23. The Quarry Is Sighted
Rian looked at her and chuckled. “I fear the cause is more closely linked lower in their bodies than their heads. We have not had an elleth healer for several decades. One so young and attractive is bound to stir up some excitement.”
She paused in her task of returning the unused medical supplies to the storage cabinet on the wall. Momentarily nonplussed she nodded then sighed. “I should have known. When I traveled to the various outer villages in Imladris it was never a problem because most of the patients were all from families. When I travelled with the patrols, it was for shorter periods and so they had opportunities to see sweethearts and wives fairly often. I suppose the warriors here are pretty restricted as to what areas they must patrol and to the length of their tour of duty.”
Rian nodded, “Four months are not impossible to live with but it does grow tiresome for them when there is little change to the routine. Anything that occurs outside of it is quick to catch their attention or stir up excitement”
“But there are ellyth wardens, surely the sight of an elleth is not that unusual?”
“No, but familiarity breeds a certain level of under appreciation for differences between them. You penneth, are fresh meat.”
Nurael shook her head in disgust. “Well, I hope this doesn’t last for the rest of my stay here. I have no interest in such silly games.”
“Ah, you have a mate?”
“No, but there is one I care for a great deal.”
“Perhaps it would be helpful if I were to spread the word that your heart is already engaged. It might slow the attentions of some of the more aggressive ones if they thought a jealous lover might challenge their attentions towards you.”
Nurael grinned, “The only way that would work if he were to show up and make a public announcement to claim me.”
“Is that a possibility?”
She shook her head laughing ruefully, “About as possible as the March Warden himself showing up to do so.”
“Mae govannen, Healer.”
Nurael froze and closed her eyes at the sound of a very familiar voice.
“March Warden, this is a most unexpected visit.” Rian moved swiftly to welcome Haldir who was sitting at the top of the ladder giving entrance to the healer’s talan. “We had no word that you were expected.”
“I am here unofficially and merely passing through, Healer Rian. I was informed that recent incidents had required additional medical support. I thought it prudent to check and see if any other action was required to make sure that you had what was needed.”
“Hannon le, March Warden, your concern is much appreciated but all has been dealt with. We were lucky to receive the services of a visiting healer on her way back to Imladris who agreed to spend time here until an escort could be arranged to accompany her the rest of the way. That has provided me much needed relief.”
“ Then everything is most satisfactory? I only ask because I overheard your associate mentioned something about the March Warden himself showing up to do so. If my assistance is needed, then do not hesitate to ask.”
Nurael did not turn to face him but continued to busily resupply the cabinet. She shuddered inwardly hearing the undisguised danger in his voice.
“It was but a casual comment March Warden. When word of a new and attractive healer went the rounds of the warriors we were suddenly inundated with a number of minor injuries requiring her attention. I merely suggested that if it were known that she had been claimed by a mate or a sweet heart already, there would be fewer such demands for her attention.”
There was a long silence as the March Warden turned his attention towards her, then the deep voice casually asked, “And has the new healer been so claimed?” Nurael could feel Haldir’s icy blue eyes burning into the back of her head.
Rian glanced between the both of them puzzled by the undercurrent of tension. He hesitated and continued thoughtfully studying Nurael’s stiff back, “I do not believe so, although there would appear to be someone that she cares for. It would certainly be helpful if he were to appear.”
“Well Healer Rian, perhaps if she would share his name it could be arranged.” He rose effortlessly from the entrance and stalked catlike across the talan to stand behind her. “Healer, will you reveal the name?’ He asked softly his deep voice provoking and caressing her both at the same time, “I am most desirous of rendering aid in this matter.”
Nurael sensed his challenge for what it was and clamped down hard on the shudders that that threatened to rack her body. She would show no weakness! She would not allow herself to give in to him!
“Hannon le, March Warden, but I have no wish to trouble someone of your importance with such a trivial matter. I am only stopping here for a short time and am well able to deal with it on my own.” Nurael replied stonily. She continued to restock the supply cabinet from the baskets of unused items refusing to turn and address him directly.
“It is no trivial matter if my wardens are making a nuisance of themselves when they should be paying attention to their duties, Healer.”
Rian smiled. He was not dense. He could see which way the wind was blowing. Nurael was suddenly going to find her self well protected from the attention of other ellyn when word of the March Warden’s interest spread. Icy blue eyes met grey ones and with a nod of his head, Rian quietly left the talan.
Haldir tilted his head slightly forward and to the side of her head “Nurael?” he asked softly, his warm breath caressing her ear and cheek. He gently lifted an errant tress of silver blond hair back over her tense shoulder.
Gathering her courage, she turned only to falter as she found herself face to face with him. His blue eyes bore down into hers seeking answers, answers she was not prepared to give him.
“Why are you here, March Warden? You were instructed to relax and enjoy some time off.” She forced out through gritted teeth.
He slowly smiled with satisfaction, his eyes a cool ice blue. He knew well his effect on ellyth and she was no different, just more stubborn. “I am relaxing … and enjoying my time off. I have been seeing old friends, enjoying the sights and …doing some hunting.”
Nurael suppressed a shiver. She did not think he meant he was hunting yrch.
“Nontheless, you have no business here.”
“Are you not forgetting something?”
She frowned at him. “No.”
“I am March Warden of the Golden Woods, and as such I am exactly where I should be.”
She raised her chin defiantly; “You cannot resume those duties until you are released from your treatment.”
“It seems my healer released me before she departed. Therefore I believe that allows me to resume them.” A half smile hung on full sinuous lips.
“Very well then, you should return to Caras Galadon to receive your reinstatement from the Lady.”
A cocky grin lit his face, “I intend to, but there are a few matters that I intend to deal with first.” His eyes left no doubt she was one of them!
“They are no concern of mine, I completed what was required before I left the Retreat.” She shrugged and turned back to the wall cabinet.
Haldir moved closer crowding her against the shelves. “That surprises me Healer, I seem to remember a very passionate kiss and some words that would indicate other wise.”
She whirled quickly with difficulty and found herself pinned between his arms where he leaned against the cabinet. “That is impossible, you were…” She was silenced as he bent and captured her lips in a gentle kiss. His arms moved slowly but inexorably to enclose her now trembling body. When she did not resist he pulled her close and deepened the kiss his tongue beginning a one sided duel that soon coaxed a small flame from hers before erupted into an all consuming demand. Her hands soon tangled in his hair and she strained against him her breasts growing tender and sensitive to the rough fabric of his cloak and tunic. She shivered when his arousal harden and pressed into her stomach.
For what seemed like hours his mouth and hands explored every part of her body they could reach. The tunic she wore provided very little protection against the heat that was slowly building where ever they touched . When Haldir pulled away, he was breathing heavily and a look of rising passion darkening his face. Through heavily lidded eyes he studied her reaction and was pleased with the progress of his seduction, he glanced about the talan seeking a more comfortable spot to continue. Locating a small room off the back he nodded silently towards it. She lowered her head so that he would not see the sheen of tears in her eyes and allowed him to pull her towards the room that was in fact a small sleeping chamber used by the healer on duty.
“Wait here, mil tithen, I will pull the ladder up to prevent any interruptions.”
“As if anyone would dare interrupt the March Warden’s pleasures.” She muttered ruefully to herself through the tears she could no longer hold in. She had no doubts that everyone knew what was going on in the healing talan right then and it was not medicinal.
Nurael could no longer fight herself and her own longing. She knew that it was to be payback time now for all her earlier supposed transgressions. At least the payment he demanded was something she wanted desperately to give him. It was just too bad that he would settle for only a night or two when she wanted to give him all of them. At least she would have this one time to store away in her memories during all the rest of the empty years ahead.
mae govannen-well met
hannon le-thank you
mil tithen-little love
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