They lay together on the grass afterwards. She would be sore in the morning, but for now, all she felt was the slow contentment of the afterglow. In the starlight, she could already see the bruises that were forming on his throat, where she had nipped and kissed him, and she smiled. There was something visceral and satisfying, about having left her mark on him.
Maglor was trying to stay awake, but it was a losing battle. She wriggled a little closer to him, and his arm draped over her waist. The summer night was warm, but not so warm that cuddling was out of the question.
His words came out quietly, slowly, as though he were treading in dangerous territory. “Neniel. Are you happy?”
She smiled again, and kissed him, soft and sweet. At the same time, her hand travelled down his shoulder, down his arm to his own right hand and caught the fingers in her own. She pulled his hand up and kissed the palm. He had such lovely hands. Long-fingered, covered in calluses from the harp, bowstrings and the sword, and so graceful that it would make lesser musicians weep from envy. Even the scar on his palm, the star burned into the skin that she kissed, was lovely.
It was possible that she was besotted and love-drunk, and not thinking very clearly.
The touches made him relax a little, but there was still the question in his eyes.
“Yes,” she said, aloud. “Yes, I am.” The worry lessened in his eyes, and he smiled at her. It was a very sleepy smile. She kissed his collarbone and nuzzled his throat. “Go to sleep, Maglor.”
“You too,” he said.
“Mm.” She nuzzled him again. “Yes, I’ll sleep too. Stop fretting.”
Maglor’s rueful laugh stirred her hair, and she smiled as she sensed him drifting into dreams, a few minutes later.
His lips were moving down her neck at an achingly slow pace, and she had buried her fingers in his hair, the thing known as coherent thought dissolving completely. The autumn sunlight shone down on them both as they sat in the woods, her in his lap, and the pale skin of his neck exposed to the bright light, as his mouth travelled over her skin.
Stars, she hadn’t wanted somebody like this for centuries. She felt a distinct sense of pride and pleasure curl through him as he caught the edges of her thought. Their spirits might not be bound to each other, but it did not take much effort for either of them to catch the edges. She clenched her fingers tighter in his hair, relishing the gasp that drew from him. He retaliated by nipping at the join of her neck and her shoulder.
She moaned, then, a rough soft sound that barely left her mouth, but he heard it all the same. The sense of pride returned, before his hands came down to the hem of her shirt, and tugged. “May I?”
She smiled and reached for his shirt as well. “Double or nothing.”
That made him laugh, softly, as they both tugged their shirts off. She ran her hands over the muscles at his back, defined and developed from archery, more prominent than her own. “You are absurdly beautiful, do you know that?” She pressed a kiss to the hollow below his ear to emphasise the point.
“That’s my line,” Maglor said, guiding her mouth to his again, and running a finger down her neck, along the top of her bare shoulder. “What’s this?” He pressed his mouth to the scar at the edge of her shoulder. The lines had faded with age, but it had never gone away, a vicious ring of teeth that circled all around her shoulder and the uppermost part of her arm. “What happened here?”
She smiled to feel his voice vibrating against her skin. “When I was three, I went to the sea-shore, so I could visit Uinen and Ossë.” Maglor lifted his head from her shoulder, and looked up at her. The next words got stuck in her throat. His pupils were blown so wide there was almost no grey visible, his cheeks were flushed, and his silky hair was a tangle where her fingers had slid into it. Stars.
She leaned down and kissed him again, her tongue sliding into his mouth. He tasted like nanëni, and when he groaned, her fingers tightened around his shoulders. His hands cupped at her hips, and his warm fingers dipped into her flesh. Then he pulled away from the kiss, and smiled up at her. It was bright and heated, but there was laughter in his eyes, as well as desire.
“I’m not distracted.”
“No?” She was. And he felt like he was distracted, even if he didn’t want to go further than this. She shifted her weight, her hips against him, to make the point, and smiled, feeling his body respond. One of his fingers flicked at her hips in reprimand.
“Nenya. The story.”
“Lecher.” He squeezed at her hips. “The story?”
She sighed, but gave in. It was so hard to say no to him, when he sounded like that, wry and teasing and curious all at once. “When I was three, we went to the sea-shore, so we could visit Uinen and Ossë. Ataro had stepped down from being chief to marry Emmá, so they had time. Emmá took me diving in the sea with her and Uinen, and Uinen showed me the names for the animals. There was one fish that could see its own head. I’m serious!” she said, seeing his disbelief on his face. “I’ll show you someday.”
“A fish that could see its own head? I never heard of anything like that from the Teleri. How deep was the water?”
She considered. “I…won’t be able to show you someday. Not without you being crushed.”
“Yes. Anyway, when we swam up closer to the surface, on the way back to Ataro and Ossë, Uinen wanted to give me a present. She’d heard that was what Incarnates did for their children. She showed me an anglerfish, but I tried grabbing for its light. The scar is the mark from its bite.”
Maglor made a noise that she couldn’t quite decipher, and ran a gentle, callused finger over it again. “Your father must have been furious.”
She nodded. “He wasn’t happy. But eventually, he took me swimming in the shallows again with Ossë, and then dived with me, until I felt ready to go back down into the deeps with Uinen and Emmá. But the scar stayed. Until that point, I’d never thought that anything would ever try to harm me. That was when I realised that the world was a dangerous place, even if it recognised you as part of it. I think that’s why the scar never fully faded.”
Maglor kissed the scar again. “It doesn’t seem to worry you too much. The danger, I mean.” The edge to his thought was obvious: at least, not enough to stop you from taking a Kinslayer as a lover. Apparently, her words about how her Ataro didn’t think of him as "Kinslayer, son of Fëanor" had not fully sunk in.
Well, that was alright. They both had their own wounds. The important thing was that neither of them was frightened by that fact.
“Well, danger is part of the Elves too. We’re just better at pretending it’s not,” she said, smiling. “Can I kiss you again now?”
“Are you sure?”
She laughed, as she leaned down and kissed him again. Their kiss cut the sound off; she could feel his spirit brightening with joy and delight, desire and laughter–
until he lost his balance and they toppled over in the grass.
That made him laugh aloud. The sound was rich, warm, beautiful, and she grinned as his hands circled around her neck, pulling her mouth down onto his.
I feel like I’m forty-two again, she told him, smiling as she swallowed his laughter in turn.
It was no longer audible, but his spirit kept laughing, and laughing, hearth-fire crackling with joy.
The world slowly returned. The twigs underneath her back. The smell of grass around her, and the forest in spring, and his warm smell of smoke and sweat mingling with hers. She was trembling, her fingers shaking where they were clenched into his hair. She focussed deliberately, and withdrew her hand from his hair.
Black strands followed her fingers, curling around them.
She hissed. “Sorry.”
Maglor glanced up at her, his eyes wide from where he lay between her legs. He had one arm braced underneath him, but the other hand was resting casually on her belly. “Why?”
She showed him the strands. Her hands were nearly steady now, and she thought she might even manage a full sentence. “I hurt you.” A short sentence, but nonetheless, perfectly comprehensible.
“It was a little painful,” Maglor agreed, with a smile that she couldn't quite read. “But I like it when you pull my hair.”
She smiled at him, as he leaned his chin on her thigh. “Really?” That was very good to know.
“Really.” One of his hands came up and a finger traced over the long line that ran up the inside of her right thigh starting at her knee. “What happened here?”
She sighed. “It’s not that interesting a story,” she hedged. Her breathing and heart-rate were slowing now, and the world felt steadier.
One dark eyebrow quirked up in flat disbelief.
She shrugged at him. “It’s not.”
“I’d like to know, all the same. Tell me.” It was somewhere between a request and a demand. She sighed, and looked up at the twilit sky.
“I was a very foolish adolescent,” she said, focussing on the stars as they began to come out. “I got between a mother boar and her young, once, when I was about twenty-four. I nearly bled out.” Maglor looked at her, frozen, eyes wide with horror, before he lowered his head and pressed kisses along the line of the scar, moving so slowly that she knew it was deliberate, anchoring himself to the present, to now rather than what could have been. One of his hands came up and found hers, where it was resting on the grass beside them both.
“But you didn’t,” he said, and she shivered as his lips moved against her thigh. His voice was very quiet. The way it got when he was trying to stay calm.
“No, I didn’t. And the scar is proof that I didn't. Proof that I lived and I became wise. Well, wiser.” She reached down and threaded her hand into his hair as he huffed a laugh, scratched her nails along his scalp. Maglor sighed, and she patted the grass beside her. “Come here.”
Maglor sat up and crawled forward, until he sprawled on the grass beside her. She was not surprised when he rolled onto his side and settled his arm across her rib-cage, and his foot over her ankle. She rolled over too, letting her back settle against his chest, and he made a noise of approval, as he curled himself tighter around her.
“I can look after myself, Maglor,” she reminded him, patting his warm hand where it rested on her belly.
“Yes.” A soft kiss landed on the back of her head. “You can. And I’m always going to want to look after you, Neniel.”
She smiled, contentment curling through her. “I can live with that.”