Some of Haldirin’s earliest memories were of the visit to Eryn Lasgalen, for mid-winter, in the year that Princess Rhîwen was born. To be honest, the memories concerned a giant spider, a toy horse, his first bow, and snow; not her birth or her naming ceremony – but even so he remembered enough.
They had met a few times in the intervening years. He had visited Eryn Lasgalen a number of times; she had accompanied her parents to Eryn Ithil once before, when she was only thirty-five or forty.
But now… this time she had come with Cîrdoron, her older brother, to spend some time in her uncle Legolas’ ‘colony’; and Haldirin felt his eyes drawn to her whenever she was near him.
She was sitting now, on the riverbank, talking to Merilwen. Both dangled bare feet in the river, and Haldirin found himself amused, despite himself, by the way that he wanted to slide into the river and caress one pair of feet – and only one. And those feet were not those of his lifelong friend and sometimes lover…
Merilwen had been the first elfling born in Eryn Ithil and so was his senior by some sixteen years – old enough to have learnt a little of joining before Haldirin came of age. Pleasuring each other was fun; just as picking berries, climbing trees, or swimming together had been as elflings… and still was.
Merilwen was not the only elleth that he had explored the ‘desires of the body’ with over the past forty years since he came of age – and he was, certainly, not her only lover. Even so, he hoped that she hadn’t noticed how often he gazed at Rhîwen, for Merilwen would tease!
“Hi,” said Haldirin.
“Oh – hi Haldirin,” Merilwen answered him.
They did use some strange words here in Eryn Ithil, Rhîwen had found – ‘Hi’ meant ‘Hello, greetings, well met,’ all in one syllable! ‘M’kay’ seemed to be a way of expressing agreement… and there were others.
She had asked Legolas if it was because they had more dealings with mortals than other elves did. He had said, “Not exactly,” and gone on to explain that Haldirin’s mother, Tindómë, had come from somewhere where people spoke a very different version of the Common Tongue – and some of her odd words and phrases had become part of the Sindarin spoken here.
“Hi…” Rhîwen said.
They sat companionably in the warm air listening to the soft sound of the bees buzzing, the music of bird-song, and the occasional conversation of passing elves; Haldirin trying not to gaze too obviously at Rhîwen, until Merilwen stood to leave. Rhîwen made no move to join her and, as Merilwen brushed down her dress, Haldirin was almost certain he saw her wink… at Rhîwen. Now that put things in a slightly different light!
Merilwen was hardly out of sight when Rhîwen said “Merilwen was going to show me where the best strawberries grow. Perhaps she forgot. Would you show me?”
It seemed natural to offer her his hand to help her to her feet – and then to keep holding it as he led her to the dell in question, through trees that sang quietly as they passed.
At the border between shadow and sunlight, at the edge of the strawberry glade, Haldirin stopped and moved closer, facing Rhîwen. This, he thought, was the moment. He tilted his head slightly and began to dip it down to bring his mouth in line with hers… and found that she was reaching up to him.
Their lips touched. A sweet, gentle kiss.
Afterwards Haldirin could not tell which of them had, truly, initiated it; or whose tongue reached out first to deepen it and explore…
Written for a schmoop bingo prompt...
In this story Haldirin is about ninety – in elven terms of maturity he is just out of adolescence - a bit like a young man in his late teens, maybe twenty.
Chapter end notes:
This is a 'gap-filler' before I post the next long story in the series.
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