Disclaimer: Not mine, not for profit, just for fun.
AU-ish but follows the book plotline.WARNINGS M for content. Violence and eroticism/ slash
Thanks to Anarithilien for not only being a brilliant beta but actually tracking the number of days it took for them to get to Minas Tirith. Thanks to lovely curious wombat and Scarlet10 who just didn't think the last chapter was long enough so this is especially for you.
Chapter 4: Lust.
It was no good. The lust was still in his veins. He had not spent himself in the violence of the battle- it had not satisfied him. It did not cool his blood. They had driven the allies of Mordor in rout before them, slaughtering the Orcs that fled before the Sons of Elrond, the Sons of Thunder. But it was not enough. It never was.
Elrohir gazed over the uplands of Lamedon across the high mountains that edged between Rohan and Gondor. The grey twilight had not lifted and still the heavy clouds lowered and massed from the East, a purple tinge at their centre. Only occasionally did a spear of sunlight pierce the gloom. Barakhir tossed his head and the silver bit jangled. His rider smoothed his glossy black neck and murmured soothingly but the stallion was restless as he. He walked the deserted town of Linhir, for foe and friend alike had fled at the coming of the King of the Dead. The Shadow Host was barely visible and hung like tattered shrouds now that battle was done, but they too, were unsatisfied.
Gimli rummaged in his pack, an irritated scowl on his face. He had carefully assessed the state of the ruined walls so he knew they were safe, and even better, the Dead were the other side from him so he did not have to keep looking at them, or through them more like. Aragorn had commanded them to stay back and Gimli for one, was glad. He glimpsed Legolas leaping lightly over the strewn boulders and stones towards him. Even in the grey half light the Elf still looked cheerful. He had a bundle of scavenged arrows tucked under one arm and in his free hand he carried his long Lorien bow. Gimli glanced upwards, to the heavy sky and the huge clouds massing in the East.
'How many?' he asked the Elf, a little smugly. His axe had drunk well this day and blackened the earth with blood of the fell folk of Umbar and Harad.
Legolas looked nonchalant for a moment and then laughed. 'You first.'
'Fifty one.' The Dwarf stroked the long beautifully carved handle of his axe, smoothed it like it was a lover.
'Aha. Well I have bested you by far, for I think there must have been at least thirty alone on that warship.' He picked up each arrow and sighted carefully along it before dropping it into his quiver. The warship's sails had been unfurled and full, the oars plunging into the waves as the pirates tried to escape. A flaming arrow, well-aimed, had quickly set fire to the sails and seemingly moments later, the ship had been a fiery silhouette against the dark sky.
'You cannot have that.' Gimli scowled, recalling the moment with absolute clarity of Dwarvish memory. 'That was one arrow and it was pure luck. You do not even know it your arrow that set the sails alight. Ships are notorious for catching fire suddenly.' He sniffed at the Elf's delighted laugh and continued, 'Anyway, it was my idea to soak the arrow in tar so I ought to have it really. And they drowned. You did not kill them,' he added, just in case.
Elladan smiled. He was watching the Elf and Dwarf bickering quietly over who had killed the most Orcs. It had been going on for some time and every time it seemed one of them acquiesced, the other would start up again with some other point. This was the third time they had had the argument about the war ship and both enjoyed it as much as when they started. Gandalf must be impossibly smug. It had been at his insistence after all that these two were chosen, and a Mirkwood Elf above all those in Imladris. He drew out his whetstone from his own pack, smiling to himself. He rather liked Mirkwood's reputation and the rather sedate elves in Imladris had tutted and shook their heads at the scandalous stories of Thranduil's' halls. In fact, he admitted to himself easily, he wanted to know this Elf rather better. He stretched out his long legs and settled himself, whetstone in one hand, sword in the other, to listen to the bickering.
'It is good to see you whole and well, Elladan.' A voice above him said and he looked up. Aragorn stood above him, his head dark against the heavy sky. Elladan felt a shiver creep up his spine and realised how close, how close, after all these years and generations of hiding Isildur's Heir, that finally, they were within a breath. He smiled slowly, a little sadly, for soon they would lose him….
'I was thinking about Dwarves and Elves,' he said.
'Ah,' Aragorn smiled back. 'They have so much more in common than you would think.' He pulled out his pipe and searched his long coat for pipeweed.
Elladan looked back at the Elf and Dwarf. 'I remember Gloin arriving with Gandalf and thinking then I would like to see more of dwarves if I could. I wished I could be spared to ride with them for I would then have passed through Thranduil's halls also and perhaps know better what Mirkwood offers.'
'We know what Mirkwood offers,' a voice joined them. Elladan felt the prickling of his twin's irritation and wondered anew at this hostility. 'They are reckless and irresponsible. They cannot be trusted and I have seen nothing to suggest that this one is any different.' Elrohir threw his cloak down beside them but remained standing, sword still sheathed at his side.
'How can you say that?' Aragorn demanded, turning to face Elrohir. 'What more does he have to do to prove his worth to you?'
Elladan drew his whetstone along the edge of his blunted, notched sword, listening, watching his brothers carefully.
'It was not so long ago that you said the same yourself,' Elrohir snapped and Elladan winced, remembering Aragorn's harsh words to Legolas at the Council; that he had failed in his trust. Elladan tentatively stretched out his awareness to his twin, seeking the source of this strange antipathy. He knew Elrohir had begged to be allowed to go on this quest and been refused, but surely that alone could not account for it. No. There was something more, deeper. He had not been the same since they had bid farewell to their mother.
'I was a fool then.' Aragorn replied. Elrohir had the grace to look away from the hurt in Aragorn's eyes, but his stance was all fury and trembling. 'He has followed me here even though Galadriel foretold his death.' Aragorn stood facing Elrohir, unexpected and uncharacteristically challenging his brother. 'He stood by me in Moria, in Helm's Deep, before Saruman. Even though that was terrible, he did not flinch or cower.' He lowered his voice, suddenly aware of others. Legolas after all, was nearby. 'How can you still say these things?' he hissed.
But the voices of Dwarf and Elf had already stopped and Elladan had seen Legolas retreat, too late to warn Aragorn. He had noted the tilt of Legolas' head and the surreptitious glance their way whilst they had discussed him. And Elladan had not expected to catch the glance, or to be so off balanced by the intensity of the Woodelf's gaze. Elladan, Son of Elrond, descended from Melian and Luthien amongst others, was unused to being taken aback by Man, Elf or even Wizard. But something in this Elf's gaze made him pause; perhaps it was the knowledge that he had been speaking of this Elf's death, or that Legolas' knowledge of it but refusal to back away from his fate somehow touched him more deeply than he had expected. Perhaps it was coloured by the love he bore Aragorn and that Aragorn was the reason this Elf risked his life … Perhaps it was all those things. But whatever it was, Elladan of Imladris paused to look again.
'I do not understand you.' Aragorn approached Elrohir, hand outstretched, grey eyes concerned.
Elrohir shied away lightly and his hand clenched around the pommel of his sword.
It was only then that Elladan felt a brief chink in the wall of anger his brother had erected around himself. He felt the raw pain. He almost gasped with the intensity and he too reached out to Elrohir.
'Why do you hate him?' Elladan asked gently, 'Yet I know also that you watch him?'
'I do not hate him. And I watch him because I do not trust him.' Elrohir ground out between his clenched teeth, unable to look at his gentle brother or speak further. 'It is nothing!' He threw his hand out to stop Elladan from speaking. His long black hair swirled about his shoulders and he broke away from them.
All Elladan could do was stare after him.
Legolas had strapped his quiver to his back, picked up his bow, checked his knives and walked away from the sound of the sons of Elrond arguing, over him! Elrohir's words stung more than they should, for he had, like all young warriors, long admired the sons of Elrond. It hurt that the heroes of his youth thought so little of him. He turned towards the river, thinking the sound of it would soothe him. Walking out along the quay that jutted into the river, he stood gazing far out, far away down river. The sound of the masts clanking and sails soughing, water splashed gently at the hull of ships waiting…
He felt a strangeness in his chest again, a fluttering excitement. He knew there was peril ahead and was ready for that. Every time he ventured out in his father's realm he faced the possibly of death. How could he turn aside now just for some riddle from Galadriel? No, that was not the way of his folk either. He leaned towards the river. A brief shaft of sunlight pierced the heavy black clouds and stroked the river silver-black, like liquid mercury, and he felt the air subtly change. He leaned into the warmer air that came up from the west…it felt so familiar that again he thought it must be that he longed for home.
Elrohir's long strides took him to the grey stone quay, he strode quickly to the very end, beyond the ships that were tied there. He did not see another figure standing out at the farthest point just beyond him. All his thoughts were turned inward.
He drew in a deep breath, wanting stillness, trying to find the centre of himself where there was peace so he could think, understand. The river wound bleakly through the darkened lands and the clouds still grew, towering bruised thunderheads. The air was so heavy he thought it might break.
He rubbed his face with his hands. This delight in bloodshed he knew was not the way of Elves, in spite of the bloody past of the Noldor. He knew he bathed in it, slaked his thirst in it in a way his brother did not, that Elladan's quest was purer than his own dark hatred.
And then the dark memories surged and pulsed around him and as usual, he pushed them away… but then, something that was pure in his own heart stopped him. It was this… this dreadful memory that haunted his dreams.
In the caves again, the heat and darkness pressing close, beneath his skin. The stench. Orc. Dried blood and bones, putrefying meat. And excrement and urine. It was horrific. He eased himself through the darkness that seemed thicker than air, like viscous liquid, like thick water- oil perhaps… he pushed away the horror of it and instead focused on sounds … a muffled sob? Heavy breaths… He stopped, listened, stretched out his senses… and realised what he heard, for he was no innocent himself. And then the red hot anger and fury blazed through his blood and he could not stop.
No. He put his face in his hands. No. He could not think on it anymore. He could not bear it. He gagged at the smell on his mother's thighs and he could never ever forget that. Nor could he bear it. For they said Orcs were Elves once and if he ever needed proof, he had it.
A sound nearby, the scuff of feet barely heard on the stone quay drew his attention. He turned, furious. Was there nowhere he could be alone with time to think!
Legolas was standing on the stone quay, one hand on the stone wall and the other on his knife. He was gazing out west, across the black-silver expanse of water. The wind rippled his long long hair, the colour of grass in winter, rapture on his face, eyes half closed and lips parted … Elrohir forgot to breathe.
He felt that unbidden unwanted rage of lust, and wanted to hurt him, and the hard bunch of pain and anger in his chest rose up, unwound a little. He lurched forward and struck before he could think.
A strong hand caught his fist before it could strike. And intense sea green eyes, green as if they had absorbed all the colour of the sea pierced him as intensely as his own pain.
'Why do you do this?' Elrohir spat, fire blazing in his eyes. 'Why do you delight in this? Why have you not turned away and gone home? Why are you still here where you are so clearly unnecessary? And for that matter, unclean.' He pulled his clenched fist away from the Woodelf's grasp. 'I have heard the story that Saruman showed your father slain whilst you dallied with Rohirrim whores. Why are you still here?'' Even as he spoke, he felt the words kindle like flames and leap, uncontrolled like wildfire into the waiting darkness.
He met the cold gaze of the woodland Elf. Fire and ice, and full of suppressed fury.
Elrohir would have taken a step back had he not been filled with his own rage. He could almost see sparks from the contact and his fingers tingled where he crushed the other Elf's arm. He felt the muscles tense under his.
'I do not answer to you, Elrondion.' Legolas glared down at where Elrohir grasped his arm.
'You will answer to me. You will tell me why you are still here.'
Legolas tore his arm from Elrohir's grasp and turned away. Elrohir's blood pounded in his veins, there was a roaring in his ears.
He surged forwards once more and again caught the arm of the other. 'I have not finished.'
'Well I have.' Legolas shrugged him off. He lifted his head proudly and walked away, disdain curling his lip.
Something in Elrohir snapped.
He launched himself at the Woodelf's back and they went crashing down on the stones. Legolas struggled furiously and punched his fist into the other's gut. At the same time he rolled and sprang to his feet. He whirled round, fists clenched and kicked out, sweeping at Elrohir's legs, Elrohir leaped back out of range.
On the riverbank, a cry came, but neither Legolas not Elrohir paid it any heed. Nor did they see the figure start running along the stone quay towards them.
'You dare attack me,' hissed Legolas, following Elrohir. 'On your guard Elrondion. Do this properly. I will let you draw but then it is over.'
Elrohir drew back, breathing hard; he stared at the Elf who was now his enemy. There was blood on his lip. 'Good.' Elrohir snarled back.
Legolas' eyes glittered like ice and Elrohir, swordsman that he was famed to be, took stock of his opponent. He knew he was wrong; Legolas had cause to be injured and angry. He had none. But he could not draw back. Not with knives drawn and blood on Legolas' mouth.
Halbarad suddenly thrust his way between them, breathing hard. 'What has gone on here?' he demanded.
Legolas ignored him and pushed past. One-handed, he unfastened his Lorien brooch and threw the cloak on the wall. He placed his bow carefully against the wall and unbuckled his quiver, placing it next to his bow. He pulled his suede tunic over his head and threw that down defiantly so he stood clad in only a thin linen shirt and his breeches. Then in one graceful move, he stooped and drew his knives, there was a slash of steel. He turned and stood facing them. The cold wind teased his hair but he did not move a muscle.
Halbarad caught Elrohir's sleeve. 'What are you doing you fool?' he hissed, 'You fight our allies? Save your breath for the fight to come…' But when he saw the determined anger in Elrohir's eyes, he sighed and then said bitterly. 'You let the Dark One win. Here are allies and you would risk injuring one who has put himself between Aragorn and danger time and time again, who has guarded the Ringbearer and who is charged by your father to…' Elrohir shook him off.
'Be silent. You know nothing.' He said before he could think. His mind was clouded by ferocity and lust. He felt the familiar surge of desire, but it was more intense this time. He wanted this, had needed it ever since the Mirkwood Elf had riled him so. He wanted to put him in his place, to show him the mettle of the Noldor, to remind him what he was, an Elf from a woodland backwater…. He stopped, suddenly surprised at his own vehemence.
A cool voice interrupted. 'In your own time.'
Legolas was standing, weight slightly forwards on the balls of his feet, twin blades held loosely at his sides. But he was all coiled energy and power. Elrohir recognised the combat stance of Woodelves he had trained with in Lorien and supposed Mirkwood not so different. He had the advantage. And he was a swordsman. Legolas had told him to draw and he did, sliding the long elven blade from its sheath and grasping it in the two handed stance he used for this heavy broadsword, he fell into combat stance, waiting. It reached almost his own height and he knew the other Elf would have no weapon to match it.
Legolas moved, so his long white knives were held out and crossed before him. He scraped the edge of one against the other slightly, the blades slid smoothly and Elrohir knew then this was no friendly unarmed spar. But this was what he wanted, needed. He needed to rid himself of this, to spend himself…
Elrohir became aware of more voices, on the riverbank raised in concern,, but he did not turn.
Halbarad pushed his way past Elrohir now to Legolas and stood toe to toe with him, looking him in the eye. 'If I cannot get sense into the head of the son of Elrond, have I hope of getting through to the Son of Thranduil?' he demanded.
'No.' Legolas barely glanced at the Man. He focused his glare on Elrohir, now slightly crouched, his sword held before him. Legolas' thumbs caressed the ivory handles, worn smooth and perfect.
Halbarad glared at them both and whirled away.
'Is this the Noldor way?' Legolas asked sarcastically. 'Take your time and let your blood cool? Do you have no Sylvan in your veins? I thought you a child of Celebrian.'
That did it. Elrohir roared. He threw himself at the Woodelf. Clashing steel met steel and slid off. He spun round and charged, whirling the sword in both hands before him. Legolas would have had no chance, but he sidestepped neatly and whacked Elrohir with the flat on one of his blades.
Elrohir gasped and drew back. Cool. Cool. Cold anger – let it fill my veins, he thought, realising that Legolas had deliberately goaded him into losing his temper. He narrowed his eyes. 'So Oropher's fool has bred no fool. Perhaps you are not his fool.'
Legolas smiled coldly.
Elrohir thought he would not be goaded it seemed and the Woodelf clashed his blades once more. A Mirkwood habit, Elrohir thought. It was unnerving, but he was the best swordsman in Middle Earth and this Elf only had knives.
He stood on guard and lunged suddenly, his own blade hurtled and slid past Legolas' knives and struck his sleeve. The thin shirt tore slightly and when he drew back his blade there was bright red blood.
Legolas only smiled grimly and circled.
Suddenly a spear of sunlight caught on the Woodelf's blades and flashed and dazzled. In that moment he was blinded slightly and Elrohir heard the wind swish near his ear and felt a slight nick. It stung under the other Elf's attack and he fell back to a defensive crouch, a flashing whirl of silver came at him and he felt a tear along his cheek and then Legolas was on the other side of him. He lunged and parried, turning swiftly to block and then thrust past the other. Legolas dipped and sped back out of range.
Focused solely on each other, unaware that along the quay, there was a shout from Halbarad and two tall figures were running along the riverbank, a shorter, stockier figure following closely. Halbarad ran to meet them, beckoning, shouting, his cloak caught by the sudden flurry of wind that came off the river.
Blood streaked down the Woodelf's arm, and the two Elves suddenly burst into a flurry of blows and then broke apart, paused to stare at each other, watching for the slightest move, a flicker in the eyes.
Legolas was absolutely inscrutable. Elrohir could read nothing – not a muscle moved in the Woodelf's face, his eyes stayed steadily on his and there was no warning when he suddenly strode forward, blades flashing again in the brief sun. Elrohir knew now that Legolas used the sunlight to his advantage and was, for a moment, glad that the sky was so overcast and sullen but for those sudden gaps in the heavy cloud. He met the twin blades easily and slid his own sword up to cut the knuckles of his opponent.
Legolas hissed but then he flashed a feral grin. He brought his fist to his lips and licked the blood off his own knuckle, his eyes fastened on Elrohir's all the time. Elrohir's own lips parted and he stared. The blood stained Legolas' mouth red
Then the Mirkwood Elf turned, and stalked away, deliberately, tauntingly showing Elrohir his back.
Elrohir's focus narrowed, all on Legolas now as he turned again to face him. The Mirkwood Elf stood tall and strong, wary and although his knives were loosely held at his sides now, there was no mistaking the absolute focus and tension. Elrohir stared, realising his opponent was beautiful and thrilling. His own blood thrummed with excitement. This fierce uncompromising warrior matched him, not in sword skill but in his own strength and vigour.
He breathed in through his nose and then exploded into action. His sword rang steel against steel and the song of the battle rang in the air. Elrohir leaped and arced his wrists so the blade slid along the shorter knives, then he twisted and flicked up, but the steel just slid off and Legolas was no longer there. He followed, determined to keep the contact, blade on blade, and used his own sword to push the lighter blades up, twisting beneath his own arms and then suddenly pulling back to thrust. Legolas' eyes widened and he pulled out of the clinch just as Elrohir thrust forward, the long sword blade skimming along his skin instead of piercing as he had intended.
Elrohir breathed deeply, blood, the scent of blood in his nostrils and he saw his enemy had more respect now, more fear. His own blood pounded and that was all he could hear now, the pumping of his own veins.
Legolas was in a defensive crouch again and Elrohir knew he had him. He feinted and as the other Elf rose and met him head on, he pulled out at the last moment and swung his sword round in a flashing, slicing arc and met the air. He felt a stinging cut along his ribs and knew that he could have been hurt more deeply had the other Elf chosen.
Legolas had fallen back. He stood still, arms by his side and looking suddenly vulnerable and Elrohir felt the lust surge through him and fill him. He felt the burgeoning of desire and wanted to humble his enemy, to punish him for everything.
He plunged forward and thrust, and felt a stinging blow on his head as the Woodelf passed him. He whirled without pausing and parried the following blow, swinging out and using all his strength to push past the light knives and reach and thrust into flesh.
A gasp as bright blood flooded over the thin white shirt and one knife dropped from nerveless fingers, clattered on the grey stones. Legolas sank to his knees. Along the quay, closer now, a cry and shouting.
Elrohir was oblivious. He strode forward, seeing the blood, soaking the white linen of his opponent. He relentlessly wielded his blade, the remaining single knife no match for his broadsword, ready for the final humbling blow when his legs were abruptly swept from under him and he landed heavily. Instantly another body pinned him.
He looked up at the strong, beautiful face, teeth bared and long hair swirling around them both. The thin edge of the remaining knife was at his throat. He reached up and clouted the pommel of his sword on the side of his enemy's head and the Mirkwood Elf lurched sideways. Elrohir pushed and struck again, this time succeeding in toppling him, and then he rolled, loosing his hold on his sword and grappling for the other's knife. He banged the other's hand hard once, twice, thrice, against a stone until his fingers opened in pain and the long silver knife flew from his grasp. He pulled his fist back and punched his enemy as hard as he could.
Blood flew up and spattered over his own grey tunic and then he felt a corresponding thwack in the side of his face and for a moment he could hear nothing, like he was underwater.
He shook his head but felt himself rolled over and kicked hard in the gut. He scrambled away but another kick followed and then his head was grabbed and he struggled. He felt the heavy body of another straddle him and felt the answering lust in his own, the throbbing pain and desire mingled, and then he was held still. He was shaken and focused on the face above him. Long, long winter pale hair grazed his face, the scent of hay and moss and woods, and then blood. Sea-green eyes, so green they seemed to have absorbed all the colour of the sea, held his, held him and would not release him. He glared back and at the edge of his awareness he heard it, the Song. He felt the spike of desire and then squeezed his eyes shut. He would not listen.
Somewhere above them both he heard a voice. 'This is finished.' And then other voices broke in, hands lifting him, anger and argument somewhere through the haze that began to clear.
Someone was pushing at his chest and he grabbed the hand, batted it away irritably. Then his brother's cool presence seeped into his awareness. Soothing. Calming. He leaned forward, coughing. Spat out blood from a cut lip he had not even felt. Winced at the stinging cut on his arm and gingerly touched the place where his ribs had cracked.
'…see you both when you are cleaned up.' An angry voice pierced his thoughts and he looked away.
'….making a fool of yourselves in front of your comrades. No better than squabbling children or dogs fighting, brawling in the dirt….'
He let the words wash over him and sought the place in his mind that was still and calm. He wondered briefly how it had all ended and where Legolas was, whether he had inflicted as much damage on the other Elf as he suffered himself.
He glanced up. Legolas was standing stiff and proud before Aragorn, his head turned slightly away and his eyes were not focused on the Man. He did not look in the least repentant and his body seemed to quiver still. He said something low in his own Sylvan dialect that Elrohir could not catch, his ears still ringing from the blow to the side of his head. Aragorn said something back and Legolas replied stiffly in Sindarin this time. Then he turned and walked quickly away.
Elladan had been shocked when he was summoned by the chorus of shouts, and Baelderon shouting to him that Halbarad needed help. He had leapt up, thinking they were under attack the way the Ranger had barged past both Gimli and Haldaron. Elladan had sword in hand by the time he was on his feet.
Baelderon words had filled Elladan with horror and both he and Aragorn had glanced at each other briefly before running after the Man. He was aware of the Dwarf following after them.
He had pushed his way through the crowd on the riverbank and gasped when he saw Elrohir and Legolas at the end of the quay, struggling and blades drawn. He had overtaken Aragorn running along the quay and arrived to find Elrohir astride Legolas, hitting his hand against a rock to release the knife from his grip. Believing that the Mirkwood Elf had lost himself and attacked Elrohir, Elladan had grabbed Legolas' hand himself just as the knife flew from his fingers. It was when Elrohir had drawn his own fist back and smashed Legolas in the face that he realised the truth and then he had tried to pull them apart. Aware also of Gimli's strong arms pulling Elrohir off Legolas, and then Aragorn had grabbed Legolas who easily shrugged off the Man and had kicked Elrohir in the stomach, just hard enough to wind him. Then Legolas had thrown himself on top of Elrohir and Elladan had struggled to push him away, Aragorn on his back and struggling to lock his arms.
Legolas had merely held Elrohir's head in his hands though and there seemed almost a stillness, he had stared into his brother's eyes and whispered something Elladan could not hear before he and Aragorn succeeded in dragging Legolas off Elrohir and he himself had pushed his brother back down.
Now, the fight was over. Elladan looked down at himself. His grey tunic was covered in dust and blood from both Legolas and Elrohir. He had a slightly swollen lip where one of them had caught him in the flurry of fists and punches. Aragorn too had a swollen eye where someone had caught him. They looked at each other wryly.
'This has to stop.' Aragorn said quietly. 'Why is he like this? I do not understand.'
Elladan could find no answer. He went instead to find hot water and bandages to dress his brother's wounds and to talk some sense into him. He felt the presence of the Dark One in all this.
OK Scarlet10 - hope that keeps you going for a bit!
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