20. Tangled Emotions
Legolas observed them from a distance, but said nothing beyond daily commonplaces and necessary orders for some time.
A fortnight of hard work saw the company records completely organized and brought up to date. Melpomaen reported as much, adding that he thought his arm was now healed enough to take on other duties.
“I’m not sure I’m quite up to drawing a bow yet, but I can at least wield knife or sword, and certainly stand watches,” he said.
“Very well, but I must tell you that at present where we are short-handed is on the night watch. Sheer carelessness in one of the out-patrols, half-a-dozen badly wounded, so they called for replacements and that was how it worked out. If you want to take on active service you and Haldir will have to be on different shifts, at least for a while. At the next moon that could change, and I would certainly try to make sure you had the same schedule, but for now it is unavoidable. Since you’ve done well in alternate duty, I will let you choose. Do you still want to leave the records?” asked Legolas.
Melpomaen hesitated, and Legolas added, “Or I could put you on half-duty – it would still be at night, three days, but then the next three you could continue keeping our books. (1) Although such a schedule might be awkward for you.”
“If that can be arranged, I will take it. I can probably maintain the records that way, well enough until your clerk returns, and I would greatly prefer to return to duties where I feel my abilities are greater, even recovering from injury,” Melpomaen decided.
“I will speak to Lasmir, then, and tell him to expect you to report for the night watch beginning tomorrow.”
When Melpomaen told Haldir of the change that evening in their room, his lover was unenthusiastic, but resigned.
“You say that this will probably be only for two or three weeks, and that the captain will try to get us onto the same shift again then? I’m sorry we have to wait for that, but I know you’ve been impatient to get out of that musty little chamber, so I can see why you took the chance even if it’s not an ideal arrangement for us.” Haldir leaned over and tucked a stray wisp of hair behind Melpomaen’s ear.
Melpomaen caught Haldir’s hand, bringing it to his lips and kissing the fingertips one by one.
“I don’t start until tomorrow night,” he said. “Let me show you how much I will miss seeing you every night, even just from across the common room for most of the evening. Wait here for a few minutes, I will be back.”
He slipped out. Haldir moved about the chamber, straightening the covers on the bed, piling together clothes that needed washing, putting away small items scattered around. He came across the silver hair-clasp that he had bought for Melpomaen in Dale, and smiled, thinking how well it looked against his partner’s dark hair, like the moon peeping through the leaves of the forest at night.
When Melpomaen returned, he brought with him a pitcher of spiced wine and two cups. “I wheedled this from the kitchen,” he said triumphantly, “to celebrate going onto regular duty, if only part time. Now. . . let’s go in there, shall we?” He nodded toward the bathing room.
In the warm water, relaxing and enjoying the wine, the two Elves sat close together, Melpomaen idly tracing designs over Haldir’s chest.
“Haldir.” He rubbed the pad of his thumb across one nipple.
“Yes, Maen? Mm, that feels good.”
“I wonder if Legolas deliberately assigned me to the night watch.”
Haldir considered it. “You said he asked if you would be willing to take it, or if you’d prefer to wait. That doesn’t sound too deliberate to me.”
“Maybe. What will you do with yourself when I’m not here in the evenings?”
“Probably spend more time with the rest of the company, I imagine, although it will not be so pleasant as this,” he inhaled sharply as Melpomaen dropped his hand to brush across Haldir’s groin.
“You would not seek out Legolas?” queried Melpomaen, now running his hand over Haldir’s hip and thigh.
“I would not, no, though I suppose he might wish to spend more time with me. In which case I would do so; he is our captain now, and I can hardly refuse. Besides, he knows how matters stand between us. I cannot imagine he would have in mind anything but conversation, and I could not begrudge him that. I would enjoy it, in fact. Set your mind at ease, Maen; there is none other for me but you.” Haldir leaned over and kissed Melpomaen’s cheek, then his earlobe, breathing warmly into his ear until Melpomaen complained of being tickled.
“Fair enough,” the dark-haired Elf allowed. “I did not mean to imply that I distrusted you, or our bond, meldanya. A little more wine?” He took up the pitcher from the ledge and smiled suggestively.
“Half a cup,” said Haldir. He sipped at it, thinking over Melpomaen’s comments and his own replies. It was true that he trusted Legolas’s honor, although he did wonder at the convenience of the arrangement. He decided to ignore the issue for tonight and wait to see what might happen tomorrow.
Setting his cup aside, he stretched, and offered, “Shall I wash your hair?”
“I would enjoy that very much. Then I will return the favor, Dír.”
The soap he used was a dull green. Haldir thought it smelt of pine, but Melpomaen said the scent was more like rosemary. Whichever it was, it lathered up well without being too harsh. Haldir used his fingers to smooth the foam through Melpomaen’s hair and then supported his neck and shoulders as he slid down to rinse, shadow-dark strands floating in the water.
Reversing their positions, Melpomaen gently washed Haldir’s hair. When the soap was all rinsed away, he raised his knees to hold his partner between them, supported, as he began to knead Haldir’s temples and neck. Golden hair twined about Melpomaen’s wrists as he massaged the taut muscles of Haldir’s shoulders.
Haldir let his eyes close and submitted to Melpomaen’s ministrations. There could be nothing so good as this, being held close in love by his friend, his partner, his lover. He sighed with pleasure.
As he felt Haldir relax, Melpomaen pressed more firmly, digging into the muscles and making them yield up all their tension. He knew with his common sense that the other would not, could not, ever betray their love, but the feeling that Haldir was now surrendered utterly unto him calmed the anxiety that lurked in one corner of his mind. He would love Haldir so well this night that Legolas could not even tempt him to regrets.
The tips of his fingers had begun to shrivel when Melpomaen decided that the massage had gone on long enough. He nudged Haldir. “Come, meldanya, time to get out of the water.”
Haldir pulled his thoughts back from their drifting, startled. He stepped out and stood, tranquil, letting Melpomaen dry him off and then following his lover back into the other room.
Melpomaen held Haldir in his arms and pulled them both down onto the bed, rolling over until he lay stretched out above Haldir, gazing into darkly dilated eyes. He kissed one eyelid, then the other, then – with a mischievous look – the tip of Haldir’s nose, before moving to a leisurely exploration of his mouth. They were both too relaxed from the heat of the bath to yet be fully aroused, but Melpomaen planned to change that as soon as might be. He slid further down and began to kiss and lick at Haldir’s chest, dipping into the space between arm and torso and inhaling the scent that was Haldir’s own, distinctive even overlaid with the herbal fragrance of the soap. He bit lightly at one nipple, eliciting a gasp, and felt Haldir’s member twitch against the thigh he had nestled between his lover’s legs. He pinched the other nipple between his fingers and was rewarded with another twitch. In response Melpomaen shifted his leg slightly from side to side as he ran his tongue along Haldir’s collarbone to the hollow of his throat.
Though almost reluctant to lose the sense of relaxed contentment that Melpomaen’s massage had given him in the bath, Haldir could not help responding to this new stimulation. When Melpomaen drew his tongue first around one nipple, then the other, then sank down to his navel, Haldir sighed and wriggled with pleasure deeper into the mattress. Soft kisses trailed all the way down his belly, until at last the warm wetness of Melpomaen’s mouth had taken in the head of his now fully erect organ. He could feel Melpomaen’s tongue exploring every inch, teasing at the slit, tracing the pulsing veins along his whole length, and finally lapping at the tender balls in their pouch below. The heat from the bath still saturated him, and his limbs remained flaccid and immobile even as the tension in his groin rose.
Once again Melpomaen traced up Haldir’s length before taking him in completely. His own member, untouched, had risen throbbing against his belly, and he rubbed gently against the fabric of the quilt beneath even as he concentrated on provoking every delightful sensation he could from Haldir.
With Melpomaen’s mouth enclosing him, Haldir began to rock his hips, thrusting past lips and teeth to the back of Melpomaen’s throat. When Melpomaen pulled back a little to breathe, Haldir whimpered, unashamed of his need for his lover. In a distant part of his mind he wondered how he could ever bear to give up such joys.
Melpomaen returned to his suction, rubbing the base of Haldir’s organ with forefinger and thumb as his other three fingers stroked the taut sac. He could tell that Haldir was nearly at the breaking point, and when the pumping of Haldir’s hips ceased, he was ready for the bitter mouthful that followed. This was not the only release he hoped to help his lover reach this night, however, and he moved back up to kiss again Haldir’s chest and throat and lips, reaching for the oil beside the bed.
Allowing himself to be rolled to his stomach, Haldir was surprised when Melpomaen began by resuming the massage of the bath, but now working most intensely on the lower back, using a bit of oil to smooth his touch.
Then Melpomaen began to lick and nibble at Haldir’s hipbones. He traced the line between Haldir’s buttocks, first with his finger, then with his tongue, repeating his motions until Haldir was spread wide beneath him. He lapped at the loose flesh, prodding gently at the round stones inside. Again he traced upward and licked at the puckered hole, pointing his tongue to tease it open. A startled sound came from the other end of the bed, and Melpomaen smiled inwardly at having tried this. He would have expected to feel a certain repugnance, but oddly, he did not. He knew he could not reach Haldir’s most sensitive spot this way, though, and so withdrew his tongue only to replace it with an oiled finger, and as the sphincter relaxed, a second and third. Rotating his hand, he nudged against the protrusion he could feel through the wall of the passage and felt Haldir quiver in reaction. He continued his slow stimulation until he could stand to wait no longer and had to let himself enter. He pulled his fingers out and quickly poured a little oil on himself.
Haldir had known what would happen, but when Melpomaen’s warm cock replaced his fingers, he groaned into the pillow. It was inexpressibly fine to be joined in this way – he felt that their bodies became one just as their fëar had – and when Melpomaen reached under him to see if he was excited again, Haldir had a wood-hard erection to show.
Melpomaen had paused inside, barely moving, when Haldir tightened around him. That did it – Melpomaen began to thrust, pumping his hand on Haldir’s organ with the same rhythm. The hot pressure as he slid slickly in and out urged him on. He climaxed hard, shooting his seed deep, still moving his hand, and a moment later Haldir spurted through his fingers. A few minutes of rest, and Melpomaen slowly withdrew. He reached over the side of the bed for the towel he had dropped there earlier, and wiped them both off.
“Lucky thing I can sleep late tomorrow,” he whispered in Haldir’s ear as they lay embraced, their breathing quieting. “Too bad you cannot!”
Haldir contented himself with kissing Melpomaen’s cheek before dropping off to sleep.
The next morning he disentangled himself with care, not to wake his partner, and after a quick bath went off to his duties. When he saw Melpomaen stride up at dusk with the rest of the night watch, his heart turned over, his lover looked so serious and competent in his uniform, but he could do nothing more than flash a smile as the guard was changed.
As he had half-expected, Legolas did seek him out in the common room that evening, where he sat among a group of Elves telling stories. Haldir was careful to tell none that might mark him as coming from Lothlórien, which limited him mostly to old legends and family tales. After an hour or two, the group broke up, some joining in the singing, two deciding to have a game of stones. (2) Legolas and Haldir remained alone together in the circle of chairs.
“Would you be interested in continuing our conversation of the other day?” asked Legolas in a careless tone, as if the subject in question had been what types of wood were best to use for different purposes in arrow-making. He was turned a little away from Haldir, and the lamplight cast shadows across his face.
Although the request came as no real surprise, Haldir was tired and had hoped to retire early this evening. But he heard a quaver in Legolas’s voice that suggested his captain needed – needed what? What Legolas thought he needed from Haldir was nothing the latter could give. Still he hated to see the other in distress, and so he said, “If you like. Here?”
“Not here, no,” Legolas flushed. “Although as I said the topic might be discussed here, it could only be in generalities, and tonight I am more interested in actualities. Why don’t you get yourself something to drink and then come to my room; you know where it is.”
Haldir nodded and rose to fetch himself a glass of fresh cider. He wanted all his wits about him. He paused to watch the stones-players for a few moments before yawning and casually leaving the room.
Legolas opened the door almost before he knocked. “Come in.”
The fire on the hearth was blazing and the room almost too warm for Haldir’s taste, especially since he was already weary. He sat in the same chair across from Legolas as he had before, and again as before, waited for the other to speak.
“Tell me what it is like,” blurted Legolas at last.
“What what is like?” Haldir knew he was being deliberately obtuse, but he was uncomfortable with this situation. He sipped at his glass.
“What it is like to love another binn, of course. How is it different from loving a biss?”
Haldir shrugged. “I don’t know that I can answer that; I have never been in love with a biss. Melpomaen was once though, or at least he thought he was. He might be able to tell you what difference he has found, if any. On an emotional level, at least – I do not think he ever had anything but a fairly chaste kiss or two with her.”
Legolas exhaled deeply, staring between his knees at the floor. “Did he? I would not have guessed. The way he looks at you, when he thinks none other can see. . . I have never seen anyone with more love in his face. How long have you two – no, I am sorry, that really is none of my concern.”
“How long have we been lovers?” asked Haldir. “Not long at all, only a few months.”
Legolas muttered something that Haldir could not catch.
“Nothing – oh, well, why should I lie? I was only saying that such seemed to be my luck, to have found someone that I might love, just a little too late. But I suppose it is not worth regretting. Forgive me, I seem to be terribly rude tonight, and if I offend you with my questions please say so. It is only that I have not had anyone to speak freely to about my feelings; I suppose I feel that you are safe, because you have had similar ones, and because you will not be here in Mirkwood for long. I may be your captain for a little while, but I will never be your lord. Do you mind, Haldir?”
“You may ask or say what you like, but I cannot guarantee that I will always be willing to answer.”
“I thank you for that,” said Legolas seriously. “Well. . . I suppose what I am most curious about is how you came to know what you are, and how long it was from that time until you found your bond-partner?”
Chuckling, Haldir said, “Questions I suppose I should be unsurprised at. I will do my best.” His face became serious. “I think in a way I knew from a very young age, but it was not something I could easily accept. Among my people, for one benn to love another is forbidden, except of course in friendship. I was taught – oh, not overtly, but through stories and songs and all that was said and left unsaid – that because when our ancestors awoke at Cuiviénen, each benn was paired with a bess, that was the way of nature, the will of Ilúvatar, the only proper course of life. I could not reconcile that philosophy with my own feelings, though; and so for long I tried to deny them. I was ashamed, do you understand? I don’t think I can convey to you how dirty, how wicked I felt I must be, just to feel as I did.”
“Shamed? That I think I can see, but why wicked?”
“Because if Ilúvatar does not approve of two binn together, then such feelings must come from the dark, from Morgoth’s taint upon the very substance of Arda itself. At least, that was how I felt when I was young, and for long thereafter.” He flushed. “Eventually I realized that it might not have to be so. Please don’t ask me to explain why I changed my mind; it is a story I am not comfortable telling you.”
“No, no, I won’t press you,” Legolas assured him. “So you knew from youth that you were drawn to binn, even if you weren’t happy about it? How did you know – did you dream of them, or seek out their company more than that of biss, or what told you?”
Haldir considered. “I do not know how I knew, really. I knew a number of biss, of course, as playmates and friends, but there was never any hint of a spark between us. Granted there was no spark with any benn at that time either! Dreams, perhaps, finally convinced me, though I felt more shame in them than pleasure. There was no one person for whom I had any especial desire, though, not until I saw Melpomaen.”
“How long was it that you waited for him?”
“A long time, Legolas. A very long time. I thought for more years than I want to remember that I would never find a partner, or form a bond, and I had accepted that. When I first saw him, though. . .” Haldir shook his head. “It was a complete surprise. We worked together, you see, but I never thought that it would be possible that he would think of me in the same way, as a bond-mate as well as a partner.”
Legolas saw the glow in Haldir’s eyes, and a fist tightened in his belly. “But eventually he did.”
“Yes. . .” Haldir looked up, one golden head facing the other across the hearth. “And so it may be for you, too, one day. Do not think it is impossible.”
“It is not that I think it impossible, but I am tired of waiting. If your people’s customs are at all like those here, most find their future partner in the second century of life, if not the first. Not always, but it is uncommon to reach a half-millennium unbonded – and I am rather older than that.”
“I, too. I do understand, Legolas. I wish – I cannot say that I wish myself unbonded to Melpomaen, for that is not true – I love him more than I can say – but I wish that you may find a similar fate. I sometimes think it is all chance, and then again I think that perhaps there is a destiny that shapes our ends, rough-hew them as we will. (3)”
“If so, I wish that I knew what that end would be.” Legolas sighed.
“Only Ilúvatar himself knows, maybe – that was a subject of endless speculation, always, whether he knows the precise future for each living being, or only the generalities of what may or will be. Although I have known some who can see it, a little.”
“Should you have a prophetic dream for me, don’t fail to tell it, then!”
“Oh, my dreams are unlikely to help you, but Maen has had a foretelling dream at least once, I think.” Haldir frowned. “It is hard to tell sometimes what is true foresight, and what mere coincidence.”
“My foresight tonight is telling me that if I do not let you leave soon, you will not rise in time for your watch tomorrow, Haldir, so best you go. I thank you, very much, for this talk; I hope that we may do it again soon, tomorrow or the next night? And perhaps with Melpomaen as well if you think he would also not mind.”
Haldir rose to go, and paused with his hand on the knob of the door. “I enjoyed it also. I will ask Maen if he would like to spend an evening with you, when he is not on the night watch. Rest you well.”
“A good night to you, Haldir.” Legolas watched the door close behind his new friend – yes, a friend, he decided. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair and tried not to think any further that night.
(1) The Elves in the Third Age of Middle-earth used a week (enquië) of six days for ritual purposes.
(2) Stones: I postulate a game rather like the Chinese “Go” or any of several similar games, in which players take turns setting stones on a crosshatched board and score points by capturing those of their opponent.
(3) A slight misquotation from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which Hamlet says, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.”
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.