A Gondolin Tradition
“So tell me, Glorfindel, how are you finding married life?” Talagan took a hearty swig from his wine cup while he awaited Glorfindel’s reply.
With a smile, Glorfindel looked across the crowded feasting glade, his eyes drawn to Legolas like a needle to a lodestone. Even after a month, during which time it seemed they had paused in their rabid coupling only to eat and sleep, he found himself yearning for Legolas with an intensity that took his breath away.
Talagan’s laugh brought him back from his musings with a jolt. “No need to answer. I can tell from the look in your eyes that you’re longing to return to your talan.”
Glorfindel dragged his eyes back to Talagan. “Am I that obvious?”
“Aye, but don’t let that worry you; I can’t think of two people that deserve such happiness more than you and the prince.”
Over on the other side of the glade, Legolas was dancing around the fire, whirling and leaping from light to shadow and back again. Every now and again his eyes would seek Glorfindel’s and he would flash a smile that sent bolts of desire sizzling straight to Glorfindel’s groin.
“What kind of a monster would summon his son to a feast right in the middle of his honey time?”
Glorfindel only realised he had spoken aloud when Talagan gave a merry laugh.
“Nay, you mustn’t blame the King. It’s an ancient tradition for parents to hold a feast after their children have been bound for a month.”
Talagan shrugged. “I don’t know; it’s always been done.”
Taking a sip from his cup, Glorfindel grimaced. “And why can’t I have any wine? I like mead well enough, but after four weeks of nothing else I think I’d even prefer Dwarven ale!”
Before Talagan could answer, Glorfindel held up his hand. “No, don’t tell me; it’s a tradition.”
Raising his goblet in a salute, Talagan grinned. “You’re learning!”
“I doubt I’ll ever get used to all the Silvan traditions. You seem to have a ritual for everything from getting married to wiping your arse.”
Talagan choked on his mouthful of wine. “Ai, you should warn me before making such an outrageous statement! What a waste of the King’s finest Dorwinion.”
“Well if I can’t have any, I don’t see why anyone else should.”
The Greenwood captain wiped his eyes then clapped Glorfindel on the back. “Patience, my friend; just another hour or so and you’ll be able to retreat to your talan again. And you won’t be disturbed again for another month.”
Glorfindel felt his good humour return again at that thought. He would happily down an Orcish brew if it meant he could be alone with his love once more. “And are there any more Silvan traditions we must observe before that time?”
“No; well, apart from the pair of you having to couple beside the fire while the rest of us dance around you.”
Now it was Glorfindel’s turn to spit out his drink. “We have to do what?”
Talagan doubled over with laughter. “Your face!” he gasped when he could talk again. “Forgive me, my friend; I was jesting. I couldn’t help myself.”
Glorfindel blew out a breath, too relieved to be angry. “Thank the Valar for that!” Although deep down, he had to admit that he’d found the idea strangely arousing.
“I’m sorry; I couldn’t resist it. You remind me of my wife when we first got married. She was from Mithlond, and she found our customs as incomprehensible as you do.”
“Well you have to admit, some of them seem to have been invented purely to confuse strangers.”
“Aye, I’ll wager you found some of our bonding rituals especially peculiar. You looked thoroughly dazed throughout the day, I recall.”
“I daresay all traditions seem odd to an outsider,” said Glorfindel, prepared to be magnanimous in his relief. “I’m sure if one of the Silvan folk had ever found himself in Gondolin, he’d have been just as confounded by our rituals as I am by yours.”
He paused to take another drink and then felt the heat of a blush rise up his face as he remembered the one tradition above all others that had taken him by surprise on his bonding day. Normally he would have hesitated to speak his mind to such a new friend, but now the plentiful mead had loosened his tongue.
“There was one custom in particular that took me aback.”
“Which one was that? The body painting? I know my wife thought the Silvans were heathen savages when she first saw that.”
“No, not that.” Glorfindel took a gulp of his mead, deeply affected by the memory of a half-naked Legolas, his torso and arms decorated with swirls of ochre and woad and his hair twined with flowers and a kingfisher feather. “Although it was certainly…unusual.” He shook his head. “No, I meant the…the blessing of the feasting glades.”
He paused, remembering those heady, breathless moments where they had caressed each other to completion in the darkness, the song of the Wood-elves drowning their gasps of pleasure.
Talagan frowned. “I don’t see anything strange about that.”
“You don’t?” Glorfindel could hardly keep the incredulity from his voice. No wonder the Wood-elves had a reputation for wildness if such behaviour was considered normal.
“No. Indeed, that was the part of the ceremony that my wife particularly enjoyed.”
“I bet she did,” Glorfindel muttered. “I mean, she did?” he hastily amended, when Talagan raised enquiring eyebrows.
“Oh yes. To the extent that whenever she returns to visit her kinsfolk, she often tries to persuade them to incorporate a similar ritual in their binding ceremonies.”
Glorfindel stared at him, perplexed, scarcely able to comprehend what he was hearing. He tried and failed to imagine Cirdan’s staid folk agreeing to pleasure each other in the presence of their kin. Then he wondered if he had it all wrong. Was Imladris an island of sobriety amidst a sea of writhing, coupling Elves?
He cleared his throat. “Erm…and what do they say to that?”
“Oh they quite like the idea. The thought of a time of prayerful reflection for the couple in question rather appeals to them.”
Prayerful reflection? Is that what they were calling it in Mithlond these days?
Then his eyes sought Legolas’ once more, and watching his mate dancing, sending flirtatious glances in his direction every now and again, he experienced a moment of cold clarity when he realised that once again he had been royally duped. Not by Talagan this time, but by Legolas himself.
Of course it was inconceivable that a maid from Mithlond would think it a good idea to persuade her kinsfolk to rut against each other in the middle of their binding festivities. That could only mean that the ritual was indeed meant to be just what Talagan said: a time of prayer and reflection. Just as Talagan had fooled him earlier, taking advantage of his ignorance of Silvan ways, so Legolas during their binding ceremony had duped him into those moments of shared ecstasy by pretending it was a sacred tradition.
Well, as pleasurable as it had been, not even Legolas could expect to pull such a trick on him and remain unpunished.
He eyed Legolas over the rim of his goblet, a slow smile curling his lips as he planned his revenge.
Legolas whirled around the fire, the lustful glances that his mate frequently sent his way heating his flushed skin even more than the blazing fire. Soon they would retire to the privacy of their talan and dance the most sacred dance of them all, but for now he was content to let his every movement be a public expression of his love for his golden warrior.
As he came level with the feasting table once more he looked for Glorfindel again, only to falter when he failed to find him. He spun around, and ran straight into a hard body, stripped to the waist as he was. He was immediately overwhelmed by the familiar, arousing scent of his mate; he rested his cheek in the crook of Glorfindel’s neck, breathing him in deeply, relishing the feel of flesh against flesh and the weave of powerful arms about his waist.
“Have you come to carry me off to our talan so that you can have your wicked way with me until dawn?” he asked, pressing himself up against the telltale hardness that prodded his belly.
“Later. There’s something else I’d like to do first.”
Surprised, Legolas pulled back. He felt a flicker of disappointment. “Really? Are you telling me you’d rather stay here at the feast than do this?” He rubbed himself against Glorfindel, gratified by the groaning gasps that this elicited.
However, much to his dismay, Glorfindel gently grasped him by the shoulders and pushed him back. “I said later, beloved. Talagan tells me there’s a spring near here, and that’s reminded me of a Gondolin tradition that I’d like to observe.”
“Now?” Legolas could barely curb his impatience. “Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”
“No; this is important to me. It has to be done tonight, by the full moon. We’ve observed all your traditions, even the ones I found particularly outlandish. Now it’s time for one that’s special to me.”
Here Legolas blushed, remembering how he had taken advantage of Glorfindel’s ignorance of the Greenwood traditions. He hoped the firelight would disguise this evidence of his guilt.
“Very well; I suppose that’s only fair. What do we need to do?”
Glorfindel took his hand. “Lead me to the spring and I’ll tell you on the way there.”
Legolas nodded and tugged him away from the circle of firelight to the western edge of the glade. “This way. It’s not far into the trees. Now tell me what this is all about.”
“Surprisingly, our tradition isn’t too dissimilar to your Silvan tradition of blessing the glades.”
“Oh?” said Legolas, trying to keep the astonishment and guilt from his voice.
“Yes, that’s why I was so shocked at first. But thinking about it afterwards, I realised it’s not so strange after all. Some of the refugees from Gondolin must have made their way here and adapted their traditions to the woods.”
“Um…yes, I suppose that’s possible.” Who’d have thought it? In his desperation to share pleasure with Glorfindel during the interminable feasting, he had reinvented a Gondolin tradition purely by chance.
“You know, this is just the sort of thing that would interest Elrond and Erestor. Perhaps they could come here for a visit and study your traditions and do a comparison with the ancient customs of Beleriand. I’m sure it would revolutionise our understanding of your culture.”
Yes, including how the prince of Greenwood was prepared to misrepresent his culture in order to satisfy his lust for his mate. That would certainly go a long way to undoing the ‘more dangerous and less wise’ prejudice. Blessed Elbereth, how could such a harmless whim have created such a mess? There was nothing for it, he would have to own up to his deception. He just hoped Glorfindel wouldn’t be too angry with him.
“Ah, Glorfindel, I think…I mean…there’s something I should perhaps…”
But Glorfindel wasn’t listening. He had caught the silvery purl of the spring and was dashing forward. “Here we are! Yes, this is perfect.” He turned a beaming smile upon Legolas. “Oh Legolas, I can’t tell you how glad I am that we can do this. It means so much to me that we can honour one of my most cherished traditions.”
“It does?” Legolas’ heart sank. If it meant this much to Glorfindel, there was no way he could taint the moment by confessing his trick. He would just have to go along with it and pray Glorfindel wouldn’t be too disappointed when he eventually owned up.
He took a deep breath. “Then I’m happy to take part, beloved. What do we have to do?”
Glorfindel smiled. “This ritual is all about surrender. To the Valar and to each other. In Gondolin, springs and wells were our most sacred places, so it’s where all newly bound couples would go to complete their rites.” He looked around the shallow basin of rock that the spring flowed into and stooped to pick something up. “Good. Talagan left some rope here, just as I requested.”
“Rope? What do we need that for?”
“To tie you up, once you’ve stripped off.”
“Hurry up! We need to do this before the moon sets.” Glorfindel folded his arms and stared at Legolas with a look that brooked no argument.
His heart pounding, Legolas kicked off his shoes, then unlaced his breeches and peeled them off. His mouth went dry when he saw Glorfindel do the same. Naked in the moonlight, Glorfindel looked like a figure from legend. Which of course, he was. It was funny, but with his familiarity with Glorfindel, he had almost forgotten where he had come from. But now, undergoing this ancient ritual from Gondolin, it was as though he was seeing his mate for the first time: a being of otherworldly power. His Shadowslayer.
Glorfindel approached him, the rope in his hands. “Now I, as the elder, will bind you. Then you will submit to me completely, as a symbol of our submission to the Powers.”
Legolas swallowed and held out his wrists. “Then do with me as you will.” With any other man, he would never have dreamed of submission, but this was not just any man. This was Glorfindel, the mate of his heart and soul, and he trusted him utterly.
He followed Glorfindel to the willow that grew just above the rocky basin, and lay down at his urging. Glorfindel pressed a kiss to his lips, his tongue demanding entrance and tasting him deeply. Legolas moaned against his lips and would have wound his arms around Glorfindel’s shoulders, but Glorfindel immediately broke the kiss and grasped his wrists.
“I almost forgot,” he said, his voice rough with passion.
Taking the rope, he bound Legolas’ wrists together then fastened the rope around the bole of the willow.
“Now you’re at my mercy.”
Unable to move much, Legolas found that his sensitivity to Glorfindel’s touch was heightened. He arched his back as far as his bonds would allow when Glorfindel ran a teasing finger down from his jaw, following the line of his throat, collar bone and then down across his stomach to his navel. He gasped when Glorfindel bent over him and swirled his tongue around a nipple, echoing the motion of his finger around Legolas’ navel.
Thrusting up helplessly with his hips, his arousal brushed against Glorfindel’s, sending bolts of pleasure through his body. He groaned and tried to shift so that he could wrap his legs around Glorfindel’s waist and pull him closer.
“Ai, Glorfindel, I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.”
Glorfindel chuckled. “You’ll last for as long as I decide.” Then he kissed his way down Legolas’ torso, making him writhe with each feather-light touch.
Legolas bit his lips to prevent himself from crying out, mindful of the revellers scarcely more than a spear’s throw away. But when Glorfindel took his erection between his lips, he couldn’t prevent himself from howling out his joy, only to cry out in frustration when Glorfindel moved away again to kneel between his thighs.
“Blessed Elbereth, you can’t stop now!”
“I rather think I just did,” said Glorfindel with a husky laugh. He swept Legolas with his gaze, licking his lips. “You did promise to submit to me, after all.”
“Aye, I did.” Considering his current torment, Legolas was thoroughly regretting his rash agreement now.
Glorfindel laughed again. “How fortunate for you then, that I can’t contain my desire for you any longer.”
With that he wrapped Legolas’ legs around his waist and pushed into him in one fluid movement.
Legolas cried out sharply as he was stretched and filled. Then Glorfindel gave another thrust and his cries changed to ones of rapture as Glorfindel unerringly found the spot that gave him the greatest pleasure.
Soon all thought of the nearby feasting went out of his mind as Glorfindel skilfully brought them both to a peak of ecstasy where their spirits met and melded in several breathless moments of pure joy.
It always took Legolas some time to recover after so intense a climax. He buried his face in Glorfindel’s hair, breathing in his spicy scent while he waited for his heartbeat to calm down. Judging from his mate’s heaving chest, Glorfindel’s climax had been just as shattering. He dropped kisses onto Glorfindel’s crown, murmuring words of love.
Eventually Glorfindel looked up and grinned. “Valar, that was good. I’ll have to think up some more traditions like that!” He shifted and released Legolas from his bonds.
Legolas flexed his arms, then went still as Glorfindel’s words sank in. “What do you mean, think them up?”
Legolas narrowed his eyes when his mate’s smile widened. “You mean you took advantage of my…? Oh.” He broke off when Glorfindel raised his eyebrows in a pointed manner. “You know? How?”
Glorfindel nodded and explained how he had discovered the truth. Soon Legolas was laughing, despite his embarrassment, when he heard how Glorfindel and Talagan had been at such cross-purposes.
“Ai,” he said, when Glorfindel had finished. “No wonder you wanted to take your revenge.” He drew Glorfindel down into a kiss. “I don’t regret what I did, though. I was desperate for your touch; I couldn’t wait any longer, so I made up that ridiculous tradition. Can you forgive me?”
“For what? Giving me an experience that I’ll never forget? And I hope you’ll forgive me for this.”
“Only if you do it again.” Legolas pulled Glorfindel down to cover him again and he murmured into his ear. “All traditions have to start somewhere. What say we start one this night? Every year from now, for as long as we live on Middle-earth, we’ll celebrate our love for one another beside a sacred spring.”
Then he rolled them over so that he was atop Glorfindel. “Although I don’t promise to always be the one who submits.” He snorted. “I should have guessed you were making it up as soon as you said that it was the younger who always submitted. In our new tradition, we take it in turns.”
And then there was no more talking, just the soft sighs and sounds of two lovers intent on demonstrating their love as together they forged a new tradition.