7. A Night Disturbed
"Come, we should wash and then set up camp properly. I think it is your turn to prepare supper, is it not?"
Grumbling slightly, Haldir admitted the fact. He had proved less apt at cooking than Melpomaen, but was unwilling to shirk his share of the duty. They had established a routine that said that the one who cooked did not have to gather wood for that night's fire, nor carry water as needed.
"Will you take the first watch as usual, Maen?" he asked.
The younger Elf nodded. "Of course."
They had failed to set a watch their first night out from Dale, but prudence dictated that they should not share a bedroll on subsequent evenings, lest some beast or Orc attack while neither was awake. Haldir had pointed out that once back in Lothlórien, they might be able to indulge in that much, at least while in the camp. They had always shared a talan and on chill nights sharing body warmth would be unremarkable even if they had an unexpected visitor.
Walking the few yards to the stream, they took turns gently sluicing each other, rinsing off the evidence of their loving exertions with the sun-warmed water in the shallows.
Haldir shook his golden hair back from his face. "If you'll bring me some wood, I'll begin getting the meal."
Melpomaen kissed him on the cheek, saying, "Certainly. I'm rather hungry, myself, though we didn't walk so very far today."
That elicited a snort from Haldir. "And whose fault is that, both the short journey and the cause of your hunger? Oh, go on and fetch the wood."
He marched back to the blankets and began by laying them out afresh, then dug a shallow pit for the fire. Rummaging through their packs, he pulled out a selection of dried vegetables and meats with which to make a soup, and a cake or two of cram to supplement it. Some slices of dried apple and pear he put to soak for the morning meal.
By the time Melpomaen returned with a second armful of wood, Haldir had coaxed the flames to flaring life and had set the stew pot on one side to simmer. He looked up at his partner.
"What think you we should do while we wait for our meal to cook?"
"Arms practice, I think. Would you rather do some unarmed combat, or swordplay, or would you shoot at targets? For any of them we will have to go back into the meadow, out from under these trees. Is the fire all right to leave?" said Melpomaen.
Haldir gauged the pile of burning wood. "Let me add a few more good-sized sticks and wait until they catch. Then we can go. I think I would like to do some unarmed practice; having stopped early today I feel fresh enough for something strenuous."
A short while later they stood facing each other amid the knee-high tawny grasses. Haldir led off with a series of kicks and lunges that, had they not been performed for practice only, would likely have left Melpomaen crippled. But this exercise was not intended to do any real harm, and with Haldir holding back the full force of his movements, Melpomaen was able to counter them with some ease. He lacked the skill of long years of practice that his partner possessed, but enjoyed the challenge of learning this art. Lórindol had often stressed to his men the importance of being able to fight unarmed, should ill-chance befall any of them.
Distracted by the thought of the captain and their inevitable return to the rangers' company, he failed to block a blow aimed at his face. Only Haldir's quick realization that Melpomaen had lost concentration saved the latter from being severely bruised or worse. As it was the sound of the contact startled a nearby squirrel, which leaped for the closest tree and began a chittering scolding from the safety of a low branch.
"Are you all right?" asked Haldir with concern.
"I am fine, Dír. I'm sorry, I wasn't paying proper attention. Shall we continue? Truly, I am not injured, just well woken up again," Melpomaen said in embarrassment at his lapse.
"Very well, then. When you're ready," said Haldir, crouching slightly with his weight on the balls of his feet, alert to whatever move his partner might try next.
They sparred inconclusively for some little time, their motions growing smoother and more rapid as each relaxed into the rhythm of the exercise. Melpomaen at last attempted an especially challenging lunge maneuver, only to find that he had been anticipated. He ended up flat on his back with Haldir kneeling above him, laughing softly at the surprise on his face.
"Enough, now," Haldir said, rising. "I would like to finish with some poses to practice balance. Do you wish to join me?"
"I'll just watch you for now. I prefer to do some of that while I'm taking my turn at watch; it helps me stay more alert and focused," said Melpomaen, tilting his head lazily to avoid the low rays of the sun through the grass. He admired Haldir's well-knit form as the other moved with elegant grace from one position to the next, some of them extremely difficult to maintain. Yet Haldir made it all seem easy – if one failed to notice the tension of the muscles under his smooth skin.
"I am ready for that soup you concocted, if you think it has cooked long enough," announced Melpomaen as Haldir subsided into stillness, standing erect with his face towards the west, catching the red gleam of the sinking sun.
"What? Oh, yes, certainly," said Haldir, drawing his attention back from his inward focus. He held his hand out to the reclining Melpomaen. "Get up then, Maen. I think we will need more wood tonight too; you had better collect some before it is too dark to see."
Melpomaen jokingly put out his tongue at his partner, then said, "All right. You finish getting dinner and I'll be there soon."
He struck off to make a wide circle through the wooded strip to the stream, then back in the other direction, getting a sense of the land as he picked up convenient fallen branches. There seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary in this place; they were still a few days from Mirkwood, where they would have to take greater care each evening and even while they walked in the daytime.
When he returned to the camp, twilight had settled over the trees. Haldir was seated cross-legged near the fire, rebraiding his hair which had loosened during their practice. He looked up as Melpomaen stepped into the light.
"Thank you for bringing the wood," he said.
He reached over to ladle soup into their bowls, and handed Melpomaen one along with a piece of cram.
Melpomaen sat down next to his lover. They leaned together companionably as they ate, enjoying the feel of the breeze as the air slowly cooled from the warmth of the day.
Setting aside his empty bowl, Melpomaen closed his eyes and stretched, thrusting his hands behind him. The temptation was too much for Haldir, who gently poked him in the belly.
He doubled over involuntarily and came up spluttering in mock indignation. He reached over to reciprocate, but Haldir was too quick and rolled away, then came back while Melpomaen was still off-balance and hugged him tightly.
"Couldn't resist, meldanya," he whispered in Melpomaen's ear. "I'll make it up to you, though. I'll braid your hair before I take my rest, shall I? I never finished the task earlier."
"How could I decline such an offer? Especially from you. Your tight – braids – are the admiration of the whole company," Melpomaen teased, his gaze lingering rather lower than Haldir's head.
Haldir pushed him playfully and brought out the wooden comb he had been using. Carefully he disentangled each dark lock, using his fingers as well as the comb to smooth and separate the fine strands. When all was done, Melpomaen's hair was like a sheet of black silk flowing over his shoulders and down his back. Haldir trembled slightly as he gathered it in his hands and began to divide it neatly for plaiting. Rather than the usual braid at each temple, he decided to make a single tight queue at the nape of the neck.
He was tempted to kiss the pale skin there, but restrained himself, and instead said aloud, "Tell me if I pull too hard."
"Not at all," murmured Melpomaen, who had closed his eyes. "It feels wonderful."
"Good," said Haldir, and used a leather thong to bind the braid. He shifted to Melpomaen's left side, and when the younger Elf turned his head to look, his eyes opening, he kissed him firmly but briefly on the mouth.
"All right, then?" he said, and smiled.
Melpomaen grinned in return. "Yes."
He stood up and added, "Varda's stars shine brightly tonight, I think. Take your rest and I will keep watch."
Haldir shook his head. "Let us tidy up the camp first; if we do not wash up the bowls now, at least let me get them out of the way."
"I'll do that," said Melpomaen. He reached down and traced a caressing finger along Haldir's jawline. "You prepared the meal; I will take care of the rest of it."
"If you wish," Haldir acquiesced, and lay down, pulling the blanket over himself and curling up so that he could watch Melpomaen's slender form silhouetted against the flickering light of the flames as his partner gathered up the remnants of the meal. Gradually his eyes fluttered closed as he allowed his mind to drift off into pleasant dreams.
Melpomaen finished putting their things in order and straightened up, his hand going automatically to make sure that his swordbelt was in place and his sword was loose in its sheath. He hesitated over whether to carry his bow with him; in the woods, in the dark, he would likely not need it. But he intended to go back to the meadow for a time. He shrugged and brought the weapon.
This early in the night, with the fire still burning, it was safe to leave Haldir and walk further out. Melpomaen passed quietly among the trees and out to where he could see the great canopy of stars overhead.
Leaning his weapons against a handy ash, he began moving through a series of poses similar to those that Haldir had performed that afternoon. He did not attempt the most difficult ones; he preferred to hold each position for the longest time possible, finding challenge enough in pushing his limits in that fashion. Moreover he could then spare more attention to the sounds and scents of the night around him, both for its beauty and to stay aware of any potential dangers.
When he felt he had practiced enough, Melpomaen retrieved his weapons and began a wide circuit around the camp, pausing frequently to let all of his senses absorb his surroundings. Nothing untoward seemed likely to occur this night. He returned to the fire, which by now had dwindled to glowing embers, and added several branches, blowing on the coals until flame licked along the fresh wood.
He sat then with his back against the great oak that overspread the place, watchful, yet with enough ease that he could turn his mind to more than just their safety.
This journey had produced more than enough surprises to amply occupy his thoughts. Melpomaen mused for awhile on the strangeness of the city of Men, but that was as nothing compared with the surprise of Haldir's passion, and his realization that he felt the same way.
The separation between emotion and its expression that the lembas created, he realized, might have profound and yet differing effects on them both. Haldir had recognized his own feelings for Melpomaen immediately, but had felt no physical desire, and so had been able to keep from sharing them and possibly frightening his partner for some years. Melpomaen, however, had come to understand that he loved Haldir at the same time as he had awoken to the hungers of the body, and he found it difficult to disentangle the two feelings.
Even now, as he looked over at his lover's sleeping form, he felt a stirring in his own body at the memory of their passion. He pushed his hand against himself, as if to repress the response, but the warmth of his palm through the material only stimulated him further. Sighing, he gave in to his impulse and began to slowly draw his fingertips along the hardening bulge at his groin, imagining that it was Haldir there, stroking him.
As his organ swelled under his touch, the tight cloth that bound it became almost painfully constricting. He paused to consider. He had to remain ready to cope with any possible threat. In the end he unlaced his leggings and removed them entirely, rather than risk having them tangled around his ankles at an awkward moment.
Freed, he returned to kneeling, his buttocks resting on his ankles, his still-clothed back leaning against the rough bark of the trunk. His right hand grazed his bared hip and glided down across the base of the belly to wrap around his pulsing member. He pulled at it gently, thumb sliding across the loose skin that covered the head, and quivered as cool air touched the newly exposed flesh. Gradually he set up a rhythmical motion, rocking back and forth as his hand slid up and down his shaft.
He pushed his thoughts out toward Haldir, wishing that the other were there, sharing this pleasure with him. Imagining that he was kissed by his sleeping lover, Melpomaen's lips parted, and he breathed more quickly as he neared climax. His hips thrust upward as the hot fluid jetted from him, spilling over his hand. He relaxed then into the embrace of the tree for a moment. It had not been so gratifying an experience as making love with his partner, but it relieved the tension of thinking how soon the chance for such passion would end.
Melpomaen picked up his leggings and went to the stream to rinse away the stickiness of his release before donning them again. When he returned again to the circle of the firelight, Haldir's blankets were empty.
Worried, he looked around. He barely heard the footstep before strong arms seized him from behind.
"I saw you," breathed Haldir in his ear. Knowing fingers undid the fastenings of his clothing and tossed it aside. "You would not believe how that made me feel, Maen, to watch you."
"I wanted you there with me, but did not want to wake you," responded Melpomaen as Haldir laid him down.
Haldir's eyes were dark with desire. "No? We have so little time, meldanya. So little time to be together. Do not hold back from me now."
He had removed his own clothing before Melpomaen had returned from the stream, and now stretched himself alongside the younger Elf, bare skin against skin for the full length of their bodies, his stiff erection pressing insistently between Melpomaen's thighs.
"I would not, never," promised Melpomaen, legs parting to let Haldir nestle closer into his body, feeling the heat move from his lover to warm his own blood again.
"Good," growled Haldir, pinning his arms to the ground and seizing his mouth with his own. A moist tongue thrust past Melpomaen's lips, seeking to taste the honey of the recesses there.
Melpomaen yielded willingly to this new side of his lover. Demanding caresses tantalized him with the promise that the strength and force of Haldir's need for him would never cease.
Haldir's craving for Melpomaen was so urgent he could scarcely hold back long enough to press oil into the waiting tightness below to smooth his way. A cry tore from his lips as he entered and was eagerly embraced. He slid in as far as he could, luxuriating in the feel of the snug sheath that enveloped his hard cock, withdrawing partway only to push even more insistently into Melpomaen's body, caressing the sensitive spot within with his own member.
He shouted hoarsely as Melpomaen clamped down on him, pulling his sweat-slicked torso down to press against his chest as well.
"Ah, Dír, yes, come into me, love, take me, now, yes," the frenzied stream of sounds that Melpomaen made encouraged Haldir to thrust again and again, harder, until he could bear no more and with a loud groan exploded into orgasm, his final push sealing them together.
Haldir blinked away the tears that had risen unbidden to his eyes from the intensity of his emotion.
"I would not have you seek any other pleasure while I am here, Maen, nor feel that my love cannot satisfy you," he whispered.
Melpomaen wrapped his arms around Haldir and cradled him. "Think not that you do not satisfy me, meldanya. In bringing my own release I sought only to let you rest, that is all. I would not have you believe otherwise."
Haldir nodded. "I believe you." He smiled against Melpomaen's chest. "Now that I understand your purpose, may I say that watching you greatly pleasured me? Perhaps I should do the same for you, sometime."
A low chuckle was his response. Melpomaen smoothed the golden hair back from Haldir's face. "Have you rested enough, then? Do you wish to take over the watch, or not yet?"
"Finish your turn; just do not tempt me again tonight to leave the paths of dreams!" said Haldir.
"I will not tempt you with that, love," Melpomaen said. "But there will be many occasions for temptation on this journey, I think." Indeed, one possibility had been steadily growing in his mind over the past day or so. But he was not yet ready to speak of it to Haldir. He would wait.
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.