8. The Notion Is Planted
Three years later…
"Back! Step back, Legolas!" Norbor shouted.
Legolas, attempting to block Dúrion's sword, did as he was told and found his blade became much more effective in blocking his opponent than it had when he was closer. Swordplay was much different than fighting with long knives, he realized. He wished he had worked harder with it before taking the test to enter training. He had still passed the test and joined the other trainees, much to the king's delight and Saelvaethor's displeasure. But now he was being drilled by Norbor, and worse, paired off with Dúrion, who was not only older and more skilled, but who held much contempt for him since losing Cellinn to him. Now, as he fought to hold his ground, Legolas began to think that some of those long evenings he had walked the gardens with Cellinn could have been better spent working with Arandur so he could hold his own against such determination.
Dúrion threw off Legolas's blade and spun, attacking again. Legolas had to use all his talent and skill to block the blows, never gaining an opening to attack. He wished Norbor would call for them to cease. It no longer felt like training, and that made him nervous. A sudden wicked gleam sparked in Dúrion's eyes, and finally, he heard Norbor's shout to desist. But it had not come soon enough to stop his opponent's forward momentum. Legolas saw the blow coming, and there was simply nothing he could do to block it. Everything appeared to slow down as he waited for the metal to bite into his belly.
To his surprise, a blade came from out of nowhere, clanking against Dúrion's sword at the same time a hand shoved him back. Legolas stumbled and fell from the push, landing on his backside, his sword still held firmly in his hand. He looked up in shock to see his father glaring at Dúrion over their blades. Relief washed over him and he found himself thanking the Star Kindler for his father's over protectiveness. Dúrion looked quite shocked and dropped his sword. Legolas felt his own measure of appreciation; he had never seen his father move in such a way before. He regained his feet, watching the situation play out.
Thranduil's eyes never left the young warrior, whose own gaze had dropped to the ground. "Captain Norbor? Explain this!"
The captain approached them, fury in his eyes. "I am not sure what happened, my lord. I chose Dúrion to train with the prince because he shows great promise with a sword and has helped new recruits many times to learn these maneuvers. I have never seen him push one past their limits prior to this, but I suspect there might be some unresolved argument between them from the look on his face when he pulled that move — one reserved for advanced students, if I may remind you, young one!" Norbor reached forward and lifted Dúrion's trembling chin.
"I'm sorry," Dúrion whispered, his eyes glancing from both Norbor to Thranduil, and finally to Legolas. "I wasn't going to hurt him, I swear! I just—"
"You just earned yourself severe disciplinary action," Norbor inserted, adding, "unless the king desires to see you pulled from service completely. That move bordered on treason, Dúrion."
"No," Legolas called out, stepping forward. "I think he forgot I was not as skilled as he." He looked carefully at Dúrion, meeting his gaze and offering a truce. "For surely he would not wish to harm the family of his closest friend."
Dúrion's eyes were filled with shock and gratitude. "Nay, I did not wish to injure you. I only wished to show off my skills and regain some of my pride. Forgive me, your highness. I took things too far."
Legolas nodded, and stepped forward, offering his hand, which Dúrion clasped. "I do. I think if our positions were reversed, I would have been tempted to do the same." Then he stepped back, looking to his superiors. Thranduil's and Norbor's expressions were blank, but as Legolas met each of their gazes, he saw pride shining in their eyes.
Thranduil broke the silence. "I think perhaps I will leave any discipline to you, Captain."
"As you will, my lord," Norbor agreed, motioning for Dúrion to proceed him off the training field, and took his leave.
Legolas turned to his father with a soft smile, but paused when he noted the king had yet to sheath his sword. His expression turned to one of apprehension. "Adar?"
"Take your position," came the order, spoken coolly.
Legolas's eyes widened in surprise, but he did as he was ordered. For the first time in his life, he stood facing his king, sword drawn and in a battle-ready stance. The first move came so fast he could hardly see it, let alone counter it. He faltered and stood blinking and pale as Thranduil pulled his blow, reducing it to tapping his side with the flat of the blade.
Thranduil raised a brow. "Surely, you can do better than that, son."
Frowning, Legolas took up his position again. This time his father sparred with him as an equal, testing his skills slowly over the course of several minutes, then picked up the pace. After a time, Thranduil began to add a few twists, making Legolas work harder to block the strikes. It was not long before sweat poured off him and his breathing increased to gasps. In a moment of exhaustion and frustration, his blade caught Thranduil's sword. Pushing it off, Legolas spun and attacked.
A leg darted out, and Legolas landed on his back, staring up at the tip of his father's sword fixed on his chest. "You need to work on your swordplay," Thranduil said with an amused smile. "And perhaps I can find some time to teach you, if you will answer me one question."
That offer took Legolas off guard and several emotions coursed through him: shock, curiosity, pleasure. He dearly loved his father, but as king, Thranduil was often called away from his paternal duties. Never had he taken the time to teach his youngest, though Arandur had suffered much through their father's instruction.
"I would be honored to have you as an instructor. What do you wish to know?" Legolas asked, completely at a loss as to what his father might ask him.
"Have you asked the lady to marry you yet?"
Dumbfounded, Legolas blinked.
"My father asked me the strangest thing today." Legolas, perched in their tree beside Cellinn, leaned his head back, looking up at the bright blue sky above them. The tree almost seemed to sigh in satisfaction behind him. It had greatly rejoiced in their reconciliation and return to its boughs, even inviting Legolas to carve their initials in its bark beside the ones he had scratched out in distress.
"Your father often asks strange questions," Cellinn noted with amusement in her voice. "What did he ask you this time?" She laid her head against his shoulder as she waited for him to respond.
"He...he wanted to know if I had done something — he even offered to instruct me in sword work for the answer. But stranger still was the fact that I had not even considered what he asked. I've been content with the way things are." He looked down at her, his eyes caressing her face.
A slight crease between Cellinn's brows expressed her confusion, and she sat up and turned to look at him fully. "Legolas, what are you talking about? You are making no sense whatsoever."
He lifted his eyes to the forest around them, refusing to hold her gaze. He had no intention of making himself clear. "He has a point," he said, his lips settling into his crooked smile. Without looking at her, he reached over and pulled her back against him, settling his cheek against her hair. She snuggled against him with a contented sigh. "This is perfect, is it not? You and me?"
Cellinn pulled back just enough to tilt her head up to meet his eyes with exasperation. She opened her mouth to speak, met his eyes, and closed her lips on a sigh instead. Then she reached up and placed a soft kiss right on that beloved dimple. "Yes, it is." She pulled back and studied him a moment, tracing a finger down his cheek to the hollow of his throat, causing him to shiver. "Are you going to tell me what you are babbling on about?"
"No," he whispered, leaning in closer to kiss her. "Not yet, but one day." Legolas pulled her back up against his shoulder and together they listened to the wind sing though the trees, and they talked about other, less weighty, matters.
"He is in love with her, and his thoughts now dwell on where that love needs to be directed," Thranduil grinned at his wife, then pulled his tunic over his head and stripped out of his leggings. He slipped into the hot water, causing it to ripple across the small pool and lap against the opposite side. Leaning back against the stone, he sighed and watched the steam rise from the hot spring deep within the mountain. The rustle of cloth brought his eyes to much more interesting scenery.
"Realizing they love each other is one thing, but they are young yet — too young to be pursuing what I think you are suggesting." Eirien let her dress fall to her feet. When she bent over to pick it up, Thranduil grinned again, as she was facing away from him and he had quite a nice view of her bare backside. She straightened, to his disappointment, and folded the cloth, placing it neatly on a rock. She wrinkled her nose at his garments scattered across the cavern floor and he chuckled.
"Come join me," he called. Gingerly, she stepped into the pool, the sides of which had been carefully carved to allow them to sit comfortably beside each other. He slid an arm around her and drew her close to his side. They did not get nearly enough moments like this. "I disagree," he continued. "Long have they loved each other. It is time."
She shook her head and looked up at him in exasperation. "Thranduil! It is too soon! There needs to be a time of courtship, or have you forgotten your efforts to convince me to marry you?"
He laughed. "I have not forgotten. I would have married you as soon as you consented, if not for your father. I found it safer to chase you across the wood, find you pretty flowers... and take my time persuading him he did notwish to kill me for convincing his daughter she loved me."
Laughing, she leaned her head against his chest, snuggling against him. "I do remember. They were such wonderful years. And I do not wish to see Legolas and Cellinn deprived of them. Besides, he has only recently begun his training. The first decade is the hardest. There is a long, rough road ahead of him before things settle down enough to allow him the time to commit to a wife. Even then, I think it is too soon. He is not ready." She tilted her head up and began to place light kisses against his jaw line, moving slowly from his chin to stop right behind his ear.
He gasped when her tongue traced the sensitive shell, and, sliding a hand down her leg, he drew it across his body as he turned to kiss her. Between kisses he managed to speak, "But you did not object to Arandur marrying during his training years." Her hand wandered down his chest, over his abdomen, and then slipped lower. He let out a deep groan and his eyes slid shut.
"Arandur was older, as was Minuialwen." He struggled to follow what she was saying. "Let our son set his own pace in this courtship. Cellinn has only just reached her majority, my love. I doubt her parents would wish her to marry so soon. And once he gets the idea of marriage in his head—" her fingers slid slowly down, then back up, and he gasped — "it would not do for him to find himself frustrated and unable to act." She removed her hand and sat up, ignoring his grunt of protest. "It is not healthy to be so frustrated, is it, my husband?"
He opened his eyes and stared at her in disbelief. "You are torturing me to teach me a lesson? That is cruel, o my wife!" Before she could react, he captured her and covered her body with his own, resting his weight against her while bringing a captured hand up to his lips. "We married the day after your majority, love," he reminded her with a smirk, "much to your father's horror. At least our youngest son will abide by tradition and endure a betrothal period." He leant in to kiss her, but to his consternation, Eirien began to laugh, the sound echoing in the cavern.
"Oh, my lord and king. I would hate to disappoint you, but I seriously doubt they will wait any longer than we did once the notion is planted in their heads."
He froze, not having considered that. Then the water sloshed over the sides of the pool as he lurched out, leaving his wife protesting in the pool as he grabbed a towel and streaked across the bathing chamber and up the stairs leading back to their private chambers. He had barely managed to cover himself when he burst out the door, startling a poor chambermaid. She screamed, but he ignored her, pushing past and out into the corridor that housed the family's rooms.
Minuialwen looked up as Arandur entered their rooms. His eyes were wide and his face red. "Arandur?" she asked.
He shook his head and closed his eyes, leaning back against the door. "Oh, I pity them!"
She frowned. "Pity who? What's happened?"
He opened his eyes and pushed away from the door, coming to kneel by her side. "At one time, I regretted marrying you the way I did. Now, I am glad we just did it."
"Oh?" she asked, laughing at his odd behavior. "And why is that?"
"Because marrying you as soon as I convinced you that you loved me prevented my father from meddling!"
She snorted in agreement and leaned forward to kiss him. "I've never regretted marrying you," she whispered, then, with a great shove, she toppled him back onto the floor and straddled his stomach with a wicked smile. "Thranduil has no need to meddle, however. Legolas and Cellinn are doing just fine on their own." Her fingers flew over the fastenings of his tunic.
"I thought so too," he agreed, fumbling with the lacings of his leggings. "But apparently Adar mentioned something about marriage to Legolas and then mother said something about how they d never have a proper ceremony once they started thinking on it, and the next thing you know, Adar is wandering the hall, looking for Legolas, in naught but a towel!"
"Oh I wish I could have seen that!" She pulled the tunic from his shoulders and admired the hard muscle she had uncovered. "But right now I'd rather see youin nothing at all."
His hands slid up her legs, pushing up her skirts. "The feeling is mutual."
To Be Continued….
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.