A/N – Well, this is it…the final chapter. I hope everyone has enjoyed it. I had fun writing it and who knows, maybe I'll write another comedy sometime in the future.
Chapter 9 – The Stubbornness of Elves
Air…I needed to breathe fresh air or I would suffocate from the indignity of being reprimanded by my father in front of Merilin. Not to mention needing to come down from the adrenaline of a near sexual experience. Blazing Balrogs! If we hadn't been interrupted by my father and Lord Elrond, we would probably still be going at it.
I stepped out of the main door of the Inn and quickly walked around to the back, taking in large gulps of air. And then it hit me. The smell! Ugh! I looked around at the piles of garbage along the side of the building, fermenting in the heat of the rising sun. So much for fresh air.
I retraced my steps to get away from the stench and collided into Merilin as I rounded the corner.
She had fury written all over her face. But even then I couldn't remember ever seeing anyone look so beautiful. "What exactly do you mean by calling me a lunatic?" she asked.
"Allow me to explain so even you will understand." I leaned toward her, just to intimidate her. But I didn't think she could be. "First you tell me you want nothing to do with me. Then you say you love me. Then you deny it. Then you practically crawl into my clothes. And then you say we're the worst match ever! My head is spinning from you pulling me in different directions."
Merilin crossed her arms over her chest. "I never said anything about loving you."
"You said it when we were in the dressmaker's shop when I was knocked out by the door."
"How would you know what I said if you were unconscious?"
I shrugged. "Well, I wasn't completely unconscious. I heard you say it."
"It doesn't count!" she crowed.
"Sure it does."
"I thought you were unconscious."
"But you said it anyway."
"There are a lot of things I say when I am enraged, but that doesn't mean I mean what I say."
"You don't even know what you're saying right now."
"Legolas Greenleaf, you are a bottomless well of ignorance!"
"And you are a bottomless well of lunacy!" Then the voices reached me. Before she could say another word, I grabbed her and covered her mouth with a hand. She struggled fiercely. "Shhh, keep quiet for a second."
Merilin stopped struggling and I released her. Then we both listened to the voices coming from the window above us.
"I want you both to make sure the two return to Mirkwood without further incident." This voice belonged to Elrond.
"We'll take care of it expeditiously." This came from one of the twins.
"And fast, too." This came from the other twin.
I took Merilin by the arm and pulled her away to the other side of the building, the side that didn't smell like garbage. After checking to make sure no one else was around, I turned to face her. "Did you hear that? Elladan and Elrohir are going to escort us back home."
"That is fine by me. I care not to spend another moment alone with you."
"Well, that's because you can't keep your hands off me when we're alone."
Her jaw dropped. "Tis you who can't keep your hands off me!"
"Ha! I happen to have unrestrained self-control." Then before I knew what was happening, Merilin pulled the hem of her gown up to her neck. Of course my traitorous eyes betrayed me and reveled at the glorious naked sight before me. But it didn't stop there. My Elfhood instantly responded and if it could have spoken words, it would have said, 'please, please, bring me to her or I will shrivel up and die!' I quickly, but nonchalantly, tried to cover the growing reaction between my legs.
She smugly smiled and dropped her gown back down to cover herself. "You call that self-control?"
I frowned at her. "That's not fair! You can't just use your nakedness as a weapon."
"Why not? It proves you desire me."
"It proves nothing. I would have reacted the same with anyone."
"And then you wonder why I don't believe you wouldn't look at another?"
Arguing with her was exhausting, even for an Elf, and my own stubbornness wasn't helping the situation in the least. But I refused to continue any discussions out in the open where others might hear…even though we weren't actually out in the open at the moment or her little gown–lifting stunt would have caused many a head to turn. As soon as we were back in Mirkwood I would simply have to step up and tell her how I felt. And if she still denied her feelings for me…well then, I would just have to forget about her. "I'm going home. Are you coming with me or are you staying?"
"What about Arwen and Aragorn?"
"They can return with the others. You can do the same, if you want. But I'm leaving right now."
As I started to walk away, I hoped Merilin would follow me. But when I glanced back she was no longer standing where I had left her. I slowed my steps and thought about returning to the Inn and talking to her again. My heart told me to stop and turn back around but my feet trudged onward down the street.
It took me only a few minutes to walk to the bridge and cross it. Upon seeing me, the stable hand quickly retrieved Arod. I didn't even bother to acknowledge the young lad as I hopped up on my horse's back. Arod bolted away. I was certain he felt my agitation and wanted nothing more than to rush me home before I decided to slit my own wrists.
My thoughts were on Legolas as I rode with the others on our return trip to Mirkwood. Arwen had given me her horse while she rode together with Aragorn ahead of us. Behind them were her brothers and behind them rode King Thranduil. My guardian and I rode side by side behind the king. Surrounding all of us was a large group of Thranduil's guards, obviously to make certain their king remained safe in case of danger.
"Thranduil will force Legolas to marry you," said Elrond.
I turned to him with a sigh. "Nay, I don't want him to be forced, please. Things will only become worse."
"Why do you insist on surmounting the friction between you and Legolas? Tis no secret he is in love with you and you with him. Even I can see that. You need only to communicate your feelings to him."
"Adar, I'm deathly afraid to convey my feelings to him." Elrond had been a father figure to me all of my life so it wasn't uncommon for me to call him as such. (father)
"And why would you be afraid? You have known him all of your life."
"I know. Tis so difficult to explain when I myself can't quite figure it out. Perhaps a number of things add to my fear. If I were to be his wife then I might have to rule as queen someday. Tis a prospect I am uncertain I can handle. I also fear the very thought of bearing children. But most of all…I fear I will lose him to some of the dangers that still lurk in these forests around his home."
"Nothing you said is unnatural, Merilin. Everyone has fears. Legolas most certainly has his own fears to contend with."
"But I don't like the idea of you and his father forcing him into asking for my hand."
"Tis the right thing to do."
"I know what occurred the night of the King's Merrymaking Ball."
I was shocked beyond words. How had my guardian discovered that Legolas and I awoke in each other's arms? "Who told you?"
I narrowed my brows. "He told you? Why would he do such a thing?"
"Well, in his defense, Thranduil and I coerced him into admitting it."
"Meddling adanadar…" I whispered under my breath. (fathers)
"I only want what is best for you."
"I will tell you what is best for me," I said, wagging a reproachful finger at him. "Tis best if Legolas and I make our own decisions. I promise I will speak to him upon returning to Mirkwood and I promise I will be civil…if he is convivial in return."
"That is more than I can hope for," Elrond replied with a smile.
"And you will not send Elladan and Elrohir to spy on us."
He placed a hand over her heart. "Whatever gave you the idea I would do such a thing?"
As if he didn't know.
"The King has returned from Lake-Town, my Lord," said the sentry.
I nodded a thanks and waited for him to walk away before turning back to my task of fletching arrows. My first thought was that it had taken them long enough to return. I had been back for hours. My next thought was whether I should seek out Merilin and apologize once again for my less than tolerable behavior. But the moment the thought entered my mind, I quickly pushed it away. Her behavior had been just as intolerable. Why did I have to be the one to apologize? Even though I was not entirely at fault, I apologized the morning we discovered we had slept together. But instead of accepting my sincere apology she made it a point to place all the blame on me. I wouldn't make that mistake again. She needed to own up to at least part of the blame for we were most definitely both at fault…for drinking too much miruvor and for making the decision to share intimacy.
I cringed for a moment, hoping beyond hope that I hadn't forced myself on her. It was not in me to do such a thing, but one under the influence of an influential substance such as miruvor…anything could happen. Miruvor was not only a cordial, but it also stimulated an Elf, giving them an endless supply of energy. It was truly unfortunate that I couldn't remember the night because I could only imagine how frisky we had been beneath that tablecloth.
The bushes rustled behind me and Merilin's scent reached me before she stepped out in the open. "Legolas?"
I pretended to be engrossed in the fletch of my arrow and didn't look up to acknowledge her presence. "Aye."
Merilin sighed heavily and trudged over to sit beside me on the fallen tree trunk. "We need to talk."
"That is all we've been doing. What else is there to do?"
"Nay, we have not been talking, we've been arguing."
"Well, I'm done arguing, Merilin."
"As am I."
"Then that doesn't leave much else for us. We seem to thrive on arguments."
She reached out and yanked the arrow out of my hand. "Will you stop playing with that and look at me?"
When she tossed the arrow away, I had no choice but to look up at her.
"These last two days have been trying at best. But I will admit this to you, I have enjoyed your company, even though we spent most of the time sparring."
A group of guards decided to water their horses at the bank of the river only a few feet away from where we sat. I shook my head and sighed. No matter where I went in my own realm, there was never a place where I could enjoy a few moments of privacy. "This is not an appropriate place to continue our discussion. We will meet in my rooms."
"Why your rooms?" she questioned.
"Why not my rooms?" I decided to exaggerate what I imagined her thoughts to be. "Are you in fear of my sex-starved disposition?"
She raised her nose in that manner she often used, thinking she could humble me. "I am not afraid of you."
"Good. Immediately following the mid-day meal, I expect your presence in my rooms. We will settle this matter between us once and for all." We both stood up and I motioned with my hand for her to precede me. "After you."
"Nay, after you."
"I insist, after you." When she began walking ahead of me, I so wanted to raise my boot to her behind.
Then she reached around to place her hands there, as if reading my mind. "Don't even think about it, Greenleaf."
I hadn't eaten a thing since the previous night at the tavern. Even though my stomach grumbled for me to feed it, I absolutely felt no desire to shovel anything into my mouth. The silence around the table was disconcerting. No one spoke. Not even the twins. I especially found it odd that Aragorn and Arwen had nothing to say to one another. What was the matter with everyone?
I raised my eyes to look around at the others. They all seemed extremely preoccupied with the food in front of them. The only one I expected to be so engrossed in any meal was Gimli, Legolas's dwarf friend. He hummed to himself with every movement of his chomping jaws, which after awhile was particularly annoying. The King swirled a fork around his potatoes and did the same through his spinach. Then he seemed fascinated with the colors when he blended the potatoes and the spinach together. Gandalf and Lord Celeborn were also playing with their food in a rather uncharacteristic manner.
When I glanced toward Legolas, our eyes met. He squeezed them slightly and I mimicked him. Then he raised an eyebrow and I did the same. After a couple minutes of staring and making faces at each other, I had to control the need to laugh. I wondered if he was noticing everyone's strange behavior so I darted my eyes around at the others and back to him. He did the same and shrugged his shoulders.
Was he oblivious to the silence? This was not typical. Our meals in Mirkwood were always loud, with obnoxious laughter and ridicule. Even Gandalf was quiet and he always had some story to tell while everyone ate.
After awhile Legolas stood up, which immediately drew everyone's attention, as if they had been waiting for it. He looked around at the many eyes upon him.
"Are you finished, son?" asked Thranduil, suddenly interested in his son's appetite.
"Where are you going now?"
Legolas frowned. "I go to my rooms to rest."
Thranduil nodded in agreement. "A splendid idea."
The frown remained on Legolas's face as he stepped away from the table and quickly headed out of the dining hall.
I watched him depart and then realized all eyes were now on me. They stared as if they were waiting for something else to happen. I was convinced everyone had lost their mind. They were all acting strangely. "I am done, ada. May I be excused?"
Elrond arched a brow in my direction. "Of course, of course. You go to rest as well?"
I stood up and left the table. As I approached the doorway, I glanced back. All eyes were still on me. I nonchalantly smiled and waved. In unison they all waved back. I picked up my feet and rushed out of the hall.
In the corridor Legolas suddenly appeared from an alcove, making me jump. He took my arm and led the way.
"Why was everyone acting so strangely in there?" I curiously asked.
"You noticed that, too?"
"How could I not? Not a word was spoken the entire meal. Tis an oddity in this household."
"Perhaps we are not the only ones to experience several hours of insanity. Tis like Sauron himself tainted the miruvor and everyone has suffered for it."
I laughed. "Is that your explanation for our own behavior? The miruvor continues to taint our judgment?"
"I will accept any excuse at the moment." Legolas led us down two other corridors and finally through a doorway. "Just a minute." He released my arm and immediately went into the other room.
An instant later a young servant girl rushed out, her arms full of soiled linen. "But I haven't yet made the bed, my Lord."
"Just get out," Legolas replied impatiently.
The girl fearfully ran out, dropping a crumpled sheet on the way.
Legolas kicked the sheet out of the room. "And don't come back!" He slammed the door shut.
"That was terribly rude, Legolas. You didn't have to scare that poor girl half to death."
"That poor girl? You wouldn't say that if you saw the quality of her work. And she's always in here touching my things."
"Isn't that what a servant is for?"
"Do your servants change the sheets while you are still lying in the bed? Or tidying things up while you bathe?"
I gave him a look. "Since when would that ever bother you?"
Legolas pointed a finger at me. "I'm not getting suckered into that discussion again. But I will say this, if and when I am in a committed relationship, my eyes do not wander."
"Your eyes may not wander, but what about your hands?"
"What must I do to convince you I have had no relations since I laid eyes on you?"
I crossed my arms over my chest. "Is that what you wish to discuss, your fidelity over the last fifteen hundred years?"
"We weren't even in a committed relationship, Merilin, yet I could think of no other."
"Fine, you've made yourself clear. If you must know, I have never been unfaithful to any of my lovers." The sudden dazed expression on his face was well worth the price of a lie.
"What lovers? You have had no lovers."
"And how would you know what I had or had not?"
"Then name them."
"Nay, I will not."
He smirked. "You've been with no one. I'm your one and only."
"Well…Perhaps then you will not be the only."
"Are you going to commit to me or not?"
"I have yet to hear the appropriate words, Legolas."
Legolas stepped closer and his expression became serious as he placed his hands on my arms. "Merilin…"
My heart began to pound loudly in my chest as I stared up at him.
Those three little words turned my world upside down. All the centuries that had passed in my life, waiting and wanting and hoping for him to choose me above all others. The time had finally came. He was admitting his true feelings.
There, I said it. I told her. And now I waited for her reaction. Other than her eyes wide as saucers, I couldn't interpret the expression on the rest of her face. "Perhaps you didn't hear me," I said after a moment of silence.
And then tears began to form in her eyes. "I heard you," she replied in a whisper. That was followed by her arms folding around my neck and the side of her face pressing against mine. "You know I love you, Legolas."
I did know, but I was elated to hear her say it…and while she knew I was conscious. I contently wrapped my arms around her in a warm embrace. "Will you accept my proposal of marriage?"
Merilin pulled slightly away to look me in the eyes. "Only if I know you do it for us and not because our adanadar coerced you." (fathers)
I gave her a crooked smile. "Have you ever known me to be coerced by anyone?"
She returned my smile and drew close again. "Not even me?"
"It depends on what you are trying to coerce me to do." Her lips were barely touching mine, but she was luring me in. I willingly took the bait and kissed her. The moment I tasted her I couldn't get enough. Who was I trying to kid? I had absolutely no self-control around this elleth. It didn't exist.
"So we we're not just insane?" Merilin asked as she received my kisses.
"I don't know, insanity does run in my family," and I was referring to my father.
Then something reached my ears. A rustling on the other side of the door. I slowly pulled away from Merilin's lips and turned toward the sound, which instantly ceased. With an angry frown, I marched toward the door and swung it open.
There was my father, bent over at the waist, as if he had been listening through the crack in the door just below the knob. He froze and then instantly straightened up, his hands reaching up to nonchalantly smooth the front of his robes.
When I stepped forward, he awkwardly stepped out of the way. "What're you doing?" I inquired.
As I stepped out of my room, I glanced to my right and found Aragorn, Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir pressed with their backs against the wall. They all had guilty looks on their faces. I turned to my left and there was Lord Elrond, Gimli, Gandalf and Lord Celeborn pressed with their backs against the other wall. Their faces had similar looks.
"What is going on out here?"
My father held up a hand. "Now, Legolas…"
"Can't I have a moment of privacy in my own rooms?" Now I understood why everyone had been acting so strangely. They were all waiting for Merilin and I to be alone so they could eavesdrop on our conversation, like a bunch of meddlers.
Lord Elrond abruptly let out a joyous yell, causing everyone to jump from the suddenness of it. "It's settled then. There will be a wedding afterall." He turned to my father. "We should start putting the invitations together."
"Absolutely," said the king. Together they walked away, hands on each other's shoulders. Gandalf and Lord Celeborn followed in their wake.
Arwen came up and kissed me on the cheek. "I'm proud of you, Legolas."
Merilin stepped out into the corridor. She looked confused to see the others standing around. And then she rushed over to Arwen. "I'm getting married!"
I stared at the two of them with my mouth open. It was as if they had known all along that I would propose to Merilin. I had a feeling I had been swindled.
Arwen grinned. "Let's return to the dressmaker tomorrow. She can begin on your wedding gown."
"Do you think she will finish it in time before summer has ended?" Merilin asked Arwen.
What?! "But that's in less than thirty days!" I cried out.
"She is fantastic," stated Arwen. "If Gondor wasn't so far from Lake-Town, I would have had her make my wedding gown."
"Perfect." Merilin clapped her hands together. "How shall I do my hair?"
"Don't you think it's a bit soon to be thinking about your hair?" I inquired, even though I had no interest in knowing anything about it.
"And the flowers," Arwen added. "We need to start picking flowers."
"Flowers? So soon?" Neither of them seemed to be listening to me. I ceased to exist. "I snore when I sleep."
No reaction. They continued to ramble on about flowers.
"I scream like a child if I don't get my warm milk at night."
Still no response.
"I sleepwalk in the nude to the kitchen and terrify the servants!" None of it was true, but I was desperate. What would it take to get Merilin to reconsider my proposal. "I kissed Aragorn during the fellowship!"
Aragorn punched my arm. "Are you crazy? That never happened!"
Merilin stepped up to me, still conversing with Arwen. "I know, I know. They're absolutely beautiful. I think we should go with…" She leaned in and kissed me on the lips. "That's nice, dear." Then she turned back to Arwen. "We should go with the Niphredil. They match the color of his eyes."
I watched them walk away and cringed. Gimli, Elladan and Elrohir came up on either side of me and Aragorn.
Aragorn placed a hand on my shoulder. "Just think, you'll have an eternity of these blissful moments."
I sighed heavily. "Remind me again why I love her?"
"You can always sail West and leave her here," said Elladan.
"It wouldn't make a difference because I would still hear her nagging me from across the Belegaer." I turned to Aragorn. "Isn't there a quest we need to participate in? A extremely long quest?"
But I knew deep down inside that I had made the right decision. Life with Merilin would without a doubt never be dull.