Title: Diplomacy Part 1

Author: Arisma

Rating: R

Disclaimer: Obviously I don't own LOTR, the characters, the settings, any of it. I write non-fan based fiction and this story is the product of that line being crossed with my unhealthy fixation with a certain elf. I'm making no money off this, in any way, shape or form, though feedback is better than cheesecake. Feedback: chalice_nazarene@hotmail.com

He shook his head in irritation, blond hair flying before sighing in resignation. He left the archery range unhappily, not looking forward to the day's duties. His feet flew as he crossed the grounds, entering his room, depositing his bow and quiver inside. He bathed quickly, slipped into ceremonial robes and sat to twine his hair into the distinctive Mirkwood style. His fingers flew in the practiced motions and his mind wandered, wishing there was some way to get out of these particular events. It was not that he often shirked his duties as prince, but the emissaries from Quelnassar were nearly unbearable.

Undoubtedly he would be expected to smile as they lauded themselves, praised the glory of their culture. He snorted loudly and stood, steeling himself for the day. It was important for the realm, he reminded himself, and his father was trying to forge an alliance with the strange elves. The Quel were a small nation, though rich in magics and natural bounties. He shook his head, no way out.

Later, seated atop a semi circular dais, he watched as musicians played the distinctive stringed instruments the Quelnassar favored. With a rustle of silk the lady next to him leaned to his ear, a bit too close for comfort and whispered, "I see the music is moving you, your highness. We are a passionate people, and it shows in our every product. When the song is finished we shall have a special showing for you, and I think you will find it quite interesting."

Legolas smiled in return, wishing he were anywhere else in the realm. The emissaries had arrived some weeks earlier and had spent the bulk of their stay lording their supposed superiority to any who would listen and putting on performance after performance, none as spectacular as they made them sound. Finally the music ended and he brought his hands together, genuinely applauding, though in truth not for the song but that it had finally ceased.

A page came forward, dressed in the flamboyant colors the Quel preferred and announced in a sonorous voice, "My lord Edelmon has procured for your enjoyment the finest of elvish combatants, rarely seen outside the jeweled lands of Tel'Quelnassar, the legendary Querimhinue." He finished with a flourish, bending double before walking out of the circle.

Legolas tried to appear interested, affected excitement and peered forward as though truly interested. A male elf stepped forward, garbed in strange flowing clothes, his arms bare, as well as a good portion of his torso. On his hips rested two sheathes, elaborately decorated hilts thrusting proudly before him. He walked to the center of the circle with a deadly stride, his eyes cold and distant. Bowing low he intoned, "I am Harilan Yewsthorn, Querimhine of the Bar, bladesinger to the nation which I serve."

He straightened and looked to the lead emissary. Receiving a small nod he ascended the dais and knelt before the lady emissary who had spoken to Legolas previously. He bent his neck low and said in a loud voice full of pride, "This day I would give my tithe to you lady, and fight for your name, if you would have me." She smiled, greatly pleased and raised the kneeling warrior, kissing him lightly on both cheeks. "I accept your tithe, warrior and place my name in your hands." He bowed low again and began to descend the dais as the lady leaned to Legolas, and began explaining in a low voice. "This is a high honor, to be selected by Querimhinue. By accepting his tithe I pledge to grant him a favor and a gift if he should win, a favor and a gift to the holder of the victors tithe if he should fail." A rigid smile tugged her lips as she said, "It is unlikely he should fail."

Legolas looked at the glitter in her eyes and suppressed a shudder, turned his attention back to the events as they unfolded before him. There seemed to be a disagreement from the clearing, heated voices reaching his ears, though they were too far away for him to understand the words. Finally a page came forward, bowed low and whispered into the ear of the lead emissary. The elfs eyes narrowed and he made a negative gesture with his hand. The page gulped and leaned in to say something more and the fury in the emissaries eyes startled the prince. He answered the page sharply, the lad walking swiftly back to the clearing. He spoke briefly to the elf that had sent him, who then turned and waved a hand to someone out of sight, the view blocked by low-hanging trees.

He heard the lady next to him suck air between her teeth and turned to regard her curiously. Her eyes were narrowed and her teeth bared, an unmistakable grimace twisting her fair elven features. Intrigued he looked back to the figure approaching, and found himself suddenly unable to breathe. An elf maid walked towards the circle, pale face framed by hair of the blackest black, shining blue where the sun kissed it. She wore similar attire to the male, though more delicately cut, her abdomen standing bare. Around her waist nestled a fine belt of silver links, dripping with miniscule bells. Another such chain wound around her wrist and another around her ankle, brushing the tops of her bare feet as she glided towards them.

She stopped, snapped to rigid attention, her movements eliciting a shower of tiny music. She spoke softly, her words carried through the air as though by magic. "I am Rhyalla Nailo, of the house Nailo, Querimhinue of the Chorus, bladesinger to the nation which I serve." She straightened and began again to walk forward, her eyes scanning the seated figures as she proceeded. Legolas felt a shock like electricity run through him as her eyes flicked over him, continued down the line. He stared transfixed as she climbed, came to stand before him. Suddenly she knelt before him, gracefully folding to the ground. "My lord," she said, her voice soft, speaking to him alone, "This day I would give my tithe to you, and fight for your name, if you would have me."

He found himself transfixed by her eyes, the startling blue of them, and the glittering flecks of silver that seemed to swirl within them. Nearby a throat cleared, breaking the spell. Dimly he remembered what the lady had done and reached out with unsteady hands, grasping the slender hand offered to him and raised her up. "I accept your tithe lady, and do place my name within your hands." He leaned forward and brushed her cheeks with his lips, feeling his back tighten as electricity shot through him.

She gazed at him, lips curled into a delicate smile and it took him a moment to realize she had asked him a question. He looked to her, mouth falling open, unsure how to answer a question he hadn't heard. Eyes full of amusement, she repeated softly, "My lord, may I please have the name which I am to defend?" Feeling his cheeks redden he answered, "Legolas Thranduilon, lady." She nodded, once, and turned in a symphony of bells and descended the dais. He watched her go, feeling strangely disconcerted. He felt eyes upon him and turned to see the lady emissary glaring. He snapped his mouth shut and nodded, hoping he appeared far more in control of himself then he felt.

The two elves stood facing each other, across the circle, arms hanging limply at their sides. In the flash of an eye they both held weapons, a matched pair each, though the males were longer and wider. They bowed low before they began moving, circling each other. Legolas stared transfixed, suddenly happy that he hadn't found a way out of the days festivities.

The pair eyed each other warily, circling, studying the movements of the other. Suddenly the male dashed forward, blades flashing in the afternoon light. Legolas winced in anticipation of the harsh blows landing but the woman got her blades up in time to block, never altering her step. Indeed her face seemed unchanged after the violent lunge and Legolas noticed the males eyes widen. A small smile curved the lips of the woman, and she moved forward, blades held at an angle to her body, spinning, presenting her opponent with a different aspect of her body by the second, all encased in a whirring sheath of blades, leaving him with no opportunity to strike.

The male backpedaled, frantically trying to regain his footing as the whirring blades approached. Metal rang on metal as the blades met again and again. Legolas noted the speed with which the combatants moved, the agility of their bodies. He heard another sound, over the blade ring, a faint sound of music. He realized it was from the bells the woman wore, turning her battle movements into a song.

The male scrabbled frantically, felt the end of the battle approaching. Legolas heard his neighbor suck in breath and knew she was unhappy with the turn the events had taken. He grinned thinking of her displeasure and nearly missed the finale of the fighting, as the male finally conceded, dropping his blades and pressing his cheek to the earth. The blur of movement ceased and the elf maid stood, hair falling softly around her, looking for all the world as though nothing had taken place.

Silence surrounded them as the woman leaned, pressed the pommel of her blade to the males head and straightened, not a hint of smile touching her lips. She turned and climbed the stairs, her strange eyes locked with Legolas' blue orbs. He couldn't take his eyes from her as she moved, hips swaying and bells ringing softly. She stood in front of him and a smile again touched her lips as she said, "My lord, I have successfully upheld your name this day. The honor of my victory lies with you, sir." She leaned forward then and pressed her lips to his cheeks, returning the gesture he had applied earlier. He smelt her hair as her lips brushed his flesh, felt a rush of desire looking at her so closely. He began to turn his head to claim her lips with his, remembered suddenly where he was and stopped abruptly.

She stood and he merely stared, not knowing what to say. With a rustle of silk the neighboring emissary moved to stand beside his throne, rested her long nailed hand on his shoulder. "Forgive Master Greenleaf, please, for he is untrained in the ways of Quelnassar courts. It is traditional, lord, to give your warrior a symbol of the debt you owe, some token to be returned to you later, when your pledge is fulfilled." She smiled indulgently, spoke as though to a child, her hand resting hotly on his shoulder.

He grimaced slightly, would have shrugged her hand away, remembered himself at the last minute. His mind whirred, searching about himself for a token to give to the lady before him. His gaze rested on his fingers, the ring that rested there, his signet. Before he could think he removed it, held it out to her saying, "This is all I have, lady, and would give it to you in honor of the debt I owe to you." A small smile touched her lips and she held her hand out to receive the ring, pressing her lips softly to the back of his hand as he released the ring into her waiting palm. "I accept your token, Lord, your thanks is precious to me."

He felt a tremor steal silently up his spine and fought to suppress a shudder. He withdrew his hand, feeling the spot where her lips had met burn with a nearly tangible fire. She bowed low, then, her eyes never leaving his, before turning to descend the steps one more time. Reaching the bottom, she turned and faced the gathering again. Her eyes glittered as she spoke, her words soft yet carrying through the air as though spoken loudly. "Yes my lady, as it is clear that he is unschooled in the ways of Quel courts, I feel it is my duty as the holder of his name this day to remind you to give to him also a token, a symbol of the debt which you now owe to him. It would be a shame if a shadow clouded your honor over a slip of the mind."

He heard the emissary pull breath in sharply, felt her stiffen beside him. He stared at the warrior woman as she stood her arms rested lightly on the hilts of her weapons, her wrists crossed delicately before her. A small smile tugged the corners of her mouth as she bowed, dark hair surrounding her, straightened and spun, leaving the clearing. He stared at her retreating form 'til it was lost behind a screen of trees, his eyes fixed on the spot he'd last seen her, lost in thought. A throat cleared and he turned to see the emissary holding out a small golden bracelet, her face twisted slightly. He held out his hand, saying, "Thank you, Mistress Lareitha, for this token of the debt which you have pledged to me. Shall we adjourn now for dinner?"

A brittle smile crossed her lips as he stood. She laced her bony arm with his and allowed herself to be led form the dais, towards the main house. As they passed the clearing he saw the tents of the Quelnassar and his eyes searched for the dark haired maid. He saw her standing before a tent of the softest blue, a banner standing before it, waving lightly in the soft breeze. He pulled his eyes from her, back to the woman on his arm and forced a smile onto his lips. He thought of the brief enjoyment he'd found in the battle and wished he could be nearly so excited over yet another state dinner.

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Days passed and Legolas found himself shirking his duties whenever possible, wandering as close to the encamped Quel warriors as he dared. Occasionally he saw her, felt his breath catch anew each time at her beauty. His mind turned over possible excuses to speak with her, found all his scheming lacking in subtlety. Far too much of his time was taken up with the emissaries, smiling at their stale jokes and pretending not to have heard their barbed comments. Finally, a week and more from the demonstration he was called into his fathers study.

He entered, bowing low to his father, took a seat across from him. His father shuffled papers about on his desk, looked up absently after several minutes. "Ah, Legolas. I have summoned you to inform you that you shall be leading a patrol into the borders. You leave later today. I trust you had no pressing plans?" He noted the harsh twist of his fathers smile and merely shook his head, saying, "No, my Lord." "Good. Prepare yourself. You will be accompanied by some of the Quel warriors. I expect you to take careful note of their worth in battle." When he finished speaking Thranduil dropped his head, dismissing his son with actions instead of words.

Legolas rose, bowed to his sire and left the room, fuming silently. Some day he would be seen as more than a messenger to his father, someday he would prove his worth to the realm. His ire rose as he made his way to his rooms, changing his casual attire for battle tested garments, snugging the tall boots and smoothing the leggings before adding a tunic of pale green. He bound his hair tightly at the nape of his neck, striding towards the stables as he flung his traveling pack and bow over his shoulder.

He calmed as he prepared his mount, combing him and saddling him carefully before leading him towards the courtyard. Arriving he saw several of his best warriors already gathered, waiting for his arrival to depart. He nodded to them briefly, swung into the saddle, eyes scanning for the Quelnassar warriors he was to study. He frowned when he saw none that was not of Mirkwood, cursed the visiting elves for their haughty demeanor. He wanted to be away as quickly as possible, away from his father and the smug emissaries.

A deep sigh of frustration emerged from his throat just as the soft sound of hoof falls reached his ears. Turning he saw several of the large Quel horses coming towards him, the leading animal smaller and more delicate, as was its rider. His breath caught when he saw her face, delicate above her polished armor, dark hair pulled back though wisps had escaped and blew softly in the wind. Her eyes sparkled and he felt himself fall into them, everything dimming but those points of shimmering indigo fire.

His horse leaned forward and nudged him, breaking the connection. He painted a front of irritation to cover his embarrassment, said gruffly, "Well, as you have finally deigned to join us we can finally be away." He saw a brief flash in her eyes, though her tone was meek when she said "My apologies, Lord, we were unaware of a concrete time for departure. Next time we shall endeavor to arrive in a more prompt manner." He nodded, turned and mounted, not daring to look at her again, knowing he would be too distracted by her beauty. Nudging the horse forward he left the city, thankful when the wilds surrounded him.

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They rode for hours, a clear distance between the Mirkwood riders and the Quel. He glanced in their direction occasionally, noticing the way they rode, practiced, at ease in the saddle. They rode in absolute silence, even their horses making nary a sound in the fallen leaves. Their formation was tight and never wavered, each rider exactly equidistant from the one behind as well as the one before in the line. Several times he saw them raise their hands and move their fingers quickly, signaling. Each time he saw it he was amazed at the dexterity of their hands. He was renowned for his speed and yet did not think he could match half their motions.

As dusk descended he signaled a halt, eyeing the clearing he had chosen critically, deciding it was a fine choice. He slid from his mount and was shocked to see the Quel warriors already dismounted, their saddles in the process of being removed. He shook his head and began to unsaddle his own mount, wondering at the efficiency of the strange warriors. Lost in thought he curried slowly and carefully, falling into the animals care and losing his attentiveness to what was happening around him. A smell of spices found his nose and his head jerked up. To his dismay he saw two separate cooking fires and noted the sour looks on the faces of his warriors.

He moved quickly to his second, asked quietly, "What's this, Kailin? Why are there two fires?" His second wrinkled his nose, answered in a surly tone. "You think we want to cook our food next to something that smells like that?" Legolas stared at the elf for a full minute, watching as he began to squirm before finally saying "Apologies, My lord. One fire. I understand." He bowed low and turned, began giving orders for the dismantling of their cooking fire.

Legolas shook his head again and turned towards the Quel, ready to offer his apologies for the rude treatment of his second. He pulled up short however, nearly colliding with a proffered plate of a thick, pungent stew. He raised his eyes to see her standing there, holding it out, the familiar smile tugging the corners of her mouth. He felt himself falling into her gaze and pulled away abruptly, focused instead on the plate. "A custom among my people, Lord, to give the first portion to the leader of any band." Her voice was like honeyed satin.

He reached out and grasped the plate, his fingers brushing hers in the process. He thrilled at the contact, fought back the silly smile that threatened to break over his face. He nodded to her, avoided her eyes and replied in a light voice, "Thank you, Lady, it is a great honor." He watched as she bowed and then spun away, returning to the fire. He couldn't help but stare as she walked, sinuous and elegant. He heard a voice clear and he tore his eyes away, looked at his second, saw the grin on his face and sighed.

Settling onto a log he raised a spoon of the stew to his mouth, watching as his warriors studied his face, looking for all the world as though he were raising a poisonous adder to his lips. He opened his mouth and inserted the stew, prepared himself to quash a look of disgust. The heat surprised him, but it was not unpleasant and by the third mouthful he realized he enjoyed the pungent mixture immensely. Ignoring his troops looks he continued to shovel the stew into his mouth, making a small disappointed sound when his spoon finally came up empty.

Grinning broadly at his second he walked to the Quel warriors, his eyes scanning the faces before him. His heart sank when he realized she was not there, the glib speech in his head dissolving as quickly as it had formed. He stood a minute, trying to plan a course of action when a large elf stepped in front of him, his broad shoulders nearly level with Legolas' head. His eyes glittered menacingly down at him, but his voice held a careful edge of control when he spoke, "May I help you, my Lord?" Legolas cleared his thoughts quickly, sensing something dangerous in the elf before him. "I was merely coming to thank your commander for the stew, and to return the plate." He said, holding the plate before him. The Quel warriors face broke into a tight smile as he took the plate from the other elfs hands. "I will be sure to tell her when she returns, my Lord." He said, the mocking in his voice barely concealed.

Legolas nodded and returned to his warriors, silently wondering at the large elves veiled disrespect. He seated himself next to Kailin, a bitter twist apparent on his lips. He saw his second watching him and felt the other elfs ire rise. 'If I stay, he'll start a fight' he thought pensively, rising again to his feet. Aloud he said calmly, "I'm going to go for a small walk, clear my head a bit and check the lay of the land nearby." Kailin nodded at his commanders words, his eyes resting darkly on the large elf laughing with his compatriots across the fire.

Legolas flashed a weak smile at his fuming second and walked away from the fire, the light of it soon lost in the deep dark of the forest. He breathed deeply as he walked, feeling his irritation leaving him with each exhalation. Unbidden an image of the elf maid flashed before his eyes, her face bright in his memory. He released a shaky sigh and wondered why the woman possessed him so. She was lovely, true, but he had seen others as lovely. He had spoken few words to her and knew nothing of who she was besides her skill with the blade. He hadn't even known she held command until this very day. There was something about her though, something he couldn't define that made his blood burn every time he thought of her.

Suddenly he heard a branch snap in the distance, his hands going immediately to the twin long daggers he wore on his back. The blades caught the dying light as he moved cautiously towards the sound, staying carefully in the shadows. He heard the soft sound of feet shuffling in the fallen leaves, the occasional jingle of metal and his eyes lit with a battle lust that surprised him. A flash of reflected light met his eye and he dropped lower, scanning the clearing ahead, still not seeing the source of the sounds. He moved behind a convenient outcropping of rock and peered intently into the darkness of the clearing, cursing the clouds that gathered thickly around the moon.

He heard soft footfalls within the darkness, light and quick, and his eyes narrowed. Whatever was before him knew something of stealth. He was certain there was only one creature there and he readied his blades to charge when the clouds finally freed the moonlight. Finally after agonizing seconds ticked by the moon began to seep through the thinning clouds and he made ready to spring, eyes scanning the clearing quickly looking for his prey. Suddenly the clouds fled and he saw his victim, saw also the point of a blade resting lightly just below his collarbone. He raised his eyes 'til they met hers and he couldn't help but smile.

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"Kailin will never forgive you if you run me through." He said softly, lightly, his smile undaunted by the steel so near his heart. He looked more closely at her face and saw a look of dismay there and felt his smile slip. She removed the blade quickly and let it fall towards the ground, her eyes fixed to his face, her brow furrowed as though deep in thought. He rose, keenly aware of the proximity of her body and asked "Lady, are you alright? Should I go?" She bit her lip as she looked at him, then said softly, "No, stay, if you would."

His smile returned and he tried to act nonchalant, walking by her and talking lightly of the journey they had made today. He felt her eyes on his back as he walked, and his voice faltered. Slowly he turned towards her and his breath caught at the intensity of her gaze. "Why did you come here?" she asked softly. Her words caused a thrill to pass his spine and he floundered briefly for words before saying "I just wanted to clear my head, really, and I thought maybe I'd run into you." he said, coloring as the too honest words slipped out.

Slowly he raised his eyes again to her face, afraid to see her reaction to his statement. "You wanted to see me?" she asked again in the same soft voice, her face revealing little of her thoughts. He swallowed deeply and felt the reply pour from him unheeded. "I did, Lady. Since the first day I saw you, you have never been far from my thoughts. I don't know why, but I had to seek you out, if not now, then soon, because you fill my thoughts and I feel lost without you." Realizing what he had said his mouth snapped shut, his teeth meeting with an audible click. His gaze had drifted to the ground and he let it stay there mortified at the words that he'd just spoken.

He heard her move and let out a sigh, sure she was fleeing him and his strange statement. He felt a small hand beneath his chin, gently raising his face. He looked at her eyes, so close to his own and felt his cheeks grow hot. She took a half step closer, her hip brushing his own, and raised her face to his. He looked at her, unsure of her intentions. Her lips parted and her words were a mere breath of sound, "You felt it too." He nodded as her other hand moved to his neck and her body pressed closer to his.

Suddenly he could contain himself no longer and he pressed his lips to hers, startled by the strength of his desire, fearful that she would deny him. Instead she returned the kiss, deepened it, her arms encircling his neck, pulling him even closer. His arms wrapped around her and he shuddered as her hair brushed his bare flesh. He spread his hand on her back and rubbed lightly, feeling her shudder against him, a small sigh leaving her. His focus narrowed, the taste and feel of her filling his world and his mind reeled at the heady mix. Her kiss became more insistent and he met her demands gladly, feeling something almost feral awaken within him.

Desperate for air he broke the kiss and realized his knuckles were brushing rock, lost in the passion he had pushed her into the rock face behind them. Startled he began to pull away, only to feel her hand pull his face towards her, thought soon lost in the velvet crush of her lips. Minutes passed and he began to feel lightheaded, the desire coursing through him the most powerful he had ever felt. Conscious thought fled and he lowered his hands to her buttocks, lifting her, pressing her against the rock, her legs wrapping around his waist. She moaned softly into his mouth and he shuddered, his hands trembling as he tried to remove her shirt, her own hands doing the mirror to him. With an animal growl he ripped it from her, letting it drop to the ground as his own fell free.

Even in his near frenzy his breath caught at the perfection of her, and he stared, running his hands and mouth over her super heated flesh until with a low growl she arched her back, rubbing against him as he pressed her to the rough stone. Dizzily he claimed her mouth, one hand twining into her hair as the other began unlacing his breeches. He felt her hand leave his neck and knew she was working on her own clothes. He set her down reluctantly, needing both hands to shed the unwanted articles. When he was finally free of them he raised his eyes and looked at her, standing before him, bathed in moonlight, every inch of her skin bare to his touch.

His eyes drank her image like a fine wine, lingering at the hollow of her neck, the smooth expanse of her stomach. Her hand traced a soft line across his chest and he jerked at the sensation, unable to take the time to worship her as he desired. Instead he walked forward, his eyes locked to hers, again pushing her against the stone. She wrapped her arms around his neck and lifted with him, settling against him naturally. He lowered his head to her neck, kissing the soft flesh, tasting her, until he felt her hands twine in his hair, pulling his face back level with her own. She trailed soft kisses along his jaw until she came to his ear, whispering to him "I want you inside of me." then tracing the shape of his ear with her tongue, lightly nipping the point.

He shuddered and lifted her, angling her carefully and lowering her again, feeling her warmth envelop him. She gasped and he looked at her face carefully, saw her biting her lip, a small bead of blood escaping beneath her teeth. Leaning forward he kissed away the blood, waited until he felt her relax, every second gained by force of will alone. Finally he began to move within her, and this time she moaned as he set a careful pace, taking long, slow strokes, feeling the tightly coiled energy at the base of his spine increase with every movement.

He felt her drag her nails down his back and the combination of pleasure and pain threatened to undo him. He claimed her lips again, panting, and began to thrust harder, faster, his climax fast approaching. She moved against him, moaning into his mouth, her hands pulling him tight against her. Suddenly she cried out, her kiss frenzied for an instant then her teeth closed on his lip, painfully biting the sensitive flesh. He felt her muscles contract around him and he thrust a final time, spilling within her, gasping at the strength of the sensation. She rested her head atop his shoulder as he shuddered against her, his breathing coming in harsh gasps.

He pulled his head away and looked down at her face, opened his mouth to speak, just as he heard a voice in the distance call, "Legolas!" quickly followed by another shouting "Rhyalla!" She jerked her head up and her eyes met his. "Quickly, now." She said as he set her down. Quickly she gathered her clothes and dressed, as he did the same. She ran her fingers through her hair and smoothed it as best she could, doing the same to him as he finished lacing his breeches. When finally dressed he looked at her, looking mostly composed, though spots of high color adorned her cheeks.

Unsure what to say he merely smiled and she returned the look, laughing softly. He began to laugh as well, the intensity of the experience and the rush to dress leaving them punch drunk. He leaned forward and kissed her between giggles and she returned it in kind, twining her hand in his for a moment before turning to face the two elves approaching the clearing. Kailin and the large elf crashed through the underbrush, most un-elf like in their haste.

Each eyed their commander quizzically and the large elf asked, "What's so funny, Rhyalla?" She wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes and walked towards him saying "Why Kallo, we were merely discussing if perhaps the two of you had decided to switch allegiance to Jeff the god of clomping dwarves. most unseemly." She stood beside him, dwarfed by his huge stature as Kailin moved next to Legolas. "See you back at camp." She called as she began to walk away. Legolas merely nodded, earning an even more searching glance from his second. He merely shrugged and smiled, though he knew his gaze lingered on her as she walked away.

"What happened?" asked Kailin in a pointed whisper.

Legolas smiled at him, wrapped an arm around his shoulder and spread the other in an expansive gesture. "Why, Kailin, with this wide world to wonder at, do you focus on my actions so fiercely? Surely there are more pressing matters for you to ponder." He said grandly, smirking at his friend.

Kailin smiled back, "You're right, there are indeed. I do think I should tell you, however, that your tunic is on backwards."

Hastily Legolas checked the garment, found it in proper array. He raised his eyes to his second, feeling his cheeks flush though his grin remained. "Uh-huh.' Said Kailin, "as I thought." He chuckled and began walking back to camp. Legolas followed, trying to think of a way to refute his friends beliefs, finally conceding the point to him. They entered the camp shortly thereafter and joined the other Mirkwood soldiers around the fire. Time and again however his gaze was drawn across the fire to the raven-haired woman laughing with her troops. And almost every time he looked she met his gaze over the flames.

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More to come, please send reviews.