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Disclaimer: Thranduil belongs to Tolkien and Lorellin to daw the minstrel. Merry Christmas to my beta…….oh, and thanks for beta reading this. *grin*
Thranduil walked through the Great Hall, busy elves moving all around him hanging boughs of fragrant pine sprinkled with pinecones and gaily decorated carved birds perched amidst the branches. Lanterns were hung on lines strung across the hall, and candles in sconces lined the walls. The doors were open to the cool night air, and snowflakes fell gently, coating the ground and trees in a sparkling blanket of white. Small sacks of nuts and dried berries were hung from ribbons in the lower branches of the trees, and more lanterns hung from the higher branches and lined the path to the Great Hall.
Fingering the bright cloth that covered the tables as he walked by, Thranduil smiled with satisfaction at the effect this display would have on the elves attending this first celebration held in the new caverns. The elves of the Woodland Realm had seen Shadow creep into their southern reaches and begin to spread slowly northward. This haven, for this is what the caverns represented to his people, was their new stronghold – a place that could shelter all the elves of Greenwood, should the need arise.
Tonight they would see their Hall in full celebratory regalia for the winter solstice. And it was their Hall. They had followed him after the death of his father, and he was glad for them to see that their resources had been used to provide for their future.
He stepped aside to allow those elves in charge of decorations to finish their tasks, and returned to his private quarters to dress for the evening.
* * *
The feast was nearly over and tables had been moved to allow room for dancing up the center of the Hall and outside to the snow covered lawn. Elflings were taking treat bags from the trees and giggling and skipping in circles in their delight at the treats inside. Thranduil still sat at the middle of the head table, dressed in his crown of holly and robes of forest green trimmed in silver. Many a maiden had watched him this evening; he would have to be blind not to have noticed the admiring looks. He knew he looked splendid in his winter finery, but felt merely reflective as he considered the many changes his people had undergone during the centuries of his rule. The number of elves had again grown, and there were now many settlements spread throughout the central and northern part of the forests. Indeed, there were many elves present this eve whom he did not recognize.
Beyond the doors of the Great Hall he saw several maidens frolicking in the snow. They were laughing and twirling in circles with the elflings, and he found himself smiling as one dark haired maiden in a gown of sky blue grasped the hands of a tiny elf and spun him around in circles with her. His cries of delight rang out as he flew through the air, and then she slowed and his little feet came back to the earth. She knelt down next to him, and the elfling hugged her tightly before running to rejoin his parents, his face lit with joy. The maiden stood then, and looked straight at Thranduil.
He felt his stomach flutter and a slight heat flushed his face under her gaze, and when she smiled he felt his heart melt.
He started to rise but was stopped from leaving the table by an advisor tapping him on the arm. Saelon had nothing more important to say than that the Great Hall looked spectacular, but in the time it took Thranduil to acknowledge the compliments and turn back to the doors, the maiden had disappeared. He turned his most imperious stare upon Saelon and instructed him, “There was just a dark haired maiden in a sky blue dress dancing with an elfling in the snow. Go and find her. Tell her I wish to meet her!”
The advisor jumped to his feet and scurried away from him, and Thranduil silently laughed as he was sure the young elf wondered what he had done to incur his king’s anger. The elf disappeared into the snowy night, and Thranduil resumed his seat with his eyes fixed on the doors, watching for the beautiful maiden to return.
* * *
Saelon moved quickly through the dancing elves, exchanging greetings with all he knew and nods with those he did not, searching for a dark haired maiden in a blue gown. He saw one such female elf but she was walking with a male elf, and Saelon decided not to bother them. The sounds of laughing and singing drew him to a group of maidens a short distance away, and his eyes lit with relief when he saw a dark-haired, blue-gowned elleth among them. He moved near, and tapped her on the shoulder when she danced by him. She turned to face him, still laughing, and bowed before him.
“Yes, my lord?” she greeted him with dancing eyes and laughter in her voice.
“My lady,” Saelon greeted her and bowed gallantly in return. “The king wishes to meet you.”
The maiden arched a brow at him and turned slightly to look back towards the cavern. “He does, does he? Why does he not come himself?” she asked.
Without thinking, Saelon reverted to his role as gatekeeper to the king. “The king sees many people. He does not have time always to come seeking each one he wishes to meet.”
“Then I shall call upon him on the morrow, when he sees petitioners in court,” she answered as her smile faded; then she curtsied and turned back to the maidens waiting for her.
“No, my lady!” cried Saelon. “Forgive my words! He wishes to meet you this eve! He merely lost sight of you and asked me to seek the beautiful, blue-gowned, dark-haired maiden who was dancing with the elfling in front of the Great Hall.”
The she elf laughed. “Did he say I was beautiful?”
Saelon blushed. “I do not recall, exactly, but it was at least implied!” He watched as she seemed to hesitate, and then added, “Please, my lady, have pity upon me. I do not wish to fail my king on this most important day!”
“Very well, then. . . ,” she capitulated. “What is your name?”
“I am Saelon, my lady, an aid to the king,” he answered, blushing again at his lack of manners. “And may I ask your name, dear lady, so that I might properly introduce you to the King?”
“I am Lorellin,” she replied, the laughter again in her voice. She bid farewell to her friends, and accepted the arm he held out to her. “Take me to the king, Saelon.”
* * *
Thranduil grew impatient waiting for Saelon to return, and glowered at the growing darkness of night for hiding the maiden from him. Elves stopped to speak to him, and he gave them at best only half-hearted attention as he tried to keep an eye on the doors. Soon it seemed that a line of elves had formed, leaders of the small settlements, and elves who had served his father and then returned to their homes – each, it seemed, wishing to congratulate him or slip in a word for a special need or concern they had. With a sigh heard by none, Thranduil nearly gave up on ever seeing the maiden again as his attention was turned to the needs of his people.
It seemed he had worked his way through the throng of people waiting to see him, when a shimmer of blue caught his eye. He looked up to see the maiden standing before him, a small smile tugging at the corner of her lips. His heart leapt and he jumped to his feet, knocking over his glass of wine. His crown caught on the robe of the elf standing behind him, knocking it from his head. He barely managed to catch it before it hit the floor. Color rising in his cheeks, he looked up when he heard laughter. The maiden was laughing! All of his advisors and the settlement leaders and others of importance shared looks ranging from horror to disbelief to embarrassment, but the maiden was laughing.
“My King, allow me,” she said, bowing. She took his napkin from where it had caught on his robe and stopped the spread of the wine across the table, and then took a napkin from another elf a few seats down and, taking the king’s crown from his hands, dabbed the wine from it before setting it on the table.
All he could do was stare at her as she efficiently ministered to the mess, smiling merrily the whole time.
“Now, my King, you wished to see me?” she asked sweetly.
“I . . . I wished to dance with you,” Thranduil finally managed to say.
“I would like to dance with you,” Lorellin answered as she held her hand out to him.
Thranduil took the lovely hand offered to him, and raised it to his lips for a kiss before tucking it beneath his arm. He escorted her to the dance floor, where they joined the other dancers in an intricate dance. The dance called for the constant exchange of partners, but Thranduil refused to give up his hold on the lovely maiden. The musicians soon switched to a ballad, and Thranduil pulled her close, nearly forgetting propriety as he wished to feel the warm softness of her body along the length of his.
“My lady, I do not know your name,” he whispered in her ear.
She laughed. “You have not told me yours, either. I thought perhaps we were keeping them secret.”
“I am Thranduil,” he answered indulgently, for he knew all knew his name.
“I am Lorellin,” she replied.
“Are your parents present, lovely Lorellin?” he inquired.
“My mother is present. Why do you ask?”
He stopped dancing and stood still, looking down upon the first maiden ever to charm him with her laugher and melt his heart with a mere look. She was gracious, loved children, and handled awkward situations well.
“I am trying to determine how quickly I can declare my love for you and seek the permission of your family to court you formally,” he answered, a grin spreading slowly across his face. He laughed as a smile blossomed on her face, and she took his hand and began tugging him across the Hall. “Where are you leading me, Lorellin?” he asked, laughing.
“To meet my mother, of course!” She stopped, though, and pulled him into the shadows of the Great Hall, and taking his face in her hands, kissed him tentatively on the lips. He responded hungrily, his tongue seeking entrance to hers, but then abruptly stopped and pulled back from her.
“Why did you do that?”
She kissed him again, a quick peck on the lips. “It seemed so much more definitive than just saying ‘yes, I wish you to court me’,” she laughed.
“You are incorrigible!” he exclaimed in mock horror. Even as he spoke the words, he was amazed at how light he felt – and how right this seemed. He hardly knew her! Yet he allowed the incorrigible maiden to take him by the hand and lead him to her mother. As he looked around the Great Hall, he smiled.
It might be the first solstice celebration in their new home, but somehow he doubted there would be a better one than this.
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