Mael-Gûl: 46. Refuge

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46. Refuge

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 the wonderful Namarie, who took over for Surreysmum. Thank you!!! All still remaining errors are solely 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: some BDSM. 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, and stay very close to Tolkien's lines. Proper references to the quoted passages are given in the footnotes. Please bear with 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.


XXXXIV. Refuge

Legolas dreamed...

// / Hands roamed his body, caressing, teasing, driving him ever higher. A hot mouth closed over that special spot at his neck, nibbling; teeth grazed skin, followed by the caress of a soothing tongue. One of the hands roaming him wandered up to his throat, stroking softly; he gasped as the tongue followed the line of his neck up to his ear and licked along the sensitive lobe. A beloved, rasping voice told him of desire, praised his beauty; the hand on his stomach moved down, closer to his groin. He gasped again as clever fingers closed over his waxing member, stroking, teasing it to straining hardness. He wished that he could open his eyes, that he could see his lover, but he was not allowed to look, and so he kept them shut.

But he felt familiar, well-worn leather against his back, and he was surrounded by the redolent smell of pipeweed, the reassuring scent of his master, and he felt the callused, clever fingers, knowing all too well where to caress to elicit a favorite reaction. The ever-present darkness, looming outside, could not touch him.

The hand at his throat moved down to his nipples and started toying with the clamps. Pain reentered his feelings, causing discomfort, but it was small and at that moment merely adding spice. The other hand left his groin, and he gave a little moan of discomfort. He felt his master shifting position behind him, and then, suddenly, a hot mouth closed over his own, drowning his little gasp with a searing kiss. Then his master's lips left his own and wandered down to his throat, his collarbone, his nipples, kissing, nibbling, teasing. He was gently pushed back, and he obeyed, leaning against the grip of strong hands at his sides. Since he was not allowed to move, that was the only leverage he had.

Then Aragorn's mouth closed over one of his clamped nipples, and he gasped again. His master proceeded to graze the captive, tortured flesh with his teeth, adding pressure, then soothing the abused body part with his tongue. He was mixing pain and pleasure expertly, and Legolas' desire raised another notch.

Then his master's mouth moved on to the other nipple, and at the same time, Aragorn's hands left left their place at Legolas' back. "Stay like this!" his master ordered, and Legolas' muscles strained to compensate. It was an awkward position, because he had little leverage, and yet he managed. One of his master's hands trailed to his other nipple and toyed with the clamped flesh. Where the other hand was, he did not know, but he could hear a rustle at his side, and guessed that Aragorn was reaching for one of the toys.

He gasped and tensed a little when the other hand returned to his body, trailing up his thigh toward his groin. The hand was teasing, stroking the skin, caressing, but never closing on the center of his desire. Then, finally, the callused fingers closed over his member and started to stroke, agonizingly slow and lightly at first, then mercifully settling into a steady rhythm.

Legolas' breath hitched and quickened. He moaned a little, and was delighted when the hand on his member started to pump in earnest. Then a fingertip stroked over the swollen head of his turgid flesh – and searing pain stabbed through him, making him jerk, tearing through his bubble of desire and nearly causing him to open his eyes. Only the fear of what punishment would await him if he did caused him to keep them shut. But he could feel the tears form under his closed lids.

Irritant! The pain was agonizing, and it made his member wane again. He bit his lips, forcing back the sob that tried to escape his throat. He was used to this! He could bear it! But he could feel his body starting to tremble. And even when, moments later, his master's mouth closed over his burning flesh, soothing, licking, and the hands cupped his backside, giving support, he could not shake the sudden desperation and the cold, harsh grip of pain around his heart.../ //

-- Legolas woke with a start. It took him a moment to get his bearings; he was lying in his master's arms, and they were back in camp. There was no light beside the dim glow of Gandalf's staff. Around him, he could hear the deep, steady breathing of the Fellowship. The wizard had volunteered to take the watch this night again. Aragorn was sleeping, deep and dreamlessly. He was only a mortal, after all, even if of the blood of Númenor, and his body was demanding its right. He did not even wake at the small movement of his slave, who was firmly nestled in his arms again.

Legolas took a moment to bring his breathing back under control. He knew he should sleep too, since he desperately needed rest, but for the moment it seemed impossible to return into reverie. He tried to force himself back on the path of dreams, tried to recall other times when he and Estel had made love, or had shared tenderness; that night just a few days ago, when Aragorn had given himself to him, or other occasions, further back when they had made love without cruelty and pain.

It didn't work.

Always when he recalled a thought, a memory of gentleness, other images invaded: Hot wax pouring on his straining member... Aragorn's harsh voice, commanding him to keep silent, to thank him for another punishment... the whip, descending, beating against his skin, leaving welts... cruel restraints, biting into his ankles...

Legolas gave up. Gently disentangling himself from his master, he rolled out of Aragorn's arms and got up. He took a moment to tuck Aragorn back under the blanket again, then he straightened and looked around.

The Fellowship was sleeping. Over the dimly visible, prone bodies, he could see the shape of the wizard, comfortably leaning back against the wall of stone. The dim glow of his staff was accompanied by the small glow of his pipe, for moments highlighting his face; Legolas met his disapproving gaze and offered him a nod. Then he ignored him and settled down close to the ledge, his back to his companions, staring out into the dark.

He tried to calm his thoughts. This was hardly the first time Estel had tortured him, and not by far the worst one. Estel had been gentle! He had done his best to keep Legolas' discomfort small, to cause him little pain; he had gone out of his way to make it possible for his slave to enjoy it! Legolas knew, when Aragorn had taken him in his mouth last night, it must have caused himself nearly as much pain at first as he had caused his slave. He knew that Aragorn would have preferred to force him through wearing the blindfold all the time during their coupling, yet he had given in to Legolas' request to keep their joining bearable for his slave. He had done all he could under the circumstances to make the whole encounter tolerable for his companion.

And even those other occasions that he had just recalled had hardly been that bad. True, there was that one, last time in Rivendell when Aragorn had been exceptionally cruel, but that had been about survival, and Estel had probably been under the influence of the Ring, back then...

And there were other memories. The one when Estel drank down the potion that would bind him to Legolas, triumphantly, in open defiance of his foster-father... unwittingly sealing both their fates in a misguided act of love. That time in Gondor when Aragorn had nearly killed himself, trying to find a way to feed the spell without causing Legolas pain. The despair of his master when he first learned that he could no longer function as a man without causing his partner torment. Aragorn's self-loathing when he first extended the spell and learned he had tightened the bond even more by his own clumsiness...

And then that last, unbelievable proof of his master's love and concern, when Aragorn had promised him that he would help him to free Legolas' people. Even the command to go to Boromir was born out of desire to give Legolas a respite from his master's cruel needs.

And yet. All Legolas could feel when he recalled last night was emptiness, and pain, and hollow despair.

But what had he expected? What was wrong with him?

He jerked a little as suddenly, a hand settled on his shoulder. Discipline alone kept him from reaching for his knives – which weren't there, he realized. He had left them with his quiver at his and his master's bedroll.

The grip on his shoulder tightened a bit, and he looked up, meeting the concerned gaze of Boromir. Then the Adan settled down beside him. "Couldn't sleep?" he asked quietly.

Legolas looked down, avoiding the Man's eyes. He just nodded.

"I fear that restful dreams escape me here," he offered. "I might only be capable of finding true rest once we have left these caves again."

He did not say more. Aragorn had forbidden to alert the others, and there was no point in making the other Adan's unrest worse.

Yet his words seemed enough, for the human nodded.

"Me, neither," Boromir offered. "I have been underground before, once or twice; there are some tunnels carved into the mountain my city is built upon. We use them for military purposes, and... for other means. But I have never encountered anything like this." He made a gesture with his head, indicating their surroundings. "I still feel as if we are treading through a tomb."

Legolas shivered. A tomb was just a place to lay the dead to rest. But these mines were inhabited by more than just the dead, and what inhabited them was far more powerful – and far more evil. It might have been a realm of Dwarves, once, but now it was a place best left alone.

He had no idea what happened to the fëar of the Dwarves once they had died; maybe their souls passed from the world, like those of men, or maybe they also went to Mandos, like the fëar of the Eldar. But even if they stayed where they had lived, Legolas did not think that all their anger and unrest could account for that what he had felt out there, in the darkness. Not even the fëar of the Houseless1, frightful as they could be, could exude such power, or such evil.

Nor could a mere breeding ground of Orcs account for that.

He shook his head and banished the thought.

"I, too, have been underground before," he offered. "But never like this."

Legolas gave the man sitting beside him a shy look. He decided against telling Boromir of his father's halls. That would only provoke more questions about the reasons why he had given himself up and why his people had not risked a siege back then, and he did not care to repeat that discussion.

Boromir sighed.

"I can imagine," he said. "I've seen how much you care for being close to living things. Those trees, or even bushes... and you said once that you missed the stars, even though there were merely clouds covering them from sight at the time. This must be especially hard for you."

Legolas looked at him, surprised and touched. He had not been aware the other man had watched him so closely.

"I..." he began, and swallowed, stopping himself. Finally, he continued: "I do indeed miss them. The stone does not sing to me like they do. At least, I cannot hear it."

Boromir looked at him, amused and surprised. "The stars sing to you?" he asked disbelievingly.

Legolas looked away. He nodded.

"Everything has a place in the Song," he said wearily, "it is just more difficult to hear some tunes than others. I cannot hear the Song of stone. Maybe the Dwarves are more keen at that. But I am more in tune with trees, and with the stars."

He did not expect the man of Gondor to understand him. Probably, the Adan would just think that he was being mocked...

But Boromir startled him.

"You are full of surprises, master Elf," he said, sounding genuinely astonished. "It must be fascinating to have such a gift. And very useful. Was that what you were doing out there, today, communicating with the trees?"

Legolas gave him a sharp look. But the Adan did not seem trying to taunt him; he had asked a real question.

Suddenly sad, Legolas looked down again and nodded.

"I did," he said. "They warned me of the Watcher in the Water. But I was too late to warn the others."

Boromir grimaced.

"A pity," he said, "although I fear even a timely warning would not have availed us greatly against that thing."

He sighed again, and, very tentatively, laid a finger on Legolas' arm.

"You should try to find some rest, master Elf," he offered. "As hard as it may be to do so. You have been as weary as any of us even before we entered these mines, and I doubt that even Elves can go on indefinitely without sleep."

Legolas froze a little under the touch, but to his surprise, it did not feel demanding. Instead, the gesture felt welcome.

He hesitated. Normally, he would not have been allowed to let another touch him besides his master, except with Aragorn's explicit permission, or on his master's expressed command; but this was different. After all, Aragorn had practically ordered him to seek out Boromir again.

Legolas swallowed.

"Boromir," he began, and then he blurted out: "My master has asked me to lie with you again. May I... may I ask you if..."

He bit his lips. Boromir removed his fingers from his arm. His face showed anger.

"Again?" he asked. "Have you not told him that I called the bargain off?"

Legolas hung his head. There went the new-found friendship and respect Boromir had just showed him.

"I have," he said. "But as I said, he deems it best that the spell should be fed often. And... and he would ask to have your help in that."

He studiously avoided the Gondorian's gaze.

Boromir studied him for a moment.

Finally, he asked incredulously: "And you condone this?!"

Legolas looked down.

"It does not matter what I think..." he began, but Boromir cut him off.

"Yes, it does," he said, his face grim. "I do not understand how he can still ask this of you! He tells me that you deserve my respect, and he is right. But he himself treats you like this?! Besides, he did feed the spell just today, did he not? I do not see why this would be necessary, then, unless..." He trailed off. Looking at the Elf with wide eyes, he whispered disbelievingly: "You cannot mean-"

Legolas swallowed hard. He blushed. There was no way that he could tell the Adan the truth. And yet, the man of Gondor had no idea how close he had indeed hit the mark.

He could not bring himself to meet the Adan's gaze.

Finally, after a long moment, he forced himself to speak again.

"Does it... does it matter why he deems it best that I should seek you out?" he asked quietly. "He has his reasons, and they are more than just a whim. This evening, you offered that I could come to you at need, or even for comfort, as a friend. Would you withdraw that offer?"

Boromir hesitated.

Finally, after a long pause, he shook his head. "No, I would not," he said. "But as a friend, it is hard to watch what he puts you through. And I recall I said I'd welcome you gladly, as a friend, if you came to me out of free will, not forced and by command."

He paused again.

"Do you want it, then?" he asked after a moment, narrowing his eyes.

Legolas still avoided his gaze.

He knew that the answer that sprang unbidden to his mind – repeating, again, that it did not matter what he wished – would not satisfy the man of Gondor. That reply would lead him nowhere.

So, finally, he said: "I... I would like to take you up on your offer. I would like to come to you as a friend, Boromir."

He swallowed again. "If you allowed it."

Boromir reached out and very lightly touched the Elf's arm again. Mustering his strength, Legolas managed not to flinch. But he could not suppress his slight trembling.

Boromir retrieved his hand again. He shook his head.

"I do not understand you," he finally said. "But I will not go back on my offer. If you come to me as a friend, I will gladly receive you."

He sighed. "Still, I will have a word with your master again," he went on. "It is a shame how he treats you, despite all what he said to me. I will not stand for this!" He sounded determined.

Legolas raised his head in alarm. "Boromir!-" he began, but Boromir shook his head.

"No, do not protest," he said grimly. "He can hardly punish you for what I have to say to him, can he? I think it is high time somebody told that Ranger a few things about the proper way to treat a fellow warrior. Or even how to treat a servant! If any of my officers in Gondor dared to treat his subordinates that way, he would have to answer to me! And afterwards, he might find himself a few ranks lower!"

Legolas looked at him in surprise and gratitude. He still did not feel very comfortable with the Gondorian's sudden determination to give Aragorn a tongue-lashing; besides, he remembered only too well the attitude Boromir had shown to him only a few days before, and it was unlikely that Aragorn had forgotten, either. Legolas recalled the time he and Estel had spent in Gondor, years before Boromir had been born. It had not been too great a fate to be a poor and lowly servant, even then, for many of the ordinances or maids and servants of the noble lords. He was sure that Boromir's sudden change of attitude and his determined words about subordinates referred only to free soldiers, and to the Adan's new perception of him as a fellow warrior. He doubted that Aragorn would take that bit of hypocrisy very well; he feared it might well come to blows between the two men on his behalf. But he did not know what to say without destroying what he had just gained.

On the other hand, Boromir's show of friendship warmed his heart. It reminded him of Halbarad; indeed, Aragorn had received a similar tongue-lashing by Halbarad several times, in the past.

So, after a moment, he carefully began: "Boromir, there truly is no need..."

Boromir shook his head and cut him off.

"I know," he said. "Your loyalty to your master honors you. But this is between him and me."

Legolas swallowed. "Boromir," he began anew, "I have been with my master for over sixty years. He has explained to me why he deems it best for me to seek you out, and his reasoning is sound. Please, believe me that you need not defend me."

Boromir looked at him and smiled. "Do not concern yourself," he offered. "As I said, this is between me and him. I will make that very clear to him." He sighed. "Go to sleep, Legolas; seek some rest, at least as much as you may find. If we encounter any attack in these mines, we need your bow to defend us, and we need you at full strength!"

With that, he gave Legolas' arm another short squeeze and rose. He stretched for a moment, yawning, then made it over to his bedroll and settled down again.

Legolas' eyes followed him.

He was still a bit astonished at the Adan's changed attitude and did not entirely know what to make of it. A few days before in the Gondorian's mind he had been nothing but a bed-toy, just some lowly scum, and now he was something like a damsel in distress? The idea nearly made him smile.

And yet, at the same time, the Gondorian treated him as a respected fellow warrior? Some kind of soldier who had to be protected against his too cruel commander?

Shaking his head, Legolas contemplated what Aragorn would have to say to the Gondorian's sudden change of perspective. Then his thoughts strayed off to Halbarad, and he imagined the dry comment Aragorn's second-in-command would have to say about Boromir's attitude. That train of thought nearly made him laugh.

In any case, it was reassuring that the Gondorian was willing to offer him friendship; and the thought of seeking him out again had just lost a lot of its dread, although it was yet to be seen if Boromir would still respect him afterwards.

But on the other hand, Halbarad had always managed to do that. He had proved to be a true and dearly liked friend. Maybe, if the Gondorian indeed stayed true to his word, he could become a good friend, too?

Sighing, Legolas decided to follow Boromir's counsel if he could. He rose and, with a nod to Gandalf, made his way over to his sleeping master again. Carefully, he settled back into Aragorn's arms, taking care not to wake him up. And this time, sleep found him and his dreams remained untroubled; and somehow, the darkness seemed not so close anymore.

_________________ o _________________

When Legolas awoke, there was light. It was but dim and weak, but it was steady, and it originated obviously not from Gandalf's staff, for it seemed to come from a place in the caves around the bend and ahead of them. It illuminated the cave on the other side of the gap that opened beside the small landing where they had sought their rest last night.

He rose quickly, but a reassuring hand settled on his shoulder, calming him. "Peace," the voice of his master said quietly, "it is not a source of danger. There are some shafts at certain places that provide light and air in these mines."

He sat up in wonder. Aragorn sat beside him, combing his hair. Behind the Ranger, Legolas could see the Hobbits and hear their excited chatter.

Not far from them, Boromir sat up. "What is this?" he asked, narrowing his eyes, "it looks like daylight!"

Merry chimed in: "Yes, it does, doesn't it? There must be a crack somewhere in the roof of the cave, or maybe a way out! In any case, it does much to improve the place, if you ask me!"

Sam's concerned voice intruded: "That's no reason to make such a ruckus, Master Merry. We do not know who else might hear us while we're here!"

Pippin chimed in: "Oh, come on, Sam! It's not as if we were yelling!"

They were interrupted by Gandalf, who chose this moment to step between them.

"He is right, nevertheless, Master Peregrin," the wizard said. "We still need to be very careful. But you are right also, Master Meriadoc. It is real daylight. The mines of Moria had a system of shafts and openings to the outside to give them fresh air and some added light, at least by day. There are shafts that lead to the surface, most of them small and using a systems of mirrors to reflect the light, well placed at chosen points. It means that we are now near one of those points."

He smiled at them. "So, now we know at least that it is day out there."

The Hobbits looked at him, and he seemed about to say more, but Legolas did not longer follow their conversation. He was on his feet.

"May I investigate?" he offered.

Gandalf drew his brows together. "There is no need..." he began, but Aragorn cut him off.

"Of course you may," he said quickly, and added then: "Just do not take too long! We will start on our journey again, soon, and you have not yet had any breakfast."

Gandalf looked at him, irritated, but Legolas already bowed to his master and grabbed the harness with his weapons. "I will, My Lord; thank you!" he said and was gone. He did not even take the time to care for his bedroll or his pack, leaving everything laying at will, and vanished around the bend of the path ahead of them.

Aragorn watched him go with a smile. "There he goes again, 'seeking the sun'," he observed.

Gandalf turned to him.

"That was unwise, son of Arathorn," he admonished, "These mines are dangerous! One might get easily lost if one does not know the way! And we do not know if the way he takes to find that beam of light is also the way our path will lead us!" He shook his head. "The Fellowship needs must stay together!"

Aragorn withstood his gaze and shrugged. "Legolas has a good sense of direction," he said, "and I trust he will be back in a short time. He will not long delay our departure."

He dropped his gaze. "I do not see any harm in this," he finished. But he looked away when he said it, and Gandalf got the impression that he had been about to say more, but then thought better of it.

Gandalf gave him a sharp look, but Aragorn remained silent.

Gandalf shook his head. "I hope that you are right," he said, "but I still deem it unwise." And with that he turned away and walked over back to his pack.

Aragorn turned back to combing his unruly hair again.

Boromir had watched the exchange with pursed lips. Now he rose and walked over to Aragorn.

"Master Ranger," he said quietly, "a word." And he nodded towards the path in the direction from which the Fellowship had come the night before, making it clear that he meant to have that word in private.

Aragorn sized him up with narrowed eyes for a moment, then he sighed, put his comb away and grabbed his sword. He rose and gave the other man a small nod.

"As you wish, Master Boromir," he answered ironically, and followed the other man around the boulders that had offered them cover during the night, and a short ways down the path he and Legolas had walked the night before.

Boromir did not take him far. For one, the faint light did not reach far into the cave in the direction they were walking, and secondly, they did not wish to leave the camp behind for long; they just wanted to have some privacy.

Finally, Boromir halted his steps and turned to the Ranger, narrowing his eyes.

Aragorn stopped also. Turning to the other man, he asked rather impatiently: "What is it?"

Boromir looked grim. "Legolas told me that you have ordered him to lay with me again tonight," he said.

Aragorn hesitated. So soon? He had not even know that Legolas had left his arms last night!

"Yes, I asked him to seek you out again," he said evenly. "What of it?"

Boromir made a face.

"What of it?!" he asked incredulously. "How can you do this to him? He told you that I called the bargain off, did he not?!"

Aragorn narrowed his eyes. "So he did," he said. "However, that does not change the situation. I still deem it best if we take care to keep the spell well fed. If anything, the need to do so has become more pressing during the last few days, for they proved that we might face attack or hot pursuit at any time. So it is best that when we have no chance to pause and feed the spell, maybe for days to come, Legolas will have a longer time until he is overtaken by need."

He stopped. After a moment, he added: "I had hoped you would be willing to help with that. However, if you aren't..." He shrugged and made as if to turn away.

Boromir grabbed his coat and pulled him back.

Aragorn fended off his grip and turned back to him with a snarl. He resisted the impulse to place a fist in the other man's face. "What?" he hissed.

Boromir did not seem intimidated.

"I said that I would not deny him if he was in need, or if he came to me out of free will and as a friend," he said. "But that does not mean you shall order him to lie with me as if he was a whore! You tell me to respect him, and I do. But you yourself, you treat him like..." he trailed off.

So far, they had both kept their voices low, since they were but a few paces from the camp and did not care to be overheard by the others. However, now Aragorn had to make a conscious effort to calm himself again.

He straightened. "Like a possession?" he finished Boromir's sentence sharply, but quietly. "Well, he is. He is my slave, if you recall, at least by law of Rivendell and of Lothlórien. But that is not why I asked him to seek you out again."

He held Boromir's angry gaze for just a moment, then looked away. "You have not seen what this spell does to him. It... is not pretty."

Boromir remained unimpressed. "Worse than one of your 'punishments'?" he challenged.

Aragorn paled and flinched.

Boromir pressed his point. "Was it not a 'punishment' that had him so injured at the beginning of or Quest? He took days to recover, if I recall. But he was well enough the day before we left, during the council!"

Aragorn bit his lips. But he recovered quickly.

"You have no idea of what you speak," he said grimly. "That 'punishment' was ordered by the Lord of Rivendell, for some perceived insult, and if he would have had his way, Legolas would have been killed. I could barely protect him."

He shook his head, eyes dark. "And yes, still what that spell does to him is worse. Much worse."

Finally, Aragorn met Boromir's gaze again. "I cannot force you to keep helping me to feed the spell for him, if you do not desire it," he said tiredly. "Still, I think that it would be best for Legolas if we kept it well fed. That is why I asked him to seek you out."

Boromir looked disgusted.

"And if he does not, you beat him again?" he spat.

Aragorn's face turned dark.

Icily, he replied: "I do not think that is any of your business, Boromir!"

Boromir didn't relent.

"It is not?" he asked, "I think it is! Do you not see? You demand that we treat him with respect, and you do well, for he deserves to be treated thus! But you yourself should treat him with respect as well! He is a fellow warrior, not something to be lend out at a whim!"

Aragorn narrowed his eyes and glared at him.

"As much as I appreciate your sudden change of heart," he said sarcastically, "it is a rather sudden turn, is it not? Just a few days ago you could not wait until I sent my Elf back to your arms again! And you treated him as the lowest scum. I'm glad you changed your mind! But Legolas has not changed since then, nor has the situation. And I do not think he asked you to defend him, either!"

Boromir made a face. "He didn't," he admitted. "That Elf defends you even when you beat him, after all. And I admit that it took me quite long to see my foolishness."

After a moment's pause, he added harshly: "But that is neither here nor there. 'Tis true that Legolas did not ask me to defend him against you. But since he won't do it himself, somebody has to. You are a Ranger, are you not? A leader of your people. What would you do if one of your own men treated a fellow warrior that way?"

Aragorn stared at him for a moment, fighting the impulse to attack. Then he suddenly recalled where he had heard that argument before.

How Halbarad would smirk if he could see him now!

Banishing the thought of his second-in-command, shook his head.

"I have been told something like that before," he muttered reluctantly. "However, it is not that easy."

Aragorn sighed. "Look, what about a truce? Just keep in mind that if everything goes well, in a few days we will pass through Lothlórien. By their law, Legolas is still a slave. And they will not appreciate it if you stand up and tell them that their laws are wrong. In fact, it would not help Legolas either. There are more hostages than him at stake, remember?"

Boromir stared at him. "So we do what?"

Aragorn shrugged. "If you deny him, I will see to keep the spell well fed on my own. However..."

Boromir cocked his head. "If Legolas should come to me out of free will, then I will not deny him," he said, "nor will I ever deny him at need. But he has to come to me himself, not at your order."

Aragorn said nothing. It would not do to tell the other man that since Legolas had been ordered to go to him last night, Aragorn would not need to repeat that command, and that Legolas would not even dream to disobey it.

So he merely nodded noncommittally, and said: "We should go back. The camp will soon be broken."

Boromir narrowed his eyes. But he sensed that he would hardly gain another answer. So he just scowled and followed the other man back to the campsite.

________________ o ______________

Legolas followed the light. He ran on the path, all his senses intent on the dim shimmer of daylight he could see ahead and on reaching the place where the beam would hit the ground directly. He passed two openings to tunnels at the side, as well as a crossing where the path split up after a small stone bridge, one way turning to the right and further up, the other straight ahead into the direction the light was coming from. He slowed barely down, just taking the time to check that there was no obvious threat in each of the tunnels he passed and to register where he was going, so that he could find his way back later. The promise of daylight ahead called to him like a beacon, irresistible, beckoning him to seek it out. A third hole opened to a tunnel to his right, and then he finally reached his goal: he stood at the base of a big boulder that forced the path to make a bend around it, and on the top of that great piece of rock, the beam of light hit the walls of the cave. He did not hesitate; the boulder was not very hard to climb, and soon he had finally reached the top and stood in a puddle of light.

It was not direct sunlight; he could not see the face of Anor as he looked up to the opening where the beam originated. But even so, in the smothering darkness of the cave, the halo of daylight surrounding him seemed as brilliant as the brightest mid-day.

After the encroaching darkness of the mines, after the panic he had felt the night before under his master's blindfold, the beam of brightness was a most welcome relief. It reassured him, replenished his strength, and gave him hope in ways he had hardly expected. He strained all his senses to maybe grasp a faint wisp of the Song, but he could not discover any; the Tree-Song as well as the delicate threads of other living things in the great music apparently were too far away to make it down here to this remote place deep within the mountain.

But still, the light resting on his face did wonders to balance the terror he had felt last night. He could still feel the presence of something very powerful and very evil lurking somewhere deep in the darkness of the caves around him; but somehow, the reminder of the day lessened the power of that evil presence and helped him to restore his strength.

Legolas did not know how long he stayed there, standing in the faint refuge of light and drinking it in as if he could store it up for later. It might have been mere moments, or it might have been half an hour.

Finally, he rose again, and with some regret he jumped down to the path and began the way back to the camp. He made haste, suspecting that he had stayed longer than he had intended.

He never saw the cold, gleaming eyes that followed him when he passed the mouth of one of the tunnels.

__________________ o __________________

-- TBC --


1) Fëar – Sindarin: Soul. The 'Houseless' are fëar of Elves who, after being killed, refuse the call to Mandos and remain in Middle Earth, without a body (house) and therefore incapable of inhabiting the world, but also incapable of leaving it. They are feared by living Elves because they might attempt to enter their mind and try to possess or even steal their bodies. The spirits of dead men, on the other hand, normally leave the world and can do little harm – with the exception of the undead Ringwraiths.

Additional Author's note:

I'd like to take a moment here to thank my former Beta Surreysmum once more, who patiently worked with me on this story for over a year and made it far better during that time, as well as teaching me more about English along the way than I thought I would ever learn. Now, she decided she needed a break. I am very happy to announce that Namarie volunteered to take over. Thank you both! This story would be decidedly less good without your work!

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

Go to Mael-Gûl overview


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