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Starlight Bathing by curiouswombat

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Story notes:
The third story set in the AU outlined in Return of The Key, this looks at Dawn/TindůmŽ's first three years living in Caras Galadhon, as she approaches official adulthood and finally spends her first night with Rumil.
Chapter notes:

Author's notes;

Dawn chose the name TindůmŽ for herself - it is the Old Elven/Quenya word for the early morning light.

Nethig is Legolas' nickname for Dawn - it is 'what an elf might call his little sister'.

Dawn is a few weeks over 17 in the first scene and approximately 20 by chapters 2 and 3.

Conversations are in the Common tongue only for the earliest section of Chapter One - from there on in they can be assumed to mainly happen in Sindarin, the language of most of the elves in Middle Earth at this time. However, even by the end of Chapter 3, it can be assumed that Dawn/TindůmŽ probably still thinks in a mixture of languages!

Chapter One

“We could go starlight bathing…” Rumil’s voice was soft; his mouth almost touched TindůmŽ’s ear.


The first time TindůmŽ had heard the phrase ‘starlight bathing’ had been on her journey to Lothlorien from Minas Tirith. The elves had ridden in company with the Rohirrim, who were escorting Thťoden King’s body back to its final resting place at Edoras, in a large cavalcade.

On the last night before arriving at Edoras word passed through the elven encampment that they would stay to bathe the next morning whilst the Rohirrim, and the Gondorians who travelled with them, rode on towards Edoras. The Men had been shocked at the idea of both male and female elves bathing in the open. That was why the elves had decided to delay until the others rode on rather than bathing the evening before. They valued cleanliness but this last chance to bathe in a running stream, before they set up camp at Edoras, was as much a pleasure as a necessity.

Legolas sought out TindůmŽ to talk to her about the plans. “The two kings, Gandalf, the hobbits and the …orlingas will arrive in state with the body of Thťoden… the elves will arrive, clean, some little time later,” he said, smiling slightly.

“If you do not feel that you can undress and wash in the stream with us you can simply stay here at the campsite – Gimli will await me, but stay staunchly as far away from any chance of glimpsing naked elven flesh as possible! He is quite shocked to think that The Lady would bare her all in a stream – and would doubtless die of embarrassment should he inadvertently witness the event.”

TindůmŽ raised her eyebrows. “Even Lady Galadriel washes in the stream?”

“No elf would choose a small bowl of water in a tent when there is a running river,” Legolas replied, with a slight shrug of his shoulders, “but they would understand if that was your preference.”

It was over four months since Dawn Summers had fallen down the Sunnydale Hellmouth, as she used her powers as The Key to close it, and arrived in Middle Earth. It was almost six weeks since she had changed her name to TindůmŽ, and she was fairly sure now that she was here to stay; there was no way back to California, she believed, and, even if there had been, she didn’t really want to go. As her life was to be amongst the elves she had better adapt to their lifestyle as soon as she could – and it seemed that included communal bathing. If Lady Galadriel was willing to strip and bathe in public, well, then TindůmŽ could cope too.

“If I don’t bathe I will smell, and none of you will want me to ride with you,” she pointed out, “and hey, it’s summer, I totally won’t freeze. I’ll be there with everyone else.”

“Nethig,” Legolas said, “you really are a brave little warrior – I know how hard it was to be one elf amongst mortals – you are doing so well at adapting to life amongst elves when you are not even from our world.”

Later that night TindůmŽ woke to hear quiet voices talking in Sindarin; Orophin and Rumil, as close to her as they usually were. She had learned a lot of the language by now, they were using fairly simple words, and so she could follow most of the conversation.

“Will it be better for you, my brother,” Orophin was asking, “to bathe at the same time as TindůmŽ, or better to stand guard?”

“It matters not,” Rumil replied, “I am not an elfling, and we are not talking about starlight bathing.”

TindůmŽ rather hoped that Rumil would bathe at the same time. She fell asleep wondering about the way he had said ‘starlight bathing’.


Boroniel, one of the fairly small number of ellyth that had accompanied Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel to Minas Tirith, was already becoming a friend. In fact it seemed Galadriel had brought her specifically because she spoke good Common and could talk with TindůmŽ. She arrived as TindůmŽ was finishing breakfast to walk to the river with her.

TindůmŽ was still a little worried about being around a lot of naked elves – more worried than she was about being naked around a lot of elves, in fact. She wasn’t sure if she could behave naturally without staring. What the fuck – she was afraid that if she behaved naturally she would be likely to stare a lot!

When they got to the river Boroniel put down her drying cloth on the grass, casually stripped her clothes off, and laid them on the cloth. There were already about a dozen elves in the water, mostly male, and they didn’t seem to be taking any notice of TindůmŽ and Boroniel; TindůmŽ undressed as casually as she could.

Oddly enough she found that her eyes were drawn less to the, uh, male parts of the ellyn than to their hair. All had their hair loose, some with it already wet and clinging to their shoulders and backs; a couple had not got around to washing it yet. It struck TindůmŽ that it was the first time she had seen an ellon with loose hair; somehow, without their braids, the males looked strangely vulnerable.

The light glinted on the ripples, left by braids, which ran through the otherwise straight hair of a couple of blond elves whose backs were to the bank –TindůmŽ was fascinated. One of the two turned as someone spoke to him, and cheerfully called out “Good morning, nethig, it is a perfect day to enjoy the water and the sunshine!”

Without his usual Mirkwood braid down his back she had not recognised Legolas! She wondered for a minute if one of the others whose faces she couldn’t see was Rumil, but she was pretty sure she would have known if he was there, just as she always knew if he was near-by when she woke.

They had chosen a place in the stream where the water formed a fairly deep pool – Legolas was in up to his hips – TindůmŽ was quite glad. Then with no warning he suddenly flailed for a moment and disappeared under the water, to surface within seconds and dive back under the water, much to the amusement of those around him. It took TindůmŽ a little while to realise that another elf had swum under him and pulled him down by the legs.

By now TindůmŽ and Boroniel were in the water up to their own thighs and no-one really seemed to be taking any notice. There was much laughter and splashing going on where Legolas and his attacker had surfaced and, as TindůmŽ recognised the other elf as Orophin, Boroniel said ‘Males!’ sounding so much like Buffy that it brought a lump to TindůmŽ’s throat.

As they soaped themselves, and washed their hair, TindůmŽ was able to casually observe the naked elven flesh around her. If Boroniel and the other two ellyth in the river were typical then they had smaller breasts than TindůmŽ, although her own were only just a C-cup, and they had less pronounced waists.

The males all had slim but well muscled bodies – not really surprising, she thought, as most of these were warriors who practiced day in day out with bows and swords – and when she let her eyes drift gently downwards it was pretty clear that the cold water had no effect on the elven male genitalia!

TindůmŽ had to admit that she had very little personal experience of naked men but, back in Sunnydale, Janice had had a couple of old copies of ‘Playgirl’ and they had studied them carefully. They were well aware that the guys who modelled for the nude photos would not be under-sized; and so they were more likely, in real life, to meet smaller penises rather than larger ones. Well, all TindůmŽ could think was that elven males all seemed to be fairly much in Playgirl proportions for their well-over six feet height and she hoped, when the time finally came, that she would be able to cope!

Surreptitious glances around answered a couple of the other questions she had about elven bodies too. Ellyn all had chests as hair-free as their faces, their arms and legs had only the same fine golden fuzz that a human pre-pubescent blonde girl might have. This was true even for the brown or black haired elves. Boroniel had even finer golden fuzz on arms and legs. Armpits seemed to be hairless too. TindůmŽ wondered if she could get hold of a razor easily because otherwise she was going to look gross and very out of place. As for the, uh, other body hair, both males and females appeared to have a small tuft to match their head hair – in that respect she wouldn’t look too out of place.

As TindůmŽ was considering that the mixed bathing was informative, as well as quite pleasurable, Boroniel broke into her train of thought. “I am afraid, TindůmŽ, that some of elves are being rather rude and are taking advantage to study your body.”

TindůmŽ raised slightly startled eyes to her new friend; she hadn’t noticed any stares, either from those in the water, or those on the bank.

“They have never seen a naked mannish female, most have never seen a naked man,” Boroniel said, “I think they wonder if you will be covered in hair…”

Almost to her own surprise TindůmŽ burst out laughing instead of being embarrassed. What was it Spike had once said? ‘What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.’

“Should I just do a couple of slow turns so that they can all look at once?” she asked. “I hope they haven’t been making bets with Orophin and Rumil because they would so win – they’ve seen all of me already!”

Boroniel laughed then, looking slightly relieved that TindůmŽ had not been shocked or upset, and said “No, you don’t need to do a turn or two – but you would be entitled to stare back…”

“Don’t worry,” came the answer, “I already have, just not obviously!”

As they sat on the bank, letting the warm breeze dry their hair, Legolas approached; now wearing his ‘towel’ like a sarong and looking, TindůmŽ thought, very like a surfer dude.

“What was the joke, nethig?” he asked.

“Girl stuff!” TindůmŽ answered, and he learnt no more.

Before TindůmŽ and Boroniel made their way back to the camp, to finish packing their washing stuff away, another group of elves approached, with Lord Elrond and his sons in the midst of it, and Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel a little further back.

Just as TindůmŽ was thinking that the Els looked somewhat subdued, compared with the other ellyn, Boroniel said “It is a sad day for my Lady’s family; they will get less joy from bathing today than usual. Arwen rode with her husband and was counted amongst the Men, rather than amongst the elves.”

‘Of course’, TindůmŽ thought, ‘it would not be seemly for the Queen of Gondor to be seen baring as much as an ankle in the presence of males, even her brothers. Poor elves – they lose Arwen and gain me. I’m not sure they’d look at it as a fair swap…’


“We could go starlight bathing…” Rumil’s voice was soft; his mouth almost touched TindůmŽ’s ear.


The first time TindůmŽ went bathing with Rumil was some months after she arrived in Caras Galadhon.

Rumil and Orophin had returned to their work as wardens; away from the city, on patrol at the borders of Lothlorien, for weeks at a time. Although there was now less danger, and so fewer wardens needed ‘on the fences’, there were also fewer wardens to patrol – Galadhrim casualties at Helm’s Deep and Dol Guldur together had numbered well into the hundreds; Rumil and Orophin were by no means the only ones mourning lost family members.

Lord Celeborn himself had started to tutor TindůmŽ. Together they studied Sindarin, reading tengwar (the elven alphabet), the history of Middle Earth, and elven culture. Celeborn was a patient and interesting teacher, he found this role enjoyable as there had been no young elves for him to pass his knowledge on to for some years, and TindůmŽ was an interested pupil who learnt quickly and easily.

They were in his study deep in discussion about Morgoth, known to TindůmŽ as The First in her time as Dawn, when Rumil arrived with a message from the new March Warden.

Celeborn took the message from him and told TindůmŽ to take the rest of the day off. She could spend some time with Rumil after he’d finished giving his oral report.

Rumil looked down at his tunic. It was stained with orc blood, TindůmŽ noticed with surprise, and Rumil grimaced. “I stink,” he said. “Could you please fetch my bathing things, and a clean tunic, for me while I talk to my Lord? We can bathe together before we do anything else.”

TindůmŽ glanced at Lord Celeborn to see if he was going to object to them bathing together, knowing of their attraction and TindůmŽ’s under-age status, but he simply nodded and suggested that the two should meet at one of the bathing pools.


A couple of Caras Galadhon’s bathing pools had water supplied by hot springs; not surprising, TindůmŽ thought, as there was at least one big volcano within a few hundred miles. She was glad of the warm water – elves might not mind the cold but The Key did.

Rumil managed to look at some point in the middle distance as TindůmŽ undressed even though he had washed her, and even changed her urine-soaked clothes, when she had been unconscious in the spring.

‘Hmm’, she thought, ‘not quite so sure that ‘it matters not’ as you’d like people to think, eh?’

As he was carefully not looking at her she was able to watch him undress without catching his eyes. By now she had seen a number of naked ellyn bathing, but she hadn’t seen this one before, and he was the one that counted!

Really he looked as she knew he would; pretty much the same as most of the warriors. Well over six foot tall, broader shoulders than some, smooth skin with no scars, only body hair a small blond nest at the base of his… bummer, she didn’t know the Sindarin for that bit of an ellon yet. Hmm – was it the sort of thing to ask Lord Celeborn? Maybe not! She would ask Boroniel or Eriathwen. Anyway, a small tuft of blond hair at the base of his dick, just where it might tickle your nose if you were to…

Odd, she thought, when she had read about ‘giving head’ or ‘oral sex’ in the Sex Ed book, or the Playgirls, it had sounded totally icky but now she was happily considering doing it with Rumil and wondering if it would tickle!

Just as that thought crossed her mind she realised that Rumil was watching her watching him. Total bummer! She decided to brazen it out, looked up from his private parts to his face, raised an eyebrow and then dived into the pool.

In the pool they chatted about the small band of orcs his patrol had encountered and destroyed, TindůmŽ’s lessons, the ellon who had been hitting on Eriathwen; everyday stuff.

They got out and dressed, continuing the conversation casually, and TindůmŽ realised it was another step on her road to elven integration.


“We could go starlight bathing…” Rumil’s voice was soft; his mouth almost touched TindůmŽ’s ear.


The first time TindůmŽ understood what starlight bathing meant was when Eriathwen explained it to her a few months after she arrived in Caras Galadhon.

“Boroniel is in her bedroom stitching new trimmings to her blue dress,” Eriathwen said as TindůmŽ came into the talan the three shared. “She has finally persuaded Amdiron to take her starlight bathing!”

TindůmŽ remembered hearing Rumil mention starlight bathing that night in Rohan – it obviously had a distinct meaning, she realised, not just ‘getting clean after dark’.

“What is the difference between starlight bathing and any other sort of bathing?” she asked Eriathwen.

“Oh! Do you not know?” her friend responded. “It is bathing for pleasure not cleanliness.”

“But isn’t bathing usually pleasurable?” TindůmŽ asked, rather puzzled.

“A different sort of pleasurable; sensual pleasure,” Eriathwen answered, although it took three or four attempts to get the concept of ‘sensual’ across – Eriathwen spoke Common, but not as well as Boroniel did, she didn’t know the right word and TindůmŽ had not known the Sindarin.

By the time they had laughed their way through various hand gestures and descriptions, and TindůmŽ had come up with ‘swayed by the desires of the body’** – which phrase she had got Elrohir to translate into Sindarin for her one day on the ride from Minas Tirith – she had added a couple of new words to her Sindarin vocabulary. She had also realised that ‘starlight bathing’ must be the Galadhrim, or possibly all-elvish, equivalent of a hot date.

She had a sudden wave of home-sickness for Sunnydale. You did see couples in Caras Galadhon in the glades where elves gathered to eat together or drink wine, sing or listen to the singing – but it wasn’t quite the same as a guy taking you to a movie, or bowling, to a football game, or clubbing.

“We will walk that way tonight,” Eriathwen declared, “and then you will understand better.”

“Uh, if I understand even sort of right,” TindůmŽ answered, “surely passers-by won’t be welcome?”

“Do not worry, TindůmŽ,” her ‘room-mate’ said, “we can simply walk along the path until we are near Lin Tathren. She grinned widely. “When I was approaching my majority such a stroll was regarded as educational.”

Boroniel emerged from her room, with the newly trimmed blue dress over her arm, to ask them to lace her into it; which would mean, TindůmŽ realised, that Boroniel would need help getting out of it as well…

Later TindůmŽ and Eriathwen walked down by Lin Tathren (The Pool of the Willows – the one of the two warm pools furthest from the centre of Caras Galadhon). TindůmŽ still worried that this might be frowned on if couples were really making out down there, or wondered if she’d misunderstood and Boroniel, Amdiron, and anyone else that was there, were actually going to be standing chatting and drinking wine politely.

They walked quietly along the path until they were within sight of the pool and TindůmŽ realised that she had had the right idea in the first place. It was fairly dark – the path here had few lamps and the only light was from a quarter moon and the stars – but those in the pool were definitely in couples. Or more! Apart from three or four couples there was a threesome of two ellyn and one elleth all slowly rubbing bathing oils into each other’s skin and washing each other’s hair.

TindůmŽ suddenly thought that, of course, hair-washing not only could be sensual but for the elves it was really totally unsurprising that it was sensual. She realised that, although female friends might help wash each other’s hair, she had never seen an ellon help an elleth that he wasn’t betrothed, or bound, to or vice versa.

Rumil and Orophin had washed hers when she had been injured, just as they would have done for an elfling or an injured companion, but none of the ellyn she knew had offered to help since she was able to do it for herself. Probably a good job she hadn’t asked them; although they would doubtless have explained, it might have been a bit embarrassing.

She hadn’t thought about bathing or hair-washing as a form of making out before, until she saw it in action, and she wouldn’t have seen it without Eriathwen to know what went on and to walk close by with her. Galadriel had been right when she said that there were some things it was easier to learn from other young ellyth.

“Lin Midh (Dew Pool – in a small glade even further from the main talans) is also used by starlight bathers,” Eriathwen said as they moved away from Lin Tathren, “but it is more secluded and may be a little too ‘educational’!”


(**The phrase ‘swayed by the desires of the body’ became something of a joke between the elves who had been at Minas Tirith after Legolas found a copy of ‘Lore and Customs of the Eldar’ in the royal library.)


“We could go starlight bathing…” Rumil’s voice was soft; his mouth almost touched TindůmŽ’s ear.


The first time TindůmŽ was properly kissed was at her Coming of Age party.

For almost three years she and Rumil had been aware of the spark between them but had always been careful to do nothing to fan it into flames. He had been determined to obey all the rules of elven propriety and she had done her best to do so too.

He had held her close, in comfort, a few times but Rumil only began to flirt with her again, as he had in Minas Tirith before he realised how young she was, in the two or three months before she ‘came of age’.

There had been some discussion back in Minas Tirith as to when this would be. Galadriel had put her hands to TindůmŽ’s face, and considered for a few minutes, before declaring that TindůmŽ’s ‘begetting day’ should be celebrated on the anniversary of her arrival in Middle Earth and three years would be long enough for her to have finished growing and learned enough of life here to be considered an adult. No-one argued and TindůmŽ realised, as the three years passed, that it was a wise decision.

As she approached this landmark celebration Rumil started ‘helping’ her with archery practice; standing in close to correct her stance. He would sit and share a book with her, as she read her way through much of the histories in Lord Celeborn’s library, glancing at her sideways through his impossibly long lashes when he corrected her Sindarin or she tried to improve his grasp of the Common Tongue. His fingers would brush against her as he passed things, or just as he passed her – and the contact always made her tingle slightly.

But it wasn’t until he took her onto the dance floor at the celebratory party that he had kissed her. A kiss that made every nerve in her body sing and earned them a round of applause from everyone there. Dawn had been kissed a few times back in Sunnydale, although Buffy had made sure this hadn’t happened very often, and none of those kisses compared with this one. A thousand years of practice and three years anticipation was a heady combination, she decided, when her head stopped spinning.

Lord Celeborn wanted Rumil to do some illustrations for him and so he did not have to return to the fences for a while. This meant that there had been time for more kissing and some serious flirt-age in the couple of weeks since that kiss. In fact there had been definite making out – who’d have thought the inside of the elbow could be such an erogenous zone when someone stroked it or gently licked it?


“We could go starlight bathing…” Rumil’s voice was soft; his mouth almost touched TindůmŽ’s ear.

“We could…” she answered him slowly, “but what would we do afterwards?”

“It is up to you, meleth,” Rumil answered, his nose just touching the skin behind her ear, “I could walk you back to your talan and then go back to mine…”

“Or,” TindůmŽ said in a slight rush, “I could come with you and share your bed.”

She got an awful sick feeling at the pit of her stomach as he said “No!”

Had she misjudged? It was usually acceptable for ellyth to be up front about sex.

But almost as soon as the “No!” was out of his mouth he wrapped his arms firmly around her, and she could ‘feel’ his desire for her both emotionally and physically.

“If you are ready to take that step then your first time should be under the leaves and the stars; not under a roof, even the roof of a talan in the high canopy.”

“Ready? If I’m ready? I’d have been ready if you’d stripped my dress off of me and joined with me in the middle of the dance floor at my party!”

“Ah, but then people would have had to step over us to reach the food, meleth…”

There was no more speech for some time.
Chapter end notes:
Disclaimer: The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only, and all rights remain with the estate of JRR Tolkien. (And Joss Whedon if he is at all bothered that TindůmŽ once spent a short time in his care...)