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Fic: I Will Find You *Fingolfin/Ariannon(OC)* FPS 1/1 R

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  • Jane Fink
    *Title:* I Will Find You *Author:* Phyncke *Email:* jhfink@sbcglobal.net *Beta:*Keiliss *Rating:* R *Pairing:* Fingolfin/Ariannon (OC) *Warnings:* Slash
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2008
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      Title: I Will Find You
      Author: Phyncke
      Email: jhfink@...
      Beta:Keiliss
      Rating: R
      Pairing: Fingolfin/Ariannon (OC)
      Warnings: Slash

      Request: First age pairing not specified. Hope. For: Oshun (2007 Slashy Santa Exchange)

      Summary: Ariannon tries his hand at soldiering in First Age Hithlum, discovering much about himself and his king.

      ******************

      The light of the first age

      When Ithil first shone its pale silver light upon the elves of Fingolfin's host, they did not at first comprehend what it meant. Some cried out that the forces of evil were sighted on the eastern horizon and they were doomed, but that idea was quickly quashed as the landscape was illuminated around them, giving the night a hallowed look. Something this beautiful could not be rooted in the evil of Morgoth or his minions. No balrog this; no dragon caused this shimmering. It was the Valar, and the elves had not been forsaken after their long years of trekking across the treacherous ice.

      Ariannon knew what it meant as soon as the large orb began to rise in the sky, blending its glow with that of Varda's stars to illuminate the end of their journey off the dread Helcaraxë. Under their trudging feet, ice became snow, snow became tundra and tundra turned to the soil of Arda. They were saved.

      In a voice as clear and true as the night which surrounded them, Ariannon began to sing, a song of rejoicing and of their arrival, a song of hope to gather courage to finish their long march to solid ground. One strong voice, wafting over the elven travelers then blending with others as the music was learned and passed from one to the other, carrying through those who had survived this far. Finally, it was caught up by the pure call of silver trumpets, sounding out to the night in triumph.

      The melody was new; the age had dawned and as the song took hold, no evil would touch them as they entered Middle Earth. Fingolfin led his people straight to Angband where he issued his challenge to the craven monster within. He received no answer. The horns sounded his march to those dark gates, though soon he withdrew to the Lake of Mithrim. His people needed rest, sustenance and a place to call their own. Many had been lost on their odyssey. And so they camped on the shores of the great lake

      The building of Mithrim

      After they reached Lake Mithrim, they discovered that Maedhros was held captive in Morgoth's thrall, and that Fëanor had been dead for some years. Feeling there was naught else to do, Fingolfin assumed de facto leadership of the Noldor in Beleriand. The responsibility was bred in him, he would not shirk his duty to his people. If his father had taught him anything, it was to lead.

      For a time they lived along the shore of the lake in a makeshift encampment directly across from the Fëanorian settlement, and tensions between the two were thick. The abandonment at Alqualondë rankled and the terrors of what they had endured was still fresh in the minds of those who had journeyed. It was natural that such resentments would exist.

      The eagles brought word of Maedhros, left to die, hung from the perilous Thangorodrim. Should he send a force to scale those walls? Fingolfin thought many a long night about what to do, until his eldest son solved the problem for him by rescuing his cousin and scaling those evil walls. The saving of Maedhros did much to mend the rift between the branches of the Noldor in Beleriand. Once healed, and having learned to fight with one hand, Fëanor's eldest passed the kingship to Fingolfin, for the benefit of their people and so that he might fulfill his oath to his father to recover the silmarils. His uncle accepted the crown and the burden, as was the desire of the populace.

      And so Mithrim became the center of Fingolfin's province, the southeastern fortress city of the kingdom of Hithlum which was designed to withstand the mongrel hordes that Morgoth might unleash upon them. Using the lake as its northern border, the city was well protected on that side. An incursion from the north would be easily seen as the enemy would have to cross water to reach them or at the very least go around the lake. The lands in the north were ringed by mountains on all sides and veiled in the mist that evoked its name. Stone walls ringed the city, and it centered the might of Fingolfin. Fingon dwelled with him there and was chief among his captains.

      Ariannon did his best to make himself useful during the construction of the fortress citadel. He hefted, he carried, he worked, from Anor's rise each morning until her setting and many times long into the night when Ithil blessed them with his presence. It took the elves a while to get used to the cycles of the new spheres of light, and it was marked when the moon appeared and when it did not over the passing of the years. One cycle of the moon was marked as a month. The elves began to measure time in this manner. Twelve moon cycles made a year with the passing of the four distinct seasons in Middle Earth. Valinor seemed timeless, but one could feel the years flow in Arda, both in the tumultuous events and the changing weather.

      He felt very loyal to Fingolfin and applied himself to every task with zeal. He had been saved on the Helcaraxë by the new king, pulled from an icy crevasse by his own hand. He owed Fingolfin his life. The king for his turn felt a sense of responsibility for Ariannon, who had left all family behind to march with him to this place. He kept the elf close in his circle, watching over him, making sure he wanted for nothing. They spoke of many issues together, and very often the king would ask him what he thought of a matter. Ariannon always answered with absolute candor. He could never lie to Fingolfin or hide his true opinion. Topics ranging from where to place the watchtowers to what to have for dinner that night, were discussed. The affection blossomed between them day by day and year by year, but not so that it was marked by either one of them.

      First and last patrol

      And so it came to pass that Ariannon believed that he was not doing enough to help, even though he worked hard each day. He observed the soldiers leaving the growing fortress city, coming back battered and weary. He longed to join them in the defense against evil. All elves were trained in defense and capable of fighting, but Ariannon wanted to directly aid in the struggle against Morgoth. For this he would need to petition Fingon.

      "No, Ariannon, Father would not have it..."

      "But why? I am able, I am brave! Can I not go to fight too?"

      "He will have my head on a platter, you know. He wants you here and safe."

      "How will I ever learn anything if I am kept here and not allowed to do things?"

      It was a good point that and Fingon eyed Ariannon coolly, as if to take his measure. He understood this aspiration and did not feel that the other elf needed to be coddled or protected. In these evil times, all should fight, all should go to war, and they needed warriors to patrol for Morgoth's foul creatures.

      "You will need armor and weapons from the armory. We leave in five days time at dawn from the gates. Report for training tomorrow and you will be made ready."

      The other elf ran to the quarter master to get himself outfitted for the field with suitable weapons and clothing. For the next five days, he spent every waking moment at the training grounds being worked by Lothlar, the elf in charge new recruits. He sparred and learned as much as he could about the enemy. In times such as these, new soldiers were encouraged, accepted and made ready quickly to join the armed forces of the king. He would patrol in the wilds of Ered Withrim and receive further training out in the field.

      Fingolfin was not to know of course, leastways until after they left and he could do nothing about it but fume. And fume he did to the point of losing his temper, but that was hours after their departure, seemingly too late to send someone after the northward patrol.

      Setting out

      At dawn on the fifth day, Ariannon galloped and held his position to the back of his column, thrilled to be on his first patrol. He pondered what he would do should they run into trouble and hoped that he would remember all that been drilled into him of battle strategy. They had been taught no more than the basics in the past few days—don't let them corner you, keep your blade up—and so forth. He fretted a bit while he rode along.

      He did not venture outside the city walls as a rule and watched the scenery pass with interest. He loved the wildness of the countryside, the rugged mountain passes and the fog which enveloped them in the pre-dawn hours. They had named it Hísilómë, land of mist, an apt descriptive.

      He found himself fitting in easily with the camaraderie of the other soldiers on his patrol. Fingon was an easy elf to get on with and there was much mirth by the fire at night. As they ate they reminisced about times past, experiences shared, and what they had lived through together. They made Ariannon feel welcome and he broke bread with them as a brother. He felt like one of them, comfortable and at ease.

      They were in the lower passes, sheltered in the rock formations and the watch was set. Fingon decided the new recruit did not have to stand sentry his first night and would learn the way of life in the field first.

      "Tomorrow, you will stand watch with an elf of my choosing, Ariannon. I don't want you out there alone this patrol...too much can happen."

      The eldest son of the king frowned just like his father when he was decisive. The firelight reflected in his grey eyes; it was uncanny.

      Ariannon nodded, wondering what Fingolfin was doing at that moment back at Mithrim. It was the king's habit to stay up late at night working or often times talking to him, but he was not there this night. The new soldier stared into the fire and tried to picture the king in his mind's eye, his face, penetrating eyes, the kind smile that graced his face when Ariannon said something funny or ridiculous. This was often, according to the king. It had been lucky that Fingolfin had come along just at the moment when he had disappeared beneath the surface of the ice with no sound. Their futures had been linked together ever since.

      Dinner with the King

      It had not been a good night to the south. Everyone was on edge and there was definitely an air of tension amongst those gathered for dinner in the great room. King Fingolfin was not pleased with his eldest son, and positively glowered while he ate his evening meal. The food was hearty and delicious as always: roasted venison and seasonal root vegetables followed by cooked cinnamon apples for dessert.

      To his right came a polite attempt at post-dinner conversation. "My lord, we shall finish the north wall this month."

      "I am aware of that, Nilthrim. All to the good," Fingolfin replied tersely.

      "Yes, sir."

      Was Ariannon warm enough? Did he have to stand guard? What of the dangers and fell creatures of Morgoth? What of them? The king leaned forward on his elbows, his confection untouched. Don't be silly, he reasoned with himself. He is certainly more than old enough for such work and survived the journey here. Thoughts continued to plague the king's mind. He has not fought before. What if Ariannon has to face orcs or other foul creatures?

      "Damn it..."

      He picked up his fork and shoveled in a mouthful of now cold apple.

      "How long is Findekáno usually gone?"

      "A week or so, my king," was the helpful reply from his adviser.

      "Damn it..."

      The king did not sleep well that long night. He tossed and turned, finally getting up to look out at the mountains from the ramparts. It was a moonless night, much as it had been during their journey over the ice. He would be alright, or if wishing made it so he would be.

      The morning mist

      Ariannon awoke the next morning and found the sky still dark before sunrise. Fog and mist floated through their camp giving it an eerie look, as one sentry stood watching over the sleeping elves. The second guard was further afield roaming in a circle around the sleeping elves, sweeping the forest for any signs of predatory creatures that might harm them. In this manner the soldiers were protected through the night.

      He got up and stretched, moving silently as most Eldar do, not wanting to wake his companions. He walked to the nearby mountain stream to wash his face to wake for the day. Venturing a bit further to an overlook which afforded him a view of the plains, he could see the whole province shrouded in a layer of mist. They had named this land for the magical fog which enveloped it each day and so now Ariannon could see it from another vantage point. Mithrim was not visible but later the fog would lift and allow a clearer view. He returned to the camp and began to set the fire for breakfast. The others rose with Anor, not waking up a minute before they had to.

      Ranging far north through the next days, Fingon's patrol encountered a suspicious trail which they began to follow. He was worried that Ariannon did not have any practical battle experience though he'd had the mandatory defensive training and the recent sparring work in Mithrim. And so he assigned two of his best warriors to spar with Ariannon in the evenings to continue preparing him for what was surely to come. They were going to encounter Morgoth's forces; it was a matter of when.

      Lothlar explained as they skirmished, "Orcs can be slow and clumsy but it is best not to underestimate them. They fight in great numbers and so can overwhelm because of that. Blade up!"

      Ariannon did so just in time to deflect the downward blow as metal met metal.

      "Good, again!"

      And so he was made ready. Each night, he lay in his bedroll looking up at the stars and thinking of his king. Unbeknownst to him, those thoughts were met with similar ones from the south, as his friend paced in his bedchamber until all hours of the night.

      On the fourth day of this northward patrol, Fingon's brave elves engaged the enemy in the tall peaks of the Ered Withrin. It was not a quick battle as they were far outnumbered to their disadvantage. Ariannon put his training to good use, fighting from horseback to maintain his advantage against these fell orcs at close range. He had never seen such monsters so near, with their mottled skin, grotesque faces and gnarled hands. The elves fought with the light of Aman in their eyes which gave them strength and soon the foul creatures were fleeing into the woods and up the mountainside to get away from their wrath. The Noldor were the sworn enemy of Morgoth and such creatures, and deadly to them indeed.

      It seemed like it was all over when Ariannon dismounted and took off his helmet. He stood surveying the quieter area of battle, looking for any wounded elves that he could assist. It was then he saw Lothlar, who was locked in battle with three of the creatures, get cut down from behind by one of the cowards. The elf crumbled and Ariannon felt a rage take him.

      "No!" The young elf brandished his blade, taking a menacing step forward and the orcs looked startled and fled into the woods.

      He pursued the small band of orcs far into the forest. He had neither accompaniment nor horse with him but ran on foot, fleet and fast as a deer might run. It did not occur to him, as the fervor ran high in his blood, that he should not get separated from the rest of his troop. He also had not noticed that the sun was low to the horizon and setting soon. When the determined elf finally caught up to his quarry, there was only one orc left standing, as evidently there had been a disagreement between them. The one who survived bled from a wound in his side and Ariannon made quick, deadly work of the vile creature, finishing what his "friends" had started. He ran the beast through with his elvish blade. As he stood in the golden light of Anor's fading rays, his sword dripping with the black blood, he felt nausea creep into his belly as he struggled to keep from vomiting.

      Earlier that day...

      High kings did not sneak, per se. They did as they wished, in the manner they intended. They might apply cunning and stealth, as was clever to do. But no, they did not sneak. Fingolfin congratulated himself for his cleverness all the way up the lower passes of Ered Wethrin as he rode his new steed, a young stallion recently trapped on the plains by Fingon and presented as a gift to his father.

      Through what he thought was a subtle line of questioning, Fingolfin had found out at the previous night's dinner the direction and path of his son's patrol. No one the wiser, he had left Mithrim in the pre-dawn hours before anyone in the fortress could awaken and stop him from his goal. Had they been up and asked him, he would have made up some "hunting trip" or other nonsense to get them out of the way. It would be hard to explain the full battle armor, but he would have thought of something. Now he was well on his way. He had no idea what he would do when he got there, but his curiosity must be assuaged. He had to know how Ariannon fared, and he was not a patient elf.

      He rode up into the mountains the better part of the day, resting his horse a few times and refreshing his water skin in the streams that flowed down to the plains. He was making good time as evening fell. He crested one last incline and ran right into Fingon's exhausted and ragged patrol. One look told him the entire story and also that Ariannon was not with them, though there was a horse with a rider unaccounted for.

      "Where is he, Findekáno?"

      His eldest looked wearily at his father. What with attending to the wounded, setting up the fires for the foul-smelling carcasses and hunting down the fleeing creatures, he had not had time to send someone after Ariannon.

      "He went in pursuit of some orcs, I believe. I am sure he is close by...?"

      Directness would allay his father's anger somewhat, though Fingon was always so with the king.

      "He is not in the vicinity, my lords. We have looked already."

      Both father and son turned to the speaker, a sandy- haired Noldo who was cleaning out a nasty gash on his arm.

      "That will need stitching, " the king murmured, his frown increasing with the news.

      "I will go look for him, Fingon, you are busy here and I am not as tired as you are from the fighting. I will find him. This was his first battle and he probably got over-zealous and is out there somewhere not too far away."

      Nodding in answer, Fingon sat on the ground. He was exhausted and needed to tend to his soldiers. It was good his father had offered as he and his soldiers had much to do here.

      "Thank you, father."

      "Don't worry. You finish here and then head back home. I will follow as soon as I can with Ariannon."

      Fingolfin climbed into his saddle, waving away offers of an escort. No one could be spared here and so he urged his horse to a gallop, heading north through the forest in the direction that had been indicated. It was now getting dark and he hoped to find the lost elf swiftly. He did not like to think of him out alone in the mountains at night.

      Lost more than he knows...

      "You are supposed to burn them," he said to no one, and no one answered.

      Ariannon looked at the corpses on the ground, laying in unnatural contorted positions where they had died. Their eyes were open and they looked very much alive in the darkening gloom. If he stared long enough, he might imagine them moving, but that could not be so. They were truly and forever dead, one by his own hand. The finality of that struck him as he stood there in the mountain wind. He shivered, though not from the cold. This was the first living being he had killed. It was a sobering thought now that the bloodlust had left his body.

      The orcs did not move, nor did they get up again from where they lay prone, and so Ariannon set about gathering wood from the forest to pile high as a pyre. One did not bury them. He had flint and he would set them alight and remove all trace of their existence from the world.

      He grunted and groaned, dragging the very heavy bodies across the clearing and onto the pyre, placing them on top of each other. It was full on dark now and a very clear night. The stars looked closer here and there was no moon, so no silvery light for this morbid work. He had found dry leaves and twigs to use as kindling under the bigger logs, and got out his flint and stone, kneeling at the edge of the stack of wood. He struck at it a few times until the spark finally caught and a flame erupted. Fanning it, he stood back to watch it grow, heat rising on his face. He was surprised to feel tears well up and an emptiness coming over himhimhi. He moved further back to get away from the smell of burning flesh, but kept an eye on the macabre sight.

      I will find you

      High kings did not panic. They might worry, but they certainly did not panic, not as such. Each moment he could not find Ariannon increased the urgency Fingolfin felt. Darkness descended and he feared more fell creatures might be in the area. Dipping under the boughs and following his friend's intermittent path through the woods, he kept up a mantra in his mind and whispered it to himself as well.

      'I will find you, I will find you..."

      He kept his eyes trained on the ground and it was lucky that Ariannon in his inexperience had left a blundering trail. He had gone some distance in pursuit and the orcs were also quite easy to follow; they took no care in disguising their trail, scraping their feet and leaving great big footprints in the soil. Disgusting creatures.

      Fingolfin had dismounted to survey his surroundings, and his horse shifted behind him, snorting and stomping a foot. He stood from his crouch and sniffed, smelling a burning smell on the air. He knew that odor well enough: burning orc flesh. Ariannon was close. Just through the trees if he did not miss his guess. He grabbed the reins and led the stallion through the forest and into the clearing, where there was a rock formation, a pyre and a forlorn elf standing a distance. Fingolfin could well imagine what might be going through his mind. Ariannon was no warrior really, too gentle. Even an orc would garner some sympathy from him.

      "You would have died a painful death at their hands, and that would have made me a very unhappy, irritable sort of elf. Impossible to live with, really."

      "You are already irritable, my king...that much we all know. So not much would change, would it?"

      Ariannon's words were gentle and full of affection. Fingolfin's testiness was well known but he was fair and wise too, a good king, committed to his people. He had a mercurial streak that quickly dissipated. He had been at his worst the last few days and it had been a good idea to leave the capital.

      "I detect a distinct note of disrespect there."

      Ariannon gifted Fingolfin with that wry smile the king had come to love so well. It warmed his heart and brought an answering grin to the king's lips.

      "It was not intended as such."

      "I think it was."

      The Noldor lord folded his arms and looked stern though his eyes gave away his true intent, which was to distract his friend from the morbid scene.

      "I would not!" came the laughing reply.

      Fingolfin raised an eyebrow. "That is neither here nor there. This fire is reeking to the skies. I think we should leave this place and find a sheltered place to camp the night. We cannot ride for Mithrim now and you are weary and in need of food, of which I have aplenty on my horse."

      The stench from the pyre was unbearable now and the stallion looked ready to bolt. While gathering up his weapons, Ariannon silently thanked the powers responsible for bringing the king to his side. He could no longer bear being alone and he found the strong presence of his friend a comfort. Gone was the aching in his heart and the emptiness he had felt when looking at death. He was weary, yes, but no longer felt a heaviness of spirit.

      "I do believe there is a small pond near here. I have been up this way exploring when I could escape my responsibilities. You are covered in dirt and blood and I am sure you will want to wash it off."

      Ariannon's shield felt like twenty stones as he trudged slowly after Fingolfin, leaving the burning orcs behind. The odor faded on the breeze and he breathed deeply of the clean mountain air again.

      "I have blood in my hair."

      "Not your own, I hope. You were not wounded. We'll get it clean, so not to worry." The monarch looked back, seeing the weariness there, the slump in Ariannon's shoulders and the exhaustion in his frame. "You ran far, Aira, very far to fight so bravely. We will rest tonight and some of the morning. There is no danger now and you need to recover."

      "I was so angry I ran very fast. I caught them and then..."

      The younger elf recounted his madcap sprint through the mountains and his first lone encounter with such a creature. He had been lucky, very lucky, when facing evil alone Fingolfin thought to himself, listening and saying little at the retelling of the events. He was very relieved his friend had not been cut down by the evil creature, or wounded in the earlier battle.

      When Ariannon paused, the king interjected, "You are very brave, my friend. I am proud of you."

      "I did not feel brave, my lord. I felt very enraged and then somewhat shocked by what I had done."

      "Yes, that is natural for your first time in battle. Well, here we are."

      The woods opened up into a small clearing of sorts and a small mountain pond surrounded by trees. The night was cold and very clear, and the stars seemed to hang suspended above them. The surface of the water was smooth as glass and one could see the night sky reflected. It was a beautiful place, a stark contrast to the horror he had witnessed today.

      The peace of the mountains

      Fingolfin led the stallion to the middle of the clearing and began to unpack, taking down his packs and weapons. Unsaddling the horse, he sent it off to graze, to drink as he wished. They had ridden far today and his mount deserved a rest.

      "Aira, take off your armor and clothing. I have soap here and you can wash up in the lake. It will be cold but you need to get rid of the blood of those creatures."

      Fumbling with the fastenings, Ariannon attempted to do as he was told, to little effect. His hands cramped and he sighed in frustration.

      "Cannot get it. Hands don't work."

      He kept at it but at camp they had helped each other with their armor each night.

      "Let me."

      Fingolfin ambled over and took a look at the leather clasps. With two deft movements of his fingers, the breast plate and back piece fell off. Then he leaned down to try the legs. With just as much facility, those came free as well and soon armor littered the ground.

      "Thank you, my king."

      "I will teach you the trick sometime. It is not hard. Now off with the clothes, you are sure to be drenched in sweat. I have dry, clean clothing here to change into..."

      "Yes, my liege," Ariannon dutifully replied with laughter in his voice. The king was fussing over him like a hen over her chick and thus the new soldier knew that he had been sorely missed. Truth be told, he had also longed to see Fingolfin.

      "Do not mock me with obsequious behavior. You know how I hate that. Get into that water. I know you hate the cold so just run into it all in one go. Trust me on this."

      Clothes were removed with all due haste, and so began the reluctant walk to the ice cold, frigid water.

      "Do you have the soap?" The king knew what the answer was as he held it out in his hand.

      Ariannon stalked back to take the proffered bar of handmade Hithlum soap, grabbing it with a petulant glare which was met with an amused look from his lord. Turning back to the lake, he began his walk again, and Fingolfin took his own armor off with his clothes following immediately after. He would also swim to clean off, accompanying Ariannon and wiping off the sweat from the long, arduous journey that day.

      Ariannon dipped his toes into the water and pulled them back quickly. Cold. It was bloody cold.

      "Too cold!"

      He heard running steps behind him and then felt the wispy breeze as someone passed him by. Fingolfin barreled into the water and then dove through the now rippling surface of the lake. Some moments passed before the king came up for air.

      "Ahhh! That's good. Come on!"

      Ariannon held the soap in a death grip and looked at his lord in disbelief.

      "Don't want to!"

      "I don't see as you have a choice, Aira. You're thinking too much. Back up and take a run at it. I see how your mind is working. You are fixing on how cold it is when actually it is quite lovely," Fingolfin lied as he trod water, explaining his theories on mountain water swimming to his subject. "One must not hesitate. It is all or nothing, all at once, just run in and DIVE! The shock is refreshing, and invigorating. Good stuff!"

      The king dunked his head and came back up, fixing his gaze on Ariannon, ignoring the response in his body to the sight of him. The other elf stood shivering on the shore of the lake and needed to conquer his fear.

      "Back up, Aira, ten paces."

      Ariannon slowly did so, counting them out so as to gather up his courage. He had killed today, surely he could do this! He dug his toes in the ground and got ready to run for it.

      "Stop dallying there, we haven't got all night!"

      Fingolfin laughed then and that was probably what did it, the mirthful attitude of the king while Ariannon suddenly realized the ludicrous nature of the situation.

      "Alright!!!" he bellowed, sprinting full tilt for the water. Diving in a graceful arc, he sliced through the water, feeling as though his heart would stop beating and his skin would fall off from the frigid temperature of the lake.

      "Gahhhhh!"

      He broke the surface with a hoarse shout. When the other elf had calmed down somewhat, Fingolfin asked mildly, "Better, eh?"

      "No, not better! Definitely not better!"

      Ariannon's teeth were chattering more for effect than anything. He hoped to garner sympathy.

      "Keep moving! You will warm up! Now, hand me that soap. Let's make this quick."

      The king swam close enough to pry the soap from his subject's iron grip. He moved him into the shallows so they could stand and lathering could commence. First came the hair, to Fingolfin's logical mind.

      'This is not the mildest soap to use, but it will do the trick. Close your eyes, love, I will try not to get suds in them."

      Ariannon smiled at the endearment, letting his eyelids fall. There was absolute trust between them, born of years together and shared experiences through what had seemed like an endless night. Fingolfin had literally dragged him across the Helcaraxë, not letting him stop when he wanted to give up and fade into the grinding ice.

      Fingolfin lathered the hard bar and then placed his hands on Ariannon's head. Love, he'd said love. Why had he slipped in such a manner? His feelings were just that, his feelings, though he had caught Ariannon's small smile which gave him hope in this . He frowned and worked his friend's hair, turning him to face the other direction.

      "Ouch."

      "Too hard? I am sorry, Aira."

      The monarch gentled his touch so it was soothing and massaged until the dark locks were clean of the thick, crusted blood, spending more time than was technically necessary, if he were to admit it. He enjoyed touching Ariannon and lingered over him. He stood behind the younger elf in the waist high water and any number of unruly thoughts popped into his mind.

      "Feels good, my lord."

      "Good."

      He continued his ministrations, finally murmuring, "Time to rinse. All the blood is gone."

      Ariannon leaned back so that Fingolfin could catch him and lay him down to the level of the water. His auburn hair fanned out while the suds floated around his pale face. His green eyes gazed up at the visage of his friend and he blinked in consternation.

      "Cold," he whispered.

      "I know, but not so so cold."

      "No, not so so cold," was the faint reply from below.

      "We have known cold."

      "Yes we have."

      No argument there, though there was that subtle smile again. It was doing odd things to Fingolfin's stomach that he could not mistake for hunger. He knew the difference very well.

      Fingolfin felt his heart answering his friend's affectionate expression though he frowned now. He let his fingers run through the soft straight hair underneath the surface of the water, making sure it was clear of soap.

      "Is something wrong, my lord?" Ariannon rose up and moved close to Fingolfin, placing a hand lightly on his well-muscled forearm.

      "No, Aira. I am just thinking for a moment."

      "I know that look."

      "Oh?"

      "You're thinking too much," the younger elf said, mimicking what the king had said earlier.

      "I am?"

      "Yes, you are."

      "Stop dallying, we have not got all night." Ariannon smirked as he used Fingolfin's very same words.

      "Now that was you."

      "Not anymore. Time for dallying is past..."

      In all the years of his life, which were long, very long indeed, Ariannon would never forget that moment when first he kissed Fingolfin, the high king of the Noldor, the first true king in these lands in the First Age. Their lips met under the high mountain stars and the embrace blossomed between them. When they parted again long minutes later, Fingolfin softly caressed Ariannon's face down to his full mouth, letting his thumb caress the lower lip.

      "We need to get out of the water, Ariannon. Hmm? Else we will drown in here."

      Ariannon nodded silently, taking Fingolfin's other hand and pulling him out of the cold water to where the packs and bedding lay some distance from the shore on the dry ground. The stallion lifted his head from his night time grazing, snorted to the elves, then lowered his muzzle back down to forage for sweet grasses to chew.

      Prepared for most eventualities, the king had set out two cloths for them to dry off with. Ariannon picked one up and turned to the king, beginning to pat down his dripping body. There was no spare fat on the Noldor lord, his body was shaped by the long years of trekking over the Helcaraxë and a daily regimen of sparring kept him battle ready. No lazy king was he. He was ever vigilant in the war against Morgoth, so his form reflected hardness, of the times and their struggle.

      "I should tend to you, Ariannon. You fought today."

      "You can, my liege, when I am done with you. You have done much for me today and you did travel all the way from Mithrim in one day...you must yourself be tired."

      "Fear gave me wings."

      Now and again Ariannon's fingertips grazed over the bare skin of the king and it felt surprisingly warm after that cold swim. It was smooth, pale, muscled. Sometimes he let his hands slip and caress on purpose, and he fussed over the king much longer than was seemly though Fingolfin did not seem to mind, sighing quite a bit in response. Finally there was no more drying that could be done and the younger elf let his hands fall to his side, gripping the now damp cloth.

      "All done."

      "I think we have just begun, Aira."

      Fingolfin leaned down and picked up the remaining soft linen, opening it in his hands and commenced drying off his companion's dripping body. He applied firm, massaging pressure, while Ariannon swayed a little bit on his feet, closing his eyes.

      "Feels good."

      "Good. Don't fall over," the king murmured as he caressed and ran the cloth over Ariannon's long, lithe back. There was some bruising from the ill-fitted armor so he went lighter there, not wanting to cause undue pain. He knelt behind his friend and patted down his legs to the calf, then turned him, finding the full evidence of the desire between them. He gave the front of his legs the same treatment.

      "Ariannon, we must speak of something."

      "Hmmm?"

      "Do you desire me? For I have done little else but think of you since you left Mithrim some days ago. And now we are together, I find..."

      Ariannon opened his eyes and looked down at the king. It was an odd position to be in, a common elf such as him, with a monarch kneeling at his feet. His green eyes were darkened in passion from Fingolfin's attentions and he did not really want to talk overmuch. He wanted more of those touches so he would speak plainly and nothing could be confused between them.

      "I do desire you, my king. I do not know if it is seemly or correct of me to do so, but that is how I feel. You can see it in my eyes, and in my body. I will not lie to you."

      "Mmm...never lie to me."

      The king let his hands do as they wanted to now that he had confirmation of their mutual regard. His fingers drew lazy circles up Ariannon's sculpted thighs and then higher over the well-toned flat of his stomach. He grazed up so far as to lightly tease his aroused nipples, applying light brushes of his thumbs.

      "I won't, not ever, my king."

      "I am very much your king. I want to give you pleasure, Ariannon. Will you let me? I have only known such pleasure with my wife, but I want it with you."

      He trailed his fingertips down to Ariannon's erect arousal and began a slow, almost gentle caress there, unsure of himself but knowing what he himself enjoyed when he touched his own body. He was gifted with corresponding moans from his companion so he knew that pleasure resulted from the touches. Ariannon's head fell back, and he closed his eyes again, giving himself over to the gradual sensual campaign from his king.

      Fingolfin noted the rising flush on his partner's skin, a tell tale sign of excitement, and increased the pressure and pace somewhat. Ariannon was beautiful this way, under the stars on this cold night elevated in Ered Wethrin. In that moment, the king decided that he would never let this elf be in danger again; a soldier's life was not for him. It was in his power to protect him and he would, or die trying.

      Moving closer, the Noldor king tasted Ariannon with light flicks of his tongue over his rigid flesh, enjoying the musky flavor. Soon that was not enough, and he engulfed his subject's member into his mouth, allowing his lips to press the sensitive ridged surface. He worked on his lover's arousal, pumping his mouth back and forth a few times until he heard the cry:

      "Valar!"

      "Nay, love, Fingolfin. Make no mistake about that."

      And then he resumed his sensual ministrations until the shout reached the stars and Ariannon found release into his king's waiting mouth.

      Fingolfin wrapped his arms around his lover's waist and pulled him close, kissing then letting his cheek rest against Ariannon's belly. His breathing came in small pants for a while, as he calmed himself. His own body was fully primed and awakened this night by what they had just done. Passion bred passion, so to speak but he was prepared to go no further.

      "I want to give myself to you, my lord, if you will have me."

      Ariannon whispered that promise as he stroked the dark, wet hair of his king.

      "I do not require that of you. We can sleep."

      "I want to. When again will we have this time alone together?"

      Fingolfin let his hands absentmindedly caress his lover's backside, teasingly at first and then more firmly.

      "We will find time. I promise you that."

      They moved to the bedroll, which had been spread out before their earlier swim. Fingolfin laid Ariannon down on the woolen blanket, a soldier's thick woven blanket. not the fine linens he felt the elf deserved. Had they been back at Mithrim - well no matter.

      "I will do better next time. 'Tis rough on your skin."

      The king's voice took on a gruff quality as he lowered himself down onto Ariannon, their bodies fitting together like glove to hand. The contact of skin to skin made both elves intake their breath. Fingolfin settled himself as his lover parted his legs slightly, and he let his hands brace on the course-knit fabric.

      "I will try not to hurt you, Aira. I will do my best...but there will be some pain."

      "I know, I have heard tell of these things. It will be fine, my king."

      Ariannon wanted to tell his lover not to worry, but it was like telling the mist not to form in the mountains surrounding Hithlum - an impossibility. Fingolfin leaned low so he could kiss the elf he had chased all the way across his kingdom and murmured, "I will give you pleasure...this I vow."

      They arched together, creating heat and passion in the friction that the movement caused. It was then, in the back of his mind, that it occurred to the monarch that he would need some form of lubrication, something to ease the way for this elf's first time. He did not want to hurt Ariannon more than was necessary and if there was to be pleasure, he needed to prepare him for their lovemaking. He swore under his breathe, which did not go unnoticed as he was in mid-nuzzle of a very elegantly curved neck. Elven hearing is sharp and so came the query: "My lord?"

      "Erm..."

      Ariannon knew that whatever plagued his lover would soon be worked out and caressed Fingolfin's back with soothing passes of his hands. He did not speak, as one should not at such moments when the the king was mulling over a problem. Best not to speak.

      Fingolfin looked up and around, trying to figure out what he could use, mentally going through the contents of his pack. Lying next to his well worn, leather saddle bag, was a lantern of thick glass, but in its base was viscous oil with a wick that lit at the top. One lit the wick and thus the lamp was illuminated. This oil, could it...?

      "Ha!"

      Gifting Ariannon with a heated, passionate kiss to steal his very breathe away, Fingolfin ferreted the vial of extra oil from his bag, popping the cork off quickly. He applied the thick liquid to his own arousal, placing the bottle aside on the ground carefully so it would not spill. They might need it later, either for the lamp or for other activities.

      As he parted Ariannon's strong legs and began to enter his body for the first time, he felt himself enveloped in a welcoming heat, the security of his lover's safe harbor. Their joining was guarded closely by Varda's stars overhead and they moved together as though to music, creating a melody of passion, their moans a sweet song, voiced to that quiet night on the mountainside.

      Some time later, as they lay side by side looking up at the glittering sky overhead, the wool blankets pulled over them to keep out the chill in the air, Ariannon whispered softly, "I am hungry."

      Fingolfin laughed as he always did when his love made a joke. "Aira, you are ridiculous."

      "I am not kidding!"

      The king threw back the covers, his deep laughter rumbling.

      "I will, of course, get you something to eat. I cannot have you go hungry."

      Rising, he did not choose to mention that he was really quite famished himself.

      FINIS

      Aira, aira= (quenya) red, copper color

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