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32. A Secret Relationship
Legolas had never looked happier, and Wynne knew he could see that same silly, ear-to-ear smile plastered on her own face. She felt giddy, like she had downed a full skin of firewater.
“I wish I could plait you again. Show everyone you are mine.” He softly combed through her hair with his fingers, giving her goosebumps all over.
“So that’s what it means. And you did it without explaining, you sly elf.” She giggled.
“You liked it, did you not?” His eyes sparkled with mischief.
“Loved it. I’m terrible at braiding or I could redo yours.” She stroked a tousled remain of a fishtail braid on the side of his head. Confirmed mostly within the healer’s room for several days, he had only had access to the small washing bowl in the lavatory. Despite that, the golden strands were incredibly soft and silky.
She moved his hair behind the ear and touched its curiously pointed tip, letting a finger follow it down to the earlobe. Then she noticed his gaze had become intense, the pupils wide and dark, almost like before when he had had too much poppy seed. His lips were slightly parted and she could not take her eyes from them. She loved how even when he was serious their corners had a tiny upturn, like an ever-present hint of a smile.
How would it feel to be kissed by those lips? He made no such move unfortunately, but he surely looked like he wanted it.
Inspired of Sidra’s bold exhibitions of fondness for Nugu, Wynne took the matter in her own hands. She leaned over and let her lips brush against his. When he did not object, she repeated the action, kissed him closer, even tasting the bitter remains of the willow bark tea he had taken.
That brought her back to her senses.
“Sorry. You are still healing, I shouldn’t–”
“Do it again,” he rasped. His hands had remained in her hair, and now he pulled her to him for a third kiss, a longer one, more eager. The intensity of it sent spears of heat down through her body, as if he had touched her inappropriately. She half wished he would, but that was not right, not here, not now.
With reluctance she moved back, trying to be responsible.
“Someone could come in. And you should eat before your soup gets cold.” Was that her voice, sounding so out of breath?
“Aye, Madam, your wish is my command.” Legolas was breathless too. He sat up straighter, and obediently took the bowl.
“There’s a good boy.”
“I am no boy.”
“There’s a good elf then.” They chuckled.
It was true Legolas was no boy, or elfling for that matter. He was adult, for sure, but he did not act as if he had lived thousands of years like his father. She considered asking about his age, but was it even important? Elves neither aged, nor matured like humans did. He looked youthful, he behaved youthful, that made him young in every way that mattered, did it not?
“How old are you?” Curiosity had won.
“Too old for you.” He winked. “Nay, I am joking. Elves are mere children until we turn fifty, and I am not yet two hundred. To my kind I am very young.”
Maybe they were not so different then, agewise. If he was such a young elf, that might explain his teasing and sometimes annoying behaviour when they had first met. In retrospect, he reminded her of a stallion colt prancing and trying to show off. The thought had her almost laugh out loud.
“What about you?” he asked.
“I’m almost twenty. An elf my age would be just a baby, then?”
“Indeed. Like the eldest of those two orclings, perhaps.”
“Well I am no child.”
“Certainly not!” He gave her a meaningful look, which made her want to kiss him again, but she stoically abstained.
“Thranduil must have waited a long time to have you,” she said instead.
“He met my mother late in life. But that is of no consequence, once an elf reaches adulthood he stays that way infinitely, and can sire elflings if he wishes to.” He thoughtfully emptied the last of the soup. “I think perhaps that is the main difference between our races. As far as my knowledge of mortals go, you age in stages, bodily I mean. First you are young, then middle aged, then old and finally ancient. But mentally humans are almost the same person that entire time, are you not? The only real difference between an old elf and an old human is physical.”
“So, you shall be young and handsome always, and me soon a crooked old crone like Nanna.” It was no pleasant thought.
“Nay, I did not mean that! You will always be beautiful to me.” He again took her hand and pressed it earnestly.
“I don’t understand how you could think so.” To find her beautiful, he who had grown up in a court full of elven ladies? Wynne must be nothing compared to them. She was plain, unless her mirror back home lied to her.
Was he lying? A white lie, to avoid making her unhappy? She traced the lines of his palm with a thumb, feeling the callouses from the bowstring. Her hand was small and chubby compared to his.
“I am not good with words,” he muttered. “How can I explain…?” He paused uneasily and his lips moved, like he was forming the sentences in his head before saying them out loud. It was rather endearing how earnest he looked, and Wynne knew then he had been truthful.
“I never really pay much attention to outer appearances,” he finally began. “Honestly I think it is the same with most elves. I know mortals find our kind pleasing to the eye. However, for us, that is what we see every day, in every elf. It is… ordinary.” Again he seemed to ponder over his words, before he continued. “When I look at you I see you , the inner Wynne… brave and kind. If you know what I mean?”
“I think I do... but I’m not brave, I have no idea how you got that notion.” She smiled weakly anyway, pleased of the compliment.
“Oh you are. You even entered a staring contest with my father the very first time you met him. If that is not bravery, I do not know what is.” He grinned.
“Well you are brave too, and so sweet with the horses. And...” She glanced at him, remembering the hot day when he had been shirtless. Pleasing to the eye? A huge understatement. “And actually, I rather like to look at your outside also. But then I am a mere mortal.”
“Well of course I do not only see the inside,” Legolas blurted out. “I did not mean–” He absent-mindedly scratched his head, making the dishevelled braids even more messed up. “With ellith I do not look twice, they all appear alike to me,” he said after another moment of unsettling silence. “Their faces are like porcelain, blank, unreadable. Beautiful, yes, in a distant way. But you... you are different. Something about you draws the eye, I cannot really say what it is.” He seemed so uncomfortable Wynne almost felt sorry for him, but she was glad he had tried to explain. She recalled now how she had thought almost exactly the same about elves and porcelain early in their journey. Be it Galion’s ethereal paleness, or Nodir’s and Bronedir’s stunning darkness, they were still too perfect, too flawless. Somehow Legolas was not. It was odd though, because his physical features were definitely no less perfect than other elves’. But he felt more real, more open, his face expressed emotions in a way theirs did not.
“I understand what you mean, it’s the same with you.” Now it was her turn to be shy when he looked inquiringly at her. “I mean... when I see you next to another elf… They can’t compete,” she mumbled, her face heating up terribly. ”If anyone draws one’s eye, it’s you.”
“I have indeed felt your gaze on me from time to time,” he admitted rather smugly. “There was, for instance, that very warm afternoon, if you recall…”
“Ha, you should talk. Whenever we bath you blush,” she countered quickly. Had he really noticed her checking him out that day? How mortifying.
“Hrm. I might, at times, have observed–”
“Yes?” she prompted.
“Well… you do have very nice legs.” He was blushing again, but there was a playful glint to his eyes and a rather cheeky smile.
“Why, Legolas, you speak boldly to a lady!” she scolded him mockingly, relieved that the awkward conversation had taken a more light-hearted turn.
“Pardon me, Madam, indeed I did. You shall have to punish my insolence.”
“I will. Your penalty shall be… hm.” She pondered. “Oh, I know. You shall sing to me!”
He began a soft ballad, one that she had heard Nodir and Bronedir sing before. It was rather sad, and beautiful, and his voice was just as lovely as she remembered. She curled up with her head in his lap, closing her eyes and allowed the silky tones to wash over her.
She knew of course that there would be second thoughts and concerns about this relationship coming later, like how they would tackle Thranduil, and Mother, and the other elves of the Woodland Realm. But right now she was content to just lay close to him, listen to his song and know that he really liked her. In time they would have to cross that bridge, but they could think of how to do it when they got there.
This was so sweet to write I got a tooth-ache. :D
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