Chapter 6 – Exposed
The next evening rolled around and the brothers were ready for whatever was to happen. Rumil and Laerwen showed up first. They all greeted each other and took a seat in the living room. Not long after, Orophin and Gliriel were knocking on Haldir's door. It was a pleasant evening so far. The conversations were enjoyable as the three ellith got to know each other. Soon the brothers excused themselves and headed to the kitchen.
"What do you think?" Rumil said suspiciously. "Do they seem to know each other or not?"
Orophin shook his head. "They do not know each other Rumil. Haldir has just been filling your head with silliness."
"Orophin is right. They obviously have never met before. Now, the first thing we are going to do is get the wine flowing. It will be better if everyone is relaxed first." Haldir said.
Rumil poked his head out from behind the door. "They are talking about us." he whispered anxiously.
The other two went to Rumil and put their pointed ears up to the door.
* * *
"He seemed so sure that night." Gliriel was saying about Orophin. "The love in his eyes was evident. But now he seems to have slipped back in to his old ways. I should have known he was not ready to commit. I just don't understand."
Aranel spoke next. "Haldir is different too. I thought I meant more to him then just another liaison. It just makes no sense. How are they so different from the night of the festival?"
"I think they are tricking us, trying to change us into what they want. They played on our emotions that night to lure us in. Well, it will not work on me. I know what we experienced that night and it is nothing like it was then." Laerwen said obviously upset with Rumil.
* * *
"It seems they are just as confused as us." Rumil stated.
"What is going on?" Orophin questioned.
"Forget the wine. I'm getting to the bottom of his right now." Haldir said and threw open the kitchen door. The other two almost fell into the living room.
Haldir went right in and smiled his most charming smile. "My ladies, it seems we are all in agreement about something. The magic of the Masquerade has seemed to have worn off quickly, a little too quickly if you ask me."
The three ellith seemed shocked. "Were you eavesdropping?" Aranel asked.
Rumil and Orophin shook their heads but Haldir spoke out. "Yes, that is exactly what we were doing. Now, if you will just hear me out, I believe I have a solution to our problem."
"And just how do you propose to do this?" Gliriel asked sarcastically.
Haldir pulled out one of the white masks from the Ball and smiled. "We repeat the night." he said simply.
No one said a word but just looked around at each other. Then Laerwen spoke. "What are you suggesting? Do you think the magic only worked when we wore the masks?"
"Maybe. Or maybe we chose differently." Haldir answered.
Gliriel furrowed her brows and went to Orophin. "Do you agree with this? We have been together for a few years now. Do you not know me well enough that you would agree to this?"
Orophin took her hand and looked at her with sympathy. "I just want to know what has happened to us and if this will sort things out then I must agree."
"Well, if it is settled ladies, I have your robes already laid out in the guest room. Rumil, Orophin and I will dress in my room." Haldir said waiting to see if they would agree.
"I will play along." Laerwen answered looking at Rumil. He nodded to her and smiled slightly.
"Me too." Aranel chimed in glancing at Haldir.
Gliriel still seemed unsure as she looked at Orophin. "Please… for me?" Orophin pleaded.
Finally she walked off towards the guest room without saying another word.
Rumil, Haldir and Orophin entered the Marchwarden's bedroom. They slipped into the white tunic and leggings, and then placed the white masks upon their faces. They were silent while they dressed. Then with a nod of their heads, they went back into the living room and stood shoulder to shoulder.
"Are we ready?" Haldir asked. Rumil and Orophin said yes and Haldir called to the ladies. "You may enter the living room now."
The three ellith strolled out of the guest room to find the three ellyn lined up, waiting for them. Each one walked up to each brother and looked deep into their eyes. As they recognized a familiar sparkle, they took the hand of the male they chose. Each one had found the same brother they chose at the dance. When they were absolutely sure, Haldir nodded his head, letting them know it was alright to remove their masks.
The first one to make a move was the elleth standing with Haldir. Very slowly, she removed her mask, revealing herself to her chosen. Haldir also removed his mask and the chosen couple stood face to face. There was a gasp from the others for it was not who they thought it would be. Surely Haldir was picked by Aranel. But it was not her.
"Laerwen?" Haldir said confused. "Was it you I was with that night?"
"I am just as shocked as you." she answered. "I thought it was Rumil who led me into the woods."
"Laerwen?" Rumil whispered. The masked elleth standing with him recognized his voice. She turned his head to capture his stare. Again, the love they experienced that night was strong between them. She removed her mask as did Rumil.
More gasps could be heard. Then the last masked ellon protested. "No this cannot be. Gliriel, why are you with Rumil?" He pulled his mask off as did the elleth standing with him. Aranel was looking at Orophin.
Laerwen looked at Rumil. "I am sorry, but the heart and the soul knows what it wants." Then she turned back to Haldir and looked longingly into his steely eyes. She grabbed his waist and pulled him close. "Hello lover." she whispered not able to take her eyes from him. The spark held and they knew it was them that made love in the woods that night. Haldir seemed a little thrown from his game, but it was beginning to make sense why Aranel was not responding to him. It never was her. It was Laerwen the whole time. He leaned towards her and brushed his full lips across hers. Yes, this was her. He knew her, could smell her, desired her. Without waiting another moment, Laerwen captured his lips and kissed him hard and deliberately.
"Wait." Rumil whispered and Gliriel looked at his face.
"Rumil look at me." she said. He turned his attention back to her and their eyes met once again. "It is you."
Orophin watched as his long time love gazed lovingly into his younger brother's eyes. Then Aranel cupped her hand to the side of his face. "I know what it is you want." she said capturing his stare. "You want comfort in knowing someone will be there, supporting you, waiting for you to one day give your heart freely. I know this for I want the same life."
Orophin was still confused even though he could feel the connection between him and Aranel. "But I thought Gliriel and I were destined. I cannot deny the fact that when I look into your eyes I feel that same comfort I have sought after for so long."
"You need to resolve things with her. I know you love her as she does with you. But as Laerwen said, the heart wants what it wants." Aranel said.
Just then, Gliriel looked over at Orophin. Rumil touched her arm. "Go to him. Make things right. I will not go another step farther until you do."
She smiled to Rumil. "Thank you for understanding." she said and went to Orophin who was waiting for her. She took his hands in hers. "How did we ever make it this far and not know we were not meant to be? We have only been fooling ourselves. We want two different things. I do love you, but I want to marry and start a family right away. I cannot wait for wars to diminish."
Orophin looked down at their hands. "And I cannot imagine bringing another life into this world until I am sure Lothlorien will be safe. If you have found that kind of love and commitment with Rumil then you have my utmost support. My brother will make a fine husband for you. Though it hurts at the moment, I know you will live the life you always wanted, the one I could not give you."
Gliriel kissed him gently on the cheek and slowly released his hands. It was hard to say goodbye to someone she had known for many years. She walked back to Rumil and was instantly comforted by his smile and his shining eyes. "This seems a little awkward right now doesn't it?" she said aloud.
Haldir finally came up for air after devouring Laerwen's mouth. "I think we all need some time to ourselves for a bit." he said never taking his eyes from her.
"I couldn't agree more." she answered reaching around and squeezing Haldir's tight rear.
Gliriel looked around. "I should go."
Rumil went to her side. "I will walk you home." he said but realized her home was still Orophin's home. "Unless there is somewhere you would like to go."
"As a matter of fact, I am suddenly in the mood to walk the gardens. Will you join me?" she smiled sweetly.
"Most definitely." he answered and offered her his arm. She took it and he lead her from Haldir's talan.
Aranel glanced at Orophin who still seemed a little lost. She touched the side of his face with her fingertips, drawing his eyes to hers. "We can take things as slowly as you like. I am here for you."
Orophin's heart soared at the sound of her words. "I like the sound of that." he smiled. Then he glanced over to Haldir and Laerwen who were about to christen the divan in the corner. "I believe we should leave now before we get a lesson in using living room furniture inappropriately."
Aranel laughed, took Orophin's arm and they left the talan.
Haldir looked into Laerwen's eyes. They were dark with desire. "I thought they would never leave." he breathed against her neck.
"Oh Haldir, do you know what you do to me?" she moaned as he sucked the side of her neck.
"My dear, I know exactly what I'm going to do to you and I hope you will do to me what you did the other night." he said working at the clasp at the back of her robe.
Laerwen ran her tongue up the outside of his ear all the way to his sensitive point. "Hurry lover. I need to feel you inside me." she begged. It did not take them long before they were writhing on the floor.