FIC: From “The ‘My Life’ Series”- Snippet C - “Do Not Tempt Me”
“Do Not Tempt Me”
The day was growing late when they returned. He had been on a basic patrol with the armed forces of the Kingdom and the hour had grown late. They’d had a few incidences and decided to cut the sweep short, then return at daybreak. In his training to be Chieftain of the Rangers, it was imperative Aragorn learn as much as he could about the world firsthand. Hence, he had decided to spend some time in Mirkwood, getting to know the region and how to battle the particular enemies that tended to dwell herein. They’d encountered a small group of spiders and while he hadn’t been stung, he’d been sprayed with venom and imperative it be removed quickly. He made his way towards the Royal baths, making sure he wasn’t being watched or followed. He frowned.
Once inside, he began to strip his clothing, inordinately concerned with getting in the heated pool. Even while fondling the bar of elven soap, his thoughts took him back to the last few months which were causing said disturbance. He waded into the warm water, nearly groaning as the languid waves wrapped him in a fluid embrace. He began soaping himself up with the cleanser which would remove and neutralize the vile slime. Once again, the basic pleasure brought to his mind the object of his suspicion, the one he’d feared would see him here. This would be the third time he’d been in the company of Thranduil’s finest soldiers and had acquired much information by now, sometimes far more than he’d hoped for.
As before, this company included in their ranks Legolas, the Prince of Mirkwood. He’d known Legolas for a while, but these patrols were the first time he got to actually fight along side the fellow Prince. In the beginning, it had went smoothly, the two of them learning one another’s fighting skills and techniques. Aragorn was impressed with the Elf’s deadly precision and seemingly effortless speed, while Legolas was clearly in awe of how Aragorn delivered his blade with such raw strength and controlled brutality. Their conversation had been typical enough, occasionally lined with salacious comments and lewd references. Aragorn thought nothing of it, having been amongst such talk for most of his time training with men and male elves. Hence, he would join in with the suggestive exchanges laced with humor. As time continued, however, it had not ceased between them, actually increasing in frequency and severity. He’d also noted earlier it had included the others around them. Now, the archer was directing said lustful banter solely towards him and the Man found himself becoming disquieted. The nature of the insinuations didn’t disgusted him; on the contrary, the more the Elf implied, the more Aragorn favored what was being not-so-subtly offered. His unease was caused by the mere fact the Sindar kept making observations regarding his affect on the Man, based on the Ranger’s averted gazes and nervous demeanor. If only the blasted Elf had not been right!
He dunked his head underwater, surfacing and spraying it in all directions. What was wrong with him? He wasn’t usually so besotted by a pretty face. True, he’d always thought the Prince was stunning, but it wasn’t until Legolas began hinting he’d like to see more of Aragorn’s passion off the battlefield did the Ranger’s mind begin to wander, in more ways than one. He grimaced upon recalling his pathetic effort to woo the Evenstar. It was highly upsetting to remember the extremely desperate nature of his intentions. After they met, he swore his entire life to becoming what his ancestors had decreed, in turn “earning the right” to be her mate. It was only after Arwen had all but laughed at his “boyish infatuation”and to please return to her when grown, did he understand the unnatural pursuit he’d established.
Then there was the older, commanding officer in another camp of Rangers a few years later. He’d seen straight into young Aragorn’s desire and took every opportunity to work them both into an erotic frenzy. Aragorn experienced much with him, too much in fact. So much so, it turned into an obsession for the green warrior. The mere thought of the Officer’s touch was enough to make everything else a distraction. It was a brutal lesson that lust is a form of madness, leading to compulsion. Fear breeds because you cannot control the carnal thoughts, leaving you mortified for being so chaotic in the mind. There he was, a novice, yes, but nonetheless a future king, born to lead, at the mercy of a man as if Aragorn were enchained to some extremely potent drink.
That is when he realized terror is excruciating, nearly a tangible being, an entity that swarms over you and will not let you breath or think or simply be, without its acceptance, which does nothing to alleviate said affliction, instead letting it fester in the soul. That is, until your willing master, your mate, denies you the *liqueur* of love. Yes, he knew throughout that the binding was devoid of true, deep affection. That came to pass when the Officer left with a brotherly farewell and Aragorn was actually relieved, but ashamed he’d allowed himself to be so foolish. Such experiences totally deflated him and he vowed to never again be so easily swayed by mere appearance or empty fornication.
And yet here he was fighting against thinking of having the Elf. He despised that the Sindar could read him so easily, seeing how the risque prospect shook him deeply and Legolas treating it all with the blithe reference of sharpening blades. Nay, even less, as the Elf seem to be comically deriding the issue.
The warm water did not stop the painful shiver racing along his spine, making his stomach uneasy. If he were fully honest with himself, more than simple beauty or base appetite was transpiring. He’d been friends with Legolas for a while and it alarmed him greatly that his heart may be taking the same path as his loins. Especially since the Elf considered all of this flirting a simple joke. It was unsettling and Aragorn could not understand why the Elf was doing it. He smiled ruefully. Yes, that was how he’d discourage the spoken philandering from the Sindar, tell him of the romance blooming within the Man. *That* would be enough to scare off any droll suitor!
While it had bothered him since his last visit, it was during this excursion when the tawdry banter began seriously grating on Aragorn’s nerves. The more the archer jested at such libidinous invitations, the more the Ranger’s desire was accompanied by anger, as well as frustration. Legolas did not know of his destiny, was unaware of his heritage. It incensed him the Elf would find amusement in the ridiculous notion of a scruffy, hairy, brooding and often smelly Human mating with such an esteemed, mischievous, sweet, compassionate (although occasionally stubborn) slice of Valinor itself. In his opinion, it had went beyond mere entertainment, spilling over into ridicule and Aragorn would have no more of it.
“Ah! I thought I would find you here!”
Aragorn spun around as the door to the baths opened wide and in walked Legolas.
“Do you not have the grace to knock?!” he snapped, wading over to grab a towel.
“My father owns the castle and the neighboring grounds, Aragorn. I, if anyone, have the right to bathe when I...desire.” The tone was light, but not lacking in heat.
Aragorn kept his eyes averted, ignoring his own body’s reaction. “Does that mean impoliteness is expected?”
The Elf began to disrobe, much to the Ranger’s aversion. “Nay, it just gives me more privileges than most, such as giving permission for certain guests to use the Royal baths.”
Contritely, Aragorn let a pause happen before replying. “This is true and I am most grateful.”
“It is the least I could do, seeing how I have been winding you up the entire time you have been here. Odd you should take a bath now, since you will be ‘reliving tension’ once in your room...or is that more than foam I see in the water?”
Languidly, the naked beauty slipped into the bath and Aragorn cursed himself for saying he had no grace. He’d see him unclothed before, of course, but it hadn’t caused this kind of surging need to do more than look. Now out of the water, pointedly turned away from his spectator, Aragorn snorted angrily while toweling dry. “You certainly are confident in your supposedly seductive techniques. Perhaps you should pleasure yourself while staring into a mirror.” The Elf laughed, a musical sound. “That gets boring,” he stated, then slyly concluded,“...although at times quite fun in a naughty way.” Bizarre images came to the Man of Legolas stripping for him in front of a reflective glass to get the view from all angles. He immediately wrapped the towel around his waist, willing his erection to go down. “I wouldn’t know. I prefer partners who care for more than their own amusement.”
“I can be funny! Truly!” the Elf goofily announced. “And you have been so surly lately! I know I could get you laughing by tickling certain *solicitous areas.*”
Aragorn went to obtain a robe, wearily shaking his head. “You never stop. Watch your tongue, fair Elf. Do not tempt me. I just might take you up on your mirthful invitations, then you will be at a loss as to how to escape.”
He stretched, then positively purred, not unlike a cat, the sound making Aragorn’s skin tingle. Legolas waved his arms, making the water billow in rolling waves. “Hmm...no, I believe it is you who wants to watch my tongue.”
“Enough!” Aragorn snapped, facing him. “I grow weary of these false claims of amorous interest! Cease your mockery at the fruits of your inciting words. Aie, you stir me. Is that not enough to slake your pretend desire? Do not continue this facade of teasing want and let us return to being mere friends, before that is lost due to your sinister folly.”
He turned to gather his clothes, fury seething in him, his heart straining, his pulse racing at the idea of what he’d just thrown away. But the Elf did not understand; Aragorn was out of control when in obsession. He could only imagine the agony that must be unrequited love.
“You think because I mask my cause as farce, it is insincere.” said the fallen voice behind him. “Nay, worse. You think I am mocking you with the offer of my attentions.” He could hear the Elf swallow hard and the tone went even more quiet. “We are friends, Aragorn. Why would you think I would do that?”
“Why else!?” Aragorn retorted. “Do you honestly find me so appealing you would settle for someone not of your own race, as well as not your tier of heritage? And if so, after the moment faded, would that be the end of it?” A certain savageness came to him, hoping an attack would push the archer further away. “So rumors could be spread about how easily you made the Man the fool?”
“Do you actually believe I would boast to others about our joining?!” Now the Elf was enraged.
“What other reason would you continue this wry conquest to such an extent?” He turned to face the Elf again. “I simply find it hard to believe your dry insinuations are more than just that, otherwise you would not hide your supposedly honest intentions. Surely the others you deem worthy to bed and keep beyond, you have no need to be so devious with.”
He turned away and reached for his sword and boots, still breathing hard, his heart pounding.
A very small, hurt voice said, “Are you really that blind, my friend?”
He was stung by the wounded tone, but kept up the hostile delivery. “Perhaps I am just more learned than you assumed.”
“Let me tell you what *my* amorous experiences have revealed!”retorted the Elf, anger making his voice rise. “Do you think my admirers care about my words? My thoughts or dreams? All they see is just what their gaze holds. As long as my countenance and form mesmerizes their eyes, I could be as brilliant as the Vala or as dense as a rock, it would not matter. And as soon as they have indulged their...sight of me, I tend to grow quite boring to them or I can no longer withstand the heartless link. And do not let them hear of my lineage! Then, my visage is merely a boon to their goal. If I were as ugly and evil as an Orc, at least then I would have a better idea as to their true intent, to partake of my father’s fortune. My farcical comments about coupling are to gauge a person’s interest in me, if they are just playing a game or serious.” His voice lowered a bit, yet was still filled with wrath. “Do not tell me of how easy it is to find a lover. Someone to lay with, aie, but not someone who cares about what happens after. You are afraid, the desolation and mania at losing yourself to another is almost unbearable. Trust me when I say I understand.”
Legolas stopped speaking and continued to vigorously clean himself. Aragorn had his head down, clearly moved by the outburst. Everything the Elf said was true and the Man felt silly for not realizing it. Well, honestly he had, on a shallow level, but his verbal assault was meant to end the archer’s mocking hunt of him and he wasn’t thinking very clearly. Seeing he was stalling the inevitable, he made sure he had all of his belongings. Facing the Elf, who was on the opposite side of the bath by now and turned away. “Tell me, Legolas, on the cloaked road you formed to your bed and your heart, in your task to guess the path I would take...how did I fare with your judgement?”
The archer said nothing. He had a right to be upset with the Ranger and Aragorn could not take back what he’d said. He tried to pick up the strands of their friendship. “I am sorry, my friend. It is my own poor dealings with love, as few as they are, that have me leery. I should not have included you amongst them without...seeing farther into you.” His voice surprising faltered as he made his final plea. “I hope this does not sever our ties completely.”
The Elf was viciously unraveling the tangled braids in his hair and Aragorn fought the urge to ask if he needed help. “We will always be friends, Aragorn.” The tone was empty, cold.
“Hannon Le.” It was the only thing he could think of. He left without another word, his spirit aching at the loss of what never truly was.
He was in his room when the soft knock came at the door. “Enter.”
Legolas opened the door slowly. “May I come in?”
Aragorn could not hide his surprise. “Of course.” He put down the book he’d been reading and stood so quickly, he stumbled a little, much to his dismay. “Sit, please.”
The Elf did, unsure and reserved.
Aragorn spoke the truth. “I am glad you are here.”
“As am I.” He kept stealing glances at the Ranger. “I am sorry, Aragorn. I should not have teased you so much about something so crucial. I simply wanted to see how you would answer.”
The Man leaned forward, his arms on his knees. “Did I pass the test?” His voice said he was smiling.
The Elf smiled as well. “Yes, you did. You acted as I thought you would, embarrassed and flustered. I had not anticipated your anger, however, and for that I apologize.”
“Well, I should have seen your intent was not malevolent.”
Legolas dropped his eyes and shrugged. “In a way it was.”
Aragorn furrowed his brow at the implication. “How do you mean?”
“I wanted you to turn away from me. I kept up the ribald offers hoping you would eventually take offense, perhaps seeing me as something less, more crass.”
Understanding came in a strange way. Aragorn could identify for the opposite reasons Legolas had to endure. Aragorn had to prove he was more than a commoner, more than a dirty human living in the wild. Legolas had to prove he was more than a spoiled, rich brat with a throng of lovers in his past and at the waiting. Since the Man already knew Legolas wasn’t like that, he was trying to push the Ranger away by acting coarse in his conversations. It all came together for him in that moment. “It seems we are on the same course, attempting to cloud and mislead out of fear of getting lost. Truth is, we need to see, clearly, we can be without a map, yet still travel together.”
The Elf was obviously trying not to smile fully at the precise metaphor. “What now?”
The Man was resolved. There was no other avenue to consider. “Do you not think it is time to set aside all innuendo?”
Their eyes met. “Aie.” said Legolas. “All I will say to you from henceforth will be of only what my fëa holds. I wish to be with you, Aragorn, and I am hoping that will include what the future will bring.”
Warmth suffused the Man, drowning and choking the worry and madness that kept him from this. “And I will tell you nothing but what my heart speaks.”
Then the Elf did that gesture that made Aragorn turn to sap, the tilting of his head, with his chin slightly raised in defiance. It made his stomach quiver at the smile dancing on the sweet lips. “And what does it tell you?” Legolas said.
He stood without thought and took one step to reach the bemused archer, who was looking up at him with expectation. The ranger slipped his hand behind the Elf’s head, fully threading through the pale jonquil locks. “I need no thesaurus to *know* you.” he mused. He kissed his friend and that night, they were made lovers, no interpretation needed.