In chapters 10 - 14 of ‘Return of the Key’ the story unfolded of TindůmŽ’s life in Middle Earth between the events in ‘Left Behind!’ and her unexpected, and unwelcome, return to her life as Dawn in California. She had married Rumil and, in the 15th year of the Fourth Age, given birth to Haldirin. The family lived happily in the newly settled Eryn Ithil, in Ithilien.
After she returned to Middle Earth, the Epilogue of ‘Return of The Key’ showed a little of both her life and Buffy’s over the next few decades as they were able to communicate, occasionally, using Radagast’s ‘window’.
At the first of those ‘meetings’ TindůmŽ says she has been invited to spend mid-winter at the court of King Thranduil.
This is the story of that visit.
It takes place in year 21 of the Fourth Age.
It would help to know that LithŰniel is the elleth of whom Rumil said, in the last chapter of 'Return of The Key', “LithŰniel decided, very quickly, to come back to Ithilien with them…” after she met Orophin when he accompanied Legolas to Eryn Lasgalen.
Now on to
It was getting colder, the days were shorter and rain, filtered through the last of the leaves, was pattering on the roof of their home.
During TindůmŽ’s first few years in Middle Earth, in the green and golden woods of Lothlorien, it had not occurred to her that there was almost no seasonal change. Even when, on that first trip through Rohan, Lady Wilflede had spoken of warming the stone fortress of the Hornburg when the icy winds blew and the snow fell.
It was during the first winter after Lady Galadriel sailed West that TindůmŽ had finally understood the description of Lorien as ‘under Her Ladyship’s protection’. Without the ‘stasis bubble’ provided by the Ring of Power Lothlorien grew colder, rain fell heavily enough to reach those on the ground in Caras Galadhon, and wind blew strongly enough to dislodge some of the look-out flets at the perimeter of the Golden Woods.
It seemed to TindůmŽ that this was when it finally occurred to some of the Galadhrim that life would not continue unchanged in Lorien for ever. That first winter was followed by an exodus of Elves following Her Ladyship over the sea.
His Lordship, on the other hand, seemed almost invigorated by the changing weather; as if he had pulled himself together and decided to get on with being the Lord of the Galadhrim – which was, after all, why he had not sailed with his wife.
The cold weather had, at first, shocked TindůmŽ; all her memories of winter outside this sheltered environment were of California. But soon she, too, began to enjoy the sense of change.
As the population shrank parts of Caras Galadhon began to resemble a ghost town. Lord Celeborn declared it time to regroup, and move to the trees of the renamed East Lorien. The Elven presence would help the trees recover more quickly from the influence of the Dark Lord.
Taking this as their cue, TindůmŽ, Rumil and Orophin had asked if they could move to Eryn Ithil instead – the woods in the previously desolated Ithilien, where Legolas had started to build an Elven colony. Celeborn had happily given permission, provided that they visited East Lorien occasionally; he still had need of Rumil’s services to illustrate manuscripts and scrolls, and there were things, still, to teach his ‘favourite pupil’.
“Only pupil,” TindůmŽ had pointed out.
“You would still be a favourite if I had twenty,” he had told her.
Now TindůmŽ was packing. But not, this time, to visit Lord Celeborn nor for one of their occasional trips to Minas Tirith; this time the little family was going to travel, with Legolas and a few others, to visit Legolas’ father for mid-winter.
“Take warm clothing, nethig,” Legolas said, “there is likely to be snow before we return.”
There had been snow a few times in Ithilien, but it was far enough south that such falls rarely lingered. Thick snow was, TindůmŽ thought, something to which she looked forward.
Soft footsteps behind her heralded Rumil’s return.
“All is ready, meleth. We will just need to take the bags down in the morning. Maybe it will have stopped raining by then.”
“I hope so. But everything is well packed and Haldirin can be tucked inside your cloak or mine. Dry would be better though.”
“Let us make last use of our bed for some time, then, beloved wife…”
His thumb ghosted across the inside of her elbow eliciting the usual response as a tingle ran through her.
Another touch to the same, soft, skin; this time with his calloused draw fingers.
She brought her hands up to his hair and then his mouth down to hers.
Soon their clothes were on top of a kist, the covers thrown to the bottom of the bed.
Despite the cold outside, the room was warm enough. The shutters had been closed all day, the heavy curtains drawn across, and a fire still glowed in the grate. TindůmŽ was sure that she felt the cold less than she used to, but she still felt it more than an elf would; they probably used the small fire grate in their bedroom more than any other household in Eryn Ithil.
Rumil was sprawled across the bed as she straddled his body. She thought briefly of the small, small, bed that she had slept in, in Sunnydale just over a year ago, when Buffy and Willow had ‘rescued’ her from Middle Earth.
Her thought must have been clear enough to reach Rumil; she could feel a tiny edge of anger alongside the love and the lust. He still responded to her ‘kidnap’ that way; even though he could discuss it logically, his head and his heart had agreed to disagree on the subject…
She thought, instead, of lovemaking, of what she wanted to do, what she wanted him to do – and soon her mind was filled with his thoughts too. So much more erotic, she thought in passing, than Xander’s porn or Janice’s Playgirls ever were!
Some time later she held tightly to the carved bed head, her head down on the mattress, her butt up in the air. Rumil’s tongue ran the length of her cleft, from her tuiw to the base of her spine, and then his teeth began to nibble…
“Don’t bite!” She almost yelled it through the mental link between them. “I have to sit on that butt on a horse tomorrow!”
She could feel the smile as his teeth grazed lightly over her flesh instead, making her shiver.
Later again she held the carved bed head, only now much higher up, as Rumil’s cristhen slid in and out of its ‘sheath’; their bond meant that his finger tip touched her tuiw at just the right time to ensure that they ‘flew’ together – and loudly.
It was a good job, she thought lazily in the aftermath of that final climax of the evening, that, like other elflings, Haldirin had been told, since before he even understood the words, that such sounds were those of pleasure. “Grown up ellyth and ellyn shout for joy when they play grown up games; just as elflings do when they are happy with their friends.” Otherwise, she thought of one of those memories of a non-existent childhood, such sounds might be a bit scary.
Nethig – Legolas name for TindůmŽ – it is ‘what an elf might call his little sister.’
Meleth – beloved.
Tuiw – bud – clitoris.
Cristhen – short sword – slang for penis.
It was raining. Still. They had been travelling for almost a week now and it had rained every day. Fortunately it was not windy and so their tents were under no threat of blowing away. TindůmŽ awoke as Rumil slid under the blankets that covered both her and Haldirin. A couple of feet away Orophin was shucking off cloak and boots before getting into his own space beside LithŰniel.
Rumil curled against TindůmŽ’s back, his arm around her waist.
“You are nice and warm, meleth.” His voice was soft against her ear.
“You’re an elf; you aren’t meant to be bothered by the cold!”
She spoke almost as softly, but as he answered “No… but, after wet guard duty, warm is better; and a warm wife is best,” she heard Orophin laugh quietly.
“Any warm elleth will suffice.”
Her husband-brother’s remark was met, if his faint “Ooph!” was anything to go by, and as he must have known it would be, with an elbow to his ribs. After a few minutes, though, the quiet sounds of movement, and what little TindůmŽ could see in the dark tent interior, gave the impression that Orophin thought a particular form of exercise with a warm elleth was also a good idea after three or four hours of wet guard duty.
Then Rumil’s mental touch was as clear as his voice had been.
“Do you want, meleth?”
She shared with him the sensation she had of Haldirin, in front of her under the blankets, thinking he would realise it would be just too difficult without waking the elfling.
Instead he nuzzled in even closer to her until she could feel his erection pushing against her through the fabric of two pairs of leggings. Pictures came swimming into her mind of his naith edging into her, if her leggings were just eased down enough, and her hips were tilted just a little this way…
Then came the tip of a tongue touching the sensitive skin behind her ear, then her earlobe, then a gently nibble…
She could feel her own desire rising. But… but she wouldn’t dare move or cry out. How could they follow Orophin and LithŰniel’s lead? The other pair were making almost no sound (and what they were making was a major turn-on!), but they could at least move.
Rumil’s voice, aloud again, was soft in her ear.
“I will move. You will have to try to stay totally still; a challenge, meleth-nŪn. And I will make sure that you do not cry out aloud…”
His hand strayed to the waistband of her leggings where the lacings had already been loosened for comfort while she slept. He began to ease them down; she didn’t resist, but tilted her hips just a little this way…
Oh that sensation of being filled, as his naith slid slowly inwards, upwards, followed by his entire shaft until it reached her very centre… it had been good from the very first time they had joined, but still it got better and better. Every time it made her want to make sounds of pleasure; except that she couldn’t right now. A challenge indeed!
She felt Rumil’s smile – no, actually it was more a mental smirk, and she had learnt, a long time ago, never to totally trust a smirking ellon.
She tried to keep totally still to prevent the blanket slipping off Haldirin. Behind her the only parts of Rumil’s body that were moving were his hips, his lips and his tongue. One arm had slid beneath her shoulder and the other was across her hips, both holding her firmly, helping her not to move.
The effect was slow, and deep. She could feel her own pleasure building and then there was a tiny sound from LithŰniel; cut off, TindůmŽ thought, by Orophin’s mouth. Oh! Oh! She so wanted to fly too; but she couldn’t because Rumil couldn’t kiss her quiet. But she wanted… she needed… and if he didn’t stop…
He didn’t stop. He thrust harder. Then, just as she could hold back no longer, his hand clamped firmly over her mouth and he gave a tiny twist to his hip movement…
She bit down against the heel of his hand and, as she felt his semen flood into her and their sensations were shared through their bond, she saw stars.
She woke later as Haldirin crawled over her. Rumil was still lying with his cristhen tucked against her butt. In the first years of their relationship this would have implied that he had not slept – elves usually slept flat on their backs – but he had developed the ability to sleep curled against her, much to his brother’s amusement.
“Nana, Ada, I’m hungry!”
“Come then,” Rumil grabbed his son and rolled onto his back holding the elfling at arms’ length above his head, “we will go with uncle Orophin and look for breakfast while Nana and LithŰniel pack up the bedrolls.”
“Take him to pee first!” TindůmŽ reminded her husband.
“Ada looks as if he needs to pee too…” Orophin’s comment as he glanced at Rumil, leggings still around his thighs, and the accompanying smirk made it very hard for TindůmŽ to keep a straight face.
As she and LithŰniel sorted out the bedrolls and packs, TindůmŽ voiced a niggling suspicion.
“Do you think that they planned the, uh, joining last night before they came in?”
“Probably,” said LithŰniel, her voice placid, “they are males… It was a very pleasant way to spend part of a long night, wasn’t it?”
Before TindůmŽ could answer, the elleth went on, “and if Haldirin had woken, and had trouble settling again, they could have had the pleasure of singing him back to a suitable dream path…!”
“M’hmm,” TindůmŽ agreed, thinking there was a lot to be said for the Elven concept of equal parenting and elflings being regarded as the responsibility of their extended family and the whole community.
Another thought passed her mind. She voiced it when she joined Rumil and Haldirin by the fire where Galanthir was making toast.
“I don’t suppose, beloved husband, that there was a wager involved when you and Orophin came in from your watch?”
He looked at her with his most endearingly innocent expression.
She gave him a hard stare.
He grinned. “Orophin is simply seeing to our horses this morning from brotherly love…”
TindůmŽ rolled her eyes. Truth to tell she was – as Rumil would have known – more amused than annoyed.
Before there was any further conversation Legolas came over to the group, accepted toast and jam from Galanthir, and then spoke; waving it in his hand for emphasis.
“The land is very heavy with all this rain and, if we continue along this bank of the river, we are likely to find ourselves riding through more and more mud, trying to camp on land that is almost marshland.
“Therefore I think that, when we get to Sarn Gebir, we should cross the river into the Eastemnet of Rohan rather than going through the Brown Lands. There are not a lot of settlements in the Eastemnet, and so we should not unsettle too many people.”
The Rohirrim had all thought Elves to be mythical, and/or scary, for many years before the Ring War. Those who lived in Edoras, or who had been at the battle of Helm’s Deep, knew differently but anyone living in the far reaches of the Eastemnet might still worry about meeting a party of the Firstborn.
There were a number of nods around the fire and everyone returned to packing up camp.
Naith – head of arrow, spear, or penis.
The day they reached Sarn Gebir, once a Gondorian outpost built where the Anduin could be easily forded, it was not raining. The sun shone but it was cold enough for TindůmŽ to be glad of her cloak.
There were some buildings but no-one had lived there for many years. Some work had been done to re-roof a few of those buildings on the far side to make them habitable; presumably for passing Rohirrim herdsmen.
The river was running fast and looked deep. There was a thick rope stretching across the river about two feet above the water and, on the far side, there was a large flat raft securely tied to the bank.
“I think we shall make use of the ferry,” Legolas said, and soon the ellyn were deep in discussion whilst TindůmŽ, LithŰniel, and the other ellyth dismounted and waited – taking advantage of the pause to let Haldirin and Nilariel, the only other elfling in the party, run freely for a little.
Things were happening at the river bank. Legolas and Orophin were both taking off boots and leggings and removing all the tack from their horses. Rumil came over to TindůmŽ and LithŰniel.
“They have the largest horses…”
Then he picked up his son saying “Haldirin, come and watch.”
They stood at the bank as the two ellyn each took a coil of strong hithlain and gave one end to one of the remaining ellyn. Each then took hold of the rope that stretched across the river and nudged the horses into the water.
The sense in removing leggings as well as boots soon became clear, as the horses waded out into the river, and the water came up to their shoulders. TindůmŽ was glad that she would not need to ride her mare across – she was pretty sure it would be up to Hirilaer’s withers.
Both horses slipped a couple of times, as the power of the heavy flood water pushed against them, but the steadying knees and voices of their riders kept them calm, and eventually they reached the far bank.
Within minutes the raft was attached to both banks so that it could be pulled back and forth and could not drift downstream. TindůmŽ was still impressed, on occasions like this, by how efficiently the elves did these things; how comfortably they lived within their environment.
The ferry was pulled to the near bank and the first group went over easily - Legolas and Orophin pulled whilst two ellyn on the raft also provided power by pulling along the original rope. Horses followed their raft-borne riders; the water did, indeed, come up to the withers of the shorter horses – one of the mares was clearly swimming for a part of the way.
That first group had also taken Orophin and Legolas’ belongings; they redressed as Rumil, TindůmŽ, and LithŰniel embarked. TindůmŽ and LithŰniel sat, with Haldirin firmly grasped between them, and bags piled around them. Rumil and another ellon stood holding the rope whilst Galanthir knelt at the rear and encouraged the horses to stay by the raft.
Holding onto Haldirin, and looking back at Hirilaer, the first TindůmŽ knew of any problem was through her link with Rumil; a sudden shock just ahead of his spoken “Huitho!”
She looked at him and then in the direction he was looking. Approaching them down the fast-flowing river was a tree.
Angle, current, distance; all considered, calculated, in a heart-beat. The tree would hit the raft. They could not move quickly enough forward and, even if they did, it would catch the horses. They could not easily reverse direction either because of the horses.
If those on the bank that they had left released their rope, just as the tree hit, the raft would get drawn downstream, those on board could untangle it from the floating tree, and then those on the far bank could pull it back towards them. He knew that this would be obvious to the others, too – no need to point it out. But there would be quite a bump, and the raft was likely to be buffeted and tipped badly. All the adults could swim if they came off it, but not Haldirin.
The water was not too deep at that point, Rumil’s toes would probably reach the bottom, but it was moving very quickly. The only way to prevent being swept downstream if you came off the raft was to keep a grip on the guide rope. TindůmŽ could not keep Haldirin above the water, and hold the rope, if they were swept off the raft –but Rumil could. He grabbed the elfling from TindůmŽ, knowing that she would understand; that, hopefully, she would have picked up the mental image from him.
No sooner had he swept his son up onto his shoulders than the roots of the tree, fanned out like some skeletal monster, caught the raft. “Hold on!” he yelled at TindůmŽ and LithŰniel as the ellyn on the bank let go of their rope, just as he had expected, and the raft swung and pitched wildly.
“Hold very tight, Haldirin!” he said to the elfling sitting on his shoulders.
He felt his son grab a great handful of hair and, before they could be swept downstream away from the guide rope, he stepped into the water. Rumil could feel the elfling digging in his feet as well as gripping handfuls of hair. Hanging onto the rope he let himself sink down towards the river bed until his toes did, indeed, touch it.
The force of the water was too great for him to walk as it was up to his chin. He held onto the rope with both hands, and kicked out, somewhere between swimming and treading water. As long as he kept the back of his head above the water, and Haldirin held on tightly, it would be fine. He concentrated all his mental effort on reassuring the elfling through the parental bond.
It was probably only twenty yards or so to the bank, although it felt further. By the time he was within two or three yards his feet were able to touch the ground firmly and he waded out, expecting Orophin to be there to take Haldirin from his shoulders.
Except that Orophin wasn’t there and, while one of the ellyn did hold an arm out to him as he left the water, all eyes were on the river…
Huitho! - Fuck!