24. Tooth and Claw
It had taken Fire three hours to hunt down all the clues and receive the last parchment with the map. Strangely enough, the time taken from clue three to clue five, the map in question, took way longer then it should have. The ranger had come to the uncomfortable conclusion that the Idiot Elf was sneakier then previously thought. The necklace, that had come with clue three, burned a hole in her soul in a way she had never thought she could allow. It was a reminder of all the little niggling things she had been trying to ignore since she had stolen the Prince of Mirkwood's arrow, at the council meeting she had dropped in on. Her mind refused to concentrate objectively, when it flitted over the days and nights since leaving Imlandris and becoming one of the Fellowship.
Fire chewed reflectively on her lower lip trying to sort out just what had changed. 'Was it just unseen by me? Did everyone else see how the dynamics of the company had changed as Legolas and I continued to interact? Why did he act as he did when I was unconscious for four days? Celeborn had told me that Legolas had not left my side for the whole four day, except when forced. Then the elf has the nerve to get yell at me right after I wake, before tying me to my own bed! By the Valar! His eyes! They had blazed with fury, yet he held me so safe when I broke. Why did I let him so close?
Hellfire and Damnation!! I have finally fallen into insanity with a goofy grin and a bouquet of Hydra flowers! How in Arda did he know they were my favorites? Maybe we both were insane! He is the one doing death defying leaps to keep leaving flowers and fruits for me when I just bring them back. That is not a logical thing to do by anyone's standard. AI!! The damn dreams still haunt my nights. Does he have them still or is my mind just repeating itself time and time again? It is a good thing the elf does not know that I enjoying seeing him every morning!!
Call me perverse, but I can never seem to talk myself out of returning his gifts. He makes me crazy!! One minute I want to send him to the lowest pits of Mordor, then next I want him to touch me like he did upon my waking. I was sure my heart had stopped beating when he had looked at me like that and his whispered words still echo in my mind. "I have missed you." The words filled my soul with overwhelming joy and the gentleness of his caress was nearly my undoing.
His kisses send my senses to the four winds, weather with the gentle touch of lips like a butterfly's wing or the soul searing heat that spun me away to the stars when we slept our first night in Lothlorien's borders. I almost stayed to share the meal he brought last time, but my desire rose unbidden and reckless. The urge to touch him, kiss him, feel his arms around me, our bodies melding into one heat, almost became an obsession I was not sure of what I would do or say. Why can I not control these urges unless I turn them to anger or frustration? Why do I want him so? WHY?'
Fire shook herself, out of the depths of her thoughts, moments before she reached the clearing. Walking extra quiet in a bid to surprise the waiting elf, the ranger was pleased with the scene before her. A soft Elven blanket was spread under a Mallorn tree, with another folded one off to the side. Wine glasses, two bottles of wine and a bouquet of gold Hydra flowers lay within the center of the blanket. Looking around the glade, Fire caught sight of something that made her blood boil and her instincts to protect her territory explode into being.
High up in a Mallorn tree, sat Legolas. The why had, at first eluded her. The sight of the Idiot Elf perched in the tree took her breath away, made rabid butterflies swarm and cause her heart to stop then run recklessly full out. As the first giddy wave passed, Fire saw the cause of Legolas' actions. A bunch of branches below him, lay a large black feline. It was teasing the elf by, every so often, bounding part of the way up towards the elf.
Fire was blind, deaf and dumb angry! Moving on instinct alone, Fire dropped what she carried and shimmered in a bright blue flame. As clothes fell away, fur replaced it. Her body twisted in the flame as it went from beautiful female to vicious Feline. Coat of white splotched with silver shone in the brightness of the sun. Tail swishing angrily back and forth, Fire stalked to the intruder who had come into her glade. Who now threatened HER Mate!
Legolas saw the same, or at least he thought it was the same, white Feline that had defended Gimli from Haldir at their first meeting. Not quite sure if the arrival of the white Feline was a good thing or very, very bad. He watched as the new arrival moved ever closer to the tree he was now in and where the other Feline lay draped over a branch, waiting. The black cat suddenly took another playful swipe at the treed elf and that was all that was needed to enrage the white Feline to a fever pitch. A low voiced, growling challenge echoed across the glade and rose the hackles on the back of the elf's neck. The black cat swiveled its head in seeming surprise at the challenge, but then jumped down with an answering growl. The two cats circled each other in a deadly dance. Each cat a mirror image of the other in all, except coloring. With one last snarl, the white cat rushed the black in a blur of speed, teeth and claws.
It took less then five minutes for the black cat to back away and leave. Even in its fury, the white cat held back from doing any obvious damage, while the black cat had gotten in a few nasty cuts and the white one was covered in blood from a deep, but not even close to fatal, gash on her flank. Cautiously, Legolas climbed down from the tree's top branches to the glade's floor. The elf stood still awaiting a sign of what action the white Feline would take. The cat turned its striking gold eyes to the elf, then walked slowly closer. The cat acted as if it was trying not to frighten the elf and for that Legolas was grateful. He frowned as the wound was brought into more detail by the sinewy rippling of muscles along its flank. Deep and ragged, the elf knew it must be hurting the great cat terribly.
Guided by the inborn sense all Elves have towards all of nature and her creatures, Legolas reached out a hand towards the wounded cat. The cat stopped moving forward and stared deep into the elf's eyes. Something it saw must have triggered the cat's decision, because the forward movement began again and did not stop again until the furred head rested against the elf's thigh. Taking a chance to look at the wound better, he was pleasantly surprised to hear the Feline purr under his hands. The soft, deep buzzing of the purr coupled with the fact that the beast was now rubbing its head against his leg put him at ease. Moving with more confidence, Legolas checked the wound thoroughly before reaching to pet the head rubbing him.
Sitting down next to the tree's trunk, the elf continued to stroke his hands along the cats back as the cat flopped down peacefully at his side. They stayed like that for almost an hour, cat purring with elf stroking the furred back. Shifting to get a more comfortable position, the cat rolled slightly, threw a front paw across Legolas' legs and dumped its furry head in the elf's lap with a contented sigh. Legolas echoed the sigh of contentment and dug his fingers deeper into the ruff of fur at the cats neck.
Stilling his movements immediately, the elf tried to figure out just what he had felt. The first thought was a collar, but he pushed the thought aside for Elves did not treat animals as pets like humans. Taking his time, he again felt below the surface fur into the denser ruff. His fingers found, then grasped the metal piece he had felt before. Pulling it up and twisting towards him, Legolas gave a gasp of shock at the sight before him. The great white Feline was wearing the necklace that he had left at the silver smith's talan for Fire.
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.