“That was very good,” she said. “You have a real gift for music, you know.”
“I have?” Melpomaen flushed. “Thank you for saying so, but I fear you are too kind. My talent is nothing compared to yours.”
She shook her head. “Don’t be so modest. What do you call that piece?”
“I haven’t decided on a name,” Melpomaen stretched the truth. To himself he thought of it as “Haldir’s Song,” because he had been thinking of his lover when he composed it, but he was not sure that he wished anyone else to know it by that name, not even Dúlin who would doubtless reck little of the matter.
“Have you written it down yet?” Dúlin asked.
“Only the first sections,” confessed Melpomaen. “I’m not very good at writing your musical notations yet.”
“Well, the next time you’re here I can help you with that. I would like a copy of the piece anyway. Perhaps together we can work out an accompaniment sometime, maybe with tabor and gittern.” Her fingers twitched as if playing.
“All right,” said Melpomaen. “I had better be going not; it is growing late. I will see you in three days’ time, as usual.”
“Good,” said Dúlin, already bending back over the neck of the lute. “I will see you then.”
Melpomaen closed the door to her room behind him and leaned against it for a moment. He enjoyed the evenings he spent with Dúlin. It was pleasant to pass the time with someone whose friendship was simple and uncomplicated, based on their mutual love of music. Though the Elves with whom he guarded Thranduil’s caverns had always been friendly, he never felt there was the same level of connection as he had with Dúlin, or for that matter with her cousin Legolas.
Thinking of the captain, he bit the inside of his cheek. Legolas had inquired once more that day whether he and Haldir had yet decided if they would return to Mirkwood that summer, after completing their present mission, and he had had no answer to give. The two of them would have to talk again about it. Time was running out.
He wondered, walking down the corridor, if he should speak with Dúlin about the matter, to hear a relatively disinterested opinion. He believed she liked his company, but her interest in music was overriding, and if he left Mirkwood forever she would simply shrug and accept the inevitable. No – he did not think she would have much to say, one way or the other. He was simply looking for excuses to delay his decision.
He had been later than usual with Dúlin that evening, and Haldir was already in their room when he arrived, propped up in bed and reading in the yellow lamplight. He put the book aside when Melpomaen entered.
“And how was your evening?” Haldir asked.
“Good,” said Melpomaen, stretching and bending down to unfasten his shoes.
“Surely you must have played every song you know for Dúlin by now?” inquired Haldir.
“Most of them, anyway,” Melpomaen responded. “I was working on a composition tonight, too; that’s what took so long. It’s almost finished.”
“Oh? When can I hope to hear it?”
“Soon, I think,” said Melpomaen.
“I look forward to that,” said Haldir, and smiled. “I suspect my evening was not as interesting as yours.”
“Why, what did you do?”
“Played a few games of stones against Meneldil. He wasn’t a very challenging opponent.”
“I’m sorry,” said Melpomaen. “Was Legolas not there to play chess with?”
Haldir shook his head. “No, he had a summons from King Thranduil. Something to do with a trade agreement with the Dwarves, I think, but at any rate he wasn’t there.”
“Well, I will join you tomorrow,” said Melpomaen, taking of the last of his clothes and folding them neatly into the clothes-press. He slipped a loose linen sleeping-shirt over his head and impatiently shook his hair out from where the neck of the garment trapped it. He went into the other room to wash his hands and face and comb out the tangles.
When he returned, he sat on the edge of the bed next to Haldir and spread one hand out over the leaves of the book, which Haldir had picked up again and was reading. Haldir looked over at him. “What is it?”
Melpomaen sensed a certain irritation in his lover at the interruption, and therefore quickly shifted what he had been going to say, to try to tease him into a jollier mood. Putting on his most charming grin, he drawled, “Read me a stooory.” He fluttered his lashes outrageously. “Please?”
Haldir laughed, just as Melpomaen had hoped he would. It turned out that he was reading a narrative of the events of the war against Sauron and the Last Alliance, told, of course, from the perspective of the Elves of Mirkwood, which was rather different from that of Lórien with which Haldir and Melpomaen were more familiar. Haldir read a few pages aloud as Melpomaen listened.
When Haldir came to a lengthy description of the southern part of the forest, though, Melpomaen stopped him, saying, “We’ve been there, and I can’t imagine the trees then and now were so profoundly different.”
“Perhaps not,” agreed Haldir. He closed the book, but left his finger in between the pages to mark his place. Melpomaen grimaced a little to himself at that. He squirmed closer to Haldir on the bed and insinuated his right arm behind Haldir’s back, laying his cheek against Haldir’s chest. With his free left hand he toyed, apparently idly, with the hem of Haldir’s tunic, letting his fingers brush against Haldir’s belly.
Haldir was quite sure he knew what was on Melpomaen’s mind and was more than happy to acquiesce to the tacit request. He missed seeing his lover on those nights that Melpomaen spent with Dúlin, though he would never have stopped him. Even when, as often, they were in different groups in the common room, being able to look across it and see Melpomaen was better than his absence.
He shifted his posture so that Melpomaen’s fingers could reach the swelling shaft of his cock through the fabric. Setting the book aside once again, Haldir stroked Melpomaen’s head, lingering on the curves of his ears and the hollow of his throat, and then reaching further down to his chest. The cloth of Melpomaen’s night-shirt felt smooth under Haldir’s fingertips, but he knew that each fiber would produce its own sensation as it rubbed against Melpomaen’s sensitive nipples. He could see Melpomaen shift his hips as his desire was roused, but he could not reach that far.
By now Melpomaen had drawn up Haldir’s tunic and worked his fingers under the cloth of Haldir’s leggings, into the hot damp space between his legs. He slid his hand down Haldir’s rigid shaft until he could fondle the musky pouch below. He inhaled the familiar scent of Haldir’s body, a whiff of sweat compounded with the herbal fragrance of soap and something that was distinctively Haldir’s own smell, all overlaid with the more pungent aroma of desire. Melpomaen pulled his arm out from underneath Haldir’s back and twisted around so that his head was at Haldir’s waist, and his own hips hovered tantalizingly near Haldir’s head.
Haldir’s hands flew to push up the loose fabric of Melpomaen’s garment, exposing his groin and breathing warmly on the bare skin.
Melpomaen did likewise, so that Haldir’s leggings bunched around his thighs. Still half-clothed, they began to use their lips and tongues on each other, lavishing caresses on every inch of skin.
This had never been Haldir’s favorite position. He found it difficult to concentrate at the same time on bringing Melpomaen pleasure and enjoying what his partner was doing to him, but it was not something they often did. He held Melpomaen’s hips and moved himself a little to a more comfortable angle, so that he could take Melpomaen deeper into his throat.
He felt Melpomaen’s mouth on him with heat and suction and Melpomaen’s hand stroking his buttocks. Warm fingers slid between them to touch his pouch and shaft from behind. Haldir traced the crease between Melpomaen’s thigh and stomach, moving back towards Melpomaen’s groin so that he could moisten his fingers in his own mouth without relinquishing Melpomaen’s shaft. Then he reached around and pressed his fingertip just inside the wrinkled opening. He felt the vibration of Melpomaen’s muffled exclamation on his own cock and continued to tease until he was able to slip the finger in further. Without oil to smooth the way, he was careful not to move too vigorously, but nudged along the tight tunnel until he could feel the bump pressing against it from the other side, the place that he knew would bring the greatest pleasure to his lover. Caressing it, he felt Melpomaen become even fuller and more rigid in his mouth and increased the speed of his tongue, curling it around Melpomaen’s shaft.
Melpomaen had stopped the movement of his own tongue and lips for the moment in order to concentrate on the feelings that Haldir’s caresses evoked. As the sensations grew more intense, he let Haldir loose entirely and clenched his teeth, rocking his hips.
His lover’s thrusts deep into his throat brought Haldir close to choking, but he relaxed the muscles there as best he could and was able to take it without having to pull away to breathe. Suddenly his throat was flooded as Melpomaen spent, and he had to draw back in order to swallow.
Melpomaen heaved a great sigh and rooted his face between Haldir’s thighs once again, licking tenderly along the shaft and rubbing circles with his tongue around the swollen head. He circled the base with his thumb and forefinger and slid slowly up the length until his fingers met his lips, then drew quickly back down, repeating this until Haldir was gasping his name.
“Ah. . . Maen. . .”
He fastened his mouth yet more tightly around Haldir and stroked even more firmly. He felt Haldir’s fingernails digging into his thighs as his lover sought something to anchor him in the throes of passion. A twitch of the flesh under his lips was all the warning he had before Haldir’s seed spurted over his tongue. Melpomaen continued to lick and caress Haldir until he began to soften. Then he moved away and turned around so that their faces were close together.
They kissed, a long soft undemanding kiss, and lay back, replete. Melpomaen’s hand sought Haldir’s and squeezed it.
“I wanted,” began Haldir, just as Melpomaen said, “We should. . .” They both stopped, and laughed. Haldir said, “You go first.”
“I just did, didn’t I,” said Melpomaen, and grinned.
Haldir snorted. “No, go on. What were you going to say?”
“I was going to say that we should talk again about what we’re going to do. Legolas inquired today about it, and I could tell him nothing. It is only right that he should know soon; spring is nearly upon us.”
“A few weeks away,” said Haldir, “but you’re right. Actually that was what I was going to say, too; but you seemed to have had such a good evening altogether that I didn’t want to end it on a sour note, with an argument.”
Melpomaen took a deep breath, and said, “If it is so very important to you to stay in Lórien, then I will do so. I won’t even ask that we should leave Lórindol’s company, though if you prefer that, we can. All that I ask is that if ever another opportunity comes for us to make another journey like this one, that we take it.”
Haldir’s eyes widened with astonishment. “Do you mean that?”
“It is a great gift that you offer me, meldanya,” said Haldir. “I do not know what I have done to deserve it.”
Many things raced through Melpomaen’s mind as he looked for a way to answer. Haldir had been the one who showed him what it was to love truly. Melpomaen also knew that despite his outward confidence and undoubted skills, there was something fragile in Haldir, a yearning that might never be fulfilled. Whatever it was that Haldir sought, though, Melpomaen had realized that it could only be found in Lórien, among their own people. But he said nothing of this to Haldir, fearing that his bond-mate might think he had made the decision out of guilt or pity, when such was not the case at all. In the end, Melpomaen chose to offer to leave Mirkwood and not return because he loved Haldir, and judged that Haldir would be more unhappy staying in Thranduil’s service than he himself would be in returning to Lórindol’s company.
So he smiled at Haldir, and said, “It is not a question of deserving it, meldanya. Do you not think that your arguments could have persuaded me?”
Haldir kissed Melpomaen, saying, “Whatever you say, Maen. And I do thank you. I know how much you would like to return here. You are more generous than I.”
Melpomaen shrugged. “If I had not managed to get myself injured at a most inconvenient time, we would never have come here at all. I am thankful to have had this winter, it would be greedy to ask for more.” He thought for a moment. “But, if you are willing, there is one other condition, or rather, request, I would make.”
“Name it,” said Haldir.
“I would like. . .” Melpomaen hesitated. “I would like to invite Legolas to be with us once more, before we depart. If he does not wish to, then there’s an end to it – but I would like to make the offer.”
“If you wish,” Haldir said, “I have no objections.” His arms crept around Melpomaen’s torso and hugged him close, feeling him warm through the wrinkled linen. “Have I told you lately how much I love you?”
Melpomaen chuckled. “Yes, but you can always tell me again, Dír.” He rested his head against Haldir’s chest and heard the beating of his lover’s heart.