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Kiss and Tell
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1

It had been all that Arwen had remembered a perfect kiss should be. Not in the least bit coarse or demanding, nor was it one of those wet, sloppy kisses, all slavering, aggressive tongue and wide-open mouth. There had been tongue, gentle enough at first, not tentative but testing, waiting for a response, which, when assured, became inventive. The kiss was long and tender, sweet and hopeful, masterful in technique.

Leaning heavily onto him, she laughed softly. "I remember as though it were yesterday the first time you kissed me. I needn't have wondered if you knew how to kiss, Estel. Clearly you had already had some fair amount of experience."

"Ah, and you couldn't have thought such a thing if you had not had a bit of practice yourself." He laughed, jubilant and smug. "Tell me about your first kiss. Who was the fortunate man or elf?"

She felt her cheeks grow hot. She was no silly girl and it embarrassed her that this man could still make her blush. Since she had always prided herself on her courage, she would refuse to be cowed.

"Do you truly want to hear the story?"

"I surely do. I can already guess from your tone of voice and that sly look of avoidance that it was someone I know."

"Oh, you know him well enough." She laughed again, giddy as a girl. But a few more kisses, initiated by her this time, delayed her response.

"I'm still waiting," he said.

Not one to refuse a dare outright, Arwen bristled. "Perhaps I will tell you. Let me think about it for a moment."

It had all begun with her fiftieth begetting day. The celebration had been splendid. Elrond and Celebrian had done themselves proud. Guests descended upon Rivendell from far and wide. After all of the receptions, dinners and dances, there remained only one lingering disappointment. Arwen had hoped to receive her first real kiss. It had not happened. Not that there had not been a plethora of willing candidates, but something was wrong with each and every one of them. They were too young, too old, too smug, too pretty, not handsome enough, too obnoxiously clever, or too dull, etc., etc.

There had been that awful trio of Galadhrim: Haldir, Rúmil and Orophin. They were handsome enough to a man, without being too slight or pretty, maybe a bit too young, but not much too young. Yet what arrogant bounders they were. They approached her singly, altogether, and in random pairs. First they asked, then they begged, and, finally, tried to catch her unawares. She had threatened to tell her grandmother. They had merely giggled and said that, although she might be a prude, they knew she wasn't a snitch. Arwen had heard the expression kiss and tell. From what she knew of the terrible three of Lórien, they were more likely to kiss and oink. The candidates went downhill from there: vile children barely forty or less, crusty old followers of Fëanor, lecherous half-savage wood elves, lonely wanderers of Gildor's traveling company who were simply not fair game.

After the last guests had departed, Arwen took an afternoon to sun herself in Celebrian's garden, a book of love poems neglected upon her lap, and plotted her next move. She dismissed out of hand the ones who had already left. Realizing her opportunity with them would be time-limited, she had thoroughly gone over the guest list before she allowed them to escape. No. She had not overlooked anyone there. She would be forced to consider all possible candidates in Rivendell, eliminating without further ado all of the elves she had been tutored with and the elves who had been her teachers.

First on the list, of course, as he must have been for every maiden who had ever caught sight of him, was Glorfindel. Glorious, incomparable Glorfindel, all golden and luminescent, surely could not be ignored. True he was old, but not so terribly old, if one subtracted the time he had spent in the Halls of Mandos. He was clever, but not overly so, handsome as a Vala assuming Elven form, with the elegant manners of another Age. He was kind and considerate and had the loveliest mouth imaginable. Unfortunately, if she tried to kiss him she feared she would lose her nerve and make fool of herself, or be burned to an ash by his splendor or, worse still, that he might drag her to her parents by the hair. Glorfindel would not do at all.

Her reverie had been abruptly interrupted by a cry of alarm. "Well, I'll be a filthy, bloody, stinking, toothless orc!"

"Erestor," she called out. "Can I help you? Have you lost something?" Sweet, shy, devastatingly handsome Erestor, polite to a fault, if one disregarded that adorably foul mouth of his. Why had she not thought of him before? True, he was older than Glorfindel, even if one counted all those lost years. He had tutored her in language and lore. Indeed, Erestor had tutored her father as well. Also, rumor had it that he had been present at every major atrocity carried out by the sons of Fëanor.

"Lady Arwen," he replied, bowing from the waist, his voice soft and pleasant with just the slightest hint of a lisp. "Please excuse me for interrupting your studies. I have apparently lost my favorite quill." He looked charmingly dismayed: shining raven locks, cheeks slightly flushed, sea-grey eyes wide open in consternation. Arwen quickly flipped the book she held facedown on the bench beside her, maneuvering its spine away from him. She recalled that he had labeled such books as silly sentimental drivel, not fit for the library of Rivendell.

"Arwen," Estel interrupted. "You've been thinking for five minutes. And now you have the most irritatingly vacant and dreamy expression. Thinking of that first kiss, no doubt."

"Actually, I was thinking of him for a moment. It was Erestor."

"I'll-be-a-bloody-stinking-toothless-orc Erestor?"

"Yes. One and the same. I had thought he would be shy and deferential, perfect for a first kiss."

"And was he? Shy and deferential, I mean?"

"No, in fact, he was not. But he certainly knew how to kiss."

~~~

Many thanks to Elfscribe for inspiring Erestor's curse in her story "To Ward Winter's Chill."

And, almost forgot to thank Greywing. Erestor's lisp was prompted by her "Ŝurrender the Ŝilmaril!" (For those who are not Silm fanatics, this relates to the debate raised by Fëanor over pronunciation of a certain sound in Quenya. "Into the strife and confusion of loyalties in that time this seemingly trivial matter, the change of Ŝ to s, was caught up to its embitterment, and to lasting detriment to the Quenya tongue." The Shibboleth of Fëanor)


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