“The girls are beginning to fill out,” Eanor commented to Branith as they sauntered through the crowds at the celebration.
Branith was wearing the grin that was his trademark, as he walked by Eanor’s side and looked around. He had taken the time to flirt with some of the young girls, just to make them blush. He was enjoying himself, as well as appreciating the view. Eanor was right about the girls, they were developing curves that weren’t there the last time he had come home for the holiday. His nephews and nieces had been eleven at that time and, together, they had thoroughly enjoyed themselves, sliding on the hill and generally horsing around. There weren’t many young Elves who had been interested in the same kind of entertainment this year; then again, to be fair, there was a noticeable lack of snow. He admitted he was missing the way things used to be, things were changing too fast for his taste.
Most of the older children now considered themselves too sophisticated to play in the snow, like they had done in the past. Branith heaved a sigh of disappointment, before he had to duck to dodge a snowball Eärwen threw at him. He laughed out loud and threw one back; it was an invitation he knew she wouldn’t ignore. He was right, but he hadn’t counted on her having backup to defend herself. He decided that had to be Larien, because, where one of those girls went, the other was bound to follow. Within a short time they were all having fun, utilizing what little snow there was, before it started to melt again. He noticed there were enough younger Elves present willing to help her tackle him and Eanor and they soon found it advisable to head for one of the snow forts that had been made earlier for this event.
“Not fair,” Branith yelled after a couple hours. He was tiring and so was Eanor. “Six against two.”
“You’re getting old, Branith,” Gildren yelled back, as he tossed another snowball and scored another hit. The snow forts had melted too much to help any more.
“We need backup,” Eanor called out to Ennacas, who he had noticed passing earlier with some of her friends.
Ennacas ignored the summons, she considered herself much too old to play with those babies. She poked her nose into the air and made some comment to her friends, which caused giggles and sidelong glances at the two older Elves. She then moved off with the rest.
Branith watched Ennacas, as she followed the group of girls she was with. He didn’t approve of her friends, not that he had anything against them. She was with her cousins, Angel and Amy, but it was the crowd they were with that he didn’t like. They ranged from Light to Dark Elves, and the Dark Elven teenagers were not acting their ages. They were trying to give the impression that they were much older than they were and the way the young men were treating them wasn’t very respectful. He turned to Eanor, as one of the young Dark Elven males put an arm around Ennacas’ shoulders and leaned over to whisper in her ear. She blushed a vivid red and Branith felt a growl forming in his throat, it was obvious his niece was too innocent to be a part of this group.
“Where is Endiku?” Branith asked Eanor.
“He said he had to talk to Rothliel and Eden about something important.” Eanor answered.
“I think he needs to know what kind of games his young Life Mate is indulging in.” Branith commented.
“I believe he knows. I mentioned it earlier, but he shrugged it off. He says Ennacas is very young and foolish. She is at an age where she wants to flirt and tease the boys, like her friends do. He said he couldn’t see where the harm would be if she joined in with their fun for a while, as it seemed innocent enough to him. I didn’t agree, but she is his Life Mate and he could be right, as no one was apt to get hurt by the antics they were pulling off.” Eanor confessed.
“She is hanging around with the wrong Elves,” Branith noted.
“None of them seem that bad to me and they are basically around the same age, where is the harm?” Eanor asked.
“We are obviously not seeing things the same way. They are twenty-one, going on fifteen, and the girls are flirting with the wrong men. I have tended to notice that Dark Elves seem to mature faster than Light Elves and their men expect more interaction from the girls. To be fair, they do look like they think her group is being more of a nuisance than not.” Branith admitted.
Eanor looked at the group of young Dark Elven males and how they were acting around Ennacas’ group. He had to admit they didn’t look interested in the antics of the young Light Elven females. Perhaps, if Ennacas and her friends would be a couple of years older that might be a different story, but they weren’t. He did know that most Dark Elves considered girls under sixteen to be too young for what they were looking for. He looked around to see if Endiku had noticed that his Life Mate was one of the girls in that group. He could see that his brother was watching, but with more of an amused expression than one of concern. To make sure he was reading him right he contacted him on a tight thread.
“Don’t you mind that your Life Mate is flirting with other men?”
“Ennacas is only fifteen, Eanor. She needs to experience life a little more so she can mature. We both have a long time to wait before our bonding. What she is indulging in looks harmless to me.” Endiku dismissed his brother’s concern.
“You do realize that things have a way of getting out of control sometimes brother and she is not with a good crowd. In a year or two her actions might not seem so amusing to you.” Eanor warned.
“Let her be, Eanor. I will know when things get dangerous for her. Neither Ennacas nor I can expect the other to approach our bonding untouched, I am willing to accept that.” Endiku replied.
“Maybe not, but she is emulating the Dark Elven girls, can you accept that?” Eanor retorted.
“There are others who guide her life. They are giving her good examples of how to live life. Gabriel and Eden are exceptional parents. She will know when she is about to step over the line.” Endiku sounded sure of what he was talking about.
“I believe the comment Branith made was that she was very young and foolish. What if Ennacas is easily influenced by outside forces, others that she cannot resist? Her friends are not like Eärwen’s; they believe themselves more than what they are. Even I can see that. We might not have many female Elves to give us an example of what they should act like at this age, but I remember hearing about where this kind of thing can go.” Eanor warned.
“I will deal with it, if it comes to that.” Endiku insisted.
“Well, she is your Life Mate and this is your decision. I just thought I would bring the matter to your attention.” Eanor replied.
Eanor severed the thread with his brother, though he had a sinking feeling, when he did, that Endiku was making a mistake. Then again, maybe he was making too much out of the matter. It wasn’t as if he knew much about girls. If Branith wouldn’t have brought her actions to his attention, he doubted if he would have given them a second thought. For all he knew Endiku was right. Everything he said about Ennacas’ family was true and she could easily be more grounded than her uncle feared. He turned his attention back to Branith, and found him missing. He frowned, he hadn’t thought he had been that preoccupied. No matter, it was time he put his concerns aside and began to mingle with the crowd.
All thoughts of Ennacas had flown out of Branith’s mind at the sight of a pretty young red haired Light Elf. There was something about her that captivated him and, as she moved to go further into the crowd, he followed to see whom she was. He figured that if she seemed familiar, he should have some idea of her identity. Sometimes, he had a difficult time recognizing the girls with the way they were changing. This Elven girl was taller than his nieces, slighter, and she moved with a lethal grace that marked her as a warrior. Was she one of Gabriel’s Elite students? She was way too young to be anything more. He looked away from her for a moment and when he searched the crowd for her again, she was gone. It didn’t take him long to locate her again, as she approached him from behind and poked a sharp knife at his back.
“Why are you following me?” Her voice was thick and full, yet it left no question about whether or not she meant business.
“I thought I recognized you, but wasn’t sure. No one seems to look like they did the last time I came home.” Branith admitted.
She decided to give him the benefit of doubt, as he sounded sincere. She also had to admit she remembered him from some point in her past too. Who was he? She had to know.
“What is your name?”
“Ladies first,” Branith replied.
She rolled her eyes, as she answered, “The name is Celebriän, I am the daughter of Ayden and Carel.”
Branith turned, the moment she sheathed her knife and answered, as he moved, “I am Branith Eagle Claw.”
Neither Elf spoke, as their eyes met, and they both swore, as they reacted to the contact.
“Damn, a redhead. My Life Mate is a redhead.” Branith sounded shocked.
“Branith, the clown king? I swear there are times I believe the fates have a foul sense of humor.” Celebriän groaned.
“Give me a chance to prove myself. I do have five hundred years to outgrow this phase before you are old enough for me to consider you of age to fulfill our bond.” Branith retorted. He couldn’t believe the tone of her voice, why didn’t she like him? All the children used to enjoy his antics in the past.
“From everything I have seen and heard about you, it might take that long for you to finish growing up.” Celebriän replied.
“Beats being a sourpuss, or serious as a High Elf.” Branith retorted.
“I am not a sourpuss, nor am I that serious,” Celebriän argued back.
Branith grinned, as Celebriän’s eyes flashed with righteous indignation and she stamped a foot. This was going to be interesting, as young as she was, she was already showing several characteristics he usually enjoyed bating in young women. If she didn’t change, theirs was going to be a very lively relationship. He responded instantly to her tantrum.
“Temper, temper, your spoilishness. Surely your parents don’t allow you to stamp your feet every time you lose that lovely temper.”
“Why don’t you go for a walk in the Demon Mountain?” Celebriän muttered.
“I bet no one told you that your eyes send out glorious green colored sparks when you get mad.” Branith continued to tease.
Celebriän opened her mouth to retort, but she couldn’t think of anything to say. She watched as Branith winked at her, and then turned to walk off to join his friends. She couldn’t move. She was in shock. Her Life Mate was an Eagle Claw, one of the foremost families in the Elven Empire. A part of her was elated, while another portion felt indignant that he should think she should be pleased by it. Then again, why shouldn’t he believe that? He had all the status her family lacked, not that she had ever suffered because of it. No one was looked down upon in King Daroth’s kingdom, not unless they were reluctant to be a contributing member of the Empire. Her family did as much, if not more than anyone else. She had nothing to be ashamed of.
Celebriän continued to watch Branith walk further away, as she thought about the matter, until he turned back to look at her, then he smiled. That did it, vainglorious peacock. She stuck her nose in the air and walked off. She would show him what he meant to her. The sound of his laughter followed in her wake, making her cheeks go ruddy with embarrassment. One day, she promised, she would make him rue the day he ever laid eyes on her. In the meantime, she was going to have to seek out help, to get advice about how to handle her future Life Mate.
Celebriän allowed her temper to cool, as she approached her friends. She knew what they would say if she told them what was going through her mind. Especially Larien. She could hear that Elf’s comment already, even before it was spoken.
“Right Celebriän, you will give Branith a hard time, until he pours on the charm and knocks all your brains for a loop.”
Larien could be such a know-it-all sometimes; even worse, she knew her friend was often right. She had to admit Branith was a charmer, as well as being good looking. She was also way over her head with him.
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