The Struggle Within
Boromir checked on Legolas one last time and deemed the time right to continue their journey. Legolas was once more dressed in a green tunic and leggings, and the Lady Galadriel had replaced the sword, hunting knives and bow that had been lost during the Orcs' attack. Although Legolas was still unable to walk unaided, the Elf managed to lean against him and the support kept Legolas on his feet. "Are you ready?"
Legolas nodded tiredly. Taking a bath and getting dressed had exhausted him and showed how far he was from being healed. "Aye..." They would travel by boat, which ensured that he wouldn't slow the party down. Boromir's arms enfolded him and the Gondorian first lifted and then lowered him into the boat.
Boromir's eyes met Legolas' and the Man smiled warmly. Last night had been a revelation; he now knew what it meant to have a lover instead of a mere bed partner. He sat down behind the Elf and pulled Legolas close. He grabbed the oar and joined the other boats, which already awaited them. "Rest, Legolas and when you grow tired, sleep. You're in safe hands."
Legolas' eyes briefly met Aragorn's and the Elf raised an eyebrow at seeing the questioning sparkle in Aragorn's eyes. /I know my recovery puzzles you... It mystifies me as well./
The Lady Galadriel and the Lord Celeborn joined them and wished them goodbye. Boromir exchanged a grateful look with the Lady and then concentrated on following Aragorn's boat. It would be a long and tiring journey, but feeling Legolas' body heat close to him made him realize that he now had someone to look after; to love and cherish...
Why did he have to feel this weak? Legolas glared at the dark sky in frustration. It would take many weeks before his original strength would be restored. In the meantime he depended on Boromir.
A soft chuckle drew his attention and Legolas cocked his head to meet Boromir's amused glance.
"You surprised me last night..."
Legolas frowned, suddenly realizing what was happening; Boromir was trying to stop him from brooding. "You didn't mind me surprising you..." Two could play this game.
"And now we're married?" Boromir grinned. "I always pictured my bride differently."
Legolas decided to play along. "And I certainly never expected to be married to a Man!"
Boromir chuckled once more. "Till death do us part..." He raised his right hand and gently caressed the Elf's face. "I'm not complaining though..."
Legolas finally smiled in return. "It could have been worse..."
"Being married to Gimli for example?" Boromir genuinely enjoyed teasing Legolas for it drove away the dark shadow that hovered in the Elf's eyes.
"Being married to a Dwarf?" Legolas pretended to shiver. The truth was that he was starting to like the Dwarf, recalling how concerned Gimli had been after the attack when he had been unresponsive.
"Seriously," said Boromir, "I am falling in love with you. Is it just the bond or...?"
Legolas nodded against Boromir's shoulder. "You must have been attracted to me from the beginning, or the bond would never have formed."
Boromir suddenly arched an eyebrow. "Does that mean you were attracted to me as well?" To his eternal delight Legolas blushed. "You were attracted to me!"
Legolas could only speak the truth. "Aye, it's true..."
Boromir shook his head, chuckling softly. "We make an odd pair..."
Legolas smiled warmly. "So you do not mind being married to me?"
"I am honored..." said Boromir truthfully. "But you should rest now... my love."
Legolas' heart missed a beat, hearing those last two words. "You are right. I will need my strength later."
"You have no idea how much it means to me that you came back from death..." Boromir pressed his lips on Legolas' hair and he bestowed a gentle kiss on the silk like locks.
Legolas quivered against Boromir. "Do not remind me of the Halls of Mandos. I do not wish to remember their solitude."
Boromir's boat caught up with Aragorn's. "Just a few more hours and then we'll stop for the night. We'll build a nice warm fire and then you can go to sleep."
"And you will tell me more stories about Faramir?"
"And I want to learn more about your father and older brother."
Pleased, Legolas pressed closer to Boromir. Feeling safe, he allowed his mind to drift off in to a healing sleep.
"We'll camp here for the night." Aragorn pulled the boat on to the land and watched the companions make themselves comfortable near the fire that Gimli had built. Boromir had slung an arm around Legolas' waist and now helped the Elf sit down close to the fire. The concern and tenderness in Boromir's touch brought a smile to Aragorn's face. For some time he had feared losing Legolas due to the attack, but Boromir had accomplished the impossible. A Man had brought back an Elf! It was unheard of! What would Elrond say about this development?
He caught Gimli's glance. "I'm going hunting. Keep a close eye on everyone."
Gimli nodded his head and placed his axe next to him, his fingers almost caressing the blade. "Aye, I will look after them."
Aragorn noticed how Gimli's eyes sought out Legolas. The Dwarf had set aside old grudges and prejudice and now felt protective of the Elf. Good.
Aragorn disappeared between the trees, eager to bring back a few rabbits for dinner.
"I am tired..." Legolas melted in Boromir's embrace after eating the berries that the hobbits kept gathering for him. He had even managed a few bites of the roasted rabbit that Gimli had prepared.
"Now sleep, my love..." Boromir smiled at the ease with which those words rolled from his tongue. "When I first met you I had no idea you would come to mean this much to me."
Legolas met Boromir's eyes. The Man's arms were wrapped around him and the Elven cloaks which Galadriel had given them kept them warm. "Boromir, the bond deepens your original feelings for me..."
"I can feel it happen and I do not mind. I welcome it." Boromir briefly closed his eyes and pulled Legolas close. Facing each other, Boromir imprinted the Elf's features in his mind. "I never really belonged..." Seeing Legolas' frown he explained. "I'm the oldest child and destined to be the next Steward of Gondor, and although I believe that my father loves me dearly, I always felt he favored Faramir. I am impulsive where my brother is cunning and calm. I'm reckless and face danger where I find it, while Faramir uses his quick wit instead of his sword arm. He would make the best Steward."
Legolas suddenly realized the truth. "You want to prove your worth to your family. By obtaining the Ring you could return home victorious and prove to them that you are not a failure... Boromir, you are not a failure!" Legolas raised his hands and put them on either side of Boromir's head. "You are compassionate! You are a warrior! You reached out to me and pulled me back by your sheer willpower! Do not think of yourself as unworthy! You do not need the Ring to feel whole."
Boromir felt emotionally naked and vulnerable. "You know me so well and yet you accepted me."
Legolas' soft gaze pierced Boromir's soul. "You don't know yourself very well, Boromir. You need to shed the past and embrace the present."
Boromir sighed deeply. "You place too much faith in me. I fear I will betray your trust one day."
Legolas suddenly glared at him angrily. "Stop hiding, Boromir. Take charge of your life. You are a warrior, act like it. Don't pretend to be powerless. You know what lies ahead and you know how to stop it from happening. Use that knowledge to your advantage!"
Boromir's eyes narrowed. "How do you know what lies ahead of me?"
Legolas lowered his eyes for the first time since they had met at Rivendell. "I also had a vision at Lothlorien. I saw you succumb to the Ring's dark power. The Lady Galadriel appeared to me and told me about the danger you are in."
A sense of dread and hopelessness came over Boromir. "Even you can feel the Shadow on me. Why fight it?"
"Because..." Legolas wavered briefly, lifted his eyes and the blue orbs pleaded with Boromir's dark ones for understanding. "Because I care... because I love you."
Boromir barely refrained from laughing bitterly. How could someone as beautiful as Legolas love him? They were two sides of a coin, light and darkness. Acting on impulse he took Legolas' hand in his and pressed it against his lips. "Will you keep me from falling in to Shadow then?"
"Aye, if you let me..."
Boromir drew in a deep breath. "I'll even love you in death, my Prince."
Slightly saddened Legolas shook his head. "I want you to love me in life, Boromir... never in death."
Boromir bowed his head and kissed the back of Legolas' hand. "I'll follow where you lead."
"No... No... Stop!"
Boromir awoke abruptly, jolted from his dreams by Legolas' startled voice. His eyes flashed open and he instinctively reached for the Elf. Searching their surroundings, Boromir found that the others had awoken as well. The four hobbits stared at Legolas, who was fighting off an imaginary attacker, kicking Boromir in the process.
Boromir released Legolas at once from his embrace, but started to talk softly at the same time, trying to get through to the nightmare ridden Elf. "Legolas, you are safe. You are with me, with Aragorn, Gimli and the hobbits. Nothing bad can happen to you. Wake up!" He repeated the words once more, now in an even softer tone. From the corner of his eye he saw that Aragorn was moving closer to check on them, but he signaled the other man to remain at a distance. Aragorn froze in his movements and Boromir slowly rested the palm of his hand against Legolas' chest. "It's I, Boromir. You are safe..."
Legolas' eyes suddenly came alive, losing their blank expression. "Boromir?" He shuddered violently and he collapsed in to himself, no longer fighting his imaginary foe. His eyes dashed in their sockets, searching his surroundings. "The Orcs?"
"There are no Orcs here," said Boromir reassuringly. "You had a nightmare." He caressed Legolas' face, trying to reestablish contact through touch. "You are safe."
Aragorn, Gimli and the hobbits returned to huddle near the fire, giving the two men some privacy.
"I apologize for..."
Boromir stopped Legolas. "You had a nightmare. I am surprised you didn't have one before. It's nothing to apologize for."
Legolas nodded, but kept his gaze locked on the ground. "I disturbed your sleep. I woke you... all of you."
"We don't mind, Master Elf," said Gimli, who had heard most of their conversation. "You are entitled to some nightmares after... after that attack." Gimli turned his head away from Legolas and stared in to the fire. He shouldn't get involved in this. It was Boromir's task to soothe the Elf.
Legolas hesitantly lifted his eyes and made eye contact with Boromir. "I can still feel their hands on me."
Boromir moved closer and opened his arms. He released a relieved sigh when Legolas slipped back into the embrace. The fact that Legolas accepted his touch meant a lot to him. "I can't help but wonder how they overwhelmed you. You are a capable warrior. How did they do it?" Boromir felt Legolas shudder and almost regretted asking the Elf, but talking about it might take away some of the nightmare's sting.
"There were too many of them." Legolas fought the return of the memories. "I couldn't fight them all."
"You will have your revenge," vowed Boromir. "We will find them and they will die a slow and painful death, that I promise. Did you see their faces? Hear a name?"
Legolas shivered fiercely. "Their leader was called Ugluk."
Boromir imprinted that name. "He'll pay for hurting you."
Legolas smiled in spite of the returning memories. "I doubt we will ever again run in to him. I pray we won't." He would never forget Ugluk's face; it would always haunt his sleep. Bless Boromir for being there for him.
"The nightmares can't hurt you," said Boromir compassionately. A wicked grin suddenly flashed across his features. "I know of a way to cheer you up. To let tears of merriment flow down your face and you'll laugh until you think you'll burst!"
Alerted by the mischievous look in Boromir's eyes, Legolas studied him. "Boromir?" Suddenly Boromir's large hands were all over him, tickling his sides, his back, his belly. His eyes widened as he fought the hands from continuing their torment. He burst out laughing, holding on to his belly and trying to roll away from Boromir. "Mercy!"
But Boromir had other plans. "When Faramir's mood darkened this would always cheer him up. It looks like it also works on you." He intensified the tickling and yes, there were definitely tears of laughter rolling down Legolas' face. It suddenly struck him how seldom the Elf laughed... That had to change!
He noticed the curious looks the others were giving him, but he ignored them. He managed to bring his arms up behind Legolas' back and finally had pity on the Elf and stopped tickling him. "Do you feel better now?" One look at Legolas' eyes told him that the dark gleam was gone; they now sparkled. "I must remember that trick."
"You do not play fair, Boromir..." But Legolas had to admit that the haunting memories had left for now. Boromir had chased them away. "I felt like a youngster again... Tickling me was one of Valthoron's ways of making me laugh ..."
"Valthoron?" The name sounded familiar, like he had heard it once before.
"My older brother and heir to the throne." Legolas smiled fondly, but then the smile faded quickly. The dark gleam was back.
Boromir cursed privately. He instantly disliked Valthoron for putting that dark gleam back in those sapphire eyes. "Why the sadness?"
"Valthoron and my father... They won't understand... They will never approve of our bond." Feeling depressed once more, he sat upright, distancing himself from Boromir.
"Why? Why wouldn't they approve? Would they rather have you die?" Boromir frowned.
Legolas looked up apologetically. "You must understand... No Elf ever managed to bring back a... ravaged Elf and you, a Man accomplished that very thing..."
Boromir wrapped an arm around Legolas. "We will deal with that in time. We should concentrate on your recovery..." He gave Legolas a thoughtful look. "You seem to grow stronger with every passing hour. Only a few days ago you were incapable of speech."
"It's your closeness... your acceptance... It helps me heal." Legolas rested his head on Boromir's chest and forced himself to relax. The enemy wasn't close and he wasn't in any danger. Now that Boromir had chased away the nightmares he was starting to feel sleepy again. His mind and body still needed to recuperate.
Boromir felt Legolas go limp against him. "Aye, now sleep. I will keep away the nightmares..." His eyes met Aragorn's and a silent understanding passed between the two men. Aragorn would stand guard tonight, just to make sure no Orcs were close.
Boromir draped his cloak across Legolas' body and held him close. "Sleep. I will watch over you..." Two pair of eyes would guard the Elf's sleep tonight; his and Aragorn's.
A single scream sounded through the night and Boromir startled awake for a second time. At first he thought that Legolas was having another nightmare, but the Elf was in his arms, waking up as well and his expression was calm. "What...?"
"Orcs!" Gimli was instantly awake. He jumped to his feet, raised his axe and growled at the attacking Orcs.
Boromir searched for Aragorn and found that the other man was already engaged in battle. Four slain Orcs lay at Aragorn's feet and now a fifth joined them. "Gimli, protect the hobbits!" He pulled a wobbly Legolas to his feet and lead him to the trees. "Take cover and stay here... I will keep them at a distance." Looking at Legolas' eyes, he saw the horror in them and only then did he realize that the Elf was staring at one Orc in particular. "What is it?"
"It's him... Ugluk." His body shook with emotion and he hated himself for being this weak and vulnerable. He should be fighting at the front line, defending the hobbits, but Boromir had to defend him and the Gondorian couldn't protect the hobbits.
Boromir's face contorted as he glared at the approaching Orc. Ugluk and his men looked taller and stronger than the average Orc and he was beginning to understand how they had overpowered Legolas. "Prepare to die..." Boromir raised his sword, released a battle cry and fought off the first round of charging Orcs. "You're mine..." growled Boromir, staring in to Ugluk's eyes. "The hour of death is upon you."
Legolas wanted to move, wanted to grab his bow and arrows and participate in the fight, but his body refused to move. Entranced, he stared at Boromir and his heart missed a beat, seeing Ugluk's grin. The Orc had recognized him.
Gimli, Boromir, Aragorn and even the hobbits fought back the Orcs, which eventually retreated. Ugluk leered one last time at Legolas, licking his lips obscenely. Legolas averted his eyes, unable to face the humiliation he had suffered at this creature's hands.
"They're pulling back!" Boromir, enraged, wanted to take up pursuit and make Ugluk pay for his crime, but suddenly Gandalf and Galadriel's words returned to him; Legolas had to come first. "We'll meet again!" threatened Boromir. Ugluck cocked his head, met his eyes and Boromir growled hungrily. "You are dead, you just don't know it yet."
Then Boromir turned around, dismissing Ugluk for now. He returned to Legolas, who had managed to push himself to his feet. The Elf leaned heavily against a tree, but managed to stay on his feet. Boromir was beside him in a second, locking eyes with the trembling Elf.
Legolas' eyes swam with unshed tears. "I could not face him. I am no longer a warrior. I hid like a frightened child."
Boromir's heart went out to him and he gathered the trembling Elf in his arms. "I understand..."
"We all do," said Frodo, looking at the rest of the party, who firmly nodded their heads. Frodo came to a halt in front of the two men. Looking in to Legolas' eyes, he said, "We understand your fears, but we also firmly believe that you will overcome them..."
Legolas managed a grateful smile. "Thank you, Frodo..."
Pippin suddenly appeared behind Frodo. "I can tell you some pretty good jokes, like the one with the cave troll..."
"Pippin!" Exasperated, Sam pulled Pippin away. "Please ignore him... Come on, Pippin, the fire went out and we need to get it going again..."
"But there are dead bodies all around us!" Pippin allowed Sam to pull him along, but his face revealed the loathing he felt at the sight of the dead Orcs.
"Why don't you lie down again, Legolas?" Aragorn first hesitated, but then rested a hand on the Elf's shoulder. "We fought them off once, we'll fight them off again."
Legolas appreciated Aragorn's assurance, but he doubted he could fall asleep again. Suddenly Boromir pulled him close and before he knew it, Boromir's arms were tightly wrapped around him. Boromir's soft mumbling calmed him down.
"I'll also stand guard, Master Elf," announced Gimli. "They won't touch you again."
"Thank you, valiant Dwarf," managed Legolas. His voice sounded smothered because Boromir had tucked his head beneath his chin.
Frodo looked at Boromir. "Is there anything we can do?"
Boromir declined politely. "Your words already reassured him. You did well."
Frodo sighed, returned to the rest of the group and left Boromir and Legolas to their own thoughts.
"I wanted to fight him, I really did, but my body betrayed me; it wouldn't move." Legolas' fingers curled around his hunting knife, and stared at the sharp blade. "What use am I to this Fellowship?"
A lump formed in Boromir's throat. "You are the eyes and ears of this Fellowship."
Legolas laughed bitterly. "But I can no longer defend myself."
"You need time," soothed Boromir. "You will wield a sword again in time. I will see to it."
"Your faith in me baffles me."
"The fact that you chose me over death still baffles me," returned Boromir, trying to read Legolas' expression. "I wish I had ended the Orc's miserable life. The bastard doesn't deserve to breathe the same air as you do."
Legolas' eyes suddenly glowed with pride. "You give me the strength to carry on and with your help I will fight and overcome my fears..."
Boromir nodded approvingly. "And now that we've driven them away, we'll rest... and sleep."
Legolas hadn't thought it possible but after a few minutes he began to doze off again, lured in to sleep by Boromir's soft, assuring murmurs. /You are my strength, Boromir and I will be yours when you need me most.../
Boromir stroked the fair hair and intercepted Aragorn's questioning glance. "He's resting now..."
"We must remain alert. They were upon us before I had the chance to warn you," said Aragorn gravely. "I understand now how they sneaked up on Legolas and overwhelmed him. It won't happen again."
Boromir's fingers caressed the fading bite marks. "This bastard will pay for what he did. Remember this, Aragorn, Ugluk's head is mine..."
Aragorn nodded. "Your claim is stronger than mine. His head is yours..." Aragorn returned to the fire while Gimli stood watch, guarding the camp side. The Orcs wouldn't take them by surprise a second time!
Return to Archive | next | prequel