A romantic AU fanfic (duh! lol!) - featuring either Elladan or Elrohir (with a bit part for the twin you don't use as a main character) - one lucky lady from the early 19th century - in winter (Christmas time!) - a frozen lake and ice skates - maybe the appearance of a beloved pet or two - and, of course, a good deal of smut.
I will admit that I am not much of a writer of romance, but I try to coax out my romantic muse once a year for Isil. ;)
The summary for this story: As a young girl, Clara had an imaginary friend who departed suddenly once she began to reach womanhood. Now a young woman, she is visited unexpectedly by another of these "imaginaries," bearing surprising news about her friend and his own secret desires.
So yes, this has some pr0n in it. There is some pretty graphic heterosexual content, so if you're averse to these sorts of things, I suggest that you skip this one.
But for all you pervs out there who like sweet romance stories with happy endings, follow me this way!
Clara awoke when the door opened briefly--admitting a gust of cold air--clicked shut again. The sun was just beginning to rise, and she could tell by the muted light outside the window that it had snowed the night before. A childish surge of anticipation greeted that realization, and her fists closed on the bedclothes. But no, she lingered, for the warmth of her quilts and for the sweet torment of yearning for beauty prolonged until she could stand it no longer and kicked her feet from the bed, dancing on tiptoe across the cold wooden floor to the window.
Her breath fogged the glass, and she swiped it clean with an impatient hand and--freezing feet forgotten--gasped at the sight of the fresh snowfall, tinted pink by the rising sun. Icicles draped the tree branches, and the gleam of the frozen lake was dulled by a drift of powdery snow across its silvery surface. Oh! If I was still a girl-- Clara thought, but of course, she was a girl no longer. Her mother had passed on last winter, leaving her to care for her father, leaving her as the "lady of the house," when peddlers came to call. If I was still a girl, then I might spend the day, skating and playing and--
"Elladan." The name formed as a whisper upon her lips, and the glass fogged again, stealing her sight of the fresh snowfall. Her heart gave a start, for she had not thought--much less spoken--that name in many years. Suddenly, the shock of the cold floor against the bottoms of her feet sharpened, and she was brought back to reality. Back to a house with floors that needed dusting and beds turned and a pot of stew put over the stove before her father returned from the trader's that evening. She turned away from the window.
Her father had stoked the fire before he'd left, and Clara dressed quickly in front of it. There was much yet to be done. She was careful not to look at the window.
But that name hung in the room, a warm exhalation on a frigid morning. Elladan. She had not thought of him in years. When she'd been still a girl, he'd been her favorite--and only--playmate. Life as a trapper's daughter at a northern trade post was a lonely one. There were no children near enough to play with, and she'd been schooled at home by her mother. Elladan had appeared one spring morning, peering around a tree, biting his lip shyly while his eyes sparkled with playful mischief. Bright-eyed, with ebony hair to his waist and a laugh like the ringing of bells, he'd been her imaginary friend until the first blushes of womanhood, when suddenly, being in his presence had become strange and difficult somehow. Something else began to light his eyes then, and in the wake of a yearning she did not understand, she'd reluctantly abandoned the friendship, seeking him no longer in thought or play. But then, he was imaginary. He couldn't feel pain.
Yet still, she'd regretted it.
And so she'd met him one final time. There had been sorrow on his face as he told her that he must depart to seek his twin brother. "Elrohir left long ago, seeking answers that have always evaded us. He should have returned by now, and my heart is darkened with worry. I must seek for him. I do not know when I shall return." And that had been the last that she'd seen of Elladan.
But now was not the time for such thoughts. There was work to be done. She put on a pot of water for the stew. There were carrots enough in the larder to make a meal, but she'd have to venture outside to the root cellar for the potatoes. Shivering at the thought alone of the cold outside--comfortable in front of the fire--she pulled boots onto her feet and wrapped a shawl around her shoulders. Quickly, Clara, she thought, as she opened the door and let in a gust of freezing air that stole the breath from her lungs. The potatoes are in the corner on the left side. Quickly, think of what you need, get it, and return to the fire.
Snow speckled her brown hair, and she clutched the shawl closer and tried not to shiver as she fumbled open the door to the root cellar. Using daylight alone, she stumbled into the corner and found the potatoes where she'd expected and filled her apron with enough for stew and supper tomorrow. Best to spare myself this trip again, she thought, and she hastened back up the steps with her only through the warm fire and a bowl of porridge for breakfast, when her toe caught the top step and sent her sprawling into the snow, potatoes scattering everywhere.
On hands and knees, fingers growing quickly numb, and shivering uncontrollably now, Clara struggled to gather as many potatoes as quickly as she could. The sound of her chattering teeth filled her ears, and snowflakes caught on her eyelashes and had to be blinked away. Potatoes plunked into her apron, but never fast enough. She crawled to retrieve another. And another.
And then a hand stretched down in front of her and collected three more in a single quick swoop. "Here, hurry," said a male voice, "before you catch your death of cold." The voice was familiar somehow, and she craned her neck to look at his face, but he repeated, "Hurry," and piled more potatoes into her waiting arms, and she dared not argue.
A long, cold minute later, she stomped show from her boots and shook it from her hair and finally glanced at his face. She gasped with surprise. "Elladan!" she said before she could stop herself.
"No," he said, and he took her shawl and hung it near the fire to dry. "I am Elrohir. My brother spoke of you and the joy you gave him during the years I was gone. I wanted to seek you and thank you for that, before--" There, he abruptly broke off. A wistful smile touched his lips. "You are lovely, as he professed." His hand caught her under her chin. His touch was very warm.
She shivered with something other than cold and bustled to the board to begin peeling and chopping the potatoes. "How is Elladan?" she heard herself asking in a high, nervous voice. She couldn't bring herself to look at Elrohir's face. It was identical to Elladan's but older, more mature. Had her imaginary friend grown in time with her? She wondered at that. And his eyes--his eyes were bright as she remembered Elladan's being, but they weren't cheerful or playful or even mischievous. They shined with something else entirely.
"He is well," Elrohir answered. He was intently watching her chop potatoes. "He longed to come but wasn't sure you'd want to see him. But we are leaving soon, on a long journey, and he wished me to bid you farewell for him, and I wanted to proffer my gratitude." The knife knocked quickly against the board. "Must you do that?" he asked gently.
Startled, her gaze flew to his face. "Of course I must! This is supper for tonight!"
He sighed. "I do not mean it like that. I meant to inquire whether you would have time for diversion this day, or if your entire day would be spent on the peeling and chopping of potatoes." A small smile touched his lips and made her recall Elladan's laugh; made her wonder if his twin knew how to respond with such joyful abandon.
"I had not thought of diversion," she answered. "I have much to do this day, and my father is gone--"
"And my presence here inappropriate. You do not need to tell me that. Perhaps we can find an agreement, then? I will wait outside, and you will join me when you are properly dressed, and we will distract each other for a few hours with diversion." He thought for a moment. "Just two. Two hours is all that I ask of you."
She paused in chopping. Surely she could spare two hours! "What do you have in mind?" she asked skeptically.
"There is a frozen pond, and Elladan tells me that you have skates …"
A few minutes later, wrapped in shawls and cloaks and several woolen skirts, she stepped tentatively onto the ice. He waited at the center with his back turned to her, bare hands shoved into his pockets. It was December and as cold as it would get, but he wore only a leather coat, breeches, and boots with skates strapped over them. "Come now," he chided, without turning, as though he could see her in his mind as she eased onto the ice. "My brother tells me that you have some skill as a skater. I would not wish to wait much longer. Two hours will be gone all too quickly."
"It has been many years," she said, "since last I skated."
"But the memory is there." In a blink, he was at her side. She gasped, backpedaled, and nearly fell. How had--
He is imaginary. Do not forget that, Clara. He is only in your imagination.
But the hand that caught hers and steadied her, surely that was not imaginary? It was warm with life, and those eyes were bright as the sun upon the snow. Slowly, hand in hand, they were circling the ice. "There are some things that one never forgets," he whispered as they went, and a melancholy smile turned his lips. He pulled her closer and around until she skated backward. Once upon a time, she'd been so proud to learn to skate backward. Over and over again, she'd circled the pond backward, falling more than once on her backside, laughing. Elladan had taught her.
"I was sorry to see your brother go," she said simply to fill the air with something, anything, other than this heavy, awkward feeling between them. "Though I am glad to see that he found you."
"You are not entirely honest, Clara," he said. "You were glad in a way, were you not, to have Elladan leave? You saw that he was growing to love you, and you weren't sure if you wanted that."
For a long while, the only sound was the whisper of their blades against the ice. Clara pondered what he had said. She recalled the way that Elladan's eyes had changed at sight of her. The way he'd smiled differently and spoken with greater care. Elrohir went on. "He didn't leave to seek me. He could have done that at any time. He left because he didn't want to hurt you, or to ruin what had always been beautiful between you." Softer still, he finished, "He left because he knew that love between your kind and ours should not be."
"What?" she squeaked. "Your kind? What kind is that? The sort that thrives only in my imagination?"
Sadly, he smiled. "You might say that. We would say faded, but yes, you are right in that it takes one with an extraordinary imagination and an open heart to see us these days. That is why we must leave. But we could not leave without Elladan having you know his regret that his love for you will go forever unfulfilled."
"And you?" she asked. "You had to be the one to tell me? I do not believe that. What has brought you here, and made Elladan stay away?"
His arms circled her waist and pulled her closer. She could feel the motion of his body against hers, could feel the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. Long, he stared into the distance, as though pondering something delicate. At last, he spoke. "Nay, my motives are not so pure. I see you--the first woman to see me in many years--and I desire you. I desire that power, that so many of your kind have lost, the power to see those of us counted among the Eldar."
"The Eldar …" She breathed the word. She'd never heard it, but it was familiar somehow as though it was less a word than an emotion, something innate and vestigial. It awakened an ache deep in her bones and made her consider the depth of time that her people have traversed. The Eldar … She imagined that word whispered by the first winds through the first trees, or spoken in groans by the mountains as they arose from the earth. The Eldar.
And she was not cold. That realization was slower in coming. In fact, she was very warm, as though stretched in front of a roaring fire. Elrohir's arms were tight about her; the length of his body pressed to hers. She didn't need to be told that this was forbidden. She didn't need to be told that this was what had caused her to forsake her friendship with Elladan, even if she hadn't known it at the time. The ache in her body sharpened, and she felt her eyelids flutter shut. She pressed her face to Elrohir's chest so that he wouldn't see the desire etched there.
But he pulled away. "Do not," he said. She was cold again, and she held tight to his hand, the one part of him that remained hers to hold. "That was not why I asked for a two-hour diversion." Bitterly, he laughed. "I would not hurt the one woman to see me in uncounted years; I would not take from her--" He stopped.
"Take what?" she asked, and he laughed again. She knew vaguely the workings of love between men and women, what little her mother had explained before she'd passed, and Clara had always assumed herself immune. Certainly, she'd felt naught for the trappers who sometimes traveled with her father, who liked to lick their lips slowly while looking at her, while her father's back was turned. But now … Elladan loves me, she thought. There was a flutter of joy at that thought. And he--Elrohir--he desires me.
Her blood pounded harder at that thought.
Elrohir laughed. "If you do not know what I mean to take, then I will not be the one to teach or to tell you." He extended his hands to her again. "Come. Skate with me. That is what I meant to occur between us. Nothing more."
She took his hands and let him pull her close again. "See, you do remember!" he said with a laugh as they glided faster and faster, the ice whispering as they scored it with their blades. She turned backward, faltered, and almost fell. He caught her with a gasp. She was in his arms again. Where I want to be, she thought, and she inclined her face to his, and she kissed him on the mouth.
He broke the kiss only when they'd glided to the side of the pond and bumped into a snowbank. "Clara," he whispered. She felt herself tumble into the snow, her fall broken by his arms. "Clara, why do you do this to me?" His eyes were closed, his lips ghosting hers. Snowflakes were ensnared his long, dark eyelashes.
"Because I also desire you," she said, and with those words came the realization that the ache deep inside, the strange need to hold him close and never let go, that was desire. Maybe, with time, it would become love. His eyes opened, and they were as bright as stars against a black night.
He kissed her again as they lay in the snow. Slowly, his body eased atop hers; his hips pressed hers in a slow, gentle rhythm. Her hands slipped down his back and to his waist. She pressed against him to heighten the contact, and he moaned into her mouth. "We should go inside-- I mean, indoors," he said, his cheeks flushing with his misspeak. Her stomach fluttered at his words. "Yes," she agreed in a whisper. She let him gather her into his arms. "Yes, yes."
The fire was still burning, and she watched as he undressed before it. First off was his leather jerkin, and his skin was smooth and pale, his torso hairless and slender. He untied his boots and tossed them aside and began to undo the laces on his breeches.
Face burning, she hugged herself and watched the floor, trying not to look and, at the same time, intensely curious. She saw from the corner of her eye as his hands slipped his breeches from his hips; she saw a dark shadow between his legs and looked away again. The throbbing desire that sometimes awakened her from darkest dreams intensified.
"Clara," he said. "Look at me."
Slowly she raised her eyes to consider him. His unbound hair tumbled over one shoulder and nearly brushed his hip. His pale skin was lightly flushed and--she allowed herself to look now, at his invitation--he was clearly aroused. She felt her face heat and her longing for him became almost unbearable.
She unwrapped her arms from herself and, with trembling hands, undid the first button on her dress. There, she faltered, and he smiled and stepped forward. "No need to hurry," he said. "We still have more than an hour."
He kissed her throat and began easing open the top of her dress. She wasn't sure where to rest her hands on him--so much bared flesh!--and finally settled for his hips, but treacherous hands slipped lower and cupped his buttocks. She felt him grin against her neck, and his arousal pressed against her. "You are bold," he whispered, and the top of her dress slid away.
She didn't feel bold as he laid her back on the bed, atop the quilts she'd slept under since she was a little girl. Her desire burned, and the sight and touch of his naked flesh only made it more intense, but there was also a trickle of fear in her belly. Will it hurt? she wondered. It looks like it will. And what if--a new fear that made her heart lurch in her chest--what if there is a baby? How will I explain that to Father?
As though he'd heard her private thoughts, he whispered into her ear, "I think I lost the power to make a child years ago, when I lost most of my visible body." Slowly, his hands were caressing her body: her breasts, her belly, even lower, knowing fingers finding that small spot that made her hiss with surprise and pleasure, that he caressed until she was nearly undone and he whispered, "Are you certain that you want this?"
"Yes," she managed to gasp.
And with a push of his hips, he filled her.
For a moment, it hurt intensely, and her cry was not one of pleasure. Her fingers knotted into his flesh, wishing perhaps to inflict the same hurt on him. Slowly, he moved within her, kissing her lips as she gnawed them to keep from crying out again, and the pain swelled and then began to subside. "Are you well?" he asked, and she nodded, not trusting her voice to speak convincingly. His fingers crept back to massaging her in that secret place again, and what remained of the pain of penetration dulled further with the pleasure of his touch.
This is it! she thought. I am a woman! This is the last of what was forbidden to me.
And in the midst of that came a deep regret that she'd allowed Elladan to go; allowed his love to go forever unconfessed, out of fear of desire she hadn't understood. If only this could have been Elladan, she thought. She desired Elrohir, for his face was the same as his brother's, and she could not deny the pleasure that he gave her, but Elladan … Elladan was the one she loved. Was the one who could truly fill her.
Elrohir was moving faster within her now. "I cannot--much longer," he gasped, and her own pleasure surged with the renewed intensity of his touch and the knowledge that he lay on the brink of ecstasy, and she was the cause of it. I have given him this, she thought, as they both came undone. In the midst of it all, she remembered what he'd said about an extraordinary imagination and an open heart, and she knew that she'd given him more than pleasure this day. As he'd given more to her.
"We yet have some of our hour remaining," he whispered as he dragged one of the quilts over them. He kissed her eyes, her cheeks, her lips. "Then I must go. But you will be remembered forever."
And sleep thick and dark as ether claimed her, wrapped in his arms, with his heartbeat slowing against her back, flesh on flesh. And when she awoke--
Something wet and sloppy was soaking her face with kisses.
With a shrieking gasp, she sat up and realized that she was sprawled across the snow at the door to the root cellar. Potatoes were scattered in the snow around her, having grown hard with frost. And she was being awakened by the kisses and whines of her father's hound dog Crickets.
"Crickets?" she said with puzzlement. She glanced at the sun.
Two hours. Two hours have passed since I came out here.
"It was a dream?" she whispered to the hound, who was baying happily now that she was proving herself well. "But--"
But she wasn't cold. Even her ungloved hands--which should have been blue with frostbite by now--burned with warmth. Brushing the snow from her skirts, she staggered to her feet and checked the pond, where the ice was as pure and untouched as it had been when she'd awakened this morning.
There was a shout behind her, and her father was at her side, checking her for harm amid her protests that she was well and Crickets weaving between them, adding his howls to the racket. "I had forgotten my coin purse, and am I glad that I returned!" he said, leading her to the house, leaving the frozen, ruined potatoes behind. "You should have frozen. It is a miracle!" he declared.
"I think it is," Clara agreed, and she glanced toward the trees where she used to play with Elladan and where, for the briefest moment, she thought she saw a man standing, his hand raised in greeting, before he faded from sight forever.