11. The Hunger
As always, it's Anarithilien who makes it work and gets me back on track.
Usual warnings but there's a bit of medical stuff in this and implicit slash.
This is the end of the first day sailing up the Anduin.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no money made.
Chapter 11: The Hunger
Dusk settled on the Great River. Seabirds flocked above the ships as they strained upriver against the tide. Oars rose and fell and the freed slaves changed places to let the weary rowers rest. Elrohir watched the empty sails lowered yet again as the expected wind failed. He knew Aragorn was desperate and had looked again into the Palantir. But one did not need that dark globe to see the red glow in the sky away north. Minas Tirith burned.
Coiled rope hung heavily in his strong hands, burning where it was pulled across his palms. It was no great hardship to an Elf used to wielding a sword for centuries but it was a different sensation and he revelled in it, allowing the burning to distract him from the other pain, the hunger that gnawed his heart and fea.
'Hold on,' shouted a voice above him and he looked up to see a sailor, one of the freed slaves, balanced precariously on the crossbar of the mast, the other end of the rope in his hands. Elrohir stifled a gasp. These Men knew what they were about and were as agile as any Elf, he told himself.
He obeyed the Man's instructions as they raised the sails, relying solely now on the power of the oarsmen for the wind remained stubbornly elusive.
Suddenly there was a shout from another ship that hoved closer. A voice hailed them loudly. 'Ahoy!'
Elrohir looked over to see the Man called Anor, with his hands cupped his over his mouth, shouting to the captain of his own vessel over the sound of the ships and the waves. 'I have message for the Lord Elrohir.'
Elrohir looked up to the sailor in the mast and when he nodded and waved, Elrohir carefully dropped the coiled ropes on the deck and leaned over the gunwale the better to hear Anor.
'Good to see you my lord!' the man grinned and flashed his white teeth. He had tied a red scarf over his head and it gave him a rakish air.
Elrohir nodded and called a greeting back. 'You have news for me my friend?'
'Your brother asks for you.' Anor called and he looked suddenly serious and anxious. 'He asks if you would come aboard. We have a man down!'
For a moment, Elrohir's heart thumped and he thought it might be Legolas. 'I will come across in the skiff,' he called back and Anor nodded, looking relieved.
A sense of urgency permeated the ship as he came aboard. Instantly his hand was grasped and he was pulled with surprising strength onto the deck. When he raised his eyes to see who pulled him aboard, he saw the long sweep of flaxen hair and felt the thrill of the power in the Mirkwood Elf's touch. Without pause, without thought, Legolas pointed down the steep wooden steps into the hold.
'He is there, in my cabin.' Anxious green eyes lifted almost beseechingly, no trace of hostility just concern and he wondered if it was the Dwarf who was injured. 'It is Nestor…Elladan asks for your help.' It was lost on neither of them that he had abased himself in his pleading tone but Elrohir was more generous than to take pleasure in that and he simply nodded.
'Of course,' he said briskly. 'Show me.'
He followed the Elf hastily down the steps and the warm air of below decks closed around him. A low moan came from the cabin where he had brought Legolas and the clink of metal instruments.
'In here,' said Legolas and he thrust open the door and stood back to allow Elrohir inside.
Warm lamplight spilled out and he could see his brother glance quickly in his direction. A look of intense relief passed briefly over Elladan's features but he merely nodded. His hands moved quickly, covered in blood and a glint of metal between his fingers. Beside him, the Dwarf held a shallow basin and the water was bloody.
Elrohir glanced around the same room where he had brought Legolas, his lean inert body had laid on a small pallet bed that was no longer here, and if he were honest, Elrohir was glad - his own terrible transgressions etched perfectly and sharply in his own mind. A long table had been dragged into the cabin and Nestor lay on it - an operating table clearly. The pallet bed he realised, was actually a folding bunk and it had been stowed away to make room for the long table.
Elrohir pulled off his tunic and thrust it to someone behind him and rolling up his sleeves, he stepped towards the still figure of the bed. Leaning over, he glanced at the pale face of the Man they had released at Linhir. On the back of his head there was a bloody wound, bone showed through and something dark and spongy. He grimaced. This was not a simple operation - this would require something more and glancing at Elladan he could see his brother had nothing left to give. He looked exhausted.
Moving quickly he sloshed the rich crimson uilos over his hands, the sharp astringent pricking his eyes. Glancing over his shoulder towards Legolas' white anxious face, he saw that the Mirkwood Elf clutched Elrohir's own tunic against his heart. A strange feeling blossomed in his chest and he had to look away.
'We will need boiling water to sterilise these instruments.' he said. Legolas simply nodded briefly and whirled away.
Elrohir stood next to his brother, letting the energy slowly flood him, pulse through his veins. He focused and as always, the sudden sharpening of his own perception surprised him. He could feel his brother doing the same and their joined power washed through him, over him and reached into Nestor's still body.
'There are fragments of bone and possibly splinters of wood in the wound,' Elladan spoke in a low and urgent voice. 'I do not know if there is any damage to his brain yet.' Elrohir felt them too, the twinges of irritation in the Man's nerves, the splintering of pain…he reached deeper and found the blunt, bruising throb...
Elrohir glanced at his brother, who if anything, was as pale as the Man who was laid out on the long table before them. 'We will remove everything we can and then we will see,' he said soothingly. He turned to see anxious faces crowding on the doorway, Anor and Gimli amongst them. He glanced at the Dwarf. 'You have steady hands my friend. Will you assist us?'
The Dwarf looked up and met the Elven gaze steadily and Elrohir was struck again by the strength of the Dwarves. Gimli nodded briefly and asked, 'What will you have me do?' He stepped within the small confined cabin and Elrohir shut the door firmly on the anxious Men outside.
'Fill this basin with boiling water when… when Legolas gets back. Get this,' he grabbed a glass bottle of amber liquid which sloshed around the round-bottomed bottle, 'and fill the second basin with it. Prepare another basin ready for these.' He indicated the liquid amber ortire and another bottle of crimson uilos. 'You will need to soak a wad of linen in this,' he indicated the emerald sere-vanda, 'And hold it to his nose and mouth should he begin to awaken.' The Dwarf nodded. The light shone through each bottle giving the precious liquids within a jewel-like glow and Elrohir let his mind drift for a moment… to the last time he was in here…He became aware of sharp astute eyes upon him, and turned to meet the deep gaze of the Dwarf. He started guiltily and turned back to the task but he knew that Elladan had felt it too because his brother glanced up, his eyes dark and troubled.
Gimli picked up the cold metal basin and went to the door to look for Legolas. As soon as he opened it he heard the stifled murmur of voices outside and the crowd of concerned faces clustered round him. Anor grasped his arm as he searched for Legolas.
'How is he? Will he be alright?'
Gimli drew a sigh and looked away. He was never one to give false hope, nor was he a healer. 'I do not know,' he said. 'They will cleanse the wound and do what they can. I have nothing else I can give you right now. We need boiling water. Go and help Legolas if you can. And keep it coming,' he added, thinking it best if Anor had something to do.
In the cabin again, he saw that the sons of Elrond stood close, their black hair tied out the way and the same intense look of concentration on their fair faces. They stood on either side of Nestor, each Elf with his hands placed over the Man's head, lightly, barely touching. Their eyes were closed and he felt a strange tension in the room, as though everyone were holding his breath and then a warmth stole over him. He quietly went about his business of preparing as he had been instructed, careful not to distract them.
It seemed forever but was only a few moments when one of them looked up. He had no idea which one but whoever it was, turned to Gimli and said, 'Can you set up the basins here.' He indicated the shelf of the small cabinet. 'We need a bucket for soiled cloths. There is a wad of linen in that cupboard and everything else you need will be around.' He looked quizzically at Gimli for a moment and then asked, 'Are you used to assisting in such things as this?'
'I have assisted in the field when I have had to, but to be honest, I have not done this before. '
The two brothers exchanged a look and then said something that Gimli could not understand except Anor's name was mentioned.
One of the brothers cast another look back at Gimli and said something else. He guessed they were talking about whether or not he was the most suitable to assist. Anor had been helping Elladan.
'If you think Anor would be better, take him. You will not offend me,' he said brusquely. Both Elves looked startled and he guessed they thought he had picked up enough words from Legolas to understand them. 'Well, let them think that,' he thought. Instead he told the sons of Elrond, 'Anor loves Nestor. They have been through much and in my experience, the closest person is not always the best person to help with something like this where there will be pain and blood. If you think I am unsuitable, I will fetch Legolas.'
'No.' Both brothers spoke more quickly than either they or the Dwarf expected.
No one looked at each other for a moment until Gimli squared his shoulders and huffed. 'Then I will help. '
'Do not think we doubted you, Gloinsson,' said one of them. 'It is a difficult and exhausting process. We wished to spare you.' The other twin was already holding sharp scissors and shearing away Nestor's dark hair. It fell in little locks onto the floor around him.
He muttered something to his twin, who glanced up but did not reply. Gimli did not recognise the words and he did not want to think about the pink spongy tissue or the clotted blood around Nestor's head.
His thoughts were interrupted by a light knock and Gimli opened the door to see Legolas and Anor, each holding an enormous pan of boiling water. Anor held the handle in both hands, straining to hold it aloft. Legolas however, stood easily and gazed over Gimli's head, one hand resting on the door jamb for the all the world as if he could carry both pans and run up the rigging on the way. It was clear he had fully recovered, thought the Dwarf wryly.
Gimli smiled at the anxious pair and took one of the pans. 'I do not think we need both just now. Keep the other boiling though,' he said and closed the door firmly in their faces.
He tipped some of the water in the metal basin and watched as both Elves scrubbed their hands scrupulously in first the boiling water that did not seem to burn them at all, and then they swirled their hands around the the basin of uilos.
'You will need to replace this now please, Gimli,' one told him. He glanced at both impassive faces and did as he was bid, sloshing more water into another basin. Metal instruments glinted in the light, sharp and hard. He did not stare at them for long, unbidden images of the razor edges against the Man's scalp formed in his own mind. He turned instead to empty the used water and uilos into a bucket.
When he straightened and looked up, he could not see much for both Elves were standing too close to Nestor and leaning over him. Dark heads bent.
One of them lightly passed his hands over the skull, sensing and feeling the bones and scalp. He peered at the bloody gash and gently sheared some more hair away from the opening in the skin and squinted at the dark pulpy mess beneath.
Gimli saw him cringe as he felt the bones depress slightly and the Elf immediately stopped, withdrawing his hands. He narrowed his eyes and looked down at Nestor. He spoke quietly to his brother again. The other brother glanced quickly up at Gimli but Gimli had not understood. The Elf smiled tightly and then leaned in closer, blocking Gimli's view of what they were doing. For a while there was no sound but the occasional clink of metal against the basin and the swirl as metal instruments were dropped into first the boiling water and then the uilos.
One of them quickly looked at Nestor's nose and in his ears. 'Munta' he said, sounding relieved. Gimli frowned, he did not know that word but he thought it was familiar. Then one of them spoke to him and he stared blankly back and he knew they had guessed he did not understand.
'Forgive me, I thought you spoke our tongue,' said the one who had asked him a question.
Gimli shook his head. 'A smattering only.' He grinned wryly. 'You do not have to understand every word to understand meaning,' he said and the Elf smiled. He thought that must be Elladan. The other looked at him sharply.
'We need you to hold the lamp closer please.' said the one unsmiling. That, Gimli decided, was Elrohir. Gimli shuffled nearer and picked up one of the lamps he had set burning. The light glinted off the metal instruments in their hands, silver and crimson as blood dripped off the blade. He eased himself to the other side of the table and held the lamp as close as he dared to the top of the table where the two Elves stood.
It seemed like hours had passed although he was sure it could not have been that long, Gimli's arm strained and he dared not shift for the intense concentration on the faces of the two Elves next to him.
Elladan wiped sweat from his forehead with the rolled up sleeve of his shirt and his brother paused midway and looked at him, before speaking in a low voice, and Gimli realised with a start that the reason they sounded so different from Legolas' soft dialect was that they spoke not Sindarin but Quenya. He had picked up a few woods of Sindarin from Legolas, but the truth was that he knew more words of Quenya for Ori had translated into Khuzdul the story of the Silmarils and delighted in teaching some words to the young Gimli. Granted, the Elves spoke with what he supposed to be a purer accent than Ori's thick vowels. Still he began to recognise a few words. He was sure 'lumba' meant tired or exhausted. And when Elladan replied more tersely than he expected, the Dwarf glanced up at his drawn pale face and thought Elladan did indeed look exhausted. His eyes had tight little lines around them and his lips were pinched. No one had slept or rested properly from the battle at Pelargir, Gimli thought, and before that it had been Linhir and the long ride, and before that… he sighed quietly. It had been a long time since he himself had rested or slept properly. No wonder then, that the sons of Elrond found things to disagree on.
Gimli watched them as they leaned in close again and levelled their intent gaze upon the bloody wound. Elrohir gently, barely touching, traced the metal spatula against the tissue and a tiny sliver glittered when he brought it out again. He swirled it in the boiling water first and then in the crimson uilos.
Then Gimli saw what they were doing.
Where they had shorn Nestor's hair around the wound, they had pushed back the skin. He gulped. Beneath the pale bone, pale pink spongy tissue showed and one of them held a metal pincer above it. Elladan squinted and gestured to Gimli to bring the light close and he watched breathlessly as the Elf lowered the metal instrument and picked out so delicately a tiny sliver of bone. As he lifted it from the head wound, both Elves breathed.
He brought the light close once more, watching their patient hands as they steadily lifted tiny splinters, one by one from the gash in Nestor's head.
The one he thought was Elladan said something in a low, irritated voice. Gimli caught certain words because Elladan punctuated them carefully and Gimli struggled to remember the words he had learned from the tale of the Silmarils. He did not know what 'mailë' meant but he recognised 'úcarë'-sin! -and 'ormë'- for that was how Ori had described Melkor's violent trespass against Feanor. He pondered over 'estel', his eyes still fixed on the pale pink wound as Elladan swirled the flat metal spatula in first water, then uilos. His brother did not reply but his lips thinned and Gimli saw his hand tighten on the pincers he held, so his knuckles clenched. He did not need to understand every word what they said to know that they argued. He had heard them call Aragorn Estel and wondered if they argued about him.
Elladan spoke again in a low furious voice then and Gimli caught Legolas' name in his words. Elrohir answered, his voice earnest. Gimli caught one word, 'vanda' and he recalled the word meant oath. His focus suddenly sharpened; why were they discussing, or rather arguing about his friend? He had noticed the bruise on Legolas' cheek had not faded and he himself had still not forgiven Elrohir for that fight. He frowned and listened more intently, but the words were too quickly spoken and he did not have the skill to follow them.
Both Elves had stopped and were glaring at each other. The one Gimli thought was Elrohir was leaning his hands on the edge of the table and struggling for control. It was he who broke the gaze first and looked down at Nestor. The Man's skin was pale and clammy. Even though there were no fluids coming from his nose or ears, Gimli felt sure he was not yet safe.
As if reading his thoughts, Elrohir turned to Gimli. 'It is not certain but we have removed most of the splinters and dirt. There is no damage.' He breathed, not looking at Elladan who still stood rigidly, fingers clenched around the metal scalpel in his hand. 'Thank you Gimli. I could not quite see where those splinters were although I could sense the irritation. '
'Ah.' was all Gimli could say. He had never been squeamish but the sight of that pale pink spongy tissue made him squirm and he felt unsettled by the furious argument going on between the brothers in spite of the delicate surgery they seemed capable of doing at the same time.
Metal clattered suddenly. Gimli watched startled as Elladan dropped the silver spatula. Reaching over, Elrohir gently took the instrument from his brother's trembling hands and laid it on the side of the cabinet. Elrohir's hands were bloody and he held his own gleaming knife lightly between his fingers. He spoke softly, gently. 'Avatyara.' But Elladan glared at him with an intensity that made Gimli step back.
Elrohir winced noticeably. He turned apologetically to Gimli. 'Forgive us. My brother is exhausted and does not wish to leave. But he must. Will you go with him and watch over him?'
Elladan narrowed his eyes and leaned towards Elrohir. He hissed something at him and abruptly turned away, and in one stride reached the door. Gimli watched puzzled as Elladan threw open the door of the small cabin. Immediately the lamplight fell onto the pale faces of the anxious Men waiting outside. Elrohir reached out as if he might touch his brother but he let his hand fall to his side and then shook his head
'Gimli…please, go with him.' Elrohir appealed quietly. Gimli looked carefully at the Elf and then nodded. The Men crowded round the door but Gimli shook his head silently at them and they fell back. A tall figure detached itself from the knot of worried sailors and caught Gimli's arm.
It had been Legolas' turn to sit pensively outside and wait for news. It had taken four of them to bring Nestor in, carrying him in a sheet of sailcloth and gently placing him on the long table they moved into Legolas' room. Legolas and Anor had paced restlessly outside the cabin, trying not to get in each other's way.
He had focused, trying to ease the knot of tension in his guts, the gnawing pain of loss. But that loss was more than just worry for Nestor, it mingled with the strange elation and yearning that came every time he breathed in the smell of the Sea, or heard the cry of the gulls in the wild air above them. He had not been unaware of the furious whispers from within; he could not make out any of the words but trusted Elladan and Gimli that they would do all they could.
Suddenly the door had been hurled open and one of the sons of Elrond stood in the doorway. Lamplight gleamed on his long black hair. Legolas had stared, searching for something he recognised in the face that was taut with anger and contempt. The Noldo Elf's burning gaze, suffused with rage and fatigue, seemed to linger on Legolas before he pushed through the Men and lurched unsteadily down towards the hold. A brief moment later, Gimli followed and Legolas caught his arm. But Gimli only patted his hand lightly and trotted off after the other Elf.
Legolas watched the Dwarf disappear into the half darkness of below-deck. He looked back at the Men who clustered around the door anxiously, whispering to each other.
He pushed open the door and entered as quietly as he could. The other son of Elrond leaned over Nestor and was intent on the wound, his hands capable and gentle, moved through the Man's bloody hair, long pincers resting in his hands and a silver needle which he used to carefully stitch the wound. Legolas watched as he narrowed his gaze, and prodded and pressed carefully at the scalp.
Legolas drew back and waited, watching the healer at work. He smiled lightly, remembering his last encounter with Elladan, for surely it was Elrohir who had growled at him outside and this was Elladan who gently, carefully tended the Man. He hardly seemed aware of Legolas now, but that was as it should be.
Legolas saw that finally the other Elf looked up and when he saw Legolas he drew a small surprised breath. Legolas supposed that was because he was deep in healing, his eyes had an intent focus, his face expressionless as he busied himself with preparing for what he had to do.
'Have you come to assist?' the other Elf asked, a little uncertainly.
'I thought you would need someone…' he said hesitantly and then a surge of emotion in his chest that perhaps he was found wanting he asked quickly, 'Do you not want me?'
The dark Elf drew a sudden breath and then slowly released it, shaking his head. 'I was not sure you would...'
'I will do whatever you ask of me,' said Legolas humbly.
He watched as the healer stooped and poured some crimson liquid into a basin and set metal instruments into it. He did not speak again.
Legolas looked down at his friend's still face. Men were so fragile. There was a low moan from Nestor and Legolas instantly caught up the big hand in his own and watched the Man's face intently. Lamplight cast a softer light over his sleeping face and Legolas thought for a moment of death. He pushed away those thoughts and leaned in to listen to the Man's song, to the gentle sound of the wind over long grass and the breathing of all good things growing in the earth…but beneath it all was a whisper of surf on the white shore…
He was aware of a soft clattering as the other Elf arranged his instruments and then laid a soft white cloth beneath Nestor's head and began cleaning the matted blood. Every time a cloth became saturated, he thrust it towards Legolas who then threw it into a bucket in the corner. Legolas reached for sere-vanda but the other Elf stopped him.
'It is very powerful- only a few drops for a Man or it will put him into a sleep from which he may not awaken.' Legolas looked at the emerald bottle that he held so lightly and then carefully set it down again. 'Hold the light close for me please. It seems I am not done here yet,' said the other Elf, frowning as he peered at the Man's scalp.
Legolas held the light as close as he dared without impeding the healer. He could see white bone gleaming palely now. He winced as the needle pierced the delicate skin with tiny, precise, slow movements. Legolas became intensely aware of his own breathing, barely moving as he held as still as he could to allow the other Elf complete concentration.
He almost jumped when the healer paused, leaned his hands against the bench and looked down sighing. 'I do not know if this will work,' he murmured. He looked suddenly at Legolas and Legolas felt a strange intensity in that gaze, something different, darker. 'Men do not have the same control over their bodies. You just needed to be reminded, but Men have to be directed.' The healer paused and looked down again at Nestor. 'I do not know if this will help him.'
He watched Elladan leaning over Nestor and pouring his energy into healing; he could see the faint red glow of the healing aura and sensed the power, the fight the Elf gave in his battle to win Nestor back for the living…but when Legolas leaned in and listened, the song was not the same as he had heard before with Elladan; there was no sound of moonlight touching still pools. Instead there was a fierce, vibrant song of fire and red leaping flames, an angry burning and longing…it was the song of the sword and of war.
Legolas recoiled, startled at the change, for this was not the gentle soul he had sensed. He looked away and wondered about this, thinking it must be that in the battle that Elladan fought for Nestor's life, against the wound, against infection and disease, his song had changed from the soft silver moon on still pools to the hot fire of the sun, and he shivered lest he be burned in its rage and heat. He noticed the callouses on the palms from handling a sword and riding with reins that he himself found so unwieldily and distasteful. A ring suddenly caught the light and a dark gem flashed briefly. A distant, deep memory stirred and then submerged again.
The Noldo's head was bent over the Man, dark straight brows drawn together in intense concentration and a stray tendril of hair fell across his face and into his eyes. Without thinking, seeking only to assist, Legolas lifted his hand and stroked the tendril back, smoothing it over the Noldo's forehead and tucking it behind his slightly rounded ear. He stared in fascination. So he did not notice the other Elf freeze at his touch, or the heat that flushed his skin, or the trembling of his hand so he had to pause and lean against the bench for a moment. Legolas barely stopped himself from reaching out again and stroking his long finger over the rounded edge of the other Elf's ear. But he loved Nestor and dropped his gaze to where the big Man struggled for life. That was what mattered right now. Legolas knew he could wait.
Elrohir struggled. Legolas' fingers had left a trail of fire on his skin and lust surged through him. Leaning briefly against the bench behind him for a moment, he felt his hand tremble and he forced himself to quell the power that suddenly flooded him. Images of lean, hard-muscled limbs wantonly sprawled beneath him, tangled in linen sheets and long flaxen hair caught in his clenched fist leaped before him. He dug his nails into the palms of his hand until there was pain, traced the razor-edge of the gleaming knife against his fingertip until the sting focused him. Drawing in a deep breath, he forced himself to stare at Nestor, at the blood that dried on his pale, clammy skin. He reminded himself that he was trying to save a life.
Steadying his hands, Elrohir picked up a wad of clean linen and swabbed the wound gently; his own warmth and healing fire wrapped the ragged edges of the Man's pain, encouraging the nerves to knit and heal. And the fire of his own bright soul fought the pain that sought to lure this gentle, beloved Man into Death's quiet dark.
Elrohir took a small bottle and poured drops of athelas and sere-vanda, just a few drops. He swirled it around in the glass, watching the gold and emerald liquids blend and entwine like an embrace. He gently held it against Nestor's nose and mouth and felt his awareness drop once more into sleep. Meanwhile, Legolas wiped the last traces of blood away, then threw the bloody clouts in the bucket in the corner. Then silently, the two Elves put the folded bed back in place and lifted the Man easily, gently laying him on the bed and pulling clean linen sheets over him.
Wearily, Elrohir opened the door and beckoned to Anor.
'He is safe now. You will need to watch over him while I sleep. If he wakes, send someone for me.' Elrohir rubbed his hand over his eyes, his energy had been drained, for the fight against this had been intense and he needed to rest even as he had told his brother. He winced inwardly, thinking of the argument they had had and the angry words Elladan had spoken. What would he think now if he knew the thoughts a single touch from Legolas had brought?
But for now, he had only to settle Anor in a chair to watch over his friend. Elrohir allowed himself a rare, slight smile to see how Anor clung to the unconscious Man's hand and knew that even if he did not know it, Anor was giving Nestor comfort and strength to heal. His eyes alighted upon a small carved bird on the floor. It had fallen out of the unfolded bunk. He picked it up gently, setting it beside Nestor so that he should see something delicate and beautiful when he awoke.
'Come. You need to rest,'said a voice nearby and hardly aware, he followed Legolas from the small cabin and down the narrow galley towards the hold where he hoped he would find Elladan asleep. Several small stores and cabins branched off from the passageway and the darkness closed in on them. He could smell pitch and tar and the slight tinge of fire. Timbers creaked as the ship plunged and rose on the waves.
Elrohir became aware of the Woodelf before him, his long, easy stride, and the fall of pale gold hair down his back, the moss suede tunic and tooled leather boots. His own shimmer lightened the dark and Elrohir squeezed his eyes shut… remembering another place in the dark, the warmth and darkness suffocating, muffled cries in a dim cell… He gasped and his hand flew to his mouth. Legolas turned suddenly, concern on his face.
Elrohir shook his head, but he knew his eyes were bright with tears. He was too tired for this now. And when Legolas lifted his hand this time, palm outstretched, Elrohir knew it was a caress. He bowed his head, wanting that caress, wanting the comfort, but instead he put his own hand up and slowly caught the strong wrist. Green eyes, dark with lust met his and he almost gasped at the intensity of the other Elf's desire.
'Stop,' said Elrohir huskily, the words Elladan had hurled at him burned in his memory. 'You betrayed your trust,' his brother had said.' You slaked your dark lust upon him even as he lay there helpless. You almost committed the most violent of crimes.' But it was worse. His crime against Legolas was as nothing…he wanted to bury his face in his hands, to curl in on himself…his hatred of himself lurked in the darkness. But in that dark also was that coiled lust…and it stirred at the Woodelf's touch.
Legolas stood close. 'You healed me even as you healed Nestor,' he said, closing the gap between them and Elrohir had to step back instead. He felt a door handle in his back and stopped, pressed against the door. He shook his head again, feeling his own lust move and fighting against it.
'You…' Legolas smoothed his long fingers against Elrohir's heart and traced a circle over his breast, mirroring Elrohir's own hand when he had traced the runes over Legolas' own heart. 'You called my name.'
Elrohir drew a breath, focusing on his brother's harsh words, on his own hatred of himself, on anything that would keep Legolas from him. 'It is not me you want,' he said, shaking his head slowly.
Legolas smiled lazily, sensuously. 'No? Feel how much I don't want you,' he said and pressed himself against Elrohir.
Elrohir felt the hard length at his thigh, the lean body, muscled and battle hard. He felt the warmth of the other Elf bathe him and it seemed a green light suffused the air around him, like sunlight filtering through young green beech leaves, and the whisper of wind in the pines, a chuckle of cold streams in mossy forest glades… he felt the strength bunched in the other's arms where he raised his hands to grasp him, and the warmth as he leaned in to his mouth and felt Legolas smile triumphantly.
He opened his own mouth to protest but Legolas curled his tongue around his. It pushed against his own tongue, filling his mouth.
Abruptly he pulled back and Legolas sighed.
'It is not me you want,' Elrohir whispered again, barely able to speak.
But the Woodelf reached around him and practised ease flipped the door handle. It fell open. He stepped closer to Elrohir and suddenly he seemed taller and there were shadows on his face, his cheekbones sharp in the half-light, eyes shadowed in darkness and the bruise on his cheek stood out starkly.
'Let me show you how much I don't want you,' the Woodelf said and he pressed Elrohir back against the thin timber wall and licked lazily down his mouth to his throat. Gasping as Legolas' fingers curled around his, Elrohir felt his own hand lifted and brought to the Woodelf's mouth and with his other hand, Legolas traced the rounded tip of his ear.
Elrohir shuddered and the darkness in him raised its head and coiled. A brief image of Legolas, lean and naked body, wild paintings on his skin, sprawled before him like a sacrifice, and his own body bearing down, capturing that power and strength, subduing the other Elf to his own will, flashed in Elrohir's mind and his lust surged forwards.
He grabbed Legolas' head and pushed back with his tongue, wild desire throbbed and overwhelmed him. Grasping the Elf's tunic he pulled him forwards and then shoved him around so it was Legolas now pressed back against the wall. He felt his own desire pulse against the Woodelf's body and pushed his tongue into the compliant mouth, hot and wanting to fill that mouth, his fists clasped Legolas' tunic and he felt the strength and power that did not resist.
But he wanted Legolas to resist, he wanted the Woodelf to fight. He wanted to drag him to the floor and rip his clothes from him, to throw him against the wall, rake his nails and teeth over his skin, make him writhe in pain and delight, take him violently, to plunge into his hot body, to beat him senseless, so he could punish him for the arousal he provoked…He pushed Legolas back against the wall himself now and thrust one hand beneath the moss suede tunic. He felt Legolas pull his tongue in more deeply. Elrohir lifted his other hand to the other Elf's cheek to still him, to push him down to his knees… and he brushed the faint bruise.
'Ai, Elladan…' murmured the Woodelf and suddenly… suddenly Elrohir stopped. With a cry he lifted his hand away and the dark gem flashed in the dim light.
'No.' Elrohir pushed Legolas away. He stumbled back, covering his face with his hands. 'It is not me you want,' he repeated.
And even as he spoke he saw Legolas looking with horror at the ring on his hand. The archer's own long fingers drifted to the faint bruise on his cheek. In his eyes there was recognition that the dark jewelled ring had caused that same bruise.
Legolas staggered back, eyes that had been dark with lust now furious and betrayed. 'You mock me!' he said furiously. ' You let me think ... ai! You have fooled me well. Both of you! '
'No. I tried to tell you...' Elrohir protested but a part of him wanted to drag Legolas back and to wrestle him to his knees, to fight him for mastery. 'Elladan...' he tried to protest but Legolas violently threw him off and pulled the door open. He turned and gave a last cold look at Elrohir.
'If you wanted to mock me, there are easier ways surely,' he said with utter contempt. Then he was gone.
Elrohir leaned silently against a pillar in the crew's cabin, which was but a wide space beneath deck where hammocks were slung low and sailors' chests were tucked neatly against the ship's timbers. He could make out Elladan sleeping in one of the hammocks that had been strung across the hold for the rowers. Elrohir sat on a pile of empty sacks and stretched out his long legs. The smell of dust and wheat that had been in the sacks filled the air as he sank onto the hessian sacks, and mingled with the sharp tang of the tar the sailors used on the ship.
He wondered briefly if he should not simply leave the ship and return to Aragorn but he could not leave Elladan like this, or Legolas with such misunderstanding. It was clear the Woodelf had thought he was Elladan, although he did not know how this was- surely he realised Elladan had left? It was also clear that Legolas had intentions towards Elladan that he had expected to be returned. And Elrohir did not know what he thought about that.
He leaned his head back against the timbers and sighed deeply. How had it become such a mess?
Legolas. Before he could even think, the memory of that strong hand grasping his leaped unbidden to the front of his mind, hauling him up onto the deck, the other hand holding back that long sweep of flaxen hair. That light touch stroking his hair back from his face, caressing his ear. The press of his lean, hard body against him, his mouth on his, his tongue and lips and fingers...Almost, he could sense him. If he closed his eyes and felt for him, stretched out his senses, groped blindly through the darkness, below the velvet quiet, below the sounds of waves splashing against the hull, deeper than the breaths of his brother's sleep, he could sense the light presence of the Woodelf.
He breathed in; the scent of pine and mossy pools where clear streams ran, mingled with the salt sea air. He could sense him…almost, felt him breathe. Could almost smell him… he closed his eyes, remembering the feel of heavy silk of his hair cool in his hands, the glow of lamplight on his skin…tracing the runes…his smell…warmth…the coiled power of his muscles, his strength as that strong archer's hand reached down and pulled him aboard…pulled his head towards his mouth and kissed him with the same hunger he felt. And that was it.. he had the same wild hunger.
Now could he acknowledge the truth. It was not rage he felt when he looked upon Legolas, not hatred. But desire. A hunger so strong it almost hurt. A hunger for that power subservient to his, hunger for the control over that strong lean body… He heard himself moan…. and he felt himself fill. He clenched his fists and ground his knuckles into the timber floor. He felt the burgeoning of his desire, and rage… and violent desire. He had never wanted anything as much as he had wanted the struggle, to master him, to plunge into his hot body, to punish him for the arousal he provoked…for reminding him of that dreadful memory, of making him remember that he had stood and watched….
Suddenly he pushed himself to his feet and strode to the door, throwing it open and leaping up the steps to the open air. He breathed deeply, a drift of salt sea air lingered in the light breeze and the grey river water churned beneath the ship's hull as it rode the waves, struggling up river even as he struggled with his terrible desires.
Next chapter: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
estel - hope but also trust. In this context, it means trust.
cáma- guilt or responsibility
avatyara – forgive 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.