First Love by Zhie

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Strolling through the gardens, hands held and carefree as all those who dwelled in Valinor, the pair came to a group of flowered trees, the pale blue and violet blooms scenting the breeze with a delightful smell. Reaching up into the branches, the Elf selected a particularly delicate flower and slowed their pace. He twirled the flower between his fingers, looking up to meet her eyes. She smiled and nodded, and, despite her great height, easily placed the flower behind her ear, for his height matched her own.

"A love has blossomed in my heart that I had not known of before," he said, gently cupping her cheek. She leaned into his touch as he continued. "I live for those moments I am with you, and despair in the night when you are not beside me."

Shivering slightly at the deep sound of his voice, the Elleth placed her hand upon his, letting her fingers slide along his arm. She knew this was not a statement, but a question, asked of her so many times and in so many ways. Her answer was the same as it had been for many years. "I do not feel I am yet ready to wed. Married life, to me, seems a bond I am not sure of."

"With me," answered the Elf, letting his hand fall from her face. "I am your uncertainty."

"Nay, you are the only one I envision, my love," she said, and her words caused him to seek her touch once more as he took up her hands and held them to his chest. "But there is within me a yearning, for what I know not."

"I yearn only for you," answered the Elf quickly, lifting one hand and tenderly kissing her long and elegant fingers.

A wry smile greeted him. "When last we walked together, you spoke of Elflings, sons and daughters."

"If I was offered naught but you, I would accept the offer without question," he said honestly, drawing her close and tucking her hand around his shoulder. She complied and stepped near, leaning against him. "You are my light - my purpose for being, my love."

"You look to drown me in a sea of compliments," she warned.

"I would save you from them," he said.

She laughed. "You would save me from yourself, then?"

"I would do whatever you asked of me. Always."

Looking around, the Elleth stepped away from the tree, directing them to a patch of brightly colored flowers swaying in the breeze. She bent gracefully at the knees, taking a large single flower from the group, one that burst golden hues out from its center. "If I may," she said, her hands moving to his long mane. He only smiled as she weaved the stem into one of the braids he meticulously kept the hair on either side of his face in.

"I shall have to repay the kindness of your gift," said the Elf, using his fingers below her chin to tilt her head so that she was looking at him once more.

"There is no need," she said, her tongue darting out to lick her lips. "I only repaid your gift with a gift of my own."

"My lady, it is improper to repay one gift with another," he said, his eyes glittering with mirth. "One repays a gift with a kiss."

"We shall have to have two. One for each gift, my love."

"That we shall," he answered in a hushed tone. Their lips met gently, eyes closed as the kiss deepened. His hands moved to her cheeks, and then fingertips ran along her ears, causing an unheard moan to echo between them. Their parting was brief, and once more, they met and drank the love from one another.

The Elf shifted his hands to her back, embracing her, though he wished one day that he would spend an intimate moment such as this with his hands tangled in the silky silver-gold waves that he knew were kept tucked away, braided upon her head like a crown. He blamed her brothers for this, for so often he would call upon her to find her running with them through a field or playing some game of catch, hair up and skirts held high. One day, he vowed to himself, he would find a way to take her from that, to cherish and worship her, as she so deserved.

She spoke of power, and he took an interest in politics so that they might share a common interest. When she began singing, he began to write ballads and poems so that it would be his words upon her lips. Some said it was only because of their matched height that they walked together in the gardens as they did now, but he felt a great love and respect for her, and was determined to prove wrong any who dared speak against them.

"Ada?"

The pair froze. Blue eyes met brown, both confused.

"Na'?"

Separating quickly, the Elleth looked to the Elf questioningly, and he merely shrugged. "Perhaps the parents are near."

"Naaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Naaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Naaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

"Perhaps not!" pouted the Elleth, covering her ears.

"Come, we must find him," the Elf replied, taking the Elleth by the elbow and leading her in the direction of the wails. They cringed as the calls became shriller, eventually finding a very frightened - and very loud - Elfling upon the ground.

The Elfling looked up and sniffled. "You are not my Na' and Ada," he sobbed.

"No, we are not, but we shall find them," promised the Elf, bending down and scooping up the Elfling. "Now, where did you last see your parents, little loud one?"

"I do not recall!" panicked the Elfling. "I was walking with them, and I saw a bushytail, and I stopped to pet it. But it ran from me!" said the Elfling indignantly, causing the older Elves to smile. "So I gave chase. I did not catch the bushytail, and now, I am lost! I shall never see my parents again," he said, his voice wavering. The Elf hugged him to his breast, hushing him with calming sounds.

"It will do you no good to weep, little friend. They cannot be far. What may seem miles for you is not so very long a ways for us, and you are easily managed." With that, the Elf settled the Elfling upon his shoulder. With wide eyes, the Elfling surveyed the surrounding area.

"I have never been this high before," breathed the Elfling, looking around in wonder.

"Never sat upon your Ada's shoulders?" asked the Elleth.

"He is not this tall," said the Elfling, in awe of his vantage point. "Neither is my Nana."

The Elf chuckled. "We are Noldorin, taller than even most of our own kin," he answered, looking around to see if he spotted any Elves. "Do you recall where last you were?"

"Nooo…wait. There!" shouted the Elfling, pointing to a willow tree in the distance. "That is where we were going to go."

"Then that is where we shall go," replied the Elleth, placing an arm around the Elf's waist as they began their journey toward the tree. The Elf held the Elfling steady, and the Elfling rested his chin on the top of the Elf's head.

"You are very nice," said the Elfling, running his fingers along the side of one of the Elf's braids.

"He is the nicest Elf you will ever meet," agreed the Elleth lovingly, giving the Elf a bit of a squeeze as they walked.

"I think you are the prettiest Elf I shall ever meet," the Elfling told her. "What is your name?"

"I am Artanis," she answered.

"You are very pretty, Artanis," remarked the Elfling, pushing back his silver hair and smiling at the Elleth, "But I think I want to call you Alatáriel."

The elder Elves laughed. "Well, then, I thank you for the name, young one," said Artanis, "but I think I shall remain Artanis, for the time, at the least."

"The name is a precious and generous gift," said the Elf, smiling at the Elleth, adding, "and one that suits you well."

Grinning, Artanis gave a nod. "It is a most wise and wonderful gift, and my deepest thanks to you for it, little silver one," she said, and briefly the group paused, Artanis stepping up on the tips of her toes to place a kiss on the cheek of the Elfling.

"Teleporno!"

The Elfling sighed. "That is me. And that is my Na'," he said, pointing in the direction of the unusually short Elleth approaching. "And that is not her happy voice."

"Teleporno!" scolded the Elleth, reaching up for her son. The Elf had to stoop down so that the Elleth could retrieve him. "Teleporno, I told you to stay close to your brother-"

"But Naa-aaah-"

"You were supposed to hold his hand, and watch your step-"

"But Naa-aaah-"

"The next thing I know, there is no trace of you anywhere-"

"But Na', there was a bushytail-"

"A bushytail?" she questioned.

"Squirrel," whispered the Elf.

"An' the bushytail ran 'round the sticklytrees until we-"

"Sticklytrees?" asked his mother.

"Pines," offered the Elf.

"Well, I could not catch him, but I wanted to, and then I was found by the No-Dolins-"

"Noldorin," translated the Elf, but the story was not to continue.

Scowling at her child, the Elleth shook her head. "I do not want to lose you, little tree, I need you to listen to me when I tell you things. Do not pout, there is time enough for squirrel chasing, I promise you that."

"Yes, Na'."

"Shall we join your Ada and your brother? Lunch should be set out by now."

"Can my friends come, too?" asked the Elfling hopefully.

The Elf held up a hand to pardon them. "We have business to attend to," he said. "Perhaps another day."

The Elfling nodded sadly. "Thank you for the shoulder ride," he said, squirming from his mother's arms to hug the Elf.

"You are most welcome," replied the Elf as he returned the hug.

"Thank you for the name," said the Elleth, leaning around to hug the Elfling. The Elfling hugged the Elleth, and then boldly kissed her cheek.

"You truly are the prettiest Elf I have ever met," he said, suddenly becoming shy and hiding his face against his mother's shoulder.

The grown Elves laughed, and the Elf himself said, "I agree with you one hundred percent, little one," as he tousled the Elfling's hair and winked at the reddened face that peeked out.

After the Elfling and his mother departed, the remaining pair sat along the path in the grass, arms around one another, enjoying the company of the other. "I have never seen you smile so much, my love," the Elf finally said. "Tell me, dear one, have you been smitten by the young Elf? Need I worry about his intentions?"

Artanis playfully nudged against her lover, shaking her head. "You have little to fear from a little Elfling, my love," she said. "How many like that do you want us to have again?"

"Oh, not many. Six or seven... dozen..." The Elf was shoved to the ground, with Artanis pinning him by his shoulders. "Three or four," he laughed when he realized he was not about to be let up without conceding to her. "Even one would cause me to be content, if only she were as fair as you, my love, a sweet little daughter for us to love."

Artanis loosened her grip, but the Elf did not move to get up, so she sank lower, a whisper away from his face. "Three or four does not sound so bad, either."

The Elf smiled, embracing her suddenly. "I love you, Artanis," he said softly into her ear as they held one another in the tall grass.

Snuggling closer, Artanis sighed. "And I, you, Erestor."




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