The Vessel

Chapter 17

Sometimes, all I need is the Air that I breathe – or – Down! Down Boy! Gooood Boy!

They walked together in silence towards her – their assigned room. Bronwyn’s hand was tucked into his elbow and he could still feel the fury animating from her.

“Damn him!” Her hand tightened on his arm. “Damn him to hell! Why couldn’t he just take nuh… nuh… noooo fuh…fuh…for an answer?”

Haldir stopped and turned her to him. He was astounded to see tears in her eyes.

“Baraer…”

“I couldn’t stun him. That’s all I wanted to do was tweak his ears just enough to make him… b-b-b-ack off. I cu-couldn’t protect myself.”

“Baraermin. I think you protected yourself quite well. I imagine he will not dance, much less walk standing upright for quite some time!” He cupped her face with large hands and thumbed the tears from her eyes. It only caused them to spill faster.

“Where were you?” Her accusation was out. He knew it would come. ‘Wh- wh-where were you? You’re supposed to be my pro..pro.. .tector!”

He turned and picked her up into his arms, carrying her as a small Elfling. He moved quickly to their room, holding her close while she cried. He kicked the door open and set her gently on the bed. After shutting the door, he had second thoughts about their privacy and pulled the small chair over, propping it under the latch, rendering it useless from the outside. He stood over her, arms crossed over his chest and looked down at her, a smirk on his face.

“You were surrounded by myself and others. Had you not done what you had done, you would have been extracted from his clutches within seconds. As long as he did not lay a hand on you, there was little we could do. He is the King, Baraermin and some protocol must be observed. I would not doubt it if he tries again or has you or me thrown in his dungeon.” He tugged on his braid once, before loosening it from its clasp and unwinding the intricate braid. “Thank the Valar, Celeborn and Galadriel are both here should that happens.”

Red-rimmed eyes stared back at him and she hiccupped. “Why am I crying? This is stoo-stoo-stoopid! That knarly-assed pruh-pruh-prat deserved to get kneed! ”

He gently pulled her to her feet and turned her around, his hands going to the fastenings on the dress. It fell to the floor in an inky puddle, leaving her wearing only the black lacy underthings she had specially made to fit under the dress.

“Much too much wine, I would suppose.” And something else as well, if his suspicions were right. He hooked his toe in his boot, to pull it off. For quite sometime, he had noticed her mood swings that coincided with the moon. He pulled off the other boot. He had been reluctant to bring up the subject, yet with the albeit short talk they had on the hill the other day, he felt it was time to ask for one boon, a gift of sorts. And with her tipsy, he felt the wish had a better chance of being granted. He quickly pulled off his clothes and tossed them to the chair. Picking her up in his arms again, he laid her on the bed, curling up next to her, pulling her close. His lips went to her ears, while his hands stroked the smooth rose-scented flesh of her waist and he felt her shudder, her sigh in his neck.

“It always feels good when you do that.”

His lips blazed a trail to her mouth. “I am glad you like it, Baraermin.” It was sweet, a gentle kiss, his tongue playing with the edge of her lip, sucking gently. His hand unhooked the bra – he had become rather deft at undoing it – and slid underneath it to her breasts, nipples pebbling up. He slid the garment off and tossed it into a corner. One leg was thrown over her hip and she could feel his erection already demanding attention from her. Before she could move her hand down to it, he claimed both hands in his and kissed the knuckles.

‘Baraermin. I have a request.”

Thinking he was going to ask for a specific act, position, she smiled. “I will do anything you ask. Even if I have never done it. You know…”

“Shhh. It is not that.” He smiled, kissing her brow.

“Please tell me you don’t want a threesome with Thranduil?” she laughed. “Please, I couldn’t bear it.” He laughed with her, holding her close.

“Nay, I would kill anyone who laid a hand on you in that way. No threesome with Thranduil, with no one!” He kissed her again.

“Listen carefully, Baraermin. For many years, there have been fewer and fewer Elflings born in Middle Earth. Most of it has been because many of my people are being called to the Undying Lands. Another reason is due to the unrest and evil that walks upon Middle Earth. I have waited to find my Soulmate.

“In Elvish culture, two must agree to have children. It is a commitment to make sure the Elfling is raised…”

“Haldir, this is the longest speech I have ever heard come from your lips! Spit it out, Elf!”

He took a deep breath.

“Bear my child.” He kissed her quickly, before she could say a word. “I desire a child, created with you. We must agree together to do this…”

“Whoa – wait a second. Let me get this straight.” His dark blue eyes looked at her, frightened she would say no. “We have to… agree.. together in order for me to get pregnant.”

“Yes.”

“We can rut like beasties in the field and I would not get pregnant if you and I have not – agreed – to it.”

“Yes.”

She thought silently for a moment. Apparently, she was not as imbibed as Haldir had hoped.

“You are an Elf and I am from Man. What is it that our children will be called?”

Uh- oh. She was asking intelligent questions.

“Peredhil. Half-Elven.”

“Like Elrond and his brother.”

“Yes.”

“Who got to choose. Our children will be allowed to choose.”

“If you say.” He took a deep breath. “What do you know, that I do not, Baraermin?”

She curled in closer to his body, a hand lingering over a flat, male nipple. Her lips followed along his chest, gently leaving a trail of lingering kisses.

“How long does it take for an Elvish child to reach maturity? Adulthood?”

His arms tightened around her, seeing where she was going with this conversation.

“One hundred years.”

“How long do you think we have before the last boat leaves? Before the call comes for you? How long do you think we have before my knives do not return?”

He took a deep, deep breath.

“110 to 130 years. A little longer, perhaps, a little less. Baraermin. What do you know that I do not?”

Her voice was far away, trance-like.

“Our children will be Elvish in appearance. The height, the ears, the skills, the sensitivity. They will be like Elrond and his brother. They will be allowed to choose to stay here and die as mortal men or to come with us to the Gray Havens. Our first child will stay, we both know that. I do not wish to leave all my children here and cry in the Havens as they all pass the world.” Her sigh was heavy. “What shall we do while we travel on our quest? How will we raise our children and cart them from place to place without a permanent home?”

He slid the black lacy excuse for panties from her hips and rolled her over to her back. “I do not know, Baraermin. We will manage. We will think of something.”

As he eased between her legs and placed himself at her entrance, she spoke the words he had longed to hear.

” I agree, Haldir. I agree, Heru en Corrmin. Give me a child from your heart.”

***

The bed was truly uncomfortable. Bronwyn tossed and turned, what little she could, being pinned underneath Haldir. He was stretched out on his stomach, with her literally pulled under him, one leg and one arm thrown over her.

Their joining, their lovemaking was usually a test of wills, a fight for power, an interrogation of strength. But not this time. This time, it was gentle, sweet. He had treated her as if she were a virgin, never touched. Foreplay between both had been extensive, leisurely. There was no take, it as all give.

And now, she needed to pee.

He had fallen into reverie soon after they had made love and while she could not sleep, she had heard Celeborn and Galadriel come in much later and had listened to their sounds, feeling like a voyeur. She hoped and prayed that she and Haldir would still enjoy each other that much after they had been together so many years. Her hand strayed to her stomach.

Helllooooo little fellow! In there yet? She smiled at the thought that there could already be a child, growing within her. Boy? Girl? Did it truly matter?

She still needed to pee. She jiggled her leg in frustration.

‘Baraer. Stop that.” His voice was quiet.

“I can’t sleep. And no, I do not wish you to utter a sleep spell.” The bobbing resumed. “I need to go to the bathroom. Badly.” His eyes glittered eerily in the dark. “Where is it?”

He released a deep sigh, her leg bouncing against his knee and… other moving parts. “Come, I will take you. It is down the hall a short ways.” He untangled himself from her and began to get up.

“No.” she sprang off the bed. “No. I am a big girl!” She lit a small candle and digging through her packs, found the beige silken shift with robe, given to her what seemed so long ago. Quickly, she slid the shift on and tied the robe around her body. “I can go to the bathroom by myself. I doubt seriously that Thranduil will steal me off the toilet!” She slid the chair out from under the door latch. “I shouldn’t be long. To the right?”

“Left.” He was back on his stomach, eyes glowing in the dark. “You have five minutes. No more.”

The door opened quietly, the dim candle moved quickly into the hall as the door slid shut. She didn’t hear his last sentence.

“Steal you off the toilet. Do not be so sure.”

***

Lord, I must have drank three bottles of wine, considering how long I’ve sat. Her head was against the doorway and as she went through the opening, she realized her back hurt and she was truly tired. Maybe she would allow Haldir to utter sleep words in order for her to get some rest.

So exhausted was she that she did not see the movement behind her. A hand went over her mouth and she heard the spell being uttered in ear as everything went black.

***

It had been longer than five minutes. Haldir sat up and probed for her.

Asleep. She had gone to sleep on the toilet. What a lovely thought. His eyes were better situated in the dark and he found his leggings and pulled them on.

Wait.

She was asleep, but moving. Moving fast.
`
His bellowed yell shook the walls as he grabbed his sword.

“THRANDUIL!”

***

Shut your mouth
My momma said
Don’t saddle me
With selfishness
Do you feel your tongue
Quivering?
It’s moments like these
I revel in…

Ed Rollins – Collective Soul – Vent

***

She awoke in the middle of a large bed, the room lit with many candles. Her robe had been removed and she heard a voice speaking to her through the fog.

“Wake up. I do not wish for you to sleep the night away as I have plans; plans for you, plans for us.”

She instinctively rolled in the opposite direction of the voice as her eyes became accustomed to the light. Her feet hit the floor and she assumed a stance of defense, something he seemed to find humorous.

“Ah. Now what weapon do you plan to use? You have no bow, no sword, no strangely made shoes to stab me with!” Thranduil came around the bed, a goblet in his hand. ‘Come, have some wine. It is from Elrond’s stores and quite good. And it will relax you.” He was wearing a dark blue robe, bringing out light blue eyes, his white hair gleaming in the firelight.

She backed up away from the bed, looking around swiftly for anything to use in her defense. “I believe I have had enough wine for this evening, thank you very much. If you do not mind, I would like to be returned to Haldir.” She continued to move, around a small table. Thranduil never ceased his slow advance.

“Baraer…” he saw the mutinous look in her eye and decided a more subtle approach might be in order.     “Fine, Bronwyn, is it? You have wounded me deeply.” His voice was jovial, connivingly pleading. ” I only wish to get to know you better. Celeborn and Haldir have hidden you away so very carefully, guarded you all night and I simply wish to know what all the… secrecy is about. ”

“You wish to bed me!”

He smiled into the goblet, stroking around the rim with an elegant finger. “Aye. That too.” he shrugged his shoulders in charming nonchalance. “Why do you fight it so? It will be enjoyable for the both of us, if you would just…”

“No! What part of ‘no’ do you not comprehend? Is the word not short enough for you?” The table was now between them and she seemed to relax a small bit with that piece of wood between them. She had placed both hands on the table and was leaning over it, angrily. The king gave her the most angelic smile he could conjure.

So like Legolas.

She squashed the thought. NOTHING like Legolas. Legolas kept his tongue in his mouth and his hands in appropriate places!

“I see why Celeborn’s pretty MarchWarden calls you ‘Baraer’. Are you this feisty between the sheets?” He  moved to the opposite side of the table, one hand on it, so close to hers.

She let out a gasp of outrage. “You fucking son of an Orc! That is none of your business!”

He snickered. “I should be put out by the obvious disrespect to my mother, but I find your vulgar mouth to be quite refreshing!” He cast the goblet to the side and with a heave, flung the table from in between them. “In fact, I find it to be quite exciting.”

She ran in the opposite direction of his momentum and scooted around a much larger table. She attempted to talk sense to him, respectfully, formally.

“Thranduil… your grace… please, I beseech you. Think on your actions.”

He closed in, both the Elf and the woman, circling the table. “I am thinking on them. I am trying to decide what position I want you in first! Now give up this infernal table dance and allow me to…”

“Sir, please. I do not wish you. I am joined with Haldir.”

He stopped his circling and peered closely at her. “You have performed a Soul-bounding? A marriage?”

“No, but…”

“Then you are not formally joined. Bronwyn. I told you, Haldir’s vices are well-known…” He continued his circling.

“We have agreed to have a child!”

This stopped him. “You agreed? To create a child? The two of you agreed?”

She exhaled a sigh of relief. Finally!. “Yes.”

He threw up a hand and grinned. ” ‘Tis no matter. You are not formally bonded. It is not unheard of for a couple who are not joined to agree to such…”

Her scream of frustration rent the air.

***

Your conversation never sticks
‘Cuz no truth in you exists
Yeah, you bite before you lick
I love it when your such a…
Mmm – mmmmm

***

Haldir’s roar woke Celeborn and Galadriel from a sound slumber. Celeborn was in his robe and out the door in seconds, chasing down his angry foster-son. Three Mirkwood Elves were trying to restrain him, but were not slowing his progress by much.

“CEASE!” The three Elves and Haldir, turned to look at the furious Silver Lord. Celeborn took in the half-dressed state of Haldir and…

“Haldir. In the name of the Valar, why do you have your sword?”

“Thranduil has taken her. I am going to get her back.” Haldir was taking deep, cleansing breaths to stay focused.

“Thranduil stole into your room and managed to get her out without you knowing?” Celeborn scratched behind a pointed ear, eyes shut tight from the bright light in the cavern.

“No. She went to the bathroom and he used a sleep spell…”

“Yrch! Haldir. That is disgusting!” Celeborn continued to scratch at the ear while his mouth quirked in amusement, as he peeked with one eye at the irate Elf.

Haldir’s eyes narrowed in frustration. “I am glad you are so entertained by the situation. However, she is no longer in the bathroom. She has been moved to a location, deep within these caves.” One of Thranduil’s guards picked that time to attempt to fetter the angry Elf again and found himself slapped against the wall. He saw stars for his efforts.

Celeborn watched as the slammed Elf slid soundlessly down the wall. The other two looked at each other as if to toss a coin as to who would go next. With lightening fast reflexes, Celeborn snatched the nearest one by the collar and pulled him to him.

“My March Warden is very angry.”

“Y-y-yes sir. I see that.”

“He is very dangerous when he is angry.”

“Y-y-yes sir.”

“You do know, I no longer… control him.”

“I am s-s-sorry sir.”

“He might kill your king. I would be unable stop him.”

“Oh…sir… please. You know the King. He does not mean…”

“Do you know where Legolas resides?”

“Yes sir.”

“Then, go get him!” And with that, Celeborn shoved the stammering Elf from him. The Elf took a moment to straighten his tunic. “NOW!” He took off running. Celeborn looked around and saw only the remaining Mirkwood Elf and the one knocked out in the floor.

Haldir was gone.

Galadriel had joined her husband in the hallway. “He did it. Thranduil has secreted her away.”

“Aye. And we better catch Haldir before he has a chance to do something he will not regret.” He spoke to the Elf with his senses still intact. “You know where he has taken her?” The Elf nodded. “You will take us there. Quickly.”

***

One more time
Don’t fashion me
With stylish words
Or grumblings
Do you feel my pulse
Lingering?
It’s moments like these
I revel in…

***

“Why, on God’s green Earth, would you want a woman who does not desire you? I mean, let’s be totally honest here. You are a good-looking Elf, could probably have anyone you wanted…”

“True.”

“I am a short, fat woman! Why would you want me?”

Thranduil laughed. “Why does Haldir want you? Why does Celeborn keep you hidden? I wish to know what they know. Come! Stop this round and round the table. You are making me dizzy.”

“Good! You realize that this is a pointless effort…”

“Pointless for you. So why continue this game?” They were still moving in a slow circles opposite of each other around the table.

Her fingers folded together in a tent and she looked at him innocently. “Let’s… talk.”

He cocked an eyebrow and grinned rakishly. “Why talk when we can play?”

“Please, Sir…”

Thranduil leapt across the table and before she could more, had her pinned to a wall.

“Now.” he purred, her wrists pinned in one hand, his other, stroking her jawline. His body was pressed flush against hers. “Now, we are getting somewhere.”

Her heart was in her throat and for a split second, she was frightened. Deeply, deeply frightened.

***

Haldir felt her grow cold. He began to run faster, homing in on her.

***

In a snap, she became livid. Her eyes narrowed into furnace slits and down in her soul, the very essence of her being, she felt a spark, a note, a chord.

“I do not wish you.”

His tongue was on her neck, swirling, spiraling.

“Relax, little dove. You will enjoy this.” His free hand had now moved to her breast, where dammit to hell, the nipple had responded. “Your body betrays you. Give in.”

“Haldir will be most aggrieved when he walks in. I suggest strongly in your removal of your hands from my person immediately.

Thranduil leaned back and looked her lazily in the eye. “Haldir does not know of this place. It is not part of my rooms. You and I will have as long as I desire, undisturbed. I am the King. No one will bother us.” He leaned down to taste her mouth.

She attempted to move her mouth away and he laughed at her struggles. She kept a silent mantra in her head… I will not respond. Haldir will come. I will not respond. Haldir will come. I will not respond. She felt a breath of air across her cheek and opened her eyes to see Thranduil looking closely at her. Her body relaxed and she smiled serenely.

“Ah.” he loosened his hold on her. “That is more like it…” She pulled back again.

“Haldir will come. He will seriously harm you if he catches you forcing yourself on me and you are. I do not wish this.”

Thranduil’s head dropped, just a small bit. “Little dove, I tire of this argument. Haldir cannot locate me, this room. There are guards at the door. We will have utter privacy, no one would dare…”

“Ah, but you do not understand, Sire.” She said the word with as much sarcasm as she could pour into it. “Haldir does not need to find you. Haldir only needs to find me.” She nodded over his shoulder.

Thranduil felt the sword tip against his back. He released Bronwyn and turned to have said sword move from his back to his throat, just under his jaw, the tip pointing into fair skin.

“Haldir.” Thranduil’s voice was even, non-plussed, his eyes never leaving the Lothlórien Elf. Over his shoulder in the open doorway, he saw the two guards, unconscious on the floor.

“Thranduil.” His voice was cool, collected. “Step away from her.” Using the sword as a prod, Haldir moved Thranduil to the left. Bronwyn scuttled to the right and immediately attached herself to Haldir’s side. Never taking his eyes off the King of Mirkwood, he leaned over and nuzzled her hair. “Did he harm you?”

“Nay. He is just stubborn.” She saw her robe thrown over a chair and went to retrieve it. “He will not take ‘no’ for an answer.” Belting it, she quickly grabbed hold of him again. “He is under the impression that as we are not married, then he is free to… well… you know.”

Haldir’s eyes glittered dangerously. “Is this true?” Thranduil never said a word; he continued to look Haldir in the eye.

“I told him we agreed to have a child. He said it did not matter?”

Haldir’s teeth were clenched. He prodded just a little deeper with the sword. “Is. This. True?” The king was standing at his full height, his chin raised high by the blade.

“Haldir. You cannot convince me that after almost 3000 years of being everyone’s darling, that you have decided to settle with a mere woman.”

“My desires are none of your concern. My only concern is you have touched what is dear to me.”

“All this fuss, over a mere woman?”

“A mere woman to you, perhaps. To me, she is the very air I breathe.”

Bronwyn’s ears perked and her eyebrows raised as high as they would go. Romantic sentiments from her Haldir? She was stunned by beauty of his words.

“Haldir. I could have you thrown in the dungeon for this. And I would still have her. I think I shall do just that!”

“Thranduil. You do not wish to start a war, do you?” Haldir felt her sag with relief at the sound of Celeborn’s voice. He walked up behind the pair and placed his hand on Haldir’s sword. “Lay it aside. No harm will come to you or our tithen aras.” Haldir slowly lowered the sword, but he did not drop his guard.

Our tithen aras?” Thranduil rubbed his throat where Haldir’s blade had nicked it. “You share her amongst yourselves, yet you will not share with me? I do not wish to keep her, just to…”

“Be quiet!” both Lothlórien Elves said in tandem. Celeborn grabbed the sword from Haldir and placed the point back at Thranduil’s throat.

“Silence, for you do not know of what or whom you speak. She is more than you suspect or dream and your consistent maltreatment of her is not only infuriating her, but is also angering the Valar. My wife and I are most fond of her; she IS our Tithen aras, as much as she is Haldir’s Baraer. But she has been graced by Iluvatar and her purpose is much more precious and important than to warm your meager bed for a few hours!”

“Ada. Lord Celeborn. What is going…” Legolas had run into the room, led by the flustered Elf that Celeborn had distressed earlier. He took in the scene in dismay. His eyes caught Bronwyn’s and she gave him a shy smile and wiggled her fingers in a small wave.. “Bronwyn.. Ada… you did not try…”

“Sleep spell. Right out of the bathroom. Did not stand a chance!” Bronwyn spoke in the common tongue. Her voice had regained some of it playfulness and her hands flew with her words. She felt that she could afford some frivolity, safely encased in Haldir’s arms.

“The bathroom? Ada. That is disgusting! Yrch!” Legolas’ eyebrows knit down in revulsion. He looked at Bronwyn. “You are alright? He did not…”

“Not a chance! Haldir found me!” He looked down at her in mock consternation and her grin widened as she gazed into dark blue depths. “I am the air! I am the air!” she murmured.

Legolas tapped Celeborn on the shoulder. “Please, Lord Celeborn.” He took the sword from his grasp and lowered it, point down. “Ada. You have made a grave error.”

“What!” Thranduil was rubbing his throat and had gone from jovial to being a rather perturbed monarch. “Even my own son stands against me? Over a mere woman?”

He found himself looking down the blade yet again, only this time, it was welded by his son. “She is no mere woman, Adar. She is The Vessel. The Bard.”

“Whee-hooo! Just let the cat waaay out of the bag!” Bronwyn whispered into Haldir’s chest.

“Shh. Baraermin!” Haldir’s look was grave.

“The Vessel?” Thranduil’s voice was full of scorn. “Legolas, I taught you better. The Vessel is nothing but a made-up story. There is no such being. Nothing you can say will convince me.”

Clamoring rose from the Elves at Thranduil’s announcement, all giving his side, his opinion. Bronwyn silently watched the goings on, not knowing whether to be amused or dismayed. There was only one way to settle this and she reached deep within herself to find that spark, that chord…

Slowly, almost unnoticed, music rose from the cavern floor; the room filling with the sound of Wagner.

“What?” The room fell silent at Thranduil’s question.

A single clarinet, asking a question. Two notes only. And a pause…

“Prelude. Tristan und Isolde. Shhh.” Smiling, she placed a finger across her lips.

The music soared, the dissonance building. Haldir remembered once she had told him that Wagner must have been a master at foreplay, as his music built on tension upon tension, never climaxing, never a hint of finality until the VERY end.

The string section reverberated from the very furniture, the brass from the walls.

Thranduil’s eyes were on her, disbelief enveloping his being. Her smile was wonderous, not aimed at him, enjoying the cacophony she was creating.

A single violin, climbing.

A second, echoing, climbing higher

The first, echoing again. Climbing ever higher.

And higher and higher…

The two instruments battled for several phrases, each one trying to outdo the other. Haldir looked down at her, the beauty, the significance not lost on him.

That is us.’ he thought. ‘That is the two of us; always battling for supremacy, the last word.‘ The music climaxed finally, in sweet surrender. ‘Most definitely, that represents the two of us.

She pulled away from her lover, and with hands outstretched, she reached and took the hands of Thranduil. “Let me take you on a journey. Come with me.” And without moving a step, she took Thranduil to places, places he had never dreamed.

They stood on a hill, wind blowing through his long hair and watched the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They rode in a small bomber and watched as the pilot dropped The Bomb on Hiroshima. They strolled along the beaches of San Tropez, naked and nearly naked women walking uninhibited on the sands. They rode in the back of a pick up truck between fields of golden grain, waving in the wind.

Bronwyn, can we go back to the beach? His thoughts pricked hers.

Her answer was merely a laugh and he heard the words ‘randy old Elf‘ in the wind.

He gazed at Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, saw fireworks over a park, rode in the crow’s nest of the Titanic, sat in a private box for the opera ” Le Nozze di Figaro“, watching a silly middle-aged Nobleman attempt to seduce his wife’s maid, while his wife searched for ways to make him jealous, win back his love…

A dragon, exploding, melting.

Her – HER – standing in Mirkwood, with a glowing being, bright light all around, her arm… her blood dripping, seeping into the ground. And her words, clear… This Vessel no longer stands empty, but filled with life and love.

This Vessel…

His eyes shot open and looked into the bemused brown eyes of The Vessel. He yanked his hands from her grasp, looking at her in horror, whether from his embarrassment of his actions or his realization of what she truly was, one would never know.

“Melkor’s Chains. It is true. The rumors, the tales.” His eyes raked the group. He shoved her back at Haldir. “And you… you are the chosen Guardian…”

Haldir’s eyes shot nothing but daggers.

“Well, this certainly… changes a few things.’ Thranduil took a deep breath, pulling his robe together. “Bronwyn. I did not know. My sincerest apologies. Of course, you shall be allowed and most welcomed to depart the festivities at sunrise.” His voice was thinly veiled, the threat obvious – Leave tomorrow.

Legolas began to protest vehemently, all voices raised.

Except Celeborn’s. He raised a quizzical eyebrow at her impish look. She raised both hands and with a single finger, scratched the palm of her other hand.

No one saw the Lordly Elf and the small woman grinning like idiots at each other. Legolas was in his father’s face, Haldir behind him, voices raised. Celeborn came around the group and whispered in her ear, “How large?”

“Huge.”

“How many days?”

“Ten days should do it. ”

He turned, but she grabbed his sleeve.

“His personal study, as well.”

Celeborn nodded and turned. She grabbed his sleeve again.

“Better accommodations. This room is not taken.”

Celeborn nodded again and turned…

“Have him bring Rumil, Orophin, and Heridil in from the barracks.”

Celeborn arched an eyebrow. “Any other special request, lirimaer? A different style of food or wine? Perhaps the room painted a different color? The springs temperature raised or lowered several degrees?”

She grinned devilishly. “He obviously cannot handle all of this forest by himself. Grab some of the southern tip for yourself!” She smiled up at him and impulsively kissed him on the mouth.

“Thank you. You and your Lady Wife have been ever kind and courteous to me, even at my worst.”

Celeborn’s smile was genuine as he flicked the tip of her nose with a regal finger. “And you have been ever a delight to watch run my overbearing, brooding March Warden in circles. We look forward to more of your antics.”

Taking her hand into the crook of his arm, Celeborn insinuated his way between Legolas and his father.

“Thranduil. My apologies for interrupting this father-son chat, but you have a serious problem…”

***
tbc
***

Baraer – Fiery One
Baraermin – My Fiery One
Heru en Cormmin – Lord of my Heart
Lirimaer – Lovely One
Tithen Aras – Little Dear

Ricard Wagner – Prelude to Tristan and Isolde