After dressing in his softest, most threadbare shirt and a pair of loose breeches, Iaun set down his pack and his weapons, and removed a neatly folded blanket. He stared at the crunching coat of fallen leaves for a moment, and then he laid the blanket down, spreading it out as far as it would go. He took his pack and fluffed it and placed it where his head would lie, at the base of the sentinel beech. Glancing around him, to test it out he lay down on his side and wrapped the blanket around him, but still left part of it trailing, waiting to be taken up. Sérelókë carried no bedroll that Iaun could see - and in that, Iaun saw an opportunity.
“I am tired, Sérelókë, and the wind here grows chill. I would love a companion to warm my bed, and I will do my best to warm you if you choose to stay.”
“We are not completely safe here,” Sérelókë said, reluctant to let his stern manner drop quite so far just yet. “I’ll keep the first watch.” He slid back into a linen shirt and breeches of his own, and for a time, he paced. Often did he glance back where Iaun had curled himself into a small bundle, sheltered by his own threadbare cloak. Sérelókë did not pause too long for each slight stirring and sound, each glimpse of fair hair beyond the tangles of thick cloth, much as those small things delighted him.
In his thought did Sérelókë reach far through the wood, to the very edge of Doriath where the humming, singing walls of magic began, raised by his kinswoman Melian. Many are the forms the Maiar can take, and many are the paths they can choose to walk, but it seemed to him that Melian changed rarely if at all now, and all her power was given to her realm. Like the warm winds of spring, her will infused the land with watchful care, and in return the forest kingdom seem to flourish in a sort of gratitude.
Sérelókë could touch that thrumming barrier with his mind, as long as he did so in peace. There she was, or an emanation of her, guarded but not unkind. She had chosen to walk no path now but to stay still and take root, with her beloved and her land.
Perhaps Sérelókë too could choose to guard what he loved, were he willing to pay the price of patience.
In time, as he meditated upon these things, Sérelókë grew weary and longing, and at last he lifted Iaun’s blanket, crawling in to fit behind him as if they were two spoons. He wrapped his arm around Iaun’s belly to pull him close, and marvelled both at the impulse that had driven him to seek such contact, and at the sense of warmth and contentment that flooded him so easily when Iaun curved against him.
“Shall I keep the next watch?” Iaun murmured.
“No need,” Sérelókë said. “We are all but invisible to hostile eyes, and you need your sleep. Let us rest together then.”
“So you have changed your mind about that,” Iaun said, sighing happily, and relaxed back against Sérelókë, pleased but silent at the arm that tightened round him. “Resting, I mean.”
“If that is what the people of this land do, then I ought at least to attempt it,” said Sérelókë. In truth he was finding that his limbs and eyelids felt unusually heavy, and the solid warmth of Iaun’s body against his, the rhythm of his breathing and his heartbeat, seemed to lull him, pulling him down into a pleasurable sense of darkness.
And so they slept.
Sérelókë stirred in little time, for he was not used to long passages of sleep, and the torpor that had come upon him ebbed as suddenly as it had come.
Iaun was warm in his arms, and still but for his slow deep breathing, and that sensation was yet so delightful that Sérelókë was reluctant to move. Iaun had given himself over to sleep so easily as long as Sérelókë was with him, and a surge of tender feeling moved unbidden in Sérelókë’s chest. Yet move, he must, restlessness had taken him over.
He pressed a kiss to the nape of Iaun’s neck by way of apology, and found himself trapped by an alert eye watching.
“Where are you going?” Iaun asked softly.
Sérelókë had no ready answer.
“Nowhere,” he said.
“Indeed,” Iaun said. “Nowhere at all. Except closer, I hope.”
Sérelókë smiled in the nightingaled darkness. “That may prove difficult, as close as we already are.”
With an unexpected agility, Iaun turned around in Sérelókë’s embrace, beneath the spread cloak that covered them. “I believe that you are not yet done with me,” he whispered, and leaned in and upward. “If I may, my lord?” Iaun asked, and it happened so quickly that Sérelókë was not quite sure what permission was requested.
Sérelókë’s agreement was in his non-resistance as Iaun drew him down, and he felt a soft brush of Iaun’s lips against his. A gentle touch, a careful fitting together. A gradual increase in pressure, an opening, a moistness - a request, not a demand. Iaun’s tongue rose slowly, to explore Sérelókë’s lips and teeth with hopeful reverence.
Sérelókë had never experienced the like. It warmed him, enflamed his skin and set his member growing again, but slowly. Every taste of Iaun’s mouth and texture of his lips and tongue and teeth felt so detailed and varied, and most of all, the small intimacy of the act moved him as never before.
Iaun’s heart sang within him as he tasted Sérelókë deeply. Hesitant did the Maia seem at first, as though for all his skills in erotic torment, he had had little opportunity to kiss and be kissed. But he took to it quickly, and swiftly the dance of their mouths had Iaun once again maddened by desire as Sérelókë grew more forceful with his caresses.
Propped upon his elbows, Iaun invited Sérelókë’s advances, and his lips parted and tongue ventured forth to meet him halfway. This time Sérelókë claimed his mouth quickly, with no hesitance any longer - a wet, hungry grasping, parting and coming together again and again as their lips sealed. Iaun moaned and gave himself up to it, cradled in the pressure of Sérelókë’s hand at the back of his neck, drawing him in and then away again, each reunion harder and needier. “Oh, this is magnificent,” Sérelókë murmured, though the word was tangled and slurred by the other pursuits of his tongue.
Iaun was emboldened, and he ran his hands up Sérelókë’s long arms, guided by the lean lines of muscle up to his shoulders, and he dug in his fingertips as he let himself be lost in the pleasure of the kiss. Sérelókë felt solid and real against him, skin smooth and warm, breathing going deep and ragged. Iaun wriggled slightly in pleasure as Sérelókë pulled him closer, nudged away from his mouth and began to investigate his jaw and the side of his neck. Gently but firmly Sérelókë was pushing him down onto the cloaks and blanket, and Iaun obliged, tangling his hands in that thick dark hair as Sérelókë bit his throat lightly, threatening more pressure and sharpness, but not delivering, not yet.
Iaun pillowed his head in the roots of the great tree, and shivered as he lay back and let Sérelókë cover him, spreading his thighs to let him settle in, close and hard and eager. He arched his spine with every kiss and bite, sinking his nails into Sérelókë’s back, rewarded with a deep, slightly laughing groan and a sucking, licking slide down the top of his shoulder. “You always need little persuasion,” Sérelókë murmured into Iaun’s ear, nipping it lightly and giving it a tug with his teeth.
“I needed none at all,” Iaun said. “But am I not too easy to make a challenge for you? Would you rather I had fought you at first, as Gothmog did?”
“I would enjoy that, yes,” Sérelókë said. “Later we can play that game. But I do love to feel your desire. When you show me how much you want me.”
“It feels so marvelous, you know,” Iaun said, gasping and biting his lip as Sérelókë’s hardness pressed into the crease of his thigh and hip, tantalising, “with someone who is not a monster who’d as soon kill you as enjoy you.”
“So I am learning,” Sérelókë said as he lowered his attention to Iaun’s chest with its taut swells of muscle and pair of erect pinkish-brown tips that seemed to his eye to cry out for a sucking and a biting. “I am eager to explore that further.”
Sérelókë licked and bit and teased until Iaun’s nipples were red and wet and sensitive, and he only left them reluctantly to work his way down Iaun’s belly, fingers dancing at the laces of his breeches, tongue fluttering just above the hot flesh that yearned to escape. Iaun made soft “oh” sounds and reached down to help push them off - but Sérelókë stopped him with a sharp glance. “Put your hands up around the tree now,” he commanded, and such was his tone that Iaun scrambled to obey him immediately. This left him exposed and trembling as Sérelókë finished stripping him.
A soft sound escaped Iaun’s throat, and he pushed his hips forward flush against Sérelókë’s body, draping a thigh over his hip and pulling him closer still. Sérelókë let his hand run the length of Iaun’s strong thigh and then clutch his hip close.
How strange it still was to use his body this way, as less a weapon and more an instrument in a duet, a music of moans and gasps and whispers, and the rustle of bodies shifting in the fallen leaves. Sérelókë brought his other arm up from underneath Iaun and began to caress his neck, fingertips shivering against his throat, feeling the sinews there working in the rhythm of their kiss, Iaun’s breath and pulse quickening. Sérelókë ducked his head and kissed Iaun’s throat, dragged his teeth gently down, and thrilled at his shivery sound of surprised joy.
Iaun writhed in growing abandon as Sérelókë nuzzled and nipped at his arms and shoulders, his mouth at work in surprisingly sensitive places.
“My lord,” Iaun managed to say, his voice cracked and yearning. “If I may - if I may speak . . .”
“Yes,” Sérelókë said. “Speak your mind, quickly.”
“I know that you enjoy me bound and helpless for you to work your will upon. I know that delights me, that I need it, that you have only begun to use me and fulfill me. But - many are the ways I wish to serve you.”
“I am intrigued,” Sérelókë said. “Tell me more.”
“I . . . wish to touch you,” Iaun said, eyes lifted up to Sérelókë’s face - not quite bold, but hopeful. “To explore you, to pleasure you with my hands. If you would allow it, I think you will find me - not unskilled.”
Sérelókë gave a small sound of delight and desire, unbidden and unexpected, but the skin he inhabited seemed to speak for him as he perceived that it began to feel more sensitive with the mere anticipation of Iaun’s caresses.
He let his chest fill slowly with deep breath full of the scent of Iaun and the forest loam intermingled, and released it in a satisfying, groaning sigh as he composed his response. “As you wish, my Iaun,” he said quietly, intently. “Undress me. Let me feel your touch. If you do not satisfy me at first, I shall tell you how to please me, in great detail.”
Iaun gave a soft cry, and moved with wondrous speed, yet still with a cautious movement like a half-tame cat. His deft, small archer’s hands went to work on Sérelókë’s clothing, baring the flesh below that was nearly as much of a costume to be donned and shed as the cloth that fell away from his shoulders.
Sérelókë captured one of Iaun’s hands and examined it - it was much smaller than his own and stockier, its fingers strong and skilled for all their shortness. Without a word Sérelókë traced his thumb over the minute variations of softness and roughness, sinews and striations, every callus and scar that marked the years of fine detail work Iaun had done, and the strains and injuries he’d borne as warrior and healer both. Iaun’s hand was as a world entire, and Sérelókë wished to study it, to lose himself in its flexing and creasing. Soon, he would demand Iaun’s patience while he did exactly that, but for now, he wished to feel it upon him. He lifted Iaun’s wrist to his mouth and very gently nipped its soft underside, roving in a slow circle with the tip of his tongue, and then suddenly released it, free to perform its owner’s task.
With a small pleased sound, Iaun ran hands up Sérelókë’s chest and curled them around his shoulders to bring Sérelókë back down to him for more kisses. Now Sérelókë no longer doubted his own skill in a more tender, less violent sort of lovemaking or Iaun’s pleasure as he slid his tongue in and out in suggestive strokes, Iaun gasping and writhing beneath him, his firm and fat cockstand promising and strong in its rolling motions between Sérelókë’s legs.
“You shine,” Iaun whispered. “You give out light.”
“You are luminous in your way,” Sérelókë said, biting his lip as Iaun pinched one of his nipples. “Your hröa, your fëa, indivisible, it’s remarkable.”
“What, that I’m stuck?” Iaun said laughing as Sérelókë nudged up to look at him, and Iaun slid his hand between Sérelókë’s thighs, cupping and caressing to hear him moan.
“Ah, that’s just it, Iaun,” Sérelókë said, smiling and letting Iaun pluck at the last of his clothing, freeing his burning member to the cooling night, eager and proud and incapable of shame. “You are . . . solid. Oh. In a way I am not.”
“You were made, and then you made yourself,” Iaun said - his expression awed, his hand daring and cheeky as the palm of his hand skittered too lightly over and around the head of Sérelókë’s cock, making him hiss. “Is this really you? Are you really in there somewhere?”
“I can - oh - expand outward and shrink within,” Sérelókë said, beginning to lose the connection between his thought and his words beneath Iaun’s patient, exploring caresses.
“Fill yourself out all the way,” Iaun said softly, persuading, demanding, begging. “Come all the way out to the surface of your skin. Where I can touch you. Please. My lord.”
“You are touching me,” Sérelókë said, “and I am enjoying it greatly, so please continue, but - oh--” he said, stopping short as he really did what Iaun had asked, his inner fire pulsing and bright within him, but cool and slow, nearly patient, as Iaun’s hands slowly brought him forward into an intimacy that nearly undid him. Sérelókë’s body flexed and relaxed as his hips ground down, pressing his cock forward, against heated skin.
Iaun’s strong, scarred body moved beneath him, fair and bright in the dark petals of his unwrapped clothing and the dark earth and leaves beneath him. His eyes still showed their twilight gleam, half-closed now in delight as Sérelókë leaned further over him, draping Iaun’s never-hurting leg over one arm and wrapping both their shafts at once in his long-fingered hand.
Harder now did they move, striving for pleasure against each other, lost in their cries and their singing sensations of skin and sweat. Iaun writhed for more pressure, and Sérelókë yearned to open him further, to take him again, sheathed inside and wrapped in his heat and light - and he would, oh he would, and Iaun would rise singing for the joy of it - but for now what they had was enough and nearly too much, shimmering inside and binding them together. Iaun was still slick with seed inside, but sore, and Sérelókë was careful with his pain - this was not the time for cruelty of that sort.
Iaun arched up hard and gave a cry, grasping Sérelókë’s thighs with a mighty squeeze as he went rigid and shook, covering Sérelókë’s hand and his cock with his spending, rich and white in the darkness. Taken over by the rapture of it, Sérelókë gave his answer, head bent to the forest canopy above, spilling wet and hot on Iaun’s belly.
They took harsh breaths together, gazing at each other. Sérelókë marveled at the pace of his heart and the strain in his chest, dizzy with delight and relief and a terrible searing fondness for the Elf who gazed up at him, enraptured. With a shaking laugh, Sérelókë pinned Iaun’s wrists again. “I am well pleased with your hands, Iaun. But I fear they can shape the game too short.” He leaned down to take Iaun’s mouth again, as Iaun arched up to meet him. “I am not finished with you.”
And then the world changed.
Sérelókë might have thought for just a moment that the blinding, new silver light spilling through the trees was all in his mind, bursting behind his eyes, a pure white fire that he and Iaun had made together and was theirs alone.
But it was outside them, and it was enduring, and it was no illusion. Iaun grasped his arm in sudden fear.
A great dazzling light filtered through the forest branches as it slowly rose up the sky - blue-white and silvery, coming from a vast white circle glimpsed between the trees like a luminous face, a silver flower. Through the trees it came shining and steady - a gleaming light, blueish white, dappling the ground where it pierced through the branches of the trees.
At first it was blinding, especially for Iaun the child of starlight who had never known such a shine, and for a moment Sérelókë moved to shield him until his vulnerable eyes could adjust.
But Iaun nudged him gently away, and with hand upraised to his brow, he at last dared to gaze straight to the source, in amazement and awe.
Off among the trees, Certhasath whickered. Sérelókë perceived that though this was a thing huge and unfamiliar, the great horse was not afraid.
Sérelókë was startled and amazed, but he could reassure Iaun of this much at least. “I doubt this is cause for fear, Iaun. That is no device of the Enemy - his forces will be weakened by this light. They are strongest in darkness.”
“It’s so bright,” Iaun said, draping an arm over his eyes as he lay back among the leaves, his form relaxed and his stains forgotten. “I have never seen anything so bright. My eyes are not made for this.”
“Is it painful?” Sérelókë asked.
“It was at first,” Iaun said. “Now the pain is fading and nearly gone. I have never seen the forest outlined so clearly before. And you -“ he gazed up in awe. “In this light I see now how lovely you truly are.”
“And with new eyes I see you as well, Iaun,” said Sérelókë, looking closely and quickly absorbing every aspect of the new white light falling upon Iaun, especially the way it made shadows pool around the contours of his body, and the way it shimmered in his lashes and changed the size of the dark centres of his eyes. The drying spots of his seed still gleamed.
Reluctantly did Sérelókë remove his gaze from Iaun to study the new apparition in the sky. Within the round brightness were subtle shadows, lines and shadings, and Sérelókë drew in breath as the lines began to patch an image in the archive of his mind.
“Oh,” he finally said softly. “How desperate the Valar must be, Tilion. It is you, is it not? Of course it is. I question their choice but not yours. You have done well to be so honoured. It suits you.”
Then a thought hit him, an inevitability, a near-certainty, based on the evidence he now perceived. “There will be a greater light, Iaun, brighter and warmer and far more like to fire, if my predictions bear fruit. Your starlit world will change forever - for I know who it is that Tilion loves, and his light is as a candle to her bonfire. The Trees gave a last gift, I deem, and as the silver precedes the golden, the lesser precedes the greater. I think that before long, it is Arien who will ride across the sky, and the thralls of Melkor will curse her and be afraid.”
Iaun looked up at the round white light in the sky, no longer pained or frightened, and now apparently rather taken with its beauty. “That - is someone you know then?”
“I do believe that is Tilion, once a Maia of Oromë but also much given to dream in the gardens of Lorien. A wanderer, a dreamer, and a lover of all things of silver shade. There is no evil in him, but there is no discipline either.”
“Did you try?” Iaun asked, with a small sly smile.
Sérelókë caught his eye and laughed. “I played at it with him, in the gardens of Lorien. We were not compatible, but there was no ill will.”
Iaun lay back upon his elbows for a moment and gave a soft huffing laugh of amazement as he studied the play of the silver radiance on the leaves of the trees and Sérelókë’s hair. “What strange pleasure-fellows you choose, my lord. A demon of fire, a ball of white light in the sky.”
“Well, he was hardly shaped that like that at the time,” Sérelókë said, with a smile, his teeth white and sharp in the new light, his hands using Iaun’s cloak to mop at the mess on his belly. “I wonder how he appears now, at the helm of his bright vessel.”
“And now you have a battered Elf to tag along on your wanderings,” Iaun said. “For as long as I can keep up, I deem. Not one of your own kind? Surely I do not rise to your standard.”
Sérelókë’s face grew stern for a moment. “Do you doubt my powers of sight, Iaun? Have I not demonstrated to you that I can discern what others may not?” He brought his hand to Iaun’s face, trailed the pad of his thumb over the seam of Iaun’s lips.
“You have,” Iaun agreed, barely daring to breathe over his touch.
“Then do not doubt that I see much in you that you have missed yourself. You are not one to gaze overlong at your own reflection - and even so, it would not show you one fragment of what I see in one glance upon your true face. Trust me, Iaun. You hold my interest, and I shall keep you.”
Iaun shivered and inhaled the air sharply through his nose, for he perceived that the new light had changed the air’s quality, with a subtle touch. “You presume much.”
“Perhaps,” said Sérelókë. “But I am so rarely wrong.”
Iaun looked away, and then back up at the silver beams that shone through to the ground between the branches of the beeches, shimmering as the breeze rearranged the leaf-shadows. He admired the way Sérelókë’s eyelashes caught the light, shining filaments about his deep, bright eyes. Sérelókë was infuriating in his pride. But he was not wrong.
And since Iaun had no answer, Sérelókë ceased speaking for a while, absorbed in his study of Iaun and the new light. Iaun squirmed lazily beneath him, and dabbed at the mess of their intermingled seed upon his belly with the edge of his blanket.
“They have devised a vessel for him,” Sérelókë said at last. “Tilion is transformed, and become at last a being of light. The Valar have not forsaken your lands utterly.”
“Do you like what you see, still?” Iaun asked, teasing slightly.
“Idiot,” said Sérelókë fondly, caressing Iaun’s right thigh. “Must you sleep now, or shall we travel by this new light? I am keen to explore its effects beyond this glade.”
“Onward, then,” said Iaun, rising and re-dressing himself, arranging clothes and wiping at stains that now seemed much more prominent.
As they gathered their scattered possessions, Certhasath emerged from the woods and walked beside them. There was no hurry now, and Iaun felt no need to ride. Horse, Elf, and Maia wandered at relative ease as Tilion made his wavering, arching path across the sky, outlining every leaf and stone and blade of grass in silver, painting graceful white ripples on every bubbling stream.
They followed the river for a while, speaking little of where they were headed, until as Tilion began to disappear below the horizon, they paused to let Certhasath bow his great head to drink.
“Fear not, Iaun, this world has space enough for us to roam, and even some safety left in it,” said Sérelókë. “Here, what about this place. Were you not making your vague way in this general direction when I found you?” He pointed to the map he had drawn with his staff in the river-mud. “Melian will sense my presence at her gate, for she will recognize her kinsman and I am not minded to be subtle in my greeting. Already I am certain that she knows I am near.”
“Are you sure she’ll let us in?”
“Grudgingly perhaps, for she is quite reasonably fearful and protective of her own in this dangerous world, but I have never wronged her.”
“King Thingol allows no one to pass without his leave.”
“King Thingol is not the true authority in Doriath,” Sérelókë said smiling, hoisting his pack onto his shoulder. “But be mindful and behave. I hear they have a pretty daughter.”
“So I have heard tell also. I shall be glad to look upon her,” Iaun said.
“With only your eyes?” asked Sérelókë.
Iaun gave a rakish grin, sidelong at Sérelókë. “I seek no jewel for my bed but the one that’s already adorned it.”
“That was no bed,” Sérelókë muttered. “Just a forest floor.”
“Well, if they have beds in Menegroth, I hope we make use of them if we have the chance.”