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22. Watching Stripping Elves
The afternoon became exceedingly hot, one of those high summer days when the air was absolutely still and the heat almost choking. Sweat poured down Wynne’s face and back, and an armada of the annoying flies which accompany horses in the warm season kept attacking her. They passed a couple of very old, gnarled oaks, where she picked a few low hanging leaves to fan herself with, but without much success as they soon went soft and floppy.
Finally Thranduil decided it was time to stay for the night, unusually early. It was no ideal spot, the area was open and there were very few trees, one or two crooked pines and some junipers only. The ground was hard, bedrock covered in a thin layer of white, crisp lichen.
“No shade,” Wynne grumbled, and wiped her forehead for the umphteenth time.
The elves’ clothes had wet stains same as Wynne’s, and their perfect faces were flustered. As soon as the campsite was ready, they shed their moist tunics and shirts, spreading them out on the ground to dry. Then they toppled down in the slight shade of the few trees and the tents, wearing only underpants and hose.
Wynne tried to get a discrete peek at Legolas, and her heartbeat increased considerably when she caught a glimpse of his chest. His body looked even nicer than she had imagined. It was smooth and solid, and the droplets of perspiration that still covered it was no disadvantage at all. Again she wondered what it would feel like to touch him, and wished that she was allowed to.
Nugu tried to follow the elves’ example, but his clothes got stuck on the bound hands. Galion took pity and freed him long enough to remove them, before tying him up again. The uruk’s many battle scars became visible, some of them long and thin, possibly made by a whip. He was incredibly muscular, and Wynne was secretly grateful that Galion had restrained him again. Even though he had not done anything to harm them, he looked like he easily could.
Wynne had hesitated to undress in front of a stranger at first, but soon could not stand the heat. She decided to remove the tunic and hose at least, like she had done many times around the elves. Sidra’s eyes widened slightly when she saw it, but then she shrugged and followed the example. Her Haradrim chemise looked different than Wynne’s, it was slightly longer and had a higher neckline, but was more figure hugging. She had an ample body, with wide hips and large breasts that Wynne rather envied.
Then the woman stripped her sons, leaving them to bounce about happily wearing nothing at all. Wynne observed them with great curiosity. So this was how males looked like in the nude. There was a dangling part just as she had thought, but looking rather different from a horse’s counterpart. Adult men obviously had larger ones, as the rest of them was larger too, but on the whole it did not look too scary.
Clad only in linen, Wynne soon felt a lot better. She went about with the orclings, pretending to help them gather sweet bilberries that grew in patches on the lichen floor, but secretly gobbling most of them herself. Her hands and the tiny boys’ gray bodies became blotched with purple stains.
Galion joined them after a while, and having him so close while wearing so little, made Wynne rather shy. Since he was a swordsman he was a lot stronger than the other elves, and his arm muscles bulged when he moved. It drew her eyes, and she found it very hard to look away. Although she really liked Legolas’ slimmer built better, the ginger elf stirred a strange, fluttery sensation in her. Her mouth went dry, and not only because of the weather.
Then she realized his eyes were on her body as well, and instantly the flutter faded, replaced with a growing suspicion. Galion must not think of her that way, he was no less an elf than Legolas, and he too would be hurt by a relationship with a mortal. Besides, she did not want a relationship with him, even if that was not an issue. The strange reaction his body provoked in her was nothing in comparison to how she felt about Legolas.
Thinking of Legolas made her look his way. He was scowling deeply at Galion, clearly suspecting the same thing and not liking it at all.
Wynne left the berries and went to sit beside Thranduil. She was certain the king could have been entirely nude, and she would still not feel anything. She would not dare to, he was too majestic.
Her new position brought Wynne closer to Legolas, and that seemed to please him. The scowl dissolved and he gave her a slight smile, which she cautiously returned. Nothing wrong with smiling at a good friend. Or glancing at him now and then. Quite harmless. She could handle it.
Wynne’s daydream sucked her in, and now she had some fresh details to add when it came to hers and Legolas nights together.
When evening began to fall, some clouds had built up in the sky but it was no less hot. The increased humidity rather worsened it. Nobody felt much like eating supper, so they made it simple and had lembas with water. The water was lukewarm but they drank as much as they could, knowing well the importance of avoiding dehydration.
The sun set and the air finally cooled slightly. The elves began to prepare for the night, but then it occurred to Wynne that the half orc family had no tent.
“Where shall they sleep?” she asked Thranduil, and nodded in Sidra’s direction. The woman was huddling close to her husband, and they cradled one drowsy orcling each.
“Up to them, as long as they do not stray. Not that they will have the opportunity to, we take turns keeping watch as usual.” The blond king went down on his knees to open the tent he shared with his son.
“No, I meant, should they not get to use one of the tents? With the babies and all...”
Thranduil looked up at her in surprise.
“Well. You are free to offer them yours.” He disappeared under the canvas flap.
Wynne looked between her cosy, inviting tent and the sorry little family, and sighed. At least she had her horse, they had only the hard, lichen-covered ground. She beckoned for them to come.
“Here, you can sleep in there.”
The woman nodded and went inside, followed by the uruk-hai. Wynne morosely looked on when he carefully fastened the flap behind them. Not even a “thank you”. Of course, they would not know she had given up her own bed to them. She considered telling them, but decided that would be rather ridiculous.
“How altruistic of you.”
She turned to see Legolas’ grinning teasingly behind her. He was still only wearing his hose, and blood surged to Wynne’s face.
“Watch it, or I shall take your bed instead,” she bit back, hoping he would not notice the effect his appearance had on her.
“I wish.” His smile was gone, replaced with a mix of frustration and longing that Wynne well understood. After all, she felt it almost constantly herself.
She did not know what to reply, and it became uncomfortably silent. Since Thranduil had his little talk with them all those weeks ago, neither of them had put words to their crushed hopes. Seeing the yearning in Legolas’ eyes now, Wynne knew nothing had changed. For her part, it almost seemed that the more forbidden he was, the more she craved him.
A polite cough made Wynne almost jump.
“You should get some rest before it is your watch, Legolas.” Nodir was leaning leisurely against a pine, but there was an edge to his voice. Like he had sensed the tension between the pair, and purposely broken it.
“Yes. Of course. Good night, then.” Legolas hastily departed into his tent.
Nodir looked after him, the dark eyes filled with pity.
“I am sorry for you. Truly.” He let his hand rest momentarily on Wynne’s shoulder. The simple gesture of compassion almost filled her eyes to the brim, and she angrily rubbed her face. She was beyond crying over this, it had been weeks since she last had.
Later, laying on Vatna’s comforting back, Wynne gazed up at the somber sky, the blue-grey clouds crawling sluggishly across it. She could not sleep. So much had happened today, so many different emotions succeeding each other. Meeting new people, learning about Saruman’s appalling dealings with Haradrim women, being among half dressed elves and now, lastly, realizing that the feelings between her and Legolas were still the same. Would she ever be able to forget him?
Oh the lucky bugger who is allowed to be among a bunch of stripping elves... Or what do you say? ;)
Nah, you don't have to tell. I know you want to, I can feel your dirty thoughts all the way here to Sweden. :D
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