20. Chapter Nineteen
2953 Third Age On the road to Dol Guldur
After Thranduil's rough treatment of him, Haldir's bruised throat prevented him from speaking until the evening of the following day. Three times Gwirith used his healing skills on him and gradually his voice returned, but in truth he was grateful for his affliction because it spared him from answering the questions he saw in the faces of his companions. There was a part of him that was full of joy, and his body trembled when he remembered the night he and Legolas had spent together, and when he felt the prince's light, discreet touch on him, knee against knee as they rode together, or a hand laid gently on his back when he dismounted from his horse. Sometimes as they made their way through the quiet woodland he ached with desire for him, and his mind struggled to find some reason why they should pause on their journey so that they could be alone; but there was no reason, and though he hungered and thirsted for Legolas, for now he would have to make do with starvation rations.
And in fact he was so much accustomed to hiding his love that another part of him found it completely natural to act as if nothing had changed, and in front of the others he treated Legolas no differently from before. It was only at night when the others slept that he let Legolas take his hand under the cover of their blankets, and though his longing was sharper than ever he refused anything more than a kiss or two. But despite his iron self-control, on those first mornings he woke with Legolas' head pillowed against his shoulder and the prince's hand under the cloth of his shirt, relaxed and warm against his bare skin, and he looked down on his fair face, drowned deep in sleep, and in his heart was joy mixed with the foreshadowed grief of their parting.
When he could speak freely again it seemed that he had somehow made clear without words his dislike of inquiry, for no-one asked him to tell the story of his long years with Legolas, but instead watched him and the prince with kindness and warmth and said nothing out of the ordinary.
After three days' travel they reached the last watch post of the Elvenking's realm and stopped for the night. Late that afternoon they had caught a hart, and when darkness fell they built a fire and roasted it on a spit.
'Let us make the most of this night,' said Legolas when they had finished eating and drinking, 'for it will be the last we will spend in safety until our journey is over. We must save up tonight's pleasure like a lungful of air before a long dive into deep water.'
'Well spoken, Sir!' said Cerveth, leaping to his feet, dragging Celinn with him. Celinn sang and Cerveth danced, and then Aiglin and Luinil showed them some juggling and tumbling, persuading Cerveth to join in with them.
'You taught us this move when you were captain,' said Aiglin, climbing on Luinil's shoulders and reaching down for Cerveth's hand. Cerveth threw back his head and laughed.
'You can't expect me to climb up there,' he said. 'I've just eaten.'
But Aiglin persuaded him and Luinil bent down so that Cerveth could climb up on his knee and then on to his shoulder, and then he did the same with Aiglin.
'Let me down!' he yelled, the moment he had straightened up on Aiglin's shoulders. 'I would rather be at the top of Celeborn's highest mallorn than up here. Stop moving, Aiglin! I feel as if I'm in the middle of a gale!'
Aiglin was laughing so much that he lost his balance and Cerveth came hurtling down to the ground, his fall broken by both Aiglin and Luinil. No-one was hurt and the three lay, limbs tangled, still laughing for some time. Then Celinn sang again, first ribald songs of pursuit and conquest, and then gentler ones of love, and as the evening went on they fell quiet, gazing into the fire and thinking of home.
'So it wasn't just becoming Guardian that changed you so much, Haldir,' said Celinn quietly from beside him.
'No,' said Haldir, glancing at Legolas who sat close by.
'But why did you keep it a secret for so long?' asked Celinn.
Haldir bowed his head. 'It's unlawful,' he said, 'for we can never live together, and so we can't bind.'
'All the more reason for needing your friends around you,' said Celinn, laying his hand on Haldir's arm. 'When I think what months and years of loneliness you must have endured without a word to anyone…'
'My brothers know,' said Haldir.
'And now so do we,' said Celinn.
'But I would ask you not to speak of it to anyone,' said Haldir. 'Not only for my sake, but also for the sake of our two realms. There are some who might seek to use our union against them, and I'll do everything I can to avoid that.'
'And you, Legolas?' said Celinn. 'What think you on the matter?'
Legolas smiled, a little sadly. 'I would cry it to the heavens, and have wished to do so from the very start, but Haldir is more cautious than I and maybe wiser also in matters of state. So I submit to his judgment.'
'Then we'll do the same,' said Celinn, and all his company swore an oath before Elbereth to speak nothing of what they knew.
'But are you sure you may not bind?' said Celinn afterwards. 'I've known those who have done so in most strange circumstances, and once it's done it can't be revoked.'
Legolas and Haldir looked at each other.
'I can't,' said Haldir at last. 'Not while we live so far apart. Although I confess that you and Gwirith almost changed my mind, when you chose to bind on such short acquaintance.'
Celinn looked down at Gwirith who was asleep with his head in his lap.
'It didn't seem short to me,' said Celinn. 'It seemed like at least a yen, so much had happened to us both.'
'And we have been together six yen and more,' said Legolas, laughing a little sadly, 'and still he will not make me his…'
Haldir gave him a look of such longing that Celinn turned away, not wanting to intrude on them, and they fell to speaking quietly together. Not long after that Legolas stood up.
'Come, Haldir,' he said. 'Let me take you to meet the guards who hold the last outpost of my father's realm.'
'But it's already dark,' protested Haldir.
'Nevertheless,' said Legolas reaching out his hand to help him up.
Haldir took it and got to his feet.
'Very well, if you wish it. Celinn, I leave you in charge,' he said.
'Sir,' said Celinn, smiling at him as he walked away.
'Surely he wasn't blushing?' said Cerveth in a loud whisper.
'Why would going to see the guards make him blush?' said Aiglin. Cerveth nudged him, and Aiglin turned to see Legolas lay his arm across Haldir's shoulders.
'Eh?' said Aiglin. 'Oh, I see now…'
Legolas and Haldir heard the good-natured laughter that swept after them like a gust of warm wind.
'Was I not subtle enough?' said Legolas.
'Subtle about what?' said Haldir.
Legolas leaned close and kissed him on the cheek.
'Nothing,' he said.
Legolas took Haldir to the guard post and introduced him to the wood elves who kept watch on the borders of Thranduil's realm.
'We send patrols south of the road but only a league or two,' explained Legolas. 'Our main reconnaissance route is west and east of here, and we've set up further watch places a few leagues in each direction. The news isn't good. The land sickens, and dangers multiply and encroach on our lands.'
'You know that Lorien will help you,' said Haldir, 'if your father will allow it.'
Legolas nodded, and they took their leave of the border guards and went out. Haldir turned back towards their camp but Legolas said,
'Haldir, there's something else…'
'Is there, Legolas?' said Haldir, looking out grimly into the darkness beyond the guard post. 'We must leave at dawn tomorrow, and it's already late.'
Legolas didn't answer but instead took a pace towards him, and for a long moment looked at him in silence. Haldir read the meaning in his eyes, and he bowed his head.
'Haldir,' said Legolas softly. 'You're a peerless commander, and many are the times I've taken the most pleasurable orders from you…'
Even in the dim light of the waxing moon Legolas saw the flush of colour which rose to Haldir's cheeks.
'But I ask you to put aside your Guardian's mantle for an hour or two, now while we have the chance…'
Haldir lifted his head and looked at him, and his eyes were the cold sparkling blue of ice under the winter sky. Legolas reached out his hand, and after a moment Haldir took it and let himself be led along the path. After a while he said,
'Is it far?'
Legolas stopped and taking his face in his hands, kissed him hard.
'No,' he said. 'We're nearly there, although I can barely wait. Oh, before I forget again, take this, Haldir. You left it in my house.'
He drew the beech-leaf pin out of his pocket and fastened it to Haldir's shirt, then took Haldir's hand again and started to run, and soon they saw a small low building ahead of them.
'What is it?' said Haldir, breathless.
'A refuge, for those who aren't on duty.'
'Won't it be in use?'
'No. We have too few this far south to use it now. It's years since it was occupied for any length of time, although it's kept in readiness.'
Legolas pushed down the latch and opened the door, holding up the travelling light. The refuge was a single large room divided into two by a pair of painted screens, decorated with pale flowers strung together by the long curling tendrils of some vine-like plant. The bare floor was clean and well-swept, and there was wood waiting to be kindled in the fireplace. Legolas pulled Haldir inside and shut the door, then went over and lit three or four candles which he found on the mantelpiece.
'See if there's anything to drink, Haldir,' he said as he took off his weapons and busied himself with the fire. A minute or two later the crackling of flames indicated his success, and then Haldir touched his arm, handing him a glass filled with a clear liquid.
'I never thought to find a bottle of this fiery spirit in a wayside refuge,' he said, taking a mouthful from his own glass. 'You obviously take good care of your guards.'
Legolas pulled Haldir down beside him and they sat looking into the flames.
'You're still on duty,' said Legolas at last. 'I can hear your mind turning over every detail of what we have to do on the morrow.'
Haldir sighed. 'It's a habit too old for me to break,' he said. 'I think you'll be disappointed in me tonight, Legolas.'
'No,' said Legolas. 'I will not,' and he put down his glass and undid the clasp of Haldir's cloak before unbuckling his sword belt and his quiver. With gentle hands he removed them, and then undid the lacings of Haldir's tunic and drew it over his head. Haldir let him do as he pleased, but he remained pensive and silent, even when Legolas' hands began to wander beneath the linen of his shirt.
'Your skin is cold,' said Legolas. 'But I will warm you, Haldir.'
Haldir sighed and leaned against him, and Legolas pulled him close, sliding one arm under his shirt and on to his left shoulder.
'You were wounded here, last time we came to Dol Guldur,' he said. 'You said farewell to me that night, so sure were you that you would die.'
Haldir laughed softly. 'I was sure of a lot of things then,' he said. 'Now…'
He turned and looked into Legolas' eyes.
'Now I'm only sure of you.'
Legolas gazed back at him steadily, accepting his words.
'And I of you,' he said. He reached out and took Haldir's glass from him, placing it on the hearth, then got to his feet. 'Come,' he said, and he led Haldir to the other side of the screens. Behind them were three low beds, each with a straw mattress spread with a woollen throw and one or two heavy animal skins. They chose the one furthest from the shuttered window, and solemnly they carelessly stripped off the rest of their clothes and slid underneath the covers. The bed was generously sized for one person, but a little narrow for two.
'By the Valar, this wool itches,' said Haldir, scratching at the places where it touched him. 'Do you savages forgo sheets, then?'
'Yes, we do,' said Legolas, seizing hold of him and pulling him into his arms. 'But being savages has its advantages.' And he pressed his body hard against Haldir's and closed his teeth around the skin of his shoulder.
Haldir cried out in surprise and threw off the covers.
'By Elbereth, you've drawn blood!' he said, looking down at the reddening flesh.
'And I will draw more if you don't submit to me,' said Legolas, with a wicked look.
'I, submit to you?' said Haldir, languidly. 'You ask too much of me, your highness.'
'If you won't submit willingly, being too accustomed to authority, then I'll be forced to compel you,' said Legolas, his eyes darkening with lust.
'I will never submit to you,' said Haldir harshly, but his face spoke differently.
'Very well!' cried out Legolas. 'You leave me no choice.'
He reached out behind him and snatched up his belt and in an instant had wrapped it tightly round Haldir's wrists, fastening the buckle so that the metal dug into the skin of Haldir's arms.
'Can you tolerate this pain?' he said.
'What warrior could not?' retorted Haldir defiantly. Legolas' eyelids drooped a little, and he looked lasciviously at his lover from beneath his long eyelashes, letting his gaze travel from his face along to his shoulder darkened with the little stain of blood he had shed and down his chest until it reached his nether regions.
'You claim to defy me but your body speaks differently,' he said hoarsely. 'You want me, Haldir.'
Haldir said nothing, playing his role of defiant captive to the hilt, but despite his efforts his hips shifted involuntarily, bringing his already-hard shaft closer to Legolas.
'You want me,' repeated Legolas. 'Your body betrays you. Submit to me, or I'll take you by force.'
'I will never submit,' whispered Haldir, his eyes brilliant with desire.
In a single movement, Legolas turned him over so that he was face down on his knees, his hindquarters raised up for Legolas' perusal. Slowly, with infinite tenderness, Legolas passed his hands across Haldir's back, then slid them underneath his body, fondling him until he was trembling and gasping with pleasure.
'Submit,' whispered Legolas.
'No,' groaned Haldir.
Legolas let his hand slide from Haldir's shaft back to the tight entrance of his body, and gently eased one finger into him. Haldir jerked back against him, crying out with pleasure. Legolas prepared him, feeling the muscles loosening.
'By all the gods…' gasped Haldir.
'So now you want me?' taunted Legolas. 'Say you submit, Haldir.'
'Aaah…never!' cried out Haldir.
Legolas rose to his knees and in one movement entered Haldir, seizing hold of his hips with both hands.
'Say it! You're mine, Haldir!' cried out Legolas, and began to thrust hard into him. 'Submit to me. I have mastered you.'
'I will…never…aah, by the gods! I'm yours, Legolas, I'm always yours…' gasped Haldir, and he came straight away, transfixed by the closeness of his lover. Legolas groaned and thrust faster and harder, and a few moments later spent himself inside his lover's body, flinging his arms round Haldir and laying his cheek down on the hot slick skin of his back.
Haldir's legs gave way and he collapsed onto the blanket, Legolas wrapped around him like a second skin.
'You said…I would be…disappointed in you….' said Legolas, hoarse and breathless. 'Well…I'm not…'
Haldir gave a little gasping grunt of laughter. They lay still, their breathing gradually quieting. Legolas reached out and grazed Haldir's lips with his fingers and Haldir groaned softly, taking in the tip of one finger between his lips and holding it gently.
After a long time Haldir said drowsily,
'Am I to stay in bondage to you all night, or will you bestow my freedom on me?'
Legolas laughed and quickly undid the buckle of his belt, releasing Haldir's wrists. The leather and the metal had left deep red marks in his flesh, and Legolas stroked and kissed them to help them fade.
'Legolas, I didn't know you were so…imaginative,' said Haldir. 'I was sure I would have nothing to give you tonight. My mind was full of anxiety, but you wiped it clean…'
'It is you, Haldir, that rouses me to such creativity,' said Legolas. 'I know you, and I know your body, so it isn't difficult to guess what will arouse you…'
'By Elbereth,' said Haldir, struggling round to look Legolas in the face, 'how I wish I could never leave you. If only I could be with you always, Legolas…'
'The day will come,' said Legolas. 'I promise you, Haldir.'
Haldir let his head drop back on to the pillow. 'Let's not think of it now,' he said, his voice muffled in the bedclothes. 'Let's be happy in this moment, while we can.'
Legolas sighed and began to trace a pattern with one finger on the flushed lightly-freckled skin of Haldir's left shoulder.
'What's this?' he said.
'Mmmm?' said Haldir, relaxed and unmoving.
'A shape. An impression of something on your skin.' He began to feel under the bedclothes and after a moment or two brought something out from underneath them with an exclamation of triumph.
'My beech pin! It must have come off your shirt when you undressed, and you were lying on it until I turned you over.'
'Here, give it to me,' said Haldir, reaching out for the pin. 'Is it damaged?'
'No, it's whole. But you are not. It has stamped itself on your flesh. Well, and so it should. You have my mark on you, which as you are wholly mine, is just as it should be.'
Haldir smiled at him. 'Just so,' he said sweetly.
'What? No resistance? This isn't the Haldir I know!'
'It's the Haldir who loves you, and is glad to be wholly yours.'
Legolas stretched himself out against him with a languorous sigh and kissed him deeply.
'Thank you, beloved,' he said afterwards. 'I must confess I never thought to hear those words from your lips.'
'Kiss me again,' said Haldir, pulling him close. Legolas did so and then they lay down, entwined under the covers.
Haldir began to drift into a half-sleep but Legolas pushed himself up on to his elbow, tracing the outline of the beech leaf that was still clear on Haldir's shoulder.
'It's very fair,' he said. 'I would like to leave a mark on your body, Haldir, something to help you remember me when we're apart, but I have nothing here with which to…'
He broke off and sliding out from under the covers, picked up his tunic and rummaging in the pocket, took out a small pot.
'Maybe this…' he muttered, opening the lid and scooping out some of the golden-brown paste from inside with one finger.
'What scheme are you hatching, Legolas?' mumbled Haldir. 'Come back to bed, it's cold without you.'
'In a moment,' said Legolas. 'Now, how could I…ah, yes, now I see…'
He ran lightly across the room to where his white knives lay in their sheath and slid one of them out and into his hand.
'What are you doing with that?' said Haldir warily, as Legolas knelt down beside the bed and took hold of a handful of his silver-fair hair.
'You'll see,' said Legolas, and with a quick movement, sliced off a lock about as long as his thumb.
'Legolas!' exclaimed Haldir, half-sitting up, but the prince just smiled at him and going back towards the fire, began to rummage in the kindling basket. Haldir lay down again and closed his eyes, burrowing down deep under the covers.
He was just drifting into sleep again when Legolas touched him lightly on the shoulder and held out a small slender object for his appraisal.
'And what's that?' said Haldir.
'A paintbrush. A piece of kindling wood, some thread and a lock of your hair. I've got some salve which I remember always stains the skin. I've mixed it with some of the spirits to thin it. It's not as good as true pigment, but it's better than nothing. Next time we meet I'll put the pattern into your skin for good, but for now this will do.'
'What are you saying? You're going to paint me?'
'The beech leaf pin. You lay on it: you printed it on to your back. I'm just finishing the job.'
Haldir was a little bemused but he didn't resist when Legolas turned him onto his face and wiped the skin of his shoulder with his linen shirt to make sure it was clean and dry.
'Stay still. It won't take long,' he said, sucking the makeshift paintbrush to narrow its head into a fine point.
In fact Haldir found it extremely pleasant to lay still while Legolas lightly brushed the salve on to his skin, delicately marking on the outline of the beech leaf, then the veins and the long slender stalk. He added a few touches of his own, inspired by the designs of the painted screens: some long curling tendrils which wound their way up across Haldir's shoulder blade and then over onto the edge of his collarbone, and another strand that strayed across the top of his shoulder and wandered a little way down the hard muscles of his left arm.
'Have you finished yet?' mumbled Haldir.
'Almost,' said Legolas, his tongue held lightly between his teeth as he put the final touches to his work. 'There.'
Haldir sat up but try as he might, he couldn't see the pattern on his shoulder, but the tendrils on his arm were just within his sights.
'I like it,' he said. 'I didn't know you could paint, Legolas.'
'I've never wished to before,' said Legolas, admiring his work. 'Your body is perfect without adornment, Haldir but this accentuates its beauty. I'm glad I thought to do it.'
'So am I. But does this mean I must stay as I am until it dries?'
Legolas put down the brush and the pot.
'Maybe I can distract you from the tedium of waiting in some way,' he said pensively, then slid his hand under Haldir and on to his chest, letting his nails graze the warm damp skin of his nipples. Haldir groaned and leaned against him.
'Last time was very quick: I expect you barely had time to enjoy it,' said Legolas.
'Oh, I enjoyed it…' said Haldir.
'Then I hope you'll enjoy this even more.'
This time their lovemaking was slow and languorous, without the urgency of their previous joining. Not since their early days together had they been so in tune with one another and so generous, both full of the desire to please the other. Every touch on each other's body was mirrored by a deeper touch, reaching into heart and spirit and healing the pain of the long years that they had been estranged. When it was over, and Haldir lay heavy and sated across Legolas' body, somehow he understood for the first time how he had hurt Legolas by turning away from him so long ago, and how forbearing the prince had been in opening himself to him again.
'I'm sorry,' he whispered, his head nestled against Legolas' shoulder, one hand caressing the skin of his side. 'I'm sorry I turned away from you. I'm sorry I hurt you, Legolas…'
Legolas reached over and laid his fingers over Haldir's lips.
'Hush, sweeting,' he said gently. 'It's past now.'
'I was such a fool…' said Haldir. 'No, worse than a fool. It was a wicked thing to do.'
He lifted his head and looked at Legolas.
'I have no right to your love, Legolas. Not after the way I treated you.'
Legolas shrugged. 'Well, you have it, whether you have the right to it or not. Stop talking such nonsense, will you?'
Haldir gave a ragged sigh and let his head drop back on to Legolas' shoulder. Carefully he pressed a kiss on to his damp skin, then muttered something inaudibly.
'What did you say?' said Legolas, slurring his words a little with tiredness.
'I said…I love you,' said Haldir gruffly.
For a long moment Legolas was completely still, then he pushed himself up on to his elbow so that he could look into Haldir's face.
'In all the years we've been together, that's the first time you've ever said that openly to me,' he said, his voice trembling a little.
'Yes,' said Haldir, a faint flush of colour rising to his cheeks. 'And you're the first person I've ever said it to. I admit it's taken me some time to come to the point.'
Legolas' face broke into a slow smile. He laid his hand lightly over his heart.
'I feel it, here,' he said. 'Your words have touched me.'
Haldir laid his hand on top of Legolas'. Neither spoke, and after a while they lay down again and rested together.
Not long after Haldir and Legolas had gone away to see Mirkwood's last outpost, Cerveth was playing a game of knuckle bones with Aiglin and Luinil, his long untidy hair falling forward into his eyes. He was enjoying himself so much that he could scarcely sit still, reaching over to help Aiglin when it was his turn, then leaping up to fetch one of the bones that had rolled too far. Being with his comrades again had restored his customary liveliness so that he was barely recognisable as the dejected, melancholy individual they had met when they had first arrived at the Elvenking's Halls. Celinn wondered how Cerveth would find the parting which awaited him once this expedition was over but he pushed the thought out of his mind, not wanting to spoil his comrade's pleasure even with his own private thoughts.
Gwirith stirred a little, then sat up, stretching his arms above his head.
'Forgive me,' he said hoarsely. 'I didn't mean to be unsociable, especially on such a night.'
Celinn rested a finger on Gwirith's lips. 'No-one seems to mind, sweeting,' he said.
'Oh, am I so insignificant, then?' said Gwirith, his eyes glinting with amusement.
'Not at all. You are…modest and unassuming…' said Celinn.
'You may think so,' whispered Gwirith in his ear, 'but as soon as we have a private moment, I'll prove that I'm far from modest…'
Celinn began to laugh, but Gwirith curled an arm around his neck and pulled him down beside him.
'No-one's watching,' he whispered, glancing round him. 'Maybe I should begin at once…'
And he leaned over and kissed Celinn deeply. Celinn's arms came round him, holding him close, and when the kiss was over, Celinn said breathlessly,
'Maybe we should take a last turn around the camp before sleeping. What think you, Gwirith?'
'That would probably be wise,' said Gwirith, stretching and getting to his feet before looking around for his bow.
'Brothers, we will make the last reconnaissance tonight,' said Celinn, strapping on his sword. 'Don't drink all the wine before we get back.'
'Well, let us hope nothing delays you, then,' said Aiglin, looking up at them both with one eyebrow raised. Luinil smiled and waved a hand in farewell.
'It seems everyone's taking their pleasure tonight except us,' said Cerveth, his eyes on the knuckle bones he had just thrown. 'It's no matter, though, because even though I'm far from Falariel, I couldn't have a better pair of companions than you two.'
He looked up at his comrades, then threw his arms round their shoulders.
'Let's drink a toast to those of us who are far from their lovers!' he exclaimed, then turned to pick up the bottle of wine, causing him to miss the regretful look that Aiglin and Luinil, who had been hoping for a mutually pleasurable encounter of their own later that night, exchanged over his head.
The sound of Cerveth's ringing laughter followed Celinn and Gwirith as they made their way deeper into the forest, the pale circle cast by their travelling light pushing back the darkness.
'This will be the last time we can be alone before we go back to Lorien,' said Celinn.
'Yes,' said Gwirith heavily. 'Assuming we get home safely.'
Celinn glanced at him. 'We'll get home,' he said. 'This is only a reconnaissance. We'll do all we can to keep out of danger.'
'Nevertheless,' said Gwirith, kneeling down to look at some tracks on the ground, 'I'm not looking forward to going to Dol Guldur. I hope the risk will be of some use: Thranduil seems dead set against an alliance, and now Haldir has displeased him, it seems even less likely that it will happen.'
Celinn had nothing to say to this, and they made their way silently in a wide circle around the camp. Apart from a fox barking in the distance and the rustling of the small forest creatures in the undergrowth, everything was quiet. When they were satisfied that all was as it should be, Celinn stopped and glanced around him.
'It's a cold night for an amorous encounter, sweeting,' he said.
'I've certainly cooled down,' said Gwirith. 'By the fire my senses were full of you: but here in this blighted place I feel nothing but grey weariness.'
'Is something troubling you, Gwirith?' said Celinn.
Gwirith hesitated before answering. 'You know I'm not given to strange fancies, but…I feel a sense of foreboding about this journey. I've tried to shake it off, but it won't leave me.'
Celinn's heart jolted with fear but he said calmly,
'It would be surprising if you felt sanguine about going to the dark tower.'
Gwirith sighed deeply. 'You're right. It's surely a natural caution, no more than that. I'll try to put it out of my mind.'
'Do you wish to go back to the camp, then?' said Celinn.
Gwirith reached out and pulled him into his arms.
'Maybe in a little while. Let us at least have a few moments together.'
Celinn leaned against him and closed his eyes, listening to the sound of Gwirith's breathing.
'I wish I could touch your skin,' he muttered close to Gwirith's ear, reaching out with his fingers and running them down the angle of his cheek.
'And so you are,' breathed Gwirith.
'But more of it,' said Celinn. 'With all your travelling gear on, I can barely feel your body.'
Gwirith glanced round him, then took Celinn's hand and led him to a broad-trunked oak tree that stood a little distance away.
'Here,' he said, and putting down the travelling light he leaned back against it, pulling Celinn close. 'Now you will feel me better.'
Celinn pressed himself hard against him but still he felt disconnected and apart.
'I must touch your skin,' he said and pulling up Gwirith's tunic and shirt he slid his hands underneath and onto the strong muscles of his back.
'By Elbereth, your hands are cold!' exclaimed Gwirith but he let Celinn hold him, and after a while he took Celinn's face in his hands and kissed him.
'You're warming me,' he said, his voice husky and deep.
Celinn gave him a lazy smile and let one hand stray down to the laces of Gwirith's breeches.
'But here you're still cold,' he said, grazing his soft cock through the cloth. Gwirith's hips twitched and he let out his breath in a little gasp.
'I am, but even there I may warm up in a moment or two.'
They gazed at each other and the dark forest fell away from them as they were drawn into each other's eyes. Gently Celinn stroked Gwirith and felt him harden under his hand. Soon Gwirith was groaning softly, his hips tilted forward and his knees parting. Quickly Celinn undid the laces of Gwirith's breeches and freeing his cock from the cloth, made to stoop down, but Gwirith took hold of him and pulled him back up.
'No, don't ease me that way. I want to be…close to you,' said Gwirith, breathlessly.
Celinn's eyes darkened with pleasure, and he stood patiently while Gwirith reached down and unlaced his breeches.
'You're already hard,' gasped Gwirith.
'Of course. You know even a look from you can do that to me,' said Celinn.
Gwirith seized him and gave him a hot, lingering kiss.
'How could I have thought I didn't want you tonight?' he said.
He sat down on the ground with his back against the tree and Celinn straddled him on his knees so that they were face to face.
'We have no oil,' said Gwirith.
'We won't need it,' said Celinn, and indeed Gwirith's cock was wet and slippery with sweet juices. Gently Celinn lowered himself down onto him, and for a long moment they stayed motionless and speechless with pleasure, locked tightly together, Gwirith gripping Celinn around the waist.
Then Celinn began to move, slowly, languorously, rising up so that Gwirith almost slid out of his body, but at the last moment pushing down and capturing him again. Gwirith made very little sound but his lips were parted and his eyes closed as the pleasure rose within him. Gradually Celinn began to move more quickly until the delicious friction became too much for Gwirith's self-control, and he began to give little sobbing gasps in time with Celinn's rhythmic movements, and then he stretched out his hand and laid it on Celinn's cock, his thumb sliding around the moist velvety head.
Celinn cried out, shuddering, and moved faster still and almost at once his seed burst from him, running hot and sweet over Gwirith's hand. Gwirith sighed, filled with a sense of his lover's generous abundance, and in the moment of Celinn's release he felt himself open and lose himself in Celinn's body, and Celinn felt it deep inside him as Gwirith spent himself in wave after pulsing wave.
For a long time after they had passed the peak they stayed as they were, Celinn's head drooping down between his shoulders, his hair just touching Gwirith's face. At last Gwirith opened his eyes and gazed up at him.
'Celinn,' he said hoarsely, 'now I'm more than warm.'
Celinn smiled. 'And so am I, beloved,' he said. Carefully they moved apart and fastened their clothes, and for a while lay clinging to each other, hearts gradually slowing to a normal rhythm.
'Never leave me, Celinn,' whispered Gwirith.
'You know I won't,' said Celinn. 'You don't even need to say it.'
Gwirith nodded, his hair tickling Celinn's cheek.
'Do you think there'll be any wine left?' he asked.
'I doubt it,' said Celinn, as they got to their feet and began to make their way back to the camp.
Aiglin was on watch as Cerveth and Luinil slept by the fire. Aiglin threw Celinn a rueful look and Celinn sent him a sympathetic one in return.
'It seems our brothers had hoped for pleasure much like ours tonight but were deprived of it,' he whispered to Gwirith as they laid out their bedding.
'Think you they are coming closer to one another?'
Celinn shrugged. 'Aiglin has always said he isn't one for binding,' he said. 'But then who would have thought Haldir had loved Legolas all these long years?'
They stretched out by the fire and soon they too had fallen asleep, dark head and fair head close together.
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.