The Touch of Sun and Wind

Angyl and Rina

July 2003

Disclaimer: LotR and all its characters belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Battered and weary after their latest run in with the gang of Orcs that had been harassing travelers, Aragorn knelt to clean his sword of the gore that streaked it. Rising once again, he slid the blade back into its scabbard and looked over to where Legolas was scouting through the bodies, searching for arrows he could reclaim.

"They breed like ants," the Man sighed, hefting the nearest corpse and piling it on top of another. "For each one we kill, three more pop up to take its place." His eyes narrowed when he saw the Elf wince as he yanked an arrow from an Orcís throat. "Once weíve gotten rid of this trash, we should make camp so that I can look at your shoulder." The Elfís startled gaze told Aragorn that Legolas had hoped his injury had gone unnoticed.

Giving his companion a rueful grin, Legolas admitted defeat. "Your eyes see far too keenly for a human, Estel. Too much time have you spent in the house of Elrond and in the company of the Elves of Imaldris," he chuckled.

Reclaiming a few last arrows, Legolas looked down at his meager supply. "Iím in need of shafts and fletchings. The tips I have plenty of, but at the rate we seem to be meeting our enemy, Iíve had little time to gather the rest and make new arrows. I hate being so poorly armed as this," he growled. "Any word from your fellow Rangers when we might expect reinforcements to help root out those nadorhuarim {cowardly dogs} from their hiding places and make safe this pass once more?"

Wincing again, this time not trying to hide it, as the blood-soaked fabric of his shirt pulled free of the wound, Legolas turned to his lover. "And camp would be nice - far from the paths the Orcs walk. By a stream, perhaps? Deeper into the woods so that I might hear the trees talk?"

Frowning, Aragorn straightened and walked over to Legolasí side, gently probing at the knife wound and shaking his head at what he saw. "A camp away from this wretched place would be good. We are both in need of rest, and you of tending to, aímael {beloved}.

"The last word I received was to expect supplies and assistance within the week, so I would hope for their arrival within the next four days."

"Good," Legolas sighed happily. "Too long have we guarded this pass without respite. I know to be a Ranger is your chosen path, but even you need rest, Estel. I would walk the paths of Mirkwood with you again, show you the hidden places of my fatherís realm... perhaps even explore a trysting spot or two," the Elf leered over an Orc carcass as he helped Aragorn haul the dead into a funeral pyre to be burned.

"Valar, the stench alone should keep any others at bay, but I would not hold faith with that though I do hold my breath," the Elf muttered as he and his companion continued the grisly clean up.

Aragorn nodded grimly as he piled the last of the bodies onto the pile. "Best not to leave them to decay. Who knows what might happen to creatures that ate this tainted meat?" Stepping back, he reached for the torches theyíd prepared and lit one with flint and steel. Once it was burning brightly, he thrust it into the pile and watched the bodies catch, sending greasy smoke into the afternoon air.

"A rest would be good," he added, almost as an afterthought. "I would not have you injured because we were too tired to watch our backs properly."

"Nor I you, that knife stroke was meant for your back, Aragorn, not my shoulder. It is but a small scratch, and I will heal with nary a scar, but had it hit its mark, it would have felled you," Legolas murmured, his hand coming up to caress Aragornís gore-spattered cheek, seeing only the handsome young Man he loved so dearly. "I would not lose you so soon after gaining you, melamin {my love}."

Aragorn leaned his cheek into Legolasí palm for a moment. "It will take more than a group of Orcs to tear me from your side, my love."

The bodies were burning now, and the stench wafted over both of them. "The area is clear around the pyre. Once weíre sure the blaze wonít go out, we should make for the camp, clean up, and tend to each other." The look he gave the Elf as he said the last made it plain he was speaking of more than simple healing.

"Weíd best be sure and make a fire break," Legolas cautioned, well aware of the unease of the woods surrounding them. "It would make our hosts happier and less likely to rain acorns on us or try to trip us up. Besides, trees have long memories and longer roots.

Taking up an Orc sword, the Elf began to cut a large break around the burning carcasses. He ignored the sting of sweat in his wound and was soon met halfway by his companion.

Pushing some loose hair out of his face, he smiled at the Man. "And now I not only smell like an Orc, I look like a grubby Man," he teased. "Iím for a stream and a bath. Soap and a good comb will do me a world of good!"

Aragorn smiled. "Vanity, thy name is Elven-kind," he chuckled, reaching out to tug a lock of Legolasí golden hair. "Now that the trees are safe, the stream calls to us. It is now time to clean Greenleaf and tend to his wounds, then tend to him."

"You are still young in years, bratling," Legolas responded with alacrity. "Mind your manners or I might put you to bed without supper this eve."

Although Legolas did have to admit, at least to his own mind, that he was somewhat vain with his appearance. After all, he had a handsome, virile young Ranger to keep interested in him, and if his appearance pleased Aragorn, then he, himself was pleased. A fair trade indeed, the Elf thought.

Tugging his hair back to his own possession, the Wood Elf took hold of Aragornís hand and tugged him along behind as he sought a good place to make camp. Soon they came upon a pool fed by a stream that emptied on the other side and a small clearing next to it. The air smelled fresh and sweet, and birds and beasts moved around in the forest nearby, unafraid. This, more than anything, made Legolas believe they were safe for now.

Letting go of Aragornís hand and dropping his pack off a travel-weary shoulder, the Elf didnít even offer to help set up camp. He merely toed off his boots and began to strip out of his clothes as he made straight for the pool.

Wading into the almost too cool water, Legolas shivered as he dunked under its surface. He let the water hear his moan of pain as the wound was suddenly drenched and stayed beneath until he was sure his features were schooled into a blank neutrality once more.

Breaking the surface, he grinned up at his companion, who stood near the edge of the pool. "Toss me the soap and a cloth to clean myself with?"

Wading into the water after the Elf without removing more than his boots and his shirt, Aragorn held the cleansing supplies in one hand and turned Legolas around with the other. "Do not hide your pain from me, my love. That is no tiny scratch on your back, and it is likely that the knife that gave it to you was filthy. Let me cleanse it for you."

"Estel, need I remind you that Elves are immortal?" Legolas chuckled but let the younger man cluck over him. "A mere Orc bite isnít going to kill me. Now had it been a sword through my gut, then I would have needed to go see Elrond Half-Elven or another of our healers but this... Ah very well, you may pamper me if it so eases your mind." That said, Legolas relaxed into the Manís tender touch and let Aragorn take care of him.

"It does," Aragorn answered firmly, still not convinced that Legolasí wound was as minor as he claimed. Immortality or not, infections were dangerous things, and they could kill.

"But for putting up with my pampering as you call it, I will let you do as you wish for the rest of the evening." The Man smiled slightly even as he cleaned the grime from the Elfís pale body. "Even if what you wish is to be left alone."

"I think I can deign to allow you to pamper me thus," Legolas replied with a tiny smile. "After all, if my lover does not have the right to do so, then who?" Sighing as first his skin and then his hair was washed clean, Legolas was amused to note that Aragorn was saving the worst for last. "Does this mean I need to get out of the water now and let your Ranger medicines heal me?"

Aragorn leaned in and kissed Legolasí sun-warmed shoulder. "The ones that hurt the worst are the ones that do the most good."

"Is that your way of saying, Ďbe an Elf and take it?í" Legolas chuckled. "Very well, sir Ranger, do your worst to me. But I must warn you to expect retribution. For every pain I have you must pay me back in pleasure to counteract the effect. Agreed?"

"I thought the point of this was for me to aid your healing, not to hurt you more." Saying this, Aragorn caught Legolasí hand, drawing him from the pool to the rudimentary camp heíd set up when they arrived. "Sit, and I will tend your injury, and you can keep count of how many times I cause you pain."

"Would this be referred to as Orc foreplay, I wonder?"

"Daft Elf!" Aragorn laughed, allowing some of his concern to slip away at Legolasí teasing, though his hands were just as light and steady as he cleaned his loverís wound. "I think not!"

"Would it be Goblin or Troll love, then, do you think?" Legolas continued, keeping up the light banter as a way of distracting both of them from the unpleasant task at hand. "Or perhaps this is simply a Manís way to get his hands on someone without appearing obvious. Humans have such strange courtship rituals - almost barbaric if truth be told," the Elf continued to tease his love and the light of his life.

"Yes," Aragorn answered wryly, Ďwe tend to grab the people weíre interested in and throw them over our shoulders, carrying them off to caves to ravish them." He felt the Elf wince as he probed at the wound, making it bleed again. Once he was sure it bled clear, he packed the slice with herbs and bandaged it carefully.

"Now, beloved. Just how many times did I hurt you, and how may I make it up to you?"

"I was far too distracted to count, and as for how you can make it up to me..." Legolas paused significantly, then turned his head and smiled beguilingly up at the young Man. "Carry me off to your cave and ravish me?"

"There is no cave, and the ravishment would be a gentle one because I will not open your wound again," the Ranger admonished lightly before catching Legolasí face between his hands and placing a kiss on his lips. "But it will be one you will enjoy, I swear."

"Tease," Legolas moaned. "One day very soon my wound will be but a memory, and I will insist upon having firsthand knowledge of Human mating rituals."

Dragging his hands through Aragornís hair, the Elf anchored the head still and proceeded to eat at his loverís mouth. "But you are right that I cannot afford to have the wound open again. I would not leave you without someone to protect your flank, Estel. And if that means we must forgo the ravishment, I can survive that too. After all, twenty-nine hundred years on this earth should have taught me some control, if nothing else," the Wood Elf continued with a wry chuckle.

Aragorn smiled and ran his hands down Legolasí back, carefully avoiding the bandaged area. "I did not say I would not love you this night. What do you want, Legolas? Tell me and I will do my best to give it to you."

"Aragorn." Legolas shook his head in fond exasperation. "Just being with you is enough for me; you should know that by now." Pressing his forehead against the Manís, he nuzzled his loverís nose. "As slow or as fast as you want and need to go, I have the patience of the forest. I can wait forever for you, melamin."

"But I donít want you to have to wait forever," Aragorn countered. They had shared the pleasure of hands and mouths many times, but tonight, tonight he wanted more; he wanted to feel connected to his love in a way they hadnít before.

"Made up your mind, have you?" Legolas murmured, pushing Aragorn onto his back. "Daylight would be safer than nighttime. The animals and trees will let us know if danger approaches during the sunlit hours but would be asleep at night," the Elf mused aloud even as he began to undo the fastenings of Aragornís pants.

"Anything I want? Very well, son of Man. I want you to enjoy this as much as I will." That said, Legolas straddled Aragornís hips and moved backwards until his cheeks clenched around his loverís erection. "Tell me, oh trustworthy Ranger, are you prepared enough to have brought some soothing oil with you?" Legolas murmured as he nuzzled Aragornís throat and neck, breathing in his Ďscent.

Shuddering at the touch of Legolasí body against his as well as the thought of what was to come, Aragorn nodded silently before somehow finding his voice even as he ran his hands up Legolasí sides and over his chest. "In the pouch with the herbal medicines," he rasped.

Smiling down at the needy Man beneath him, Legolas leaned to the side and snagged the pouch, nimble fingers going through it to find the tiny jar of oil. Unstopping it, Legolas poured a pool of it in Aragornís navel, delighting in the shiver it induced.

Trailing his fingers through the slickness, he dragged them up to circle and coat each of Aragornís nipples before tracing them back down to gather more of the slightly scented oil. Twirling his fingers again, he then reached behind himself and began to prepare his body for entry, his eyes never leaving Estelís.

"Are you watching, my love? Watching me prepare my body for yours? Are you wondering what it will feel like, to be buried so deep inside me that we are one for a brief moment in time?" the Wood Elf murmured, teasing as he slipped a finger inside and began to stretch himself.

"I am afraid if I think about it much more, we will not have a chance to be together like that because I will already be spent," Aragorn whispered, moving his hand to Legolasí arm and feeling the muscles bunch as the Elf prepared himself.

Legolas chuckled. "Are you saying you have no stamina or willpower, Estel?" Legolas teased and then moaned as he slid a second finger into himself. Taking his free hand, Legolas offered it to Aragorn. "Take my hand, Aímaelamin," the Elf whispered and then guided Aragornís hand back so that the Man could feel Legolas prepare himself.

"You would truly..."Aragorn felt a tremor run through the Elfís slim body as Legolas moaned. "Truly offer this gift to me?" he asked, his fingers skimming over the stretched muscle and the warm flesh surrounding it.

"It is yours, as I am," Legolas replied simply, a smile gracing his ethereal features. "As I ever have been since I first laid eyes on you." Removing his hand again and leaving Aragornís there, Legolas coated his other fingers with oil and reached back dexterously to begin to oil his loverís shaft so that their wait would be over.

Concentrating on the feel of the Elfís sun-warmed and oil-slick skin beneath his hand, Aragorn traced a fingertip around the small entrance to his loveís body, feeling it slip inside with something akin to wonderment.

"As I am yours," he whispered, reaching up with his other hand to draw Legolas down for a kiss that fired his blood as much as the feel of the Elfís hand on his shaft.

Moaning around his loverís tongue, Legolas let his fingers slip out and felt Aragornís doing the same. Using the other hand to guide the Manís erection, Legolas slotted it against his opening and then slowly sank down upon it. Soft pants of air were the only noise he made as he sank lower and lower until Aragorn was completely engulfed.

Eyes that had fallen shut opened again and seemed impossibly large and impossibly bright. "Ikotane alta, ikotane vanima{so big, so beautiful}," he moaned, trembling fingers tracing Aragornís lips lovingly.

"Itís like sinking into molten fire," Aragorn sighed, arching upward, all the while attempting to keep control of his all-too-eager body. "You burn so brightly, mela. Burn for me." Not even aware of what he was doing, the Man stroked his hands up Legolasí thighs to his torso, then down again, reaching for the firm shaft rising between the Elfís legs. "Burn yourself into me forever like the warmth of the sun so I will never be without you again."

"I am for you only, Aragorn, son of Arathorn. Ever have I been for you," Legolas murmured as he began to move up and down slowly, bracing his hands on his loverís chest for added purchase. "I feel whole for the first time in many a life age, and it is all because of you."

Subtly flexing his muscles, Legolas tightened and contracted around Aragorn, giving him as much pleasure as he could. It was the first time the Man had been inside another male body, and Legolas wanted it to be something long remembered as being exquisite. "And does this please you, my Estel?" the lightly sweating Elf murmured, his hair coming down like a curtain to close them off from the rest of the world, leaving Legolas and Aragorn in a world entirely of their own.

Gasping out a soft cry as he felt the ripples move along his shaft, Aragorn shuddered and sat up enough to capture Legolasí mouth once again. "You please me in all things, Legolas," he whispered, feeling his control slipping notch by notch as the Elf moved over and on him. "Never before have I felt such pleasure as you bring to me."

"Then I am doing this well, indeed," the Elf chuckled breathlessly, feeling Aragornís hand emulate the motion of his hips with a groan. Moving faster and faster, feeling his orgasm approaching and knowing that they were vulnerable like this, Legolas reached up to tweak and twist his nipples until he could no longer hold back the breathy moan of ecstasy.

"E-Estel," Legolas gasped as his orgasm crashed over him in waves, his head falling back on his shoulders as his semen splattered the Manís stomach.

A broken cry escaped Aragornís lips as he felt Legolas clench around him, and he arched upward, spending himself deep within the Elfís body. "Ever you will be mine now, Legolas," he breathed, gathering his loverís slimmer form against him. "And ever shall I be yours."

"I have no argument against that fate," Legolas chuckled quietly, resting his head against Aragornís shoulder and listening to the Manís heartbeat as it slowed again. "In fact, I embrace it. I would be with you for as long as I can, my love." Already Legolas knew that when the time came, he would not be leaving the Grey Havens for Valinor. He would fade and die here, a mortal, for that was his Aragornís fate, and he would share everything with his love, even his mortality.

Reaching up, Aragorn cupped his hand against Legolasí cheek, closing his eyes to better feel the smooth skin beneath his roughened palm. "You are cool and refreshing against me as the wind off the snowcaps, mela. You bring me hope and new life, and most of all, love."

"And here I thought I was sweaty and sticky with our exertions," Legolas chuckled wryly, resting his arms across Aragornís breastbone and his chin on his folded hands. "Sometimes I think you spent too much time in the much too enlightened house of Elrond. In the Mirkwood we tend to be more practical, well, for Elves that is," the Elf continued to tease his lover. "But I forgive you for it because I love you. Besides, itís cute!"

"Cute?" The young Manís eyebrows rose, and he glared at Legolas in mock affront. "I think the sun has gone to your head, Greenleaf!"

"As you say," Legolas chuckled, barely wincing from the pulling of his wound as he sat up once more. With great regret he felt his lover slip out of him but consoled himself that this would happen again in time, and perhaps he would even be allowed to reciprocate the experience. Gracefully coming to his feet, the Elf held out his hand towards Aragorn. "Weíd best clean once more and dress. As idyllic as this glade is, danger lurks somewhere beyond its borders, and I for one have no desire to be caught with my pants down - quite literally."

Aragorn nodded, clasped the Elfís hand, and stood as well, even as he chuckled at Legolasí comment. "Or off as the case may be." He strode into the water and made quick work of cleaning himself and dressing. "Iíll go hunt us up something for our meal if you finish setting up the camp."

"Already relegated to the role of wife and weíve barely finished making love," Legolas replied dramatically, his blue eyes twinkling with merriment. "Very well, off you go, Man, and show me your prowess. Iíll be more than happy to tend to the home fires because I know very well that when it comes to lighting fires, your skills lie elsewhere," the Elf continued to tease as he waded into the cool water to clean himself off and also get himself out of harmís reach should his lover wish to seek retribution for his too-smart mouth.

Aragorn stopped and looked back over his shoulders, his deep blue eyes shining with amusement. "I seem to have no trouble in lighting your fire, Elf," he commented before smiling and heading into the woods in search of game for their meal.

"Humans can be such exasperating creatures," Legolas sighed, shaking his head. "Always wanting to go out and wave around pointy objects at anything and anyone that crosses their paths!"

Despite himself a huge smile broke out over the Wood Elfís face. They had made love. Aragorn had been within in him and around him, and it had been more than even he, with all his experience, could have dreamed of. It was like visiting the Valar for but a brief, shining moment in time.

Keeping his bow and quiver within reach and one of his white knives drawn and resting within arms length at all times, the Elf quickly moved about to create a fire break and prepare a small but efficient fire with wood heíd gathered from the forest floor.

By the time Aragorn returned with a brace of coneys, the camp was ready and their sleeping area arranged near the fire while Legolas sat and fletched some new arrow shafts to replace the ones that had been recently spent.

"I take it your hunting was successful?" the Elf asked, a small smile playing on his lips and an elegant eyebrow quirking in question. "And you come complete with herbs and tubers to add to the stew. Perhaps I was mistaken and you are the better wife."

The Man snorted quietly, dropping the hares down near the fire and tossing the other things heíd gathered toward Legolas. "Comments like that will find you sleeping alone, Greenleaf," he chuckled, aware that in saying that, he did sound like a wife.

"Now stop preening and make yourself useful. Get some water boiling, and we can make a stew of all this."

Copying a human trait heíd seen a few times, Legolas stuck his tongue out at the Man but nonetheless filled their travel pot up with water. Taking one of the coneys, he quickly and efficiently began to skin it with a boot knife and then eviscerated it, adding chunks of fresh meat to the now boiling water.

Feeling guilty for wasting any part of the creature but knowing that they didnít have the time to properly cure the skin, Legolas efficiently gathered up the refuse and added it to the pile Aragorn had made. Leaving the Man to finish the stew, he moved deeper and deeper into the forest, making sure that no blood trail was left to lead any predators back to camp, and found a barren outcropping of rocks a safe enough distance away to leave the waste for carrion consumption.

Deciding to take advantage of not having his lover around, the Wood Elf quickly ascended the closest tree and began moving from tree to tree, using the heavy growth of forest as an aerial walkway to get back to camp. Only when he was in the tree closest to their encampment did he come down from his canopied path to lounge on a thick tree branch and take the time to appreciate his lover as Aragorn moved about the camp with an economy of movement and a not entirely Human grace.

Satisfied that the stew was fine without being tended to, Aragorn settled himself on the ground, sitting cross-legged, and began to sharpen and oil his sword, tending to any minor nicks that their fight with the Orcs had caused.

He kept part of his attention on the woodland sounds, listening for any changes in the cadence of the noises around the camp. Finally detecting a bit of noise above, he looked toward the trees, smiling. "Intending to spend the night up there, are you? And here I thought you might find our blankets more comfortable."

"Oh, Iím sure I shall. I was merely admiring the view," Legolas replied, agilely jumping down from the high branch of the tree to land near the Man. Resuming his previous place, the Elf took up fletching his arrows again, working in companionable silence for a time until, without thought, he started to sing a favorite song about the Elf maiden Nimrodel in his native woodland tongue.

It was a song his mother had sung to him in the cradle and had later taught him when heíd been old enough to learn it. When the last strains of the song faded, he looked up to find Aragorn staring at him. "What? Did my voice displease you?"

Aragorn shook his head slowly, the weight of emotion holding fast to his heart. "Far from it," he said quietly, setting his sword aside and resting his arms on his knee so that he could more closely watch the Elf. "It is just the song reminds me of the woods of Lorien. Happy indeed would I be to walk their paths again, this time with you at my side."

"Not with the Lady Arwen?" Legolas at last replied, finally broaching a subject they had steered clear of since that night in the Wayfarerís Inn those many months ago. Oh, Legolas did not doubt he held Aragornís heart, nor did he doubt the depth of the Mansís feelings for him, but even an Elf could feel some uneasiness when the one who competed for the affections of his lover was the most beautiful Elf maiden to walk amongst Elven-kind since Luthien Tinuviel.

There was a reason why Arwen Undomiel was the treasure of Elrond and Galadriel both. She was the Evenstar, the dark beauty of the Elven court, and even Legolas felt some small insecurity when around her.

Aragorn looked away; staring into the bright flames as he tried to compose his thoughts and emotions into ones he could express to his lover, his love. "I do not know," he said softly, his voice heavy with resignation. "Long had I pined for her, and longer still might I keep doing so, but I cannot - I will not lose what we have between us, even for her hand. She is as the brightest star in the midnight sky, but you, you my love, are as the sun, and I would wither and die without the warmth of your touch."

Legolas smiled, just the hint of sadness creeping into them. "I have been described as many things, love, but to be compared to the sun... I am flattered beyond measure that you would think of me so. One day in the near or distant future we might find ourselves in the Golden Wood, and then we shall explore to your heartís content."

Getting up to check on the stew, the Elf moved next to his lover. "Whatever the Valar may have fated for us, you will always have my heart, Aragorn, son of Arathorn. My destiny shall always be tied to the throne of Gondor and its heir for as long as breath is in my body." What Legolas did not add was that his lifespan would be finite, that he would love no more for this man would be the last love of his life. He had chosen mortality.

Reaching out, Aragorn drew Legolas into his embrace and settled the Elfís back against his chest. He rested his chin on Legolasí shoulder, the Elfís long blond hair cool and soft against his cheek. "Whether we do or not matters little to me. So long as my path lies alongside yours, I am content. Nay, more than content, I am whole."

"In which case I too am content," the Wood Elf replied, a smile playing across his lips. "For your happiness is most important to me."

"To keep me happy, keep yourself whole."

"Well, if that is your wish, you really need to start paying more attention to what is around you," Legolas replied with a quirk of an eyebrow and a slight upward curl of his lips. "Humans," he tsked, "canít take you anywhere."

Aragorn bristled. "And what do you mean by that?"

Laughing, Legolas spun around and pushed Aragorn to the ground, crawling on top of him. "Now, now, Longshanks, no need to get defensive," he grinned. "I would trust no other to watch my back or fight by my side. You are by far the most skilled of Men, despite your tender years. I entrust my mortal life to you without hesitation or reserve."

"Why do I feel that youíre trying to use your honeyed words to get back into my good graces?" the Ranger chuckled, catching Legolasí chin with his fingers and drawing him down for a kiss.

His eyes narrowed then, and he pulled back, looking up at Legolas sharply. "Mortal life? Explain yourself."

"Mortal life? I think your ears need cleaning or perhaps have become too waterlogged," Legolas rejoined, trying to stall or avoid the issue entirely. "Why would I, an Elf, make a claim such as that?"

"Thatís exactly what I wish to know."

"Iím afraid I have no answer to that," the Wood Elf answered, not wanting to lie to his lover but not sure if he wanted to hear what Aragorn had to say of his decision to not take the boats to Valinor when the time came for his people to return from whence they came.

For Legolas there was no question, no contestation. His life was with Aragorn, be it in the role of lover, friend, counselor or merely one who watched from the shadows. The choice was his, and it had been made. He would not undo it, not even if the hosts of the Valar themselves requested it so.

Aragorn sighed but nodded and reached up to trace the curve of Legolasí ear and down to his mouth. "As you wish, melamin," he whispered, knowing there was no way to force an Elf into giving an explanation when he didnít wish to. "Perhaps in time, you will have an answer you wish to share with me."

Groaning and burying his face in the Manís neck, Legolas knew it was time to cry defeat. He had misplayed his cards and now must face the reaction of his lover. Sitting up, he took Aragornís head between his hands and placed a tender kiss on his loverís mouth. "I choose a mortal life, I would rather live but one life with you than know hundreds of lives without you."

Falling totally still, Aragorn stared up at Legolas, his eyes wide and his expression stunned. "You... you would do this for me?" he asked. "You would give up your life, your people, to be with me?"

"You need to ask?" Legolas replied with a gentle smile. "I choose you, Aragorn. It is my destiny and I am content."

Aragorn was silent again as he stared up into Legolasí eyes, then took a deep breath. "I have ever been one to fight my destiny, but in this case, I go to it gladly."

"You know, youíre really quite intelligent for a Man," Legolas teased gently, as he leaned forward to brush his lips against Aragornís. "Fighting would have only delayed the inevitable and ensured that you would have known only the pleasure of your hand for at least a decade, maybe longer!"

"What!" Moving swiftly, Aragorn toppled them both over, trapping Legolas beneath him and holding his wrists to the ground. "Sometimes I worry for your sanity, Greenleaf."

"As do I," Legolas chuckled in response, leaning up to kiss his lover. "But this is not going to fill our bellies, and the stew is almost done. Or are you planning to starve me to death?"

The Ranger cocked an eyebrow and smirked. "Are you telling me that my love does not fill your belly more than the finest of banquets?" he asked before breaking into laughter and getting to his feet to check on their meal. "Ahh well, such is mortal life."

"Indeed," the Elf quirked an eyebrow as he came into a sitting position. "And as satisfying as your love is to my soul, Iím afraid that the noises of my stomach might draw Orcs from far and wide soon. It is most unbecoming for a prince of the Mirkwood to have his belly speak louder than he does."

"Almost as unbecoming as for a prince of the Mirkwood to have leaves in his hair?"

"I have leaves in my hair?" Legolasí hands went immediately to his head, smoothing over the length of it, and only then did Aragornís laughter register. "Wretch!" he growled. "You did that a-purpose!"

"Can I help it if you react so interestingly to the mere thought that your hair might be mussed?" Aragorn chuckled. "Now hand me the bowls and we can have our meal. I promise Iíll leave your hair out of the conversation from now on."

Legolas replied with an inelegant snort even as he handed the Ranger the requested items. "I still call you wretch," he muttered under his breath, sending dagger looks towards Aragorn. "My one vanity and you prey upon it like a cat upon a mouse. I may have to rethink my desire to neíer leave your side until I die," he threatened hollowly, knowing that such a thing would never come to pass.

After long moments of companionable silence as they tucked into food like the hungry men they were, Legolas looked up and offered both bread and a question to his lover. "Aragorn, what is death like? The sort of death a mortal faces, not the one an Elf would. We die only violently and in battle; we do not," Legolas searched for a word, "fade away. I wish to understand the choice I have made better. Would you explain it to me?"

Taking the bread from his loverís hand, Aragorn pondered the question in silence for long minutes before answering - or trying to. "I am not sure Iím the right person to ask that. Iíve lived too long among your kind, and while I myself grow older, those who are dearest to me do not. My father was never known to me, and my mother passed on while I was too young to understand. I find myself at a loss, because Iíve never seen anyone fade away. those Men I have known to die have been killed in battle, and their deaths were sudden."

"Well then, I suppose we shall just have to muddle through together. I wonder if I, too, shall grow old, or if I shall just one day cease to exist? Will I go to the hall of your ancestors or to the Valar? I admit I have never thought on these things, nor have I thought of what my father and brothers will say when they find out," Legolas admitted.

"I think, perhaps, you should be prepared to not be as popular among the Mirkwood Elves as among those Elves of Imladris and Caras Galadhon when they find out." Legolas had the good grace to blush as he said this.

Aragornís expression grew more serious. As caught up as he had been in his own difficulties, he had not given a thought to what Legolasí kin would think of the situation. "I would not have you hurt by them," he said carefully. "If you wish to say nothing of this, I will understand."

"I am not ashamed that I have chosen love, Aímaelamin, and I refuse to hide it. They will get over it or they wonít. I can do nothing about their reactions. I can only live my life as best I can and make decisions that are best for me. They will do what they will do. I understand and accept that. But never, ever think that I am ashamed of you, amad-edan {foolish man}!"

"I never thought that at all. I only wanted for you to keep your family." Aragorn raised a hand and stroked Legolasí cheek. "Having lost my own, I know how precious they are."

"But I have a family," Legolas replied simply. "I have you."

The Ranger smiled and leaned into brush his lips over his loverís. "I feel the same. You are my heart and my life."

"A wise answer considering all," Legolas chuckled, returning the kiss. "Would now be an inopportune time to state that I wish your replacements were here now? I want a soft bed, no duties and you as my prisoner for the next month or so. That should at least sate my appetite for you long enough for me to think clearly once more."

Setting aside his trencher and moving Legolasí as well, Aragorn pulled the Elf into his arms, keeping part of his attention on the darkened woods around them, but needing the contact with his lover all the same. "Getting soft in your old age, are you, Greenleaf?" he chuckled.

"Soft?!" the Elf sputtered, "Old?!?!? If we were in a safer locale, Estel, you would rue the day you called me either!" Glaring at Aragorn, Legolas silently promised to teach the young pup just who was the softer of the two and also that his years of experience were worth more than their weight in mithril!

Aragorn gave a wicked grin. "Ahh, but weíre in the woods, so thereís not much for you to do, and by the time we get to that safer locale, your mind will have lost that memory, will it not have?"

"Nay, my love," Legolas hissed back. "The memory will instead fester and become increasingly foul as the days go on, and by the time I see fit to lance it, you will rue the day you said what you did, orqu-suula (Orc breath)!"

"Calling me an Orc, are you? So much for loveís tender words."

Legolasí smile was deadly. "I did not call you an Orc, beloved. I merely said your breath reeked like one."

"And still you see fit to kiss me. Indeed, you are truly a prince among your people." Before the Elf could answer, Aragorn tipped him back in his arms and kissed him long and hard.

Grumbling around the tongue that invaded his mouth, Legolas nonetheless softened into the kiss and soon wrapped his arms around Aragornís neck, holding the younger man as close as possible. Tongues dueled and battled and soon softened into stroking caresses. When at last their lips parted, both the Man and the Elf were breathing hard, their lips red and puffy.

Looking beguilingly up at his lover, his eyes soft and full of love, Legolas leaned in close and whispered seductively, "Ta naaíve miqul orqu {Itís like kissing an Orc}." He grinned up at his lover.

Aragorn stared down at Legolas in shock, then let his arms go lax under the Elf, dropping him to the ground next to his legs. "And have you kissed many Orcs?" he asked, curiously.

"Oh, dozens," Legolas replied flippantly and then pounced on Aragorn. "Melamin, Mela ení coiamin, Aratoamin, Aímaelamin {My love, love of my life, my champion, my beloved}, donít you know you are my sun, my moon and my stars? I live and die but for you alone!" the Elf teased playfully, running light fingers up and down Aragornís ribs and making him squirm.

"I think they should have called you Silvertongue instead of Greenleaf," Aragorn laughed, not trying to get away from Legolas at this point.

Laughing, Legolas threaded his fingers through Aragornís hair and kissed him thoroughly. "What need have I for a silver tongue? I have already caught the love of my life, and now that he is mine, I will not let go so easily!"

Aragorn chuckled wryly and threaded his fingers through the Elfís shining hair. "You will just compare his breath to an Orcís."

"Well, if the description fits..." Legolas trailed off, grinning down at the younger man. "Besides you called me old and soft!"

"Well, you are old, and parts of you are very soft." The Man smiled before regretfully letting go of his lover so they could both sit up once again. "If we were in that bed you had been wishing for, I would show my appreciation for the hard parts though."

Legolas let out a harrumph and narrowed a glance at Aragorn. "Is that supposed to appease my wounded pride?" he asked. "You will have to do much better than that once we are alone and in a protected place. Oh yes, my Estel, you will have to do much better than that! And I look forward to your efforts!"

"Iíll chew some mint leaf before I try so as not to offend your delicate nostrils," Aragorn laughed.

"Bratling! But I have no grounds to speak, for I am not so much older than you by my peopleís standards," Legolas sighed. "I suppose as I love you enough to die for you, I must accept you as you are, bad breath and all!"

The Man grew silent and sober again at that, and his lips thinned as he pressed them together. "Aye," he said quietly, "I suppose you must."

"Estel," Legolas clucked as he fought the urge to roll his eyes. "I regret nothing. I will never regret my choice, for you are my heart. Were I to retain my immortality, I would have nothing but a shadow life without you. I would continue and remain as I have always done, forever young, while inside my heart would shrivel and die, and I would become a cold, icy shell who could feel nothing but the pain of losing my one true love. I have made the right choice, beloved. Please believe that, if nothing else."

Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, Aragorn nodded slowly, and when he lifted his gaze again, his blue eyes were clear. "I believe you, Legolas. With my heart and with my mind. I look forward to spending the rest of my days with you, knowing that you will not be alone, even - even if it means you will follow me to the shadowed lands."

"There, that wasnít so hard, was it?" the Elf smiled. Climbing off Aragornís lap, he pushed the Man back down to a prone position.

"Iíll take first watch. Try and get some rest, Estel, or if possible some sleep. After all youíll be protecting me when itís my turn to sleep," the Elf continued shamelessly, knowing full well that Aragorn would rather die himself than allow any harm to befall his Greenleaf, a fact Legolas was more than willing to use to his advantage.

Settling himself on the root of a tree near the spot where Aragorn lay, Legolas began to hum softly and took up his task of fletching and mending his arrows once more.

END

  since 02-04-07

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