The Moth & The Flame

BY : Avaloyuru
Category: +Third Age > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 2384
Disclaimer: I do not own any copyright to the Tolkien/Middle-Earth Fandom, nor his canon characters or languages. I do not receive any form of compensation for this fanfiction. Original characters are my property.

Although the sun was already high in the sky by the time they reached Loeg Ningloron, it did little to warm the chilly winter winds that blew down from the snow covered peaks of the Misty Mountains.  They had only stopped once long enough to retrieve their riding cloaks from their packs before Thranduil pushed them back to an almost relentless speed.  Warmed by his cloak and body heat as he held her tightly against him, Tauriel still felt the cold stinging her cheeks as the landscape raced passed by them in a blur.  Much more accustomed to sprinting on foot in the forest, Tauriel felt as if every bone and muscle in her body ached.

“Come on.”  Thranduil said quietly as he dismounted, swinging her down with him.  “They need to rest and you need walk.”  He told her as he unfastened the thick cloak and pulled if off his shoulders.

“What about you?”  She asked as he wrapped the comforting warmth of the cloak around her shoulders.

“I will be fine.”  He stated, avoiding the urge to look at her as he fastened it at her neck.  “Now walk.”  He added as he turned her away from him and gave her a gentle push.

“But...”  She started, turning around to complain but he had walked away from her and was now already in what appeared to be a deep discussion with Aldalómë.

Angry as she was with him, she didn’t really want to fight with him, she hugged the thick cloak tighter around her and simply walked back and forth.  The air was still chilly but there was less wind now that they were not racing along banks of the Anduin, her muscles complaining profusely with each step.

“Here, eat this.”  Rínnänéth said quietly as he approached, handing her a bread roll and a flask of water.  “We won’t make camp until closer to time for the evening meal.  You’ll be pretty hungry by then.”  He told her with a slight smile and abruptly walked away from her.

Leaning against a rock outcropping, she frowned as she weighed the bread roll in her hand for a moment.  It felt heavy as if it wasn’t quite cooked all the way through.  Curious, she bit into it and was pleasantly surprised as the taste of goat cheese filled her mouth.  Keeping her head down slightly as she ate, she watched the king as he continued his discussion with Aldalómë now joined by Eluandúnië.  His arms were folded across his chest and his expression seemed tense and guarded as he turned in the direction Aldalómë was pointing.  He looked tired and cold, making her feel guilty that he had given her his cloak since she did not have one.

“Mount up.”  Thranduil ordered as he walked toward Maeglir.  “Just a little further boy, then we rest for the night.”  He said quietly laying his cheek against the horses’ broad face as he stroked his thick strong neck.

“Is everything alright?”  She asked as he led the horse over to her.

“Why wouldn’t it be?”  He asked as he unfastened the cloak, still not looking at her as he wrapped it around his shoulders.

“What was Aldalómë pointing at?”  Tauriel pressed as he swung himself up into the saddle.

“Nothing, now come.”  He stated, finally looking at her as he reached down toward her, noting the slight redness on her cheeks from the chilly wind. Grasping her hand, he pulled her easily into the saddle in front of him, positioning her in front of him a little more gently than he had the first time.

“It should be easier for you.  We will not be moving quite as fast now.”  He told her, grabbing the outer edge of the flowing cloak and wrapped it tightly around her.

“Move.”  He barked the order, his voice low yet carrying clearly through the chilly air as he shifted his weight slightly, launching Maeglir into a fast canter north toward the Old Forest Road.

She watched from over the folds of the thick cloak as they assumed their normal formation with Aldalómë and Glaurhalbër in the lead with the other three guards flanking Thranduil, effectively boxing them in the middle.  Her gaze dropped to his gloved hand as he held the reins loosely, again feeling him guiding the huge horse using slight pressure with his knees and subtle movement of his hips.  Yet it also made her so much more aware of him, the strength in his arm as he held her tightly against the length of his hard body.  She felt every movement against her as he tightened his thighs on the steeds’ wide girth and rocked his hips urging him forward at a faster pace.

Smiling to himself, he slipped his arm further around her slender waist as he felt her lean back against him.  Although his cloak was filled with her scent, he leaned down slightly, pressing his cheek against her temple, enjoying her closeness.  He remembered her as a young elfling, she had been so frightened of Maeglir yet she enjoyed watching him ride from a distance as he raced him around the grassy fields.  A slight smile curled his lips as he remembered her tantrums when he allowed some of the other elflings to ride him all by themselves, afraid they would fall off and get hurt.

Shaking himself back to the present, Thranduil looked toward the desolate craggy slopes of the Misty Mountains just beyond the Anduin on their left.  Scanning the rocky face, he looked for movement of any kind as both goblin and orc could easily blend in with the mottled gray and black coloring of the uneven and stony mountain side.  Riding closer to the shores of Anduin provided good distance between them and forest, even though he wasn’t as much concerned with the shelob (spiders) at the moment.  While they were only a small party, the evil at Dol Guldur had made the goblins restless and in some ways more daring, he was not willing to wager on their safety.

Slowly the air turned colder as the sun began its descent behind the jagged outline of the mountain tops, casting long shadows across the Anduin.  Still they pressed on toward a small landmark of stone outcroppings just beyond the Old Forest Road.  It would be a safe place to make camp, providing a break from the winds that had intensified and some semblance security.

An uncomfortable feeling settled over her as they approached the semicircle of stone.  Having served in the kings’ forest patrol for most of her adulthood, she recognized some of the hand signals as Eluandúnië and Glaurhalbër separated from the group, heading north.  Macilvoronhûr and Rínnänéth split from them heading south as Aldalómë guided his mount toward them.  His cold blue eyes flickered over her, Tauriel pressed instinctively tighter against the king as they waited in silence for them to return.  Her uneasiness only grew as she watched the silent communication between them when the others returned.  Strange glances and slight nods that told her nothing as they dismounted, moving into the cover of the rocks.

“Stay here.”  Thranduil told her as he once again pulled off his cloak and wrapped it around her shoulders.

“What is it?”  She asked, following him as he walked away from her.

“Stay here.”  He stated sharply, turning to face her, his face seemed as hard as the stones around them as he narrowed his eyes at her.

Swallowing hard at the sudden change in his demeanor, Tauriel shrank back from him as he continued to glare at her.  Still she felt the heat of her anger stinging her cheeks as her stomach twisted in knots as he turned away from her.  She was not a defenseless child in need of his protection.  She had proven her worth many times over as a captain in his forest patrol.  Yet there was something in his gaze that silenced her.  Clenching her teeth, she reluctantly turned away from him toward one of the larger stones and sank down in front of it.

“Damn you!”  She cursed him silently as she settled against the stone surface, wrapping the cloak tighter around her.

She had little memory of her parents, their fortress palace and life under the kings’ protection was all she knew.  There were others like her, elflings who had lost their parents, families and friends in wars who also lived there as wards of the king.  He had taken a special interest in her and had lavished her with attention, allowing her to attend classes with Legolas, even training with him when she was old enough and she had excelled with the bow and the knife.  Tauriel knew she owed him much yet she needed to prove herself worthy of the praise he so often heaped upon her.  Yet deep down, she knew that was not the reason she had fought him so hard for his approval to join the forest patrol now many long years ago.

“It will be dark soon.”  Macilvoronhûr said quietly, interrupting her thoughts as he handed her another of the baked rolls and a flask of water.  “There will be no fire tonight.  We will move again before dawn.”

“Why will he not talk to me?”  She asked, meeting his soft green eyes as she accepted the food from him.

She felt her anger rise again as he only smiled slightly and turned away from her.  There was much history between them and she was nothing more than baggage.  A mixture of both Sindar and Silvan, they had all grown up together under the rule of King Oropher, serving as captains in the forest patrol and had fought side by side in defense of the realm.  A Sindar like the king, Aldalómës’ father, Lord Garävegión was the kings’ chief counselor and closest advisor.  The two of them had been inseparable as elflings, along with Glaurhalbër, another Sindar who served as second in command in Aldalómës’ rare absences.  Unlike what she knew of his father, the king did not appear to share the same opinion of Silvan elves as he had appointed a number of them to high ranking positions within his council.  Yet, he always differed to the council of the Sindar.

It was dark by the time the king returned to her as she huddled against the stone, clinging to the warmth of the cloak.  He remained silent, not looking at her has he dropped to his knees and brushed away loose stones and other debris at the base of the tallest of the jutting rocks.  She could still make out the grim expression on his face as he looked up when Macilvoronhûr and Rínnänéth joined them.

“You need to sleep.”  He told her, there was no emotion in his tone as he pulled off his gloves, laying them aside as he reached for the clasp at her throat.

“You’re freezing!”  She exclaimed, his cold fingers brushed her chin as he unfastened the clasp.

“I am fine.”  He stated, frowning at her as he took her hand, pulling her with him as he laid down on the hard surface.

Curling against her body as he drew the cloak over them, Thranduil stiffened as she snuggled closer to him.  Swallowing with difficulty as she pressed her backside firmly against his groin, he struggled to remain still as the soft scent of lavender and lilac mingled with her own wafted through his senses with her squirming.  Tall for a Silvan elf, her body molded so comfortably to his as he carefully adjusted his position, slipping his arm around her waist.  The heat from her body slowly warmed him as he lay quietly, holding her and listening to her breathing.  Frowning inwardly, he prepared himself for what he knew would be a very long night.

“Even if we manage to slip quietly through the back gate word will spread.”  Glaurhalbër said quietly, his voice barely above a whisper as they stood the first watch for the night.

“Aye.”  Aldalómë sighed, casting him a quick sideways glance.  “Say nothing to no one.”  He added as he turned his eyes back to the mountain side.

The night passed slowly for all of them as Rínnänéth silently stepped back into their makeshift camp.  Thrusting his chin toward the east as Aldalómë peered out from under the hood of his cloak, he gave him the signal that dawn would break shortly.  Casting a quick glance toward the king, he nodded as Aldalómë shook his head, they would leave him sleep while they gathered the horses.

Within minutes Thranduil emerged from behind the rocks, frowning at Aldalómë as he walked briskly toward him.  They remained silent as the king turned to scan their surroundings even though he knew the others had already mounted and were waiting a short distance away.

“This was a fools’ errand.”  Aldalómë stated, finally breaking the silence between them.  The disapproval clear in both his tone.

“Not now.”  Thranduil said quietly, folding his arms across his chest as if it would ward off the oncoming chill.

Smelling the air, he turned toward the west, noting that the snow had crept even farther down the mountain slopes during the night.  A heavy frost seemed to cover everything that wasn’t moving, sparkling like thousands of tiny diamonds as the pink light of a false dawn crept over the dense forest in the distance.  He could hear the faint calls of the Morning Doves and Quail nesting in the tall grassy fields between them and the forest.

Clicking his tongue, he called Maeglir to him, smiling as he heard him snort followed by the sound of his hooves as he cantered up to him.

“Tonight you shall have the comfort of your warm stall and fresh sweet hay.”  He told him softly, running his fingers through his mane as the huge steed nuzzled his chest.  Patting the broad side of his thick neck, he grasped the reins and led him back toward the semicircle of rocks.

“Tauriel.”  He said softly, touching her shoulder.  “Come, we need to leave.”

Waking with a start, she stared up at him for a moment before pushing herself to her feet.  She could see the concern etched in his features, yet there was something else about him that seemed slightly distant as he turned away from her.  Frowning, she pulled the cloak tighter around her as she followed him.

“I do not intend to stop until we are safely in the palace.”  He said quietly as he rummaged in one of the saddle bags.  “You need to eat before we start.”  He told her, handing her one of the baked rolls as he turned back toward her.

A slight shake of his head silenced her as he turned his attention to Maeglir, giving her the opportunity to eat.  Frowning, she watched him as she ate in silence.  The air was cold enough she could see his breath in the faint glow, yet his gloves hung at his belt as he ran this bare fingers through the steeds mane and cross his face.  Again she felt the bond between them, they seemed to speak to each other in a language only they knew and understood.

“Like the language of lovers.”  She thought, feeling the heat of her embarrassment staining her cheeks.  That feeling only deepened as she remembered the feel of him as he curled his body around her so possessively through the night.  The feel of his face buried in her hair at the back of her neck as he sought the heat from her body.

“We need to go.”  He stated, turning suddenly toward her, his icy fingers brushed her chin as he unfastened the clasp of the cloak.

Unwilling to look at her face lest she read his thoughts, he kept his attention focused on the clasp and turned away from her as he swung it around his shoulders.  Mounting quickly, he reached for her and pulled her quickly into the saddle in front of him.  Pausing only long enough to retrieve his gloves before wrapping her once again in the cloak as he motioned Maeglir into a brisk walk toward the others who waited a short distance away.

“Do you always read each other’s thoughts?”  She asked, allowing her irritation to show slightly as she watched them exchange glances and then shift to a different formation.

“Sometimes.”  Thranduil told her quietly, slipping his arm tighter around her as he caught the sideways glances from both Aldalómë and Eluandúnië.

Pursing her lips in frustration, Tauriel ignored them and turned her gaze toward the distant forest, yet she could not ignore the possessive way he held her so tightly against him.  She felt the heat of embarrassment rising in her cheeks as she was forced to lean against the length of him, her thoughts turning to the way he held her last night.  The heat from his body radiated through her as he slept, burying his face in her neck as chilly fingers of cold air seeped beneath the heavy cloak.

All too soon the edge of the forest loomed before them as they descended the sloping field.  The guards moved to single file, Aldalómë in the lead and the king in center as they approached the Great Horned Gate, the start of the elven path through the forest.  Passing through the gate, an eerie darkness engulfed them almost as if night had fallen, the foul stench of decay drifted on the subtle current of air that seemed to come from everywhere yet nowhere.  Illuminated with elven magic, the path was still dim as it wound its’ way for almost one hundred and fifty miles through dense clusters of gnarled and twisted trunks, heavily draped in thick vines of poison sumac.

“Be still.”  He said quietly close to her ear, tightening his hold on her as he dropped his other hand down to grasp the hilt of his sword.

Hindered by the colder temperatures in the winter months, most of the shelob (spiders) nests were closer to the tree tops where the branches still protected then from the gusting winds and the air was slightly warmer during the day.  The forest grew more densely here, forcing them to move at a much slower pace than Thranduil would have preferred, the guards maintained a tight line and a steady forward pace with their bows at the ready.  Unless they felt threatened or very hungry, they were usually not interested in attacking such a large group on horseback verses a single rider or a small group on foot.  Yet they could feel the eyes of the shelob (spiders) watching and hear the snapping of twigs and smaller branches beneath their weight as they followed them along the path from up above.

Suddenly the forest seemed to open up as the trees began to thin out, allowing them to move at a faster pace toward the Enchanted River that flowed from the center of the Mirkwood Mountains, winding its way through underground aquafers beneath the elven halls.  Reaching the river, the small boats were not meant to ferry the horses across, forcing them to follow it north until it joined the Forest River that flowed south from the Grey Mountains.

Securing their weapons as they reached the rivers junction, they waited at the shoreline as the oarsmen guided the barge across.  As if sensing they were almost home, the horses were almost eager to climb up on the broad by unsteady platform.  Unlike the barges in Lórinand which were designed to haul large heavy loads for trading with the dwarves of Moria and the woodsmen of Gianduin, it took two trips for the entire party to cross.  Continuing north, the shadows grew longer as the sun dipped into the western mountain peaks, they made their way toward the stable area at the rear of the elven halls.

“Aldalómë.”  Thranduil stated just loud enough to be heard, reining Maeglir to a halt as the large stable doors came into view.

“What does that mean?!”  Tauriel asked more sharply as she watched him hold up his hand, pointing his finger upward as he made a spinning motion when the Chief March Warden turned to look back at him.

“Nothing.”  Thranduil said quietly, smiling as he felt her body stiffen and knew she was getting frustrated and angry with him.  His arm tightened around her as he watched them enter the stable while he remained in the shadows.

“I am not a child!”  She hissed through clenched teeth as she twisted in the saddle to glare at him.

“I did not say you were.”  He said softly, smiling as he gazed into her flashing angry eyes.  He leaned forward slightly, feeling her breath on his lips.

Shocked into silence Tauriel felt her head swim as he jerked his hips forward sending Maeglir nearly running into the stables.

“Take her the back way.”  Thranduil ordered, pulling her easily with him as he swung his long frame down from the saddle.

Confused, Tauriel only gasped as Glaurhalbër and Rínnänéth stepped up beside her, whisking her quickly through a side door that led into various storage rooms.

“Take me where?!”  She demanded as they continued silently through yet another door into a narrow tunnel that felt like it was going upward.  This was a part of the palace she had never been in and had no idea where they were taking her or why.



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