16. Settling In
Melpomaen was glad that they had shelter from the storm, and a safe place to pass the winter, but he rather wished that he and Haldir were still traveling. He had hoped, when they were assigned their quarters, that the privacy would allow more time for love, but that hope had been disappointed in part. It was evidently traditional for the guard company’s members to spend most of their free hours together, eating, singing, talking, dicing. Haldir felt that they should join in, for courtesy’s sake, and Melpomaen did not disagree, although it meant that he saw little of his lover except during the hours of rest. He hoped that tonight he might persuade Haldir to leave the hall early, and seek their room.
But there was still another tedious day to endure before that. He had refurbished their gear as well as he could, sharpening sword and knife, replacing spent arrows, waxing leather as needed. Fine mending was not one of his skills, but Haldir had agreed to do that in his spare time – if he ever had any, thought Melpomaen a bit sourly – and really there was little else to do. So he wandered down the corridor towards the king’s great hall, deciding that at the least he could observe the activity of the court, a bustle unlike anything he imagined would be tolerated by Lord Celeborn or Lady Galadriel back in Lothlórien.
He found a conveniently-placed bench and watched as Thranduil dealt quickly with two boundary disputes, an accusation of theft, and a request by a company of Dwarves for safe-conduct along the Forest Road. A soft cough alerted him that someone was nearby.
It was the woman that they had brought with them on the day they arrived – Vida, yes, that was her name. He smiled at her.
“Good morning, Vida.”
Her face remained serious. “I wanted to thank you again, and your friend, for bringing me here. I can’t imagine what I would have done out there all alone. Baldor ought to be back any day now that the snow is melted, and I know he will want to give you his thanks, too. I haven’t seen you about the halls – I have been staying mostly down in the kitchens, lending a hand to keep busy, so I haven’t looked that hard, I suppose. But where do you sleep? I heard that you both were joining the guards for the winter and would be in barracks – is that not true?”
The quick speech was difficult for Melpomaen to follow, but he understood the gist of it. “Speak slower, please, Vida. I do not know much Westron.”
“Oh!” She caught her breath and repeated herself. “I thank you, Melpomaen. My husband Baldor will thank you. I have been here, in the kitchens, and heard that you and Haldir were in the guards here now. In the barracks?”
Melpomaen patted the bench beside him and urged her to sit. “Yes, Haldir is a guard. I, not yet.” He held out his arm in explanation. “My arm was broken, so I wait. We are not in barracks, but in a guest room. You?”
“Oh, I am staying with a kinswoman. I had not known that her husband decided to move to these parts, and take service with the Elf-king. They have two rooms, and I sleep in with their daughter, until Baldor arrives. I do not know what we will do then,” she replied.
“I wish you happiness someday, and another son.”
“Do you have any children of your own?” Vida asked. “I know little of the Elves and their ways, though I live now in an Elvish realm. I would like to learn more.”
“We do not all live the same,” Melpomaen said, “and I do not know the customs here. I am sorry. I have no children, no spouse. I work with Haldir; we have been guards together some years. When he came north, I came with him, for more safety.”
“Do your people not marry, then, if they take on such tasks? I know that the king’s youngest son who commands the guard is not wed, either. It seems strange to me, for most Men wish to marry as soon as they may.”
He shrugged. “Depends. We do not die as Men do, so can perhaps wait longer. My father was a border guard after marriage and children. But he worked many years first. Haldir’s brothers both have spouses, but not many women wish to marry forest rangers. There is always the chance of ill-luck, and death. Also it is usual for Elves for both mother and father to be home with little children.”
As soon as he said the last, he regretted it, for Vida’s face paled and she looked away.
“I am sorry,” Melpomaen said after a moment, taking her hand. “I did not mean to remind you of your sadness.”
She shook her head, ignoring the tears on her cheeks. “It is not your fault, and I cannot expect never to hear anything that might touch my sorrow.” She tried a smile, saying, “But I should return now; my kinswoman will expect me for the noon meal.”
“I hope to see you again,” said Melpomaen, and watched her retreating form. He ought to go down to the guards’ mess for the same purpose, but he lingered in the great hall instead, watching the bustle around the king.
Thranduil, free for a moment, caught his eye and beckoned him over. “I hear that you and your friend have settled in well. Do you find our halls to your liking?”
It was a relief to be able to speak in familiar Sindarin again. Melpomaen assured him that such was the case, and added that he only wished that he were able to take a turn at guard, for he found the wait while his arm healed tedious.
“And so you come here to pass the time, am I right? Well, I shall have some free moments tomorrow, and I would appreciate it if you would come to speak with me then. I had intended to talk with you or Haldir earlier, but always something intervened. In early afternoon, I think, and not here. In my chambers – they are the fourth door to the left, down that corridor,” he indicated which with a wave. “I will expect you then.”
Although slightly wary of what this summons might portend, Melpomaen assented with all the enthusiasm he could muster. Thranduil then excused him to go to his meal, which he did with all speed.
Sliding in next to Haldir in the company mess, he refrained from mentioning his appointment in such a public space, but murmured that they needed to talk that evening. Haldir nodded, but his eyes were questioning.
“Later,” said Melpomaen, passing the bread.
As the meal drew to a close, Legolas stood to announce the next week’s assignments. Haldir drew night duty. Melpomaen, of course, was not assigned to any post, but he resolved to speak with the captain immediately and ask if there were not some task or chore he might do to contribute to his keep, even with a healing arm.
Legolas looked him over. “Are you any good with figures? Our usual records clerk took leave last summer – family matters – and although I’ve been making a stab at it, I really haven’t the time to keep it all up.”
Melpomaen admitted to some knowledge of the art of mathematics, but did not conceal that he had no practical experience in such things.
This feeble protest was brushed aside. “No matter, you’ll soon learn to manage. You have plenty of time on your hands to work on it. Come, I’ll show you where the books are kept.”
It proved to be a dark cubbyhole off the armory. Legolas bent his fair head over the desk, saying, “This pile here, these are ours. If you can get them straightened out, it would be a great service – more of a service than your fighting arm, indeed!”
Lighting a pair of stubby candles, he indicated a chair behind the desk. “Sit, sit. Be comfortable as you work. Let me know this evening or tomorrow how you’re getting on, and we’ll go from there.”
As Legolas left, Melpomaen turned to the disorderly stack of ledgers and loose sheets. He decided that he had better look over the books first to determine the system that the former clerk had been using, before he began to make any new additions.
Evening came and he was still struggling to put the past half-year’s records and receipts into some kind of order, when sounds out in the armory indicated the departure of the evening guard and the return of the day’s patrol. He stretched, knuckling the small of his back, and wandered out.
Haldir was already at a table with the three Elves he had been on patrol with, but when Melpomaen arrived he made room next to himself on the long bench.
“I told them already that I wouldn’t be joining them in the common room tonight,” he said in low tones.
“Good. I need to consult with you before tomorrow.”
Melpomaen ate quickly and left, pausing only to advise the captain quietly that for some part of the next day he was called to an audience with the king, and so would have to stop working on the records for a time.
Legolas shrugged. “They’ve waited this long, they can wait another few hours. You don’t want to irritate my father, certainly. What does he wish to discuss with you?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps just to ask about our journey and what passes in the lands outside the wood?”
“Perhaps. I would like to talk about such things with you or Haldir myself, sometime.” The blue eyes gleamed. “Have you ever been to Imladris? I hear great tales of that hold.”
“No, never,” said Melpomaen regretfully. “Perhaps someday.”
“Ah well. You can tell me of the lands you do know.” Legolas smiled and let Melpomaen take his leave.
Waiting for Haldir to arrive, Melpomaen found himself tidying up their room. Working with the unfamiliar and rather disorderly records seemed to have inspired him to take control of some other part of his life. When the golden-haired Elf stepped through the doorway and turned to make sure that the latch was set, Melpomaen was kneeling beside the bed, refolding tunics to lay in the chest.
With a few quick strides Haldir was beside him. “A fair sight indeed you are, Maen.” He sighed and knelt to embrace his lover. “I am truly sorry that I have been so preoccupied; there are just enough differences between here and home that I’ve been on edge, trying to make sure that I did nothing that might inadvertently offend or cause distress.”
Melpomaen held him tightly and laid their cheeks together. “I know. But I didn’t ask you to leave early to talk about that. King Thranduil asked me to attend him tomorrow, and I am sure he will wish to hear about where we come from, where we have been, what we have seen. We ought to have known this would happen. I’m worried – I expected that you would be there too, you’re a much better politician than I, and I’m not sure what I will be able to say.”
Haldir looked bemused. “Why, the truth of course.”
“But how much of the truth? Should I tell the king that we are from Lórien and on an errand for Celeborn, to seal an alliance with Dale? I thought you did not want our origins widely known. Is it safe to tell Thranduil, even?”
“Tell him no lies, but as little of the truth as possible. You will probably have to say that we’re from the Golden Wood – avoid it if you can, but don’t worry if you can’t. I would say, though, to try not to explain the reason for our journey. That is a matter for our own king, and Dale’s king, not for the king of Mirkwood.”
“I’ll do my best.” Melpomaen took a deep breath. “But in the meantime, since you’re here, and we’re alone. . . you did lock the door?”
“Yes.” Haldir reached up to trace the line of Melpomaen’s jaw. “We haven’t had a whole evening and night to ourselves since we arrived, one way and another. Let us not let it slip past.” He sat back on his heels and rose, holding a hand out to his lover. “Especially with that bathing room so convenient.”
“Mm. That was a piece of luck, wasn’t it? Or. . . was it luck?”
“What do you mean?”
“It does seem surprising that two strangers should be given a room such as this, don’t you think?”
Haldir shook his head. “Why would it be? Legolas told us on the day we arrived that this room was rarely used, despite the bathing room, because it was so far from the main hall and close to the guards’ barracks.”
“I suppose. I just wonder if it was intended as bribery of some kind, that’s all.”
“How could it be? King Thranduil did not choose the room; he only told his son to assign us suitable quarters. There was no time for them to have arranged anything.” Haldir was slowly removing Melpomaen’s clothing, piece by piece, beside the warm water. He pressed a kiss on his lover’s shoulder where the collarbone joined it. “If you’re thinking of your appointment with the king tomorrow, I really don’t believe there is anything to be concerned about.”
Melpomaen sighed as he felt Haldir’s lips travel up his throat and around to the lobe of his ear. He reached out to hold Haldir firmly against him. “Of course you’re right.”
“I know.” Haldir pushed away a little, and began to pull off his own tunic, wrinkling his nose. “Did my other uniform come back from being laundered?”
“I think so.”
“Good, then I can let this one go. Erentar put me on the long patrol today, not gate duty, and I got rather warm – it was a fine sunny day, no wind.” He tossed the offending garments into a corner and slipped into the water, smiling at Melpomaen. “Come on in, the water’s fine.”
The dark Elf climbed in. He leaned over to kiss Haldir quickly, then said, “Would you mind giving me a bit of massage? Working over that desk all afternoon has cramped my back – I’m not used to sitting still that way.”
“If you like. Turn around, then.”
Melpomaen sat tailor-fashion in front of Haldir, the water lapping near his shoulder blades.
“Not as easy with the water so high, but. . . the warmth ought to relax your muscles,” said Haldir, digging his thumbs into the muscles along Melpomaen’s spine. “Yes, like that. Close your eyes and relax, meldanya.”
Melpomaen did as Haldir bid him, letting the dark behind his eyelids sparkle with every firm touch that seemed to chase the tightness away. Gradually his thoughts calmed and he rested, content in mind and body.
Haldir could tell by his lover’s breathing that he was on the edge of dreams, and though loath in a way to disturb him, he did not want to lose this chance for an evening alone together. His kneading motions slowed and stopped, and he waited patiently for Melpomaen’s awareness to return to him. When he felt the younger Elf shift position, he was ready.
“Here, Maen.” He took up the soap and began to wash Melpomaen’s back and arms, urging him to turn so that he could reach every part of his body. When he had finished, Melpomaen did likewise, admiring as always his lover’s muscled frame.
“Would you like me to wash your hair?”
“Please,” and Haldir leaned back to wet it thoroughly.
Both clean, they moved of one accord to dry off and return to the main room. Haldir sat on the floor next to the bed as Melpomaen combed his hair, smoothing each golden strand until the whole shone as if the sun had entered deep underground.
The soft glancing touches on his throat and neck and ears roused Haldir’s desire, and when Melpomaen would have begun to braid his hair, he pushed the deft hands away and pulled himself onto the bed, drawing the other down with him until they lay curled together, Haldir behind Melpomaen and tracing lazy circles across his chest.
“This is my joy,” he whispered. “The greater for knowing that its time will end.”
Melpomaen closed his ears to the second part, only reaching around behind to hug Haldir more closely to him.
Haldir took the flask of sweet oil from the night-table and poured a bit into the palm of his hand, coating his fingers, then nudged one fingertip just barely inside Melpomaen’s tight entrance. His other arm snaked between ribs and clean linen to grasp waiting hardness. At that touch Melpomaen sighed and pushed back, opening gladly to Haldir’s finger.
Heat surged through Haldir’s limbs, pooling at his groin, as he pulled out and then filled his lover again, this time with his own rigid shaft. The sensation as Melpomaen clamped down, then relaxed, almost undid him, but he held back, penetrating and withdrawing in long strokes matched by the movements of his hands.
The bed frame creaked softly to the rhythm of their love, luckily not loudly enough to be heard by any chance passer-by in the corridor.
Haldir blew aside the dark hair before him and kissed Melpomaen’s neck with biting kisses, desperate in his growing need. He thrust deeper, faster, feeling his lover yield to him.
“Ah. . . Maen,” he gasped, and his seed flooded into the warm dark recesses. Melpomaen was still hard in his hands as he withdrew.
“I want to have you, too, Dír,” came the muted voice. Melpomaen turned to face Haldir. “I want to see you.”
Haldir reached for the oil again, handing it over, and rolled onto his back in the center of the bed, legs parted and raised, as Melpomaen ran a slick finger along the crease between thigh and groin and to the puckered hole, then with one swift yet gentle thrust, plunged his cock deep within.
He would have thought himself spent, but the nudges against his most sensitive spot as Melpomaen moved caused him to harden again. He looked up at his lover’s intent face and smiled. Melpomaen’s loose hair hung down on either side, creating a space where nothing could be seen except each other.
“You are the brightest star in my heaven,” he said.
“You are my Silmaril,” Melpomaen replied. That struck Haldir as an ill-omen, but he concealed his misgivings and surrendered to the feelings surging once again. (1) He used one hand to cup Melpomaen’s buttocks and the other to tease himself against Melpomaen’s stomach. His very bones felt turned to liquid by the intensity of loving desire he saw in Melpomaen’s eyes, desire that he knew was reflected in his own.
A few last strokes and Melpomaen reached his climax, followed a moment later by Haldir’s second. They lay, breathing ragged, entwined.
“If we could have this every night. . .”
Haldir twisted uncomfortably. “You know there are good reasons not.”
“I know.” A sigh, then, “But if we could manage it on the journey, surely we can do so here?”
“We do at least get to sleep together,” Haldir pointed out. “Can’t do that while traveling, not when there are strange creatures about,”
“True enough – I suppose I’m just greedy to wish for both.”
“I wish for both too, I just don’t think it would be wise.”
Melpomaen now was the one to move in rejection. “I’m tired of having to be wise, meldanya. I cannot tell you how tired of that I am.” He sat up. “I want to be foolish in love, just for a little while. Is that such an impossible thing?”
Haldir’s heart turned over at the sadness on Melpomaen’s face, but he could not change the ways of the world. “For us, I think it is,” he whispered, swallowing hard. He too sat up and took Melpomaen in his arms, holding him tightly.
As they embraced, a soft knock sounded on the door.
It was the voice of Legolas.
“May I come in?”
(1) The Silmarils, made in Valinor by Fëanor, were jewels that held the light of the Two Trees of Yavanna, and it was foretold that the fate of Arda – earth, air, and water – lay locked within them. Morgoth, the Great Enemy, stole the Silmarils, with the result that many of the Noldor returned to Middle-earth and fought great wars to repossess the jewels. The full story is of course told in The Silmarillion, and was undoubtedly well-known in Lórien due to the presence there of Galadriel, a close kinswoman of Fëanor and one of the Exiles. Haldir would have thought Melpomaen’s mention an ill-omen because the theft of the Silmarils had provoked not simply war but also the Kinslaying, when the departing Noldor fought the Teleri at Alqualondë and seized their ships.
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.