5. The Morning After
Daeron felt a soft breeze on his back. During the night he had awakened several times to snuggle closer to Macalaurë, who had instinctively tightened his arm draped over him in response. Finally, toward morning, Daeron had fallen into dreamless unconsciousness.
When he opened his eyes, Macalaurë sat in the folding chair in front of the opening to the tent, chest bared, wearing only a light short-legged undergarment. The tent flaps had been tied fully open, allowing in the fresh air and exposing a verdant world of sun-dappled foliage. Macalaurë immediately brightened at seeing Daeron awake.
"I've been waiting and waiting for you to wake up. It was all I could do not to pour cold water on your head," Macalaurë said, smiling as though that were a perfectly normal reflection for a grown man. "Did you rest well?"
"What do you think?" Daeron asked, as enchanted at the sight of Macalaurë in the sunlight as he had been by candlelight. Not only did Daeron not regret the night before, he felt exultant.
"I only hope that you rested half as well as I did." Macalaurë blew his fine, dark hair out of his face, while splaying his long fingers flat across the strings of the lute that he held in his arms.
"What have you been doing? I did not hear you playing."
"I barely touched the strings. I was thinking mostly. I did compose something about you." He tapped his temple to indicate that he had done it in his head. "Now you are going to think I am a real girl, aren't you?"
"No. I told you far too much about myself for me to ever think of calling you a girl. Come here, mírchen."
Macalaurë placed the lute on the chair behind him and walked to the bed. He closed his teeth over his bottom lip, looking Daeron up and down, seductive in his unselfconscious display of appreciation.
"Last night you called me lachenn and today you call me mírchen."
"I'm getting used to your eyes." Daeron laughed, reveling in the realization that it was true; he no longer felt anything but comfort, affection, and, yes, more than a twinge of lust, under the prolonged gaze of those tree-lit, silver-blue eyes.
Macalaurë crawled up next to Daeron, pulling the coverlet aside. Daeron drew a deep, noisy breath, while grabbing Macalaurë and kissing him.
"I'm hopeless. I'm wild for you," Daeron said.
"Don't sound so pained about it. There are those who would think you got yourself a real prize." Macalaurë grinned, his demeanor less smug than tender, despite his choice of words. "You know, I was completely sober and truthful with you last night. I have not felt like this in years. Maybe never." He took Daeron's hand and put it on his chest. "Feel that? Can you feel my heart?"
"That's physical," Daeron said quietly. "But what do you think?"
"I can't think or, more accurately, can only think about how much I want you." Macalaurë shook his head, looking nearly as besotted as Daeron felt. He wrinkled his nose at Daeron. "I did think you might ask to hear the song I wrote for you. But apparently you only care about my body."
"Aww. But it's so nice." Daeron nipped and laved a nipple, before rolling him onto to his back and straddling him, pinning Macalaurë's muscled arms over his head onto the pillow. He mused that if the Noldo, only slightly heavier but much stronger, had not permitted it, he never could have held him down. Daeron was a passable archer. Macalaurë, on the other hand, was clearly a highly trained warrior, an anomaly for a serious musician in Daeron's experience. Licking Macalaurë's ear, he teased, "You really wrote a song about me?"
Seeming to ignore him, Macalaurë asked, "Would it be foolish for me to say that you are the prettiest person I've ever slept with? Given there was only one other."
"I want my song." Daeron tightened his grip on Macalaurë's wrists, moving his body against him until he elicited a gasp. "Among the Sindar it is not wise to call a man pretty. Women and children are pretty."
Macalaurë cackled like an ill-mannered youth. He then furrowed his brow, trying to appear serious, before cocking an eyebrow rakishly. "It is the same among my people. But you should know, I have not seen any men among the Noldor as pretty as you."
"Pfft. Look who's talking! Surely the Noldor have mirrors? Your mouth would put the loveliest maiden to shame." Daeron laughed, leaning forward to touch Macalaurë's lips with his tongue. "I still want my song."
Macalaurë arched up under him aggressively rubbing against his groin. "You'll get your song. Shortly."
That time Macalaurë demanded, "You take me," doubtlessly cognizant that if he experienced an unfamiliar tenderness, then Daeron must be more uncomfortable, having borne the repetitions that had followed their first coupling. This fit completely with everything Daeron had learned about Macalaure, self-assured, nearly cocky, yet always considerate, and, most of all, generous.
It was not long before the atmosphere turned almost too bright, too treacherous for Daeron to bear, as though he were lost and would never be found, that nothing would ever again be as it had been for him, yet perfectly right. Finally, utterly spent, both exhilarated and relaxed, Daeron reflected that their time together might be short-lived.
He could not resist saying, "Imagine having this night after night," as he stroked Macalaure's hair away from his face to permit a better look at those sharp cheekbones tinged in color from exertion. He cursed himself at how wistful his voice sounded.
"Oh, I already imagine it. Trust me, Daeron; I intend to live on these memories for a long, long time. Can you at least stay here for the rest of the summer?"
"Wild horses and Mablung wielding his mighty ax couldn't drag me away."
"Good. There is little enough happiness in these hard times. Let us share what we can while we may." Macalaurë gave him a bittersweet smile which, despite its poignancy, contained enough heat to melt iron.
"With the greatest of joy," Daeron answered. Again and again over the past twelve hours, he had felt that the two of them seemed to fall naturally into balance, had a rare understanding, and yet, still, there seemed a mystery in the other man, something he could not read. Transparently untroubled, Macalaurë beamed as he pulled Daeron into a triumphant kiss.
"Want your song?" Macalaurë asked when he stopped.
Daeron waited while Macalaurë jumped up to find the lute again. He wondered what the song might be like. He imagined an elegant mannered melody with a darker undertone. He had heard what has been purported to be Noldorin music. Nothing traveled faster than music in Beleriand he thought. No Noldor had approached Doriath yet, but Sindarin bards had returned from close to Mithrim and its environs eager to demonstrate what they had heard. The music those musicians presented as that of those powerful Lords from the West, had been credited to Macalaurë or others who professed to have been his students.
An elegant mathematical perfection contradicted by an underpinning of raw emotion gave that music the unique character that Daeron had come to think of as the Noldorin approach. Despite the fact that the melodies and their harmonies had not rested easy on his ears at first hearing, the musical style had intrigued Daeron. He half-heartedly fought against some of its elements overtaking his more basic, intuitive mode. What Daeron had learned of Macalaurë in a few short hours led him to believe that the recreations he had heard might have missed some essential quality.
He told himself as he watched Macalaurë tuning the lute, that he could not expect a polished complex piece given they had spent most of the night making love, talking, or sleeping.
Macalaurë let one last chord echo, before looking up at Daeron and asking with a shy smile, "All right? Now?"
"I'm dying to hear you."
Shockingly sensual, bright yet sumptuously textured, Macalaurë's voice burst forth like a force of nature, yet replete with warm affection and compassion. He had taken his cue from Daeron's offering of the night before and composed a simple love song, which ended with a direct reference to the two of them.
Future bards will tell how we loved of old,
Twin natures, silver voices, in an age of gold.
"You have an incredible voice," Daeron said. "We must sing together. That'll be the subject of songs for certain. Come here now though. I intend to stick my tongue down your silver throat."
Mírchen means bright eyes as opposed to the somewhat pejorative Sindarin expression of lachenn, meaning flame-eyed which is used to refer to the exiled Noldor.
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