Sentry Duty
by LadyAna

Gift for: Aer Liber
Fic: “Sentry Duty”
Author: by LadyAna
Email: ladyana5 AT aol.com
Pairing: Aragorn/Legolas
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Copyright to J.R.R. Tolkien, Peter Jackson, New Line Cinema.
Warnings: slash-m/m, first-time, humor, a little angst
Summary: Aragorn receives a gift from Legolas and wishes to return the favor.
Author’s Notes:
* Sorry, everyone - this is a little rushed. I hope it makes sense!
* I am taking a chance here, hoping this “routine” hasn’t been done before in LOTR fanfiction.
* Aragorn is about 20 here - young and immature.
* I always had a feeling that Aragorn would have a rough time growing up Human around the Firstborn and that Elves saw Men as spoiled children. This story explores that idea.

“Sentry Duty”
by LadyAna

Sentry duty. The Man closed his eyes, cringing. It was his assignment for that evening. Very few tasks could produce such a despised execution from him. It consisted of little more than repeatedly patrolling the perimeter of an already protected area until the banality nearly drove one mad. Yet, he could not truly relax because, well, duty was duty, regardless it being the mental equivalent of braiding lint.

“Problem, Estel?”

His thoughts were disrupted by the approach of his step-father’s friend and advisor, Glorfindel. It did not help the tone was amused. Glorfindel knew quite well Aragorn did not care for such an assignment. The Man could hardly complain, though, since while exceptionally tedious, it wasn’t painful. At least to those who saw time in a completely different light. What did irritate him was the use of his childhood name. It upset him Glorfindel expected to be addressed by his title, while Aragorn was still his student in sword-fighting. Yet, the Man found himself suppressing a smile. “None at all, Túrë,” he replied, “I was just seeing what my duty was this evening.”

The stern look on the Elf before him was satisfactory. It was a great honor to many elves to be a teacher, unlike this vain one, who was known as so much more in the thousands of years he’d been alive. Túrë was a name from that prior life, before his visit to the Halls of Mandos, a subtle reminder of how far he’d come from such accomplishments. In the face of such indignation, Glorfindel would usually spout such snarled comments as, “Elrond is not the only Elf-lord in Imladris!” and the ever-tired boast, “I slew a Balrog, you know!” Aragorn wondered did being sent to Arda twice double the ego?

This time, “Túrë” settled for a less obvious retort. “And may you perform it in the best manner possible! I shall see that you do!”

He stalked away and Aragorn sighed. That meant the haughty Firstborn would be checking up on him regularly. That did not disturb him, however, since he did not take any assignment lightly, even one as excruciatingly boring as this. The worse part is he would probably find himself burdened with this trite obligation more often. He clamped down on the wonder-lust blooming in him since he’d learned of his heritage. He craved to be with the Rangers, to learn their ways, to fulfill his destiny as leader of men.

Silently, he yearned for this fate, even though his mingling with men had been rare. He was hoping it would bring a sense of familiarity, a connection he had as of yet to find. Growing up Human around Elves was complicated, to say the least. In winter, bundling up in several layers to step outside garnered such taunts as “Orc Skinned”, “Caradhras Coward” and his hated favorite, “Bell-Butt Estel”, because his coat bowed out at the knees. Luckily, his ability to withstand frigid temperatures increased with age. Secretly, such treatment made him wonder about the alliance between Men and Elves that existed thousands of years ago. He guessed the threat of annihilation was the only way for such a treaty to exist!

Then there were differences in his taste for food. Elves tended to enjoy meals heavy on vegetables, fruit and grain, with minimal meat and spices, if any. While healthy, this diet sometimes left him wanting. Elrond was the one who said Men tended to eat more meat and there’s nothing like your guardian telling the masses you require the same sustenance as a heathen! Hence, embarrassment accompanied mealtimes, especially since those around him sometimes acted as if he were a savage in Eru’s world. Yet, while that bothered him, he was just glad to get something more than the main course of boiled cabbage, a vegetable mix, rice and wheat bread! By the gods, no more!

Also, Elrond would not allow any different education for his step-son, so Estel attended an Elvish curriculum, the same as Elladan & Elrohir. Oh, what joy was wrought then! He accomplished less than the Elven students, who took great glee in reminding him he was the slower, weaker one. He found it an advantage when they would often underestimate him, when they were not expecting him to, well, act Human. There was nothing like scaring the wits out of your opponent with devious tactics and brute strength! Also, at some point, some students decided he smelled bad and acted as such whenever he came around. That spawned an obsessive cleaning regimen which he swore he would one day simply stop and become the smelliest being around.

One of the few outlets he had was his work, which he devoured with a passion. If he wasn’t exerting his body to its fullest potential, he was huddled over books, soaking up all the knowledge he could find. At first, he found it overwhelming, the amount of volumes he wanted to read. As a child, standing in Elrond’s library, he believed Elves lived forever, just to get through that many books.

Appearance was another issue. Hair had sprouted on him. From everywhere. Others wondered how he came to handle a sword with such speed, grace and brutality at such a young age. He often wanted to reply that shaving with a straight-razor gave one a new found respect for sharp metal! Also, the longer his hair grew, the more unkempt it became. It was impossible to mimic the generous, flowing tresses the Elves were blessed with. For him, the sprouts on his scalp were a mass of frizzy, brownish-black strands that mangled up if he didn’t constantly fight with it. As pathetic as it may be, he even sought out Arwen for help, who had been rumored to use enchantment to make her hair grow. The self-centered elleth dismissed his request, and much to his shock and dismay, was convinced he was using that as an excuse to woo her and turned him down on the spot!
Daft wench.

He looked up, noticing Anor was falling into a heated slumber, meaning the night would be alive and warm. Thinking it best to prepare for the evening of detested walking in large circles around Imladris, he made his way back to his room. He was curious to see a rather large package waiting for him. It had seemingly traveled a distance, with the outer layer of roughened suede tattered and soiled. He brought it inside and began to unwrap it, using his knife to slice the thin leather straps interlacing over and around it, securing it tight. Once the contents was revealed, Aragorn tilted his head in inquiry at the hardcover books, five in total. Three were almost identical, having the same design, size and texture of binding. They were familiar, varying in colors, soft shades of blue, green and red. The first was larger, with a faint yellow hue and an illustration on the front. The last one was more of a slate grey and smaller in size.

It was the faded-lemon novel that made his heart skip. His mouth literally agape, he picked up the larger book and blinking rapid, he held his breath as he opened the first few pages. Could it be? It was! By the Vala! He suddenly clutched the book to his chest, smiling like a fool. It was the first-edition of the five installments of Ysallyra’s, “Tales of Alacla.” And there was only one person he knew of who would have sent this gift. Only Legolas understood how much this set of books meant to him. The card inside was written in the Elf’s elaborate handwriting, “ ...to continue your bleak attempt of proving me wrong about Gwaecla. ~ love, L.”

It reminded him of their heated debate regarding said subject when Legolas had journeyed to Imladris not that long ago: “I truly enjoyed the way Yslayan was able to convey the long distance they traveled. I felt tired after reading it!” said the Man.

The Elf seemed to be scrutinizing himself in the mirror in Aragorn’s room. “Oh, that I will agree with you on.” He titled his head forward, still looking at his own visage. “The author seemed to drive home every pebble, grain of sand and blade of grass they traversed.”

Surprised, Aragorn looked up from the fifth reprint of Volume I. “Well, such detail was needed to tell the reader how far the army had to walk to reach their point of battle.”

“Yes, but did he need to make me want to nap when they got there?! Here they are, ready to fight such outrageous numbers after crossing such a massive distance. Great strategic plan, indeed! And did we really need to know how they slept, ate and relieved themselves?”

Now Aragorn was getting irritated. “But of course! How else are we to know how they truly lived or celebrated or struggled, if we do not know the common details of their lives?”

Legolas placatingly held up his hands and took a seat next to the bed. “Believe me, I adore Ysallyra. Yet, there is an art to subtly and Gwaecla captured it quite well in the plays.”

A fierce chill ran up Aragorn’s spine and he narrowed his eyes. “Are you to tell me you prefer that...sickly display of Ysallyra’s work over the written word?!”

The Elf countered with a wide stare. “Sickly?! And who else has achieved such theatrical success with Ysallyra’s novels? No one! They are too long and too fantastical to be easily portrayed on the stage.” He leaned forward. “Besides, you should be thankful Gwaecla created such a sensation with such an old tale.”

Aragorn gasped, “Created?! He...he ‘created’ an entire legion of followers who know next to nothing of Ysallyra’s true vision!” He nearly spit the words, “Most are just a horde of vapid, amorous dreamers, hoping to bed Conyc, the Orator, who I admit, while a significant character, is nonetheless a removed role from the main plot!” Of course, Aragorn knew why so many drew their attention to Conyc and that was due to the actor who played him. He could not understand why so many found Elentirmo comely, although he did fill the role he was cast into.

And Legolas’ smile at the mention of the thespian in question was more than enough to make Aragorn annoyed. It was apparent Legolas fancied the actor, although he tried to hide such trivial interest by saying he was very talented. Aragorn nearly snorted. Such romantic nonsense detracted from the magnificent tale, the splendid world, that Ysallyra composed. The Elf’s next words brought him out of his sour thoughts.

“I cannot disagree with you there, since present company is included.” said Legolas while sighing, “It seems to have spawned a rather large group of amateur writers, turning out many pages of highly sincere, but hollow submissions. However, believe me when I say there are many wonderful and moving compositions already woven, if not on their way to fruition.”

As he perused the pages before him, the question floating just above Aragorn’s mind finally tapped him on the shoulder, to which he hesitatingly asked, “How would you know?”

Legolas smirked, tilted his head, letting his eyes study the floor. “Just remarking on what I’ve encountered.”

Aragorn was distracted by the way his hair held the firelight in so many shades of gold. He was also trying to wrap his mind around what his friend was telling him...or wasn’t, as it seemed. “‘Encountered’? You mean there are tales written by common folk using the characters of the books and plays!?” That was disturbing enough, but it was more distressing to think Legolas would lower his avocations to such a level. “Have you actually read some that drivel?” he blurted out.

The light dimmed in the Elf’s eyes, his smile dropping slightly. “It is not a usual practice, I admit, but nonetheless harmless.” He looked up, his gaze now seeing some far away place. “It can be quite useful in purging some vile emotions, as well as knowing life through that character’s eyes.”

Aragorn had a worried tremor creep through him, having a pretty good idea he’d made a grave error. He’d known Legolas for a short while, but it was not a good idea to openly bash anything the Elf shared aloud. Legolas was intensely private, never revealing much about his past or family. Although he had confessed to making a journey for a day or two alone, every five months without explanation or detail. He let Aragorn know this, so when it was not possible to travel for The Ritual, as he called it, Legolas would isolate himself in his room, taking food and water by servant as his only visitor. It was all quite curious to the Man, having the Elf secluded as such, with the occasional sound of running water and odd smells wafting from within. Aragorn did not insist on specifics, happy Legolas had accepted him without the usual, superior attitude most Elves harbor towards men.

“I’m sorry.” Aragorn said. “I should not have said that.”

“Why do you apologize?” Legolas asked, seemingly truly curious.

Aragorn crinkled his brow. “I did not mean to offend you.”

“You did not.”

Aragorn looked down, seeing nothing the pages held and it brought him back to the present, alone in his room, with Sentry Duty awaiting him. He knew Legolas had slipped into denial and they simply dropped the subject. Yet, he was feeling a little upset Legolas had closed in on himself, leaving Aragorn on the outside. If he had tried to tell the Elf of why he apologized, of why he thought he’d offended him, Legolas would deflect any attempt to elaborate. That had been happening more as of late, where he felt like he wanted more from the talented archer, but was unsure how to make it known. However, the extremely rare and costly gift in his hands was a sign that the Elf did listen and care. Seeing this, he knew he had to return the favor in like-kind, even if Gwaecla’s work was not his favorite.

*~~~~~*

Aragorn was soaking in the bath, his mind on preparation for the evening. His hair was lathered and he was using a little more soap than needed. It was a special time and he wanted it to go well. He dunked his head, rinsing his hair. He washed himself once more before rising from the heated water, then drying himself with a warmed towel. Making his way back to his room, he was surprised he was rather nervous.

Why did it mean so much to him for this to go well? It was not as if obtaining an invitation was all that difficult, nor did it cost him very much. Still, he had went out of his way to ensure it would be good for Legolas. They were to dine prior to attending the theater, then retire to Aragorn’s room afterward. The plays by Gwaecla that were based on the books by Ysallyra’s “Tales of Alacla” were on tour and he was fortunate enough to secure two seats for all three plays on consecutive nights here in Imladris. He only wished he could have been there to see the Prince’s shining face when he received his letter announcing their plans.

It had been months since Legolas sent the wonderful books and now Aragorn was able to repay that honor by taking the archer to the see the performed deeds he adored. The Man only hoped the next few evenings would be free of incident. He had Elrohir cover his duties, with a bribe naturally, and rescheduled a class on Dwarf Weapons and Usage. Having selected his attire early, he tugged on the dark brown, plush velvet leggings and suede tan jerkin, covering that with a floor-length, deep red cloak. Next were the suede tan boots and dark brown belt. His wild hair was already drying, so he combed it through and tried to calm his nerves, refusing to admit he was acting like a giddy stripling readying himself for a night of courting.

That thought made him suddenly sullen. Checking his features in the mirror, he whispered sourly, “Nay, you are not permitted that.” He could only imagine the Elf’s horrid reaction to such a suggestion. How cruel it was, he thought, to be considered a curiosity or a dim barbarian and yet surrounded by the most beautiful beings in Arda. Sure, he was of a distinguished heritage and would be king one day. But that was far in the future, one that held many trials of proving his worth repeatedly. And it was nonetheless, leader of men and it was no secret most Elves saw men as capable of great deeds, but also as ungrateful children. Hence, he buried the mere idea he could be more than a friend to the Prince of Mirkwood.

Exiting his room, he could faintly hear the voice of Glorfindel. Despite how childish it was, the Man ran like mad in the opposite direction. The last thing he wanted to do was be frivolously assigned more foolish duties! He made his way to Legolas’ room and knocked. Aragorn had been more than thrilled the Elf agreed to stay with him during the run of the plays. They hadn’t seen each other in months and it was good to have his friend around. Upon entering, the Man’s breath caught in his throat at seeing the Elf clad in a silver-blue tunic, white leggings and a dark blue cloak and boots. Legolas was speaking, but nary a word would reach Aragorn’s ears. He blushed and looked away, aware he must have appeared a true fool, standing there, staring like the room was on fire.

“I said, ‘Are you ready to leave?’” Legolas asked curiously.

“Yes, yes I am.” he replied a little too quickly. “You look well this evening.”

Legolas smiled. “As do you. Dark colors flatter you.”

Aragorn huffed at the idea that made a frank difference in his appearance. “So you say. I do not know where you get such notions.”

“Mere observation, my friend. When an ally says you’re pleasing to the eye, Aragorn, it is not to be questioned. Only a lover would mislead! Although...I can be convinced to ‘lie’ if requested! He winked. “Now let us leave. I do not wish to be late.”

“Yes, let’s.” said Aragorn, unsure what the Elf meant about being untruthful. “I would not want to be the one responsible for keeping you from seeing Conyc, The Orator, one moment longer.”

“Ah! You are wise as well as striking tonight!” Legolas smiled, much to the consternation of the Man. “Learned enough not to incur my wrath by barring me from one I admire.”

Aragorn smiled now as well. “Admire? I think I can name another word you have for him that might rhyme with that, but has a far more carnal meaning!”

Legolas was dismayed. “I certainly hope I seem more grateful of him than that!”

“Perhaps.” Aragorn said, smiling, “But you are by far not alone in your lascivious appreciation!”

*~~~~~*

There was quite the turnout that evening. So much so, Aragorn was rather surprised so many Elves wanted to see such a butchered version of said classics. What surprised him even more was the effect Legolas’ presence was having on the crowd. He’d been there in the past, but not in such a public presentation. Of course, he turned many heads and upon inquiry, the Imladris theater-goers were all buzzing around him like bees to honey, anxious to see and meet and speak with an Elf from the Golden Wood. Luckily, Legolas accepted the interest graciously and patiently. Aragorn desperately wanted to sardonically quip they were acting so emotional, he almost mistook them for Human!

The overt attention was testing the Man’s nerves, wanting to be with Legolas undisturbed. Aragorn wanted to ask how could a race that lives forever not visit each other’s land more often?! It’s not like they don’t have the time! Unfortunately, Mirkwood was the most uncharted and removed Elven domain and a monarch as well, therefore creating lots of curiosity and fascinating stories. He had to practically drag the Elf to their seats, which were very close to the front, away from the throng of zealots. A few made a huff at their departure and Aragorn wanted to reply he fully identified with how they felt, to have the archer forever “taken” from him.

The play started and after a while Aragorn found he actually liked it more than he remembered. He had to admit Gwaecla had taken on an incredible feat of representing Ysallyra’s novels in live form. Although he was still disappointed, the Forest Nymph “Dombo,” had not been included! And so came another scene with Conyc, the Orator, speaking words of praise, insight and wisdom to a hushed crowd, his delivery seducing his already dedicated followers. The deep pitch and rolling tones of his voice had improved since the last time Aragorn had seen him and couldn’t deny there was a fair charm and genuine depth to his bearing.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Legolas trying to reign in his own excitement, not wanting to lose his controlled facade. The Elf’s hands were clenched in his lap and his eyes were shining bright. Despite his jealousy, Aragorn was happy his friend was having a good time. And planned to tease him mercilessly about his desire for The Orator from now on!

The scene ended and the curtain fell, signaling intermission. Aragorn stretched and they stood, making their way to the front for some drink, perhaps some fresh fruit. They barely made it out of their seats when an usher of sorts appeared before them. He turned to Legolas and said in the most dour tone, “You have been formally requested to meet Elentirmo.” and handed him a small, white envelope with silver writing on it. It took the Man a minute to recall that was the name of the thespian who played Conyc, the Orator. Aragorn watched as the Elf’s eyes became wide, round and clear with shock.

“Did you arrange this?!” he asked Aragorn, his voice high with glee.

“Nay, I did not.” said Aragorn, kicking himself for not thinking of it...and partially glad he hadn’t. But that was all for naught, now wasn’t it?

Legolas stared in wonder at the tiny invitation in his hand.

The usher chimed in, his timber still deep and flat, “Elentirmo seen you in the audience and would very much like to meet you.”

“Tell him...I accept.” Legolas said, slightly embarrassed.

For the rest of the play, Aragorn could have sworn the Elf was nearly fidgety in his seat. When it ended, they slowly made their way backstage. Seeing Legolas peering above the crowd, Aragorn suggested, “Since you are such a light-footed Elf, perhaps you should just jump above everyone and walk on their heads to get to the front!”

Legolas looked at him askance, replying, “Too much trouble. I would be held for an account of my actions, which is the least of my intentions.”

“Obviously.”

Aragorn was grateful they were not stopped that often, since the cast was apparently more interesting than an Elf from the Woodland Realm. They caught sight of Elentirmo, sans makeup, who had his own mass of admirers hanging on his every word. Upon seeing the Prince, the dark haired artist smiled broadly, his brown eyes lighting up, although he was still listening to the chatting elleth before him. The Man watched, as they came together and the others backed off for them to talk. It must have been an amazing scene for some, witnessing two stunning figures, one dark, one light and undeniably drawn to one another. Elentirmo silently held out his hand in fond greeting and Legolas took it, clearly in awe. Elentirmo wrapped his other hand around the Elf’s, then pulled him in for a half embrace. “Thank you for gracing me with your patronage, kind sir.” he said, the words an easy flow of warm, rich honey. “May I know your name?”

Aragorn barely kept from rolling his eyes, knowing that’s not all Elentirmo would like to know regarding the Elf.

He released Legolas who tipped a bit, his own voice husky, “I am Legolas and it is my pleasure and honor to make your acquaintance.”

Aragorn thought to himself, And I’m the fool who brought him here! He wondered if grabbing a lit wall scone and setting himself aflame would garner any notice.

“I would like to invite you to my dinner feast tonight after the performance.” said Elentirmo. Aragorn wondered if he always spoke as if he were on-stage, lyrical and obnoxiously performed.

“I...uh...” Legolas nervously glanced at Aragorn, knowing they had plans. The Man fought from hanging his head, feeling like he was suddenly in front of an archery firing squad. He smiled tightly and said, “That is of no matter, Leoglas. By all means, join him.”

Aragorn must have suddenly appeared out of thin air where was Elentirmo concerned. “Oh my, forgive my ill manners. Would you care to join us?”

After you did not even ask to know *my* name? I think not! Aragorn silently told him. Instead he tried to hide his disappointment. Still smiling falsely, he said, “Nay, I believe I am not as taken with your company as my friend here.”

“Aragorn!” the Elf snapped.

The Man raised his hands in mock innocence.

“That is fine, Legolas. I take no offense.” Elentirmo let his brown eyes sweep over the Elf before finishing with, “None at all.”

Legolas blushed. Aragorn wanted to punch himself for pushing them even closer together. First they were just having dinner and now Elentirmo was perched to take much farther!

“Then I would very much like to join you.” the Elf demurely replied.

“Fancy meeting you here, Aragorn!”

Out of nowhere did the face of Glorfindel suddenly come into his sight. If that weren’t bad enough, seeing Glorfindel dressed up was an unsettling image. What male puts pink satin bows in their hair?! They clashed horribly with the bright green garb he wore.

“G-greetings, Glorfindel.” he managed to say.

The instructor looked around. “This is why you neglected your duties tonight?”

Aragorn tried to not get defensive. “I had Elrohir cover my rounds.”

“AND you did not attend your classes?”

“I rescheduled them.” Oh, this was sheer joy, he thought, being admonished by an Elf who, in this lifetime, was named after his hair! And in front of the one who was trying to woo Legolas! By the Vala, this evening was becoming a disaster for him.

“Well, I hate to inform you of this, but Elrohir has fallen ill.” “FALLEN ILL?!” Aragorn snapped, then was mortified. It made it seem he was heartlessly angry at the sudden illness of a relative. What most did not know, since they did not make it obvious, was that his step brothers occasionally “fell ill” at very convenient times. He would not have put it past Elrohir to have an “accidental” liaison with some fair maiden. Aragorn had truly hoped he wouldn’t be so afflicted tonight, especially with the bribe.

“Seems he was injured on patrol, so you will need to resume your task of sentry duty this evening.”

Was that reincarnated sprite hiding a smile?! Aragorn could not be certain, but there was no reason to act as if the idea did not bother him. He couldn’t, after all, let down the sadistic imp-lord. It was probably best they ran into each other here so he wouldn’t have to hear it later on about how he’d “disappeared” and neglected his obligations. He would not have put it past Glorfindel to have tracked him down. Totally fallen, Aragorn said, “But of course, my lord. I will report to duty posthaste.” He woodenly turned to Legolas. “It is of good fortune, my friend, you have found alternate plans. I will see you later. Naramie.” With that, he walked stiffly out of the theater, went straight to him room and silently wept out his tears of frustration, hurt and anger.

*~~~~~*

It was hot. Anor had fallen, yet the muggy heat clung to the still leaves and warmed the ground beneath his feet. He was idly walking, still in a pattern as designated by the patrol, seething at all that happened. The night had went well for Legolas and that truly was the point. But he began to realize how much he wanted them both to have a good evening together and it had turned out so poorly for him. For the next two nights, if Glorfindel didn’t have him on kitchen duty or weeding the gardens, he’d have to listen to Legolas gush how great Elentirmo was, what a great host and how considerate he was and what a great...lover he was. His gut cinched at that idea.

He stopped walking and sighed. Looking up at the star-filled sky, then at the buildings in the near distance, it hurt to think he could be falling in love with the Prince. He continued walking. How could he, when he knew so little about the archer? Well, that wasn’t exactly true. Legolas had a wonderful sense of humor, was kind and gracious and a dedicated warrior. And Aragorn could sense a unique closeness they shared and had hoped that would...what? Develop into something more? When had he decided he wanted that? He shook his head, all the thoughts clouding his mind. That was when he noticed he’d walked his entire patrol with his head elsewhere. Whatever it was bothering him about the Elf was affecting his work and that would not do.

After reporting in, he was on his way back to his room when he noticed a rather large and ostentatious carriage sitting idle nearby. It looked familiar, but he couldn’t place where he’d seen it. As he got closer, however, that’s when he could make out the writing in Elvish on the side. It all came together in a rush. Elentirmo was here, somewhere in the building... most likely visiting Legolas! The Man became fixed to the spot, terrified he was right and unsure how to find the truth. A servant came out at that point and he asked as calmly as he could if they knew if Legolas was within.

“Yes, my lord, but he says he does not wish to be disturbed.”

Aragorn became light-headed at hearing that. He inquired about Elentirmo.

“He was speaking with Glorfindel last time I saw him.”

Aragorn kept from rolling his eyes. Glorfindel was probably showing him the portraits he’d posed for and that certainly wasn’t enough to bring the performer this far. And just the mere of idea of Legolas sharing himself with Conceit, The Lewd Loudmouth, was enough to push him out of his trance. He was up the steps in no time and passed by Glorfindel’s study, relieved he could hear Elentirmo. Good, he wasn’t too late. He reached Legolas’ room and knocked on the door rather urgently.

“Who is there?” Legolas called from inside, sounding annoyed.

“It is I, Legolas. Let me in, I want to talk.”

“Not now.” said the Elf in a flustered tone. “I’m performing ‘The Ritual.’”

It took him a second, but he replied, “You do not need to do that for at least another week!”

“I decided to do it early.” Of course, he thought that bizarre, seeing what’s the point of a ritual if you follow it correctly? He slumped his head. Honesty is what was needed and it was probably best to do it through a closed door instead of seeing the horrified reaction on the Elf’s face. “Please, Legolas, let me in. I think I know why you requested not to be disturbed and I want to ask you....to not go through with it. I can’t stand the thought of you being with...” he trailed off, started again in a new vein, “I loved the books you sent. I know I told you that before, but only you know how much they meant to me. You are the only one who knows me and accepts me for who I am, although I am not certain as to why. You are the only one I feel at ease with.” His tone dropped. “I will be joining the Rangers soon, leaving here for at least several months, to further my knowledge and training.” He suddenly came to the realization he did not want to disappear into the wild, unaware of when he’d see his friend again. “I do not know when I will return and-“

The door suddenly swung open, revealing the disheveled Elf in a satin, grey robe, his hair wrapped up in a towel. “You’re leaving? When? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Taken aback by the unkempt state, Aragorn replied, “I thought I had.”

“Well, you did, but I didn’t think it would be so soon.”

Aragorn was a little embarrassed, seeing he made it sound he was gone as soon as he could pack. “No, I...” He looked at the archer beseechingly. “May I come in?”

Legolas seemed to realize he was still in the hallway and backed off. “Of course.”

He entered to find a few bowls holding various contents of differing colors and consistency on the night stand. It smelled odd in the room as well. There were also tiny brushes and small pinchers and two or three bottles open. He could tell a medicinal bath had been drawn in the other room. There was a small flame bubbling a substance in a glass tube on top. He was so befuddled by it all, he nearly forgot what he’d been saying. He turned to face Legolas, who looked discomforted. “Are you alright?”

The Elf blushed crimson, adverting his eyes. “I am fine. Please forgive the room in it’s present state.”

“No, that’s fine.” He sighed and said, “I’m not leaving soon, Legolas, I just, I-“ He drifted off. Now that he was in front of the Elf, he wasn’t sure what to say.

“What did you mean when you said you couldn’t stand the idea of me being with...whom?”

The Man looked downward. “I thought you might have been entertaining Elentirmo.”

“For that to happen, I’d have to pull him away from Glorfindel.”

Aragorn looked at him. “You mean the imp-lord...insinuated himself between you two?”

Legolas eyes widened at that. “‘Imp-lord’! I like it! Yes, he decided he wanted a ‘personal speech’ from The Orator, who was quite receptive.”

Crestfallen, Aragorn said, “I am sorry you were disappointed.”

He looked leerily at Aragorn. “Did you think you actually think I would lie with him?”

Fearful he’d insulted the Prince, he said, “You seemed amiable.”

“His character in the flesh is a symbol to me, Aragorn, of the freedom I had lost at one point, to stand without shame and quelling and speak so that all may wish to hear and be swayed by my words. I could not join with such an abstract notion.” He came closer to the Man. “Besides, I was disgusted when I was so easily supplanted by, how did you say it? The Imp-Lord?”

Aragorn laughed a bit, more relieved than he cared to admit.

“Yet, there was another reason I was uncomfortable at the idea of being with him.” He looked directly at him. “Tell me, Aragorn, why do you care if I mate with another?”

He floundered pathetically as to not disclose his heart. “I believe you can achieve better...you deserve more.”

“Like who? Yourself, perhaps?”

He looked away, his voice faint. “I’m hardly someone better, Legolas.”

“You are right.”

Aragorn looked at him sharply, not expecting the agreement.

“At least so you have been told all your life. Let me show you something Elentirmo would be horrified at...something I know you alone would accept.” The Elf turned and pulled out a small portrait from his chest of drawers. He handed to the Man. “Do you know who this is?” Legolas’ voice sounded odd.

The painting held a somber fellow, with pale and drawn features, loosely clad in a dark robe. The eyes were white and sunken, the nose ill-shapen as were the ears, the slender head barren of any hair and faint blue lines could be seen in thin too-thin limbs. Patches of seared skin criss-crossed the torso, some healed, most were not. It was not a robust and wholesome being he was viewing, but more of a half-dead entity. He couldn’t even tell if it was Man or Elf. After gazing at it for a while, he finally confessed, “I do not know.”

“Good. Then the fallacy can continue.” Legolas said, taking back the portrait. He turned to put it away, closing the drawer with slow deliberation.

“Of what falsehood do you speak?” he asked.

Instead of answering, the Elf said, with his back still to him, “My family line has a unique bond with nature, Aragorn. We can halt the forwarding of atrocities on our land and people in lieu of a sacrifice.”

The Man was unsteady, not sure what path this was taking. “Go on.”

“My...offer to the Gods occurred,” At that moment, the clock lightly chimed. Clearly embarrassed, the Elf said, “Forgive me, I must rinse my hair.” He made his way to the sink. Aragorn said nothing as his friend removed a strongly scented cream from his blond locks, then dried it with a towel. Legolas then sat at the dresser and applied a clear salve to his face from one of the bowls, vigorously rubbing it in, silent all the while.

Aragorn, also without speaking, went to the drawer and pulled out the painting again. This time he looked at it with new eyes. After surveying it once more, he saw what he’d dreaded. “This is...was you.”

Legolas looked at him in the reflection of his mirror. “Aie. It is...was.” he said sadly.

“What happened?”

Legolas turned half way towards him, the sheen on his face reflecting the lamp light. “I was hunting, just for practice, mainly. I knew I had went far beyond the protected grounds, but that was the point of the exercise.” His tone became hurt, wounded. “I do not know how, but I sensed it...thousands of voices calling for help, screaming for aid.” He looked at his friend. “I could not ignore it.”

“But of course not.”

The Elf smiled a bit. “You say it so plainly. I think that is why I was first drawn to you, because of your dedication to what is right.” His smiled dropped. “I could also tell you had been treated unfairly by those who had no reason not to love you. Damn those with a superior sense of entitlement!”

Aragorn came over, pulled up a chair and lightly placed his hands over the Elf’s. “Tell me, my friend.”

Legolas’ eyes found the floor, his voice wavering. “I mounted my steed and rode to the devastation. It was a fire...a forest fire.” He looked at Aragorn with tears in his eyes. “Has your mind ever been assaulted with the panicked pleas of the scarred and dying? I could not leave them! I had to help!” He dropped his head, the tears slipping out.

“Of course you did! I could not have done otherwise myself.” What the Man said was the truth, although he had no idea how one Elf could have stopped such raging destruction.

“I did not want to...but I had to.” His voice became detached. “I dismounted, spent a minute saying good-bye to my horse, telling him what to say to father and my friends...and walked straight into the roaring blaze.” With tears staining his face, he smiled so brightly, it was chilling. “I honestly believed it wasn’t going to hurt!” He laughed in hysterics. “But what is a sacrifice without pain?!”

The Man shook him lightly. “Why?! Why did you invite death upon yourself?!”

Legolas calmed and said, “The flames and smoke engulfed me. Within seconds, the clouds came and drenched the burning trees with rain so strong, it flooded the realm. The Gods accepted my offer of my life, so that the forest could live. I do not remember much after I fainted from the trauma. I was found the next day, in a puddle of water.” He looked up reluctantly at Aragorn.

The Man was trying his best not to cry. Finally, he lowered his head and lightly kissed the smooth hands he held. “It is an honor and a privilege to know someone as noble as you, my friend.”

“You are one of the few who think so!” Legolas snapped and rose quickly, walking to the other side of the room.

Anger and fear welled up in him at the insinuation, at what Aragorn began to understand. “What do you mean?”

Legolas gazed out the window, holding himself tightly. “I was a monster, Aragorn! You saw the portrait. Yes, everyone attempted to tell me I had served the Gods, the forest, but I noticed none of them could withstand to look at me as they professed such sentiments.” He smiled sadly. “My self-immolation protected my father’s domain from the slow encroachment of the Darkness, only to have the subjects frightened of their reluctant defender!” He leaned against the wall. “Becoming whole again was a fight in itself. The treatment went on for decades and was more painful than the injury that cause it. My father did not want me to be seen. He encouraged me to read, draw, practice my archery and fighting skills, anything to keep me in my room or at least alone and not frighten the servants.”

Aragorn was dumbstruck. “But surely they saw your surviving as a blessed event!”

The Elf sighed in frustration. “You would think that, yes. You must understand, Aragorn, there was no reason for my life to have been spared. I was meant to die. I cannot tell you how angry it made me that the people I knew and loved were suddenly treating me so differently, as if because I was hurt, that was the same as damaged, broken...less than. I became either a curiosity or one to be feared.”

Aragorn nearly gasped at that declaration. How he could identify!

“This ‘ritual’ is actually a healing ceremony for the body and the spirit. It should not take much longer before I am fully mended, a few decades at the most.”

“Why are you performing it now? I thought it would be at least another week.” A worried question came to him. “Are you ill?”

Legolas’ eyes found the floor, blushing, but he smiled at the same time. “I will not deny it enhances my appearance, Aragorn. I wanted to look well...for you.”

“You did?” The wonderment in his voice showed.

Legolas smirked. “I know you, of all those I have encountered, could understand what it mean to be judged by merely what the eye holds. From there, I came to understand you better and it planted this love for you I am afraid has done little but grow.”

Aragorn could only speak the truth. “And I was pleased you had accepted me for who I was and was willing to look further. I believe that is why I am feeling the same love for you.”

The Elf looked pained. “Now you are leaving.”

Taking his hands again, the Man said, “I will not leave you. I will be away, but not for long.”

A genuine, small smile graced the Elf’s lips, his eyes gaining new light, as if a great burden was starting to slip away. “Then I will find you and be with you as long as you permit me.”

“Then I am pleased.” Aragorn squinted his brow at the one question he had to ask. “Who did the portrait?”

Legolas shrugged. “I did it to anger father, of course. He made me nearly a captive, so I rebel by painting the awful sight he cannot endure.”

Deeply moved, Aragorn said, “That is quite the incident to suffer yourself, my friend.”

“No worse than what you have had to bear from a nestling to now.”

“Perhaps.” Aragorn conceded.

Then Legolas sighed, yet with a gleam in his eye. “And if that story hadn’t sufficed, I would have simply said my mother was a troll.”

The Man’s laugh was loud and long and probably heard by others. Once Aragorn could catch his breath, he embraced the Elf, who returned the gesture. Aragorn had found the connection he’d search for his entire life, but not in his fellow Humans. It was the same race who’d deemed them both as “less than.” He held the Elf tighter, thinking he preferred this lower tier of life. He just had to know one thing. “Legolas?”

“Yes?”

“May I have some of that shampoo?”

...End

Translations you might need, if you didn’t get it by now! (:::smile:::)
Ysallyra = JRR Toliken
“Tales of Alacla” = Lord of the Rings
Gwaecla = Peter Jackson
Elentirmo = Orlando Bloom
Conyc, the Orator = Um, I think *I’m* confused by this point!

 

 

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wrapped his other hand around the Elf’s, then pulled him in for a half embrace. “Thank you for gracing me with your patronage, kind sir.” he said, the words an easy flow of warm, rich honey. “May I know your name?”

Aragorn barely kept from rolling his eyes, knowing that’s not all Elentirmo would like to know regarding the Elf.

He released Legolas who tipped a bit, his own voice husky, “I am Legolas and it is my pleasure and honor to make your acquaintance.”

Aragorn thought to himself, And I’m the fool who brought him here! He wondered if grabbing a lit wall scone and setting himself aflame would garner any notice.

“I would like to invite you to my dinner feast tonight after the performance.” said Elentirmo. Aragorn wondered if he always spoke as if he were on-stage, lyrical and obnoxiously performed.

“I...uh...” Legolas nervously glanced at Aragorn, knowing they had plans. The Man fought from hanging his head, feeling like he was suddenly in front of an archery firing squad. He smiled tightly and said, “That is of no matter, Leoglas. By all means, join him.”

Aragorn must have suddenly appeared out of thin air where was Elentirmo concerned. “Oh my, forgive my ill manners. Would you care to join us?”

After you did not even ask to know *my* name? I think not! Aragorn silently told him. Instead he tried to hide his disappointment. Still smiling falsely, he said, “Nay, I believe I am not as taken with your company as my friend here.”

“Aragorn!” the Elf snapped.

The Man raised his hands in mock innocence.

“That is fine, Legolas. I take no offense.” Elentirmo let his brown eyes sweep over the Elf before finishing with, “None at all.”

Legolas blushed. Aragorn wanted to punch himself for pushing them even closer together. First they were just having dinner and now Elentirmo was perched to take much farther!

“Then I would very much like to join you.” the Elf demurely replied.

“Fancy meeting you here, Aragorn!”

Out of nowhere did the face of Glorfindel suddenly come into his sight. If that weren’t bad enough, seeing Glorfindel dressed up was an unsettling image. What male puts pink satin bows in their hair?! They clashed horribly with the bright green garb he wore.

“G-greetings, Glorfindel.” he managed to say.

The instructor looked around. “This is why you neglected your duties tonight?”

Aragorn tried to not get defensive. “I had Elrohir cover my rounds.”

“AND you did not attend your classes?”

“I rescheduled them.” Oh, this was sheer joy, he thought, being admonished by an Elf who, in this lifetime, was named after his hair! And in front of the one who was trying to woo Legolas! By the Vala, this evening was becoming a disaster for him.

“Well, I hate to inform you of this, but Elrohir has fallen ill.” “FALLEN ILL?!” Aragorn snapped, then was mortified. It made it seem he was heartlessly angry at the sudden illness of a relative. What most did not know, since they did not make it obvious, was that his step brothers occasionally “fell ill” at very convenient times. He would not have put it past Elrohir to have an “accidental” liaison with some fair maiden. Aragorn had truly hoped he wouldn’t be so afflicted tonight, especially with the bribe.

“Seems he was injured on patrol, so you will need to resume your task of sentry duty this evening.”

Was that reincarnated sprite hiding a smile?! Aragorn could not be certain, but there was no reason to act as if the idea did not bother him. He couldn’t, after all, let down the sadistic imp-lord. It was probably best they ran into each other here so he wouldn’t have to hear it later on about how he’d “disappeared” and neglected his obligations. He would not have put it past Glorfindel to have tracked him down. Totally fallen, Aragorn said, “But of course, my lord. I will report to duty posthaste.” He woodenly turned to Legolas. “It is of good fortune, my friend, you have found alternate plans. I will see you later. Naramie.” With that, he walked stiffly out of the theater, went straight to him room and silently wept out his tears of frustration, hurt and anger.

*~~~~~*

It was hot. Anor had fallen, yet the muggy heat clung to the still leaves and warmed the ground beneath his feet. He was idly walking, still in a pattern as designated by the patrol, seething at all that happened. The night had went well for Legolas and that truly was the point. But he began to realize how much he wanted them both to have a good evening together and it had turned out so poorly for him. For the next two nights, if Glorfindel didn’t have him on kitchen duty or weeding the gardens, he’d have to listen to Legolas gush how great Elentirmo was, what a great host and how considerate he was and what a great...lover he was. His gut cinched at that idea.

He stopped walking and sighed. Looking up at the star-filled sky, then at the buildings in the near distance, it hurt to think he could be falling in love with the Prince. He continued walking. How could he, when he knew so little about the archer? Well, that wasn’t exactly true. Legolas had a wonderful sense of humor, was kind and gracious and a dedicated warrior. And Aragorn could sense a unique closeness they shared and had hoped that would...what? Develop into something more? When had he decided he wanted that? He shook his head, all the thoughts clouding his mind. That was when he noticed he’d walked his entire patrol with his head elsewhere. Whatever it was bothering him about the Elf was affecting his work and that would not do.

After reporting in, he was on his way back to his room when he noticed a rather large and ostentatious carriage sitting idle nearby. It looked familiar, but he couldn’t place where he’d seen it. As he got closer, however, that’s when he could make out the writing in Elvish on the side. It all came together in a rush. Elentirmo was here, somewhere in the building... most likely visiting Legolas! The Man became fixed to the spot, terrified he was right and unsure how to find the truth. A servant came out at that point and he asked as calmly as he could if they knew if Legolas was within.

“Yes, my lord, but he says he does not wish to be disturbed.”

Aragorn became light-headed at hearing that. He inquired about Elentirmo.

“He was speaking with Glorfindel last time I saw him.”

Aragorn kept from rolling his eyes. Glorfindel was probably showing him the portraits he’d posed for and that certainly wasn’t enough to bring the performer this far. And just the mere of idea of Legolas sharing himself with Conceit, The Lewd Loudmouth, was enough to push him out of his trance. He was up the steps in no time and passed by Glorfindel’s study, relieved he could hear Elentirmo. Good, he wasn’t too late. He reached Legolas’ room and knocked on the door rather urgently.

“Who is there?” Legolas called from inside, sounding annoyed.

“It is I, Legolas. Let me in, I want to talk.”

“Not now.” said the Elf in a flustered tone. “I’m performing ‘The Ritual.’”

It took him a second, but he replied, “You do not need to do that for at least another week!”

“I decided to do it early.” Of course, he thought that bizarre, seeing what’s the point of a ritual if you follow it correctly? He slumped his head. Honesty is what was needed and it was probably best to do it through a closed door instead of seeing the horrified reaction on the Elf’s face. “Please, Legolas, let me in. I think I know why you requested not to be disturbed and I want to ask you....to not go through with it. I can’t stand the thought of you being with...” he trailed off, started again in a new vein, “I loved the books you sent. I know I told you that before, but only you know how much they meant to me. You are the only one who knows me and accepts me for who I am, although I am not certain as to why. You are the only one I feel at ease with.” His tone dropped. “I will be joining the Rangers soon, leaving here for at least several months, to further my knowledge and training.” He suddenly came to the realization he did not want to disappear into the wild, unaware of when he’d see his friend again. “I do not know when I will return and-“

The door suddenly swung open, revealing the disheveled Elf in a satin, grey robe, his hair wrapped up in a towel. “You’re leaving? When? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Taken aback by the unkempt state, Aragorn replied, “I thought I had.”

“Well, you did, but I didn’t think it would be so soon.”

Aragorn was a little embarrassed, seeing he made it sound he was gone as soon as he could pack. “No, I...” He looked at the archer beseechingly. “May I come in?”

Legolas seemed to realize he was still in the hallway and backed off. “Of course.”

He entered to find a few bowls holding various contents of differing colors and consistency on the night stand. It smelled odd in the room as well. There were also tiny brushes and small pinchers and two or three bottles open. He could tell a medicinal bath had been drawn in the other room. There was a small flame bubbling a substance in a glass tube on top. He was so befuddled by it all, he nearly forgot what he’d been saying. He turned to face Legolas, who looked discomforted. “Are you alright?”

The Elf blushed crimson, adverting his eyes. “I am fine. Please forgive the room in it’s present state.”

“No, that’s fine.” He sighed and said, “I’m not leaving soon, Legolas, I just, I-“ He drifted off. Now that he was in front of the Elf, he wasn’t sure what to say.

“What did you mean when you said you couldn’t stand the idea of me being with...whom?”

The Man looked downward. “I thought you might have been entertaining Elentirmo.”

“For that to happen, I’d have to pull him away from Glorfindel.”

Aragorn looked at him. “You mean the imp-lord...insinuated himself between you two?”

Legolas eyes widened at that. “‘Imp-lord’! I like it! Yes, he decided he wanted a ‘personal speech’ from The Orator, who was quite receptive.”

Crestfallen, Aragorn said, “I am sorry you were disappointed.”

He looked leerily at Aragorn. “Did you think you actually think I would lie with him?”

Fearful he’d insulted the Prince, he said, “You seemed amiable.”

“His character in the flesh is a symbol to me, Aragorn, of the freedom I had lost at one point, to stand without shame and quelling and speak so that all may wish to hear and be swayed by my words. I could not join with such an abstract notion.” He came closer to the Man. “Besides, I was disgusted when I was so easily supplanted by, how did you say it? The Imp-Lord?”

Aragorn laughed a bit, more relieved than he cared to admit.

“Yet, there was another reason I was uncomfortable at the idea of being with him.” He looked directly at him. “Tell me, Aragorn, why do you care if I mate with another?”

He floundered pathetically as to not disclose his heart. “I believe you can achieve better...you deserve more.”

“Like who? Yourself, perhaps?”

He looked away, his voice faint. “I’m hardly someone better, Legolas.”

“You are right.”

Aragorn looked at him sharply, not expecting the agreement.

“At least so you have been told all your life. Let me show you something Elentirmo would be horrified at...something I know you alone would accept.” The Elf turned and pulled out a small portrait from his chest of drawers. He handed to the Man. “Do you know who this is?” Legolas’ voice sounded odd.

The painting held a somber fellow, with pale and drawn features, loosely clad in a dark robe. The eyes were white and sunken, the nose ill-shapen as were the ears, the slender head barren of any hair and faint blue lines could be seen in thin too-thin limbs. Patches of seared skin criss-crossed the torso, some healed, most were not. It was not a robust and wholesome being he was viewing, but more of a half-dead entity. He couldn’t even tell if it was Man or Elf. After gazing at it for a while, he finally confessed, “I do not know.”

“Good. Then the fallacy can continue.” Legolas said, taking back the portrait. He turned to put it away, closing the drawer with slow deliberation.

“Of what falsehood do you speak?” he asked.

Instead of answering, the Elf said, with his back still to him, “My family line has a unique bond with nature, Aragorn. We can halt the forwarding of atrocities on our land and people in lieu of a sacrifice.”

The Man was unsteady, not sure what path this was taking. “Go on.”

“My...offer to the Gods occurred,” At that moment, the clock lightly chimed. Clearly embarrassed, the Elf said, “Forgive me, I must rinse my hair.” He made his way to the sink. Aragorn said nothing as his friend removed a strongly scented cream from his blond locks, then dried it with a towel. Legolas then sat at the dresser and applied a clear salve to his face from one of the bowls, vigorously rubbing it in, silent all the while.

Aragorn, also without speaking, went to the drawer and pulled out the painting again. This time he looked at it with new eyes. After surveying it once more, he saw what he’d dreaded. “This is...was you.”

Legolas looked at him in the reflection of his mirror. “Aie. It is...was.” he said sadly.

“What happened?”

Legolas turned half way towards him, the sheen on his face reflecting the lamp light. “I was hunting, just for practice, mainly. I knew I had went far beyond the protected grounds, but that was the point of the exercise.” His tone became hurt, wounded. “I do not know how, but I sensed it...thousands of voices calling for help, screaming for aid.” He looked at his friend. “I could not ignore it.”

“But of course not.”

The Elf smiled a bit. “You say it so plainly. I think that is why I was first drawn to you, because of your dedication to what is right.” His smiled dropped. “I could also tell you had been treated unfairly by those who had no reason not to love you. Damn those with a superior sense of entitlement!”

Aragorn came over, pulled up a chair and lightly placed his hands over the Elf’s. “Tell me, my friend.”

Legolas’ eyes found the floor, his voice wavering. “I mounted my steed and rode to the devastation. It was a fire...a forest fire.” He looked at Aragorn with tears in his eyes. “Has your mind ever been assaulted with the panicked pleas of the scarred and dying? I could not leave them! I had to help!” He dropped his head, the tears slipping out.

“Of course you did! I could not have done otherwise myself.” What the Man said was the truth, although he had no idea how one Elf could have stopped such raging destruction.

“I did not want to...but I had to.” His voice became detached. “I dismounted, spent a minute saying good-bye to my horse, telling him what to say to father and my friends...and walked straight into the roaring blaze.” With tears staining his face, he smiled so brightly, it was chilling. “I honestly believed it wasn’t going to hurt!” He laughed in hysterics. “But what is a sacrifice without pain?!”

The Man shook him lightly. “Why?! Why did you invite death upon yourself?!”

Legolas calmed and said, “The flames and smoke engulfed me. Within seconds, the clouds came and drenched the burning trees with rain so strong, it flooded the realm. The Gods accepted my offer of my life, so that the forest could live. I do not remember much after I fainted from the trauma. I was found the next day, in a puddle of water.” He looked up reluctantly at Aragorn.

The Man was trying his best not to cry. Finally, he lowered his head and lightly kissed the smooth hands he held. “It is an honor and a privilege to know someone as noble as you, my friend.”

“You are one of the few who think so!” Legolas snapped and rose quickly, walking to the other side of the room.

Anger and fear welled up in him at the insinuation, at what Aragorn began to understand. “What do you mean?”

Legolas gazed out the window, holding himself tightly. “I was a monster, Aragorn! You saw the portrait. Yes, everyone attempted to tell me I had served the Gods, the forest, but I noticed none of them could withstand to look at me as they professed such sentiments.” He smiled sadly. “My self-immolation protected my father’s domain from the slow encroachment of the Darkness, only to have the subjects frightened of their reluctant defender!” He leaned against the wall. “Becoming whole again was a fight in itself. The treatment went on for decades and was more painful than the injury that cause it. My father did not want me to be seen. He encouraged me to read, draw, practice my archery and fighting skills, anything to keep me in my room or at least alone and not frighten the servants.”

Aragorn was dumbstruck. “But surely they saw your surviving as a blessed event!”

The Elf sighed in frustration. “You would think that, yes. You must understand, Aragorn, there was no reason for my life to have been spared. I was meant to die. I cannot tell you how angry it made me that the people I knew and loved were suddenly treating me so differently, as if because I was hurt, that was the same as damaged, broken...less than. I became either a curiosity or one to be feared.”

Aragorn nearly gasped at that declaration. How he could identify!

“This ‘ritual’ is actually a healing ceremony for the body and the spirit. It should not take much longer before I am fully mended, a few decades at the most.”

“Why are you performing it now? I thought it would be at least another week.” A worried question came to him. “Are you ill?”

Legolas’ eyes found the floor, blushing, but he smiled at the same time. “I will not deny it enhances my appearance, Aragorn. I wanted to look well...for you.”

“You did?” The wonderment in his voice showed.

Legolas smirked. “I know you, of all those I have encountered, could understand what it mean to be judged by merely what the eye holds. From there, I came to understand you better and it planted this love for you I am afraid has done little but grow.”

Aragorn could only speak the truth. “And I was pleased you had accepted me for who I was and was willing to look further. I believe that is why I am feeling the same love for you.”

The Elf looked pained. “Now you are leaving.”

Taking his hands again, the Man said, “I will not leave you. I will be away, but not for long.”

A genuine, small smile graced the Elf’s lips, his eyes gaining new light, as if a great burden was starting to slip away. “Then I will find you and be with you as long as you permit me.”

“Then I am pleased.” Aragorn squinted his brow at the one question he had to ask. “Who did the portrait?”

Legolas shrugged. “I did it to anger father, of course. He made me nearly a captive, so I rebel by painting the awful sight he cannot endure.”

Deeply moved, Aragorn said, “That is quite the incident to suffer yourself, my friend.”

“No worse than what you have had to bear from a nestling to now.”

“Perhaps.” Aragorn conceded.

Then Legolas sighed, yet with a gleam in his eye. “And if that story hadn’t sufficed, I would have simply said my mother was a troll.”

The Man’s laugh was loud and long and probably heard by others. Once Aragorn could catch his breath, he embraced the Elf, who returned the gesture. Aragorn had found the connection he’d search for his entire life, but not in his fellow Humans. It was the same race who’d deemed them both as “less than.” He held the Elf tighter, thinking he preferred this lower tier of life. He just had to know one thing. “Legolas?”

“Yes?”

“May I have some of that shampoo?”

...End

Translations you might need, if you didn’t get it by now! (:::smile:::)
Ysallyra = JRR Toliken
“Tales of Alacla” = Lord of the Rings
Gwaecla = Peter Jackson
Elentirmo = Orlando Bloom
Conyc, the Orator = Um, I think *I’m* confused by this point!

 

 

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