1. A Cry in the Night
". . . whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."
Part One: A Cry in the Night
"Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved . . ."
Song of Songs
Heat beat against Thranduil's face; everywhere he turned, it hit him like a slap. The smell of burning filled his nostrils, and choking smoke seared his lungs with every breath.
Oropher's palace among the trees was ablaze, the ancient wood going up like dry tinder. Thranduil ran through the halls of his dying home, listening to the agonized screams of his people. He ran, the fear pounding in his heart, seeking something elusive. Or did he try to escape?
In his mind echoed the mocking voice of a creature of shadow and flame: You cannot fight. You cannot flee. You cannot hide. I come for you, son of Oropher.
How? How had it come to this?
Rounding a corner, he realized where he was and why he had come. He threw open the door of his bedchamber. Already the room was engulfed in flames. Lalaithiel stood pressed against the far wall, trying to shield herself against the fierce heat. She held out her hands to him, lips moving in a silent plea in the shimmering currents of air: Husband!
He fought his way toward her -- just as the ceiling collapsed in a shower of sparks, burying her under a pile of charred beams. Frantically, he tore at the rubble, ignoring the pain as his palms grasped the glowing wood. In his mind he heard the mocking laughter of the balrog. His ears echoed with the sound of his own screams as the fire consumed his flesh: "No . . .!"
Thranduil sat upright in bed with a gasp. The summer night was cool. Outside his window, crickets sang in the trees, and a quarter moon cast a splash of pale light across the wooden floor. The pine scent of the Emyn Duir blew in on the breeze.
Lalathiel lay spooned beside him. She stirred, placing a reassuring hand on his arm. "Is it the old dream again, my love?" she muttered, her voice thick with sleep.
"No," he whispered, as he willed his hammering heart back into its regular cadence. "This is a brand new dream."
He fell back onto his pillow, trying to forget.
Lalathiel lay waiting quietly in the darkness, as Thranduil's ragged breathing slowly returned to normal. After more than a thousand years at her husband's side, she knew him very well. Having unmanned himself by crying out in the night like a frightened child, he would seek to redeem himself in the time-honored fashion of a male. His need for her after waking up in a trembling sweat was one of the few compensations for the nightmares that had plagued him since his return from that cursed war in the south.
Sure enough, she soon felt the tickle of his breath in her ear, the touch of his hand upon her shoulder and a familiar fleshy prodding against her thigh. She turned to him with the soft sigh she used to signal her assent. With gentle, practiced hands, he made her ready and topped her. As their bodies moved together in the graceful harmony of a long-mated couple, she felt him reach out to touch her spirit, seeking to perform the effort of will that would call a new elven faer to the child they sought to conceive. It seemed to her that he tried . . . and fell short, held back by the shadow that had trammeled his wounded spirit ever since his return from Mordor.
What horrors had he seen in that dark land so long ago? She often wondered as he thrashed in his sleep and muttered of swords and blood and sobbed out his father's name, only to wake and shake his head in silent response to her queries, refusing to share whatever evil vision haunted him.
In her mind, Lalaithiel held her arms out to her husband, striving to bring him to her, lending her strength to his. Almost, almost . . . He shuddered and thrust hard into her, and she felt only a brief moment of regret as the waves of her own bodily pleasure broke over her, carrying her away. Next time, surely.
As they returned to their senses, he made as if to roll away, but she clutched fiercely at his naked back. "No -- stay as you are."
"I'll fall asleep on top of you if I stay like this," he mumbled. "I'll crush you."
She laughed in the darkness. "No you won't." She held him, stroking the back of his head, pressed down into the mattress by the familiar comforting weight of his body as he slipped into sleep. "Never, my love," she whispered. "You'll never be too heavy for me to bear."
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.