41. Divergence and Convergence
Melpomaen kept his impatience in check throughout the day. It would do no good to urge speech upon his lover unwilling. Once they had chosen a campsite for the night, a league and a half beyond a straggling village of Men at which they had purchased two loaves of bread and a chunk of soft cheese pungent with herbs, however, he could wait no longer.
"Have you thought more of what we discussed yesterday?" Melpomaen said as he sliced thick pieces from one loaf and laid them to toast on a flat rock in the coals.
Haldir looked up from the bowstring he was inspecting, his expression closed. "I have."
"And what were your thoughts?"
"I will do nothing that, as best I can judge, might hurt my family or bring shame on them," said Haldir.
"You would rather have yourself – and me, I might add – live in hiding, in silence, in fear." Melpomaen paused, but Haldir did not respond. Deliberately Melpomaen filled two plates with their supper and took one to Haldir, sitting cross-legged opposite him. "Look at me, meldanya. Is that what you prefer?"
"No, I don't prefer that," Haldir burst out. "Do you think I want to live like. . . like a mole underground, solitary, fleeing the light, seen only as a destroyer? No. Of course not. But I can see no other way." His voice quavered with the vehemence of his feelings. "If we try to alter the assumptions and preconceptions of others, and succeed, all might be well, but if we fail, as I think likely, we will have made our lives there intolerable. We would have no choice but to go into exile, irrevocably."
"We could return to Mirkwood, to Thranduil's realm," Melpomaen reminded him. "The king himself invited us to do so. Even if our own folk cannot accept us for who and what we are, there are others who will; Legolas made that clear."
"I know, I know. But. . ."
"But they are not our people, they are not your kin," finished Melpomaen.
Haldir's mouth twisted. "You know me well, Maen."
"I wonder sometimes if I do," Melpomaen said. He spread cheese on the heel of his bread and bit into it, speaking indistinctly through the mouthful. "'Ide ooch ooze. . ." he paused and swallowed. "Why did you choose me, Dír? Given that you are so certain that a love between two binn cannot be accepted among our people – and I am not disputing that; you have had far longer than I to think about it and observe what is done and said in that regard – why would you put yourself, and me, into such uncertainty and distress?"
"That is a good question, and I do not know if I have a good answer for it." Haldir sighed, gazing steadily at Melpomaen. "I dreamt of you, as you well know. For many years even before you were born, perhaps before your parents were born, I dreamt of you, of being with you and loving you. And these were not merely dreams of a handsome dark-haired Elf who could have been anyone. It was you, Maen, with your music and your fondness for berry tart and your habit of strewing your things all around the talan when we're at home. I was certain that I knew what those dreams meant, that they foretold the one person I could love, who was my destined partner.
"But perhaps I was mistaken." Now Haldir looked down and the light from the fire caught the bones of his face, throwing them into sharp relief so that he suddenly looked like an old mortal Man, with every year of his life printed on his visage. "Or if not entirely mistaken, perhaps I should have been more patient, discussed matters with you before we acted to seal our bond, because now we have no choice in that. We may choose how we act, but we cannot now break that tie. I was not fully aware of what we did, but that is no excuse. I'm sorry, meldanya, if my haste has brought you grief. I never meant that to happen."
Melpomaen sighed in his turn. "I am sure you did not mean to, but yes, I am unhappy and angry about the situation, and just now I feel trapped. I don't want to leave you, and I'm not sorry that we are together, but. . . had I understood what our bond would entail, how it would limit our lives, I think I would have wanted to wait and consider more carefully. I do love you, you know that, and I love making love with you, yet waiting might have been the wiser course. I am going to find it difficult to give up the physical – I know that nearly all bonded couples do so sooner or later, but rarely if ever as soon as this, and only when they choose to. Even members of our own company, when they are on leave and go home to their spouses, can resume making love. Whereas we, I think you would agree, cannot. What chance is there that we would both be given leave at the same time? And while we are on the borders, between the lembas which discourages any longing for such things, and the lack of privacy, there can be nothing beyond a kiss in friendship, as anyone might do. No, trapped is the word. And that is why I want to try to change the antipathy of our people towards those such as ourselves, so that we might be together like any other bonded couple. I feel that I am giving up a great deal so that you do not have to give up as much, your family for instance."
Haldir had long since finished eating and had set his plate to one side. He reached out to touch his partner. "I truly regret being so precipitous, Maen, and I hope that you forgive me for what was done out of thoughtlessness, no more." He hesitated, then added, "I have said before that if we try what I propose, returning to the company and living chastely there, and it does not work, if we are not content with that, then we can do something else. Pursue a different vocation besides the border guard, for instance, and it need not be the same craft for both of us. This decision is not forever, meldanya."
Leaning against Haldir, Melpomaen said, "I know. But we have had so little time, really, that it is hard for me to think ahead so far."
"I suppose I have had more practice in thinking ahead, although much of my life I have tried to think only from day to day, as being less painful," said Haldir. "It has not been easy to endure without someone in whom I could confide; I think that is why I could not, did not, wait. Suddenly there was a chance to end those years of loneliness, and I took it without questioning whether it was the best thing for you, or for me."
"Don't blame yourself entirely, Dír. It's not as if I was not there, participating, even if I did not know exactly what we were getting ourselves into; you didn't either," Melpomaen said. He wriggled down until his head was resting on Haldir's lap.
"No," Haldir said, stroking Melpomaen's hair, "and since there is nothing to be done about it now. . . perhaps it is best not to waste such time as we do have together? A fortnight more at most, I would guess."
Melpomaen found tears prickling unexpectedly in his eyes. Whenever he thought he had resigned himself to what must be, something brought the loss home again. After their conversation he did not feel as inclined to make love as usual, but neither did he want to lose one of their few remaining nights. He took Haldir's wrist and kissed his palm, then cradled it against his cheek. "You're right, of course."
"Not ‘of course'," Haldir said wryly, "as we both know too well." He leaned down to kiss Melpomaen's forehead. "Maen, you are the heart of my life, and you will be so whatever happens. So let us celebrate that now, together."
"Let me just see to the fire first." Melpomaen sat up and shook himself. "It could use some building up."
"So could you," said Haldir, coming to kneel behind his lover as Melpomaen squatted to add branches to the flames. He stroked along Melpomaen's spine, using his thumbs to dig into the muscles of Melpomaen's shoulders. The fabric of the tunic hindered him, and he tugged it loose, pulling it over Melpomaen's head. Dark hair spilled free, and Haldir brushed it aside to kiss the side of Melpomaen's neck, tracing a nibbled line up to his ear.
Melpomaen turned partway around and embraced Haldir, tipping them both to the ground and giving him a single fierce kiss that left the older Elf gasping. "Why don't you get the oil while I finish the fire?"
"All right." After a moment's thought, Haldir skinned quickly out of his clothes, folded them, and was waiting, flask set conveniently nearby, when Melpomaen returned to their blankets.
"I see that you're impatient tonight," was the only comment Melpomaen made, as he pulled off his tunic and stepped out of his leggings, leaving them in a tangle of fabric.
Haldir ran his hand along Melpomaen's calf, the only thing he could reach at that moment, and agreed. "Do you remember the first night we made love?"
"How could I ever forget it?" said Melpomaen, stretching out on the ground beside Haldir, the light of the fire edging his body. "We were both impatient that night, were we not?" He sought Haldir's mouth in a kiss, softer than before, trying with lips and teeth and tongue to speak his emotions without words.
The night air was cool and damp, likely to mean dew by morning, but neither Elf noticed that now. Haldir traced patterns along Melpomaen's back with one hand, leaving a tingling warmth behind; when Melpomaen realized that his lover had spelled out "meldanya," he burst into delighted laughter and hugged him close.
"I love you, Dír," he murmured into Haldir's neck.
"And I you," Haldir replied. He tangled his fingers into Melpomaen's hair and tilted his head back to look into his lover's eyes, dark and ardent. "Let me show you." He nipped at the spot where Melpomaen's neck and shoulder met, quickly turning it into an apologetic kiss when Melpomaen yelped. Then he drew a moist trail of further kisses down to the dark rose peak of a nipple, suckling on it while his hand sought its mate and rubbed the silky-hard flesh.
Melpomaen squirmed and shifted – somehow he always managed to find the spot where a tree-root lifted the ground – and nudged his groin against Haldir's belly.
"Patience," Haldir lifted his head to say, before returning to his exploration of Melpomaen's chest, pleased at the flush his ministrations had brought to the skin. Gradually he worked his way lower, until his lips found the tip of Melpomaen's member and he tasted a hint of acrid moisture. He ran his tongue over the tiny cleft and the folds of skin that usually protected that most tender spot, while with one thumb he rubbed the base and used his fingers to stroke around Melpomaen's sac.
When Melpomaen began to thrust his hips, though, Haldir released his grasp and sat up, his face shining with moisture. "Do you want me to. . ."
Before he could finish the question, Melpomaen had reached for the flask of oil, pushing it towards him. "It would seem so," Haldir answered himself.
Haldir knelt up to work the stopper out, and Melpomaen turned over, rising to his knees and using his discarded clothing as a pillow. The air was cool against his swollen organ, now that Haldir's mouth no longer warmed it. Within moments, though, he felt Haldir's hands on him again, now slick with oil, one hand soothing against his hardness, the other easing him open to both their pleasure.
As Haldir first stretched him, then filled him, Melpomaen remembered all the times before that they had carried out this act of love: both with Haldir inside him, and the reverse. He keened as Haldir's thrusts touched that place within that was like a coal, burning in hot joy at each stroke.
For his part, Haldir tried to restrain his tempo, to hold them both at a plateau of delight without yet rising to the peaks. He paused, pulled back, letting just the head of his member rest inside Melpomaen's passage, then rocked his hips slowly, slowly, easing just a fraction further in with each movement, until again he was fully sheathed. After a dozen such, during which Haldir's hand never ceased from its measured rhythm on Melpomaen's organ, they were each slick with sweat, gritting their teeth to hold back.
"By all the stars, Dír," gasped Melpomaen, "please, now."
Haldir increased the pace of his hand, but held his hips still, pressed firmly against Melpomaen's. With his free left hand he reached to again tweak Melpomaen's nipples, and the unexpected sensation brought Melpomaen to his climax, the thick pale fluid spurting in a quivering pulse.
Now Haldir grasped Melpomaen's waist and began thrusting once more, harder and faster, into the tight slickness. A dozen strokes and he found release as well, calling out Melpomaen's name in almost a wail as his seed flooded forth.
They collapsed together in a tangled pile, Haldir's organ slipping out to nestle in the cleft of Melpomaen's buttocks, breathing ragged but in harmony.
"Haldir," said Melpomaen eventually, his voice muffled against his lover's embracing arm.
"We have no more than a fortnight until we are home, is that not right?"
"I said so before," Haldir said. "Why? We cannot delay our return any longer, if that is what you are thinking."
"No, I know that. I only want to make sure that I, that we, enjoy these last few days to the fullest. Not just in making love, either, but in being alone together, without the responsibility of guard duty, or the interruptions and distractions that are bound to occur." Melpomaen rolled onto his back, looking up at the cloudy sky in which no stars were visible. "If one of us were a bess, and we had had an ordinary courtship and espousal at home, we would not have the problems that we will have soon, but neither would we have had time like we have had on this journey, even in Mirkwood. That has been a gift that I at least have not appreciated as I should, till now."
"Nor have I," said Haldir. He rested his head against Melpomaen's shoulder. "But it is not too late, and the future is always uncertain – whether ill or good, we will not know until it happens."
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.