Author's Note: Oh boy. What has it been? Over two years? I AM SO SORRY! Unfortunately, real life took over for quite some time and I lost the urge and the time to write. Good news though...I have graduated with my Masters AND gotten married! :-) I am super excited about that, and I have been spending a lot of time just getting settled in. We just bought a new house and we have been doing a lot of work on that, so I have been super busy. Also, I had writer's block for quite some time, and eventually lost my password to log on to this silly site. And then, I accidentally deleted the email account I had registered for this site. Haha. Good work, right? Other than that, I have no real excuse. But I have recently found the time and motivation to start writing again. So fear not! I DO plan to continue both this and "Remembering You and Me" until they are complete. I apologize for the incredibly long wait this has been. But hopefully, this chapter makes up for it! For those of you who actually read this, thank you for sticking with me, adding me to your favorites, urging me on with PMs and reviews, and all that you have done! Hope you enjoy!
Chapter 8: Dorwinion
He could feel her eyes on him, but he dared not turn to meet her intense gaze. The firelight flickered tantalizingly through the large clearing, illuminating the glen for the Elves and their gathering. Music poured from the stringed instruments and woodwinds lovingly played by their owners. It seemed the glade was alive with the sound of it, bending and twisting through the night forest. Many Elves danced in the flickering light, while others mingled nearer to the trees. Wine was flowing freely and all partook in the drinking and making merry.
Legolas was moving through a quickly-paced dance, his feet nimbly keeping time with the lively melody of the song. To any casual observer, he seemed just another participant in the festivities. His long flaxen hair was only partially pulled back, no longer tied in the warrior braids that commonly adorned his head. He, as the majority of the ellyn in attendance, had discarded his silver-blue shirt when the dancing had started, so that his sinewy archer's build was visible for all to see. Subtle muscle rippled with each of his movements, drawing the gazes of many of the unattached females. His cornflower eyes sparkled with merriment and laughter as he deftly stepped and pranced his way through the dance. He traded partners with one of his friends from the guard, bowing low and flashing the elleth a dazzling smile before whirling her about around the fire.
Nevethiriel leaned casually against an ancient oak that stood on the edge of the clearing, watching on in interest. Legolas had insisted that she attend the circle with him, and she had reluctantly agreed. She'd refused to dance, however, and so he had been drawn into the festivities without her. He did return occasionally to repeat his offer in efforts to keep her from feeling left out. But she maintained that she would rather not attempt to frolic so foolishly around a fire in the middle of the woods. So she watched him instead, feeling for the first time what he had felt when she had blatantly aroused his jealousy all those months ago by dancing with Elerossë. The emotion bubbled up inside her, surprising her in its intensity, and she suddenly felt ashamed for the many things she had done to ensure Legolas' envy and anger.
They had, however, grown closer over the last several weeks, especially after she had gotten them in enough trouble to last them several human lifetimes. She had inadvertently put the both of them into a precarious situation, and Legolas had laid his own life on the line to protect her when he could have just as easily left her to her own devices and been rid of her and her foul disposition once and for all. For that, she found she was eternally grateful. And she had decided that perhaps it wouldn't be so bad to learn exactly who it was she had married. His selfless sacrifice had thrown many things into sharp relief, including the growing attraction she had been fighting so viciously against. She had come to recognize that being married to Legolas may not have been the curse she had previously believed it to be – and it was possible that something more could come of their relationship if she could simply learn to get along with him.
"You seem deep in thought, my Lady."
She startled from her contemplation when he spoke to her, and she realized for the first time that he was standing before her. Fighting back that glare that had come naturally all the months prior, she instead offered him a weak smile and a nod.
"Do you wish to leave?" he asked, not for the first time that night.
"No," she replied softly, shaking her head. She watched the dancing Elves for a moment longer, before turning to him and saying, "Teach me."
Legolas furrowed his dark brow in momentary confusion. But comprehension dawned on him a moment later and he gave her a genuine smile. He held out his hand for her, saying, "Of course."
Nevethiriel followed him towards the fire in the center of the clearing. Her nerve wavered for a moment, and she pulled him to a stop not sure of whether she should continue on. It seemed so strange that a society that appeared as stifling as that of the politically correct Thalmas Galan participated in such merry making. And though she often grew weary of the overwhelming differences between Imladris and the Greenwood, she was hesitant to take the one chance she was offered to simply let loose and return to her impractical leanings. She had been so bent on being miserable in her new home that perhaps she was afraid she would actually enjoy it.
Legolas eyed her curiously, watching the emotions war on her face. Knowing not what to say, or even if he should say anything at all, he simply stood by her waiting for her to make up her mind. He spotted an Elf winding through the crowd with a decanter and several fresh glasses of wine, and he waved him over. The prince snagged a glass for himself, savoring the heady rush that ran through him with the rich fruity taste. His interest was piqued and he quirked a brow when Nevethiriel took a glass for herself. To his knowledge, she had not touched any of the Wood's wine since her arrival, and she certainly hadn't been drinking anything this evening other than water. The strong Dorwinion vintage she had chosen would probably not sit well with her nearly empty stomach, but he said nothing as she quickly finished her glass, obviously looking for a little liquid courage.
Cheeks flushed and nerves steeled, she urged him forward. "All right. Can't be too difficult, can it?"
"No," he assured her. "We will start off with something simple. Keep in mind this is nothing like what you would expect from a formal function. No one will notice any mistakes. Just listen to the music."
The steps Legolas had presented her with at first had not been too complicated to pick up, though she was unsure of herself the first few times through the chorus. It was easy enough to follow him through the twists and turns of the dance without bumping into other couples or getting too close to the warmth of the fire. But as they continued on, the steps became more complex.
Noticing the sour look cross her face once or twice, Legolas offered, "Would you like to sit?"
"I think I would prefer another glass of wine," she stated. "It seems to help my dancing abilities."
"You enjoy the Dorwinion?"
"It has a different taste to it," she mused, allowing him to lead her toward one of the serving tables and fill a glass for her.
"Ada prefers it as well. I favor a lighter wine, though I must say there is something attractive about that vintage." He paused to watch her finish her glass yet again before offering a warning. "I also admit that it can be quite strong if not accustomed to such spirits."
"Are you suggesting I slow down?" she asked, quirking a brow.
"I am merely stating a fact. You may do with that as you wish, my Lady."
Nevethiriel easily picked up on his teasing tone. "You don't think I can handle a few glasses of wine, my Lord?"
"Any ordinary wine, perhaps. Dorwinion is another story entirely. Not all of its effects are fast-acting. It will begin its work several hours from now, but by that time I venture to say it would be too late."
"We will see," she intoned, refilling her glass and sipping at it slowly.
Legolas smiled and offered his hand. "Another dance, my Lady? If you are able…"
Enjoying the playful banter, the princess scoffed and placed her half finished glass at her spot at the table where they had dined. "I am more than able."
Nevethiriel could feel the heat rising in her cheeks. But that was not so worrying as the lightheadedness that had overtaken her. It was not sickening, but rather, almost pleasant as it tingled through her body. Her inhibitions had slowly faded, and Legolas had turned her loose to dance with several of the other ellyn present. Strangely enough, she was having a good time. A grand time, in fact. For the first time in months, Nevethiriel felt content. And bubbly. Bubbly? Perhaps that was the wine.
She had had several glasses since Legolas' warning earlier in the evening. Unfortunately, that hadn't seemed to work entirely in her favor when it came to executing dance steps properly, but her partners hadn't seemed to mind, Legolas least of all. When her current partner turned her back to her husband, she nearly fell into his chest, but managed to right herself at the last moment. The princess giggled uncharacteristically, though her smile was genuine.
"Are we having a good time?" Legolas asked, leading her around the fire once again.
"Indeed! Who could have possibly known that Wood Elves aren't as stuffy as everyone makes them out to be?"
The prince snorted indignantly. Apparently, the wine had no effect on her sharp tongue. However, it was most obviously having an effect. Her cheeks were a lovely shade of pink and her eyes were wide, the fire reflecting merrily in the green orbs. Though she was putting forth an excellent effort to keep her feet moving in time with the rhythm of the music, her steps were slightly off-balance and wobbly. Nevethiriel, Princess of Thalmas Galan, was drunk.
"How much wine have you had?" he inquired, leaning in with a smile.
"Enough," she quipped, poking him in the nose with her finger to push him away. "Six glasses at least…" She paused, distracted by his face. "You have lovely cheekbones. Did you know?"
Legolas grinned, wondering if she would have had the courage to tell him so without the aid of the Dorwinion wine. "I am glad you find them so, my Lady."
Nevethiriel blushed further, if that was at all possible. She wasn't exactly sure where that statement had come from or why it had so freely flowed from her mouth. It seemed as if she had no control over which of her thoughts to voice. And it was frightening to her how attractive Legolas had become in such a short amount of time.
That wasn't to say that she normally found Legolas repulsive. Just the opposite, in fact. In her desperate attempt to hate all that Thalmas Galan was, she had buried any thought of attraction to the regal prince. But now that the wine had eliminated the restraints she maintained on her feelings and thoughts, her submerged attraction to the handsome warrior was making itself known.
Suddenly dizzy and overwhelmed with her drunken enlightenment, she leaned into him, resting her head on his shoulder. His skin felt cool against her burning face. Strands of his golden hair mixed with her red tresses, and for a moment, she was mesmerized. But just then, butterflies roared to life in the pit of her stomach and she was unsure if the queasy feeling was a result of the wine or of his body being so close. Either way, she relished in the new sensation. Nevethiriel's small hands pressed against his chest, pushing him away from her ever so slightly. His subconscious move to wrap his arms around her waist did not go unnoticed.
"Legolas…" she started, her voice wavering.
He stared at her, his cobalt eyes meeting hers. "Yes?"
"I…" she paused, trying to draw her thoughts together. "I…am drunk."
A small smile crept across his face. "I am aware."
She frowned petulantly. "You cannot take advantage of me. I will not allow it."
"It was never my intention, my Lady," he assured her. "Though I must admit I find your candor quite charming. Particularly handsome, eh?"
Nevethiriel snorted, before being overtaken by a round of hiccups. "Hush. I am sure it is quite endearing. I assure you, this has never happened before."
Legolas nodded fervently, still grinning like he was privy to a secret no one else knew. "Of course not."
Glaring, she ignored the bait and continued. "Perhaps you should take me back to my chambers so that I may avoid any future embarrassment."
"Perhaps you should have stopped enjoying the Dorwinion when I recommended it to you, so you could walk there yourself…"
"Be quiet," she bristled, rubbing her forehead in consternation.
Legolas laughed. "I would be happy to walk you back," he whispered. "I am glad you were finally able to enjoy yourself in my home. Though I hope next time it doesn't take six glasses of Dorwinion to allow it."
The princess nodded, the quick motion of her head sending her senses reeling. The world spun, and she latched onto him to remain upright. "I think…I will sleep in tomorrow morning."
"I think you will not see the morning, and still feel like death when you wake in the afternoon," Legolas intoned, looping his arm through hers and beginning the walk back toward the gates.
"Why would you let me drink so much?" she whined.
"You wouldn't have listened. I figured it was best to let you find out for yourself. You won't do it again, I'm sure."
"You are a horrible person." Her foot caught on a root and she just about went sprawling to the ground, but Legolas' quick reflexes thankfully saved her the experience.
"Oh, indeed," he agreed. "Quite horrible."
Nevethiriel's thoughts raced, and she found she needed to stop walking in order to compose herself. No more Dorwinion for you, Nevethiriel, she swore to herself. Ever. As much as she reprimanded herself, however, there was no doubt in her mind this would probably happen again. Strangely enough, she found that it brought certain things to light. Like the situation with the Elf in front of her.
Legolas stared at her, clearly concerned that she was feeling ill. Moonlight streamed through the branches of the forest, illuminating his skin and making his hair appear almost silver. His hand gripped hers reassuringly, in case she was to waver. He had left his tunic back at the circle, probably intending to return once she was safely inside. Her eyes took him in before quickly darting to the ground. He was truly striking.
"Legolas…I…" she trailed off, losing her nerve.
He frowned slightly and urged her to start walking again. "It's best we get you into bed. It won't be long and you won't be feeling well at all."
"Speaking from experience, are you?" she questioned, following after him unsteadily.
"Yes," he answered briefly. "I remember my first few glasses of Dorwinion. Unfortunately. I would rather forget."
"I wouldn't," she said after a moment. "I think I have learned some very important things tonight."
"Indeed. I have learned that Wood Elves are quite the merrymakers. I have learned several new dances I am sure they would be thrilled to learn in Imladris. And I have learned how much wine not to drink ever again, as I don't hold my liquor half as well as I thought I did."
Legolas smiled. "These are all good lessons."
"And…you are not as horrible as I have often made you out to be."
"No?" he questioned, slightly surprised.
"No," she replied softly. "I was wrong to think so. I think, at the very least, we would make very good friends. We are more alike than I would care to believe. And I am far more attracted to you than I first thought."
The words spilled out before she had a chance to stop them. She clapped her hand over her mouth and color rushed to her cheeks yet again.
Legolas quirked a brow. Inside, his heart leapt. But his head warned against getting his hopes up. She was drunk, after all. He allowed himself a brief smile.
"Well, this is an interesting development," he finally intoned. "But perhaps we should see how clearly you are thinking on this tomorrow after you've dispelled yourself of the pounding headache you will have."
She grimaced. "Stop reminding me."
"Perhaps I shall wake you early in the morning for breakfast."
"Perhaps I will knock your face so hard with my fist that you will be unable to attend breakfast," she teased, easily falling into the banter with him.
"I doubt it," he countered. "You would hardly be able to aim in your state."
"Regardless," she stated, getting the last surge of courage she was sure to feel for the night. "I have meant every word I said tonight, whether I intended to say it out loud or otherwise."
"I will keep that in mind," he replied.
"I want to try, Legolas. I want to try…us."
I really hope you enjoyed this chapter. It's not too incredibly long, but I felt it was decent enough length. Let me know what you thought! It's been so long...I would be glad to hear from you guys again! Please review! :-)