Thanks very much for the feedback! Glad you are liking this! I'm finally in the mood to write Haldir stories again. If you read Part 1 before I fixed it with the scene breaks, sorry about that; it is fixed now. I forgot that ff. net removes certain characters. --Julie
Her fingers wrapped loosely around her knife, Altariel faced the direction she sensed that he was coming from, but she saw no movement and heard nothing.
He was so near she could almost taste him. But nothing happened. Nothing at all. And yet she knew he must be there, watching her. He was playing games with her now. The thought made her angry.
"Show yourself!" she cried out. "Are you a coward?"
Nothing. But she knew he heard her.
Sweet Elbereth, what was he doing? Swallowing hard, she glanced quickly from left to right, ready to scream from the nerve-racking suspense.
Then, from the corner of her eye, she caught a movement behind and to her left. She spun around with a gasp. It was Haldir! Haldir himself!
It seemed surreal that he should be the one who hunted her. He was the one she'd yearned for in the darkness of the night, the one she'd secretly observed and studied with fascination, always with pretended disinterest. He had always seemed to be so unapproachable, so detached . . . but tonight he was anything but detached.
Tall, solid, and daunting, he stood quite still, surveying her with an air of predatory ownership.
And as prepared as she had been, he had still managed to catch her off guard. By Elbereth, he was not three arms' lengths from where she stood, and how he had gotten there without her hearing or sensing him was a mystery.
"Altariel," he said smoothly. Something in that deep, black velvet voice sent chills down her spine.
"Haldir," she managed to reply, almost cordially.
They sounded ridiculously civilized, but she knew it was an act on both their parts. The Call coursed in their blood, making them crave each other to the point of obsession; they were way past the point of being polite.
No, she did not feel civilized. She wanted to rip off his clothes.
He wore only black leggings, black undertunic and leather boots, but had dispensed with overtunic and sword. Not even a knife hung at his waist, though she did see a length of coiled hithlain.
"Stay back," she warned him, licking her lips.
He took a step in her direction, and in that single step, any semblance of civilization vanished. His eyes gleamed like silver flames in the darkness, that bold gaze raking her body with a purposefulness that stripped her bare.
"That is not what you want," he stated silkily.
She lifted her knife, aiming its tip at his chest.
"Do you know how to use that toy?" he mocked.
She tightened her grip and took a step backward. "Of course, as you will find to your regret."
He gave a soft snort and took another step, approaching slowly, but she was not fooled. Any moment now he would lunge at her, but perhaps not before she could distract him.
She let her eyes slide over him, taking in the enticing male physique delineated by the snugness of his clothing. His leggings displayed long muscular thighs, and his undertunic was short enough to display his lean hips. As for his pelvic area, it revealed his interest and intention as clearly as if he had spoken of it.
"You are eager for me, I see," she murmured coyly.
He only smiled. A dangerous smile.
She took another small step backward, mostly to deceive him, and then she sprang forward, sweeping the blade in a wide arc aimed at his chest.
She had no expectation or wish to actually wound him; instead her goal was to force him backward, as well as to impart to him the fact that he still had much to prove.
As expected, her blade met only air. He moved quickly, and was already behind her before her swing was complete. She spun around, crouching a little with her weapon raised. He was very close and he was smirking.
"Too slow," he taunted. "I could have had you on the ground by now if I had chosen it."
"So you say. I hear nothing but talk."
Haldir laughed softly and began to circle her like a leopard, his gaze holding hers captive. Her heart thumped as she turned along with him to keep them face to face; she dared not take her eyes off him for an instant.
"That gown leaves little to the imagination," he remarked. "I like that."
"Do you indeed." She kept turning, her knife poised. "The threads are strong."
"Not strong enough."
His meaning was clear, and a shudder of arousal went through her. "Perhaps stronger than yours," she suggested.
He slanted a suggestive look at her. "You are eager to know."
"I am in no hurry," she countered, watching him warily. She took in his gleaming eyes, the way they undressed her and burned her. Any moment now he meant to pounce, and with this thought she drew out the knife at her hip, holding it poised in her other hand. "And I am well armed."
He lifted an arrogant brow. "And what do you intend to do with that? You have not even managed to do anything with the first one."
He was trying to provoke her, and was succeeding more than she wanted him to know.
"It took you far longer to find me than I thought," she needled back. "I expected better."
He ceased his circling, but if she had succeeded in baiting him, he gave no sign of it.
"I gave you a head start." He studied her, his gaze unnervingly thorough. "Tracking you was child's play, Altariel. But enough words. We want the same thing. And here we face each other with only two flimsy little knives between us."
"Three," she corrected.
He snorted. "Thirty knives will not stop me from doing what I intend to do." A slow smile curled his lips, and she felt the intimate stroke of his fëa upon hers. "Do you know what that is?"
She lifted her chin, trying to look indifferent. "I cannot imagine. Would you care to elaborate?"
His dark lashes only half veiled the smolder in his eyes. "Certainly, if you wish it." He began to do just that, using language and imagery so explicit that her knees went weak from the great swell of hunger roiling inside her. So much for the civilized banter. Did he know the effect his words had on her? He must.
He reached out so suddenly she had no time to react, grasping her right wrist, holding it so tightly that she could barely retain her blade. His grip was strong, dominating and demanding, but it was his gaze that held her in thrall.
"There are things that I want, my lady, and none of them involve talk. You are mine and will always be mine. Now will you remove that dress, or must I cut it from your body?"
"Go to Mordor," she hissed. "Release me at once!"
He laughed softly. "Oh, I will grant you many releases, but first you must yield to me, little fawn. Drop these foolish weapons you have no idea how to use and spread your thighs for me. That is what you want, is it not?"
Ooooh, so infuriatingly cocksure, he was! No matter that he had the right of it, it was still insufferable of him to say so, and she would have slapped him if her hand had not held a knife. Instead, she tried to slash him, but he captured that wrist too, squeezing so hard that she was forced to drop the blade.
Arching his brows, he shoved her arms behind her back and drew her against his hard thighs,. "You fault me for speaking the truth?" He held her trapped with no noticeable effort, pressing himself against her aggressively. His face was near, the silvery curtain of his hair draped over his broad shoulders.
"Where shall I put my weapon, my lady?" With a wicked curve of his mouth, he ground himself against her most feminine area, the lust gathering around them like a heady fog. "Do you have any suggestions?"
"Into your own hand!" she snapped, earning his laughter.
"Oh, I think not," he mocked. "I can think of a nicer place. A tight wet place that even now quivers for me. That is the purpose of all this wriggling, is it not?"
She swore at him, struggling to throw him off, but to no avail. And then, without warning, he did release her and step back. "Go ahead," he said, his eyes glinting. "Show me what you can do with your toy." His amused tone both dared her and challenged her, as though he was curious to see what she could do.
Grinding her teeth with annoyance, Altariel crouched slightly, then dove forward, feinting to the left to fool him. However, before she could even complete the move she had learned in her lessons, his hand came up to strike her wrist so hard that the knife flew off into the bushes. With a cry of frustration, she dove at his legs, her shoulder connecting with his shin hard enough to hurt him. He fell, but his chuckles told her it was by choice. Elbereth, he was toying with her as an adult might toy with a child!
They tussled, rolling around on the ground. She drew her third and last knife, and he took it from her, tucking it into his belt with an infuriating snort. She could feel his superior strength and knew that he could subdue her in an instant, but he was enjoying this and so was she, truth to tell. She pulled his hair. He hauled her against him while she flailed and fought him. He shoved her facedown with a knee to her back. She pretended to yield, and then sprang up and knocked him flat on his back. She kicked him and bit him while he laughed and bit her back, even spanking her a few times while she squirmed and cursed him. It was ferocious and arousing and primitive and exciting, this mating ritual that the Call forced upon them.
The magnetic force of her attraction to him—his strength and his maleness—nearly overpowered her, but nonetheless she fought him, twisting and turning in a futile effort to be free. Suddenly, she saw an opening and tried to knee him right between the legs.
The blow must have been harder than she thought, for he let her go and fell to one knee with a grunt of pain that sounded alarmingly real. For a moment Altariel was horrified, and then she saw his smug smile and realized that he was not all that injured. He was toying with her again!
Furious, she flung herself at him in an effort to send him sprawling to the ground, intending to knock him flat and run away, but he recovered with suspicious speed and seized her.
Too late she realized that he had maneuvered her right to the edge of the knoll. Too late she realized that the momentum of pushing him down would drive them over the edge. Too late she realized that this was all a part of the trap he had set for her.
Together they fell, locked together and crashing so hard that Altariel felt the air knocked from her lungs. She clung instinctively to Haldir as they rolled and hurtled through brambles and leaves and over small rocks that made her cry out with their sharpness.
Tangled in her skirts and his legs, they should have rolled haphazardly, but she could feel the flex of his muscles, and realized indignantly that he was steering their fall. Indeed, he must have planned this! His hands gripped her as their fall threw her against him in a way that made her acutely aware of his body.
He was not light. In fact she found his sturdiness highly arousing, although this was not the time to admit it. Leaves caught in her hair, twigs pulled at her dress, and when they finally stopped rolling, Haldir lay on top of her, his full body weight pining her down. His self-satisfied expression made it clear that this was by design, and that he had purposely baited her into attacking him. She lay still, gasping to get the wind back in her lungs.
"Do you surrender now?" he asked in a silky, triumphant voice.
"I do not!" With a swiftness she hoped would surprise him, she reached down, seized her own knife from his belt, and put the tip at his throat. "What will you do now, Haldir?" she taunted. "Perhaps you will concede a point to me?"
His gaze roved her face, lingering on her lips, and for a moment she thought he was going to kiss her despite the blade at his throat. Then, with a twisted smile, he sat back, straddling her thighs.
"Come now," he began, "are we not past this? I want—"
In one smooth movement she flung the blade across his chest. He leaped away from her, his reflexes lightning fast, but she'd succeeded in slicing open his tunic and perhaps nicking his flesh. She was halfway to her feet when he threw himself at her, wresting the knife from her hand, and with a precision that shocked her, stabbed it straight through the fabric of her gown just below the juncture of her thighs, pinning her—skirt and all—to the loamy ground.
He did not seem amused.
"Enough." He reached down and cupped her chin, forcing her to look up at him, his mouth taut and dangerous in its slant. "The games end now, Altariel. You are mine and I will have you. You want me just as much as I want you, admit it. I can feel your desire for me."
"Perhaps I do," she shot back, "but if I am yours, then you are also mine." Reaching between her legs, she snatched the knife from the earth, but at once found her wrist imprisoned by strong fingers.
"And what would you do with that knife? Do you indeed wish to maim me?" His eyes bored into hers.
She gave him her most beguiling smile. "Nay, but I will cut those leggings right off you, Marchwarden. They will be in shreds before I am finished. And if you are very fortunate, I will give you something worthwhile to do with that great weapon you carry around."
He laughed, his amusement returning. "My great weapon has plans, my lady, all of them designed to give you pleasure. However, the mere idea of you using that knife for anything at all is amusing. Perhaps you might peel an apple with it."
"You are SO arrogant!" Irritably, she tried to free her arm, but without success.
"Am I indeed. Perhaps I am, but I have better things for you to do than play with knives." Squeezing her wrist, he forced her to loosen her hold on the blade, which he took and drove back into the earth an arm's length away.
And then his mouth captured hers, hungrily claiming her at last.
In that simple action, resistance and baiting ended, replaced by an almost frenzied urgency to taste and touch and drink in each other.
She clung to him, tasting him deeply while the ache of warmth and wetness between her thighs expanded to a new height. Their tongues swirled and mated in mutual and almost frantic need, a need built almost to unbearable potency by their recent scuffles. Desperate to touch him, her hands slipped beneath his short undertunic to caress the warm, smooth skin of his ribs and shoulder blades.
At last their kiss broke. They were both gasping, but already his mouth was on her throat, licking and kissing, working his way along her collarbone to her shoulder, nipping here and there as if to place his mark on her. Whimpering helplessly, she played with his ears while he moved downward to feast on her breasts right through the gossamer thin fabric of her dress. He flexed his hips, grinding himself against her leg while she writhed mindlessly, clutching his hair in her fists.
"Altariel," he muttered, against her breast. "Altariel."
He lifted himself up, staring at her. He was breathing deeply, his gaze unfocused, as though he held himself barely in check. He was achingly beautiful to her at that moment. The lines of his face were perfect, his body exquisite, his pale hair backlit by moonlight so that he almost glowed.
"Haldir," she said softly.
Without warning, he snatched up the knife, seized the bodice of her beautiful gown and sliced it right open to expose her breasts. Slamming the blade back into the ground, he caught hold of the dress and ripped it right down to the hem, tearing it off her without compunction or hesitation. Cool night air touched her flesh, but she took no notice. All her attention was on the ellon who loomed over her like a conqueror, looking like he was about to devour her.
Which was just what she wanted.
Aching for more of him, she arched her back, thrusting her breasts upward in mute invitation. With a soft growl he fell upon them, suckling and teasing her swollen nipples with unrestrained ardor while his long fingers dipped between her legs, plunging deep into the place that was so drenched with her desire. She stroked every part of him that she could reach and kicked off her shoes, rubbing the soles of her feet along his muscled thighs while he moaned deep in his throat and lavished attention upon her most sensitive places.
"So wet," he said huskily. "So eager for me."
Not bothering to reply, she reached down and grabbed at his tunic, tugging impatiently until he gave in and pulled it off over his head. He sat back on his heels to undo his leggings, his sculpted chest gleaming in the starlight.
That was when she finally got hold of the knife, but she did not swing it this time. Instead, she sat up quickly and grabbed hold of his laces. "Let me," she demanded. "You are mine and I WILL claim you."
To her surprise, he allowed this, lifting his hands away while she sawed impatiently through the leather ties, ruining them for any future uses. His leggings fell open, revealing his powerful erection, which she surveyed with delighted appreciation. She glanced up at him through her lashes and saw him watching her warily, and with a sultry smile, she slammed the blade back into the earth.
And then she bent forward and tasted him.
He made a strangled sound in his throat, but did not move. This was the closest she had come to being in control of him, and she took advantage of that, shoving him onto his back while she followed her instincts on what would best please him. Guided by his ragged sounds of near ecstasy, she experimented for some time, giving as much pleasure as she could while her hands cupped and cradled the hilt of his magnificent weapon.
But she wanted him naked. She sat back on her heels and yanked off his boots, tossing them aside with no regard for where they landed. His leggings followed. She smiled, admiring him, and was about to take him into her mouth again when instead she found herself flat on her back.
He moved over her quickly, settling himself aggressively between her thighs to press the head of his great weapon unerringly against her most sensitive spot.
"Say that you are mine," he commanded, his tone steely. "I want to hear you say it." He undulated his hips, mercilessly teasing her, but she could feel his trembling and knew that his control hung by a thread. "Say it!" he repeated.
"I am yours, Haldir." Her voice was faint, almost pleading. "Now take me quickly, for I can bear no more."
He made a low sound of triumph—half laugh and half growl—and entered her in one long heavy push that filled her all the way to her womb. It was aggressive, an act of possession, and she exulted in it.
Time stopped, whirling into nothingness, leaving only one endless moment of pure rapture. Nothing existed but their passion. Altariel clutched his broad shoulders while he pressed her down, making low male pleasure sounds in his throat as she gave herself to him wholly. With every hot thrust she rose up to meet him, each long slide carrying her higher along a swelling wave of pure rapture. His velvet hardness slid against her sensitive nerve endings, creating fiery sensations that had her thrashing convulsively beneath him, the long strands of their hair tangling along with their heated limbs.
Her senses expanded. They were one with the forest, part of Arda itself, part of the grass they lay on and the flowers whose heady scent wafted on the night breeze. Dimly, she knew that she was sobbing something beneath her breath, but she had no idea what it was. She heard him utter her name. And then the wave crashed over them, hot liquid pleasure spilling through them with thunderous and primal force, carrying them aloft to a far away place of absolute perfection.
They lay unmoving as the last pulsations of pleasure died away, conscious that their fëar were as intimately entwined as their bodies. It would be a simple matter to take it one step further, to join their fëar into an eternal bonding, but it was too soon. It would happen in time; they both knew that and did not need to discuss it.
Haldir lifted his head, his grey eyes searching hers as if trying to gauge her thoughts, but he did not speak. He kissed her lightly. It was a brief respite, a moment of peace and contentment.
But the Call still had them in its grip, and they did not rest long.
Just after dawn, Altariel awoke from her reverie and found herself nestled in Haldir's strong arms, her head on his shoulder and her leg over his. Birds twittered softly, leaves rustled, and Haldir's chest rose up and down in a peaceful rhythm.
She assessed the pretty little glade in which they lay, finding it lovely and perfect, like a hidden meadow within the forest, with soft grasses and flowers. He must have known it was here, she realized, or he would have found a way to prevent their tumble down the hill.
That brought back a flood of memories. Startled, she lifted her head and stared at a bite mark on Haldir's forearm. Had she done that? Yes, she had! She remembered doing it. And that was not the only bite that she had given him!
Embarrassment flooded her. No wonder people did not speak of the Hunt! She could never tell anyone, even Celeth, about what had occurred! Never could she repeat the things she had said to Haldir, done to Haldir, or the way she had baited him, teased him, treated him, tried to use those blades. Oh my, oh my!
And yet, she discovered that the memories still sizzled her nerve endings.
Sweet Eru, how many times had they joined? She had lost count. Each time had been different, each wonderful in its way. None had been gentle, but she had not wanted gentleness. That was what the Call had done to them. In its way it was barbaric, yet she also had to admit that she had enjoyed it. It had been marvelous, every moment of it.
And now it was over until the next time, hundreds of years from now.
With this thought in her mind, she turned to look at Haldir, and found that he was watching her. Immediately, she felt herself blush.
"You have regrets?" he inquired. With gentle fingers he tucked a lock of her silvery hair behind her ear.
She shook her head. "No, I do not. Do you?"
He rolled to his side and propped himself up on one elbow while he gazed thoughtfully down at her. He had thrown his leg over hers in a rather proprietary manner, and she was very conscious of all the places where their bodies touched. He seemed so different from a few hours before, patient and kind rather than ferocious and demanding. And yet she knew that other side was real; it was what enabled him to be such a strong and able leader of the Galadhrim.
"I have no regrets," he replied, but with an odd edge to his voice. "Not this hunt. But the last one, yes. Where were you then?"
It was a careful question, spoken without blame, but her heart lurched painfully as she realized what she must have put him through with her absence.
"I did not go," she confessed. "I . . . I dared not. I am sorry. You must have suffered because of my cowardice."
"You were no coward," he said, after a brief hesitation. "It was a choice. I have made the same choice many times. This was only my second hunt." He surveyed her body with a rueful expression. "I was too rough with you. I am sorry."
"Nay," she whispered, knowing he saw bruises. "I was also rough."
He smiled then, a slight smirk. "You were a she-wolf. But I liked it."
"Did you indeed." Slightly mortified but also amused, she touched his face, caressing his cheek with her thumb. "I liked it too," she admitted. "And I am very glad it was you. I hoped it would be." She blushed again.
"Did you?" He caught hold of her hand and kissed the tips of each of her fingers.
"Yes," she said steadily. "I did. I always noticed you."
He smiled, retaining her hand. "Good. Because I wanted it to be you too, Altariel. So . . . now we know."
"Yes," she agreed contentedly. "Now we know."
"Your dress is in shreds." He did not sound at all repentant.
"No matter. The threads are ensorcelled and will mend themselves."
"Ah." He made a slight grimace. "My laces are not so fortunate. I know not how I will manage to keep my leggings up and my great weapon out of sight."
She laughed. "Oh, I am sure a way can be found, Haldir."
She glanced down, appreciating the flawless beauty of his body in the light of day, and was amazed to find that she already wanted him again. And unless his weapon lied, the feeling was mutual.
Just then she felt the touch of his fëa on hers—a light, flirtatious caress that made her shiver with longing. She glanced up quickly.
He was smiling, a perceptive glint in his eyes that made her wonder how much he knew of her thoughts. Cupping her cheek with his palm, he bent down and pressed his mouth to hers, kissing her gently. "Make love with me again, Altariel. I would know your sweetness without the Call's insanity driving my blood."
"Yes," she said, reaching for him. "Yes and yes and yes."
In the soft early morning they loved, slowly at first and then more urgently, taking the time to fan the flames of their passion with tenderness and care. And when at last they came together it was not with the half-crazed wildness of the night, but with an awareness and focus that spoke of rapidly awakening feelings. No words were spoken because none were needed. Together they soared to a shattering conclusion, one that was no less spectacular than any they had experienced during the night. And when it was over, each felt the amazing sense of rightness that came with finding one's destined fëa-mate.
Her head on his shoulder, Altariel lay quietly atop Haldir, having collapsed onto his broad chest. His hands stroked gently down the length of her back, his breathing soft and steady near her ear.
"So," he said, "have I satisfied you yet, meleth? You seem insatiable where I am concerned." His lazy voice held a mixture of teasing and tenderness.
She lifted her head. "Perhaps I might say the same of you," she remarked.
"You might indeed." His mouth quirked upward. "Are you disappointed I did not use the hithlain last night?"
She gave an outraged giggle. "Haldir!" she protested. "What a suggestion!"
His smile was at once smug and endearing. "I came prepared, but you were so very willing. What need had I of hithlain?"
She sat up and smacked him lightly on the chest. "You are a perfect beast to tease me so." She leaned over him, bracing her weight on her hands. "Say that you are mine," she demanded.
He lifted a brow. "Have I not made that quite clear?"
"Say it," she repeated. "I want to hear it from those pretty lips."
He laughed and drew her close. "I am yours, Altariel. You know this."
"I do, but I wished to hear it."
"From my pretty lips," he added, his eyes twinkling.
"Exactly." She leaned up and kissed him. "Thank you."
"For what, meleth nín?"
"For taking part in the hunt. For not making me endure the pain I would have felt had you not been here." Sudden tears of remorse sprang to her eyes. "I can well imagine what I would have felt if you had not . . . I am sorry for last time . . . I never thought that . . . I never wished to hurt you . . . even last night when I . . . "
He touched his finger to her lips. "Hush. It serves no purpose to fret. All things happen when they are meant to happen. Surely you know this."
She nodded. "I do know it."
"Then let us have no more tears." He kissed her gently. "I am yours, meleth. Shall I prove it yet again?"
Altariel laughed through her tears. "Only if you wish to, my heart."
"Gerich veleth nín, sweet Altariel. And yes, of course I do."
"Gerich veleth nín, Haldir," she whispered, quite some time later.
You have my love.