10. To Grasp At Moonbeams Glistening
Chapter Ten: To Grasp At Moonbeams Glistening
"And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beechen leaves . . .
And doom fell on Tinuviel . . . "
Legolas looked about with the practiced, observant eyes of a Woodland scout, ever alert to danger as he trailed Khorlai through his private chambers. As might be expected for the ruler, Khorlai's apartments were far grander than those of his family and subjects. They proceeded first through a smaller audience chamber, then a study not unlike Thranduil's at home, with a desk for performing whatever business the monarch might need to do and shelves of books all round the walls. Bowing servants opened the doors for them at each step, and at each step Khorlai dismissed them with an imperious wave of his hand. "I think the two of us will wish privacy for this evening," Khorlai said, winking in Legolas's direction.
The bedchamber itself was larger than usual, consisting of a sitting area with divans and brightly colored cushions and the bed itself, plainly visible through a wide doorway draped in silk. Both rooms gave onto a large courtyard in which a huge fountain played. Legolas could hear the soothing sound of the water and see the glint of moonlight off the bubbling spray.
Khorlai sat down upon a sumptuous divan behind a low table and motioned Legolas to sit also. Legolas chose an overstuffed hassock, not the closest to Khorlai, yet not the farthest away either. He hoped it set the right tone for the evening. He still had his harp with him, and he let it lean against his leg, clutching it for security in the way he had clung to a little stuffed deer he had been most fond of as a child.
Legolas watched as Khorlai took up a decanter of red wine from the low table, but rather than pouring a goblet, he filled the glass chamber of a strange device that rested in the table's center. He opened a carved wooden box that lay next to it and took out a small cake of dark, resinous material, breaking off a tiny chunk and putting it into the bowl at the top of the device.
'Nuath!' thought Legolas, as Khorlai used a punk stick to transfer the flame from a small oil lamp to the material and drew air in through a long flexible tube. 'The adan is going to smoke!'
Sure enough, smoke bubbled up through the ruddy wine and filled the top part of the chamber with a thick, dark haze. The odor was nothing like the pipeweed which Legolas had barely come to tolerate out of fondness for Aragorn, being sweet and pungent, and it cloyed strangely at his nostrils. Khorlai held a second tube out companionably. "Do you care to?"
Legolas shook his head politely, trying not to sneeze and wishing he could move closer to the open door to the garden without causing offense. "Ah, no thank you."
"Then have some wine, Maitimo. I insist."
Legolas poured a glass of the thick red. "And you, my lord?"
Khorlai nodded. "Please. We may even drink the wine from my pipe when I am through. The effect is quite interesting."
"I daresay, my lord," Legolas responded. He sipped his wine carefully, making it last. He did not want to become intoxicated and lose the edge of his wits, and already the smoke had begun to go to his head. "This is an unexpected honor, my lord."
Khorlai laughed. "I wanted to give the rest of my family ample chance to enjoy you before sampling your exclusive company for myself. My sister speaks very highly of you Maitimo. And my daughter as well."
Legolas felt a flush creep up his neck despite himself. "My lord, the princess and I spend our time in conversation, song and games. No more, I assure you."
"Games indeed," Khorlai chuckled. "Have no fear, Nimru, I trust you with my daughter, else I would not have allowed her visits to you to continue. I shall have to find her a husband soon, though."
The king leaned back on the divan and took a long pull from the water pipe, holding the smoke in his lungs and then letting it drift out through his nose in lazy curls. "Of late my mind has turned to Gondor in this matter. What better way to turn a former enemy into an ally than through a marriage? Tell me, Maitimo, what do you think of this plan?"
Legolas took his time, answering carefully. "My lord, the princess Nimitha is exquisite. I cannot think of any among my countrymen who would not be delighted and honored to have her as a bride. But King Elessar already has a queen. His Steward, the Prince of Emyn Arnen has a wife also. Alas, there is no one else in Gondor who is of her station." This was not precisely true, Legolas knew, even as he spoke. Imrahil of Dol Amroth had sons, but Legolas was not about to help Khorlai break his daughter's heart by suggesting yet another prince to sell her off to.
"Indeed," said Khorlai, taking another long draw of his pipe, along with a sip of wine. "My sources tell me that there is another lord of high degree in Elessar's kingdom. They say Elessar granted land in Ithilien to a colony of Nimîr in gratitude to a brother-in-arms for his services during the recent war. Do you think this Elven-lord of Ithilien might make a good marriage prospect for my daughter?"
Legolas cleared his throat, for a small amount of his wine had gone down the wrong way. "My lord, it is not the custom of my people to marry for anything other than love, be they high or low."
"And you think this Elven-lord would not love my daughter?"
"I cannot speak for him, my lord, but I think he would find her enchanting. Yet in matters of the heart, it might not be enough. In truth, I fear it would be the other way round -- Princess Nimitha might find him lacking. No, my lord, I fear that marrying your daughter to the Elven-lord of Ithilien would be a very bad idea."
Legolas paused, while Khorlai studied him evenly and took another draw from his pipe.
"In fact . . . Majesty, may I speak candidly?"
"Why not?" Khorlai said, looking amused. "It is an honored tradition here in Harad to listen to the advice of our courtesans in matters of state."
Legolas colored a little but pressed on. He could not afford pass up his only opportunity to help Nimitha and Azrulbar for fear of being thought impertinent. "My lord, in matters of marriage, the Second Born are not so different to my people. It is not good to force the heart where it does not wish to go, and the kings of Gondor learned more than once that an unhappy marriage does not make a good alliance. Why risk sending your daughter to such a fate when your own court holds at least one splendid young man worthy of being her consort?"
Khorlai pursed his lips and blew out his draft of smoke. "Your words have wisdom, Maitimo, and the experience of my dear sister bears this out. A splendid man like, say, young Lord Azrulbar? He has visited you quite often, I am told. You seem to know him well enough to judge whether he would make a good husband for my daughter. Apt unto the begetting of heirs, is he?"
Legolas knew he must be blushing scarlet. "Yes, my lord. Very apt, and a much better choice than some strange elf whom you know nothing of."
"Very well, then, Nimru," Khorlai smiled enigmatically. "So be it. I shall surely take your words under advisement." He took another long pull of smoke. "And now I am curious, Maitimo. Is your body as lithe as your tongue?"
"I beg your pardon, my lord?"
"I want you to dance, Maitimo. Just for me."
Legolas looked around. "Without accompaniment, my lord? I see no musicians about."
"What about your lovely voice, Maitimo? Can you not sing and dance at the same time?"
Indeed he could, Legolas realized. There could perhaps be found somewhere in Ennor an elf who could not walk and chew a twig at the same time, but Legolas was not that elf. Had Lúthien needed harpists when her solitary dance captured the heart of Beren? Had her mother, Melian, required flautists other than the piping lilt of nightingales when her dance stopped Elu Thingol dead in his tracks in the starlit wood of Nan Elmoth and kept an entire people from Valinor?
Legolas was neither Melian nor Lúthien. His skill lay in the courtly dances to please the ladies of his father's realm. But he could do as Khorlai asked, and the memory of the two great ladies of his Grey-elven heritage gave him inspiration. He knew what he would sing.
Legolas rose and bowed low. "Aye, my lord. With your gracious leave . . ."
He kicked off his shoes, feeling the cool touch of the marble on his bare feet. With an effort of will, he imagined the touch of soft dew-soaked grass, under starlight. He cleared his throat and began:
"The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinuviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen . . ."
As the notes left his throat, Legolas began to sway his body, imagining the sinuous undulations of the lovely Lúthien, thinking herself alone in the starlit glade of her father's woods. Backward and forward, he circled lightly, taking care to avoid the hassocks and cushions in the way, but all the time imagining the soft grass of Nan Elmoth beneath his feet rather than Khorlai's polished floor. The song changed then.
"There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves . . ."
Beren, son of Barahir, fleeing enemies and mourning the death of all he had known and loved. Legolas put himself into a crouch, imagining himself wielding his knives as he fought unseen foes. He dipped and whirled, leaping high in the air and landing as lightly as a cat. Then he paused as if spying for the first time, the elf-maiden with golden flowers on her sleeves and hair trailing behind her like a shadow.
"Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening."
Khorlai's eyes had gone as dark as twin spheres of obsidian, as he lay back against the divan, wreathed in smoke. "You begin to perspire, Nimru. You wear too much. Take off your shirt."
As light as the silk was, Legolas did indeed find it overly warm. He undid the fasteners with fumbling fingers and tossed the garment in the king's direction. Tendrils of the sweet smoke wove their way into his nostrils and brain, and he felt dizzy. He shut his eyes to concentrate on the vision of Lúthien dancing.
Again, in the persona of the elf-maid, Legolas swayed and tossed his hair about him, feeling imaginary mists curl up around his bare toes. He sang the words he knew by heart, having heard them so often from the lips of Aragorn:
"One moment stood she, and a spell
His voice laid on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinuviel
That in his arms lay -- eep!"
Legolas let out a cry of surprise as he found himself brought up short in his dance, chest to chest with Khorlai, who had risen and approached him unheard.
"Beautiful . . . so very beautiful you are," he said and kissed Legolas full on the mouth.
The sensation of a tongue circling his own and the taste of wine and the strange sweet smoke brought Legolas back to reality very quickly. He almost jerked away, but the king's left arm had encircled his waist, holding him fast. The other hand dropped low, fondling him appraisingly.
"How disappointing, "Khorlai said. "I had hoped you would like me better, Nimru. But no matter -- I can change that." He claimed Legolas's lips again.
'Ai, Belair, this is going too fast!' Legolas thought desperately, realizing too late that his dance had been too provocative. 'Idiot, fool!' he silently chided. It was no longer possible to tactfully refuse the king now. Only one way out remained.
Legolas drew back slightly, looked into Khorlai's eyes and whispered the sleep-spell that had served him so well with Lord Huzun these past months.
The king's eyes lost focus for a moment. Then he blinked and shook his head as if to clear it. "Perhaps, Maitimo, you are unaware that some of my forebears were among those whom you Gondorians call the Black Numenoreans," he said with an enigmatic smile. "I have the blood of the Nimîr in my veins, and I do not count myself among the weak-minded prone to such fey influence. Not like my Vizier, who has seemed these past months to be incredibly well rested considering the considerable exertions he reports."
Legolas swallowed and stared, feeling suddenly very cold, despite the heat of the summer evening.
"In fact, Maitimo, I wonder if you are whom you claim to be," Khorlai continued. "I would truly hate to think that Elessar has sent me a spy rather than a courtesan. I might even find it to be a hostile act from a man who claims he wants peace between our lands."
'Ai, nuath, what now?' thought Legolas. Suddenly he recalled Barlomi's words to him: 'You will never be put into a situation where you have not at least a choice. I cannot promise you, though, that either choice will be to your liking.'
The choice lay before him plainly: fulfill the role of courtesan with Khorlai, now, tonight, or admit the truth and walk out. Assuming Khorlai would let him walk out without imprisoning and executing him for a spy. Even if he were allowed to leave, any chance for peace with Harad would be lost. In his mind's eye, Legolas again saw the Fields of the Pelennor, littered with the dead and dying on both sides. Such a cost in blood and life, versus . . . himself.
Barlomi had spoken the truth. Legolas would not be forced. He had a choice, but neither was to his liking. No, not at all to his liking.
"Well, Maitimo," Khorlai said quietly, running a finger over the mark of the Elessar tattooed on Legolas's chest. "Which are you, bêthnaru or spy?"
Legolas took a deep breath. "My lord, I am no spy. This, I swear to you."
Khorlai smiled. "I hoped that would be your answer. I would much rather be turning down my sheets than summoning my guards. This night will be sweet, Nimru."
He paused to undo the fastenings of Legolas's trousers, which slid to the floor in a whisper of silk. He stepped back to look, and Legolas could see the pupils of his eyes dancing with pleasure at what he beheld. "Ah, your name fits you, Maitimo, for you are well-made indeed." He took Legolas by the hand, leading him toward the bed. "Come, I have waited long enough."
Toward the bed . . . where he would soon lie with another man. Unthinkable! This could not be happening, Legolas told himself, and yet it was happening with an implacable swiftness. Legolas felt much as he had upon the barren plain before the Morannon, standing perhaps on the very spot where his grandfather had given up his life, wanting to run away, hide, be anywhere else. But duty held him, and promises made, and the need to protect those he loved, no matter what the cost to him personally.
In those last moments before the Black Gate opened, Legolas had steadied himself with the memory of his father's favorite saying, words which had formed the basis of his life: "Kings rule, and princes serve."
'Yes, Father,' he thought, gathering courage for what was to come. 'Yes they do.'
Legolas forced himself into passivity as Khorlai turned him and pushed him gently face down onto the bed. He buried his face in the pillows as he heard the rustle of the king's own garments falling to the ground and felt the weight of the man sink the mattress beside him. Naked limbs pressed against him, and hot hands stroked over his skin, moving down over his flanks and parting his buttocks. Oiled fingers probed his backside, easing, stretching. "Ahh, King Elessar has sent me a very rich gift indeed!" Khorlai exclaimed, raining soft kisses down upon Legolas's back and shoulders.
Legolas could not help tensing as the fingers were withdrawn and replaced by the tip of Khorlai's own flesh. "Have no fear, Beautiful One," the king whispered, his breath tickling Legolas's ear. "I am an old warrior; I know how to sink a lance."
'Oh, Aragorn, the things I do for you . . .' Legolas thought, as Khorlai pushed forward.
Khorlai was not a large man, and for this, Legolas was grateful, but even so, this was an invasion indeed! 'Breathe, breathe,' he told himself, trying hard not to clench his teeth or grip the sheets in his fists. 'You're a warrior; you've had worse. Breathe and it will soon be over.'
"Oh, Maitimo, you are as soft as rose petals," said Khorlai, when he had fully sheathed himself at last. "You feel so good to me, Nimru."
'Good for you perhaps,' thought Legolas as Khorlai began to rock into him. Was there supposed to be pleasure in this act? So Legolas had been given to understand, from the whispered comments of his fellow soldiers and from the scrolls he had studied. If it were true, he had yet to experience it.
"Easy now," Khorlai crooned. "Very soon . . ."
'Oh, Belair, yes, please let this be over soon,' thought Legolas. He did not know how much more he could -- "Ah!" he gasped as Khorlai brushed something deep inside, sending a jolt of pleasure shooting through him.
"Ah, there, I have found it," said Khorlai, adjusting the angle of his movements to hit this spot with every stroke. He reached around to the front, burrowing his hand in beneath Legolas's body to grasp already hardening flesh. "Now you begin to feel, Nimru, how sweet this can be. I told you I could change it."
Legolas made no answer, for he could not trust his voice not to utter the name of Elbereth under such profane circumstances. He gave a little sob of either pain or pleasure -- did it truly matter which? -- and buried his face into the pillow, surrendering himself to the sensation of being worked fore and aft.
He felt the old familiar feeling slowly building, as a burning tickle in his groin and lower belly, and without conscious volition, his body began to move with the rhythm, thrusting forward into Khorlai's hand and back to meet him. The king's breath was hot in his ear and against his hair, whispering endearments and words of encouragement. "Yes, beautiful Maitimo, yes. Let it happen. Come for me now, yes . . ."
At last Legolas could hold back no longer, and with a whimper, he spent himself into Khorlai's sheets. When he finally came back to himself, Khorlai had finished and withdrawn himself gently. The king lay spooned against his side, his hand absently stroking Legolas's flank.
"Nimru . . .?"
"Mmmm . . ."
"You slept for a time," Khorlai laughed.
Legolas merely sighed, too drained and overwhelmed to answer. He had no doubt his mind had gone somewhere else for a bit.
"Maitimo . . .?" Khorlai said, as Legolas felt himself drifting off again.
"Mmmmm . . .?"
"How long does it take one of your kind to recover your powers?"
Legolas struggled to recapture his scattered wits. "I don't know. Not long, I think." Truly, it had never been an issue before, but he could hardly admit that to Khorlai. "Why do you ask?"
"Because, Beautiful One, I have a fast and firm rule: in my bed, turnabout shall be fair play." He paused and kissed the tip of Legolas's ear, again stroking him in the front. "Ah . . . I see it will not be long at all. Truly, Maitimo, the night is still young, and I am going to enjoy this . . ."
To be continued . . .
'Nuath!': Shadows! (Sindarin)
Nimîr: Elves (Adunaic)
Legolas's song in this chapter is The Song of Beren and Luthien, JRR Tolkien, from Fellowship of the Ring.
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.