zee reads – July edition.

Hello and how are we all? I’m job hunting – interview Thursday, back on old stomping grounds. Short on funds, short on a lot of things. Life is a complete bear right now. but I have faith in abundance.

I am so behind on everything in my blog-world. Behind at RABBBWW, behind here for my reading challenge. So, shall we?

Last month, i finished the current of the foreigner series. I can’t find out when the next one is due. It appears the author has been ill, so I’ll keep an eye out for that. I found a new series – very unusual genre me – paranormal romance. Read my lips – non-stop smut fest.

He kinda looks like unkempt john porter, don’t he? Meet Zander Tarakesh, king of the Vampires. The boy has the thickest Scottish accent!

Along the edges of darkness, a war of attrition rages between the demon plane and the Tehrex Realm. Dark Warriors alone stand between humans and the evil that seeks to destroy them. Zander Tarakesh, the sexy as sin vampire king, leads the battle. Zander is battle-hardened and accustomed to command, yet wrestles to regain control when his Fated Mate is propelled into his world, bombarding him with unfamiliar emotions. His life depends on him uniting with Elsie, the slip of a mortal, who unknowingly protects a vital piece of his soul. Eradicating the demons will be an easier task than combating her sense of guilt and betrayal to gain her acceptance, loyalty, and ultimately her love. And, he must do this before she plunges a stake in his heart. One thing is certain; the flames of passion ignite a fire in their shared souls…

Elsie Hayes’ life is shattered after the vicious murder of her husband. Intent on revenge, she spends her evenings killing creatures others only see in nightmares. A supernatural event teleports Elsie into a world filled with violence, magic and unexpected lust and love when she is thrust from widow to Fated Mate of the enigmatic vampire king. Can she lower the protective shield around her heart, giving herself to a vampire whose power is the very reason her life was changed forever?

After suffering a century of torture and humiliation, Jace still bears the scars that have left his heart closed to love and acceptance. He escapes the prison walls only to realize he’s mystically bound to his tormentor. Believing he doesn’t deserve a Fated Mate, he keeps his distance from females. Renowned for being a level-headed warrior, his control is pushed to the limit when he meets the Vampire Queen’s sister. Not only is his patience tested by Cailyn, but his skills as a sorcerer are challenged when he fights to save her mortal soul.

Cailyn is instantly spellbound by the damaged soul she views in the sparkling depths of Jace’s amethyst eyes. The attraction is so strong that it forces Cailyn to question the direction of the life she has planned with another. Her mundane human life is shaken up by a violent car crash, a Fae spell, expeditions into the bayou, and battles with demons. Amidst the chaos, the developing bond between her and Jace strengthens, leaving their desire for one another undeniable. Of one thing Cailyn is certain, she must help Jace explore the depth of his scars to overcome the wounds of his tortured past and find a future…but will it be with her?

Pema Rowan is the first born of the mysterious and powerful triplets whom prophesy has declared would unite in power and change the face of the Tehrex Realm forever, yet Pema and her sisters have eschewed their role in the world of magic in order to run their business. Pema’s life is turned upside-down when the blessings of Fated Mates returns to the realm. It is further complicated when a mysterious and gorgeous ursine shifter, Ronan, enters her life. Pema doesn’t want to be attracted to Ronan, especially since he once belonged to her archenemy. Pema faces danger left and right as she struggles with what her body wants and her mind refuses. As the High Priestess, Cele, seeks to garner the power of the triplets, Pema must choose between the safety of those she loves, or giving into her darkest desires.

Ronan Blackwell has come to Seattle with the female who has helped him find peace and solace after centuries of living with grief and isolation. When she ends their relationship, he is determined to win her back, only to have everything he has ever believed in challenged by the sexy little witch, Pema. As his emotions force him to choose between the only love he has ever known, and a passion that promises to tear him apart, he discovers that not everything is as it seems. Will the animal inside him win and show Pema the true meaning of life on the wild side, or will he be torn apart by the mysterious forces set against them?

Isis Rowan is the fiery middle sister of the prophesized witch triplets, and when she finds out that the High Priestess Cele has not only attempted to kill her sister, but is also practicing dark magic and committing atrocious acts to gain power, she is ready to chop off some heads. To make matters worse, Cele has also targeted the gorgeous and sexy human-sex demon hybrid Braeden, who also happens to be her Fated Mate. Isis is ready to kick some ass, until she realizes that Braeden is not all that he seems. Once she uncovers the truth, it’s all-out war, and while she has no problem giving her destructive temper free reign, she must channel her anger to thwart Cele, and save those she loves. Goddess help the evil High Priestess when Isis finally gets ahold of her.

Braeden Hall, a cambion who needs sex to survive, finds himself in an impossible situation when his son is kidnapped by an insane High Priestess and held captive. To free him, Braeden thinks he’s given a simple task of collecting information on a sexy female until the witch he is to manipulate ends up being the one female meant for him, his Fated Mate. He is ultimately forced to choose between loving Isis and protecting his son. He wants nothing more than to claim Isis for eternity, but that means his son will die. The precarious balance all cambions live with is threatened, and he fears becoming a full-blown sex demon who will rape and pillage without thought. Will he be able to overcome Isis’ infamous temper and convince her to not only become his ally, but ultimately, his mate? 

Of all the Dark Warriors, Kyran Tarakesh is the most aberrant. Having witnessed the brutal murder and rape of his mother seven centuries ago, his sexual preferences are twisted and perverse. He walks the razors edge of control and he likes it that way, until he loses that balance and accidentally kills one of his lovers. As second in line to the Vampire throne, he is precariously close to losing his position, not to mention the respect of his brother and fellow warriors. Just when he thinks it can’t get any worse, the Goddess proves him wrong. With her wicked sense of humor, the Goddess catapults him to the dragon realm of Khoth with Mackendra Callaghan, the very human he has been lusting about for months since meeting her. Mackendra not only plunges a knife deep into his heart, she flees and fights him at every turn, inflaming his desires. The surprises keep coming when he discovers she is his Fated Mate. Every belief he has ever had about intimacy is called into question when his mate gives him a taste of true pleasure for the first time. The passion that burns between them is hot enough to burn them to cinders, but he still must dispel her prejudices about vampires and break through her barriers or lose the other half of his soul forever. 

Oooh, my favorite romance cover model!!! he is gorgeous!!!

Suvi is the youngest of the Rowan triplets and prefers high heels to combat boots and parties to battles. Unfortunately, lately, she finds herself fighting more than she does drinking martinis. If she isn’t rebuilding the business she shares with her sisters, she’s searching for their archenemy, Cele. The way Suvi sees it, they’ve done their part and it’s time for a celebration, but that isn’t in the cards for her. The moment she has dreamt of her entire life happens when she meets her Fated Mate, yet she isn’t able to plan the party of the century. Instead, she and her sisters have seventy-two hours to investigate a murder, locate a rogue vampire, stop an evil witch from stealing their powers and save her mate from a death sentence. She wants nothing more than to spend her days and nights in sensual oblivion with her vampire, but the clock is ticking.

Caine DuBray’s world is upended when he wakes up next to a human female that has been drained dry. As the only vampire on scene, her death is immediately pinned on him. He believes he is innocent, but the problem is that he can’t recall the details of their date. Rather than executing him immediately, the Vampire King takes pity on him and gives him three days to prove his innocence. He discovers that one of the witches he is directed to is his Fated Mate. Their passion sets him on fire and leaves him desperate for the chance to spend eternity with the sexy witch.

Ah, yes, Never. I love Never, almost as much as I love Crispin.

In the demi-god’s wake, a stone-plague creeps across the lands and Never must stop the ancient decay before it swallows everyone he cares for.

Despite his determination, there is no cure and no guarantee that even his Amouni blood will be enough. Never’s search for the means to fight back leads him to the Amber Isle once more, where the island continues to hold its secrets close.

But it is there that Never encounters the beautiful and mysterious Rikeva, a Quisoan Weaver on her own quest, and realises that together, there might be a way to stop the plague after all…

And there you have it – 6 over-sexed romantic paranormals (there are 20 currently) and the next installment of Never.

Please keep me and my son in your thoughts and prayers. we moved out of our home this week and life is pretty tough right now. I really need this job.

Of Birthday Cakes and Bunnies – A Vessel Misadventure 38/45

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Of Birthday Cakes and Bunnies

***

Here comes Peter Cottontail

Hoppin’ down the bunny trail

Hippity Hoppity

Easter’s on its waaaay…

***

          The sun was out over Rivendell, warming the shadows, chasing the dew from the last of the frost bitten follage of the gardens. Gone was the snow, the biting air. Gone was the rustle of dried leaves.

          Gone was the peace and the quiet that the previous Lord, Elrond Peredhil, had enjoyed so.

          “Beckett! That was my egg!”

          “I got it first, therefore it is my egg!”

          “I saw it first!”

          “I got it first!”

          “You warg! Give me back my egg!”

          “Certainly! Catch!”

          Splat!

          High screeching of an angry, broken-hearted little Elleth rent the air, frightening off lovebirds and robins.

          Bronwyn sat on a bench, layers of diaphanous robes floating about and pooling at her feet. She shook her head in ire and started to stand.

          “N’uma, Baraermin.” Her husband laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “He has displeased you, therefore he is my ion and I will deal with him.” Haldir strode off into the gardens, his gaze fixed on the red-headed Elfling who did not see him coming.

          Bronwyn heard someone sit behind her, a blonde head coming to rest on her shoulder. She reached backward to pet the silken locks. “Rumil, you act exhausted! I was the one up late, coloring eggs and baking and decorating birthday cakes!”

          “That you were!” Haldir’s brother sighed heavily. “But Heridil, Celeborn and I were up before dawn to hide the eggs and the chocolate bunnies. Ah!” Rumil’s head rose. “Did you beat that wayward ion of yours?”

          “N’uma. Move!” Haldir shooed Rumil away and took his place on the bench, enveloping Bronwyn into strong arms. “I simply made him give several of his eggs to Faeowynne.”

          “I am sure he was perturbed at your decision.”

          She felt him hug her tighter. “He was not happy. I swear, Baraer, you might say he has my arrogance and I admit he favors me, but he has your stubborn bottom lip when he pouts!” Breath expelled painfully when she jabbed him in the side.

          “I do not pout!”

          Several snorts exploded behind her and she turned to see Rumil, Heridil, and Celeborn standing in row behind the bench.

          “I don’t! How dare you even suggest that I do such a thing.” She turned back around and crossed her hands over Haldir’s large ones. “I swear!” she mumbled. “I don’t know why I even put up with the lot of you!” She began plucking angrily at perceived lint on Haldir’s tunic. “I’m up half the night, making cakes for the girls, because Faeowynne likes chocolate and Anselm prefers apple spice. I made chocolate bunnies…”

          “You lie!” Rumil chortled. “Oh you foul deceitful creature…”

          “Okay, okay, okay… I didn’t make the chocolate bunnies. Thank Iluvatar Elrond’s baker is human and stayed.” The Elves agreed quietly. Bronwyn’s cooking was passable at best and Elrond’s baker did the most positively sinful things with confections…

          Heridil’s thoughts were interrupted by an insistent tugging at his tunic. He looked down to the see the youngest daughter of his friends looking up at him with large blue eyes.

          “Heridil. I can’ts find my bunny. Beckett has his and Faeowynne has hers. Beckett says he’s gonna find mine and eat the eyes.” The lower lip on the child began to quiver. “Do you know where the Easter bunny hid my bunny?”

          The quiet Elf smiled down at the little Elleth. Taking her by the hand, he led her back into the garden. “No, but perhaps I can help you find your bunny.”

          Bronwyn was looking over her husband’s shoulder, smiling at the retreating form of the tall Elf and her daughter. “Heridil is so patient with her.”

          Haldir’s thoughts were pensive. He had noticed his daughter would seek his friend out as much as she did her Ada. He felt a twinge of jealousy.  “He needs a wife and Elflings of his own.” An elbow jabbed him again. “Baraer, must you jab me that way?” He turned her loose to rub his aching side.

          “Tithen Aras, I am most curious.” Celeborn decided to speak up, hoping to aid his former MarchWarden from being bruised too terribly bad. “I do not understand this business with colored eggs and spring bunnies…”

          “In my Earth, Easter coincides with the Spring Equinox. It is a time of rebirth, renewal. Life that has been dormant comes back in its glory. It is a time to celebrate the fertility of the earth, of life. And let’s be honest,” she whispered, conspiratorially, “what is more reproductive than the rabbit?” She smiled saucily at Haldir.

          “Hmmm!” Haldir pulled her in closely. “Ready to discuss agreeing again?” He pressed his head to hers.

          “ARGH! Beckett! You Orc!”

          Haldir slumped as he felt his wife’s body shaking with laughter. “Absolutely not. I will not bring more children into this world for Beckett to pester.” She smiled and pointed with her chin. “Looks as if Anselm found her chocolate rabbit.” Haldir turned to see Heridil slowly making his way, allowing the tiny, chattering Elleth beside him to keep up. He was carrying her basket, as her hands were quite full of edible rabbit.

          “She’s a cutie, Cormmin. We did good.” Bronwyn whispered.

          “If you are saying she is a beautiful Elfling and we should be proud, then aye. I agree.” Haldir kissed his wife’s forehead and stood up. “I will go get our battling offspring for lunch.”

          More screeching from the gardens.

          “Perhaps, I shall leave those two out there to commence war and we can go in and eat in peace?” Haldir looked at his wife.

          “It is Anselm’s birthday as well.”

          Haldir shrugged. “Ai.” He headed off down the path to where the sounds of scuffling could now be heard.

          A well-known form sat next to Bronwyn and she was well prepared for the familiar embrace.

          “I have another question, lirimaer.”

          Bronwyn patted the hands that came around her and anchored them safely at her waist. “Certainly, Celeborn. What do you wish to know?”

          “Why do you celebrate the date of birth and not the date of conception?”

          She smiled and turned to take in the handsome ElfLord. “Human women are very different from Elves. Our reproductive systems work almost constantly, due to short life spans, and we don’t really know the exact date we become pregnant. Most of the time, we are six to eight weeks pregnant before we really know that we are. So we celebrate the day our children come into the world.” She grinned up at him. “Understand?”

          Celeborn looked down at the minx in his arms and with a long finger, pushed an errant curl from her eye. “I believe so.”  He opened his mouth to say something, only for her to interrupt him.

          “No, I do not wish to go be bad!” Celeborn’s shoulders slumped in mock defeat. She had beaten him to the punch. Seeing her husband come through the trees with an Elfling in hand, she stood up, arms outstretched. Her daughter ran happily and jumped in her mother’s arms.

          “I found a chocolate bunny and seven pink eggs and two orange eggs and five green eggs. I had nine blue eggs, but Beckett took them and said girls cannot have blue anything!

          “I left all the pink eggs.” Beckett intoned seriously. “Really, mother…”

          “Did you find a chocolate bunny?”

          “Yes.”

          Bronwyn turned to look at her daughters. “And both of you found chocolate bunnies?”

          Anselm lifted hers for all to see and Faeowynne nodded. Her mouth was full of chocolate bunny ears and a small bit trickled down her chin. In the way of small children, she wiped her mouth on the sleeve of her tunic.

          Bronwyn stretched out her hand to her youngest Elfling.

          “No more chocolate, sweetling. We have a ham and sweet carrots and cake inside.”

          “And candles? Do we have candles to blow out?”

          “But of course!”

          The little Elleth ran excitedly into the home of Elrond, determined to be the first to blow out her candles. The rest of the Elves made to move, follow her in.

          Beckett hung back.

          “Beckett, why do you linger?” Haldir asked. “I know it is not your birthday cake, but there will be some for you as well.”

          Beckett shrugged and walked up to his sister.

          “Anselm.” He reached out his hand.

          There was a blue egg in it.

          “Do not say I have never given you anything.” He gently plopped it in her basket and strode into the house. The group stared at him, dumbfounded at this unexpected turn of events. “Of course,” he spoke over his shoulder as he reached the doorway, “the longer you stay out here, the more of your cake I will eat!”

          Anselm screamed at the top of her lungs, shoving the basket, with its chocolate bunny into her mother’s hands and chased her brother into the house.

          Bronwyn felt Haldir’s strong arms pull her into his embrace.

          “Your children…”

          “Uma, they are mine when they displease you.”

          Deeeeep breath.

          Screaming from the house.

          “Don’t mention the word agree for at least… four hundred years.”

          “I understand.”

          “I love you, Cormmin.”

          “I never doubt it for a moment!”

          “Want some cake?”

          Haldir put his arm through Bronwyn’s and led her into the house.

          “I want to dip you in chocolate and lick it off!”

          “Oooooooh!”

***

fini

***

The Vessel 37/45

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Fey in the Forest or Skulkers in the night



Orophin and Bronwyn walked through the gardens, slowly, taking care not to disturb the frozen beds and staying to the paths. He leaned on her less and less each day and slowly, he came back to his old self.

He still grieved for his children and he still heard the call of the sea.

She and Haldir had decided in the night , that had it not been for Tomasil’s desire to go to Valinor with his Ada, Orophin would probably had faded before reaching Rivendell.

Tomasil was like a puppy. A little lost puppy. Every day, he picked someone else to follow and pester. He asked endless questions, wanted fathomless answers. He became everyone’s shadow.

Rúmil said it was just like having Orophin growing up again.
Celeborn knew it was like having a young Orophin around again.


And as Orophin’s will and desire to move on grew, even if only for the sake of his youngest child, his interest in his skill, his old life returned. Soon, he and Faeowynne were off together, shooting, testing each other’s abilities.

Faeowynne, despite her lack of decorum and tact, succeeded in bringing her uncle out of his doldrums.
Beckett and Orelinde continued to sneak off, sometimes to explore the woods and plains surrounding Rivendell, sometimes to explore each other.

Oh, alright. They always explored each other.

Bronwyn poured over maps, left over scrolls, looking for anything that she might have missed. Looking for any excuse to stay longer, put off the inevitable.

She did not see the growing relationship between her son and Legolas’ daughter.

Anselm became more and more in tuned with nature. She spent more time in the trees, in the woods, listening and watching to the animals. More often than not, she took a lute that her Ada had given her and sang. She completely ignored the dangers of wandering off, much to the consternation of her parents. She was to busy seeing the beauty of nature, of music, the Elves.

One Elf in particular.

And oh, she wanted him. But how to get his attention…

Bronwyn’s knives barely answered her returning gestures. The day was coming; coming soon and she responded by searching for more things to do, more places to explore, return to. There was never anything.

Haldir could feel her growing ire, her growing desperation. And quietly, he shared in her despair.

Rúmil was now starting to hear the call of the gulls.

Celeborn watched as the family unconsciously prepared to leave for the Undying Lands. He did not hear the call and still had not decided on whether or not to go to Valinor. He was having dreams, some disturbing; some, not so disturbing. Some were rather… nice, making him feel a thousand years young.
He also saw the relationships of the children that Legolas, Haldir, and Bronwyn did not seem to see. And he kept that information to himself.

Afterall, he was not known as ‘Celeborn the Wise’ for nothing.

Heridil watched. And guarded. And waited. Headaches were beginning to plague him. He knew what it was and it disturbed him.

Time grew shorter and shorter.

***


Hey Little Red Riding Hood
You sure are lookin’ good
You’re everything
A big bad wolf could wantHowl!

Sam the Sham and the Pharoah’s
I don’t know who wrote it

***

Her interest captured, she shimmied down the tree to get a better look at the young bluebird, floundering on the ground. Anselm was intrigued by the wonderment of the new life, being pushed from the nest by parents who were not over-indulgent. As she leaned against the tree, she felt it, no, not felt…
heard it…

heard it, sigh.
She sighed with it. Like the young bluebird, she too would soon be jumping from the nest, the safe cocoon, spun and furnished by her parent’s love. Whispers of past conversations flew through her mind…


***
Listen to me!
Little Red Riding Hood
I don’t think little big girls should
Go walking in these spooky old woods alone
Howl!
***

“Ada?” She had asked once, while he was braiding her hair. (He did it so much better than Mama, having had over 3000 years practice.) “Ada. What should I be when I grow up?”

Haldir’s fingers had deftly arranged the soft moon-silk tresses, anchoring the braids securely with clips bartered for in an Enedwaith market. In the mirror they stood in front of, she could see the concentration on his face.

“You should be anything you wish, sweetling.” he stated firmly, He carefully placed locks of hair on her shoulders and smiled. “What do you wish to be when you grow up?”


“I want to be Mama.” She watched her father’s eyebrow arch. “I want to go where you would not allow Mama to go. I want to go into the desert of Far Hara…”

Haldir turned her to face him and gently placed a finger on his youngest daughter’s lips. “There is a reason why I would not allow your mother to go. The danger outweighs the knowledge. Likewise, I shall not allow you to go.” He kissed the furrowed brow. “And besides,” he added, “there is only one of your mother!” Thank Iluvatar, he added silently. He left the room, leaving Anselm in front of the mirror.

She pursed her lips in deep thought and glanced at the green-eyed Elf standing in the doorway, with his arms crossed.

“Yes, Heridil?”

The Elf’s eyes gazed at her; she felt he could look into her soul. “You are more like your mother then he admits. You are not of this world. But you should forge your own path.” He turned and followed her Ada. Her eyes followed the retreating back until it could no longer be seen.

“Anie. That is as many words I as have ever heard uttered from that Elf’s mouth!” Her twin, Faeowynne, looked up from the bed. She was polishing her bow. Again. Anselm looked at her through her reflection in the mirror.

“Wynie.” Only they used the diminutive forms of each other’s names and then only in private. “He only speaks when he has something important to say.” She smiled down the hallway where the quiet Elf had disappeared. “I like that about him.”

***

The bluebird suddenly rose in the air and fluttered drunkenly off. Anselm checked the location of the sun. It was almost sunset. Still time to explore the woods surrounding Imladris, she thought. She wandered deeper, listening to the groanings of the trees.

She did not notice the feral, hungry eyes that followed her.

***

“Rúmil? Orophin? Is Anselm with you?” Bronwyn’s anxious eyes searched the small group, returning from the hunt.

“She is not here?” Haldir came in behind his brothers, both fists full of long-eared conies. “Have you checked the gardens? The falls?” Haldir knew his daughter well. His wife did not jump to conclusions concerning this child and he could feel her concern, growing now by leaps and bounds.

“Haldir, we have searched everywhere.” Celeborn’s voice was even, but tight. “We had hoped she was with you.” He motioned to Tomasil, who took the conies from Haldir.

“Ada. Orophin and I killed…”

“I know.” Haldir felt Bronwyn’s panic rise. His wife did not need to be reminded that Faeowynne and Orophin had killed several Orcs nearby just on the other side of the river the previous week. “Tomasil. Faeowynne.” Haldir’s voice was control personified. “Take your uncles’ and Heridil’s catches into the kitchen. Stay here with…”

“I wish to go with you. I do not wish to…

“You will stay here, because I asked you to.” Haldir’s gaze was imperious, boring into the young elleth’s. She knew better than to argue or disobey. “Beckett…”

“I am filling the quivers, Ada.” Their eldest quickly sped down the hallway, red hair flying.

“I will go.” Bronwyn spoke up. “My knives are sluggish, but they are still weapons to be reckoned with.”

Haldir strode to his wife, who was agitated and wringing her hands. Bronwyn NEVER wrung her hands. “Baraermin. You will charge into any situation and create more havoc.” He enfolded her into a strong, comforting embrace. “Besides, you know this child. She has probably climbed a tree, found a bird’s nest and is so busy communing with the little voices in the eggs, she has forgotten the time.” He leaned over and whispered in her ear. “We will find her, unscathed. I shall become very angry, confine her to her room, confine everyone to their rooms and you and I can go into Erestor’s office and make love on his desk!” He quickly pinched her backside and waggled an eyebrow.

Bronwyn snorted. Elves!

Celeborn met them at the entrance of the last Homely House. “I will stay. Faeowynne is not known for her gentle touch, I would not know why as her parents are such paragons of tact!” The Elves were shouldering freshly-filled quivers and buckling on knives. Haldir was sheathing his sword.

“Ai. This I know well. I do not know where she gets her loose tongue from.” His eyes bored into the Silver Lord’s. ” I hope I do not come home to find you in bed with my wife and daughter.” he said glibly. Both of his brothers snorted in laughter. Celeborn’s shoulders shook with mirth.

“Nay. I well recall King Thranduil bent over when he tried anything with your wife. Besides,” he shrugged in that elegant way of his people, “you would kill me.”

***

What big eyes you have
The kind of eye that drive wolves mad
So just to see that you don’t get chasedI think I ought to walk with you for a ways…
***

Anselm roamed deeper into the forest. She knew she was being followed. The trees had warned her. Still, she had no worries. He would come. She had called him.

***

Heridil shouldered his quiver, ready to move out. As an afterthought, he went into the gathering area where the family wolves lounged around the fire. “Franz.” A black and white wolf, with silver eyes sat up, alert. “Come. We must find your mistress.” The other wolves watched in silence as the large beast went to stand beside the quiet Elf. He chuffed once.

“I know. I have a gnawing in the back of my head, as well.”

***

The sun was now down, twilight ascending. The moon was up and Anselm moved deeper into the woods.

The one that was following her was gaining ground, getting closer.

***

Little Red Riding Hood
I’d like to hold you if I could
But you might think I’m a big bad wolf
So I won’t
Howl.

***
Rúmil was ahead. Of the brothers, he was the swiftest tracker. He stood outside, nose to the air.

“She has been out many hours. Her scent grows cold.”

Heridil felt a twitch in his mind. He scanned quickly. “This way.” he blurted and he and Franz dashed off into the woods.

“What the hell?” The Brothers Lorien, along with Beckett stared dumbly at the retreating figure, disappearing into the night.
“What is he doing?” Beckett asked quietly.

“Going in the right direction.” Rúmil answered his nephew. “Come quickly. This does not bode well. I can feel anguish in the trees.” The four took off after Heridil on silent feet.

***
It was now dark, and Anselm was now struggling as she strove deeper. She had not been gifted with the keen Elvish eyesight of her father and now she was hoping to lose her tracker and shimmy up a tree long enough to hide so the one she desired would find her. Or her Ada.

Ada finding her right about now, even with his temper, was appealing.

A filthy hand grabbed her arm and spun her around, a smelly, grimy body pinning her to a tree.
“Well, look what we have here. An Elf Maiden, lost in the woods.”

***
What full lips you have
They’re sure to lure someone bad

***

Heridil went cold. She was in danger, he knew she was in danger and he charged off, his vision sharpening in the dark. Franz darted after him, the two leaving just barely enough trail for the others to follow.

They plunged deeper into the forest.

***

The ragged man pushed her against a tree, his eyes raking over her young, lithe body. Anselm stared back, looking deeply into dull, brown eyes. His hair was matted, filthy and he had a scruffy beard.
She jerked away, turning around the trunk, in effort to run deeper into the forest. He ran around the other way, catching her by sleeve. She heard material rip as he slung her hard against the trunk.

He pressed against her.

“And what is your name, pretty Elf-maid?” Anselm scrunched up her nose.

“You stink!”

His hand cracked across her face. Anselm reeled at the burning slap; no one had ever lifted a hand to her, not even her parents. Her Ada and Mama had disciplined with love and actions, never resorting to physicality. Anger, a feeling that rarely crossed her features, erupted.

“Let’s try again. What is your name, pretty Elf-Maid?”

Anselm spat, spittle landing directly on the man’s cheek. Beckett had taught she and her sister to hock lugies back when they were young. Fury raged in the man’s face, as he wiped at the liquid dripping down his face. He openly sneered. His hand raised again.

“I would not do that if I were you.” she said calmly.
“And what are you going to do about it?” The man’s voice was venomous.

“He comes. They come.”

“He?” The man scoffed. “They? He-They who?”

At that moment, he felt a knife tip at the back of his neck. He heard a low growling.

“You will lower your hand.” The voice was low, authoritative. “You will step back, or I shall either cut your throat, or Franz will tear it out.”

Slowly, the man turned.

And looked directly into green-eyed fury.

***

“Where did he move to so fast?” Beckett’s eyes were everywhere. “One minute, he was here and the next, he was gone.” His youngest sister pestered him unmercifully growing up, but he had always felt a responsibility towards her. Rúmil pointed.

“That way.”

They entered the forest and soon heard low voices. And Franz growling.

***

“Ah.” The man licked his lips nervously. The Elf was slender, but he still did not want to take this one on. Especially when he had a knife at his throat and a wolf at his beck and call. “The lady is yours. I meant no harm.” His eyes shifted back and forth, quickly, trying to come up with a suitable fabrication. “I was lost and looking to ask directions.”

“And asking for directions included assaulting her? Striking her?” Heridil never took his eyes from the miscreant. He nodded to Anselm, beckoning her to step behind him, which she did quickly. “Do you have any idea whom you have touched?” Heridil felt cool hands grasp him around the waist. He stroked the mass of long hair. He never took his eyes from the rogue.

But he sensed, at the same time the man saw, his companions entered the glade.

***

So until you get to Gramma’s place
I think you ought to walk with me
And be safe…

***

Anselm sensed them as well. Franz had stopped growling and she turned, her arms still wrapped around the green-eyed Elf, to see her Ada, uncles, and brother standing in the twilight. Heridil broke the contact of their two bodies, shoving her towards her Ada. She went from one warm, protective embrace into another.

Haldir gently clucked her under her chin, tilting her jaw upward. He turned her face from side to side, taking in the red slap mark, the torn tunic.

“That man did this to you? He has… harmed you?” His eyes narrowed, inspecting her closely.

“Only the slap.” Anselm’s eyes slid to her rescuer. “Heridil stopped him in time. Heridil and Franz.”

Haldir hugged his youngest close, lips brushing her brow. When she pulled back, he stroked the cheek, the heat from the blow, evaporating.

“Heridil. We will take over from here. Please take her back to the Homely House.” Heridil’s knife against the man’s throat was replaced by the points of three arrows. “Her mother is anxious. She will not rest until her youngest chick is back in the safety of her sight.”

Heridil stepped back, looking down at the faint outline of the wolf.Are you coming with us, Franz?” The wolf behaved as if he had not heard the Elf speak, plainly stating in actions its intent to stay.

Heridil took that information in stride. He gestured to Anselm, taking her by the arm. He looked up to Haldir. “Haldir, will you be long?”

The tattered man paled at the mention of Haldir’s name. That Elf was legend and if this was his daughter… he hoped his death would be swift.

Haldir’s eyes narrowed, gleaming eerily in the quickly darkening sky.

“Nay.”

***
I’ll try to keep satisfied
Just to walk by your side
maybe you’ll see things my way
Before we get to Gramma’s place
***

The Elf and the elleth strode quickly from the forest into the dale surrounding Imladris. The glow from the dwelling could be seen easily. Bronwyn had gone through the residence, lighting every globe, every lamp, as if to guide her daughter home. The two stopped on the hill, looking down.

“Your parents will no longer allow you to roam freely, child.”

Anselm stopped and glared at her rescuer.

“I am not a child.”

Heridil snorted. How like her mother, she sounded.

How like her mother, she looked.

That thought bothered him. Bothered him deeply. He shook the nagging voice off. His voice took on forced sternness.

“You are not? After today, some one will follow you around. No longer will you have freedom of movement.” The fact was not lost on him that she held him by the hand. Gently.

“I am not a child!” she repeated. “I will not be treated as such!”

Heridil bent lower, his face closer to hers.

“What you desire matters not. You will be… watched. You cannot fend for yourself and…”

Anselm grabbed him by the face and inexpertly ground her mouth into his.

She released him just as quickly.

And smiled, obviously very proud of herself.

Heridil stood up and glared.

“What was that?”

Her face fell.

“That was a… a… kiss…”

“Oh.”

The Elf looked back into the woods. He could hear nothing. He looked towards the Homely House, where Bronwyn, Faeowynne, Celeborn and others waited news.

“No. You are not a child.” Heridil watched her begin to puff up again. “But,” he wagged a single finger in front of her. ” but nor are you an adult. You have much to learn, Tithen Dulin, about many things.”

“Learn?” Her face was incredulous, the wind knocked out of her sails. “Such as?”

Heridil stood up straight and tucked her hand into his elbow. “How to kiss, for one thing. There are many things for you to learn, but I suspect it will be sometime before your parents let you out of their sight!” He led her slowly towards the collections of lights.

“And when they do?”

“When they do, I will teach you how to kiss.” He held her hand tightly and she pressed against him.

“Will you teach me other things? Things that are… pleasing?”

Heridil smirked. He could sense her hopefulness. “I will not teach you to please others.” He felt her sigh in disappointment.

“I will teach you to please me.”

***
I’m gonna keep my sheep suit on
‘Til Im’ sure you’ve been shown
That I can be trusted walkin’ with you alone
Howl
I mean BaaBaaaaaBaaaaa!!
***

Bronwyn fussed over her wayward chick, as suspected, and no one asked the fate of the ragged man when the rest of the party returned less than thirty minutes later.

As Haldir promised, he confined Anselm to her room, and did not relent in allowing her to leave the perimeter of the Last Homely House until procuring her promise of having someone with her at all times if she left.

That night, as Anselm chaffed in her self made prison and while Haldir made passionate love to his wife on Erestor’s desk, Heridil paced the gardens and water’s edge of Rivendell.

Where the hell had his brain been? What in all of Middle Earth had possessed him to say that… offer to… nay – not offer… he WOULD teach her. To please him?

Haldir would kill him if he laid a finger on his youngest child. Beckett had been The Son; Faeowynne was a tough, gregarious, ferocious girl. She knew when to butt ahead and when to retreat. She was capable of defending herself. But Anselm was Bronwyn and Haldir’s baby. Haldir doted on her. He would never have believed Haldir would be this way with any child, much less this one. But, aye, Haldir would slit his throat for even looking at this other-worldly daughter of his.

Haldir? Gah! What would Bronwyn do to him? Bronwyn would sling those mighty sound waves at him until his eardrums ruptured!

Melko’s Chains! Anselm was 98 years old. Young. Still an Elfling. Memories assaulted him, ensnaring his guilt, pricking his conscious: her riding on his lap when they traveled from Isengard, riding her on his shoulders as a small one, pretending to be a Mearas. He taught her to fletch arrows. He had held her, changed her clothing and bathed her as a babe. He had pulled her out of more trees than he cared to count. He was an uncle to her. She was…

“Heridil.”

The Elf was startled from his melancholy. His eyes jerked to the Silver Lord, who had somehow moved up next to him without his noticing.

“My Lord…”

“Oh, stop it!” Celeborn waved a hand at him and made a face. “You are troubled.”

“Nay…”

“You were always a wretched liar!” Celeborn smiled at the young Galadhrim. “Now, what is it about Bronwyn’s daughter that has you so upset?”

The Elf pulled himself up to his full height. “Sir, I have no idea what…

“If you continue on this path, I shall be forced to pull you over my knee. It has been awhile since I have done that.” Celeborn looked away, with a small smile. “Of course, I should probably not do that. I would enjoy it too much…” His voice trailed off, a bemused expression on his face. The breeze flitted through the ElfLord’s long tresses. As quickly as he smiled, his look returned to seriousness. “You are bothered. Tell me.”

Heridil perused his tips of his boots, the toes barely visible in the moonlight. “I… I am ashamed…”

A snort rose from the vicinity of Celeborn’s mouth. His shook his head in vexation. “Fine. Trip over your tongue! Shall I tell you what I think is wrong and you may say ‘aye’ or ‘nay’?” He did not wait for the young warrior to agree. “You loved Bronwyn once. Deeply. Correct?”

Heridil nodded, his eyes fell. He knew Haldir had known; he had even spoken to him about it. He did not know it was wide spread knowledge. Had he been so obvious?

“And now you find yourself having feelings for this daughter of hers and you fear you are simply transferring your emotions from one woman to one who has many of her characteristics.”

Heridil nodded again.

And promptly found himself soundly thumped upside the head.

“Silly Elf! Do you not see her Ada in her as well?” Heridil gaped at his Lord. “She looks at you like Haldir looks at Bronwyn. Ownership.” Celeborn put up his hand to stop Heridil from interrupting. “No, he would never tell her he owned her. But he owns her heart. You should have noticed how gently he holds it. And you better realize how gently Bronwyn holds his as well. Anselm wants to hold your heart. Not so gently, at first as she does not know how. Look closely. She is an arrogant little puss! She desires you and she has you exactly where she wants you! While she sits in her room, planning her next move, you are out here, pacing the grass into dust, eating yourself alive for having normal responses! She will pull you around by the nose if you do not take control. And soon. Tell me.” Celeborn looked at him, curiously, “who kissed who?”

“She kissed me.”

Celeborn let out a deep sigh.

“But, it was not a very good one and I asked her what it was supposed to be.”

Celeborn chuckled. “Good come back!” He nodded into the moonlight. “You might be able to grasp control of this situation yet.”

“My Lord… she is… young…”

“And? Trust me. That is a good thing!”

“She is young!” Heridil persisted. “She is Haldir’s tithen aras. He will kill anyone who touches her. Bronwyn as…”

“She has to grow up sometime.” Celeborn waved his hand dismissively while contemplating the moon-kissed waters. “Iluvatar knows Beckett and Faeowynne already have – do NOT look at me like that; I had nothing to do with either of them or their sexual education! Beckett and Orelinde begin to grow careless…” he continued to wave at Heridil, cutting of the Elf’s gasp, “and as for Faeowynne? Let us just say when her parents catch wind of that one is doing, well, you loving their youngest will not amount to any thing. They will be relieved, in fact!”

Heridil felt like he had been knocked to the ground.

“Do you sense her?” Celeborn tapped his forehead. “Do you feel her, here?” Heridil nodded. “Then Iluvatar has ordained it! Why fight?” Slowly Celeborn turned and walked down the pathway, motioning the younger Elf to follow him. “You fear you are using her to replace her mother in your heart, but the truth is, you have known for decades her mother was not for you. Did you stop to think that perhaps your close contact with Tel’ Lindar was to prepare you for the one meant for you? That you have sat and learned at the feet of her Guardian for a purpose?”

They walked a few more steps in silence.

“You fear her youth, her inexperience. Believe me, Haldir had demons – and I mean horrible things – to deal with from Bronwyn’s past. You do not know how it was almost their undoing. Only by the grace of the Valar was she allowed to come back. She realized too late what a gift she had been given. Anselm trusts you. You have forever been her stalwart hero. She trusted you to rescue her. Silly child could have been killed today, had you not known where to hunt for her!”

Slowly, the words began to sink into the quiet Elf’s mind. It did not make it any easier…

“What is she thinking now?” Both Elves had stopped walking and Celeborn watched Heridil.

“I sense… excitement… nervousness…”

“You continue to do that.” Celeborn again was waving a finger at him. “Make your move. Capture her heart. Hold it gently. Teach her, but be aware of her mind’s workings.” The wagging finger tucked itself under the silver robe Celeborn wore. “Be patient. The Valar have great things planned for this child of Haldir and Bronwyn’s. Great things planned for her offspring.” The ElfLord looked back towards the Last Homely House. “I do not know about you, but I find myself rather hungry.” He jerked his head back towards the expansive residence. “Care to join me in the kitchens?”

A small smile tucked itself into the corner of Heridil’s mouth. “You are ever wise, my Lord.”

“Bah! That is not what my wife says!” The two slowly made their way back towards their home.
“What does your wife say?”

Celeborn smiled and chortled. “She says I’m a perverted old Elf.” His smile thinned, faded slowly. “Hmmm. Strange.”

“What is strange, my Lord?”

“I just realized how much I miss her.”

***

Soon, too soon, Haldir allowed Anselm to leave the confines of the home to roam the woods with an armed guard. At Celeborn’s urging, Heridil was assigned to her.

Bronwyn watched her daughter closely, sensing something was up. And somehow, that meddlesome old geezer she adored had something up his rather generous and not so geezer-like sleeves. Her attention reverted back to the lone scroll she was arguing over with her husband.

Heridil acted most put out, resigning himself to watch over Anselm.

And gently, as promised, he taught her how to kiss.

The moon waxed and waned.

The seasons changed.

Springtime turned to summer.

Summer turned to autumn.

The temperature dropped and lovers held each other closer.

The children grew bolder.

***
“You two are disgusting!”

Elrohir and Elladan looked at the interloper.

“Oh, you should talk, Faeowynne!” Elrohir smirked at the short blonde. “What is it we do that is so appalling?”

“Spying on my siblings! Do you not have anything better to do?”

The twins looked at each other, deep in thought.

“We could…”

“No. We have done that. We could…”

“No. That…”

“Bores us!” They finished together, smirking.

“And besides..” Elrohir started… ” We are not…”

“Spying. We are keeping the…”

“Coast clear.”

Faeowynne scowled. “I hate it when you do that. What do you mean, keeping the coast clear?”

Elladan pointed to his right. “Well, if one walks five minutes in that direction, they will catch Beckett and Orelinde trying out a new position.”

“They are most inventive.” his twin added sagely. Both nodded to each other. “Of course, leaving that book…”

“Out where they could find it…”

“Book? What book?” Faeowynne demanded.

“Well, we found this book…”

“It was illustrated and hidden on top of…”

“…one of the shelves in Erestor’s library…”

“…disgusting. Who would have thought…”

“…Erestor would be so perverted! It was very…”

“…dusty…”

Both twins politely coughed.

Faeowynne rubbed the bridge of her nose with her fingers. “Fine.” she gritted. “You provided them with reading material and they are now humping away with no thought as to who might walk up on them, so you are patrolling. What about Anselm?”

“She and Heridil are over in that direction…” Elrohir pointed to the opposite side…

“…about a six minute walk. Poor…”

“…Heridil. He is such the gentleman. She will not…”

“… go any further than allowing him to fondle her breasts through her tunic. He is…”

“…walking rather stiffly these days. Have you not noticed?”

Faeowynne continued to rub her nose. “I have a headache.” She wandered off towards the Rivendell and waved behind her with her free hand. “You two continue to…”

“…Stand watch! Do not worry, fair Faeowynne! We will allow…”

“… no one to disturb your siblings.”

Light laughter echoed into the leaves.

“Shit and spit!” Faeowynne groused. “I hate it when they do that!”

***
Soft footpads fell on the marble floors. The whisper of a robe slid across the floor, as furtive eyes slid from dark corner to dark corner. Down hallways, the shadow clung to the wall. Until it reached its goal. Slowly, the hand pushed the door open.

His hearing was sharp and he sat up in the bed.

“Darling, you risk much.”

Orelinde crawled into the bed with Beckett. “Your parents are busy with their own selves and Adar is on the other side of the lodging. He will not look for me before sunrise.” She unbelted the robe, flinging it to the floor. She wore nothing underneath. Long, pale hair gleamed in the moonlight. “I want to lie in your arms in a real bed for a change!”

Beckett moved over, pulling back the covers as she joined him.

They did not realize she had been watched.

Anselm peered around the corner.

***

If I could fly
I’d pick you up
I’d take you into the night
And show you love
Like you’ve never seen…

***
Heridil was a patient lover. He had attempted nothing, asked for nothing, enduring her questioning touches without complaint. Many afternoons in the forest, they lay in each others arms, speaking without words, wrapped in his cloak, clothes mussed, in disarray. Many times, her fingers traced the outlines of his chest, his hardness. He had never pressed her for more.

As a result, her body ached.

And she wanted what Beckett and Orelinde shared.

She had every intention of staying here in Middle Earth when Mama and Ada left. There were things to do; places still to explore. And she was determined to bind Heridil to her before that time came. He had always been the one she ran to when her parents were not around. He had been the one she rode with when younger. He had always been stalwart, strong.

He had rescued her when she needed rescuing.

***
Heridil lay awake in the bed, mentally reaching out, probing for her. Today had driven her insane with need. She was growing tired of waiting, yet her fear…

A virgin’s fear.

Patience.

Over the past months, he had played Celeborn’s words over and over in his mind; trying to understand, trying to reconcile his love, his need, with his guilt. She was so close to giving over. Too many nights, he had gone into the baths, after being with her, and oiled his hand, sat at the edge and thought of her, fantasized his hand was hers, her sheath.

Too many nights, he had woken, dreaming of her, the sheets drenched in sweat and seed.
Not much longer would he wait.

She was coming.

Tense, frightened…

Needy.

She ached. Ached for him. And he would finally teach her the last art of love. Of trust.
Quench the thirst. Fulfill the need.

He got up from the bed and waited in the shadows.

***

She did not stop to think she that perhaps she was being selfish in her desire as she slipped down the shadowed passage. She just knew that she could not abide being separated from the quiet Elf.
Her mother had a Guardian. She wanted one to. Unlike her mother, she was choosing hers.
She did not think her mother had complained a whit, however!

Silently, she made her way to Heridil’s door. She pushed it open and was not surprised that it was not locked.

She stole into the room. As with most of the rooms here in Rivendell, Heridil’s private chambers were large, with open balconies looking out into the abundant gardens. It was late summer and the smell of jasmine and roses hung on the air. Anselm crept quietly towards the bed.

It was empty.

She reared back, confusion etched on her features. Where could he be? Faeowynne had been slipping out of their rooms on and off for over a year. Surely, Heridil had not mistaken her for…

“Lirimaer.” He placed gentle hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him. “It is late. What are you doing here?”


Anselm looked up into Heridil’s face. “I could not sleep. I came to look for you.”

A single eyebrow raised. “You found me. Now what do you plan to do?”

Anselm’s mouth flapped for a moment as she attempted to get the words out of her mouth. “I… I… am tired of touching you.” she finally blurted. “I want you to touch me back.”

“You know what you ask of me?”

She nodded.

“You are sure? You are sure you want this?” He searched her face, her eyes. They were bright with need, with fear.

“Yes.” She pulled him towards her. “I love you, Heridil. Make me yours.”

He needed no more persuading. In one swift movement, he swept her from her feet and laid her gently on the bed. His mouth fell on hers, consuming her. His arms encased her, one under her neck, holding her close, the other hand, caressing her hip. For many long minutes, he contented himself with just kissing her, stroking her back, her backside.

Her body pleaded for more.

She ground into him, pushing, hearing a call she did not know how to answer. Her hands flew to the soft tunic he had been sleeping in, pulling on it, tugging it up, her fingertips flying under the material to stroke and tease ridged muscles. She felt him smile against her mouth.”Patience, tithen dulin.” He lifted her shift, exposing her bare bottom.

She groaned at the gentle touch. She pressed into him even more.

One last time, Heridil asked her.

“Are you sure, tithen dulin? Once we start, there will be no turning back.”

Angrily, she pulled up and leapt from the bed. With a vicious yank, she drew the shift up and over her head, standing in the moon’s rays, devoid of anything.

“There. Do you question my desire for you anymore?” Her eyes blazed.

Heridil rose from the bed, his eyes slid up and down her body, causing her to shiver with anticipation. His eyes burned in the night.

Celeborn was right. There was much of her Ada’s arrogance in her. It was time to check that arrogance.

Hold her heart.

Gently.

“You have had your chances to know anyone else, experiment with anyone else. From this night on, you are mine. Do you understand?”

She nodded.

His tunic and sleep pants hit the floor and he stood in the moonlight with her. She focused on his face.
“Anselm, tithen dulin. Look at me.”

Her words were soft. “I am.”

Something rare and seldom heard happened at that time.

Heridil chuckled.

“No, you are not.” He stepped back. “Look at me. All of me.”

Slowly, her eyes traveled his face. They lowered to his shoulders, his chest, down to his waist, down…

Her breath drew in sharply and her eyes flew back to his face.
]
“We won’t fit! Heridil, how will we…”

The Elf again lifted her into his arms and placed her back on the bed, the rare smile still splitting his features. “Yes, we will.” He stretched out next to her and pulled her into his arms. “Put your hand… here.” He placed her small palm on his chest. “Now, kiss me.” For several minutes, they continued thus until she relaxed in his arms. His hand returned to her hip, her back, stroking, circling. Eventually, he moved to her breasts, perky buds that fit his mouth sweetly. Her own hand began to move, to his hip, around, stroking his leg…

“Go ahead.”

Wide, frightened eyes looked into his.

I will not move. See, what you do to me?” He gently grasped her hand as it hovered above him. He never looked away from her eyes. “Saes.”

On the word ‘please’, asked so quietly, she shyly grasped him around the rim. She was shocked at the heat, the hardness, encased in silky skin. Slowly, she stroked up and down with her fingertips, finally gaining the courage to grasp the head. She stroked the eye, feeling…

“You are wet there!”

“Yes.” He grasped her hand, which, in truth, was causing great havoc on his senses and moved it to her own heat. “Feel. You are wet as well.”

She yanked her hand from his and smacked him on the chest. “I know that! I am always… wet… like that after I have been with you!” she hissed through clenched teeth. “I wondered what was wrong.”

Ah. He DID have a similar affect on her. Gently, he grasped her hand and sucked her… his… their combined juices from her fingers. He nipped the tiny pads. “There is nothing wrong with you.” His eyebrows drew together. “Has your mother not spoken to you about…”

“Yes! Yes she has.” Anselm whispered. “I mean… I know what will happen. It will sting the first time. But she said if I was with someone I loved, who loved me back…” she stopped. She had told him, but…

“Anselm.” Her eyes flew to his, the full moon reflected in his green orbs. “I love you, my little bird. Tithen dulinamin.” He positioned himself between her thighs and lowered his head to her breast, his hands constantly stroking, constantly caressing. “I want no other but you.” Slowly, he kissed his way down, to her abdomen, the indention of her belly. “Whether you go to the Undying Lands, or stay here, I will stay with you.” He nipped and suckled on the area above the joint of her hip, causing her to jump. His thumbs spread her nether region wide to the moonlight and he gazed at the center of her being. “I want to be the Ada to your children and I want keep you safe from any harm.” His mouth lowered and she convulsed, her hands clutching the downy sheets.

Her body tightened…

His finger dipped into liquid heat and he probed, testing her tightness, the tautness of her maidenhead. He added a second finger, gently stretching, readying her for him. She was moaning and thrashing wildly, one hand in her mouth to quell her voice. His tongue suckled at the swollen pearl. As he felt her reach the pinnacle, he pressed the knot inside her harder, causing her to go over the edge. She attempted to buck, held down by his hand as he lapped the lubricating juices from her core. He waited for her breathing to slow, deepen. He pulled up and rolled her into his arms.

“There is sweetness, my love. And then there is passion, hunger, need. That was sweetness.” He pulled her in to him more tightly. “This is passion…”

She completely lost all awareness as his tongue took possession of her mouth.

This kiss was not like the ones in the forest. It was a welcomed invasion. For so long, she had called the shots, decided how far they would or would not go, and now…

She was not going to take this lying down… well, yes she was, but, she wanted to play an active role in her own seduction! Her hands found their way into his hair, played with the tips of his ears.

There was a lot of growling going on and she couldn’t tell whose growls were whose.


In fact, neither one cared…

His hands were back at her breasts, playing with her painfully erect nipples. Her need grew and her hips ground a rhythm as old as time against him.

“Saes.” She was moving against him, grinding, trying to throw her leg over his thigh. He moved fingers down, gently flicking the swollen nub. She groaned whispered, barely heard pleas of release into his neck before she raised her face, her lips, to his…

She nipped his bottom lip.

“Ai…” He rolled her over, settling and placing her legs at his waist. With one swift motion, he raised and buried himself to the hilt. Before she could cry out, he kissed her, deep.

He did not move, allowing her to situate herself to him, his length, his width. Slender fingers gripped his shoulders painfully and when he raised up to look at her, she was white around the mouth.”Liriamer, you are…”

“Ow. I am… fine. Ow. Owowowowow.” Dark blue eyes glared at him. “It is not supposed to hurt anymore?” she whispered. Slowly he began to move.

“No. It will lessen.”

He was right. The sudden jolt of pain quickly faded to pure pleasure. He reached between their fused bodies and quickly, her need rose again.

And as he had waited for thousands of years for the one, and as he had waited for her to grow up enough, he waited for her climax. And when it came, he joined her.

***

Another set of eyes and ears listened from the hallway. Mutual cries of pleasure softly emitted from the room and Celeborn smiled to himself. Beckett would be happily settled. Legolas would be quite angry when he found out, but he would get over it. Anselm would also be happily and safely settled, a strong Elf and Guardian for her, which she would need. Haldir would be quite angry, but if necessary, he would personally pack his angry former March Warden on the boat himself to keep him from strangling the stalwart Elf who was bedding his youngest daughter. All that remained was Faeowynne. He smiled to himself as he slowly strolled along the halls. It was all coming to a close and even with Bronwyn strongly fighting the inevitable and Haldir trying to keep her on keel, Celeborn was quietly moving in the background, tying up the final strings.

“I wonder if the Twins returned that book Erestor left behind…”

He began to whistle…

***
tbc
***
Tithen dulin – Little Bird
 

the vessel 36/45

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Werewolves of Rivendell or In the sheltering arms of Family and Old Friends

***
I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s
His hair was perfect
Werewolves of London
Draw bloodWerewolves of London
Warren Zevon

***

Bronwyn leaned back, the wood in the chair creaking under the now poorly distributed weight.”The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.” She chuckled softly to herself. Robert Jordan. Will I ever find how that series ended?

Eventually. Many years from now. 
She could hear laughing voices, those of her children, Heridil, Rumil, Haldir, coming up the hall. They were back from the hunt.”Ludwig, I am getting old!” Her comment was made to the shaggy, brown wolf lounging at her feet. He lifted his head a foot off the floor at the mention of his name before laying it down to rest again. Yellow eyes regarded her silently.”You are a rotten conversationalist, you know that?” she chided the canine. “How on Middle Earth did I get saddled with such a lousy companion?” Her words were mocking, would have been called cruel by those who did not know her, but her tone was filled with affection.

The wolves.

Each member of her family had one; each one named after a composer; each one attuned to his or her master’s personality. They had been acquired simply enough. They stayed in Lothlorien for several weeks, the children basking in the birthplace and home of their Ada and Uncles. Anselm had hugged every tree and plant, much to the embarrassment of her siblings. The Elves and Bronwyn had been devastated at the slow demise of their home. The leaves were not so golden, the river was murky, did not glisten or sparkle and at the end of summer, they decided to continue on to Rivendell so as not to watch the slow dying of autumn. They were on their first night out, when after the children had gone to sleep, Bronwyn had ventured to the edge of the firelight to play her guitar. It had become her nightly ritual, her way of communing with the elements. Most evenings, Haldir would join her, but this evening, he had yet to sit next to her with his harp. She had just finished ‘The Pipe Dream’ and had placed her fingers to begin ‘Flight of the Unicorn’ when in the darkening twilight, she noticed the silver wolf sitting at the edge of her vision, watching her. The wolf sat calmly, quietly, just outside the light. His eyes glowed eerily.‘ Alright girlfriend,’ she thought to herself, ‘no sudden moves.‘ The wolf seemed to – expect – that seemed to be the right word – something. He sat, his head cocked.”Well,” she whispered, “what do you want?” He pointed his nose towards her guitar and chuffed. “You want me to play?” He seemed to nod his head. Slowly, so as not to startle him, Bronwyn raised the instrument, bringing it into her embrace. She started a mournful tune. Within moments, measures, the wolf joined her, harmonizing perfectly. For over half an hour, the two played, sang together. In the back of her mind, she was aware of Haldir; his arrow notched and aimed at the rangy beast. After ‘Villenelle’, the animal yipped once and trotted out of sight. Haldir sat down next to her, arrow still notched.

“A singing wolf? What wonders will surprise me next?”

Bronwyn squinted into the dark, looking for the beastie. “I don’t know, Cormmin.” His arms wound around her and she leaned into the broad chest. “I get the feeling, he is checking us out, that he wants something.” She felt his lips graze her neck and she leaned her head to the side to accommodate him better. “Something… import… ant…”

“Not as important as this.”As she quietly rode him a few minutes later, her skirts spread across his thighs, the ground, and her moans muffled in his throat, Haldir kept a silent watch into the night.

***

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf
The Big Bad Wolf, the Big Bad Wolf
Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf
Tra la la la laFrank Churchill/Ann Ronnell
Who’s afraid…
From Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs

***

Every night after that, the wolf came.

And sat.

And watched.

And sang.

Each night, he crept closer and closer, so as Bronwyn could see individualistic markings. His muzzle was scarred, as if burned. She called him Firehater, as he made a point stay as far away from the campfire as possible.

Haldir remained on guard.”Why does he sing with you? What possesses him?”

Bronwyn thought, but not for long. “He has the blues.”

Haldir did not get it.

Eventually, the wolf sat so close, she could touch him.

But she did not.This went on for seven nights. Seven nights of sitting on the edge of the firelight; seven nights of a wolf within striking distance, seven nights of Elven Wardens on their guard. Seven nights of Bronwyn, singing, talking, communicating with the wolf. They realized by the next night that the scarred wolf was not alone. Several sets of glowing eyes watched from the far reaches of the trees. And the Elves guarded. Seven nights of singing…

A she-wolf stepped into the edge of the clearing. Haldir straightened, his bow aimed between the glowing eyes, until he saw…

She carried in her mouth, a small wolf cub.

Silently, as Bronwyn and the silver wolf sang, she came up, cautious, looking around.And deposited the cub in Bronwyn’s lap.A second she-wolf entered the glade. She, too, carried a cub in her mouth…


Back and forth and back and forth the she-wolves came and went. The woman and the wolf never ceased their duet until seven cubs had been dropped in her lap. Upon the last cub, the scarred wolf came to her and nuzzled each cub.”Why?” She voiced the question to the wolf. “Why Firehater, do you do this?”

The wolf responded with low-pitched howls and yips. He sniffed over each cub again, before licking her hand and with a final look at the cubs, disappeared into the woods. Bronwyn laid her guitar to the side and looked at the seven, squirming pups in her lap. Haldir stooped next to her, laying his bow down to his side.

“Baraermin, what are we supposed to do with seven, wild wolf cubs?”

She picked up a black and silver cub. It wiggled in her hands and attempted to nip at her fingers. “Firehater is afraid. The world is changing and he sees his pack’s end; he sees his own demise. He wishes for his lineage to continue and senses that we will survive.” She set down the pup and picked up another. “This one is…” she raised the cub into the firelight,

“… white?”Haldir reached and removed the cub from her grasp. It did not wriggle like the other; simply regarded him with a serious glare. “Apparently, one of the she-wolves in his pack or in his past, met up with a White Wolf from the north.” He took in Bronwyn’s questioning look. “Almost 200 years ago, there was the Fell Winter, when the ice and snows came far south. The White Wolves of Ettenmoor crossed frozen rivers and roamed the Eastfarthing.” He cradled the cub in his arm, laying claim to it. “I will help you take these vicious nippers,” he removed finger from a teething mouth, “back to the campfire. We will find a way to contain them and I suppose tame them. Do you think we can get them to not agree about progeny anytime soon?”

Her laughter echoed through the twilight and well out of the sight of the Two Legs, Firehater and his two she-wolves, watched, satisfied with their decision.

***

Now they all were safe inside
And the bricks hurt wolfie’s pride
So, he slid down the chim’ney and
Oh by Jim’eny
In the fire, he was fried
Frank Churchill/Ann Ronnell
Who’s afraid…
From Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs

***

The Elflings fell in love with the cubs immediately and the group quickly became a handful. Each member of the party took one cub on, Haldir claiming the white cub for his own. “Wolfgang? Wolfgang? You are naming that pup, Wolfgang?”

Haldir looked down at her, nonplused. “I like Mozart. Why not?” She snorted in derision.

“Why not Amadeus? Wolfgang is so… wolfy.”

Haldir made faces at the sky. “This, coming from the woman who named her cub ‘Johnnycash’.” He said it as one word.

“I will have you know, Johnny Cash was a famous American musician. He was tough and scraggly-looking. I liked his music.” She broke out into a verse of ‘Burning Ring of Fire.’

“Hmmm.” Rumil leaned over towards Heridil. He gently held a pretty little she-wolf – Anna-Magdalena – in his lap, much to the consternation of his horse. “Is this supposed to be funeral music for Sauron?” Heridil’s shoulders shook with concealed laughter. Rumil looked down at the feisty little cubbette in his lap. She regarded him with ice-blue eyes. “And how did you come to be named Anna-Magdalena?”

“The same way Beckett’s became named ‘Johann Sebastian’.” Heridil’s reply was almost terse. “Have you not noticed everyone of them have been named after a musician of her world? Clara. Amybeach, Wolfgang, Johnnycash, Anna-Magdalena, Johann…” he held up his own growling, twisting, black pup, “Elvis.” He scowled ahead, seeing Rivendell on the horizon. “It is a good thing we are so close. I do not think I could take another day riding with this writhing, howling,” this was said when said pup decided to howl in – unbeknownst to the taciturn Elf, – in a most Elvis Presley like manner – “beast.”

The entire group pulled up on the ridge, overlooking the dwelling below. Haldir reached over and grasped Bronwyn by the hand. “This will be home for a while, Baraermin.”

“It will be home for a long time, Cormmin.” she whispered. “This will be our home-base, the last one before leaving Middle Earth.” She smiled at her husband. “Let’s go stow our gear and give Celeborn a headache!”

***

The family settled quickly, the children and the wolf cubs taking over Elrond’s Last Homely House. For several years, the children ran wild in the corridors, wolves following, howling, yipping, playing. Celeborn was in his element, boredom that had been settling in, quickly retreating. He adored following the antics of Haldir’s children. The adults took turns teaching – Celeborn teaching about Elven history – even Bronwyn would sit in to listen to him talk of his home in Doriath, Thingol, the Second and Third Age. He taught them of the Anar, Morgoth, the Histories, the Witch King of Angmar. Tom Bombadil. Where Galadriel had left off with Bronwyn, he picked up the pieces.

Haldir, Rumil, and Heridil taught hunting, tracking, and weapon skills to the Elflings. Basking in his father’s attention and true to Haldir’s foretelling at his birth, had Beckett been born several hundred years earlier, he would have been an outstanding Warden on the Northern Fence. Faeowynne, as well. Her bow skills were unmatched; she was able to best all but her father by the time she reached her 80’s.

Elrond’s twins still used Rivendell as a base and they also taught sword and fighting skills.

Bronwyn’s method and style of teachings were different. She sang, sang often. She taught them to read, write, mathematical skills. She taught herbatology, how to care for the soil. She taught languages, cultural studies. As the children aged and Beckett and Faeowynne gravitated towards their Ada, Anselm became more firmly attached to her mother. They would spend hours in the forest, among the plants, drawing them, discussing their properties and uses. All of her children learned to play guitars, harps, but Anselm wanted more. To Anselm, she taught theory, ear-training. Anselm was writing music, creating. All that Bronwyn’s youngest learned, she put to words, put to music. To often, the two could be found, Bronwyn at the base of the tree, Anselm up in it, talking to the birds, to the wind, to the squirrels.

***

Look there she goes that girl is strange, no question
Dazed and distracted, can’t you tell?
Never part of any crowd,
‘Cause her head’s up on some cloud.
No denying she’s a funny girl…Ashman/Menken
Belle
Fr Walt Disney’s – Beauty and the Beast

***

Erestor had been thorough in the packing of his office, of Elrond’s office and precious little had been left for Bronwyn to pick through, leaving only the things she had packed in Isengard that had been sent there. Slowly, she sent these on with the passing Elves, those passing to the Undying Lands, with orders to see them forwarded to Gandalf or Elrond.”Do you honestly believe that Elrond has room for all of this?” Celeborn asked her once.

“Someone damn well better have room for it. I’m supposed to be the Keeper of this crap! I can study the written stuff at my leisure. I need to get my hands on pertinent things!” Her finger dragged across the map. “We have been here…” she stabbed at Enedwaitch, “…and there…” – Minhiraith – “we could go back here…” her finger flicked at Forodwaith and Angmar, “…we did not finish exploring when we went last.”

Celeborn leaned back, relaxing in the old hide-covered chair. He scratched her current beast – EltonJohn – behind the ear. “And why did you not finish when you went up there last?” He already knew the answer, but he loved to watch her get riled.

“You know why, you old geezer!” Her hand slammed on the unrolled parchment, causing the weights to jump and fall. The scroll rolled together with a snap. “Those children of Haldir’s were acting up and were totally out of control!” The three Elflings had been notoriously ill-behaved on that particular vacation. “Faeowynne jumped at every movement, shooting at everything. She shot her own uncle! Thank Iluvatar it wasn’t bad and Haldir was there to heal him. Anselm was completely wound up, feeling evilness in every stone -“

“Tithen Aras! What did you expect, especially after Isengard? Melkor’s Chains, you went into the realm of the Witch King of Angmar! The most powerful of all the Nazgul! Of course she was going to feel it! Beckett did not help matters any!”

Oh no, Beckett had not. He had pestered and teased his youngest sister mercilessly. Anselm was jumping at every sound, every whistle in the wind. The arguing, the screaming and fussing between the siblings had caused the family to cut the ‘learning vacation’ short and return to Rivendell a month before originally anticipated.

She scowled. “Truly, I have no wish to go into that cold place, again.” Her eyes flittered over the map, fingers caressing, hovering. “Forlindon. Ered Luin.” She lifted her eyes and questioned Celeborn. “Himling?”Celeborn continued to stroke the ears of the complacent wolf. Several generations had been born at Rivendell and they had been reared with love. “Forlindon is quite pretty. Ered Luin was home to the great Dwarf cities of Nogrod and Belegost. There still might be a few Dwarves left there, but I doubt it.” He stood to stand by her side. He followed her finger to the island west of Forlindon. “Ah. Himling. It was once a hill in Beleriand, before the drowning of the land at the end of the First Age.”

“It was where the fortress of Maedhros, the eldest son of Feanor, was, correct?”

Celeborn was quiet for a few moments. When he finally spoke, it was in an awed whisper. “Although I know who and what you are, your memory still astounds me, Tithen Aras.” Quickly, his arm stole around her waist as he hugged her close. She allowed and leaned into the sudden contact, warmly returning the embrace. She gently patted him on the chest.

“You are a perverted old Elf, Celeborn of Doriath.” she chided.

“It is my right!” He turned her loose to examine at the map yet again. “May I suggest?”

Her look was one of deep consideration. “Yesss….”

Celeborn’s hand swept the northwest section of the map. “Leave your children here. They will be safe, well protected. Leave Rumil, Heridil here. Go to the Ice Bay of Forochel, go to Forlindon, see if there is anything left of Nogrod and Belegost. You and Haldir. The two have you had had no time for each other…” he laid his fingers across her lips to quell her protests. “Yes, I know, you desire to spend all your time, as you do not know how long you have with Beckett, with your daughters. However, if you leave them, you will be able to get much more done, more quickly. You can attend to the task at hand. You will not have to listen to endless ‘Are we there yet?'” Bronwyn started to giggle. “Bronwyn, consider it.”

“I will.” She thought for a moment. “I had better not come home to find my daughters deflowered or my son learning more… hunting techniques!”

“I am wounded at your lack of faith in me!” The Elder Elf’s hand went to his chest in a melodramatic motion. “They are too young! Maybe in ten or fifteen years…” Celeborn ducked the aim of a paperweight and headed towards the door. “One question, Tithen Aras.” He turned to look at her. “Why is it when they are bad, they are Haldir’s children?”

***

That evening, after dinner, with Ludwig at her feet, she asked Haldir to consider it. His agreement came quickly. In the spring, they left for the Blue Mountains. They attended the refounding of Annuminas, the former seat of Arnor. Its rebuilding had been commanded by Aragorn and there, they met with the King and Queen of Gondor. Bronwyn was shocked at how the Ranger had aged over the years, while his wife had not.”He will not remain in this world much longer, Baraermin.” Haldir whispered late that night to her. She silent agreed. And if Aragorn was not long for the Middle Earth, neither were they.

She climbed over the rubble, frustrated in what little information was lingering there. From there they traveled to the Mountains, searching for Dwarven cities hidden beneath the crags. They moved through Forlindon, finding ancient relics and foundations of Elven culture. They followed the coast to the frozen Bay of Forochel and down the lost Realm of Arnor. And in each place, they made love, grew closer, fused tighter as a cohesive unit. They returned to Rivendell as the trees were beginning to turn colors.

***

The leaves had changed colors several times after their extended trip. Beckett had reached a height like his Ada’s, his youthful frame promising to fill out into what would be a similar broadness across the shoulders. His auburn hair was wavy like his mother’s, reaching past his shoulders, and he fought to keep it in Elven braids. If his temperament had reminded one of Haldir in his youth, he was even more so in his early adulthood. Stoic and arrogant, he only backed down to his parents.

Faeowynne, while considered short by Elven standards, was a little taller than her mother. This middle child tried to be everything, to everybody. Her archery skills were unsurpassed, her eyes sharp. Her sense of humor was immense and her love of music was well known. She had an agenda that was hers and hers alone and no one, not even her sister, knew what it was.

Of all her children, Bronwyn worried most about Anselm. Identical to her twin, her eyes always had a far-a-way look in them. She was bookish, other- worldly and did not hear you when you spoke to her at times. Her Ada groused she was deaf or ignoring them all, yet her mother defended her, stating she had a high concentration level. Her musical skill on the guitar and harp rivaled her parents and her singing voice was lilting and sweet. It was not unusual for her to climb a tree and lose herself and time, while singing to herself.

And the leaves changed colors, again and again.

Bronwyn had taken to flinging her knives at targets on a weekly basis. They were getting slower and more sluggish.The autumn that Beckett turned 107, Legolas came to Rivendell.He was not alone.

***

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I Turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought it down…Landside
Stevie Nicks
Fleetwood Mac

***

Word spread through the household that Rivendell was being approached by two riders, early in the day. The riders were Elvish in appearance and as Elven groups traveling to the Havens or Mirkwood were growing scarcer and further between, the family rode out to meet the travelers. Haldir’s eyes narrowed, before his eyebrows rose. “It is Legolas and he still has that damned Dwarf with him.” He glared in mock exasperation at the cloudless sky. “What was his name again?”

“Gimli. Gimli, son of Gloin.” Bronwyn chortled. “And you be nice. I’m rather fond of that damned Dwarf!”

“Who is that with him?” Beckett had his Ada’s excellent eyesight and his eyes were locked on the blonde she-Elf riding proudly next to the Elven Prince.

“Either Legolas has finally found himself someone he deems worthy or – ” Bronwyn was squinting, also focusing on the she-Elf, “it is Orelinde, his daughter.” She looked at her son, recognizing the look of puppy-like cross his youthful face. “You remember Orelinde, don’t you?”

Quickly, Beckett steeled his features, bored impatience replacing enamored curiosity. “No. Should I?”

Both Bronwyn and Haldir’s eyebrows rose at the blasé comment from the young Elf.

When the riders pulled closer, Bronwyn vaulted from Sea Myst and ran to greet the visitors. Legolas dismounted as well, and grabbed her, spinning her, spinning her around.”Bronwyn! You look well! That wretch is treating you well?”

“The wretch has been excellent! Let me look at you!” Her eyes searched his, his face, her finger drawing a line down his jawline. “Mae Govannen, mellon.” she whispered. They were interrupted by gruff Dwarven swearing. Gimli had attempted to dismount and was stuck halfway between the stirrup of the tall horse and the ground, his right leg swinging uselessly in search of firmer footing and only getting air. The Elleth dismounted and assisted the proud battle- Dwarf to terra firma.

“Gimli.” Bronwyn stooped to hug him. “Mae Govannen. You are well?”

“Well? I am well? Define ‘well’!” he sputtered. “I have spent near a century riding pillion to this roving excuse of an Elf, played uncle to this termagant he calls a daughter, was respectable to his pitiful excuse of a father…” He glared at Bronwyn. “Please tell me you have beer and fresh meat in that fancy home over the hill!” “We have a variety of wine and I’m sure a freshly caught hart back in Rivendell.”

“Good!” Gimli rubbed his hands together and headed off towards Rivendell.

“Gimli, do you not want a ride?” Rumil called after him.

“No! I am stiff from riding with the Elf!” He stopped next to Anselm and looked up. “By the strands of the Fairest, who are you?”

Anselm looked at her mother, then her Ada, the question in her eyes. Haldir spoke up before Bronwyn could answer.”Gimli. This is my daughter, Anselm. The fair creature to your other side is also my daughter, Faeowynne.

Orelinde – artist unknown

Yes, they are twins. Yes, they are identical.” Haldir was smiling at Legolas, who stared at the two in wonderment. “But only in looks.” “Would you like to ride with me, Master Gimli?” Anselm’s voice was a delight, a bell carrying on the wind. Despite his bellyaching about riding with Legolas, he soon found himself perched behind the younger of the two twins and heading towards Rivendell with them.”And this is Orelinde?” Bronwyn’s voice cut through Legolas’s regard of her daughters and he jerked his eyes back to hers.

“I… I…”

“In my world, they would call my daughters ‘jail bait’. As much as I adore you, I do not think I would be able to hold my husband from your throat if you do anything besides think lustful thoughts of our daughters.” Bronwyn winked at him and nodded towards the elleth.

“Yes… Yes, you are right.” Legolas quickly recovered and looked up at the elleth. “You remember Orelinde?”

“I remember her well.” Bronwyn strode over to the elleth who had remounted, forcing her to look upwards. Shading her eyes with her hand, Bronwyn greeted the haughty female. “Mae Govannen, Orelinde. I am Bronwyn.”

“I remember you.” Orelinde face broke out in a huge smile. She looked over to Haldir. “I remember your husband as well. Haldir.” Her eyes dropped to the redhead astride a horse next to the former March Warden and her smile quickly dissipated. The group was soon mounted up and slowly meandering back towards the valley. The adults were up front, Legolas between Haldir and Bronwyn, the three bandying questions back and forth. Orelinde soon discovered Beckett at her side. He was riding unusually close.

“Your name is Orelinde?”

“Yes.”

For a few moments, the only sound was of the horses hooves, clopping on the trail, the voices of their parents floating on the air above them.

“In Elvish, Orelinde means ‘rose’.”

“I know.”

“I am Beckett. I am named after a great statesman from my mother’s time.”

“I know your name.”

Beckett scowled. This was not going well. “Legolas is your Ada?”

“No. Legolas is my Adar. Faramir was my Ada.”

“That is confusing.”

Orelinde snorted. “It is simple. Legolas and my mother, Eowyn slept together and conceived me before her marriage. My mother then married Faramir, who raised me as his own. Legolas was there for me and my family always and never interfered with my upbringing. But he was there. He was a caring, loving Adar to me and a caring and loving uncle to my brothers. He showed no difference in any of us, although we all knew I was his. When my Ada and Mama grew old and passed and as my brothers grew old, I decided to travel with my Adar. I love both Faramir and Legolas equally. I cannot call them by the same name. Faramir was my Ada, the father of my childhood. Legolas is my Adar, the father of my adulthood. That is not so confusing.” Not once did she look at the overconfident Elf next to her.

“Madam, my apologies for offending you, but I do not recall doing anything rude to upset you.”

“You do not recall?” she hissed. “I recall most well.” She drew her horse next to his, her leg rubbing his intimately. “We were quite young, but I most definitely remember you calling me an Orc and saying I had to be slaughtered and my head stuck on a pike!”

Beckett stared straight ahead, his eyes fixated on the rump of his Ada’s mount. “I do not remember that.”

“I do. I remember it well.” And with a disdainful sniff, she cantered ahead, pulling up next to Haldir.

***

For three seasons, Beckett was persistent, ignoring the young elleth, then lavishing her with attention. They would go days without speaking, not acknowledging the other’s presence. And just as she had decided he had given up, she would find roses on her pillow, on her chair. She asked Faeowynne to ask him to desist. Faeowynne told her to shoot him if he was that annoying. She asked Anselm to speak to him. Anselm simply mumbled something about ‘birds and bees and flowers and trees’ and wandered off in search of Heridil to pester.

Beckett by Hayley Rust

Finally, in the late spring she went to Bronwyn and Haldir, to ask them to intervene. The tall Guardian simply smiled and muttered to himself about his son’s excellent taste. Bronwyn elbowed her husband and told him it wasn’t funny. She suggested that Orelinde tell Beckett to leave off. So one afternoon, she saw him heading into the trees alone and decided to have it out with him.

The kiss that ensued, following the argument, was marvelous. And before they knew it, they were naked, stretched out over discarded clothing and exploring each other. Both were fumbling, inexperienced, and it made the encounter sweeter. Elrohir and Elladan both almost stumbled on them and the twins backed off, staking off the area, making sure no one else came upon the two.

And when they were finished, sweating, breathing heavily into each other’s necks, Orelinde curled a lock of red hair around her finger. “Had I known what this discussion would lead to, I would have initiated it sooner.”

Beckett smiled and nipped the tip of her pointed ear. “I would like to have this discussion again.”

“Now? Or later?”

He placed her hand to that hardening spot between his legs. “I think if you are nice, very soon.”

“You are a very wicked Elf.”

“Indeed.”

***

You can take me to paradise
And the again, you can be cold as ice
I’m over my head
But it sure feels nice

Over my Head
Fleetwood Mac
(probably Christine McVie)

***

They tried to be careful after that first time, trying to pretend to ignore each other, meeting clandestinely in the forest. If the adults noticed the two gallivanting about, sneaking off, they said nothing. In actuality, they were paying little heed to the young adults and were planning the final stages of their stay. All of the cases of parchment and souvenirs of Middle Earth had been shipped to Valinor. Books, instruments had gone to the Grey Havens to be put in the care of Cirdan and his fleet. Bronwyn had traveled extensively, gone to places long forgotten, talked to people time had forgotten. She had sung in more pubs than she could count and listened to the tales of drunken men and sailors. Her knives still came to her when she called. But they were sluggish beyond belief. None of the Elves, save Legolas, was feeling the call of the sea.


***

In the dead of winter, late in the evening, the wolves all sat up suddenly, ears perked and noses pointed to the entryway. Bronwyn’s hackles on the back of her neck stood up and quickly, the Elves had bows, swords, any weapon within reach, in their grasp. Even Faeowynne was at the ready. Haldir had pushed Bronwyn behind him and Heridil and Legolas did the same with Orelinde and Anselm. Someone was coming noisily up the hall.

Arrows were nocked and drawn.

“Hello? Mae Govannen?” The voice was that of a young one, one who did not speak Elvish well or a lot. “Someone, I need some help… please help…”A young Elf slowly came into the room, almost dropping the Elf propped on his shoulder. “I come in peace. Please. My father needs help…”

Haldir recognized the Elf first, followed quickly by Celeborn. The Silver Lord threw down his bow and grabbed the Elf, taking his full weight. They slowly slid to the floor. Celeborn lifted the face, caressing it, speaking to him in Elvish. “It is alright, my little one. You are with family, you are home.” Tersely, between gritted teeth, he demanded water, lembas brought. Anselm moved quickly to get it, only upon her return to find herself and her siblings, along with Orelinde, ordered to their rooms. Haldir stood over the two, next to the young Elf who had carried the one in the floor in. “Tomasil. You are Tomasil.”

“Yes.” He looked up into the hard face. “Can you help him?”

“Only if he wishes it.” He took a deep, cleansing breath. “He made it this far, hopefully, he will decide not to fade. How long has your mother been dead?”

“A few years. She had a very long life, but her last years, she was very ill.”

“Your brother and sister?”

“Decided to stay.” A timid hand touched Haldir on the sleeve. “He says he hears the call, but does not want to leave us. What is he talking about?”

Bronwyn motioned to Heridil and took the Elf by the hand. “You have traveled a long ways to bring him here and we are grateful. You must be tired. This is our friend, Heridil, who you might remember. Heridil, please take Tomasil to the kitchens and fill him with real food and then find a place for him to rest. We will take good care of your father. We will not let him go. I will not let him go.” And with that, Heridil led the exhausted Elf down the hallway.

Haldir had now sunk down on the other side of the unconscious Elf, his arms around him. Rumil, as well, was next to his brother, hands on him. Together, the three were quietly chanting, praying, “Orophin, lasto beth nin, tolo dan nan galad…”

For over half an hour, they called to their youngest brother, Celeborn calling to his beloved foster son. They poured water down him, fed him crumbs of lembas…

Until green orbs opened.

Orophin’s sight fell on Bronwyn, sitting next to Celeborn, holding the cold hand, rubbing it, warming it. Weakly, he grasped her back, his voice breaking, listless. “Oh, lirimaer, how will you stand it? I hear the call, it pulls at me, but I do not wish to leave. How will you do it?” Tears began to run down his cheeks.

Bronwyn pulled his head into her lap. “Shh. Orophin, you are safe.”

“You are not listening!” Orophin’s voice was choked, ground out. “I need to go, need to leave, but I cannot. I do not wish to leave my children…”

There was a small break, Bronwyn already knowing where he was going…

“… how will you do it? How will you leave your children?”

***

tbc

***

A/N – I was putting the final touches on this rough draft, when I received word of the death of the original Man in Black – Johnny Cash. His music will forever live and I thought it only fitting, as I was naming Wolf cubs after famous musicians, to name one after him.

I also purposely used the Werewolves of London excerpt – not because of the song, but because we also lost Warren Zevon the week wrote this to cancer. Go howl at the moon tonight for him.

I know I am getting old. I saw Fleetwood Mac in concert last week and I swear, Stevie Nicks was wearing orthopedic shoes. About the composer names: Amy Beach was a female piano composer of the late 1800’s. Her music is rather run of the mill, in my opinion, however she was FEMALE composing in a man’s world. Clara – for Clara Schumann. She was a renowned pianist and composer in her on right and worked side by side with her husband, the noted composer Robert Schumann. Robert had a split personality and in his later years, was institutionalized, leaving Clara with – I want to say off the top of my head – 7 children to raise and care for. She was embraced by the musical community and it is rumored that the later works attributed to her husband were really hers.Anna Magdalena – Anna Magdalena Bach was the second wife of Johann Sebastian Bach. She bore him 13 children. An early book of his works for young, beginning pianists is notated as “Anna Magdalena’s Notebook.” Ludwig – Ludwig Beethoven – I bow to the master.


Johann Sebastian – JS Bach – I crawl at the feet of the master.

Peacemaker – A Vessel Misadventure 34/45

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            His interest captured, he shimmied down the tree to get a better look at the young Elfling shadowing the young fawn that grazed just at the edge of the doe’s watchful gaze. Rumil was intrigued by the wonderment in his nephew’s eye, as he quietly made his way in a large circle, as to not disturb the young deer. Cautiously, Beckett approached, hand outstretched, quietly whispering. The Elf watched in amazement as the fawn reached her nose out to the Elfling and nuzzled him gently.

            For several minutes, the earth stood still as Rumil watched youngling and youngling communing together. Too soon, the sweetness of it all ended and the fawn wandered off, leaving the Elfling standing in the clearing alone.

            “You have wandered far, Beckett. Do your parents know where you are?”

            The Elfing looked over his shoulder to his uncle. “They are too busy to worry about me.” Rumil recognized Haldir’s scowl on the child’s face and he moved closer, walking side by side with Beckett.

            The Elfling’s likeness to his father was remarkable. He would be his very image, if it wasn’t for his wild auburn hair. Beckett had his father’s stoic manner, his sternness, his scowl, his very arrogance. But he had his mother’s sense of independence and impulsiveness. And Rumil realized he was dealing with Bronwyn’s rash temerity at this very moment.

            “So, what have your ada and mama done to upset you so?” They began to stroll through the woods, Rumil gently steering the Elfling back towards Isengard.

            “Ada promised to take me into the woods to see the deer. He promised to let me talk to the trees.” The child’s small voice shook with angry emotion. “He promised to teach me to shoot a bow.” He kicked at a pile of leaves. “He said maybe one of the Ents, possibly Treebeard would take us for a ride.” Beckett stopped and stubbornly crossed his arms over his chest. “He promised.”

            “Has your ada ever broken a promise to you, Beckett?”

            “No.” The bottom lip was out in a Bronwyn-like pout. “No, he has not. But then he had a headache.”

            “Ah.” Haldir’s headaches were legend. Whether caused by the constant pulling on his braid or brought about by the mere fact that the Valar had set his wife in the back of his mind at all times, was anyone’s guess. There was only one cure for them and only Bronwyn could help him.

            “Your ada cannot help that he had a headache. What did he tell you?”

            “He said to wait an hour.” They walked in silence for a few moments. “He said to wait, but then he and Mama started kissing and they look silly.”

            “They look silly.”

            “Yes, that is what I said. They look silly!” The child’s tone was so like his brother’s that Rumil did not have the heart to admonish him for his impudence. “And they move their head around like so.” Beckett’s head moved back and forth in mock kissing, eyes rolling. Rumil bit his tongue to keep from laughing. “And then, they stick their tongues in each other’s mouth.” Beckett shuddered. “It is nasty!”

            Rumil looked down at the child. “Well, when you are older, you will like kissing and sticking your tongue in someone’s mou-”

            “No, I will not!” Beckett’s shoulders came up around his pointed ears. “YRCH! And what is worse, then they go to their room and instead of sleeping, they close the door and make funny noises.”

            Rumil arched an elegant eyebrow. “Funny noises.”

            “Must you repeat everything I say?” Beckett was quite put out, not realizing his uncle was doing everything in his power to not out right laugh at the Elfling.

            “What kind of funny noises?” Beckett took a deep breath.

            And started breathing heavy. “Oh! Oh! Yes! Please! SAESSSSS… Oh…” the sounds of his nephew mimicking his parent’s love making outbursts were unfortunately, quite close to the actual thing. Rumil thought he would bite his lip until it bled.

            “Do you know they sleep naked?”

            “Beckett! How do you know that?” They had come to a fallen log and Rumil sat down, setting the Elfling on his knee. Grey eyes looked into stormy brown ones.

            “I had a nightmare the other night and I went to their room. Ada had Mama all hugged up, so I crawled into bed behind him.” The stormy brown eyes became very confused. “They were not wearing night clothes and Ada was holding on to Mama’s… “ his small hands went to his chest, cupping imaginary breasts. “I went back to my room. I am not about to sleep with naked Elves!”

            Rumil shifted uncomfortably. He needed to change the subject quickly.

            “Beckett. When your Ada promised to take you to the woods, what did he say?”

            “He said to wait an hour. He had a headache and Mama would fix it and he would take me in an hour.”

            “Did you wait an hour?”

            “No! I wanted to go right away!” Beckett had inherited a double dose of stubbornness and Rumil knew it. “Mama is always reading and exploring the fortress and playing with the twins and Ada is always watching Mama and he plays with the twins too.” A large tear slid down the Elfling’s cheek. “They never have time for me. I do not think they love me anymore.”

            Ah. The Elfling feels like he is being pushed from the nest.

            “Beckett. Do you know the story of the fortress Isengard?”

            The Elfling wiped his nose on his tunic. “Saruman the White Hand was the Istari here. He went bad and made Orcs and Uruk-hai and did bad things to the forest and to Men. He was not good and noble like Gandalf.” Beckett rather liked Gandalf. He brought fireworks and hid candies in his pockets.

            “That is right.” Rumil thumbed over-flowing tears from the little one’s cheeks. “Some Orcs escaped. Where do you think they went?”

            Beckett hiccuped. “Here in the forest?” Rumil nodded.  Beckett was quiet for some minutes. “I did a bad thing, didn’t I?”

            “Your ada asked for one hour, did he not?” Beckett’s head was bowed in shame.

            “Yes.”

            “I have known your ada for a long, long time. He does not lie. He would be very hurt and sad if his Elfling came to harm in the forest. I cannot imagine how hard your mama would cry, if anything happened to you. I know for a fact they love you very much.”

            Little shoulders heaved in sobs. “I am in so much trouble!” Tearful eyes and a drippy nose looked up. “Would you help me?” Using his tunic, Rumil wiped the face of his nephew.

            “I would bet if I put you on my shoulder and I walked very quickly, we could get back to Isengard before your parents finish making funny noises!” Standing quickly, he swung the lad upon his shoulders, taking off at a trot. Before long, tears were forgotten and Beckett was laughing at the antics of his uncle, riding high on an imaginary Mearas.

            They met Haldir as they came out of the garden. The Ents had worked hard to cover the scorched and scoured earth, surrounding the tall black tower with beautiful, flowering plants.

            “There you are! My headache is gone and I have been looking for you! Where is your bow? I promised to take you into the wood to learn to shoot it, I believe?” He stretched his arms out to his son, gently plucking him from Rumil’s shoulders. In an action uncharacteristic for the Elfling, he hugged his father tightly around the neck.

            “I love you, Ada. Do not ever leave me!” Haldir held his son tightly, knowing his fate, this one who would inherit Bronwyn’s bow. The child turned loose and quickly scurried down his father’s leg and hurried into the fortress. “Let me get my bow.”

            Haldir looked closely at his brother. “How far into the wood did he go?”

            “Far enough.” was the quiet reply. “He was quite…angry.” The two stood looking at the doorway where the Elfling had disappeared. “Haldir… tomorrow, if you can pry Bronwyn away from her scrolls and parchments,  Heridil and I would be happy to watch the twins for a while…”

            “She will jump at the chance to go outdoors with him. Feeling left out, is he?” Haldir turned back to his brother, a shrewd look in his eye.

            “Aye. Very.”

            “I thought so.” Haldir started to pull on his braid, but thought better of it, simply slinging it back behind him. “I remember how I felt when you were born. You were the center of attention and I was forgotten; or so I thought!” Haldir rolled his eyes to the sky. “That is why I wanted to spend time with him today. This blasted headache…” He saw Beckett come out the door, small bow and a quiver of equally small arrows in his chubby hands. “No matter, now. We have many hours of daylight still.” He patted his brother on the shoulder. “And tomorrow, too. Thank you for watching.”

            Rumil smiled and placed his hand on Haldir’s shoulder. “Anytime. By the way…” he pulled Haldir close. “…by the way, you might want to consider wearing clothes at night or locking your door.”

            “Wha-”

            “I believe your son is gonna be a breast man!”

            Rumil chuckled as his brother’s jaw dropped to the ground.

***

Fini

***

 Ada – father/daddy

The Vessel 26/33

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The Vessel

Chapter 26

Keeping the peace or Old McDonald had a farm, OEOEA!

***

“Oh yeah! Here comes another one!” Bronwyn muttered under her breath as her eyes glazed and she focused on Sea Spray’s harnessed rump. She breathed deeply, willing herself to relax through the contraction. Her feverant hope that she was experiencing Braxton Hicks False Labor was rapidly diminishing.

“Baraer?”

She vaguely heard him calling to her through the thick fog of escalating pain. The cart dipped as he slid in next to her, large calloused hands taking the reins.

“Beck-“

“With Rumil.”

She sighed in relief, whether from the knowledge her son was looked after or the fact that the contraction had ended, was even her guess.

“We have a slight problem, Heru.”

Haldir’s eyes flicked over her face, her swollen belly. “Do we? I wonder what that could possibly be?”

Even by human standards, this baby was too soon.

Eight months. Barely.

***

They had agreed on the parapets of Helm’s Deep, while watching Legolas ride away from the ancient fortress; Éomer King proudly showing their accomplishments with the aid of Dwarves and Elves. The journey from Gondor had been slow, but not tedious, the small group exploring the Beacon Hills, Firien Woods, Mering Stream. They had been welcomed that summer into Rohan by Éomer and his wife, Lothiriel, taken almost immediately to Helm’s Deep, using the same passage as the Rohirriam had taken in flight from Sauron’s Uruk-hai Army.

Bronwyn had spoken to Éomer, the survivors, the widows of the Battle; listened to tales of heroism, chaos, despair. She had laid her hands on the rocks, the hillside surrounding the fortress, had captured faint traces of lingering tragedy in those sensitive fingertips.

They had left Beckett in the care of Rumil and Heridil and explored Tarlang’s Neck and back, all traces of the Ghostly Army gone, exorcized. Only whispers of forgotten voices left.

Legolas and Gimli had been at Helm’s Deep on their return and Bronwyn and Haldir had flipped a coin to see who would tell him of his fatherhood.

Haldir won.

Bronwyn had no idea what her husband said to the Elven Prince that night, but Legolas had gone white when he was told of his daughter, and stayed that way through the night, not speaking to anyone during dinner. At first light the next morning, he and the crusty Dwarf were mounted up and gone, headed into Gondor. Bronwyn met up with him in the stables.

“Saes, do not take her from them. Eowyn has lived in such fear and Faramir adores her. He has been a good father to her. It would be wrong to completely uproot her or cause her to become a pawn in a battle of tug of war.”

Legolas looked at her as if she had grown a second head. “Take her from them? Nay, I would never do that. I will have my time later on. But,” a long slender finger waved under her nose, “I will know my daughter.” And with that, he swung up on his horse.

Bronwyn felt a tugging at her tunic.

“Din’t worry, lass. I won’t let him do anythin’ rash!” Bronwyn felt a deep chuckle rise from her chest.

“Oh, and I suppose a Master Dwarf as yourself can stop him?”

Gimli’s eyes were alight with merriment. “I still have my ax, y’know!” He crooked his finger, motioning her downwards. “The lad did not sleep a wink last night. I fear he is in a state of shock.” He looked up to the tall horse and Elf and sighed. The Dwarf looked at Bronwyn with resignation and motioned at the height of the saddle with his head. Bronwyn, realizing his dilemma, gave him a hand up into the saddle. Quickly, she made her way upwards into the parapets, where her husband and son waited.

It was at that moment, standing on top of the tower, watching the unlikely pair head off into the sunrise, combined with the sound of Beckett trying his hardest in the early morning mist to blow into the mighty Horn of Helm’s Deep, that Bronwyn and Haldir had decided to put down long-term stakes in Isengard and agreed to have another child.

It had been mid-fall in Edoras, that Haldir lost his breakfast in the stable. By her calculation, the child was due in late summer. They made plans to stay in Rohan the winter; travel would be nigh impossible in the snow or ice-covered ruts. Éomer and his wife had a young son close to Beckett’s age and the two got along well – neither one slaying Orcs, thank Iluvatar!

But this pregnancy had been different.

She had shown faster, growing large, swelling soon. This child had been incredibly active, Bronwyn swearing that the babe was a spider, with eight arms and legs. Haldir’s morning sickness was short-lived, but she was unable to hold down meat of any kind, forcing her to become a vegetarian, steamed and raw vegetables and fruit becoming 95% of her entire diet. She tired quickly and often. In the deepest winter months, she stayed wrapped in front of the Great Fireplace, countless Rohirrim soldiers and ancient Horse Lords taking turns, sitting with her, talking, talking, talking. She shed countless, silent tears for the fallen, for her raging hormones.

Éomer King was a warrior, a reluctant but able ruler. He was grateful for the happiness of his sister’s marriage, for Faramir’s acceptance of her daughter by Legolas. Lothiriel was a gracious hostess, who spent a fair share of time sitting with Tel’ Lindar, telling of her life, growing up in another, graceful court.

There had been a late snow, delaying their departure, but they had finally left in mid-April, moving slowly, taking their time towards Isengard, thinking there was plenty of time.

There was not.

***

The contraction eased and Bronwyn was able to focus again.

“How much further?”

Haldir took a deep breath, hearing his wife’s discomfort, feeling her fear. “Several hours, I am afraid.” He lifted his chin, searching the horizon for the tall spire of the Istari’s Tower. “Are you going to make it?”

“Doubt it.” The next wave took her and he felt her struggling to keep from crying out.

“Beckett does not need to witness this.”

“No, he does not.” she gritted between her teeth. “Any suggestions?”

Haldir had several.

As a result, Rumil, with Beckett holding tightly to the saddle, raced Heridil to Isengard, ‘securing’ the fortress upon their arrival.

Stopping just inside the circular garden, under a copse of trees and rose bushes, Haldir helped Bronwyn down from the wagon between contractions. He quickly pulled blankets and pads, packed for her comfort and spread them in the shade. He returned to the wagon and found the herbs, the tea and utensils to heat water.

“Haldir. I am frightened. It is too soon.”

“I know, Baraermin.” Haldir tried to keep the fear from his voice. “Relax. Drink this.”

An hour later, Haldir caught both of his tiny, but healthy, twin baby daughters.

Faeowynne.

Anselm.

***

They rode to the spire the next day after spending the night beneath the trees. They had presented their daughters to Iluvatar hours after their birth and Haldir was grateful that Bronwyn had had an easier time at her labor. The twins were not as large as their elder sibling and both were quieter than their brother had been. Where Beckett looked like his father, with his mother’s coloring, the girls looked like their mother, with what would eventually be their father’s blonde locks. They were met by the front entrance by their son, who was beyond excited about the new building to explore, but not overly enthused about his new young sisters.

“Being an older brother is very important.” Haldir told the Elfling. “It is up to you to teach your sisters what they need to know.”

Rumil rolled his eyes at Heridil. “Hmmph!” he whispered. “Teach, my pointed ear! I remember him being bossy!”

Heridil kept his wise council to himself, but silently, he agreed.

Isengard was imposing, a labyrinth of rooms, abandoned quickly by Saruman. The dungeons were mud, water standing sometimes a foot deep and in spots, totally flooded out. Bronwyn immediately ordered all corridors and doors leading to the pits to be locked and barred. A long stairway led to the top of the spire, spikes and sharp edges dangerously jutting out from the sides all the way to the ground. She also commanded those doors to be barred and locked. Daily, she reminded Beckett to stay away from those places and as her daughters grew, they also were taught to stay away.

The scrolls and books left behind were wondrous. Numerous. Parchment was scattered everywhere and it took months, years to put them together in the proper order. Dust was thick throughout the Tower and immediately, Haldir was brewing tea with herbs to keep her from hacking. When possible, they sat in the gardens, stacks of reading material next to her, the twins, Beckett, climbing over everything.

Not once, did she tell her children not to touch the flowers, not to pull or pick them. And while Faeowynne toddled happily after her adored brother, Anselm was content to sit under the tree, looking into the sky as if she were listening.

The children were fascinated with Treebeard. They adored being plucked high into his branches and carted hither and yon, listening to his deep, rumbling voice. Many times, Anselm would disappear for too long a time, only to be found in the top of a tree, calling hoarsely to the Ent.

Orophin and Lera visited with their three children three times. The third trip was hard for the Elf’s wife. She was aging and it was heart breaking to watch Orophin, in his eternal youth watch his beloved wither before his eyes. When they left that final time, Bronwyn cried huge tears, knowing she would never see the spirited healer again.

Time passed.

Life was quiet and good.

Elflings grew.


***

The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made out of rubber
And their bottoms are made out of springs…

From Winnie the Pooh

***

“Mama!”

Beckett stood in front of her, hands planted firmly on slender hips. “Mama! Tell Anselm that Old McDonald did NOT have a Warg on his farm!”

At age 52, he had lost the baby pudge and had taken on his father’s slimmer build. Heavy red hair hung past his shoulders and he fought to keep it in a proper Elven braid.

So very much like his Ada…

“Mama!” His exasperated voice cut through her musings. “Saes! Please!” The child pointed angrily to the petite, blonde standing next to him, a mutinous glare etched on her small, delicately cut features.

If Beckett was his Ada’s guts, it could be easily said that Anselm was a blonde clone of her mother.

“Did so! Did so!” the tiny child cried, lip quivering. “He did so have a Warg!”

“Did not!”

“Did so!”

“Did not!”

“Didsodidsodidso!” the little Elleth stamped a dainty foot. “An’ he had a wolf, an’ he had a Nazgul, an’ he had a spider an’ he had a banshee an’ he had an Orc…”

“Did not! He did not!”

Bronwyn rubbed her temples as her eldest and her youngest argued like… like… well, hell… like children.

Beckett had not accepted his new sisters in the beginning. The child’s arrogant glowering when Haldir and Bronwyn arrived with the two elleths the morning following their birth had angered his beloved Ada in a way Bronwyn had not seen in years. He had felt neglected, left out, and even once had wandered deep into the forest surrounding Isengard. Luckily, Rumil had followed him and had helped the child sort through and verbalize his feelings. Haldir and Bronwyn both had made it a point afterwards to spend special, quality time with the stern, commanding child.

As the girls had grown, he had softened his attitude somewhat. He was protective towards both, but he preferred Faeowynne’s company over Anselm’s. She enjoyed killing Orcs and stalking Oliphants. But Anselm was different.

Anselm was… fey.

“Did not!”

“Did so!”

“Did not!”

This study of contradiction, if it could be called that, continued. Bronwyn opened her mouth to ask them to stop, but a tall shadow stopped them.

“Cease this bickering!” Haldir strode into the dark, circular room. “Can you not see your Mama is up to her nose in dusty parchment?” He strode between the two suddenly ashamed children. “What is this about?”

The two Elflings scowled at each other. Beckett took a deep breath. And attempted to speak diplomatically.

“I was simply trying to explain to Anselm that Old McDonald did not have a Warg on his farm.”

Anselm immediately screwed up her face and sticking her index fingers in each ear began to sing at the top of her lungs.

“…and on this farm he had a Uruk-hai, EIEIO!”

“AAAAAAARGH!!!!”

Haldir’s eyebrow arched. He walked a wide berth around the two squabbling Elflings and called to her over the din.

“Baraer? Which one shall I take? Or would you prefer both go to their rooms?”

Bronwyn looked at both children, both equally angry, both equally determined to be the correct one.

“Is it still raining?” It had poured for four days, cooping the rambunctious children inside the dreary tower. The youngsters had helped her pack away scrolls and rolls of parchment, all to be sent with traveling Elves and Rangers to Imladris, the Grey Havens, and eventually, to the Undying Lands, for safe- keeping until hers and Haldir’s arrival. The three Elflings practiced drawing big ‘O’s on the crates, trunks and boxes, signifying these came from Orthanc. Beckett was adding and sorting the boxes by size and content.

“Nay. The sun came out a sort time ago.”

“Why don’t you,” she directed her gaze towards Beckett, “go outside with your Ada? Perhaps the two of you can find something to shoot.” The Elfling’s face lit up with a smile. There was nothing he liked more than to spend time with his Ada. He spun on his heel and ran quickly from the room. Haldir went to follow him.

“Cormmin, do not be harsh. They have been sequestered a long time indoors. Let him climb a tree or something. In fact, both of you go climb a tree!”

“As you wish.” His smile was mischievous, boyish.

She turned her attention to the little blonde. “As for you…” Bronwyn laid the scroll she had been reading aside. “Why do you not come and sit on my lap and talk with me for a spell?” She patted her knees and the litte efling ran to the comfort of her mother’s arms. Little arms went around her waist and she rested her head on her chest. Within seconds, sobs tore from the little one’s body as she burst into tears.

***

“Ada. Anselm is strange.”

Ah, this child was to the point, Haldir thought. He wondered where he got it from. Before the former March Warden could open his mouth to reply, the child continued.

“She is strange and she sings strange songs. She changes words and makes up things that make no sense. She is very silly.”

Haldir took a deep breath. “She is female, Beckett.” He said the statement as if that should answer everything.

“I know that! So is Faeowynne! Faeowynne is not silly!” The two headed towards the fruit trees, loving planted by the Ents on the southernmost side of Isengard. “Well, most of the time, Faeowynne is not silly. But Anselm, Anselm is ALWAYS silly!”

Haldir’s focus was on a specific pear tree. The fruit had ripened in the rain and he had been daydreaming of the crisp taste for several days. “Beckett, I have some Elf to Elf advice for you.”

Beckett was trotting to keep up with his father, but he nodded in acknowledgment. Anytime his Ada had Elf to Elf advice, it made him feel very adult.

“Elleths or women in general do not think like we do. They do silly things, they say silly things, they have silly thoughts, but we Males say nothing.”

“Why?”

“Because,” They had reached the tree and Haldir picked his son up and shoved him up into the branches. “It keeps the peace.” The Elfling looked down at his Ada, who was now himself climbing into the tree.

“It keeps the peace?”

“Aye. There are certain things Elves… and Men… do to keep the peace. One thing is allow their respective females silly things. It is either that or listen to them harp on things they should not harp on.” Haldir spied a particularly heavy branch of plump pears. He grabbed one, pulling it from the tree and handed it to the Elfling. He reached for a second and took a bite.

“Mama is not like that. She does not do silly things. She does not harp on things.”

Haldir took several bites before answering. “Yes, she does. But I am very good at keeping the peace. And part of that is keeping her happy.” The moment that was out of his mouth, he wished that the Elfling did not question him further. He did not – today.

“But what happens when… you cannot stand it anymore?”

Had Bronwyn seen the look on her husband’s face, she would have smacked him. Eyebrows were raised as he grimaced. “When you cannot take anymore? You go hunting. You go out drinking with our friends. You go on diplomatic missions or leave to guard our borders. You shoot things and climb trees and pick fruit and throw the bad ones…” he pointed to the approaching figure of Rumil and dropped his voice to a whisper. “… at an unsuspecting passerby…”

The two watched as Rumil meandered through the fruit trees, totally unaware that he was being targeted.

“Ada.” Beckett whispered. Haldir looked at him from the side. . “Just the other day, Anselm said the walls were talking.”

“Did she now?” Haldir had looked back and was watching the ever closing path of his brother. “What does she say they say?”

It was quiet as the youngling pondered his response. “She said they say the Vessel is destined to crack.”

***

“What is this? Tears? Over Beckett?”

“He… he… he… is so… mean to me.”

Bronwyn lifted the wet chin and using the end of the Anselm’s tunic, dabbed at her face. “What has he done to warrant such crying?”

“He thinks he… he… he knows eh… eh…everything!”

Hmmm, Bronwyn wondered to herself. Who does he get that from, I wonder?

“Well,” Bronwyn tried the diplomatic solution, “he is older and he has been many places. He is also male.” She said this as if that should answer everything.

“He does not know everything!” So much for the diplomatic solution.

Bronwyn chuckled to herself. “Nay, he does not. But because he is male, we let him think that.” She smiled to herself. “It keeps the peace.” She allowed the little Elfling to sob herself into what she thought would be slumber, but it was not meant to be. Tiny fingers wound their way in a lock of hair while fingers on the other hand fidgeted with the fastenings on Bronwyn’s tunic.

Deep, deep sigh from a petite chest.

“Mama. I do not like it here.”

The statement shocked her. It came from out of the blue.

“You do not like it here? Darling! There is a large garden to play in. You have the Ents… Treebeard at your beck and call.” Indeed, Treebeard was most fond of all three Elflings and it was not unusual for him to carry them off on their own adventures to see the forest. “There is this huge fortress…”

“It is evil here, Mama. Bad things happened here.”

Again, Bronwyn was stunned into silence. The adults had made it a rule, early on, to not speak of the horrors that had taken place there. The little ones knew that Saruman had lived there, had not done what was right and had lost his life over the consequences of his actions. The children knew that Orcs had been here and some had escaped into the forest and they were never to go into the woods alone. But the atrocities committed in the name of Sauron had never been discussed with them around; always after they were in bed asleep.

“What do you mean, Anselm?”

The little girl looked up her with ancient eyes, her words old for such a young tongue. “In the dungeons. Bad things were borned from the pits. In the walls, there are rotten whispers. Nasty beings stayed here. Gandalf was held prisoner on the roof.” Anselm’s fingers continued to play in her hair, on the buttons. “I am scared when I go to sleep. At night, I see dark shadows. They whisper and laugh at me.”

“What do they whisper about, sweetling?” Bronwyn was floored at the seriousness of her daughter’s statements.

“That you meddle in things you have no right to meddle in. That you read scrolls never meant for your eyes. That you hold memories never meant to be remembered.” Dark blue eyes roamed the circular room before settling back on her mother. “They say that if you continue on this path, the Vessel will overflow and crack.”

Bronwyn held her daughter close, pondering on the words of this unusual child. “Oh darling. It is just your imagination. This place is old, very old and the stones settle…”

“No, Mama.” Anselm’s voice was deepening, her vocabulary expanding. “Every year, the whispers become louder; more forceful. The shadows become darker, more solid. I am afraid to go to sleep. I am afraid I will never awake.” She cocked her head to the side, the young child returning suddenly. “Would you like to see, Mama?”

“Saes. Please.” With that, the fairy-like child jumped from her mother’s lap and taking by the hand, led her mother throughout the dark spire.

“Touch here.”

“Look here.”

“Listen.”

All throughout the fortress, Bronwyn touched. And looked. And listened. And was shocked and frightened. Several times, she thought she saw a dark visage, in dark robes, watching, hiding in the shadows. She heard the faint whispers, saw obscure outlines, heard faint cries in the cracks and the crevices. She felt the malevolence in the pores of the stone. The two stopped in front of the staircase that led to the top of the spire – a doorway that was locked against small hands opening it and climbing to the top.

“Something bad happened up there. Something bad happened to Gandalf.” Again, ancient eyes bore into Bronwyn’s. “He would have killed him, Mama. He would have.”

They also stopped at the doorway that led to the water filled dungeon. It too, was padlocked against prying, curious eyes.

“Uruk-hai got borned down there. An army.” Again, the voice was deepened, older than that of a 40 year old she-Elf. The vibrations from the door, as Bronwyn leaned against it, were vicious, angry.

She took her daughter by the hand and led her outside, into the sun. They walked to the edge of the woods and called for Treebeard, who always lingered nearby. He picked them up and carried them throughout the woods. They saw Beckett and Haldir in the top of a pear tree, throwing over-ripened pears at a laughing Rumil. They saw ever-patient Heridil, showing Faeowynne how to properly fletch arrows. And while feeling the wind in their loosened hair, Bronwyn asked her daughter what the Valar wished for them to do.

“Pack it up.” she whispered. “Pack it all up. Plant viney, clingy things around the walls and allow the forest to overtake it and destroy it.”

“It is time, Mama. It is time to go to Rivendell.”

***

It took many months, but by spring, they were ready to leave. Every time a group of Elves passed them by, going to Rivendell or heading to the Grey Havens, they were loaded up with trunks, containers, filled with scrolls, parchment. Anything the passing Elves had room to take. All had orders to be taken to whomever was in Rivendell; Elrond or Gandalf in Valinor. They knew, they were expecting them.

Treebeard had chosen specific plants to edge the dark walls. Wild things, with briars were planted several weeks before they departed and quickly, they trailed up the sides; wrapping around windows, encasements, anything to cling to. They also planted them throughout the gardens surrounding Isengard. Bronwyn cried at the loss of the beauty, but realized it was probably for the best.

Anselm was relieved. Each night was getting more and more difficult for her and she had reached a point where she avoided more and more places of the Tower. The voices, the feelings were getting more malevolent and she clung to her mother, her father, anyone.

Now that Bronwyn was looking, she too heard the sinister whispers. Several times, she saw the dark ghost hiding in the corners; but rather than feel fear, she felt it was watching her, watching her family.

A ghost that was a Voyeur. How lovely.

Practically everything to be sent to Rivendell, to the Undying Lands was gone. Many things, Bronwyn had read and burned, as she had at Baradur. She and Haldir stood at the edge of the garden, on the road that led to Rivendell. Already, the vines were climbing the spire, snaking through the garden. Haldir reached and plucked a rose – the palest of pink – from a bush nearby.

“Treebeard has given you clippings from this bush for Rivendell, for Valinor. He says it is called “New Dawn.” He handed the fragrant blossom to her. His eyes looked back towards the Tower.

“It will come down in time. Every thing here will shift, change and when we return, we will recognize none of it.” Bronwyn’s voice was saddened. “So much horror here. And yet so much good and knowledge.” She put her arms around her husband and leaned into him. “What could make someone who so enlightened and with so much intelligence do something so stupid as to side with Sauron?”

Lips were pressed to the top of her head and a calloused finger lifted her chin. Dark blue eyes bore into hers. “I do not know, Baraermin. Do not linger on it.” His eyes lifted and he beckoned to their party. “Linger on what matters. Look at Beckett.” Beckett had received a sturdy pony to ride and his entire posture screamed “Haldir the Red.” He was so proud to have his own mount and not have to ride with one of the adults. Faeowynne was perched in Rumil’s lap, while Anselm rode with Heridil. “Look at our children. What an education they have received here.”

Bronwyn chuckled. “Here? What an education they will receive when we reach Rivendell!” She strode to Sea Mist, the daughter of her beloved Sea Spray and Haldir’s former mount, His Arrogance, and swung up. “You have said your goodbyes?”

“To this place? Yes.” Haldir likewise mounted his mount. Anselm had named this one – Horse. “And you?”

“Treebeard came two days ago. The children said theirs then.” Bronwyn’s smile was rueful. “Funny. He acted as if he would see them again.” She rode off towards the two Elves and their children. She did not see Haldir’s face fall, the smile disappearing.

“Aye.” he whispered quietly. “I wonder what he knows that we do not. Will all of our children stay? And if they do, how we will survive it?”

***

They made their way through Dunland towards Lothlorien. Haldir longed to see his home and show it to his children. All the way, he and Rumil talked of growing up, the beauty of the trees, the city of Caras Galadhon. The Elflings were enchanted by the stories of the flets, the talans in the trees, the sparkling rivers with rainbow striped fish, the sparkling lights in the trees, with it’s winding risers. They could not get enough tales of the Brother Lorien’s exploits.

Their first night out, after the children had gone to sleep, Bronwyn took her reed flute to the edge of camp. Sitting next to a tree, she began to play, softly, a low tune. She knew Haldir was behind her, sitting quietly. Within minutes, he had joined her with his harp.

The music rose on the air. Too soon, it was over.

“We do not do this often enough, Baraermin.” They were leaning against each other, back to back.

“I know.” She swayed, her back rubbing against his playfully. “Again?”

“Aye. You start.”

“Nah! You start!”

“No. You start. I follow.”

Bronwyn looked over her shoulder in the darkening twilight. “But you follow me always.” She found herself pulled over his lap, blue eyes glowing in the night.

“Nay. Many would think so, but I do not follow you.” Her breath caught in the intensity of his gaze, the ferocity of his tone. “I stand by your side, keep you from places you should not be. I do not follow you.” Fingers gripped her tightly. “I am your equal. Do not forget that.” And with that, his mouth possessed her in a kiss so fierce, she forgot her reed flute in her hand.


 
artwork by Hayley Rust

And while they made love in the grass, under the tree, they were not aware that feral eyes watched them from not so far off; the wolf, very interested in the play, the language their bodies spoke to each other.

***

The Golden Woods were no longer golden.

Haldir realized it immediately, Rumil and Heridil’s similar thoughts following his within moments. The children were awestruck by the size of the trees, the trunks. Anselm cried for Heridil to stop, let her touch, let her climb, but he was too dismayed by the change he was seeing.

It was if fall had come early. The branches drooped, the leaves were dull. They were not stopped, they were not challenged until they almost reached the city. When the sentry finally descended from the branches, to the amazement of the Elflings, Haldir dismounted and in quiet whispers, begged for information.

“The Lady no longer resides here. Her ring has lost its power and she no longer holds sway with the seasons.” The sentry looked tired. “Every season, more and more of our people leave to go to the Undying Lands. Haldir, Caras Galadhon no longer sparkles. It wilts, like our beloved trees. Even Celeborn did not stay.”

“Celeborn is not here?” Haldir’s voice rose over the sounds of the forest and even his children cease to speak when they heard him raise his voice. “He did not intend to join Our Lady until the last boat.”

Several more sentries had slipped from the trees. They greeted Haldir, Rumil, Heridil. They smiled and hugged Bronwyn, making much over hers and Haldir’s children.

The children were wide-eyed, silent. Anselm immediately headed for the nearest mallorn tree, her hands encasing the trunk.

“Celeborn is in Rivendell.” the sentry pointed in the direction of Elrond’s home for so many millennia. “For a while, he gloated over the addition of the southern portions of Mirkwood to our realm, but he soon realized it was an empty gain.” The sentry was matter of fact, to the point. “We hear the call. Soon, very few of us will be left. And those that stay, will probably go to Mirkwood.”

Slowly, they made their way into the city.

The wolf sat on the edge of the woods, eyes narrowed. His muzzle was scared, burned. Slowly, he made his way inwards, so as not to be seen or noticed by the Tall Two Legs. These Two Legs were not like the ones on the plains who chased him and his family away. These had always been respectful of his right to survive. But still… one must be careful. He was drawn to her. She would help him. But it was better to be careful.

***

Bronwyn took one look at the city and her heart broke. She had known the city would fall into a shadow of its former glory after Galadriel left Middle Earth, but she was still not prepared for what it had become. She could sense the dismay in Haldir, could see it plainly on his brother and friend’s face. It was dull, almost shabby, everything drooping. Galadriel would have been heartbroken to see the state of her garden. It was overgrown, untended. Wild things grew alongside the carefully cultivated roses and camillas. The gazebo was almost hidden by untamed wisteria vines. Her mirror and pitcher were gone, the water in the grotto flowing freely. The children ran throughout, ducking, hiding, playing. But Bronwyn went straight to the gazebo, her head in Haldir’s lap.

“What is happening, Haldir? I remember your city, in its glory. What happened?”

Haldir just stared; stared into the garden, stared into the sagging trees.

“The glorious heart of Elvendom here in Middle Earth.” he whispered. “It is no longer needed. It no longer has a purpose. “

***

TBC

***

Baraermin – My Fiery One
Cormmin – My Heart

Zee reads – Jume edition.

Wow! I’ve not updated The Vessel in over a month! and I’m late with my monthly reading. wow! AND i’ve not update Rabbbww either!

I’m sooooo behind.

Spawn and I went to Myrtle Beach earlier in June. He also hAD HIS YEARLY CARDIO appointment. his ticker is doing well and he’s lost some weight! His cardiologist has taken a new job so next year, he’ll meet his new cardiologist. While in Myrtle Beach, my car started running hot and that killed us to fix. I’ll tell you what! I have the bestest friends looking out for me. I do! I really do! It was not a cheap or inexpensive fix. For real.

And now, what did I read in June?









and…

The final 2 installments of Tube Riders. No happy in this series. Nope. not a it. Well written, interesting, I read all 4 so hey!

I also finished all of what is written so far of Foreigner.

Ilisidi’s great- grandson has his friends from the spaceship come down to celebrate his 9th birthday. It’s a free for all. In the meantime, the aliens come or a visit and Ilisidi makes a deal with the Marid warlord. Bren and Ilisidi head into the Marid and her grandson’s only advice and request is to ‘Keep her safe’ knowing there is an assassination’s contract out for her. We also get a closer look at her grandson’s wife. The two have an unusual marriage – a permanent one. Bren also spends 2 books in Mospheria – land of the humans. They are taking the 5000 humans that are on the space station that were rescued from the Reunion space station that the kyo attacked. The first settlers are to be the heir’s friends.

I have really enjoyed this series and am looking forward to the next installment.

that’s it for now. 11 books. Not shabby. I’ll get the next installment of The Vessel up later or in the morning.

Zee Reads – May edition

Good morning everyone! How are we all? I have been writing on a fic I’ve not updated in years! It’s the sequel to The Vessel. I’ve also been job hunting. Seriously thinking of retiring. I just don’t have the energy to go back into the classroom, to be completely honest. They’ve taken the joy out of teaching. They really have.

I read quite a bit this month. Shall we?

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