My gods, I love this woman’s writing. I envy her ability to interpret Our Boys so well!
Contemplation at Helms Deep 1/1
Email : earthdanser AT verizon.net
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.
Warning: Drabble on Sunday morning.
Summary:(from site admin.) the title says it all!
Aragorn walked past the heaps of bodies. Smoke and ash hung heavily in the air, making his throat and eyes burn. Theoden and Gandalf were leaning towards each other in deep conversation. Aragorn veered away from them. He did not want to talk now. His body ached. They had won, just barely.
He wondered past the stone stairs, eyes lingering on the bodies of the Elves that were being slowly gathered by their kin. He tried not to, but he couldn't help but seek out the body of Haldir. His eyes unerringly found the Marchwarden, lying slightly separate from the others. Several Elves were gathered around him. Their voices floated angelically on the wind and seemed horribly out of place. The stench of death surrounded them all.
Aragorn averted his gaze and quickened his pace. An agitated melancholy beat darkly in his breast. His blood still boiled with the rush of battle and he could not find peace in the companionship of others. His eyes searched the courtyard until they fell on the splash of sunshine that spilled around the face of the Mirkwood Prince. Legolas was standing in front of the seated Dwarf. They seemed to be debating something and as Aragorn approached the pair, the golden Archer drew his bow sharply and shot an arrow between Gimli's legs into the dead body the Dwarf had appropriated as his seat.
"Forty three," said the Archer smugly.
"He was already dead!" blustered the Dwarf indignantly. That arrow was a little too close to parts that Gimli was rather fond of. Damned Elf!
"He was twitching," said the golden Prince with a teasing smirk.
Aragorn smiled, despite his extreme weariness. Gimli grumbled at the Elf's sudden bout of humor but Aragorn felt his spirit lighten to see a glimmer of the Prince's natural mirthfulness. The quest had taken its toll on them all and Legolas had adopted a seriousness that saddened Aragorn.
The Elf looked odd in his man made armor. For some reason it bothered the Man to see it. Images of days long past swam before Aragorn's mind, of the Elf in his Mirkwood greens sprinting joyfully amongst the trees while Estel had struggled to keep up. Unlike the twins, the Mirkwood Prince tried not to be obvious about letting the Human catch him. Aragorn had an infatuation with the shining Prince back in those days, the days of his youth. Elrond had explained it to him, then. It was entirely normal, his foster father had said, and would pass with maturity.
Aragorn smiled at the distant memories. He felt old, he realized. And as the odd sadness came over him his eyes drifted up to the shining youthful form of the Elf. Legolas was as lovely today, incongruously covered in steel armor and orc blood, as he was on that fine morning in Imladris thirty years ago. Aragorn walked up to the two warriors, his nose wrinkling at the smell of the bodies around them. He needed to get away.
Gimli saw him first. "Aragorn. Can you believe this Elf will not accept defeat?"
"Nay, Master Dwarf, I would be surprised indeed if he did," teased the Man as he slipped an arm around the Elf's waist.
Legolas looked at him in mild surprise. "Aragorn, you look tired," he said softly after a moment's hesitation.
"I am," said the Man, "as we all are. I am glad to see you both, my friends." His arm squeezed the Elf imperceptible, as he spoke.
"Aye, Aragorn. You are a lucky Man, and so it would seem are we. But," the Dwarf heaved himself up from his seat, with a grunt, and pulled his axe out of the orc's back. "I, for one, need to find some food. And a tankard of ale would go down well too!"
The Dwarf gestured to his two companions to precede him into the Keep, where the soldiers were gathering.
"Go on, Gimli, we will join you shortly," the Ranger ventured.
The Dwarf grunted, and walked past the Elf with a quizzical expression on his burly features. Legolas said nothing but was equally puzzled, when the Man pressed his hand against the Elf's back and led him silently out of the crowded courtyard.
Aragorn didn't really have a destination in mind. He kept his hand on the curve of the Archer's waist, content to feel the warmth under his hand. They walked around the Keep, further from the sights and sounds of the Men. Eventually they came to a quiet balcony in the upper ramparts. The Elf had said nothing during their long walk. Clearly, the Man needed to get away. The Elf was content to be a silent support as he had so often done during their travels with the Ring bearer.
Aragorn finally stopped. The Man left the Archer's side and walked to the balcony wall, overlooking the wide vista. Hundreds of bodies covered the now silent battlefield out side the walls of the Keep. His heart grew heavy. How had they survived such a massacre? He looked over his shoulder at the silent Elf. It could have easily been one of them out there. Instead of Haldir lying on the heap of bodies it could have just as easily been the Mirkwood Prince. Aragorn shuddered.
Legolas walked toward him, and laid a gentle hand on the Man's shoulder. Aragorn looked into the blue depths of the uncanny eyes. He silently brought his hands up to trace the Rohan crest on the breast plate. It was covered in black gore and some red blood. His fingers moved slowly up the Elf's chest to unbuckle the catches of the Elf's armor at the shoulder plates. Legolas looked at him in puzzlement.
"I don't like to see you in this," said the Man, mysteriously.
The Elf did not protest as the Man slowly undid the latches, and removed a shoulder guard. The Man's steel eyes were smoldering with some dark emotions that the Elf could not readily place. Legolas often worried for the Man. Aragorn kept up a pace that could have shamed most Elves. The Man drove himself past his limits and now, Legolas wondered if it wasn't all catching up to him. The piece of armor clanked onto the stone floor beneath their feet with a crack.
The wind shifted and a cool breeze played over their overheated faces. Golden strands of silk lifted and danced about the pale face of the Sindar. The sapphire eyes flickered with uncertainty as the Man's fingers traced the dents left by axe and sword into the metal that covered the Elf's body.
Aragorn said nothing as his hands traveled to unlatch the sharp buckle of the other shoulder guard and slowly lifted it off the Elf. He lowered the heavy armor to the ground, a strange mistiness blurring his vision. How had the slim Elf managed to fight with such unaccustomed armament? Next his fingers deftly worked the side catches of the breast plate. He lifted the two-sided piece over the Elf's head wordlessly, and discarded it among the other chunks of armor.
Legolas silently extended his arm as the Man took hold of the Elf's hand and ran his fingers slowly over the arm plates. The slim arm came free from the hard metal and Aragorn traced the bruises, which started on the inside of the delicate white wrist and traveled up to the inside of the elbow.
A sudden memory floated to Aragorn's mind of the Elf's slender hands as they played on the graceful harp in Elrond's study. He had sat, as a youth, mesmerized by the sweet sounds and watched the slim hands glide over the instrument with ease. The delicate porcelain like fingers had plucked unerringly at the strings and all sat in silence as his lyrical voice rose like an angel to bind them in its gentle spell. It was more than an infatuation. He had known even then, but said nothing. So he loved from a distance and drank in the sight of the delicate creature who this very night fought like a demon by his side.
Aragorn's calloused fingers skimmed across the silken skin. Despite the metal protection, the Elf had a long gash on his upper arm. Aragorn wrapped a piece of cloth around the superficial wound. Legolas remained silent during this operation. The Man reached for the Elf's other arm and freed it from the remaining armor plating.
Legolas stood still as Aragorn ran his hands over the Elf's body, inspecting him for wounds. A look of concern was forming on the Elf's face. He had seen this Man in many moods but something about this somber state ran deeper than anything Legolas could recognize. It began to frighten him.
"Aragorn? Are you well, my friend?"
The Archer's skin was milky white and the dark bruises stood out starkly against it. Black mottled shapes from the armor buckles and from blows that would have pierced flesh had it not been for the protecting metal. Aragorn traced the marks with a finger and felt a surge of emotion he could not identify. It was a dire sadness, a bubbling anger at fate, and a longing he'd not dared to name. He was no longer a young man. The time for contemplation was over.
When the Man did not answer, the Elf placed a concerned hand on the Man's shoulder. "What is it?" he asked, sensing the despair that was not being voiced.
Tears swam in the Man's eyes and he pulled the Elf wordlessly against him. Legolas gaped at him, but offered himself quietly, his arms sliding around the Man's back. The gentle Elf allowed himself to be enveloped into the Ranger's embrace, uncertain still of what this was, but loving this Mortal for far too long to turn him away.
"I am glad, Legolas, that you did not fall," the Man finally whispered.
The Elf's eyes widened slightly and their gazes locked, then Aragorn leaned closer and he brushed the petal soft lips with his own. The Man's heated tongue sought entrance where he had never before dared to trespass. With shaking hands he pulled the Elf closer.
The passion of the Man made Legolas tremble and he slowly opened to accept the kiss, bewildered by the heat of the Ranger's mouth and cool Elven flesh inexplicably warming to the Mortal's caresses.
Legolas moaned when the possessive mouth came off him. His body shook with unaccustomed fire. He looked up into the intense smoldering steel eyes and whispered, "Estel, I never knew…"