Mael-Gûl: 42. Seeking The Sun

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42. Seeking The Sun

Authors note:
Completely A.U. Legolas slave fic. This story was inspired by Bluegolds story "Bound", which can be found here:
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: very disturbing thoughts. Please heed the warnings!

Disclaimer: Universe and characters are not mine, but Tolkien's. The idea of the spell, however, belongs to me. In this chapter, I lift entire passages and quote extensively from Tolkien's book, again. Proper references to the quoted passages are given in the footnotes. Please bear with me! Also, I'd like to mention that I owe part of this chapter to a discussion with my reviewer Randy, again. Credits for the parts in question are given in the foot notes. Thank you!

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.


XXXX. Seeking the Sun

It was a dim, grey dawn, although the storm had settled, and finally the snow stopped altogether. The Fellowship woke slowly and to greyness. Shortly before, the last faggot of wood had been thrown on the fire, and now they stared glumly at the last glowing embers of the dying fire.

Very slowly, the dim light grew stronger and revealed a silent, shrouded world.

Below the refuge the Fellowship had found were white lumps and domes and shapeless deeps beneath which the path they had trodden was altogether lost; but the heights above were hidden in great clouds still heavy with the threat of snow.

Gimli looked up and shook his head. "Caradhras has not forgiven us," he said. "He has more snow yet to fling at us, if we go on. The sooner we go back and down the better."1

Aragorn made a face. "I doubt that it was merely Caradhras which flung those stones at us," he said. "And I doubt very much we could go on over the rocks now blocking our path. There was more than snow coming down with that avalanche."

Gandalf looked grim. "It wasn't Caradhras alone," he said, "and we have no choice but to go down. There is no other path we can take now."

Boromir looked sourly at the shrouded, white slope below.

Only a few paces from the ashes of their fire, the snow lay many feet deep, higher than the heads of the Hobbits; in places it had scooped and piled by the wind into great drifts against the cliff.2

"If we can find a path to go back down," he said. "Now it would really convenient if we all could run atop the snow like some." And he cast a pointed look at the Elf, who was standing pale and somewhat aloof at the side.

Legolas looked at him tiredly. He was cold, he was exhausted, and somewhere in the back of his mind he could still feel the whispers of the hated voice inside his head. He was troubled and he had enough of the constant jabbing of the man of Gondor.

Faking a cheerfulness he did not feel he offered: "If Gandalf would go before us with a bright flame, he might melt a path for you."3

Boromir gave him an askance look, trying to judge if he had been slighted, but before he could reply, he was cut off by the wizard.

Gandalf made a face.

"If Elves could fly over mountains, they could fetch the sun to save us," he answered. "But I must have something to work on. I cannot burn snow."

Boromir shrugged. "Well," he said, "when heads are at a loss, bodies must serve; as we say in my country. The strongest of us must seek a way. See! Though all is now snow-clad, our path, as we came up, turned about shoulder of rock down yonder. If we could reach hat point, maybe it would prove easier beyond. It is no more than a furlong off, I guess."

"Then let us force a path thither, you and I!" said Aragorn.4

Turning to his Elf, he added: "And Legolas, of course. If you start out behind..."

Legolas bowed to him and took a step to join the men. But Boromir protested.

"Nay," he said, shaking his head, "this is a work for men of strength! I do not see how that flimsy Elf could aid us here. Better let him run ahead and see how far we have to burrow, and find us the right way so that we may not come too close to the cliff in our toil."

Legolas straightened and clenched his jaw. Aragorn whirled around to Boromir, glaring, a sharp reply on his tongue. But then he hesitated. He swallowed was he was about to say and turned back to his Elf. He narrowed his eyes.

Legolas looked troubled. He was far too pale and the normally so untouched face bore deep shadows that spoke of exhaustion. Legolas could not have found many restful dreams last night. Again.

Aragorn made his decision. It would be better if he could grant Legolas some time alone. And besides, as long as his Elf was out of earshot, he might have the chance to exchange a few choice words with Boromir.

So, after a moment, he just shrugged. "All right," he said, seemingly indifferently, "just you and me, then."

He saw Legolas' eyes widen with sudden hurt, and shook his head nearly imperceptibly. 'Not now, Little Leaf,' he thought, 'Just trust me!'

Aragorn didn't know if his slave had caught the unspoken message, for Legolas nearly immediately lowered his eyes and did not meet his gaze. Aloud, he said: "Actually, Boromir's idea is sound. Will you scout ahead and tell us how far we have to go? And what path best to take, if there is any doubt?"

He tried to convey his reasoning in his voice. Finally, it seemed that his silent message registered, because Legolas raised his head again and met his gaze, giving him the slightest nod, before he bowed a second time to him to acknowledge the command he had been given.

Then the Elf straightened again and sprang forth nimbly. "Farewell," he cried, forcing a cheerful smile, and turning to Gandalf he added: "I go to find the Sun!"

Then swift as a runner over firm sand he shot away, and quickly he sped into the distance and vanished round the rocky turn.5

Aragorn turned back to Boromir and raised his brows. "Shall we?" he invited.

Wordlessly, the two men began to burrow their way through the deep and tightly packed snow.

_____________ o ______________

Legolas ran. For once without the restricting need to pay attention to the mortals, he flew across the snow as if he was one of his own arrows, loosened from the restraining string to find its mark elsewhere. After the oppressing darkness he had endured last night, after the doubts and the tormenting memories, running like that was like a refreshing breath, and the speed and solitude helped him to clear his mind. Finally, his troubled thoughts calmed down, and at last his mind went clear again.

After just a few hundred yards, he found that the snow grew less, and after just two furlongs it was only shin-deep, and he had reached the long slope where Frodo had lost the ring the day before. The man of Gondor had been right; if the men could burrow a path through the short depth blocking their way, the rest of the way down would be much easier. It was as if the barrier of snow around the camp had been laid out specifically with the intent to trap them and hinder their escape.

Legolas didn't stop immediately. Running on on the smooth surface just because he could and for the pure joy of it, he soon reached the snow line and the snow grew thin and sparse, and finally ended altogether. Slowed in his speed, Legolas sprang a few more yards over the bare rocks for the pure joy of it, then he ran atop a big boulder and came to a halt, looking around.

From his vantage point, he could see far down the land, to the path they had come the previous day and beyond, far to the west and north, and also to the plains further down the south, down to the lines of the two rivers that had their source in the very mountains the Fellowship had tried to brave just now: the Sirannon, which started directly under Caradhras and at the very doors of Moria, and further south the Glanduin, which had its source in the mountain Celebdil. Even further away he could see the shapes of the far hills of Dunland. There, far away in the south, he could see one or two beams of the sun breaking through the greyish shroud covering the sky, but when he turned around and looked back to the east, he saw the sky shrouded in thick, dark clouds promising more bad weather should the Fellowship indeed dare to go that way. The passage over the pass would be indeed impossible for their company.

Or to all but one.

Legolas flinched as the hateful voice of the ring he had thought he left behind suddenly was back in his thoughts and attacked his mind with a vengeance.

'You could do it!'
it urged. 'The snow is your friend, not your foe! See how it serves to ease your way? And there is more to come! You need not fear the storm! It will cover your tracks! You can be over that mountain in a day, get down the pass beyond, skirt Lorien... as long as the snow lasts, you can be fast. Take the supplies of the Fellowship, run up the Anduin. It can't be more than five hundred miles to your father's halls. You can do it!'

'Yes, of course,'
Legolas dryly thought, 'and as soon as I am on the other side, that thing will probably try to tell me that my father's halls actually lie in the direction of Dol Guldur!'

But at the same time, and to his own dismay, he found himself calculating rationally and coolly wether there was indeed a way to undertake this journey and succeed. He shivered.

The very thought of doing such a thing – breaking his oaths, killing his companions, bringing death to the other hostages and war to his people – made his stomach churn and bile rise in his throat. And yet.

Just the thought what his success if he did this, and the possession of the ring, could mean for his father, for his people.... To use it to stop the threat of Dol Guldur, send the Orcs and Nazgul against Lothlorien, take Rivendell, make Elrond cringe and beg for mercy on his knees.... wasn't it his very duty to his people to try this?

Legolas sighed. Realizing that he would find no peace if he did not allow himself to think it through, he sat down on his haunches and weighed his chances as calmly as he could.

Recalling his memories of the two or three times he made the journey north up the Anduin and back to his home together with Estel, he tried to estimate the distance and the time it would take him if he had nothing to lose and no one to slow him down. He had seen a map of the lands east of the Misty Mountains once or twice, but more importantly he and Aragorn had walked that very way just a few months ago when they escorted the creature Gollum. Placing the wretched thing in the care and under the guard of his father, Thranduil, had been Gandalf's idea. Legolas had not understood the Istar's intention at the time, but now he suspected that Gandalf thought the former bearer of the One too great a temptation to place him in the care of the Lady Galadriel. Or of the Lord Elrond.

Not that it had brought any benefit to Legolas' people.

Bitterly and calmly, he tried to estimate the time it would take him to make the way alone, without a mortal at his side, and if he did not plan to be alive much longer after he reached his destination.

He did not doubt that he could get over Caradhras in one or two days, especially with the snow lying thick and deep on the mountain pass as it did now. Over the smooth surface, he could easily race along where the mortals of their company would have needed to trudge on arduously and climb over any obstacles. The real problem would be to get down on the other side and through the valley there without running into a patrol from Lothlorien. He did not doubt that the Lady of the Wood would know it if the Fellowship was killed and possibly she would see it in her Mirror if Legolas tried to bring the ring to Northern Mirkwood; at the very least she would send scouts to investigate. Those he would need to avoid, and that would cost him time. But provided he managed to elude or to kill them, and escaped, could he do it?

He estimated that it was at least four hundred miles from his current point to his father's halls, as the crow flies, and maybe half a hundred more if he allowed for obstacles on the way he had to either surmount or circumvent.

He would need to make it to the shores of the Anduin, far enough north of Lothlorien so he would not get caught; then he could use the old trading path there. And there were settlements along the river of Woodmen and other people. Some of them had horses. He could buy or steal a couple, and move on even faster. Without the company of any mortals he estimated that he could make between fifty and sixty miles a day6, especially if he did not take rest or made long stops along the way. If he could get a horse or two, he could be even faster. Given the need to skirt around Lothlorien, which would considerably slow him down, he estimated that he could make the journey in three weeks, and if he went with past experience he had that time until the need and the withdrawal got so bad that it would weaken his body too much to go on. That was, assuming that the recent new extension of the spell had not tightened the bond much further and shortened the time he had left, and that he did not run into a troop of Orcs or worse along the way. And of course assuming that he even succeeded in taking his companions unaware and did not get himself killed or badly wounded during the fight.

So, the answer was: yes, if it came down just to chances of success, he could do it. It would be a close call, but he would probably succeed.

But the other and more important question was: did he want to do this? And could he bring himself to go that far?

Estel's face appeared before his eyes. The beautiful boy he had known in the past who had, without any effort, conquered his heart. The troubled, fierce, noble, guilt-stricken, abusive and yet caring man who was now his master. He recalled again Aragorn's face during their last tender coupling just two nights ago, full of tenderness and plain, unguarded love as Legolas made love to him, the grief at Legolas' disappointment when Legolas found out that all their tender sharing had not succeeded in bringing his partner to hardness, much less fulfillment. And yet Aragorn would have been completely content to leave it at that.

He recalled the fierce and unhesitating promise the man had given him just a few days ago to protect him and his people from the Dwarf, and the harsh confrontation Aragorn had sought with Gimli afterwards, because he knew that unlike Legolas, he could do so without endangering Legolas' people. He saw again Aragorn's stoic and stubborn expression as Elrond scolded him for taking Legolas with him to Mirkwood for the first, and then again for the second and the third and again the fourth time. The horrifying, and yet mind-staggering moment when Estel, with an expression of triumph, gulped down the potion that would doom them both in an act of defiance and love and with the fierce intent to bind himself as tightly to Legolas as Legolas was bound to him. To ensure their equality in their bond.

This last image was like a bleeding wound, because that one misguided act had hurt them both so much and it had destroyed and twisted the one he, Legolas loved, which hurt in itself even more than the pain Aragorn was now forced to inflict on him whenever he took him.

And finally he recalled the unbelievable promise the man had made him just last night.

"But I promise you this: if this Quest succeeds, and if I truly should fulfill my fate, then I will do everything in my power to help you free your people. You recall what Glorfindel said back in Rivendell? And Gandalf? The Quest may be the way to change their fate. Don't throw away this chance by listening to that cursed piece of jewelry."

He heard his master's voice again, saw the expression of grief, of guilt and of sincerity on the Adan's face.

He shook his head. Dear Estel! That the man would promise this was still staggering and filled him with disbelief and wonder. He could hardly wrap his mind around it.

In the back of his head, the voice of the ring screamed. 'Don't believe him!' it cried. 'It is all false promises, all lies! He lied to you! Just as he lied these other times, remember? His word means nothing!...'

But this time, Legolas was prepared for the hateful voice. So, he just shook his head to clear it and banished the hateful screaming from his mind.

Aragorn would not break this promise, he realized. The man had given him his word. He had explicitly promised. And Estel had never broken his promises, except that one time back in Rivendell, and there he had been very likely under the influence of the very thing that now tried to get Legolas to kill him.

Whatever had urged his master to this step, Legolas knew that Aragorn had bound himself as uncompromisingly as if he had sworn an oath to the Valar. And he would keep it.

The thought filled him with warmth and gratitude. Again he recalled the vivid images of the last time they had made love. Aragorn's open face, his joy at his partner's touches, the grief in the Adan's eyes when what they did could not bring his flesh to hardness. His plea to Legolas to ignore that fact and to go on anyway.

Then he envisioned the image changing. Recalling the vision of last night, he saw his knife flicking over the beloved throat, the grey eyes widening in sudden pain and betrayal, then going dull, blood covering the well known, familiar features... the flushed skin greying in death...

He choked at the sudden pain that filled him. Bile rose in his throat and he had to fight down his churning stomach. Weakened, he thought further of the Hobbits, so trusting, who had never done him anything but good – and forced himself to imagine the treacherous knife, wielded by his own hands, slaughtering the ones who trusted him.

This time, the bile and upheaval of his stomach was nearly too much, and it took all his strength to fight it down. Did he really want to do this? Did he want to darken his hands with their blood? Breaking his oath and forsaking all then honor he ever had possessed just for a vague promise of a treacherous piece of jewelry?

No. He could no more kill Estel, than he could cut out his own heart. He would rather die than do that, as long as there was any other way left for the two of them. He would die for this man, in spite of everything; he could no more kill him than he could kill his own siblings. And even less he could kill the ones who trusted him and had shown him nothing but friendliness.

And even further – given he forced himself to do that, anyway, and given he succeeded in this quest – what then? Did he really want to throw that burden on his father? Did he really wish to force him to take the Ring, to forsake his immortal feá and command it to darkness, become worse and lower than their hated enemies, just on the mere chance to free their people – an unsure chance, because the rest of Middle Earth would burn and fall, and in the end Sauron might still regain his Ring. And even if Sauron was destroyed, would that not mean that he then only would be replaced by him who had once been Thranduil?

For if Legolas took the ring and brought it there, there was no going back. Thranduil would have no choice but to take the ring. And he would be further burdened with the knowledge that to force that choice on him, his only remaining son had forsaken his own honor, broken every oath he had ever sworn, and darkened his hands with the blood of innocents. To do this to his father, Legolas would first have to condemn himself as well.

Did he really want to do this to his father?

In his mind's eye he recalled his father's face, that first time when Estel had visited Mirkwood and taken Legolas along.

// / He saw them again, both walking into the big round frontyard before his father's doors, escorted by a group of guards who were all baffled by his presence. Word had spread quickly and from the huts and flets everywhere people gathered to watch. Never before had any of the hostages come back. There was much wonder and whispering, especially because he came in the company of an Adan. And there, finally, at the entrance of the cave palace, he was - Thranduil, summoned by runners and the general rumor raised by the two travelers' arrival, disbelieving and irritated enough to come out and greet them himself.7

Legolas could see his face, that beloved, well-known face he had not seen for years, transform in utter surprise and disbelieving joy. Could see his father's lips form his name, tonelessly – then the king gave up all dignity, and in the very next moment Legolas felt himself embraced in strong arms and a hug strong enough that it pressed all breath from him. It took long moments for his father to bring himself enough under control again to draw back and hold him off a bit. "Legolas!-" he asked, "How? How is this possible?"

Legolas was all too aware of Estel, standing half behind him, grinning, all too pleased with himself. He was not sure if his companion was fully aware of the danger he was in and he knew that he had to act quickly if he was to save the beloved fool's life – and by default his own.

He went down on one knee before his king, to present Aragorn to him, and saw the face of his father darken in sudden understanding.../ //

Legolas shook himself out of the memories. It had taken all his skill and every ounce of persuasiveness he possessed to convince Thranduil to not only let Aragorn live but also to later let the two of them go again; and he recalled all too well the mix of pain and sorrow on his father's face as he realized that Legolas was not miraculously free, but bound to an Adan, a mortal, of all people, and that he could not keep them there. Still, Aragorn had conducted himself admirably and had managed to gain if not Thranduil's approval, at least his reluctant respect and trust. And he had promised to return with Legolas, and had kept that promise, as often as they had been capable of doing so. Each time had been both bittersweet and wondrous, mixing pain with joy. Now, though...

If Legolas really took the ring and brought it home, he imagined that this time his welcome would be quite different.

He saw himself, dragging his dying body into the round frontyard, grimly holding on to his waning strength to take these last few steps. Thranduil was there again, summoned by the news, awaiting him. He could see his father's concerned, shocked and still joyful, disbelieving face at seeing him again. He could see himself, kneeling and holding out the Ring to his father. Could see Thanduil going pale and recoiling from him in sudden realization, horror and despair transforming his face, heard the beloved voice ask, nearly tonelessly: 'what have you done?!' -- and then, the face of his father changed again, grew hard, grim and determined. He took the Ring and rose. Putting it on his finger, he opened himself to its power, claiming it, knowingly dooming himself, since bringing it, Legolas had left him no other choice. And while Legolas watched, he could see the strong glow of his father's very feá darken, changing into something terrible, could see the fierce, noble, gentle, formidable man he had grown up to admire and love twist and die before his very eyes, changed into an abomination --

Legolas gasped. This time the upheaval of his innards did overwhelm him and he dropped forward to his knees, being violently sick.

The cramps lasted only a moment – he had not eaten anything, after all, and his stomach was empty anyway. Shaking, shivering desperately, he waited a few moments for the cramps to cease and for his insides to calm down. Finally, he shook his head, forcefully banishing the images from his mind.

He still trembled. The thought of his father, forsaking all that had been good in him to become something along the lines of Elrond, was just too much. That would be much too high a price to pay, even for the prospect of revenge and freedom for their people.

No. He could not do that.

Shivering, shaking, he brought his stomach back under control and rose, his face determined.

Whatever happened, he would see this quest to the end, and he would serve Estel until Aragorn fulfilled his destiny and hopefully truly became king.

Then he would call in the man's promise. And if Estel then broke his word, there was still time enough to kill him.

But Legolas did not think the man would do that. As a rule, Aragorn was a man of his word, and aside from that one time in Rivendell, he had always kept it.

It was one of the reasons why Legolas still loved him.

Decision made, Legolas calmed himself. Feeling as if a great burden had been lifted from his shoulders, he turned back in the direction of the Fellowship. It was time to report to the company what he had found.

____________ o _______________

Aragorn worked wordlessly through the deep snow, burrowing with all his strength, pressing forward, broadening the way and pushing the thick, cold, wet mass to the side and out of their way. It was hard, trying work. At some places, the snow was breast-high, and while Boromir walked before him, parting the dense, white mass with great, swimming movements and taking the harder task, even walking behind him Aragorn soon found himself soon drenched in sweat and breathing hard. His hands, unlike Boromir's without protecting gloves, burned and hurt from the cold, and his clothes soon became uncomfortably dank. Grimly, he concluded that in the wet clothes freezing would be a real danger for the Fellowship, even if they made it down the mountain and to the walls of Moria before Nightfall. With the Hobbits in tow, though, that was rather unlikely.

The man of Gondor walked silently before him. Boromir had made another envious remark when Legolas had vanished lightly round the turn the two men were now toiling so hard to reach, but when Aragorn did not react, the Gondorian had ceased all further attempts at conversation. And truly, the work was arduous, and they had hardly any breath to spare. Still, the face of the Gondorian, whenever he paused to look around, was sour and drawn, and he attacked the snow before him a little too fiercely. He was probably well aware of the simmering anger of his companion.

Both men were all too aware of the palpable tension between them.

But they were also still in plain sight of the rest of the Fellowship, and there was no way Aragorn would seek a confrontation where the Hobbits and Gandalf could see them. So he worked on, seething, grimly laboring onwards to the bend that was still before them.

It took them nearly half an hour to reach that point, and another fifteen minutes to get around it and out of the sight of the others of the Fellowship. Behind the bend, the snow was more than head-high and surrounded them like a wall; pushing through it for another mile would be an excruciating task, and the mere prospect of having to do so was disheartening.

But the question of if and how they could escape through that barrier was not the foremost thing on Aragorn's mind right now.

As soon as he was sure that they were out of sight and earshot of the Fellowship, Aragorn rounded on Boromir.

"What did you mean," he demanded angrily, glaring at the sour face of the other man, "with that remark you made to Legolas?!"

Boromir scowled. He squared his shoulders and pursed his lips.

"What do you mean?" he said, "I merely observed that he was probably less suited to assist in this work that he might be for other ...pastimes."

Aragorn balled his fists, but stopped himself at the last moment. It would not do to drive his fists in the other man's smirking face. As tempting as that was, it would solve nothing. Forcing himself to remain calm, he said harshly and quietly: "I never gave you leave to harass him. If you insist on doing so, the bargain is off! And if you have anything to complain about, I suggest you take it up with me!"

Boromir actually found himself tempted to take a step back. He was very aware that the man before him looked ready to fight, and readied his stance to prepare for the attack.

But he was not about to just cow down. It was time to get some answers!

"Is he so weak, then, that he cannot stand up for himself even against some unfriendly words, and you have to defend him?" he sneered. "Does he need you to protect him at every turn?"

Aragorn narrowed his eyes. "Whatever gave you the impression he was weak?!" he asked. "He nearly matches me in strength, and very likely that applies also to you. Except that he is much, much faster."

He straightened and shrugged. "I deem he would have been of great help to us in this feat here if you had not been so stupid as to decline his help. We might have reached this point much sooner."

Boromir snorted sceptically. "Then why did you send him off in the first place?" he demanded.

Aragorn shrugged. "I send him ahead to scout because I wanted to have words with you," he said, "and also because I deemed he could use some time alone. Not to mention that you did not seem eager to accept his help anyway."

Then he took a step forward. "So tell me! What is it that you think gives you the right to harass him? I don't recall I ever gave you leave for that, or that he has ever given you any reason either! What ails you?"

Boromir just scowled at him. "Why?" he challenged. "If your little elf is as strong as you claim, then why doesn't he defend himself? Why does he need you to protect him?"

Aragorn felt the strong compulsion to just flatten the other man and be done with it. But he was very aware that this would serve nothing, and worse, in his current mood it might end in bloodshed. So, instead, he willingly reined his temper in and retorted icily and sharply:

"Because, Boromir, at the moment Legolas is somewhat confused wether he is allowed to do so. I have given him leave to defend himself against an open attack, but he is unsure if that applies to mere insults and demeaning remarks as well. In fact, due to the bargain we made, he is treating you in part as he would me. I will be happy to tell him that he is free to retaliate against your harassment, be it in body or in words, and as soon as I have done so I advise you to curb your tongue. Because I assure you it would be an inconvenience to have to treat you for a broken jaw."

Boromir scowled again. "Oh? And who would give me that? You?" he challenged.

Aragorn smiled grimly. "Me? No, I would be the one who added the black eye and broken nose to it," he said. "For as soon as I have given him leave to do so, you will find that Legolas is quite capable of defending himself."

Boromir didn't budge. He narrowed his eyes. "Is that the reason why he never fights back against you?" he challenged, "Why he even is even willing to take your abuse?"

Aragorn flinched. He froze, then he took a step back. "What do you--" he began, then he recalled how the Gondorian had come across him and Legolas a few days ago. He took a deep breath.

"Actually, yes," he said bitterly. "Legolas is bound by oath to defer to me. And he is, by law of Rivendell, my slave."

He bowed his head.

"Not only is he bound by that accursed oath – which means that should I die, so would he; that part is bad enough. But even if he wanted to fight back, he would not dare for fear of endangering his people. Of course, as far as I am concerned, I would never hold their fate against him, nor use them to enforce his obedience. He knows this; at least I hope he does! But others might, if they'd learned of his actions. What part of the explanation you were given of his situation escaped you?"

Boromir hesitated. "He was ready enough to attack the Dwarf the other day..." he observed, irritated. "I hardly see..."

Aragorn made a face.

"The Dwarf threatened his family and his people," he said angrily. "Didn't you listen? That is exactly what it would take to goad Legolas to attack, in spite of the possible repercussions. He does not fear anything for himself. Whatever gave you the impression he was less than able to defend himself?"

Boromir was puzzled. He simply did not understand this man, or his relationship to the Elf.

"And what about that punishment?" he demanded, "when I came across you?"

Aragorn actually looked away. "He disobeyed me," he said quietly, "and also I fear I was not entirely myself. And that is all I will say to you about this. Leave it at that."

He looked back at the other man, face drawn. "In any case, the reason why I agreed to that bargain was because I wanted to ensure that if anything happened to me, Legolas would still have a chance to live. Because if I died, three weeks from now, Legolas would be of no help to anyone anymore, and too weak to go on. His only chance would be if there was another man to feed the spell. To ensure this I had counted on you. Did I judge incorrectly?"

He took a deep breath. "What shall it be, Boromir? Do I need to take the bargain back, or will you behave yourself from now on? Because the last thing I want for Legolas is you hurting him--"

He stopped. Boromir could have sworn he had been about to say another thing, something in the lines of 'you hurting him too'.

He was still puzzled at the Ranger's behavior and body language. Before he had a chance to utter an reply, though, their face-off suddenly was interrupted by a clear, familiar voice, somewhat muffled, coming from the wall of snow before them.

"My Lord?"

Aragorn flinched. He turned. "Legolas?" he shouted.

The voice answered, now much closer and louder.

"I'm here, My Lord. How far have you come?"

They heard some burrowing noises on the other side, then the noise ceased. A few minutes later, Legolas appeared above them, easily standing on the snow and looking down. His face wore an irritating little smile.

"I see, My Lord, you have performed a great feat while I was gone. You nearly burrowed through the whole mountain-slope here!"

Aragorn looked up to him askance, raising a brow at his remark. He quickly took in his Elf's posture and expression, the light tone of his voice. He could tell that something was amiss; apparently, something was still eating at Legolas, but the Elf tried to hide it by playing light.

Well, that made two of them. For the moment, he decided to just let it go. There was no way he would try to find out what troubled his Elf in front of Boromir. He just hoped Legolas had not heard their conversation.

"So," he challenged instead, "have you found the sun?"

Legolas smirked down at him. "No, My Lord," he said. "I have not brought the Sun. She is walking in the blue fields of the South, and a little wreath of snow on this Redhorn hillock troubles her not at all8. But I can offer you a gleam of hope for those who are doomed to go on feet; for the wall you see before you, that you have despaired to brave, is just a few feet deep, not much wider than a wall, and on the other side, the snow suddenly grows less and is much easier to overcome. So, do not despair; the greatest part of your toil is done and just a little left."

Aragorn cocked his head. "Can you tell us then, oh walker-on-snow, how far these poor men have to toil on until we may breach the wall you describe?"

Legolas laughed – a breathless laugh, not too convincing, Aragorn thought – and turned. "I will do better, My Lord," he replied over his shoulder, "I'll show you!"

And he vanished. Boromir looked at Aragorn, drawing his brows down.

"What was that?" he asked.

Aragorn looked back at him and shrugged. "Did you never met a cheerful Woodelf before ?" he asked mildly, then turned around to the wall of snow. "Well, if we are to break through that, we'd better start, hadn't we?"

At the same time, they could hear the burrowing noises on the other side return, and quickly, the two men joined the work from their side.

Soon, they saw Legolas' hands breaking through. Boromir gave a relieved sigh, just glad that they had finally made it. But Aragorn had other plans. In a sudden move, he grabbed the hands of the Elf and pulled him through the remaining snow to Legolas' surprised yelp, then pushed him to the ground and straddled him.

Grabbing a handful of snow and rubbing it into his companion's face, he exclaimed: "I have been waiting to do that the whole day! What was that remark about those who are doomed to walk on foot?"

To his dismay he felt Legolas instantly freezing under him. Instead of wriggling and struggling against him, as Aragorn had hoped, Legolas tensed up and Aragorn could see fear and dismay flashing through his eyes, together with a shadow he could not discern; he got the feeling of imminent danger. Momentarily stopping and freezing himself, he quickly shook his head. "Oh, for Eru's sake," he hissed, bringing his mouth close to one pointed ear, "I am just joking! Can't you tell?"

In the very next moment he found himself on his back and straddled. "In that case, My Lord," Legolas cried a little too cheerfully, "I think you need this wash-up more urgently than I," and he proceeded to rub snow into the face of a sputtering and wriggling Aragorn.

Boromir watched them for a few moments, baffled at their antics. He did not understand what had just happened. What was going on between these two?

After a moment, though, he abandoned his musing and joined in the kerfuffle. He was not completely sure if he intended to help Aragorn or the Elf, but when he grabbed Legolas and tried to pull him off the Ranger, he found himself suddenly pulled forward and thrown over the Elf's shoulder. He landed in the snow, bereft of all leverage, sputtering, trying to figure out what had just happened – only to find himself straddled by an seemingly enraged Elf who rubbed snow in his face to Aragorn's delighted laughter. He found himself wriggling and yelping, trying to avoid the cold, burning mass without success. He was still trying to break free when suddenly the fragile walls of the snowy passage they had made, and the remaining arch of snow on top, descended on them and buried them in a wet, white mass.

It took them only seconds to burrow free and look at the debacle.

After a moment of stunned silence, Boromir snorted. "So, I guess we have to toil through that a second time," he stated dryly. "We better get started then."

And he bowed down to do just that. After a few moments he was joined by the Elf and Ranger, now working eagerly and without further antics.

It took them only a few minutes to clear the passage together, much less time than the two men would have needed had they worked alone. Finished, they could finally see what Legolas had meant: on the other side, the snow was considerately less deep and not an obstacle at all.

Boromir sighed. He turned to his companions. "So," he said, "I guess we go and get the others then."

Legolas nodded at him and ran ahead, and Aragorn sighed and turned back to Boromir. He raised a brow.

"Didn't you say something earlier today about flimsy Elves?" he asked dryly.

Boromir frowned. But he had no opportunity to reply, for Aragorn had turned already and slowly followed Legolas up the slope.

Boromir followed slowly. He had much to think about.

____________ o ___________

-- TBC --


(1) This paragraph and the one before are again directly lifted from the book: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings, 1954-1955, Harper Collins Paperback Edition 1995, Page 284. In the following text, passages and sentences lifted of the book will be referenced like this: LOTR, 1954-55, 1995, P. xxx. Please bear with me!

(2) This sentence again directly lifted from LOTR, 1954-55, 1995, Page 284.

(3) Legolas' words and Gandalf's reply are again directly lifted from LOTR, 1954-1955, 1995, P. 284. However, I completely changed the context, since in the book the exchange is meant to show the Elf as the only member of the fellowship untroubled by the snow. Please bear with me!

(4) This sentence and the paragraph before directly lifted from LOTR, 1954-1955, 1995, P. 284

(5) This passage is adapted and changed from the original context from the scene in the book: LOTR, 1954-1955, 1995, P. 284. As you can see, I changed some of the wordings of the original to make it fit in my text; and of course I changed the context of the scene completely to suit my purposes. Also, since this fic is based mainly on movieverse, and we have seen Legolas wearing boots on screen, in this fic he wears them, too.

(6) The distance as well as the estimation how far Legolas could go alone in a day are made in reference of the maps in the "Atlas of Middle Earth, revised Edition" by Karen Wynn Fonstad, Boston 1991, translated to German by Hans. J. Schuetz, Stuttgart 1994. I refer to the pages 80/81 (giving the land east and west of the Misty Mountains) and to the pages 172/ 173 that give the miles the three hunters made per day in Rohan; the first day, they made fifty miles, and there Legolas was slowed down by the company of Aragorn and Gimli. Special thanks go to Randy, with whom I discussed the possibility of Legolas' success and who pointed me at the example of the Three Hunter's feat in Rohan. Thank you, and yes, I still intend to write that grim AU-version of this story you are waiting for! But not in this tale.

(7) The image of the round 'frontyard' before the entrance doors to Tranduil's halls is directly taken from the drawing in J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Hobbit", Allen&Unwin, 1937, Unwin Paperback Edition 1979, pages 166; the drawing differs slightly from the description in the text, page 167, but I chose to go with the picture, here. The huts and flets are mentioned in the same book, page 162.

(8) This passage is again adapted from the book: LOTR, 1954-1955, 1995, Page 285. I changed the original wording and, of course, the context, though. In the book, Legolas runs back to the waiting Fellowship and says his famous sentence about not bringing the Sun to Gandalf.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Crowdaughter

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 05/11/11

Original Post: 12/23/06

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