Disclaimer: The Tolkien Estate owns the setting, any language used other than English, and the characters, except for Nenglîr. Nenglîr is my own original character.
By LOTR lover
Glorfindel of the House of the Golden Flower slipped out onto the balcony outside the Hall of Fire, carrying a stoppered flagon and a cloth-wrapped bundle of savory meat pies, still warm. He paused for a deep breath of the clear night air, enjoying the change from the overheated, overscented air within, then vaulted lightly over the railing. He landed soundlessly upon the grass below and began to walk toward a secluded spot where a lovely little rill joined a slightly larger brook that wound off to empty itself into the Bruinen. Glorfindel loved to visit the place. The juncture of brook and rill created a deepish pool where minnows darted, and there was a grassy bank beside the pool where he could read or sing or simply sit and enjoy the company of the encircling trees. He spent time there as often as he could get away from his duties, and had gradually made the spot his own over the centuries he had been in Imladris with Lord Elrond.
Anticipation made him smile as he went. His sweet Nenglîr had been away from home these thirty years, having gone to Lothlórien to study minstrelsy with some of the best bards in Elvenesse. Now she had returned in the retinue of Elrond's daughter Arwen, who had been in Lothlórien for an extended visit to her grandmother.
Lord Elrond, of course, had given a feast to welcome his daughter home, and the dancing and singing had been going on for several hours now. Nenglîr had acquitted herself well, singing and harping music both ancient and new, and Glorfindel's heart had glowed with pride. But as soon as all the courtesies had been observed and she could leave the hall, she would bring her harp and meet him at the copse. They would sit on the grass and sing and talk with naught but the sounds of the forest and the stream for company. And after the food and drink were gone, and after they had caught up with thirty years' worth of news, then, ah, then. . .
His reverie was broken when powerful hands grabbed his shoulders and spun him around, thumping his back hard against the trunk of a tree. He dropped the flagon and pastries, but before he could draw his dagger the hands had seized his wrists and pressed them up against his chest. The owner of the hands then crowded full-length against him, pinning him against the tree.
But the next moment warm, miruvor-flavored lips brushed his, and Glorfindel managed to stop a kick designed to snap his assailant's knee as he realized he was not under attack. A male voice purred, "Mae govannen, Shining One. I've been waiting for you to come out where we might be private."
The elf-lord relaxed further into amusement. Someone would be rather embarrassed tomorrow. He twisted his neck slightly in order to dislodge the lips that were now trying to kiss a path along his jaw. "Whoever you are, I fear you mistake my intentions. I do wish to be private, but not with you."
His assailant stepped back, releasing him, and in the bright moonlight Glorfindel could see that his blond hair was braided in the style of Lothlórien's warriors. It was Rúmil, one of the Guardians of Lothlórien; he and his brothers Haldir and Orophin had been Glorfindel's escorts through the Golden Wood on many occasions. It was odd to see any of the Guardians outside Lothlórien; most of them were as insular as their rulers.
Rúmil's face was slack and his blue eyes seemed to take some time to focus on Glorfindel's face from the new position. When they did, he frowned at the older elf and shook one finger at him. "My lord, it is not courteous to insult one who is trying to please you."
Glorfindel bent to pick up his flagon and the bundle of pastries, hiding his grin as he did so. "Guardian of Lothlórien, you are drunk as a dwarf. Is this the way you wish to represent your realm?"
Rúmil's lower lip thrust out. "I do not represent my realm. I am part of the Lady Arwen's escort. Lord Celeborn said it would do me good to see other lands, but I think it was to punish me for--" The pout vanished, and a sly, amorous grin replaced it. "Well, that is neither here nor there. I have done what was required, and I wish to enjoy this night to the fullest."
"Go and enjoy it, then. Good even." Glorfindel gave the Guardian a short nod of dismissal and moved to step around him, but Rúmil blocked his path.
"I have watched you from afar whenever you visited us, good my lord. Never could I act on my desire, since I was usually on watch or unable to lose my pesky brothers." He raised a hand and touched Glorfindel's cheek. "Now we are alone, and I have my chance at last."
Glorfindel sighed. Nenglîr would surely be at the copse by now, and he had wanted to get there first. "Rúmil, I do not want to hurt your feelings, but I did not come out here to meet you--" To his shock, he was slammed against the tree again, and Rúmil's mouth stopped his. Rúmil's fingers began to fumble with the ties to his tunic.
This time his hands were free. Glorfindel dropped the bottle and the bundle and shoved against Rúmil's shoulders. The young one staggered backwards and sat hard on the ground, his legs splayed, and gazed up at Glorfindel in astonishment. "Do not interrupt me again," Glorfindel told him, "and especially not like that. I do not want you for a lover."
"So you find me displeasing?" Rúmil's back slumped; his whole body was a study in dejection.
"Not displeasing, just not desirable."
The pout was back. "Well, whyever not? What have I ever done to offend you?"
"Pay heed to my words now." Glorfindel sat on his heels, bringing himself down to Rúmil's eye level. "It has nothing to do with you. I desire women. Only women. Call me perverse if you will, but it is my choice."
"Youngling, what did I just say? Repeat it."
"You are perverse, and desire only women." Glorfindel scowled; his drunken suitor seemed not to notice. "But, Golden One, you are strong, beautiful, valiant, legendary." At the older elf's gesture of impatience he went on, "You must have had fellow warriors or companions who have wanted to be more than that."
"Yes, I have, and they are still my companions because they knew how to take 'no' for an answer."
"Now I will be on my way." The elf-lord stood. "We can keep this little interlude between ourselves, but if I find myself backed against a tree again tonight, I will be most annoyed. Do you understand?"
Rúmil reached to either side, retrieved the flagon and the somewhat-the-worse-for-wear bundle, and handed them up like an offering. "Yes, my lord."
Pitiable. Glorfindel shook his head as he accepted the items. "Peace between us, Rúmil of Lothlórien. Good even." And with that he turned and continued on his way.
Nenglîr sat on the near bank of the brook, dangling her feet in the water and playing at damming the mouth of the rill with stones and small sticks. Her gauzy, embroidered gown was rucked up to her knees, and she had pulled her black hair into a careless queue which flowed down her back and pooled behind her. A large square of white cloth lay upon the grass behind her, its corners weighted down with two pewter goblets, a bowl of fruit and her lap harp. Memory rose, unbidden, and Glorfindel's breath caught; Nenglîr's bare feet and silvery dress reminded him of Idril Celebrindal, one night in Gondolin, so very long ago.
He shook his head to dislodge the memories, and Nenglîr looked up with a welcoming smile. "Did you lose your way, my lord?" she teased. "I saw you leave the hall well before I did."
"Alas, my lady, I was unavoidably delayed."
"By anyone I know?"
He cocked one eyebrow. "Are you jealous?"
Her laugh entwined itself with the song of the water and a gentle rustle of leaves as a breeze swept through the trees about them. "Would you like me to be?"
He decided not to answer and sat crosslegged beside her. "I brought metheglyn to ease your throat and some of those spiced meat pies you like so well. Your songs were so popular tonight that I doubt you took much refreshment." He filled one of the goblets and offered it to her. "Will you drink with me, my lady?"
"I will, my lord."
Her smile and the touch of her fingers as she took the goblet brought him back to the present. As they drank, he considered her hair: how it had been touched with gold in the firelight, and how like a star-dappled stream it was here and now. He wanted to be wrapped in that hair; wanted to see it entwined with his own; wanted to feel it flow across his naked skin. . .but not quite yet. Soon, but not yet, for to him the pursuit was just as exhilarating as the outcome. He lowered the goblet and licked a stray drop from the corner of his mouth, watching Nenglîr's gray eyes widen slightly as she followed his movement. Ai. Sweet, sweet anticipation.
Ithil was well past his zenith when Nenglîr set down her harp. "I am so weary I cannot play another note." She loosened her hair and shook it out to veil her shoulders.
Glorfindel was lying on his side beside her, propped on one elbow. With his free hand he poured the last of the metheglyn into her goblet and handed it to her. "Drink, then, and rest. I cannot think of one more bit of news or gossip to tell you."
His lady lay back onto the soft grass after draining the goblet and reached up to trace the line of his eyebrow, smiling up at him. "So you are all talked out, my lord? Shall we leave this glade to the night creatures, then, and go off to our solitary beds?" Her smooth touch continued past the end of his eyebrow and along the ridge of his ear.
"Solitude was not what I had in mind, Nenglîr, nor was leaving." Anticipation had become desire, and desire had heightened into need. He shivered and leaned over to take her mouth.
While they tasted each other, Nenglîr pulled him down and wrapped her arms around him. With one sinuous move, she reversed their positions and straddled him, her hair forming a curtain that seemed to enclose the two of them in a private bower. As she began to unlace the front of his tunic, he eased the filmy fabric of her bodice over her shoulders and down her arms.
Then there was a stifled cry from above and a mighty splash, and Nenglîr shrieked as cold water pelted them both. "My harp!" The curtain of her hair disappeared as she leapt to her feet, leaving Glorfindel staring gape-mouthed as Rúmil struggled to stand in the middle of the pool.
Rage replaced astonishment, and without thought Glorfindel was on his feet. He grabbed the soggy cloth of Rúmil's tunic and swung him bodily out of the stream. There was a satisfying "splat" as the younger elf ended up against the bole of an elm, much as Glorfindel had been earlier. "What in the name of Mandos do you here!?" he snarled. "And are all the folk of Lothlórien so lacking in woodcraft that they fall from trees like babes?"
Rúmil went red; whether with embarrassment or anger, Glorfindel didn't know or care. His eyes narrowed against the water dripping from his hair. "I--"
"You were watching us!" Nenglîr cried. She had snatched up her harp and was using a napkin to wipe water and mud from its glossy wood, apparently careless of the large wet stains on her gown. "Rúmil, how could you commit such a gross breach of courtesy?"
"I thought Lord Glorfindel would be alone," Rúmil said sullenly. "I followed him through the trees, but I did not realize before I was in position above that you were already here, Nenglîr. By then it was too late: I knew I had taken too much to drink this night, and I feared he might hear me if I tried to leave. After a while I fell asleep."
Glorfindel was trying hard not to lose the tight hold he had on his wrath. "Do you expect me to believe that a Guardian fell simply because he went to sleep?"
"No, my lord." Rúmil's face turned an even darker shade of red. "I woke when you began to. . . ah. . .anyway, the tree itself betrayed me. As I leaned forward the branch twisted and sent me into the brook."
"Why did you follow me?" Glorfindel asked. "Was I not clear enough earlier this evening when I told you to leave me alone?"
"My--My brother Haldir knows how I feel about you, Golden One. He said I should be more determined. He said you would put me off at first, but that you would secretly like it if I pursued you and--" At this point Rúmil seemed to realize what he was about to say to one of the oldest and doughtiest warriors in all of Arda. He blanched and his voice sank almost to a whisper. "And f-forced. . .myself. . .on. . .you."
Utter silence fell, broken only by the song of the running water and the gentle movements of the trees. Only the certain knowledge that Lord Elrond would consider it a breach of hospitality kept Glorfindel from putting the young fool's head in the brook and holding it there till he stopped breathing.
Finally Nenglîr said, "Oh, Rúmil, how often have you been told never to do what Haldir says except when you are on duty with him?"
"I know, Nenglîr, but--"
"Silence," Glorfindel snapped. "Why does Haldir think he knows me so well?"
"He doesn't really--"
"Silence! Say another word and I'll drown you."
Rúmil nodded, his eyes white-rimmed.
Nenglîr took hold of Glorfindel's arm and tugged gently. "My dear, you are frightening him. And me. Rúmil has learned his lesson, I think. Haldir is known to be a cozener; he enjoys tormenting others, and the tricks he plays can be most amusing." Both Rúmil and Glorfindel turned to look at her. "Unless you are his victim, I suppose."
With a sigh, Glorfindel let go of Rúmil and stepped back. The other elf moved away from the tree and bowed. "My deepest apologies, Lord Glorfindel."
"Stay far away from me in future, Guardian, here in Imladris or if I should come to Lothlórien." Glorfindel watched as Rúmil gathered to himself what shreds of dignity he could and left the glade, then turned to his lady. She held out her hands and he took them and kissed them. "Nenglîr, if you are not too tired, perhaps we can take up where we left off?"
She moved into his arms, her smile warm, but their new embrace ended quickly at a discreet cough from somewhere beside them. Her shoulders shook as Glorfindel gave a self-mocking groan. "I'm sorry," she whispered and moved aside.
A male servant stood there looking at his feet. "Ai, what is it now?" Glorfindel sighed.
"Your pardon, my lord, but Lord Elrond needs you in the library."
It occurred to him that the birds had been singing for several minutes now, and that the sky in the east was turning faintly pink. "Of course he does."
His duty accomplished, the servant began to pick up the remains of their supper. Nenglîr had already picked up her harp; Glorfindel motioned to her to precede him along the path. As they walked, he admired the sway of her hips and the fall of her hair down her back. Perhaps Elrond's difficulty would be something he could deal with swiftly, and then delegate his own duties to someone else. Perhaps the Guardian of Lothlórien could be drugged at the midday meal and left somewhere far down the valley. Perhaps Nenglîr would be free this afternoon.
Ai, sweet anticipation. . . .