2. For the Love of a Prince
On what was to become a fateful for day for me, the late afternoon sunshine filtered through the remaining foliage of the largest mallorn, which had borne the suite of rooms that had housed my lord and lady and served as an administrative center as well. The enhanced talan had been taken apart over the course of a few days, requiring the largest workforce we had yet brought together on one site. The wide, winding staircase had been disassembled step-by-step during the course of one day's work alone. A handful of workers, including Lord Celeborn, found themselves perched in the empty tree at the end of the last work session. One by one the workers climbed down a rope ladder dangling from the top. Celeborn waited until the last elf had safely reached the bottom before beginning his descent. I kept a careful eye on him, as he had watched the others, on the off chance something might go wrong. Something did.
One of the rungs of the ladder broke beneath his heavy work boot; the force with which he hit the next step broke that one as well. Suddenly his feet swung free of the rungs and he was sliding toward the ground hanging onto one side of the rope with both hands, flailing with his legs to try to catch hold of the ladder with his feet and slow his rapid plunge. I positioned myself close to the tree and stood there waiting to break his fall, thanking the Valar that he was wearing thick, padded leather work gloves, otherwise his palms would have been shredded. When he hit me, it was with enough force to knock us both onto the ground. The wind was all but forced out of us. Celeborn broke out in loud whoops of laughter and I began to snigger like a fool. When he managed to stop laughing, he didn't move but just lay there flat on top of me breathing heavily, apparently unable to move.
Celeborn is slender, but taller than I am, and muscular. With his entire body bearing down upon mine he felt as heavy as a horse. He must have been aware of that, or perhaps I grimaced. He tried to support part of his weight by pushing himself up onto his elbows, but his arms still trembled. A silken swath of his silver-blond hair came partially loose and fell across my neck and jaw. I could feel his breath upon my lips and found myself looking into his storm-grey eyes. His mouth curved into a slow, lazy smile. Paralyzed by the closeness of his uncanny beauty, I could do nothing but stare. If there had not been a circle of shocked workers standing about staring at us, I probably would have kissed him then.
I have thought of that moment since, thousands of times, and presumed that I must have been gaping open-mouthed. If that were not embarrassing enough, I was horrified to feel myself hardening under the exquisite pressure of his body. His arms wobbling wildly, he allowed himself to collapse upon me again.
"Oops," he said, rubbing his thigh against the hardness at my crotch, whether intentionally or by accident I never knew for sure, he managed to roll off me onto his side. He didn't move away.
"I suppose I should say I'm sorry," he whispered. The seduction in his voice would have been unmistakable enough, but the swipe of a wet tongue against my ear was a surprising confirmation indeed.
I started laughing aloud again. Celeborn managed to push himself up into a half-sitting position.
"We're fine, lads. You can leave us here," he said. "We'll just catch our breath and be along shortly."
My brother, Orophin, did not look amused, but my younger brother, Rumil, looked as though he could barely keep himself from joining me in my near hysterical chortling. After some shuffling about, gathering up of packs and tools, and a few reluctant, mumbled farewells, the work crew at last ambled off through the trees, away from what had so recently been the city center.
As soon as they were out of sight, Celeborn said, "Damn, Haldir. I thought they'd never leave." He pulled me into a rough, mind-exploding kiss. "I've been wanting to do that for days. But I swear to you I did not pull that stunt intentionally."
"My lord . . ." I choked.
"Do not tell me you didn't want to be kissed. Do you think I am blind or insensate?"
"No, my lord. I do not."
"Enough with the 'my lords.' If we are going to make love, then I can't have you calling me 'my lord' can I?"
"Suppose not," I said aloud, while thinking, 'Make love? Yes! Thank you, Elbereth!' Pulling him back down on top of me, I fastened my mouth upon his, determined to give him a taste of the searing need he ignited in me with his kiss. I do not know if I succeeded, since I am not gifted in communication by thought, but he did respond with enthusiasm. For a long while we kissed before our hands sought contact with bare skin. Celeborn pushed my tunic down, unlaced against the midday heat, exposing my shoulder, kissing, licking and biting, driving me mad with desire. I reached immediately under his tunic to run my fingertips around the waist of his trousers, my intent to torment him with the idea of me reaching inside.
"Ah, Haldir, your skin is so warm. You smell of summer and fresh cut grass, so intoxicating. Do you know how long I've watched you and wanted to touch you like this?"
I wanted to make a cheeky comeback, something like: 'How long?' But, as much as I wished to match him in his audacity, I could not say a word. Of course, I had never thought of my lord in that way. The separation of our stations, my loyalty to his lady, and my obsession with my duty had overridden any flickering awareness I might have had of his allure. I traced the cunning arch of a cheekbone unable to halt the tremors in my fingers, hoping against hope that my face did not reveal what a besotted simpleton I had turned in an instant.
If one has only ever seen Celeborn across a crowded room, or in a clearing from a distance, one can have no true idea of the extent of his splendor: his creamy skin, the fine-boned perfection of his facial structure, his sharply masculine scent, his clean, fresh taste, the generous sensuality of his mouth. Lovely as any woman, he rivals his wife in fairness of features--there was an old jest, that she had married him for his looks--yet, nonetheless, he exudes a fierce careless masculinity, secure within himself, the product of a lifetime as a prince, a lord of his people, and a warrior dating back to before the end of the Great Journey.
I felt a neophyte, a callow youth by comparison, even a coarse buffoon. For most of my life, women and men alike had called me notably handsome among the Galadhrim. Faced with his elegance, I felt like a cheap bauble alongside the finest of gemstones. Overcome by my nearness to him, by all that he was and symbolized for me, I could only worship and hopelessly moan as he coaxed my body into a frenzy of unreasoning need.
We did not take our pleasure at the foot of that giant mallorn, but staggered back to the modest talan where he had resided for several months.
I had never sniffed out the barest whiff of a rumor that he ever had intimate relations with anyone besides our lady, but he clearly demonstrated experience in making love with a man. He did so with confident athleticism and energy, shockingly uninhibited, responsive, and sweetly generous. My heart sunk those first few times at the thought that he was undeniably the best I ever had bedded and he could never be mine. Before Celeborn, I had never considered such words as 'mine' or 'yours.' I consoled myself by repeating the mantra in my head, 'Accept what you are given. Do not wish for what you cannot have.'
Our first evening together, I wanted to ask him about his history. Was there a man he had loved, long abandoned or lost in the mists of Ages past, before he met our lady? Or was Celeborn less transparent and straightforward than I had suspected? But another matter seemed more urgent at the time. As we rested on his bed, still intertwined with one another, our bodies slick and wet, I had a question that I could not hold back.
"Do you miss her?" I asked. Without a doubt it was the wrong time, the wrong question, but I felt compelled to verbally acknowledge my understanding of her inviolable place in his heart. I desperately wanted to lie with him again and I feared any shadow between us on the subject might prevent that. Celeborn chuckled, shaking his hair off his face. He looked young and twice as captivating when he laughed. I feared my heart was already far more engaged than it ought to be.
"Do I miss the shouting and the endless rows? Or do I miss the inevitable reconciliation in the bedroom? Actually I miss them both and much more. But our separation will not be forever." His brow furrowed, as he took my face between his hands. "Am I wrong to need you now? I do not mean to hurt you."
"Not wrong. I raised the question more to tell you that I understood than to hear your exact response. I do understand and I still want you. Cannot we let the future take care of itself? Everything worth having has a cost, don't you think?"
"Ah, Haldir, you are beautiful and much too good for me. But you are alone and I have someone waiting for me. That somehow seems unjust. Or is there perhaps someone in Valinor waiting for you?"
I was conscious of trying to lighten the tone, although I am not sure how convincing I sounded. "No one is waiting. But hope, as they say, springs eternal."
"Part of the reason she was so annoyed at my staying was not that she truly believed I would never leave. That was all bluster. The real reason was she felt certain I would not be able to control my physical needs for the entire time. She knows me too well. I will have to tell her about this." He rolled his eyes in a droll parody of innocence. "Perhaps I can avoid admitting how soon this actually began."
He pressed his lips together as though he were trying and failing to restrain the grin pulling at the corners of his mouth. He kissed me again, lips firm but velvety against mine, feeling completely right to me despite everything.
"I am very glad you are not a woman, Haldir."
I could not control a snort at that. "Am I supposed to take that as a compliment?"
"I could give you a dozen reasons why that is a compliment. If you want to hear them I can list them, although your charms are fairly obvious. I am sure you have heard it all before. But it is good for me that you are a man, because she won't be bothered to resent you for long. She would be less forgiving to think of me with another woman." He spoke as though we could continue together for the present. That mattered most of all to me at the time.
"Ah, Celeborn," I said, running my hand across his pale, chiseled chest, strongly muscled yet silken smooth to touch. "You turn me into a co-conspirator."
"Do you realize you just called me Celeborn?"
"I did, didn't I? Well, you are still naked and my stomach is sticky with your seed. Can hardly call you my lord under those circumstances, can I?"
I thought I would always cherish the memory of his brash, uncompromising laugh. "I wouldn't want you to either. I am sorry about the sense of conspiracy. I cannot lie to her nor will I tell you less than the truth about what I have to offer, or worse yet leave you wondering. Perhaps I can do something to make it up to you."
Playing for a smile, I responded, "I trust that you will think of a way."
The days of our last summer in Lorien passed too quickly. The fall arrived, unmitigated by the lady's former climate control. The golden leaves floated to the ground, never to be replaced, where they dried and crackled beneath our feet. At the end, no one was sorry to leave our beloved Wood, which barely resembled the long-protected haven that had been our home. The last of our company left together before the onset of winter, some to travel to the Havens and others with Celeborn to Imladris, where one of his grandsons at least would be in residence. The Lords Elladan and Elrohir alternated between Gondor and the Last Homely House. I said farewell to my brothers Orophin and Rumil on that journey. They continued on to the Havens. I promised to join them in Aman, saying I would stay as long as my lord chose to remain. We all knew that he would not consider leaving while the Queen of Gondor lived. Celeborn and I hoped that would be a long while yet, each for our own complex set of reasons.
Most of those years I spent in Imladris. On several occasions, I traveled to Minas Tirith with Celeborn and stayed several months. The world I had known was gone. I waited, simultaneously wanting to leave and mourning the loss that would entail. My capacity for self-deception was not as great as one might think. I did manage with some difficulty to keep my feelings for Celeborn from overtaking every last corner of my heart. He was ever a good companion and a friend. At times in Minas Tirith, it taxed my concentration to remember to address him correctly as my lord.
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.