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1st place in My Precious Awards 2004 as best story by a writer using English as a second language

A Treat from the Kitchen

By: Malinorne
Beta: Mary Aseltyne
Pairing: King Thranduil/OFC
Warnings: NC-17; romantic melancholy
Disclaimer: The city of Minas Tirith, as well as most of the characters, are Tolkien's, and I wrote this for fun, not money.
Summary: Thranduil is in distress and a maidservant is willing to do anything to lighten his mood.
Author's notes: This little fic was inspired by Sheraiah's story "Hidden Agenda" and especially chapter 3, where king Thranduil grieves the loss of his son, who has disappeared without trace during a visit to king Elessar in Minas Tirith. You do not need to read it to understand this, but it is well worth reading for its own sake and can be found here: www.storiesofarda.com
Feedback: Please sign our guestbook or write to to thaladir@yahoo.com

The kitchen of the Citadel of Minas Tirith was as impressive as the rest of the spectacular building that crowned the capital of Gondor. Serving there was hard work, but it was still sought after by many of the daughters of less prominent families living on the lower levels of the White City. Anira's house had stood next to the gate of the second wall, and was crushed completely in the attack of the dark forces at the battle on the Pelennor fields.

She had been lucky to be on duty then, as most of the higher circles had been spared the disaster. Her mother and sisters had not and it took long until she realized that there was nothing she could do for them. Life at court had taken the young woman from her family long before that. At an age when many found husbands, she had been offered a place as a kitchen servant, which, common as it was, still gave her a chance to peek at the lives of the rich and mighty, if even from afar.

Rarely did she serve at tables, only at the largest feasts, but that had been enough for her to start yearning for the attentions of Lord Denethor's older son, Boromir. She had refused all attentions from boys, saving herself, hoping secretly that the Steward's heir would notice her and take her to his bed, like he had so many other maidens. But she had been too young, too childish, and now, the proud lord with the fair hair was gone.

King Aragorn Elessar's reign was different from that of his predecessor, and most agreed that the change was to the better. One thing was the Elves. Though the Queen had renounced her heritage for the sake of love, she was still counted among the fair ones by her subjects. Anira was happy that the King honoured her by being true, though she missed the courtesans who had been sent away. The beautiful women had not always been discreet and the tales of the prowess of some court functionaries never ceased to enchant the kitchen servants.

Now it was the Elves that were the centre of interest, and Legolas was the one who had held a special place in their hearts from the very beginning. The rumours of his disappearance had worried them all, and the sight of his father, the Elf-king from the green woods to the north, grieving, pained them all. Anira had first been frightened of this Elf who emanated even more power than the man she served, but she had learnt that his volatile temper never struck at random. With the prince gone, his handsome father became the new favourite.

The sad Elf-king was adored by the kitchen servants, and they went out of their way in their attempts to bring him the best food they could offer, hoping to make the Elf happier. He was always courteous, but the more time that passed, the more often he declined to eat. One night after a dinner where he nearly hadn't touched his meal, the chief cook decided that some delicacies be taken to the Elf's rooms. By someone who might waken his appetites, as the man put it. Everyone had laughed at that, not taking it serious, but Anira had volunteered. She felt deeply for the Elf and was prepared to serve him in any way he might desire.

A dress was found for her, a light blue one previously belonging to a courtesan, and though its colour doubtlessly suited the former, blond, bearer better, it looked passable with her brown hair as well. The fine fabric made her feel like a confectionary wrapped in colourful paper. The treats for the night were put on a silver tray and she was ready to go.

As she went through the corridors to the formal quarters of the Citadel, straight to the stately rooms of the guest wing, she considered the morsels before her and wondered which one would meet with the Elf's approval. Would it be the mushrooms filled with minced pheasant, with a truffle on top? Or the crayfish? Perhaps the slices of pork marinated in the strong spices of the Haradrim? The garlic cloves in herbal oil? The honey covered walnuts? Or just one of the fruits? She didn't care which, as long as he would just eat something. She was confident he would, as they had all outdone themselves in the kitchen this evening.

She also considered her own appearance, wondering if it would be acceptable to the Elf-king. If he would find her as pretty as she felt in the borrowed garment, if he would really have the desires the cook had indicated, and if, in that case, he would not be discouraged by her inexperience. She also wondered if it would hurt to lie with an Elf. With a man it did, the first time, at least a little, the courtesans used to say. She decided she could bear it as long as it would make him happy.

Receiving no answer when she knocked on the door, she opened it silently, balancing the tray on one hand. When she first entered the room, she thought it empty and was disappointed, but then she saw a tall figure out on the balcony.

The king was looking down into the abyss, resting his hands on the railing. Anira froze in her movements and just took in the sight of him, noticing once more that he was the fairest being she had seen, after the Queen, and the Elf-king's own son. How could she ever have been lusting for Lord Boromir? The Elf was much more appealing, she thought. His hair spilt like a sheer waterfall over his shoulders, perfectly matched by the green tunic he was wearing. The simple belt around his narrow waist did not reveal his status, and it was not necessary.

Her gaze travelled lower, and she blushed at the thought of what the tight leggings must reveal would he turn around. But his strong legs, ending in leather boots, remained still. He did not turn, and didn't even look up when she respectfully addressed him.

"Sire, I have brought you a small gift from the king's kitchen." She hoped she sounded much more confident than she was. Being alone with the Elf-king in his room was so much different from seeing him with the lords and ladies at court.

"I do not desire to eat," he replied. "I am not hungry." Considering the feelings of ones who had prepared the food, no doubt with much care, he added. "Not now. Put it away."

His voice. It was rich, melodious and velvety. But cold and lifeless, and it made her sad.

She looked around for the best spot for the tray and finally decided on a low cupboard not far from the door. There was a proper table in the room, of course, but it was over by the window and she did not dare to approach the Elf-king without his permission. He did not seem to wish to be disturbed. She set down the tray, but rather than leaving, she knelt modestly on a corner of the carpet beside the cupboard and hoped that he would not mind her waiting. She couldn't just leave before he'd even looked at her! Even if it seemed less than likely now that the Elf would want her.

While she waited patiently for him to notice her, she studied the carpet and its woven patterns of birds and flowers. It was beautiful, and it was soft, which made the long wait bearable. She did think to leave, more than once, but every time she lifted her gaze and saw the Elf standing outside, her energy was renewed. She watched him and thought about how it would feel to touch him; his hair, his back, his chest. And how his hands would feel on her body. If he would want her.

It was getting dark now and she wondered if he would approve of her lighting the candles, but before she had made up her mind, the king turned.

Thranduil stopped in mid-movement, seeing the maiden. How was it possible that he had not sensed her presence? He had allowed his worry for his son to lower his defences to the degree that he did not notice a mortal! This could not do. He needed to be on top of his abilities if he were to be of any help to his beloved child. In a way, he was thankful that it was a simple servant girl who had unwittingly reminded him, and not a powerful enemy sneaking through when his senses were dimmed. Unless she was sent by someone. No. In that case she would not have waited this patiently. And he had seen her before, registered her face among the group of faithful servants of Elessar. But he did not need her.

"I do not requite waiting upon," he told her quietly. "You may leave."

Anira gaped in shock, at a loss of what to say, or do. Disobeying a command from a king, even if not her own lord, went against everything she had learned, but still she felt she had to do it. He could not send her away when she had not even got the chance to try to help him.

"Please do not send me away," she blurted out, while scrambling to her legs that were numb from the lack of motion. "That is what they said would happen," she added in a whisper, lowering her head in shame that she had spoken out of turn.

Thranduil watched the fretting maiden, who obviously had a trouble standing still as the blood returned to her legs. No wonder when she had been sitting for so long. Her quiet refusal to leave intrigued him.

"Well, then. You may stay." He shook his head at the smile that seemed to light up her whole being. The days when such a simple action could make him happy were long gone now. "You may as well use my bed," he added in a tired voice. "I have no intention of attempting to rest this night."

He watched her as she went to the bed, eager and at the same time hesitating, it seemed. Her unsteady limp made him wonder again why she desired to stay, but he knew better than to try to understand the strange motives of mortals. Their emotions carried them like leaves in the wind, in a fluttering unsteadiness that showed that they did not belong to this world.

As she lay in the bed, she closed her eyes and thought about the Elf in the room. She could not hear him breathe, no matter how hard she tried, but she could feel his scent in the bed linen and it took her thoughts back to the courtesans' tales. She wanted the Elf to touch her like in the stories, to make her skin tingle and burn under his caresses. He smelt so good, and he was watching her, she thought, and perhaps, if she moved just a little, he would finally see how desirable she was?

Nothing happened. When she opened her eyes, she could see him standing by the window again, a dark silhouette against the lighter sky. How could she ever have thought that she could lessen his grief for even a moment? Her feelings of hopelessness overwhelmed her, and she wept, silently, hiding her face in the pillow. She wanted to hide from him, and to flee, to just get out of there.

Thranduil heard the mortal's fitful attempt of rest and tried to ignore them, though he began to regret that he had allowed her to stay. But when he heard her crying softly, he had to speak. The vast depth of his own grief did not leave him indifferent to the pain of others.

"Why are you weeping, maiden?"

"I cannot tell you, Your Highness. I will not disturb you longer." She tried to sound dignified, but without much success.

Her resistance annoyed him. While he could do nothing for his own grief, he did not need the added burden of another being in distress.

"You will not leave my quarters until you tell me," he said with a low growl.

Anira looked up for a second, seeing his eyes narrowing dangerously, and it frightened her. She pulled the sheet tighter around herself and began to cry harder. She wept for many things. Disappointment in his lack of interest in her as a woman, shame over her failure to stir his appetite, her injured pride and the increasing realization of her stupidity to start this all. All had turned out so wrong!

The king began pacing the floor. She didn't dare to look, but she could hear his footsteps now, which meant he must be really angry. Then, suddenly, the sound ceased and she felt the mattress give in to his weight as he sat on the bedside. The sheet was pulled from her and she flinched, trembling.

"Tell me," he said again, his voice far from soft, but less agitated than before. This was a king demanding an answer. This time she could not hide. Still sobbing, she began to speak, but had to pause to wipe her face on her sleeve. It felt bad to put the silky fabric to such mundane use, but staining the Elf-king's bed linen had been even worse. Pulling herself together with an effort, she opened her mouth again, and this time the words came.

"I hoped that you would take your pleasure with me," she whispered with an unsure glance at him. "It was decided that if the treats of our kitchen do not tempt your palate, that you may still have other desires." She hid her face in her hands, unsure of what to do now when all was lost.

The king nodded slowly.

"Are you here by your own will, then, not by the command of your superiors?" He would not have a maiden sent to him like a lamb to the slaughter.

"Yes, my lord," she replied, hastily looking up at him again. "I have seen you grieving and I thought, but it was foolish of me, that perhaps you would like to... and ...and ..." She just couldn't bring herself to tell him that she was in awe of his beauty, and wisdom and power and the mystery of his race, and therefore had ached for him to touch her. "Forgive my impertinence," she began again, "I am not worthy of your attention. I am not fair".

"Look at me!" It was a command, not a request. Quickly she raised her head and did as he had told her. He took her chin, holding her steady as he looked deeply into her eyes, searching her soul for the truth she would not clothe in words.

She felt like drowning in those deep green pools that were his eyes, bottomless in their wisdom. Trembling she awaited her doom, and the simplicity of his words when he finally dropped his hand surprised her.

"You are not without beauty. Rest now."

The swiftness with which the maiden fell into the arms of Mandos' gentler brother, as soon as he had covered her with the sheet, surprised him. Mortals were a mystery in their own, and though he seldom envied the weaker children of Eru, or even thought about them, this was such a moment. He would have given much to be able to rest peacefully, rather than again occupy his mind with the fruitless thoughts about his beloved son. If Legolas was truly lost, this side of the sea held nothing more for him.

He retained his lonely watch on the balcony, staring out into the darkness for hours. Even now in his despair he could not help marvelling at Elbereth's lights that continued to burn clear, little beacons of hope. Perhaps not all was lost. Perhaps there was still a faint spark of hope.

He returned inside and without thinking put a couple of morsels from the tray into his mouth, absentmindedly washing them down with gulps of ruby wine. The maiden was still sleeping, and he took to watching her from his position at the cupboard, continuing to feed himself. The juicy fruit between his lips somehow made him notice the softness of her features when she was resting. She must have stirred some time during the night, as the sheet was not quite covering her form. With his eyes he caressed the suppleness of her skin. He did not need to touch her to know what she would feel like.

More time than usual had passed since he had company in his bed. This journey had stretched far beyond the planned amount of time and he suddenly longed for his home. There, loving arms would greet him and the affairs of men would be forgotten.

But what had led this maiden to him? It did not seem to be merely a wish to gain a position at court by sporting an influential lover, something that he had witnessed before. He had found thoughtfulness in her, and it touched him. Who had she forsaken to be with him this night? Parents, husband, a child perhaps?

She had given him the gift of her time and it would be heartless not to accept it, to not even take a sample by simply resting with her, holding her.

Careful not to disturb her sleep, he removed his clothes and lay down beside her. She was facing away from him, making it easy for him to slowly run a hand over her neck and shoulder, then burying his nose in her hair. He delighted in this nearness to another being and moved closer to her, holding her loosely as to not startle her should she awaken.

Absentmindedly he began to caress her front, feeling the softness of her breasts through the silky garment. He felt her rising awareness and considered stopping, but did not. Her breathing became shallower and to his surprise, when she stirred, it was to push back against him. The feeling of the twin orbs of her backside, enhanced rather than lessened by the fabric of her skirt, pressing against his naked thighs, caused a familiar stirring in his loins. It surprised him, as he had thought his sorrow too overwhelming to allow his body to react this strongly.

Anira slowly awoke, aware of the hands holding her, caressing her, and recognized the smell of the Elf-king immediately. He had come to her at last, and the feeling of his hand moving over her bodice was even more wonderful than she had imagined. She moved closer to him and delighted in the feeling of his twitching member against her backside. He must think her desirable, then!

Encouraged by her response, he pressed himself harder against her, continuing to move his hand over her body until her breathing became shallow and he was sure that her desire matched his own. Still, he wanted to hear it from her lips. He grazed at her ear and whispered hoarsely; "Do you wish me to claim you, then?"

"Yes, my lord," she replied with a moan, as his hand had now slipped between her thighs to feel her arousal. "Yes, please," she said again when he continued to touch her there, in a manner none of the courtesans had described. She was caught between sensations, between the wish to press back against his hardness and a need to buck against his hand, against those merciless fingers. She whimpered when he heard him chuckle, a deep throaty sound that added to her heat. "Pleeeaaase," she mewled when she lost contact with his hand for a short moment, until she felt it again on her backside as her skirt was slid further up to her waist.

Thranduil could only chuckle at the maiden's delightful responses that told him all he needed to know about her eagerness to be impaled upon his now rock-hard shaft. One could almost think she had not encountered a decent lover before, which would not be too odd in this realm of men. He did not doubt that those not raised by elves were as thoughtless in bed as they were valiant in battle. But he would make sure this maiden learnt the pleasure that could be had from a male.

He would have tormented her even longer, with fingers, and perhaps mouth as well, but her pleading moans made him take pity on her.

"Then I will grant you what you seek," he growled in her ear, breathing heavily and revelling in her shivering response. She seemed to hold her breath as he pushed her garment aside and lifted her thigh to position himself. Obediently she opened her legs and he rewarded her with a quick caress from behind that made her breathe again, in little pants. Then he found the entrance to her hidden depths and began to slowly, but steadily push his way inside. The mere pressure of her tightness was overwhelming even before he began to move.

Anira gasped at the unusual intrusion, but felt no pain beyond a slight feeling of unease at one point. She would not be torn by the Elf's instrument, she told herself, and when his hand began to touch her again, it was all she could do not to cry out loud in want.

It ended much too soon. The Elf had taken hold of her, thrusting fervently into her again and again, until she thought it couldn't get any better, and then he had suddenly stopped, shouted loudly in his beautiful but incomprehensive language and removed himself from her.

Cautiously she turned over to look at him and it was only the satisfied smile on his face that convinced her that all was well. The realization that she had not done anything wrong, that she had successfully completed what she came for, made her incredibly happy. It would be too much to hope for that he would touch her again, in that place that was aching for more.

The king was roused from his bliss by the realization that the maiden was preparing to go. Did she think that of him, that he would take his pleasure and leave her unfulfilled? He groaned angrily at the thought and reached out to catch her by her wrist.

"No," he told her firmly, "we are not finished yet. Come here."

"Yes, my lord," she replied meekly to his stern words, not showing how her heart had jumped with joy at the prospect of staying some more with him. Would he, could he do it again? Eagerly she crept back into the bed, turning her back towards him as before.

It pleased him to no end that she was indeed eager for more, but this time he wanted to watch her, to see her lose control completely under him.

"I want to see you," he said, "without the dress."

As she sat up to begin tugging at the fabric, he stopped her and made a short work of the garment before gently pushing her to lie on her back. She seemed to be glowing with lust and it took just a few simple caresses to her torso to make her plead just like before. He took a taut nipple between his lips, sucked it hard and listened to the music of her moans.

Then he took his place between her thighs and this time he made it last longer, as long as she needed. He watched her features changing with his rocking movements, first to pleasure, then to urging need, then to utter abandon as she cried out in her completion. He reached his second peak then, this time truly satisfied.

Afterwards, they both dozed off, the king more exhausted than he had allowed even himself to see, having gone without rest for many days, and the maiden with a contented little smile on her face.

He felt, sooner than saw, her stirring in the early morning light, but decided to let her take her leave of him pretending not to notice, as she obviously was trying hard to be quiet and not rouse him. Surprised, he felt himself drift back into rest and he allowed it to happen.

When he awoke somewhat later, he felt more at ease than he had for quite some time. There was still the deeply distressing situation with Legolas' disappearance, but he could deal with it. He would join the search party himself, and the culprits would be found and punished. His youngest would come back to him.

He was stopped in his thoughts by a disturbing find. There was blood on the sheets, not much, but a small ruby stain that seemed to stare at him accusingly. The realization struck him at once.

"Yrch!" She had been a virgin, and he had not noticed. He cursed his carelessness, another sign that he had let grief affect his normally keen senses. He was glad at least that he had been in a gentle mood and had not ruined her. She had been properly satisfied and slept soundly, and furthermore, the whole affair had been instituted by her. Still he needed to see her to make sure, that much he owed her.

He hurried to the lower parts of the Citadel, asking the baffled servants and court functionaries he met for the way to the kitchen. Finally there, he threw the heavy oak door open and glanced around at the occupants of the room, all frozen in mid-motion at the impossibility of such a high guest. The one he was looking for was not there.

"Where is the maiden who brought me food last night?" He made an effort to sound benevolent, but his purpose was not carried through. A matronly woman came forth, anxiously wiping her red hands on her apron. She made a clumsy attempt at a curtsy, and then replied.

"If she has upset you, my lord, I am sure it was not her intention to do so..."

"Where is she?" he demanded. His impatience was apparent in his voice, and the woman shrank back somewhat, wordlessly pointing towards a door in the far end of the room.

He was there in a quick stride, bursting through the door as if his life depended on it, but was instantly relieved at finding the maiden calmly wiping dishes in a group of other women.

Anira nearly jumped with astonishment at seeing the Elf here, in this unlikely place. He did not fit in here and it made her feel uneasy. She was grateful for the pleasure he had shown her, but now, in broad daylight, she did not know what to say to him. Speechless, she watched him approach her and then suddenly fall to his knees, lift her hand to his lips and kiss it.

And then, he did something more wondrous than she had thought possible. He put his arms around her and touched his lips to her core through her dress and apron! She wondered if the apron was clean enough, but soon she could do nothing more than concentrate on the kiss that warmed and soothed her, taking away the soreness she had felt there since awakening.

Oblivious of the puzzled glances from the other servants, she buried her hands in the Elf-king's golden tresses and did not let go of him until he removed her hands, taking them in his own. He looked at her kindly and uttered words that she would always remember, but never understand, words that sounded like the blessing everyone then agreed that they were.

"Namárie. Nai hiruvalye verno i ná valda faila órelya ú caureo."
[Farewell. May you find a husband worthy of your brave and generous heart.]

The end

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Posted: May 12, 2004

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