Ilmarë sat on the floor next to the open trunk and stared at the wall. A letter dangled from her fingertips, threatening to fall from her loose grasp. After Ereinion had seen her to her bedroom and said goodnight, she changed into a nightgown then readied herself for bed, all the while thinking of her dream the first night on the ship.
It is not a dream…it is a memory,
she had reminded herself as she sat on the bed and brushed her hair, a memory of the day I left Valinor
– but a memory still shrouded in places. Pieces had come back to her over the past weeks, although the words Melian spoke before leaving the ship remained lost until Ilmarë walked back into this room and spied the chest sitting at the foot of the bed.
…There are things hidden beneath your belongings, things you will have need of. Do not forget, and do not open them until you are off the ship…
Melian and Thingol’s words echoed in her mind as she carelessly tossed the brush onto her dressing table and went to the trunk, pacing around it and chewing her lip. Ilmarë remembered now the discussion between the two voices on the ship, both speaking of defying the Valar. As is usually the case, curiosity soon won out over obedience, and she knelt down to unlock the metal clasp holding the trunk shut. When she opened the lid she found an empty space, as she’d expected. What she had not expected to find was a metal ring affixed to the floor in one corner of the trunk. She preferred the clothes in the trunks from Númenor and so this trunk had never been fully unpacked until Haleth and her helpers removed the contents earlier that day.
Ilmarë leaned over the edge of the trunk and reached for the ring, but before she touched the metal she stopped, quickly curling her fingers back up into the palm of her hand and withdrawing her arm as she sat back on the floor. Did she truly wish to know what was hidden inside, knowing whatever it was, it went against the orders of the Valar?
With a loud, exasperated sigh she plunged her hand back into the confines of the trunk and pulled the ring up, lest she have foolish doubts to change her mind again. When she pulled on the ring the floor of the trunk gave way and tilted to one side. A false bottom, she realized - a partition for a lower storage space. She lifted the board out of the trunk to set it aside and found herself looking at two fair-sized velvet bags. Other items shared the space, all velvet shrouded but varying in size, from a small pouch to a long narrow item stretching the length of the trunk. Ilmarë saw a letter lying atop the bags and she grabbed this first, her fingers working to quickly break the seal, and she began to read.
If you are reading this letter then you have safely reached Lindon and for that I am thankful. It should also mean that you have been visited by dreams and know who I am and why these items were secreted away in this manner. Thingol and I did not agree with the plan to send you to Middle-earth in this fashion. We feared for you and others here in Valinor feared as well. Those fears resulted in what you will find hidden in this compartment.
Aulë and his people send the bags filled with gifts, to ensure you are well provided for during your time away. Aulë himself sends the ring with you, made in his forges during the early Years of the Trees. He asks that you wear it always and remember he kept it safe for you these many years, hoping the ring would be put to its intended use. What that use is, he did not say. Linquendil gives the dagger to you. It is small and may be concealed if necessary. The blade has been proven, used by him in battle at Alqualondë. He hopes his gift will prove an unnecessary precaution.
The remaining gifts have powers of their own, contributed to their making by those who give them. The necklace is a gift from Oromë. Though the chain appears delicate - even commonplace – the appearance is purposefully misleading. No being of Middle-earth can break the chain and the jewel itself will shield you from harm. To draw upon its power, you need only call upon the true name of Oromë.
Had your memory not been taken you would no doubt recognize the sword, for it is the sword of Eönwë and will respond to none but you or Eönwë. You have but to wield it to bring it to life. He sends a message with his gift: that he expects his sword to be brought back by you upon your safe return. Lastly, Thingol and I send the silver collar for you. What pain and damage can be inflicted upon bodies of flesh we have seen firsthand and wish to spare you that. The stone itself heals injury, yet the power will diminish with use, so keep it well and use it wisely, my friend.
We all defied Manwë and the greater part of the Valar to do this for you. Thingol would have me further defy them by telling you all, yet I cannot bring myself to disobey the Valar so. I would have these last words to you be words of counsel: be on your guard and do not allow your kindness to lead you astray - choose your friends wisely. There is more to this task than you were told and in this hidden purpose you may not succeed. Though Thingol believes the Valar send you as a fatted calf to the slaughter, I believe a chance for happiness awaits you there in Middle-earth. Do not hesitate to take it should that chance present itself to you.
From the gardens of Lórien I will send you dreams. Watch for me in your sleep, my friend.
All my love,
Ilmarë now stared at the wall. Her dreams and memories scurried free from the dark corners of her mind where they had been bound by forgetfulness and she watched in silence.
Ilmarë ignored the tear that slipped from her eye and let it fall to the floor. Send me your dreams. I will watch for them…and I will not forget…
Elrond paced, his hands clasped tightly behind his back and his eyes on the patterned rug covering the floor of his library. He repeated his footsteps with each pass across the blue-dyed wool - up the row of golden stars woven into the edge of the rug and back down along the line of white clouds suspended above the silver moon. On most occasions Elrond deeply appreciated the meticulous detail the weavers had put into the rug, but not this evening. He only watched the patterns disappear under the soles of his boots as he paced, waiting to see if the repetitive action helped.
Despite the late hour, Elrond was not tired. Rest eluded him and the many glasses of wine over the course of the evening had done little good. Nor had the book he had chosen: a dust-covered volume describing the correct way to remove barnacles from the hull of a ship, going into tedious, yawn-provoking detail. He had finally sat the book aside and decided to pace.
Now the pacing proved useless as well. A walk outside in the night air will help,
Elrond told himself, opening the door to his library and walking out into the hall. Looking toward the stairwell, he decided to go in the opposite direction - telling himself taking the hallway connecting the two sides of the second floor was the quicker route. Also telling himself that his chosen route had nothing to do with passing Ilmarë’s door along the way. Upon reaching said door he had convinced himself to check on her. Elrond knew she was in her rooms. Ereinion brought her downstairs not long before and briefly stopped by the library to say goodnight.
Elrond rapped his knuckles on the wooden door and waited pensively. Disappointment filled him when he received no answer, enough that he took it upon himself to open the sitting room door and peer inside. Seeing the empty room, he sighed but he spotted the closed bedroom door. With the aid of a deep breath to fortify his courage Elrond walked across the room, now telling himself the worst possible outcome would be for Ilmarë to say she did not want company.
The light knocking on the bedroom door startled Ilmarë out of her trance. She rose to her feet and hurried to the bedside table, folding the letter and shoving it into the top drawer. As she passed the bed Ilmarë grabbed her dressing robe and threw it on, belted it tightly and then opened the door.
Elrond rehearsed his words while waiting for Ilmarë but she gave him no chance to speak them. Her face broke into a wide smile when she saw him and she held out her hand.
“Elrond, please… come in. I was just considering whether or not to wait until tomorrow to come find you.”
He looked at her outstretched hand hesitantly before taking it. He expected a far different greeting than this. At the very least, he had expected her to question his presence there.
“May I ask why?” he asked as she pulled him into the room and shut the door behind him.
“Because I wanted your advice.” She tugged on his hand and led him toward the open trunk at the foot of her bed. “I found items hidden beneath the clothing in this trunk and would be glad to have your help to go through them.”
More than one reason came to Ilmarë’s mind when she thought of going to Elrond’s room – she wanted him near to help alleviate her fear at knowingly disobeying the Valar’s orders and also because she hoped Elrond might discover her true nature. But, mostly because his presence comforted her and she merely wanted him there.
Elrond stood next to Ilmarë as she knelt beside the trunk, uncertain what it was she wanted of him. But when she pulled out one of the bulging bags, he knelt next to her for a closer look. The bag’s weight surprised her. After hauling it out, she sat it on the floor and untied the cord holding it shut. A small gasp escaped her when it fell open. Sparkling jewels and pieces of gold filled the bag and Elrond frowned as he looked into it.
“These things are very valuable, Ilmarë - surely you are aware of that. Where did this come from?” he asked as he picked up a piece of the gold and studied it. He replaced it and examined one of the jewels.
“Friends who wished to make certain I was provided for,” Ilmarë answered and pulled the second bag out to set it beside the first. A quick look showed the second filled in the same manner as the first, except for the small, engraved metal box metal sitting atop the contents.
“Well, I would say they were extremely thorough in their efforts,” Elrond said, watching her remove the box. “There is more than enough here to ensure you never need worry for money. And you say these things were hidden beneath your belongings? Why did they feel the need to secret them away? To keep them safe?”
Ilmarë shook her head, studying the small box. “No…this was done against the Valar’s wishes, or most of the Valar, at any rate. They sent me to Middle-earth with only what I needed, again to prevent interference. But now, after finding these things, I am led to believe it did not occur to the Valar I might need funds and protection.”
“Protection?” Elrond asked but Ilmarë did not answer for she had opened the box.
It held a ring, nestled safely in folds of silken gold material – a golden band perfectly shaped and polished, mounted with a white stone. Light tints of lavender and pink colored the stone and golden flecks and veins of brilliant red coursed throughout. Ilmarë showed it to Elrond and he nodded his head.
“A fire opal… and an excellent example of one. The red in it appears to pulse with true fire.”
Ilmarë slipped the ring onto her right index finger – a perfect fit.
“It was made for me; I was asked to wear it always, and so I shall,” she told him as she held her hand out to admire the ring. She pulled another item from the trunk and unwrapped it to find a dagger with a carved pearl handle held in a silver sheath. Ilmarë handed it to Elrond and he nodded his head as he studied it, running his finger over the picture of a high-masted ship scrimshawed into the handle.
“Many Elven mariners carry knives like this. Círdan once told me sailors always have need of a blade… Did this belong to a mariner?”
“Yes it did - my friend I spoke of earlier, Linquendil…he sent it for me.” Ilmarë looked at the silver blade as Elrond turned the knife over to examine it. Melian’s words came to mind, of the blade being blooded in battle and it disturbed rather than comforted her, as seemed to be the intention behind the information.
Elrond replaced the dagger in its sheath and sat it next to the bags. He watched Ilmarë take a small pouch from the chest and noted that she did not seem surprised to find a necklace inside. Pulling it out by the length of the chain, she held it in midair to watch the clear, faceted stone spin as the chain swayed.
“A nice necklace,” Elrond observed and reached out to finger the tiny links of the chain, “a bit plain, perhaps, but nice nonetheless.”
Ilmarë nodded in agreement but offered no comment. The necklace had no clasp, but she slipped the length of the chain over her head and the small gem came to rest just between her breasts. She looked down at it, wondering how such a plain thing offered protection worthy of a gift from Oromë. Elrond’s curiosity got the better of him and while the necklace distracted Ilmarë, he peered into the open trunk. He caught the glint of metal and pushed aside the velvet covering the long item in the bottom of the trunk.
“And this, I assume, is what you meant by protection.” Ilmarë looked up to see Elrond removing a sword from the trunk.
He hefted it in his hand, and then looked it up and down. The golden hilt had been fashioned in the shape of an eagle. A silver orb held in the clutch of the sharp talons formed the pommel. Four etched lines curved their way around it in a wave-like pattern. Elrond grasped the handle, his fingers closing around the eagle’s legs and body. Feathered wings spread gracefully from the handle to form the cross guard. The proud pose of the broad head formed the top of the hilt, its fierce eyes glaring with sapphire orbs. The silver stream of the blade emerged from the top of the head – the blade almost two feet in length with a furrow running the length of it.
A fuller they call this groove…meant to allow the blade more bend…
Elrond recalled as he ran his finger along the indentation. His finger stilled when he noticed the faint etchings covering the blade on either side of the fuller and he brought it closer for a better inspection of the writing.
“There is something written on the blade…it appears Elvish, although it must be a very old dialect. Some of the letters and words are unfamiliar to me,” Elrond said turning the blade over and studying the writing carefully. Ilmarë leaned over his shoulder to look at the blade.
“Can you read what it says, Elrond?”
“I can make out a portion of it,” Elrond pointed toward one group of words, “this speaks of the lord of the winds and air…” he twirled the sword back to the opposite side and pointed again, “…and on the opposite side of the blade refers to the children of Manwë, but I do not know what that means. It is said the Valar do not bear children.”
“I would not know,” Ilmarë said, leaning closer to touch the blade with her finger.
The barest touch of the metal bit into her skin. Ilmarë jumped and jerked her finger away with a quick, hissing breath through her clenched teeth. She stared in wonder at the wound on the tip of her finger. A wide, gaping line split the flesh; the cut edges of skin shown pale but in a heartbeat blood filled the opening and spilled over onto the floor. Ilmarë frowned as her finger throbbed with a highly unpleasant sensation but watched spellbound as the red fluid oozed from the cut.
Elrond hurriedly put the sword aside, took her hand in his, and examined her finger. Ilmarë continued to stare at the cut and he worried about her reaction. His skills as a healer had been employed many times. He knew some people reacted poorly to their own injuries, but this was not the case with Ilmarë. She simply did not know how to react for she had never faced injury in her mortal form.
“Does it not hurt, Ilmarë?” She looked at him blankly and he repeated his question. “Does it not cause you pain?”
“Pain?” A name for this unpleasant feeling…
“Yes, there is pain.”
“Then come back to my study and I will tend to it. But first I need something to bind it with…” Elrond started to grab one of the pieces of velvet cloth, but his voice tapered off when he saw Ilmarë paid no attention to him. A thought occurred to her and she reached into the trunk again, using her uninjured hand to remove the last remaining item.
She shook the velvet cloth free, the same cloth that wrapped the other gifts, and let it fall to the floor. She held another necklace, this one made of a thick silver band joined by a small silver circle. As she turned it over, Elrond saw a lustrous white stone in the center of the circle. Ilmarë examined the collar, unsure exactly what to do with it.
Melian said the stone held the power…
she recalled and touched it to the cut on her finger.
A faint vibration ran along Ilmarë’s skin and Elrond’s fingers tightened on her hand. It originated where her finger touched the stone and it flowed throughout her body, building into a hum she could feel in her teeth. Elrond felt it as well and his grip tightened as a shimmering vapor stole from the stone, obscuring their joined hands. A tingle trailed behind the vapor where it brushed along their skin until it reached their fingers, where it swirled in place. The mist hovered for a few moments then retraced its slow, creeping route back into the stone, taking all evidence of Ilmarë’s wound with it. Not even blood remained, save what had spilled on the floor.
Elrond ran his thumb over where the cut had been and the smooth skin showed no trace of scar. He watched Ilmarë as he pressed on her thumb firmly, and the worried lines on her face eased when she felt no pain. Elrond nodded, obviously satisfied with the results, and Ilmarë exhaled loudly, relieved the stone had healed the wound.
“Well…the purpose of that gift seems plain enough. It is an unusual property for a necklace to have, is it not?” Ilmarë asked. The healing properties of the collar did not seem to particularly intrigue Elrond and Ilmarë was disappointed, hoping he would use this revelation to reason out her true nature, as Ereinion had.
“Granted, it is not something I see often, yet I have seen enchanted objects before…even objects like this to aid in healing,” he answered, watching her closely. “There are those among the Elves who produce such things and I have been told there are those on Númenor capable of this craftsmanship as well. Why do you ask, Ilmarë? Does it seem unusual to you?”
“Well, yes,” she admitted reluctantly. Ilmarë reached around Elrond to pick the sword up from the floor to avoid his gaze. “But then even things that were once familiar to me seem unusual now. I am no expert but it seems like a nice sword…”
“The sword is exceptional… I have never seen its like,” Elrond agreed and watched Ilmarë hold it out before her on her upraised palms. She moved it up and down to test the weight of it and found it lighter than she expected.
She grasped the handle and held it aloft, turning the blade toward the light so she could study the markings. Ilmarë felt a tremor resonate within the metal and a surge of power raced through her body. Outside the wind stirred, its low murmur building to a raging howl. The balcony doors rattled loudly and burst open, slamming against the walls with a bang. The now-wailing wind announced its entrance by flinging rain and leaves along the floor, and sending a wooden chair skittering across the room. The bed curtains whipped in the air as the driving winds answered the summons of the sword.
Elrond ran to the balcony doors and Ilmarë looked down at the vibrating sword. Her eyes widened with fear when she saw the eagle’s blue orbs aglow with a living light. With a low cry, she thrust the sword away from her. It rolled down her open palm and struck the floor with a metallic ring, the echo filling the air in the room. No longer called, the wind left as quickly as it had come, withdrawing through the balcony doors just before Elrond reached them.
Elrond looked out onto the balcony and saw only falling rain – nothing to explain the violent gust of sudden wind. The light faded from the eagle’s eyes and Ilmarë picked the sword up, handling it cautiously. That her touch might bring it to life again terrified Ilmarë, but the sword rested lifeless on her palms. Was this a warning from the Valar not to break my word by leading Elrond to find out who I truly am?
Ilmarë thought worriedly.
She could not take that chance and decided it was not right to break her promise, not even in a subtle fashion, merely because she wanted Elrond to know what she was. If he were to know, it must be for a valid reason.
Ilmarë replaced the sword in the chest and covered it with the cloth, trying to hide her shaking hands as she did. She did not wish to handle the sword anymore, not until something of its nature was revealed to her – she felt it was not right to wield such power without full knowledge of its use.
“Now that…that is something I have not seen before,” Elrond commented gravely as Ilmarë replaced the other items into the trunk. She decided to wear the ring, and Oromë’s necklace as well.
“The sword brought the wind here somehow…Why did you drop the sword, Ilmarë? Did you see something?” When she did not answer Elrond sighed and picked the chair up from the floor to replace it near the balcony doors. “Then that is yet another thing you cannot tell me. Can you not even tell me who gave it to you?”
He saw the sadness on her face as she closed the lid of the trunk. “No, Elrond, I cannot. Although there are things about me I hope you will one day discover.”
Now perhaps Elrond should have taken what she said in the manner it was offered, but his concerns about her past or where she had come from fled his thoughts…Ilmarë kneeling before the trunk concerned him more. The discoveries he now wished to make were of what lay beneath her robe. She gave him a glimpse as she bent over the trunk. The collar of her robe gaped open far enough to show a hint of the gentle swell of her breasts and the sight captivated him. His racing pulse matched the erratic tempo of the rain drumming against the roof above and his eyes did not leave her as she rose and walked to the balcony doors.
Ilmarë stood as close to Elrond as she dared, uncertain if he had forgiven her for that afternoon. She wrapped her arms around herself and peered out beyond the balcony at the overcast night sky. Elrond turned to look at it with her. Both of them stood silent, their bodies taut with the tension of being close enough to touch, yet neither one sure how to go about it. The pattering of rain against the roof filled the otherwise quiet room, and the splash of it against the stone balcony just beyond the open doors.
“Why did you wish for me to be here with you?” Elrond spoke softly and continued to watch the rain. “I thought you would prefer to have Ereinion here instead.” It had sounded much less petulant when he’d rehearsed it in his mind, but there was nothing to be done now other than wait for a response.
Ilmarë looked up at him in disbelief, shaking her head emphatically. “No, I did not even consider going to Ereinion about this…only you. I enjoy his company…but not the same manner in which I enjoy yours, Elrond.”
That admission surprised Elrond - women always preferred Ereinion’s outgoing nature to his introverted quiet. He thought Ilmarë no less susceptible to Ereinion’s charms than the others. He turned and held her gaze for the first time since they’d reached Mithlond. “If you enjoy my company, Ilmarë, why did you refuse it on the ship? Why did you not let me kiss you?”
Ilmarë dropped her own gaze to the floor. “I told you at the time…I feared you would to come to regret it. Círdan explained the different rules that Elves follow concerning relationships between lovers when he called a halt to ours…”
Elrond breathed a sigh of relief to hear the regret she spoke of had been her own, but his relief abandoned him at the mention of Círdan. He interrupted Ilmarë.
“Ours? What exactly did Círdan called a halt to?”
Ilmarë looked up again, concerned by the demanding tone in his voice. “Our kiss. You see, the night I arrived I drank too…”
“Your kiss? Círdan took it upon himself to kiss you? And you allowed him to…yet you turn mine away?”
“He did not take it upon himself to kiss me, Elrond…I asked him to.”
“You asked Círdan to kiss you? And why would you make such a request, Ilmarë?”
Ilmarë’s concern quickly turned to impatience. “I am trying to explain to you, Elrond, but you continue to interrupt me with more questions. I will speak quickly but the explanation will go much faster if you would stay your questions until I am finished.”
Elrond’s jaw clenched and his frown did not falter, but he nodded mutely. Ilmarë undertook her hurried explanation before Elrond broke his silence.
“The night I arrived, Círdan and I drank far too much wine, and I asked him to teach me of intimacy between men and women. In all honesty, I would have asked him to teach me anyway for I wished to know the experience. But he made a wise decision and stopped. Desire affects Mortals more than Elves, I know, yet I see the wisdom of not allowing desire to lead your choices, as the Elves believe. Círdan and I remain friends despite his obvious regret for what I led him to do. After that night he acted distant toward me for days before his discomfort eased. His promise to help me forced him to remain in my company and so eventually he forgave me. Regardless of what he says, I believe he sent me away because of my behavior that first night.”
She lowered her head and whispered, “I did not want you to kiss me because of my obvious desire for you, and then want nothing to do with me once you realized your mistake. I would rather have your company in friendship than to not have your company at all. I feared you already wanted nothing more to do with me after I angered you on the ship.”
Elrond regarded her in silence for so long Ilmarë decided she had been correct about his anger with her. He touched his finger lightly to her chin and raised her face.
“You have explained and now I will ask my questions of you, Ilmarë. They require no answer but a simple yes or no.” His finger left her face and Ilmarë was disappointed, but awaited his questions.
“When you speak of wanting to know the experience…you mean kissing…someone?” Círdan’s name called images to mind Elrond would just as soon do without. Ilmarë nodded. “And this intimacy did not proceed beyond that experience of …kissing someone?” When she shook her head Elrond held back a sigh of relief and the pace of his heart increased as he asked his next question. “You say you have desire for me…is desire all you feel for me, Ilmarë?”
She hesitated, uncertain again. Elrond stirred feelings in her since first sight and despite the other events of the day, those feelings dominated Ilmarë’s thoughts. While she knew no name for them yet, it was more than desire. The need to have Elrond touch her or kiss her was certainly there, accompanied by a feeling of comfort and ease – a feeling of everything being put to right.
Elrond worried about the length of time she took to consider his words until she slowly shook her head. His heart skipped to think of Ilmarë returning his feelings for her – at last admitting those feelings to himself. His tension now returned with even greater intensity, brought on by his anticipation. Although Elrond could not attempt to kiss her again…not yet.
“I was not angry with you…well, perhaps I was…but only at your refusal. I wished to kiss you - not because of your desire for me, but because of mine for you. Although I hold more than just desire for you, Ilmarë.” He paused for a moment, not especially keen to speak of the matter on his mind, yet also not wanting Ilmarë to carry needless guilt.
“For Círdan to call a halt to your experience…it shows his respect for you and that he did not want to treat you ill. I have no doubt his behavior in the days following was due to uncertainty of how you felt toward him, not anger. He could have been attempting to maintain his control with you. Elves may have a greater ability to control their desire than mortals, but Elves do feel its temptation and have difficulty controlling it at times. Círdan’s friendship with you has little to do with his promise to help.”
The look on Ilmarë’s face told Elrond she still doubted more clearly than if she had spoken it. “If I promise to help with your task, would that dispel your fears?”
This required more than a simple yes or no answer. “Elrond, I do not want you to feel forced into a promise like that. It is not a fair thing to ask…”
Elrond stepped closer to Ilmarë and held her face gently between his hands. “You do not ask it…I offer it willingly. I am forced into nothing. Promise or no, I would do all that I could to help you. But I do promise… regardless of what happens between us, I will always aid you in this task, for as long as you need me. Even if you wish for me to never touch you again and you reject my advances. I will have no regrets, Ilmarë…for this promise or anything else.”
Ilmarë closed her eyes as Elrond ran his thumbs lightly over her skin. Her mortal body demanded its price again and plagued her with its racing heart and tingling skin. She could not even form a valid argument to Elrond’s promise - not while her mind swam with the light-headedness caused by his fingers tracing slow circles on her cheeks. She still doubted what he said, yet Ilmarë cared very little at that point. She wanted only his kiss and his touch, and what price she paid to have it did not matter.
Her heavy lids opened to look into his earnest grey gaze. Ilmarë whispered, “I have thought of little other than your touch from the moment I first saw you, Elrond…I would not be so foolish as to turn it away a second…”
But Elrond needed to hear no more. The gentle pressure of his lips upon hers silenced her, and everything…the world, her breath, her heart…stopped in the instant his mouth brushed against hers.
Elrond’s entire being had been bound in a small, confined box during the long centuries alone, and Ilmarë’s soft hands threading into his hair razed those boundaries. She pulled him closer as her body pressed against his.
His arm fell to her waist and held her tightly. His hand on her face caressed her skin as tenderly as his lips caressed her mouth. Ilmarë’s tongue began a soft, tentative exploration of his lower lip and his fingers tightened suddenly as he drew in a sharp breath. Elrond opened his mouth and eagerly met her tongue with his own. Each time his tongue filled her mouth Ilmarë strained to push herself closer against him, driven by the feeling that some touch…some contact still eluded her. His back met with the balcony door but he paid little heed to it. His hand left her face and joined the other to travel the length of her back, stopping to grasp her shoulders tightly.
He drug his mouth from hers and between her labored breaths, Ilmarë moaned in disappointment but it ended in a moan of pleasure. The pressure of his lips flooded her body with burning waves as Elrond’s mouth found the sensitive skin of her neck. His tongue joined in, the skin of it slightly rough after the soft skin of his lips, and Ilmarë clenched her fingers in his hair, both to pull his mouth closer and to help her stay upright despite her spinning head. Elrond gently pulled her skin into his mouth to run his tongue across it. Dizzy from the pleasure and her rapid breathing, Ilmarë let her head fall to the side. Elrond took advantage of this, moving his mouth to the opposite side of her neck as he began his quest of her skin anew.
Through the bombarding sensations, Ilmarë noticed Elrond’s hand making a slow passage down her back then moving along her waist. His hand paused on her stomach and caressed the skin there before moving higher, hesitantly toying with the skin covering her ribs. Even with her limited experience Ilmarë realized Elrond was trying to work up courage.
She removed one of her hands from its tangled nest in his hair and covered his hand with it. Elrond stiffened, expecting her to push his hand away, and his lips stilled against her neck as Ilmarë slid his hand slowly up her stomach, guiding it beneath the silken material of her robe. His hand covered the fullness of her breast and she tightened her fingers around his, encouraging him – but Elrond needed no encouragement now. His fingers began to softly knead the firm skin and Ilmarë’s hand dropped away. She felt the warm brush of his breath on the skin of her neck as he groaned. His thumb brushed back and forth against the firm tip beneath her nightgown and Ilmarë jumped in surprise just before her soft groan joined his.
The heat raged in her stomach and spread downward. Ilmarë used all the effort in her boy to stop her hips from moving, although her clenching muscles fought fiercely. Elrond could not continue, regardless of how badly she longed for him to….
“Elrond…we must stop…” Ilmarë managed to force out between her gasping breaths, “my restraint will not hold much longer…”
But Elrond’s passion had never before been allowed such freedom and did not wish to surrender its reign. In a swift movement he turned and the weight of his body pressed Ilmarë against the balcony door as his mouth took hers again. His fingers explored her breast and his demanding tongue drove all thought of protest from her mind. Elrond raised his head and his heated, searching gaze caught her off guard.
“Not yet, Ilmarë…” he pleaded softly, “please…do not make me stop yet.”
Her heart leapt painfully at the passion burning in his flushed face. Even had she wished to, she could refuse him nothing.
Her yearning look answered him and to see it so plainly only increased his need for her. He quickly untied the belt of her robe and his lips returned to her neck, lingering on the skin there before moving down her chest as he pushed the front of her robe open. Ilmarë leaned her head back against the door and closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of his lips against her skin once more. Elrond moved the robe aside to bare her shoulder and then slipped a finger beneath the strap of her gown, gently sliding it down to join the robe. The cool night air chilled her exposed breast just before Elrond’s warm mouth covered it.
Ilmarë cried out loudly in surprise and passion as Elrond ran his tongue across the tip of her breast. She lacked the strength to keep her body still and now her hips clenched and strained. Ilmarë followed her body’s will and allowed it to rub against Elrond’s in hopes of sating this overpowering need. She cried again as he pulled the tip into his mouth once more and ran his tongue around it.
“Elrond, please…” she begged breathlessly, although she could not have said for what she begged.
He raised his head and saw the desperate look on her face as her body continued to grind against his. Guilt filled Elrond; he knew her control to be less than his own, such as it was, and he selfishly pushed Ilmarë to this point. The need throbbed within his body and he fought the desire to carry Ilmarë to the bed and take her the way she begged him to. But this could not happen yet…not this way. He held her face and kissed her gently until her body stilled and her breathing slowed.
“Forgive me, Ilmarë,” Elrond said softly as he continued to kiss her cheeks and lips, “I should have stopped when you asked.”
Ilmarë shook her head. “No, Elrond…you regret nothing, nor will I. You gave me more pleasure than I thought possible. I would not have forgone that.” He smiled and gave her another round of gentle kisses. When he finished, Ilmarë spoke again, though she feared what she said would break some rule of accepted manners.
“Elrond…this unfulfilled yearning leads me to believe more pleasure lies ahead …” She swallowed nervously but forced herself not to lower her eyes. “I would share that greater pleasure with you…if it was what you wanted also…” Elrond’s face creased into a frown and Ilmarë immediately regretted her rash impulse.
“Oh…I should not have said that to you,” Ilmarë said quickly, lowering her eyes. “I am sorry. When you said you felt more for me than desire, I thought…I mean, I should have known you did not speak of love. Please, overlook my inexperience with such things.”
When Círdan said he did not love her, Ilmarë had not understood why anyone, woman or man, would be upset to hear those words said. Now she understood very well. Where as a few moments ago the pleasure Elrond gave her buoyed her heart, now her heart was squeezed brutally enough to wrench tears from her. To think this feeling for Elrond could be some form of love had been foolish.
Elrond wanted the thought to stun him or leave him aghast, but in his heart he knew this very thought had kept him awake and pacing his study all evening. To see the awe in Ilmarë’s eyes when she met Ereinion crushed Elrond, and to know she enjoyed Ereinion’s company while he sat downstairs alone and thought of little else but Ilmarë had unsettled Elrond. Could he possibly love her? If he did, Elrond was not prepared to consider so soon.
Her mortality separated them – an impassable gulf. The gulf could be bridged for a time if he were willing to accept a limited relationship of love and physical pleasure, something to reach its end when she left Middle-earth…or when she died. The thought of staying with her frightened him – almost as much as the thought of walking away from her.
But he could tell Ilmarë none of this yet. No…he wanted to take away her hurt, not cause her more.
“Ilmarë, you say Círdan told you of the different beliefs of the Elves. Then did he tell you the ways of the Noldor and their beliefs?”
His fingers continued to hold her face and caress it, but they gave no comfort. Ilmarë forced her tightening throat back open enough to speak.
“Then you hold to the belief that to share your body with another signifies marriage?”
Melian married Thingol, but the Valar granted permission for that. Ilmarë knew enough from the tales she had been told to understand a Maiar marrying outside their Order was a thing not often allowed, and never undertaken without leave. To live with this desire for years until at last she returned to Valinor was something the weakness of her mortal body would not allow. Elrond’s voice interrupted her dire thoughts.
“I have lived among the Noldor almost all my life and I was raised in their ways, but most of my blood is of Sindarin descent, and the Grey Elves do not hold to that belief. I have never been given a reason to decide between the two until now.” Ilmarë raised her eyes at last and he smiled to see the hope in them. “My feelings for you give me reason to choose, Ilmarë, and my hope is that your feelings for me are enough that you will give me time to make that decision.”
He had not spoken of love, but he clearly felt strongly about her and that was enough for the time being. “What I feel for you is enough to allow for time, Elrond…yet…will you forgo my company in the mean time? Until you decide?”
“No, Ilmarë, I could not do that. I will spend all my free time with you, if you will allow it.”
She finally returned his smile and he noticed her discreet efforts to cover herself. He reached to help and his body stirred at the sight of her bare breast just before the thin material hid it from his view. His fingers left the strap of her gown and he slid them across her chest, taking his time to enjoy her soft skin. The control gained over his desire faltered, and Elrond slowly leaned forward to take Ilmarë’s mouth once more.
Ilmarë’s jaw clenched and her mouth began to open reflexively. Her hand flew up to cover her mouth, a useless effort to stifle the growing yawn. Her body realized its fulfillment had been denied once again and now demanded sleep. Ilmarë’s eyes flew shut and her jaw spread wider and wider until at last her lungs drew in a deep breath and forced it back out. She dropped her hand as she opened her eyes to look at Elrond.
“Elrond…I am sorry.” Ilmarë spluttered in her embarrassment, certain yawning during a kiss did nothing to further Elrond’s desire for her.
He laughed and gave her a quick kiss. “I prefer to find out early on the effect my presence truly has on you.” Her embarrassment eased as she joined in his laughter and he said, “I should go now and let you sleep.”
He pulled away and Ilmarë panicked and grabbed his arms. “No, Elrond, do not go. I want you to… that is, if you would not mind…would you stay here with me?”
“That is not a good idea, Ilmarë.”
“Why not? We are both still dressed and we can sleep above the covers.” Ilmarë attempted a light tone of voice as she pointed toward the bed, but failed miserably. She openly pleaded with Elrond. “Please, stay…it is a selfish thing, I know, but I do not want you to leave. If the temptation becomes too much for either of us, you can leave and I will not stop you. But I have to say I am weary enough to fall asleep with no delay.”
Elrond studied her as he considered her words. What she said made sense, or it seemed to - he had the sneaking suspicion it made sense to him because he did not want to leave. Elrond soon decided he did not care. Right or wrong, he wanted to be with her and so he would not be.
“If you are certain, then I will stay.”
Ilmarë led him to the bed and pull back the topmost blanket. She climbed onto the bed and held out her hand for Elrond to join her. And join her he did, sitting on the edge the bed to quickly pull off his boots before he had time to change his mind. He slid beneath the blanket to lie beside her, facing Ilmarë where she rested her head on the pillow. As he returned her stare, Elrond saw her eyes drift shut. She fought to keep them open and continue watching him. He pulled her close and tucked her head beneath his chin. Ilmarë curled against his side, rubbing her face against Elrond’s chest as she breathed in the scent of him and sighed contentedly.
“Thank you for staying, Elrond.” Her voice sounded slow and distant. “Many nights since I arrived I lay in bed at night, waiting for sleep and feeling very alone. I do not feel alone when you are near.”
He smiled to hear her voice tapering off and he kissed the top of her head. “Sleep, Ilmarë…I am here and you are not alone.” Nor am I
Elrond thought as he listened to her slow, deep breathing and tightened his arms around her.
Elrond lay awake for a while, enjoying holding her in his arms and having her body near. His eyes soon drifted shut as well and his deep, even breathing joined Ilmarë’s as they slept.
Enchanted items: All of these were thrown in there for specific future reasons. The silver collar is straight from the books.
Fuller: This is what the furrow on a sword is really called. I thought it was a ‘blood groove’ but I had a swordmaker tell me I was very wrong. He said some blades will have more than one fuller to give the blade more flexibility.
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.