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Horse Lady of Rohan  by Mimi Lind

57. Battle of the Titans

Wynne could get used to this. Legolas was softer and warmer than ever when he slept, and lying in the cradle of his arms, she felt safe and loved. They had been up long last night, mostly just talking, enjoying each other's company. She had made sure he knew how she had come to fall in love with him, that Mother’s by then abandoned plan had had nothing to do with it. Surprisingly he had already suspected as much, claiming her starry-eyed ogling had given her feelings away. Really! 

Before they finally drifted off to sleep, he had plaited her again, and himself too, renewing the sign of courtship. Next time Mother tried to take her braids out, Wynne was determined to refuse. She could always say it made him more inclined to impregnate her. She had to stifle a nervous giggle at that. Today she would have to face Mother, and try to persuade her that things had happened tonight which had not. 

Legolas’ breathing changed, and Wynne knew he was awake. 

“Soon time to face the dragon,” she mumbled.

“Good luck.” He yawned. “Want me to come with you?”

“That’s not necessary.”

“I could protect you if she tries to strike you again.” He was frowning, and Wynne’s heart warmed at his concern.

“She won’t, not when she’s happy.” A thought struck her. “Doesn’t Thranduil beat you?”

“Nay.”

“Not even when you were little? But you were probably a well-behaved, angelic elfling who did not need it.” 

“I already told you I was a handful. I ran away all the time.” He smiled wistfully. “Father would give me one of his looks and say something ironic, usually. Or just say nothing, which works surprisingly well with him.”

“It’s a bit odd though. With his temper, I would have guessed him to lash out at times.”

“His own father was rather violent, I think, he has hinted as much when we talked recently. He has tried not to be like him.” Then he smiled rather wryly. “Actually, there was this once… he did beat me then. But never again. And afterwards I saw his eyes, and realized he had been crying too.”

“If even he cried, he must have hit you bad,” she said sympathetically.

“Aye. He lashed me with his belt until I could hardly sit.”

“Ouch.” Wynne winced. “I hate the belt.”

His eyes narrowed. “I am glad you soon shall be free of your mother. And never be beaten again.”

“What had you done to make your father whip you?” 

He blushed rather interestingly and averted his gaze. “Nothing.”

“Come on. Tell me.” 

“Nay,” he said flatly.

“It must have been something horrible. I know I shall enjoy hearing it.” She tried to tickle him, but he caught her hand. “You’re too strong, it’s unfair. Anyway, I told you my secrets.”

He reluctantly obeyed then. “If you must know, I climbed a tree with another elfling and watched some females bathe.” His face had turned crimson.

She clasped her hand over her mouth to not laugh out loud. “You didn’t…”

“Aye. I said I was a handful,” he mumbled.

“I thought there were no other elflings when you grew up?”

“He was from Lórien, only come on a short visit. Father made sure he was never invited again.” 

“Now I try to picture you in that tree, spying on nude ladies.” Wynne sniggered.

“Let us not speak of this subject again,” he decided, and silenced her with a long kiss. 

Sunrise came, and it was time to go. They had slept in their underwear, and now Wynne pulled her dress back on while Legolas chose a clean tunic and hose. Getting ready for the day together, was another pleasant thing to do with the one you loved.

Mother waited for them outside, which Wynne had expected as she had hinted yesterday she would, but her reaction took them entirely by surprise.

“Alas! Wynne, what have you done!” Mother’s voice was piercing, her eyes almost bulging with feigned shock. “And you , you scoundrel, to take advantage of her thus!” She pointed at Legolas, who looked like he had been struck by lightning. “Oh, I am fainting. The humiliation. The disgrace. My daughter’s virtue, ruined!” She began to sob loudly and theatrically.

Others came out from the nearby rooms, their drowsy faces expressing a wide range of emotions; amusement, annoyance, surprise, and in the case of Thranduil; arctic cold rage.

“To my room.” It was directed at Legolas, but as he moved to go, Wynne’s mother grasped her arm and followed.

“Why?” Wynne whispered to her, feeling sick. But the only answer she got was a smug smile.

The Elvenking shut the door behind them almost delicately, his motions measured and deceptively calm. Then he firmly grasped Legolas shoulders. The younger elf flinched at the touch, his gaze full of apprehension before he averted it.  

“Look at me.” Thranduil’s voice was icy, and dangerously low. With apparent effort Legolas obeyed, and their eyes locked. 

Thranduil’s shoulders relaxed. “That’s a relief, at least,” he muttered, sounding more like himself.

“Well,” said Wynne’s mother. “What shall be done with this wayward son of yours? You should punish him for his insolence. And then they must be wed, of course.”

“I thought I made myself clear on that matter yesterday.” He let go of Legolas and turned his sharp eyes to her. “The answer is no. And now get out, so I can have a word with my ‘wayward’ son.”

“Oh, but yesterday, he had not ruined my daughter.”

“He has not today either.” Thranduil’s lips quirked into a cold smile, which did not reach his eyes. “If he had, it would show.”

“It will show when my daughter’s belly begins to swell!”

“It is apparent you do not know much about elves,” he sneered. “Trust me, your daughter’s virtue is intact, as well as is my son’s.”

“I shall trust no such thing.” Mother’s voice had lost some of the certainty, and the look she threw at Wynne was murderous. Then she straightened herself. “I dare say the many witnesses will not trust it either. You , Your Grace, obviously don’t know much of humans. Being alone together a night is enough that people will talk , and if the prince here refuses to marry the victim of his desire, well – it would not look good for you, I can say as much.”

Wynne stared in horror. Mother had outsmarted them again; this obviously had been her plan all along. One night was all it took, Mother was correct about that; the other lords would consider her tainted, her virginity spent. Nobody would care about what had actually happened in that room, even if there was a way to know.

Thranduil stiffened. He seemed to have come to the same conclusion, and the blistering chill was back in his blue eyes. He took a step toward Wynne’s mother, towering over her. She did not budge, and her smug, victorious smile never left her lips as she boldly met his stare. They stood in silence a while, engaged in a combat of wills, neither of them moving or looking away.

“You would force me to align my realm to someone like you ?” Thranduil said at last. “To such a repulsively vain woman as yourself? Plotting, cruel, disgustingly ambitious. Utterly devoid of any real taste, newly rich with a simple upbringing.”

Mother’s gaze grew hard and her face pale, except for her flaming cheeks. “How dare you insult me?” She lifted her hand to slap him, but he caught it easily. 

“Using violence to get your way? Pathetic,” he spat. 

She tried to pull herself free, but he only tightened his grip, his nails digging into her white flesh. 

“Let. Go. Of. Me.” Her voice was deadly. Surprisingly Thranduil obeyed; he dropped her arm like it had burned him, and even retreated a step. 

Mother rubbed her wrist, a bruise beginning to form. “Now, who uses violence?” she hissed. “Oh, I know your kind.” Her voice was teeming with contempt now. “You try to be so intimidating, using your height and strength to make people afraid of you. But males don’t frighten me anymore. There is nothing you can do to me, that someone else hasn’t already done!” 

Thranduil did not answer, and there was a flicker of insecurity in his eyes. That was all his opponent needed to continue.

“You may think me vain and newly rich. But you know what? I don’t care what you or anyone else think. So, you were the son of a king, and inherited a throne, a crown, a kingdom. Does that make you better than me? Does that make you entitled to look down your nose at me? Is the blood in your veins any different from mine, to allow you to be proud, when I cannot?”

Wynne felt Legolas take her hand, and she squeezed his in return. He was trembling almost as badly as herself. This was a completely new and unexpected side of her mother; it was like a complete stranger had entered the Elvenking’s suite. Gone was the simpering air she would normally put on among royalty, replaced by something passionate and fiery and entirely honest.

“Nothing of what I have, was given to me; I worked for it. I endured pain, humiliation, fear… all of it. I earned it.” She took another step toward him, and again he backed. “I had nothing , and yet here I stand, with the power to undo this orc peace you desire, and to ruin your son’s reputation.” 

Another tense silence ensued. When Thranduil finally replied, his eyes had an oddly bitter look. “I am sorry I hurt you.”

That apparently caught Mother off guard, and again she rubbed her arm, almost absentmindedly. Then her gaze regained its sharpness. 

“I don’t need your apologies. I want an affirmative answer.”

The king turned his back to look out through the window, but he stood less straight, less rigid than before. 

“You shall have it. But then I expect this peace treaty to be agreed upon and signed today. By all the Rohirric lords.” His back was still turned, his voice emotionless.

“Naturally.” Mother had regained her composure, and was beginning to look like her normal self, only a little more businesslike.

“Then please leave me and my son alone.”

Wynne’s legs were so weak she wondered if she would stumble. Before she left, she met Legolas’ gaze. He smiled shakily. If the treaty would be signed today, they could escape tonight, this had not really changed anything as far as their plan went. At least she hoped so. They would have to discuss it later.

Outside in the corridor, many were still lingering, and the way they silenced when Wynne and her mother walked past, made it clear what they had talked about. Gossip would spread, and soon everyone would know. To get her way, Mother had sacrificed her own daughter’s reputation too.

Mother brought Wynne to her rooms. As soon as they were alone, her furious expression returned. She had just won against Thranduil, why was she still angry?

“Again, you defy me!” She shook Wynne violently. “Are you stupid or what? It’s not that hard. Clothes off and spread your legs. Or was the elf unable to find his way?”

“Stop it.” Wynne tore herself free. “You got what you wanted. We will marry, we shall do that then.”

Mother raised her hand again, but Wynne evaded her slap. “If you hit me, I will tell Thranduil.” 

”You…” Mother’s scowl deepened and she seemed ready to kill someone. Wynne decided a hasty retreat was a very good option. As the door closed, she heard the unmistakable sounds of furniture breaking.

With everybody busy preparing to attend the final day of council, Wynne found herself alone. She had not seen Sidra today, so there would thankfully be no babysitting. Instead, she went to the stables. The stable hands had already exercised the horses but she stayed a while anyway, stroking and cuddling Vatna, allowing the mare's calming presence to undo the knot of apprehension she had felt since the fight. Everything will work out, when we run away. She kept repeating that as a mantra, fervently hoping it would be true.

She was just coming back to the citadel when she spotted a familiar shape. Cheery, the female dwarf, sat under the White Tree and smoked a long, curved pipe.

“Hallo, Miss.” The dwarf grinned at her in a very cheeky way. Ugh. Gossip had begin to spread…

“Good day, Miss Cheery.” She sat down next to the other, glad to have something to do, and someone to talk with.

“So, ye had a good time, then, with yer bonny lad?” The dwarf probably knew everything about spending nights with males.

“Yes. But we didn’t do it. Not that anyone believes that...” 

“Nae? Why?”

“We wanted his father’s blessing first… well, at least we hoped for it, but now… it’s rather a disaster. Thranduil is livid.” She sighed.

“Ach, that’s males for yer. Nasty buggers, the lot of ‘em.” Cheery held out her pipe. “Want some?”

“No thank you.”

Neither of them said anything for a while. Wynne watched the smoke ascend in lazy swirls, listened to the rustle of the silvery leaves above and tried to savour this moment of peace. Soon enough there would be many things happening. Packing, sneaking out of the guest house, convincing the night guards to let them out of the city… So many things could go wrong.

Then the dwarf chuckled silently. “‘Tis a shame, really… Since e’eryone kens ye did it anyway, ye might as well have bedded the laddie and got the pleasure of it too.”

“I’m sure it’s worth waiting for.”

“Aye. It is.” The dwarf’s deep set eyes were dreamy as she returned her gaze to the view of the city below. A small smile hinted under the soft curls of her beard, as if she had remembered something funny.


A/N:

It is worth waiting for. :)





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