40. Looking Ahead
Melpomaen nodded, saying, "It will take some time to cool off." Suiting actions to words, he pulled his tunic over his head and tossed it, still inside out, towards his pack.
Haldir decided to take his shirt off as well, but as usual he made certain that it was right-side out and folded neatly before setting it down. His fingers itched to do the same to his partner's shirt, but he restrained himself.
They sat propped up against the pillows on the bed and talked as they waited for the evening breeze to cool the room.
"How much longer do you think it will take us to get home?" asked Melpomaen, tracing lazy circles on Haldir's chest.
"I'm not certain," said Haldir. "It will depend on how good the paths are, and what the weather is like, but perhaps a fortnight or three weeks. We will almost certainly have to stop again for further supplies. I doubt we will be able to stay in an inn again, though. We haven't all that much coin left."
"I see," Melpomaen said, adding in tones laced with regret, "This will be the last night we can sleep together, then."
"I am afraid so." Haldir reached to take Melpomaen's hand, and bringing it to his lips, kissed each fingertip before putting it down and nestling close to his lover.
Melpomaen looked down at Haldir's golden head resting against his chest, and stroked it. "Still, this is more than I had expected when we left Thranduil's realm," he said.
For some time they remained embraced, not speaking, reaffirming their love with the gentlest of caresses. The air had cooled considerably and the stars were bright in the sky when Haldir got up to light a candle and draw the shutters closed again. He began slowly to remove his remaining garments, one by one, folding each and piling it ready for the morning. Naked, he returned to the bed and lay down next to Melpomaen, who was still half-dressed. Melpomaen turned, propping himself up with his elbow. He ran his forefinger along Haldir's side from shoulder to hip before reaching down to brush across Haldir's groin. He watched as Haldir's organ swelled beneath his strokes, blood pulsing darkly under the fair skin, and felt an answering ache in himself, his own member pushing against the confines of his leggings.
Haldir looked at Melpomaen, his eyes dark under hooded lids, and said, "We did as I chose yesterday, Maen. What would you like, tonight?"
"Although," he added, the ghost of a smile on his lips, "I would prefer to be able to walk comfortably tomorrow, and I imagine you would as well."
Melpomaen thought about it. "I would like to watch you," he said at last, a little shyly, "and to have you watch me, as we each bring ourselves to release."
Haldir wrinkled his brow. "Are you sure?"
Melpomaen nodded. "Not at the same time, though. First you, and then me."
"All right," Haldir shrugged. "If that is really what you want."
"Well," said Melpomaen, "I might wish to touch you a little bit as well, if you would not object."
"No, I don't mind," said Haldir, his voice tinged with irony. He spread himself open to Melpomaen's gaze, his head resting on the pillows, his left knee bent so that the leg was tucked up with the foot against his right calf.
Melpomaen slipped off his clothing before he laid himself belly-down on the bed next to Haldir, his cock hard and throbbing against the sheets. "Talk to me," he requested. "Tell me how you feel."
Haldir bit his lower lip, but complied as best he could. "It feels strange, to have you watching and not touching me. My own hand is less. . . satisfying, because I know each move I will make before I make it." He licked his left finger and thumb and pinched at his nipples, his hips jerking slightly as he did so.
The sight made the blood flow hotly to Melpomaen's groin, but he did nothing for the moment, merely urging Haldir to continue.
Haldir released his grip and stretched his right arm a little to fondle his sac. "They are tight," he remarked, "ready. I wish your mouth were on me, or that you were inside me, filling me in love, but. . ." he trailed off. "I would be too sore anyway." He moved his hand back up and held himself again, his fist moving up and down his straining shaft, alternately covering and revealing the head to Melpomaen's eyes. "Or else I would like to be inside you. Instead I have to imagine it, the way you open up to me, the warmth and friction of it." His hand was pumping faster now, and he scraped the nail of his left thumb across one hard nipple and down to his stomach.
"I know," whispered Melpomaen, "and I love to feel you there." He rocked his hips, pushing against the straw-filled mattress. "But I am loving to watch you now, too, as you do this for me. You look so beautiful, Dír, in your pleasure."
The flush that touched Haldir's face when Melpomaen said those words made him still more alluring in Melpomaen's view, and he reached to put his hand over Haldir's, his fingers grazing the tip of Haldir's organ. With a groan Haldir thrust against him and spilled, thick fluid jetting up to fall in spatters across his stomach and onto the sheets.
Melpomaen slid down, the friction of the fabric almost painful on his needy cock, and licked at the bitter drops until Haldir was clean.
"Now, meldanya, will you watch me?"
Opening his eyes, which he had closed to enjoy the sensation of Melpomaen's tongue to the fullest, Haldir smiled and agreed. Melpomaen sat up, cross-legged, resting against the head of the bed, both hands at his groin.
"I like it when you look at me," said Melpomaen. "I can see your eyes moving, and it is almost as if your fingers and not your gaze were moving across my skin." He shivered and took a firmer grasp.
A memory struck Haldir and he said slowly, "You liked it when Legolas was with us, watching, too, didn't you?"
Remembering those few nights, Melpomaen felt the blood rush to his cheeks, and he slowed his stroke. "Yes," he admitted. "But I would not have, if you had not been there as well. Of that I am certain."
"I believe you; I just had not realized before that you took pleasure in that." Haldir looked thoughtful. "When we are home again, I wonder. . ."
"Wonder what?" Melpomaen was still recovering from a confession he had not ever intended to make.
"If this proclivity of yours will make things easier or more difficult for us, when we can no longer make love." Haldir shrugged. "I suppose we will just have to wait and see." He rested his cheek briefly against Melpomaen's shoulder, looking down. "Oh, yes. I don't think I like this as you do, but you are a fine sight yourself."
Under Haldir's admiring regard, Melpomaen found himself quickly back to a high state of excitement. He bucked his hips up and down, ignoring the swaying of the mattress and the occasional loud creaks of the supporting ropes. He knew that after the way he had phrased his initial wish, Haldir would not touch him unless he asked. Rather than saying so in words, however, he reached for Haldir's hand and brought it to rest on his thigh.
Haldir stroked Melpomaen's leg, running his fingertips lightly along the pale skin and up to the crease where thigh met torso. Melpomaen shivered and increased the tempo of his stroke, always aware of his lover's eyes on him, watching as he moved. When Haldir leaned over and whispered, "I love you, Maen," breath warm in his ear, Melpomaen's pleasure spilled over, pumping through his fingers.
Sighing, he leaned against Haldir, feeling his blood slow from its frantic pace through his body. He turned his head to see Haldir looking back at him. "I love you too, Dír. Thank you."
"You're welcome." Haldir smiled. "Do you want the towel?"
"Yes, please," said Melpomaen, and wiped the moisture from his body, tossing the cloth towards the table. He stretched out again and pulled Haldir to him in a hug. "Good night."
Morning came all too soon, but they had eaten the porridge and bread that Geleb provided and were on their way before the sun was an hour over the horizon. The ford was busy with a caravan of traders, Dwarves traveling eastward, and so the two Elves waited until they could make safe passage across to the westward bank. The main road continued west to the Misty Mountains; it was the less-traveled southward path onto which they now turned.
The morning slipped by as they walked with a steady, ground-eating pace. If Haldir felt any discomfort from their vigorous love-making two nights before, he did not show it. They paused briefly when the sun was high for a morsel of bread and a slice of tangy pale cheese, quenching their thirst with water from the river for the air was warm this day.
Haldir said, "I'm glad that we stopped in Stonyford for two nights, even if it did take much of our coin."
"So am I," Melpomaen replied. He wanted to say something more, about wishing that they could have stayed longer, but could not find the words to convey his meaning without sounding as if he wanted not to return as agreed to Lothlórien.
"Maen," said Haldir, without looking at him.
"No, never mind."
"What is it?" Melpomaen said. "Don't start to ask something and then not do it."
"I'm sorry." Haldir glanced sideways at Melpomaen. "Er. What would you most like to spend a day doing?"
"That's not what you were going to ask me before."
"No, it isn't, but it's what I am asking you now."
Melpomaen sighed. "Very well. What would I most like to spend a day doing? Are you talking within the realm of possibility, or in ideal circumstances?"
"I would. . ." Melpomaen began, but trailed off. "I'm not sure, really. Let me think for a few minutes." Half a mile further on, he spoke again. "At first I was going to say that I would most like a day to be spent just with you, making love."
"But you changed your mind?" Haldir pretended an exaggerated hurt.
"Not exactly," said Melpomaen. "I realized, though, that where we were would matter to me, because it would matter to you. You have made it clear to me that you think you will only be happy back at home in Lórien, at least now. Is that not right?"
"It is." Haldir looked southward, towards their home, and his expression was soft and yearning.
"So we would have to be there; but there is no way that we can be together as a bonded couple in Lórien, is there." Melpomaen stated it as a fact, not a question. "So it isn't within the realm of possibility, to spend a day doing what I wish to do, in circumstances that would please you as well. What I want would involve a change in all our family, our friends, the whole of our people perhaps."
Haldir reached for Melpomaen's hand and matched strides with him, leaning to give him a kiss on the cheek. "It would, I think, meldanya."
Melpomaen frowned. "But why must it be that way? I know, I know, that is how such bonds have always been seen by our people, as evidence of the taint of Morgoth on Arda. But why? The only difference I can see between love between two binn or two biss, on the one side, and between a benn and a bess on the other is that we as two binn cannot have children together. But not everyone chooses to wed at all, or to have children if they do!"
"I agree, you know that," said Haldir. "That is the one real difference I can see too, and it seems meaningless. When I was very young, and realized where my love would be given, I did not think deeply about it; I simply accepted that what everyone believed was true, and that to love another benn was wrong. It took many years for me to consider the matter more carefully and question why, and whether there was any real basis for that assumption.
"The Elves of Mirkwood don't believe it, not from what Legolas said, or what we saw. Which is not to say that I would agree with everything they think, either, not that the few months we spent there were enough to learn all their ideas. And as you know I did not want to remain there indefinitely, even if it were not our first duty to return with the message from King Bard to Lord Celeborn."
"But the fact that the Mirkwood Elves do seem to accept bonds between two binn, even if they are not considered preferable. . . do you not suppose that perhaps we could try to get our own people in Lórien to do so?" asked Melpomaen.
Haldir wriggled his shoulders uncomfortably. "I don't know. How would you go about it, without revealing our own bond and incurring rejection or distrust before we could accomplish anything?"
They continued to discuss the matter for the rest of that day and several following, Haldir always the more doubtful as to the possibility of fostering real change among their fellows even in the border guard, much less in the whole of Lothlórien. At last Melpomaen said in exasperation, "Do you not want to be accepted by our people, Dír? For that is what it seems like to me. Every suggestion I make, you dismiss. There will be risks, inevitably, but do you not think it is worth it? Do you wish to live so that we must always hide our true selves? I had not thought you a coward."
Stung, Haldir said, "I am no coward, Maen. I am only trying to be realistic and practical about this. What good would it do us – or anyone else like us – if we proclaim our bond openly and are exiled in consequence? Do you not think that a more subtle approach is more likely to succeed in changing minds?"
"I'm sorry. I apologize for calling you a coward, Dír. But I worry that if we try to be discreet, and keep our own bond hidden, we will simply be ignored. I do not think that we can expect safety for ourselves if we hope to transform others' ideas," said Melpomaen.
"I do not want safety," began Haldir, but the words trailed away. "Yes, I do," he admitted. "I know that our bond cannot be severed, but I do fear what could happen. You are the lodestar of my life now, and yet. . . I do not think we can be, or should be, all in all to each other. There is more to our lives than the bond between us. For me, my family is important. For you, perhaps it is your music? I saw how much you enjoyed working with Dúlin last winter. But the difference there is that I have only one family, and they are in Lórien, and there is no way around that; whereas I suppose that you might find someone with whom to play and study music almost anywhere."
"That is true," said Melpomaen. "I had not thought of it in quite that way before. It isn't that I don't respect your love for your family, but it frustrates me to feel tied to Lórien on that account, and yet see you unwilling to challenge the conventions of our people for exactly that reason. Because that is partly why you are reluctant, is it not? You do not wish to risk alienating your family, or bringing shame on them if they do support us?"
"Yes. I am afraid of what my parents and brothers might think of me," said Haldir. "So I am a coward, really."
The stars were bright in the sky above them as Haldir spoke, but his face was in shadow, turned away from the flames of the fire. "I love you, Maen, but I love them too, and I can't bear the thought of disappointing them, or being rejected by them, or letting them be scorned for my sake."
"So you would rather hide?" Melpomaen's voice wavered between contempt and chagrin.
"No, I don't want to hide, but I don't want to hurt anyone else either! This is who I am, who we are, that we love each other. We chose this, or accepted it, but have we the right to impose our troubles on others that we love?"
"But they should not be troubles," insisted Melpomaen. "That is what I am trying to get you to help with, to convince our kin that there is nothing wrong with our love and our bond, but you don't seem willing to even try to do that." He folded his arms, his eyes glinting in the flickering light.
Haldir threw up his hands. "We are not getting anywhere with this discussion tonight. Why don't we set it aside and talk again tomorrow. Will you take the first watch?"
Melpomaen agreed to that, and rose to pace the perimeter of their night's camp as Haldir rolled up in his blankets and slept. The thoughts of the younger Elf were heavy as he stood guard over his lover.
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.