Ereinion fingers dug deeper into the feather mattress as he opened his eyes to watch his companion go about her attentive work. A dark curtain of hair obscured her face yet he was very aware of each movement she made as she leaned over him. His grip tightened again and his hips rose instinctively to meet her mouth’s downward descent, feeling her tongue work its way along his skin as she withdrew her mouth. A breath of air brushed across the tip like a humid breeze before a cloud of lips and tongue surrounded his length again. He had paid her many visits over the last few centuries and always the pattern remained the same - and why not? It had always pleased him in the past, to feel himself reach the barrier of her throat and then have her slowly remove the warmth of her mouth, only to take him in fully again. And why not? Why not, indeed…why did it not please him this evening, as it had before.
He had visited her in hopes of sweeping away his unwanted thoughts – thoughts that demanded purging. And what better way to purge disturbing thoughts than with something familiar and pleasing…or what had once been pleasing. The Noldorin law equated the joining of bodies to marriage, but one could always find ways around the rules if one were determined enough. If one were determined enough to find release… He had found release with her many times and she him, for they were neither of a mind to marry, at least not to one another. She had other partners as well, as did Ereinion, and the situation worked to their mutual advantage. They cared for each other enough to enjoy the other’s company and the benefits it had to offer. The arrangement pleased Ereinion because she lived far from the city and she was discreet – for her own sake as much as his.
But tonight had obviously been a misjudgment on his part. The message concerning his visit had arrived a few hours prior, she said, and she had been happy to see him. Nothing was mentioned of his long absence or the troubles that had clearly settled their weight on his mind. Their relationship was more practical. They took pleasure in one another - nothing more - and both were comfortable with that.
She had undressed him slowly, drawing out her movements to tease him, as he preferred, and it had served its purpose of arousing him. By the time she removed his trousers, his length had eagerly escaped the material containing it. At first she had touched his skin with nothing more than her breath, moving slowly. Her teasing fingers followed, soon replaced by her mouth.
But tonight had obviously been a misjudgment on his part. The touch of his companion’s mouth fell short of his needs. He tried to concentrate on her actions, but this was not the touch he desired and not the woman he wanted. Ereinion at last realized his mistake: he thought to alleviate his longing for Ilmarë by finding physical satisfaction with another but he longed for more than physical contact. He wanted to share this experience with Ilmarë, this experience and many others. He yearned to feel her skin beneath his hands, to feel her body react to his, to feel her touch him with love and see love in her eyes when she looked at him…the way she looked at Elrond. Though now he only felt the excitement draining from his body, seeping through holes left by the stabbing thoughts of Ilmarë with Elrond. Yes…coming here tonight had obviously been a misjudgment on his part.
Ereinion’s body could not hide his reduced participation and his companion noticed. Her efforts increased as his decreased, and now she added her hands to the rhythmic motions of her mouth. He had hoped the familiar act would comfort him and rid his mind of the unwanted thoughts of Ilmarë, yet his companion’s movements did not excite him enough to serve that purpose; they seemed boring, commonplace…almost perfunctory. He laid his hand on her shoulder, intending to tell her she need not continue. But what would his reasons be, for she would want reasons. He could not tell her the truth – the truth would be that he did not want her mouth against his flesh, but Ilmarë’s… Against his weakening will, Ereinion wondered how different it would be with Ilmarë in his companion’s place.
Would her touch be timid? Would this be a new experience for Ilmarë to make her nervous? Considering her air of innocence, Ereinion thought it would be. The excitement kindled in his body once more at the image in his mind of Ilmarë’s light, caressing fingers and her tentative but willing mouth. The thought of Ilmarë’s mouth combined with his companion’s actions sent a bolt of desire slamming through his body. His fingers gripped her shoulder and his eyes squeezed shut as his head fell back against the bed, the fantasy claiming Ereinion’s mind before he could think to stop it.
Yes…it was Ilmarë’s mouth he wanted to push his length into, Ilmarë’s tongue caressing his skin, Ilmarë’s black hair brushing against his legs as his hands clutched the silken mass, holding her head firmly as his hips rose, slowly moving himself in and out of the soft opening of her lips. It was Ilmarë’s head in his lap now and her groans he felt vibrate along his flesh as he thrust himself into the warmth of her mouth.
Ereinion felt the tension tightening the muscles of his body as he strained…oh, the tension, both painful and pleasurable in the same instant, pouring into the center of his loins and making his hips move faster. The tension pulling his muscles taut, until he shook with the effort of moving. But he could not stop moving, not when he was so close…close enough for his heart to pound with his labored breathing and the tension to fill every corner of his body, every muscle, every breath, until he could contain it no longer.
Ilmarë… his heart cried out for her as the tension gave way to release and burst within him. The first spasms forced a cry from deep in his throat and his hands tightened in Ilmarë’s hair. His back arched away from the bed as his muscles clenched with the exquisitely painful tremors flooding his body. Ereinion moaned over and over to feel Ilmarë accept his release and draw his length further into her soft mouth, then to feel her tongue coax a fresh round of shudders from his body.
“Ilmarë.” Ereinion heard his voice shake as he breathed her name and collapsed back onto the blankets. He lay there, exhausted, his chest rising and falling with great, heaving breaths. It was several minutes before his quivering muscles would allow him to move, and even longer before the euphoric cloud passed from his mind, allowing the light of realization to shine its rays on Ereinion’s imagined bliss. It had not been Ilmarë who performed this favor for him. A glance at his companion’s grim face told Ereinion she had heard him say Ilmarë’s name and had sensed his thoughts were not of her, but Ilmarë.
As the coach took him back to the piers of Harlond the words of his companion echoed in his mind and made his guilt all the worse, for she had been right. Your behavior is a disservice not only to me, but also to the woman you pulled unwillingly into your mind. I ask for neither commitment nor vows, but I do ask for your respect. I will not be used in this manner.
In her anger she had not even wanted him to perform the favor in return, and this not only surprised Ereinion but also gave him a sense of relief. After apologizing, he left and now as he stared out the coach window, he told himself it was better this way. He made a grave mistake on his part and it was not one he cared to repeat. Using other women would not help him forget Ilmarë. Only time could help him forget, and time as a cure was often worse than the affliction.
On the boat ride back to Mithlond, Ereinion had not been in the mood for the company of the mariners. Instead he stood on deck, staring out at the sea. Watching the moonlight flicker across the rolling water filled him with a sense of relaxation, and all too soon the piers of Mithlond came into sight. His coach waited there and Ereinion told the driver to take his time on the trip to the mansion. It had been a long day, what with Ilmarë’s awakening, the arrival of his guests, and his ill-fated trip, yet Ereinion was not weary and he hoped the ride might help prepare him for sleep.
After they reached the mansion, Ereinion stepped out and dismissed the driver. He watched from the front steps while the coach clattered down the drive and back through the gates. The courtyard gardens stood empty in the winter chill and his breath hung on the air as a momentary mist, vanishing as suddenly as it appeared. A movement caught his eye – something in the trees to the left of the courtyard, and Ereinion walked back down the steps to investigate.
The path ambled through the trees and ended in a clearing occupied only by an arbor. But on second glance Ereinion found another, quite unexpected, occupant in the clearing and no doubt the source of the movement he’d spied. He saw Ilmarë leaning against the low stone wall and she was looking toward the east, at the plains of Lindon. Ereinion knew he should return to the house yet he hesitated, not especially wanting to leave.
“Ereinion…you’ve returned.” Ilmarë called out, turning to find him standing at the edge of the trees. She smiled as he crossed the clearing to join her. “I wondered why you never came back to Elrond’s rooms. When Haleth brought my dinner she told me you’d gone to visit a friend this evening and would not return until morning. I thought the coach was another one of your guests arriving.”
“Ilmarë, you should not be outside in the cold. Why are you up and about so late at night instead of sleeping?” When he stood close to her he felt short of breath and his eyes strayed toward her mouth, causing him no small amount of guilt.
“Another dream awoke me and I could not sleep afterwards. Did you share it?”
“No, I did not. I have not slept tonight and I am beginning to doubt I will sleep at all. What was this dream about?” He tried to keep his eyes on hers instead of allowing the sight of her mouth to remind him of his earlier fantasy, and Ereinion was relieved when she turned away to rest her arms on top of the wall again.
“Manwë… though I called him Father in my dream and he wanted forgiveness from me, but for what I do not know. I dreamt of Thingol’s return as well and I believe I know why you are receiving these dreams Melian sends me.”
“And why is that?” Ereinion asked and rested his arms near hers as he leaned against the wall.
Ilmarë shook her head in irritation. “I believe Melian sends them to you as well as me. Since I could take no spouse among the Ainur, Thingol apparently planned to marry me off to an Elven King and thought you to be well suited for the position, in spite of your being Noldorin.”
That earned a laugh from Ereinion and lightened his mood a little. “I am flattered he would think so. Although I am not all together sure that is the reason for my dreams. I am prone to visions and dreams, even more so than other Elves. I do not know the cause of it, but it has always been this way for me. Perhaps that has something to do with it.” He glanced at Ilmarë and said, “And you found the idea of marrying me so distasteful it woke you from sleep and kept you awake?” His tone teased but he truly wished to know, yet he was certain whatever answer she gave would only serve to torture him further.
“No, the idea of marrying you was not what woke me – what spurred Thingol and Melian to discuss it in the first place was the cause.” Ilmarë looked down at her hands and frowned. “I lived a sad and lonely existence after Rušurayan left me the first time, but the second time he abandoned me…it was much worse. He refused the pardon and sent a message with Eönwë telling me not to follow him. The weight of that pain…if I could have found a way to sever my bonds and leave this world, I would have gladly done it. Yet now…now I am glad I did not.”
Putting all his worries aside, Ereinion pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly as Ilmarë laid her head against his shoulder. “Ilmarë…I am sorry. I am thankful you are still here.”
“Ereinion, may I ask your advice?” He answered yes, and she said, “I know I felt love for Rušurayan. Though I feel differently about Elrond, I believe I love him as well.”
Ereinion berated himself for answering yes. Giving Ilmarë advice on her feelings for Elrond did not appeal to him in the least, but there seemed no way out of it now without seeming rude or hurting her feelings. She shifted nervously in his arms and let out a frustrated sigh.
“I wish to ask you a question, Ereinion, yet I fear it to be rude or prying.”
“You may ask me and if I do not wish to answer it, I will say so.”
“Very well, then…” Ilmarë shifted nervously again. “Círdan told me love might be experienced on different levels, that you may love someone enough to be intimate with them yet not enough to marry them. It is clear you have not loved a woman enough to marry, but have you loved one enough to…well, to share yourself with her?”
Ereinion closed his eyes and wondered if the night could possibly get any worse. Though he felt he would regret this answer as well, curiosity to know why she asked overcame him.
“You loved a woman enough, even though you were not able to act upon it.”
“Women, Ilmarë…more than one, and I did act upon it.”
His answer surprised Ilmarë. “But you are Noldor…”
“I am half Sindarin as well, and in my youth I lived among the Gray Elves. I did not come to follow the Noldorin ways until I took up the kingship. I decided if I were to lead the Noldorin people I should hold to their ways as well.”
“I see…” Ilmarë said. “Then you loved them enough to be intimate with them, yet not enough to marry them. How did you know the difference?”
“Their company was enjoyable and I cared about them a great deal, yet I could not envision myself bound to any of those women, spending thousands upon thousands of years in their company or them bearing my children. When it came time to part, it pained me and I missed them for a time but it passed. To love someone enough to marry them would be far more powerful and something that would not pass.”
“I see…” Ilmarë said again and fell silent.
When it was obvious she did not intend to speak, Ereinion said, “Why do you ask?”
She sighed and said, “Because love and attraction confuse me, mostly because I have little comparison to go by, what with my memories gone. I thought procuring knowledge from someone with experience in these matters would be helpful.”
“And did my answer lessen your confusion any?”
“No,” Ilmarë answered honestly, “but you have given me something to think on.”
“Ilmarë…if you must question how much you love a person, then more likely than not, you do not love them enough. You should think on that as well.”
That the advice was honest made Ereinion feel no less guilty at giving it. But then, he told himself, what was one more addition to his ever-growing mound of guilt. He continued to hold Ilmarë and it pained him to note how well her body fit against his. Even through the heavy cloaks they wore, he could feel each movement she made, each shift of her hands where they rested on his chest. His hands brushed her hair as he ran them along her back and his fantasy intruded again, of burying his hands in her hair as her mouth touched his skin. Ereinion’s body eagerly reacted to Ilmarë’s close proximity. He grasped her shoulders and abruptly put her away from him, startling her, then cleared his throat as he looked away.
“We should go inside now. It is very cold and very late. You need to rest.”
Ilmarë studied him for a moment before nodding, and they walked back to the house together in silence. Ereinion was thankful for the fabric of his cloak, thick enough to hide his body’s reaction until he had it under control, and once inside he removed the cloak before helping Ilmarë with hers.
“At least you dressed warmly to go outside,” Ereinion said, waiting for her to untie the cloak.
“I had no choice. When I first went outside I walked down the steps and my body began to shake, a multitude of tiny bumps spread out all over my skin, and my mouth began to tremble and made a loud noise, like this…” and she stopped untying the cloak to make a chattering sound with her teeth. “So I came back inside and found one of these cloaks. Earlier this evening, Elrond came downstairs to greet some arriving visitors and I snuck out into the hallway to watch. They all had these wrapped around them when they came inside, so I thought a cloak might prove useful.”
Ereinion chuckled and said, “At least your reasoning skills are sound.” As he lifted the cloak off her shoulders he inhaled deeply. “What is that smell?”
Ilmarë turned around to face him. “I bathed this afternoon, Ereinion, and very thoroughly.” She grimaced and shifted her shoulders. “My back still feels raw from Haleth’s scrubbing…”
“No, Ilmarë…it is not an unpleasant smell. A flowery scent…reminds me of something I cannot quite place.” Ereinion opened the door to the cloakroom and stepped inside.
“Oh…” Ilmarë said and smiled, “it is lissuin. I put the oil on after I bathed. The flower is from Eressëa and the scent is different for each person.” She leaned toward the cloakroom door and spoke louder. “To Elrond it smelled of the leather binding on his books and Círdan thought it smelled of the sea. What do you smell?”
Ereinion left the cloakroom and closed it. “That is why the scent is familiar. I remember it from the dreams I had of Eressëa and the flowers surrounding your home.”
Ilmarë took Ereinion’s arm when he offered it and went with him toward the stairs. “But is there no particular scent you associate it with? Or a comforting image that comes to mind?”
Ereinion bent down and sniffed close to her neck. Only one thought came to him and it did make him feel comforted...even relaxed. Relaxed enough to speak it aloud.
Ereinion closed his mouth quickly, but too late…the word had already slipped out and now Ilmarë regarded him with shock. No, not shock, he realized…something closer to amazement. A marked improvement over shock, in his opinion. After a tense moment, Ereinion looked away.
“It is late, Ilmarë. I will see you to your room.”
He stepped toward the stairway leading to her room, but she pulled on his arm.
“No, not to my room.” She pointed toward the opposite stairway and averted her eyes. “I must go back to Elrond’s room. I slept in his bed again tonight and I do not wish for him to wake and find me gone. He will worry.”
Ereinion closed his eyes and frowned. His jaw tensed briefly before he said, “Yes, we would not want to cause him worry. He has worried enough these past weeks.”
They did not speak as they walked together up the stairway. At Elrond’s bedroom door, Ereinion released her arm and waited for Ilmarë to enter the room. She hesitated and then stepped toward Ereinion, meaning to give him a kiss on the cheek for she felt as though she ought to do something. But Ereinion moved out of her reach and shook his head.
“No, Ilmarë. I am sorry, but I feel very…soiled after my journey tonight. It is best if you do not kiss me.” He nodded toward the door. “You should go, before Elrond wakes. Good night, Ilmarë.” And he turned and walked down the hallway toward his own rooms.
Ilmarë called out after him, saying goodnight but Ereinion did not answer. She quietly entered the bedroom and slipped back into bed next to Elrond, the weight on her chest resting no easier now than it had when she first woke from her dream.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.