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Mirkwood and Beyond

Chapter 17 / ?
Authors: Mary A and Malinornë
Pairings: Mainly Thranduil/OFCs
Warnings: Adult sexual situations, nudity, naughty mirror-peeking, and other naughty things that elves like to do with mortal women.
Disclaimer: Written for fun, not for profit, with characters and setting borrowed from JRR Tolkien.
Chapter summary: Mal and Mary continue to enjoy their encounter with Celeborn through the night. The next day, Thranduil has information to share.

~ Mal ~

Celeborn was positively wicked in bed, maybe something all elf-lords have in common. But, a certain elegance to all of his movements set him apart. He was neither hot-tempered and greedy in his desires like Thranduil, nor careful and meticulous like Thaladir. Instead, he carried himself with calm confidence, as if he knew that every action would be met with approval. As if it was only natural that he should have his 'cousin's' women in his bed.

It may have been this calm behaviour that changed what could have been a very awkward situation into something that we all enjoyed. Or perhaps it was just impossible to fight the delightful sensations that spread through our bodies at being touched so lovingly by this magnificent elf. Mary at least wasn't nervous anymore, and I even became afraid that I wouldn't keep up with her.

There was no reason to worry; our host was smooth and elegant in even the most unorthodox situations. When she began to devour him, and I was on the verge of feeling left out, he lifted me onto his chest, and then higher. Peeking down between my thighs, I saw a lascivious grin, and then a pink tongue darting out, and after that it became increasingly hard to focus on any visual impressions.

His attitude had helped us feel welcome from the very beginning. He appeared thoroughly delighted to have us with him, and I think he tried as hard to please us, as we him. The play with the feather was fun, and Mary and I got the chance to pay him back very soon, when we undressed him. While he was still standing up, but in the nude, we stood, likewise naked, on either side, and began to kiss, and caress, and lick him, all the way from as high as we could reach. Mary is a lot shorter than me, but I refused to believe her explanation that this was the only reason she was already on her knees before I was done with Lord Celeborn's delectable ears.

But he was huge, and later on we noticed that there was more than enough room for two pairs of lips. The Lórien lord had many questions, and I think he was a little obsessed with the idea of having two women at the same time. At least he didn't seem to understand when we repeatedly told him about the sleeping arrangements in Mirkwood.

What surprised me the most with him was the mirror.

"It is a well-kept secret, that the Lord of Lorien has a mirror, too," he said with a coy smile during a pause after Mary had ridden him into bliss. While she and I refreshed ourselves with some more of the, no longer not so well chilled, wine, he stood from the bed and opened a curtain to the side of it.

"Behold Celeborn's mirror," he said, and while I was still admiring its frame of silvery polished wood, he went to stand behind me.

"Are we allowed to look into it?" I asked him, turning my head towards him.

"But of course, Malinornë. Would you like to?" I hesitated a little, like I had done in the morning when Galadriel asked me a similar question, but this time I felt no anxiety.

"Yes," I told him and rose to walk to the other side of the bed. He stopped me with a gentle hand on my shoulder, and a kiss.

"No," he said, and bent his head to kiss me again, lower. There was a funny popping sound when his mouth left my nipple, and, although it distracted me, I couldn't help wondering why he had offered to look if he wasn't going to let me. It wasn't like he needed to boast of unusual wall decorations to get a girl to come home with him either.

"No," he repeated, without kisses this time, "there is only one certain way to look into my mirror, if you want to unlock all its secrets." I stared at him. He was hard again.

"I don't understand," I whispered, and I truly didn't know what he meant.

"It is very easy," he replied, and nudged me to turn towards the bed and climb up into it. While I was still on my hands and knees, his hands on my hips held me steady in this position. I lifted my head, and realized what the mirror was for. The image of the elf-lord was grinning, and his lusty gaze set me on fire.

"Will you look... deeper?" he intoned in his melodious voice. His hands had moved to my backside now, and he caressed me there, and between my legs, while I tried to make it last by not answering him at once. "Will you?" he said again, just as elegantly, but perhaps with a hint of need. Again he did the wrong thing if he wanted me to reply soon. I could not possibly talk when he was moving his fingers inside me like that.

"Oh, yes," I told him when I could, "yes, yes, yes!" And, as he entered me, very slowly, I looked deep into the mirror, watching the deliciously naughty scene, almost as if I wasn't there. But then my eyes caught his, and after that my gaze didn't leave his face. He was lordly in his lust, and I couldn't get enough of neither feeling, nor watching him. When his beautiful face finally contorted I cried out with abandon, and after that I must have passed out.

I vaguely remember hearing him ask Mary about the mirror, and she can't possibly have declined after watching us. My last coherent thought that night was that we must somehow convince Thranduil that we need a mirror like that for the royal bedchamber in Mirkwood.

~ Mary ~

Here I thought Thranduil was the most sexually insatiable elf in Arda, once he got going, but he was well-matched by Celeborn, his Teleri kinsman, or is it kinself? Whatever the term, the Elflord of Lórien did not give me any more time to think about my king in the arms of Galadriel that night after our initial encounter. I could still feel the invisible presence of our mutual voyeur in my mind, but I paid less attention to him.

"But why would he not want both of you in his bed at the same time?" Celeborn asked at one point, while Mal and I lay on either side of him and enjoyed his caresses and kisses. "Every night?"

"We would probably be dead by now," I told him. "If we didn't get to have a night off in between to recover." By this time, Mal had given up her meek concubine routine, and was running her hands through the Lórien lord's silver hair while nibbling at his earlobe. She paused long enough to add her own opinion.

"Some of us," she said, while looking right at me, "have a harder time sharing than others of us." The whole bed shook while the elf laughed. I stuck my tongue out at her, which made him laugh harder, but I could not argue with her observation.

It was shortly after I had received a very vigorous look into Celeborn's mirror that I finally was too exhausted to attend to either of the Elflords in bed, visible or invisible. Mal and I snuggled close to our host again, and he sang to us softly while I drifted off to sleep.

I am not sure what woke me the next morning, but when I opened my eyes and tried to remember where I was, I heard a tinkling laugh coming from somewhere below me, followed by a rumbling deep voice, although I could not hear any clearly spoken words. Thranduil and Galadriel. It sounded as if they were in the same place where Mal and I had breakfast the day before, and I had to find out if they had fallen in love during the night. I could not draw one more easy breath until I knew for sure.

Mal was snoring prettily, and Celeborn lay still, his eyes slitted, with a look of peaceful contentment on his face. If he was in deep reverie then there was a chance that he would not detect my absence, especially if I slowly and carefully extricated myself from his embracing arm. It took a while, but I finally slipped off the side of the bed without notice, or so I thought at first. At least neither of them stirred.

My head hurt from the wine and I had a hard time focusing. I looked around for something to wear; it was dim in the bed chamber, with real walls instead of the usual branches that had sunlight peeking through to assist me. In the sitting area I found Mal's and my tiny shifts, which hardly seemed fitting for breakfast with a king and the Lady of the Wood. My only other choice was Celeborn's icy-blue robe, and it covered me nearly to my ankles, so I took it.

And I would have gotten away with it, too, except that I was found out.

"Where are you going?" Celeborn was standing there, he seemed very refreshed and possibly not averse to giving me another peek in his mirror from the way something was perking up, below.

"I heard... I am hungry," I lied. But I felt fairly safe in doing it, because I had asked the king, the day before, if Celeborn could read my mind, or Mal's, the way that he and Galadriel could. This was when I was still not sure that I could agree to being offered to the Lórien Elflord as an after-dinner treat.

"He wishes that he could," Thranduil had replied and then added, in that maddening way he has of making me want to ask more questions, "and if you recall, I could not read your mind when I first met you." And that was the most I could get out of my tight-lipped monarch, but it was enough to make me feel safe with telling Celeborn a little fib about wanting breakfast when what I really wanted to do was check on the attitude of my king towards his wife.

"As you wish," the silver haired lord replied to my claim of being hungry. And something in the way it was said, or perhaps the way his eyes twinkled slightly with mischief when he spoke, told me that he knew I was telling a lie. But also that he did not care, and did not hold it against me. He smiled and said, "You are welcome to rejoin us, after your hunger has been satisfied, or should I say your curiosity?" He lifted his eyebrow at the end in almost the same way Thranduil does when he knows I am trying to fool him, and can not.

I turned to leave and then hesitated again, and turned back. "Is it okay if I wear this?" I stroked my hand over the silky fabric of his robe that I had on, and his smile widened. "Do you mind if I borrow it?"

"Not at all, I would insist that you keep it but I am sure we can find one that fits you better." As he spoke he approached me, placed his hands on my shoulders, and kissed my forehead. "Now," he said, "go see to your hunger. I do believe I will lie abed for a while longer, it is soft and warmer there."

And for a moment, I almost changed my mind and stayed. My head was spinning a little from the left over wine in my blood, and I was feeling a bit woozy. Crawling back into bed was probably a wise course of action. But then I heard Galadriel laughing again, and I had to see Thranduil.

~ Mal ~

The night had been special as soon as my anxiety disappeared. I had never really doubted that it would be sexually rewarding, but it was a surprise that Lord Celeborn turned out to be quite huggable. His gentleness was endearing, and there was often kindness in his eyes of a sort Thranduil usually reserved for when someone was in serious need of comfort.

I thought about my hot-tempered Elvenking, and wondered how he would react when I showed him what had happened this night. I decided that he would be enthusiastic hearing that I had overcome my discomfort with this kind of communication, and also jealous enough to try to do better than the Lórien elf had. And it would be an interesting experience to let him into my mind consciously, although the idea still frightened me a little. I would do it. But not just yet.

I remained lying on my back, eyes closed, and just enjoyed the moment. The air was fresh, and as I tilted my head to the left, it mingled in my nostrils with the scent of the elf beside me. I moved closer, just enough to rest my cheek against his skin. It was soft, pleasantly cool, but suddenly hardened as he flexed the muscles of his arm. My head gently bobbed up and down as he repeated the motion, but I stifled my giggle. I did not want to get up yet.

Instead, I listened to his low chuckle, and then I tried to identify the homelike, quieter sound of Mary breathing. Nothing. Beyond the heaving of my own chest, all I could hear were the small birds that seemed to be everywhere in Lórien. Otherwise all was quiet; and even the rustling of leaves could barely be heard. I held my breath. Still nothing.

Although I certainly wouldn't mind spending a few more minutes alone with our host, it wasn't pleasant to think about what had happened if she had snuck out and maybe fallen off the talan, even if there seemed to be walls everywhere, or the stairs, or maybe she had tried to climb out on one of the branches, and then she had slipped, and now she might even be...

"All is well."

The calm voice caressed my ear, and although I lost my jumping headrest when its owner shifted in the bed, I had no wish to complain. Soft lips moved over my ear, blowing gently. His hair tickled the sensitive area around my collarbone, and this time I giggled aloud. But I kept my eyes shut, fighting to hold off the inevitable next day, when I would no longer have this elf for my own.

My left hand was trapped under the sheets, but I buried the other in his hair. I did not need to see it to know how beautifully it shimmered, or how its silvery hue complemented and even enhanced his eyes. Like cornflower in a sea of pearls.

Celeborn's hair ran like water between my fingers, a never-ending cascade of fine silk. I patted his ear, too, very gently and just with my fingertip, like one would pet a small animal, and then I continued to explore his face.

He laughed when I accidentally pinched his nose, and then he placed a kiss in the palm of my hand. It was my time to laugh happily when he nuzzled my neck and his hair wisped in my face. The mattress seemed to draw a sigh when his body shifted again.

Resting on top of me, but with most of his weight supported by his elbows on either side of my head, he began to say something, but then changed his mind. I felt his lips caress my forehead, and held my breath as he blew on my skin. The gentle breeze raised goose bumps all over me, and I could not wait to see where he would touch me next.

A soft kiss. Without urgency his mouth met mine, and he even stilled me when I began to respond too eagerly. "No hurry," he whispered, and he took his time finishing that kiss, and two more as sweet as the first. But there was a more persistent matter, too; I could feel it against my thigh.

We made love, slowly, and then the morning refused to be delayed any longer. I opened my eyes to the world.

The smiling elf-lord cupped my face and kissed me again, and then he rose from the bed. I followed him with my eyes as he walked around in the room, graceful and elegant even in his nakedness. I think I caught another smile from his reflection as he paused a moment before the large mirror, and then pulled a string that covered the glass with a misty grey veil.

He disappeared around the tree trunk, but came back within seconds, a pale blue garment thrown over his arm. I assisted him with it, although he hardly required any help to put on the robe. But it was nice to know that he enjoyed watching me and having me close. This robe was longer than the one he had worn in the evening, but it still seemed a bit too little to wear out among his people. An under-tunic, perhaps? Leggings?

"Go back to bed, my sweet," he said, and then he left the room. As I waited for him to return, which seemed logical to assume, I wondered what I would wear. And, more important, where Mary had gone.

~ Mary ~

It was not until I had climbed down to the breakfast flet that I realized I had a hangover. Not a terrible one, just enough to make my palms and forehead wet with perspiration and my stomach uneasy, or it could have been from fear about finding Thranduil and the Lady in a loving embrace. Till the moment I was done climbing down, I had just concentrated on not killing myself by falling off of the tree.

They were not embracing, but Galadriel was sitting up straight while pulling her hand away from the king's leg, as if she was taking it off of his knee before I could see her touching him. With a smile of complete serenity, she turned to me. I stood still and stared into her eyes. For some reason I did not care what Thranduil was doing, only she. But it was he who spoke first.

"What are you wearing?" He was staring at my chest when he asked. I looked down to where his eyes were focused and saw the robe's belt had slipped low during my climbing and I was exposed down to my waist. Quickly I rearranged the slippery garment and tightened the sash. Galadriel answered him.

"It is my husband's dressing gown," she said while she reached over and touched his leg, again, the hussy, before she turned back to me and continued, "and I think that it looks charming on you, my dear."

"It's better than nothing," I answered. "As long as Thaladir doesn't see me."

Of course I did not hear the seneschal as he came up right behind me, not until he cleared his throat. He picked the exact worst time on the wrong day to ambush me and I surprised him, the king I think and myself for sure, although probably not Galadriel, by bursting into tears.

"You shouldn't let him do that to me when I feel so rotten!" I shouted at the king. "Get out of my way," I snarled at Thaladir while I pushed past him and flung myself down into the mallorn tree like I knew what I was doing and where I was going, even if I could barely see and had no idea what to do.

There is only one reason I escaped breaking my neck and his name is Haldir. He must have been standing guard nearby to make sure his Lady was not interrupted while she breakfasted with her royal visitor. All I know is my forearm was grasped at one point and with a cry of relief I found myself clinging to him while he helped me down to the forest floor. My tears dried quickly.

"Where are you going to in such haste," he asked, after we had reached the ground, "that you pay so little heed to your personal safety?"

"Anywhere," I said. Already I was feeling better with him there, but still not well. "Can I go to your place for a while? I really need to lie down. My head hurts, and I am not asking for a cure, just a quiet place to be alone."

"Why not let me take you to your own guest talan?"

"No!" I did not mean to shout, and I would not have if I had thought of how much it was going to hurt my head to do it, but I wanted to get farther away. "No," I repeated more quietly, "that is too close to where..." but I did not finish because even though I was not really sure why I had been crying there was a good chance that I was going to start again if I said one more word.

The March warden did not ask any more questions but led me to a mallorn a short distance away that had a nice and almost normal stairway that circled the trunk. The flet he guided me into was not very high from the ground. "Here you can rest unmolested," he assured me while he unrolled a sleeping pallet and spread it on the floor for me. After I was settled, he left me alone.

For a little while I lay still and listened to the city of elves. Music was playing somewhere, a flute, and there was birdsong all around me. The fountain sounded close by, too, and when I sat up I could see it. I edged over to the rim of the flet and enjoyed the view of the clearing, the fountain in the center, and the neat way that the trees of the city grew in a circle around it.

"You have not eaten breakfast yet, I have been told," came a voice from directly below me, and when I looked down I saw Celeborn smiling up at me. "Are you ready to have some now?"

"No, thank you," I told him, thinking he was inviting me back to where his wife was sitting and pawing my king. "I would rather starve." And then, from out of nowhere it seemed, as it always did, there was Thranduil standing right next to Celeborn.

The king did not look up at me but stared directly at the Lórien lord, who seemed to pretend not to notice as he still looked at me while he spoke again. "Are you sure about breakfast?"

I had to smile at his persistence and his lack of fear about the king. It was endearing. "Quite sure," I answered. And with a slight bow he wished me a good morning and then turned to Thranduil.

"That one," Celeborn said, with an upward-turned jerk of his head in my direction, "I had no idea," he continued with a hint of wonder in his voice as he put his hand on the king's shoulder. "No idea." With a chuckle, he left.

Even after Thranduil had climbed all the way into the flet and sat next to me, I stared straight ahead and pretended not to notice that he was there. It is not fair that he can read my mind but I can not read his. Not that my thoughts would have been much help since I was not sure why I was mad at him.

Without speaking, he drew me close and kissed me. He slipped his hand inside of my robe and soon his mouth was there and then we were lying down. There were so many questions that I had all at once, but I never had a chance to ask a single one. At least, not for a while.

~ Mal ~

Celeborn didn't have Mary with him when he came back, but he wasn't alone. Behind him came an elf carrying a heavily laden tray. Breakfast!

It was an absolute luxury to sit back in the bed, with the elf-lord beside me again, and enjoy the delicious bread, fruit and juices. There was a kind of wine, too, although it was more refreshing than sweet, and not nearly as strong as the one I had tried last night. But I still preferred to be careful, just in case.

As we ate, my charming host told me about the many beautiful places in his realm that he hoped I would visit, such as the rapids of Nimrodel, and a special glade with tall silver birches and flowering herbs with names I forgot much too soon. I must see Cerin Amroth, too, he said, even if it was not the season for the grass to be full of niphredil and elanor. Furthermore, the guardians of Lórien's borders would very much like to see Mary and me, and there was a lot more. It sounded as we could stay on for many weeks more, and still explore only a small fraction of what the Golden Wood had to offer. Not that I would mind staying, of course.

Eventually breakfast was over and it was time to get up and get out into the world of the Galadhrim. But first it was time to get dressed. Seeing no other options, I reached for yesterday's garments, but Celeborn shook his head.

"I would enjoy seeing you wear that for the rest of your stay in fair Lórien," he said, "although it would not be nice towards some elves, who would be tempted but without hope of getting to know you."

I was fairly convinced he was thinking more about having to cope with Thaladir's ugly scowl marring the beauty of the environment, than any discomfort a few hasty young elves might possibly experience at being invited to look, but not touch. But he was right. Having a frowning seneschal following me around to point out the unseemliness of my attire for the present situation would take all the fun out of teasing both Haldir's brothers as well as the Imladris twins.

"So, instead, this has been brought for you." Celeborn's voice penetrated my thoughts and I looked at him expectantly. The pretty, knee-long dress was pink. I had hoped for something blue or silvery, closer to the tones favoured by the elves here. But it was a lovely garment, and it was comfortable to wear.

"It looks nice with your hair," he said. I knew that already, but it doesn't matter. I just don't like wearing pink.

"And it fits you very well," he continued. "Especially here, and here, too." He put his arm around my waist, touching the material at the small of my back, and then over my chest. The gesture felt more friendly than daring, and he hugged me too. I decided I could wear the dress, after all. It was a small sacrifice if it meant Celeborn might look at me again with eyes gleaming like that.

But for now it was good-bye. He kissed my forehead, and I gave him a chaste peck on his cheek. And then I left the talan and began my descent down all the stairs.

I saw nobody on the platforms on either side of the tree, and it surprised me, as I was fairly sure I had heard Thranduil's voice earlier, and possibly Galadriel laughing, too. But, down by the fountain stood a noble elf I immediately recognized. Haldir!

He bowed gracefully when I greeted him, and stood silent for a moment while I splashed my hands in the fountain. I hoped it wasn't considered rude to use the water for that, but it glittered irresistibly and sounded so fresh and clear.

"Would you perhaps care for a bath?" he asked. "The Lady's pools are still open for you." I gratefully accepted, but told him that he would have to show the way again. He lifted an eyebrow at that, but accompanied me to the bathing-place without questioning. I suspect that he found it funny that I couldn't find my way back to a place where I'd already been, but if that was the case, he did nothing to betray his thoughts.

This time I was undisturbed and it was a nice change to be alone for a little while, and even better to be able to dress without needing someone to help me fasten my dress at the back. I found myself enjoying the various aspects of life in Lórien more and more.

As I went back towards where I had left Haldir I peeked through the leaves to try to catch a glimpse of him unawares. It was impossible, of course, and by the time I spotted his proud nose he had seen, and heard, me long ago. I chose to pretend not to notice and instead admired him to my heart's content.

"I will be your guide for today," he said, "if you wish it. I take it you would like to see more of the beauty of Lothlórien, outside the city?"

I thought for a moment. Part of me wanted to run to Thranduil, to show him all he wanted to see, but I also knew that that he would not stop at just looking. He never does, and that is fine. But, I had just left another virile elf-lord, and although I was not physically tired, I could not take more of that particular kind of pleasure just now. Besides, I wanted to be at my best for tonight, when I would be with my king again.

So I thanked Haldir for his consideration and told him that I would be delighted to go with him wherever he suggested. Possibly it wasn't wise to assume that I wouldn't feel tempted when I was alone with him in the forest, but it seemed a reasonable safe option. He was a noble and honourable elf, and the best escort I could have.

~ Mary ~

It was hard to remember why I was angry with Thranduil as I lay on top of him with my face pressed against his bare chest and reveled in his nearness to me. He still had not said a word, well, he had said a few words, but they were not to me. I think they were more about how he was feeling at a crucial moment. And he did not speak them softly.

But it was not his lovemaking alone that had eased my enraged hurt feelings, although that had certainly helped. Instead, it was what he had 'shown' me during the course of it about his night in Galadriel's bed that had soothed me. I no longer felt jealous, as I lay there on top of him and listened to his mighty heart beating beneath my ear, if anything I felt sorry for my king.

"She wouldn't even do that for you?" I lifted my head up and looked in his eyes, which were glowing kindly at me as he shook his head in reply, before I added, "Gosh, I never knew that elf ladies were so persnickety, I would think they would loosen up a little after a few thousand years." Thranduil just shrugged, and then he held me tighter.

Apparently, as elves were brought up to believe that sex was for procreation, and not recreation, they rarely experimented with all of the different deliciously decadent ways of doing it. At least, not among the high born, it appeared.

"No wonder Celeborn was so surp...," I stopped myself there, not willing to speak about it yet. Not that the king had not witnessed, while it was happening, how much I had enjoyed myself with his Lórien kin, and visa versa. Instead I laid my head back down and asked, "Is that what he meant when he said that he had no idea?"

"Partly," answered the king, "there is more to it." But before I asked him to elaborate, something else occurred to me.

"Hey," I said. "I thought you said yesterday that Celeborn couldn't read my mind." Again I raised my head to see his face, and folded my arms on his chest to prop my chin upon. "I know he can," I announced.

"He could not read your mind... yesterday." That was all Thranduil said, but a brief quirk at the corner of his mouth belied his carefully worded answer. I recognized this game. He knew something that I did not, no surprise there, but he also knew that I could guess and was baiting me. I remembered what else he said, about not being able to read my mind when we first met. In order to find out the truth, I had to tread carefully or he would clam up again.

"So, now can he read Mal's mind, too?" The pieces of the puzzle fell swiftly into place, before Thranduil even nodded affirmatively and confirmed my suspicions. Of course, somehow, by having sex with us, Celeborn could read our minds now. I was not sure I liked this. And no wonder the longer we were in bed with him the more he knew how to make us happy. What else did he know? It made me feel exposed.

"Can we go home now, please? Today? We did what you wanted, right? So now can we go home?"

"You want to go back to Mirkwood?" Although the king could not have been surprised he still acted like what I asked was news to him. "Today? Why today? We have only just arrived."

"Well, because I miss my bed, and having my own room with a real door, and the caves, and the hot water in the bathing pools, and my coffee." This was all true, but not necessarily in that order. "Can we go home, please?"

There were more reasons than those, of course, and Thranduil could very clearly read my thoughts to see how I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with the idea of so many elves peeking into my head whenever they felt like it. Plus I did not know how I was going to look Galadriel in the eye after seeing her, well, in my mind anyway, in the altogether. What if both she and Celeborn were eavesdropping on us right now? I really wanted to leave Lórien.

"And are you willing to get back into your carriage?"

Oh, I wish you could have heard the supreme satisfaction of victory in his tone when the king asked me that. I had to break eye contact finally in order to think about it before I said the wrong thing and regretted it later for many stifling hours through the forest in that torture chamber on wheels.

"Only if we leave right this minute," I finally conceded. His chest shook as he chuckled.

"What about Malinorne? She is enjoying her stay here and she has not expressed a desire to leave anytime soon."

I tried to care, I really did. It was her first visit, after all, and my third. Not that I had ever had a chance to explore much of the Golden Wood in my previous brief overnight stays, but still.

"So," I finally answered, "let her stay. Can't you send for her later?" In reply to that, Thranduil grinned and patted my hair.

"I have a better idea," he said. "What about an eagle-borne trip to Imladris?" It took me a moment to absorb the shock of actually being offered what sounded like a choice in my fate, and while I was stunned silent the king explained that Mal would be coming with us.

"When can we leave?" That was an easy offer to agree to. Mal wanted to go there to meet Glorfindel, so that would make her happy. And they have coffee in Rivendell. I only had one more question. "Do we have to take Thaladir?"

To be continued...

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Chapter posted: July 20, 2005

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