Stories > Jay's
It had been seven years – seven long, weary, bitter years. Years
in which he had seen his father fall, and had himself been proclaimed
king. Years in which the greater part of his army had fallen
before the final climactic ‘victory’. Now, he and his remaining
warriors rode home to a rapturous welcome for returning heroes, though
for many it would be a bleak homecoming – two-thirds of the elves of
the Greenwood now lay in cold, barren graves in Mordor.
Thranduil rode through the lines of welcoming elves. Most were
cheering and jubilant, though some wept quietly for one who would never
again return. And then, at the head of the line he saw her, and
his heart – dispirited and heavy with loss – soared once again with joy.
The memory of her had sustained him throughout those long years,
supporting him even through the horror of his father’s death. The
image he held had given him hope to cling to in the darkest times, when
defeat seemed certain. Now she stood before him, vibrant
and real and alive, and his weariness and sorrow evaporated. Now
he was truly home.
As he dismounted, the elves surrounding him knelt, honouring their new
king. Telparian, however, stood smiling, and he crushed her to
him in a fierce embrace, never wanting to let her go again.
All around, similar welcomes were taking place as others greeted one
another – couples long wed, lovers whose betrothal had been cruelly
extended, maidens whose loved one had been torn away before any pledges
could be made. Parents greeted sons, sisters greeted brothers,
and children swarmed over long-missed fathers.
Others, though, stood in lonely isolation, alone among so many jubilant
reunions. For them there were no celebrations, and they would
have only memories to keep them warm this night. His heart
ached for them. He had had time to become accustomed to his own
loss – as far as one ever could – but for some, this homecoming was
bleak confirmation of what they had long known.
Beraid, Thranduil’s steward – a glum, rather dour elf – approached and
bowed. “Welcome home, your Majesty,” he greeted Thranduil
formally. “If you wish to meet with me in your office later, you
will find all ready. I have the accounts and trade figures
available, and copies of some of the letters that have been sent out in
your name. I have …”
Thranduil interrupted him firmly. “No. Not now.
Telparian can tell me all I need to know. I will talk to you
“Very well,” Beraid replied stiffly. “Then I will make
preparations for the feast of celebration and commemoration
tonight. With your leave, sire, I will instruct the kitchens.”
Again Thranduil stopped him. “No. Not tonight.” He
looked around at the joyful meetings all around, and at the sad faces
among them. “Tonight is not a time for revelry.
It will be a time for private celebration, and for each to grieve for
the dead in their own way. Tomorrow – tomorrow there will be time
for celebration. We will remember the dead and give thanks for
those who live then.”
Beraid gave Thranduil a rather disapproving look. “Very well,
your Majesty.” He turned and swept away.
Súrion, Thranduil’s second-in-command, smiled as he
saluted. “Thank you, my lord. That is most compassionate of
you. The warriors will appreciate this time to be with
their families again.
Dismissing the remnants of his army, and with a nod to Súrion,
Thranduil turned to Telparian. “It was not compassion I had in
mind, but rather passion,” he whispered. “Tonight is for
Alone in their own rooms, Thranduil’s gaze lingered on the fire blazing
in the grate, the flagon of wine laying in a bed of ice, and the bed,
soft, welcoming, and inviting. There was a new tapestry hanging
on the wall, and a new wolfskin rug on the floor by the fire. The
simple comforts seemed unbelievably luxurious after seven years of army
life – where he had grown used to no bed but the hard ground, or
occasionally a narrow camp bed; and nothing but a tent between him and
the worst weather Mordor could throw at them.
Telparian drew him to the bed. As her gentle hands helped to
remove his clothes, their shared kisses and caresses reminded him of
just how much he had missed her. For a long time he simply
held her, remembering. Remembering the silky softness of her dark
hair, and the scent of honeysuckle that clung to it even now, in
winter. Remembering the nights they had spent together in
this very chamber, making love until sated and exhausted.
Remembering the taste of her lips, the sweetness of her mouth, and the
soft curves of her body. Remembering the vows they had pledged
together, vows of love, support and commitment.
She gave that support now, her hands caressing his back, soothing the
stiffness and tension that still gripped him. He drew on her passion
and her spirit, her strength washing away the weariness and grief that
still marred his soul. Slowly he relaxed, until the warmth, the
unaccustomed comfort, and the sheer bliss of knowing that he was
finally home, overwhelmed him, and he drifted into dreams.
He awoke to a dull thudding, aware of a soft body pressed against
his. Telparian stirred beside him, and her lips brushed his
mouth. “Rest, my love,” she murmured. “I will see who it
He realised that the thudding was a repetitive knock at the door, and
wondered who would dare to interrupt their privacy. It did not
matter. Telparian had ruled the Greenwood admirably during his
absence, and she was well able to deal with this … distraction.
He rose from the bed and poured two goblets of the wine, deliciously
chilled. Dorwinia was famed for its wines, and this white was one
of the best vintages he had ever tasted.
Telparian shut the door firmly. “Beraid,” she explained
briefly. “I sent him away. He will not trouble us
again,” she added, her expression dark with displeasure at the
“I hope not. I do not wish to mark this new age with a
Telparian smiled as she accepted one of the goblets of wine and sipped
at it, gazing at Thranduil. “How I missed you,” she
Setting his wine aside with a hand that shook a little, Thranduil drew
her close again. The desperation of loneliness and need for
solace was gone from his embrace, and there was a growing desire in the
touches they exchanged. At last he raised his head to look into
her eyes, eyes that were the silver-flecked green of starlight on
leaves. “I missed you too,” he said simply.
Starlight on leaves. It reminded him of something else that
he had missed in the bleak barren lands of Mordor, something that not
even Telparian could fully assuage. A need was growing in him, a
need as great as his desire for his wife. The long ride north through
the forest as his army returned to the Greenwood had eased the longing
somewhat, but the constant presence of the others had muffled the
voices of the trees. He needed to be beneath the trees; beneath
the stars. He needed to feel and hear the song of the forest, to
reaffirm his bond with the realm that was now his.
He dressed swiftly, gathering up the flagon of wine, a lantern, and his
cloak. As an afterthought he took the wolfskin rug as
well. Gently draping another cloak around her shoulders, he
took Telparian’s hand.
“Where are we going?” she asked, puzzled.
“The forest,” he responded. “Come with me. I need to
be outside, and tonight is for us. I could not bear to be parted
from you again.”
It was a still, moonless night, piercingly cold. Thranduil
led the way to a secluded glade where pine trees grew alongside the
beeches. Above them, the stars were brilliantly bright,
scattered like diamonds across black velvet, so close he felt he could
stretch out his hand and touch them. Starlight fell on the leaves
and the grass, shining on his upturned face and glimmering on
Telparian’s dark hair. He stood still in the silence, absorbing
the peace and serenity of the night, the beauty of the sky and the
stars. He could hear the glad murmur of the trees at his
presence, their joy underlined by sorrow that Oropher would not come
among them again.
Their song was louder and clearer than it had ever been, he realised,
and he was hearing new notes and songs that he had not known
before. He had known that his father had a stronger, deeper bond
with the forest, but had not realised that that greater knowledge would
become his. “Can you hear them?” he breathed in awe.
“Yes,” Telparian whispered. “A little. They are
welcoming you home. I see now why you had to come here.”
A circle of small stones marked the centre of the glade, their inner
sides blackened and scorched from long-dead fires. Gathering
pinecones and dry, fallen wood from beneath the trees, he kindled a
fire within the circle of stones, and spread the wolfskin next to the
blaze. Drawing Telparian close, Thranduil draped one of the
cloaks around their shoulders, and poured the last of the wine.
He held out a small flower to her. Delicately shaped, there were
three long white petals, and three shorter ones, each tipped with pale
green. Carefully he tucked it into her hair behind one ear.
“For you,” he promised.
Telparian smiled with delight. “Niphredil. It is my
birth-flower. My father filled the room with these on the day I
“A delightful idea,” Thranduil told her. “I will declare it
a tradition of the Greenwood that henceforth the first niphredil of the
year are presented to you – in honour of your begetting day.”
“I like traditions,” she said. “Especially that one.
Are there others?”
“We had a tradition in Doriath,” he recalled. “A festival,
held on a night such as this, as winter began to turn to spring.
Fires would be lit throughout the forests of Beleriand. It marked
the turning of the year; light out of darkness; new life from
old. It was a festival of renewal, a festival of
love. We called it Imbolc.”
“Imbolc,” she repeated softly. “I have never heard of it.”
Thranduil shook his head. “No. When Doriath fell, and the
people scattered, much was lost or left behind. The new lands
here were a renewal in themselves, and Imbolc was forgotten. But
tonight … tonight is another renewal. The renewal of life, of
hope. Of love.”
“A festival of love? That sounds an excellent idea,” Telparian
murmured. She moved closer, her skin warm against his. Her
hands began to roam beneath the loose tunic he wore, and Thranduil felt
his body stirring in response, awakening again after so many long,
Returning the caresses, he trailed the tips of his fingers along her
cheek and down the side of her neck, dipping down into the low-necked
robe she wore. As his mouth closed on hers, he drew her down onto
the rug. “And now,” he whispered, “Let us begin
As one hand held her tightly against him, he fumbled with the ties on
the front of Telparian’s robe until it fell open. His lips and
tongue traced a meandering line along the line of her jaw and throat,
then down again to touch her breasts and circling her nipples before
taking the dark peak into his mouth.
As Telparian tensed and moaned his name, she cupped his growing
hardness in one hand, while her teeth nibbled at the lobe of his ear.
Thranduil groaned in desperate desire. Seven years, and she had
not forgotten the one thing that undid him more swiftly than anything
else. He moved his body over hers and slid into her with a
sigh that was almost a sob. He moved slowly, revelling in the
softness of Telparian’s skin, her warmth, and the joy with which they
The spiralling ecstasy spread and soared to engulf them both.
Climax took them, too soon, and he collapsed against her with a gasp,
shuddering. He felt the tremors shaking her, and held her close,
overwhelmed by the love he felt for his beautiful winter maiden.
Telparian nestled against him sleepily as they shared the warm glow of
the languid aftermath, and together they drifted into peaceful,
Sometime much later, Thranduil awoke as one of the logs on the fire
cracked sharply. He listened, senses automatically alert, but all
was peaceful. It was some while before dawn and all was still.
Telparian still slept, her expression serene. As Thranduil raised
his head to look at the fire, she stirred slightly with a grumble of
displeasure as a shaft of cold air snaked beneath the cloak that still
covered them. Then, snuggling a little closer, she subsided
again. Carefully, Thranduil slid from beneath the cloak, tucking
it around her gently. Telparian’s foot protruded from the
end of the cloak, her toes blue with cold. Gently, he
stroked the bare sole. Her foot twitched, and withdrew into the
warm sanctuary of the cloak again.
It was still dark, and overhead the stars glittered fiercely. The
light was reflected on his skin, on Telparian’s hair, and on the
frost-studded grass. Every leaf was outlined with sparkling
white, and his breath clouded on the frigid air. Hastily
pulling the second cloak around himself, he crossed the clearing,
gathering more wood for the fire.
The frost had not reached beneath the trees, and an expanse of white
and dark green caught his eye. More snowdrops grew in the
shelter of the branches, hundreds of them, each cluster of flowers
surrounded by long green spear-like leaves. He picked a few,
murmuring thanks to Yavanna for her bounty as he did so. Pulling
a few strands of hair from his head, he plaited them together, and tied
the flowers carefully into a small posy. Returning to Telparian,
he placed the snowdrops by her head where she would see them when she
awoke, and slid beneath the covering, once more by her side. It
was where he belonged, and he would never leave her again.
The new day would bring a new beginning, a new era for the Greenwood, a
new king. With his arms around Telparian, he smiled.
With her agreement, perhaps one day soon there would be another new
beginning. It was time for the Greenwood to have a new heir.