After treating Melpomaen’s injuries, Haldir had tracked and successfully shot a deer, carrying it back to their camp on his shoulders with no small effort.
“The great Oromë returns,” teased Melpomaen, trying to hide his resentment that he had been unable to help.
Haldir shook his head, laughing. “Hardly. I had great luck in drawing to within a few yards of the herd without being scented or heard by them. At that range, a child could have made the shot.” Briskly he began to skin the animal. “I will set aside a haunch to roast for our supper, and slice the rest of the meat to dry near the fire’s smoke,” he remarked. “I just hope we have brought enough cord between us to hold it all.”
Melpomaen unfastened his pack with some difficulty, using only his right hand, and pulled out the thin hithlain rope coiled at the bottom. Estimating its length, he said, “I should think there will be plenty. I’m only sorry that all of the effort has to be yours!”
“So, you can keep me company while I work, then,” said Haldir amiably. “For all the time we have spent together, there is much we do not know of each other. Why, I know nothing of your family, except that your parents have taken the Straight Road and sailed to the West, have they not?”
“They have,” said Melpomaen. “They departed over the Sea a few years before I joined Lórindol’s company, when it was clear that my father’s spirit would never fully recover from his injuries. He was healed in body, but the shock and dread preyed on his mind, and when he made the decision to leave and seek healing in the Blessed Lands, my mother chose to go with him.”
“And you were their only child?” asked Haldir, pausing from his rapid but precise slicing to look over at his friend. “You told me once that you had only distant kin.”
“Not the only child, but the youngest by many years, so ‘distant’ is an accurate enough description,” Melpomaen said. “My sister and brother were grown and gone before I was born. I never really understood why my parents waited so long to have me,” he mused.
Haldir shrugged. “If your father was in one of the ranging companies, he might have had to wait for some time before he could take enough leave to spend your early years with you and your mother,” he pointed out. “That is undoubtedly one of the reasons that marriage during service is discouraged for members of the companies; they prefer to have new recruits either unmarried, or long married. Your father would have to have been absent for some time before he would be able to sire a child, too – it is not only Lórindol’s company that takes lembas as their daily ration, they all do. Desire returns sooner than fertility, or so my cousin Andúniel told me.”
“True enough. Of course I had no idea of any such thing as a lad, I just wished that I had a sibling nearer to my own age,” said Melpomaen, watching the flashing knife blade with admiration for Haldir’s skill.
“So you do not really know them, then, I imagine,” remarked Haldir. “That is unfortunate. I don’t know what I would have done without the companionship of Rúmil and Orophin.”
“Are they. . . like you and me?” asked Melpomaen diffidently.
“Oh, no,” said Haldir, with the faintest trace of – bitterness? regret? Melpomaen could not decide which, in his voice. “No, they both have spouses back in Caras Galadon, though they have chosen to wait to have children until they take up a different craft and return to the city. Many times they have commiserated with me that I have not that to look forward to, when I someday choose to leave this service.”
He smiled conspiratorially at Melpomaen. “Now who should envy whom, do you think?”
Melpomaen grinned back. “So you have never spoken to them about finding no bess whom you could love?”
“Not in so many words, no,” said Haldir. “As I said before, when I realized that about myself, I believed for many years that I was simply marred, twisted, by my very nature – not something one wants to admit to a beloved brother, or two of them.” Laying the knife aside, he began stringing the carefully-prepared slices on the cord.
“I suppose not,” Melpomaen agreed.
“It is queer to me that you seem to have had no difficulty with the idea; or very little, anyway,” Haldir said.
Melpomaen leaned back against the oak’s rough trunk and gazed up through its leaves. He had wondered that himself. “Perhaps,” he ventured, “it is because I never even thought of loving another benn before you. I believed in all honesty that what I felt towards Caranfíniel was indeed the love proper for a wedded couple, and I grieved when she refused me. And then I joined the rangers and simply gave the matter no thought; I think I was relieved not to have the question thrust upon me.”
“But what do you think now?” persisted Haldir.
“I think. . . I don’t know what I think,” said Melpomaen. “Do I feel that loving you makes me somehow less worthy than I would be if you were a bess, or I were? No. I am the same person that I was four weeks ago, or four years, or forty years. If I had any virtues then, I still have them now. Do I have any regrets? Of course, it would be easier for both of us, were we not both binn. Although two biss would have the same problems, I imagine. Does this happen among biss as well, do you know?” he added.
Haldir answered, “I would presume it does; why would it not?”
“Regardless,” resumed Melpomaen, “no, it doesn’t really bother me the same way it did you, when you first realized. Perhaps there is also some connection with physical desire as well as emotional preference? I mean, when I was younger and used to daydream, imagining being with someone, I always imagined a bess – indeed, I thought of Caranfíniel only. So when I reached my pleasure, I felt no guilt about it, for I hoped to wed her. How was it for you?”
Haldir was knotting the second cord around a tree, preparatory to stringing it to form a kind of rope framework from which to hang the cord with the meat threaded on it.
“I tried to imagine biss,” he said soberly. “But no matter whom I chose, the images did nothing for me. When I was very young and did not know myself fully, I would not have thought of imagining binn; and later, all my ideas were such that imagining a benn would have brought revulsion, not pleasure. It was not until I saw that couple I spoke of,” he flushed, “that I realized it might be possible to have a true and tender bond between binn. But there was never any particular benn that I loved, either, only the knowledge that there could be, and so I found trying to imagine a lover – unsatisfactory. In a way I was relieved, just as you were, when I joined the rangers and found that my body’s desires ebbed, though I believed at first it was only the hardship and distractions of company life that caused that.”
Melpomaen nodded. “So really, you never felt a desire that satisfied, through all your life.”
“No.” Haldir looked him in the eye. “Not until now. That is why you are so precious to me, meldanya. But do not think it is physical desire alone that you satisfy in me; that is no small thing, and I rejoice in it, but our friendship even before this journey was a balm to my heart.”
“And mine, though I read less into it, at the time, than did you. Now I can hardly remember that I did not,” said Melpomaen.
“There,” said Haldir, stepping back from the result of his labors. He had managed to string up all the meat in an intricate and web-like spiral above the fire. “Now we want it to be somewhat smokier than usual, to preserve the meat. Let me go wash my hands and bring back some green branches to add to the flames, and then. . .”
“And then?” asked Melpomaen.
Haldir flashed him a quick glance. “And then. . . we shall see,” he said softly. “In the meantime, how do you feel? Do you need another cup of the willow tea?”
Melpomaen accepted gratefully and sipped the bitter brew while Haldir bustled around, taking away the bones and offal wrapped in the animal’s skin, to dispose of them far from camp where the inevitable insects and predators could feast without disturbance. Lost in thought, he jumped when Haldir returned and sat beside him.
“Now, Maen,” Haldir said. “If your injuries hurt too much for you to enjoy this, tell me so and I will take no offense.” He gently urged his partner to lie down, propping his head and chest up with crumpled clothing, and himself lay down to Melpomaen’s right side, his legs angled away so that he would not jostle the sprained ankle accidentally. He pushed aside the blanket that had wrapped Melpomaen most of the day, since he had had to be undressed to have the poultices applied.
“Just relax,” he murmured. He stroked the very tips of his fingers across Melpomaen’s chest and belly, pressing just hard enough so that the sensation would soothe rather than tickle. Back and forth, back and forth, gradually descending from collarbone to navel, then beginning again. As he worked, Haldir began to hum in the back of his throat, a tune that Melpomaen did not recognize but found comforting.
After a time, Haldir sat up and shifted his attention to Melpomaen’s legs, repeating the same pattern of gently rubbing from side to side on each thigh, from groin to knee, and then repeating. When he first moved from torso to leg, Melpomaen tensed slightly, and Haldir saw his organ twitch and throb. He ignored it, though, for the time being, and soon Melpomaen had drifted back into the relaxed state that Haldir wanted him to reach.
He continued this gentle massage for over an hour, changing back and forth between chest and legs several times. Melpomaen was lost in a warm haze, no longer distinguishing between his own skin and Haldir’s fingers, experiencing it all as a great undifferentiated cloud of golden sensation. His arm and ankle, held still by the hardened boneset poultice, gave only the occasional throbbing ache to remind him of his injuries. Haldir looked at Melpomaen’s peaceful face and decided to try something more.
Carefully, almost timidly, he bent his head and began brushing his lips across his lover’s pale skin, in just the same pattern. A sigh escaped Melpomaen’s throat at the feel of warm breath on his chest, subtly different and wholly welcome. Haldir began to pause occasionally, darting out his tongue to taste the salt of Melpomaen’s flesh, but only briefly, tantalizingly. He licked at the hard nub of a nipple for a second, then returned to the rhythmical stroking.
Melpomaen hummed with pleasure and wriggled slightly downwards, careful not to put any pressure on ankle or arm. He lifted his right hand and stroked Haldir’s hair, wanting to make some small reciprocation, but Haldir stopped and took his hand, putting it back on the ground. Clearly, the golden-haired Elf wished him to be passive through this encounter; and Melpomaen had to admit that it was probably a wise decision, as his left arm throbbed briefly.
Just as Melpomaen had decided that Haldir was going to limit him to these relaxing caresses this day, he felt a warm tongue glide from navel down to groin, and along his length. Heat pulsed through his veins, the warmth of relaxation shifting in an instant to the fire of passion. Haldir’s mouth enclosed him, moist pressure surrounding him as he hardened.
Haldir braced himself with one hand and used the other to slide around the base of Melpomaen’s organ and over the loose pouch below, feeling the tender treasure within. As his fingers explored each inch of skin, he continued to use lips and tongue to urge on Melpomaen’s growing excitement. Haldir slipped his forefinger into his own mouth to moisten it, then probed below and eased it into the tight opening, pressing in until his fingertip nudged the sensitive bump he could feel through the thin membrane.
Above, Melpomaen gasped. All his attention was focused on the delicious feel of Haldir’s mouth and hands, which provoked such a strong reaction he was unsure how long he would be able to enjoy it before he had to let go. “Oh, Dír,” he breathed, once again reaching with his good hand to tangle his fingers in the long strands of hair.
Haldir was determinedly ignoring the reactions of his own body in his desire to bring his lover to the peaks of ecstasy, but Melpomaen’s touch on the sensitive skin of his neck and ears was almost his undoing. He had to pause for a moment and concentrate to repress himself. As he resumed, Melpomaen clasped him more tightly, his hips beginning to thrust almost without volition to push himself further into Haldir’s mouth. Each movement back pressed him onto the stroking finger inside, until the doubled pleasure was too great to be borne and he gave himself up to it, his seed spurting between Haldir’s eager lips as he cried out.
Slowly Haldir withdrew, suckling him for a last instant, and removing his hand with equal care. Melpomaen opened his eyes to find his lover’s face before him.
Haldir bestowed a tender kiss on his mouth. “Meldanya,” he whispered, and knelt up.
Melpomaen’s gaze fell to the telltale bulge of arousal behind the material stretched tightly across Haldir’s groin. He reached to touch it, saying, “Please, Dír – I cannot let you do all for me, while I do nothing.”
Though Haldir had intended to refuse, the feel of Melpomaen’s warm hand through his leggings convinced him otherwise. Quickly he lowered them, and when Melpomaen reached out again, he took his lover’s hand with his own two, and together they stroked Haldir’s straining shaft until he spilled hotly into their joined palms.
Drained now of all desire, Haldir held Melpomaen in his arms and they lay together, watching the light of the day fade into dusk.
“I hate to be demanding and disturb you,” murmured Melpomaen after a time, “but do you suppose you could make me another cup of that vile tea?”
Haldir was up immediately, all apologies, which Melpomaen brushed aside.
“You made me nearly forget my pain for hours,” he said. “There is no cause for you to apologize to me! I should be the one doing so, since it was my ill-judgement that brought you extra labors today.”
“But you didn’t injure yourself on purpose,” Haldir pointed out, setting the pot of water to heat and spitting the leg of venison to roast as well.
“Of course not, but it is still my doing. And I’m not altogether sorry about anything that delays our return,” admitted Melpomaen. “In fact,” he took a deep breath and said at last what he had been thinking for days, “I am not entirely certain that I want to return at all.”
Haldir straightened from adding another branch to the fire and stared at Melpomaen, his eyes wide with shock.
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.