Chapter 47

 

14641906_1313476595337987_309337900758830172_n

Iris chose to take a walk that afternoon.  It was the first time she went alone with Arnald.  The other times Thranduil was not around to be with her, she asked Nionwen to accompany her as she was still too shy to be left alone with Arnald.  She knew there would be one or two more guards nearby, but they stayed much farther.   They were the ones Arnald would command in case Iris wanted for anything or summon anyone she would want to see.

They went out by the northern gate of the Halls and she chose a familiar spot by a pond that she liked.  A blanket was laid down under the shade of a tree and she sat down, raising up her knees and holding them against her chest.  It was a cool afternoon, and there was a little wind.  She looked around but barely noticed that the wind carried more falling leaves with it.  Her thoughts were more on Arnald, and she  awkwardly glanced at Arnald with her lips pursed.  She never really had a proper conversation with him ever since.

Arnald stood a little distance from her,  calmly looking around to check, as was his custom as a guard.  Satisfied that nothing was out of the ordinary, he turned to look at his young ward and caught her awkwardly averting her gaze from him.   He couldn’t help but smile, he knew that she was not comfortable enough with his company yet, but he let her get accustomed to him at her own pace.  He sat down on a rock, not facing her, but his gentle, handsome face looked attentive.

Iris slowly turned her face to glance at him again.  She always thought of the dark-haired soldier as very handsome.  And tall and noble.  It was probably one of the reasons she felt shy to be alone with him.  From the first day that she saw him, she noticed him, but she was much more enamored by Thranduil, who was much taller and majestic, and she always gave him her full attention.  Legolas was also handsome and noble, as were many other elves that she had seen in the kingdom.  She looked behind her and moved so that she could lean against the tree.  She remembered her position, and she thought she should behave more matured, more queenly.  She sighed at the thought of being queenly.  She figured all she had to do was remain quiet and look dignified.  She need not appear nor pretend to be smarter than she is, because she’s with elves.  Ancient and wise beings.  She knew it would be foolish to be pretentious around them.  When she was with Thranduil or Nionwen, she felt more comfortable.  She missed her carefree ways with her family and friends.

But this is my life now, she thought.  She breathed deeply and glanced at Arnald again.

Iris somehow always wondered how his wife could have been able to live so far away from him.  Did he do badly as a husband?  Maybe he was too devoted to his duties.  But it was the way with most elves, she observed.  Even Nionwen was not always with her husband as he was with the border guards.  Maybe it was the long years the elvish couples spent with each other, and they either got bored with each other’s company or simply drifted apart and found other things to do.  Arnald glanced her way and caught her staring at him.  She held her gaze at him and smiled.  He smiled back at her and gave her a brief but respectful nod.

She remembered the dragonflies and damselflies that she liked to watch and try to catch around the pond, and she got up and slowly walked towards it, an excited smile on her face.  She knelt by the verge of the pond, and sure enough, there were a couple of them flitting among the grass and small flowers.  She glanced at Arnald, still smiling.  Arnald joined her, he knew she was not good at catching them.  She kept going after them with much effort at stealth, trying to catch them by their tails.  He knelt near her, and cupping his hand, effortlessly caught a small dragonfly with a quick swoop.  He gently covered his catch with his other hand and held it by its wing for Iris to see.  Her smile widened as she gently took the struggling red dragonfly from his fingers.

“Thank you,” she said, happily handling the insect.  He only nodded and smiled back at her, sitting on his heels.

“Would you like another, my Lady?” he asked after a while, after she settled the dragonfly on the grass and released it.

“I saw a big damselfly, but it’s across the pond.  See?” she pointed at it.  “But don’t bother to catch it, it looks pretty just flying over there.”  She gazed into the water and saw insects skittering on its surface.  No fish swimming in the shallow pond.  She picked a small delicately-hued flower and started to get up.  Arnald quickly got up and held her by the elbow to help her.  She thanked him and returned to sit on the blanket.

“Can you sit here with me?” she finally asked him.

The soldier obliged, but he sat on the grass not on the blanket with her, maintaining a respectful distance.

“They would be sending food in a little while, my Lady.  Would there be anything you would prefer to be served?”

“Oh, no need, the food they send is always good,” she gushed awkwardly.  She was a little nervous facing him, but she wanted to be comfortable with him and he seemed very kind.   She never had a male friend, not even among her suitors save Jorin and Thranduil.  She found Legolas wonderful to be with but he was seldom around.  He was either joining the border patrol or going down to the training halls.  Sometimes Thranduil made him join them for a few meals, but that was it.  Back home, even though Peyton had been working in their household for a few years, she seldom talked to him.  He was always busy doing his chores and most often took a bit of the smell of the horse shed with him.

“Were you always here?  I mean have you lived anywhere else?” she struggled to start the conversation.

“Yes, my Lady.  I have always loved it here.  My duty is here,” he calmly answered in his deep voice.  He went on to tell her of how he intended to be a healer at first, but changed heart and trained to become a soldier instead.  He took it upon himself to encourage her to speak more to him and ask him questions, which he answered gamely.  He even told her about his married life.

“That’s what I was wondering about, how come she left you and never returned?” she ventured to ask.

“It’s how we elves are, my Lady.  Because we live for hundreds, nay thousands of years, sometimes we would grow interest in other things and pursue them.  It is not something that would cause us to lose our love for our spouses.  We remain married until we go to the next world, either by  making the journey or being reembodied if we perished here in Middle Earth…”

“But don’t you want to go to Rivendell and see her?  Like, you know, don’t you miss being with her?  …at night?” she smiled sheepishly.  She lifted her hand to her neck and briefly scratched it.

Arnald couldn’t help but laugh a little at her innocence.  “I am very much devoted to my duties, my Lady, as my wife is to her vocation as a healer.”

“I wonder if…Thranduil would…” Iris hesitated.  But Arnald knew what she meant.  He only gave her a comforting smile.

“My beloved and I were together for more than a hundred years before she left for Imladris.  My Lord Thranduil, I believe would remain here.  With you, my Lady.”

“Until I grow old…”

“You’re still too young to think nor worry about that, my Lady,” said Arnald, still smiling.  He noticed that she stayed silent and his elvish senses told him she was breathing differently.

“Are you alright, my Lady?”

Iris coughed a little before she answered, “I think I should go back inside.”  Arnald promptly stood up and helped her get up.   “I hate it when this happens,” she said with her head bowed.  Arnald understood.  Since Thranduil appointed him to be her aide he had conversations with Nionwen and the healers regarding Iris’ condition.  He walked by her side and held her elbow until they reached the hallway leading to the King’s chambers.  He gave instructions to one of the guards to summon Nionwen, and once he got Iris inside, he closed most of the windows, leaving only the farthest one from the bedchamber open.  He drew the heavy curtains and left only a small opening by the open window, darkening the chambers as a result.  Iris settled down on the couch and he lit up some of the lamps and stood by the windows afterwards.  He did not leave her until Nionwen arrived.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

“Yesterday, I went down to the halls where the minstrels and dancers were,” Iris told Thranduil while they were having breakfast two days after.  “Would it be alright if I joined them?” she asked.  Thranduil looked at her as he sipped his tea.  He put the cup down and took moments before he spoke.

“It seems you’re very much interested,” he said, regarding the anxious expression on her face.  “As long as you would not be put in any compromising situation, and as long as it would make you happy, I do not see any harm in it.”

Iris felt excited.  “Really?  It’s alright for me to join?  Yes, it does make me happy!  Though I am not sure if I could really keep up, because some of their dances are fast.  But I only really intend just to join them when they are rehearsing, I am not sure if it would do good for the group if I joined them when they are performing.”

“I would want you to give more importance to your Elvish language lessons.  They would start in less than two weeks.”

“Yes, of course,” her mood changed a little as she remembered.

Thranduil regarded her briefly and thought he would make Arnald tell him more about Iris’ visit at the rehearsal halls, which was previously reported to him.  “I am glad that you are keeping yourself busy.”

Iris lightened up once more.  “I feel wonderful  about it!  At least I won’t be cooped up here so much!” she happily.  Thranduil reached out his hand to hold her cheek for a moment, a slight smile on his lips.

“One day I would join to watch you there.  In the meantime, we are still busy preparing the Halls for the coming winter.”

Iris smiled back at him.  “I would go there again this afternoon, and tomorrow they said I could start.”

“Who said?  Liron?”

“Yes!  The head teacher of the dance group.  He’s a nice elf.  The other dancers were nice too.  I also met the musicians, but I am more interested to join the dancers first,” she enthused.

“As I said, as long as it makes you happy,” he said.  Iris nodded happily and they resumed their breakfast.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

The next morning, Iris was with the company of dancers and they were through doing a slow group dance.  She was dressed like the other maidens, she wore a light tunic over her trousers and soft shoes.  Liron was about to show them one routine which he told Iris would go faster, and Iris only smiled in acknowledgment.

Liron was a Silvan elf who had been managing the group of dancers for more than five hundred years in the King’s Halls.  He was dark-haired, with sharp eyes and thin lips.  He was always ramrod straight whenever he walked or stood with his arms crossed when he was observing the dancers.  He looked strict, but he always spoke cordially with Iris and the rest of the dancers.

Liron had his back turned to the dancers and first started with simple steps.  He wanted to let Iris blend in slowly with the group.  The other dancers were prepared to be patient with her as well.  She was cautious with her movements, trying her best to keep up.  He was pleased to see that she was graceful at least.  Little by little he was showing more complicated steps, and she kept trying her best to keep up.  But sometimes she would miss a step or turn because she could not move as fast as the rest.  Liron signaled for a break.  He was smiling at her, and told her she was doing fine.

“I’m sorry, I’m not as quick and limber as you are…” Iris said to the other elves, catching her breath.

“You’re doing well, my Lady.  It is only your first day.  You would certainly catch up in no time,” Liron encouraged her.  He looked at the rest of the elves.  “We will have a breather.”

Iris gratefully took the water canteen that Arnald handed her as she plopped down on her chair, sweating and catching her breath.  The other elves were still on the floor and some were glancing at her as they engaged in idle talk.  “They don’t even look tired at all,” she complained to Arnald, who stood near her.

“Well, they have been dancing for a long time.  They have been dancing way, way, way before you were born, my Lady.”

“You only need to say they’re elves,” she rolled her eyes.  She took her towel and wiped off the sweat from her brow.

“You do dance well, my Lady,” Arnald assured her.

“I only get to dance with my friends sometimes.  We really like to do it, especially when Avina was around.  We always make her teach us how to dance.  She gets to travel to some places and have seen different kinds of dancing.”

“You should not tire yourself so.  You might start having trouble breathing, my Lady.”

“I would feel it coming.  I would stop.”

“Would you like me to speak with Liron and tell him to teach you easier dance movements, my Lady?”

“No, Arnald.  Please don’t,” she glanced up at him.  “I really want to learn.  I don’t want them to think I would only slow them down.”

Iris realized she could not perform as well as the other dancers could, as she could not help but miss a turn or a step a few times.  She decided to just dance at the pace she could, and if possible, she would skip a step to keep up with the beat.

The dancers resumed their rehearsals and Iris joined them again.  Liron was watching her, and he understood her limits.  She would need to stay in the center, he figured.  For one thing, she was their Queen.  That way she would look like their main dancer and would not look awkward dancing differently from the others.  He observed that she was good at remembering the routines and remained graceful and lovely to look at even when she was already tired.  Because she danced differently and her body was a little curvier than the elf-maidens, she easily becomes the center of attention.  Another thing he noticed about her was that her breasts jiggled so much, he suspected they hindered her movements.  He would have to point it out to her.  But how? he thought.  Perhaps he could have an elf-maiden tell her or tell her handmaiden to bind her breasts.  It would be tricky, but she wanted to dance.  And if she was serious and wanted to improve, she should understand.

 

mirkwood-icon

C7v_SmdVsAAnwv5

 

 

 

 

Chapter 46

C6rRLl3WcAArWfn

It was still dark but Thranduil was already awake.  He could feel it in the air that it would be sunrise soon.  Iris was snuggled against him and she stirred a little, but was still sound asleep.  A thought came to him that brought a smile to his face.  He remembered he should show her one more place outside The Halls before fall fully came around, and she would start staying indoors more.

He looked for his thick robe and found it laying on the couch.  He put it on and then his boots, and then returned to the bed to carefully wrap Iris up with their blanket.  He made sure he covered her face a little so that the cold air outside would not cause her to have a reaction.  He lifted her up in his arms, still very much asleep, and made his way outside their doors and through the hallway.  He left brief instructions with one of the royal guards as he passed them by.  Two guards followed after them, and a third one caught up with them halfway thru the Halls, carrying a  thick blanket.

The way to the gates leading to the southwestern part of the Halls was a long one.  It was still fairly dark when he left their chambers, and when he reached the gates the early morning light had started to brighten up the world outside.  The forest ahead was waking up with its merry chirping sounds and its dark shades were being gently won over by the rays of the morning sun.

Thranduil trod lightly in his usual manner.  Iris weighed almost nothing in his strong arms and he knew he could keep Iris asleep as long as did not move her much, as she slept like a log most often.  He kept walking until he reached the forest and on for less than an hour until they reached a small clearing.

In the middle of it was a small stream, one of a few that have deviated from the River Running; a part of which had water cascading from a large and wide boulder, spilling down onto the pool of water, which flows back into one of the bigger streams of water that entered The King’s Halls.  Part of the boulder was hanging over the pool, granting a hollow space in between the wall of rock beneath it and the curtain of water falling rampantly from the boulder.   The place never failed to cheer anyone who saw it, and it was lovely.  The grass surrounding the pool was kept neat by the elves.  The trees  around it provided many spots of cool shade any time of the day, making it an ideal place for picnics or just lounging about.

Thranduil chose a spot that was starting to become sunny, he waited until the guard finished laying down a blanket on the grass.  He carefully laid Iris down on it and arranged her blanket around her.  Iris stirred, her face showed discomfort almost immediately because of the hard surface.  Thranduil did not mean for her to sleep some more; he laid down beside her, propped up on his elbow and started combing her hair with his fingers and lightly rubbing her shoulders and arms to gently wake her up.  He wanted her to enjoy the early soft sunlight.

At last, Iris woke up and yawned, he turned her face towards him and gave her a light kiss on her forehead.  Iris was disoriented at first, but she was delighted and smiled disbelievingly after seeing where they were.

“This place looks so pretty!” Iris said, sitting up and briefly rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

“Would you like us to go to the water?” he asked in his inviting tone.  But in truth, it was part of his plan for bringing her there.

Iris faced him.  “It must still be cold!”

“The sun would have warmed the water a little by now.”

“I know that the cold doesn’t matter to you, because you’re an elf, but for me…”

“I’ll keep you warm in my arms, meleth nin.”

She chuckled.  She could feel the warm sunlight on her bare arms.  He could be right, she thought.  She remembered there must be guards nearby and she looked around a little.  She didn’t see them, but she knew they must be somewhere, keeping their distance.  She was wearing only her flimsy nightgown, and she pulled up her blanket closer to her chest.

Thranduil only chuckled and set aside his robe and removed his nightshirt and boots.  He then pulled her blanket away from her. and scooped her up in his arms.  He got up and carried her to the edge of the pool near the waterfall.  Iris started giggling in anticipation as he started getting into the water.  She shrieked and laughed and squirmed as the cold splashes of water drenched them both.  He knew where he could safely tread, and little by little he got them to the spot between the rock wall and the waterfall.  As they got deeper into the water, she started shivering, though she was still laughing gaily.    Iris wriggled to face him, holding onto his neck and wrapping her legs around his waist.  She stretched out her arm to play with the cascading water.  Thranduil could not help but laugh with her, and he set her down on her feet when they reached the middle part of the rock wall.  He enclosed her in his arms and rubbed her shoulders and back in an effort to give her warmth.

“Still cold?” he asked her.

“Yes, but this place is wonderful!” she tried playing with the water again.  He only gave her a slight grin and let her enjoy herself for a while.  She started swimming slowly around but always swam back to him, avoiding the waterfall.  He only stood by the wall, amusing himself by just watching her.  After a while she wore herself out, she came back and threw her tired arms around him.

“Why aren’t you swimming?” she asked him.

It’s enough for me to see you enjoying yourself, meleth nin,” he said.  He held her in his arms but later looked into her eyes and motioned with his head towards the end of the wall.  He started leading her towards it and Iris followed him.  At the end of the inwardly curving rock wall was a hidden alcove.  He continued guiding her towards it.

“Lo! A secret place!” she gleefully exclaimed.  She was fascinated at first, but got curious.  It was a tiny space, but charming.  It was hidden from outside view by the curtain of water, and there were raised surfaces on the rocks at the end that allowed for sitting space.

“This is pretty secluded.  Looks like you’ve been here many times,” she said. The water was almost up to her chest, and her nightgown kept floating around her.  She tried to push it down, though to no avail.  He started lifting it off her.  “Thranduil…!” Iris said, her eyes widening.

He didn’t answer her and only tossed her nightgown to a nearby rock.  He made her lean her back against the wall and started kissing her.  Iris didn’t have the mind to refuse him, though he could see that she was hesitant.

“The guards would know we’re doing something,” she whispered.

“Not necessarily.  And don’t mind them,” he whispered back.  He had already untied his trousers and he lifted her again with his arms under her legs.  She wound her arms around his neck to steady herself.  She no longer uttered a word, she resigned herself to his purpose of bringing her there.  His mouth sealed over hers again and she closed her eyes as she kissed him back.

Her desire for him readily awakened within her, and no matter how cold it was, how inappropriate it seemed that they were making love outside the confines of their chambers, she’d just never get enough of him.  And so she just held on to him, submitting herself, accepting his dominance over her.  Warmth enveloped her, and the mere feel of his wide shoulders covering and surrounding her seemed to make her melt into him.  Both pleasure and her hunger for him flooded her loins.  She moaned and gasped softly into his ear as he started making love to her slowly, taking his time.  His mouth pressed hard against her skin, kissing her everywhere he could.  He did not take too long, for after a while he quickened his thrusts, pushing harder against her.  And then he slowed down, panting.

She gripped the back of his neck as she waited for him to calm down and loosened his hold on her.  Slowly he let her legs down and he leaned on her with his hands on the wall while he steadied his breath.

Iris still held onto him tight.  She liked the feel of their warmth mingling with the coolness of the air and water around them.  Her hands pressed firmly on his back.  They lingered quietly there like that for a while.  And then she looked around once more before she lifted her eyes to gaze into his.

“I did not plan for this, but I could not resist,” he said with a chuckle, and bent his head to her again, nuzzling her cheek.

“How many did you bring here?” she asked, she took his face with both her hands, making him look at her.

“Just her.”

Iris stared at him, as if searching his face for a twitch or a sign that he was not saying the truth.  He looked calm.  She tried again.

“How did you discover this place?”

“It was not hard to discover this place.  I found it long before I met her, and I liked coming here.  I would stay in this nook when I wanted to be absolutely alone, away from everyone.”

“So it’s your special place,” she said as if making a declaration.

“Many elves frequent this place, so I don’t consider it as my ‘special place’.”

She was about to say something else, but her stomach unfortunately made a grumbling noise, and she blushed with her embarrassment.  It made him laugh a little.  He turned his gaze towards the direction where they came from, trying to listen for movement.  He did hear some elves stirring.

“I believe they’ve brought our food,” he remarked.  Unbelieving, Iris widened his eyes at him.

“Really?” she said incredulously.  Elves, she thought.  For a while she started worrying about propriety, though her grumbling stomach distracted her a little.  He released her from his hold and reached for her nightgown.  She quickly put it on and looked at him with worried eyes as she tried to comb her hair into place with her fingers.

“You look fine,” he said, smiling at her to reassure her.  She still looked worried, and she instinctively crossed her arms on her chest to cover her breasts.  “We should go,” he said.  “Would you like to swim later?” he asked her as they made their way back.

“No.  Some other day perhaps.”  It was already enough excitement for the day so far for her.

When they reached the middle part of the rock wall he turned to her and arranged her nightgown before he lifted her up in his arms.  He carried her back towards the edge of the water.  Before she turned her head to look, Iris could already smell the food being laid down on a separate blanket by two elves for their breakfast.  Galion was there, too, and so was Nionwen.  There were two other elves, one an elf-maiden, and both of them were there to assist Galion and Nionwen in helping her and Thranduil get dressed.

Nionwen took a big, thick robe from the elf-maiden and unfolded it, preparing to hold it up to cover Iris as she waited for them.  She wrapped it around Iris as soon as Thranduil let her down on her feet on the edge of the blanket.  The other elf-maiden came closer holding a towel for her.  After making sure she was well-covered, Iris wriggled out of her wet nightgown and handed it to the other maiden, who handed her the towel in turn.  Iris dried herself as quickly as she could.  The maiden took back the towel and handed her a dress.  Iris was able to put on her clothes quickly, and when she finished, Nionwen put aside the robe and asked her to sit on the blanket so she could tend to her hair.  Iris did so, and Nionwen knelt behind her, rubbing a towel on her hair until it was almost dry.

Iris looked at Thranduil and saw that he too, was already dressed, and he was about to sit on the blanket himself.  In the meantime, the maiden had already laid Iris’ shoes nearby and was drying her feet with a small towel.  The other elf likewise dried Thranduil’s feet and then put on his boots for him.   Nionwen put a little lavender oil on the top layer of Iris’ hair and brushed it.  Their jewelry were likewise brought and after a while, both have finally finished dressing up.  They then ate their breakfast leisurely, and lingered there until mid morning.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

One afternoon, Thranduil deemed it was time to familiarize Iris more with the rest of their chambers.  After they have finished their meal and rested, he took her to their dressing room.  At the end of the rows of their clothes he turned left and led her further to the corner, which was free of furniture.  Iris wondered why he took her to stand before a blank wall.  She heard him utter an elvish phrase and then, to her surprise, a large door made of stone and steel materialized on the wall.

She held on to Thranduil’s arm.  “There is a door on that wall?”

“It is hidden by an enchantment.”

“But where would that lead to?”

Thranduil just smiled at her and took a key which was secured in a tiny crevice on the revealed door.  He used it to unlock the door.  He pushed it open and walked inside, telling Iris to follow him.

Iris’ mouth gaped open when she saw the inside of the large room, which turned out to be a treasury.  Big chests were stacked up on one wall, one of them was on the floor with its lid open, filled up halfway with gold coins.  There were shelves on another wall with big and elaborate necklaces mounted on display, a table with uncovered boxes of loose gems and another table with small boxes neatly stacked upon it.

He went to the table with the small boxes and opened some of them one by one.  Iris followed him and looked at the many boxes he was arranging on the table.  They were all jewelry, and she recognized some of them.

“These are the jewelry that my mother and my late wife once possessed.”  He ran his hand lightly over the others, “And these you received as wedding gifts.”

Iris was still unbelieving, “This room is amazing! But why did you have to show it me?”

“Of course I would show it to you, you’re my wife.  I would have to tell you the phrases to reveal and conceal the door as well.  You would need to know it yourself. ”

“I don’t have to know right now, do I?  Don’t tell me yet,”  she stammered.  She was still feeling overwhelmed and felt like it was a big responsibility.  Too soon for her.  He understood she wasn’t ready and did not push the subject further.

She touched one of the necklaces and she smiled a little.  This would look good with my pale blue dress, she thought.  She looked at the others.  No earrings, she noticed.  “I’m not fond of wearing earrings either, I don’t like the weight pulling at my ears,” she said to him.

“It’s not good for us.  I could imagine the clinking sound would be bothersome,” he remarked.

She walked over to the big necklaces on the shelves.  She paused to look with awe at a big one with many emeralds.

“That is the ‘Necklace of Girion’,” Thranduil said.

“Who’s Girion?”

“King Bard’s ancestor.  Girion gave it to the dwarves as payment for a mithril suit he ordered made for his son.  King Bard gave it to me as a gift after the battle at Dale was won.”

“Oh, yes I remember.  He must be your friend.”  She ran her hand through the many gems set on it.  “Have you ever worn this?”

“Yes, a few times during feasts.”

“I don’t know if I would be able to count all those emeralds.”  She turned to look at the other necklaces.

“Five hundred emeralds.  That’s how many they are.”

“Oh.”  She glanced at him over her shoulder but kept walking over to the table with uncovered boxes of gems and her eyes lit up with glee.  “Oh, look at these!”  She scooped up the loose gems in her hands, her mouth agape.

“You like them?”

“Oh, can I play with these for a while?”  She gushed as she selected different-colored gems and laid them side by side on the table.

“Sure, you can take them out later.  If you want you could pick some and have them made as your jewelry.”

“Oh…I just…” she kept shaking her head in disbelief.  “These are amazing, Thranduil!  These are so pretty!” she turned to him and gave him a big smile.  “I hope you don’t mind?”

He walked up behind her and held her, “I’m glad you’re happy, meleth nin.  What do you intend to do with those?”

“I don’t know, I just love the colors!  And what is this big stone?” she saw the big chunk of pale red crystal on the corner of one of the boxes.  She picked it up and looked at it closely.

“It is a ruby.”

“A ruby?  I thought rubies are red and clear?”

“That is a raw one, it has to be cut up and heated to bring out its color and brilliance.”

“Oh, is that so…”  She returned it and paid attention once more to the gems that she was lining up.

He stood behind her and held her loosely in his arms.  He patiently watched her selecting more gems.  “Which ones are your favorite?” she asked.

“These,” he opened a small wooden chest filled with diamonds.  “I went to battle because of them.”

“Really? You went to battle for those?  Why?”

“They’re family heirloom.  The dwarves did not return them to me, more than a hundred years ago.  They were returned to me after the battle.”

She laughed, “I really learned a lot today.  There’s a lot of history in this room.  But how did you get to have all these?  And the gold?”  She cocked her head towards the chests stacked up against a wall.

“When my family left Doriath we brought with us our own gold and other treasures.  The Silvan elves similarly had gold and some of these loose gemstones.  They handed them over to us for safekeeping.  We were able to collect more gold as time went on and from the last battle at Dale, we gained more.”

Iris turned around and smiled at him.  “So these are what the kingdom uses to pay off the expenses?”

“Yes, but we also engage in trade.”

Iris turned around again to look at the gems she was handling.  “These are so pretty, can I take these to the bedroom?” she asked him.

“I told you earlier that you could, did I not? he whispered.  He leaned closer to her and put his hands on the edge of the table.  He lightly pressed his mouth on her head, watching her handling the gems.  

Iris brought out her handkerchief and spread it on the table.  She started picking up the pieces of gems and putting them in the center of the handkerchief.  He pushed her hair to one side and began slowly kissing her neck and shoulders.

Iris felt his kisses were getting more ardent, and his hands slowly made their way to her breasts.  She was herself starting to get carried away, but she did not want them scattering the gems, and she did not like the smell of the room.  She thought of distracting him instead.

“Could I have a bracelet made of these diamonds, I want one not so big,” she asked him.

“Yes, of course.”

“Choose the pieces for me,” she said as she gave him a peck on his cheek.  He obliged her and picked out random shapes of the same size and lined them up.

“How do we get to have it made?”

“I would tell Galion to bring them later to the jewel-smiths.”

“Thank you, my love,” she said as she scooped them up and put them with the other gems on her handkerchief.  He chuckled as she carefully folded the edges to secure the gems.

“Let’s go,” she whispered, facing him.  He exhaled sharply and started to walk her towards the door.  He led her out first then pulled the door to close it, then turned the key and returned it into the crevice.  He uttered a different elvish phrase and the door gradually turned into a part of the wall again and disappeared.

mirkwood-icon

necklace_of_girion_by_candra-d9wfrvu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 45

 

3b993385c2f44d0d0e404e4feea3041b

Thranduil woke up as the early rays of the morning light began dancing through the swaying leaves of the trees and in through the tall windows of their chambers.   The mornings were getting cooler as the days of fall had come.  Iris was still asleep, and he pulled her closer against him.  He liked how she was in the morning, she smelled like a small child.  Like bread and milk.  Her yellow mass of hair framed her youthful face, she looked like a slumbering angel.  Both of them were still naked as they made love more than a few  times through the night.  After a while he released her and propped himself up on his elbows, looking for their clothes and discovered pieces of them strewn towards the end of their large bed and a couple more on the floor.  He dressed himself, decently enough, as he would be later opening the doors to let the elves in to set their table for breakfast.  He then picked up her scanty nightgown and tried to put it on her without waking her up.  He laid down again beside her and pulled up the covers up to their chests.  She remained sleeping soundly despite his movements.  He stared thoughtfully into her face as the troubles of the previous day came back to him.  It had been quite sometime since he felt gloom so early in the day.

He was comforted with the thought that he had started Arnald on his new duty as her aide.   Besides Feren, Arnald was his most trusted captain among his guards.  Even as he and Iris were already married, Thranduil has not told her yet completely about the ways of elves. She was not familiar with the various places of the kingdom yet, and her fear of heights particularly would not enable her to go around by herself.  Her being human, young and innocent might indeed be tempting for some elves to take advantage of her.  How Lhainel behaved towards her in the assembly was a small thing compared to what elves could actually do to her.  Elves for the worst part are capable of casting spells, and she could easily be played with, nay waylaid.  He breathed deeply, feeling a sudden and great concern for her.  He closed his eyes and held her face closer to his, pressing his lips on her forehead.  

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Thinking back, she might have overreacted, but Thranduil didn’t make any remarks about how she dealt with Lhainel, so probably that incident with Lhainel was justified.  That morning, Iris was only anxious about how she would face the elves, they would surely be looking at her in a different light from then on.

“If you’re feeling unsure or insecure, at least look your best,” her mother once told her when she started dealing with petty girls whenever Iris would attract the attention of the boys they fancied.  Iris chose one of the revealing dresses that Pathon made for her, the ones that she had been putting off to wear as she favored the less revealing ones.  She chose an ivory-colored dress with a low neckline and its fitted bodice showed off her feminine curves.  The long smocked sleeves were daintily embellished with red ribbons.  Nionwen fixed her hair and held it in place with a jeweled headpiece made of silver and studded with pale colored gemstones.  She emerged from their dressing room looking for Thranduil, who was being helped by Galion putting on his robe.

“You look so stunning, meleth nin.” Thranduil said with an appreciative look on his face.  Even Galion smiled at her and made a small bow before he turned around to pick up something from a side table by the couch.

“Thank you.  You don’t think this is too revealing?” she ran her fingers on her low neckline.

“No, it’s not.  And I like it that you’re wearing more jewelry.”

“Oh, this.” She touched her jeweled headpiece, making sure it’s in place.  Besides her rings she wore a chain necklace with a diamond pendant to match the headpiece.

“I’m going to take you by the southern part of the Halls.  It’s going to be a long walk.” Thranduil said.

“Sure, anytime you’re ready.”  She sat down on the edge of the bed while she waited for him.

Thranduil looked at the rings on his hands as Galion fastened his brooch on his dark gray tunic.  Iris turned away, suppressing a giggle.  There were still times when Thranduil’s fastidiousness amused her.  He noticed her and waited until she glanced at him again.

“What?”

“I’m sorry, I’m particularly giggly today.”

Thranduil fixed her with a stare and Iris fell silent.  But after a few seconds, she burst out laughing.  “I’m sorry!  Really I am!”

Thranduil exhaled sharply, then gave her a smirk.  “Just you wait when I get finished here.  I might just teach you a lesson.”

“Lesson in what?”  Iris said as she tried hard to stop giggling.

He rolled his eyes at her.  “Are we finished yet Galion?”

“Almost there, my Lord,”  Galion said as he was fixing his circlet on his head.  Thranduil felt it with his fingers and knowing it was already secure, he gave a nod to Galion and Galion finally stepped away to pick up a neatly-folded handkerchief that was laying on the couch with the other garments.  He handed it to Thranduil and Thranduil put it in his pocket.  Galion started picking up Thranduil’s discarded night clothes and folding them for laundry.

Thranduil walked over to Iris, who didn’t know if she should be scared or not, remembering his threat.  She shut her eyes and held her hands to her cheeks as she waited for him to get close to her.  He couldn’t help but smile at her antics and held her face with both hands to give her a kiss.  “Let’s go,” he said.  She stood up and he took her hand to place it on his forearm.

Iris breathed deeply in relief and looked up at him, her brows turned up as she smiled.  He only ignored her and started leading her out of their chambers.  Iris smiled at Arnald and Beleg, who were waiting at the end of the hallway and followed them after they walked past.  They made their way through the many winding pathways until they reached the great doors which the guards opened and they stepped outside.  They passed by a group of elves who were talking amongst themselves.  The elves bowed to them and greeted their good mornings.  Thranduil and Iris smiled at them and continued walking.  Thranduil couldn’t help but overhear one whispering to another, “So that’s our mortal queen, quite a firebrand, isn’t she, and at such a young age…cannot blame her though.  That Lhainel woman forgot her place.”

When they have gone beyond hearing range of the elves, Thranduil glanced at Iris.  “They were talking about you.”

“They were?  What were they saying?”

“Looks like they’re on your side.”

“Oh,”  she said, feeling relieved.

“And how would you have acted if you were in my place?” she finally asked him.

“Nobody would have regarded me in that manner in the first place.  Not ever,” he replied.

“Because you were born a lord?”

“I’ll give you that.  Well, if ever that happened to me?  I would have done worse.”  He looked ahead, seemingly amused.

“What would you have done?”

“Depends on my mood.  If I were being gentle, I would have the offender thrown behind bars.”

“So, my retaliation was justified,” Iris said, nodding her head repeatedly.  “I hope that never happens again, that was so…embarrassing.  So unpleasant!”

Thranduil was only looking ahead, he did not bother to reply.  Iris thought of asking him again what he failed to answer the night before.

“Would there be other elf-maidens?”

“I thought I already told you last night that we would leave the past behind?”

“That’s not fair…” Iris muttered, her head bowed.

Thranduil stopped walking and turned her by her shoulders to make her face him.  “I would only give you this promise that you would not be bothered again with that kind of nuisance.  Would that suffice?”  He held her chin up with his fingers.  Iris only looked at him with her big sad eyes.

“You’ll have to trust me, Iris.  I prefer that you get settled here first rather than dwell on unnecessary things such as that incident.  Beforehand you have already expected that some elves in this kingdom would find it hard to accept the fact that I married a mortal instead of our elf kind.  Do you understand what I am trying to tell you?”

Iris felt she had no choice but to leave him be.  She closed her eyes and nodded repeatedly.

“I want you to trust me.  Do you not love that much, meleth nin?”

“I do… I love you!  It’s just that –”

“Hush…” He held her against him and kissed her forehead.  “Know this.  I would not allow anyone treat you that way again.  I only want you to be happy with me.”  He felt her take a deep breath and then she put her arms around him.  He rubbed her back briefly and kissed her forehead again.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Later that night, in a dark bedchamber two figures were frantically moving against and with each other.  “Faster, my Lord…harder!”

Brannor made quicker and deeper thrusts into her as she clung tightly to him, moaning and gasping loudly.  He grimaced as she slowly scratched his back when her orgasm came.  He groaned and kept thrusting even until he was already done spilling his seed inside her.

He finally collapsed on top of her and they laid there silently for a while, catching their breaths.  Then he sighed as he lifted his head to glance at her then he rolled over to lie on his back.

With Thranduil’s directive against her, he was thinking that Lhainel might change her behaviour and become more resentful.  Eventually she might drag down their group with her.  He did not want her to be a loose cannon.  She must be kept in line.

“Have you completely lost your senses?  He already has a wife, and you’re still pining for him.”

“She will have a short life.  She will age and die!  And I will still be here, waiting for him.  He would come back to me!” Lhainel hissed.

Brannor felt himself suddenly seething.  “You are with me in bed and I have just had you.  Even as I am inside you it’s still him you have on your mind!”

Lhainel panicked.  Since she had been with Thranduil, she never slept with another elf, save for Brannor.  She had already lost Thranduil, and she realized she would also lose him.  She got up abruptly to look into his face and laid her hand on his chest.  “Forgive me, my Lord.  I was foolish to despair again in your presence.  I thought you understood me.”

“This is the last time I would be with you,” he said as he started to get up from the bed.

Lhainel held him down with her arms.  “Please, my Lord, no!  It is only you now whom I give myself to.  I would not be able to bear it!”  He wanted to remove her hold on him but she frantically tried to keep him in bed by kissing him.  She held his face in her hands to calm him down.  When she felt him yielding to her kiss, she slid her hand down below him and stroked him until he became hard again.  Without waiting for him, she straddled him and lowered herself down on his engorged member.  Even in his anger, Brannor could no longer resist her and he let her have her way with him.  He always favored her among the other maidens for she was the most beautiful of the lot, and quite tempestuous in bed.  She moved sensuously on top of him, making sure she was giving him pleasure.  But then after a while, Brannor’s annoyance with her resurfaced.

“I don’t want you causing any trouble again.  You have already been forbidden from being near to her.  I would make sure to have you exiled from this kingdom if our group would be in danger of being exposed because of your stupidity, do you understand?”

“That was never my intent, my Lord,” she quickly replied in between laboured breaths, not even pausing.

“Not your intent!” Brannor said with a growl in his voice.  He abruptly lifted her off him and forcefully laid her down on her back.  Still furious, he lifted her again by her shoulders and slammed her back on the bed.  She gave a shriek when he suddenly entered her again and started thrusting into her forcefully.  He had pushed her farther to the edge of the bed and her head was already dangling from the side.  He didn’t bother to pull her back and continued to pound her heavily against the bed.  It somehow irritated him knowing that it would only excite her more.  Lhainel did not complain about the pain, and he was right, her gasps and moans only became louder.  She reached out her hands to hold on to his arms but he angrily swiped them off him.  Groaning, he pounded her faster until he reached his peak again.  He did not stop thrusting until he felt her throbbing inside her.  He deemed it would be wiser to keep her satisfied and still yearning for him.  He abruptly withdrew from her and got up from the bed.

She only laid there, catching her breath.  Slowly, she drew her legs together as she watched him quickly dress himself up.  He then left her, with nary a gesture of farewell for her.  She looked so forlorn waiting until he had gone out of the door.  And then she wept.

mirkwood-icon

DBzyq9nXUAApFHg

 

 

 

Chapter 44

f8fdaa40374d8d66bcfd42934db7d517

“My Lady?”

Iris heard Arnald’s voice from the doorway.  She was alone in the chambers that morning.   Thranduil left her after their breakfast, saying he was to oversee something briefly and would return immediately.  It was the day of the assembly, which would be held in the afternoon.  Iris was already dressed in one of her best dresses for it.

“Where’s Thranduil?” Iris asked as she made her way to the doorway.  Arnald stood there, with Beleg behind him.  Both bowed to her before Arnald replied to her.

“My Lord sent us to bring you the throne room, my Lady.”

“Oh,” Iris said.  “Is there anything wrong?”

“No, my Lady.  But my Lord did not tell me why he was sending for you.”

Iris thought of the first time Thranduil brought her to his throne room.  He at first tricked her into closing her eyes before he carried her in his arms and telling her he was going to surprise her.  It took sometime before he let her open her eyes again, and they were already there.

Iris’ heart started beating heavily in her chest when they came to the bridge that would lead to Thranduil’s throne.  The bridge was a long way and it was narrow, winding, and must be more than a hundred feet high up.  It must be the reason why Thranduil did not tell her he was bringing her there the first time.

“Fear not, my Lady, I would carry you myself,” Arnald told her.

“Alright.” Iris drew a deep breath and raised her arms to hold him around his neck.  It made her more nervous that Thranduil let another carry her instead of him for the first time.  She was used to having Arnald constantly following her and Thranduil around, being Thranduil’s choice among the captains of the guards, but she felt a little shy.  Her father never let anyone else carry her when she was no longer a child.  Over Arnald’s shoulder, she saw Beleg still following closely behind them before she closed her eyes.

“We’re here now, my Lady,” Arnald finally said after what seemed like an eternity for her.  Arnald put her down at the bottom of the stairs.  As she ascended, she saw Thranduil sitting loftily on his throne, grinning at her.  She could not help but smile at how he looked.

Arnald and Beleg made a move to go to their designated places, but Thranduil gestured for them to remain standing behind Iris.

“I had you brought here to inform you of a new arrangement regarding your personal aides.”

“Personal aides?  I already have Nionwen, right?” Iris said, puzzled.

“Nionwen is your handmaiden.  I have chosen Arnald here, as your personal aide.  He would accompany you whenever you step out of our chambers.  Beleg would take his place when he is not present.”  Iris raised her eyebrows, unsure of what to say.

“There would be times I would not be around.  Arnald would be the one to accompany you then.  That’s how it is.  Arnald has already started now, actually.”

Iris glanced at Arnald, feeling a little overwhelmed.  Arnald and Beleg both made a solemn bow to her to confirm that they were following their Lord’s directive.  Iris clutched her hands as she turned to look at Thranduil again.  She  realized she could not stay cooped up in their chambers whenever he has to leave her alone to attend to some business.  Thranduil gave a small nod to Arnald and the two soldiers parted to stand on either side of the throne room.

Iris was left standing, and Thranduil gave her a smile.  “You can sit down if you want to,” he said in his low voice.

Iris sat down on the chair which was placed near the foot of Thranduil’s stairs to his throne.  It was a new one, more elaborately embellished than the first one that the soldiers have temporarily provided for her upon Thranduil’s bidding.  She ran her hands on the softly padded armrests.  How long am I supposed to sit here, she wondered.  Since her marriage to Thranduil, she started making herself more serene as in the manner of the elves.  The elves held many things sacred, she observed.  She still hadn’t gotten used to the elves’ way of being able to stay still for hours, though.  It would only take her a few minutes of sitting still before she got bored and antsy.  The first time that Thranduil made her stay there, she sat for half an hour in silence.  She would try to glance towards Thranduil every now and then, wondering what he was doing.  All the royal guards then were in full armor, she could not even see their faces.  She tried to stay quiet for as long as she could, but she ended up getting sleepy.  She felt embarrassed afterwards when she realized she had been twitching in her chair.  Thranduil descended and took her back to their chambers.  She fell asleep while he carried her across the bridge.

At least at that time, Arnald and Beleg were not wearing any armor and did not seem cold and daunting like the other royal guards.  She was able to engage them in brief and hushed conversations.   After a while Thranduil left his seat to join her and chat her up.  He told her a few anecdotes about Arnald and Beleg, to make her more familiar with them.  She learned that both were Sindar and that Arnald had been married for a few hundred years, but his wife and son had been staying in Rivendell for more than a hundred years.  Beleg, his cousin, was a much younger elf and still unmarried.  Arnald initially was learning to be a healer but after helping treat many soldiers who were injured by orcs who intruded their kingdom’s borders, he was bothered by the increasing boldness of the enemy and decided to start training instead to be a warrior.  His wife, who eventually also wanted to learn to be a healer, had since traveled with their son to Imladris and stayed there.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

There was the sound of hushed conversations and momentary bursts of laughter here and there.  The gathering of the Mirkwood elves was held every three moons or so, and they religiously attended it.  It was not only a moment to socialize and catch up with new stories of their kinsmen’s outside adventures, but more so to be able to commune with their King.  Thranduil used these assemblies to make announcements and to hear out any reports or grievances from the people which his Council is not able to disclose to him.  But this one has so far gained more excitement than usual.  It was the first time their new mortal queen was joining them.  Not so much as she might make any declaration but her presence alone was enough.  Her novelty had not yet worn off the elves.

The assembly was held in one of the lower wide halls.  At the end of it and at it’s center were three big gilded chairs meant for Thranduil, Iris and Legolas.  The rest of the vast hall was cleared and everyone else in attendance, including the members of the Council, would be standing.

Iris was already there ahead of Thranduil and she looked exquisite in her purple dress which was adorned with gold and black trimmings.  She wore with it Arwen’s gift to her, a black leather necklace with a big pendant of heart-shaped purple gemstone.  She was merrily engaging in a conversation with the elf-maidens who smiled at her and enticed her to join them when they saw her walking towards the gathering with only Arnald as her escort.  She was still shy but she obliged.  Their smiles were genuine and almost instantly they made her comfortable with their kind words and praises.  They liked looking at her big gray eyes as she spoke, and they praised her many times over for her cheerful smile, her hair, her dress, her necklace, and would she be singing for them a song or two?  Iris said she was not asked to sing as there must be other more important matters to discuss in the assembly.  The maidens meant to keep her longer in their company but soon Thranduil arrived with Legolas and they sat on their respective chairs, flanked by the members of the Council on both sides.  Thranduil nodded to Iris and she left the maidens to take her seat next to him.  The forum began and all throughout, Iris didn’t speak but she was attentive.  Even though the conversations lapsed into elvish every now and then, she was awed nevertheless as she had never been to such an elvish gathering before.  The feasts were different, everyone then was into merry-making and enjoying the food and entertainment.  At the assembly, everyone was either listening intently or making spirited remarks.

Every now and then she would glance back at Thranduil, how she was so in awe of him.  He looked magnificent as always in his dark tunic and dark red robe, all his garments were made of plush fabrics.  And his crown.  When he was courting her she never saw him wearing one nor any other head ornament, but there in his realm, he liked wearing not only his different crowns but also the many rings on his fingers.  A far cry from the kind of Thranduil who met and wooed her in her home back in the village.  Even his manner of speaking with his people was different: he would speak in a serious tone and his face would always be solemn.  But with her he was light and easy to talk to.  Since her first visit to Mirkwood, she had already felt his strong hold over his people; their reverence for him and his authority above them were apparent.  But admirably so, she could see that they were also fond of their King.

After what seemed to be an hour or so of discussions, Iris sensed that the forum was coming to a close.  Even if they were speaking in elvish, she could see most of them nodding to each other as if in agreement.  Finally, Thranduil spoke in Westron, asking if there were any more concerns to be raised.  The elves were silent but some were looking around them to see if anyone else would speak, but none did.  Thranduil rose from his chair and said more things in elvish and everyone else stood up as a gesture of respect.  and some started to leave.

The same group of elf-maidens who was with Iris before the gathering started was still there, waiting for her to rejoin them.  Iris gladly did so, and they continued their interrupted conversation.  Two of the ladies were members of the company of dancers and minstrels, she was thrilled to find out.  She was eager to inquire more about them, when one of the maidens, one who has just joined the group, spoke to her.  At first Iris didn’t hear her but she noticed the other maidens fell quiet.  Lhainel, the maiden, spoke again, asking her how she finds Thranduil as a husband.  Iris was taken unawares; she didn’t fail to notice that the maiden was beautiful and a little taller than her.  Iris replied that she was happy and still adjusting to her present life in Mirkwood.  Lhainel’s tone was what threw Iris off a bit.  She was more or less on the sarcastic side.  One of the maidens tried to shush her discreetly but she instead asked impatiently again.  “You did not answer my question, my Lady.  I asked how he is as a husband?”

Iris felt uncomfortable but she replied that he was always kind and attentive to her.  Lhainel slowly stepped closer and put her fingers to Iris’ necklace.  She pretended to examine it a little then abruptly raised her eyes to Iris’, startling her. “You should be good to him, otherwise he might tire of you soonest, mortal queen.”  At that she slightly tugged at Iris’ necklace, then dropped her hand.

Iris felt the sudden heat in her ears.  Though intimidated at first, she was shocked and felt insulted by the elf-maiden’s rudeness.  She instinctively slapped Lhainel’s cheek.  Unbelieving, Lhainel gasped and held her hand to her cheek as she took a step back.  The maidens and the others who witnessed it were stunned.  She herself was surprised at what she did, and though shaking, she fought to maintain her composure.  “Don’t you ever speak to me that way nor lay your hands on me again!”

Thranduil and Legolas could not help but notice the commotion and walked over.  Thranduil saw how flustered Iris was and asked what happened.  Arnald, who was standing nearby, recounted what just took place.  Even though he dreaded that something of that sort might happen one time or another, Thranduil was enraged that anyone would dare show such disrespect for Iris even while he was around.  He regarded Lhainel briefly with scornful eyes before he turned around and walked back to his chair.  He sat down and impatiently gestured for Legolas and Iris to do the same, then ordered Lhainel and the other maidens and elves who were still present to pay attention.  He first made Iris tell how it started.  Iris did, and after she finished she leaned back on her chair, still trying to calm herself.  Then he asked Lhainel to come forward to let her speak.  Lhainel spoke in a more respectful tone and admitted to the wrongdoing, which she said was an act of impulse.  She asked for forgiveness if she had offended the queen.  She faltered, her eyes pleading as she looked at Thranduil, searching his eyes to find anything that would tell her he remembered the intimate times they shared together.

But he only stared at her coldly as she spoke.  Lhainel was starting to say something else but Thranduil cut her off, declaring that she has committed an offense against the Queen and that it shouldn’t happen again, else there would be sterner consequences.  She was not allowed to be within thirty paces around Iris, otherwise she would be arrested.  Lhainel felt the wave of shock and sudden hurt from Thranduil’s disdain for her and being shamed before everyone present there.  She tried to stifle the rising sobs in her throat and waited until she was dismissed so that she could get away from the gathering.

“Let this be a warning for those who intend to disrespect my Queen,” Thranduil spoke loudly as he rose from his chair, his face stern.  “Disrespecting Lady Iris is tantamount to disrespecting me, which is tantamount to treason.  I would deal with the offender myself!”

Iris stayed seated straight but her eyes were downcast.  She was never one to like being in the center of attention, and it had been the most uncomfortable yet.  She still felt tense and gripped the edge of the armrest of her chair, watching from the corner of her eye if Thranduil would look in her direction.  When he did, she raised her head as if awaiting his order.  But he merely made a gesture and Iris sensed that it was time to leave and finally she could breathe easy again.  She got up from her seat and he took her hand in his and led her away, with Legolas, Feren and a few soldiers following them.  Iris was able to look back at the group of maidens and she mouthed “sorry” to them, hoping that they understood her.

As they were leaving, she heard Lord Brannor’s calm voice.  He was speaking to the elves who were left there, most of them still in awe of what had just transpired.  Brannor spoke mainly to distract them, he repeated the main points discussed during the gathering and to remind the ones concerned of the tasks that were appointed to them.  When the collective mood has changed and their minds brought back to the matters of the assembly, only then did Brannor bid the elves to depart from the halls.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

“Why was she so insolent towards me?” Iris asked, as Thranduil joined her in bed that night.  “I know I’m only a young mortal and she’s what – centuries old?  I was taken aback at why she sounded so condescending and brazen.  I don’t even know who she is!  I can’t help but think that maybe….and the way she looked at you.“

“Maybe what?”

“She’s someone from your past.”

“If it was in the past, why should we bother talking about it?”

“How many more like her, Thranduil, would come up to me and talk to me that way?  How do you think I feel now, I would think that every time I would pass by some people they might be saying things and mocking me behind my back?”

“I already warned them, did you not hear my warning? Stop worrying yourself so.”

“You cannot stop people from talking.”

“What do you want me to say then?”

“Be honest with me, Thranduil.  What happened between you and her? How many more like her did you have?  Do I see them every day? Who are they? At least I would be prepared, I would be able to avoid them if need be!”

“Stop it, Iris.  It was all in the past.  I told them not to disrespect you and they would obey, lest they’d want to be arrested.  Now let’s go to sleep.”

He spoke with an impatient tone and Iris decided to give it up for the moment.  She closed her eyes.  After a while she felt him moving towards her, then kissing her.  She didn’t feel desire; instead she felt a dull pain in her heart.  Thranduil did not want to be honest with her about his past.  She turned her face away from him.  “I am sleepy…” she murmured.

It was the first time Iris had refused him, and it bothered him a little.  But he could not think of anything safe to say to her and so he just turned his back to her.  Then he got up and put on his robe.

Iris heard the rustle of his clothing.  “Where are you going?”

“I thought you said you’re sleepy?” He has already started walking towards the door but he paused and turned to her, slightly annoyed. “Well, I am not.  I’m going outside.”

Iris felt uncomfortable with him leaving her in that manner and she crawled out of her blanket towards the edge of the bed.  “I want to go with you, I don’t feel sleepy anymore.”  Her gown’s neckline was hanging low and her breasts showed.  She sat up abruptly and tried to pull up her short and flimsy night gown.  She carelessly tossed her hair away from her face with her hand.

Thranduil was gripped with that alluring vision of her and found himself walking back to their bed.  “I guess it’s not a good idea to go out…” he muttered. “…at this time of the night.”

“What were you sa–?” Before Iris could finish what she was saying, his lips were on hers, kissing her ardently.  His one hand was cradling Iris’ head and the other struggled to take off his robe and dropped it to the floor.

 

mirkwood-icon

cxpv4m4wgae7u61j

 

 

 

 

Chapter 43

10801837_10153251532829218_6779534611039859336_o7-copy

“I have been notified that there would be a Council meeting this morning, and I’m going.”  Thranduil told Iris as they were having their breakfast.

“I thought you’re on a holiday?”

“I know, but we would be holding an assembly for all the elves in a few days.  I need to be aware of  the comings and goings of the kingdom.  Would you like to come with me?”

Iris’ eyes widened.  Thranduil did not wait for her reply.  “Yes, I think you should come with me.  You might not want to be left here all by your lonesome so early in the day.”

“Alright…don’t mind me if I would feel out of place.”

“Why would you even think that?  You married a king, Iris.”

Iris swallowed hard.  “I promise I would try my best not to embarrass you.”

“If you feel you don’t belong, you don’t.  I don’t want to have to remind you of that again, Iris.”

He realized he spoke in his usual impatient tone though he did not intend to.  It just slipped out of him.  He saw that she was taken aback.  She bowed her head as she slowly picked at her food with her fork.  He took her hand as he exhaled sharply, watching her.  He bit her hand.

“Hey!” Iris said in surprise, yanking her hand away from him.  He only chuckled as he shook his head and told her to finish her food.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Legolas and the councilors stood up from their seats upon seeing Thranduil and Iris enter the Council Room.  “Carry on,” Thranduil said as he kept walking, leading Iris towards a long bench by the wall.  Seeing Legolas taking his place at the head of the table, he could not help but feel pride and love for his son.

“Would you like to be seated here, Father?” Legolas asked him.

“No,” Thranduil replied quickly, as if surprised.  “I’m on a holiday, remember?  Iris and I only happened to pass by.”  He took Iris’ hand in his and he crossed his legs as he leaned against the back of the bench, a lazy smile on his face.  “We’ll just sit here and listen.”

Some of the councilors could not help but be amused by the light mood of their King.  They glanced at the couple with smiles on their faces.  Thranduil gestured to them with his hand to resume their meeting.  He glanced briefly at Lord Malion, who stood up and picked up a sheaf of papers.  He walked over to the couple and handed the papers to Thranduil.  Thranduil briefly scanned Malion’s report of the expenditures they incurred during the past few months.  Iris tried to take a peek at what he was reading, but it was all written in elvish.  Malion patiently waited until Thranduil handed the papers back to him.

For about half an hour, Thranduil just sat quietly with Iris.  A few times Iris whispered questions regarding the councilors and Thranduil would answer her, often with funny remarks about them.  Most of the time Iris paid attention to the elves, although she could not follow their conversation as most often they would lapse into elvish.

“Would the assembly be like this, spoken in elvish?” she whispered.

“Most of it.  This should motivate you to learn both Silvan and Sindarin quickly.”

After a while, Thranduil got up and led Iris to the windows.

“This is where I go when they start to either bore or annoy me,” he whispered into Iris’ ear.

“Shh!” Iris whispered back, giggling a little.  “They would hear you.”

Thranduil laughed softly.  He slowly put his arm around her waist.  “I don’t have Legolas’ patience,” he sighed.  “In all of our meetings he would just stay in his seat until the meeting is over.”

“Shh!” Iris whispered again, trying to pinch his side, but unable to do so as the material of his tunic was thick.  He took hold of her hand.  She stared out into the forest and noticed the leaves of the trees were starting to change color.

“Look, autumn is coming…”

He looked at the direction she was gazing.  “Does this mean you would start staying in?”

“Well, I could still go out for a few days.  You could still take me out for a walk this afternoon,” she turned his gaze to him and put her arms around his waist.

“I heard Legolas saying earlier that he would be inspecting the border guards tomorrow.  He’ll be gone for more than a day and the assembly would be held after two days.  I want to go down to the training halls with him this afternoon.”

“Well, tomorrow then.”  She glanced at Legolas, who was still with the elves at the table.

“I noticed that since the day of the wedding, Legolas was no longer cold to us.  I’m glad,” Iris said in a hushed tone.

“I was able to talk to him before the day of the wedding.  He was still uncomfortable being around me, so I decided to clear up the air between us.”

“What did he say?”

“It was easy to see what caused him to act as such.  I made him realize that he thought wrong, and that I didn’t like it that he let such thought fester in his mind.  He chose to be quiet rather than clear it up with me.  He asked for forgiveness.”

“Oh.”  To think that I almost made him do it to me, Iris thought.  She felt a little sick in her stomach.  She thought of changing the subject.

“What is it like inspecting the borders?”

“There are groups of soldiers on the border watch around the kingdom and another group doing the border patrol.  They make inspections to see how the soldiers are doing and if they keep themselves suitably outfitted with weapons and supplies like food.  The border watch is usually the first duty the new soldiers would undertake.  And one of the tasks of the border patrol is to make sure if the border guards are still in place.”

“Why?  Do your border guards sneak out?” she asked with a smirk.

“Actually, the orcs can be the sneaky ones sometimes.”

“Oh.  I’m sorry about that.”  Her smirk disappeared and was replaced with feeling of dread.  “Do you do that, too?  Inspecting the border guards?”

“The border patrol also goes out beyond the borders.  Usually it’s Feren or Legolas who rode out with them, but during Legolas’ absence, sometimes I joined them.”

“Why?  That’s dangerous!”

“I only did it many times these past decades because it was a time of peace, and there was not much to do around the kingdom.  Sometimes I like to keep myself busy.”

“Well, it’s still the time of peace, isn’t it?  Would you still be doing it from time to time?”

He smirked.  “I don’t think so.  I have you to keep me busy now.”

Iris wrinkled her nose at him and he held her head against his chest as they both began laughing, keeping it down so that they wouldn’t attract attention from the councilors.

About an hour later, Thranduil and Iris have already left the Council room even if the meeting was not yet over.  Thranduil decided he need not stay until the end of the meeting.  He took Iris back to their chambers as they would have their lunch there and afterwards he would prepare to go to the training halls.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Iris sat on the bed as she watched Thranduil being helped into his armor by Galion.

“Can I come and watch you train?

“I’d rather you would not.  The elflings are allowed to use wooden swords.  We train with real weapons.  You’ll only distract me.”

“What?  That’s dangerous! Why–?”

“We don’t fight with wooden swords in a real battle, silly girl.”

Iris pursed her lips.  “Alright, I’ll wait for you here.”

Thranduil held his gaze at her for a while.  “If I finish with the training early, I’ll take you out for a walk this afternoon, would you like that?”

“No, it’s alright.  I’ll just wait here.”

Thranduil waited until Galion left after he finished securing his armor and putting on his cape.  Iris walked over and stood before him.  “You look much bigger with all these armor on.”

“I prefer fearsome.  Or menacing.”

Iris chuckled.  “Bigger and more fearsome then.”

He leaned in to give her a kiss.  “One day, you’ll have to train how to handle weapons.”

Iris swallowed.  “Do I have to?”

Thranduil chuckled.  “Most of us are warriors here.  Even the elf-maidens.  And you are their Queen.”

“I’m sorry,” she quickly said.  “I mean, sure.  I have small hands, though.  I wonder what weapons you’ll let me handle.”

He held her delicate hands.  “It would be a pity to see what would become of these soft hands.”

“My father keeps a sword in the house.  One time he let me hold it.  It was heavy!”

“That’s why you would train so that you’ll get used to the weight.  Well, not this year perhaps.  But you’ll start with your Silvan and Sindarin lessons next month.”

“Yes, of course.  Would there be a school I’d go to? And where?”

“You’ll have your lessons here.  We’ll have that arranged.  Unless you would not mind joining the small elflings.”

“Oh!”  They both laughed softly.  “It would be best to have my lessons here then.”

“That’s settled then.  I have to go now.”

“Please be careful.”

“Certainly.”  He kissed her again and she walked him to the door.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Iris spent the afternoon leafing through a book of songs that she brought with her from home, singing to herself to pass the time.  Once she felt bored and got up to walk around the chambers.  It was the first time she had been left there alone that long, and she decided to look around.  She looked at the tapestries on the walls, examined the wood carvings and weapons displayed throughout the chambers.  She went inside their dressing room and walked through their rows of clothes and checked out the drawers of the oak bureaus.  Seeing nothing new, she went back to sit down on the carpet by her bedside.  She had her own night table at her side of the bed, which was the right side, where she kept her book of songs and miniature figurines in the drawer.  She took out the colorful miniatures to look at them.  By mid afternoon, a kitchen elf brought her food to snack on.  It was late in the afternoon when Thranduil returned to their chambers, along with Galion who was going to help him change to his nightclothes.

Iris excitedly walked to the door to greet Thranduil.  “You’re finally here!  How was it?” she asked as she walked with him to their bedchamber.

“It was fine,” he replied.  Thranduil was smiling and looked as if he had just taken a refreshing walk outside, though the ends of his hair were still slick with sweat.  He took off his circlet and handed it to Galion.

Galion started taking off Thranduil’s cape and armor when Thranduil stopped by the couch.  While he was folding the cape and arranging the armor on the couch, Iris stepped up closer to Thranduil.

“You smell different,” she said in her low voice, laying her hands on his chest.  “More musky.”  She bit her lip as she breathed in his scent.  “I like it.”  She began undoing the buttons of his tunic.

“It’s just a little perspiration,” he said, and he bent his head to kiss her.

Galion turned to see them kissing passionately.  He was supposed to help Thranduil wash up, but he deemed it was wise to leave.  “I’ll be back later, my Lord,” he mumbled, taking the armor and cape with him.

“Look at what you’ve done…” Thranduil murmured as he heard Galion closing the door behind him.

“You should blame yourself.  You made me miss you…” Iris said breathlessly.

“I’ll lock the doors.”  He was taking Iris’ hands off him but Iris grabbed the back of his head and kissed him harder.  She tore his tunic open and started kissing his chest and neck while they both pulled the sleeves free from his arms.  Thranduil was going to take her to bed but remembered someone might come in.  He lifted her off the floor and she wrapped her legs around his waist, holding his face while still kissing him.

He managed to get them through the door of the dressing room, closing the door behind them.  He sat down on the bench with Iris straddling him.  She lowered the neckline of her dress with haste, and Thranduil’s eyes were immediately drawn to her bare breasts.   She gasped as his hands roughly arched her back to bring her breasts to his mouth.  She felt a little hurt with the way he was avidly kissing them, but it rather felt exquisite for her.  She felt his growing hardness beneath her, and slowly, she started grinding her quim against it, holding the back of his head to steady herself.  Watching him kissing and taking her breasts in his mouth, she would press her lips on his forehead and close her eyes whenever it became too much for her to take.   After a while he felt her grinding was getting more feverish and he raised his head to kiss her mouth.  She tried to reach down to unfasten his trousers.  Finding it hard to open up him up, she broke the kiss and pushed his shoulders impatiently to free herself from his hold.  She propped herself up on her knees as she worked her hands to untie the troublesome strings while he reached for her underpants beneath her dress and quickly tore it off.

With bated breaths, they looked in each others’ eyes as Iris guided him inside her, lowering herself slowly down on him.  His big hands held her lithe body as she started moving up and down, moaning softly.  It was like time suddenly slowed down.  The pleasure was so indescribably intense that she closed her eyes and pressed her lips to his cheek, feeling herself melding with his body.  She held tighter with her hands holding the back of his neck, grasping his hair, as if she might float or melt away from the flame within her that was consuming her.

He tried to engage her in a kiss but it was hard to keep their lips locked with her movements.  He let her have her way with him instead and rather feasted his eyes with the alluring vision of her before him: her eyes half-closed, lips seductively parted, breasts heaving.  Her moans were getting louder as she was getting more frenzied by the minute and he himself could feel that he was about to reach his peak, but he restrained himself and waited for her to get there first.  He felt her orgasm throbbing faintly inside her, and only then did he grasp her hips to keep her going, moving his hips to meet hers.  The bench rattled a little as he thrusted hard into her, jolting her body.  It heightened the exquisite pleasure that she was already feeling, and loud moans and gasps escaped her lips with his every thrust.  He eventually groaned when his release came, burying his face in her bosom.

They spent moments resting in each other’s arms, leisurely kissing and caressing each other.  After a little while, he remembered that the elves might be waiting in the halls to bring in their dinner.  He lifted the sleeves of Iris’ dress to cover her up.  “I think our dinner would be brought in any moment now,” he said in his low and thick voice, almost in a whisper.  He lifted her off him slowly, allowing her to gather her dress.  He sat her down beside him and fixed himself a little, glancing and grinning at her.  He got up and fastened his trousers as he walked out of the dressing room.  His tunic was still there on the floor where they dropped it and he picked it up and put it on.

Sure enough, he could already smell their food when he opened one of the doors as a sign for the elves that it was alright to enter the chambers.  He then returned to the dressing room.

He walked in to find her rummaging through a drawer, selecting a fresh pair of underpants.  “I might run out of undergarments pretty soon,” she said, glancing at him with a smirk on her lips.

“You can ask Nionwen to buy you more,” he said as he walked up to her.

“She might not be comfortable with that, she might be too embarrassed,” she chuckled, bending down to quickly put her underpants on.

“Then I’ll send Feren or Galion instead,” he whispered, making Iris laugh.  He held up Iris by her shoulders, who was still fixing her dress.  He started kissing her again.  Iris heard the faint clinking of plates outside.

“Dinnertime,” she said, giggling a little.  She tugged at his hand to lead him out of the dressing room.  She almost shrieked in surprise when he suddenly scooped her up in his arms and he continued kissing her as he slowly walked them out of the door, then making a right turn towards the couch.  He sat down, sitting Iris on his lap.

The elves were still putting the food on the table when Galion strode back into the chambers.  He was turning right towards the bedchamber when he saw the couple on the couch, still kissing passionately like there was no tomorrow.  He pursed his lips and slowly retraced his steps, holding his hands behind his back as he went to supervise the elves instead.

 

mirkwood-icon

11151073_1640807689483209_8116497703720353036_n

Chapter 42

terrace kiss5

The celebration with the neighbors was finally over and Iris whispered to Thranduil if she could have time alone with the girls for a while before they left.  Thranduil agreed and Iris then turned to her mother, who was sitting beside her.

“Mother, could we go to the house for a while, I want to see my room!”

“Certainly, the front door is open.  I’ll join you in a bit.”

Iris and the girls quickly stood up to leave the table.  They walked a little faster until they reached the gate to avoid being stalled by chatty neighbors.  Once they were through the gate, however, they broke into a run to get into the house as fast as they could.  Iris paused to catch her breath when she got to the living room first.  The house was a little dark as the windows were shut.  The other girls have already raced up to the stairs and waited by the door for her but she lingered for a little while to look around and take in the familiar smell of the house that she missed so much.  Then she ran to the stairs to join the girls.  Her room was likewise dark and one of the girls opened the front window to let in the light.  They sat on her bed to chat some more and Iris remembered why she asked to be with them there.  She took out a pouch from a secret pocket of her dress.

“I could not think of what I could give you.  There are apparently no stores in The King’s Halls and I’m doubtful if Thranduil would allow me to go to Dale yet.”  She untied the strings and opened it and a few big gold coins tumbled out on her lap.

“Oooh!” Lorelle gasped.  “Does he always give you gold?”

“Just once.  These are what remained of what Thranduil gave me before we got married.  I would give two of these for you girls to split up equally amongst yourselves.”  She placed the two coins up front and held up another coin with her fingers.  “With this one, I have to ask you to buy me presents for my parents, and our three house help, I hope you wouldn’t mind.”  She was holding on to two more coins in her hand, and she looked at Tana.

“Tana, I know you would be getting married this spring, these two coins are for you.”  Tana’s mouth fell open, but before she could say anything, Iris continued, “You know I would not be able to go out during fall and winter and I’m not sure when I may be seeing you again.  At least, if I give you these now, you would be able to use them to buy whatever you might need for the wedding.  Or buy things for your house if you would start living on your own already!”  Iris smiled excitedly for Tana.

“Iris, this is far too much!”  Tana was indeed happy but shaken, as she never had so much money all of a sudden.  Iris hugged her slightly trembling friend.

“Iris, do they have a lot of gold over there?  I wish I could see all the jewelry you got as gifts from the elves!” Lorelle gushed, wide-eyed.

“Shush!  Thranduil keeps them for me.”

“Where does he keep them?  You must have seen a lot of treasures there!” Lorelle gushed again.

“No, silly!  I don’t know where he keeps them.  And I’m not interested to find out.  There are far more wonderful things to see there!  Elves are magical people and their place I bet has a lot more of magical things and places.  I can’t wait to see what other things Thranduil would show me!”  Iris said excitedly.

“That’s unfair you know…” Lorelle complained.  “You don’t like jewelry and yet you are given so much.  I would love to be given jewelry, but I get so little from my parents!”  She made a sad face and the girls laughed at her.

“Oh Lorelle, I promise to give you a present, too, when you get married.”  Iris playfully yanked at Lorelle’s hair.  “And the two of you, Arietta and Ellyn, you’re still both too young to get married.  But your time will come!”  The two smaller girls smiled and elbowed one another.  They were still feeling giddy because of their share of the gold that she gave them.

“For now, I want you to keep these things I’m telling you to keep it to yourselves,”  Iris said.  The girls groaned in dismay.

“More secrets!” Lorelle cried out, annoyed.

“It would be better that way!  People already know that elves have magic and treasures anyway!  No need to bring it up for people to discuss!”  Iris begged them.

They heard the front door open and the girls’ eyes widened at each other.  Iris quickly put back the coins in the pouch and squeezed it into Tana’s pocket.  They could hear Rhoslyn calling out as she climbed the stairs.

“What are you girls up to?”  Rhoslyn asked them with a smile when she opened the door.  The girls looked funny with the big smiles on their faces.

“I missed my room, Mother.  I missed the house!”  Iris flung her arms wide open to welcome her mother to the huddle.  Rhoslyn sat herself in front of Iris to hold her.

“What is Thranduil doing, Mother?” Iris asked sweetly.

“I believe he’s waiting for you.  He’s still talking to Hadrian and Feren.”

“Oh.” Iris thought of what else she could do while she was still there.  She got up from the bed to go to her dress cabinet.  She opened both doors and looked at the dresses that she left there.  They were still there where she left them, as were all her other things in her bedroom.  She closed the doors and went to the window.  Her mother was silent, watching her every move.  She missed seeing her daughter like that.  Although at that time she looked different as she was wearing an elven dress and a circlet on her head.  She likewise got up from the bed to join her by the window.  She held Iris by her waist as she looked at the direction Iris was looking.  She was looking at Thranduil, of course.

“Missed him already?” she tugged tighter at Iris’ waist.

Iris turned to her mother and smiled.  “I just want to see how he’s doing, Mother.”

“Looks like you’re happy in Mirkwood.”

Iris laughed softly and held her.  “Oh, he so wonderful, Mother.  Everything so far is wonderful.”  She brought her gaze back to Thranduil, who noticed her and raised his hand to signal to her that they would be leaving soon.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Thranduil led Iris out to the terrace that early evening.  It was starting to get dark and the lamps of the terrace were already lit.  Iris asked to have their dinner there so that she would be able to see the fireflies again.  A few elves have been there ahead of them, setting up their table, and the couple went to one side of the terrace as they waited.  The fireflies could not be seen among the trees yet.

That day Thranduil only let her rest in their chambers and did not take her out walking.  They were not able to leave early from Sherfield the previous day and it was already dark when they reached Mirkwood.

He took Iris in his arms and kissed her.  She only meant to kiss him lightly but he went for a much deeper kiss.  For some reason she suddenly felt shy and was a little hesitant.

“Why?”

“Nothing, but I must tell you something,” Iris whispered.

“Is anything wrong?” he asked calmly.

“Please don’t be mad.  I gave the rest of the gold coins to the girls.  Two for Tana, because she would be getting married by spring.  I also asked them to buy presents for everyone at my house.”

“Is that all?” he asked.  “I already gave those to you.  You are free to spend them however you’d like.  You need not tell me what you did with them.”

“I didn’t want you to think I splurged or wasted them.  I didn’t know what else I could give to my friends and family back home.  There are no stores here, nor do I know of any merchants.”

He chuckled.  “Why did you not ask me?  I could have taken you to Pathon’s and from there you could choose from the many shawls and other garbs that they make.  There are also elves who make lovely keepsakes and things like scents, oils, or jewelry.”

“I didn’t know…that I could…”

“Of course, you can, you silly girl.”  He put his arms around her waist and lifted her off the floor.  She held his fair face with both her hands as she gazed into his eyes.  She felt grateful and relieved, and the tight feeling of her uneasiness was gone.  He could sense how she was feeling, and he exhaled sharply.  He was smiling but his brows were furrowed, unbelieving that she allowed herself to be bothered with little troubles.  He held her tighter against him and kissed her again.  She let him kiss her much deeper, not minding if the elves preparing their dinner would see them.

In another terrace, a couple of elves were watching them.

“There is your mortal queen, my Lord.  It seems she is doing her duty well, keeping the King happy.  And satisfied.  For now.”

“She is your Queen.”  Lord Brannor was immediately irritated by her insolent tone.  Since it was made known in the kingdom that the King was constantly visiting a mortal in a faraway village, Lhainel had expressed disagreement over the King’s sudden fondness for the mortal girl.  Lhainel was probably taking advantage of the opportunity to vent.  Though annoyed, he decided to try and enlighten her.  And remind her of her limitations.

“Not my queen, my Lord,” Lhainel said arrogantly.

“She is your Queen.  It is your duty to honor and serve her.  She is worthy.  If you would not accept her as your Queen, you may as well leave and go to the other realms.  The elves of this Kingdom are fond of her.  Even the nobles are fond of her.”

“They would have been kind to any maiden the King would wed, my Lord.

“Your jealousy is ridiculous.”  He quickly looked her up and down.  She was still beautiful as ever in her figure-hugging dress, the kind she always wore.  What a waste though, he thought.

“Not just jealousy, my Lord.  He should have married an elf-maiden.”

“I see what the King had seen in her.  She brings him joy in his heart.  By the way their paths fortuitously crossed, one could say that it was their destiny to be together.  He could have married an elf-maiden from this kingdom but not one caught his eye.”

“It could have been another elf-maiden, my Lord,” she insisted.  “I have seen many of our beautiful young elflings.  Within some decades from now, they would be fully grown.  He would surely notice one of them.  Or he would have met a maiden from the other realms.  And need I say that she looks absurd, she needs to be carried up and down stairs and across bridges!”

“She should not be blamed for being born that way.  I am certain that she suffers more than we could imagine.  If the King is able to overlook her weaknesses, so should we.  You should be more understanding, Lhainel.”

“She is a mortal.  And a weakling.”

Brannor sighed.  “You cannot turn back the hands of time.  And this conversation is only getting more ridiculous as I am indulging you.”

“It was because of us that’s why he wanted to have a mate.  If we did not–”

“He did not intend to stay with us for long.  He had already stopped asking me for a maiden many moons before he met Lady Iris.”

Lhainel fell silent.  She remembered that all too well.  She remembered feeling greatly saddened when Thranduil had been asking for her less and less and began asking for other maidens.  Then, after a few months he stopped asking to see any one of them altogether.

“Half of the couples in our group have decided to settle down.  It is my wish for you to have your own partner as well.  It is foolish of you to keep pining for the King.  He would never have you as his wife.”

“I have long realized that, my Lord.  But if he came back to me, he need not make me his wife, I would be content to come to him whenever he’d summon me just like before.”

Brannor could not help but shake his head at what he heard.  “This is not a good life for you, Lhainel.  The King was able to turn his life around.  And now he is much happier.  Perhaps you could do the same.”  He decided to give up and was starting to leave to tend to his other duties.

“And what about you, my Lord?” Lhainel shot back.  “We are the same.  You intend to stay here and not leave for the Undying Lands.  Just like me.  Just like the King.”

“You are greatly mistaken.  We are not the same as I am not as empty as you are.  I am serving the King.  I am part of his Council and I have sworn to be loyal to him and this kingdom.  Perhaps you should find yourself an undertaking or endeavor that will make you feel that you are useful and important.  Or at least find your joy in your life.”

“My life is not all empty, my Lord.  And I was not always like this.  I used to be a happy wife of a royal guard.  The battle took his life and I was suddenly left alone, my mind filled with horrible thoughts of how he must have died at the hands of those filthy orcs!  I felt lost!  We did not have a child, and I no longer have any family here.  I was told to go to the Undying Lands, but because of my deep despair then, I did not think I would be able to survive the long journey without fading!  I chose to stay and befriend those who have been abruptly deprived of their spouses as I was.”

Lord Brannor exhaled sharply.  He had heard of her story before.  He pitied her, he knew that she no longer had any choice but to stay.  She earned her living by doing various work that she would fancy doing, like gardening and sewing.  She likewise tried to live with the river elves but returned to The Halls within a few weeks.  Her spouse, who would undoubtedly be in the Undying Lands, would have already known she had dishonoured him and their marriage.

“It is a good thing that some of the couples in our group were inspired by the King to settle down.  Our group need not continue as before.  We could have been exposed and shamed, had the King not joined us.  If you were not aware, Lord Feren had been secretly following him around then, even me.  He only stopped doing so when the King himself refrained from seeing you and the other maidens.  Still, the King knows our group still exists.  One day he might change his mind and decide to force me to discontinue our group.  I intend to warn the rest of us about this possibility.”

Before Lhainel could speak again, Brannor turned on his heels and headed for the stairs.

Lhainel could only watch him depart in haste, she knew her insolence annoyed him greatly.  She herself realized that she was sinking herself much lower than ever as time went on, but she had already accepted a long time ago that she was weak.  She turned her gaze back to the terrace where Thranduil and Iris were.  They have already started eating their dinner, sitting next to each other on a bench.  His arm was around her waist and she was feeding him his food.  They looked so happy, laughing together and even kissing each other’s cheek every now and then.  No doubt that they enjoyed their time together immensely in bed as well.  Lhainel bit her lip and felt a pang of pain in her chest.  At least the mortal queen would not stay alive for long, she thought.  And she would wait.  Her time with her King would come again.

mirkwood-icon

brannor and lhainel terrace final

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 41

terrace fireflies

“What holiday?” Iris asked Thranduil.  They were still watching the carriages of the nobles as they were leaving.

Thranduil chuckled.  “It was an arrangement.  Legolas here would take over my duties for a while so that I can spend more time with you.”

Iris turned her gaze to Legolas with raised brows.  Legolas smiled at her and confirmed it.  “Oh, that’s…wonderful then.  Thank you Legolas.”

Thranduil turned around to face the elves.  Iris, Legolas and his councilors did the same as Thranduil appeared like he was going to speak to the elves.  He looked around and saw that many have come to see the nobles depart.  The elves silenced as they waited for him to speak.

Thranduil’s face reflected gratitude and happiness as he spoke, “Lady Iris and I cannot thank you enough.  With much pleasure, I say that the festivities were all in all a momentous and joyful event.  It came out more successful and memorable than I have anticipated it to be.  I know that you have toiled much and generously contributed your time and resources.  I am truly glad that this concerted effort gave way to fostering closer relations with the other elven realms.  We should all applaud ourselves.”  With that, an audible sound of awe was heard from the elves and they all happily applauded each other.

“Our daily lives now go on as before.  We would be holding our assembly soon, and we would be expecting your usual presence.  I am pleased and filled with pride to see that this kingdom is truly inspired and united more than ever.  Again, we are grateful to you all.”  Thranduil glanced and nodded to his councilors as the elves applauded again.  There was still much jubilation among the elves even as they later started to walk towards the gates to return to their homes and tasks.  The councilors likewise started leaving, except for Feren, who approached Thranduil.

Thranduil turned to Iris, grinning.  “Now, where were we?”

Iris smiled and put her arms around him.  “You’ll take me for a walk.  Where will you take me?”

“You have not taken her for a walk through the forest yet, Father.  I could have your meal brought there later,” Legolas proposed.

“That would be a good start,” Thranduil agreed.  “Despite my holiday though, I would still be expecting you and Feren to report to me of anything I would need to know.”

“Of course, Father.  I now leave you to your happy times,” said Legolas, smiling to Iris.  He left after Thranduil gave a nod of approval.  Thranduil then turned to Feren, whom he asked if there was anything that needed immediate attention.

“My Lord, fortunately we did not run short of supplies.  We in fact have much leftover food.  We now look to see if we would need to add that to what we would use for the celebration to be held in Sherfield Village,” Feren reported.

“Glad that you’re mentioning that Feren, I’m hoping you would not face any challenges in setting up the celebrations in Sherfield.”

“Nothing yet, my Lord.  Apparently there is no declared owner of the vacant land beside Mr. Hadrian’s property.  I would be visiting him tomorrow with some elves to see what we would need to bring to prepare for the feast.”

“That’s good to hear.  If there is anything more…”

“Everything is going on as planned, my Lord.  I would report to you again if you would have me summoned.”

“Oh, wait, that is on Sunday!” Iris exclaimed.  “Feren, I cannot thank you enough! Father plans to talk to some neighbors so that they would help in the clearing of the land.  Has Father already told you that?”

“Yes he has, my Lady.  I was volunteering the help of the elves, but he said he would want them to go ahead even without us.  When I visit him tomorrow, he would be telling me if they would be able to borrow the tables and chairs that we would use.”

Iris was thinking of what she could send as gifts to her parents when Feren would leave the next day to visit them.  But she could not think of what she could give them and she did not know how to go about asking Thranduil for anything.  Even back home she seldom asked her parents for money nor was she fond of buying unnecessary things for herself.  She would figure it out some other time, she thought.  She thanked Feren again instead.  Feren made a slight bow and left after Thranduil said a few more words to him.

Thranduil took Iris by the hand and led her towards the forest.  It was a cool and sunny morning and Iris felt refreshed to walk outside after a few days of being indoors.  He impressed her with his uncanny ability to communicate with the different creatures that he could summon to come to him.  They chanced upon a family of rabbits and Iris was charmed that even the tiny ones, though wary of her presence, were not afraid to hop up to him when Thranduil made faint chattering sounds to make them come closer.

They later came to a small clearing and Thranduil looked up to the sky.  He could feel the presence of one bird he particularly liked, and he called out to it by mimicking the sound of a screeching bird.  Thranduil gestured for Iris to wait and moments later, a big bird with wide wings appeared in the sky.  It cried out and flew towards them the moment it saw Thranduil holding out his arm.  The bird swooped down amid a flurry of dust and dry leaves.   Iris turned away and covered her face for awhile and waited until the dust settled.  She turned to see the bird looking at her, and she covered her nose because she did not like its smell.  It must have been feeding as it still had stains of blood on it its feathers.  She was awed nonetheless as she had never seen a bird of prey up close, how fierce the bird’s eyes looked.

Before midday, the elves brought their food and the couple ate their meal, sitting on a blanket that was spread near Thranduil’s favored ancient trees.  The place looked quite eerie for Iris as the gigantic trees looked spooky with their gnarled bark and branches.  The exposed roots were so big, one could easily hide among them.

“Some of these trees were not here yet when we came to this place,” mused Thranduil as he looked around them.  “I have seen them as saplings.  I have climbed them countless times as they grew taller.  I have even taken Legolas up the branches.”

“You’re not going to take me up there, are you?”  Iris said, laughing.  “They go up so high!”

“One day I would surprise you.  I’ll take you up there while you’re sleeping,” Thranduil said with a grin.

“Please don’t,” Iris quickly said, looking nervous.  Thranduil chuckled and was amused to see her genuinely worried.

They walked back inside before dusk and Thranduil took her to one of the lower terraces of the western part of The Halls.  They were served their dinner there as they watched the sun set.  It was getting dark after they finished their meal, and as they lingered near the railings, Thranduil saw fireflies by the trees.  He held his hand out briefly to them and they slowly flew towards him and Iris.  They circled and hovered above them for a while.  She reached out her hand and was delighted when one firefly alighted on her finger.  She could not contain her glee when more of them came and landed on her hand.  She turned her hand slowly and they remained hovering around it.  After a while they started flying away to return to the trees.  It was a magical moment for Iris.  Her mouth was still agape with wonder as she turned to look at Thranduil and saw him smiling at her.  She threw her arms around him, awed and unbelieving at how amazing he was.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Later that night, Iris thought of wearing one of her night gowns that were bought from Dale.  Iris chose a red one and Nionwen could not help but giggle with her as she put it on.  She wore her night robe over it and waited until she and Thranduil were left alone in their chambers.

She slowly approached Thranduil, who was sitting on the couch while he waited for her.  She stood before him and smiled shyly as he looked at her.  He thought she was wearing dark trousers, but he would later learn they were called stockings, and that mortal women wore them as an extra layer for warmth during cold seasons.  Only what Iris was wearing then were sheer and went up only to her thighs, and they were meant to be paired with the short, provocative garment she was wearing.  It was her turn to surprise him, she thought naughtily.  She took off her robe and he swallowed hard upon seeing her in her short and sheer night gown.  He had never seen a woman wear such an outfit and it was rather scandalous for him at first that it was so sheer it revealed her privates.  But as he was seeing her alone, he felt his arousal growing.  He was gripping the armrest tighter and realized he had been breathing deeper.

He was pleased that she was not as apprehensive like she was the night before.  He knew she needed time to rest and he had to wake her up early in the morning to have breakfast with their guests before they departed.  He then spent the rest of the day showing off to her, getting her impressed and warmed up to him again.  How she dressed up for him at that moment made it apparent that she was ready for him.  He did not waste any more time and took her in his arms to carry her off to bed.

He thought of being gentle to her like he was during their wedding night, though she was ready and eager for him when he entered her.  He made love to her slowly at first, but her moaning and squirming underneath him made his resolve go weak with the need to love her harder.  She kept gripping  his arms and the sides of his back, pressing his body down on her harder.  He eventually succumbed and released his pent up desire.

It was past midnight when they rested for a while.  Iris felt her body was sore, but in a happy way.  She could still feel on her skin where his mouth and hands have been.  She bit her lip and rubbed her thighs together slowly as she remembered how she felt him moving inside her.  She started caressing his back, her fingers sensuously pressing on his skin.  He stirred and opened his eyes.  He groaned as he pulled her closer roughly by her waist and they made love yet again.

He woke up again at dawn, lying on his stomach.  He lifted his head to see where Iris was.  How she looked was peculiar, she was lying flat on her back, and even though she was covered up to her waist with the blanket, he could see that one leg was bent and the other one was splayed out, as were her arms.  He had never seen her that way before, looking like she fell asleep so exhausted.  He smiled to himself as he remembered how they made passionate love many times that night, and she was able to keep up and withstand him like a champion.   He thought that it augured well for many more wonderful nights to come for them.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Thranduil, Iris and Legolas arrived at Sherfield Village past mid morning of Sunday.  Even from afar, they could see that many people were already there at the place of the feast, which was held at the unoccupied land beside Iris’ house.  Someone must have announced they were coming and the neighbors started walking out to the road to wait for them to arrive.  They started cheering heartily and calling out their welcome and congratulations for the couple when their carriage rolled up and drew to a halt.  Their excitement and curiosity with the magnificent elvish carriage caused many of them to linger for a long time even after the three newcomers have already alighted, escorted by Arnald and the other soldiers.

The other elves they have seen since early morning, but the neighbors were awed once more at the sight of the  newly-arrived father and son who looked more noble and fairer in their plush elvish garments.  They were likewise happy to see Iris who looked much more beautiful and regal in her elegant elvish dress.  The newlywed couple smiled at everyone who wished them well and they were greeted by Rhoslyn, Hadrian and Iris’ friends.

There were tents set up to shelter the people from the sun.  The grounds had been cleared and the grass was trimmed with the help of Hadrian’s neighbors since two days before.  Feren had been there since dawn with the other elves, whom he supervised while they set up the tents and prepared the food.

The couple and Legolas were led to the head table at the center.  The feast was not yet formally started, and Thranduil and Legolas spoke with Feren and Hadrian while Rhoslyn and Iris’ friends crowded around Iris to chat.  Iris happily exchanged stories with them to catch up on the new things they have missed.  The girls handed her their gifts and Iris’ mouth gaped open in surprise.  “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” she exclaimed as she hugged and kissed them.

“The girls have been visiting almost daily to cheer me up.  They have been helping out since we started fixing this place up as well,” Rhoslyn told Iris.

“Oh, really! Thank you very much!” said Iris to the girls.

“We have agreed to give you our gifts here, on this day, because we knew you would be receiving far more precious gifts at the wedding from the elves,” Tana said, smiling shyly.

Iris could not help but feel both shocked and saddened.  “Oh no! No, Tana, please don’t you ever think that way!  I have been missing you so much and really you did not have to bother giving me gifts!”  Tana and the girls made her sit down and they piled up the boxes in front of her.  She opened one and her face changed expression to delight upon seeing a small delicate-looking figurine inside, which was carved from a colorful kind of stone.  She opened the other boxes, and as she had suspected, they were colorful miniature figurines as well.  Each one was of a different color and an adorable likeness of an object or animal.

“These must be expensive, you really shouldn’t have bothered to get me these!”  she said as she happily arranged them around her plate.

“We went back to Dale and we saw them.  We chose the best ones!  We really took a long time debating among ourselves to make sure you would like the ones we picked.  Just some things to remember us by…” Tana cooed as she hugged Iris from behind.  Iris laughed and squeezed her arm as she glanced up at her.

After a while, an elf walked up to Feren to tell him everything was ready.  Feren saw that that the other elves have already brought out more food to the tables and told Hadrian that they could start.  Hadrian walked up to the people who were still standing on the road and told them to take their seats.  It did not take long for the tables to get filled up by the eager and hungry neighbors.  Hadrian and Rhoslyn walked from table to table to chat briefly with them and to encourage them to eat heartily as the elvish food they would be partaking would surely be the best tasting meal they have ever had.

The feast have gone on for a few hours and before mid afternoon, Feren announced that the newlyweds would have to leave before dark.  The people have asked Hadrian earlier if they would be able to speak to the couple and Feren have already told Hadrian it would be alright.  Amid the increasing chatter, Feren told the people they were allowed to speak and ask the couple questions if they so desire.  The hum of voices grew louder but the people seemed reluctant and shy to speak to the Elvenking.

A female neighbor finally rose from her chair to speak.  Making an awkward quick bow of her head, she tried act gracious when she exclaimed, “You truly are a beautiful couple, I’m excited to see what your children would look like!  I have been asking Rhoslyn here when your little ones would be coming but she has no idea, so I’m doing the asking for her if you don’t mind…er…your Majesty…” Several clapping of hands and peals of laughter broke out halfway through her small speech and she had to raise her voice repeatedly to make herself heard above the clamor.

Hadrian knew it was a predictable but tricky question for Thranduil and he slowly stood up to answer for him.  He was smiling but his hand was gesturing for his neighbors to calm down.  “I do think it would be best to leave them be for a while, if they would have children right away or not.  Elves, unlike us humans, can choose the time they would want to conceive children,” he explained for the couple.  Loud expressions of dismay met his reply, and some laughed some more at the awkwardness of the subject that was brought up.

All the elves including Thranduil were laughing too, though not as enthusiastically as Iris’ neighbors.  She had already warned Thranduil that they could get rather brash and upfront sometimes, more so when they were at lively gatherings like the one they were having.  He was greatly amused by their simplicity, though he missed the subtlety of the elves.  He looked around to glance at them, still laughing, and raised his glass to show that he was having fun getting along with Iris’ people.

Thranduil waited for the laughter to dwindle before he spoke.  Though he was smiling, his unmistakable low and regal tone immediately hushed down everyone to listen to him.  “Iris and I do intend to raise our own family, though it’s best for her that we would not have children yet for the time being.  It is my intent to improve her health and make her more accustomed to our food and culture, so that she would be more prepared for childbearing when the time comes.”

The people avidly listened to his every word and their faces showed how captivated they were.  When he finished, a moment passed before they made certain he was done speaking and they oohed and aahed and applauded appreciatively.

Many more questions were asked, some even directed at Legolas.  Legolas and the newlyweds had a good laugh listening to the hilarious and ridiculous queries from the people, though they did not answer most of them.  Hadrian could not help but bow and shake his head at how his neighbors must have seemed comical for the elves.

mirkwood-icon

table42

Chapter 40

11061245_1576846952576234_3553924075900609235_n

He watched her as she slept.

Even though he knew it was already past midnight, he did not feel the need to rest just yet.  He was more concerned earlier about how she was feeling, even as she slept her face did not look as calm as before but rather reflected a little pained expression.   He knew that she wept a little, but he knew she would be alright.  As an elf, he felt that what they just had was a deep bonding experience for them.  Finally, as husband and wife their life together had already begun.

He reminisced on the day he met her, just less than two moons before.  How his life had changed drastically since then.  And how hers had as well, no doubt about it at all.  He knew that it was not love but more of desire at first, but he recognized it from the days that followed that she was someone he would want to have and be with.  He saw it in her eyes, too, how she could not resist him.  It just came naturally and quite quickly for both of them.

She looked quite at unease being curled up with her arm folded beneath her head.  She might wake up with a sore arm, he thought, and he pulled her closer to him.   She sighed audibly as she shifted to make herself more comfortable.  He kissed her head and repeatedly rubbed her back slowly with his hand, alternately combing her hair with his fingers.  Drowsiness came to him and he later fell into slumber.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Iris woke up, feeling a dull pain in her hips.  She saw him standing by the windows, still in his night robe.  He heard her stir and he turned to see her getting up slowly.  He went to her and sat on her side of the bed to kiss her good morning.  Iris could smell that their breakfast was already served on their table.  She remembered to ask about their guests.

“They had breakfast much earlier, at the southern part of the Halls.  That would be quite a long walk for you, coming from here.  I thought it would be better if I just let you rest for as long as you could.”  He then stood up from the bed and went to the door to have Nionwen summoned by the guard.

Thranduil waited until Nionwen had bathed and dressed Iris.  She wore the other dress meant for the festivities, a delicate creamy white and light purple gown which was bare at the shoulders and had a cinched waist.  Its well-placed beading made it sparkle subtly whenever she moved.   Wearing her gem-studded circlet, Iris indeed looked regal.  If she had elf ears it would have completed her look, Thranduil thought wistfully.  Iris smiled shyly and made a slow turn for Thranduil when she noticed him watching her intently.

Iris was fairly quiet as they ate.  Thranduil noticed her careful movements and decided to let her be, seeing that she could handle herself.  It was already mid morning then and he advised her not to eat so much breakfast as they would have to join their guests for lunch.  Lord Elrond and the others would be leaving the next day and they wanted to spend as much time with them as possible.

“I wish they could stay longer,” Iris managed to smile.  “They are so nice to have around.”

“I wish that as well.  I have never seen my people so joyful and enlivened.  Indeed, we have shut out our kingdom from the outside world for such a long time, and this is the only time ever since, that we have had such important guests.”

“Why only now?”

“It happens to be a time of peace.   It is safer to travel and I figured they could afford to spare a few days.  Besides witnessing our wedding, we wanted them to enjoy their stay here as well.  Before you arrived, we were able to take them to a few parts of the forest and we had feasts there.  We made sure they would have good memories of this place.”

“Oh, I have missed that!”

“Now that you’re here, we would have all the time to do that together,” he said as he kissed her hand.  “Everything was hastily organized, and fortunately, the elves were all eager to show off to our guests.”

“When you first got married, was it also like this?”

“It was a joyous occasion as well.  I was still a prince then.  We had guests from a few places, but my Father did not bother to invite the ancient nobles.  He was not as…friendly as I am.”

Iris could not resist laughing.  She already knew how cold and distant he had been before the two of them met, and she could not imagine how much more scarier his father might have been.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Iris was watching her food again as she ate lunch with the nobles.  She wished that Thranduil did not tell her to eat less breakfast.  The roasted meat was delicious and she could feel her mouth watering for more.  She bowed her head and pursed her lips as she tried to cut small pieces of the slice of meat she had on her plate, to make it last on her plate as long as possible.  She was not cheery and chatty as usual as she was still feeling a little unwell, and the thought that she would be eating so little was already making her feel more miserable.

Thranduil signaled for a servant, and more meat and potatoes were put on her plate.  Iris managed to stay calm as she watched more sauce being poured over the slices of meat, but inside, she was jumping and screaming for joy.  She reached for her glass and pretended to drink so that she could breathe deeply without being noticed.  Thranduil put his hand over hers and squeezed it.  She glanced at him to see him smiling at her, briefly giving her a questioning look with his head tilted to one side.  She smiled sheepishly at him and quickly paid attention to her food again.

After the meal, Iris found herself walking over to one side of the terrace with Lady Galadriel and Lady Arwen.  They sat down on one of the benches with Iris between them, and they talked quietly about the wedding of the day before.  It seemed to Iris that the two women were trying to put her more at ease, instead of her entertaining them.  Iris felt tickled when Lady Arwen started playing lightly with her hair, curling the ends gently around her fingers.

“You were so quiet during the meal, perhaps you should have been resting more,” Lady Galadriel said to Iris.

“I’m alright, Lady Galadriel, thank you for the concern.  I would not want to miss being with you while you are still here,” Iris replied, smiling.

“Was your wedding night the best night of your life?” Lady Arwen whispered in Iris’ ear.

Iris cupped her hand to her mouth, unbelieving that Lady Arwen uttered something that sounded amusing to hear from a lady of her stature.

“We are curious to hear about it,” Arwen urged her.

“It was…a night so full of love…until the tricky part began…” Iris said in a whisper.  She glanced quickly at both women, she thought they were only indulging her to put her at ease.  “…but he was really loving and gentle with me.  After that he just let me sleep.”  She hesitated to say more, not wanting to sound shallow.

“He did not wake me up early, that’s why were were not able to join you for breakfast, sorry about that,” she continued.

“We had our meal served at the farthest end of the Halls.  We were not expecting you to wake early, your wedding day must have been tiring for you.  You would know by now, we elves could get by with little rest or sleep,” Lady Galadriel said.

“I told Thranduil I wished that you could stay a few days more.”

Galadriel gave her a little smile.  She understood that Iris did not knew yet about their rings that have been giving protection to the realms of Lothlorien and Rivendell.  They could not stay away for long.  “It was quite a late invitation.  Perhaps next time we could stay longer.  Or better yet, it would be your turn to pay our realms a visit.”

“Oh, yes!  You have mentioned that last night, that would really be wonderful…” Iris was feeling so happy she boldly took Lady Galadriel’s hand and kissed it.  “Oh, pardon me…” Iris said sheepishly, surprised by her own reaction.  Galadriel thought her shyness was endearing and put her arm around her to hold her close.  She pushed Iris’ hair gently behind her ears with her fingers and kissed her forehead.  Iris closed her eyes and did not want to move, Lady Galadriel’s hands felt soft and her gentle scent was truly comforting.

Thranduil, who was at the other side, could not help but glance at Iris every once in a while even as he was having a deep conversation with Lord Elrond and the others.  Lord Elrond could not help noticing that he was distracted, and decided to rib him a little.  He turned to Legolas and said, “My good lad, since your father here is newly married, he is thus entitled to a holiday.  Since you are second-in-command in this kingdom, I trust that you would not be expecting him to religiously attend to his kingly duties for a time, which we would specify.  Do you follow?”

Legolas was unsure if his Lord Elrond was speaking in jest, and he merely smiled in response.  He waited for his father to answer to Lord Elrond’s remarks.

“It seems you’re not taking my words seriously, my lad,” Elrond said, his brows furrowed.  “That was a declaration, not a proposal.  We only need to specify how long your father’s holiday would be.”

Thranduil laughed at Elrond’s banter.  “Elrond, I do not think that would be necessary.” Elrond only raised his brow at him in response.  Mithrandir caught on and started laughing himself.

“It is necessary, I think,” Mithrandir said in his gruff voice.  “Lady Iris, I presume would not have duties yet, but our Thranduil here, would need to be granted a holiday to spend time with his beautiful, young bride.”

“We need only to take a good look at the bride to determine how long the holiday would have to be,” Lord Celeborn spoke in a drawl.  Their heads turned almost at the same time to glance at Iris, who was having a conversation with Galadriel and Arwen.

Lord Celeborn was the first to turn his eyes back to their group.  “A month at least,” his face was grim as usual as he spoke.  Thranduil was still laughing softly.

“It is decided then: one month,”  Elrond stared at Legolas directly.  “It is hereby declared that from this day forward, King Thranduil would be on a holiday for a month, and that he is not expected to attend to his duties regularly.  In his stead,  his son, Prince Legolas, who is second-in-command, would carry out said duties.”

“I am not responsible for Lord Elrond’s decision to make such a declaration,” Thranduil raised his hands briefly.

“You are most welcome, mellon nin, I know you would appreciate this.  Consider it as another wedding gift from us.”  Elrond gestured a bow good-naturedly towards Thranduil.  “I am now waiting for Legolas to accept and confirm it.”

It took Legolas a while to respond, as he was not accustomed to exchanging banter with the elder nobles.  He was only smiling politely as it was going on, and was still uncertain on what he should say even as everyone in the group turned to look at him, waiting for his acceptance.

Lord Celeborn spoke to seal the declaration.  “As I took the place of the groom’s father in the wedding, I hereby say unto everyone that the declaration is now in effect.  Everyone of us is witness to this.”

Legolas finally gave in and spoke, “It is my pleasure to carry out my Father’s duties in his stead.  I give my word that I would do my best so as not to displease him nor disturb his ‘holiday'”.

“Finally!”  Lord Elrond applauded as the others laughed louder and clapped their hands enthusiastically.  Lord Celeborn was not clapping his hands, but he was smiling and watching Thranduil, who could not conceal how pleased he was.  The women were distracted for a few moments with their loud laughter, and then went back to their own conversation.  Thranduil, still laughing,  held his gaze at Iris for awhile.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Dinner was served at the Lower Halls.  That night, the guest nobles were fêted as they would be leaving in the next morning.

They were offered gifts by Thranduil’s people.  The Mirkwood smiths had the honor to present Lord Elrond, Lord Celeborn and Gandalf with swords and daggers, which were among their finest, and the seamstresses presented the two ladies with capes and shawls with intricate embellishments.  A few tapestries depicting Mirkwood, its forests and creatures were also presented.  The nobles accepted the gifts and each spoke to express their appreciation for the adoration and their joyful stay in their kingdom.  To the Mirkwood elves, hearing the ancient nobles speak fondly to them more than made up for all the effort and resources they gave to make their King’s wedding festivities a success and a great memory that they would keep for an immeasurable time.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Morning came, and it was time to bid the guests goodbye.  Thranduil, Iris and Legolas were there to see them before they boarded their carriages, along with their councilors and the many Mirkwood elves who wanted to catch one more glimpse of Lady Galadriel and the other nobles.

Lord Elrond took Iris in his arms first and held her as he spoke to Legolas.  “I trust that you would keep your word, my good lad.”

Legolas laughed.  “Yes, Lord Elrond.  I will.  Take care on your journey.”

“Once again, thank you for inviting us to your wedding,” Elrond said to Thranduil, still holding Iris.  “Our grateful hearts cannot thank you enough for all the kindness and gifts you and your people have bestowed upon us during our short stay.  Even though we were here for such a short time, we did see a completely different side of the secretive elves of Mirkwood.  A different side of King Thranduil.”

“It is my pleasure to say you are still the venerable Lord Elrond I have known,” Thranduil replied with a chuckle.  “And the last time we have seen each other have been thousands of years past.  It has been our greatest pleasure to have you with us, most especially at my wedding.”

“This visit is one good way to make sure that no elven realm is alone,” Elrond said.  “We can create bonds of love, friendship and trust.  It is all about being one, as we all belong together and through one another, we strengthen each other as designed by Eru and the Valar.”

“That was what I had in mind.  I do believe that cooperation among our realms is necessary in order to bring about what we all yearn for, which is peace,” Thranduil added.

“We wish you safety on your journey,” Thranduil said and Lord Elrond thanked him.

Thranduil then turned to Lady Galadriel and took hold of her hands.

“Thank you for the beautiful memories, and we say again that we wish your union would be full of happiness.  Until we meet again,” Lady Galadriel said, and she and Thranduil gave each other a kiss on the cheek.

“Thank you for coming, Lady Galadriel.  I cannot say how much I adore having you all here,” Iris said.  Galadriel smiled and held her as they gave each other a farewell kiss.

Lady Arwen said her farewell to the couple and to Legolas.  Gandalf and Lord Celeborn did likewise.

Thranduil and Celeborn did a strong forearm handshake, the way brothers in arms would.  The two tall elves both grunted and grinned at each other.  “Enjoy your holiday,” Celeborn said in his low voice and Thranduil could not help but laugh in response.

Na lû e-govaned ‘wîn.  We look forward to your invitation for your feast in spring,” said Thranduil.

“Certainly,” Lord Celeborn said.  “And do take care of this beautiful maiden while we are away.  N’i lû tôl.  Galu.”  He took Iris in his arms and kissed her forehead before he released her.

The nobles finally boarded their respective carriages after waving farewell to the elves of Mirkwood.  Their departure marked the end of the almost week-long festivities of the kingdom.  Many elves were still waving their farewell as the carriages and their escorts on horseback started leaving.

mirkwood-icon

seven_songs_around_men_and_elves_by_m_azuma-d91tobi (1)

Na lû e-govaned ‘wîn. – Until next time we meet.
N’i lû tôl.  Galu. – Until then.  Good Bye.

Chapter 39

 

fireworks1-1000448542-orig.jpg

After her family left, Iris felt a part of her suddenly became empty.  She knew she was going to see them again after a week, but she could not help but miss them again.  Thranduil took her hand and kissed it, knowing how she was feeling.  Fortunately for Iris, her sadness was quickly averted when Lady Galadriel and Lady Arwen got up from their seats and approached her.  They were smiling at her and bore small boxes in their hands.  She wanted to get up from her seat to acknowledge them but they gestured for her to remain seated.

They laid the boxes on the table before her and encouraged her to open them.  She pulled the ribbon from one of them and lifted its lid, revealing an exquisite necklace inside.  It was a gift from Arwen, a violet-hued gemstone bigger than the size of a grape.  It was cut in the shape of a heart and strung as a pendant on a slim black leather band.  Iris thanked her profusely and she was urged to open the other boxes as well.  The rest of the boxes also contained jewelry for her coming from the other nobles, and she could only gasp in surprise and awe at the extravagance of the gifts she received.  Later she would be receiving various gifts of jewelry and fancy garments from the elves of Mirkwood as well.   The gifts for Thranduil were seldom jewelry, instead he received tapestries, sculptures and and other forms of artwork to display in their chambers.

Dinner was served after dusk as the merriment went on.  While a new group of minstrels was getting ready on the stage, an elf announced that after the dinner there would be a display of fireworks, much to the delight of everyone.  It was Mithrandir’s gift for the newly weds and a group of elves have already brought out the devices in the nearest forest clearing by the eastern gate.  They have already been set up carefully according to the wizard’s instructions.  Mithrandir himself would be lighting them up once he has joined the elves outside.

Iris was likewise delighted though she had never seen fireworks herself.  She tried to ask Thranduil, and he told her that they were spectacular displays of colorful blazes up in the sky.  Iris felt excited and leaned her head to catch a glimpse of Mithrandir who was then in a jolly mood, conversing with Lady Galadriel and Legolas.

Almost an hour later, Thranduil and the nobles started getting up from the table to go the eastern terrace and watch the fireworks display from there.  He guided Iris as she stood up and helped her gather her robe.  She wanted to leave the robe but Thranduil told her the night air might be cold for her.

Soon afterwards they were standing in the eastern terrace with the nobles and councilors, engaging in idle talk as they waited for the fireworks to begin.  Other elves waited in the other nearby smaller terraces and down on the grounds outside the eastern gates.

Thranduil and the others were looking at the same spot in the distance where Iris could only see the small figures of the elves made visible by the light of their torches.  She figured it would be where the fireworks would be lit.  “Is Mithrandir there yet?” she asked Thranduil.  Mithrandir had gone ahead of them them to go to the forest long before they left their table.

“He’s already there, can you not see him?” Thranduil replied.

“No, too far for me to figure him out.”

Thranduil pulled her and held her with her back against him, holding both her hands in front of her.  “They’re still preparing, we’ll wait for them to begin.”

“There!”  Thranduil pointed to a flare spiraling quickly upward and a colorful explosion lit up the night sky.  The booming noise startled Iris and she squealed in surprise.  Both she and Thranduil laughed at her reaction.  One after another, more fireworks came up and Iris could not help herself from shrieking and clapping with delight.  Legolas and the others were amused by her innocence and her youthful exuberance was affecting.  They gathered closer to her and Thranduil and cheered together as Mithrandir’s colorful fireworks continued to dazzle everyone.

“Gandalf outdid himself this time.  He certainly brought a lot to show off,” Lord Elrond remarked after the last of the fireworks fizzled out in the sky.

“That was really grand!  I never saw anything like it before!” Iris exclaimed.  She could hear the elves standing on the grounds by the eastern gates still applauding.  She had never experienced anything as exciting.  She turned around to face Thranduil and gave him a squeeze.

“I’m glad that you enjoyed that, melleth nin,” he told her as he kissed her forehead.

“We should invite him to Lothlorien,” Lord Celeborn declared.  “That would be a splendid idea.  We do have a feast to celebrate in the season of autumn.”

“That would indeed be lovely.  But I’m afraid Iris could not travel and stay outside long during fall,” Thranduil said.

“Oh, yes.  How unfortunate,”  Lady Galadriel said, remembering Iris’ condition.  “Perhaps in spring then.”

“That would be possible,” Thranduil nodded in approval.

“Well, that sounds like a mighty good plan,” Lord Elrond joined in.  “Would we be invited as well?”

Lady Galadriel chuckled in response.  “Of course, Elrond.  I could see it now, It’s going to be an enjoyable event.  It has been long since we had a marvelous feast in Lothlorien.”  She glanced at Lord Celeborn and he nodded in approval.

Thranduil was pleased.  It was good that they were finally able to get together, and it seemed it would be the start of closer relations with the other realms.  He tightened his hold around Iris and kissed her forehead again.

Lord Elrond noticed them and could not help smiling.  “It must be getting later in the night,” he said to Thranduil in his soft voice.  “Shouldn’t you be resting now, it must have been an exhausting day for Lady Iris.  We would wait for Mithrandir to return.”

Iris smiled back at Lord Elrond, feeling herself blushing.  She was wary of being teased about her wedding night and she was thankful that the elves were not poking fun at it as her people would.  But when she saw that some of them were smiling,  she felt self-conscious just the same.  Fortunately, Thranduil was at ease about it.  He took Iris’ hand and both he and Iris thanked them once again for their wedding gifts and bid them goodnight.

As Thranduil and Iris walked the pathways leading to their chambers, Iris heard more music, she could see in a few corners some elves were playing harps and flutes.  They have kept the music playing in all of the areas that were frequented by the newlyweds and the guests.  Thranduil raised a hand to acknowledge them and the elves bowed in greeting to them.  They passed by a stairway which led to a small terrace and Iris was surprised when Thranduil took her up in his arms, then started walking up the stairs.

“Where are going?  I thought we’re going to our chambers already?”

“It seems we still have time to enjoy the music.”

The terrace still had a few elves who lingered there but they bowed to the couple and started leaving to allow them privacy.

“You did not make them to leave, did you?” Iris wondered as she did not hear Thranduil utter a word.

“They usually leave me alone, unless I would allow them to stay.”

Iris remembered what he said about himself being the scariest elf on Middle Earth, and she realized that there was a ring of truth to it.  She remembered how Legolas first described his usual demeanor when he pretended to be an elf called Mithrandir, and likewise she had not heard other elves exchanging banter with him, except Lord Elrond and the other nobles.  His every word and gesture was understood and quickly complied with not only by his soldiers but by any Mirkwood elf as well.  She wondered how he would be with her when she has stayed there long enough.  Their adoration for each other was what made her still feel comfortable with him.

He turned to face her and placed her hand on his left forearm, her elbow in his hand.  He then held her left hand in his right hand and they started moving and swaying slowly to the sound of the music.  They spent long quiet moments just looking into each other’s eyes as they danced.  Many times Iris sighed deeply as Thranduil’s eyes looking intently at hers were overwhelming her with his overpowering masculinity, more so as she was starting to view him in a different light.  The way his hands held her firmly added to the feel of growing anticipation and strong desire that she saw in his eyes.  She knew that behind the handsome facade was a passionate and vigorous lover.  Her overflowing love for him did not allow for her to feel threatened and she still thought that wholly submitting herself to him would be the best gift she could give him.

Over at the eastern terrace, Lord Elrond happened to walk to the farthest end and caught a glimpse of the newlyweds spending time alone in the other terrace.  He glanced at Lord Celeborn and grinned.  “It’s the courtship dance,” he quipped.

Lord Celeborn slowly walked over to where he was and turned his gaze to the terrace in the distance.  “It’s the dance before the mating,” he muttered under his breath.  They both chuckled and walked back to join the others.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Nionwen helped Iris take off her robe in the dressing room while Thranduil was being assisted by Galion outside.  Iris took off her jewelry and placed them on top of a bureau.  She saw the other boxes of gifts that were given to her earlier were stacked neatly on top of another bureau.  Thranduil would later safekeep them.  Where he kept them, she had no idea.  Nionwen asked her to sit down after she had taken her dress off her.  She made her sit on the bench, still in her slip, then carefully removed the adornments from Iris’ hair and brushed it.  After that she went to the bureau where she started selecting a nightgown for Iris.  She chose a white long nightgown which was among the garments that Pathon had provided.  She showed it to Iris for her approval.

“Would you like to wear this for the night, my Lady?  We haven’t washed your nightgowns yet as we were quite swamped with the activities since yesterday,”

Iris looked at the lacy garment and approached Nionwen.  “Oh, this looks nice.  Thank you, Nionwen.”  Nionwen folded the nightwear and set it aside and took her nightrobe from a stand in the corner.  She noticed that Iris was not her usual exuberant self and asked her if she was alright.

“I’m alright, of course.  But I’m just curious, is it the same with you elf-maidens?  Did it hurt the first time?” Iris whispered.

Nionwen gave her a puzzled look.  “Yes, it did hurt but I was prepared for it.”  She paused before she continued, “I thought that you…” she hesitated and thought she should not go further, but Iris already caught it.

“What do you mean?” Iris asked with concern.

Nionwen gave her a nervous smile.  “Forgive me, my Lady.  It’s not my business, I know.”  When she saw that Iris was still waiting for her to go on, she continued, “I have been greatly interested in you since I have been chosen as a candidate to be your handmaiden.  I know that you have spent hours alone in these chambers with my Lord.  But I thought nothing wrong of it, I guarantee you, and I have never spoken about it to anyone.”

Nionwen saw that Iris’ face looked more troubled and to appease her, she said, “You don’t have to be worried, my Lady!  I have not heard of any talk nor whispers about it from anyone.”

“He could have had me, but he said to me that he would wait until we got married,” Iris said in her low voice.

Nionwen smiled and smoothed Iris’ hair, the way a mother would when comforting her daughter.  “It’s apparent he loves you dearly, my Lady.  I am happy for you.”  She felt relieved when she saw Iris smiling at last.  “I would check first if Galion has finished assisting my Lord.”  Nionwen helped Iris into her night robe and left her for awhile.

Iris opened another drawer to look for undergarments and picked one.  She put it on top of the folded nightgown on the bench.  Nionwen came back quickly enough and told her the bathroom was ready.

hr4-priyadarshi-kunal

Iris sat on the bed and decided to wait there for Thranduil.  Nionwen and Galion have already left them and the chamber was dimmer with the lamps put out, except the one by the main door.  Thranduil had been standing before the windows, sipping a drink as he looked at the forest outside.  Finally, he turned to walk towards her, left his goblet on the table by the wall and started taking off his night robe.  His eyes were on her intently and she stood up from the bed, unsure if she should take off her night robe as well.

Even in the dim light he looked more handsome than ever with his loose hair and lightly-hued collarless nightwear.   His shoulders seemed broader, his limbs looked longer and more sinewy.  Iris’ heart seemed to skip a beat as she couldn’t help admiring him more.

He stood before her and held her face with both his hands.  She looked calm and she pressed her cheek gently against his palm.   He kissed her and at first she responded lightly.  He waited until he felt her kissing him harder, then he lowered his hands to untie her night robe and took it off her.  He lifted her onto the bed, and he chuckled to himself when her heart started beating madly.

“That’s exactly how hard your heart was beating when I first kissed you…are you frightened, melleth nin?”  He laid her down gently and he took off his nightshirt.

“No, I’m not scared…” she did not smile but her eyes were looking up at him lovingly.

He kissed her again and his hand went down her legs to pull up her nightgown to her hips.  Pressing his hand firmly on her thigh, he kissed her neck ardently and felt her desire mounting by the way her hands started holding on to him harder.  He sat her up and pulled her nightgown off her.  She put her arms around him and they collapsed back on the bed together.  Her body rose to meet his as they kissed deeply and passionately, more than they did before.   She felt like she would explode with too much eagerness and hunger for him, and if her jaw did not start hurting she would have kissed him harder.  She broke the kiss to catch her breath and his hand grabbed her hair from the top of her head as he continued to enrapture her with devouring kisses on her neck and shoulders.  His mouth traveled lower to her breasts as his hand let go of her hair and slid downwards.  She felt him tugging at the strings that held her underpants together at the hips.

“I prefer that they would all be like this one,” he said in his low and thick voice as he pulled it away from her.  She arched her body to him in response and he lowered himself little by little as he continued kissing parts of her.  He settled down with his face above her belly and pressed his lips to her shallow navel.  He licked her there for a while, causing her breaths to come in short gasps.  His mouth wandered off to kiss and bite her around her hips and waist.  The sensation was gripping her strongly and the feel of his big and warm hands on her skin made her feel as if she could not handle anymore what he was doing to her.  Her thighs tensed from the heat that was growing within her and her moans were becoming louder.  He paused to unfasten his trousers with his one hand and took it off.

He raised himself until his face was looming above hers.  She was still his captive, breathing heavily while in the throes of her passion.  His desire for her was stronger than ever and it took him a lot of restraint not to enter her sooner.  He wanted to be certain that she would be ready for him, as he did not want to hurt her.  He kissed her gently for a while, savoring her and letting her respond with much more passion and eagerness.  She could feel herself trembling a little in anticipation as he settled himself between her legs.  She tried to look down but his body blocked her view.  He kissed her again, deeper, as his hand went down to grope and feel the wetness between her legs.  Her entire body bucked, her breath in ragged gasps.  It maddened him more and he felt he could not wait any longer.  Her eyes widened when she felt the first bite of pain as he thrusted and tore inside her.  He pressed his lips against her cheek and held her down with his body when her fists started pushing against his chest.

mirkwood-icon

tumblr_nnl2altsot1qjsznso10_1280

 

 

Chapter 38

wddg 9

Iris finally emerged from the dressing room with Nionwen holding her train for her.  Thranduil walked ahead of her until they reached the end of his hall.  The guards who would be part of the procession group were already in position.  Feren was already there waiting for them, dressed handsomely in his gold and silver dress uniform.  Galion ushered the couple and Iris’ family to their places.  Nionwen arranged Iris’ train behind her.  She would be able to walk the rest of the way without aid from Nionwen as the ceremony was going to be held in a large hall which was on the same level as they were.

When everyone was ready, a royal guard gave a signal and Feren started walking at the head of the procession followed by two royal guards in full armor, bearing the banners of the Kingdom of Mirkwood and the King.  Behind them were two more royal guards bearing the banners of the Sindar and Silvan elves.   A few paces behind them walked Legolas, wearing a dark silver cape over his princely raiment, also in silver color.  Another few paces and Thranduil appeared with Iris, holding her hand on his forearm.   Thranduil wore his oaken crown, which made him look taller, but he and Iris nonetheless were a beautiful couple, looking very regal in their raiment with plush dark-hued robes embellished with jewels and gold and silver threads.  Following behind them were Iris’ family.  Rhoslyn looked more resplendent as ever in her new gray and silver dress and the glittering emerald necklace that Thranduil gave her.  Hadrian likewise wore a new suit with the same color to match with Rhoslyn’s.  Dudley did not look bad either, wearing a new blue and gray suit Hadrian lent him.  More royal guards followed after them as the last part of the procession.  Iris’ friends walked with Nionwen and Galion after the procession has gone ahead, and they would later reunite with Iris’ family at the ceremonial hall.

Many gleeful Mirkwood elves, some holding flowers, filled the bridges and walkways near the pathway which the procession took.  They have been waiting since early morning and they came to watch and cheer for their King and their new Queen.  In some places of the Halls, musicians played and minstrels sang songs of love for the couple.  Thranduil and Iris smiled and waved back to the joyous crowd.  It was like the time when he was wedded to Eleniel, Thranduil remembered, although at that time his Ada, the late King Oropher, and his Naneth walked before him and Eleniel.  It was decided that Lord Celeborn, being his distant relative, would stand in for his father at the ceremony.  Lord Celeborn and the other nobles were already waiting for them at the ceremonial hall, along with the Mirkwood Council and other elves.

The procession reached the place of the ceremony, at the end of the hall was a platform in its center where the couple would exchange their vows.  The background wall of the platform was magnificent with elaborate carvings of elvish patterns of trees.  There were festoons of flowers adorning the walls and more fresh flowers held in great vases on the floor.  Feren and the soldiers parted ways to walk towards their designated places at the left and right side of the hall.  Legolas, Mithrandir and Lord Elrond stood near the edge of the platform on the left side and Lady Galadriel stood with Lord Celeborn and Lady Arwen on the other side.  Thranduil and Iris took their place at the center of the platform.  He took both of Iris’ hands and smiled at her.  Iris was nervous, but she was feeling more happy than anything else.  She would be holding that moment of theirs dear to her heart, for she would finally become his wife.  She looked up to Thranduil and he held her gaze with a gentle look in his eyes.   He kissed her hand and remembered with amusement the times that he wished the days would pass by quicker.  Finally, they were there and from that moment on he and Iris would be together.

Lord Celeborn and Rhoslyn stepped up on the platform.  Both were holding a piece of jewelry in their hands, which would be part of the wedding ritual.  The music and the singing ceased, and the elves quieted down.  It was to be a solemn event, as the elves regarded the ceremony as a sacred rite.

Lord Celeborn gave a nod to Rhoslyn to begin blessing the couple’s marriage.  As she and Iris were mortals, Rhoslyn was allowed to give her blessing in Westron.

Rhoslyn put a slender gold band in Thranduil’s hand for Iris and said in her clear voice, “May Varda Star-kindler hear Thranduil and Iris’ calls, and may Eru the Father of All bless them.”

Celeborn blessed the couple in Sindarin as he put a slender gold band in Iris’ hand for Thranduil.  “Tiro Thranduil ah Iris Aran Einior, ah elio din Eru“.

In Westron, Celeborn’s blessing meant “May Manwe Lord of Wind watch over Thranduil and Iris, and may Eru the Father of All bless them”.

Rhoslyn and Lord Celeborn afterwards stepped off the platform for the couple to exchange their vows.

Thranduil slid the gold band on the forefinger of Iris’ right hand and looked into her eyes as he said to her, “Gen milithach, ’nin gúren bân min guil hin, a ú-vistathon uin men i padam anem“.

Iris likewise slid the gold band on the forefinger of Thranduil’s right hand and looked at him as she said the same pledge to him, “My oath is to love you, with all of my heart, in this life and the next, and we will not stray from the path on which we walk together.”  He smiled at her when she finished saying her pledge and took her hand as they turned to face everyone.

Softly at first, the crowd started to express warm wishes as the couple both smiled and then turned to face each other again for a brief but sweet kiss.  The elves applauded and cheered and the music started playing again.  Iris’ parents and Lord Elrond and the other nobles were the first to greet the newly-wedded couple.

After the joyous greetings and wishes for the couple, everyone started making their way to the feast, which would be held at the luncheon hall.  The order of the procession was organized, with the newlyweds walking behind the first group of royal guards.  Legolas, the nobles,  and Iris’ family followed after them.  Thranduil and Iris waved again to the elves who were cheering for them as they walked by.

The luncheon hall was more alive than usual as there were more flowers that bedecked the walls and the music continuously played.  The couple and the guests were ushered to the head table which was gaily decorated with flowers.  They were seated in a manner that they all faced the elves and the stage below.  Thranduil and Iris were seated at the center.  Rhoslyn, Hadrian, Lord Elrond and Lady Arwen were seated on Iris’ left side.  On Thranduil’s right were Legolas, Lord Celeborn, Lady Galadriel and Mithrandir.  Dudley and Iris’ friends were seated in another table near to theirs.

As the rest of the elves settled down, Lord Brannor stepped on the stage and waited until he deemed he had everybody’s attention.   He spoke to welcome everyone and give thanks to their guests from Rivendell and Lothlorien and also to Iris’ family.  He then announced that another part of the wedding was going to take place, and that was the giving of jewels by the couple’s respective families.  All the elves stood up to face the head table.

Thranduil and Iris likewise stood up and waited while Rhoslyn and Lord Celeborn approached them.  There were no phrases to be uttered, Rhoslyn was the first to give her gift to Thranduil, which was a silver chain necklace with a big oval shaped aquamarine pendant surrounded by small diamonds.  Thranduil bent a little as Rhoslyn clasped the necklace around his neck.  Rhoslyn stood aside when she was done and Lord Celeborn took his turn to present to Iris his gift: a dress pin studded with diamonds and pale colored gemstones.  He pinned it securely on the right side of Iris’ neckline.  Rhoslyn and Lord Celeborn remained standing near them as the newlyweds took a moment to face the elves for their gifts to be seen.  Everyone applauded and Thranduil made a gesture of appreciation with his hand before he and Iris sat down again.

The rest of the elves took to their seats and Lord Brannor spoke again:

“Today is a celebration, a celebration of love, of friendship, of family, of two hearts joined together in an act of deep love.  A love so deep that brought them profound joy, that made them set all their differences aside.”  He paused and let his gaze wander around the elves gathered in the hall.

“I believe that I am one with everyone present here in saying that our hearts are attuned to theirs in this moment so meaningful to them. So now, I say unto the newly-wed couple, our King and Queen:  Here’s to the groom with the bride so fair, and here’s to the bride with the groom so rare!”

“May their joys be as deep as the ocean, and their misfortunes as light as the foam.  May their joys be as sweet as spring flowers that grow…as bright as a fire when winter winds blow…as countless as leaves that float down in the fall…as serene as the love that keeps watch over us all”.

Lord Brannor made a gallant bow as an ending to his brief speech.  His audience cheered and clapped.  He then gestured with his hand to the newly-wedded couple.  The elves then all turned their gaze to them, still cheering and clapping.  Thranduil made a brief gesture to Lord Brannor in appreciation of his speech.  The other elves started to settle down and faced the stage again.  Lord Brannor was still smiling as he spoke:  “Just this morning, in making additional preparation for my speech, I was fortunately able to have a conversation with our Prince Legolas regarding our King and Queen.  And you could just imagine my delight and surprise when Lord Legolas told me…” he paused, with a pleasantly surprised expression on his face as he looked at some of the elves in the audience, “…that our Lady Iris likes to sing…and so, with all due respect to our new Queen, could she possibly indulge us with a song?”

All elves turned to look anew at the head table, where a stunned Iris was holding her hand to her mouth.  She then glanced at Legolas incredulously, and Legolas just laughed and gleefully clapped his hands.  He then stood up and walked over and offered his hand to her, still chuckling.  Iris turned to Thranduil to protest, but Thranduil only laughed and encouraged her to go.  Some of the elves were already on their feet and were also clapping their hands, waiting for her to give in.

“Go on, meleth nin, let them hear you sing,” Thranduil said.  Even her mother beside her was telling her to go for it.  Iris was still unbelieving that she was put on the spot in that manner, but realized she had no choice but to do it.  The elves clapped and cheered more heartily when she gave her hand to Legolas and stood up from her seat.

Legolas escorted Iris to where Lord Brannor was waiting for her.  He offered his hand to her as soon as she and Legolas were nearing the stage.  He walked her to the center and presented her with a grand gesture to the audience.   He bowed to her before he left the stage.

Iris drew a deep breath, she usually was not nervous about her singing, but while approaching the stage she tried to think quickly what song would be safe for her to sing.  She must not embarrass herself, on that day of all days, with all the important guests present.

She first looked at Thranduil, and then her parents, to gain her confidence.  She smiled at the elves and cleared her throat before she spoke, “Thank you Legolas, I would have to deal with you later.”  Her audience erupted in laughter as she cleared her throat again.  “Yes, I do love to sing, but I would like to say that my singing would pale in comparison with your minstrels’ way of singing, which is of course, so beautiful and way, way more excellent than my singing would ever be.  I tried to think of a song that I could sing in whole, but so far I could only remember one particular song, which is not related to our celebration today,  but I like singing it often.  A friend who heard it from a minstrel during one of her travels taught it to us.  It’s a short song and I hope that you would appreciate it.”

The hall hushed down as the elves waited for her to begin.  She looked at Thranduil and her parents again and tried to think that it was only them who were watching.  She then smiled and held her hands in front of her as she started to sing in her clear and strong voice.

* “When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone
Walk on…walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never, you’ll never…
You’ll never walk alone…you’ll never walk alone.”

Iris sang the last line with her arms outstretched and brought the song home.  She was able to sing it with conviction with all the lilts and raised her voice high in all the right places, more so in the rising intensity of the last verse.  As she began taking her bow, the enthralled elves were already applauding and cheering for her.  Halfway through her song, most of their faces were already showing a new and gentle admiration for their new Queen.  They were immensely pleased and felt proud of her.  After Iris made her bow, she saw that many elves have already stood up from their seats and started to approach the stage, flowers in their hands.  Lord Brannor returned to the stage, with an even bigger smile on his face for Iris.  She thanked everyone profusely.  She gave a small wave to the elves and started to leave but Brannor made her stay.

“If Lady Iris would remain, please.  It’s apparent that the elves very much appreciated my Lady’s song and would like to show their adoration.”  Iris felt very grateful and held her hands as she looked up to Thranduil, who was smiling.  She glanced at Brannor and nodded to him.  Lord Brannor gave the signal for the elves to approach her one by one.  The smiling elves, elf-maidens and elflings handed her flowers which they have been holding on to since the procession for the wedding began and also spoke of warm wishes for her and Thranduil.  Iris happily accepted them and said her thanks.  After a while, she had been holding too many flowers in her hands and the next elves began laying the flowers by her feet instead.  Soon enough there was already a big heap of flowers in front of her.  When the last elf handed her the last flower, she took another bow and expressed her appreciation.  She then stooped to pick up a few pieces from the heap of flowers that she liked that she would bring with her.  Lord Brannor thanked her and escorted her off the stage to Legolas who was still there, waiting to take her back.

Most of the elves remained standing and were all smiles as they watched her make her way back to the head table.  Thranduil got up from his seat as she was approaching them and took her in his arms.  He kissed her for a moment, much to the delight of everyone, who cheered and applauded again.

“I did not know you could sing that way.  Although I did say to you that you sing beautifully,” Thranduil said to her and gave her another kiss.

“I sang softly whenever you asked me to sing, of course, because you were always sitting right next to me,” Iris chuckled.

Rhoslyn waited until Iris sat down.  She held Iris for a while and gave her a big kiss on her cheek.  Hadrian contented himself with touching Iris’ hand when she put her arms around Rhoslyn.  They have never been prouder of her than that moment.  Iris waved at her friends who were waiting for her to glance their way.  The moment she did, they smiled and waved excitedly to her.

Iris looked around the table when she settled down and she was delighted to see that Lady Galadriel and the others were likewise smiling at her.  She smiled shyly at them and gave a small wave of her hand.

The music resumed playing as the feasting started.  Different groups of minstrels and musicians took their place at the stage to keep the entertainment going.  Even groups of elflings volunteered to render many songs as they all wanted to have a part in that very important occasion of their kingdom.  At some intervals, dancers also performed.  Even when they have long finished eating, most everyone still stayed in their seats.  Thranduil told Iris the celebration could last for more than a day and so they just stayed at their table exchanging stories and drinking more wine.

Before mid-afternoon, however, Hadrian stood up from his seat and approached Thranduil to thank him and tell him that they have to start leaving.  Thranduil stood up and gestured to Arnald.  Thranduil had known that they did not intend to stay long and had arrangements made for their departure the night before.  At that time there were already two carriages with their baggage already loaded, waiting for them outside the eastern gates.  Thranduil and Iris made a start to walk with them, but Hadrian and Rhoslyn insisted they should not bother as they have guests and said their goodbyes to Iris.  Dudley and the girls came up to say their farewell and thank Thranduil for their stay.  All of them approached the nobles and bowed to them as they said farewell.  Legolas stood up from his seat and volunteered to walk with them to their carriage.   After another goodbye to Thranduil and Iris, they started walking with Legolas and Arnald to leave for home.

Iris remained standing and watched them leave.  She would be seeing them again on the next Sunday with Thranduil.  Hadrian decided that they need not hold another wedding ceremony and would hold a celebration for their neighbors and friends instead.  When they have disappeared from her view, she turned back to Thranduil and they sat down again.

mirkwood-icon

* “You’ll Never Walk Alone” sung by John Farnham

tumblr_njmj0d4tqz1qjsznso6_1280