Silver Leaves

Durelleth held the silver leafed necklace in her hand as her thoughts slipped into the past to the day she first received it……

She returned home on a late winter evening. She had felt there was something wrong with her mother and the need to return had drawn her home, despite the dangers that it might bring. She left her horse in a copse of trees outside the village that had once been her home, then pulling her black cloak close around her. She entered the village staying in the shadows so as to not be seen. She looked around the edge of a small shed to make sure the streets were empty, and finding nobody about, Durelleth had quickly made her way down the dirt road using the shadows as cover until she reached the house she was looking for. A candle burned low in a window. Durelleth was surprised to see the garden that had once flourished under her mothers care, was now nothing more than dead weeds. Going to the door she quietly entered into the dimly lit house. She looked around the familiar surroundings of her childhood home. The fireplace had a low fire burning in it and the table was neat and clean. The chair that her mother used to sit in to sew was now sitting empty. Durelleth remembered climbing into her mothers lap when she was young and her mother singing the song that her father had written for her mother before he had left. Even after all the years that had passed Durelleth still remembered every word of the song as it was forever engraved in her mind. It was the only real link she had to the father she had never met. Durelleth remembered her mother’s soft voice as she had sung songs to her and her gentle touch as she had wiped away tears. Turning to the left she knew she would find her mothers room. Walking quietly down the hall, she paused for a moment at the room that had once been hers. As she looked in she saw the bed still neatly made with many of her childhood belongings laying on it. Even after all these years, her mother had cherished them. With misty eyes, she continued down the hall to her mothers’ room. Her mother lay in her bed. The once radiantly beautiful woman was now just a mere shadow of the woman she had been. Durelleth saw a woman sitting in a chair next to her mother’s bed. The elderly woman looked up as she entered the room and recognizing Durelleth she stood up and walked over to her. Durelleth pulled the hood of her cloak back to hug her Aunt Malian.

“You’ve come,” she said quietly.

“I had to,” Durelleth answered, “I had a feeling something was wrong.”

“She is dying. She has asked for you several times, but nobody knew where to look for you,” her aunt said as Durelleth went to her mother’s side. “I will leave you alone with her.” Malian left the room, closing the door gently. Durelleth sat on the edge of the bed. As she did her mother stirred and opened her eyes. After a few moments for her eyes to focus, she saw Durelleth sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Durelleth!” she said. “I am so glad you are here my daughter.” Her mother opened her arms and Durelleth instantly went into her embrace. Durelleth hugged her mother gently as tears rolled down her face.

“Mother, I have missed you,” she said quietly.

“I have missed you too Durelleth,” she said wiping the tears off Durelleth’s face. “I need you to listen to me now though, as I don’t have much time left.” Even as she spoke Durelleth could see the strength leaving her.

“I am listening mother,” she answered.

“I want you to find Sirion,” her mother said. Durelleth shook her head, but said nothing. “Yes, you must. You have grown into a beautiful woman, Durelleth, and you should not spend your life wandering alone. If you go to your father, you can have a home there. He will love you, and will welcome you.”

“Mother I know nothing of living among elves. I don’t even know where to find him. He doesn’t even know about me.” Durelleth protested with all of the old arguments.

“Go to my chest at the end of the bed,” her mother instructed weakly, “There you will find a silver leaf necklace and a short sword with silver leaves engraved on it. Bring them here.”

Durelleth quickly did as her mother asked and finding the items she returned to her mother’s side.

“I want you to take these items,” she said. Durelleth could tell it was getting harder for her mother to talk.

“Mother, you must rest. We can talk more later once you have had some rest,” Durelleth tried to say, but her mother shook her head.

“No Durelleth, there is not enough time so listen to me. These items will help you find your father. The sword was his and he kept the match to it. The silver leaf is an emblem for his forest. I do not know where it is Durelleth; you must find that out yourself,” her mother struggled to say, “You had a hard life here because your father was an elf, and you look so much like him. These people do not trust the elves anymore, but I loved Sirion very much. If only my father would have let me marry him, your life would have been so much better, but father would not. Find him Durelleth, make a home there among his people, and be happy. Promise me,” she said now completely exhausted.

“I promise that I will try mother. I can not promise when, but someday I will look for him,” Durelleth answered wiping the tears from her mother’s face.

“As long as someday you do, I will be content with that.” Her mother relaxed again and closed her eyes and was shortly asleep. Durelleth put the necklace on, and then strapped the sword on. Then she sat back down on the edge of the bed and held her mother’s hand. She sat there for several hours thinking of the promise she had just made. She originally had no intention of finding her father, though her mother had many times tried to get her to look for her father, but now she was bound by her word to eventually look for him.

During the long hours of the night her mother died and Durelleth laid her head on her mother’s chest and cried at the loss until she felt her aunt’s hands on her shoulders.

“Durelleth, you must go,” she said hurriedly, “Dawn is coming and if it is found out you are here there will be trouble.”

Durelleth stood up, once again angry at the cause for her having to leave her home, but she knew her aunt was right. She hugged her aunt, then taking one last look at her mother; she pulled the hood of her dark cloak over her head. She headed out the door and quickly made her way back out of the village to her horse, riding away, never to return again.

That was over two hundred years ago, and she had spent all that time wandering the lands of Middle-Earth alone. Occasionally, she would meet other travelers and would visit with them, but mostly she stayed alone like tonight. She was camped by the River Narog with her horse Bellgond who was grazing contentedly on some green grass. Many times over the long years she had looked at the necklace and thought of her promise, but she had never looked for her father. She had gotten so use to being alone, that she was nervous about meeting him, as she was about meeting anybody. That was the biggest reason she had remained alone and stayed out of most of the local villages and homesteads. Lately, however, she felt the promise weighing heavy on her heart. She missed being with other people, having friends, and belonging somewhere. Perhaps the time had come for her to search out her father. She had learned years ago where the silver leaves came from. She had meet some elves that were on errands for their home and she had visited with them for the evening, one of the rare times that she had spent time with any elves, but having noticed the silver leaves on her sword that she always wore, they had asked her about how she had come by it. She had only told them it was a gift, and they had informed her that it was a special gift, because the people of The Forest of Brethil rarely parted with their silver leafed items. She had ridden close enough to the forest several times to see it, but always at the last moment, she would turn and ride away. Could she do it this time she wondered. Could she actually enter and find him? She decided to leave the decision for the morning as it was getting late and putting the necklace back on, she rolled up in her blankets and went to sleep.

Durelleth woke up as the sun came up and first checking on Bellgond, she fixed herself some food, then packing everything up she mounted her horse and started riding. She had not reached a decision yet as to whether she would actually go into the forest this time, but she was at least going to head in that direction. She crossed the River Narog near the mountains of Ered Wethrin and continued at a brisk, but comfortable pace through the day, with the mountains always within sight. Late that night she rested about half way between the River Narog and the River Teiglin. She figured with the pace she was traveling at, she should reach the river tomorrow and would cross it, and then would turn and head into the direction of the forest. She could not rest that evening, as was usual when she made this trip so close to the forest. It always made her feel anxious, but she ignored it and finally late into the evening she fell into a restless sleep. She awoke again with the sunrise, and quickly packing up, she left her campsite. Today she rode at a harder pace, eager just to have the journey over with. She would soon be near enough to the forest that she would be able to see it. Then the moment of truth would come. It was late afternoon when she reached the River Teiglin and finding a good spot to cross; she stopped to give her horse a short rest and ate some food. Her tension had grown through the day and now that she was across the river, it had gotten even worse. Mounting her horse, she followed the river at an even faster pace.

It was early evening as the borders of the forest came into sight. Durelleth dismounted her horse and stared at the forest. It was late and already dark, she thought to herself, she would camp here tonight, and then tomorrow she would make the decision whether she would go any further or not. She dismounted from Bellgond and was starting to prepare for the evening when she heard some noise coming from across the valley. Leaving Bellgond where he was she went to investigate. She did not have far to go before she saw the cause of the commotion and with a panicked glance, she ran back to her horse and mounted him. There had been at least a dozen orcs heading this way. She tried to find a way to escape, but her options were few. If she traveled back the way she had come they would definitely see her. She had her bow and arrows and though she was a good shot, there was no way she could fend off that many orcs on her own. She could not cross the river where she was at because it was too wide and swift here, that is why she had crossed further down the river today. That left only one option and it was not an option she really wanted to take, but she could hear the orcs coming closer and though her black cloak and outfit and black horse did well to hide her in the darkness, she knew that it would not be much longer and they would see her. Finally making her decision, she turned Bellgond toward the forest. Her only hope was to escape within the forest before they could see her. Spurring Bellgond on she rode hard for the forest, but she had waited a little too long in making her decision and a loud roar went up from the band of orcs as they spotted her. Grabbing her bow, she notched an arrow as she prepared to fight if she had to. She suddenly heard the sound of arrows whizzing past her head, and turning while her horse continued running she shot an arrow, not looking back to see if it had found a mark or not. She was almost at the edge of the forest and she could hear the orcs not too far behind her, but she kept riding hard and would occasionally shot another arrow hoping it was finding a mark and taking down an orc. Suddenly out of nowhere another arrow passed by her, but she realized that it wasn’t coming from behind her, but from in front of her. Looking ahead she saw a band of elves at the border of the forest shooting arrows at the orcs. Spurring Bellgond on even faster she finally reached the border of the forest and riding past the elves, she quickly pulled him to a stop and jumping down with her bow and arrows, she joined the band of elves at the edge of the forest and started shooting arrows at the oncoming group of orcs. She realized with awe, that the elves had already killed most of them, but there were still a few left, but the remaining orcs realizing they were well outnumbered, turned and fled in the opposite direction.

She sat down on the ground with her head hung down to catch her breath and calm her nerves at the near disaster. She could hear an elf talking, but she paid little attention to him as she did not understand the elvish language, but then several elves left the border of the forest and ran across the valley in the direction the orcs had escaped. They must be going to make sure the last of the orcs where taken care of she thought to herself with a sigh of relief.

“Are you injured?” a deep sultry voice from behind her asked.

Standing up and turning around, Durelleth was surprised to see the elf speaking to her was standing so close and she had not heard him walk up to her. “No,” she answered, “I am very grateful for your help. I thought for sure they were going to catch me,” Durelleth answered nervously.

“You are lucky that my guards and I were here, or they would have killed you,” he answered, motioning to some of his guards to move closer. Durelleth suddenly realized that these elves were between her and Bellgond and she slowly started to walk towards him. She pulled her cloak closer about her and she had almost reached Bellgond when a hand reached out and stopped her.

“I need to check my horse and make sure he wasn’t injured,” she said as she tried to continue, suddenly feeling very unwelcome in the forest.

“Who are you and why have you traveled here?” the elf demanded of her not releasing her arm. “You were already starting to camp outside of the forest when the orcs attacked.”

Durelleth, not used to having her movements question yanked her arm free and turning to face the elf she answered defiantly, “Who I am and what I am doing is none of your concern! I appreciate your help with the orcs, and if you will let me get my horse, we will leave your forest and you will not have to be bothered by us again.”

Another elf spoke quietly in their elvish language and they started laughing. Durelleth feeling certain the laughter was aimed at her, raised her chin, and turning on her heels headed for her horse again. Once more the elf reached out and stopped her but this time when she tried to free her arm, he refused to release her. She suddenly realized that perhaps this wasn’t the best decision she had ever made, but she was committed now, and turning back to the elf she glared at him, “You will release me!” she demanded in her most threatening voice. The elf said something to his guards and they disappeared into the forest. She could not believe how quickly they were gone, and she tried again to free her arm and he released her. She was surprised, but she did not waste time to question the reason until she turned around to get Bellgond, only he was gone. “What have you done with my horse!” she demanded glaring at the elf.

“Your horse is safe. My guards have taken him to make sure he was not injured and then put him with our horses for now,” he answered not worried about her anger, “Again I will ask you politely, who are you and why have you come to our forest?” he asked with just a touch of annoyance in his voice.

“You have no right to take my horse and I want him returned immediately. Return him and we will leave! I have already told you this.” Durelleth said angrily, not caring if the elf was quickly losing his patience.

“No,” he answered his own temper slowly growing at her refusal to answer him, “I am the captain of the guards here and I will tell you if you may or may not leave. This is not the first time that you have traveled close to the forest and always you camp out there by the river and stare here at the forest, but always you leave without entering. So for the last time I will ask you, who are you and why do you continue to come to our forest!” Stepping closer to Durelleth, he glared at her with his own temper barely under control. All he wanted from her was an answer, and then he could decide what to do with her.

Durelleth looked back at the elf in surprise. She had not realized that anybody had ever seen her staring at the forest each time she camped here, and looking up at the captain of the guards, she noticed he was getting very angry. How far did she dare to push this elf, she wondered, and what kind of danger was she in? Sighing loudly, she answered, “My name is Durelleth. Now return my horse to me and I will promise to never come near your forest again.”

“Durelleth,” he said as if testing the name out, “I am Thalion, and you still have not answered my other question.” Then as if he had finally lost his patience with her, he grabbed her by the arm and started leading her deeper into the forest. Noticing he was pulling her deeper into the forest, Durelleth started struggling and trying to free her arm from his grasp. When she was unable to free her arm she reached down and pulled her sword loose.

“Release me now!” she ordered, “I do not want to hurt you, but if you don’t release me I will have no other choice.” She did not get the response she had expected, as Thalion started laughing softly.

“That would not be advisable Durelleth, before you could even strike you would be dead,” he said stopping and looking at her as if daring her to strike. She saw his sword that he had, but he had not drawn it and he continued, “The borders of this forest are protected by me and my guards. Even now they have you within their sights, but if you would like to test that, then please, by all means strike.” She knew he was laughing at her, because she had no defense against him. “Hand me your sword Durelleth,” he said holding his hand out for her to lay her sword in.

How had she gotten herself into this, she asked herself. Looking around in the trees, she could not see any of the elves, but when she looked at the confidence in his eyes, she knew he spoke the truth, and she reluctantly laid the sword in his hand. “Where are you taking me?” she asked angrily, but again he ignored her and taking the sword and grabbing her arm again, he started leading her into the forest again. “Answer me!” she demanded as he pulled her along, “Where are you taking me?” She started struggling again to release her arm, but he had a firm grip on her and refused to let her go. They traveled for close to an hour when he finally stopped and released her. Durelleth looked around her and saw three large trees that had grown together with the limbs and leaves all entwined together. At the base of the trees, there was a hollow opening and Thalion headed for it. Durelleth stood there for a minute debating on what her chances of outrunning this elf would be.

“I wouldn’t think about it if I were you,” he said without even looking at her, “Come over here and there is a safe place you can rest for the evening then tomorrow I will take you to meet the Lord and Lady of the forest and they will decide what to do with you,” he said motioning for her to go inside of the hollow of the trees. She continued to stand where she was with her feet planted wide. She raised her head, crossed her arms and glared at him.

He quickly walked up to her and for the first time she really got a good look at him. He was a handsome elf she had to admit even in her anger. He stood at least a head taller than her with a muscular build, blonde hair that hung just below his shoulders, firm lips and beautiful blue eyes, but right now those blue eyes where looking at her in anger. “If you had answered my questions earlier, Durelleth, I may have returned your horse to you and let you leave, depending on what your answer was, but since you wish to be so stubborn and not answer, then I will take you to the Lord and Lady and let them decide what is to be done with you,” he said in barely controlled anger, “Now, if you would get inside of the tree hollow, you will find a comfortable place to rest!” Durelleth continued to stare at him in anger without saying a word and refusing to move. “Do not make me bind you and carry you there Durelleth, I have no wish to harm you.”

“You would not dare!” she said looking at him in anger.

“Try me!” he answered angrily this time and reaching to his side he grabbed a small rope that hung at his belt.

Durelleth was furious, but she knew that the time to challenge him was not now. She stood little chance of defending herself against his strength and brushing past him, she walked to the entrance of the hollow tree and ducking her head, entered. Thalion, having finally won the battle of wills, smiled and put the rope back on his belt, shaking his head at her stubbornness, turned and followed her into the tree. Durelleth was surprised by how much space was actually inside the tree. When Thalion entered behind her, she moved to the far side, glaring at him as he went about getting blankets for them. He handed her one and taking his, he went to the other side of the tree and sitting down, he made himself comfortable.

“You should lie down and rest, we have a long journey tomorrow,” he said as Durelleth stood there staring at him.

“I thought you had a forest to guard,” she said sarcastically.

“My guards will protect the forest, and I will guard you,” he answered ignoring her sarcasm, and laying down he covered up with the blanket. Durelleth remain where she was, refusing to lie down. “Does everything with you have to be a battle,” he asked sitting up and staring at her getting angry again, “You are safe here. Lie down and get some rest Durelleth, you are going to need it!” Durelleth still refused to move and crossed her arms in challenge. “If you continue to push my temper, you will lose the battle, that I promise,” he said in controlled anger as he stood up.

“Why do you have to be in here with me?” she argued, “I do not need you to guard me. Go play in your forest and leave me alone!”

Thalion had it, and walking up to her, he again pulled the rope out off his belt and grabbing one wrist he started to bind her arm. Durelleth angry, struggled with him and with her free arm tried to slap him, but he caught her other wrist and quickly had her arms bound together, then picking her up over his shoulder, he carried her to a spot close to where he had been laying and unceremoniously dropped her onto the ground, took her blanket and tossed on her and said angrily, “Now I would suggest you get some sleep!” then he returned to his blankets and lie down.

Durelleth was breathing hard from the struggle with him and glaring at him, she struggled to get the rope off her wrists, “Untie me right now you beast! How dare you tie me up, release me now or so help me when I get loose I will…” she shouted at him.

“Enough! You would not do as I asked you to, so I decided to do it for you. I am tired of arguing with you. You will lie down, be quiet, and go to sleep!” he told her angrily, “I will not untie you, and in the morning if your manners are not any better, then I will not untie you then either, but if you can learn some manners during the night I will! Goodnight Durelleth!” then he rolled over and ignored her.

Durelleth lay there in silence for a long while, at first angry that he had tied her up and refused to release her, but slowly she relaxed. She knew he had been angry, she knew that she had been pushing his authority since they had met, but she had continued to push until he had lost his temper, and he carried out what he had promised he would do. He had warned her, but she had been stubborn and ignored his warning. She was suddenly feeling very exhausted. Too much had happened this evening and curling up, she tried to go to sleep, but the bonds on her wrists were hurting because she had struggled with them so much. “Thalion, are you awake?” she finally asked quietly. When he didn’t answer she still continued in hopes that he was awake and just ignoring her, “Thalion, I am sorry for my behavior. I do not know why I was determined to argue with you. I am use to being alone and having nobody to answer to but myself. Please unbind me. I won’t argue with you anymore tonight, but they are hurting my wrists and I can’t get to sleep. Please Thalion.” When he did not answer she gave up and tried again to get comfortable, and finally finding a halfway comfortable position relaxed to think of all that had happened that day. She was almost asleep when she felt hands at her wrists and opening her eyes, she found Thalion sitting next to her unbinding her wrists. She looked him in the eyes, and smiling she said, “Thank you.” Thalion untied her wrists and taking each hand in his, he made sure that there were no cuts from the rope, then returning to his blankets he lay back down.

“I am looking for someone,” Durelleth suddenly said. Thalion rolled onto his side and looked at her.

“Who are you looking for?” he asked quietly. Durelleth smiled to herself. She decided that when they weren’t fighting, he had a very nice voice.

“I don’t know how to explain it Thalion. It is a very long story,” she said rolling onto her side and looking at him.

“You can trust me, I would much rather be your friend than your enemy Durelleth. If you tell me who you are looking for, I may be able to help you find this person,” he said quietly, “Something tells me it has to do with that necklace you are wearing and this sword of yours.” Durelleth looked at him in surprise and he laughed softly, “Yes, I saw the necklace when we were struggling earlier, and did you think I would not notice the engraving on your sword?”

“I hadn’t thought about it to be honest with you,” she said blushing, “Too much has happened today. Yes, it has to do with my necklace and my sword,” she answered him watching to see what his response would be.

“Where did you get them,” he asked sitting up a little and looking at the sword he still had. The hilt of the sword had two large silver leaves on them that wrapped around it with a vine of silver leaves carved into the blade from the hilt to the tip of the blade, and without looking at her he said, “It is very beautiful, and I have seen only one other like it.”

Durelleth looked at him in shock. “You have seen another like it? I know of only one other that is its match. My mother gave both the sword and the necklace to me before she died,” she said sadly.

“So that tells me who gave them to you, but how did your mother come by them?” he asked lying back again.

“It is really long story Thalion, I thought you said we need some sleep for tomorrow?” she questioned, trying again to avoid the question.

Laughing softly Thalion said, “We do, but now I find myself curious about your story.”

“You said the journey tomorrow is a long one,” she said stretching out and getting comfortable, “How about if I tell you tomorrow as we journey?”

“Only if you give me your word that you will tell me tomorrow,” he said smiling at her, waiting to see if she would make such a promise.

Durelleth looked at him for a few minutes, then as if reaching a decision she answered, “I promise Thalion, tomorrow I will tell you how my mother came by these items.”

Thalion smiled and suddenly Durelleth felt as if her breath had left her. She had thought he was handsome before, but when he smiled like he was right now, she was completely lost. “Thank you Durelleth for the promise. Go to sleep now. We will talk tomorrow. I will warn you though, since we are walking, it is a long journey. It will actually take us three days to walk there.”

“Three days! Thalion, if you would give Bellgond back to me I could ride him and that would make the trip a lot faster,” she started to argue again.

“By now Bellgond is well on his way to the heart of our forest Durelleth. I had a guard take him ahead of us. What, are you worried about being alone with me for three days?” he teased.

“You sent my horse ahead of me? Thalion, how could you do that? I should have at least been allowed to retrieve my gear and make sure he was alright,” she said angrily.

“Don’t start arguing again Durelleth; I am in no mood for it. We have called a truce for now. Just know that I have made sure your horse is safe and we will travel by foot tomorrow.” Rolling over Thalion tried to go to sleep, but Durelleth was angry with him again for sending her horse away like that. Grabbing her blanket into a bundle she threw it at him and it hit him in the head. He sat up, looking at her angrily. She stood up and walked up to him.

“Argue? Thalion, you took what belongs to me, and sent him off without so much asking if I needed any of my stuff! What did you expect, me to just say, oh thank you Thalion, how kind you are sending my horse and all of my stuff off?” she asked him sarcastically.

Thalion stood up and looking Durelleth in the eyes warned, “Durelleth, enough! Your horse and your belongings are going ahead of us. You can get them when we reach our destination. Now, no more arguing tonight, go to sleep and we will leave in the morning!” He started to return to his blankets when Durelleth reached up and slapped him.

“You had no right to do that Thalion!” She suddenly realized that she had actually gone too far this time though and took a step backwards as Thalions’ anger exploded.

“No right? No right!” he said to her in a menacing voice advancing toward her with each word, “I am the captain of the guard here and I decide what is done here at the borders and if I say the horse goes ahead, then the horse goes ahead!” He followed her as she backed up across the hollow tree until she was against the other side and nowhere left to go. Thalion reached out and grabbed her by her arms still angry, “I will tell you what else I think, I think you need a lesson in manners Durelleth and I will be glad to give them to you!”

“Thalion,” she said now worried about what he would do to her, “I am sorry I hit you, really, I promise I will not ever do it again. I do not know what possessed me to do that. I have never slapped anybody before,” she was saying, but he wasn’t listening to her, “Thalion, please! I said I am sorry.”

Thalion stared at her in anger for a few minutes, then taking a deep breath, and placing his hands on the wall of the tree beside Durelleths’ head, he leaned forward and said, “Do not continue to push me like this!” Then leaning his head forward so that their heads were mere inches from each other he continued, “You had better try obeying the rules Durelleth or you and I are going to keep having these arguments and eventually, you will lose.”

Thalions’ face was so close to hers that she could feel the whisper of his breath on her face. “I am sorry Thalion, I promise to try to be nicer, but you should not have done that Thalion. You should have let me have my belongings at least,” she answered softly.

“What am I going to do with you Durelleth?” he sighed as all the anger finally left him, “We are going to be together for the next three days, and we are going to have to get along. What is done is done. I can not undo it, so let it go. Go to bed and get some sleep,” and looking at her in the eyes, he started to push away, but as he stared at her he suddenly leaned forward and gently touched his lips to hers, then pushing himself away, he walked out of the entrance and left Durelleth alone in the hollow tree.

Durelleth went back across the space and grabbing her blanket from where Thalion had been sleeping; she lay down and curled up to go to sleep, but her mind kept thinking of the gentle kiss Thalion had just given her. She had not ever been kissed before and she did not know why he had just done so when just moments before they had been fighting. All she knew is that right now she was tired and needed sleep, and pulling the blanket up over her shoulders she was soon sound asleep.

Durelleth slowly woke up, and remembering all the challenges the day before had brought, she sat up and looked where Thalion was supposed to sleep the night before. He was not there and it did not look like he had been there all night. Durelleth stood up and folding their blankets, she walked out of the hollow tree into the sunlight that was filtering through the leaves of the tree. She looked around for Thalion and finally found him talking to some of his guards. Seeing her, he finished speaking to them, and then walked over to her.

“Did you sleep well?” he asked.

“Yes I slept fine, but it did not look like you returned to sleep,” she said feeling guilty that she was the cause.
“I slept out here with my guards,” he answered walking toward a tall tree where there were some items stacked up, “Here are blankets and some food that we will need for our journey. Everything we need is ready to go, here is a water bag for you,” he said handing one to her along with a bundle that held a blanket for her.

Durelleth took the stuff from him, hanging the bag from her belt, and slung the bundle over her shoulder. Looking at her briefly, Thalion started walking through the forest, past the hollow tree she had slept in last night, and down a trail that looked like it had been made by many travelers over the years. He stopped for a moment and looked back at her and Durelleth realized that she had not moved yet and quickly headed off to follow him. They walked in complete silence for several hours until they came to a small stream. Thalion found a spot he was looking for and then jumped from one rock to another to cross the stream. Durelleth looked at the rocks with doubt in her eyes, but she decided that if he could do it so could she, so she jumped to the first rock. That wasn’t so difficult she thought and seeing the next rock, she quickly jumped to it. Standing there she realized the next rock was a further jump but she was feeling pretty sure of herself and quickly jumped to the next rock, but as she landed on the rock her foot slipped and tumbling backwards, she landed in the water. Hearing Thalion laughing from the bank of the stream she pushed her wet hair out of her face, and glared at him. Thalion set his bundle down beside the stream and jumped back across the rocks until he reached the one where she sat in the water. The water only came to just below her chin when she stood up so it wasn’t like she was drowning, but she suddenly wished she were as she looked at Thalion. Laughter was dancing in his eyes as he reached his hand out to help her.

“The rocks can be a little slippery especially when trying to get out of the water,” he laughed, “Take my hand and I will help you out and across the river.”

Durelleth was mortified! She was sure she did not look too graceful sitting in the river, but neither was she going to ask for his help, so stubbornly she reached for the rock with her hand and tried to pull herself up, but quickly realized that Thalion was correct, the rocks were slippery as she started slipping and loosing her balance she again landed back in the water with Thalion standing on the rock laughing at her. Durelleth looked up at Thalion and smiling sweetly as the elf again offered his hand, she took hold of it and with a tug pulled Thalion into the water also. Durelleth stood there laughing at the look of surprise on Thalion’s face, and suddenly realizing the dangerous situation she was in, she tried again to get out of the water laughing as she finally gained her footing and pulled herself up onto the edge of the rock. She was almost on the rock when she felt two strong arms grab her from behind. She heard Thalion laughing as he picked her up saying, “Well, I needed a bath, but I don’t think you have finished yours yet,” he said tossing her back into the water. By the time Durelleth was able to regain her balance, Thalion was standing in front of her with laughter in his eyes as he stared at her. Her hair was a mess falling all about her shoulders and her face, but she thought with victory, the handsome captain also looked like a drowned rat, so grinning at him; she took off her cloak and tossed it on one of the closer rocks.

“You will pay for that Thalion,” she laughed. It felt good to be laughing again as she had not done too much of it in recent years, but now she felt like a child again and lunging for Thalion she wrapped one arm around his neck and bringing one foot up she tried to pull a leg out from under him. Only things did not quite work out that way, Thalions balance in the water was obviously much better than hers and when she tried to pull his leg out from under him, he reached down and grabbed hold of her leg and pulling on it she fell backwards, but with her arm wrapped around his neck he didn’t quite manage to dump her into the water again. So laughing at his failed attempt, she placed her other arm around his neck also and pulled hard on his neck as she leaned backwards toward the water. She knew this meant getting soaked again also, but it was going to be worth it, and leaning back she pulled him into the water once more. Thalion and Durelleth surfaced together. With one arm around his neck, Durelleth laughed at his look. Then realizing how close she was standing to him, she released his neck and took a step backwards.

“So that is it?” he laughed, “And here I was having so much fun!” Smiling at Durelleth he offered her his hand again, and looking at him suspiciously she grabbed it and he helped her to the first rock where her cloak still lay. Grabbing her around the waist, he gently picked her up and sat her on the rock, then pulled himself up to sit next to her. “Well,” he said still laughing at their fun, “I suppose now we are going to have to take an extra day on our journey. We can set a camp up beside the bank and build a fire and let our clothing dry. Perhaps then we could take another dunking in the river,” he said winking at Durelleth as they sat their in their soaked clothing.

Well she thought, if that is the price for having some laughter in her life, then perhaps she could endure this trip with him after all. Still laughing softly, Thalion stood up on the rock where they had been sitting and offered Durelleth his hand again. Durelleth looked at his hand and looking up at him, she grinned, then taking his hand she stood up. Thalion led her to the side of the rock and she jumped to the next rock, though why she was not sure as she was already soaking wet, she thought grinning. Thalion grabbed her cloak, and followed her as she finally made the side of the bank of the stream. Walking ahead of him she grabbed his bundle from the ground where it lay.

“I will get some firewood while you change clothes, Durelleth,” he said handing her the cloak, but stopped as Durelleth groaned, “Are you alright? You didn’t hurt yourself did you?” he asked suddenly concerned.

Durelleth looked at her soaked clothes and cloak, “No, but my bundle got wet also, which means I don’t have anything dry to put on,” she said blushing.

Thalion laughed and grinning at her he said, “That is alright,” then started laughing harder at her look of mortification then grabbing his bundle he opened it and pulled out a shirt. “I have an extra shirt you can put on. It is rather large, but it should cover you fairly well. I will get the fire going,” he said walking away full of laughter.

Durelleth took the shirt Thalion had given her and finding some bushes, she went behind them and stripped off her wet clothing and put on his shirt. The hem of the shirt reached her knees and the sleeves went below her hands, so she rolled up the sleeves and grabbing her wet clothes she stepped back out from behind the bushes. Thalion had already gotten the fire going and was nowhere to be seen. She looked around for him, but could not find him, so she took her wet clothes and hanging them on some branches of a tree as close to the fire as she could find, she went over and sat down by the fire to dry her hair. If she had her pouch off Bellgond, she would have had a brush, but she ran her fingers through her long black hair trying to untangle the mass that was in such a mess.

“Here is a comb,” Thalion said walking up behind her and handing her a comb. He had also changed and was now wearing only a pair of pants and Durelleth watched him hang his clothes to dry next to hers. She could not take her eyes off him, even with his hair hanging in a mess down his back, he was the most handsome elf she had ever met and to see him without his shirt took her breath away. He turned from hanging his clothes to find Durelleth still staring at him. Walking to her, he took the comb from her fingers and sitting behind her with her sitting in the circle of his legs. He turned her around where he could reach all of her hair. Durelleth could not believe she had been caught staring at him but those thoughts fled from her mind as he carefully started combing out her hair. Gently he started from the bottom of her long hair and slowly worked his way up until all of her hair was combed out, “Beautiful,” he whispered in her ear as he finished.

Durelleth turned around and looked at him and smiled gently, “It is only fair that I return the favor,” she said taking the comb from him. Thalion and Durelleth switched places and she gently started combing out his long blonde hair. As she did she would occasionally brush the skin on his back and she found she enjoyed the feel of his warm skin on her fingers. Finally she finished combing his hair out and he took the comb and within moments had the hair pulled back out of his face and banded to stay neat. Durelleth had watched his every move and she blushed when he looked at her. For a moment they both just stared at each other, then with a knowing smile, he walked back to his bundle and pulling out his blanket he handed it to her.

“I think you should wrap up in the blanket. It will help you keep warm,” he said turning his back to her and thought to himself, and keep me cool. Durelleth took the blanket and wrapped up in it.

“Is there anything I can do to help,” she asked as she watched him pull a few things from his bundle.

“No, I just thought perhaps we would eat something light right now and perhaps talk for awhile. We will stay here for the night so that everything can dry out, then we will continue on our way tomorrow,” he answered handing her some fruit he pulled from his pack and went to sit across from her at the fire.

Great, Durelleth thought, now I am going to have to stare at him like that all evening, “Would you like the blanket?” she offered starting to take it off.
“No,” he quickly answered staring at her, “Keep the blanket, I am warm enough. You promised to tell me about who you are searching for, this would be a good time to do that since we are stopping early.”

Durelleth rewrapped the blanket around her shoulders and watched Thalion as he bit into an apple. Yes, they definitely needed something to talk about, she thought, “I am looking for my father,” she simply said.

Of all the things Thalion had expected, that was not one of them and momentarily choking on a bite of the apple he had been eating, he looked at her and realized she was speaking the truth. He knew that she had the look of an elf which had made him wonder about her family, as she had already told him her mother had died, but he thought perhaps her mother was killed by orcs or something like that. He had not expected that she had come here looking for her father. “So tell me about your father and mother,” he said returning to his apple.

“My mother was of the man race. She was the healer for our village and one day her and her brother had gone out searching for some herbs that she used to make medicines with to treat people in our village. While they were out, they found some elves that had been attacked by orcs. All of them were dead, except one, and he was barely alive. My mother and uncle took him back to their home and she treated his wounds. As he recovered from his injuries, he and my mother fell in love. He wanted to marry my mother and bring her back home with him, but my grandfather did not like elves. In fact it was all my mother could do to convince him to let her treat the injured elf. Anyway, he stayed in our village for awhile to recover, and the more time my mother spent with him the more she grew to love him, but she would not go against her father and marry him. Finally the time came when he was well and fit to travel and my grandfather told him he needed to leave the village. My father tried one last time to get permission to marry my mother, but my grandfather would not relent. That evening my mother and father met in secret and my father tried to convince her to go with him, but she would not, so he left and never returned. My mother did not know she carried me yet and once she did know, it was too late he was gone. My father wrote a song for my mother before he left and as I grew up when I would cry, she would sing the song to me.” As she told her story she had watched Thalion. She knew how her village had felt about her birth, and she watched him closely for any similar reactions, but he gave none so she continued, “My mother never married. She loved my father until the day she died, but right before dying she gave me the necklace and sword and told me to find him. That was over two hundred years ago, and I am just now doing what she asked.”

“Why have you waited so long to find him?” he asked now totally engrossed in her story.

Durelleth shifted nervously for a moment before answering him trying to decide how much to tell him, “As I said earlier, the people from my village did not like elves and other than the dark hair and grey eyes, my mother said I look just like my father,” she started, “When I was twenty-six years old I had a friend who betrayed our friendship causing a big argument in the village. There were two men, Caleb and Marik. I had been friends with them for a long time, but I was very young and naïve and I did not realize the problems that were brewing. My only friend was a girl named Kami. She and I had spent a lot of time together growing up, but I did not know that Kami was in love with Caleb. Caleb spent a lot of time teaching me how to use the bow and arrow, but we were only friends, and Marik was the one who taught me to ride a horse so well. Anyway, as time went by Kami realized that Caleb cared more for me than he did her, so she went to Marik and told him that she had seen Caleb kissing me, which he had never done, and Marik got angry and confronted Caleb and they started fighting. Both managed to injure each other before the fight could be stopped, but once the village heard what had caused the fight, they went to my grandfather, who had never liked me because of my elvish blood, and told him that I had used elvish magic to cause the fight. It was the only excuse my grandfather needed and he banished me from the village. My mother and uncle gave me a horse and some supplies and I left the village and except to return when my mother died, I have never again gone back to the village,” she said finishing her tale. She had told him most of the story, but she could not bring herself to tell him the rest.

“You said your father wrote a song for your mother, sing it for me,” he asked watching her intently.

Laughing softly she said, “Thalion you really are asking for pain. My mother was the singer, not me.”

Smiling at her he shrugged his shoulders, “I do not care, please sing the song for me. I would like to hear it.”

Durelleth struggled for a moment with her thoughts, she had not sung the song in a long time and she had never shared it with anybody else, but looking at Thalion sitting across from her she could not refuse him so softly she sang the words:

In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams,
In gentle breeze
and silver leaves,
our hearts did meet
a love so sweet,
In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams.

In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams,
She danced for me
so fair to see,
As lovers meet
a story sweet,
In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams.

In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams,
In love we dared
our hearts we shared,
our touch was light
in the quiet night,
In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams.

In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams,
A love forbidden
our hearts were hidden,
A kiss remembered
We both surrendered,
In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams.

In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams,
We held on tight
throughout the night,
And with the dawn
My love was gone,
In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams.

In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams,
I sing this song
of love gone wrong,
A heart was broken
by love well spoken,
In misty moonlight
and shadowed dreams.

They sat in silence for several minutes. Durelleth noticed that as they had talked that it had gotten dark. Thalion stood up and going to his bundle of supplies, he pulled out her sword that he had taken from her the night before and walking over to her, he knelt in front of her and handed it back to her saying, “I believe this is yours.”

Durelleth took the short sword from him and looking at it for a few moments she laid it down next to her and looked back at Thalion, “Thank you Thalion,” she said quietly.

Thalion reached a hand up and brushed a few stray hairs back that had fallen into her face and gently he brushed his hand across her check and let it come to rest on the curve of her neck below her jaw. “Durelleth, you do not have to be alone any more. This is your home now. You will be made welcome here, that much I can promise you. You are among friends, and never again will you need to wander the lands,” he said softly looking her in the eyes, and then leaning forward he briefly brushed his lips against hers. He leaned back again. He saw that her eyes had grown darker, her breathing was slightly faster, and he could feel her pulse quicken under his hand that rested on her neck, and leaning forward again he pulled her into his arms, so that she half sat in his lap, and pressed his lips against hers. Durelleth had wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back. He was the first to ever kiss her, and sitting there wrapped in his arms, she decided he would be the last to ever kiss her. Her heart leapt with joy as she cuddled up in his arms, but he suddenly ended the kiss and setting her away from him, he stood up saying, “Go to sleep Durelleth. Tomorrow we will leave early,” and turning his back on her he started to head to the other side of the fire.

Durelleth realized she had the only dry blanket and asked him, “Would you like to share the blanket? It is large enough for us both.”

Thalion stopped for a moment and she could see the muscles in his back tense up, but slowly he relaxed and turning to her he smiled, “No Durelleth that would not be a good idea. I am plenty warm enough,” he then returned to the other side of the fire and lay down and stared into the fire. Durelleth looked at him confused, but she did not argue. She lay down, rolled up in the blanket and also stared into the fire until she fell asleep.

She was waked up in the morning by Thalion gently shaking her and calling her name. The sun was not even up yet, but she remember him saying they would get an early start, so she sat up and looking at him realized the clothes were dried because he was already dressed in the clothes he had worn the day before when they had ended up in the stream. Remembering the fun she had with him, she smiled.

“I see something pleases you this morning,” he said returning her smile.

Durelleth blushed and stood up to face him. Walking to where he stood just a few feet in front of her, she reached up and gently kissed him and said, “I was thinking about you,” then turned around to get her clothes. She didn’t make it far though as two strong arms wrapped around her waist and pulling her close against him. Thalion brush little kisses along the side of her neck.

“I think I could get use to waking up with kisses from you Durelleth,” he said sensuously and turning her in his arms so that she faced him he continued softly, close to her ear, “However, if you are going to kiss an elf good morning and inform him that the beautiful smile on your face is his fault, then you should at least kiss him properly,” and leaning his head down he proceeded to teach her the “proper” way to kiss an elf when saying good morning. After several minutes, Thalion finally raised his head and with eyes twinkling he said, “Now that my love is the way you kiss an elf properly to say good morning. At least this elf, I do not think I would be too happy seeing you kiss another elf like that, but you may kiss this elf like that anytime you feel like it,” he teased. He removed her arms from around his neck and moving slightly back from her said, “Go get dressed, I will get some food ready,” but before he let her go, he again leaned forward and gave her a brief kiss that left her wanting more.

Smiling, Durelleth walked to where her clothes were hanging on the tree and retrieving them went behind the bush where she had changed the day before and put her clothes on. While she changed clothes her thoughts kept returning to the kiss he had just given her, and if she didn’t know any better, by the comment he had just made, he had claimed her as his, but perhaps she was putting more into the comment than he had meant. Returning to the camp, she quickly folded his shirt and put it into his bag and joined him by the fire. “Feel better now that you have your clothes back on,” he asked handing her some food.

Blushing slightly as she took the food from him she said, “Yes, it is nice to have my own clothes back, though I have to admit, your shirt was rather comfortable to sleep in.”

“I do not mind admitting that you did look rather fetching in it, perhaps we will have to make a point of accidentally falling into the rivers more often in the future, just so you can wear it,” he laughed.

Durelleth wrinkled her nose at him and continued eating her food. The sun was up by the time they finished eating and packing their belongings. Durelleth had put her sword back on even though she knew she would not need it anytime soon. She was use to having it on. She followed Thalion as he led her along the path through the forest. “How far into the forest do we have to travel to reach your home?” she asked while they were walking.

“We have to travel to the far corner of the forest. The main community is where the River Sirion and the River Teiglin separate,” he answered her, “Durelleth I was thinking about our conversation last night and I realized you did not tell me your fathers name.”

“His name is Sirion,” she laughed, “In fact I should have guessed where his home was considering his name is the same as the river.”

Thalion suddenly stopped and turned to look at her. “Your father is Sirion?” he asked looking stunned.

“Yes. Do you know him?” she asked stopping in front of him.

“Yes Durelleth, any of the guards know him. He is one of the elves that instruct the younger elves that are to one day be guards,” he answered with a frown on his face.

“Would you tell me about him Thalion?” she asked unexpectedly excited to know that he knew her father but seeing his frown she walked up to him and leaned closer to him, “Thalion what is wrong?”
“Nothing Durelleth, nothing, I just had not expected Sirion to be your father,” he said smiling at her gently brushing his hand across her face, “Yes I will be happy to tell you a little about him,” then he turned and continued to follow the path. “Sirion is a gentle elf,” he started, “He is kind and patient in his teaching the younger elves their skills. He used to be my teacher when I was younger and I remember how patient he was with us, even in some of our foolishness. I use to get into trouble when I was younger, because I was always off doing something I shouldn’t be doing,” he laughed.

“I can well imagine,” she teased him, “What does he look like?”

“Well, he is a little taller than me, but slimmer. He has blue eyes that always seem to catch the smallest mistake,” he laughed lost in some of his memories, “He has the golden blonde hair also, so you must have gotten your dark hair from your mother.”

“I did,” she answered, “She had beautiful black hair that was very long and grey eyes. That is where I also got my grey eyes.”

“Hmmmm,” he answered distractedly, “Sirion, is a very important part of our community Durelleth, and he is loved by all the elves including me,” he said stopping and looking at her seriously for a moment.

“Thalion, what is wrong?” she asked again.

Thalion sighed then pointing to a large flat rock he motioned for her to sit down with him, “Durelleth, I know this is probably going to sound strange, but I am already starting to care about you,” he said looking her in the eyes. He saw the light that lit up her eyes and knew that she cared for him also even though they had a bad start when they met, but all of that changed yesterday, and now all he wanted to do was hold her in his arms and kiss her senseless, “I would never do anything to offend Sirion. He has been a very good friend of mine, plus my teacher. I am worried about the fact that I can not seem to keep my hands off of you. I do not know how your father will feel about that.”

“Thalion, I am well past the point of needing a parents permission to fall in love,” she teased him; “I understand that you are friends with him and that is great, but I decide who I give my love to and who I do not. Having him as my father does not change that,” she said moving closer to him and putting her arms around his neck she kissed him as he had properly instructed earlier in the day.

Thalion enjoyed the kiss for a moment then removing Durelleths arms he said, “I know Durelleth, and trust me there is nothing more I would like than to take you in my arms right now and kiss you until you forget anything but me, but that can nott be. I need some time to think.” He stood up and helped her up and again followed their path. In early evening they reached a small clearing and Thalion said they would camp there. He had been quiet the rest of the day deep in thought and Durelleth was worried about the thoughts going through his mind. They made a fire, and after eating Durelleth tried to go to sleep, but she couldn’t. She kept watching Thalion across the fire as he was still lost in thought. Finally she stood up and went over to where he was laying down and lay next to him facing him. “Thalion, listen, if my father likes you as much as you say, then why would he have a problem with us caring for one another?” she asked him quietly.

Thalion looked down where she lay next to him and smiled at her, “Because he told me once when I was training that if he had ever had a daughter, that he would not want her marrying an elf of the guards because their lives could be too dangerous and there was always a chance that her heart could be broken at the loss of her husband,” he answered her brushing the stray hairs out of her face.

Durelleth could not believe what she was hearing. She had finally met someone that she could love, and there was a possibility that she could lose him because her father, that she had never met, would not want a daughter of his marrying a guard? No, she would not allow that and she sat up so that she was face to face with Thalion, “Thalion, I say again, that I do not need my father to decide for me who I can and can not love, nor who can or can not love me!” and leaning over she pushed him backwards until he lay flat on his back and she lay half on top of him. She reached up and gently stroked the side of his face and running her fingers through some of the long hairs lying on his shoulders, she leaned down and watching his eyes, she kissed him. Just a quick kiss, but enough of one, to see the color of his eyes darken when she kissed him and his breathing grow faster. Encouraged, she closed her eyes and again touched her lips to his, and moments later found herself flipped over onto her back with Thalion above her. She looked up at him and grinned as she saw what he would not say, she reached her arms around his neck and pulled him down to her and he kissed her deep and long.

“What am I going to do with you Durelleth?” he asked when he finally ended the kiss. He stroked her face as she lay there grinning up at him and he shook his head, “I suppose we will have to worry about your father when we get there, but for now, my beautiful she-elf, I have you in my arms and I think I said something about wanting to kiss you until I was all that you could think about,” he teased running kisses down the side of her face.

“So you did,” she answered, “I have also decided that I must make sure that I am the only thing you are thinking about also,” so she turned her head slightly as he was placing kisses at her ear and capturing his lips with hers, she made sure he thought of nothing but her.

After several minutes, he laughed quietly, “You win love! You win! I can think of nothing else except you,” and rolling back onto his side he pulled her with him and she laid her head on his chest her hand wandering over his chest, though she was greatly wishing it was without the shirt like last night. Thalion gently took her wandering hand into his and said, “Go to sleep Durelleth, we have had a long day, and we have another one tomorrow,” and turning his face slightly, he kissed her on the forehead. Durelleth smiled and curling her body up next to his, she fell asleep the happiest she had ever been in her life.

Durelleth woke to the feel of Thalions’ lips moving down her neck and laughing she said, “I thought you said the proper way to kiss an elf when waking up was like this,” and she proceeded to kiss him in the way he had so thoroughly instructed the morning before.

After a few minutes he raised his head and answered, “Actually I told you, that was the proper way to kiss an elf good morning, but kisses along a beautiful neck are the proper way to wake an elf up,” he teased. After a few more minutes of kisses he stood up and offering her a hand, he helped her up. They worked together to prepare their morning meal, then packing everything up, they again continued on their journey. Durelleth noticed today that the trees were getting thicker as they traveled and asked Thalion about it.

“Yes, the closer we get to the heart of the forest; the trees get thicker until we reach our community. There you will find that though the trees are numerous, that the sunlight still filters through the leaves,” he answered. They had walked for several hours talking about many different things. Thalion had told Durelleth what it was like growing up in the forest and Durelleth had told him of some of her adventures while wandering Middle-Earth. It was late afternoon when there was a break in the trees and the sun shone on them warmly. Thalion found a comfortable spot in the middle of the opening and they sat down and rested for awhile and ate their afternoon meal. “This time tomorrow we will reach our home,” he said watching as Durelleth suddenly got quiet. “What is wrong Durelleth?” he asked pulling her into the circle of his embrace.

“I just realized that it won’t be much longer and I will be meeting my father and Lord Lathron and Lady Gwalath,” she said laying her head on his chest.

“Do not worry Durelleth, the Lord and Lady will welcome you and your father will love you,” he said kissing the top of her head, “Come on, and let us be going.” He stood up and retrieving their gear they both continued on the path.

“Thalion, how long will you be able to stay once you have taken me to your home?” she asked, “Will you be able to stay for awhile, or do you have to leave back for the borders?”

“I will be able to stay for a short while at least,” he answered walking beside her, “I was due to come home for a visit anyway. I have been gone longer than usual, but there was no reason for me to be there right now, so I stayed at the borders.”

Laughing softly she said, “I am glad that you did, otherwise some other elf would be bringing me here.”

Laughing with her he said, “Yes, and I am glad that I stayed otherwise you may have been giving your sweet kisses to someone else and I do not like the idea of that.”

“No Thalion, my kisses belong only to you,” she said smiling up at him. Smiling back at her, he took her hand as they continued walking. Several hours later as it was growing dark Thalion stopped for the evening. Again, they worked together to build a fire and cook a meal. When it was all finished Durelleth curled up next to Thalion and they spent several hours just talking about the forest and the elves that lived there. Thalion had been teaching Durelleth some of the elvish language, but she had not learned too much of it yet. “The longer you are among your people you will learn it Durelleth,” he had said when she would get frustrated with not remembering the name for certain things. Once again she curled up with her head resting on his chest to sleep. She found it difficult to sleep tonight though. She was too nervous about meeting everybody tomorrow. Thalion finally sighed and rolling her over he leaned above her and looked her in the eyes, “Durelleth quit worrying. Everything will be alright you will see. I will not let anything happen to you. You are safe.” Durelleth smiled up at him and wrapping her arms around his neck, he leaned his head down and nibbled on her bottom lip, then he kissed her along the jaw, down her neck, and then back up to her ear.

“Thalion,” she said impatiently and laughing he finally kissed her on the lips, and then pulled her back into his arms as he rolled over. Durelleth curled her body along his as his hand that was wrapped around her slowly rubbed up and down her back relaxing her, and finally she fell asleep.

She awoke again with her handsome elf kissing her and she said, “You know, I think I have decided that this is indeed a great way to wake up,” and returned his kiss. Getting up they both ate, and then gathering their bundles returned to their journey. It was early afternoon as they neared the border of the community. Durelleth grabbed hold of Thalion’s hand as they entered. The first thing that Durelleth saw was a group of children chasing each other around some trees. Nervously, she continued with Thalion. As they walked along, several elves greeted him and he would greet them in return, but they continued walking with a definite purpose. The elves homes were clustered around and Durelleth saw that many used the hollow trees like what she had slept in the first night in the forest, while others were up in the trees. As they walked through the forest she could hear the river in the background. Thalion walked up to where there were some beautiful, giant trees were growing together. There were several trees, where the limbs and leaves had entwined around each other as they had grown, and looking up at it, Durelleth realized there was a pathway made out of platforms leading into the tree. Thalion started walking up the pathway with Durelleth close behind. Reaching the top of the platform, she saw that there was actually a large home made from the branches of the tree. There were limbs that hung down that created a canopy over most of the area, and as they walked onto the platform she saw two elves waiting for them. One was a tall elf that looked a lot like Thalion, and the she-elf was also tall with golden blonde hair, trim and a beautiful smile was on her face.

Letting go of Durelleths hand, Thalion walked forward and greeted the tall elf saying, “Hello father,” and the elf grasped him in a warm embrace.

“Welcome home son,” the elf answered him looking at Durelleth, “I see you have brought a guest.”

Durelleth stood there in shock. She could not believe what she was hearing. He was the son of Lord Lathron and Lady Gwalath! As that realization fully hit her, she now understood how he knew the Lord and Lady would welcome her. He was their son, and suddenly Durelleth was angry.

“You rat!” she said angrily, “All this time you could have told me that you were their son, but did you? No! You let me worry about this moment, when you knew all along that it would be alright,” she walked up to him and pushed him back, “How dare you! I have been such a fool!” and turning around she started heading back down the pathway.

Thalion’s parents stared at him in surprise, “What have you done Thalion?” his mother asked him in elvish.

Thalion was already going after Durelleth but stopped a moment to answer her, “Nothing mother, I will explain in a few minutes. Let me get Durelleth!” he then followed Durelleth down the path. Reaching the bottom he found Durelleth heading back the way they had come angrily talking under her breath. Shaking his head, he went after her, “Durelleth wait, give me a moment to explain!” he called after her and had to stop short as she stopped and turned around to glare at him.

“Explain? Now that is a good one Thalion. You could have done some explaining over the last four days, but did you? No, you just kept letting me worry about this,” she said walking back up to him all but yelling at him.

“Durelleth I thought if you knew……” he tried to say but she cut him off again.

“What that if I knew I would what? Maybe just fall into your arms faster? Or perhaps not fall into them at all? Or perhaps you thought this would be a way to get even with me for the first night we met?” with each question, Durelleth had pushed him back a little further. There was just no stopping her anger now, “Where is my horse Thalion? I want him so I can leave this place and never return.”

Thalions parent had followed him and watched in amusement as their son was bullied by this small she-elf. The arguing couple had drawn a crowd though so Lord Lathron stepped forward and told the crowd to go on with their own work in elvish.

“Durelleth you can not leave. I told you, it was up to the Lord and Lady of the forest to decide what to do with you, besides you still have your father to meet,” he said now trying to take on the role of captain again.

“Can not leave? Oh just watch me Thalion, I was a fool to be sure, but you can guarantee that it will not happen again. As for my father, I do not care right now, all I want is my horse and belongings and I will be gone!” she told him in anger.

By this time Thalion was losing his patience with her temper and his own temper flared, “I said you could not leave, Durelleth, and so you will not! You will stop yelling, get control of that stubborn temper of yours and meet the Lord and Lady!” he attempted to order, but that only flared her temper even more.

“The Lord and Lady, oh you mean your PARENTS, which you forgot to mention in all of the conversations we had over the last four days?” she said angrily. She was starting to say more when she noticed a couple of he-elves laughing at them. One looked a lot like Thalion and the other was taller than him and appeared to be a little older.

“Thalion, do you need help brother?” the first elf asked laughing at his brother.

“Thalion what have you done to make this beautiful she-elf so angry with you? Usually it is them chasing you not you chasing them,” the other one laughed.

Thalion gave them both scathing looks saying, “Tauron I do not need help brother. Sirion I have not done anything, it is just this particular she-elf has a very stubborn temper,” he said looking back at Durelleth. “Durelleth, if you will come with me we can talk in a more private place and I can explain,” he tried to convince her offering her his hand.

“Come with you? Let you explain? How do you explain that you have lied to me for four days Thalion,” she started saying when she realized the name he had called the other elf. He had called him Sirion. Looking back at the other elf, she realized she was staring at her own father for the first time in her life and here she was acting like a spoiled child. Groaning loudly and looking at Thalion with accusations in her eyes, tears started rolling down her face.

Thalions mother seeing her start crying walked up to Durelleth and pulled her into her arms looking at her son with accusations, “What did you do Thalion?” she asked him angrily.

“Why is everybody so sure I did something wrong?” he asked looking a little guilty, “I just did not tell her I was your son on the journey here that is all.”

“Why would you not tell her that?” his father asked him in confusion, “And why would that upset her so much?”

“Exactly my point father, it should not have upset her,” Thalion began but Durelleth pulled away from his mother and standing in front of him again, she glared at him.

“You lied to me Thalion, and that should not upset me? I never want to see you again!” she said stepping back from him, “I want my horse and belongings and I will leave, and I want them now!”

“I would have thought by now you would have learned that you do not order me around. I told you, you can not leave yet. You do not want to ever see me again?” he asked now with his anger finally at the exploding point, “Fine, then once I finish here I will leave back for the borders and you will never have to see me again,” he declared and turning around and seeing Sirion he turned back to Durelleth, “Oh and do not forget you did come her to meet your father so let me introduce you to him!” he told her menacingly and looked at Sirion.

“Thalion, no, please do not do that!” she gasped. She could not believe that he would do that as he walked up to Sirion.

“Sirion, your daughter Durelleth is here. I hope you enjoy her, but be warned, she is stubborn, headstrong, and has a nasty temper. I hope you can teach her some manners also, as she could use a good lesson in those!” he then walked off leaving Durelleth looking mortified as all eyes turned to her. Durelleth stared at the shocked look on her fathers face and she would have gladly buried herself in a hole right then, but hearing Lady Gwalath speaking she turned to her.

“Welcome to the Forest of Brethil Durelleth. I apologize for my sons’ behavior. If you need somebody to talk to please feel free to come speak with me,” she said, then turned to follow Thalion back up the pathway.

“Well, my younger brother may not have too many manner,” Tauron was saying, “But I will be glad to show you around the forest if you would like,” he said walking up to her with a glint in his eyes.

“Tauron, you will be coming with us and let Sirion and Durelleth talk,” his father said.

Laughing and smiling charmingly at Durelleth he said, “Parents, they always have to spoil the fun. I hope to talk to you later though,” then winking at her he went with his father up the pathway to their home. Durelleth could not believe it. Not only was it bad enough that there was one of them, she thought thinking of Thalion, and there was now a brother to contend with. Great!

“What did Thalion mean you are my daughter?” she heard Sirion asking from behind her.

Durelleth took a deep breath and turned to face her father. She looked at him without knowing what to really say. She finally just walked past him to the edge of the river and finding a large log next to it, she sat down with her head hanging in her hands.

Thalion had gone to the room that was his and walked out to the small balcony where the limbs had grown together to make a nice place where he could see everything happening in the community around him. He saw Durelleth sit down by the river with her father close behind. He felt guilty about what he had just done, but she had made him so angry, and hurt when she said she never wanted to see him again, that all he could think of was striking back.

“You were very cruel to her son,” he heard his father say from behind him, but he did not answer. “Why would you do that?”

Thalion turned around just as his mother entered the room also and laying her hand on her husbands arm gently said to him, “Let me talk to him Lathron.” His father took a last look at his youngest son and turning around walked out of the room.

His mother walked further into the room and sat in a chair he had in there, “So you want to explain what that was all about?”

Sighing deeply, Thalion walked in the room with his mother saying, “There is not much to tell mother. She raced into our forest being chased by a band of orcs, and we helped rescue her from them. I found out she was looking for somebody here, so I brought her here. That is all there is.”

Laughing quietly she said, “That is all Thalion? She would not have been that angry with you if that were all. Now, why not sit down and tell me the entire story.” So Thalion sat down in the other chair and related the entire story to her, leaving out only a few details. “So do you love this she-elf Thalion?”

Sitting silently for awhile he finally answered, “Yes mother I do, but I think I have ruined any chance that I have with Durelleth. She may never forgive me,” he said looking at the ground angry with the way things had ended up.

Laughing gently she took her son by the hands, “Thalion do no be so sure of that. Something tells me she must love you as well, otherwise she would not have been so angry with you. I am sure once she has had a chance to calm down and think, she will forgive you,” she said giving him a small measure of hope.

He looked up at his mother and smiling said, “I hope so mother, but if she does, you know that will give you your wish and I will leave the post as captain of the guards.”

“Then I hope that she forgives you and you two marry, so that I will have my son back at home,” she said standing up. Hugging her son she walked out of his room to talk to his father.

Back down at the river, Sirion had sat down next to Durelleth. “How can you be my daughter?” he asked.

Durelleth realizing she had no choice, thanks to Thalion, sat up and removed the sword and necklace that she wore, and quietly handed them to Sirion. He looked at the items that he had once given to Aislynn many years ago and then looked back at Durelleth in surprise, “How did you get this necklace and sword?” he demanded.

“My mother gave them to me before she died and asked me to look for my father,” she answered quietly looking him in the eyes.

“Your mother was Aislynn?” he asked, “But she must have died many years ago.”

“Two hundred and twenty-seven to be exact,” she said sadly looking at her father and standing up she walked to the edge of the river.

“Why did you wait so long to come here Durelleth?” he asked following her.

Walking back to the log, Durelleth sat down and her father sat next to her. She went into the long story of how she had left her village and returned when her mother was dying and the promise she had made to her mother. She told him of how she had finally learned where to find him, and having come close to the forest many times, but never entered. After talking for several hours, she had finished telling her father the largest part of the story, but he looked at her for long minutes before saying, “You have not told me everything, I can see it in your eyes Durelleth. Tell me the entire story of how you left your village.”

Durelleth stood up and walked to the edge of the river again looking out across it as if looking back in time itself. Sirion turned her around and lifting her chin with his hand he again said to her quietly, “Tell me Durelleth.”

“When Kami told Marik the lie about Caleb he first came looking for me,” she began, “He was angry, and accused me of some horrible things. I denied them all, but he was beyond reasoning. He grabbed hold of me and hit me, and tried to kiss me and was grabbing at me. I always carried a dagger in my boot and I pulled it out and stabbed him, but only in the arm. That was when Caleb found us, and seeing what was going on he became angry and attacked Marik. That is the only part I left out. The rest happened just as I said,” she said looking down at the ground.

Sirion pulled her into his arms. “You do not have to stay here Durelleth, but I hope that you will. This is your home and it would seem, I am your father,” he said pulling back for a moment and smiling at her, “I wish I had known Durelleth. I would not have let you grow up without knowing me, nor would I have allowed the treatment that you received growing up,” he then pulled her back into his arms. Durelleth at first was tense as he held her, but as the moments passed, she relaxed into her fathers arms and wrapping her arms around his waist she found herself suddenly very happy. She had put off meeting him for all these years because she was afraid, but now she was glad to be standing here in his arms and for the first time in her life, she felt like she really belonged somewhere. “If you want I have room in my home and you can stay with me for now,” he said to her.

Durelleth tried to speak, but the emotions running through her were too strong right then so she shook her head yes and with his arm around her, he lead her to their home, as he called it now. She walked in ahead of him and stood to look around the large home. He had his home in a tree like many others, and the limbs entwined with each other making a spacious and cool home. To one side he had a small table with a couple of chairs, behind that there was a large chest that he now walked to and opened. Finding what he was looking for, he walked back to Durelleth. He first handed her sword to her and she put it on, and then he reached around her neck and put the silver leaf necklace back on her. She held it in her hand for a moment and looked at it and then smiled at him, for she understood the meaning of it, he had accepted her as his daughter, and the necklace was a symbol of that. Next he held up the object he had pulled from his chest. It was the match to the short sword that she wore. “I never wore it again when I returned home, because it always reminded me of your mother, but now that the match and my daughter have come home, I think I will again wear it,” he said smiling and put his sword on.

“Where should I sleep Sirion?” she asked looking around.

“Do you think you could call me father?” he asked leading her through a canopy of branches hanging down. As she walked through she found there was more space that the limbs had hidden, and to one side was what looked to be a room where there was a bed made on the floor, and to the other side was another room that again looked like a room with another bed. “You can sleep in that room to the right there,” he said, “What about the father part?” he asked again.

“In time I am sure that I will, but I first need to get use to having a father,” she said walking into the room he had shown her. She thought it was amazing the way the branches all grew together to form walls and canopies in the house, “I just need some time though please,” she asked him.

Taking Durelleth into his arms again for a moment he said, “I understand. We will both need time to adjust to this I think,” he laughed a little. Then letting her go, they walked back into the main area of the house. “Would you like me to show you around the forest some and let you meet some of the people?” he asked trying to figure out what to do now that he had a daughter to take care of. Durelleth agreed and they spent the next several hours meeting many of the other elves in the community. Durelleth was please when he always introduced her as his daughter, and he seemed to take great pride in being a father, even though he had only know her for a few hours. They were visiting with some of his friend as evening drew near and they invited them to join them for the evening meal. After that was over, Durelleth listened as she heard many elves join in songs outside and stepped out to listen to them. The sounds were soft and melodious and she was in complete awe listening to their song.

“Sirion, I am going to go sit by the river on the log where we were earlier and listen to the songs,” he started to follow her, but she laughed saying, “Stay here with your friends, I am fine. I just want to enjoy the singing, nothing more. Thank you for your kindness this evening,” she said to his friends then walked over to the river and sat down on the log.

“Would you like to know what they are singing?” she heard a familiar voice ask from behind her. She moved over as Thalion came to sit down next to her on the log.

“No, I am just enjoying listening to it. As time goes by I will learn the language and then I will understand it myself,” she said refusing to look at him or to ask him for any help at all.

“So you have decided to stay?” he asked her.

“Yes, I think I will stay. My father and I spoke for a long time today and in time we will be very close I think,” she answered.

“If you would like, tomorrow I can take to where Bellgond is and you can retrieve your belongings,” he offered her.

“No, that will not be necessary, my father has already said he will take me,” she said trying to ignore him as much as possible.

Thalion sighed, “Durelleth look at me please,” he asked her, but she refused to, “I am sorry I did not tell you about my parents. You were already nervous about meeting everybody and I was sure that if I told you they were my parents that it would only make matters worse, so I withheld that information. Instead, I just wanted to be Thalion the Captain of the Guards to you, not the son of the Lord and Lady,” Thalion took hold of Durelleths arms and made her turn and face him, “I am sorry if I hurt you Durelleth, that was not my intention,” he said placing his hand on the side of her face, “Please will you forgive me?”

Durelleth had to struggle not to fall into his arms and kiss him, but she was still very angry with him and she pulled away from him saying, “I forgive you, so now will you please go away?”

“No,” he answered stubbornly, “Durelleth, I want us to go back to the way we were on the trail here. I miss holding you and kissing you.”

“I guess that explains a lot about the fight between the two of you this afternoon,” they heard Sirion say as he walked up, “I had wondered about that, however, Thalion, I think my daughter asked you to please leave her alone, so I will ask you the same thing.”

Thalion and Durelleth stood up when they heard Sirion start speaking. Thalion looked at Durelleth, but she raised her chin and glaring at him did not say a word. “So be it,” he answered angrily and walked away.

“I do not know what happened between the two of you on the journey here Durelleth and it does not matter, but you could not meet a finer elf than Thalion,” he said as they walked back to their home.

Durelleth laughed softly, “That is funny, he did not think you would approve of him for your daughter,” she said as they entered the house.

“What would make him think that? Thalion is a wonderful elf. Strong, reliable, trustworthy, and despite what you may think right now, honest. He has a good heart Durelleth and I can only believe that he withheld information for your sake,” he said as they sat in the chairs to talk, “And if what you have told me it true, then I believe you withheld information from him also.”

“I did not,” she said defensively thinking back on all the conversations she had with Thalion.

“You did not tell him the whole truth of why you had to leave your village, just like you tried not to tell me. Why Durelleth?” he asked her.

Durelleth blushed as she realized the truth of what he said and answered, “I did not want him to know.”

“Exactly,” he said his point having been made, then standing up he leaned over and kissed Durelleth on the forehead, “Good night my daughter, think on what I have said before you lose the elf you love. It is a rare gift to find someone to love, and you should not waste the gift.” He then walked into the other part of the house leaving Durelleth to her thoughts. Finally being exhausted she went into her room and lay down on her bed. She tossed for hours, but couldn’t sleep. She realized that she missed lying in Thalions arm, she missed his kisses and she just plain missed him. Getting up she went outside and back to the river and sat on the log. She was startled when Tauron sat down next to her.

“Having trouble sleeping?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said deep in thought. How could she get Thalion back? She realized she loved him and she had really forgiven him and was no longer angry with him.

“Anything I can help with,” Tauron asked, “Or should I go get my brother?”

“Actually I was just wishing Thalion were here,” she said staring out into the water.

She had not realized that she had actually said the words out loud until Tauron started laughing, “You must really love him then. After the fight I saw this afternoon, I thought I would have a chance to get to know the newest beautiful she-elf in our community, but I guess my brother beat me to her.”

Durelleth looked at him and smiled brightly, “Yes, I do love him, now how to convince him of that after I was so rude to him earlier this evening.”

“Will you trust me to fix that problem?” he asked looking at her impishly.

“What are you planning to do Tauron?” she asked suspiciously.

Tauron laughed, “I promise, I will not do anything that will cause harm, but you must agree to a request,” he said as if challenging her.

“What is the request?” she asked him even more suspicious than before.

“Give me two days, and I will have it worked out. I will have to ask my mother for help with this. A request will be sent to you and your father and you will have to honor it, agreed?” he asked her smiling.

Laughing at his antics, Durelleth quickly agreed and returned to her home and slept soundly that night secure in the knowledge that within the next couple of nights everything should be perfect in her life.

Durelleth missed waking up in Thalions’ arms the next morning, but remembering Tauron’s promise to help she got up, dressed and went out to the front chamber where her father was waiting for her.

“Good morning,” he said kissing her on the cheek, “Did you sleep well?”

“It took awhile to go to sleep,” she answered thinking of her late night walk, then smiling at him, “But once I got to sleep I did sleep very good.”

“Well how about you eat real quickly and then we go see your horse,” and laughed as her eyes lit up and she grabbed an apple off the table.

“Ready to go,” she said biting into the apple. She was excited about seeing Bellgond and making sure he was safe. Sirion and Durelleth exited their house and turned toward the river. They followed the river for a short distance when Sirion took Durelleth by the shoulders and then pointed ahead of them. Looking to where he was pointing, she saw Bellgond grazing on some grass with a bunch of other horses.

“Bellgond!” she called out to him. Hearing her voice calling him, he raised his head and pranced over to her, his head held high, “I have missed you fellow,” she said as he trotted up to her. Durelleth wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him.

“How about we go for a short ride,” Sirion offered whistling for his horse. Durelleth saw a cream color mare with a dark mane and tail trot up to him.

“Oh father, she is beautiful,” she said watching the mare come up to her father. Sirion stared at Durelleth in disbelief. He suspected she had not even realized she had just called him father, but it pleased him greatly. Signaling to the elves that watched the herd of horses, they brought their saddles to them and Sirion and Durelleth saddled their horses.

“When we get back, we will get the rest of your belongings and carry them back to the house,” he said as he mounted his horse. Durelleth only nodded as she mounted Bellgond. She had realized that she had called him father, but only after she had said it. She decided she liked it too, and would have to continue to call him father from now on.

Sirion led the way across the valley at an easy gallop, but Durelleth was feeling too happy right now to just trot, so looking at her father with mischief in her eyes and voice she said, “I will race you!”

Sirion laughed and agreeing pointed to a large boulder a short way off. Durelleth agreed and they both spurred their horses on. Durelleth had her horse at a full gallop, and her long black hair was blowing behind her from the wind. If she had known that Thalion was nearby to check on his mare, she would have laughed to see the expression on his face. He watched as his beautiful she-elf lay against Bellgonds neck racing across the valley with her father, laughing as they both made it to the boulder at the same time. Thalion decided that he must do something to win her back, so he saddled his horse quickly and rode out to where Sirion and Durelleth were.

He could hear Durelleth laughing with her father as he rode up and she was saying, “That was fun father. I would like to do it again.”

“No,” he laughed, “My poor old mare just is not up to that kind of challenge a second time. That is the most activity she has had in many years.” They both turned their heads as they heard a rider approaching. “I bet Thalion could give you a good race though Durelleth, his horse is a lot younger than mine.”

“Father!” she said looking at him, but seeing a twinkle in his eyes she laughed silently, “Why not, I have already shown him a good dunking in the stream, I wonder how well he can race?” she challenged him laughing a little at the look of confusion on his face.

“I am afraid to ask about the dunking,” her father laughed, “But if you managed that, then I suppose there is a very good chance you can beat him in a race. I myself though have some lessons to teach. I will see you at home later Durelleth.” Then he rode back to the elves tending the horses leaving Durelleth and Thalion alone together.

“As I recall, it was you who had the dunking in the stream first,” Thalion said softly.

“Perhaps, but I did show you a dunking and that is exactly what I told my father,” she laughed quietly, “So, do you want to race? Where shall we race to?”

Thalion showed her the border of some trees not to far away, “We will race to there, and the winner will get a prize,” he said slyly.

“What will be the prize?” Durelleth questioned him suspiciously.

“Whatever the winner wants, agreed?” he asked challenging her.

Durelleth thought about it for a moment knowing the consequences could be very interesting, but she was not one to turn down a good challenge, “Agreed!” she exclaimed as she spurred Bellgond into a fast gallop across the valley in the direction of the trees.

Thalion laughed as he saw her attempt to get ahead of him, but he was confident of winning the challenge, otherwise he would not have made it and spurring his horse into a full gallop he quickly caught up with Durelleth, he rode beside her most of the way, then just as they were closing in on the forest he urged his horse on and passed Durelleth and rode into the forest first. They both pulled their horses to a stop and he was amazed to see the laughter in her eyes. He jumped down from his horse and went over to help Durelleth down. Laughing, she let him help her down leaving the two horses to rest and graze on the grass.

“I believe I am owed a prize now,” he said as she walked away from him.

“So what is the prize that you want my captain?” she laughed turning and walking up to him. They had rode well into the trees so after asking her question she turned around and walked further through the forest awaiting his reply.

“You,” was all he said.

Durelleth stopped and turned to look at him and saw by the look in his eyes that he was serious. She walked on for a few moments, then turning she asked him, “Why do you want me?”

He walked up to her, reached a hand out and brushing it along her check and down her neck, he looked her in the eyes and answered, “Because I love you!” He waited a moment to see what she would do. He half expected her to slap him again and was prepared should she decide to. He was not however prepared for the answer she gave him.

Durelleth stepped closer to Thalion until there was barely any space between them and reaching up, she put her arms around his neck and kissed him then said, “I love you too you stubborn elf,” then smiling at the shocked look on his face, she laughed and leaned forward to kiss him again.

Thalion finally realized she was his, and wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her into a tight embrace and proceeded to kiss her on her face, along her neck, nibbled on her ear, and then kiss her full on the lips.

“Thalion, I can not stand this anymore,” she breathed heavily.

“Can not stand what anymore my love?” he asked between kisses.

“Just holding you and kissing you. I want to touch you and feel you,” she moaned between his kisses.

“Soon my love, soon,” he said looking down at his beautiful she-elf in his arms, “I thought I had lost you,” he said running his fingers through her hair.

“I admit I was angry yesterday Thalion, but last night I also realized how much I love you. I am sorry that I fought with you,” she said breathlessly as he hugged her in his arms. Then Durelleth started giggling.

“What is so funny?” he asked looking at her in confusion.

“Tauron and I were talking last night by the river and he promised he was going to help get us back together, but now I guess he does not need to,” she laughed.

“Tauron told you that? I guess that would explain why he thought it was so important that I check on the horses right now,” he laughed.

“Really, but how did he know that I was going to be here?” she asked stepping back from him, and then she realized the truth and started laughing again, “He must have spoken with my father this morning before I got up.”

“I think they must have been plotting together,” Thalion laughed pulling her back into his arms, “And I am very grateful.”

“Me too,” she said reaching up to kiss him again. They walked for awhile through the forest, then getting their horses; they rode back and unsaddled them. Thalion grabbed her bundle that had been sitting there waiting for her and carried them as they walked back to her home.

“I have some business I need to take care of Durelleth, but I will see you tomorrow. It is already getting late. We have spent most of the day out riding, and I must take care of a few things,” he said taking her in his arms again and kissing her, “But I promise, I will see you tomorrow. I love you.” Then he turned and left. He had to make arrangements for a new captain of the guards, because he intended to marry her. Sirion had been trying to get him to help with teaching the younger elves, so he decided it was time to do that and let somebody else have the job of captain. He would not be separated from his wonderfully stubborn she-elf that long, so he headed off to talk with his father to make the arrangements.

His mother and father were delighted to hear the news, but they did not tell him of arrangements that they were making also. Arrangements that were to take place the next day. Tauron had kept his word and had asked his mother for help in getting Thalion and Durelleth “together”.

Back at her home, Durelleth entered her home with a smile on her face. Seeing her father sitting in his chair, she went over and sat across from him.

“You would not have by chance had a visit from Tauron this morning did you?” she asked him with suspicion and laughter.

“Did I have a visit from Tauron? Oh yes I did, why do you ask?” he asked innocently.

“Thank you father,” she said kissing him on the cheek.

“Does this mean that you and Thalion have made up?” he asked smiling at the happiness he could see in her eyes.

“Yes father, we have made up,” she answered smiling dreamily.

“I am glad to hear it,” he said, “I was wondering though; could I borrow your necklace for the day?”

“Why do you need my necklace?” she asked confused by the change in the subject.

“Well, I noticed the chain on that one is getting a little old, and I would hate for it to break, so I am having a new one made for it. It will be returned to you tomorrow I promise,” he said looking a little guilty.

Looking a little doubtful, but trusting him completely, she took the necklace off and handed it to her father. “Also, Lady Gwalath sent a dress over here for you,” he said as he stood up to leave, “It is laying on your bed.”

He was getting ready to leave but stopped when Durelleth asked, “She sent me a dress? What for?” she asked getting up to go look at it.

“It would seem that she is planning a big feast for tomorrow to welcome you home, so she figured you could use a nice dress for the feast. She has an elf coming over tomorrow to help you get ready,” he said as he was leaving the house, “I will see you later,” then he left the house smiling and if she didn’t know any better, she would swear he was keeping a secret from her, but shrugging her shoulders, she went into her room to look at the dress. She could not believe how beautiful it was. She had never seen anything so beautiful in her life. She carefully laid it down on a chest that was in the room and lying down on her bed she thought of her handsome captain and how much she loved him. Even though it was still early in the evening, Durelleth fell asleep and did not wake until the next morning when her father woke her up.

“Durelleth, this is Felig, she is the one that Lady Gwalath has sent to help you prepare for this evening,” he said as the she-elf walked into the room.

“Father, it is a little early to start preparing for a dinner that is not for several hours away.” she said a little confused.

“No, it would seem that the Lord and Lady have asked us to join them a little early for one,” he said starting to walk out of the room, “Plus you have slept a little late this morning. Must have been all the excitement of the last few day,” he laughed and quickly escaped the room.

Durelleth felt very confused by his actions, but she did not argue and greeted the pretty she-elf. Unfortunately, Felig did not know the common tongue, and since Durelleth didn’t know the elvish language, she would get frustrated trying to figure out what she was wanting. Finally though, after hours of scrubbing down at the lake that was separated for bathing, and hours with Felig adding braids and flowers into her hair, she slipped on the dress. The underskirt of the dress was a royal blue, with a white overskirt so that the blue could be seen through it. There were tiny silver leaves sewn all over the skirt and when she moved the light sparkled off of them. The bodice of the dress had a silver band that wrapped around her waist several times to fit it comfortably to Durelleths slim waist. The shoulders of the dress just barely covered her shoulders and the sleeves went all the way down her arms where the ends then draped half way down to the length of the dress. After all was finished Durelleth too a look at herself in the small mirror her father had. She could not believe it was her looking back from the mirror. She was beautiful, she thought with a smile, thinking she could hardly wait to see Thalions reaction to her in such a beautiful dress. She would need to make sure she thanked Lady Gwalath for the dress this evening. Finally all ready for the evening she walked out into the main chamber where her father was waiting. He smiled as he looked at her.

“You look very beautiful Durelleth,” he said hugging her carefully so as to not mess anything up.

“You look nice also father,” she said taking in her fathers appearance. He had a pair of dark grey pants on with a silver shirt that reached to mid calf, with a silver belt around his waist, and his hair was neatly pulled back out of his face. “I was wondering if you have my necklace, it would look great with this dress.”

Sirion turned around so that Durelleth could not see his face and answered, “No it should be ready here in a short while though,” he answered.

Durelleth was disappointed, but she figured that if it was ready later, she could put it on then. “Are you ready to go,” her father asked her offering her his arm.

Durelleth smiled and taking his arm said, “Yes I am. I can not wait to see Thalion.” Taking her fathers arm, he led her out of the house and across the paths through the trees. As they approached Lord Lathron and Lady Gwalaths home, Durelleth realized there were a lot of elves gathered near the home and she was wondering what was going on, but remembering this was suppose to be a feast, she realized that the entire community must have been invited. She had never been to anything like this before so she just followed her father as he led her past all the elves to where the Lord and Lady were waiting for her. Thalion was there beside his parents with Tauron. Tauron was grinning from ear to ear as if he had a huge secret he could not wait to share.

Thalion turned as they approached and Durelleth actually blushed at the look that entered his eyes. Stepping up to her, he asked for her arm and letting go of her fathers arm she took his arm instead. “You are gorgeous!” he declared a bit breathless.

Turning to face him, she grinned up at him saying, “Thank you my love, and may I say how very handsome you look,” she said looking him over from head to toe. He had on a pair of black pants and was wearing a silver shirt also quite similar to her fathers, with a silver leafed belt around the waist.

They both turned as his father started speaking, “First I would like to welcome Durelleth, daughter of Sirion, home to the Forest of Brethil. We are glad that you have come to live among us my dear,” he began, “Secondly, it has come to my attention that you and my son Thalion are in love.” Durelleth blushed a deep red and looked at Thalion wondering what was going on, but he looked at her in confusion also and shrugged his shoulders as his father continued, “However, it would seem the two of you are both extremely stubborn and tend to get in should we say disagreements? So a little bird whispered in my ear yesterday that Thalion has given up his post as Captain of the Guards, and has accepted the position as a teacher for the younger elves with your father. Then I found out that the two of you had finally worked out your last argument, so Lady Gwalath, Tauron and myself have prepared a little ceremony before the two of you can get into another argument,” he said grinning at his son.

“Father what are you talking about,” Thalion finally asked, afraid he already knew the answer.

“Well, do you plan to marry this beautiful she-elf or not?” his father asked him.

“Of course I do, but what has that to do with……” Thalion stopped in mid-sentence as the reality of what was taking place finally dawned on him, “You mean right now Father?” he barely was able to ask looking at Durelleth.

Durelleth could not believe what she had just heard; Thalion had given up the post as captain to marry her? Then she realized he had just asked his father about the “right now” part and she looked up at Thalion. She suddenly realized that the entire community, her father, and his family had been preparing this for the last two days. Then she looked at Tauron. “You said you would help me get him back,” she laughingly accused.

“I have kept my word, My Lady,” he laughed with a mock bow.

Durelleth and Thalion looked at each other and started laughing as they realized that everybody had come together to pull this off.

“Well son, are you going to marry her right now, or are you going to wait until there is another argument, because as stubborn as the two of you are, there are bound to be plenty more to come,” his father laughed.

“Well, what do you think Durelleth,” Thalion asked her, “Will you marry me today?”

Durelleth smiled at him, the love shining in her eyes, “Yes, Thalion I will marry you today. I would not want to waste a perfectly good opportunity or this gorgeous dress, now would I?” she asked him.

So walking forward, Durelleth and Thalion were married. Later as they were enjoying the feast to celebrate the union, Thalions father once again called for silence. “Sirion and I have gifts for the two of you.” Both of the fathers pulled out a black case and handed them to Durelleth and Thalion. As she opened her case tears filled her eyes and she looked at her father, then stood up and hugged him. In the case was her silver leaf necklace only now there were two leaves entwined around each other. Sirion removed it from the case and place it around her neck where it hung shining just above her breasts. Lord Lathron seeing his sons reaction to his said, “I figured since it was the silver leaves that brought the two of you together, then the two of you should have your leaves entwined to last you for eternity,” he then took Thalions’ necklace and placed it around his neck. Durelleth looked at her new husband and standing up they thanked their family and friends for the wonderful gifts and feast. Thalion had decided it was time to take his new wife to his home. He had his own house not far from his parents, but he had rarely used it since he was gone to the borders most of the time, but his mother had told him earlier that she had several elves busy preparing it for him and his wife this day and leading Durelleth down the path that led to his home, he stopped her once they were out of sight of the feast that would go on late into the night. Standing under the trees, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her.

“To think I get to wake up to that everyday for the rest of my life,” Durelleth smiled up at him.

“Don’t forget you must also remember to give this elf a proper good morning kiss,” he teased.

“I forgot how that one goes again,” she said with a twinkle in her eye. Thalion did not waste any time to reinstruct his wife in the proper good morning kiss. “Now I remember,” she said breathlessly when he finished.

Holding his wife around the waist he led her down the path to his house. “We must also remember to take accidental falls into the river,” he laughed, “The drowned rat look is always so perfect for you my love.”

Laughing as they reached his home Durelleth teased, “I thought it was me sleeping in your shirt that you liked the most about that experience?” Looking down at her impish grin, Thalion kissed her soundly again, then picking her up he carried her into his house to teach her other pleasurable ways for kissing. Durelleth’s last thoughts as he carried her into the house, looking at the silver leafed necklace he wore, she realized how lucky she was that her mother had given her that necklace so long ago, as it was the silver leaf that brought her home, and helped her to find the perfect happiness that had been missing in her life.
The End

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