Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before. Say “please” before you open the latch, go through, walk down the path. A red metal imp hangs from the green-painted front door, as a knocker, do not touch it; it will bite your fingers. Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat nothing. However, if any creature tells you that it hungers, feed it. If it tells you that it is dirty, clean it. If it cries to you that it hurts, if you can, ease its pain.
From the back garden you will be able to see the wild wood. The deep well you walk past leads to Winter’s realm; there is another land at the bottom of it. If you turn around here, you can walk back, safely; you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.
Once through the garden you will be in the wood. The trees are old. Eyes peer from the undergrowth. Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman. She may ask for something; give it to her. She will point the way to the castle. Inside it are three princesses. Do not trust the youngest. Walk on. In the clearing beyond the castle the twelve months sit about a fire, warming their feet, exchanging tales. They may do favors for you, if you are polite. You may pick strawberries in December’s frost. Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where you are going. The river can be crossed by the ferry. The ferry- man will take you. (The answer to his question is this: If he hands the oar to his passenger, he will be free to leave the boat. Only tell him this from a safe distance.)
If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe. Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that witches are often betrayed by their appetites; dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always; hearts can be well-hidden, and you betray them with your tongue.
Do not be jealous of your sister. Know that diamonds and roses are as uncomfortable when they tumble from one’s lips as toads and frogs: colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.
Remember your name. Do not lose hope—what you seek will be found. Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn. Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story. When you come back, return the way you came. Favors will be returned, debts will be repaid. Do not forget your manners. Do not look back. Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall). Ride the silver fish (you will not drown). Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).
There is a worm at the heart of the tower; that is why it will not stand.
When you reach the little house, the place your journey started, you will recognize it, although it will seem much smaller than you remember. Walk up the path, and through the garden gate you never saw before but once. And then go home. Or make a home. And rest.
For the anon who requested Thranduil fluff: Person A is trying to show person B how much they love them and they overhear that they like roses so they go to a rose bush and grab a handful and end up hurting themselves. When person B walks up and notices the blood on their hands they ask them what’s wrong and person A reluctantly shows them the handful of roses. How person B reacts is up to you. (from otpprompts)
A/N: I SAW THIS PROMPT AND AWWW. And I apologize, but I have a problem with writing just fluff, because it always seems to not really have a plot. What I’m trying to say is I threw a bit (a lot) of angst in there, but it still ends in fluff… Sorry if that was not what you were looking for anon.
Translations: Meleth: love, Gornon, valiant one, Meleth e-guilen, Love of my Life, Miluis, lovely one.
Warnings: Thranduil tears (they are sacred and need to be preserved) and mentions of blood and minor injury.
Ever since the Battle of Dagorlad and the War of the Last Alliance, Thranduil attended to the duties forced upon him with a frown upon his lips and sorrow in his heart, his father’s crown weighing heavily upon his luscious platinum locks, and mourned the loss of his king and father under the light of moon and star, weeping to the roses in the gardens, all memory of me, his lover, having faded from his beautiful mind the moment Thranduil had seen the point of a sword pierce his father’s heart, and protrude from his chest. I was supposed to be at his side, ready to offer comfort the moment he was in need of it, to clear his mind with the gentlest and most tender of touches, but alas, he refused me, insisting that I should not see him in the state he was in, insisting that no one should. And contradictory to his wishes, I wanted to show him how much I loved him, how much he meant to me, and how I couldn’t stand by and which his heart whither and die.
“J-Jamie.” She nearly didn’t manage to speak at all. Her hands hid behind her back as she tried to stop herself from worrying at her wrists. “Have you done for the day?”“Aye. Would ye like to come for a ride wi’ me. There’s a place I’d like to show ye? If yer up to it.”
The local men had spoken of this small secret place and he and Murtagh had ridden out there to make sure it was safe before he’d asked Claire to accompany him. His heart had been light as he’d returned, his mission successful. But now, now that had been turned to dust in the wake of her confessions. He felt desolation creep up his spine.
“Yes. Of course.” She slipped out of the stall and walked slowly towards him, her legs felt as though they were filled with lead. As soon as she was close enough he held out his hand for her and she took it, a shaky breath leaving her lips as she did so. She could feel his anguish in that moment. Unwilling to admit he might have overheard anything she’d said she brushed it off, her mind scattered with so many different emotions that she couldn’t bear to deal with any more.
Jamie led her to his horse. As she followed, she thought of those final moments leaving her prison cell and how numb she felt. This was eerily similar. She felt like she was being led to the gallows.
They mounted in silence. He helped her up first, untied Donas and then pulled himself up. She sat behind him, her arms wrapped snugly around his waist. As they started off into the forest surrounding them she laid her head against the flat of his back and let her mind empty. She felt like a husk, a shell of a being, unable to find purchase where she needed to be. She’d accepted her fate and at the last minute been torn back into the living world but now she was stuck in this limbo like state.
She buried her nose into Jamie’s coat; the soft scent of water lingered but was overpowered by the pines that surrounded them. His subtle musk lay beneath that. She inhaled him greedily letting it soothe her as they rode on. Every now and then droplets of water would fall on her from the needles above, each one keeping her grounded in the present. Her thighs pressed snugly against his and she remembered the feel of his skin there, the bristly hairs on the tops of his legs tickling her. She smiled. Donas’ gentle sway rocked her into a daze as her heart started to lift. The deeper they trekked into the woods, the easier she felt. The feeling of sorrow leaving her with every step.
She felt the muscles of Jamie’s stomach tense as he pulled the giant black stallion to a halt. Helping her off, he held her chin between his fingers as he kissed her forehead. There was something off, he seemed nervous and distant. His eyes barely met hers as he handed her the reins.
“I just need to go…and, uh…relieve myself. I didna ken how far we’d come and me and Murtagh consumed a fair bit o’ fine whisky on our trip. Will ye wait here, just for a wee moment?” His voice sounded strange to her ears, flat and lifeless, not his usual self. She nodded back at him, trying to catch his eyes but failing. It almost felt as if he were saying goodbye.
“Yes, go Jamie.” Miraculously she kept her voice level, inside her heart was pounding. This is what she’d thought about, escaping, relieving him of his obligation to her. The leather straps of the reins rubbed together as she gripped at them painfully, the low level squeak that emanated from them pierced her ears.
He took her hands, pulled them to his lips and kissed each finger reverently before turning and walking into the forest. Sweat prickled at her brow. This was her chance, but her stomach flip-flopped. From the stables to this forest clearing had been cathartic for her, she’d hit rock bottom and somehow managed to cleanse herself of some of her demons. But now she was torn.
Jamie wandered away from Claire, unable to turn and look upon her. He’d said his farewell to her in the only way he knew how, now it was up to her. He trudged his way through the mossy undergrowth, the sticky leaves clinging to his kilt. He found a suitable tree and leant his weight against it, the bark scratching him through his clothes.
He bent his head back and looked up towards the canopy above, the birds flitted through the high reaching branches causing the sun to peek through the gaps their wings provided. He let the time pass, counting to five minutes before he allowed himself to even contemplate returning.
Taking a deep breath he pushed himself off the oak tree twisting to look back in the direction from which he’d first arrived. He couldn’t see Donas or Claire from this distance but he still wasn’t brave enough to step forward the few steps it would take to bring them into view.
He straightened his spine he stepped forward as quick as he could bring himself to walk. As he approached where he’d left Claire he could see Donas. His heart picked up pace in time with his feet as he rushed towards him. His eyes widened as he pushed through the last bush, Donas stood munching on a spot of grass, his reins tied off on a nearby branch. His heart plummeted, he turned around in a full circle his eyes darting from tree to tree across the clearing.
“Oh, Claire.” He stumbled backwards catching himself before he fell to his knees. He’d prepared himself for this, he’d given her the chance after all. But the reality of it twisted in his gut.
“You heard me in the barn.” The voice drifted up from alongside Donas, Jamie’s head whipped up and he struggled to his feet once more and dashed around his horse. She was sat just out of sight on a rock, her legs curled up against her chest. She looked so small.
“…and you were willing to let me go?”
Jamie knelt down in front of her and took her frozen hands in his rubbing them to get her warm once more. She squeezed her eyes closed.
“Please, mo nighean donn. Look at me.” He pleaded, shifting himself closer. She took one large breath and did as he’d requested. “It isna that simple, aye?”
“It isn’t?” Her fingers twitched in his palm. “H-how much did you hear?”
“All of it.” He answered bluntly, trying to keep the worry out of his voice. The tears clung to Claire’s eyelashes as she blinked and rocked forward until her forehead met with his.
“Why? You left me here, why?” Her tone held no judgement, just curiosity. Jamie gulped and sucked the air through his teeth, his chest heavy.
“It’s my fault. If I hadna crashed into yer life, left ye to those…t-those bastards!” His hands tightened against hers as he shook with the force of his anger. “Through it all, even Murtagh taking ye away from it, ye didna have any choice. We stole ye away, brought ye here. I thought, in time, that ye would heal. When I heard yer words in the stables I kent what I had t’ do. It killed me to do it, Claire, ye have to know.”
He was openly sobbing now, the evidence of it running down his flushed cheeks.
“But I couldna keep ye if ye didna wish it.”
He dropped his head now so that it lay just over her bosom as he clenched her fists to his tear stained lips. She could feel his heated breath as he whispered something against her; she couldn’t quite make out the words.
She pulled one hand free and wrapped it at the base of his hairline, holding tight to his auburn curls. He kept her other hand close, tugging it until it rested over his heart. It was beating so fast that she panicked for a moment until she realised hers was running at the exact same pace.
He was so wrapped up in his grief that he failed to notice she’d been chanting the same sentence over and over. He lifted his head to see her muttering to herself.
“Claire…Claire, lass. What’s the matter?” He took her face in his hands, wiping the moisture from her cheeks.
“I should have gone, I was too selfish. Should have left, I…I couldn’t. I love you, but I’m too selfish to let you go. I’m sorry. Jamie, I’m sorry.” Her words all began to run together as she tried to push herself away from him.
“Dinna ye ever apologise for that! Claire, I love ye too. So much. It’s alright, we’re going to be alright. Yer wrong, ye should have stayed as ye have.” He plucked her off the rock now, cradling her against his chest as if she were a babe. Carrying her so carefully he brought her to the entrance of a nearby cave, its opening concealed by the limp branches of the willow tree that stood to the left of it.
She felt the damp warmth surround her immediately and lifted her head to see.
“W-where are we?”
“Some of the local men spoke of it, I wanted to bring ye here. It’s King Arthur’s cave, mo gràidh.” He placed her on her feet and removed his coat, placing it neatly on the floor near to the opening. “There’s a story of it, if ye would like to hear?”
Claire nodded as he reached up to run a lone finger across the top of her bodice. Her skin flamed where he touched her, the climate in the cave so different from the cool of the Welsh mountainside.
“The legend goes that,” he began to undo the laces that kept her stomacher in place, “one day on his travels he came across this wee spot. His men had walked far, over the mountains and through the valleys, and they were in desperate need of a place to rest, aye?”
Claire turned as he began to remove her skirts, letting him lead. The fabric dropped to the floor with a whoosh, followed swiftly by her corset and lastly her shift. She stood naked with her back to him, listening as he undressed himself. She felt his hand at her shoulder as he ran his palm down the skin of her arm until he reached her elbow. She turned back to face him.
“They remained here for nigh on a week, the legend goes, and when it came time for them to be parted from it, Arthur blessed the water wi’ his sword. The way it faces and how it’s covered keeps it warm all day and night, no matter the time of year. The spring kept hot by King Arthur’s wish. It’s a healing spring, ken?”
He took her hand and led her to the edge of the lapping water. The rocks held the temperature too and she could feel the soles of her feet warming. Her body was covered in a light sheen of dampness, the close heat of the cave soaking through her.
“Sit on the edge, Claire. Let yer feet rest in the pool.” He coaxed as he slid himself into the water and stood waiting. It wasn’t that deep, only covering his hips, enough that when she sat he stood eye to eye with her.
He took a small goblet from the side and filled it with the spring water before holding it up to her lips, she drank a few sips, the anguish from earlier forgotten as he urged her to drink. After he refilled the cup, but instead of drinking it he used it to cover her. First letting it run down her back, holding the lip at her shoulders and dragging it across. She closed her eyes and let her head loll forward until she was resting against his collarbone.
Once he’d finished bathing her he ran his hands over every inch of her. The water had an oily quality that acted as a sort of ointment. His hands slid of the insides of her thighs and she gasped at the feel of it.
“I love ye, my Claire. Let me make it better for ye, dinna hide from me anymore, aye? I can take the pain away for ye. I promise.” He spoke the words as a prayer against the moist warmth of her skin, as much skin as he could reach from this angle. His tongue drew patterns down her neck, down further to her navel until he reached the subtle rise of her hip bone.
She managed to force her eyes open, lulled as she was into this half dazed state. He looked like an Adonis in front of her, half covered in the blue black of the pool, the strong taut muscles of his back coated in fine oily droplets of water.
He stood, feeling her eyes on him and took a step back. He let his arms float at his side as he watched her admire him. She looked so alive, so beautiful. Sat with her legs spread as they were, her hands holding her up as her feet dipped below the water line. He ached to take her as she was, but he wouldn’t. Not yet.
“Jamie, come back to me.” She begged, her body arching towards him in submission. Her shoulders, no longer tensed, sagged further as the heat penetrated every inch of her. He only waited one heartbeat before taking her in his arms and pulling her deeper, sinking into the spring so only the tops of their shoulders showed.
Claire wrapped herself around Jamie and they floated in circles, letting the pain and suffering flow from both of them. He kept his feet on the bottom as he twirled her round, one hand firmly on her bottom and the other rubbing gently at her back. He mumbled more of her favourite Gaelic tales as he did so, this time stories of mothers and bairns—of a future he saw for them both.
In turn she whispered her love for him in the form of kisses along his neck. She wasn’t sure of his words but they stirred an almighty fluttering in her womb, a feeling that made her eyes water at the joy of it, a feeling that made her hips arch towards his in the dark unseen depths.
They lay together, legs locked, arms twined, for the longest time. Nose to nose they simply watched the other through hooded lids. Jamie was the first to break the silence, shifting a lock of Claire’s hair as he spoke.
“There’s something else I need to ask ye, Claire. It has to be soon, but I want ye to know how much I wish for it too.” He pulled her hand into his and kissed it softly.
“I want so verra badly for ye to marry me. Will ye have me, Claire?”
Her mouth went dry, her eyes wide as she held fast to his hand. A small smile lifted the corners of her lips as she shifted her body closer still to his. The onset of dusk bathed them in a pallid yellow light and his auburn hair seemed to spark and come alive in it as he brought her fingers to his mouth and kissed each one over and over. She took a breath.
The woodlands bordered the loch, and in some places the ground dropped away steeply towards the water. Algy found himself a new perch in a twisted oak tree at the top of a slope, where he could relax and watch the play of light and water through the new spring leaves of the trees lower down the hillside. All around him, the woodland birds were singing their spring songs, and rustling among the leaves and on the mossy ground below as they went about their business. It was a lovely spot in which to while away a Sunday afternoon, and Algy hopes that you too will find such a beautiful spot in which to relax and rest :))
We drove five hours from Atlanta to the Georgia coast, my friend and I, on our way to Cumberland Island. The billboards asked who is Jesus and reminded us about PEACH WORLD every few minutes for forty miles. Along the side of the interstate, plant life pushed up against a fence like a crowd at a stadium stampede. The air near the border of Florida felt like no air I’d breathed before, dense and suffocating and smelling richly of swamp. From the ferry to the island, we watched a group of white birds lift from the marsh grass like a handful of confetti. Signs on land had said we might see dolphins chasing the boat, but we didn’t. No one lives on the island. People camp. Feral horses stroll and graze. Armadillos trundle around, but no sign of them either. And the forest there was thick with gnarled twisting live oaks draped with Spanish moss. The atmosphere was mysterious, heavy, unfamiliar, and the line between beautiful and disgusting was thin (the yellow speckles on the bulb of a spider’s body were lovely; the spider was the size of my hand). We sat in silence for a while, my friend and I, and heard no noise that came from anything other than nature. I realized then how long it’d been since I’d been away from the city. Back on the mainland someone asked, “Y’all been to Cumberland?” We told him yes. “It’s the crown jewel of the Georgia coast,” he said. “Unspoiled,” he said. “Y’all are lucky to see it.” We agreed that we were.
“Guess who, bitches!” A familiar voice called through the
bunker. Dean shot up out of his seat, his hands clammy as he tried not to rush
to the front door. He had been waiting to see you ever since you had left a
couple months before. It had been left on a good note, however, and he was
excited to hear that you were returning with Charlie again.
“Charlie!” Sam replied with a grin, somehow managing to get
there before Dean. He had embraced her in his strong arms, towering over her
like she was no taller than a dwarf. Dean came up behind him, scratching the
back of his neck as his eyes flickered at you. But it was quickly broken as Charlie
threw herself at him, hugging him tight.
“Good to see you,” Dean said, returning the hug before
letting her go again, clearing his throat.