Author’s Note: The gods forgive me for naming Trystan’s horse after a Valar. Oh, and in this chapter, the love scene by the falls was inspired by Elisa’s manip, "Rauros,” at Lassegalen’s Laire.

Chapter Summary: Beware snakes, witches, and elves offering apples.

De Profundis

Chapter 2 - Once Upon a Time

By Milady Hawke


“Well, go on then,” the man urged, breaking under the intensity of the elf’s level gaze and looking away to the horizon. “I am riveted.”

“Once upon a time, during The Watchful Peace it happened that an elfling was conceived in a woman of The Great Wood who had tried long for a child to occupy the empty days in her chambers, her husband’s high position leaving him little time for her, and her three fine sons already full-grown and busy with their duties and families of their own. Into the making of this child she poured all of her longing, her loneliness, her love, and her hope. She was rewarded with a baby boy, but she was not to enjoy him.”

“What happened to her?”

“She died,” Legolas said blankly. “Giving her child life.” The golden head bowed. “Even the strength of elves is not proof against nature.”

“Before the spirit fled her wracked body, she held him in her arms briefly, and a moment came upon her of intuition. She prophesied that, birthed in sorrow, her son would die like she, for want of love. And so she named him Trystan, which means ‘Sorrow-born,’ but the father would later not call him by that. The woman went on to say that the boy would honor his father’s house and be one of the great heroes of his people, but in the end he would be brought low by his love for one outside of his race and his reach.”

“Aye,” Aragorn mused. “Oft are such loves doomed in the history of Arda. Arwen and I are very lucky.”

“Yes, you’re very bright.” Crossing his fingers behind his back, ‘Not really,’ Legolas thought to himself.

“The husband was beside himself in his grief, and he determined not to fail his new son as he had failed his mother. He lavished his attention and all his love upon Trystan, who grew up strong in body and mind, true of heart and tongue and bow, skilled in the arts of both war and scholarship and more in love with the woods and waters wild than in his rank. But ever mindful of his wife’s pronouncement, the elf sought to shelter his son from the outside world, sending instead his other sons to run his messages and to carry out his business.”

“ ’Twas not over long by elven standards when after his majority Trystan grew restless. ‘I am as capable as they,’ he thought, ‘though less experienced. And my heart does yearn to see a little of the world outside the borders of my home. It is also time that I eased my brothers’ shoulders of responsibility and proved myself useful to both them and my father.’ And so when ‘twas time for to carry another message, Trystan went to his father and begged the bearing of it.”

“The elf-lord bethought himself that it was a reasonable request, though a warning knell sounded deeply in his heart. He could reckon no harm in letting his youngest carry a missive to another elf kingdom. He was brave enough for the journey, he was swift and fell in combat, and no hurt could come of letting his son visit his cousins to the west. He could not, after all, expect to keep his son locked in a bubble forever.”

“And so Trystan rode forth with the exuberance of his first real adventure. Orc skirmishes were not unknown to him in guarding the borders of his kingdom, nor were the monstrous spiders and other dark creatures that haunted his land. With a stout heart he set out on his travel, dispatching quickly what few orcs he encountered and reveling in the change of scenery as he passed through forest and dale, mountain and plain. He arrived somewhat bedraggled and feeling very manly for it.”

“Trystan scarcely heard what was said to him by the being who offered greeting into this new kingdom. The land was welcome to his eyes and rivaled the beauty of his home, so different, but so wonderful. Its mountain peaks kissed colorfully as they touched the very firmament of heaven and it’s wide, open valley shadowed in what seemed a veil of comfort and peace after long weeks on the road. Intricately carved knot-work snaked along the columns of its houses while fair elf youths flitted about the many lawns and fruit groves that adorned the valley. A very paradise, he thought.”

“As the other man grabbed the reins of his horse Nienna to take her to stable, Trystan turned for the first time to appraise this person. A man, young, fair of face and form with the earthy look of a warrior but the gentle eyes and hands of a healer. And no elf, he noted with shock, but a human man in truth. And such a man. Trystan had seldom seen and less often met one not of his race, and yet here was a human man of what seemed to him rare quality, greeting him and offering to take his horse. ‘What a wondrous place is this strange elf kingdom with such beautiful beings in it,’ he bethought himself.”

“He loved the man, didn’t he! At first sight!” exclaimed an open-mouthed Aragorn, now clutching tightly to Legolas’ arm.

A deep, simmering growl welled up from the elf. “Why don’t you pour yourself another drink? Now be quiet and listen.”

“If I might continue, as time passed for Trystan in this enchanted realm, he observed the man’s honored position, sitting near the great lord at table, conversing with the land’s ministers, walking the gardens as if he owned them. ‘Twas not long before Trystan found himself seeking out the company of this engaging creature who seemed a solitary specimen of the wider world and who yet had the run of the country. The sound of his laughter, it was deep and rich to Trystan as the spiced taste of honey mead . His eyes held all the mystery of the depths of the ocean and drew Trystan inexorably to him as the sea calls to his kind. The man’s hair was an unruly swirl of burnt autumn leaves falling about his face with the disarray of some semi-wild creature. The man was intoxicating.

And one day, stumbling across the man as he sat bathed in a spray of light refracted from the mist of one of the many waterfalls adorning the land, Trystan was startled to realize that he did, indeed, love this human.”

“Oh, I knew it!”

“Yes. Good for you, Aragorn. Now as I was saying, as he eased himself down next to the man without breaking their locked gaze, it felt the most natural thing in the world to cup his beloved’s face to his.”

“They made love by the water that night, slow and deliberate, learning the hard and soft contours of each other, the heady tastes and scents of arousal, what places that when touched or licked made the other mewl with satisfaction or keen in desperation. Their joining was like fire and black powder that when kissing consume each other in a brilliant explosion of light and heat and sound...”

“...but in the shadows watched the lord of the realm, and he had other plans for this human.”

Aragorn had almost forgotten the way this story started. It had turned out delightful thus far, but here came the inevitable perversion from Legolas. He set his jaw and waited.

“The lord was kind to Trystan the next day, but unrelenting. The man had a great destiny before him that Trystan could not forever be part of. The human would learn of this soon and meet the lady he was to marry, for much depended upon their joining. Trystan must let the man go.”

“‘Is he to have no say in this?’ pleaded Trystan, upon his knees then in a tear-stained heap on the floor.”

“‘His destiny is greater than the both of you. Would you deny him this future?’ spoke the wise one before him.”

“And there was no argument Trystan could tender, for love is not selfish and bears all things.”

“The lord then withdrew from the folds of his robe an apple that looked like any other. He circled Trystan, who still knelt on the ground, and holding the apple out the lord said, ‘It is my gift to you. Taste of this, and then offer it to your love; I would not have you both suffer without need. One bite, and you both will forget all that has passed between you.’”

“And for better or worse, Trystan took it. He went to his lover’s chambers that night, and thought on the apple, and looked at his love.”

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