Some truths are gentle, forgiving and kind
Some truths are hard to define.
(Sleeping At Last: South)
The clatter of plates and the compelling aroma of freshly cooked meat seeped into Anna’s dreams, twisting them into the strangest mixture of trees and food. When an ear-splitting lightning struck a mighty oak and she felt herself tumbling backwards with its shockwave, the splintering of wood took on the bell-like tinkling of glass and silverware, the forest-fire smelling gradually more like roasted meat than burning wood. She shifted in her seat and squinted through one of her eyes only to find a myriad of tiny flickering flames dancing all around her. For a moment panic gripped her. It couldn’t be real, how could the fire have followed her?
She sat bolt upright, her eyes now wide and she saw that she had awoken to a sea of candles that flooded the room with a golden light. Innumerable candles of various shapes and sizes were burning merrily in candleholders that had been placed all over the furniture. It took her only another instant to realise that this was not even her room at all. These were the king’s chambers and she had been trespassing, snooping around in his privacy, the proof of her insolence still clutched tightly in between her fingers. What madness had possessed her to indulge in such a scandalous adventure she could not even fathom anymore. She only wished that the blanket might turn her somehow invisible, so she could sneak back to her own rooms unnoticed. But of course, this wasn’t going to happen, the blanket didn’t feel remotely magical and only brought another disturbing question to her mind. However did it find its way around her? She took a careful look at her surroundings. The chair facing her was empty, but had Thranduil’s burgundy robe draped around the backrest, his black boots standing by the fireplace. This most likely answered the question of the blanket. Thranduil must have found her indeed and the fact that he had not woken her up to send her back to her rooms must mean that he wasn’t angry with her, or at least not to a degree that would make him do something he might regret later on.
The commotion emerging from a hidden corner of the chamber had come to an end and only muffled voices could be heard, then silent footsteps and a door being opened and closed. Anna still did not dare to move and now that the reality of what was about to ensue began to sink in, she had to admit that she wasn’t really ready to confront Thranduil with all her messed up feelings. The wild concoction of ire and passion burning in her heart was all too painfully present. Maybe if she pretended that she was still asleep, she might be able to sneak out after he had gone to bed and spare herself an embarrassing scene. Although she reminded herself that this would most likely not work, as elves never slept like humans, so she scratched the sneaky and stealthy idea from her mind. Then the only other option was to take the offensive and just make herself noticed so Thranduil would come to her side.
“It seems that you have taken a liking to my chambers,” came Thranduil’s deep voice suddenly from above.
He was leaning with his arms folded on top of the backrest and looking down at her with an amused smile. Whatever plan Anna had laid out, it just got foiled by the Elvenking’s uncanny ability to appear silently out of nowhere. Anna shrunk back into the chair, instinctively pulling the blanket up to her chin and realising too late how silly this must look, after all, he must have found her with only her nightgown on.
“This is not how it looks. Well, actually it is, but it—I am sorry,” she spluttered, getting tangled in her own words. This might turn out even more embarrassing than she had previously envisioned. “I shouldn’t even be here, so I’ll be leaving now.”
“Please,” he said, indicating for her to stay seated, “you are exactly where you should be and before you say anything else, I need you to listen to me.”
With a graceful motion he sank onto his knees before her and took her hands in his, his self-assurance suddenly replaced by a humbleness that was as unusual as it was captivating.
“Lotheg nín, I speak to you now not as the Elvenking but as Thranduil and I ask only that you hear me out. I understand that you must feel very confused and you have every right to be angry with me, but don’t leave me here without having been able to explain myself.”
He laced his fingers through hers and even if Anna had wanted to object, this unexpected display of vulnerability clothed in the magic of his voice had her hanging on his every word, the flickering flames dancing around him like little sparks.
“I know I have done you wrong in depriving you of your past and therefore taking away the possibility that you might decide for yourself, if you wish to stay here or return to your world. I was afraid that you would turn away from me that I did not foresee clearly the consequences of my actions, something I now dearly repent. I cannot undo what I did, no matter how much I wish I could.” He looked at her intently, his thumbs grazing over her hands. “So the only thing left for me is to ask: will you forgive me please?”
In this fleeting moment he was just a simple ellon, barefoot, his clothes untidy and his hair unkempt, laying his heart at her feet and the sincerity of it touched her more than any regalia or grand gesture ever could. Deep affection and honest remorse were in his eyes and the way he put himself at her mercy nearly tore down the last remnants of her resolution to keep her feelings for him reined in. Still, there was a part of her that wanted to yell at him, maybe even slap him in the face, even though one that was evaporating rapidly.
“I— I am indeed confused about pretty much everything and yes, I am upset because of what you have done to me. You shouldn’t have kept me in the dark about all the things you knew about me and you shouldn’t have put that spell on me in the first place. I did not choose to come here, as a matter of fact, I have never heard anything about a portal in between worlds until you told me about it. Why couldn’t you have been honest with me from the beginning instead of turning me into a pawn in one of your little charades?” Anna had to fight back tears as the magnitude of her situation hit her again with full force. “I may have lost the memories of my past life, but I am pretty sure that playing with peoples’ lives isn’t an acceptable past-time, no matter the time and place, not even for a powerful Elvenking.”
“I was not playing with your life and I am sorry if I made you think that way.” Thranduil ruefully lowered his gaze, his shoulders sinking imperceptibly. “I should have known better, done many things differently and I am sorry that I didn’t. One should assume that with my age and alleged experience I should have possessed greater foresight, but instead I have allowed myself to be misled by my fears. When I should have acted with prudence and wisdom, I was being selfish and inconsiderate, not at all qualities that are very flattering.” He looked up to her again, hope and despair mingling in his eyes, all pretence falling away. “I know that I have admonished you in the past for acting on an impulse and allowing your emotions to get the better of you. What I have failed to see is that your kindness and empathy are not a sign of weakness, but rather of strength. It is what makes you special and what has won you the hearts of many and mine as well.”
He laid bare his innermost thoughts for her to see and Anna’s own heart was aching at the sight of his bitter remorse. Suddenly his left hand went cold as ice around her own and the faint outline of his scars crept over the left side of his face like a chilling frost, the smoothness of his voice beginning to crumble. “I am not perfect, far from it actually, and I cannot blame you if you resent me for my faults, but I want you to know that I would protect you with my life and if you left, I would be devastated.” The mutilated flesh on his cheek was now clearly visible and his left eye had gone completely blind, but he made no effort to conceal his broken self. “Will you grant me this one chance to prove to you that I am still worthy of your trust?”
His heartfelt words did not miss their target and Anna’s resentment finally collapsed under a fierce wave of affection.
“I— I do want to forgive you,” she began, and then without another word she clasped her hand to his face, pressing her palm gently against the scarred tissue. It was cold, but surprisingly soft, like freshly fallen snow. She looked into his eye and saw surprise, an initial shock even, but then Thranduil leaned into her touch as her fingers trailed over what once had been his well defined cheekbone and his determined jawline, and the tension of centuries seemed to melt away beneath her hands. Anna took her time, allowing her fingers to graze slowly over the deep valleys of his scars, her thumb now resting at the corner of his mouth.
“Can you feel it when I touch you there?”
“Yes,” he breathed and the unfamiliar sensation of touch, where he had not allowed anyone close, nearly seemed to overwhelm him, “but it is very faint, a mere tingle, like the memory of touch.”
Her fingertips followed the rugged pattern of sinews that spread across the plain of his jaw towards his ear and down to his neck.
“And your left eye, can you still see?” she finally found the courage to ask.
“Not really,” he said, a grim smile contorting his face, “but my right eye is good enough to make up for the loss and I have learned how to live with it.”
He gazed at her and there was sorrow but also gratefulness in his one eye of brilliant blue. “It is the reason why my weapon of choice is the sword and not the bow, as my aim lacks the necessary precision. And this is one thing a warrior cannot afford.”
“But I am sure that you are still an amazing fighter. I have seen you only once, when you came to my rescue during the spiders’ attack and you even managed to somehow magically guide my sword while wielding your own. Without your skills I would surely be dead!”
“My skills are not quite what they used to be.” His voice was harsh and full of bitterness. “And without Brethilwen’s care I would have probably never been able to hold a sword, let alone fight with one ever again. Her abilities as healer have helped my body recover from most of the damage, but there are some things that cannot be mended.”
For a moment Anna halted her ministrations and only looked at him, and there was a weariness in his gaze that spoke of a lifetime that was nearly inconceivable in its length. He seemed exhausted and tired beyond the account of human years.
“Brethilwen told me about the day of the dragon fire,” Anna said, her voice wavering, “she spoke of a rift and that you might fade.” An icy wave of fear washed over her heart and she felt her own hands going cold. “Does this mean that you are going to die?” she whispered, her own loss of memory momentarily pushed to the back of her mind.
The sudden trace of fear in Anna’s voice yanked Thranduil abruptly from his near trance like state and he laid his own hand on top of hers, gently pulling it away from his face. In the blink of an eye the glamour hiding his scars descended like a veil on his face, his left eye restored to its mesmerising beauty.
“Always the dramatic one, Brethilwen, isn’t she?” Thranduil said lightly, the lingering shadow on his face not quite matching the tone in his voice.
“She did not seem overly dramatic to me, but rather genuinely concerned,” Anna retorted, taken aback by the sudden inexplicable change in his mood.
“Brethilwen has been my healer for a very long time, but I daresay she worries too much.”
“So you are not dying?” Anna pressed on, still not convinced.
“No, I am not and I do not want you to worry about it. Brethilwen should not have planted those concerns in your head.” A facade as smooth as marble descended over his features.
“But what if —,” Anna began, but Thranduil seemed intent on closing the topic.
“I am ancient and have weathered many hardships and whatever may still come to pass, I will make it through.” He squeezed her hands lightly. “Especially if I know that I have gained back your trust.”
“Yes, you have,” Anna nodded, reluctantly letting this unsettling matter go for the time being, “but I need you to promise me one thing.”
“Of course, whatever you ask of me.”
“No more spells involving my memory.” She drew her eyebrows together in a frown, giving him a stern look.
“No more spells.” He nodded readily, a look of relief dawning on his face.
“Except one,” she said and Thranduil’s face froze momentarily, “and that is to restore my memory. Brethilwen told me that there is a spell and that you could do this.”
“She did?” Thranduil said more to himself than to her. “I see that Brethilwen has been apparently quite the talker.”
Anna looked at him imploringly. “I need you to do this, because only when I know who I really am, can I see what my future will be. I cannot go on living like this in the unknown.”
There was a moment of hesitation, a subtle tensing of his jaw as conflicting emotions flitted across Thranduil’s face, before he nodded and said: “Very well. I will do as you wish, but you must allow me some time. It is not an easy spell and will require some preparation.”
“Yes, of course,” she said, “that is as long as you do not leave me waiting too long.”
“I won’t, I promise,” he said and then he motioned to pick up the crumpled piece of parchment that had slid to the floor and placed it in Anna’s lap. “I believe you dropped this,” he said with the hint of a smile quirking around the corners of his mouth. “I thought you might want to keep it.”
“Yes, I do very much so,” she said, a blush creeping over her cheeks.
“I wrote and rewrote it so many times and then I couldn’t find the courage to give it to you, but I am glad to see that you seem to think better of it than what I did. Am I right to assume that I do have reason to hope?”
The ghost of a smile passed Anna’s face. “I believe that there is always reason to hope.”
“Good,” he said, his face lighting up, “hope is always a good thing.”
His eyes trailed to the back of the chambers. “How would you like to have dinner with me now? I know that this may not be the elegant dinner I had in mind to share with you, and we are both not appropriately dressed, but I still would be honoured if you would join me before the venison gets cold. The kitchens have outdone themselves in preparing your favourite dishes.”
No matter her agitated state, Anna had to admit that she was hungry and the food indeed smelled too delicious to refuse. Thranduil looked at her expectantly, a hopeful gleam in his eyes. She pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders, biting her lower lip as she pondered her decision.
“I could lend you one of my robes, in case you are cold, if that is what’s holding you back,” he said with a sweeping gesture towards his dresser. “It might be a bit too spacious for you, but I can assure you that it will keep you warm.”
“Thank you. That would be very kind of you,” she said and the instant she had uttered the last word, Thranduil had turned around on his heel and she heard him rummaging around behind her and then a moment later he appeared with a moss green robe of the softest velvet folded around his arm. The intricate latticework of vines and leaves with a silvery weft made it appear as if the foliage itself had been woven right into the cloth. He held it up in front of her, beckoning her to stand up.
“Try this one. It’s quite old, but one of my favourites, superbly comfortable and of an unrivalled subtle beauty! I swear they don’t make them like this anymore since the end of the Second Age.”
Anna smiled inwardly as she rose from her seat. It was a rare thing to see the ever so stern Elvenking drift into a casual conversation about the quality of clothing. But the moment she slid her arms inside the sleeves and he accommodated the robe around her shoulders, she knew what he was talking about. It almost felt like wearing nothing at all, so soft and incredibly smooth that she just wanted to wrap her entire body in it, which she could have possibly done, considering that it was enormous compared to her petite frame.
“It looks really good on you,” Thranduil said, suppressing a smile, “a bit on the roomy side maybe, but the colour brings out the green of your eyes in the most lovely way.” He tugged at the collar and smoothed down some creases, which Anna was quite convinced were only imaginary ones, as the robe looked in pristine condition despite its alleged age. She looked herself up and down a bit unsure, trying to locate her hands, which seemed to have gotten lost inside the sleeves.
“Well, it does feel very comfortable indeed, so thank you very much for allowing me to use it.”
He beamed at her, rubbing his hands together. “You are very welcome. Does that mean we are all set for dinner? It would be a shame to have the kitchens’ work go to nothing.” He looked at her expectantly and she said: “Yes, all set indeed.”
He offered her his arm and led her towards the small oval shaped dining table at the back of his chambers, candles lining their path and decorating the table, which was laden with a delicious assortment of dishes, the aforementioned venison being only one among many. Garlands of holly snaked themselves between small wooden bowls that were filled to the brim with dark blue and red berries, as well as bowls filled with steaming hot soup, baskets with bread rolls, plates with slices of ham and cheese, not to forget elegant goblets and several carafes filled with wine and water. Once they were both seated on either side of the table, Thranduil raised his glass of wine towards her.
“Thank you for being my guest tonight. I haven’t had such a charming lady keeping me company in my chambers for quite a long time. May this dinner be the first of many we will share.”
Anna reached for her own glass of wine, veering at the last moment towards the one with water instead and rose it up too. “Thank you for being such a generous host and for not throwing me out,” she said with an awkward grin. “I do look forward to being invited more often to your chambers.”
Thranduil raised his eyebrows half amused. “No need to worry about the wine, I assure you this is just regular Dorwinion, no magic involved. It is one of my best though, my favourite vintage. I am sure you will find it pleasant.” He brought his glass to his mouth and took a small sip, but Anna was not in the mood for elvish wine tonight.
“Thank you, but water will do perfectly fine,” she said.
“There is also tea with honey for you, should you prefer something hot and sweet to warm you up,” he said, his eyes travelling to a nicely rounded teapot to her left side. He then pointed at a richly adorned plate with his fork. “And please do try the venison. It is one I have hunted myself and I daresay it shall delight your palate.” He had indeed spared no effort to make this dinner special for her.
With so many things to choose Anna decided to simply serve herself small helpings of everything, the hot soup starting to warm her insides in the most welcome way. Thranduil himself seemed to be genuinely hungry, as he was for a while just quietly attending his own food, elegantly cutting the meat into small pieces. Anna was halfway through her second bread roll when Thranduil set aside his cutlery and reached for his glass of wine, taking a slow sip from it. For a moment he seemed to study the content of his glass, only to set it back on the table with a sigh. Anna felt his gaze resting on her. “I promise I will get to the venison, but these bread rolls are delicious,” she said, stuffing the rest of it into her mouth.
“There is still something about bringing back your memory that you should know.”
“Yes?” A feeling of unease crept up on her as she skewered a piece of meat with her fork.
“I do not wish to dampen your spirits, but there is a possible risk involved.”
“A risk?” Anna almost choked on the piece of meat in her mouth. She dropped her fork and grabbed the glass of water, taking some frantic gulps until the lump in her throat had disappeared.
His lips were a thin line and his eyes were fixed on a point behind Anna’s shoulder. “As your old memories come back, your new ones might fade.”
Anna stared at him incredulously. She suddenly seemed to have completely lost her appetite. “What?” she said, the sea of candles around her melting into one big fire that threatened to consume her. “You mean to say I would forget —,” she started, but broke off again, sinking back into her seat. She felt like suffocating and her heartbeat froze before it plunged into a frantic staccato.
He nodded slowly, his long fingers resting on the base of his glass and his voice grave. “I am not saying that this will happen, but it is a possibility.”
“But how likely is this, — this complication? Please tell me this is a rare thing!” She twisted her napkin in her hands until it threatened to rip apart.
“I do not know as it does depend on various factors, like the skill of the person performing the spell, but also the recipient.”
“But—, but you are the Elvenking, you surely can do this.” She dropped the napkin, leaning forward again, her eyes now fixed on his face. “I mean you had no problem performing the initial spell to erase my memory, so why would this one be so different? You just have to revert it!” Anna was beginning to talk herself into a desperate rage, feeling once again trapped, the way out turning into a dead-end.
Thranduil drew his eyebrows together in a frown and for a moment she meant to see anger in his eyes, but it might have just been the flickering candles playing tricks on her eyesight.
“It is not as easy as that. I don’t know what exactly Brethilwen has told you, but I cannot simply revert the spell. It is a bit more complex than that,” he said, absentmindedly toying with the delicate flower ring he now wore regularly besides his other magnificent rings.
“Brethilwen did not give me any details, but she didn’t make it sound so difficult.” Anna sank back into her chair. “If it’s me you are worried about, then I can promise you that I will do everything necessary from my side to make it work, if there is anything I can do to contribute.”
“Of course it is you I worry about. First of all you have ended up in this situation because of my doing and second,” he paused to look at her and his eyes softened, “I have come to care about you much more than I had ever thought possible and I want to be sure not to cause you even more pain and suffering.” He pushed away his plate and leaned forward, steepling his fingers under his chin, the strands of his silvery blond hair cascading around his face.
“What Brethilwen failed to tell you is that, if the person’s connection with their past is stronger than with their present, then everything that belongs to their new life might eventually fade and be forgotten.”
“But why? This makes no sense! Why would I lose one thing in exchange for another?” She pulled Thranduil’s robe tighter around her shoulders, but not even that would keep the chill away that crept into her heart.
“It might not make any sense to you at this moment, but no heart can live in two worlds at the same time. You must know that even if you are able to regain the memory of your former life and keep the one of the life you have here, it will put an immense strain on you. There are only few who can withstand this. It is as if your heart would be split in two and it would want to pull you towards both sides. There will come a point where you will have to take a decision, otherwise it might tear you apart.”
For a moment Anna only stared at him in silence as she digested his words and then she nodded, slowly but with assurance. “I understand,” she said, even if the extent of what he just had said was slow in sinking in. She pushed her chin forward, a resolution growing inside her. “No matter the risk, I will want to regain my memory. Only then can I know what will be my decision.” Now that she had said it out loud, her path seemed to be set.
He leaned back in his seat and folded his hands in his lap, a shadow darkening his beautiful features. “I know that this is what you want, but please try to understand that I only wish to protect you from harm.”
Anna nodded. “Yes, I know and I appreciate that, but I must do this.”
Thranduil picked up his glass of wine again, slowly swirling the contents inside it, and then he looked at her again. “But I do know of someone who could shed some light on the darkness that surrounds your past. And who might be able to help you with your predicament.”
“You do indeed?” A timid ray of hope dawned on the gloomy horizon of the terrible mess that her life had become.
“Yes, and as a matter of fact he is on his way to Mirkwood right now and should be here in a few days time. His name is Mithrandir, or Gandalf as he is known in the tongue of Men. He has travelled the world and beyond. Between the worlds he even meanders, that is ours and yours to be precise and he has extensive knowledge of enchantments and spells that even might surpass my own.”
“Gandalf?” she repeated. “He will be coming here?” Her eyes went wide and then a sudden blush coloured her cheeks, remembering that she had never revealed to him the fact that she had considered finding the wizard herself.
“Yes, he is. I may not be overly fond of the ever meddlesome wizard, but for you I am willing to lay aside my animosities as this is a matter of great importance.”
“Thank you,” she said in a small voice. “I don’t know if Bilbo has mentioned anything, but I was going to—,”
“Yes, he has told me about your plans.” He took the words right out of her mouth. “But there is no need to explain yourself. I understand that you only wanted to find answers to your questions. Answers that I have failed to give you. And for that I am truly sorry. I did not intend to keep you in the dark for so long and I want to be sure that from now on things will be different.”
Anna nodded, somewhat hopeful that soon the doors to her past and future would finally be pushed open.
Both of them might have lost track of time as they finally turned their attention back to the food and their conversation drifted into lighter regions, Thranduil giving her details about said hunt, which had provided for this night’s venison and then elaborating further on what made tailors of the Second Age superior to those of today. Anna took delight in just being able to listen to him, his voice the most musical sound to her ears, and as the evening advanced and they had made their way to the desserts, she found herself wishing that this moment might never come to an end. Only when Anna had to repeatedly suppress a yawn did she realise that they must have sat for hours immersed in their conversation and Thranduil finally rose from his seat.
“Would you allow me to walk you back to your rooms?” he said, holding out his arm to her.
“Yes, of course, I would be honoured,” she nodded, pulling up the sleeves of Thranduil’s robe, which kept sliding over her hands. She laid her hand on his arm and as they crossed his chambers the light had dimmed considerably, many of the candles having burned down already, bathing the room in a subdued light. He halted at the concealed door, holding up the tapestry for her to step through, the robe trailing behind her like a rippling sea of green and silver.
“There is one more thing before you go to sleep tonight.” He caught her wrist with his hand to pull her around until she stood facing him, the curve of his neck suddenly so incredibly close that her breath caught in her throat.
“Last morning we were so rudely interrupted,” he said, placing one finger under her chin to tilt it up towards him, his other hand snaking around her waist to tug her even closer. She couldn’t have been sure, but she might have stopped breathing altogether with him towering above her, imposing and a bit unsure all at once. Slowly his hand travelled up from her waist to the back of her head where he threaded it through her hair, while the long fingers of his other hand trailed over her neck down to her collarbone, gooseflesh rising in the wake of his touch. He leaned down, his breath mingling with hers, his voice flowing like molten gold around her.
“I wanted to…,” he began, his eyes searching hers.
She only whispered “yes” and then he closed the gap between them, pressing his lips to hers in a kiss, so slow and tender Anna thought she would melt into him. Thranduil might have been a warrior and conqueror, at times wild and untamed, but now he was none of that. His lips were warm and soft on her own, tasting and exploring, and all she could do was hold on to his broad shoulders to keep herself from falling apart. She felt the outline of his toned chest beneath his thin tunic, his heartbeat hammering rapidly against her own. Again and again he kissed her as if he wanted to memorise the taste of her lips on his. A delicious tingle spread through Anna’s body, filling her darkness with a dazzling light, and she knew that if he had wanted to deepen the kiss, she wouldn’t have had any willpower left to resist. But at no moment did he lose control or try to push further, his touch staying gentle and featherlike all the way through. If this was any indication of what else his mouth was capable of doing if he ever let go of his restraint, she wished for nothing more than to witness exactly that.
He pulled away to look at her, his thumbs caressing her flushed cheeks. “Please don’t leave,” he pleaded. His breath was warm and sweet like the forest in springtime and she was swept away by an overwhelming wave of emotions.
“I don’t want to leave,” she said breathlessly, her hands finding their way around his neck.
“Then stay,” he murmured, scattering a string of tender kisses from the corner of her mouth towards her ear.
All she could do was nod, even though she knew that fate might have a heartbreaking decision for them in store. But at this moment nothing of it all mattered anymore. There was only Thranduil and his lips on her lips, his hands holding her and even if the world came to an end right after this, she would gladly face death with a smile.
“My little flower,” he said softly, and then his lips found hers in another kiss. There was a fire in him that could burn her if she allowed it, dangerous, ancient and powerful, and when he held her close, Anna drowned in starlit bliss, an exhilarating promise of sweeter things still to come.
When finally their lips parted after yet another kiss and then another one, the imprint of his touch still burned on her skin and Thranduil’s eyes were dark with desire, but this was a line he wouldn’t cross, not tonight.
“No matter what the future may bring, I will cherish this moment, our kiss, forever,” he said, cupping her face in his hands.
Tears stood in her eyes. “What if I forget—,” she broke off, this one dreadful thought haunting her.
He brushed a strand of hair from her face and his voice was raw with emotion. “Don’t even think it, lotheg nín. I promise you that I will make it right.”
With a small sigh she nestled her face against the crook of his neck, the comfort of his arms making her feel safe when nothing else could.
They stood for a while in a wordless embrace, oblivious of the world around them as they revelled in their newfound intimacy, until Thranduil murmured softly into her hair “It is getting late and you should rest now.”
“I am not sleepy,” Anna mumbled into his chest, burying her face still deeper between the folds of his tunic and the strands of his hair. Only when he shifted away, she finally disentangled herself from him, the thought of having to exchange his nearness for the loneliness of her bed not anything she was particularly looking forward to. His robe had slid down her shoulders and he pulled it back in place and then he caught her chin in his hand to make her look up to him.
“Don’t forget that you are still recovering, although I have to say that you do look much better already.”
Anna’s cheeks coloured and he couldn’t help but observe how the pinkish hue brought out the dusting of freckles in the most delightful way.
“You should probably kiss me more often,” she said, bringing her mouth closer to his. “I think that will help me get better.”
“That is a thought worth considering,” he said, a mischievous sparkle in his eyes, and then he gently kissed her mouth once more, planting tender kisses on her nose and her cheeks before finally letting go of her.
“Oh, but your robe, I almost forgot,” Anna said, suddenly aware that she was still wearing it. Somewhat reluctantly she proceeded to take it off and hand it back to him.
“No, you keep it,” he said, stopping her motions and then brushing off some breadcrumbs from the sleeves. “It looks better on you than on me, besides I have plenty of others to choose.” He raised an eyebrow in amusement. “Although we might need to have it adjusted to better fit your size.”
“Really? You are serious? I thought this one was special for you.” She had always believed Thranduil to be very much attached to the entirety of his glorious wardrobe.
“It is special indeed. That is why I want you to have it. And it is only a piece of clothing after all, so please accept my gift. Tomorrow I will order for the seamstress to take your measurements, so she might do the necessary adjustments.”
“Thank you, my king,” Anna said, curtsying politely, his robe sweeping the floor around her as she did so.
“I think it is time that you called me Thranduil,” he said, taking both of her hands in his and planting tender kisses on the soft skin inside of her wrists, “and I am looking forward to learning your name, although I could get used to calling you my little flower.”
“Thranduil,” she said, letting the word roll off her tongue with gusto. “That’s a very nice name.”
He tilted his head sideways in a regal manner. “I am glad you think so as it is the only one I have to offer.”
He graced her with one of those open smiles that were so rare, but suited him so well, and Anna couldn’t help but smile in return, no matter how dreary her future might look. At this very moment she was content just being Thranduil’s little flower.
After he bade her goodnight, Anna stood in the middle of her room, wrapped in his oversized robe and watched him walk away, and her heart gave an almost painful squeeze in her chest. Even without his kingly attire and his hair a bit messy he had an aura of ethereal beauty surrounding him that nearly took her breath away. She buried her nose in the folds of his robe and to her delight it smelled just like him. So her night would not be quite as lonely as she had feared. He stepped through the concealed door and then disappeared from her sight, but the door behind him, he left it open.
To be continued…
lotheg nín - my little flower
ellon - male elf