Knight Takes King: Part VII
Chapter 7 - Butterfly Kisses
A handmaiden fastened the many buttons at the back of Akasha’s dress while she stared at her reflection in the mirror. Never in her life had she worn anything pink; now she was dressed in it literally from head to toe. Silver and pink ornaments decorated her hair, holding the sides away from her face; the rest of it cascaded down her back in thick curls. The dress was made of a soft silky pink material and fit her like it had been tailor made for her body. The scoop neckline glowed against her brown skin, barely displaying the top swells of her breasts. The long sleeves were fitted but not confining, moving with her every bend. The sling was gone now, but the white bandage still covered the bite and was very visible under the neckline. The way the lines of the dress curved accentuated her slender waist, dropping in pools of material and fabric to the floor. Even the shoes she was given were dainty pink slippers.
Visible through the mirror, Jamila sat on the bed, dressed in gold and looking very satisfied with herself and Laistlin. The oldest of the three sisters wore an equally elegant gown of silver whose train swept across the floor as she moved, making a soft rustling sound like leaves blowing in the wind. She stood behind the handmaiden, trying not to laugh at the obvious discomfort of Akasha.
“I see nothing funny,” Akasha announced, rather irritated.
“I do not know why you scowl so. You look quite lovely.”
“I look like a girl,” Akasha pointed out.
“You are a girl,” Laistlin countered. “And a beautiful one at that.”
“Did you have something to do with this dress?” Akasha inquired. “You seem much too delighted in my discomfort.”
“You might as well get use to looking like a princess, Akasha. Alegria is healthy and strong, and there can only be one Protector of Heedor at a time. Chances are you will not step into that role for years to come.”
“I can still be a warrior,” Akasha responded.
“Poor sister.” Laistlin walked behind Akasha as the handmaiden bowed and made a quick departure. “You know Mother will never agree to that. She barely wants you to continue to train with Alegria, let alone fight in her army. Besides, with Lord Boromir here…” Laistlin paused and began smoothing the back of Akasha’s dress.
“What?” Akasha pushed.
“Do not play coy with me. What has Lord Boromir got to do with anything?”
“Nothing,” Laistlin stated casually. “I simply assume that his arrival must mean something. As you know, Mother has been working with his father to ally the two nations.”
Akasha shook her head. “That is not what you mean. You are hiding something from me, my sister.”
Laistlin moved away from Akasha. “Come Jamila, they will be expecting us.”
“Fine,” Akasha raised an eyebrow. “Have your secrets, but I will find out what it is you are hiding soon enough.”
Akasha crossed the room to the door and nearly had her heart leap from her chest when she opened it to reveal Boromir on the other side.
“Akasha?” Boromir questioned.
He had just arrived and had not even the chance to raise his hand to knock when it flew open. He had been told by the passing handmaiden that was her room, but the young lady standing in front of him looked nothing like the girl he had seen earlier in the stables. The creature before him was stunning, with her dark locks hanging midway down her back, and the pale pink dress displaying her body with the elegance befitting a queen. Akasha was looking like a princess than the girl who looked to be playing a warrior. True, the tunic had flattered the curves of her breasts, but it did little to show the curves of her waist or hips as the dress did.
“Have you no manners?” Akasha accused.
“I beg your pardon?” Boromir asked, confused.
“Do you always lurk outside ladies’ doors, waiting to terrify them? Or are you just an eavesdropper?”
“I arrived at the door but a second before you opened it. I assure you my intent was neither to eavesdrop nor to frighten you, milady.”
“Lord Boromir,” Laistlin greeted, moving up behind Akasha, Jamila’s hand in hers. “What a lovely surprise.”
“Perhaps Lord Boromir thought I needed his assistance in my preparations,” Akasha stated with a smirk as she breezed past him.
“I came to escort you to dinner, Lady Akasha,” Boromir responded, wondering how much more of her tongue he would have to endure. She behaved nothing like any ladies he had ever met, save those he toyed with in the pubs and inns. She certainly acted nothing like a princess, and it was becoming more apparent that she knew nothing of the arrangement between her mother and his father…unless she did know, and her cold attitude was a ploy to push him away.
“I have two legs and need not your escort.”
“It is my understanding that one of your legs has been terribly injured.”
“Yet I walk upon it,” she said breezily.
The group of people moved halfway down the hall with Akasha in the lead, her dress rustling softly with her every step. She meant to continue to the dining hall in that manner, but Boromir wrapped his hand around her upper arm and pulled her to a halt.
“You will unhand me this instant.” Akasha tried to pull away, but Boromir’s grip would not be broken.
“Are you so unaccustomed to a gentleman’s attention that you do not know how to behave?” Boromir accused.
Anger flashed in Akasha’s eyes. The only person who had ever raised their voice to her in her life had been her mother. Not even Alegria spoke to her so coarsely. She tried to pull her arm away again, but again he held tightly to her.
“You will accompany me to dinner if I have to carry you to the dining hall kicking and screaming.”
She just stared at him, which was a surprise to Boromir. He was expecting either the lash of her tongue or her hand, though he was not sure which would be more painful. They stared into each other’s eyes as if trying to test the will of the other. There was so much fire behind those golden orbs. Boromir wished not to break Akasha, but he needed to learn how to control her, or learn if that was even a possibility.
“You cannot talk to my sister that way,” Jamila finally spoke. She would have marched over and kicked Boromir squarely in his shin had Laistlin not held her back.
“I think perhaps Lord Boromir speaks to our sister as she deserves. If Akasha insists on behaving like a spoiled child, she should be treated thusly,” Laistlin observed.
Akasha pulled her eyes away from Boromir and turned her accusing gaze on Laistlin, who simply raised her eyebrows at her sister.
“Fine,” Akasha finally conceded.
She tried to pull her arm free again, but Boromir simply caught her wrist and folded her hand around his arm.
“There, that is not so bad, is it?”
“No worse than being led on a death march,” Akasha replied calmly.
* * * * * * * * *
Legolas sat at the right hand of his father; the position was normally reserved for his brother, but in his absence Legolas had claimed the honor as his own. He would, however, gladly relinquish it upon Tehran’s return. The great hall was filled with all the elves of Northern Mirkwood to celebrate the departure of Laistlin, Jamila and Akasha, although to Legolas this was not a time for celebration. He was not joyous that the girls were leaving, especially not Akasha.
Elves were still arriving to dinner when she entered, her hand resting on Boromir’s arm followed by Laistlin and Jamila. He frowned slightly at the sight; it bothered him to see her being led about, especially by this man. From the look on Akasha’s face, she was not thrilled with the arrangement, either. He watched, anger building, when the man pulled out the seat for Akasha and then roughly shoved her down when she made a protesting movement.
Who was this man, and how did he think he could treat her that way? Taking liberties with her horse was one thing, but his treatment to her was unacceptable. Still he remained silent; it was not his place to make any objections, no matter how strongly he felt they were needed.
Once the party was seated dinner began. It was a happy lively atmosphere, but Legolas was feeling anything but happy and lively. He still had not decided if it would be best to act upon his developing feelings for Akasha, or let her leave without expressing them.
Then there were the trolls. For over a thousand years both the north and southlands of Mirkwood had been free of the vermin. Orcs were even more rare in the woods; but now trolls were being spotted in both sectors again, and from what his father said, in abundance. A thousand years ago they waged war and drove the horrid creatures from their woods for what they thought would be forever. Evil was lurking and doing so close to home; Legolas saw no other way to rid themselves of it but call to arms once more and banish the creatures.
As dinner ended, the tables were cleared from the floor so dancing could commence as the minstrels took up a festive beat. He wanted to dance with Akasha, but knew her thigh was probably still tender and would not hold up under the quick movements. The young prince of Mirkwood, however, would not lack for partners. The eyes of fair elf maidens were upon him as he rose and made his way to Salorien, who was talking amongst her peers.
“Dance with me?” he asked, touching her shoulder lightly.
He gave a graceful bow and extended his arm. Salorien bowed in turn accepted his offer, and let him whirl her onto the dance floor.
* * * * * * * * *
Akasha watched enviously as the elves around her danced to the music. She loved dancing and would have joined the merriment, but her leg kept her from the floor. Boromir had led Laistlin onto the floor a while ago and Jamila had disappeared, probably off to play with her friends, leaving Akasha at the table by herself.
Akasha narrowed her eyes as they fell on the man. It was easy to pick him out amidst the elves. He was slightly taller, and his frame was bulkier than their lithe bodies, but he moved gracefully for a man of his stature. He held Laistlin firmly in his grip and guided her around the floor; for her part, Laistlin played the charmed princess.
He laughed and smiled at her sister as he whirled her around in dance; had Akasha her daggers, she might have hurled them at him. Never in her life had she been accosted and manhandled the way he gruffly shoved her into the chair. And it seemed even her own sister had turned against her. After all but throwing her into her seat, Boromir had taken one next to her. All through dinner she felt his eyes on her. He had tried to initiate conversations with her as if nothing had happened between them, but eventually gave up when she gave him minimal responses, if she responded at all.
Her eyes left her tormentor and searched the room until she picked out Legolas and Salorien. It was obvious they had danced together before, for she followed his lead with practiced ease and grace only familiarity could breed. He too was smiling, and it only served to make him more handsome than she would have thought possible, the secret dimple in his cheek revealed to the entire world.
Akasha let out a soft sigh, propping her elbow on the table and resting her chin in her palm. She longed to have Legolas ask her to dance, even though she would not had been able to. Just knowing he thought about her would have made enduring Boromir worth it. Now she had yet to leave but it seemed he had already forgotten of her existence. It made her feel even more of a fool for spending all afternoon fantasizing about what it would have been like had Boromir not interrupted them.
He was over two thousand years old. To him, she was just a seventeen-year old girl he thought it was his duty to humor. What could he possible see in her that would be of any interest to him?
No longer in a very festive mood Akasha stood, leaving the hall in favor of the gardens. It seemed fitting she spend her last evening in Mirkwood, in the area that held her fondest memories.
* * * * * * * * *
“Will you excuse me, Salorien?”
Legolas had been keeping one eye trained on Akasha the entire dance. He had finally come to a decision about what his actions should be, and now the perfect opportunity had presented itself.
“Legolas…” Salorien caught his arm, keeping him from slipping away completely. “I know what it is you are thinking, and as your friend, I must advise against it. There is no happiness there.”
“You see another way?” he questioned.
“Yes, leave her be. You do not know if the feelings are returned. Even if they are, you know as well as I nothing could come of it but pain and heartache. She leaves with the coming sun,” she reminded.
“Which is why I must act quickly.”
Legolas place his hand over Salorien’s, giving it a squeeze and planting a kiss on her cheek before pulling away from her and following the route Akasha had taken. There was absolutely no doubt in his mind where he would find her. Her love of his father’s gardens rivaled that of any elf, himself included.
He had been in love before…not that what he felt for Akasha had amounted to love yet. But the feeling was initially stronger than the attraction he had felt for all the other maidens he had fallen in love with. He had known this peculiarly girl was different than any other; and although he had seen fairer maidens than she, there was something about her that drew him close.
She had the spirit of an elf: the way she looked at nature and was so in awe with the beauty of the earth; the way she bore her pain with hardly an utter of complaint…. The way even she still blamed herself for bringing Jamila that close to danger, though the child escaped injury.
Legolas paused upon the threshold of the garden, Salorien’s words echoing in his head. What he was about to embark on was madness. Even if her feelings for him were the same, and even though she carried the responsibility of an adult, she was only a child...and a human child at that. Elves had joined with humans before; it was not an uncommon occurrence. Lord Elrond himself was a half elf, but it was uncommon for a prince to take a human lover. It was even more out of the norm for that lover to be a woman of Heedor. Of all the half-elven races that existed, none could trace their lineage to Heedor.
Still, the part of him that wanted to turn away succumbed to the part of him that needed to see if his feelings were requited. Legolas had never been one to live his life pondering lost chances and regrets, and he was not about to start now.
Akasha was stretched out on a stone slab in the middle of the garden, eyes closed with her hands resting on her stomach. She almost looked sleep, but Legolas could see the steady rise and fall of her chest was not deep enough for slumber. He pinched a pink colored flower from a nearby branch and approached her silently.
“I already know you are there, Legolas,” Akasha informed.
He paused for a moment; not so much surprised she knew it was he, but that she knew he was there at all. The list of humans he could not sneak up on was so short it was only one name long, and even Aragorn was a ranger and thusly had honed his senses. They were still a far cry from those of elves, but they were sharper than most humans were.
He stepped to Akasha and stared down at her for a moment, before raising the flower and tracing it along her face. Starting at her forehead, he ran the delicate petals down the left side of her face, down her cheek, across her bottom lip, to the tip of her chin. His eyes followed the path of the flower, taking in the smooth skin it glided along. Her lips parted slightly as the petals passed over them. He stopped when he reached her chin, although the temptation to trace the path of her skin the dress left exposed was great. Instead, he returned his focus to her now open eyes and gave a gentle smile before offering the flower to her.
Akasha could have sworn she was dreaming, that or she had passed away while lying upon the stone. Never in her life had she seen a creature as beautiful as Legolas looked, leaning over her. The sun added a warmth to his skin and hair, but looking at him now, there was no doubt in her mind he was suited for the light of the moon. His hair, blonde by day, looked silvery in the pale moonlight as it cascaded over his shoulders, and his skin glowed as if lit by some ethereal light. The pale blue tunic he wore seemed to just make his midnight blue eyes look even richer, like two sapphire gems glowing with life.
“You are troubled by something?” he asked in that voice that seemed born of song.
“Not really troubled,” Akasha stated. “Just thinking.”
“About?” he pushed.
“How I wish I did not have to leave this place tomorrow.”
Legolas’ smile grew. “That is not merely because you will be grounded for the end of your days, is it?” he asked, remembering an earlier conversation they had.
“That is for all eternity, but no, that is not why.”
Legolas stepped back and held out his hand, helping her climb down from the slab before they began to stroll through the garden. He wanted to touch her, but kept his hands clasped behind his back.
“I am going to miss this place deeply,” Akasha sighed.
“What will you miss?”
“This garden, to begin with. I love Heedor, but I have never seen beauty as I have seen it here. I will miss our endless conversations, and the way you try to hide your exasperation when teaching me elvish,” she added with a grin, gently nudging him.
“That is because I find myself having to un-teach what you have been taught.”
“My tutors did their best, but learning elvish from them is vastly different than learning it from an elf. You all are such snobs about exact pronunciation.”
“It is a beautiful language, and we wish it not to be butchered,” Legolas offered.
“Snob,” she muttered softly, knowing his keen hearing would pick it up had it been a whisper.
“Do not forget, princess, I know you are ticklish,” Legolas warned.
Akasha stopped walking long enough to stretch her arms to the sky. She winced slightly as her right arm was raised above her head, but at least she could raise it now.
She could also make a fist and flex her fingers freely. Another week or so and she was betting it would almost be back to normal.
Legolas too turned his face up towards the moon, his eyes staring at the stars above their heads.
“How did you know I was near?” he asked, still gazing at the moon.
Akasha gave a half shrug, only lifting her left shoulder slightly. “I can always tell when you are near… Guardian,” she added after a pause.
Legolas turned his attention back to her. He remembered her speaking that name when he first brought her to Mirkwood, but she had been delirious with the venom of a troll.
“It is you in the woods, is it not? You are the elf that always watches out for me.” She stared down at her hands before meeting his eyes again. The way he was staring at her… it was so intense, she could only hold his gaze for a moment before looking away. She could feel her skin getting warm, and even though she told herself there was nothing there, that it was only her imagination, she couldn’t help feeling this connection to him…couldn’t help wanting to be wrapped in his arms.
“For a long time I thought I was imagining things, or maybe going mad. But I felt it every since I awoke in your bed, and I feel it every time you are near.”
Legolas turned away from her; walking behind her, he turned his eyes once again to the sky as if the stars would give him an answer.
“It has always been I,” he stated softly. “Tell me Akasha: will you miss nothing else when you leave this place tomorrow? Will you miss… no one?”
He turned back to face her, but she had not turned around to face him. Her head was bowed, part of her dark hair falling over her shoulders. He moved so close to her, his chest touched her back as he breathed in the smell of her. Lifting her hair, he pulled it back over her right shoulder, tenderly combing the fingers of his right hand through the curly locks.
“Will you not miss me as well?” he questioned softly.
“More than you shall know.”
His hand reached over her shoulder and touched her face. He traced the backs of his fingers over her left cheek, rounding her chin and gently angling her face towards him. She sucked in her breath a moment before his lips touched hers; it was the barest of contacts that lasted but a moment.
She turned around slowly, still frightened to meet his eyes for fear of what she might see there, still trying to convince herself that the kiss happened.
Legolas brought his other hand up to her face, his thumbs under her chin. With his fingers against her slender neck and plunged into her hair, he tilted her face upward to him.
She wet her lips nervously; her breathing was erratic and she was avoiding his eyes. It was then that Legolas realized this brave girl was terrified. He had to keep reminding himself she was only sixteen years old, and her life for the most part had been a sheltered one. Chances were she was experiencing her first kiss that night.
*Akasha, look at me,* he urged softly.
At first he wasn’t sure she understood him, but after the span of a few moments she swallowed, breathed in deeply, and summoned the courage to look into his eyes. She stopped breathing; at least it felt like she had. There was so much depth to those blue orbs, so much going on behind them…a look of such passion she had never known before. Had she ceased to exist at that moment, she felt her life would have been complete. She stared into his eyes, trying to remember how to breathe, and then he was kissing her again.
As before, the contact was but a passing brush, but he did not pull away this time. This time the pressure upon her lips deepened. His lips pressed hard against hers, before she felt his teeth gripping her bottom lip. He suckled it, pulling into his mouth, gnawing upon it with such tenderness that the breath she had been holding was released in a soft sigh.
Akasha had never felt anything like this, nor did she think she would feel anything like it again. She was completely unprepared when his tongue entered her mouth. She gasped and pulled away, covering her mouth with her hand. Legolas grinned at her, unable to keep the smile off his lips as he raised his eyebrows.
“What are you doing?” she asked, her fingers still touching her lips.
“Kissing you,” he replied matter-of-factly.
She frowned. “Is that how it is done?”
“I have been told it is quite enjoyable that way.”
Akasha looked down, feeling heat rush to her face. She found herself wishing she had paid more attention when Laistlin tried to tell her of evenings spent with Alexandor, instead of groaning and making faces. She was pretty sure he would just laugh at her ignorance and walk away, but he didn’t.
Again he turned her face up and covered her lips with his. He moved his tongue immediately inside this time, touching, exploring, savoring the taste of her mouth. He could still detect the sweet lingering flavor of the honey cakes they had for dessert.
His hands slid from cupping her face down her shoulders and back to one around her waist, one splayed across the small of her back, pressing her body tightly against his. Akasha raised her left hand to his shoulder before gliding it up to his neck, her fingers getting tangled in the softness of his hair. Her other hand she rest against his bicep.
His tongue licked across hers once, then again before she reacted, running hers against the length of him. A soft moan passed from her and got lost in his throat. Akasha finally realized why after coming in from an evening spent with Alexandor, Laistlin always looked like she had drunk too deep of a wine. Standing there, kissing Legolas, she felt like she was flying.
* * * * * * * * *
Boromir had seen Akasha leave the hall. He wanted to apologize to the princess; he did not mean to treat her so roughly. But her constant rebuking and her attempt at making him feel inferior had angered him. Boromir’s weakness had always been his temper. It was something he struggled against ever since he was a young boy. He had managed, for the most part, to keep it in check: but there were those that brought the fire in him to the surface. Akasha obviously was one of them. Even still, it had been inappropriate for him to manhandle her so.
Before Boromir could move to follow her, however, Legolas left the hall in the same direction. He tried to follow, but the elf moved fast and knew the halls far better than the man from Gondor. He lost him, but had only to continue in the direction he had been heading. It was the voices that let him know he was on the right path. He did not mean to linger or to spy on the two, but he was curious to see what they meant to each other. The elf earlier had been anything but forthcoming in his answer. Boromir’s future was intertwined with the princess’ and if she had feelings for another he needed to know.
“For a long time I thought I was imagining things, or maybe going mad. But I felt it every since I awoke in your bed, and I feel it every time you are near,” Akasha spoke softly.
“It has always been I,” Legolas answered her. “Tell me Akasha: will you miss nothing else when you leave this place tomorrow? Will you miss… no one?”
The elf turned to face her, but Akasha’s back remained to him. Her head was bowed, part of her dark hair falling over her shoulders, but when Legolas was close enough he lifted her hair, and pulled it back over her right shoulder.
“Will you not miss me as well?” he questioned softly.
“More than you shall know.”
He should have turned away then, for he had the answer to his question…but still he lingered. Legolas spoke words Boromir could not understand, but apparently Akasha had, for she was in his arms, kissing him. He was about to turn away when she pulled back abruptly. Boromir held his ground, for if the elf tried to harm her in anyway he would have to answer to him.
They spoke softly, and Boromir crouched down, straining to hear their words. But their voices were too low, and then they resumed the kiss. It was becoming quite clear that not only did the princess not need his assistance, but also he was intruding on something very private and intimate. It also became quite clear that things would not be as smooth as he had hoped.
With a silent internal sigh Boromir departed quietly from the couple, not that either of them would have heeded his presence. He would not have an easy road ahead, but Akasha’s would be even more difficult.
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