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4. Around the Campfire
When she had removed her hose and tunic, Wynne hesitated, her hands on the linen chemise. Surely Mother did not expect her to get stark naked in front of the elves? The chemise was bad enough, it had a low neckline and reached only a bit below the knees, showing a great deal of bare ankle. Quite scandalous.
She drew a few long breaths to calm herself before joining the elves by the river shore, it did not do to appear embarrassed. Mother had told her that elves did not know very much about human customs, if she pretended this was normal woman behaviour, they would not have cause to question it.
Feeling extremely conscious about herself, Wynne advanced into the water and began washing her face. If it was red, they would hopefully think this was because the water was so cold.
“What on Arda are you doing?” Thranduil sounded more shocked than she had expected.
“Washing of course.” She raised her head and met his bewildered stare. All of them stared, and the three light-skinned ones had become noticeably flushed.
“But… you are almost nude!”
“I’m in my underclothes same as you. Surely you must have seen a female in her shift before, you’re a father, aren’t you?” Wynne had no idea where that boldness came from, but she instantly knew this was the right way to go. Thranduil swallowed a few times, obviously quite at a loss what to say, and then just shrugged before he continued to clean himself.
Wynne quickly finished washing up in the chilly water, at the same time peeking through the corner of her eye to see what the others were doing. They kept throwing glances at her, she noticed, and started to feel rather satisfied about the whole thing. This had not been as mortifying as she had anticipated. She found that she liked drawing the males’ attention. As plain as she was, that had not happened very often before.
In the evening they gathered around the campfire, sharing a nice supper of a special kind of elven bread called lembas. It was sweet and aromatic to the taste, and Wynne needed only a very small piece to become completely satisfied.
They stayed up a while afterwards, resting and watching the stars come out. Everybody took turns entertaining the others, starting with Nodir and Bronedir. The brothers sang a duet, a slow, melancholy song about the many martyrs of the Ring War. Their dark voices were perfectly matched, and intertwined in otherworldly harmonies. Wynne was stunned, unable to tear her eyes from them. The light of the fire reflected in their brown eyes, and no words could describe the combination of their elven beauty and the exquisite, bewitching tones.
When the song ended, Wynne was not the only one with tears in her eyes.
“I say, we need something more cheerful after this”, decided Legolas, and contributed with a series of anecdotes of his many adventures together with a dwarf named Gimli. Most of the time, it seemed, the two of them had competed about something or other, such as who could kill more orcs, or who was the greatest drinker. In Legolas’ version of the events, he always won these competitions, but Wynne had pretty strong doubts as to his truthfulness in the matter. There was an amused twinkle in his blue eyes, and a quirk to the corner of his mouth that betrayed him.
When Legolas had finished his storytelling, he turned to Wynne.
“Your turn, My Lady. Amuse us!”
Wynne’s mind turned absolutely blank at this, and she was overcome with stage fright. She had no entertaining skills, did hardly know any songs and had no funny memories to share. Her life up until now had been utterly dull, having spent most of it out in the pastures training her family’s horses.
“Maybe you can tell us something of your people’s history?” suggested Galion kindly, noticing her distress.
She nodded, that she could do. With a dry mouth she started to tell the ancient story of the king Fram, son of Frungar, who reigned early in the Third Age, and who fought and slayed the mighty dragon Scatha. Fram’s son was less fortunate, he took on the task to tame the first ever Meara horse, Felaróf, but perished in the process. His son Eorl the Young, however, succeeded where his father had not, and ever since, the Mearas belonged to the Rohirrim.
“I remember that dragon”, mused Thranduil. “However, he was not all that mighty, as I recall. Rather small, and soft-skinned. Not like Smaug. Now he was sight to be seen. Terrible, and beautiful!” He proceeded to tell the story of the dwarves, the hobbit and the bowman, who had contributed to end the terror reign of the evil reptile.
Wynne observed the king thoughtfully while he talked. She had known elves could grow older than Men, of course, but that old? To be able to remember the beginning of the last Age, over three thousand years ago!
He did not look old, that was for sure. His long hair was golden in the dim light, there was not a single white strand to be seen. His eyes, shaded by the formidable eyebrows, were clear and bright, full of power and vigour. And the face was as smooth as that of a young man. She would have guessed his age to be around thirty, thirty-five at the very most.
Realizing how old he must really be, gave her a strange feeling inside, not altogether pleasant. Someone that ancient, how could she ever hope to seduce him? He must have met thousands of females in his days, each more beautiful than the other.
The night had gotten colder, and quite dark. It was time to get some rest, except for Galion who agreed to take the first watch.
Wynne was offered a tent all to herself, while the others shared the two remaining ones, the brothers and Galion in one, and Legolas and his father in the other. They had expected Wynne to be male, she knew, and one of them would have shared with her. Because of her sex, they now had to squeeze together three people in a tent made for two. Oh well, that was their choice. Maybe in time, she could persuade one of them to join her bed as Mother demanded.
Now that Wynne knew what the elves looked like, that prospect was slightly less frightening. She remembered how Nodir’s and Bronedir’s dark brown eyes had glittered in the firelight, and how golden the blond locks of Thranduil and his son had seemed. And Galion, with his translucent skin and fair lashes, was not far behind the others in attractiveness.
She found that she actually looked forward to getting to know them all, and she had liked to spend the day with them a lot better than she had anticipated. The evening around the fire was enchanting, and even the proud king had proved to be somewhat more friendly.
She did not look forward to the next step, however. Getting to know them and be friends was one thing, to couple with them quite another.
Wynne tried to picture herself together with Thranduil, naked and mating. However hard she strived, she just could not imagine it. She could not imagine him naked with anyone, actually. However had he fathered Legolas? Perhaps the younger elf was adopted.
She sighed heavily. Her secret quest was doomed. Mother would kill her, or worse.
A sweet sound dispelled her brooding thoughts. Galion had picked up a small wooden flute, and its soft tones drifted through the night. It sounded like a lullaby, but it was not one Wynne had ever heard.
Before she knew it she was fast asleep.
All alone with a bunch of hot elves, eh... I am not at all envious of you Wynne, not at all!
I shall take this opportunity to mention that since English is not my first language, there might be some grammar errors or so along the way, and I apologize for them in advance. :)
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