|Protect and Serve: To Honor
Author: Lasarina PM
Lane's story culminates as she and the remaining Fellowship follow their own paths to Gondor. Lane finally thinks she has a shot at the happiness she's never before experienced, but choices are yet to be made if she ever wants a taste of it. Will she be allowed to stay in Middle-earth, or will she even be given a choice?Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Tragedy - Legolas & Gimli - Chapters: 15 - Words: 100,497 - Reviews: 168 - Favs: 116 - Follows: 102 - Updated: 10-19-12 - Published: 06-26-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8258151
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Okay, listen up folks!
As I am trying to remain compliant to the fiction rating rules of FF dot net, (and would rather not have my stories pulled from the site) I have posted here on this site, the clean, edited version of this chapter. FF does not allow adult material on their site, so I have posted the extended, unadulterated version elsewhere.
There is nothing 100% vital lost in this edited version, but the other version is longer and shows more of the relationship building of Legolas/Lane as well as more of Lane's past and character.
If you are of age (per your state/country's age restrictions) and would like to read the extended version, you can find links on my bio page.
Thank you, and carry on!
Chapter 7: No Regrets (Censored Version)
"Are you certain, Elaina?" Legolas whispered with an intensity in his voice, his hand sliding up to touch my jaw delicately with his fingertips.
I smiled when he didn't need any clarification on what I'd meant. "Yeah, I'm sure."
The yearning shone in his eyes; hell, I could feel the very emotion coursing through him. Yet he still seemed reticent and indecisive. He turned his head to stare out at the battlefield I'd just walked across, his eyes fixed on some distant point as he spoke, still not looking at me. "I would not have this be a thing you regret. I would have it be done with only love and joy in your heart, not a fear induced by those here slain."
With one palm on his cheek, I gently turned his eyes back down to mine, and with the other hand, I grasped one of his and pressed his palm over my heart, holding it there. "When I'm with you, there is only joy in my heart. Can't you feel it, Legolas?"
He smiled lightly but didn't respond, though neither did he move away. My left hand held his palm to my heart, and his hand twisted under mine, twining with my fingers to stroke the ring he'd placed on my hand. The promise he'd made.
"I do have a lot of regrets in my life," I told him. "But I never regretted acting on the desires of my heart. And too often, I've regretted not acting; regretted the things I hadn't done. I regret that we've already waited so long. And for what? I don't want to wait for this war to be over; we can't know what might happen here—not even me, because things have already changed from what I once knew—and I don't want to regret not seizing this moment when we found it."
I could see the emotions and desires battling across his face. "My heart knows what it so greatly desires, but are you certain you are not rushing your own?"
My smile turned wistful, "You said yourself that many elven couples unite almost upon meeting and first giving their hearts. I wonder now why I've waited so long. I don't want this thing to be something I regret, and I'll never regret finding and loving you. I never thought it was possible to find someone who understands me the way you do. And maybe I've been in shock at actually realizing that you do not only understand me, but love me as well. In spite of what you know about me. It might even be selfish of me, but I'm not foolish enough to let you slip away from me. I don't want to waste this chance for us to be happy. Even if for only this moment in time."
The hand that had been pressed to my heart and twined with my fingers, slid up to curl around the side of my neck as Legolas lowered his forehead to mine, staring intently into my eyes. "Nay, we shall have many moments of bliss and happiness. Just this one moment shall never satisfy the longing in my heart for you. It demands years of bliss in your arms."
A grin stole onto my expression. "Greedy, huh? I think I can live with that."
He closed his eyes and pressed a soft, lingering kiss to my waiting lips, and then slid his mouth to my cheek, pressing soft kisses there until he'd moved to whisper in my ear, "But say not that joining your heart to mine is selfish, for if such a desire is selfish, than my own heart is mercenary in its long desire to have you for my own."
My eyes had closed at his kiss, but I smiled wider at his words. "And I want nothing more than those years of happiness you speak of, but I want even more than just years, I don't think even eternity would satisfy me." I opened my eyes and pulled back to let him see my grin. "What an insatiable and possessive pair we'll make."
Instead of laughing or smiling at my joke, a look of sadness flashed across his eyes, and lingered in his emotions. "Would that we had an eternity together. Much I would give for it."
My expression turned serious as well with his words, a piece of my heart feeling haunted by them. "Promise me something. Promise me one thing here and now before we go any further."
His head tilted in silent question.
"Promise me that when and if I die, you won't fade. I can't go any further until I know you'll continue on and do the things you were meant to do in the end."
He sighed deeply and looked away. "You ask much of me. To promise that I will cling to my fëa even as my heart will surely break." He turned back to look down at me. "Why do you ask this of me? What things are meant to be more important in my heart than you are?"
I bit my lip, wondering what I could tell him, and finally deciding I wouldn't lie to him. "The story has to end with you building the last ship to Valinor. There's so many other wonderful things you have to do in the interim, but in the end, when Aragorn willingly gives up his long days just as the kings of old did, you have to build the ship that will carry you and Gimli to the shores of Valinor."
A feeling of hurt and despair seemed to flash through Legolas as he pulled away from me and stepped out of my arms. He stood facing the field once more, his hands clenched tightly into fists. "You do not say that you shall come with us. Only that Gimli and I shall make this voyage."
He turned to look over his shoulder at me, faint starlight sparkling against the moisture in his eyes. "How can you ask such a thing of me? How can you ask me to sail to Valinor without you? It shall never be the promised paradise if you are not at my side."
I stepped closer and took one of his tightly clenched fists into my hands, dropping a kiss to the hard white knuckles. "I told you, I have to have Faith. I might not be able to sail with you to Valinor, but maybe I'll be waiting there for you after I'm gone. Even mortal souls are supposed to find paradise when they die, and the only paradise for me will be with you." I forced a light grin. "I'd just like to see those Vala keep me out of Valinor to be standing on the shore waiting for you and Gimli when you arrive." My expression turned serious again as I told him, "Besides, you have to go so that Gimli can come with you. He won't be able to get there on his own, he'll need you."
His fist relaxed slightly. "Gimli shall be granted access to Valinor?"
"Yeah, so who's to say I won't? Besides, if something does happen to me, you'll have Gimli to keep you company. Please, just promise me that no matter what, you won't fade. Promise me you'll build the world you're meant to build and that you and Gimli will have your grand adventures. I need to know that I'm not going to interfere with how the story is meant to end. Please," I pleaded.
He pulled me into his arms and pressed my face to his chest until I couldn't see his own any more. For several moments, he simply held me, until I didn't think he was going to answer me.
"Very well," he whispered. "You have my solemn word that I shall not fade upon your death. But I cannot promise not to mourn your passing for the rest of my days."
I pulled away from him and tugged his hand lightly towards the White City. "Hey, enough of this gloom and doom talk. If I've learned one thing, it's that for all I supposedly know about what's going to happen, nothing is set in stone or absolute. We've only got here and now. So let's enjoy it."
He smiled slightly as our fingers entwined and he followed me towards the gate, but I was determined to see that smile grow.
When we reached the gates, Legolas gave several low whistles and Arod appeared before us. He lightly stroked the gelding's neck, speaking soft elvish words to him before he turned and offered me a hand to help me up.
I almost refused the offer, but then realized as tired as I was, I was liable to end up on my ass in the dirt if I tried to swing myself into the saddle. Moving closer, Legolas shifted his hands and lightly grasped my waist, easily lifting me into the saddle before he sprang up behind me.
Legolas then surprised me by not reaching around me for the reins, instead settling his hands on my hips and patiently waiting for me.
I shook my head as I took the reins. "Only male I know who doesn't insist on doing all the driving."
With a squeeze of my heels, Arod started forward on the winding path up the levels of the city.
"What do you mean by driving? By your wording I take your meaning to be something other than driving a carriage or wagon pulled by horses," Legolas wondered behind me.
"Yeah, it's something from my world. Cars are the means of transportation there—think metal carriage that isn't powered by horses. And though my world, my country in particular, likes to think that we're all about women's equality, men still have hang-ups about some things, and letting women drive is one of them. I guess they feel they've given enough ground to women's liberation and feel like they have to hang on to being the masters of a few things."
I could feel Legolas shrug behind me. "It matters not who 'drives,' as you say; you are the one who knows this city." He waited a beat and then asked, "Least I assume you have a destination in mind? We could find a tent to shelter us on the field, as many others shall this night. I had merely assumed you had been given your own quarters within the city."
"Yeah, I've got rooms in the citadel," I replied with a dark laugh, remembering when I'd last been in them. "And while I can sleep on the ground as well as any man, I'm not going to turn down a warm bed. And a bath." Although I will make sure that damned door can't be locked again from the outside!
"Where is your mount, Elaina?" Legolas eventually asked as we neared the third level.
"He's still up in the stables near the citadel. I didn't have time to get him after the battle through last night and before the Rohirrim showed up this morning and we all were called onto the field."
"Tell me what has occurred since you departed," Legolas pressed, his hand sliding around to my stomach.
I dropped one hand to fold over his, glad for the cover of darkness and for the fact that the upper levels of the city seemed nearly abandoned. Most of the soldiers were still on the field helping to settle the Rangers and Rohirrim, helping to clear the debris in the first level, or caring for the wounded. At daylight, I knew the momentous task of clearing the dead from the field would begin.
My fingers trailed across the hand spanning my stomach as I briefly explained the highlights of the days since I'd had to leave with Gandalf.
"What about you?" I asked when I'd finished my tale. "I know most of what happened, I guess, but where's Gimli? I saw Aragorn and his men on the field, but I haven't seen Gimli yet."
Legolas chuckled, "Aragorn had explained to us that you met them upon the field shortly after we had debarked the ships, but Gimli was very anxious to face battle. He was most unhappy and unsettled upon the ship, and quite eager to ply his axe against the Enemy upon solid ground. After we found Aragorn some time ago, and he explained having seen you earlier in the day, I left to seek you on the field, but Gimli pleaded a greater need to sate his thirst and left in search of a tavern that might still have a supply of ale. He did ask that I send his regards and well wishes for a restful night."
I grinned and chuckled ruefully at Legolas's wording. "Not quite how Gimli put things, was it?"
"Nay," Legolas laughed merrily. "T'was not how he worded it, no. I think our helpful dwarf was ensuring we would have time alone together once I had found you."
He pulled against my stomach as he spoke, tugging me backwards until my back was flush against his chest. And I sighed contentedly at the mixture of tension and comfort the closeness created.
"I think I owe that dwarf a drink," I murmured, surprised by the huskiness of my voice.
We rode in comfortable silence the rest of the way to the citadel stables.
Legolas slipped down first, holding out his hand to help me down. Instead of swinging my leg over Arod's rump, I swung it over his neck and slid down towards Legolas facing him. But the instant my feet touched the ground, I kept sliding. Only Legolas's quick grip on my waist held me upright as my legs tried to buckle beneath me.
"Elaina?" Legolas gasped, concern and fear immediately flooding his face.
I braced my hands on his arms and willed my legs awake again. Once they accepted my weight, I smiled and assured my worried elf. "I'm fine, really. It's just been twenty-four hours straight of battle, and I don't know how long since I actually slept. My muscles are just weary."
He looked unconvinced and wrapped an arm around my waist once more to help me into the stables, plunking me down forcibly on an overturned bucket with a demand to "stay" as he placed Arod in a stall next to Lightfoot and quickly fed both horses.
I waited patiently, my eyes closing dozily as I listened to the barely audible shuffles of him moving around the stables.
Suddenly, I was lifted into strong arms. "What the—?" I gasped, my eyes snapping open to see that Legolas had scooped me up and was carrying me out of the stables towards the citadel. "Put me down, I can walk," I demanded, but the command sounded weak even to my ears.
"You are exhausted and can barely stand," Legolas replied, not slowing one bit. "You are so exhausted, you did not even fight me when I sat you down and told you to stay."
I glanced away, slightly embarrassed to be carried like a child. "I'm not exactly light," I mumbled.
Legolas laughed merrily. "Even dressed in chainmail you do not weigh more than a pittance. And as you said, you have fought in battle for a night and a day, and into another night. I fought only a day and into the night. I am more than capable of carrying you, Elaina love. Allow me this simple act of caring for you."
My eyes had been turned away, but I stole a glance back at him to see his absolute sincerity. And from how much ground he was able to cover—even while carrying me—I must not have been too much of a burden. At least to an elf.
As he walked into the citadel, we did pass the curious but ever silent Citadel Guards. They no doubt wondered what an elf was doing carting a woman around, but thankfully were too polite or too intimidated to ask questions. I gave Legolas directions, and soon we had reached the quarters I'd been locked into more than twenty-four hours before. I did demand Legolas set me down at the door, thankful that my previous guard was gone—likely called away to the battle. A large skeleton key was still in the keyhole, so I unlocked the door and took the key inside the room with me.
"I don't know about you, but I'm dying for a bath," I told Legolas as I turned around and gestured to my blood covered clothes.
Legolas glanced down at himself, stained likewise, though to a far lesser degree since he'd been on a horse above most of the carnage. "A splendid idea," he chuckled, stepping closer and running a single finger down the side of my cheek. I had no doubt it was covered in blood and grime.
"Ahem," I cleared my throat awkwardly, suddenly very aware that we were both alone in my room and just what my intentions for him to spend the night meant. "Maybe I should bathe first and then you can." At his knowing grin, I lifted my chin and shot back, "Otherwise we're liable to never leave that bathroom, and I do eventually intend to sleep in that bed."
"Of course," he demurred, that knowing smile still in place. Where had my blushing elf gone? "You are quite right, besides, sleep is what you need most." His face turned serious at his last utterance.
I walked past him, dropping my weapons, chainmail, and vest, and grabbing my pack from the bedside, thankful that I had at least one more set of clean, unstained clothes within it. As I brushed by Legolas, I tossed over my shoulder at him, "Sleep will come eventually; a bath's all I need to wake right up."
After I had bathed—and refilled the tub with fresh, clean water—I stood naked looking through my pack, trying to decide what to put on. Some sort of lingerie probably would have been appropriate, but I'd never been the type. Not that they had those sorts of garments here anyway.
Eventually, I settled for pulling my last unstained—and unripped—shirt on and leaving the ties open. The shirt opened in a V partway down my chest when it was untied, and the tails reached just down to my thighs.
Shouldering my pack again, I opened the door to the bathroom and walked back into the more spacious bedroom. Legolas had been standing out on the open balcony, but reentered the room when he heard the bathroom door open. He'd removed his dark green jerkin and slipped his boots off. Standing barefoot in only his pants and his loose, white linen shirt.
He smiled as he stared at me, and I suddenly felt shy. His look was more intense than ones I'd received from men when I'd been standing without a stitch of clothing on.
"I, ah, ran fresh water into the tub for you. It was pretty dirty by the time I was done."
My head dipped shyly down as I spoke, but I could hear Legolas slowly walk forward.
He gently took my hand, and lightly pressed a kiss to the palm. "I thank you for caring for my needs," he whispered, and then walked past me into the bathroom.
Once the door had shut, I released the breath I'd been holding, and then dropped my pack next to the bed again and stepped out onto the balcony. There was still a remnant of panic at being in this room again, but stepping out onto the balcony helped. As did being able to see the sky and stars.
It was strange to realize how much I'd missed the stars and sky in those days and nights when the Enemy's cloud had blanketed the sky like a canvas. Such simple pleasures as stargazing do something to infinitely settle my soul. Although, I supposed that had more to do with who I was able to see this night, than what.
"Your hair seems almost brown or black bathed only in moonlight," Legolas said behind me.
I turned around, leaned back against the balcony wall, and observed him leaning against the doorway to the balcony as we stared at each other. He'd only pulled on a clean pair of pants, his slick hair was unbraided and falling over his shoulders in loose waves darkened to an amber wheat by the water.
Irrational nervousness suddenly filled me as I gazed across the space separating us. But Legolas merely waited, letting me gaze at him and calm my nerves. When he held a hand out to me, I stepped forward and placed my own in his, letting him draw me closer.
His gaze drifted down, but I was surprised by the frown that suddenly crossed his face. "What is this?" he asked, his fingers gently probing at the exposed skin of my chest. I looked down to see what had caught his attention.
"Oh, I cut myself trying to get out of a dress," I muttered.
"You cut your way out of a dress?" he repeated, his brows skyrocketing at that.
I explained with a sigh. "It's a long story, but Lord Denethor was afraid I'd ride out to battle like I'd ridden with the Dol Amroth cavalry before, so he had a soldier lock me in my room. He was trying to do what he thought was right, I guess, keeping a woman out of battle, but when I got locked in here, I kinda freaked out and had a full-blown panic attack. Then I couldn't breathe in that stupid dress so I had to cut it off. And when I finally got out, I went down to the battle anyway." I shrugged again. "It's not a big deal."
His fingers traced one of the visible scabs as he closed his eyes, a feeling of pain emanating from him. "And this too you had to bear alone," he whispered.
My hand caressed his cheek as I assured him, "There wasn't anything you could have done. It was just a stupid reaction on my part. I thought I was past having all-out panic attacks like that, but it just happened. No big deal. It's done."
He didn't respond, just stared down at the scab as he traced it.
Eventually, his eyes came back to mine as he motioned back into the room. "Come. You are exhausted and in need of rest. I would hold you for the night as you sleep, or if you would rather, I would be contented with merely watching you sleep. My heart has ached for such simple pleasures." I smiled at his phrasing nearly identical to my earlier thoughts about the stars.
But I stepped past him and walked to the bed, gathering my shirt at the hem and crossing my arms as I pulled it over my head and tossed it aside. I shook my head to resettle the gentle damp curls of my hair, and turned back to face Legolas.
"No. No remorse. I don't want there to be any regrets between us. No more waiting. I know what I want, and so do you. And there will still be plenty of night left for sleeping when we're done." I backed up as I spoke, feeling the edge of the bed press into my back and having to jump slightly to sit on top of the tall bed. With one hand held out in invitation, this time I waited for Legolas to come to me.
I laid beside Legolas in the bed, trying to catch my breath and remembering the words he'd so reverently spoken to me.
He'd spoken first in elvish, but then repeated them in Westron, "I choose you, Elaina, for all eternity. My life to your life, entwined throughout all time. I bind myself to you hröa and fëa. Body and soul."
I hadn't known if there were specific words I was supposed to say in return, but as I stared into his lust and love darkened eyes, words came easily to my lips, pouring out strangely enough in Silva, the language of my father's people. "I take you, Legolas, as my mate. Mine alone, for now until the end of time. I give to you in return all that I am. My soul within you, and yours within me. I bind all that you are to me, and all that I am to you. Body and soul." I had then lowered my lips to his and spoke against them in Westron, "Body and soul."
I shivered at the memory.
"You really do need to teach me Sindarin now. I think I understood maybe one word in twenty that you were saying to me," I laughed in a shaky voice.
I felt him smile against my chest before he finally pulled back, his lips turned up in a sleepy almost lazy grin. "Of course I shall teach you Sindarin, if you shall teach me the language you spoke. It was lovely."
I shivered again, partly at the cold air blowing across my sweaty skin, and partly at him wanting to know anything more about my father's people. Still—"Maybe someday. It's Silva, the language my father's people speak. I'm not even sure why I spoke it. It just came out."
Seeing my shiver, Legolas pulled the disarrayed sheets back up from the foot of the bed and covered us both, laying on our sides the joined hands from the hanfasting he'd insisted on between us on the mattress. He'd seemed intrigued by my explanation, but didn't immediately address it.
"Do you wish me to close the door to the balcony?"
"No!" I cleared my throat and said more sedately, "No. Better not. I don't think I could fall asleep in here if I didn't know I could easily get outside."
Amazingly, he accepted my strange demand in stride, only moving to tuck the blankets tighter around my body.
"Your father's people speak a language called Silva?" At my nod he continued, "It seems achingly similar to the language we speak in Mirkwood, yet I cannot quite catch the words with my ear."
"It doesn't sound like Sindarin to me," I told him, trying to remember the few Sindarin words I knew.
"Nay, not Sindarin, but Silvan. My people long spoke Silvan before we learned Sindarin to communicate with other elves, but we still use Silvan much at home, especially in ceremony."
"And it sounds like Silva?"
"Similar, but not the same." He paused and then said something, presumably in Silvan.
I popped up on my elbow and looked down at him. "You're right. My brain feels like it should almost know that, but I can't quite catch it. What did you say?"
"I love you."
With a grin, I lowered myself back to the bed, pushing the matter away for the moment. There would be time to dwell on the eerie similarities later
"So, we're married now?"
He chuckled at my words and kissed our joined hands. "Indeed. We are now wed. Perhaps not how I had imagined it, but no imagining could have done this binding justice."
"Yeah, it wasn't like anything I'd imagined, either. But I have to say I'd recommend it over those silly church weddings any day."
"'Church?'" he repeated, his free hand reaching out to twirl a curl of my hair around his fingers.
"A place of worship where my people generally hold their wedding ceremonies."
"Do you regret not having such a ceremony?"
"Naw. No way. I couldn't have imagined anything better. A blend of your elvish customs and my mother's Celtic ones. Perfect."
With a silly happy smile, I told him, "You know, I could almost believe in fairytales."
"'Fairytales?'" he repeated.
I chuckled darkly and explained, "They had nothing to do with my father's people—well, not really anyway, other than having these little fairies in them that are nothing like the real Fae—but they are stories humans in my world tell their children. They always start out with 'Once upon a time,' and then end with 'And they all lived Happily Ever After.' It's usually about some helpless princess locked in a tower and or guarded by a dragon or witch or some other frightening thing, waiting for her dream prince to come along and rescue her from the dragon, or witch, or ogre. And it always ends with the prince triumphing over evil and riding away with the princess to live happily forever."
I laughed as I remembered my mother's versions. They were usually more Celtic influenced tales, and far darker. "Even though I could have only been two or so, I remember my mother telling me that the stories parents told their children about 'Happily Ever After' were cruel lies to tell children. That stories should never be ended with 'Happily Ever After' because that's not where the story really ends. There's always more, and she said it was rarely happy. She always said the best a story could have for an ending was to say, 'and they lived happily from that day 'til this.' She said you never knew what would happen after one story had ended."
I looked back into Legolas's curious eyes. He was obviously waiting patiently for me to come to my point. "I'm just saying that here and now, I can believe that there could be unending happiness in store for us. Not just happiness until this point in the story."
"We shall be happy for as long as I have any say in the matter," he assured me. "Though, I could never see you being as the 'helpless princess' you describe in these types of stories. Your own story would not tell of you waiting passively for your savior," he added with a brow raised in challenge.
I laughed when I realized I had indeed just been "locked in a tower," but he was right, I hadn't waited for my prince to rescue me. I fought a girlish giggle as I said, "No, maybe not, but my handsome prince did still come."
"Indeed," he laughed.
And then it hit me. "Oh god, you really are a prince, too. Does that make me a princess?" I gasped, popping up on my elbow.
But Legolas laughed even harder at me, rolling onto his back, and dragging our bound hands across his chest with him. "One would think some horror has just befallen you from the look on your face. Tis not so bad a thing, is it?"
I flopped down on my stomach, my arm still stretched across his chest as I buried my head in my pillow. "Yes," I said, the sound coming out muffled, so I turned my head to face his laughing eyes and continued. "I've avoided my father and that political bullshit for most of my life, and now, I fall smack dab in the middle of it in one night."
Legolas tugged on our joined hands and drug my upper body partially over his chest until I was looking down into his eyes. "I do not understand," he said. "You speak of your father and 'political bullshit,' what exactly do you speak of?"
I sighed, not really wanting to get into it, but feeling like Legolas had more than the right to know at least the broad strokes of my homicidal family now. I dropped back onto his chest and stared blankly at the stone wall as I spoke into the still warm skin of his chest. "It's why my father found my mother and had a child with her. She was descended from one of the oldest Celtic families, one that was supposed to have had a lot of old and powerful magic in its history. Some of it was Fae magic, from times throughout history when the Fae stole daughters of our line and impregnated them. I don't remember all the details, but my mother's family was supposed to have been quite powerful. They were always at war with the Fae, and usually got their daughters back before they gave birth, but the deed was done so to speak, and Fae blood was introduced into the family bloodline. But anyway, there was other magic in our family too, Druid magic was the most powerful in our line, and it was said that mixing the Fae blood with the Druid and other magics made our family extremely powerful for a time. Powerful enough that even the Fae had to back off and avoided them. An uneasy treaty or at least an informal truce was formed, and they left each other alone for hundreds and hundreds of years. But in the recent generations of my mother's family, the blood and magic had weakened.
"I guess my father thought infusing more Fae blood with my mother's bloodline would recreate the powerful magic that it had produced in the past." I shrugged absently. "But it didn't work like he'd planned. I was born, and while I have some Fae attributes—I can speak Silva, feel magic, and a few other things, none of it was the ability to really perform magic like he'd hoped."
"But you can feel emotion and hear thoughts," Legolas pointed out, his chest rumbling beneath my ear and cheek.
"Yeah, but that's not a Fae trait. Not magic. My grandmother once said she thought it might trace back to the Druid part of her line, but I don't know."
"Why was your father so eager to have offspring capable of strong magic?"
"To kill his father."
I felt Legolas's startled jerk beneath me, so I continued. "My grandfather is, I guess you'd say, king, or emperor of the Fae, and my father covets his position. But matching strength for strength, my grandfather's much stronger since he's so old. His reign has lasted longer than any other Fae before him."
"Then you are a princess in your own right," Legolas said in a shocked voice.
I braced my free hand on the mattress and propped myself up to look down into his eyes as I shook my head. "No. That's not how the Fae do things. Fae are immortal just like elves are, but like I said, they're a brutal and violent race. Their rule isn't decided by bloodline, but by strength alone. The new ruler isn't chosen by birthright, he takes it by assassination. I'm merely descended from the current king; it doesn't make me anything to him or his reign. Not that he even knows his wayward son has a daughter. And my grandfather'll rule until he's killed, maybe by my father—who's certainly ruthless and conniving enough—or eventually by some other Fairy."
He stared up at me in shock. "A most brutal race," he finally observed in a quiet tone. "But you would not have to worry about such violent animosities or struggles amongst my kindred. We do not even have to remain in Mirkwood, as I once told you. We can settle in any land you would prefer."
I pulled away and laid on my side again, my mind lost in memories of my father and his machinations to become the new ruler of the Fae, wondering if I was really so different from him. I was a soldier. I'd killed men and many different creatures now.
Legolas tugged on my hand bound with his to get my attention, even placing another kiss on my knuckles. "You are nothing like your father nor his kindred. There is nothing violent nor brutal in your spirit. You are a warrior, yes, but no different from elven warriors. You fight to protect, but mourn those who must be slain in battle. That you possess such kindness and love in your heart is all the more precious to me now. I know it was difficult to speak of, but I thank you for telling me more of your father's people."
Relaxing at his words, I smiled and said, "Thank you for always saying the right things and knowing just what's bothering me."
I watched a drop of sweat race down his shoulder and across his pec muscle, fighting the urge to reach over and lick the moisture away. He must have seen something of the desire in my eyes though, for he grinned arrogantly and pressed a kiss to my bare shoulder.
My body started to heat again in response.
Legolas saw the passion rising in my eyes and gave that self-satisfied chuckle again. "The hour is late and you have been long without sleep and greatly taxed by battle and now our binding. You should rest, Elaina love."
I shook my head and pushed at our joined hands until he'd rolled onto his back once more, noting that he easily rolled over, not fighting me in the slightest despite what he'd said. "I'm not that tired. Not yet." My free hand stroked down his flat stomach. "And neither are you," I told him with a grin.
We did sleep eventually, but by then, we were both well exhausted.