Mirkwood and Beyond
|Chapter 19 / ?|
|Authors:||Mary A and Malinornë|
|Warnings:||Adult sexual situations, lots of nudity, a few very hot elves.|
|Disclaimer:||Written for fun, not for profit, with characters and setting borrowed from JRR Tolkien.|
|Chapter summary:||Mary goes skinny-dipping with Haldir, Mal spends time with Thranduil, and more information about the pending trip to Rivendell is gathered.|
While Haldir led me through the forest to his favorite private swimming-place, I found out that he was aware of the summons that Thranduil and the twins had received from Lord Elrond. Although he was not at liberty to reveal to me the reason for the urgency, he did not believe that there was any cause for alarm.
He could tell me one thing that was a surprise; it turned out that Celeborn was going, too. The visit was not for pleasure, either, but was about some kind of mysterious and very serious business that the dutiful March warden was not going to be wheedled into revealing to a mere mortal. Galadriel had not been invited.
"And neither was I, nor Mal." Now I could see that Thranduil probably thought that his concubine and I would have more fun if we spent the time in Lorien with our gracious hostess instead of being left out of whatever it was that these lordly elves were going to be gathering together to discuss, and discuss, and discuss; they do so love to talk. "I hope Elrond isn't bothered by the extra company."
"The valley of Imladris is a hospitable domain," Haldir assured me. "And its merry people are disposed to treat guests and strangers with cordiality and generosity. I am certain that your company will be well received." We had come to a clearing as he spoke, and there was the pool he had promised me, its rippling surface lit by stars alone.
"You are just saying that to make me feel better," I said. But it was reassuring to hear it, and even if Thranduil ignored me there would be coffee and bathtubs, but I did not mention that out loud for fear that I might offend my guide. Haldir chuckled before he answered me.
"It could be that Lord Elrond will feel an enormous relief with your and the Lady Malinorne's presence," he said serenely, "now that he will not have to lock up any of the unattached ellith in Imladris during His Majesty's visit."
For a few minutes, I just stared at him. Haldir pretended like he did not notice me and started to undress, but I could see the edges of his mouth twitching. And I decided that I was not going to take it anymore, but I waited until he removed his leggings before I said anything.
"Do you say things like that to hurt my feelings?" I asked him, although it was hard to stay shocked when he stood there without a stitch on. "Or do you elves just all like to watch me go nuts? What?" He moved closer to me as I spoke, so I talked faster.
"Because if you are trying to make me feel jealous then it won't work. I know for sure that Thranduil hasn't been to Imladris in ages, and, what's more, I know for a fact that the last time he was there..."
"Are you sure that you are not in love with him?"
"With Thranduil?" Although it was night, and the moon was not up high enough over the trees to make much of a difference, I could clearly see the elf in the darkness. Even though the wood-elves of Mirkwood do not glow -- it would be an unhealthy attribute in the spider-infested habitat -- the Galadhrim of Lorien had a faint aura about them, like the king has, only not as bright or as defined. "What does me being jealous about the king chasing elf maidens around Imladris have to do with being in love?"
"It did not occur to you that it might be the other way around?" he asked me in return, so very like the king to answer a question with another one. "As far as who is doing the chasing around Lord Elrond's home?" And instantly, in my mind, I could see them, the lovely ellith who flittered about the Last Homely House while they speculated about my handsome monarch, and what it would take to make him smile. I knew that some were afraid of him, but that did not mean they would not be tempted. A whole house full of hussies.
"Never mind, let's not talk about Thranduil anymore. It always makes me uncomfortable to talk about him and elf maidens when I am with a naked elf." To show him that I was serious, I pulled off my dress. Now we were both naked. He smiled down at me.
"This happens often?"
"Never, actually. But I wouldn't mind making a habit out of it, the being naked part, I mean." Taking the hint, Haldir dropped the subject and led me into the water. It felt cool and delicious.
We splashed and played around in his favorite swimming-hole until the moon finally topped the trees of the clearing. It was a natural pool that was formed by one of the seemingly hundreds of streams that coursed through the Golden Wood, and which branched off from or flowed into the larger rivers. Some of the stream beds were naturally formed; others were redirected by the elves to flow in the direction that most enhanced their environment.
The water felt wonderful, even if it was not a hot bath like I had wanted. But the rivers and streams of Lorien seemed to have a magical quality in them that brought instant refreshment to the spirits. It was almost the same as soap. When Haldir swam under the water and then came back up, he tipped his head back to make his hair flow away from his face. He looked like he was sculpted from silver in the moonlight. I did not want to swim anymore.
"I could get used to these cold baths if I had you with me every time," I told him after he swam up next to me, close enough to touch. Up until then, my swimming partner had behaved in his usual gentlemanly fashion and had not grabbed at me, or tried anything seductive. Besides dangling his body before me, which he can not help; it sort of dangles itself whether he is dressed or not. But he had been playful and fun, until now when he stopped smiling. And he was not lustful at all, he was just very serious.
"Would you ever consider living here, in Lórien?" His question stumped me for a moment. Was he asking me out of politeness, loyalty to his realm, or personal interest?
"Are you proposing marriage? Because I can't imagine why else you would think I would want to."
Thranduil laughed; a deep, hearty laugh that rumbled from his chest and made his hair bounce. And then he kissed me. As his hungry mouth claimed mine, I fought with myself to stay focused on my question, of what I wanted him to tell me about the journey Haldir had mentioned.
The king had other plans, and he efficiently subdued me with more kisses and increasingly ardent caresses to every part of my body. It made me angry at first, but I soon decided that I could wait a few more minute to have my curiosity satisfied, as long as it meant I would have something else satisfied in the meantime. Thranduil did not disappoint me.
"Tell me about Rivendell," I repeated afterwards, when he was lying at my side, resting on his elbow.
"I was under the impression that my concubine was quite content with her stay in fair Lórien."
I nodded. Of course I was! And that was precisely why I hoped we wouldn't have to rush off to Rivendell right now.
"Or do you find the entertainment available to be lacking in any way?" If he tried to appear innocent, that didn't succeed. He looked quite happy with himself, confident that any comparison between him and another male elf would turn out to his advantage.
I shook my head. Celeborn had been all I had dreamt of, and more, and Rúmil... I noticed to my surprise that thoughts of the younger elf still made me blush.
"Ah," said Thranduil, a new interest in his gaze. "Show me more."
"Please tell me about Rivendell first."
"There is not much to tell about Elrond's realm. It is infested with humans, as could only be expected, and some of the elves he surrounds himself with make his sons appear as models of proper behaviour. He has an annoying interest in particularly boring, endless councils. Now, show me."
His answer didn't tell me what I had wanted to know, but it was still a rare concession on his part. I would ask more later on, but I didn't dare to tempt my luck any further at that moment. Instead, I did my best to recount my steamy encounters with Rúmil, in my head. It was so much easier this way, without having to take the words for our activities in my mouth.
Thranduil's reaction surprised me. He watched me intently, but at the same time seemed to be somewhere far away, as if he was daydreaming. His green eyes seemed to look right through me, but suddenly they gleamed with impatience. I quickly closed my eyes and continued thinking about Rúmil, and how we had kissed, and danced, and how his arm around my waist as we walked through the city had sometimes glided higher, or lower.
I felt a tingling between my thighs as I came to the part where the elf, declaring that he could not wait any longer, had asked me to bend over a low branch. In reality, it had been over far too soon for even that kind of naughty meeting, but in my thoughts I could make it last as long as I wished. Parts of it I repeated several times, sometimes zooming in on a detail that I could not possibly have seen, such as exactly how the elf touched me, or what his facial expression was in that moment.
Then I felt myself being lifted, an element that had definitely not been present in my experience with the Lórien elf. Shaken from my recollections I opened my eyes and looked straight into the face of the grinning Elvenking.
"Bend over for me," he whispered hoarsely as he put me down on my feet facing the end of the bed. I took hold of the frame of living wood, which was placed just low enough to offer him a much more detailed view than what Rúmil had. 'Royal privileges', I thought before he told me to continue with the story.
His hand on my backside, sliding down between my legs, made it easy to go back to my fantasy. I imagined Rúmil touching me there, although he had been in too much of a hurry to actually do it. I felt his hand find my cleft, and I moved my feet further apart. The fingers began to glide effortlessly along my nether lips, rubbing on and between them. I pushed back against the hand, making the fingertips curl and touch my nub, before pushing into me.
And then I felt him there, Thranduil, or as if it was Rúmil, sinking his stiff member deeply inside. He began rocking back and forth, and I fought to keep the image of him, them, in my mind, as if I could actually watch what he was doing. The memory mingled in my mind with my fantasy, and with reality, and I no longer knew, or cared, which was which.
But the growl in my ear as he pushed me over the edge was Thranduil's. I think I felt him in my mind too, brushing lightly against mine, if that is possible.
Elves always have the most polite ways to say no. To my question about Haldir's possibly proposing to me, he answered, "Marriage to a mortal is a luxury that a Galadhrim guard can not easily afford to maintain, I regret to say." It was polite and probably only half-true, but it made me giggle. I had never thought of myself as much a luxury item as more like some kind of elf-spying device in service to the throne of Mirkwood. To be considered a luxury by an elf felt wicked and decadent.
Off somewhere in the city I could hear music; both faint strains of celestial sounding instruments and beautiful voices lifted in song. The moon was high over the trees and its beams flashed and danced on the surface of the water as if in time to the elvish song. What would it be like to live here, among these mallorn-dwellers?
"I would probably make you build me a flet on the ground," I pointed out. Reflexively, Haldir tried to educate me.
"It would not be called a flet in that case," he began, "it wou...." But I was tired of talking and interrupted him.
"Just kiss me," I said. "We can talk some other time." I did appreciate Haldir's come-hither approach, so unlike the demanding hands-on Elvenking, but I was starting to feel chilly in the river. As if understanding the limitations of a mortal body exposed to the elements, my swimming partner not only kissed me, and held me close to warm me, but he carried me out of the water and laid me down on the soft grass.
At first the night breezes made me feel even colder, and my teeth chattered a little while Haldir settled himself next to me, but I was soon much warmer. He managed to cover me with his body in such a way that I was protected from the chill in the air, but not crushed beneath his weight. The kisses helped, too. When I finally stopped shivering, he pulled away. His eyes do not glow like Thranduil's, but like all elf eyes they caught every bit of available light and shine more brightly in the starlight than in daytime.
"Is His Majesty here with us," he asked, "tonight?" He did not seem disturbed by the thought, more curious, I guess, about the whereabouts of a possible audience. "Or are we alone?"
"See, Thranduil is almost always here," I said, pointing to my forehead. "But he isn't always interested, and right now he is..." I paused to be quiet and make sure before continuing, "Uh, he is not very interested at all." I hoped that my assessment of the king's participation did not wound the mighty March warden's pride, but I appreciate it when the king loosens his grip and was glad about it, myself.
"He does not know what he is missing," said Haldir, turning and pulling me with him so that we were still face to face but on our sides. "Or what he is going to miss," he added, as his free hand stroked my exposed skin on my back down to my hip. I shivered again, but not from feeling cold, and kissed the tip of his nose after running my fingers down it from between his eyebrows.
For a few moments I lay quiet again and tried to reach Thranduil with my own mind. All I heard was the unceasing summer night's song made by the crickets and frogs and a variety of other tuneful nocturnal wildlife in Lórien combined with the music from the elves, the streams, and even the fountain in the distance.
"The king is with Mal and she always needs his undivided attention." I sighed. I would have added that he did not consider the March warden as serious competition, but I could not say such a mean thing to any elf. "Please, don't take it as an insult," I said instead. "He might think that you can talk me into staying here for at least the next few days if he butts out right now, but he isn't worried that I will stay here forever."
And it was possible that His Majesty might want me to stay in Lórien while he went to Rivendell, but I did not say that out loud.
"Do you believe that I could talk you into staying here for at least the next few days?" Elf hair dries faster than a human's does, and Haldir's was only barely damp when I ran my fingers through it and thought about that.
"I guess it depends on your definition of talking me into it," I replied. His teeth flashed for an instant as he stared down at me. His free hand moved softly over me, more sensual than seductive, like he was letting me feel his fingers more than he was taking pleasure from touching my skin. An old elf trick.
From what Thranduil had shown me in the past, Haldir was having plenty of fun touching me, even if he kept his emotions under control while he did so, and seemed cool and unaffected. But I love the way it feels to be touched by an elf, and they seem to never grow tired of the feel of human skin. Celeborn had described the sensation as being like the way sparks would feel if they did not burn. And I like touching them back, too.
Over Haldir's shoulder, the stars glittered just as brightly as if there was no moon to compete with their light. It was one of the best things about Middle-earth, when one could actually see the sky. But they were eclipsed by the face of the guardian of this small domain, and his lips covered mine. This was my kind of talking.
It was nice to be with an elf on solid ground for a change, instead of up in a tree. The grass beneath us was soft and giving, like clover, and when we rolled around I never felt poked by anything sharp or bumpy. The gentle caresses became more demanding now as he crushed his mouth against mine, and his hands slipped between my legs, nudging them apart, while his thrusting tongue imitated his fingers.
Like a true gentleman-elf, probably tutored by Thaladir in his youth, Haldir asked my permission before he entered me, as if he could not tell that I was more than ready as he held himself against me, waiting for my answer.
"Yes, Haldir," I gasped. "Please don't make me wait." Leave it to elves to think of a way to make a human talk at the most difficult time to remain coherent. It was one nicety that Thranduil could abandon by reading my mind and knowing the answer ahead of time. And also unlike the king, the March warden was careful and slow while he pushed himself inside of me, but only at first.
The first birds of the pre-dawn morning were chirping in the trees and a fine mist covered the water of the March warden's favorite swimming pond when we finally went back into the city for bed. If sleeping in a silly little tree-fort can be called going to bed.
Along the way, Haldir pulled me behind a tree and put his fingers to his lips for me to be quiet. As we stood there, I heard someone coming, a skirt swishing, Mal. She walked past us, appearing still half-asleep but determined to get somewhere to do something and much like the seneschal in her purposeful stride.
When I next woke up, it was nearly morning, and the king was gone. It was neither the first, nor the last time, but this day it annoyed me. We had shared something special during the night, something new, and I realized that I was disappointed not to have him there to share my feelings, and questions, with. He had not even given me an honest answer about Rivendell.
I was hungry, too, and with no breakfast in sight there was only one thing to do. I dressed quickly and stomped off towards the great tree by the fountain, scaring a few small birds in the process.
My upset feelings were calmed by the friendly faces around me, and I just had to smile when a wood-elf asked me, with their characteristic accent, whether I would 'take food by the silver tree'. I was not entirely sure what she meant, but the food part sounded great, and I willingly followed her.
She left me in Galadriel's garden, and only then I understood that the 'silver tree' was her way of pronouncing Celeborn's name. The Lórien lord was sitting alone at a table by the fountain stream. He made a welcoming gesture with his arm, and I joined him.
For several minutes I munched happily on honey rolls filled with raspberry jam - my elvish breakfast favourite since the first time I tried them. They were an excellent combination with the slightly bitter herb tea. Only after my third one did I realize how rude I was to my host, having not even tried to make polite conversation.
"I am sorry," I said. "I was just very hungry."
"Do not worry." He was smiling. "I know well that certain... ah, activities tend to stimulate the appetite. Have some more." I declined a fourth honey roll and instead picked a thin cracker-like thing with roasted nuts on top.
"May I ask you something?" He nodded majestically, but in a way that was not at all intimidating. "It's about Rivendell," I said. "Do you know why King Thranduil needs to go there now?"
"Realm politics. A high council is being summoned, and his presence is necessary, as well as my own."
"I understand. It sounds very important." I munched on my cracker.
"According to our plans, you and Mary were to remain here with my lady wife, but that has since been changed." I wondered what could possible change the plans of two mighty elf-lords, but decided not to be nosy. I just hoped it wasn't anything dangerous.
"It is still a pity to have to leave your beautiful wood so soon." It really was, although I was very happy to hear that Celeborn would come with us.
"Do not be disappointed; the present situation has its opportunities too. Indeed, there are a few elves that it would not be bad at all for you to meet." He chuckled before he continued: "You will want to see Glorfindel. He tends to have favour with all the ladies, and I believe you would enjoy his company. And he yours. Yes, that would be an excellent match."
The last was said in a lower voice, as if speaking to himself. He sounded a bit too happy than I thought was natural, and I almost asked him if he had the same ability as the king to spy on people in bed.
"Lets see," he continued, "who else? Erestor, yes. The chief advisor of Imladris is quiet and reserved, and frequently hides in his extensive library. He has some similarity to Thranduil's seneschal, and the two of them share many interests. Thaladir will no doubt introduce you."
I nodded. I had understood from Thaladir already that the two of them enjoyed each other's company. They probably exchanged news of the latest crimes against protocol every time they met, unless they were occupied deciding the proper dimensions of seemly attire and other exciting matters.
"And then, Elrond himself, of course. The Lord of Imladris is highly skilled in mortal medicine, and even if nothing ails you at present, an opportunity to place yourself under his healing hands should not be missed. Even my cousin knows that."
Did he really mean that the way it sounded? As if it was more about playing doctor than examining my health? Dirty old elf! But if Elrond was anything like his sons, then it was probably true that it could be a worthwhile experience.
"You will find the Last Homely House very different from the woodland realms," my host continued, obviously not needing encouragement to talk. "It is unmistakably elven, and yet reminiscent of the great palaces of men. More refined, you may deem it, and perhaps more to your taste. It is planted firmly on the ground. A multitude of great windows let in sunlight and fresh winds, and the arched roofs strive towards the sky."
It sounded as if he was envious, and I asked him if he would rather live like that, than in a city of trees. Had it been like that where he came from, perhaps?
"No, we are all refugees here in the East," he said wistfully, "guests but not strangers to our new realms."
He did not elaborate, but there was a hint of sadness in his voice, of melancholy and ancient times long lost.
"And living in trees has its rewards," he added in a merrier voice, as if he had already shaken off any thoughts of the past. "There is nothing better than spending a night with your beloved high up on a small talan. They rock so nicely... in the wind, I mean." He winked, and then excused himself, saying that he had preparations to make for the visit, even if it would be a short one.
I watched him as he left, admiring his tall form and the silver hair that flowed over his shoulders, and his smooth steps under the long light-blue robe. His kind counsel had made me more comfortable with the thought of leaving Lórien, and I was glad that he would come with us.
Much later that morning, more like nearly noon, I woke up lying next to Haldir in his flet. We were arranged spoon-style, with my back against his chest, his arm over me, and his legs against mine. As soon as I realized where I was, and who I was with, I snuggled closer and pulled his arm over me tighter. But I kept my eyes closed and even pretended to snore a little.
Before going to sleep, I had told him that I would let him know my final decision, of whether or not I would change my plans and stay in Lórien for the next few days, when I woke up. And I had not really needed to think about it, I knew. It would only be fair, however, to at least consider it.
The mighty warden had certainly done his best to talk me into staying, with several repeat performances. But I think he could tell that it was a lost cause when I asked him, at one point during our moonlit romp in the grass, between efforts, if he knew exactly how many unattached ellith there were in the Last Homely House. To the number.
"Something tells me that I will live to regret mentioning anything about them," Haldir said at the time, but it did not deter his effort to erase them from my mind. And it might have worked; at least I may have decided to stay in Lórien, except that I figured Mal would never be talked into staying behind with me. And even though she might be able to fend off the predatory ellith in Rivendell, she would also have first, last, and only dibs on the king. It was a quandary.
Soft breezes flowed unhindered through the flet. The leaves rustled and the tree swayed a bit, which I was learning to enjoy. I could feel Haldir lift himself up on one elbow and then silken strands of elf hair blew gently over my neck and face. I was sure he was looking down at me. I tried not to smile while I kept my eyes squeezed shut and snored louder.
"I can tell that you are awake." Gently, he turned me over onto my back to face him. He looked ready to hear my decision, and very handsome, too.
"Haldir, I wish that you could come with us to Rivendell," I answered him before he asked. It seemed the perfect solution. He could keep a majority of the ellith competition occupied.
"It would be enjoyable, but my Lady is depending on me to stay behind with her while her Lord is away, to keep her, and her city, safe from harm." So, Haldir was going to be the man of the house, or the Golden Wood in this instance, while Celeborn was away? How nice for Galadriel. It must be wonderful to be in charge of a whole realm full of lovely elves.
"Can you see how I feel that same kind of loyalty for my king?" For a moment, I almost felt justified for wanting to tag along, as if it was a noble cause right up there with guarding an enchanted realm.
"Loyalty?" Haldir was not fooled. "Is that also a human term for jealousy?" I made a face at him, for being so wise. Sadly, there was no time to go into the finer details of how feeling jealous was indeed a sure sign of loyalty in certain circumstance. Before I had a chance to even begin, a familiar throat clearing sound could be heard far below us, at forest floor level. It was Thaladir's 'time to rise and shine' signal.
"That reminds me of something I meant to ask you," I said to Haldir, before responding to the seneschal below us, "Can you read my mind?"
"No, and you have asked me this before, more than once," he reminded me. "I told you the truth when I said that I cannot." Again that throat was cleared, only a little louder this time, like a snooze alarm.
"I heard you!" I shouted to Thaladir. "What is it? Your Excellency." If I had not thrown in that title, he probably would have waited a while to answer me, to teach me a lesson in proper manners, such as addressing an elf with a title.
"My lady Mary, within the half hour, the young lords of Imladris will escort you to the river's side at the request of the Lady Galadriel." The seneschal's words alarmed me. I crawled over to the edge of the flet and looked at him down there. He was standing as stiff as a soldier with his hands behind his back.
"Am I being thrown out of Lórien?" Behind me, Haldir chuckled.
"No, my lady," answered Thaladir, completely unperturbed by my question. As if it was something that he naturally assumed could happen. "There will be a brief informal farewell ceremony before we take our leave today and your presence has been requested." He said the very last part as if he could not imagine why. It was subtle, but I could hear it.
"I have not eaten breakfast yet, Excellency." Normally, at this point in Thaladir's 'getting Lady Mary to rise from bed' routine at home in Mirkwood, I would have substituted coffee for breakfast. "And aren't you the one who loves badgering me to eat all of my meals on time?"
"There will be refreshments served at the farewell ceremony, my lady" he threw back at me, unperturbed. "I would not advise that you dull your appetite ahead of time."
"But, I need to change my clothes first, Excellency," I countered. "I can't wear the same thing I wore yesterday when I saw... had tea with Galadriel." I figured my accidental stumbling into the Lady's garden would count for more if it sounded like an occasion, and I was not technically lying. Thaladir understood the importance of putting on a good show of how well Mirkwood dresses its mortal subjects for every possibility.
"Yes, that would indeed be grievous," he answered, undaunted. "And quite inexcusable when one considers His Majesty's recent extravagantly magnanimous contribution to your traveling wardrobe. I would suggest that you make haste, Lady Mary."
"Why can't you stay here in Lórien and keep an eye on everything for Galadriel and then Haldir could come with us?" It was technically not fair for me to throw the seneschal such a curve ball, especially when he did not really have control over me in someone else's realm. We were both guests here. But I was already up, dressed, had kissed the March warden, and was climbing down the tree when I said it, so the old grouch had to be happy about that at least. He chose not to answer me.
Without another word, Thaladir led me to my guest talan in order that I could freshen up and dress for the day. I was too hungry to dawdle any more, and he knew it, too. We were leaving for the Last Homely House soon. It was exciting to think about it and that was almost as good as coffee.
To be continued...
Chapter posted: September 5, 2005
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"Long live Thranduil, great Elf-king of Greenwood!"