The morning sun crept over the cliffs at Helm's Deep, changing the wintry grey skies to a clear blue. Weak rays of sunlight shone through the narrow windows of the Hornburg, brightening up its dark interior. Inside the tower, the men who were sleeping there awakened, still feeling somewhat weary from last night's ride, but ready for whatever the day would bring.
Legolas got up from his resting place, instantly awake as soon as the sun had started to appear on the horizon. Like all elves, he showed no signs of drowsiness as he moved from where he had slept to stand by one of the windows. Sunlight caught his long hair, sending rivers of gold running through it. Looking out, it did not seem believable that a battle had been fought in these now tranquil surroundings. There were no signs of the Orcs that had been slain there, and only patches of ground where the earth was disturbed, showed that something had happened not so long ago.
Whilst taking in the view, Legolas thought about the night they had spent in the Hornburg. The ride from Rohan had been long and tiring, and by the time they had arrived in Helm's Deep, they were all eager to get some sleep in the few hours that remained of the night. Well... nearly all. Upon arrival, Aragorn and Halbarad had declared that there were important issues that they needed to think over, and the two of them had gone up to the high chamber in the tower. That was the last anybody had seen of them on that night, and Legolas doubted that they had got any rest. They had both seemed troubled when they went up to the chamber, and it looked like they would be busy with their thoughts until dawn. Legolas gave a wry smile as he realised that it had been the first night he had spent without Aragorn's company since the Fellowship has set out. Perhaps it was best for the both of them that they should not constantly be in each other's presence. Although Legolas had tried to convince himself that anything he felt for Aragorn was no more than the love of friendship, his subconscious didn't agree. He did not want to completely detach himself from Aragorn, but nor could he risk being around him all the time. Who knew where instinct would lead them? - He didn't want to hurt Arwen. Legolas wondered if Aragorn felt the same way. True, he did love Arwen, but men seemed to be a lot more willing to satisfy their desires than any other race. Maybe the banner that Halbarad had given him from Arwen would draw Aragorn closer to her.
As the sun continued its ascent in the sky, Legolas found himself speculating over what kind of a relationship Aragorn had with Halbarad. He knew they were close, but what if they were more than just friends? What if they were lovers? They had just spent a night together in the tower. What if they had done more than just talk? It couldn't be! Aragorn was meant to love him, Legolas, not... Legolas blinked, trying to stop his thoughts. He must not think like that! Aragorn was meant to love Arwen only, and if there was anything between Aragorn and Halbarad, that was none of his business. It was madness to feel jealousy over Aragorn. Shaking his head to clear his mind, Legolas turned away from the window. Noticing that Gimli, with whom he had shared a room, was still sleeping, he walked over to the dwarf to wake him up. Giving him a friendly shake, Legolas awakened him.
The sun was high in the sky by the time Aragorn emerged from the tower with Halbarad. He had not looked at peace when he had entered the tower, and now, to Legolas, he seemed even more disturbed. Along with Gimli, Éomer, Elladan and Elrohir, he rushed to meet them. Any questions asked were met with a reply of that all would be told later. Together, they all walked out of the gates and to where Théoden was waiting, along with his Riders and the Rangers. Legolas stood next to Gimli as Aragorn bid his farewell to Théoden and Éomer, noting the looks of horror and shock on people's faces as Aragorn announced his plans to travel along the Paths of the Dead. Legolas did not fear the Dead, but he knew that the others did, so he was surprised at Aragorn's decision. He watched curiously as Aragorn bid farewell to Théoden and Merry, and then turned to speak to Halbarad. As they walked back into the Hornburg, Aragorn beckoned to Legolas and Gimli to join him for lunch.
On entering the hall, Legolas tried to disregard thoughts he was having, about how Aragorn wanted to dine with *him* and not Halbarad. They were stupid, irrational thoughts, but they were hard to ignore, just like the tingle he had felt running through his body when he had brushed Aragorn's hand by accident. The wave of pleasure was unlike anything he had felt before when he had touched someone, and it delighted him in as much as it confused him. Still, he tried to push his feelings out of his mind. Aragorn needed his support now; not some elf lusting after him, especially as he had already told Aragorn that the only relationship they would have would be one of friendship. He tried to concentrate on what Aragorn was telling them.
Sitting down at the table with Legolas and Gimli, Aragorn could not help glancing at the elf sitting by his side. Legolas' eyes would not meet his own, and there was a slight flush creeping across his fair face. Aragorn wondered if perhaps Legolas was feeling the same way as he did when their hands unintentionally brushed each other's. The vaguely erotic sensation was none less than he had expected. Despite everything that had been said, he still had feelings for Legolas that went deep beneath the surface and touched his heart, in a way that he had once thought that only Arwen was capable of doing. Yet, he did not think Legolas felt that way too. He had been quite insistent that the two of them would never have the relationship that Aragorn craved - not one of just friendship and mutual admiration, Aragorn wanted something more than that. He wasn't just physically attracted to the elf; it was also the magical and slightly mythical aura that surrounded Legolas. Aragorn supposed that it was also one of the reasons why he was attracted to Arwen. Realising that now Legolas and Gimli were looking expectantly at him, he emptied his mind of any thoughts concerning his relationship with Legolas, and focused on the matter in hand - travelling the Paths of the Dead.
As he had promised earlier, Aragorn narrated over what he had done in the tower the previous night, including when he looked into the Stone. Both Legolas and Gimli seemed surprised that he had done so, especially Gimli as his outburst showed, but Aragon could hardly help but feel affection towards the dwarf when he pledged his loyalty towards Aragorn after he had finished talking. Legolas also agreed to accompany him, which Aragorn was grateful for. Even though he almost definitely knew that Legolas wouldn't not come with, a lingering doubt had still rested in his mind. What if Legolas had decided that 'it would be the best for both of them' and decided not to come along? Thankfully, he hadn't.
Together they left the hall, and went outside where the Rangers were waiting patiently. Mounting their horses, they were soon on their way. They rode swiftly, as they had a lot of ground to cover but fortunately, the land was mostly flat, and they arrived at Dunharrow by nightfall of the second day. The Lady Éowyn was a gracious hostess, who gladly welcomed them and made sure they were provided with food and lodgings for the night. She seemed calm, though many detected an unease about her after Aragorn informed her of his plans to go along the Paths of the Dead
When the meal was over, they all decided to retire for the night. Legolas made his way with Aragorn and Gimli to the room that they were sharing. He hoped nothing would happen between him and Aragorn tonight that he would regret. He entered the room with Gimli, and prepared to sleep. Aragorn had remained outside, as Éowyn had wanted to talk with him. They were all travelling light, so not much needed to be done in way of preparation and soon they were both sprawled out on the large, comfortable beds. Gimli was soon fast asleep, but although Legolas willed himself to follow suit, he found that sleep was not coming easily to him that night. Rising from his bed, he stepped lightly over to the door of the room, being careful not to wake Gimli. Maybe a few moments outside in the fresh air would help him to relax.
Opening the door a crack, he noticed that Éowyn had still been talking to Aragorn. She was now walking quickly away from Aragorn, her face set in a mask of anger. Aragorn had his face turned away from the room, so Legolas could not see his expression, but from his posture and the sigh of despair that escaped from his lips, he seemed downcast and upset about something. Fully opening the door, Legolas stepped outside. The sudden movement in the stillness of the night made Aragorn jump. He twisted round to face Legolas.
"Legolas! I thought that you and Gimli were asleep."
"And so I would be, Aragorn, if sleep came easily to me on this night."
Aragorn gave him an understanding smile, and began to walk back into their lodgings. Legolas followed him.
"You must rest tonight, Legolas. Tomorrow we ride down to the Haunted Mountain, and we will all need to be fully alert there." Legolas just nodded. Aragorn went to lie down on one of the beds, but a restlessness pervaded Legolas, so he went to stand by one of the windows instead. Rays of silvery moonlight that shone through highlighted his ivory skin and turned his hair platinum blonde. Surveying the night skies, Legolas observed the thousands of stars twinkling in the dark.
"Evenstar," Aragorn whispered. Legolas turned, surprised to see that Aragorn had joined him by the window.
"That is what you call Arwen by, is it not?" Aragorn glanced guiltily down at his hands.
"Yes," he murmured. He then suddenly jerked his head up to look Legolas in the eye. A tortured look plagued his face.
"But I cannot forget you!" he exclaimed. "Is it not possible that I can love you and Arwen? That I cannot have two people with whom I share my heart? It is impossible for me to live in denial! There is no use in telling myself to forget that I love you, and to treat you as just friend - that is not the way I feel! I do not want to live a lie."
"It is not right..." Legolas began
"Right? Who is to judge what is right and what is wrong? Arwen would want me to be happy, in the same way that I wish for her to be content. But how can I be satisfied with life when there is someone that I truly love who will not let me have him?" Aragorn suddenly stopped his tirade and clasped Legolas' face with both hands. Passion blazed in his eyes, and a heat emitted from him that Legolas could not ignore.
"Please, Legolas, for both our sakes."
Their lips met, hesitantly at first, but then with a more pressing urgency as Legolas succumbed to the inevitable. Their mouths opened for each other, tongues exploring, running over teeth and mating in a dance. Hands tangled in hair, intertwining blond with brown. Bodies brought into even greater contact; till they were so tightly held against each other that they were as one person. Finally breaking contact in order to breathe, they both noticed the look of exhilaration on each other's faces. Extending a hand towards Legolas, which he accepted, Aragorn lead the way away from the window, and to his bed. Casting a sideways glance at Gimli to make sure that the dwarf was still sleeping, Legolas silently cursed himself for his only weakness - his instinct for love.
Sitting at the edge of his bed, Aragorn began to remove the many layers of clothing that he wore during the day. Noticing Legolas' apprehension, he whispered comfortingly, "Do not worry, Legolas, I would never make you do something that you did not want to. I know how you feel. I just want to hold you tonight - if you don't mind." Legolas nodded in agreement. Memories of hands that should have never touched him were still living on his mind, and he did not know if he would be able to stand having a physical relationship just yet. Lying down beside Aragorn, he laid one lithe arm gingerly around the other man's waist. Aragorn immediately wrapped his arms around him and drew him close.
"Sleep, Legolas," he murmured softly. Legolas relaxed into the embrace, drawing comfort from one who loved him, however difficult it was to admit it. As a pair of soft lips brushed his forehead, he felt sleep overtake him, and as he drifted off, a few last random thoughts swam through his head. That tonight he was pure again, Aragorn's touch removing the last of the evil left behind by Saruman. That what he was doing tonight was correct, and whatever tomorrow would bring, did not matter now. That tonight he was innocent of wickedness and betrayal. Tonight he was simply in love.
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