Mael-Gûl: 49. The Golden Wood

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49. The Golden Wood

Authors note:
Completely A.U. Legolas slave fic. This story was inspired by Bluegold's 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 the wonderful and encouraging Namarie! 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: None. 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 some dialog from Peter Jackson's movie "The Fellowship of The Ring" (Extended Edition), again. Lifted dialog will be marked like this*. 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.


_________________________



XLXVII. The Golden Wood


Aragorn wiped a last spot of Orcblood from his sword. The motion was calming, routine; he had done it a thousand times before. He looked up.

All around him, he could see the scattered remaining members of the Fellowship. Just a few feet away, two of the Hobbits – Merry and Pippin, he realized – squatted on the ground, clutching each other; Merry was trying to calm Pippin, who trembled helplessly. Beside them sat Sam, staring at his hands and feet as if he wondered if they really belonged to him. Frodo alone was not there; the Ring-Bearer had wandered off and stood at some distance, motionless and frozen, his back turned to them all. Aragorn suspected that he was crying, too. Just a little uphill, Boromir had trouble restraining a struggling Gimli from running back into the mines. The Dwarf shouted words in his strange native tongue and fought with all his might, swiping his axe at the mountain they had just left. What he screamed, Aragorn did not know, but it sounded like a mixture of threats and curses.

As for Legolas -

Aragorn swallowed as he took in his Elf.

Legolas stood a little distance away. He looked pale, lost, barely aware of his surroundings. His motions were clumsy, without his usual grace. Aragorn doubted he truly saw anything.

He swallowed again. There stood his slave. Bound to him without hope, without release, except for the slim hope of success in a nearly impossible mission – a mission that had just become more hopeless with the fall of their trusted guide. And even should they manage to succeed, by some mad chance, there was no guarantee that it would indeed bring Legolas release. That faint hope existed only given Gandalf's last assumption had been true, and the destruction of the One Ring would also break the power of the Three. If Gandalf had been wrong about that...

In that case there was no hope to be had, or at least no hope Aragorn could see.

Aragorn cut off that train off thought. It was too painful to contemplate.

Bitterness welled up in him. In his mind, he saw again the images of the last half hour, of their desperate struggle to escape the mines – oddly overlaid with the images of the visions that had haunted him so long.

Great dark wings, made of shadow... the face of his Elf, white as snow, paler than he had ever seen him, frozen in utter terror... Fire and shadows reaching for them... the company, caught, no way out, running for their lives... Certain death for one of them, Gandalf's pale face, urging them to fly... He himself, for moments unable to move, frozen in horror... the feeling of loss, so overwhelming that he thought he would surely break... Boromir shouting his name, urging him to move on, while he stood frozen...

But he had read the vision wrong. And in his fear to lose his Elf, in his need to defeat fate and deflect the perceived threat to Legolas, he had driven the Elf into the arms of Boromir, and then insisted that Gandalf should try to break the spell without delay. And with this very action he had brought doom down on them all, and at the same time he had destroyed all of Legolas' hope for freedom.

Aragorn bit his lips.

'I am sorry, melethron,'
he thought. 'I swear to you, if there is a way to see you free, I shall find it. I'll do whatever it takes. But I won't let you die. And if there is no other way, I will take care of you. However and how long I have to do so. I won't let you die.'

But he did not dare to say any of the words aloud, and they left a bitter taste in his own throat. How many broken promises had he made, already?

Grimly, he shook his head and banished the thought. They had no time for this!

Aloud, he said: "Legolas! Get them up!*"(1)

Legolas jumped a little at his master's command. He turned to him, then he started to move. He still looked pale, far too pale for Aragorn's liking, and he seemed barely aware of what he was doing; but he followed his master's command and walked over to Sam, decades of training taking over.

Aragorn nodded to himself. He turned to Boromir.

But there, he met resistance.

"Give them a moment, for pity's sake!"* the Gondorian protested.

Aragorn looked at him. He had no doubts that Boromir and Gimli did not trust him as a leader. Not after everything the two had learned of him during these past few weeks. He was not sure if he trusted himself. But what alternatives did they have?

He forced himself to stay calm. "By Nightfall, these hills will be swarming with Orcs. We must reach the woods of Lothlorien!"* He took a breath. "Come, Boromir, Legolas, Gimli! Get them up!"*

Not waiting for Boromir's reaction, he bowed down to Sam and helped him up to his feet.

After a moment, he saw Boromir following his example with Merry and Pippin. He turned to fetch Frodo.

Maybe, just maybe, they had a chance!


__________________ o _______________

Legolas listened intently. He could not hear anything out of place: there was the sighing and creaking of the branches of the occasional birches and fig-trees, bereft of canopy; there was the rustling of the bushes, the dry grass and heather that covered the mountain slopes; and of course there were the heavy breathing and the stumbling steps of his comrades, occasionally accompanied by a breaking branch, a moving stone, and a quiet curse when one or the other of them missed a step or stubbed a toe. But no grunts or cries in the night behind them, no fast moving steps or groaning of the earth under foul feet. As far as he could tell, the slopes of the mountains behind them lay silent.

And yet. He was certain they were hunted. He could feel it in his very bones. There was an ever growing sense of urgency in the back of his mind, a growing shadow...

He cast a look at Frodo.

The Ring Bearer looked pale. There was a hollowness to his cheeks, and his mouth was a thin line; but he gave no other sign of his exhaustion. He stood there, catching his breath, waiting patiently for the company to either make camp or move on. The other Hobbits, standing around him, we looking not much better. Merry was in a quiet discussion with Pippin and Sam, and all Legolas could overhear were bits of phrases as "...cannot go on, we ought to stop, poor lad..." and "...but, see, we have to find..."

He stopped listening to them and turned back to the path behind them.

They had run all day, and hardly dared to stop, except once, shortly after noon, when Boromir had finally reminded Aragorn of Frodo's nearly fatal run-in with the cave-troll. Aragorn had stopped to apologize and treat the injury. The Hobbit had been lucky. The blow he had received could easily have crushed his chest, despite the mithril shirt, or at least have cracked a rib or two; but all it had given him, apparently, was a nasty bruise. Still, the injury must have hurt, and had considerably slowed him down. But the Ring Bearer had not uttered any complaint. None of the Hobbits had, although they had to struggle to keep up all day.

The old Dwarven road, leading down the mountains over thousand years ago, was overgrown and broken, at some places reduced to a mere track. Massive boulders lay about, and heather and vines covered the ground, hiding treacherous holes prone to catch unwary feet. Legolas, as well as his master, had traveled this path and knew where to set their feet, but the others were not so lucky, and so their progress had been rather slow. It had taken hours to put some distance between them and the gates of Moria; and all the time the icy wind blew in their faces and chilled them to the bone.

But now the wind was at their backs. It should carry the noise of any followers, but it did not. And yet...

Legolas stared out into the night. He was sure the Orcs of Moria had not started pursuit in the light of sun, but the sun had vanished behind the western mountain range long ago, leaving this side in gloomy twilight. The hunters could be on their track for hours. And they'd be fast.

"We made it!"

Legolas looked at his master. Before them, in a distance of perhaps another ten or fifteen miles, loomed the dark line of the Mallorn trees of Lothlorien. They were a solid line in the night; even now, in winter, they had not lost their canopy, and rose like pillars from the ground.

He hesitated.

Aragorn turned to him. "Look, we are at the waters of the Nimrodel, already. Another hour, and we are safe. I think we can afford a short rest, here."

Legolas swallowed. It was not his place to contradict his master, and yet...

"My lord, the Orcs..." he began in Silvain.

Aragorn gave him a sharp look. "Do you hear anything?" he asked quietly.

Legolas shook his head. "Not yet, my lord, but..." he trailed off.

Aragorn looked at him another moment, then he turned and looked back at the path they had come.

"Yes," he said, "I feel it, too. But still, the Hobbits need a rest. I think we can at least afford a short stay and a meal. It is but a short way to the woods, now, and there we will be safe."

Legolas said nothing. His memories of his last stay in those woods were not good, and now... He shuddered.

But what choice did they have? And besides, whatever waited for him there, whatever they would do to him in reproach for his deed, would be nothing more than he deserved. In any case, he was just a slave. His place was to follow his master, whatever that included.

"As you wish, my lord," he said.

Aragorn gave him a careful look, but then he merely nodded. "Fetch some water," he commanded. "I shall tell the others!"


_____________ o _____________

Legolas swallowed. He stared at the line of trees before him, rising like pillars up into the night. Beside him, he could hear the relieved sighs of his comrades. The wind was taking up. They were glad that, finally, they had reached shelter. He listened again. During the last half hour, he believed he had heard some shrieks, occasionally, and caught a faint, foul smell, just a trace within the wind...

But he heard nothing, now.

He cast a look at Aragorn. His master seemed relieved, as well. He was smiling.

Legolas looked ahead again. The wood loomed before them like a threat. He shuddered. Swallowing hard once more, he followed his master under the eaves of the forest.

Beside him, he heard Gimli's voice: "Stay close, young Hobbits! They say, a great sorceress live in these woods; an Elf witch of terrible power! All who look upon her fall under her spell!"*

Legolas gave him a careful look. You have no idea, master dwarf...

But as soon as the thought had crossed his mind, he was distracted. He could hear Gimli go on, but he was not listening anymore; his hands were already moving, acting on pure instinct. His bow was out and an arrow on the string before he realized what he was doing.

"I have the eyes of a hawk and the ears of a fox – uh!"* The dwarf broke off at the sudden appearance of an arrow in his face. They all froze. They were surrounded by a wood of arrows.

Then a voice drifted over to them, a voice Legolas recalled only too well. He resisted the urge to swallow.

"The Dwarf breathes so loud, we could have shot him in the dark!"*

Gimli growled.

Aragorn swallowed and raised his hands. He stepped forward. "Haldir of Lorien," he said in Sindarin, "Well met! We need your help!"

Haldir's eyes grazed over the Fellowship. His gaze came to rest on Legolas for a moment, searing through him like burning fire; then it wandered on. His expression did not change.

"Aragorn Dúnadan." he greeted with a bow. "You are known to us."* He raised his head again. "Yet the company you bring with you is strange, indeed. What do you want in the Woods of the Lady?"

Beside him, Gimli growled: "Aragorn! These woods are perilous! We should go back!"*

Haldir paid him no heed.

Aragorn gave Legolas a quick, mute sign to lower his bow.

"We seek shelter," he said, "and we would have free passage through your woods. We are on an important mission."

Haldir watched him without emotion. He changed to Silvain.

"I do not know of any mission you might have," he said, "and none that would warrant bringing a Dwarf into our woods. Or a strange human." He raised his brows in the direction of Frodo. "And you bring great evil with you. I cannot let you pass."

Aragorn straightened up. "Haldir!" he protested in the same tongue. "My mission is known to the Lady! It is of vital importance to all of Middle Earth! We need to see the Lady of the Woods!"

Haldir watched him calmly. "I do not know of any vital mission, Ranger," he said. "However, if you really want to enter our wood, I might be persuaded. For a price." His gaze returned to Legolas.

Legolas felt his skin crawl. He caught a glimpse of Frodo, who glanced between him, Haldir and Aragorn with bewilderment. Behind him, he could hear Boromir's angry voice, in Westron. "What's going on?"

He did not answer. Something vied for his attention. There was something in the back of his awareness, something he could not yet lay his finger on...

Aragorn paled. "What price?" he asked. "What do you want?"

Haldir looked back at him. "You brought your slave, I see," he said. "I always wondered... did he learn much while he was in your care? I might be persuaded to let you enter our woods, if in return I could sate my... curiosity." He gave a faint, suggestive smile. "If you were willing."

Legolas cringed inwardly. He had known it would come to that; he could feel Haldir's gaze on his skin like a smoldering coal. He shivered.

Aragorn froze. He balled his fist and straightened. "No!" he said. "How dare you... No!"

Haldir shrugged. His followers did not move a muscle.

Legolas took a brief, shallow breath. He hardly dared to move. And yet, he felt more and more distracted. There was something... something in the wind...

And then he heard it.

The groaning of the grass under foul feet. The scream of birches, wakened from slumber, and fig trees shuddering under the touch of cruel claws. The land was screaming.

He stared at the guards in front of them. They stood unmoved, gave no sign that they had noticed. How could they not know? How could they not feel it, too?

The Noldor of Rivendell had grown deaf to the voices of the trees, but these were Wood-Elves!

Haldir gave no sign that he heard anything unusual. He shrugged once more. "You heard my word on this," he said. "It's that, or turn around. I will not let you pass save for the prize I named."

Aragorn glowered. "No! If we have to go around your wood, we will!" he growled.

Legolas shivered. He cast a quick glance at Frodo, who looked jumpy and disturbed. The Ring Bearer did not understand the exchange, since it was held in Silvain, which he did not speak; and he could not hear the warning of the trees. But still, he felt the unrest, and apparently, he could sense the growing danger...

Inwardly, he cringed. Strange hands on him again... being used like a thing...

But he could not let their mission go awry, just for his own, worthless fears and needs. He had done enough already. If that was what was needed to ensure Gandalf's death had not been in vain, so be it.


Legolas looked at his master again. "My lord," he dared to say, "Estel..."

Aragorn did not even turn around.

"Be quiet!" he commanded sharply, "I will not stand for this. If we have to take our luck with the Orcs, we will!"

"Estel--" Legolas protested.

Haldir gave him an amused look. "Not very obedient, your slave, is he?" he remarked. "Maybe he needs a harder hand?"

Aragorn gave a sharp reply, but Legolas missed it. Boromir had taken a step forward to stand beside him.

"What is it? What is happening?" he demanded sharply in Westron. Frodo, at his other side, looked worried.

Legolas opened his mouth again, but before he could speak, Aragorn whipped around to him.

"I said: Be silent!" he commanded. "I will not stand for this."

Legolas cringed at his tone, but he still shook his head.

"My lord, we cant!" he said urgently. "The Orcs are out there. They are close. And we are in the vicinity of Dol Guldur! We'll never make it!" He risked an imperceptibly nod in the direction of the Ring Bearer and looked back at his master. "Aragorn..."

His master made a gesture, as if he were about to hit him in the face, and Legolas cringed; but the blow did not come.

Aragorn hesitated; then he let his hand fall to his side again. He gave him a pained look.

"Little Leaf..." he whispered.

Then he turned back to Haldir and stepped close.

"If there is need for one of us to serve your... needs," he said in an angry whisper, barely audible over the rustling of the canopy and the noises in the wind, "then I offer myself!"

Legolas stared. "Estel!" he gasped, but Aragorn ignored him.

Haldir took a step back. Legolas could see his highly amused look, seizing up the Ranger.

He cringed again. Estel did not know what he was offering! He could not...

He looked helplessly at Frodo and could see his puzzled look. The Hobbit did not know what was going on, and did not understand the sheer enormity of what Aragorn just had done, but he could feel that something was amiss. So could the others.

He tried again. "Estel--"

Aragorn ignored him.

Haldir gave the Dúnadan another long, appraising look. "An... interesting option," he finally said, equally quietly. "I wonder what your betrothed would make of it?"

Aragorn bit his lips. But otherwise, he did not move.

Haldir smiled.

"In any case, I will have to decline. You are not under the spell. I will not risk the forming of a bond." He looked at Legolas. "Him. For the durance of your stay. No less," he said.

Aragorn squared his jaw. He shook his head.

Legolas shivered.

Other hands on him than his master... being a mere plaything again, forced to serve whoever came to call...

But this was what he was good for, was it not? This was what he deserved. And if it served to buy them safety, to enable Frodo to finish his mission...


"My lord, I can take it," he lied, quietly. "Please. If this is what it requires..."

Aragorn whipped round to him in one swift movement. "I said, be quiet!"

He grabbed Legolas' arms and shook him. "I will not-" he trailed off.

Legolas cringed under his harsh grip. He looked in his master's eyes and saw the same torment he felt inside himself.

After a moment, Aragorn mouthed: "No!"

"We have no choice, Estel," he whispered noiselessly. "They are close. I can hear the very earth scream under them. And they are many. We would not stand a chance."

Aragorn's mouth was a harsh, thin line. He shook his head. Then he swallowed. "Legolas..." he mouthed.

Legolas could feel him tremble. "I can take it, Estel," he assured, very quietly.

It was a lie. He hoped his master would not call him out on it.

Aragorn's gaze searched his own, thoroughly.

"You are sure?"

Legolas tried his best to look convincing.

"Yes, my lord," he asserted. "Yes, Estel. I am sure."

Aragorn closed his eyes.

"I would have spared you this," he said tonelessly, a mere movement of the lips. "I would have risked the battle with the Orcs. Or even given him myself..."

"I know," Legolas replied. "Estel..."

Aragorn leaned forward. Briefly, he touched his forehead to that of his slave. Then he took a deep breath, opened his eyes again and let go. He turned back to Haldir, his eyes hard with determination.

"Three nights," he said, "no more. The days, he stays with us. And you will leave no marks, or lasting injury."

Haldir's eyes betrayed his amusement.

"A week," he countered. "No lasting marks. As for the injuries... I do not share your preferences, Ranger. I just want to enjoy his services the... usual way."

Legolas said nothing. He did not dare to look around, to even breathe.

"What are they talking about?" demanded Boromir in Westron. "What was all this about? What does he want from you?!"

Frodo looked at him. "Legolas?" he asked. "Is everything all right?"

Legolas took a deep breath. "Everything is all right," he managed in Westron. "Aragorn is negotiating for our entrance and protection. Haldir is suspicious of us, and of what we bring with us."

The words sounded hollow and unconvincing to his own ears. He saw the Dwarf giving him a sharp, doubtful look. But Frodo paled. Boromir looked suspicious. "Aren't they supposed to help us?" he asked puzzled.

Legolas did not meet his gaze.

"Mithrandir is not with us anymore," he said, as if that would explain everything.

Frodo looked away.

In front of them, the whispered discussion between Aragorn and Haldir had come to an end. Aragorn looked angry, but forlorn. He took a step back and bowed his head.

Haldir smiled. He took a step forward and surveyed them.

"You will come with me!" he stated, gesturing with his head over his shoulder. His smoldering gaze rested for just a moment too long on Legolas, then he turned around and led the way. The other Elves fell into line behind him.

Legolas shuddered and bowed his head.

-- Time to pay, then. --


_______________ o _______________


-- TBC --


Notes:

(1) Some of the dialogue in this chapter is directly lifted from the movie, LOTR – The Fellowship of the Rings, Extended Edition. Lifted dialogue will be marked with an asterisk*.

Additional note:
I remind everyone again that this story is based on Movieverse. Bookverse, the Fellowship stays about a month in Lothlorien, and loses all sense of time while they are there. Legolas spends the day with them, but the night with other Elves. There is also that famous blindfold scene. Movieverse, however, we get the impression that the whole visit to Lothlorien takes place in just a night or two, and the blindfolding scene is missing even in the Extended Edition. I take the liberty to take a middle approach, in this, to fit my purposes. And of course, there will be other deviations from the movie. Please, bear with me!


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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