WARNING: This is a hint of SLASH. While there is no explicit homosexual action, this story involves a man (male elf, really) in love with a man. If this bothers you, I am certainly not going to make you read it, and indeed kindly request that you take yourself elsewhere and read some of the lovely het works on ffnet. If you read the fic in spite of my warning, then don’t complain to me!
Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings, and all of its characters clearly do not belong to me. They belong to the amazing J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m merely playing with their minds... (evil grin).
Feedback: Please, please, please... yes, I am begging! I would like to know what you think of it - love it, hate it, don’t get it- whatever! Just keep in mind that flames will be used to heat my very cold dorm room. (along with Lady Ariannya’s hot water bottle)
Author's Notes: This is the ninth installment in the Double Edged series, only one more chapter in this series! Thanks for hanging in there with me. Keep reviewing, and I will keep writing! Also, does anyone want me to e-mail them when I update? Because I know that I add stuff very sporadically, and it’s no trouble to send out a note if people want to know what’s up. If you are interested, let me know, and give me your e-mail address. Right – on with the story!
Chapter 9 - Dawn
The fiery sun bravely raises its face above the mountains that lie to the east, casting golden threads through the trees. The fingers of rosy flame race between branches and leaves, growing bolder as they continue their journey. The small stream that we have camped beside is drawn into their play, and transformed into a flow of molten sunlight. Dawn has arrived, trumpeting her return triumphantly, and banishing the dark fibers of night and shadow.
I rise, stretch my weary limbs, and throw back my head to drink in the brilliant beams that wash over my face. I am filled with live, and with courage. I will reveal my heart, subject it to his scrutiny, expose it to the daylight, and wait for it to be pierced by either the spears of rejection or the arrows of hope.
Legolas lies upon the soft ground of the clearing, arms crossed over his chest, legs straight, and eyes open and unseeing. His blond hair frames his face, and reflects the reddish cast of the sun, creating the illusion of an ice statue sleeping on a bed of flames. But I know that his skin is warm to the touch, and welcoming, altogether unlike the icy fingers of an inanimate. His skin is warmed by the blood that flows through his veins in search of his heart, by miniscule contractions of the layers of wiry muscle, by the light of the pure soul that has chosen to reside on this earth. It would be a crime to wake him and disturb a moment of such peace. In this war-torn world, every hint of peace should be cherished. And yet... I must. I must speak my soul while I have the strength.
My hand creeps to his face of its own accord. I can only stare, fascinated, as it dares to sweep over the fine features, almost but not quite, touching. It brushes a strand of golden hair away from his fine eyes, leading it to join its brethren behind his perfectly sculpted, curving ear. Then, impudently, it returns to the innocent face, and wanders over the soft planes and curves of cheek, eyebrow, forehead, and lips. Thankfully, it is not so impious as to attempt to claim the beauty for itself, but only to worship its owner. A single finger extends to travel along the smooth line of a pale cheek, and a soft whisper, a blessing or a prayer, escapes from my mouth. "Legolas."
The reaction is instantaneous. The veil lifts from vivid brown eyes, and his soul floods back into his body, leaving behind whatever trails of dreams it had been perusing. The thin lips, made something otherworldly by the ethereal light the dawn casts over the world, part and inhale. I swear that I can almost see the particles of air traipsing slowly to fill his lungs. Is it the time of day that makes everything feel as though the world has ceased turning, and the flow of the river of time appear to be halted? His eyes meet mine, and for a moment (or an eternity) I am blinded by the brilliance of the spirit revealed within him.
The moment is not broken, but is certainly transformed, when he moves to sit up, and my hand withdraws itself. The texture of his skin will forever be imprinted upon that fingertip. I have that, at least. I cannot lose this chance.
"Legolas, I would speak with you, if you will listen. There are matters which weigh heavily upon my mind." His gaze is removed, but before I lose the contact completely, I see a fleeting frown of suspicion lingering within his eyes.
"We have far to travel today... But... Yes. We should speak. There are things which I must disclose to you as well." He will not meet my eyes, and he pulls his legs up to his chest, embracing his knees with arms that I suspect tremble. Can he know what I am going to say? Does he fear it so? Perhaps I should stop here, make some idle conversation about our direction, or the weather. No. I have begun this, and I will see it through to the end. To whatever end.
I have been kneeling, my knees pressed harshly into the earth, and I shift, settling against the trunk of a tree. I focus my eyes just below the glare of the sun, in that land which is in between heaven and earth.
"I have long carried a secret which has ... has tormented me." With my peripheral vision, I see brown eyes dart to my face, than away. "I... I have struggled to make the best decision. I do not wish to harm an innocent... "
"Aragorn... " His voice is gruff, startling me into looking at him.
"Please, my friend, allow me to unburden my heart." He pauses, then nods, reluctantly. I take a deep breath, trying to settle my mind into some semblance of order. Far above us a bird coasts across the glowing ambers, pinks, and purples that the sun has painted the sky with. I allow my eyes to track its progress.
"For many years I have abided by an agreement that I do not feel I can carry out in good conscience. I find... I find that I cannot keep my vows, nor uphold my side of the contract." The bird wheels and dives between the mountains, vanishing. I find myself staring at Legolas. By all the Gods. Beauty cannot aspire to describe him. Pure, perhaps, comes a little closer. And Good. Wholly and entirely Good. I feel the knowledge cement in my heart, resonate through my soul, and allow the words to flow out of my mouth. Finally.
"I cannot wed Arwen."
Silence. He stares at me now, as near to dumbstruck as I have ever seen an elf. His mouth is open slightly, his eyes wide. Whatever he had expected me to say, it was not those words. I pull my eyes away from his face, and watch as the bird (falcon, I believe) renews its acquaintance with the sun, flirting mischievously with the clouds. I feel truly released. It was one thing to make the decision in my mind, but to speak the words, to give them birth and being – that has made all of the difference. I feel that I can live now. I feel that I can love.
A breath escapes him, sounding a little like a sigh. "Aragorn... are you certain? Arwen."
"Arwen will live. She will forgive me, and, eventually, she will forget me. And I can continue to carry myself proudly. I can sleep at night, secure in the knowledge that I have done what I can to preserve some of the good and some of the beautiful that is meant to exist." The falcon flits through the sharp peaks in the Southwest, then turns and soars towards our little clearing. "I do love her, Legolas, but as a bird loves the sun. Or as a pond loves the ocean. She was never meant for me. And I refuse to sacrifice her to an inadequate love. What we share is not the stuff that dreams are made of, nor songs spun of. There is true love in this world, I am sure, and if any creature deserved a chance to find it, Arwen does. And she will have eternity to search."
A gentle hand grips my upper arm, and pulls my gaze back to this world. "And what of you? Do you find yourself so undeserving? What of your own chance at love? "
His voice sounds deep, as though it is coming to me from the depths of the sea. He stares intently at my face, searching, I think, for the truth in my words. The time has come, and I open my heart, break down the barriers between the light and my hidden soul, and let the truth reveal itself for him.
"I have no need to search for love." Our eyes meet, and I know that he cannot deny the force of my emotions. I can feel my love for this perfect being welling up from the recesses of our joined souls, flooding my body, and pouring out of my eyes, like beams from the sun. His eyes widen, his mouth falls open over a startled, "oh." The truth has been brought to light, and there is no going back now. This moment will forever be seared into my soul, like the feeling of his skin is imprinted on my fingertip. Just one perfect moment. My hands come up from my sides, fingers unfurling from the fists they have been clenched into, and cup his face, oh so softly. My body leans forward as I gently tilt his head forward. Our lips meet, and I find perfection in the blush of dawn.
I pull slowly away after the most chaste, and loving, kiss that I have ever delivered. I want to see his eyes, to judge whether he understands, and what his decision is, before I press any further. I could happily remain in this rose-colored clearing for the rest of my days, but I must be certain that he feels the same. His eyes are closed, eyelashes fluttering softly against his cheekbones, casting dark shadows on his skin. His pale moonlight face is flushed with the colors of the sun. His lips tremble so slightly, parted in the smallest degree. Perfect.
His eyelids shudder, then part, and he looks at me through melted eyes. My thumb gently caresses the downy skin in front of his ear, encouraging. He blinks at me, unmoving in any other respects, and a silver tear forms at the corner of earthen eyes. Forms, and falls, tracing a sodden path down the sloping features.
I am grounded so suddenly that I feel a physical shock. I have been flying on the wings of the falcon, far removed from this world. I let my emotions rule me, and took advantage of yet another innocent. It seems that I cannot see beauty without seeking to destroy it. I cannot find perfection without soiling it.
I jerk my hands away from his face (they must burn him!) and stumble to my feet. I think that I mumble an apology (no apology will ever suffice) as I turn from him, closing my eyes, desperate to block out the sight of a tear falling from uncertain eyes. I run into the forest, crashing through the underbrush, trying to avoid the betrayed and forsaken expression that haunts my mind. Dear Gods! He does not love me, though he would do anything for me – but I cannot accept his willing ruin anymore than I could accept Arwen’s. I was mistaken. Oh heavens, I am vile! Oh, what have I done?
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