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Horse Lady of Rohan  by Mimi Lind

15. Drinking with Elves (again)

“So, now that we are on first name basis, can I call you Thranny?” Wynne hiccuped, and hid her mouth in her hand.

“Absolutely not!”

“Aww why not, Galion is Gale and Nodir and Bronedir are Nodi and Bron. Thranny would be perfect for you. And you ,” she poked Legolas in the chest with her index finger, “you can be Leggy.”

“If you call me Leggy, I shall call you Lembas Lover.”

“Not funny.” Wynne scowled at him.

“I think it is hilarious.” Legolas face was absolutely straight, except for the slightly upturned corner of his mouth. 

Wynne tried to poke him again, but he caught her hand. She wanted him to keep holding it, but sadly he let go, and she could not think of a plausible excuse to touch him again. 

Then she remembered his bite wound.

“Is your hand better now?”

“Aye, this fire water really has great benefits.” He took a sip from the wooden cup.

“I didn’t clean it for you yesterday, what with the orcs kidnapping me and everything. I can do it now if you want?” 

“Aye, why not?”

“Then let’s go to the river, you should wash it first before I apply the liquor.”

After clearing out the orc den and burning the carcasses earlier that day, they had ridden back to the Anduin and made camp. Although the next triangle on the map was further east, everybody had agreed it would be nice to come back to a source of water. They had been travelling nearly a week now, and Thranduil decided they could stay there the next day too, allowing the horses to rest and themselves to wash their clothes.

Wynne followed Legolas down to the dark stream, which now had a red tint reflecting the setting sun. She noticed with some satisfaction that the elf swayed a little in his gait.

“I thought you were so unaffected by alcohol that you even beat a dwarf in a drinking competition. How come you can’t walk straight?” 

“I do walk straight. And see my hand. Steady as a rock.” He held out his good hand for her to see. She came closer, and stumbled on a tuft of grass. 

“Now look who cannot walk straight.”

“True, but I never said liquor doesn’t affect me. You shall have to support me.” Wynne took his hand, and he did not seem to mind. It felt strong and warm, and covered hers entirely. She walked extra slow the last few yards, just to make the moment last, but eventually she had to release him. 

As Legolas removed the bandage and began to wash, Wynne sat on the grassy slope just above the rough gravel of the shore. Music drifted from the campfire above, Nodir and Bronedir were singing again, accompanied by Galion’s flute. This time their bass voices were joined by a third, a baritone. With some surprise she realized it was Thranduil.

“Your father has a lovely singing voice. Do you sing as well?”

“Sometimes.” He dried his hands on a linen towel and came sit next to her.

“I’d love to hear it.”

“Maybe another time.”

“I shall take it as a promise. Now, let’s have a look at that bite.” 

The wound really looked much better today, it was not swollen and a scab had begun to form. Legolas did not even flinch when she dabbed it with a spirit soaked cloth.

“I’m glad it’s healing so well.”

“Thanks to you.” In the twilight his eyes were almost black. Wynne broke eye contact first, his gaze had made her stomach flutter.

“How about your thigh?” he asked. “Let me check those stitches.”

Wynne’s cheeks warmed at the mention of thighs.

“Sure.” Still blushing she removed the strings that held her hose up, and rolled one down a bit. She had not needed a bandage the past two days, it healed well. 

Legolas examined it thoroughly, perhaps more so than was strictly necessary. She could see a vein on his neck throbbing faster, just like her own heart did. 

“Looking good.” He had become slightly breathless. 

Then he carefully felt the three tiny knots. Too softly, Wynne squirmed and giggled. That broke the intense atmosphere.

“You are ticklish,” he noted, and seemed to store the information for later use.

Wynne then of course had to try and tickle him back, but got no reaction at all, his face could have been sculpted in marble. 

“You are no fun.” She tried a little more anyway, she loved to have a reason to touch him.

“You are wasting your time. Elves are beyond such worldly things as ticklishness.” His teasing smile made Wynne certain he did feel it, he just had high self-control. She decided to try to catch him by surprise later. 

“How is it going down there?” Thranduil called from the campfire. 

“Soon finished!” Legolas looked guilty. 

They hastily went back and retrieved their places around the fire. Thranduil regarded them thoughtfully, one eyebrow raised, but did not say anything.

“So, a day off tomorrow then,” said Wynne. “That means we can sleep in. Any fire water left?”

The elf brothers began a new song, and this one was so well known even Wynne could join in. Her soprano was not all too bad, she reckoned, and she quite liked singing. To her delight Legolas also took part. He was a bass, which was what one might expect from his speaking voice, and a good one too. She really must hold him to his promise, and have him sing to her sometime. 

When night came, Wynne was more drunk than before, and went to her tent a bit unsteadily. The drink had made her drowsy, and she could hardly keep her eyes up when she undressed. But as she lay tucked in her bedroll, she found that she still could not fall asleep. For no apparent reason, her heart beat faster and faster. Adrenaline rushed through her body, forcing her wide awake. Orc faces began to parade before her eyes, those she were kidnapped by, and the one with an arrow in its cheek. It was like a waking dream, one she could not wake up from. 

At last she sat and tried to rub away the images, almost banging her head with her fists, but it did not help. She wanted to scream in frustration. How long would this hopeless insomnia last? This awful, irrational panic. She hated it.

She had to resort to the horses again. The air was moister this close to the river, and quite chilly, but it worked anyway. Within moments of mounting Vatna she slept soundly.

Wynne woke early a few hours later, despite her talk yesterday of sleeping in, and began the day with an icy cold swim. It cleared her head nicely, and chased away the headache that had begun to form. Legolas, who had the early morning watch, came down to join her.

“Oh, hello Leggy.”

“Good morning, Lembas Lover.” His face turned serious. “I noticed you slept outside, why is that? It is not safe, even here.”

“I’m safe with the horses.”

“You have a nice tent, why not use it? All that space to your own, while I have to lay cramped in, listening to Father’s snores.”

“Thranduil snores? Really?” Wynne shook her head in disbelief. “I’d never had guessed that.”

“He does.” Legolas nodded solemnly. 

“Maybe I can sneak in sometime and listen.” She laughed at Legolas’ shocked look.

“You are evading the question. Why do you sleep on your horse?”

“I sleep better there. Dunno.” Wynne shifted uncomfortably, and dove back into the river to evade further questions.

When she emerged Legolas had finished bathing and sat braiding his hair. Wynne stood up, and tried to use the water as a mirror, but her dropping head made it difficult. She was quite sure her hair must look like the wiry end of a besom, though. The pretty braids Legolas had made a few days ago had almost disappeared under stray strands of hair. She rather forcefully undid them, losing a few tufts in the process.

“Can you braid my hair too when you are done?” She sat by him. “If it’s not too much trouble.”

“Of course. No trouble at all, I enjoy doing it.” He glanced at her bare calves and wet outfit, and averted his eyes with an embarrassed cough. Wynne was glad the chemise was wide and nontransparent. 

While Legolas finished his own braids, Wynne noticed that his undershirt was thinner than hers. The moist fabric was clinging to his chest muscles, showing the shape of his torso underneath. She wondered what he looked like without a shirt, and how his skin would feel if she touched it.

He looked up then, and smiled somewhat slyly. Wynne realized she had been staring, and quickly turned toward the river. A pair of black swans came serenely swimming down it.

“I heard those used to be Sauron’s spies,” she said.

“Aye. But they are free now.” He moved to stand on his knees behind her, and began combing. Like before, his touch sent warm tingles all through her body.

He took longer this time. The bone comb soon glided through her tresses without resistance, but yet he continued, stroking her hair almost reverently.

Finally he moved to Wynne’s side and started on the braids. He was so near, she felt air tickling her neck when he breathed. He seemed intently focused on what he was doing, and she seized the opportunity to study his beautiful face, peeking sideways rather uncomfortably so as to not turn her head in the process. His skin really was amazingly smooth, even up this close. Not a hint of facial hair, except for the slender eyebrows and long, dark lashes. His irises had an unusual shade of blue, almost gray, like the sky of a summer evening. The nose was straight and his jawline strong and masculine. He had pointed ears like all elves, but somehow his was prettier than the other’s.

Legolas had completed one set of braids and moved to her other side, while Wynne innocently turned her gaze back to the swans. One of them had buried its long neck in the rippling water and the black, webbed feet waggled in the air. 

They heard voices from above, the others were waking up. Legolas cast several nervous glances towards them, while he finished the last braids a lot faster. He was just done, when Thranduil and Galion came down to the shore. 

Wynne could tell from Thranduil’s lowered eyebrows that he was not pleased when he saw what his son had been doing. It surprised her, but also made Legolas’ behaviour more understandable. Clearly hair and braids meant something different to elves than to humans.

Legolas very soon hurried off, muttering something about dirty laundry. Before Wynne could follow, Thranduil laid a hand on her arm.

“May I have a word with you in private, My Lady?”

Uh-oh, he was back to calling her “My Lady” again. This did not bode well.


A/N:

I wish they had let Orlando Bloom keep his own eye color as Legolas… His real eyes really are rather amazing.

Oh, and for a taste of Thranduil's singing voice, google "Lee Pace singing miss Pettigrew". :)





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