The mid morning light filled the room. Silannah stirred, her eyes opening. She vaguely remembered inviting Gilræn to sleep next to her the night before, but he wasn’t there. Slowly, she shifted herself into a seated position, managing only a soft cry from the pain. Rubbing her eyes, she looked around, spotting the ren’dorei at the far end of the long space. He was standing by the hearth, staring into the fire. His smaller frame cast in silhouette by the golden flame. Silannah slid off the bed and moved towards him.
Gilræn ear twitched. He turned to face her, smiling. “You’re up. And dressed already.” She sounded almost disappointed, but did her best to hide it from him.
“Nothing gets past you, does it?” He replied, smirking. Silannah shot him a dirty look.
He laughed aloud, his eyes bright. “I have always been an early riser.”
“Good to know,” she responded, her voice groggy.
“I was making coffee. How do you take it?”
Silannah continued, half hearing him. “I usually am as well, but….oh! Ummm, a little cream and a touch of sugar. Not too much, just a little.”
Gilræn smiled. “Coming right up, my lady.” He chose another cup from the shelf. “I’ve always preferred coffee. All the damn quel’dorei drink tea, so coffee was hard to come by in Silvermoon. One of the perks of being here now.”
Silannah leaned against the door frame, taking in the fresh air from the open back door. Gilræn watched out of the corner of his eye, smiling. She chuckled, “Kajeda always loved tea. You will find quite a number of members of this House do.” Her voice grew quiet, sad. “I’d prefer not to touch it these days.”
Choosing to let the melancholy pass, he shifted things back a step. “Yes, Miss Tindomiel served it when I dined with them. I don’t hate it, but coffee has more kick to it.”
“Tell her you like coffee. Forosuul drinks it as well. She won’t mind.”
“Stick with me and coffee you shall have.” Silannah turned to him and smiled. He grinned, murmuring in addition. “Among other things.” Gilræn held out a cup.
“You just don’t let up, do you?” She took it gratefully.
Gilræn chuckled. “You don’t want me to.” He paused for just a moment. “Fair warning, I make it strong, you may need more cream.”
Silannah took a sip and nodded. “Yes, just a little more in there.” He held out a small pitcher. “And no, I don’t,” She replied, winking at him. He smiled wide. Taking the pitcher, she topped off her cup.
“I believe you prefer me as I am.” He looked down and picked at his robes. Silannah raised a long eyebrow. “Well, perhaps without this.” He offered a little wink.
Silannah laughed lightly. “Well, I do enjoy how you’ve taken care of yourself.”
Waving it off, he replied, “I cannot, sadly, take all the credit, my father made very sure all of us would be beautiful. Vain old bastard.” The last bit he muttered into his cup.
“Don’t tell me that’s all magic. Some of it is you.”
“Well…I stay fairly active, I suppose…”
“Trust me. I’ve trained Ælithil long enough to see the changes it can make.” She took another sip, the hot drink slowly bringing her around.
“But how many private tutors do you know with abs like mine?”
“Well, none,” she conceded. He grinned. “Of course, you are the first I’ve met in many years.” Gilræn sipped his own coffee, his eyes watching her carefully. Silannah leaned against the door frame, bending her knee to take the weight off her damaged leg.
Gilræn noted the way she is standing and frowned slightly. “How does it feel today?”
Silannah looked down and moved it slowly. “Better actually. Just trying to let the runes do their work. The less I stress it, the faster it will go. I suppose I should think about going out to the creek for a soak though. And maybe a wash.”
Gilræn face broke into an enormous grin. “Will you be needing any assistance, my lady? Guidance? Encouragement? Just an audience?” He sounded almost giddy.
“Well, you did promise to wash my hair,” she offered.
“That I did. The offer can be extended to the rest of you, if you feel it…necessary.” He gave her a sly smile.
“Why don’t we see how it goes?” Silannah smirked at him.
Gilræn chuckled. “I doubt very much I will restrain myself to your hair. And I doubt very much you will make any attempt to stop me.”
“Maybe.” She winked at him. “Maybe not.”
“Maybe my well toned, baby-smooth backside.” Grinning at her, he added, “My lady.” Silannah laughed brightly. “Well. That sound just made my day.”
“I am glad I could oblige.”
“Somehow I think you can be very obliging when you wish to be.”
“Hmmm. You may be right about that,” her voice softened. Gilræn moved closer, pressing her tall frame lightly against the doorframe. She gasped at the suddenness of it. Gilræn grinned at her.
“You’re going to spill the coffee,” she chided him.
Gilræn leaned in and kissed her chin. “That would be a shame.”
Silannah leaned back against the doorframe fully, lowering her height just a touch. “It would. Since you like it so much.” She grinned, enjoying teasing him a bit.
“I can make more.”
“Good to know.” Gilræn leaned in again, and simply exhaled into the hollow of her neck.
“Mmmmmm..,” was the best she could muster. Her fingers found their way into his hair. She ran them through, her nails scraping against the shaven sides. She brought them around and played lightly with the short beard on his chin. She looked down at him, eyes shining brightly.
Gilræn set his free hand on her hip and grinned up at her. Very softly her asked, “Tell me what you’re thinking, my lady.”
Her voice matched his own, “I’m thinking I want to explore you.”
“Oh? And what do you think your exploration might uncover?”
“So many things.”
Gilræn grinned at her and stepped back, sipping his coffee once again. Silannah blinked down at him. He looked at her over the rim of his cup, eyes twinkling. “So, you wanted a bath, I believe?”
Nodding, “I would very much like that.”
“Did I hear you correctly when you mentioned a creek?”
“There’s one just outside.” She gestured out the back door.
“Do they not have bathtubs here?” His tone was almost incredulous.
She tipped her head to the side. The idea hadn’t even occurred to her. “Oh….I suppose Tindomiel and Forosuul might.”
Gilræn arched an eyebrow. “You prefer the old fashioned way, don’t you?”
She shrugged. Indicating herself she replied, “Soldier. I am just accustomed to washing in whatever way is convenient. We didn’t exactly haul bathtubs around from camp to camp.”
He chuckled, “We’ll do it your way.”
“As you wish.”
“So, where is it?” Silannah set down her coffee cup and moved to the back door. He extended his arm to her and helped her navigate the two steps onto the grass. She pointed to the right and they slowly made their way over to the quiet little creek.
Once they stood on the bank, she gestured to the water. “See? Perfectly serviceable.”
“Serviceable.” He almost grunted the word.
“You take a very utilitarian view, my lady.”
“If it bothers you, we could ask the others if there is a tub.”
“Oh, no, this is fine.” His tone indicated that he did not care for it, but was willing all the same.
“I grew up with nothing, I worked my way up having almost nothing.” She stepped up the edge of the water. “Then I worked for Mire and had less than nothing.” With a shrug, “You use what is available.”
“Yes, well…” Gilræn reached upward and began unfastening the buttons on her nightclothes. “One can take what is merely serviceable, and make it more.” His fingers worked quickly and gently as he undid each one.
Silannah watched his face carefully. “And how would you make it more?”
“Well, for starters,” he slid the top off of her shoulders. “These things are usually more fun with company. You’ll find that the right companion,” He gently slipped his hands into her bottoms and slid them down. “Can turn the mundane into the extraordinary.” She stood before him wearing only her undergarments and the runed brace that covered most of her left leg. Gilræn’s eyes roamed over her. Silannah shivered, trying to keep her eyes on his. His voice was soft, almost, it seemed, full of admiration. “You are exquisite, my lady.”
Silannah blushed fiercely, suddenly very self conscious. “May I help you with your robes?”
He held up his arms. “By all means.” Silannah reached her hands over and slid them below the edges of his coat. She pushed it back off his shoulders. Pulling it down off of his arms, she lays it aside. Gilræn smiled, enjoying the attention. Carefully unbuttoning his vest, she slipped it off as well. Silannah reached behind his neck and loosened the lacing at the back. She crouched down and lifted the hem of the robe up, slowly gathering it up as she brought it over his head. He raised his arms to accommodate her. She lowered herself to the ground slowly, wincing as she tried to position her leg well. Very gently he cautioned her, “Careful, my lady.”
Silannah started to unbuckle his boots. She whispered, “I am trying to be…Lift your foot.” Gilræn complied as she slid the first boot off and waited for him to switch. He did so and she removed the other. Silannah ran her hands up his legs before slowly unbuckling his belt and loosening his pants.Gilræn playfully pushed his hips forward, as if to make it easier. She slipped and fell onto the ground, unable to maintain the position.
He gasped and knelt down quickly. “My lady, I am sorry.”
Shaking her head, she felt her face grow hot. “No…it’s all right.” Gilræn put his arms around her and lifted her back onto her feet. “I shouldn’t have tried to crouch.” She started to kneel back down, his firm hands stopped her. “I can do it,” she whispered. “I can finish.”
“There is no need,” he responded gently. “Get in the water, it will take weight off your leg.” Silannah sighed but did not argue. She stepped carefully into the water, using his hand for leverage. “This way you get to watch me.” He winked at her playfully. Silannah leaned back, letting herself float. Gilræn sighed happily. “That is quite a sight, my lady.” He finished removing his belt, and shimmied out of his trousers
“I have a pretty nice view myself.”
Gilræn chuckled as he quickly jumped into the water. He gasped, “Bloody hell, this is cold!”
“It’s a little cool.”
“My lady is a master of understatement.” He shivered a moment, looking at her like she had lost her mind. “My testes have retreated into my anus.” Silannah blinked several times, rapidly. Gilræn laughed.
“You sure you wouldn’t rather have the tub?” she teased.
“No, I’ll be fine. Besides, the cold is having a very pleasant effect on you as well.” She looked down and gasped. She wrapped her arms around herself as he giggled.
“I…um…” She stared at him, wide-eyed and blushing.
“Would it make you feel better if I got out and you could see what this is doing to me?” he asked, grinning at her.
“That’s all right.” Gilræn pouted. “I am fairly certain you will show me later.”
He chuckled. “That depends on your leg, I’m afraid. Turn around, please.”
She moved slowly and leaned onto the bank. “For now, this feels really nice.”
“There we are.” He ran his hands over her back and shoulders. “So many scars…” he murmured.
Silannah nodded. “Part of life.”
“Each one a story, I’ll warrant.”
“To be honest, many of them I have forgotten,” she said with a shrug.
Gilræn smiled faintly, “No matter. I will nevertheless enjoy discovering them all.”
Silannah touched the large one on her right shoulder. “This one was an ogre I think.” Gilræn ran his fingers over it. “Or was it a troll…” She shrugged again. “It stopped mattering a long time ago.”
“They are all beautiful.” Again, that tone of admiration tipped his voice. Silannah chuckled. Gilræn began working her hair loose from the plaits.
“Odd that you would find that beautiful.”
“Why is it odd?”
“Most people find them off putting.”
“Oh, not at all. There is nothing about you that does not entice me.” He removed the silver clasps from the top of the braids.
Silannah reached back and touched the short scar at the back of her neck. “This one was definitely a troll. The day I earned what I bore as my name for thousands of years.”
“Now that sounds like a story you remember.”
She smiled slightly. “I do.”
Gilræn ran his fingers through her hair, spreading it out over her shoulders. “Well…share it!” He pulled her back gently, submerging her hair as she once again floated on her back. He scratched her scalp with his nails.
“It was…oh that’s nice…. MMmmfph.” Gilræn grinned. Reaching back to the bank, he fumbled around a moment and got into the pocket of his coat, retrieving a cake of soap. “It was about ten thousand years ago now.” Gilræn got his hands soapy, then started to gently run them through her hair, lightly scrubbing at the strands. “I was living in a small village….mmmm gods…” She sighed contentedly. “I had just gotten promoted to sergeant. Earned my white cloak.”
He worked the soap throughout her hair, rubbing it vigorously into her scalp. His voice was soft, soothing. “Go on, I am listening.”
Silannah eyes fluttered closed, enjoying the sensation for a moment before continuing.
“Giliath was giving me the armor her had made for me when trolls attacked.”
Very gently he asked, “Giliath?”
“My son,” she answered, her voice tight.
“I see, go on,” he whispered to her. Silannah nodded, swallowing. Gilræn moved her hair under the water, rinsing out the soap gently.
“I sent him to watch over the untrained. Took a squad out to cover the western ridge. “While we were fighting them off, a rather large male tried to cut me down from behind.” Gilræn grabbed the soap again and started the process over. “Again? Is it that bad?” She looked up at him.
Gilræn chuckled. “Look at the surface of the water, my lady.”
Silannah glanced at the ripple of rainbow on the water, wrinkling up her nose. Her embarrassment was written all over her face. “I am sorry.”
“If a goblin walks by he’ll build a pump station,” he chuckled.
“No need to apologize, my lady. I am enjoying myself immensely. I rather like pampering you.”
Gilræn scratched along her scalp again.
She smiled. “I cannot say I mind this at all.”
He leaned down and whispered in her ear, “Play your cards right and his could be your life.” His fingers worked the soap down through her hair again.
Silannah chuckled, “I will play my best hand then. So, where was I?…oh yes…” She sighed, relaxing under his ministrations. “So…this troll. He tried to drive a dagger into the base of my skull.” Gilræn cupped his hands to pour water over her head, careful not to let it go over her face. “I moved in time to avoid the worst of it. Bastard’s blade sliced my brand new cloak in two… Mmmmmmm.” He carefully worked the soap out. “I sliced him from groin to throat for it.” Gilræn chuckled. “I guess my cloak was pretty well splattered at that point. We secured the ridge and moved to the other side of the village to take care of the rest. And if the stories I heard were true, the wind kicked the damned thing up in the air and made it look like wings. She shrugged. “Or something.” Gilræn retrieved a comb he’d stashed in his coat pocket. “The villagers started calling me the Redwing.”
“Ahh, I see. I can imagine it, you must have looked very impressive.” He pulled the comb through your hair gently and she grunted at the tug against the knots.
“So for a good long time, that’s who I was. Silannah Redwing.”
“And now? Who do you wish to be, my lady?”
She sighed, “I don’t know. Just Sil is fine. Perhaps for a while, that’s all I need to be.”
Gilræn stopped his attention to her hair. “And…” He coughed, his voice catching. “…what if I wish you to be mine?”
Silannah straightened up to look at him, her eyes wide. “What?”
Gilræn looks at her, almost shy, a hint of fear in his eyes. “You heard me, Sil,” he whispered.
“We just met! How can you be thinking….” Gilræn sighed heavily, his long ears drooping a little. Silannah’s voice softened. “Do you really mean that?”
“Forget I said anything, it was foolish. My apologies, my lady.”
“No…I most certainly will not!”
“I really do,” he answered her, barely above a whisper.
“I don’t know what I would do, Gilræn. That is the only answer I can offer for now.” She looked pained. “I will not say yes, or no.”
“I appreciate your candor, my lady.” His eyes had gone a little dull, his voice as well.
“But you are disappointed.”
Gilræn sighed. Silannah reached up and tugged on her right ear for a moment, clearly uncertain what to say.
“I would be lying if I said I was not,” he offered quietly. “Here is what I know. When I am with you, I am at ease, as well as thrilled, as well as stimulated and also perfectly at rest. When I am not with you, I am anxious, I am thinking of you, thinking of ways to get back.” Silannah chewed on her bottom lip, her eyes darting back and forth across the water. “That is not meant to change your mind, my lady.” He turned her away from him again and began to comb through her long silver hair. “Do you want it braided up again?” he whispered.
“I…” her lips tightened, her brow furrowed. “Yes, please.” Gilræn smiled faintly, and begins to separate the strands into bunches. “I am sorry,” she whispered.
“My lady, why are you sorry?”
Silannah eyes welled up a little before she reached up and wiped the tears away roughly. “Because I do not mean to hurt you.”
“You have not.” Gilræn plaited her hair precisely. His fingers moved nimbly through as he wove her hair.
“But I don’t know if I can…If I could talk of something so complete. So…” She searched for the right words, but they would not come.
“I understand, Sil. Truly.” He tried very hard to sound comforting.
Softly whispering, she pleaded with him. “Please don’t give up on me…”
Gilræn smiled. “Never. I am a very patient man, my lady.”
“I hope so.”
“I hope I have not made you uncomfortable.”
She sniffled. “I’m all right. It was just a surprise…”
He sighed. “I’m sorry, it just came out, I knew it was foolish even as I said it.”
“It’s ok. Really.”
“The offer, however, remains. And much like your offer to share your bed, it is an open invitation.”
Silannah blushed down to her shoulders. “I will think on it.”
“And my heart skipped a beat,” he whispered. He finished setting her hair, smoothing out a few spots before letting his hands drop.
She chuckled. “You’re heart skipped on a maybe…”
“A maybe from you is like a yes from a queen.”
She turned and looks at you like you’ve grown an extra head. “You are out of your mind.” Her mouth was hanging open slightly, her face a picture of pure disbelief.
“I am simply overwhelmed, my lady.” Gilræn touched her hair lightly, admiring his handiwork.
“Did you do it again?”
Gilræn nodded. “Even better this time.”
“I doubt that very much.” Gilræn looked offended, to which she quickly added, “Last time was perfection.”
Gilræn pursed his lips and pointed down to the shimmering surface of the water. “See for yourself.” He crossed his arms over his chest.
Silannah looked down at the water and stared at herself. “How did you…How…”
“My hands, my lady, have skills you cannot imagine”
“Must be so. Because you turned me into something pretty.”
“You were already that, my lady.”
Silannah looked at him sidelong. “Crazy.”
“Smitten,” he shot back. “Hopelessly so.”
“I was a dirty, laying-in-a-bed-for-over-a-week, matted mess. I was not pretty.”
“I probably looked like a hobo.”
“A very pretty hobo.”
Silannah laughed. She took his hand in hers own. “You see through things.”
“I simply see what is there, my lady.”