Finding the Edge
by Ana Library Elf

Contribution in LASlash September 2006 Challenge "Lessons"
Email: lib elf AT
Beta: The talented, patient, she-who-can-explain-it-all Chloe Amethyst
Pairing: A/L & L/Vala (surprise)
Rating: PG-13 to NC-17 Adventure. Angst. Romance.
Disclaimer: I own no characters from any Tolkien book or movie. No profit, just sweat.
However, I like to listen to the nice voices.
Summary: Set in TTT. AU. In the movie version of TTT Mr. Jackson took liberty with canon story and had Aragorn take a little detour over a cliff. I am choosing a wider divergence by taking the Elf's blazing look of desperate disbelief one "leap" further. *ahem*
Warnings: None really, just playing in AU adventure & metaphysical sex ((!!)) Please forgive liberties taken with interpretation of the Valar.
Archive: LAS-LJ (soon?) OEAM eventually
(all slash appropriate sites welcome, just LMK?) Feedback: Always appreciated!!
**Author's Note: The challenge of "Lessons!" So many ways to take this concept! My choice was to explore what happens when you have to "forget" what you have learned and go beyond control, in order to find your limits you have to go past them. What *are* the limits of strength, bravery, loyalty and love? To find the edge of many things you have to fall off.


Chapter One: Leap of Faith

Brilliant Rohan sunlight illuminated a clearing of bloodied, tufted grass where the remnants of a brutal battle were collecting their forces.

The fleeing Edoras refugees had just driven off the last of the warg riders when the dwarf heard the clear Elvish tenor calling out the Dunadan's name. He immediately ran to where the archer confronted an evil one and watched the scene unfold with growing despair.

There was a gurgle of black blood and the dying Orc choked out Aragorn's doom.

"He took a little tumble ..."

"You lie!" replied a lyrical voice gone brittle with rage while slender steely fingers attempted to shake the ugly head from a mangled body. Gimli looked on, barely restraining his own violence.

Legolas stilled as a glint of silver winked from the creature's filthy claws. His own hand shaking slightly, the rigid Elf carefully retrieved the Evenstar necklace from the Orc's disgusting grip. This token would *never* willingly be separated from the ranger – suddenly the world felt a much colder place. He dropped the lifeless carcass and exchanged an indigo glare with Gimli before sprinting to where Théoden stood staring down the cliff's sheer walls.

Hundreds of feet below the river churned in cloudy turbulence, revealing nothing of what might have splashed through its surface moments ago. Wind whipped about the ledge, drying disbelieving eyes and causing golden hair to dance over frozen features. Gimli could hardly look at the naked anguish etched on his friend's fair face.

Théoden turned away and spoke gruffly. "Get the wounded. The wolves of Isengard will return." He paused, not unsympathetic, as Legolas remained immobile. "Leave the dead." The archer's look of furious devastation literally burned the air between them, but the king still laid a cool hand on his rigid shoulder. "Come." The Rohan ruler knew the Elf and ranger were closer than brothers, but his first concern had to be for his people, the living. He strode down the hill expecting to be obeyed. Reluctantly, Gimli followed slowly.

The son of Thranduil did not move and stood as if turned to marble, while his fine immortal mind and heart reached the edge of control and went beyond. His chest heaved, and his eyes felt hot, as if something inside were burning. A millennium of conditioning, soldier's training, and restraint dissolved in an explosive realization: he loved the man past all hope, and that bond would *not* accept defeat. He knew what he was about to do was irrational, and did not care, while at the same time warrior's instincts analyzed the best chances for survival.

His white fingers flew over buckles and clasps, shedding bow, quiver and heavy cloak and continued to move quickly, sliding a bone handled knife into the leather belt that was jerked tight around tapered waist.

At the bottom of the incline, Gimli looked back and his heart leaped into his throat as he completely comprehended the archer's intentions.

"Thranduilion!" The Dwarf's bellow bounced off the nearby stone hills. "HOLD! Do *not* waste your life following the man to his doom!" He could see the alabaster curve of one cheek and the surprised arch of a brow as the Elf barely turned toward him while continuing to shed a layer of leather clothing.

Rohirrim soldiers and Théoden stopped stock-still to watch the tableau. Gimli began scrambling up the short hill even as he realized there was no way to reach the prince in time. "Master Elf!" He said much more softly, trying another tactic. "Ye cannot abandon those you promised to protect – stay with us!"

"Nay, Gimli. I must do this." He smiled almost sadly, as silken hair spread in a comet trail behind the lithe body now clad only in silver tunic, leggings and boots. "I will come back with him, or not at all." A refined profile turned and focused on the cliff, "Namarie."

Legolas took a gliding half step forward then seemed to uncoil from the ledge in a long leap, arcing out and diving into the gorge. For a moment he did indeed look like a divine spirit in flight, arms gracefully extended, haloed mane flowing free, and a serene expression on perfect features. Gimli groaned and ran to the edge, peering down in dreadful expectation.

He could see the silver and gold figure streak past the rocky walls and just before reaching the bottom the Elf curled in a blur of athletic motion and entered the water feet first. The bright form disappeared with a plumed splash into the churning river. The current was dark and swift and if he came up at all, it was out of sight of the distressed watchers on the cliff.


Language notes: Namarie = Farewell


Chapter Two "Currents of Power"

An impact that would have shattered human bones slammed into the archer with stunning force as he arrowed steeply into the waves. In fact, he shot so breathlessly deep that he struggled to maintain consciousness after many minutes beneath the freezing current. Even as his muscles chilled and began to move sluggishly, Legolas continued to strive for the surface, scissoring with long legs and thinking only of his ranger. The image came to mind of Aragorn in the same situation and the Elf sent a silent prayer to the Valar offering his immortal life if the Dunadan were allowed to survive. He would fight until his heart burst, until there was no breath left in his body, in exchange for the Man's life. The undertow was relentless and the prince's vision began to dim.

The river was aware of the Firstborn's presence and conveyed surging messages along the veins of Arda. Valinor heard and knew all, and sent One of the Seven Powers to drift close, unseen by the gradually fading awareness of the valiant archer. The lean body glowed in the murky depths and streaming hair glinted with silver bubbles as the exhausted swimmer moved ever more slowly. A vast intellect shimmered near the failing Elf and observed with admiration the beauty of form and unquenchable spirit that radiated from this fragile child of Eru.

Ulmo, Lord of the Waters, took no discernable shape, but his interaction with his own element was clearly effective as the limp figure was borne to the surface and floated gently into calmer streams. To Legolas, it felt as if he was drifting in the embrace of a cloud – and began a most unusual conversation.

A profoundly deep voice echoed in his mind. "Fair Princeling, you have drawn the attention of a Vala. Whom do you seek so ardently and with such risk to yourself?"

The Sinda fought to open his eyes but found them veiled, and driven by his own urgency replied bravely. "I seek my Captain and keeper of my heart, Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the one who may yet defeat the gathering darkness. I *must* find him!"

A somber tone responded. "The Man passed this way and is alive. All may be well -- if you will accept my assistance."

Legolas shifted restlessly, and was enveloped by careful restraint. Behind the heavy voice he sensed an abiding benevolent power, and beyond that his mind touched an ancient sadness. He was shown visions of former glory and found himself resonating with a sense of grief at the passing of many wonders from the face of Arda. In return, the Wood Elf sent tendrils of sympathy to the One who held him.

There was a distant sound of shell-like horns and then words came clearly. "You shine brightly young one, burning with such pure intentions that I am warmed." Legolas could almost feel a smile in the next exchange. "You are a beautiful surprise and would offer comfort to a First Power?" The voice continued. "Your presence would be welcome. Will you tarry for a space?"

The prince spoke with regret and anguish. "How can I, when I know my ranger needs me?!"

"Peace, spend but a little time and his survival and your own will be gained for the greater good."

The wisdom spoken was undeniable and the archer sighed. "I hear your truth and will obey. May I see whom I serve?"

Even without sight, the prince could feel an overwhelming sentience loom closer.

"Nay, I do not wish your fear. I would rather have your warmth in a different way."

The water surrounding the Wood Elf took on substance, and it was as if many sensitive fingers caressed his body from leaf-shaped ear to slender ankle. His muscles trembled and he gasped, riding a wave of intense stimulation. "Manwe's blessings!" he thought, this was overtly sensual.

It seemed somehow disloyal to the ranger to find himself responding so strongly to simple touch, but it was not simple, not at all! This was a complex exchange of energy pulling on both spiritual and corporal expression. White light expanded behind the archer's eyes and a ripple of liquid heat raced up and down his spine. He did not feel violated at all, rather it was an experience of being illuminated from within, ignited by the fires of first creation.

The voice grew softer. "Thus I would have you. Does it give you pleasure?"

Stunned, the prince whispered. "Aye -- I cannot deny it." He inhaled a shaky breath. "But how can this please you?!"

"Your unconditional response is sweet and healing." There was another long stroke down the Elf's side. "It has been long since any creature graced Arda with such capacity."

Legolas could think of nothing to say – and shortly thereafter was incapable of framing a coherent sentence. Soft wavelets worried at his clothing and he was smoothly divested of every stitch. The sensation of water lapping around his nude body was amazing and he felt entirely tasted over every inch of exquisitely exposed flesh.

Crests of gentle pressure spread his legs, ghosted over a clenching abdomen, dipped into a tender naval cup, and continued upward to tease contracting pink buds. At the same time, other watery fingers traced the perfect jawline and undid the archer with swirling touches on ear tips. A string of half-formed words spilled from arched lips and immediately a foam tongue passed the sweet portal and roved at will within the surrendered orifice. Legolas vibrated and thrummed under the expert manipulations of the Vala, and in return the vision of his passion: a flawless white body writhing in abandon, completely satisfied the Water Lord's need for full response.

Sensual exploration continued at length, totally ravishing the Elf as he was undulated effortlessly in the river's support. Soon the focus became more insistent as an escalating rhythm was established on quivering erectile flesh. A liquid loop slipped around engorged Elfhood, while another watery coil parted an alabaster cleft and delved for the ultimate point of pleasure.

Legolas felt ready to explode into a million droplets, but culmination was delayed as the loop constricted round his pale column, and a substantial intrusion breached his innermost region. Liquid was endlessly malleable, and as the fluid changed shape within the receptive channel, it created an intimate stroke so intense the Elf convulsed in sensory overload. His eyes rolled back and a low groan emerged from the straining, white throat.

The prince's fëa sought escape while his spirit became charged with more and more primal energy. He realized he was literally being quickened with strength that would sustain him and might later be shared with his beloved. This thought kept him from losing consciousness when his inner vision was linked to the mighty perceptions of Lord Ulmo.

The Elf was outside his body, and for one infinite moment was opened to the all that existed, all that had been, and all that was yet to come. It was a soul shattering experience, far past the limits of any knowledge, and only one guided by true love could hope to survive with comprehension intact. Thus it was, and in the next tick of the cosmic clock, feeling returned to the prince with a staggering rush, and his body cascaded toward ecstasy with spectacular success.

Final release was delivered and coruscating clear light blossomed around both minds as rapture crested to a dazzling climax of shared ecstatic joy. Ripples went up and down the river and reverberations were duly noted in the furthest regions of Valinor. It was truly a blessing.

Aftershocks of bliss rocked the archer's quivering form while he gradually returned to normal and felt a soft mental caress of appreciation. "Thank you. That was wonderful. Is all well with you, young one?'

Legolas took a shuddering breath. "I believe so. I am not sure." Hugely dilated eyes blinked in cerulean confusion. "If not, I – do – not – think – I – care." He let go of control, relaxed trustfully, and sank into a deep, tranquil sleep.

The Lord of Waters felt a lightness of spirit unknown for ages. The gift freely given by the small glowing being in his careful embrace would be remembered in the Great Song for all time – as would the love that inspired it.

The Power turned his omnipotent mind to the object of the Elf's devotion and found the Man was indeed not far away, alive, but in need of attention.

That situation would soon be remedied.


Language notes: fëa: (noun) spirit or soul Quenya dictionary (COE)


Chapter 3 "By the Grace of the Valar"

***Author's Note: In the movie TTT version, Arwen's statement: "By the grace of Valar…" appeared to confirm her preservation of Aragorn's life. This chapter will show what such grace can do in the hands of another Elf. *g*

At a shallow bend of the river a battered mortal form lay beached on the rocky shore. A noble, if somewhat haggard profile demonstrated life by turning restlessly toward the warmth of the afternoon sun. Aragorn was not aware of his body's contact with the rough surface as his mind drifted in a half-conscious state, replaying images of the late battle and reaching for the comfort of different memories. Visions of a warrior's glinting aureate hair vied with the flash of metal weapons in a swirling association of recent events. He chose those memories above all others.

The Dunadan had probably survived the initial deadly descent due to the cushioning effect of the disgustingly solid warg that had dragged them both off the cliff. Later struggles in the water could have claimed him had it not been for the blessing of Firstborn prayers and omnipotent command of the river currents. Both influences had combined to preserve this pivotally important mortal and convey him to a place of relative safety. Various wounds and aches clamored for the ranger's attention but at the moment he concentrated on what sounded like a familiar mellifluous voice calling his name. It came closer and he thought he could feel the brush of sweet breath.

A whisper touched his lips. "By the grace of the Valar – you are granted life and a new chance to save Middle Earth."

The ranger blinked, discovering a swath of golden tresses curtaining his face and strong hands supporting his shoulders. He blinked again and focused on the reality of his dreams kneeling beside him in the wilderness.

"Legolas?" croaked the Dunadan, and brought a shaking hand to touch the fair visage.

"Aye, my Captain. I have found you." The archer's beautiful oval face was pale and serious as he leaned over the human. He had been guided to this spot by Lord Ulmo and burned with memories of their interactions, but his primary concern was for the ranger's condition. With gentle insistence Legolas checked the worst of the human's injuries, and bound up a deep arm gash with a strip torn from the bottom of his own tunic. Though not much else could be done, Aragorn's pain actually lessened under the Elf's touch. Gray eyes followed the ivory fingers and abruptly he grasped one slender limb and forced the prince to look at him.

"You came after me." It was more of a statement than a question and the Elf merely nodded.

The man felt an irrational surge of anger and though weakened, roughly grabbed the archer's shoulders and reversed their positions in one swift lunge. "How dare you risk your immortal life!" he cried in exasperation. The thought of this pure being passing from the world was more than he could stand.

The prince lay unresisting on the ground, cornsilk hair scattered like a rich harvest and sapphire eyes gazing trustfully at the ranger. "How could I not Estel? My heart went with you."

The Dunadan's jaw dropped. Was the affection he dreamed of being returned? He realized his own heart had gone over the edge long ago but never knew the prince's had taken the same path. To the world they were warrior brothers, and nothing further had ever been declared -- until now.

He lifted a wondering hand near a moon cast cheek and suddenly found the velvet curve pressed into his palm like a large feline returning a caress. It felt far better than he had ever imagined. Heartbreaking lips that smiled under his touch parted to let a roseate tongue emerge to savor sword calloused fingers. The ranger groaned and buried his face in the fragrant juncture of neck and shoulder.

"Sweet Prince, do you truly mean this?"

The archer's lithe strength wrapped round the quaking man and offered refuge, "Never doubt it."

Long white fingers slid under the ranger's loosened clothing and tested the texture of hirsute chest and mapped the limits of pectoral sensitivity. A rumble of appreciation emerged as a low growl from Aragorn's corded throat as those fingers examined a well muscled back and lean waist. Warm trails of sensation followed each touch and the ranger felt as if he were a thirsty seedling receiving life-giving water, absorbing renewed vigor with each stroke. This was truer than he might have guessed, as the stored energy gifted by Lord Ulmo coursed through the archer's body and was brought into play by the pure love resonating between the bonded souls.

All clothing was discarded in the burning need for complete revelation and tactile contact. Standing, the prince gracefully spread the garments as a light barrier over a drier section of the shore. The view from where the man lay was breathtaking as sunlight slanted over the Elf's backside and thighs, highlighting elegant musculature and resplendent skin. In return, the archer contemplated the larger form of the man, in all it's delightful differences and blemished appeal.

Imperfection was a signature of change representing the challenge of mortality. The man would change and age, and the immortal was drawn to the fire in every precious moment. This man was a unique gift, and the Sinda determined to share his passion and courage in spite of all sorrows, to wherever it might lead.

Careful of recent injuries the Elf reclined beside the magnificently naked Dunadan and offered the nourishment of his body in every way. The ranger dined in full measure, tasting, licking, sucking and nibbling every secret place he had ever imagined exploring on the gloriously undone Elf. Their pleasure soared in dancing waves as the man absorbed all that was given and fulfilled the request of the wanton vision undulating against his hardness. Spreading creamy thighs, Aragorn used any means at hand, spat into his palm, prepared his member, and ever so slowly impaled the panting archer.

He paused, not sure if he was causing pleasure or pain, "Meleth, am I hurting you?"

Half-lidded eyes blazed blue fire, "Nay – " A ripple flowed down the strong white abdomen. "Aragorn – do not – make me wait!"

Eager to comply, the Dunadan bored in with enthusiasm and demonstrated a heretofore untapped talent for pacing and in-depth timing. The prince also displayed unexpected digital virtuosity and as his articulate bow-strengthened fingers caressed rounded nether regions his other hand sought the chestnut curls and drew the gasping man down for an endless kiss.

Luminous clear light coalesced around the transfixed couple and a palpable store of unreleased divine energy cycled within their rising ecstasy. Legolas felt the Water Lord's power still residing in his body, and knew it would discharge for Aragorn's healing. However, even in the midst of bliss he was concerned that the mortal might be traumatized by an experience beyond his ken so he hummed a sweet song and sent tendrils of Firstborn grace to protect his beloved from harm.

Aragorn's eyes dilated as he felt the mental touch and with one more superlative thrust, took them both over the edge into an exquisitely shared culmination. His voice joined the archer's in a rising harmonic chord and the resulting sensual detonation, combined with the final power release, blasted their entwined awareness into a timeless moment of infinite perception.

Legolas had been here before, and as the ranger floundered, the Elf extended the wings of his spirit around the butterfly shape of his mortal love. They clung together but even so, the man felt his beloved's fëa shredding into bright disintegrating bits as he struggled to sustain them. Aragorn's soul rebelled. His mind surged beyond human limits and he cried out to the star-scattered darkness, "This must not be! He will not be sacrificed for my sake. Take me instead!"

Darkness and light drifted. A Power manifested within infinity. There was an answer.

"It will not be necessary. You are both needed for the greater good. Be at peace young ones."

And with that, perception changed and Aragorn found himself back on a stretch of sun washed shore with his arms tightly wrapped round a beautiful, naked, and very unconscious Elf. He noted the brilliant eyes were completely closed, but there was slow respiration and a strong pulse fluttered in the blue veined throat. For the moment, it was enough to hold this being of grace and light and simply breathe together.

They remained thus for many heartbeats, while the world shifted and a new perspective lightened their hearts. It was the elf who stirred first, cupped the man's firm jaw and spoke with earnest assurance, "I have learned that the limits of my strength must encompass your life." He sighed and curled closer, "Wherever it may lead, I am yours till the end of our days."

Aragorn inhaled the woodland scent that had become vital to his well being, "So be it, ernil guren, prince of my heart."

There was another minute of quiet and suddenly a wide grin split the ranger's whiskered chin. "We have company." Over the Elf's white shoulder a black horse gently nudged the pair with a soft nose and then proceeded to nibble at tempting flaxen strands.

"Ai! I am not straw for your dinner master horse!" laughed the archer, as he rolled away and stood in one fluid motion. He looked like a gilded statue in the fading afternoon light and distracted Aragorn terribly while the ranger stood more slowly, spoke soft Elvish words to soothe the animal and reached for a trailing bridle.

"This is Brego, who was Theodred's mount, a fine Rohan steed." He patted the horse who did indeed respond to his name and Aragorn's attention. "Let us make use of this gift, and perhaps he can carry us both to Helm's Deep. We must see what stirs along the roads and report to the King."

Legolas agreed and added an impish comment, "Let us plan what to say to Gimli about our little 'detour' He will either kill us for causing everyone such distress or tease us for weeks about cliff jumping."

Aragorn's eyes darkened. "I hope we have time for such teasing."

The archer nodded and quickly gathered well used clothing and shook out much of the dust that easily shed from Elven fabric. They dressed rapidly, and even as they did so, caressed each other with lingering glances before mounting the willing horse. Since Legolas was very light, the animal was not unfairly burdened, and they made reasonable time in their trek across the plains.

Words were not needed to acknowledge the blessing their new found bond gave to every waking moment. The future was uncertain, and on this private journey they made love every night, finding comfort and strength in each others arms under the stars.

The reached the gates of Helm's Deep on the third day with news of Saruman's host on the march. They were dusty, tired, tattered and travel worn, and both nursed a bit of a snit over who should ride the horse into the fortress. Legolas insisted it be Aragorn, despite the Dunadan's reasonable observation that the prince was limping badly from a sprained ankle. The Elf won the argument by vaulting out of the saddle, managed to land gracefully and walked with hitched dignity up the ramp ahead of the ranger.

Thus it was he who first encountered the dwarf, as word of their arrival spread excitedly through the streets. He could hear him coming at least a half mile away.

"Where is he?! Where is that careless Elf? I'll kill him, I swear I'll kill the heartless brat!" The refrain was repeated in different order all the way to the Elf's feet, whereupon the gruff voice rose another notch, "You are the luckiest – the most reckless – Bless you laddie!" The dwarf crushed the green clad legs in a fierce embrace as the archer refrained from groaning in exquisite torment over the swollen ankle.

"Mae govannen, Gimli. It *is* good to see you and you will be glad to know Aragorn is with me," smiled the Elf.

Gimli was fairly hopping in relief and unable to express himself in any other way, he simply gave the prince a great buffet on the nearest body part he could reach – which happened to be the abused ankle. This time Legolas did groan, turned an interesting shade of green and sat down abruptly on the nearest stone step.

Gimli stopped hopping, "Ai, Laddie, what ails you? A little tired from all that jumping and swimming maybe?"

"Not exactly," gritted the prince.

"Well, nothing some good ale won't fix. I'll get ye some. Ye do look a little worse for wear. But don't worry I have all yer gear and that special necklace." And with another friendly thump to the archer's shoulder he trundled off to see for himself the reality of Aragorn's return.

Legolas sat still, glad for the moment to be ignored as the crowds greeted the Dunadan's entrance on Brego. However as many minutes passed, he began to feel rather abandoned and when he tried to stand, found to his dismay that the ankle really wasn't working at all and he needed to sit down again, quickly. He leaned on the wall, closed his eyes, and hoped the dizziness would eventually pass.

The sound of two pairs of boots stopped beside the wilting Elf and he opened one eye to glare balefully at a dwarf bearing ale and a flower bedecked ranger. Evidently some female had felt his return required a floral decoration. "Le abdollen – you're late," grumped the prince.

"You look terrible," said two voices in unison.

"I feel terrible," muttered the cranky one.

"I have just the thing to pick ye up!" enthused the Dwarf, trying to hand the prince a full mug.

"No Gimli, I think I know what he needs. It is *I* who will pick him up!" stated the Dunadan in an uncompromising tone as he observed the extremely swollen ankle and slight frown between flying dark brows.

At this, the archer's eyes flew open and he tried to stand but a genuinely pained moan escaped his whitened lips. He would have fallen had the man not taken matters into his capable hands and caught the willowy Elf about the slender waist and tossed him over a sturdy human shoulder.

"Ai, Aragorn, this is unseemly! Put me down immediately!" gasped the archer.

"Nay, my prince. You cannot walk." The struggling Sinda tried to disprove the point by kicking with his good leg and received a resounding slap on a charming backside. Gimli had never heard some of the interesting words used by the angry musical voice.

The future king continued, "I am taking you to a bedroom where you *will* rest for at least the rest of the day, even if I have to keep you there myself."

Legolas stilled, going so limp the ranger feared for a moment he had fainted but then a soft whisper came to his ear alone.

"Is that a promise?!"

"Never doubt it," came the husky reply.

Gimli shook his head at the ways Of Elves And Men and smiled into his mug of ale.


*G* yes, the caps are a deliberate reference to the beloved OEAM site.
Cheers. Ana Library Elf September 2006
Language notes:
Meleth = Beloved
ernil guren = prince of my heart
Mae govannen = well met
Le abdollen = you're late



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