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39. Finding a Lake to Swim in
“I’m glad they decided to let you come.” Wynne nodded to the woman who rode beside her with an orcling in front.
“I can be stubborn,” Sidra smirked.
“Yes,” agreed Nugu with emphasis.
Wynne chuckled. It was great to be finally on the road again, she had forgotten how good it felt to have the open sky above, the sound of birds and crickets around her and the smell of earth and growing plants in her nostrils. And of course Vatna’s smooth movements underneath. She would feel the loss of Sidra’s bathtub though, and nice meals at a real table, but that was a small price to pay.
Nevertheless, the farewell had been a sad occasion, their kind orcen hosts would be dearly missed. The elves, Nodir and Bronedir in particular, had made real friends with several of the uruk-hai and on both sides there were quite a few discretely wiped off tears when they parted. They had lived many weeks in the uruk’s abode, sharing meals, exercising together, enjoying pleasant evenings of music, games and conversation.
Wynne had naturally found the last days of their stay the most enjoyable. Legolas had come to her every night since that first one, and during the subsequent times they had done more than just chaste kissing, albeit a lot less than Wynne – and Legolas too, she knew – wanted. It was simply too risky with everybody so close, and the elves’ hearing was uncanny.
Yesterday, however, Wynne had gone a little further and pulled Legolas shirt up to slide her hand in underneath. The skin of his bare chest had been softer than a foal’s muzzle. Her fantasies had not made the feeling justice at all, not even close. Everything would have been perfect, had not Legolas copied her action, his palm finding its way to her breast. Wynne had involuntary started at that, causing him to hastily retreat with a whispered “sorry”.
Her cheeks heated up just thinking about it, she was so angry with herself. Somehow his touch had evoked the memory of her kidnapping, and it was stupid because this was nothing like that! She wanted Legolas to feel her breasts, and every other part he wished to explore as well. But she had not been able to explain, not when they must be silent, so she had kissed him again and hoped he was not too put off by her reaction. It did not seem so, he kissed her back with the same fervour as usual.
Next time, she would lead his hand back to her breast, showing him it was all right while also teaching herself to associate the feeling with him instead of a long-dead orc. She wondered when the next time might be, though. It would be a lot harder to find moments alone now that he would be sharing tent with his father again.
But maybe tonight, when it was his watch...
“Do you think the humans will sign the treaty?” asked Nugu unexpectedly. “You know them right, the Gondor king is your relative?”
“Yes, but only distantly. I never met him.”
“Oh.” He seemed disappointed. “It’s just… I worry.”
“Why so? I’m sure the kings will listen to Thranduil. Elves are highly respected by humans.”
“What if… what if he tells them how the treaty came to be… The way… the way Dad gave him an ultimatum.” Nugu’s gaze was downcast.
“He will not mention that.” Galion rode nearby, carrying the little uruk as usual. The boy happily waved a wooden sword the elf had made him, accidentally hitting Hlaupari’s neck now and then. Wynne frowned at the orcling, who stuck out a tiny pink tongue at her.
“He might,” insisted Nugu.
“Nay, he wants the treaty too,” said Galion. “He likes Goltur.”
“He does?” The uruk looked incredulous.
“Aye. I know my king well after the tenfold centuries I served him. Trust me, he holds the healer in high regard, and not only for saving his son.” Then he began to chuckle. “Actually… have you forgotten how Thranduil tried to bend your will in a similar way, not long ago? He threatened to kill your children unless you led us to your friends.”
Nugu stared at him, a wide grin slowly forming. “He did , didn’t he. Guess it was only fair, then.” He looked a lot less apprehensive afterwards.
That first day the company went westwards across the hills, toward the Anduin. There they would follow the river down to the Dead Marshes and try to find King Éomer’s men. The weather was overcast but warm and Wynne thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
At lunchtime they came by a mountain lake and Thranduil decided they would make an early camp there. He claimed the reason was that it seemed a good spot, near water and fresh grass for the horses, but Wynne suspected it really was for Legolas sake. He still used the crutch when walking longer distances and riding was probably painful too.
The orc town had provided them with plenty of travel food and soon Sidra had a meat stew going.
“Is there lembas left?” mumbled Wynne to Legolas.
The afternoon was peaceful. The elves engaged in weapon practice and Legolas did his daily exercises. He still had not fully regained the strength and flexibility in his abdomen and back, which was crucial for successful archery.
“When is your watch tonight?” asked Wynne, who looked on, confident that Thranduil was too busy to notice.
“Second watch,” he panted, holding his stance stoically, the tall body stretched rigid on forearms and toes.
“We are still short on tents,” she mused innocently. “I’m thinking, I should sleep outside on Vatna tonight and let Sidra and Nugu use mine again.”
He looked up, noticing her sly grin and smiled.
“Well… that sounds… good.” A few drops of perspiration trickled down his forehead.
Later Wynne told her friend of the plan.
“Oh Wynne, you are too kind. But what if it rains again?” Sidra peered up into the cloudy sky. “It’s unfortunate Dad had no tents we could borrow.”
“Those looks nothing like rain clouds, don’t worry. I want to sleep outside tonight.” She gave a meaningful glance in Legolas’ direction.
“Oh.” Sidra grinned wide. “I see. Of course!” Then she bent forward, and whispered: “But you really should talk with his father instead of all this secrecy. I know he’s a caring person underneath that icy surface.”
“We will. After Minas Tirith, when he has met King Aragorn and Queen Arwen. He needs to see this can work.”
After supper they stayed seated around the glowing embers of the dying cooking fire. Galion, Nodir and Bronedir entertained with flute music and song, and then Sidra shared old tales from Harad. Those particularly captured the elves’ interest, they had heard almost every story before but Sidra’s were new even to them. There were an abundance of lightly clad princes and princesses in palaces of marble and gold, with jewelled fountains and lovely night gardens where peacocks cried out their forlorn moans and the colorful flowers never withered. In the menageries roamed horses with necks taller than the height of a grown man, warg-sized cats and wingless birds large enough to carry a rider.
Sidra had a way with words, when she spoke Wynne felt like she had been transferred to those exotic places and seen the amazing sights with her own eyes.
When his wife had finished, Nugu surprised everybody with an extensive collection of riddles. The otherwise so quiet uruk apparently had an amazing memory for them, and several had even the elves puzzled.
“With ten heads and ten tails, forty feet, fourscore nails. What am I?”
“A flock of horses?” suggested Nodir.
“Horses have no nails,” Wynne protested.
“A pouch with ten coins and… six hundred-and-forty spikes. Hm. No, that makes no sense.” Galion screwed up his face in thought.
“A sow with nine piglets.” Thranduil smiled smugly.
“Ai, you heard it before,” accused Legolas.
“Correct,” said Nugu. “Try this one then: ‘I become pregnant without conceiving, fat without eating. When my brood is born, growth follows. Who am I?’”
”A pouch of coins?”
”You and your coins, Galion.”
”Wrong, wrong and wrong. Shall I say?”
”A rain cloud.”
”Makes sense. Brood – the rain. And then growth follows. Good one.”
Later, when everybody had gone to bed, Wynne kept herself awake. She lay in her usual position with her head on Vatna’s rump, knees bent and the feet resting on the mare’s shoulders. She quite enjoyed the prospect of sleeping under the open sky after many weeks in a dark storage. But not until later, first things first.
It was hard to measure time at night, but Wynne knew the elves used the movements of the moon and stars somehow, and that the watches were roughly two hours each. They took turns in a rotating schedule, one sleeping undisturbed and the other four sharing the watches between them. Nugu did not partake, a night guard who refused to use weapons was not much use.
Finally Wynne noticed Bronedir moving away, a silent shadow in the dim summer twilight. When she was certain he had gone to bed, Wynne slid off her horse and tiptoed to where she had spotted the silhouette of Legolas, sitting on a stone by the lake.
Long before she was close, he turned toward her. There was no sneaking up on an elf.
“Hi.” She sat on his lap.
“Good evening, my beloved,” he murmured and put his arms around her.
After some very enjoyable kisses, Wynne rose, pulling him with her.
“Let’s swim!” she whispered.
“I cannot... Some guard I would be then.” There was mirth in his whisper, however, and he let himself be hauled to the lakeshore where he removed boots and hose, but kept the tunic with his dagger belt. Wynne wore the light chemise she normally slept in.
Hand in hand they strode out into the cool water. When it reached Legolas’ thighs and Wynne’s waist, she leaned back to float.
“Someday we will do this with no clothes,” she suggested.
He bent over to kiss her. “You are such a teasing little imp,” he breathed against her mouth. She stood up then and hugged him close, not minding his tunic getting soaked, and the kiss deepened. His tongue tentatively touched her lips and she opened them.
Had an oliphaunt army come upon them right then, they probably would not have noticed.
Wynne broke the kiss and swimmed out further, trying to lure the elf to follow.
“You are still too dry.”
She did not hear his reply, however. Something hard and lithe had wrapped itself around her leg, quickly pulling her down into the deep, murky waters.
Oops! Maybe she should have stayed in the shallow end of the pool... O.o
Anyone else who would not mind watching Legolas doing planks, by the way...?
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