17. Chapter Seventeen
Legolas frowned. He knew Elrohir and Elladan. And he had met Arwen. But he had never heard of Lord Elrond's human son. Had he been introduced at some point and forgotten? No. He would have remembered being introduced to a human living in Imladris.
"I think I would have remembered a man named Strider."
"Perhaps a boy named Estel would jog your memory better," Strider said, ducking his head to hide his mirth.
"Estel? You have grown up since last I saw you," Legolas said, finally recognizing the small boy in the man that sat beside him.
"My memory of the time is not so clear," Strider said. "But I seem to recall a fair haired Elf riding with my brothers on more than one occasion. I wasn't sure it was you at first, as I had never heard your name."
"Well, you were quite young, Estel. I believe you were only five or six the last time I traveled in Imladris."
"It has been many years indeed," Strider said.
"Lord Elrond will not be pleased that I shot you," Legolas said, eyeing the stark white bandage on Strider's arm as he removed his shirt.
"I have gained many new injuries, Legolas. One more will hardly stand out over the others. Besides, I am going to the Northern camp of the Rangers. Not home to Rivendell."
"Yes, you said you had to return the lady to her family. I never said it before, but I am sorry for the loss of your adopted father, my lady," Legolas said, turning to Laeriel.
"Thank you. We should tend to the wounded," Laeriel said, reaching for her pack. "I know Elves heal quicker than humans, but we should take care of your warriors, nonetheless."
Legolas bowed his head regally. She was correct. Elves did tend to heal much quicker than humans did, but they still needed tending. He turned to his companions and bade them to see Laeriel for her care. Then he turned to Strider, who with his tunic and shirt removed, revealed several bandaged wounds.
"You were not jesting when you said you had many new injuries. Shall I tend them for you?"
"Thank you. Laeriel usually tends them," he said, casting a glance her way.
"She is very beautiful," Legolas said, following the ranger's gaze.
"She is at that."
"It has been dangerous for the two of you to travel alone for so long. You are lucky neither of you have been injured more than this."
"We are both injured, Legolas. My ribs were injured the afternoon the Wargs attacked our small party. Laeriel endured the fangs of yet another. Her shoulder was nearly torn in two."
Legolas stared at the woman across the fire pit with a new found admiration. She was beautiful and now he learned brave as well. "So, she is not a helpless female?"
Strider glanced at him, barely able to conceal his amusement. "Laeriel, helpless? That is one word I would never use to describe her. She is very adept at not only the bow, but the sword as well."
Legolas' opinion of her rose even higher. "Is she a warrior then?"
Strider didn't know how to answer that. She was, but only when she was disguised as Thurin were her heroics known. What could he say that wouldn't give her secret away? "She has been helpful on this journey."
Legolas let the topic drop as he removed the old bandages from Strider's ribs. The wound had healed nicely, only a little tenderness remaining. With another bandage and some more healing poultice, he would recover nicely.
"Shall I see to Laeriel's wound as well?" Legolas asked, nodding toward her. The last of his warriors had left and she was alone.
"I will see to her. Thank you," Strider said, standing. When his back protested the movement, he twisted slightly, allowing the vertebrae to pop loudly.
"I see the romp through the tree tops still gives you problems," Legolas said.
Recollection dawned on Strider. "You were the Wood Elf I was trying to follow in the tree tops."
"And you were all of four, if I remember rightly. Your Adar was quite angry with me for allowing you to play in the trees with me. But you were really good for all the older you were. I, however, should have known better."
"Well, I can assure you, I climb much better now."
"We shall see, Strider. We shall see. Go to your lady," Legolas said, picking up his bow. "I will stand first watch. I will have one of my warriors stand the watch after me. We will wake you, if we need you."
Strider wanted to protest, but thought otherwise when he saw Legolas look at Laeriel. "Go to her, Strider. It is obvious what you feel for her. Take advantage of the protection we give you."
He turned to thank Legolas, but he was already gone. Smiling, he headed over to the fire where she was returning her supplies to her pack.
"Don't put that away yet. I want to look at your shoulder," Strider said, easing to the ground beside her.
"I'm fine, Strider. Just tired."
"Let me be the judge of that."
Laeriel sighed, but allowed him to help her remove her shirt. The bandage stuck to the edge of the wound, but with a little warm water, it loosened enough that he could remove it. Frowning slightly, Strider cleaned the wound, inspected the stitches, and then added the poultice before wrapping a clean bandage around it.
"You should rest," he said softly, his fingers trailing along the skin near her neck.
"Hmm….maybe I should…" she said, reaching her hand out to caress his cheek. "You should rest as well. We have a long way to go tomorrow."
Strider closed his eyes, wishing the inevitable could be put off. They could possibly reach the outer reaches of the lands the rangers protected if they pushed themselves tomorrow. And now that the Elves had joined them, he doubted the pace would be slow.
"We do have a long way," he said, covering her hand with his. "Not a journey I am looking forward to completing, either," he finished, his eyes searching hers.
Laeriel looked into his eyes and saw the want and desire shining in their depths and smiled sadly. "If we were but alone…"
Strider looked around the campsite and found not a single Elf in view. "It seems we are alone."
Laeriel looked around and found what he said was true. She, however, knew about the keen eyesight and hearing the race of Elves had. "We are not truly alone, Strider."
"I know of the keen hearing and eyesight of the Elves. I lived with many of them and have been at the brunt of many practical jokes. We are as alone as we are going to get. I do not want to waste this time, Laeriel."
Leaning into him, she touched her lips to his. "Neither do I."
Strider eased Laeriel to the ground, his hard body lying over her, his lips finding the soft hollow of her throat. He heard her soft moans, felt her slim fingers slide into his hair, pulling him closer. His long fingers slipped beneath the loosened bodice and found an ample breast, kneading the warm flesh.
Gently, so as not to cause her pain, he eased the bodice from her, exposing her tender flesh to his hungry gaze.
"You are so beautiful."
"You are a flatterer."
"I speak the truth. You are beautiful. Like the sun on a warm summer day. Your beauty burns me and yet I find I cannot stay away."
Laeriel sighed, her eyes closing as his lips found hers. His words were like water to a dying man. She longed to hear them and yet knew that once they arrived in the northern encampment that she would never hear him utter the words again.
"Gerich veleth nín*" he whispered, his head resting against hers.
Laeriel felt him ease into her heat, slowly so as not to cause her undue pain. She bit her lip, not wanting to draw unwanted attention to them with her cries of passion. She knew that the elves in their company had excellent eyesight and hearing. She would die of embarrassment if she thought the Elven warriors heard her.
Strider's fingers laced through hers, pulling her arm above her head. He dipped his head to her breast, lavishing his attention first upon one then the other, his tongue warm against the coolness of her skin. As he trailed wet kisses along her flesh, his body arched into her, rolling like the waves of the sea against sandy beaches.
He used his free hand to caress her body, sending waves of desire through her until she whimpered softly, her supple lower lip still caught between her teeth. Releasing her hand, he caught her hips, his fingers splayed against the white flesh, holding her tight. His mouth found hers, quieting the soft cries she whimpered in the night, knowing she was close and her unbridled cries would bring unwanted eyes and ears.
Clutching him to her, her hands roaming his back, Laeriel felt herself slip into the abyss. The emotions flooded through her and tears slid down her face. She felt Strider shudder, felt the warmth cascade through her and then he eased his weight off her.
"Tears?' he asked, brushing them away with the pad of his thumb.
"Happy ones, my love," Laeriel said, tucking yet another memory away to remember on a cold night when he would be out of her reach and far away from her touch.
Strider stretched slowly, coming awake with a bit of confusion. Legolas was supposed to include Laeriel and himself for the watch last night, but no one had woken either of them. He rolled to his side and leaned up on his elbow, watching Laeriel as she slept. If they traveled at the speed of the elves, they would be close to Fornost in less than a week.
He wasn't ready to give up his new found love affair with Laeriel and yet, he knew that he had a duty to the rangers and to his people. He had to return with the news of the warg pack and he had to protect the people between the town of Bree and the north encampments.
Placing a light hand on Laeriel's wounded shoulder, he gently shook her awake. "It's time. The elves are already breaking camp."
Laeriel opened her eyes and sighed. The sun had barely broken over the horizon. Yet all around her there was quiet activity. The horses were being taken care of, the bed rolls were being stored, and the fire was being put out.
"I guess we are eating a light breakfast and getting on the road. How soon do you think we will reach the camp?" she asked as he stood.
"I am thinking within three days, if we hurry. A week, if we run into trouble," Strider said reaching a hand down to her. He pulled her gently to her feet and leaned his head down to hers. "I wish…"
"I know, but we have a duty to uphold. We will have what has already passed between us. That will have to do."
Strider sighed, knowing she was right. He dropped a light kiss on her forehead, and then the two of them began the task of helping the elves finish breaking down the camp.
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.