Gift For: ana_lib_elf
“You see, Captain Thorongil,” Rasmir of Umbar said. “I have my personal army, so we are well garrisoned here, but I have need of a mercenary for a particular task.”
Aragorn glanced aside at his foster brothers, waiting patiently beside their horses. Elladan and Elrohir feigned an intense interest in untangling the trappings of their bridles, while keeping a surreptitious eye on their surroundings. Consummate hunters, the sons of Elrond were unlikely to be caught by any trap of Man, and right glad the young Ranger was to have them guarding his back.
“I am pleased to find employment,” Aragorn said, bowing to the Emir. As Captain Thorongil, he was working his way around Umbar and Harad, gathering intelligence for the Steward of Gondor. Hiring out his sword, and the bows of his companions, had proved a reliable ruse to gain entry to the fortress palaces of the Eastern robber kings like this one.
“You must stay and take the evening meal with us,” the Emir said. “We have heard the most exciting tales of you, Captain from the West. My wives and daughters will flay me if I do not bring you to the table.”
“We would be pleased,” he began, when he was interrupted by the other man’s laughter.
“We?” the Umbaran repeated. “You are joking, of course. You did not seriously mean to suggest we would sit down with their kind. What do they eat, by the way? Leaves? Raw meat? Or something more exotic?”
Aragorn kept his temper. “Whatever you are serving will do nicely,” he said.
“You cannot blame me for wondering,” Rasmir said. “They are not human, after all.”
Aragorn hid his reaction to the ruler’s words. He knew the Elves were not insulted, so there was no reason that he should be. The Heir of Isildur inclined his head and spoke mildly. “Let me see to my companions, and I will join you,” Aragorn said.
“I can have my commander take charge of them if you wish,” Rasmir offered.
Aragorn’s lips twitched, but he managed to keep from smiling at the idea of Rasmir’s man taking charge of the Peredhil. “Thank you, my lord, but I am familiar with their ways.”
Rasmir inclined his head to this amazingly self-possessed young Man that traveled with a pair of Woodland demons. Aragorn bowed again before he turned to the Elves. Elrohir jerked his chin toward a group of Umbaran soldiers loitering about the courtyard, leaning on their spears and gaping at the visitors.
“They’re very pretty in their polished armor and bright red cloaks,” Elrohir observed.
Aragorn was not fooled by the casual tone. “I forbid you to bait these soldiers,” he said. “See that you are on your best behavior. If the Umbarans try and provoke you, as they no doubt will, you are to ignore it.”
“He gives us the same speech at each new city,” Elladan observed to his twin.
Elrohir nodded. “I am beginning to think Estel does not trust us.”
“Just be courteous and I will be content,” Aragorn said. “You are welcome to dine in the army mess. If you wish to take your dinner outside, I do not think anyone will object.”
“I love the way Estel phrases things,” Elladan said. “I am half-convinced it was my idea to eat outside. Set your mind at ease, Aragorn. We will conduct ourselves as befits the majesty and honor of our host.”
“That is my greatest fear,” the young Man said. “Eat your dinner. Get some rest, and I will join you before long.”
The Emir’s seneschal conducted Aragorn to the royal dining room. Rasmir waved Aragorn to a cushion as a servant poured wine for the captain.
“When you have eaten,” Rasmir said. “If it would not displease you, my wives and daughters would very much like to meet you.”
“Shall I go to them, or will they come here?” Aragorn asked.
Rasmir clapped his hands and a half dozen girls ranging from twelve to six ran into the room with the emir’s wives hurrying along behind them like gooseherders. The girls were all well-mannered and well-favored, taking after their mothers in looks. Charmed by their innocent hero worship, Aragorn spoke with them for a few moments, promising that they could pet his horse before he left in the morning. Rasmir gave his chief wife a nod, and the women shooed their daughters out again, the youngest wife turning for one last look at the handsome visitor.
“You have a lovely home and a lovely family, my lord.”
Rasmir beamed as he raised his goblet. “Thank you, Captain. I wonder if you might favor me with a tale? My troops have so subdued this region that we have little excitement in our lives any longer.”
Aragorn was on the verge of telling this pampered snob that he did not consider battle an entertainment when he remembered his admonition to the twins. How could he hold them to a standard he was not willing to meet? Swallowing his distaste, Aragorn recounted a tale of fighting beside the Horse Lords of Rohan. He was refusing more wine when the seneschal approached with a message for him. Rising, he bowed to his host. “Please forgive me, but a matter has arisen that requires my personal attention.”
“I will come with you, if you like,” Rasmir said, obviously reluctant to leave his drink and nest of pillows.
“That will not be necessary,” Aragorn said. “Stay and enjoy the wine. You have a very good cellar.”
“Thank you, Captain. When you return, I would be pleased if you would join me for something sweet,” the emir said, casting a significant glance toward a serving girl.
Aragorn stared at the man for a long moment before he answered. “I have taken a vow,” he said neutrally.
“Ah,” Rasmir said. “I only wish to be hospitable. I meant no offense.”
“I have taken none,” Aragorn said. “Good evening to you, my lord.”
As Aragorn hurried down the hall, he berated himself for the falsehoods he had uttered, but they had been necessary. Nodding his thanks to the seneschal, Aragorn walked out into the courtyard where Elladan waited.
“Aragorn,” Elladan took his foster brother’s arm. “Come quickly.”
“What is it?” Aragorn asked in sudden alarm.
“It’s best you see it with your own eyes,” the elf said, as they left the servant behind.
“Is anyone…” Aragorn didn’t finish the thought.
“No one has been slain,” Elladan assured Aragorn as he led him behind the stables.
Elrohir was standing beside a pit enclosed by waist high stone walls. Aragorn frowned at the elf’s grim expression as he walked forward. When he reached the iron gate, and looked down, his skin crawled with revulsion. In the center of the enclosure was an iron stake four feet high with a ten-foot length of chain attached to it. The other end of the chain was clipped to a metal collar with steel spikes. The collar was around the neck of a large animal, with a bristling mane that had never known shears or comb. Then Aragorn’s mind saw what his eyes refused to: the captive was not an animal at all.
“Elladan!” Aragorn said. “Why have you not freed him?”
“He is afraid,” Elrohir said.
“And why have you not freed him, Elrohir?”
“I like him right where he is,” the elf answered.
“He is Sindarin, Aragorn,” Elladan spoke. “I would wager on it, though he is so filthy it is nearly impossible to tell him from one of these Umbarans.”
Aragorn nodded slowly, looking past the witchy masses of matted locks to the fine bones beneath. Elladan was right. The prisoner was Sindarin, but how had he come to be here and in this condition? “We must free him,” Aragorn said. “No man should be kept like an animal.” He put his hand on the gate and the prisoner went from a crouch to a lunge in an eyeblink. Strong teeth snapped shut inches from Aragorn’s face as the wild man fell back at the end of his chain.
“I see you’ve met the beast,” a soldier said from behind them. “I would not advise going in there. We just throw food over the wall.”
“Not much of it,” Elladan muttered.
“Why is this elf being so ill-treated?” Aragorn asked.
“He’s a savage,” the man shrugged. “I would kill him and make an end of it, but it still amuses the master to watch the men practice with the beast. Even without a weapon, and chained, he is very dangerous.”
“I demand you tell me his crime, or release him immediately,” Aragorn said, reining in his outrage at the mental image the soldier’s words conjured.
“He’s a savage, not even human. The master needs no reason to keep him caged.”
Aragorn turned and drew the bolt on the lock, but the iron gate was frozen with rust. “Elladan, Elrohir, help me,” Aragorn called. “Open this gate.”
With a shriek of protest, the gate yielded to Elvish strength. The twins moved to either side of the opening and looked within, leaving a clear path for Aragorn. The prisoner hunkered beside the stake and eyed them suspiciously. Aragorn unbuckled his sword belt and handed it to Elrohir. Armed only with his wish to ease the poor creature’s suffering, Aragorn walked into the pen.
“Elbereth,” he cursed softly as he caught sight of the abraded flesh of the prisoner’s neck. “My name is Aragorn, and I would like to take that collar off. Will you let me?”
In the next instant, Aragorn was borne to the ground on his back. He willed himself to remain relaxed as the prisoner pinned him.
“Wait,” Aragorn said as his foster brothers rushed in. “He has not hurt me yet.” Looking into the mad thing’s inky blue gaze, he spoke gently. “You know I mean you no harm, and you will not harm me, will you, mellon?”
The creature cocked his head at the sound of the Elvish word for friend. Slowly, his grip on the man eased.
“If you let me up,” Aragorn said, in Sindarin. “I will see that you get a bath and some food in whatever order you prefer.”
“He does not speak,” the soldier chuckled again. “And you are going to need a bath as well. You are covered in filth.”
At the sound of the Umbaran’s voice, a noise like a growl rumbled in the captive’s chest. “Easy,” Aragorn said. “Elladan, give Elrohir my sword and come here, please.”
“Here I am, Aragorn,” Elladan said.
Aragorn met the creature’s eyes again. “This is Elladon, my foster brother and an Elf like you. Will you let him take your collar off?”
“You,” the prisoner croaked in Sindarin.
Aragorn sat up and very carefully reached for the metal collar to examine the fastening. “I shall need a hammer and chisel,” he said.
Elrohir ran to the smithy and took the tools Aragorn requested. The prisoner held as still as stone as his rescuer plied the implements, breaking the bolt that had been sealed into the collar. The freed elf raised his broken-nailed hands to his bare neck in wonder. The flesh was raw and rife with infection, but the hated symbol of his captivity was gone. The emotion that swept him was so strong that it sent him to his knees.
“Hannon le,” he whispered as Aragorn caught him.
The tall young captain swept the gaunt Sindar into his arms like a child and carried him from the pit. “Where is your bathhouse?” Aragorn asked the loitering soldier.
“That way,” the man pointed and watched the Man and Elves until they were out of sight before running to his superior.
Aragorn strode into the bathhouse and dropped the limp body directly into the pool of hot water. Stripping off his clothing, Aragorn got into the bath with his foundling. The battered elf was simply standing in the waist-deep water with his eyes closed.
“Here,” Elrohir said, tossing Aragorn a cake of soap.
“My thanks,” Aragorn said, speaking Sindarin as was their wont when not among Men. “I think we’re going to need some shears as well.”
The twins left to fetch their saddlebags, and a few minutes later Rasmir and two guards entered the room. The elf shot from the pool, lunging at the emir. Aragorn caught him by the shoulders, and struggled to hold on to him. “Softly, softly,” Aragorn chanted in a pointed ear, before glancing at Rasmir. “What is the meaning of this?” he asked.
“That creature is my property,” Rasmir said. “I may do as I wish with him.”
“How did he become your property?” Elladan spoke from the doorway.
Rasmir ignored the elf, speaking only to Aragorn. “I acquired him. How it came about is my business.”
“And how you lose this piece of property is my business,” the Gondorian said. “He is free now, as is right and proper.”
Rasmir thought a long moment before speaking again. “Very well, captain. If the beast is the reward you claim, I assume you will not ask for my gold.”
“I would not take your gold if I were starving,” Aragorn spat.
Elladan exchanged a look with Elrohir. “It seems the time for courtesy has passed,” he said.
Rasmir only smiled at the Ranger’s insult. “As you wish,” he said, and left the chamber with his guards at his heels.
“Brothers,” Aragorn breathed a sigh of relief. “Please help me.”
Elladan and Elrohir came forward, but the elf in the pool objected strenuously to any touch but Aragorn’s. A few minutes later, soaked to the skin, the Peredhil cried mercy. “If he is to be made presentable, it seems it up to you, little brother,” Elladan said as he climbed from the pool and shed his wet leathers. “I am going to hang these up.”
Elrohir flung his head forward, sending an arc of sparkling wetness toward his twin. Elladan lunged at his brother, clad only in his loincloth and a wrestling match ensued across the tile floor. The strange elf watched them with the fascination of a serpent observing courting birds, and Aragorn took advantage of the preoccupation to scrub off the top layer of dirt. Pressing down on his charge’s shoulders, the man persuaded the elf lower to rinse off the lather. With archipelagoes of foamy suds floating around them, Aragorn went to work on the ingrained grime that dulled the fine skin. As Isildur’s Heir plied scissors, soap, cloth and brush, the Sindar relaxed degree by degree in the hot water until he was half-drowsing. The twins went to a far corner and sat against the wall, talking softly as their clothing dried, glancing occasionally at the two in the pool.
Aragorn was in a near trance himself from the dozy heat, the repetitive motions and the feel of the stranger’s skin and hair under his hands. As the build up of dirt, blood and grease melted away, Elven beauty began to shine through like flowers growing out of ash. It soon became apparent that, even among a Race celebrated for the fairness of their features, this elf was exceptional. Never had the Ranger seen such perfection in flesh, even marred as it was by scars, burns and cuts. Only his foster sister, Arwen the Evenstar, could compare to this neri’s loveliness. To Aragorn’s eyes, he was the pinnacle of male beauty and reminded the man that he preferred his own gender when it came to sensual pleasures. The injured elf’s presence was having such an effect that Aragorn was going to need a towel to hide the evidence of it when he got out of the water. Thankful for the heat that explained away the rosiness of his skin, Aragorn turned the Sindar to face him and indicated they should rise. A moment later, the Ranger was calling out to his companions.
“That is the sigil of the royal line of Mirkwood,” Elrohir said, gazing at the silent elf’s lower belly. “Unless I am mistaken.”
“You are not mistaken,” Elladan said, stretching out a hand that hovered just over the Sindar’s left hip, tracing the shape in the air with his forefinger. “This is King Thranduil’s lost heir, or I am a goblin.”
“Prince Legolas!” Aragorn exclaimed, having heard the tale as a child at Glorfindel’s knee.
The former prisoner raised his chin, tilting his head toward Aragorn with a bright-eyed look of inquiry. “Le-go-las,” he repeated slowly, as though trying to place the name.
Elladan and Elrohir stood back and examined the Sindar from crown to soles, taking in the waist length hair that shone like moonlight on the snow, the delicate, flawless features with the sweetly sculpted lips that were a mark of his line, and the eyes as blue violet as morning glory trumpets. Now that he was clean, there was no doubting that he was royal, and his profligate beauty proclaimed him as one of Thranduil’s getting.
“I can scarce believe it,” Aragorn marveled.
“Believe it,” Elrohir said with a sigh.
“I am not looking forward to this journey,” Elladan said.
Aragorn looked from one twin to the other. “We must take him home,” he said. “It is clear to me that his mind is damaged in some way.”
The Peredhil nodded as one. “Of course, we must,” Elladan said. “I just wish it were not necessary to visit Mirkwood.”
Aragorn raised his brows.
“He is afraid of spiders,” Elrohir whispered dramatically.
“Spiders the size of your horse,” Elladan reminded.
“The Steward will not be pleased that this mission was cut short,” Aragorn said. “But when he hears of the cause, I think he will understand.”
“Gondor will no doubt gain the good will of one of the most powerful rulers in Elvendom,” Elladan pointed out.
“That is an excellent line of reasoning,” Elrohir said.
“Thank you, brother.”
Aragorn marked how Legolas watched the smallest movements of the twins and how the fair elf mimicked their expressions and gestures almost unconsciously. “You do not know who or what you are, do you, Gil-Perian,” he said under his breath, but his foster brothers heard him anyway.
“Star prince?” Elrohir lifted one winged eyebrow. “What a beautiful name, Estel.”
“Exquisite,” Elladan agreed. “Like the prince himself. Since he does not remember his name, perhaps he will take the one you have gifted him with.”
“I shall never be allowed to forget this, shall I?” Aragorn said mournfully.
Instantly, the twins were at his sides, wrapping him a warm double embrace, giving him the affection that they had learned the young man enjoyed, and at times, needed, as much as food or shelter. Aragorn was aware of the lost prince observing them closely, as though memorizing their positions for future reference. “I am not truly hurt,” he said, reluctantly ending the moment. Like the supremely practical beings they were, Elladan and Elrohir made no more fuss, but went to see if their garments were dry enough to put on. Aragorn turned to Legolas. “I suppose we had better see about some clothing for you,” he said.
Legolas had not worn anything but chains for as long as he could remember, but with the man’s soothing murmur in his ears, he stood docilely while Aragorn and the twins pieced together an outfit for him. Clad in a pair of Elrohir’s woolen leggings, Aragorn’s spare under tunic and Elladan’s leather weapons’ vest, he stretched and fidgeted, bare toes curling under nervously when Aragorn offered a pair of heavy socks.
“You do not have to wear them,” Aragorn said. “But we have no boots for you.”
“He is likely used to going unshod,” Elladan called, as he and Elrohir approached.
“You are right, of course,” Aragorn said.
“It would not surprise me if he shed those garments as soon as they become too hot,” Elrohir added, amused by his little brother’s sudden change of expression. “Would that disturb you, Estel?”
“Stop teasing him,” Elladan said. “I would suggest we take to the road as soon as possible. This emir might change his mind about the form of payment.” His words proved prophetic for when they tried to ride out, they found the gate blocked by armed men. Before Aragorn could attempt to parley, one of the warriors shouted an order and the soldiers attacked. It was eleven to three until Legolas joined the fray.
Springing up to balance for a moment on the gelding’s broad rump, the elf back-flipped to the ground, landing lightly and running forward between the horses. Sliding under the belly of Elladan’s mount, Legolas darted out as the first Umbaran reached them. Without regard for life or limb, the former captive grasped the foe’s scimitar by the blade and yanked it from his hand. Tossing the weapon in the air, he caught it by the hilt and brought it down on the soldier’s skull. In a deadly dance of flashing steel and flying hair, the lost prince wreaked havoc among his erstwhile captors, cutting a bloody swathe to freedom.
“What do we wait for?” Elladan asked, touching heels to his horse’s flanks. “Legolas has removed the obstacle.”
Elrohir and Aragorn urged their mounts forward, following Elladan. Aragorn reached down a hand and his wrist was firmly gripped in red-stained fingers as Legolas swung up behind him. More soldiers were entering the courtyard as the escapees made it out the gate and headed down the road that followed the river west. Legolas slipped a hand through Aragorn’s belt, holding tight as he watched the pursuit over his shoulder. The foot soldiers had no chance of catching them, but the archer that planted himself in the center of the track had more than a hope of hitting a target. Half turning, Legolas took aim and threw the scimitar end over end in a high arc that ended in the bowman’s chest. The crossbow fell from his hands, the bolt spending itself in the dirt as Aragorn and his companions drew farther away.
They left the road as soon as they were out of sight, swimming the horses to rockier ground upstream. With the woodscraft of a Ranger and two Rivendell elves to call upon, it would have taken a wizard to find signs of their passing. Satisfied that they were not being followed, Aragorn called a halt when they reached a tributary of the river. “My horse will not carry double much longer,” he said. “Not even so slight a burden as Legolas.”
Without discussion, Elrohir rode ahead and waited for them at a likely spot to make camp. A bend in the stream had been cut off when erosion had cut a straighter channel, and the semi-circle of still water was surrounded by dense brush crowding right down the banks as if eager for a drink. The shrubs were thorny, and the dark, shiny leaves formed an almost impenetrable roof, but underneath there was plenty of crawl space. Aragorn and the elves made their way through the miniature forest on knees and elbows until they reached the water. The twins went foraging, while Aragorn tried his luck with string and hook. Legolas came to kneel beside the man, watching him fish with feral intensity. Aragorn got a strike and tugged carefully on the line. Legolas leaned over, trying to see below the surface and abruptly leapt to his feet with a cry.
“What is amiss?” Aragorn asked, letting the fish get away as he scanned the surroundings, his ears tuned to catch the slightest sound out of place. Legolas pointed to the water at their feet, and Aragorn frowned his incomprehension. “I see nothing,” the man said. Legolas pointed at Aragorn and then at Aragorn’s reflection. He pointed at his reflection and turned to Aragorn with an inquiring look. “Yes,” Aragorn said. “That is you, and a lovelier sight these eyes have never beheld. Not Mindolluin crowned with clouds, nor the pearl spike of Ecthelion’s Tower, nor even the light of Earendil is a match for you.”
Legolas raised his brows in a expression of such heartbreaking sweetness that Aragorn’s heart tried to fly from its cage of bone to the hand the Elvish prince held out to him. “Legolas,” the elf said, and put his hand on Aragorn’s sternum.
“I am Aragorn, though I am called Estel by my family.”
“Aragorn,” Legolas repeated and a shiver ran the length of the man’s lupine lean frame like a hound that hears the voice of a beloved master after long absence.
“So he speaks,” Elrohir said, dropping a bag full of pale roots at his adopted brother’s feet.
“And with such a beautiful voice,” Elladan added, laying a bundle of greens next to the roots. “I would like to hear him sing.”
“Perhaps Estel can persuade him,” Elrohir smiled at his twin.
“You cannot forbear teasing him, can you?” Elladan sighed. “I do not see the challenge in it.”
“Estel wears his emotions like a brightly colored scarf,” Elrohir answered. “I have grown fond of his flashes of feelings.”
“Take care,” Elladan said. “Lest you be singed by one of those flashes.”
Elrohir laughed and sat to clean the roots and drop them in the small campfire to roast. By the time it was dusk, the four travelers had eaten the bland but nourishing tubers, and the slightly bitter greens. The twins lay down near one another to take some rest, but Aragorn remained sitting by the fire. Legolas, who could not seem to get enough to eat, finished the burnt end of the last root and moved closer to the man. Preoccupied, the Ranger did not notice at first, but the warmth of the elf’s breath on his neck roused him.
“Are you cold?” Aragorn asked.
Legolas gestured toward the twins, and then at himself.
“Yes, you are like them,” the man said. “I am of another Race. You seem to understand my words, but I wish I could be sure.”
“Mellon,” Legolas said distinctly.
Aragorn smiled. “I hope I may call you friend,” he said. “I wish I knew how you came to be a captive in Umbar, but I am happy we could free you and return you to your family.”
Legolas’s lips drew up in imitation of the man’s smile. “Aragorn,” he said, touching the bearded lips with his fingertips.
Aragorn reminded himself that Legolas was injured and mind-blasted. The thoughts the man was having were most unseemly. He could not remember when he had ever felt such desire, or such a desire to protect, to claim and keep, to stand beside someone until all the stars had burnt out. And that feeling was growing by the moment, until he felt he must give vent to it or fly into pieces. However, he was Aragorn, not some Wild Man from the hills that took advantage of the weak, and so he held himself in check. It took a supreme effort of will, but he held still as Legolas mapped his features by touch. When Legolas ran a finger cross-grain over Aragorn’s beard and touched his own cheek with the other hand, the man smiled again.
“We are different,” he said.
Legolas cocked his head like a curious raptor, before leaning forward suddenly and running his tongue up the side of Aragorn’s face. The elf drew back licking his lips as though savoring the man’s taste. Aragorn sat in shock for a moment, and then pulled a fold of his cloak to cover his lap. Legolas immediately pulled it aside and stared curiously at the Ranger’s crotch. Before Aragorn knew what was happening, the elf had grabbed a handful and squeezed as if testing a piece of fruit for ripeness. Breath hissed in through the man’s teeth to be expelled in a long slow exhale, as he took hold of Legolas’s wrist and pulled his hand away. “That area is rather sensitive,” he said, blocking the Sindar’s hand when Legolas reached toward his groin again. “That is not considered polite,” he admonished to no avail.
Legolas batted Aragorn’s hand aside and the next thing the man knew he was on his back gazing up at the night sky. The elf loomed over him like the moon above Middle Earth, pale and beautiful and out of reach. Or so it seemed until the Sindar dipped his head and brushed his lips over Aragorn’s.
“Why are you doing this?” Aragorn wondered aloud. “Do you even know what you’re doing?”
Legolas did not answer. The elf’s mouth was occupied, as were his hands, with exploring all of the man that they could reach. Aragorn did his best not to react and let the mistreated prince satisfy his curiosity about Men. However, when Legolas lay down atop him and he felt the swell at the elf’s crotch, he could no longer deny the passion that rose in him like a flame from the coals. When the elf bent to rub his cheek against Aragorn’s scruff, the man turned his head so that their mouths met. Pressing his lips to Legolas’s, Aragorn kissed the foundling with all the desire that blazed within his soul. Legolas was startled for a moment, but he recovered quickly and met the man’s ardor with a fierce need that more than made up for his lack of experience.
As the kiss deepened, Aragorn ran hands over the elf’s lithe body, careful of the raw, abraded places, tracing the old scars, trying to dust away the bruises that marred the marmoreal skin. Legolas didn’t need words to let the man know how much he liked the caresses; his moans and sighs were a language all their own, a wild music for the oldest dance of all. Impatient with the garments that hindered further intimacy, the elf whipped the tunic over his head and peeled down his leggings. Aragorn lay back, bemused by the speed with which Legolas undressed them both, his breath stolen by the wonder of Elvish flesh that absorbed the starlight and gave it back in a fragile glow. It seemed a near sacrilege to Aragorn to cover such beauty with his rough hands, but he overcame his doubts with the aid of the elf’s eagerness to feel his touch.
When they reached the moment of joining, Aragorn rolled so that he was atop Legolas. With small, soothing strokes, he gentled the elf, parting the long legs and finding the furled opening he had blindly teased while Legolas was astride him. Lowering his head, the Ranger lavished attention on the elf’s moist cleft, kissing the musky entrance, circling it with his tongue before entering in quick little darts that made his partner squirm against the grass. Easing a fingertip into the now glistening hole, Aragorn sought what that the twins called a honey bump. Legolas cried out softly as the man found his most susceptible spot and, Aragorn bent to take the elf’s arousal in his mouth. The man had a moment’s pause in which it struck him that he was coupling with a stranger just a few feet away from his foster brothers, but it passed as the elf raised his pelvis, greedily demanding more. Aragorn lifted one of the elf’s legs to rest on his shoulder as he took himself in hand. He spat and slicked the head of his shaft, bringing it to rest against the tender rosette that flexed at his touch. Aragorn looked down into eyes dewy with lust and hesitated.
“I must know,” he whispered. “Tell me you want this for it is no small thing we do.”
“Yes,” Legolas said clearly, holding up his arms to the man, offering all he had.
Aragorn wrapped an arm around the elf’s lean, hard-muscled thigh, and pushed the tip of his rod through the reluctantly yielding opening into the welcome heat of the tight passage. Legolas clenched his hands into fists, tensing slightly as he let the sensations of being penetrated wash over him, his gaze never leaving the man’s. Aragorn’s eye were open wide, his mouth soft with some emotion too complicated to give one name to it, as he sank slowly into the only place that had ever really felt like home to him. “I love you,” he said in Adunaic. “I will always love you, no matter what barrier the world may put between us.”
Even more slowly than he had entered, Aragorn drew back. When the man sheathed himself again, Legolas released his seed with a cry as wild as a hunting hawk. Aragorn’s spirit soared with the elf’s, as he thrust gently, barely moving in the snug socket, as Legolas caught his breath. “Hannon le,” the lost prince said in a voice like etched crystal.
“Mae govannen,” Aragorn answered, lengthening his stroke.
Legolas surged up and took the man by the shoulders, bearing him to the ground. Clapping his knees to Aragorn’s ribcage, the elf rode the upstanding rod, his long hair trailing over the man’s chest as he rose and sank back down. Aragorn bore down with the soles of his feet and lifted his buttocks, thrusting in short strokes, his breath coming quick and shallow as he neared his peak. Leaning in, he covered the man’s mouth with his, muffling the long groan of fulfillment as Aragorn came. The Ranger wrapped his sinewy arms around the elf and held him tightly as he shuddered through a powerful climax. “Melethron,” he murmured against Legolas’s damp neck.
“Ay, estel nin, ethuil nin.”
It was a moment before Aragorn realized that Legolas had not called him by his Elvish name; Legolas called him his hope and his spring. The Ranger blinked away the sudden tears, kissing the top of the elf’s head. “Lasse,” he said softly, giving love a new name.
They fell asleep in one another’s arms and woke long before daylight. After a splash in the water, Aragorn built up the fire. He gestured to Legolas to call the twins, marveling at how smoothly they meshed, man and elf with no awkward jostling, or need for explanations. The Ranger had thought he might feel some guilt at having taken advantage, but he did not feel it to be so. In fact, he was beginning to suspect that Legolas was not as crazed as he appeared and could have spoken at any time he chose. The Sindar prince had not alluded to the bliss they had shared except for one or two shy looks fraught with remembered satisfaction. Instead, Legolas had worked side by side with Aragorn, happy to perform the smallest task, often anticipating what his lover needed, winning smile after smile from the normally grim man. Elrohir and Elladan could not fail to notice, or resist making comment. “Did you sleep well last night, little brother?” Elrohir asked.
The innocent question did not fool Aragorn. “I had the most marvelous dream,” he said. The twins knelt on the dew-spangled bank to eat lembas and drink the tea Aragorn had brewed, listening raptly for the Elves put much store in dreams. “I stood upon the shore of a mighty river,” he said, as Legolas sank to the grass at his side. “The mists of morning rose from the surface of the water and through them came a steed of such…”
“From the water?” Elrohir interrupted.
“Yes,” Aragorn said. “The horse came from the water and glided across the surface as though it were formed of stray wisps of cloud. Pale as ivory, the steed shone like a pearl in the dawn light, its silken mane streaming out like a banner of peace.” Absently, Aragorn’s clever hands began to braid Legolas’s hair as he went on. “A stallion, a prince of the Mearas, born of wind and lightning, he came to me, tame to my hand, and I rode him to the stars and back. I would not trade the memory of that ride for a magic ring.”
Elladan glanced at Elrohir. “A fine dream,” he said, and there was no more teasing.
Accompanied by the sons of Elrond, Aragorn brought Legolas home to Mirkwood, and King Thranduil was so overcome with joy that he declared three days of feasting to celebrate the return of the child he had lost. At the private meeting between the Elvish ruler and the Heir of Isildur, Thranduil bade the man name his reward. Aragorn’s answer was a shock to the king, but that is a story for another time.