Author's Note: I am well aware I might be banned from this site with this chapter. But hell, you're all worth it. I promised I would get it out soon and I did. I didn't have time to reply to reviews, but I figured you wanted this more than any review reply; still the replies are coming soon. This chapter is dedicated to all of you who have traveled with Alice for almost three years; and to all of you who decided to jump in our ride and stick with us till the end.
As if you need it, but oh well...
WARNING: MATURE CONTENT!
Disclaimer: See Prologue.
Chapter 24 – Tying the last loose end
"I don't wanna know."
Johan rushed past her, hands up to stop her before she said anything. Alice wasn't planning to update him about her meeting with the elf anyway, especially concerning the issue Johan was unreasonably freaking out about. So she just raised an eyebrow at him, but even that little move seemed to tire her. She had been sleeping the whole day. It was now almost midnight and Andrea was already asleep, in contrast to Johan who seemed to get the least sleep of all. He kept moving from room to room, supposedly getting things ready for tomorrow night, but she knew he was just too worried to rest. The wizard, on the other hand, seemed to be the least worried, smoking his pipe with a contented smile and snoring loudly whenever he took a nap.
Alice couldn't blame him. After spending all these years hiding and travelling from place to place for reasons that were not his own, he would finally be able to go back to Valinor –to where he should have been all this time, living in peace among friends. And while poisons, visions and magic were things so incomprehensible, dangerous and foreign to them, the White Wizard knew their workings better than anyone.
The redhead smiled at him, even though he could not see her, fast asleep as he was on the couch across her. However, her smile quickly turned into a grimace, as a wave of nausea kicked in. The effects of the poison were finally beginning to show. She felt exhausted, had been sick four times since she had woken up and it just kept getting worse. For fleeting moments she could feel the ice-cold grip of fear at the possibility she would not make it in time –that she would actually die; but then she remembered that gray morning she had woken up alone in her bed, desperately wishing the elf there to hold her, and felt her courage grow anew.
It's worth it. It's all worth it.
"Do not strain yourself, child."
Alice gaze moved back to Gandalf, who still had his eyes closed. She'd thought he was in deep slumber, but came to realise that nothing passed unnoticed by the wizard.
"I was asleep the whole day."
He smiled then and opened his eyes.
"And yet you need even more sleep. Do not fight it. Let it do its work. You need all the right preparation you can get for tomorrow night."
Even though she had nodded, she couldn't help but wonder as she slowly walked up the stairs to her bedroom: did the wizard mean the poison or the elf?
She was stronger. She could feel it. The weaker her body grew, the more powerful her mind became. She didn't even feel the barrier this time, rushing through it like the wind. Everything around her felt as if made of clay and Alice tested her abilities playing with colorful forms and shadows, until she realized she was able to shape her surroundings the way she wanted.
The place popped in her mind unconsciously and Piazza San Marco took shape around her in an instant. It was empty. Silent. No people, no birds, no sounds, no wind. Just scattered lights around the city and a cloudy night sky, the way she remembered it from the last time she had visited. For a while she waited, her eyes watching the grand church of St. Marcus on the other side of the piazza with anticipation. Then, suddenly, the door of the imposing church in the distance was pushed open and the Prince walked out, turning around in a circle to take in the foreign environment with wonder.
How the whole square filled with life then. It was as if the sky recognized his presence and cleared the clouds away. The stars, now shining more brightly than ever, cast the city in a magical light, the elf glowing underneath it… and that was when she noticed the full moon.
Their eyes met at the same time; Legolas had seen it, too.
No time, she thought with a racing heart and disappeared into the shadows.
The elf read the invitation in her eyes and cocked his head to the direction she had run to. The echo of her footsteps did not require his elven hearing, as the sound travelled through the empty alleys, loud as a bell. He set off in a leisurely pace, a predator's smile on his lips. He would catch his prey and this time he would not let the woman go before he had fully reacquainted himself with every single inch of her body.
Alice couldn't help the giggle that escaped her lips, as she turned around a corner and leaned her back on the wall, her breath being the only sound around. She knew he was somewhere close, following her like a hunter follows a deer -silently and carefully, not to scare it away- and it excited her. She closed her eyes and tried to slow down her breath. There was a palace around there. She remembered the richly decorated rooms and the bed, a bed like the ones in fairytales, with the posts and the sheer white curtains around it and the rich covers… A blush crept on her cheeks and she bit her lip nervously. She wanted the elf like she had never wanted anyone and anything in her life.
The redhead shook her head to clear away the distracting images in her mind and looked around for a sign that she was close to the palace, when her eyes fell on a familiar bridge. Smiling with triumph, she peeked around the corner once more and ran towards the stone structure. She slowed down when she approached its stairs, careful not to trip over her long white dress, and paused to take in her surroundings at the top. It was a strange mix of dark and light, mystery and revelation: the flickering lights around the city, the stars and moon reflected on the water, the shadowed alleys, the imposing houses, the canals and the gondolas…
The Prince had caught her unaware. Alysse had been lost at the view around her and he took this opportunity to surprise her: as silently as only an elf could manage, he jumped into one of the long boats tied on a pier, then jumped on another one, abandoned in the middle of the canal. She had fled so quickly, that he didn't have time to appreciate how beautiful she looked that night. Standing in the middle of the bridge, with her red waves in wild disarray around her, a rosy tint on her cheeks from running and a white dress shining under the moonlight, he felt as if he was back in Lake Town during one of their secret night meetings. She was taking him in, the same way he was drinking in her form and for a while they stood still. He couldn't help the warning smile spreading on his lips, nor the thoughts lying behind it. But his fair prey noticed and she let out a gasp before she disappeared into the shadows, becoming once again only a flash of white among the stone walls and pillars.
Run, my sweet Alysse, he thought. Hide. For when I catch you, you shall taste the desire and longing of five thousand lifetimes and more.
Alice's heart was about to explode, but it wasn't because of running. She had caught the feral look in his eyes, the thoughts behind his smile, and this little game of 'hide and seek' was more exciting than any other foreplay she had ever engaged in. Somehow she knew that this chase thrilled Legolas, as much as it exhilarated her. The white stone of the palace was bathed in the moonlight just a block away. She took another turn to run alongside the main canal and find the entrance of the building. She had almost made it to the heavy wooden door, when the elf appeared from the other side of the palace and she stopped in her tracks. Looking back and forth between the elf and the distance to the door, she gathered her dress in her hands and sprinted towards the house, not daring to look behind if the elf followed.
Legolas couldn't help but laugh at his wife's efforts; he had her cornered like a trapped bird. Hoisting himself on a tree next to the building, he jumped on a small balcony and sneaked into one of the dimly lit rooms. He could hear her running on the other side of the palace above him, so he followed a set of stairs leading to the second floor. Just as he reached the top, he spotted her on the other side of the corridor, looking around lost, when, suddenly, she smiled and disappeared through a door. Legolas opened the first one in front of him wanting to surprise her and entered a spacious room with many paintings. He noticed the chairs and couches and realized it was the personal quarters of someone; which meant that an adjoining door to a bedroom would not be far away. Sure enough, he heard noise coming from the next room.
Alice turned around startled when the door opened at the other side of the room and the Prince stepped inside. How in the world had he got there? It had taken her many tries to find the bedroom and finally she had. The glorious bed stood in the middle of the candle lit room, but when the elf locked the door behind him without breaking eye contact with her, she felt like fleeing again.
"There is no point," he quietly told her as she took a step toward the other door.
She was still out of breath, yet not even a hair was out of place on the elf's head. He looked as immaculate, invincible, unearthly and inhuman as ever, a blue fire blazing in his eyes. The young woman watched transfixed the fabric of his tunic stretching over hard muscles as he slowly approached her, the smile on his face not letting her heart slow its beating.
"Will you yield to me?"
His voice seemed deeper to her, its sound soft as velvet. Alice didn't trust her own, so she simply shook her head. The elf's smile widened and without thinking she started taking steps backwards. She jumped when her back met the door and blindly moved her hand to the doorknob, as Legolas finally stood right before her. Turning the knob quietly behind her back, she had managed to open the door a few inches, but the elf's hand shot beside her head and pushed the door shut. Ignoring her gasp and wide eyes, he slid his hand downwards and locked that door, as well. The redhead realised he had also thrown the key somewhere in the room, when she heard it collide with the marble floor.
"Now", he said as he let out a dramatic sigh and brought both hands on either side of her head, "will you yield to me?"
For a few moments Legolas and Alice just stared at each other silently. There, in the room of a palace in Venice created from the memories of the young woman, the two lovers separated by race, society, war, death, magic, time and beliefs, were finally given that chance: the one he was waiting for thousands of years; the one she didn't even know she craved for. His smile faded away as the atmosphere grew more serious, heavy with pent-up passion and longing they barely held in check. Nothing and everything had changed around them, but they could only see each other as they did centuries ago; images, memories, scents, caresses, whispers, tears, promises hanging between them like a heavy mist.
And then everything fell apart.
The elf grabbed her without warning and the woman barely had time to voice her surprise, as she was pushed to the door and kissed roughly. His hands held her face as he attacked her lips, then they moved to her neck, shoulders, sides, waist, grabbing her hips and lifting her up. Alice instinctively hooked her legs around his waist and succumbed to his assault. Pressed between the door and Legolas' hard body, her desire took over and she let her mind shut. She kissed him back with equal fervor, as he moved them away from the door and set her on a wooden dresser scattering on the floor whatever was laid upon it. In a cacophony of shattering glass and broken porcelain they both took advantage of their freed hands and reached for their clothes at the same time. The Prince pushed her dress off her shoulders and for a moment her hands paralyzed on his tunic, as his lips travelled from her face to the weak spot where her neck met her shoulder, her breath hitching in her throat and her eyes closing of their own accord. She needed to feel him, taste him, drink him in and yet she doubted her hunger for him would ever be satiated.
Legolas raised his head, wanting to look at his wife's face. Valar, she was as beautiful as he remembered, even more so caught in the throes of passion. Her soft lips were parted and her cheeks were flushed and her hair! How had he missed the vanilla scent of her hair! Burying his head in her red waves, he pulled her with him backwards, kicking away his boots when they reached the bed. Alysse seemed to wake up from her trance at that and her hands resumed their work. His tunic was discarded in a second and he let out a small sigh as her hands came in contact with his skin. A simple touch and she drove him to madness. A simple touch he had been yearning for countless years, always afraid he would be constantly reminded or someday forget. Yet, it all came back to him when his fingers glided over her soft curves pushing down her dress with them.
Alice stood trembling before him. It wasn't her nakedness that caused the tremors, but the momentous lack of contact as her Prince stood back and took her in, his eyes travelling on every inch of her body. The anticipation of what was to come, thrilling because the intimate touch of the elf was both unknown and familiar, made her knees weak and she could not hold herself back any longer. Pushing him to sit on the edge of the bed, she climbed on top of him, straddling his waist and seeking his lips once more. She could feel the hard evidence of his desire through his leggings and she started moving herself against him, eager to ease the burning between her thighs. The elf's grip on her waist tightened and she let out a moan of frustration as he broke their kiss.
"Easy," Legolas warned her murmuring against her lips, but she would have none of it. The memories of the day they had joined for the first time rushed forth to consume her and she tangled her fingers in his hair, planting soft but purposeful kisses from his neck to a pointed ear.
Her tongue had barely touched it, when she suddenly found herself beneath the elf, her breath leaving her lips in a gasp. The redhead caught the wild look in his eyes before his lips travelled southwards leaving a hot trail from her neck to her breasts, where he moved his attention. Distracted by his tongue and teeth, she didn't notice the hand between her legs until she felt his fingers inside her.
Alice had thought the feelings in her vision were intense. She had thought that this dream state would make things less real. But the pressure building in her body was more intense and real than anything she had ever felt, more intense and real than anything she had ever needed. It was perfect. It was right. She grabbed the elf's hand to stop him before his lips reached her core and undid her completely, and the elf raised his head in confusion.
"I need you."
It was all she managed to say in a trembling whisper, but the elf seemed to understand. He took off his leggings in a swift move and crawled on top of her. The moment she felt his naked weight above her, she thought she would die.
Legolas' control had slipped when he felt her tongue on a most sensitive spot for the elves, but he completely lost it at her soft plea. Then he realised that he had lost his control the very first time he had met her, when he had stolen that first kiss which had signed his destiny. He cupped Alysse's face and softly glided his thumb on her cheek. Did she really grow even more beautiful when her eyes were glazed with desire, like that very moment, looking at him as if he were her sole reason for existence? Was this really happening? Did the moment finally come, when he would hold his wife in his arms while he lost himself in her warmth?
"I love you."
Her words seemed to stop his heart from beating. How long had he waited to hear them… How far had he chased and begged…But instead of replying, he kissed her gently and entered her slowly, to savor all the lifetimes he had missed locked in that black nothingness, away from the only thing that had ever made him feel alive. The woman beneath him sank her fingernails on his shoulders with a breathless moan, but he didn't stop until he was fully sheathed inside her. When he opened his eyes, she found her looking at him with surprise. She could feel it –their bond. She could feel his emotions, like he could feel hers. She could feel how much he loved her and it spoke more than any words in any language he could have used to reply. Then, he started moving.
Alice's hand shot out and clutched the thick covers of the bed, trying to grab onto something before she lost herself completely in whatever had claimed her. The feeling of Legolas moving inside her was already driving her to madness, but dealing with her emotions coupled with his was too much to bear. It was like the last time their bond was reforged, when his feelings had consumed her. They had suffocated her then, the immortal pain of her husband too strong for her mortal soul. But this time, they intoxicated her like pure alcohol, love, desire, yearning, passion, lust and longing experienced through the soul of an immortal, and she was getting dizzy. Her hand sneaked between their bodies but was caught before she reached her destination.
"Not yet," Legolas told her with a smile and raised her hands over her head, keeping them still with an iron grip. Holding them with one hand, he grabbed her hip with the other and dived deep inside her, brushing her in a new angle. God, she was certain she would die. She would definitely die tonight and it would not be because of the damned poison.
The elf could not tell how long he loved his wife. Somewhere along kisses, soft moans, ragged breathing and softly whispered words he had lost all sense of time and space. She was hanging by a thread beneath him and he had to try hard to keep himself before he stepped over the edge, too afraid to let her go. He had been so deprived of her all those years, that he had grown too greedy for her touch. Their reflection on a large mirror at the other side of the room suddenly caught his attention: gold and bronze, skin on skin, fingers entwined, limps tangled.
Alice felt Legolas nudge the side of her face and she turned to what he wanted her to see. Their eyes locked in the mirror and, dazed as she was, she thought she saw a dangerous smile on the elf's face.
"Mine," he whispered in her ear through uneven breaths and his thumb finally brushed over the spot she had sought before. That was all she needed to explode.
Alice felt completely disoriented. Words and images overlapped and she didn't know whether she was still in the land of dreams or back in her bed. Johan's face, Legolas' eyes, Andrea's frown, the smell of the wizard's pipe, green fields in Laketown, all of them blurred and mixed in a timeless void. Sometimes she felt thirsty. Others she would slip between hot and cold. And when she finally realised someone was shaking her shoulder, she also registered the fact that her body ached from head to toe. With a lot of effort she managed to open her eyes and found her cousin's worried face above her, cast in the twilight's shadows.
"It's time, Freckles."