20. Dark Visions
Completely A.U. Legolas slave fic. This story was inspired by Bluegolds story "Bound", which can be found here: http://daemel.freespaces.com/authors.html#blue
I use similar plot ideas here with her permission.
Betareader: Many thanks to Surreysmum, who polished this and made it so much better! All still remaining errors are my own.
Warnings: Slash. M/m, BDSM, d/s, torture, toys, non-con and debatable consent. Very graphic descriptions. Special warnings for this chapter: Torture (In flashback only).
Please heed the warnings!
Disclaimer: Universe and characters are not mine, but Tolkien's. The idea of the spell, however, belongs to me.
Guide: Occasionally I work with flashback scenes. Here is a Guide:
// /flashback/ //; ************Time change within a flashback***********; "speech"; 'thoughts'
For all other warnings, other disclaimers and author's notes see Story Intro.
XVIII. Dark Visions
In the morning, Aragorn rose early and roused his Elf as well. As soon as the growing light permitted, he tended to his slave's back and to his other injuries again. He made a face at the still angrily swollen welts, and shook his head.
"You are healing much too slowly, Little Leaf," he chided quietly in Silvain. "Tell me, did you sleep at all last night?"
Legolas shuddered. He shook his head.
"I did not dare again after that dream," he said. "I am sorry, Estel."
Aragorn said nothing. He concentrated on applying more of the salve. Finally, he asked carefully:
"What was that dream about, Little Leaf?"
Legolas shuddered again. "I'd rather not say," he dared to plead. "Please, Estel..."
Aragorn was silent and Legolas tensed up, fearing a harsh command to speak or another punishment, but finally his master only shook his head.
"It's all right, Little Leaf," he said regretfully. "I'm not sure I really want to know. But I think that I should take you again this evening."
He felt Legolas' body freeze under his hands, felt his slave's sudden trembling, and he gave the shoulder under his fingers a small, gentle squeeze. "I know, Little Leaf," he said, "it will hurt you even more as sore as you are now. But I do not see another way to speed up the healing. We have not the time to let you rest for a few days, as you really needed."
Legolas whole body tensed and he suppressed a sob. Everything within him screamed: 'Valar, please, no!', yet he did not dare to say it. In his current state, being taken again would be sheer torture for his hurting buttocks and his inflamed flesh. He tried forcefully to calm himself, but he just couldn't.
"I am sorry, master," he finally managed to say, "I am not sure if I can bear it... so soon after... I just--"
He stopped. With deep, deliberate breaths he calmed himself. With effort he finally managed to say: "Forgive me, master. I will try to adjust to it if it is your wish." He thought he would choke on the words. Inwardly he screamed. 'Please, Estel, no!!! Not yet!!!' -- but he did not dare to say it.
Trembling in fear he tensed up, waiting for his master's blow, for another painful punishment...
Aragorn's hand never left his shoulder, and it never stopped the gentle pressure that told him to stay down. There were no blows and no new, harsh judgment.
Aragorn looked down at him, sad and disturbed. It pained him that his slave – that Legolas – had left so little trust in him. Yet he had not given him much reason to feel otherwise these last few days, had he?
For a few moments he was just too dismayed to find an answer. Then he finally bowed down and placed a tender kiss on the shivering shoulder of his Elf.
"Very well, Little Leaf," he gently said. "We will give it another day. But if you haven't healed more by tomorrow, I'll need to fill you with my essence again. It'll be the best we can do to help you heal under the circumstances, even if it may at first hurt you more. But I hope you will be better tomorrow anyway."
He continued to apply the healing salve with gentle hands. "Do not fear!" he murmured soothingly. "Today will be hard on you again, but now that Gandalf knows your plight, hopefully today's march will be shorter. Try not to exhaust yourself too much. We will call a rest again around midday, and with any luck, our way today won't be too taxing for you."
Legolas tried to let himself be soothed by the gentle touches and the familiar murmuring, but it did not seem to work as well as he was used to. Somewhere, deep in his mind, something hesitated to trust the soothing words and just trembled in fear. 'Why, Estel?' he inwardly pleaded. 'Why did you have to bring me to a point where I cannot even find comfort in your touch anymore?' -- But he could not say that aloud, and he did not dare to show his bleak mood and his desperation.
At the moment Aragorn's mood seemed concerned and gentle.
He had no idea, though, how long his master's indulgent mood would last.
________________- o ________________
It was a hard day again for Legolas. Not only was he still easily exhausted but his sore and swollen back still hurt under the chafing quiver, not to mention his thighs and rear and even his still healing passage. He also found that he had trouble staying awake. Normally, as an Elf, he would have been able to forgo sleep for days at a time without ill effect, but right now his body was injured and in dire need of healing. And his mind was still troubled and overtaxed.
But while it took him great effort to stay awake and aware enough of his surroundings that he could at least safely keep walking, he found it equally impossible to let his mind drift in relaxing Elven dreams. Unwelcome disturbing images invaded his thoughts relentlessly, whether he was allowing himself to drift, or whether he tried to stay awake and banish them.
Memories were assaulting him, memories not of events long in the past, but just too recent.
// / He saw himself in his bonds again, struggling and wriggling, heard the harsh voice of his master, forbidding him to speak, to beg, to make any noise... He felt the whip come down on his unprotected back again, leaving lines of fire as it burned itself into his flesh. He felt the strain of his bonds, his own weight tugging at his overstretched shoulders... and there was Estel, Estel, ordering him to count, to thank him for the pain, to beg him for another, harsher torture...
He fought the urge to scream again, to beg for mercy, beg to stop this torture or at least to give him the time he needed to adjust; but he had been commanded to silence, and he nearly choked on the suppressed tears, the swallowed words. And still the torture went on mercilessly-- / //
-- Legolas shook his head as if that would help him to block out the images. He tried to force them out, to shove them away; he tried to tell himself that this was in the past, that it was done; they were now safely away from Rivendell, and Estel would not soon hurt him like that again.
And it had been about survival, had it not? Elrond's cruel attempt to find an excuse to kill him yesterday morning had been proof of that.
-- But then he heard again his master's promise to protect him, to keep him safe from Elrond; that he would make sure Elrond would not touch him; and he saw again Elrond poised to strike, and Estel was not there. And he stood there again, frozen in helpless rage, in despair and in fear, waiting for the blow that would seal his fate. Facing Elrond alone. Estel had not been there.
He had not been there.
If Glorfindel had not rescued him, he would have died there, or soon afterwards, and all the cruelty Aragorn put him through the night before would have been for nothing.
No, not for nothing; it would have served at least one purpose: it served Aragorn's pleasure. Aragorn, who had more pressing and more enjoyable things to do while Elrond checked on Legolas, and who could not be bothered to keep his promise, only just given to his slave. His slave who had been simple enough and stupid enough to believe him.
-- Legolas shook his head again and fought the images away with effort. He shook in desperation. It was not true!!! It had just been a mistake, a stupid oversight; Estel had not believed Elrond would go that far. Valar, even Glorfindel had not believed Elrond would go that far and had not thought it necessary to shadow him!
And Estel regretted his mistake; he had even apologized! Something he certainly was not required to do towards his slave. They were away from Rivendell, hopefully never to return, and Estel would hold to his promise from now. He had sworn it!
And yet there was a nasty, persistent voice in the back of his mind, insisting:
'He did betray you once. Broke his promise. How do you know he won't do it again? If something else catches his eyes and he finds himself too occupied to bother about his slave... and after all, why should he bother about you in the first place? You are just his slave! He is not required to answer to you about anything!'
Trembling and pale, Legolas tried to clear his thoughts again, to expel that foreign voice, and silence the despair and doubts that tore him to his core. It took great effort to merely trudge on, as he was tempted to cover his ears as if that could block out his inner monologue. He tried to tell himself that Aragorn would never do that. He recalled better memories; their tender lovemaking only a few days before. The carefree tickling match of the council morning. The way Aragorn had trusted him without question, had reassured him, had defended him against Erestor and later against Elrond himself. The way his master had held him afterwards while he was overwhelmed by despair at Elrond's judgment and the threat that loomed over his sister.
He reminded himself that even now, Aragorn carried both their packs for no other reason but to give his slave relief.
Still, the bleak thoughts and painful images kept intruding and he could not completely banish them from his mind as much as he tried.
He was so completely preoccupied by his inner struggle that he jumped as suddenly somebody was beside him and placed a gentle hand upon his arm. He looked up and regarded the familiar form of his master.
"Legolas, what is it?" Aragorn asked concerned and gave his arm a little squeeze.
Legolas could not help himself. He flinched away from his master's touch. The reaction was so visceral, so automatic, that he did not even register what he did before it was too late.
In the next moment, he realized what he had done and he paled. Yet it was too late. Aragorn let go of him and took a step back, hurt and dismay flashing through his eyes. Legolas saw his expression crumble, and it hurt his soul.
"I'm sorry, master, I didn't mean..." he stammered in Silvain. Then he caught himself and added in Sindarin: "I am sorry, Estel. I was... lost in my thoughts. You just startled me." He swallowed. "Please forgive me!"
He remembered in the last moment to swallow the 'master', and his own voice sounded all too fearful and pleading in his own ears.
He could see that Aragorn didn't believe his explanation for a moment. Inwardly, he wanted to scream. 'Estel!' a voice inside him cried, begged his master to hold him, help him, reassure him, keep away the hurting memories and nagging doubts...
Yet his voice died in his mouth and he felt himself at a loss to explain what was happening to him.
Aragorn regarded him with muted pain. "It is all right, mellon," he finally offered in Sindarin. "I'm sorry I startled you."
Very carefully he reached out with his hand again, and this time, Legolas managed to stay calm under his touch albeit it took him quite some effort and he could not suppress a slight trembling. Aragorn's hand closed a bit too tightly around his arm, and he flinched again.
He hung his head. "I am sorry, Estel," he said, "I... seem to have trouble staying awake."
This was closer to the truth and had the desired effect, because Aragorn accepted the offered explanation without question. He shook his head and swallowed hard.
"The Fellowship will stop soon," he offered, "in just another hour or so we'll reach the brook that runs here. You remember? As soon as we will reach it, we will rest for a while."
His hand trailed upwards and settled on his slave's shoulder. More quietly he added: "Think nothing of it, Little Leaf. You are not well right now, and you hardly slept last night. No wonder that you tend to fall asleep on your feet. Hopefully, you'll find better rest tonight and can restore your strength. Tomorrow, things will look better."
Legolas looked up and met his gaze again. The cynical voice inside his head snorted derisively. Legolas ignored it. He forced the voice away and decided to trust.
Very hesitantly, he offered:
"I... keep seeing things, Estel. Memories." He bit his lips. "I do not know how to guard against them."
Aragorn's eyes widened for a moment, then his expression hardened, and Legolas shrank a bit into himself again. "I-- I didn't mean--"
Aragorn shook his head. "Do not fear, Little Leaf," he said tiredly. "I am afraid I know all too well of what you speak."
He looked away. "It is the Ring, I think," he said. "I was afraid this would happen, although I did not expect it so soon. I am afraid it tried to prey on me when I was traveling with the Hobbits from Bree."
He hung his head again. 'And in your case, melethron, I suppose it has a lot of very bad memories right now to use against us' he added in his thoughts. 'I cleverly made sure of that!' But he did not say that aloud. How could he blame his slave for being vulnerable to the fear and hurt he himself had instilled in him?
Yet Legolas looked back at him with renewed hope. "Do you really think so, Estel?" he asked. "I.. was not aware..." He took a deep breath, then he breathed out again. "My Lord Glorfindel warned me against this. I will try to close my mind to it from now on."
For some strange reason, he seemed relieved, as if a great burden had suddenly left his soul. Aragorn looked back at him, a bit puzzled.
"Try not to let it hurt you, Little Leaf," he finally said. "You are weakened right now and it will try to prey on that. Hopefully, in a few days when you are better, it will be easier for you to close it out."
He looked as if he wanted to say more, but then he just shook his head again, gave his Elf's shoulder another reassuring squeeze and trudged on.
Legolas glanced after him. He gathered his thoughts. The Ring?! That would make sense. Glorfindel had warned him against this. It was a comforting thought.
He looked down the trail they were following, and for the first time in hours he truly registered his surroundings. He looked ahead and for his Elven eyes it was not hard to spy the brook his master had mentioned in the far distance.
He looked down to his feet again.
The brook looked impossibly far away. Normally, he would have considered it to be in easy distance, and the walk would have been as nothing to his mind. But as it was, right now, with nearly every part of his body hurting and heavy with weariness, the distance seemed disturbingly far to him.
With grim determination not to let himself be overwhelmed by his bleak thoughts, he started to walk again, and this time, he indeed managed to close his mind to the prying doubts and images.
__________________ o _______________
The promised rest was slow in coming, and as the Fellowship finally reached the brook, Legolas sank down on the first lush, green spot he could find, grateful for the respite. Again, he carefully placed himself on his side, meticulously avoiding putting weight on his sore rear and thighs. And again he politely declined the offered meal, preferring to nibble at the piece of Lembas Aragorn offered.
He knew he could not keep this up; not only was the small supply of Lembas Aragorn had brought rapidly running out, even more his rejection of Sam's carefully prepared food was starting to offend the Hobbits. He resolved to make it up to them as soon as he was able, and to make a point of eating something of Sam's cooking in the evening. But at the moment the mere thought of roasted sausages and potatoes made his stomach churn, and the inescapable smell of the grilled flesh did nothing to appease it, either.
Had he been better, he would have taken the chance to wash himself, maybe even to bathe, but as it was, he hardly made it to the edge of the water; not to mention that he could ill afford to let the others of the Fellowship see his bruises. It was Aragorn who took it upon himself to refill both their water skins and who made sure he had a drink. His master also forced him to accept another apple, and as Legolas slowly munched the slices under his watchful eyes, he had to admit that they indeed made him feel a little better.
So he simply contented himself to lie about, too tired even to rise to Gimli's scornful mutterings about lazy Elves who skipped all chores and left them to their comrades and weak Elven princelings who could not even stand a hard day's walk or the dark of night. He did not even react to the sneering comment of the Dwarf at his refusal of the meal that the portion was better suited to feed somebody who made himself useful to the others anyway. And he also ignored the whispering of the Hobbits, who sat together and shot shy and curious glances in his direction from time to time.
As strengthening as the rest proved to be, it was over all too soon, and Legolas found himself trudging on much sooner that he would have preferred. At least the visions were gone for now, but he had still trouble staying awake, and had constantly to fight against his exhaustion.
So he was not too happy when after a while the man of Gondor approached him to start a conversation.
"You seem weary, Master Elf," the Adan offered, "and you do not seem too well. Did you sleep at all last night?"
Legolas gave the Gondorian an astonished look. Still, the tone had not been hostile, like the sneers of the Nogoth, but merely inquiring.
So he decided to answer politely.
"Not much," he offered reluctantly. "I owe you an apology, Master Boromir. I did not mean to alarm you needlessly while it was your watch. Rest assured that I will guard my dreams from now, so this will not happen again."
The man of Gondor looked a bit abashed. "No apology is needed," he hurried to say. "It must have been a fearsome dream to make you scream like that! You said it was about a memory. I suppose it must have been very bad."
Legolas just looked at him. He raised a brow. "It was," he said.
He didn't elaborate. Boromir waited a few more moments; when it became clear that no further explanation was forthcoming, he tried again.
"We have men in Gondor who encountered the Nazgûl close up and fell victim to their Black Breath. They are caught in nightmares and cannot wake up. I heard them screaming in their sleep like you."
Legolas face betrayed nothing, yet he was startled. It had been that bad?! He was very aware that Boromir was waiting for an answer. After a while he said: "I have fought against the Nazgûl in my home."
He did not say that it had been some time ago – about eighty years, as mortals counted them – when he last had fought under the trees of Eryn Galen, now called Taur-nu-Fuin(1); that was something the Gondorian could not know, and the Elf supposed it wold probably somewhat lessen the impact of his deeds on the Adan if the mortal realized that they had happened long before Boromir had even been born.
Since the mortal still looked at him expectantly, he finally added: "But my dream last night was not about them. It was about another memory."
Boromir looked at him. "It must have been a bad one if it made you scream like that," he finally prodded.
Legolas made a face. "Very bad," he said.
Then, after a moment, he decided to offer more. At least the Gondorian was making an effort! And he did not seem inclined to let the issue go. So he offered somewhat reluctantly: "I relived a time when I found myself in the hands of our enemies..."
He did not elaborate. Let Boromir come to his own conclusions; he did not need to know that the enemy in question had been hostile Elves, not Orcs. As he had expected, the Gondorian paled and looked back at him with new respect.
Boromir swallowed. He knew only too well what happened to those of his men unlucky enough to fall into the hands of Orcs alive, and he did not think that those beasts treated Elves any better. If this was indeed what the Mirkwood Elf talked about, then he had been lucky to escape more or less unscathed. Or indeed lucky to escape at all!
A little hesitantly he offered: "I can imagine that would give one nightmares." Then, after a few moments, he added: "I have seen some men who survived being taken by the Corsais of Umbar, or the men of Harad, and who were freed by our soldiers later. They had nightmares, too." He raised a brow. "I have seen no one, though, who escaped capture by the Orcs alive. You must have been lucky."
The Elf looked away. He seemed unwilling to explain further.
Boromir began to feel frustrated. Still, he deemed it better to learn more about his unfamiliar companion, especially since the Elf seemed so close to that Ranger who claimed being the heir to Gondor's long vacant throne. So he patiently tried again:
"I did not know the Nazgûl harassed other countries, too, until just recently. We have fought them in Gondor for nearly eighty years, but I did not know they roamed elsewhere ever since the evil realm of Angmar fell."
Legolas looked at him.
"You've heard Estel's tale at the Council," he said, "and the tale of the Dwarves! The Black Riders--"
Boromir raised a brow. "I meant, I did not know they roamed elsewhere before they started those activities. Estel – I suppose that's your Ranger?"
Legolas merely raised a brow. "'My' Ranger?" he returned. Inwardly he shivered. Had their deception already been found out?
Boromir rolled his eyes. "Come on, Master Elf, it is clear that the two of you are more than just comrades!" he said.
Legolas looked away.
"Maybe," he said. "We have been... together for a long time."
Again he did not bother to elaborate. Let the Gondorian draw his own conclusions.
Boromir just nodded.
"Is that the reason why you defended him at the Council?" he asked.
Legolas did not reply for a long moment Normally, he would not have hesitated. But as it was now...
"I defended him because he deserved it, Master Boromir," he finally replied, although the words seemed bitter in his mouth.
Boromir sighed. He had not planned to end up in another confrontation with the Elf so soon. He raised his hands in a placating way. "I did not mean to offend," he offered. "So, Aragorn is Estel?"
Legolas was silent for a moment. It took some effort to let his sudden anger go. Yet to his surprise he found he wanted to continue the conversation. It served to distract him from his hurting body and his weariness quite effectively, and it also served to keep the painful visions and images away.
"No offense has been taken," he finally allowed. "Yes, Aragorn is Estel. It was a name the Elves gave to him in his youth. And he is also 'Strider', as the Hobbits call him, and he used to be known under a few other names besides."
Boromir snorted. "In Gondor, it would be seen as somewhat less than honorable to hide under different names," he observed.
Legolas did not rise to the challenge. Let Aragorn fight his own battles this once! Aloud, he just mildly reminded: "Gandalf, whom we Elves call Mithrandir, is known under a lot of names, too."
Boromir actually snorted. "Well parried, Master Elf," he said. "Yes, I admit Mithrandir wears a lot of names, too. Not that this fact would serve to endear him to my father!"
He was silent for a while, then he decided to go back to his first question.
"So, the Nazgûl have attacked your home, too?" he asked.
Legolas looked to his feet again. True, the man of Gondor could not know how painful this subject was. Still...
"They have done so for a long time, now," he said. "They were in the service of the Necromancer, who besieged my wood. In fact, when Dol-Guldur was first taken by evil, my people believed that the Necromancer was one of the Nine. Only later we learned it was Sauron himself who dwelt there. The Nazgûl have harassed us and led his creatures against us for centuries, until he fled to Mordor after Dol-Guldur was attacked eighty years ago. Then, shortly afterwards, he sent them back to retake his stronghold in our wood, and my people have fought his servants again ever since. We... know them well."
It sounded very bitter, and it was the truth; he just left out that he himself had fought the Ringwraiths during the last eighty years only in Aragorn's company and rather in Gondor than in his own wood. But in a way, those were minor details. He remembered all too well how it felt to fight the terror of the Ulairi under the dark trees and endure their piercing scream, and how hard it was even for Elven warriors to shake off the shadow their closeness brought.
Boromir pursed his lips and regarded the Elf beside him with growing respect. "Then you come from a realm that is encumbered by the shadow and constantly besieged by his creatures, too," he stated. "We have more in common than I thought!"
Legolas looked at him. "How so?"
A bit exasperated, Boromir explained: "You, too, come from a realm besieged by Sauron's forces and losing warriors in the fight against him every day. You, too, are your father's heir--"
Legolas looked away. "I'm not my father's heir," he said. He fought hard to keep the sudden bitterness out of his voice.
Boromir looked at him without comprehension."But—you said--"
Legolas shook his head. How to explain this? After all, he could hardly tell the truth. Finally he said:
"I am only my father's youngest son. And he is immortal. I do not look forward to a time when I – or any of his heirs – would eventually need to take over his rule."
Boromir raised his brows, struggling to understand the concept. "So, you don't want to rule yourself?" he asked.
Legolas stared blankly back at him. He could not say that he would never rule even if Thranduil and both of the King's older sons were to die. Finally he said somewhat coldly: "For me to come to take up my father's rule would mean that he and everyone who came before me in the line of heirs would be already dead, and if it came to that, my home probably would have been overrun or destroyed. Of course I do not wish to rule my father's realm myself!"
Boromir was taken aback. The pain and bitterness of the Elf surprised him, and he felt unreasonably attacked. still, if the Elf put it that way...
Somewhat coolly he answered: "There is no need to grow angry, Master Elf. I just have trouble grasping the concept of being immortal. Of course I do not look forward to my father's death, but one day it will inevitably happen, and for me, it will be my honor as well as my duty then to take up his rule."
Legolas held his gaze a moment, then he nodded in acknowledgment. "I see, Master Boromir," he said. "Please forgive my harshness; it was uncalled for."
Boromir raised a brow, but nodded back.
Finally he decided to shift the conversation to a less sensitive theme.
"You have older brothers?"
Legolas looked down. There was no way he could explain this to Boromir without giving himself away.
So he merely said: "Yes, I have. Two of them to be precise." He did not explain that he had never met the oldest one and the other one had been taken away from him and enslaved when Legolas was ten, a very early age for an Elf.
Boromir smiled. "I have a younger brother," he said, "Faramir. He would give a lot to be in my place right now."
Gratefully, Legolas accepted the distraction from his lingering bleak thoughts. "How so?" he asked curiously.
Boromir grinned indulgently to himself.
"Faramir is a born scholar! He is fascinated by all things elvish and by Elves, though he never met one. He would be delighted if he could spend the time of this Quest to pester you relentlessly about your people and your home."
Legolas could not help himself; he snorted, genuinely amused. But suddenly, he misstepped as his foot got entangled in a hole, and he had to shift and turn quite suddenly to regain his balance. The sudden movement let his quiver shift position on his back and strained numbed muscles, and he stopped and paled at the sudden pain that surged through his body.
For a moment, Legolas had to stop. He hissed and grimaced, fighting down the pain and his suddenly swimming vision. When he could see clearly again, he found Boromir's concerned gaze on his face.
"So you are injured," the man of Gondor said. "Now I understand Gimli's earlier words! How does it come about that you embark on such a Quest with a severe injury?"
Legolas gritted his teeth. "It's a long story," he said coolly. "But we Elves heal fast. I can assure you it will only take me a few days and won't even hamper me in a fight, should it come to that."
Boromir regarded him with a mixture of exasperation and concern. "I have walked on injuries before," he offered. "Sometimes, there simply is no other choice. Is that the reason why your Ranger insists on carrying both your packs and keeping you free of chores?"
Legolas just looked at him for a few moments. Then he just nodded, grateful for the Adan's simple acceptance.
Boromir sighed. "I did not think that explanation with the bet was too convincing," he said. "You did not look like someone who was gloating at your victory and your comrade's misfortune, but rather as if you desperately needed the relief. He must be very close to you indeed to do this for you."
Legolas looked down. "He is," he carefully said, "and were he the one injured I would not hesitate to do as much for him."
It was the truth, in spite of everything. Even without the fact that his very life depended on Estel's health he would not think twice of doing everything in his power -- and indeed, had done everything in his power in the past – to ease his suffering.
As Aragorn had always done for him, save at the very times when it was him who made Legolas suffer.
Legolas thought he would tear apart inside at his conflicting feelings.
He looked up again. "Thank you, Master Boromir, for your acceptance. I was afraid you would react angrily, as that Dwarf did when he learned that I am currently not at my best," he said seriously. "But I would thank you not to tell the Hobbits. I do not wish for pity."
Boromir snorted. "Too late for that," he said, "the Halflings are very observant. They were the ones who gave me the idea. But do not fear," he continued quickly as he saw Legolas' dismay, "there is no-one here who will not gladly give you time to heal, except perhaps the Dwarf."
Legolas took a deep sigh. Shaking his head he looked forward down their trail, saw that the others of their company had gained quite some distance, and gave the Adan a small nod to indicate they should start to walk again. Aloud, he simply offered: "Thank you. You are gracious."
Boromir accepted his thanks with a simple nod and followed his example.
While he walked on, he curiously asked: "What is it with you and the Dwarf, anyway? I admit I hadn't met either of your people before I came to Rivendell. Why are the two of you constantly at each other's throats like that?"
"Constantly?" Legolas asked back, "It was not I, who--"
Boromir merely raised a brow, and Legolas remembered that the Gondorian had come up on him and Gimli ready to draw weapons at each other just the other day.
"Our people do not get along too well," he finally offered.
Boromir snorted. "That much was evident!" he said with humor. "Yet what I do not really understand is why it would be so. The Dwarves seemed friendly enough with the Elves of Rivendell--"
Legolas' features darkened and he said nothing for a while. Finally he forced himself to answer. The Gondorian could not know how painful this issue was, after all, and had meant no offense.
"The Elves of Rivendell are mostly Noldor. They like to craft gems and iron like the Dwarves. I am an Elf of the Woods. We appreciate living things," he merely said. "The enmity between our people reaches far back. A long time ago, in the First Age, Dwarves slew our greatest king. It's a long story."
After a moment, he added reluctantly: "But in the case of that special Nogoth, there is also family history between us."
Boromir looked at him, cocking his head. "How so?" he said.
Legolas raised a brow.
"My father imprisoned his father when he was trespassing in our woods," he dryly said. "It was mentioned at the council when Gandalf told the story how the Ring was found. Don't you remember?"
Boromir looked a bit indignant, but also slightly sheepish.
"I am afraid I was preoccupied with other things," he offered. "At least now I can understand why he does not like you."
Legolas quirked a brow at him. "I noticed," he offered wryly. Then he shook his head, looked down their trail and sighed.
"Look," he said, "the others have gained quite a headstart on us. As pleasant as this conversation is, I think that we should hurry to keep up."
Boromir looked shrewdly at him, then he nodded. He could well imagine that the Elf was taxed a bit if he was injured. With some amusement he said:
"Then we should do so. I think it is another hour or two until we make camp. We may continue to talk in the evening, if you are willing."
Legolas gave him a polite nod. He doubted very much that in the evening he would feel up to any more than a short meal and sleep, but he didn't say that.
Boromir nodded back at him. In mutual agreement, the Elf and the Adan walked on in fast strides and without further conversation.
______________________ o _____________________
-- TBC --
(1) Eryn Galen-- Sindarin: Greenwood. The old name of Mirkwood before it fell under the Shadow. Taur-Nu-Fuin (Sindarin: Forest under the Nightshade), is a Sindarin translation of the name Mirkwood.
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