Epilogue: Like the Wind Dances
I smile bemusedly at her as she leads me through the trees. The mighty trunks of this forest have stood for ages. I would stop and marvel at them, if only my mind were not consumed with the motives of my beloved, as she guides me deeper and deeper into the wood.
I shift the pack on my back, unable to contain my curiosity any longer. "Where are you taking me, love?"
She pauses and turns around to look at me, her beautiful eyes searching mine a moment, and then she smiles. "Far from home…" She continues onward, and I cannot help but follow her like a smitten pup, for that is what I am…smitten.
Let her keep her secrets, for she is deliciously devious, and I have never been disappointed with one of her schemes. To be sure, I usually end up having my senses delightfully fulfilled. I smile at the thought, ignore the weight on my back (I will not allow her to carry a pack), and my mind wanders paths of previous excursions. My body responds with tightening trousers, and I shift to thinking of dinner instead. I have no idea how much longer we will walk, and do not wish to do so in such discomfort.
The stars are coming out as we arrive at a small gap in the trees. Several torches lean against a tree with a pile of gear in canvas sacks near it. Apparently, she has been here already with other supplies. In a shallow pit dug in the earth and ringed with stones, kindling is arranged for a fire with a stack nearby to build and replenish it. I raise a brow at her, but she just smiles and removes her quiver and our bows, which she has carried.
Walking over to the torches, she presses them into the ground one by one in a ring around the clearing. I begin unpacking the gear I have brought, setting out the food near the fire pit. There is a stream nearby. I can hear it singing as it makes its way merrily to the sea. I push that thought from my mind and set the pack still bearing our clothing and other gear on a smooth place where we can lie down later. I smile to myself. It is a warm summer night, so we will need little in the way of protection from the elements, just a blanket or two laid over the grass for comfort. Or perhaps she will take me up in a tree this time? She shakes her head at me as if divining my thoughts, and moves to lay the blankets out.
Unstrapping my hunting knife from my belt, I set it beside the fire with the cooking supplies. Then I remove my outer tunic and lay it aside near our bedding along with my boots. This leaves me dressed in simply my leggings and soft undershirt. I notice the sly looks I am getting from long-lashed eyes the color of the sea on an overcast day, and pretend to ignore them as I set about lighting the fire and cooking dinner. We have not been married for long, but we have done this several times and have a system of who does what. At least, the set up parts….
I let those thoughts distract me from the fact that I am cooking in the wilds. Too easily I can imagine the person setting up our camp is another, and it will put me in a melancholy mood if I allow it. But even trying to stay focused, the smell of the wood smoke, the crack of the fire, the feel of the night air, and the hoot of an owl all take me back. I release a shuddering sigh, unable to hold back the sorrow that still tears at my soul.
Two arms wrap around me from behind. "I should not have brought you to the woods this time," she says, and I hear the concern in her voice. She worries about me, I know. She fears I will never recover completely from the losses I have suffered, and sometimes, I fear it, too. But not tonight, I will not let my grief destroy what she has worked so hard to create.
"I will be fine," I tell her, turning my head and shifting my body to look in her eyes with a forced smile. But she knows me too well for that.
"Do not lie to me," she says quietly in that way of hers that causes my breath to catch in my throat. By Elbereth, I love her! Though it took me long enough to tell her so.
Leaning in, I press a soft kiss on her lips. "I will be fine in a few minutes, when I have had time to adjust." I kiss her again, continuing to speak against her lips. "After dinner…when you distract me…" And then her hands are in my hair and the kiss deepens. She caresses my neck, my ears... Ai Elbereth Gilthoniel! Dinner will not get cooked this way!
Regretfully, I push her away with a chuckle. "If you start that now, we will never eat!" She smiles back ruefully.
"Cook fast," she replies and stands to finish setting up our small camp.
Suitably distracted, and with much to look forward to, I work to get the coal bed hot enough to sear the strips of venison flank in a pan. Soon, the meat is sizzling, and I add a bit of water, some vegetables and dried herbs to make it into a stew. Not many wood-elves cook in such a manner, but I learned from a Hobbit how to cook on the trail and cook well! Many things I learned from Hobbits. I miss the small folk with their big hearts and bigger stomachs. But those thoughts will bring me downcast again, so I stand and walk through the small meadow, picking some wild onions and a few more fresh herbs to add to dinner.
My beloved during this time has been working on something I cannot see, for her back is turned towards me. She can feel my gaze, for she shifts further from my watchful eyes. I drop my eyes back to the ground. No need to distress her, and surprises are not a bad thing, unless they are spiders, wargs or Orcs. Oh, my, how I do not miss those days, though the remembrance still brings a feeling of nostalgia. I spent the majority of my life in a wood full of them, after all. But those days are behind me, and there is little danger here, except the occasional enraged she-bear protecting her cubs or the rare rockslide or other natural danger. Evil does not taint these lands, not any more.
Our dinner is a quiet affair. We eat and gaze at the stars, few words spoken between us. My beloved seems to take a great interest in the stars this evening, almost as if she is keeping track of the time. Surely, it has something to do with her plans, but it is just the two of us, alone in the wilderness, leagues from any known dwellings. Or so I hope, considering what I anticipate is planned.
When she excuses herself to slip away into the woods, I cannot help but notice the small sack tucked into her belt. It is not large enough to contain much of anything. It reminds me of the pouch Gimli used to carry his gold…. Closing my eyes, I fall to my back and fight the pain that racks my heart. He has been gone several years now, but the pain has not faded, no more than the pain of when…
I will not think of this! I cannot think of this. Not tonight. Not here. But oh, the ache of loss that I endure! It is as if part of my soul has died and left this world without me.
Forcing myself back to the present, I am suddenly aware of a strange sound. Drums? But we are alone…. The faint pounding is familiar though, and yet…not.
I sit up and glance around. In her absence, the torches have been lit. So, we are not alone. Disappointment sets down on my stomach like a lead block. But….
And then I see her, and my breath is taken away. I have always thought her beautiful, but this stunning creature is not my wife, surely? Her large, kohl lined eyes stare at me full of such seduction, I feel lightheaded. This is something out of a dream, a desire I have spoken of to no one. How did she know?
She steps forward lightly, the bells on her ankles chiming in harmony with the bangles hanging from her hips and breasts. And I can only stare, full of amazement, longing and lust. Slowly, she approaches, her hips moving in time to the faint drumming. I cannot help but wonder who is playing them, and then she swoops in an unexpected move. I feel my jaw drop. This is so like the dance I saw many, many years past, but also unlike. This dance has been refined by elven grace, and I sit dumbfounded watching her twirl slowly. How does she do that? My whole body feels afire!
My heart pounds in my chest, and I shift into as comfortable a position as I can currently manage. My body responds to her moves as my soul recognizes its mate. I gasp, suddenly remembering to breathe as she floats closer, trailing a sheer scarf over my head. Then she is before me, hips swaying at eyelevel. I start to reach out, but I hesitate. I'm not supposed to touch…or am I? This dazzling, seductive woman is my wife!
She glances over her bare shoulder at me, and I groan. This is torture! And she knows it, too! That gleam in her eyes gives her away. She is facing away from me, and then…. Ai! Valar help me! She leans backwards, her back arching gracefully so that her hair sweeps across my lap and questing fingers caress my ears. A hiss escapes me and she laughs. Laughs! She thinks this is funny!
"Beloved, please…." Does that pathetic voice belong to me? She has reduced me to begging! But she has mercy on my plea. A coy glance under a twisting arm, an elegant turn, and then she is straddling my lap! "Uhhhmmm…."
Her fingers trail down my chest, tugging up the hem of my shirt, and then untying lacings that are far too tight. I reach out and grip her hips, pulling her against me, and I smile into her laughing eyes….
Staring at the stars above, I grin at them. The wind whispers across my bare skin, and I pull my love tighter against me. She is snuggled against me, half draped over my chest and leg. "I do not want to go home."
She giggles and trails a hand down my chest. "We do not have to return until the day after tomorrow."
"Can we not stay here forever?" I know this is not possible, but for this night, she has managed to draw me from my pain. I frown, suddenly curious. "How did you know?" I bite my lip. I am not sure I wish to know the answer.
"A star told me…"
I swallow hard. "Arwen…"
But she shakes her head. "No, Elessar. He provided the costume; Arwen taught me the dance. She was very good at it, so graceful. She moved like the wind dances."
"So do you."
She sits up slightly with a shocked expression on her face. "You truly think so?"
I shake my head at her, somewhat amused at her insecurity. "After…well, how can you have any doubts after that?"
She smiles and reaches over to kiss me, and I pull her completely on top of my body, locking my legs around hers and holding her body tight to mine with my arms. She laughs and begins to struggle. "Let me up!"
I grin at her, nipping at her shoulder when she sidles too close. "Not until you tell me who played the drums." She stills. "Gaerchindis?"
She blushes becomingly, and I grin. "Does all of Aman know what we have been doing?" The thought actually makes my face heat, but it is also quite humorous. My fingers move on her sides and she squirms. "Who?"
"Adar!" she squeals, trying to escape my ticklish touches.
"Adar!" I hiss. "MY ADAR?" I cease my movements in shock. She nods and looks up at me, biting her lip. I suddenly feel horrified. My father has been… No, I do not want to know what he has seen or heard. I will never hear the end of this.
"H-he promised to leave after the dance." Her eyes are still full of amusement. Why is it that my wife is not the least embarrassed over this?
I shake my head. "But it is my adar! You don't know him as well as I do!"
She folds her arms across my chest and rests her weight on her elbows. "But I have assurance that he will do as he says." I raise an eyebrow, wondering just what my beloved knows that I do not. "Aragorn told me about more than just your…desires."
And how did Aragorn know of my desires? We never spoke of this. How well my friend knew me. "What else did he tell you?" And just what does my wife know about me that I would rather she not?
She smiles wickedly. "Apparently, your adar declared his desire to marry a woman of Harad, which led to some embarrassing moments…."
The laughter rumbles in my chest. "Aye, I was there. Never have I seen my father so embarrassed!"
"Well, it would not do for your Naneth to learn of this, would it?"
Now I laugh aloud, and quickly flip my beloved onto her back. "No," my head lowers, "it would not."
He climbed up easily up into the tree, and entered the talan. He left the small drums on a table and proceeded into a simple, but comfortable room. The lady in his bed smiled at him. "I am proud of you, my love."
He grinned back, leaning against the door frame with crossed arms. "Now, why would I wish to spy on our son, when I have you waiting here for me?" He winked.
Her smile widened, but her eyes were troubled. "I worry for him. I hardly know him, yet I worry."
He stepped away from the door, kicking off his boots and pulling the tunic over his head as he made his way towards her. "You are his mother. Of course, you worry. But he will be fine. He has his wife to comfort him."
Her eyes shine at the mention of their daughter by marriage. "Yes, she is good for him."
Thranduil removed the remainder of his clothing and slipped into the bed beside her. "As you are good for me…" he whispered. She came willingly into his arms. He had missed his wife for so long, and now she was returned to him. And he meant to enjoy every minute.
But Laerwen pulled back with a suspect smile. "I wonder about this dance. Perhaps, I should learn it?"
With a deep moan, Thranduil claimed her mouth, and their souls entwined.
- o -
Gaearchindis - "sea eyes bride". An espessë Legolas gave to his wife.
Laerwen – 'summer'. Thranduil's wife who was killed when Legolas was 35. This chapter takes place after Legolas's mother has been released from the Halls of Mandos.
Eryn Luin – "Blue Wood" the realm given to Thranduil in Aman (aka Valinor)
The dance is a version of the Haradric dance which Arwen refined with elvish moves to make it further seductive. (I cannot imagine the elves, who live for so long, would not be the more sensual creatures.)
Thank you for reading! Please comment!