Wading by Marchwriter

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Celebrían caught up her skirts with such energy Haldir glimpsed a flash of white shift as well as a generous length of glistening leg as she scrabbled up the bank and threw herself down beside him.

"Will you not join me? The water is pleasant." Her cheeks were flushed, but the cool air had raised gooseflesh along her calves. A thin line of silt streaked up to her knee, hard ankles dotted with grass blades. He found himself fascinated by the sharp sunlight on her skin, broken and refracted a million times over by the water droplets.

"I think not. I have no desire to swim this morn." He sat up and took the damp twist of her hem between his fingers. "This is thoroughly ruined, you know that?"

She gave him a wicked smile. "There are worse things than a ruined hem."

"Oh? Such as?"

One by one his fingers plucked off the grass blades' ill-contrived and unsubtle embraces. She watched him, her head canted just a little to one side, eyes half-closed, for all the world like one of the little finches that settled on the High King's fountain and trembled with their own heartbeats. For even in stillness, she quivered with impatience. Perhaps, with expectation, anticipation…if her trembling mirrored his own.

He could almost feel it beneath his fingers, that pulse, and he slowed, his thumbs brushing aside the grittiness of silt. To move too suddenly now would spook her. Though his experience with women to this point was albeit limited, he knew enough from a few experimental fumblings in the more secretive corners of the pantry and the tales bandied back and forth among his brethren in the guard that it was better to be gentle, to approach a woman as cautiously as one would a wild bird. Toss the noose light and easy; let her catch herself in the snare.

He hardly dared breathe as his index finger fit into the hollow beneath her knee, his calluses clammy and abrasive against the softness of her damp skin. The slightest pressure. He was so close, he could see the brush strokes of her eyelashes as they flickered, nervous as ruffled wings.

"If you don't know, I shan't tell you," she whispered, her breath warm and rapid against his cheek.

Then suddenly his hands were empty of her as she darted from his grasp, her laughter a glorious and exasperating song as she dove back towards the stream.

He let out the breath he'd been holding in a long, frustrated exhale and slumped back on the grass. Digging his fingers into his eyes did not disperse the image of her wet skin within the palm of his hand nor did it endow him with a greater penchant for patience. Resigned, he lay back to watch and wait for his little bird to flutter near again.

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