Summary: A young woman and her uncle travel north from the inland sea of Rhûn to Esgaroth seeking employment at the Elvenking's vineyard.
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Their bodies seemed to melt together under the warm water, and the friction-free sensation sometimes made it hard for Cella to tell where she began and the Elfking ended. He had hooked one arm over the edge of the carved tub to support them in the deepest part of the bath, and their natural buoyancy did the rest of the work.

Pressed against him, face to face, and torso to torso, Cella floated on top with her legs between his thighs. But she wanted more. At least, more than just his kisses, which were wonderful, or an occasional intimate caress, which was becoming increasingly frustrating.

However, before she became heated to the point of no return, Thranduil stopped kissing her. He had other ideas about bathing. Much to her displeasure, and without saying why, he lifted her off of him and climbed out of the water. Next to the tub, on a table, was a covered tray with a squat ceramic jug next to it, which he headed for.

Happy to wait as long as the Elfking did not leave the room, she let her eyes drink him in while resting her chin on the back of her folded arms. She hung on the tub's edge and the rest of her floated. His dripping wet body was a lovely view.

When Thranduil first stepped out, the bathwater cascaded nicely off of his lean frame, streaming down over the smooth skin of his legs, and then splashed onto the floor. The cleverly spaced planks of wood beneath his feet prevented any puddles from forming, and the lamplight's wavering glow illuminated him perfectly. With a sigh, Cella envied every glittering drop of water that clung stubbornly to his burnished skin.

With a comical dramatic flourish, reminiscent of the courtly Dwarves with their over-elegant bows, the Elfking lifted the tray's lid to reveal a platter covered in cheese, which was sliced in wedges and arranged in a pattern to resemble an enormous flower with many petals. There was a pile of fat berries in the center of the blossom and small red apples and velvety brown figs lined the outside. It was so pretty that Cella clapped to see it.

"I have noticed," he told her, "that you enjoy eating while you are bathing."

"That was just for breakfast," protested Cella, who did not want the Elfking to think that she was completely mad. "I was so hungry that I couldn't wait to eat, but I didn't want my bath to get cold either." She smiled at him and added, "My first bath, that is."

"I believe it is an excellent idea, no matter which bath is taken," Thranduil replied lightly.

As she watched him, feeling tickled by his efforts to amuse her, the Elfking brought the platter over and set it on the edge of the tub, along with the jug and a single wine bowl, which she supposed they would share.

"I am not very hungry," she said as he climbed back in to the bath and pulled her over to sit beside him on the carved seat inside of the tub. Cella was not thinking of the food at all when she said it. Instead of responding, he picked up a small paring knife nestled among the cheese petals and peeled and quartered a fig.

"You need to keep up your strength." The Elfking tucked a morsel of the sliced fig between her lips. The bit of fleshy fruit was so sweet that it made her mouth pucker a little at first. It was very good, and it turned out that she was hungrier than she had thought. He was always right.

After she bravely drank from the wine bowl, to wash the mouthful down, she was prompted to squeeze her face up in a sour expression and could not stop it. Her eyes watered. Thranduil chuckled but he spoke sympathetically to her.

"Have some cheese," he offered.

She took the small yellow chunk from his hand and was pleasantly surprised to find that the nutty flavor of the mellow cheese helped to cut the sour aftertaste of the wine. It was delicious.

Next came a few juicy blueberries, and she enjoyed them the most. He would tuck them between her lips and then leave his finger there, each time, a moment longer than necessary. She loved the sensation of his fingertip on her tongue. Soon she felt that she must resemble a squirrel with fattened cheeks, because she had so many berries in her mouth.

Juice ran from the corner of her mouth, which Thranduil pointed out to her with a clucking tongue. Then he licked it off of her before she could wipe it away. He let her put berries into his mouth, too, only he held onto her finger with his teeth when she tried to pull it back out from his lips.

"Ouch," she whispered. When he kissed her, she could taste the berry juice, and the wine that he had been drinking. She drank a little more of it now, too, and then nibbled on the buttery cheese afterwards to cut the tartness. Following this combination each time with a piece of fig or apple, and an occasional kiss from the king, made her feel royally fed.

"I don't want any more cheese, Sire." Cella was not near to feeling full, but she did not want to eat anything else. Or drink. He lifted his eyebrows inquisitively as he offered a berry, but she pursed her lips tight and shook her head firmly. However, she had to smile at him when he asked:

"No more berries, either?"

"I am turning all wrinkled." She held up her puckering fingertips to prove her words. "We mortals have frail bodies, Majesty." He chuckled at her words as he helped her out of the tub.

"Frail?" Thranduil quirked his mouth to one side as he swathed her in a large fluffy towel and began to rub her dry. He continued, "This particular mortal body is as frail as one of the naugrim ponies, I vow." He left her standing while he wrapped a towel around his waist.

After his words sank all the way in, Cella gasped and then glared over at the Elfking, who quickly stepped back to her side and kissed her. "Did I forget to tell you," he added, "that this 'frail' body is also much more shapely and desirable than any other body I have seen?"

"Yes, you forgot to say that." Cella pretended to pout but then she had to smile again as he slowly removed her towel and then openly admired her from head to toe. Every inch of her tingled as his eyes touched her. She wished he would take his own towel off.

"Nonetheless," Thranduil said, "it is true that your skin is delicate." As he spoke, he led her with him to the bench that was carved out of the living stone of the walls. "And I have been advised that it calls for special attention in order to keep it healthy." He sat on the bench and brought her to stand between his spread knees.

"And here I thought you knew nothing about mortals and their skin?" Although Cella had a feeling that Lothriel was responsible for imparting this information to her monarch, she enjoyed the opportunity to tease him a little bit. Her heart beat faster in anticipation of whatever the Elfking had planned for her frail body with its delicate skin.

"There is much about me that you do not know," explained Thranduil as he picked up a small round jar from the end of the bench, beside the pile of folded towels and washcloths, and uncorked it. "However, in this situation, it is true; I have not had much experience."

With two fingers, he scooped out a generous portion of a pearly substance from the jar. It looked just like smooth clabbered cream to Cella, and was milky white perhaps, but appeared golden-tinted in the lamplight.

After putting the dollop on his palm, the Elfking rubbed his hands together to warm the mysterious creamy lotion. However, despite his efforts, Cella still jumped a little from the touch of cool moistness on his fingers when he began to apply it to her, but she grew used to it. He started with her feet, bringing each one up in turn to sit on his knee in order to reach her soles, which he tickled to make her giggle.

The lotion was carefully applied to each leg as Thranduil worked his way up to Cella's torso. He turned her away from him to treat her back and bottom, and then turned her around to face him again as he finished with her arms and hands. Each separate finger was given an equal measure of attention that every other part of her had been given. She did not know what kept her standing up when he was finished.

His touch alone was always thrilling to her, but with the added slippery smoothness from the creamy lotion, this time his stroking hands had transported her past desire and all the way to bliss. Cella's very bones were humming with pleasure. His magical touch had reached that deeply within her. For several moments after he was finished, she remained standing still while she enjoyed the way that her body felt, as if it was glowing.

The Elfking lifted her hands in his, palm up, to show her that all of the water-induced wrinkles had vanished, and her fingers were soft but normal-looking, now. She rubbed them together and marveled. His gentle voice only added to the experience.

"Did you want to learn the latest tidings of the whereabouts of your uncle and the rest of the party traveling here from the vineyard?"

"Hmm?" At first, Cella was not even sure she knew what Thranduil was referring to with his question. What uncle, and from where? "Oh," she said after thinking about it. "Yes, I do want to know about him, them, are they near?" She bit her lip, ready to hear bad news.

"Not very near. They will not arrive for a few more hours," He smiled up into her eyes, and she remembered the time he had sat on a different bench and healed her legs after their long horse ride, and how she had decided to not move from where she stood, between his legs like this, to see what he would do. At that time, he had invited her to sit next to him, but not this time.

Because she did not wait to be invited, but straddled him, with her knees on either side of his thighs, and her hands draped around his neck.

"A few hours?" Cella asked innocently, as if nothing else unusual was taking place. But she removed one of her arms from his neck and slipped that hand down his chest, over his flat abdomen, and then even lower. Through the thick fabric of the towel he wore around his waist, she found and gripped the hardness she felt there.

"Will you take this off now, please?" She tugged at the towel that was all that separated her from him.

"You are not frail in spirit, either, firiel." But he sounded proud of her.

It was only a matter of a small adjustment on his part to release himself, which meant she did not have to get off of his lap first. And she did not complain about the remaining folds from the towel that were trapped beneath her thighs, mostly because she did not notice anything else besides the warm firm flesh that she held in her hand.

"What are you going to do with that?" His voice was hoarse, yet controlled. But just barely, so she grinned.

"This," she said as she lifted herself up to place him within her.

"Gil dhannen dithen nín," he whispered and then kissed her as she settled herself down upon him, sheathing him within her to the hilt.

"Aran nín," she sighed when he stood up, holding her legs wrapped around him, so that she would not hurt her bared knees on the hard stone bench. To her, it was almost like being in the water again, with the same feeling of weightlessness as she was lifted into the air.

"Don't drop me," she managed to say, even though she knew he would not.

"Have no fear," he reassured her.

She found that she was easily able to support herself by clinging to his hips with her thighs, and he had to only keep one arm to help hold her there against him, while with his other he tipped her backwards slightly and then bent himself over to reach her breasts with his mouth.

The Elfking was so strong that he was able to lift and lower her on himself with just one of his large hands cupping her bottom, but slowly, until she moaned wordlessly. She was past fearing being dropped and was rapidly moving toward ecstasy. He straightened and lifted her back up to kiss her, crushing her mouth with his as he groaned in release. She was not far behind.

Once the danger of her knees being battered against the stony surface had passed, Thranduil returned to the bench with her still attached to him. They sat quietly for a while, catching their breath. Finally Cella broke the silence.

"I think I need another bath." But she had to settle for a quicker, although delicious, sponge bath. This was fine with her, because now that she was no longer focused on satisfying her new found appetite for the Elfking, her old one had returned, and she was famished. The bits of fruit and cheese may have given her the strength for their passionate exercising, but that was about all. Her tummy growled as she stood in front of Thranduil while he wiped her clean.

"Excuse me," she murmured, wishing that she was not a mortal. He bent and kissed the growling part.

"We will have dinner in my chambers," Thranduil told her. He rose to stand next to her and draped the large towel around her again. Then, after he guided her to sit down on the bench, he put on his tunic while he continued speaking, "As soon as you are dressed, that is."

She sat and stared unabashedly at him, delighted to watch him pull his leggings on and then his boots over them. He bent to kiss her before he stepped out into the corridor, but he was not gone long before he leaned back in to speak to her. Cella figured that there must have been someone waiting outside of the door, and felt instantly embarrassed. She hoped that the thick wooden door was soundproof.

"Wait here, Lothriel will be in to help you dress." The Elfking flashed her one last dazzling smile before he turned and left her alone there, closing the door behind him.

And it was as if his presence had provided the necessary energy she needed to keep her spine straight. For as soon as he was gone, Cella slumped over sideways onto the bench. She lay there with her face pressed against the cool stone surface, dazed and happy, for several moments, until she heard the door open again.

No longer shy about her intimate relationship with their king, she sat up to greet Lothriel cheerfully. And because she was eager to return to Thranduil's side she required little help with getting her gown on, and she sat very still to have her hair brushed.

"How are the Dwarves getting along?" Cella wondered if they had done anything yet to get themselves thrown into the Elfking's dungeons. The Elleth sounded relieved to tell Cella that Legolas had taken over their care for the evening, and had a few barrels of ale brought up from the cellars and delivered right to the guest chambers.

"They have an insatiable capacity for the brew," Lothriel explained with a shake of her head. "But that is all for the good," she continued. "Fortunately they are happy to stay in their rooms for as long as we can keep their bowls filled with it."

There had been a welcome feast planned for the Dwarves, after all, but it had to be postponed. Thranduil told her this as he escorted her through the corridors to his private chambers, deep within the palace. She anticipated seeing even more luxury in her surroundings and was surprised to find that the royal areas of the underground halls were not much fancier, and in some ways more subdued, than the rest of it.

Once they were within his rooms, however, Cella could see that there was more of a grand, understated elegance within than in any other part of the cavernous palace. There were, perhaps, fewer cozy touches, such as rugs and wall hangings, but the bared stone was polished and decorated with streaks of revealed ores and natural pockets of glittering crystals.

Torches were placed to illuminate these features, and Cella was enchanted. The dining room they ate in had candles on the table, and a fireplace in the corner, and a table small enough that she could reach over and touch him without stretching, when she had to.

According to Thranduil, the road weary group of otherwise sturdy naugrim had been very impressed with their accommodations in the caves and ultimately satisfied to the point that they were not willing to leave their chambers, or their comfortable beds. At least not without a fight.

The image of the probably tipsy Dwarves standing in their beds, wearing nightshirts, and wielding battle-axes, flickered through Cella's mind and she laughed out loud to think of them that way. Thranduil chuckled along with her, amused by her thoughts.

"That must mean that Lothriel did a good job, then?" she asked. "She was so worried about making a mistake." She had to wonder how much the ale had to do with the Dwarves' reluctance to leave their chambers, but she did not say so.

"It is not that difficult to please the Longbeards," he informed her. "However, in this instance, Lothriel has surpassed herself, and I am sure that her mentor will be just as pleased as I am with her accomplishments in his absence."

"Her mentor?"

"My seneschal, Thaladir, has had her in rigorous training for centuries, even in the darkest years, for the day that these halls might again have guests to entertain, and he would be in need of her assistance."

The Elfking went on to explain how each member of his household also had to train someone who could replace them in time of need, a necessary measure throughout the constant years of assault by the enemy. No one could be considered indispensable during a war.

"And now, in this time of watchful peace," Thranduil continued, "that original design has proved fortuitous, and has allowed me to move a large part of my household to my vineyard in Erebor without any noticeable change in the running of my realm here."

"You were very wise to think of that, Sire."

"I can not claim credit for the idea," Thranduil replied dryly. "But then the one who did propose it would never allow me to credit him either, so the point is moot." He said no more about it and she asked no questions.

Nonetheless, Cella did not need any further clues to guess at who he was referring to. It had to have been Lothriel's mentor, the noble but stern Elf from the vineyard, Thaladir. And it was obvious to her that the wise seneschal had done well in training an adequate replacement in case of his own absence.

"Are you happy that the rest of your household will be here soon?" Cella would be happy to see them all again. The stern Elf had always made her feel safe when he was nearby in the vineyard, if not intimidated if ever he turned his attention toward her. But that was not his fault.

More and more, she was missing her uncle, too, even though she still felt torn about his arrival. On the one hand, she was keenly aware of his absence, and on the other, she felt apprehensive about whatever it was that Thranduil had in mind to say to him about them.

And then there were the others, the merry Elf Himbor, his sister Glawareth, and the soft-spoken Nandirn. She looked forward to seeing them, too. But, what would they think and say once they learned about her and the Elfking, if anything? She grew quiet.

"Eat your meal, firiel," Thranduil said kindly. "Let me worry about the rest."

"Yes, Sire." It was not at all difficult to trust him when he smiled at her that way.

To be continued in Chapter 42

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Posted: February 10, 2005

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