Cophetua: 4. But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?

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4. But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?

Chapter Four: But Will You Love Me Tomorrow?

"Oh love is teasing, and love is pleasing,
And love's a treasure when first it is new . . ."

Traditional English Folksong



Sigrid awoke in the Elf-king's bed as the first glow of dawn began to brighten the room. Through the open window she could hear the sound of the water lapping at the base of the pilings far below. At first she felt disoriented, for she had spent the previous night in a poplar thicket on the banks of the Celduin. Then she sighed, as she remembered all that had passed. She heard the sound of steady breathing from the bed beside her.

Thranduil lay asleep on his back, eyes open, one arm thrown carelessly back behind his head. On his face was a contented smile.

Sigrid could not help but smile too. He looked like a big, golden tomcat stretching out to sleep in the sun. She marveled at the beauty of him. His skin was not so much pale as luminous in the faint morning light, and his face and chest were devoid of any hair, save for only a dusting of gold at his armpit. The muscles of his arms and shoulders were well developed for one of such an elegant build. He could almost be a Woodsman, but Sigrid doubted that Thranduil had ever felled a tree. No, it was more likely a sword he wielded, rather than an axe. Strange lettering, pricked out in blue ink, marked both his biceps and his left breast. Sigrid could not read, other than to make the sign of her own name, a skill proudly taught to her by her aunt and much mocked by Wulf as useless in a woman, and she wondered idly what these symbols on the king's body might mean.

No, the elves were not so different from mortal men, she thought as she ran her eyes down his belly past his navel, to the manly member, now lying quiescent on its nest of silky golden hair. Had this alien flesh given her such joy last night? She curled down closer to examine him. Her eyes drank in the beauty of it; the tender bud-like tip and the firm sac below, with its precious cargo. And even as she watched, it seemed to grow.

She glanced up to see his eyes in focus, and he grinned at her. "Someone was caressing me with her eyes."

Sigrid blushed to the roots of her hair.

"Rodyn, sweet one!" he whispered. "Do you know how beautiful you are?"

Her heart leapt within her at his words. Struck mute with emotion, she reached out a tentative hand to stroke his side, his hip, coming ever closer to that which fascinated her.

He drew in his breath at the contact. "Yes . . . you may touch it. Please . . ."

She put out a finger to stroke lightly along the shaft, circling the velvety tip and teasing the little blade of flesh below. Emboldened, she took him into her hand, delighting at the ever increasing girth and the way it twitched against her encompassing palm, like a wild thing seeking its freedom.

"Ai! You must leave off, or I will disgrace myself," he gasped. "I want to spill it in you. Come here!"

She moved upward, stretching out her body against his smooth side. In a trice, he had topped her and had her pinned, his big hands kneading her breasts and his knee forcing her legs wide.

"You turn me into a beast, little one," he said, laughing. He stopped her mouth with a kiss and then thrust his tongue deep as he pressed forward below.

She braced for pain as he breached her, but she was still slick from before and he slid in deep. The pleasure came almost immediately this time. "Oh . . . You pierce me to my very heart!"

Sigrid had always been well aware of what passed between men and women, for she had shared a room with Wulf and Asa since childhood and was familiar with the noises in the night. She had even deduced that there might be some joy in the act, although it had seemed quick and brutish. But nothing could have prepared her for this!

Was it always so overpoweringly sweet, she wondered, as this wonderful being took his pleasure of her? His eyes had gone smoky; his breath was ragged in her ear. He alternated between whispering sweet words she could not understand and raining soft kisses on the tips of her ears.

Again, she felt the joyful warmth building up inside the core of her, as he took the tip of her ear gently in his teeth. The ears seemed a special spot to him, and she drew back his golden hair and stroked the tip of his ear with her fingertip. The effect was immediate; he groaned and pushed deep into her, bringing on her own sweet explosion.

"A, . . . le hannon," he whispered, when his breath had returned to him.

"What does that mean?" she asked softly.

"I am thanking you. Or perhaps I am thanking the Belain for bringing you to me." He gently withdrew from her and pulled the sheet up around the two of them, holding her close to his chest and laying his chin on the top of her head. "You are as beautiful as the day, my dear one."

They must have dozed then, for the next she knew, she heard footsteps on the wooden floor and the creak of the door being pushed fully open.

"The sun in risen, Sire. Time to . . ." The other elf, Galion, entered bearing a tray. He froze at the sight of them. Consummate servant that he was, he did not drop his tray. Only a slight rattle of the teacup betrayed his shock. "Man agorech, Thranduil?" he hissed. "Le pen-inn?!"

Thranduil leapt out of the bed like a shot. He grabbed his man-servant by the shoulder and hustled him from the room, treating Sigrid to a flash of bare back and buttocks. The door shut, and she could hear the sound of a heated conversation from the next room, one voice outraged, the other, her Elven-lord's, low and earnest.

Asa had always told her that eavesdroppers rarely heard anything good about themselves, and even if Sigrid had been tempted to ignore this good advice, it would have been to no avail, for the conversation took place in the language of the elves, of which she now understood only two words. Instead, she searched through the tumbled bedclothes for her night dress and pulled it back onto her body.

By the time she had made herself decent, the door opened again and in came Thranduil still gloriously naked and looking a little sheepish. "All is well. I have placated my valet, and it is safe for you to come out."

"I would rather go to my room and dress, my lord, but . . ." She looked down at her thin nightgown.

"Ah, well . . . yes." He went to the wardrobe and pulled out a wool dressing gown. "Here, put this on."

He helped her into it, tenderly folding back the sleeves and smoothing her hair back over her shoulders. The hem of the robe puddled on the floor beneath her by at least six inches.

"I look like a little girl stealing her mother's clothing and playing dress-up," she said ruefully.

Thranduil pulled the blanket from the bed and knotted it around his middle. "No, you look just like a queen. Now come with me. Be brave. Galion will not bite."

Out in the parlor, Galion was laying out baskets of rolls on the sideboard, along with the tea. He turned to the two of them with a look that almost made Sigrid laugh despite the situation. He had gone from astonishment to outright gape.

To her surprise, he bowed to her. "Hiril nîn."

"In Westron from now on, Galion," Thranduil said gently. "Until Mistress Sigrid can understand our tongue." He took her to the door of her chamber. "I will be in conference all morning. Will you be well here by yourself?"

"I can amuse myself for a few hours, my lord," she replied.

"Thranduil," he whispered into her ear. "My name on your lips is like a caress to me." He kissed her chastely on her forehead and let her into her chamber.

Sigrid took her time dressing, and by the time she re-emerged, Thranduil and Galion were gone. She had tea and a few rolls; after last night, she was unusually hungry. After a time, she grew restive and decided to take some air.

Outside, it was a pleasant summer day. The sun shone brightly, glinting off the tiny ripples in the market pool, where a few boats floated, including the large, brightly painted craft of the Easterling delegation. They must have rowed it up the Celduin from the Sea of Rhûn, and Sigrid marveled at the mental picture of the Easterling sailors carrying that huge boat up the portage path.

She amused herself by looking at the wares the vendors' booths had to offer, although, having no money, looking was all she could do. When that began to pall, she made her way through the narrow streets to the southern side of the town, and stared out over the lake, back the way she had come. Off to the south, she could see and hear the falls, and much closer, she spied a glint of gold and shifting colors beneath the surface of the water, at a spot where the lake birds seemed wont to circle.

She spent a while, enjoying the sunlight and the cool breeze off the lake as it blew back her hair. Indeed, autumn was coming, for after a time she grew chilled and sought to return to the inn.

Coming back into the room, she met the chamber wench with a pile of crumpled bed sheets in her arms. The girl's face took on a sly look when she spied her. "Well, well! You work quick, don't you!"

"What do you . . .? Oh . . ." Sigrid blushed when she realised what the wench held.

"Oh, yes, little Miss 'I'm-So-Innocent.' The Elvenking has spoiled his sheets again, only this time he had some help, from the look of things. What I'd like to know is, what do you have that the rest of us don't?" The wench laughed nastily. "Whatever it was, you don't have it any more. Silly girl. You seemed mighty eager to lie down and spread your legs for the pretty Elf in spite of all that 'touch-me-not' out past the causeway."

Sigrid shook her head. She could not explain her wanton behavior to herself, much less this other girl.

Before she could speak, someone cleared his throat from the doorway. "That will be enough. You are dismissed. We will ring if anything further is required."

The wench dropped a curtsey and left quickly with her armload of sheets.

"Le hannon, Galion," Sigrid said shyly.

"I hesitate to ask the circumstances under which you learned that term," Galion replied dryly. But his face seemed kindly enough.

Sigrid sighed. "Forgive me, Master Galion. I know that you cannot approve of me very much."

"You?" said Galion, seeming genuinely surprised. "Oh, no -- you mistake me. It is Thranduil whose actions I question. If my Lord has any fault, it is that he often mistakes his own desires for wisdom. And sometimes, rarely, he is heedless of the consequences to others. I feared for you, lass. I still do, in my own way."

"You have known him a long time?"

"A very long time." Galion smiled then, and Sigrid thought he had a very beautiful face when he did so. "I am his valet, and his butler. Before that, I served as his esquire. And before that, we were boys together. I have been at his side through peace and war and suffered his foolishness and bad temper through all of it. Yes, I have known him a very long time."

"I think you are fond of him, though," she said.

He looked at her gravely. "I would die for him. I almost did, once, but that is another story," he continued, as if trying to lighten the tone. "And it is a good thing it was I who overheard that evil-minded wench troubling you. Else there would have been some temper shown."

"You defended me well enough, Galion. For that, I am grateful."

"If my Lord loves you, then so do I," he said.

Did he love her, she wondered, or was it just the passing infatuation of a man for a pretty new toy? Before she had time to ponder further, she heard a deep voice upon the stairs. "What is this talk of temper? I'll have no ill-tempered folk about me, for I have the sunniest of natures."

Sigrid saw Galion purse his lips in a grin, quickly hidden as Thranduil came in the door. "Nothing, Sire. It is of no matter. How go the trade negotiations?"

"Recessed until after the noon meal." Thranduil said. "I think the men of Rhûn will have the most favorable terms they have had in the last five decades, for I confess myself to have been a bit distracted this morning."

"The blood is some other place than in your brain," Galion murmured.

Thranduil merely snorted. "Cheeky devil! Make yourself useful and ring for the meal. I would like to have a word with Mistress Sigrid in private."

She saw a look pass between the two men as Thranduil led her into his chamber. No sooner had he shut the door than he drew her to him and kissed her hungrily. "I could not concentrate all morning for the pictures in my head," he whispered. "You above me, riding me like a Meara; you and me playing stag and doe. I will teach you all these things and more, but for now . . ."

He pushed up her skirts and unlaced himself. He bent his knees to get beneath her and she could feel the tip of him blindly butting against her until it found the spot and slid in. "It knows its way home," he laughed, as he pierced her ever deeper. "Put your arms around my neck, my love. There, that's the way. Now wrap your legs around my hips. A, Rodyn! That is so good!"

Borne aloft by his arms around her waist and his flesh inside her, she let her head fall onto his shoulder. He wore a doublet of soft velvet, scented of herbs and lavender. The bare skin of his neck smelled of green grass and leaves. It was impossible to resist being swept along by the force of his passion, and soon she clenched around him in bliss. She saw him bite his own lip as he flooded her.

"That was quick," he whispered. "But satisfying."

"Yes, my lord, very satisfying," she sighed.

"Thranduil," he corrected. "What did I tell you to call me?"

"We are not in your bed. We are standing upright in the middle of your chamber."

He laughed, walked three steps, and the two of them toppled down onto the mattress. "There, now we are in the bed."

"Mmmm . . . Thranduil. Why . . .?"

"I gave Galion my solemn promise that I would keep my clothes on until this evening, and so I have." He winked, looking just like a mischievous boy. "I am a much more wily negotiator than anyone gives me credit for."

They lay happily together for a time. "The trade meetings will conclude tomorrow, and you will come with me back to the Wood." He paused and continued more tentatively. "You will return with me to my home, will you not, sweet one? My valet reminds me that I must not simply assume that I have the right to command you in this, so I ask you humbly. For some reason, Master Galion feels he must function as my conscience in this matter."

"Are you in need of a conscience?"

"My valet seems to think so. This morning he went so far as to accuse me of thinking with my gweth."

"No matter whence comes the invitation, I will accompany you, gladly."

"Good," he laughed, "because it might have caused a problem with the good folk of Esgaroth had I been forced to tie you to my saddle and drag you back to my cave kicking and struggling. They tolerate much from me, but not that."

"Do you do this often, then? Spy young maidens upon the road, seduce them, and carry them back to your realm to have your way with them?"

He looked at her and his expression turned solemn. "Often? No -- never before until now. Do you not understand? I love you. I have loved you since the first moment I laid eyes upon you."

At that moment she found herself in agreement with Galion; she would gladly have died for Thranduil.

* * *
And so it came to pass that three days later, Sigrid found herself riding through the Wood of Eryn Lasgalen behind her new lord. Rather than being placed before him on the saddle, his elves had rigged a pillion for her so that she might have more comfort on the journey. She rode with her arms around his waist, and the eyes of the Wood-elves who lined the path along the Forest River to welcome home their King were every bit as curious as the townsfolk of Esgaroth had been.

Up ahead, the trail dropped, heading through soldier-like ranks of beech trees down to a stone bridge that spanned the river. Beyond, she could see great gates into the side of the mountain. Here would she live, henceforth, underground away from sun and wind. But rather than looking like the mouths of hell, it welcomed her. She felt as if she had come home.

* * *

To be continued . . .

* * * * * * *

Translations from Sindarin:
Man agorech, Thranduil? Le pen-inn?: What have you done, Thranduil? Have you lost your wits?
Belain: Sindarin word for the Valar
Rodyn: Gods
Hiril nîn: My lady

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.

Story Information

Author: Jael

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 4th Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 05/31/09

Original Post: 01/30/07

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