39. Finding Resolve
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.
Warning: Slash, m/m, BDSM, torture, toys, d/s, *very* graphic descriptions; abuse both physical and sexual. Non-con and debatable consent. special warning for this chapter: Hot Man/ Elf sex. And Drug-abuse (in flashbacks 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: In this chapter, 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.
XXXVII. Finding Resolve
The Fellowship set out again. They made good speed at first; soon they discovered the remains of the old trading path up the mountain and to the pass, although it was largely covered with undergrowth and hardly recognizable at some places. Soon, though, the terrain became steep and difficult, the path became winding and twisting, and here and there large rocks had fallen from the mountain and had made their way down the mountainside, ending up blocking the road. Then they had to tortuously seek a way around them.
The company filed out around the terrain. Gandalf took the head, searching the path, often accompanied by Gimli and also by Legolas, who took it upon himself to scout ahead, search for a way around a rock here, climb a height there and look out for the company. When the Elf just walked with the others for some time, he stayed close to the Hobbits and the pony.
The Hobbits walked in their usual order: Frodo walked closest to Gandalf, then followed Sam, always faithfully close to his master and leading Bill, the pony; behind them came Merry and Pippin, always inseparable and chatting. When Legolas kept the Halflings company, they took care to keep him in their middle as if to guard him against the Dwarf and the two men. But often enough, Legolas sought his solitude, busying himself with watching out for the spying birds or for other enemies, scanning their surroundings as well as the sky.
His actions weren't unobserved. Behind the Hobbits followed Boromir, brooding, his eyes hardly straying from the Elf, following Legolas' every move.
Aragorn took the rear. Since the path was long and winding he had chances enough to see Boromir's face and see what the other man was doing.
His eyes narrowed. Following Boromir's gaze to Legolas, he could see that his Elf was only too aware of the constant scrutiny of the man of Gondor, and quite uncomfortable about it.
Aragorn stiffened and quickened his steps. What was that arrogant Southerner thinking?! Just because Aragorn had agreed to keep to their arrangement, that did not give this insolent Steward's son the right to harass his Elf! Maybe it was time he told the other man where to keep his leering eyes. He would place his fist in that face, he would...
Then Legolas looked around and met his master's gaze and Aragorn could see his pale, troubled face, watching him with some alarm.
He stopped and bowed his head, fighting to quell his jealousy. Bitterly he reminded himself that it had been his decision, after all, that had landed them all in this mess. And even more unfortunately, Boromir wasn't the only one Legolas had good reasons to avoid.
Bitterly, Aragorn recalled how devastated Legolas had been last night after their wondrous sharing of pleasure when he discovered that all their tenderness, all the sweet caresses they had shared had hardly made his partner stir. How he had then in his desperation begged for his master's familiar cruelty, just to bring Aragorn to completion. And how only then Aragorn's own, treacherous body had finally reacted.
Aragorn had been gentle. He had hardly done as much as what he would usually subject Legolas to during his games. And yet... even so, and as wonderful as their lovemaking had been before that sorry end, Legolas still had had nightmares afterwards, even though – or maybe, because – he spent the night in the arms of his master.
Regretfully, Aragorn recalled that night a few weeks ago, early in the Quest, when he had found Legolas whimpering, deep in dreams, begging him – begging Estel! -- not to hurt him anymore. How guilty and stricken he had felt as he held his Elf in his arms. How helpless he had felt when he had made his promise to be as gentle as he could.
And yet. Even now his mind called up sweet images of his slave, bound, waiting submissively whatever torture his master would choose to subject him to and whatever toy he would choose to use on him this time. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, a nasty little voice reminded him that they were going to Lothlorien. Well guarded borders... comforts... and, most importantly, privacy to use his Elf thoroughly, in any way he wished... They would be undisturbed. They'd need not fear interference of the Fellowship. There would be toys... restraints... maybe, Galadriel and Celeborn would offer them Aragorn's old, special talan...
Aragorn's mouth went dry and he quickly shook his head as if he could banish the images that way. He tried to take his mind from them, tried to concentrate on his path. But they persisted.
Forcibly, he tried to recall last night. The wonderful tenderness he and Legolas had shared. Legolas' adoration. His shining eyes... what a precious, unbelievable gift Legolas had given him!
Then he recalled his little fantasy afterwards, of Legolas being made to take him, but this time hurting from a thorough spanking, wearing trappings that just allowed him to find completion when he received permission to remove them, and filled by a carag... even now, those images sent heat through his body directly to his loins and made him instantly, painfully hard.
Angry and disgusted, Aragorn shook his head, forcibly banishing the images from his mind. He wouldn't do that! He would never take this incredible gift of love and trust his Elf had given him, despite all odds, despite everything Aragorn had done to him, and pervert and twist it in such a way!
Legolas deserved better.
Keeping this resolve firmly in mind, Aragorn looked up and let his gaze rest tenderly on the form of his Elf. Legolas had climbed a steep height again and was intently looking around. Watching him, Aragorn deliberately recalled the memories of their tender coupling last night.
Legolas' shining eyes, the look of love and pure, unblemished joy in his face when Aragorn had asked him to make love to him... his sweet tenderness, the abandon with which he had dedicated himself to the task of bringing his partner pleasure...
Suddenly he wished with nearly painful intensity that that it could be always that way between them. That what they shared last night would be enough for him and his traitorous body. That somehow he could give Legolas such tenderness, and that it would serve to keep his Elf alive.
But the bitter truth was that he couldn't, and for a moment that thought filled him with overwhelming grief. He had tried, once, to find a way to do that, a solution for their very different needs. The Valar knew he had tried...
It had been in Gondor, in his time as 'Thorongil', and he had believed he had found the perfect solution to all their problems. And it even seemed to work so well, in the beginning...
// / It was nightfall. The chamber Captain Thorongil, leader of a significant part of Gondor's army, shared with his faithful shadow – the beautiful servant some soldiers jokingly called 'Thorongil's Elf`' behind their captain's back – was glowing in the light of many candles.
Aragorn stood at the fireplace, carefully preparing a goblet of wine with some potion from a little vial. Finally he was done and downed the goblet in one gulp.
He turned around. His Elf watched him apprehensively.
"Estel.... what are you doing?" Legolas asked, confused.
Aragorn smiled at him.
He stepped close and gathered him in his arms, petting him tenderly. "I am preparing to take you," he teased, "Didn't you notice?"
Satisfied at his Elf's complete confusion, he buried his nose in Legolas neck, savoring his scent.
Legolas shivered a bit under his attentions; he did not understand. "But--"
Aragorn silenced him by gently biting into his ear and heard him gasp. It was a tender bite, hardly causing pain, yet it sent hot currents of arousal through his body and caused his slave to shiver. He could feel himself harden rapidly, and smiled even wider. It worked!
His hands went down his slave's back, made it under Legolas' tunic, then the shirt, and found bare skin. He stroked up the lithe back and and felt goosebumps form under his touch. He could hear Legolas' breath hitching in the Elf's throat, as he gently started to nibble at the sensitive lobe under his lips, then lick the leaf-formed flesh with intense concentration.
Aragorn closed his eyes. He savored the slight trembling – of bemusement and arousal, not of fear, for a change – of the Elf in his arms and luxuriated in his scent and feel. Letting go of the ear under his teeth, he murmured: "You know, there is this woman," --his hands stroked down again, then he took the tunic of his Elf and tugged upwards. Legolas obediently raised his arms and Aragorn drew back a little and slipped the tunic over his Elf's head. He tossed the tunic aside and reached for his Elf again.
"The men swear on her skill; she's quite adept at herb lore," he continued, repeating the same with Legolas' shirt. Finally he had it over his Elf's head and off, and the Elf stood before him bare-chested and glorious, his aroused nipples hardened to eager peaks, his pale skin slightly flushed, his face still a bit confused. Aragorn had to swallow hard at the sight and felt his mouth water with desire.
He stepped close again, grasping the Elf and pressing him hard against himself. Kissing him deeply, he plundered the willing mouth, while his hands roamed over the smooth, unmarred back. He finished the kiss and let his mouth wander to the ear again while his hands traveled downwards, stroking over still covered buttocks, then wandering around to the front and making short work of the bindings of Legolas leggings. The hands of the Elf came up around his back, clutching to him, and Legolas moaned as Aragorn's hands slipped under the cloth and touched hot, tumescent flesh. Legolas shuddered under his touch.
"She sold me a tonic," the Adan continued his narration, while one of his hands began to fondle the hardening length under his touch and the other slipped behind and did the same to the tight buttocks of the Elf, "with some rare ingredients from Harad. She swears it can bring any man to hardness. Anytime."
He paused to heighten the impact of his words. He felt Legolas jerk against him, and brought his hand up from the buttocks to the back of his Elf to still him and hold him close.
"I tried it out," he stated the obvious. "It works."
He drew back a bit and looked at the face of his lover. Legolas' eyes were wide as saucers.
"But--" he stammered, "You--"-- then he caught himself. "Estel," the Elf finally dared to ask, "why would you do this?"
Aragorn smiled at him, enjoying his disbelief and surprise.
"Isn't it obvious, Little Leaf?" he asked. "So I can take you without pain! I know you do not enjoy being hurt, and I wish to give you what you need without having to hurt you."
He saw the complete astonishment of the Elf and drew him close again. His mouth found the delicately tipped ear again and he nipped at it, tasting the skin. His hands traveled to Legolas' back and tugged the leggings down; then they explored the now bare, round globes of Legolas' rear.
"Don't you see?" he whispered tenderly. "No more pain for you, no more hurting, no more need to fear our time together. I can be gentle. We can be together like you like it best. Maybe sometimes, very rarely, you can indulge me, too, and we can play a bit – nothing harsh, nothing you'd really need to fear, just something a little rougher. But most of the times, we can make love as we once did. Tender. Like you love it best."
He heard Legolas' breath hitch, then there was a raw sob, then Legolas' arms tightened around his back, pressing him close.
"You would do this-- for me?! Estel!--"
Then the Elf kissed him, nearly desperate in his desire, clearly overwhelmed by gratitude, and his own arousal surged another notch. He savored the fervent kiss, then bit and suckled at the pale column of the Elf's neck, finally licking tenderly over every part of flesh his teeth had grazed.
Finally, he let go and drew back a bit, grasping the half-way discarded leggings of his Elf and yanking them down.
"Get out of that, Little Leaf," he growled. "You have far too many clothes on!"
Eagerly, the slave obeyed, for the first time in far too long a time without apprehension, and Aragorn took the opportunity to discard his own clothes, too. Then they stood before each other in glorious nakedness, hard length to hard length, flushed and eager. Legolas' eyes were shining with love and desire.
For this sight alone Estel would have taken thousands of these tonics.
Reverently stepping close again, he enfolded the Elf in his arms. "I love you,"he said. "I want you!" His hands began to roam the body of his slave, and he felt Legolas' answering exploration of his own. The gentle, yet passionate attentions were raising his desire to new heights. Gently, he pressed forward, guiding his slave backwards the short distance to their broad bed. "I need you, Little Leaf," he growled desperately, "and I want to have you! Now!"
Legolas' calves reached the bed and he was pressed backwards, tumbling into the sheets, drawing Estel on top of him.
He gave a surprised little yelp, but it sounded rather delighted. "Estel," he whispered reverently, "Estel!..."
It made Estel moan in desire.
He found his Elf's neck again and bit down, hard, hearing Legolas' breath hitch. But instead of making the Elf squirm in pain and displeasure, this time the rough handling heightened his desire, as Estel immediately soothed the bite with his tongue and turned his attentions to soft suckling and little licks. His hands roamed the Elf under him, searching for all the places that made Legolas wild with pleasure. Legolas' hands roamed his body with unaccustomed boldness in response.
Then Aragorn got up for a moment, reached for the night stand and got the oil. Bereft of his lover's hands, Legolas moaned in protest, but soon enough, Aragorn was back and knelt beside him.
"Let's get more comfortable," he said and guided his Elf from the position across the bed to its length. Then he knelt between Legolas' splayed legs and coated his fingers and his eager member with the oil. He set the vial away and reached for the straining member of the Elf, gently fondling, then wandering down to the soft scrotum and the sacs until Legolas moaned and surged up for more. His other hand found the cleft between the muscled cheeks, exploring it until his fingers reached the puckered hole. He smiled at Legolas' sudden indrawn breath, He teased the opening a while with light circling, then dipped one finger inside just a bit, but withdrew immediately and returned to teasing. Meanwhile, his other hand did the same with the Elf's shaft, fondling, teasing, but denying a stronger massage or a rhythm.
Legolas moaned in frustration. "Estel, please!" he begged, trying to surge against the teasing hands to get more friction, "please, more!"
Aragorn gasped at his tone. He bent down on the straining shaft of his Elf and took it into his mouth. At the same time, his exploring finger slipped inside, breaching the tight ring of muscles and massaging the sheath of hot flesh from within.
Legolas gasped again, then pushed down against the intruding finger. He made little, mewing sounds that drove his lover mad with desire.
Aragorn added a second finger, pushed deeper and found the little nub that was the center of his lover's pleasure. Carefully, then ever faster, paying attention to every little moan, every squirming of his slave, he began to massage the gland, matching and amplifying the rhythm with the swirling of his tongue and the the sucking attentions his mouth gave to the Elf's hot flesh. He could feel Legolas toss and squirm and pressed his other hand on the Elf's flat stomach to keep him down.
Finally, Legolas came, spilling himself into Estel's mouth, shouting his name, And Aragorn swallowed the hot essence of his slave, milking him to the last drop. He didn't drink it all, though; instead, letting go of the now limp member of his Elf and slipping his fingers out, he got up and kissed Legolas deeply, letting him taste his own essence. Then he straightened and slipped his own knees under the pelvis of his partner.
"And now, melethron," he said breathlessly, "it is time to take you!"
And with that, he buried himself deep in the welcoming sheath of his partner's flesh.
There was some resistance; Aragorn's erect member was thicker that the two fingers he had used to stretch the opening, and Legolas gave a little gasp of pain. But the Elf was relaxed from his recent orgasm and Aragorn stopped instantly, giving the tight muscles time to adjust and soothing his Elf with tender stroking of the stomach. Then he felt the tight muscles relax around him, and Legolas moaned a little and moved against Aragorn to meet him.
Smiling at his eagerness, Aragorn began to move, and the Elf gasped again, this time in obvious pleasure. His breath hitched, as Aragorn hit his gland, and Aragorn readjusted his own angle so he would stimulate his partner's sweet spot with every move. The hot, living sheath around his flesh felt unbelievable, and his partner's astonished and unguarded face, transfigured in pleasure, made him hot with desire.
Legolas hands came up, grasping his arms, and the pelvis of the Elf lurched up against him. "Estel!" Legolas moaned in deep desire, "Estel! Please! More!!!--"
Aragorn gasped. He thrust forward. With every thrust, he hit his lover's sweet spot, and felt him move eagerly against him. He heard his lover shout his name in bliss, and it spurred him on. Soon, he was thrusting in abandon, taking Legolas hard, but still taking care that he hit the gland of the Elf. His frantic movements were answered with equal eagerness. The Elf was nearly incoherent, calling his name, asking him for more, faster, harder, begging for completion. It drove Aragorn mad with lust.
When he finally spilled himself, deeply buried in his partner's body, shouting Legolas' name, he felt Legolas' hot fluid against his stomach, and heard his answering shout: "Estel!"
It sounded full of bliss.
In blessed exhaustion, still joined, Aragorn let himself collapse over the body of his lover.
It was quite some time later – enough for his essence to take hold in his lover's body – that he finally slipped out of him. Rolling to the side so he would no longer crush him, he gathered Legolas in his arms and kissed him again.
Legolas moaned. "That was wonderful, Estel," he finally said, "Thank you! Thank you!!!" He nearly cried with joy.
Aragorn kissed his eyes, then snuggled against him. "I'm glad," he said, "I'm glad!"
He rested his head on the chest of his Elf.
"I love you, Little Leaf," he said, "I love you so much! It will get better now! You'll see! It will get better...!"
Petting his Elf's breast, feeling Legolas' answering caresses of his head, he fell asleep while his Elf slipped into blessed reverie. / //
____________________ o ___________________
Aragorn trudged on while the memories flooded him. He sent a tender and wistful look in the direction of his Elf; then he quickly looked down again and bowed his head.
He made a grimace.
Yes, it had been wonderful at first, and it had even stayed so for a time. He had felt relieved, as if freed from a terrible pressure. Of course he had sometimes missed his familiar games, and sometimes he had even still played a little bit – nothing fancy, just a bit of tying up and teasing, and maybe some toys, some spanking and a little hot wax in the mix. It had not been often enough or harsh enough to disturb their bliss. For several months, he and Legolas had made love without any fear and pain, and Legolas had positively bloomed. He had been completely and unquestionably happy.
Of course it had been too good to be true.
Aragorn recalled the first few signs of warning, signs that something was amiss – his nervousness when he and his Elf had not made love for a few days, his near panic when his supply of the potion threatened to run out and he couldn't get his hands on another dose in time; the fact that after a while, he needed an ever higher dosage to get the desired effect.
But he had ignored these signs and stubbornly went on, trying to hide his discomfort from Legolas. The happiness and joy of his Elf had been far too precious a thing to let it be disrupted by such little problems as his body's changing reaction to the drug. Even when he found himself bathed in sweat and his heart racing as if he had just run several miles after he took a higher than normal dosage, he had tried to hide it from his Elf. Of course, that attempt hadn't been successful; it wasn't long until Legolas found out.
At that point, Legolas had wanted him to stop. But Aragorn mulishly had just shaken his head and told him he knew best what was good for him, and he could handle the risk, and when that did not help he had just commanded his Elf to shut up. It had remained a point of discord between them, but finally, Legolas obeyed.
Until the day they paid the price for Aragorn's stubbornness.
_______________________________ o _______________________
// / It was another night, this one cold and unpleasant and in the questionable comfort of a tent. The army stood at Pelagir, preparing to set out with the fleet to attack Umbar the following night. But the leader of said army knelt, naked and troubled, before his equally naked slave and looked stricken.
"It isn't working, Little Leaf," he said in despair. "I cannot get hard. It doesn't work."
He looked at his slave, who was shivering in sudden fear. "I tried. I have taken more of the tonic than ever before. I nearly overdosed. Still..."
He looked down at his manhood, which lay soft and dormant between his legs. His heart felt as if it were trying to win a race, and his skin was on fire, glistening with cold sweat. But his treacherous maleness didn't even stir.
Hesitantly, he raised his gaze again and looked into the fearful eyes of his slave.
Legolas swallowed. He was well aware that he just had heard his possible death sentence. On the other hand, Aragorn's obvious state of distress concerned him. "It isn't bad yet, Estel," he said. "There is still some time..."
He reached out his hand. "Maybe..."
Aragorn evaded him. "You do not understand!" he said in despair. "This isn't only about tonight. The tonic doesn't seem to work on me anymore." He swallowed dryly. "I... I..."
Legolas hesitated. He was not deeply in need yet. Still... he could feel the pressure building in the back of his mind as clearly as he knew what waited for him should Aragorn's concerns prove true. And Aragorn was frantic. More importantly, he was due to set out against Umbar the very next night. This might be their last chance for some time to feed the spell, lest Legolas risk falling ill and being of no use for his master.
He swallowed again. "Maybe," he warily began, "maybe if you... hurt me again, My Lord..."
Yet he shuddered at the thought. The last few months had been so wonderful, like a dream, and to have all this taken away again now...
Aragorn looked at his Elf, lover and slave and swallowed hard.
"I do not want to hurt you, Little Leaf," he said raspingly, "I do not..." - he bit his lips and looked away.
He swallowed again.
'I do not want to hurt you' – it sounded so well. It sounded right. And yet...
Somewhere in the back of his mind a nasty, all too familiar voice told him how great it would feel to see the sudden fear in the eyes of his slave again, to hear him gasp in pain, to watch him bite his lips, tremble – and then surrender to his master's choice how to torment him obediently, in helpless resignation... The mere thought sent hot currents to Aragorn's groin and made him stir again. It had been so long since they'd last played some really satisfying games... So long since he had last used his slave at length... he felt his member harden between his legs and groaned.
He swallowed again. "Legolas..."
Legolas had seen his stirring flesh. He bowed his head. No other choice, then!
Noiselessly, he got up and scrambled close. Kneeling down before his master, head submissively bowed, the Elf said: "Please, My Lord! Let me serve your pleasure!" He swallowed again and cleared his throat. After a moment, he added: "Do with me as you wish! Please! Let me serve your needs!"
Aragorn's breath hitched. He looked back at his slave, feeling hot desire surging through him, and his maleness twitched again, although it was not fully erect yet. Still, he did not act immediately on his desire.
Hoarsely, fighting hard for his voice, he whispered: "Are you sure, Little Leaf?"
He did not ask more. He didn't need to.
Legolas merely nodded. Quietly he answered:
"Yes, My Lord! Let me serve your needs!"
In the next moment, he was enclosed in a crushing embrace and a deep, demanding kiss.
"You know it will hurt, do you not? You know you will have to suffer thoroughly, tonight?" Aragorn asked harshly.
Legolas swallowed a sob. For a moment Aragorn caught his look of pain and despair, and it filled him with answering dismay and grief. But at the same time he could feel his own flesh harden and desire run through his veins. He couldn't go back now.
Then the slave obediently bowed his head and nodded.
Aragorn gasped and grasped him hard. Falling into the mood came naturally, like returning to a well-worn and familiar set of clothes. "Well, then," he growled, "get up and take yourself to the trunk! Bring me the toys we kept. The whip, I think, the clamps, and one of the paddles. And light a few more candles. I can't even recall when I last coated you properly in wax..."
Shivering, the slave obeyed. Without further words, he retrieved the commanded toys and spread them out for his master's use. Wordlessly, he suffered his master fastening the clamps on him. Yet when Aragorn commanded him to bring one of the carags and the irritant, he could not help the tears escaping his eyes.
Swallowing them as best as he was able, he did as he was commanded. / //
_______________________ o ____________________
Aragorn bit his lips, trying to shake his head free of the vivid images. He wasn't successful. The memories persisted, flooding his mind, demanding his attention. Reluctantly, he forced himself to recall the rest of it.
It had been a long, hard night for Legolas, especially given the fact that the Elf had grown unused to his master's abuse. Still, in the end, it worked. But when Aragorn held his helplessly crying slave in his arms after he had finally spilled himself in him, he knew that their time in Gondor had ended.
Even with the return to his cruel games, it had barely been enough. And they were about to go into battle. Legolas would not be at his best after a night like this, and might be hampered by the recent abuse... He could not risk this again. They needed to go home, back to the rangers.
When they set out to Umbar the following night, Legolas' body had nearly recuperated already, but the Elf's mind was troubled. Legolas' mood was damp and bleak, and he was back to calling Aragorn only 'master' and 'My Lord' again. Aragorn supposed the sole good thing about the whole sordid business was the fact that Legolas' mind had been too occupied by the unfortunate turn of events for the Elf to be vulnerable to the temptation of the sea. Legolas took the whole trip to Umbar, the attack on the pirate fleet and the trip back to Pelagir without falling prey to the sea-longing. Aragorn was grateful for that small grace, at least.
The stories said that after his victory over the pirate fleet in Umbar, Captain Thorongil did not return to Minas Trith, where great honor awaited him, but chose to leave the army in Pelagir, alone and unaccompanied, without any disclosure about his plans or where he was headed, and so returned to obscurity. They also said that when Thorongil left, his face was turned to the Mountains of Shadow(1).
The truth was somewhat less mysterious. Knowing that he could not risk returning to Minas Tirith and being tied up in court matters and ceremonies for indefinite time, Aragorn swore a few, trusted confidants among his men to secrecy and bade them cover his tracks. Then he left with Legolas and took the boat of a smuggler, who was happy to sail them up the Anduin for a pretty sum without making stops and without asking questions. They went as far as they could go by boat, bought horses in Rohan and made their way back along the Green Way as fast as the animals would go. Even so, it took them well over three weeks to get back home, even though Aragorn spurred them on until the horses nearly could not go on anymore.
Aragorn did not dare stop taking the potion during that time, lest he risk succumbing to withdrawal; but nonetheless he did not manage to take his slave even once the whole way. When they finally reached Eriador and blessedly found their rangers' main camp, Legolas was nearly delirious with need.
Aragorn did not know what he would have done if Halbarad - or even Onogdir – had not been there. True, it was not that far to Rivendell, and they could probably have made it in time for Legolas, but for obvious reasons, Aragorn did not wish to lay his problems and the whole story of how these problems came about in the first place, at Elrond's feet. He feared his foster father might decide to let Legolas die just to teach him a lesson.
To his everlasting gratitude, his second in command among the rangers was there, and after Halbarad had overcome his horror at Aragorn's tale – and at Legolas' state of health – and after he was done with calling his chieftain six kinds of a fool and a few less flattering terms as well, he took Legolas to bed without further ado.
Aragorn recalled how relieved he had been when Legolas finally was out of danger and up again, restored to health, a few days later. And he recalled with a shudder what had followed – the long, painful weeks of withdrawal when his own body was deprived of the potion and slowly and reluctantly got rid of his need for the drug. Legolas – safely in the care of a very angry and disgruntled Halbarad - had nurtured him patiently through that time. And when Aragorn had finally recovered, he shocked both his second in command and his slave with the revelation that he had to leave.
He told them that he needed time alone to come to terms with himself and the last traces of the addiction; and besides, there had been rumors he had heard in Gondor about happenings in Harad and possibly in Mordor he needed to investigate. He would leave Legolas with Halbarad and go alone.
Of course, Legolas had argued. He had insisted on accompanying his master and guarding his back. Aragorn told him Harad was not the place for an Elf; the Haradrim knew nothing about his kind and would be distrustful of his very appearance. Legolas countered the Haradrim kept slaves, and would think nothing of it if a stranger went there with a slave in tow, even if said slave was pretty exotic. Aragorn argued after the visit in Harad he was headed to Mordor, and that was an even worse place for an Elf than Harad would be. While a man might have a chance to pass into the Black Land unnoticed, an Elf certainly would not. Legolas protested that Mordor was hardly the right place for Isildur's heir, either, especially if he went there unguarded by a companion.
Finally, Aragorn ended the whole argument by simply commanding his slave to stay behind, and to discourage any further discussion he threatened to tie him up and have Halbarad keep him tied until he could not hope to catch up with Aragorn again. And he did not allow any further debate of the matter.
When he finally set out again, on foot and leaving Legolas behind to stay with Halbarad during his absence, however long that might be, it had been a strange and unfamiliar experience for him at first. For the first time since he could think he was alone for more than a few weeks. But it had helped him to regain sight of who he was. And when he finally reached Gondor again, carefully guarding his anonymity, he was sure he had been cured of the last traces of the drug and its grip on his mind. His mission in Harad then had needed his full attention, all his abilities and senses put to a thorough test, and he had needed all his ranger skills to fit in, to stay undetected, to find and gather the information he sought...
Nearly unnoticed, during these strenuous months, his body had healed at last. How relieved he had been that night in Harad when finally his flesh had stirred again for one hapless slave who had been ordered to serve his needs for the night. Although it still took some harshness and some cruelty for him to find completion.
Luckily, that had been exactly what that slave was used to and expected. To Aragorn's surprise, he even seemed to enjoy his games. Since the slave had been send to him to warm his bed (and possibly, to spy on him) as long as he stayed in the tents of the Haradrim Lord he had been visiting at the time, they had shared a short, delicious affair, even though it had been Legolas' face that had filled Aragorn's dreams during the nights.
When he left at last and headed on to Mordor, he had been confident that he had healed and was no longer dependent on a drug to keep his Elf alive, should he ever return home and reclaim him.
And then, nearly a year later, when he got back home at last, how overjoyed Legolas had been when he had finally enclosed him in his arms again – even though his slave knew only too well that Aragorn's return also meant a return to his master's abuse and his cruel needs... it had been a good thing that Aragorn was so deprived of his slave – and in fact, of any physical closeness – then that he was content with but little of his former cruel play at first, and only slowly began to crave more again. Surely this had helped Legolas a lot to adjust to his master's needs again...
Bitterly, Aragorn shook his head again and looked up, searching Legolas with his eyes, lingering with grief and tenderness on the familiar form.
That had been his great attempt to give his slave an outlet from his cruel needs. Luckily, they had both survived it, and in the end they had even found their way back to a kind of delicate balance together.
Nevertheless, Aragorn never risked the use of any stimulant again. He would not succumb to the same kind of foolishness twice, and Legolas' life was far too precious to him to risk it that way.
And he never again confessed his love to his slave, not even in the throes of passion. Of course he still called him 'melethron(2)' now and then; but he never again told him outright that he loved him.
How could he tell Legolas he loved him when he needed to hurt him every time they made love? How could he confess his love to the one he needed to abuse and of whom his own treacherous mind indulged in fantasies of torture?
-- The bleak grief of his thoughts was too much to endure, and Aragorn shook his head once more to banish the memories and images. Tenderly and full of grief he watched his slave trudging on, chatting with the Hobbits.
His gaze found Boromir again, and he grimaced.
'And you think that I just decided to let you take him on a whim, Steward's son!' he thought grimly. 'If you only knew!'
He looked at Legolas again and thought sadly: 'At least, he will not have to hurt you to keep you alive! I wish that I could do so myself, Beloved, but I can't. This is the only way I can ensure your safety, even though I know you hate it!...'
-- The Elf's sudden movement ripped him out of his thoughts. Legolas looked around again, and without any warning he suddenly ran up the hill and climbed a rock, staring at the sky. Then he dropped from the rock and shouted his warning:
"Crebain, again! They fly to the west!"
Everybody stiffened and looked for cover. Yet there was none; they were on a broad hillside with few bushes and only a few rocks and boulders to provide cover, all of them far from their current spot. Still, at Gandalf's signal, the Fellowship dropped to the ground, trying to be as unobtrusive as they could. Aragorn looked out, tensely watching the suspicious birds. They did not come closer. But they circled over the country in the west for a while until they finally turned and headed south again.
When they were gone, the Fellowship scrambled up and gathered around Gandalf to take council again.
Gandalf's face was grim.
"I cannot say whether they have seen us or not," he said, "however, even if they have, that can't be helped now. All we can do is make haste and cross the mountains swiftly. We must seek to reach Lothlorien! Be swift. We have yet to cover quite some way until we have to stop for nightfall. The higher path will be too dangerous to cross at night."
And with that he started to walk on again, and left them no choice but to follow.
Aragorn marched on, all memories driven away by their grim path. However while he trudged on after Boromir and looked out for any danger threatening the Fellowship, one thought remained and gained ever more importance in his mind:
He would need to speak to Gandalf. There had to be a way to break the spell! Even if it meant he would deprived of his Elf afterwards – and the mere thought filled his mind with overwhelming loss and grief – that would be a very small price to pay if only it could buy Legolas' freedom.
Legolas deserved happiness. Whatever the cost.
Yes. He would speak with Gandalf as soon as he could.
With this resolve firmly in mind, Aragorn trudged on, determinedly concentrating on the path and on the present and ceasing all thoughts of the past.
____________________ o __________________
-- TBC --
(1) According to J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings (1954), Harper Collins Edition 1995, Appendix A, page 1030. The Ephel Duath or Mountains of Shadow are bordering on Mordor.
(2) Melethron – Sindarin: (male) beloved, lover
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