Light filtered gradually into Legolas’ eyes, and as he blinked, the veils about their bed billowing softly in the cool breeze of the late morning, slowly coming into focus. He smiled sleepily to himself, content within the warm cocoon in which he was enwrapped. Never did he wish to rise from the warmth of the rumpled coverlet beneath which he lay. Nor could he ever leave, without great reluctance, the company of the woman who lay against him, sheltered within the circle of his arms, her head tucked against his shoulder. Her hair spilled about her where she lay asleep, errant locks straying over her face, and tumbling luxuriously over his bare chest and across their wedding bed like a golden, star washed cloud. One fair, slender arm was flung lazily across his torso, her sleeping fingers flicking lightly against the taut muscles beneath his skin. Her breathing was gentle and even. The touch of her, achingly soft and warm.
“Lalaith?” He questioned softly, his voice warm and breathless as his eyes moved over her face. But she was still deeply immersed in the realm of her dreams.
He smiled wryly, understanding her weariness. For the night before had indeed been-, exhilarating.
Legolas reached a tentative hand out, brushing his finger across her brow and smoothing the hair away to study the tender contours of her face. Her lips, full and sweet, were curled up in a slender smile. And her gentle eyes, clouded over in sleep, gazed contentedly at nothing.
A wave of emotion, painfully sweet, swelled within him as he remembered the way the candlelight, seeping through the swathes of gossamer about their bed, had caught in her golden hair that billowed about her. How it had shone in her eyes within the soft night shadows as the silver sheets of rain washed their balcony beyond the gossamer curtains in ceaseless whispers while the night wound its long course. The way she had gazed up at him through the darkness, her eyes filled with such love, such trust-,
Uttering a quiet murmur of contentment, Legolas eased her warm, supple form ever closer to him. Lalaith sighed contentedly in her sleep at this, the sound coursing through him like the strains of a soft hymn.
“Lalaith nin-,” he murmured beneath his breath, bending near and brushing a soft kiss against her sleeping lips, smiling as he felt her faint response. “My joy, my life. My reason for being. As Melian was to Thingol, you are to me.”
She sighed softly again, a sleepy smile touching her lips.
A muffled sound beyond the doorway through the far sitting room caused him to lift his head suddenly, and then grin at the sound of two voices speaking softly beyond the door. He recognized the voices of Lady Calassë, and Lady Ithilwen struggling to remain quiet as they giggled furtively and set something upon the stone stoop before the door with a quiet scrape before their hushed voices hurriedly departed.
Legolas smirked, and lay back upon his arm, folded beneath his head, studying the soft gossamer canopy above him as it billowed softly in the morning breeze, contentment and gratitude washing over him like the cool morning wind that filtered through the room.
Lalaith stirred softly against him again and sighed, and he glanced down upon her sleeping face, warmth filling his heart at the sight of her sweetly sleeping features.
She would be hungry when she awakened, Legolas thought to himself suddenly, and with that, he sighed low, and eased himself slowly out of her embrace, careful not to disturb her fair slumber. Freed from the soft, sweet warmth of her, he cast back the silken coverlet, swung his legs over the side of the bed, and with a low sigh, sat slowly up, yawning as he stretched his muscles. Legolas sat there a moment, gathering his thoughts, still weary, but pleasantly fulfilled.
His gaze strayed to his right, where his eyes alighted upon their jeweled necklaces that lay entwined upon the polished wood of a small ridge upon the headboard where they had been hastily cast the night before.
“We tossed them there rather haphazardly, did we not?” he muttered ruefully to himself, and picked the jeweled necklaces up, disentangling the wound chains.
After a moment of work, his own medallion rested in one hand, and his bride’s jewel twined necklace in the other, the diamonds, emeralds and sapphires glinting in the warm morning light.
“Yet certainly, the Lady Galadriel would be quite understanding of our-, distraction,” he added softly as with great reverence, he set them in careful coils again upon the rim of the headboard then bent, and snatched up his breeches where they lay crumpled beside the bed.
Hastily pulling them on, he brushed the gossamer veil aside and rose to his feet, dropped down the steps, and padded barefoot across the cool stones before he dropped down again into the sitting room, and tentatively drew the door open a fraction. Late morning light spilled in, and he blinked his eyes swiftly before they came to rest upon the silver tray propped upon the threshold, bearing two covered platters, and a sealed decanter, water droplets clinging to the bottle’s chill, with two empty cups beside it.
Legolas grinned. Breakfast, as he had hoped. Drawing the door more fully open, he stooped to one knee, and gathered up the silver tray quickly, careful not to spill its contents as he returned inside, and pushed the door shut with his foot, ensuring that once again, the latch fell safely into place. He set the tray upon the table, and eagerly lifted the covering from one of the platters. The scent of sweet bread, and of poached eggs sprinkled with mild spices rose up in a pleasant steam, and he grinned, though he let the covering fall back as he glanced toward the bed where Lalaith was slowly stirring beneath the coverlet.
Legolas smiled softly. He would wait for her to awaken. Snatching up a plump pear from the bowl in the center of the table, he hopped back up the low steps into the bedchamber, and strode across the cool stone toward the balcony, skirting the raised bed to pause beside one of the pillars where the curtained veils hung, bordering the terrace beyond. With a sigh, he propped one forearm arm against the cool, grainy surface of the pillar beside his head, and gazed out the fluttering veils into the warm morning, taking a slow bite of the fruit. The golden green skin of the fruit broke beneath his teeth, and he chewed slowly, letting the sweet taste of the soft, juicy pulp fill his mouth before he swallowed. Behind him, Lalaith sighed in her sleep, stirring again, and he glanced over his shoulder to gaze upon his sleeping lover. Her soft, slender form lay concealed beneath the rumpled coverlet, one hand curled adorably against her cheek, the golden cloud of her hair spilling about her head, while the other lay atop the coverlet, across her narrow stomach. He drew in a breath and closed his eyes at the sight, imprinting the fair image of her upon his memory. An image he would carry with him, always. How blessed he was to have such a wife. How blessed!
Turning his eyes again, he gazed out into the morning, over the treetops of Imladris, and drew in a deep lingering breath as he smiled. All was as it should be, and never would harm come near them, again.
Lalaith missed him before she was even fully awake. The firm warmth of his body against her own was gone, and her sleepy hands seeking for him, found naught but warm, empty sheets. Moaning softly to herself, she blinked, her dreamscape fading as the waking world came again into focus, and the softly billowing canopy of gossamer above her head came into view. And then-, then she saw him.
Legolas stood with his back to her, his breeches pulled hastily about his lean hips as he stood leaning against one of the pillars bordering the veranda, gazing out into the late morning light as he chewed thoughtfully upon a pear. His hair was slightly ruffled, loosed of its braids, and hanging in a golden cascade over the muscled ridges of his shoulders.
Lalaith drew in a low, slow breath and smiled, studying him as he stood there, fair and tall and flawless in the bold light of the morning. The muscles of his back rippled softly beneath his skin like the surface of a quiet pond as he shifted his weight slightly and released a low sigh, running lean fingers through his unbound hair before he propped his forearm again against the pillar, and continued to gaze out into the morning. His arms were hard and well muscled, his waist firm and taut, the valley of his spine a smooth curve down his lean back. Ai, he was beautiful, she mused. And a warm shudder drove through her as she looked upon him and remembered his embrace; tender, powerful, unabated through the long night as the warm spring storm poured its strength upon the sheltered vale. She had known such bliss in his arms-,
Almost as if sensing her eyes upon him, Legolas turned then, and his eyes met hers where she lay upon the bed, watching him. And his gaze grew warm.
“Did you sleep well, beloved?” he asked, his voice a tender caress as he turned, and leaned back against the pillar, observing her with smiling eyes.
“I did,” she returned softly, her eyes straying over the firm muscles of his chest and torso. “You?”
Legolas smiled teasingly.
“What little sleep I did have,” he smirked, wiping a finger across his juice wetted lips, “was very restful. And I thank you for that, Lalaith nin.”
“I am glad,” she returned with a soft sigh.
Legolas drew in a deep breath as his bride sat up, allowing the coverlet to fall from her shoulders. She swung her legs over the side of the bed and then gathered a light shift from the floor as his eyes took in her every movement. She reached her arms into the gown, and he watched the cloth tumble over her skin in a fluid wave.
A low sigh escaped him as she rose to her feet, and descended the steps of the dais, gliding slowly to him, her eyes lifted, meeting his.
Smiling, her obliged her as she gathered his hand that held the pear, and drew it to her lips as she took a slow bite of the fruit.
He smiled, and touched his free hand to the tousled gold of her hair, his fingers running through the strands as through liquid gold. “I love you, Lalaith,” he murmured simply, and pressed a kiss, soft and lingering, against her brow.
So many times he had spoken those beautiful words to her before, their utterance nourishing her soul upon their long quest, and through the dangers they had faced. And she cherished each word in her memory, like a bright jewel. Yet now that he was truly her husband, such words from him sang through her heart as never they had before.
His eyes darkened and he smiled tenderly upon her. “And I love you,” she breathed as she pushed her arms about his torso with a contented sigh, and rested her head against his chest. Legolas grinned softly to this, and set his half eaten pear upon a low plinth beside the pillar and circled his arms about her, drawing her protectively against his firm warmth, his jaw tucked comfortably against her soft, golden hair.
Content they were to stand thusly for a long moment before Legolas drew in a low breath, and began to sing in slow, warm tones,
“Im melin le, lalaith nin.
Le na ithil nin,
le na anor nin,
rûn a annûn.
Im melin le, lalaith nin.
Le na orë nin,
le na elen nin,
arda a menel.
An le na coi nin,
a lalaith nin.
Im melin le.”
His voice faded softly into silence, followed by a gentle sigh from Lalaith as she tilted her head, and smiled up into his gentle gaze. Contentedly, she nuzzled against his chest, glancing again with him through the softly billowing veils.
How content she felt, here in his arms.
She lifted her eyes, smiling into his eyes that shone down into hers with adoration and contentment. And she lifted her face eagerly as he bent his head toward her own. Her lips met his own with joyful warmth as his arms tightened about her .
She smiled into the kiss as it grew warmer, and deepened. Indeed, all was as it should be, here with him. Danger and fear was but a distant memory. And never would evil trouble them again.
One week later…
Pippin sat upon a stone bench against a vine entwined banister overlooking a merrily flowing stream below. His chin was resting upon his hands folded upon the stone railing where his forearms rested. He had never been so content as he had, this past week since Lalaith’s wedding. And now, he was simply happy to sit and do nothing, awaiting the festivities of yet another wedding, tonight. Merry had gone off with Frodo and Sam somewhere in the big house, and Bilbo was with Gandalf and Elrond, somewhere. But Pippin was content to sit, and listen to the laughter of Elflings below where a group of Elf children were playing upon the bank, on a rope swing that hung from the branch of a bent and gnarled tree beside the river.
Breakfast had been marvelous at Elrond’s table; porridge with honey and cream, and even bannocks! Ah, under Sam’s tutelage, the Elven cooks had learned how to make the loveliest bannocks!
A merry voice interrupted his thoughts, and he glanced over the railing toward the path below him that ran along the edge of the stream. He grinned and waved at the little Elf maid who had called his name. Wilwarin, her name was, the daughter of Erestor, Elrond’s steward. She was dressed in a leaf green dress, looking up at him, her little hands perched on her hips. Her hair, the dark shade of polished wood, fell in a shimmering stream down her back, her brown eyes large and shining, like a fawn’s eyes, Pippin thought, as she smiled up at him.
Her friends, two boys and a girl, glanced up at Pippin and waved as they continued their play. The two boys, a dark haired lad named Aronhil, and a lad with golden red hair, Culfin his name was if Pippin remembered rightly, were pushing the other girl, Lótë, Culfin’s twin sister, upon the vine entwined rope. Her golden hair was streaming behind her as she swung in an arch out over the water, squealing merrily as she swung back, her eyes alight with joy.
“Mae govannen, Peregrin, i Pherian!” Wilwarin greeted merrily.
“Hullo, Wilwarin! Uh, mae govannen!” Pippin greeted in return. “How are you?”
Wilwarin smirked at this, her fair little nose wrinkling up at his words.
“Man pennich?” she queried, tilting her head to the side. But then she laughed again, and gestured eagerly. “Tolo a telio ammen, Peregrin! Tolo si!”
“You want me to-, come-, and play with you?” Pippin queried.
Wilwarin wrinkled her nose again at his unfamiliar words as Pippin smiled broadly, and moved to hop from the stone bench to his feet. But a movement within the trees on the other side of the river caught his eye, and he spun back, kneeling now on the stone bench as his fingers gripped the stone rail with sudden tightness. His eyes widened at the frightening sight, wondering if what he was seeing could be true. Could it be? Here in Imladris? But when the dark shadow loped through a brief open space, he sat back, his eyes widening in shock.
“Wolf! Wolf!” he hollered, waving frantically toward the dark, slinking creature, half hidden in the brush beside the bank. It paused. Its yellow eyes, as if in annoyed understanding, trailed up to him at the warning sound of his voice. And Pippin paused for the briefest moment, his heart turning to a sudden stone at the cold light in the creature’s eyes. There was intelligence there, cold, calculated, cruel intelligence that he had never seen in the eyes of any other beast. A brief flash of chilling recognition knifed through him at the sight of the creature’s eyes. He knew those eyes-, somehow.
“You, you Elflings! Come away-,” he wailed, and the swing skidded to a stop on the bank as the Elflings below him glanced up in curious wonder, confused at his sudden irritation as he leapt from the stone bench and scampered down the steps that led from the veranda to the trail below.
“There’s a wolf over there!” he cried, snatching Culfin’s arm and pointing. “A wolf’s come into Rivendell!” The Elflings glanced at one another, and across the river where he had pointed. There was nothing there. The wolf had vanished in the brush!
“Ú-chenion, Peregrin,” Culfin soothed, patting Pippin’s arm, and drawing his own from the Hobbit’s grip with unconcerned patience. “Ananta, avo `osto, mellon nin. Yrn ú-na delu!”
The other children glanced at each other, and chortled merrily at Culfin’s words before the sound of running feet entered Pippin’s ears, and several men, Erestor and Elrond’s sons among them, came dashing down the covered portico, and down the stone steps where the children and Pippin stood.
“Ada!” Wilwarin greeted merrily, and Erestor scooped his daughter up as he glanced among the cheerful children, then toward Pippin, his face written with worry.
“What is this about a wolf, Master Peregrin?” Elladan demanded, striding near, with Elrohir at his shoulder, their eyes filled with alarm. “We heard your cries.”
“It was across the stream,” Pippin gasped, waving a trembling hand behind him, “In the brush. I only saw it a moment, then it ran away.”
“Wolves have never come to Imladris, before,” Elrohir muttered. “Are you certain?”
“I’d bet a whole pint it was a wolf!” Pippin returned, restraining the urge to roll his eyes in annoyance. “I’ve seen wolves before. I know what they look like. But-,” his voice grew soft, his brow furrowed as he murmured, “But there was something wrong with its eyes-,”
Elladan traded a worried glance with his brother at this. Then he turned to the children, questioning them gently in their own tongue.
Pippin pursed his lips, plopping his hands on his hips as the Elflings shot wide eyes at Elladan’s questions, and shook their heads, their voices filled with innocent surprise.
The younger of Elrond’s sons sighed at their answers and said nothing as Elladan glanced again to Pippin, his lips pursed.
“I do not doubt you thought you saw a wolf, Master Peregrin,” he sighed. “But the children saw nothing.”
“Were a wolf here,” Elrohir cut in with a shrug of his shoulders, nodding his head in agreement toward his brother, “they would have seen it, ere you had.”
“They were down on the bank. I was up there,” Pippin muttered. “They would not have seen it from where they were.”
“Peregrin,” Elladan returned, a hint of gentle insistence in his tone, “wolves have never dared cross the Bruinen, let alone come through the gates.”
Pippin let out a breath of air at this, shook his head, defeated and glanced up at the Elven Lords. They were trying to be kind, he reminded himself. But they simply did not believe him. He glanced again across the river at the spot where he had seen the beast, and shuddered slightly, remembering its eyes. Its cold, chillingly intelligent eyes. They were unlike the eyes of any other mute beast he had ever seen.
“Perhaps you’re right,” he agreed softly, and felt Elladan’s hand clap upon his shoulder companionably.
“Perhaps,” Pippin sighed again, “I did not see a-, wolf.”
“Often it has happened, Master Peregrin,” Elrond’s eldest offered understandingly, “that even the most fearless of warriors, after great trauma, as you have endured, see fearsome things that are not there. We do not fault you.”
Elrohir offered a small grin of understanding as well, and nodded in agreement to his brother.
Pippin gulped, his eyes turning now upon Elrohir as he muttered, “Your lady, Lord Elrohir. Calassë. Where is she?”
Elrohir shot a glance to his brother, and grinned. “Calassë is with my grandmother, and others of the ladies, in the gardens. Do you wish to speak with her, Master Peregrin?”
“I think-,” Pippin drew in a shaking breath. “I think I should.”
“I shall take Master Peregrin to her,” Erestor offered, speaking in the common tongue as he drew near, Wilwarin still hoisted in his arms, having overheard Pippin’s words.
“Nay, Erestor,” protested Elladan gently, offering his brother an understanding grin. “You need not be troubled. You have worked yourself overly much these past days, since our return, patiently overlooking our constant desire to shirk our duties, for the sake of our ladies. Do not worry yourself, in this small thing.”
“But you cannot take him, my Lord Elladan?” Erestor wondered, his eyes moving between the brothers.
“Alas, I have an appointment I cannot break,” Elladan offered with an apologetic shrug, though not without a roguish grin. “And the tradition in our realm to keep the betrothed parted upon their wedding day, is terribly cruel, truly it is, Erestor,” he added as Erestor sighed aggrievedly. “And most assuredly, Master Peregrin is a dutiful chaperone.”
“Yes, I am!” Pippin offered hurriedly, caring not at all who went with him, only wishing to find Calassë as swiftly as he could.
“Very well then,” Elrohir offered, casting a grateful grin toward his brother, “Come with me, Master Peregrin. I will take you to my lady.”
Miriel moved with swift feet down the portico, her steps playing a staccato upon the stone floor as she made her way toward Elrond’s study, sheafs of new, sweet smelling parchment under one arm. She could not help but smile softly to herself, thinking of the one who awaited her, alone in the sweet, musty smelling chamber, imagining his eyes brightening as she entered the room.
She smiled again as she pictured Elrond’s eldest son, far more sober than his whimsical younger brother, but just as easily given to humor and merriment in his own way. His firm, muscular arms were strong and protective when he held her close, the scent of his flesh so warm and musky sweet-, his smile always so hopeful, like a youth eager to please. She sighed. And his gentle kisses were ever sweet, sometimes light and shy, sometimes heated with passion, leaving her quavering at the knees. He awaited the day of their bonding with great anticipation. She could see it in his eyes when their gazes met, could feel it at the slightest touch of his hand. Yet he loved her as well, loved her beyond her beauty, her laughter, or all that made her fair. And because of that, they could both wait in patience until their appointed day when their lives together would begin.
She was drawing near to a corner, and eagerly quickened her pace. She rounded the corner sharply, and a soft cry burst past her lips. The sheets of parchment tumbled from her arm to the stone floor as she nearly collided with-,
“Ithilwen!” she gasped in laughter, studying the familiar features of her friend who stood before her, having ground to a halt as Miriel had, and stood back, surveying her with silent eyes.
“I did not expect to see you-,” Miriel cut herself off as she dropped to her knees to gather up the scattered paper, though Ithilwen did not move to help her.
Miriel glanced up at her, her smooth brow furrowing, and rose again to face her friend.
“Are you well, Ithilwen?” she asked slowly, adjusting the gathered papers in her arm.
Ithilwen seemed to contemplate the question before she answered slowly, “Yes.”
“I saw your betrothed, Glorfindel but a few minutes ago,” Miriel offered. “He spoke of his plans to take you, and a lovely basket of food on a late morning excursion out in some distant meadow, before the evening festivities began and I fear I directed him wrongly. For I thought you were with Calassë, and the Lady Galadriel in the gardens.”
“I saw him,” Ithilwen spoke, her words short and strangely stilted, a crooked grin upon her lips, “Glorfindel-, upon the-, high veranda.” A wicked light seemed to glint in Ithilwen’s eyes at this, as she smirked at some hidden secret.
Miriel drew in a low breath, stepping back from Ithilwen for a brief moment. For her words had struck a strange and fearful chord within Miriel’s heart. There was something wrong. Something-, Her slow, measured words were strange, and unlike Ithilwen. And the dress she wore, hung rumpled about her frame as if it had been drying upon a line, and she had pulled it hurriedly on. It was not one of Ithilwen’s own gowns. Miriel would have recognized it. Her feet also, were bare,and strangely caked in mud to her ankles. But the warning in her heart admonished Miriel that there was something more, something deeper beyond what she could see. Something hidden beneath the odd coldness in her eyes.
“Where is Legolas?” Ithilwen asked slowly, in low measured tones. An innocent question it seemed, though at her words, a low warning cried out in Miriel’s heart, and she dared not speak. For Ithilwen knew where the prince of Eryn Lasgalen was. Why would she ask? And what need would she have to do so?
Ithilwen scowled at her silence, an expression Miriel had never seen upon the face of the gentle, thoughtful maiden. “Where is he?” she grated impatiently.
Miriel’s eyes flitted for a fractioned moment beyond Ithilwen’s shoulder across the treetops, and to the side of the mountain beyond the roof of the portico. Her eyes just as quickly, flicked back to Ithilwen’s.
“With his wife,” she returned noncommitally, her voice stiff. “I must go, Ithilwen, farewell.” And with that, Miriel darted about her and fled as if flying from the jaws of death itself. And in her haste to escape, Miriel did not see Ithilwen’s eyes narrow as her gaze rose to the cliffside, or the cruel, twisted smile which slowly snaked across her face.
the song Legolas sang,
I love you, my laughter,
You are my moon,
You are my sun,
Sunrise and sunset
I love you my laughter,
You are my heart,
You are my star,
Earth and heaven.
For you are my life
And my laughter.
I love you.
Mae govannen, Peregrin, i Pherian! – Well met, Peregrin the Hobbit!
Man pennich? – What did you say?
Tolo a telio ammen, Peregrin! Tolo si! Come and play with us, Peregrin! Come here!
Ú-chenion, Peregrin, – I don’t understand, Peregrin,
Ananta, avo `osto, mellon nin. Yrn ú-na delu! – But yet, do not worry my friend. Trees are not dangerous!