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Horse Lady of Rohan  by Mimi Lind

38. Thranduil on a Cricket Diet

With Wynne’s hand still in his, Legolas leaned back in the heather, pulling her with him. They had too keep that annoying distance, of course, but it felt good to have her within an arm’s length at least. He stroked her fingers with his thumb, loving how small her hand was compared to his. 

Relaxed and unusually happy, Legolas tuned into all that was alive around him. He listened to the heather, which he always thought of as tiny trees, heard the whispering murmurs from neighbour to neighbour of the joy of blooming and attracting bees, about seeds to come and the future of the saplings. In patches between the heather, old tufts of grass sighed in languid voices about the relentless draught, their tiredness and how they looked forward to let their wizened strands droop and allow a new generation to take over. A young birch nearby lamented the loss of its leaves, and worried of the cost to grow new ones. Stelpa, his lovely girl, was the culprit he knew. The tree would become stronger from the effort though, and he told it so, trying to comfort it. 

It had been so good to see Stelpa today, to renew their connection and brush out her chestnut coat. She reminded him of Arod, the horse Éomer had given him a long time ago. The stallion’s death still pained him, even though he knew the old fellow had lived a full life. The two horses did not look alike of course, Arod had been white, but they had that same friendly, trusting character and graceful gait.

”Tell me of the Fellowship.” A gray eye peered at Legolas through the purple blossoms that hid the rest of Wynne’s face.

”What about it?”

”Everything. Moria, Mordor, all of it.” 

Legolas realized he had involuntarily stiffened, and willed his thumb to resume its caressing. Everything? He did not even want to remember everything, let alone talk of it. He broke eye contact. 

”That is such a long story, we would be here well into the night! ”He tried to sound aloft and unconcerned. “I shall tell it another time.”

“All right.” She seemed disappointed, but he really could not bring himself to dwell on those memories, not now, not in this beautiful place and his first real day out since the troll fight. He just could not. 

Fortunately she did not press the matter. Instead they remained in companionable silence, basking in the pleasant sun, enjoying the afternoon and each other’s vicinity. Not until Legolas’ ears picked up the sounds of the elves and uruk-hai returning from weapon exercise, he reluctantly let go of Wynne’s hand and eased himself a little further away.

At supper, Legolas shared a table with Nanna, Goltur and Thranduil, that ever-present shadow. He was rather tired after the long climb back, and his side smarted. 

“When will you take out my stitches?” he asked the healer, scratching the scar. That, of course, only made the itch worse.

“I’d say… maybe in four or five days.” The orc was chewing meat stew rather messily. Perhaps it was difficult to uphold good table manners with those pointy tusks of his getting in the way.

Legolas did not look forward to enduring another four days with prickling stitches, but at least he was on the mend for real now. He walked so much better, and to be finally able to have a bath had made wonders for his mood as well. 

He took another bite of the boiled fish, abiding Wynne’s advice to stay clear of the meat. But maybe he would try the crickets too some time, they smelled quite nice. Either way, it was a huge relief to be able to eat solid foods again.

“Stew tasting good?” he asked his father.

“Very.”

“Do you know what’s in it?” asked Wynne innocently from the next table. 

“Of course, I never eat anything I have not identified. I asked Goltur the first day.”

“What?” Wynne gaped at him incredulously. “You knew we were eating bugs and you never told us?” 

Legolas could not hold back a chuckle at the bewildered face she made. She had obviously underestimated his father.

“If you were curious, you could have asked as well.” Thranduil shrugged nonchalantly, face smooth, but Legolas knew his adar. This expression was decidedly smug. 

Wynne glared darkly at the king, grumbling something incoherently. She was so cute when she was annoyed! But he could not look to much at her with Ada seated next to him.

On the way back to their room afterwards, Legolas slyly dropped his crutch in Wynne’s direction. When she picked it up for him, he whispered:

“Want company tonight?”

Her sour face instantly disappeared and she nodded, smiling in that sweet, a bit shy way she had, cheeks coloring. He wanted to kiss her right there and then, but managed to constrain himself. 

That night Legolas waited a long time in the darkness while the others drifted off to sleep one by one. At last he heard his father begin to snore softly – or breathe heavily as Thranduil always claimed he did, refusing to admit to being a snorer. Legolas counted to five hundred before soundlessly slipping out from under his blanket. On hands and knees he rounded the shelf, homing in on his target in the dim light, knowing she could neither see nor hear him.  

He paused to just admire Wynne’s sleepy face. It was relaxed, eyes partially closed and the lovely brown curls spread out over the pillow. From her breathing he could tell that she was awake, and he hoped she was impatient for him to come. The fire in her eyes today when he bathed had been beyond exciting. Somehow he needed her to need him, especially now in his physical weakness. 

Was it true then, what Ada had said? Were these feelings only their bodies’ hunger? 

No. He knew that was only part of it. As much as he desired the union of their bodies, he desired the union of their souls more. That intimacy which comes from long years together. He wanted to learn everything there was to know about her, even the bad sides which she was bound to have – although he had yet to see them. He wanted to be her friend and soulmate, forever at her side.

He knew what this meant.

Feeling his chest burn with emotion, Legolas closed the distance between them and placed a hand on hers to not startle her. She turned her unseeing eyes in his direction, an expectant smile on the soft lips. He would kiss them, soon, but he first reached out and stroked the smooth cheek and amazingly silky baby curls that framed her forehead. He admired the ear’s symmetry, round and even, like a rose petal. 

If there ever had been any doubts of the strength of his regard for her, those were gone tonight. His heart knew the truth with crystal clarity. It frightened him, and not only a little, although of course understanding his emotions did not really change anything. His feelings would have been the same regardless if he had become aware of them or not. And he would live – or die – with the consequences.

Wynne moved to the side, lifting her blanket invitingly and he slid in beside her, reaching out to take her hands. With his mouth close to her ear he whispered, clothing in words the extraordinary feelings that soared through his heart and mind.

“I love you.” 

She released one hand and cupped his cheek. ”I love you too.” The whisper was shaky, but in her eyes he read it was the truth. She felt the same. 

And then he kissed her. 

This kiss was unlike any they had shared before. A slow and tender caress, brimming with love. All the other things Legolas had planned to do could wait until another time. Instead he just held her in his arms, feeling her warm body relax and the breathing become even. 

Well into the night he stayed, holding his sleeping love, savouring the moment and adding it to one of the happiest memories of his life.


A/N:

So they openly declared their true feelings, at last. :) After a boring day of social distancing an arm’s length apart (I’m sure Legolas hates it as much as we do!), they finally got to be close.

But who would have thought Thranduil knew about the cricket and bug diet! He even surprised me haha. I had imagined Wynne would tell him and he be shocked, but the sneaky elf outsmarted us all. :(





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