Disclaimer: Not mines.  Make no money I.  No sue, please.

Author's Notes: As always, read with discretion. Er…I’m also thinking of re-posting this chapter. I don’t quite like the way it turned out, but I’m not sure how I want it to turn out either. Strange. Erck. >_<

They’re not, you know, easy to live with - the Elves. They’re tricky. They’ve seen everything. They’ve been around thousands of years. You have to go the extra mile every day to keep them happy.
--Viggo Mortensen

Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.
--Mark Twain

She’s realized the real problems with stories—If you keep them going long enough, they always end in death.
--Bette, Sandman Comics, Neil Gaiman

Pride is a fickle thing.

Death: The High Cost of Living
--Title comic, Neil Gaiman

To Hesitate


By Gelfling


She is coming soon.  I knew she would.  And also, I know what he is going to do. 

I want to blame him.  A part of me does already. 

A part of me, the dark, old part, hates him bitterly for what he is done.  I want to act the way he thinks I will.  He is prepared for it; perhaps subconsciously, yet he has prepared nonetheless.  His hand hovers constantly over his sword hilt, his eyes watch mine closer. 

He is not afraid.  Dreading, perhaps, guilty, and waiting.  But not afraid.  Perhaps he should be, he has never yet felt my anger for himself.  It may be he still considers himself my equal. 

It could not be more false, but it would not be unnatural for his race.  He is, after all, only human.  I will not attack.  I…had conceived this betrayal from the first moment of his fascination, his obsession, though I saw no reason to seriously consider it.  It is…not the betrayal that has hurt me.  I am old.  It would not be the first. 

What burns is…the disillusionment.  The denial.  The lost hope that perhaps he would stay—

Esselar.  What irony, is it not?  I am sick of it.  Truly, he does have the gift of hope, and gives it freely wherever he goes. 

…I should have known better than to accept.  My kind has had enough experience with ill gifts.  I find that obscurely shameful.  Indeed, he gave me his hope and life, as he gave Gondor and Rohan.  But unlike them, there was no way he ever could have cleanly kept his obligation to me.  Ever. 

His people may accept an Elvish bride with but shallow misgivings.  They would not accept an Elvish youth.  Even were I human.  They would not accept an heir-less king. 

It does not matter anymore.  I cannot change it now.  I would not.  I will not.  He will come to me again tonight, or I will go to him.  It makes little difference.  We may hide and avoid each other until daybreak, but we will have met before the day has begun.  We need each other.

We never mention problems.  We never speak of the future.  He will say he wants me, and I will gasp and moan his name…he will cry a little quietly, casually, afterwards, like always…and life will continue. 

She is coming soon.  And I will not be a closet toy to be taken out and put away when I cannot be seen.  I am a prince and warrior of my kind.  I am my own.  I have my pride.  I will take nothing less than acknowledgement, and I cannot ask him to choose between his kingdom and I.

…I blame myself. 

I never should have loved him. 

I never should have fallen.




I know I’ll never be everything they need. 

They have so much, they are so much. 

Any need they might have would be nothing less than a miracle, an act of the gods.  But what miracles I can do I’d gladly give to them. 

They could never be mine, not fully, neither of them, not little sister nor him though I wish he could be.  I long for him and I know now that he does the same.  I know he can’t be mine.  I want him to live; I need him to live sometimes more than I want myself too.  I can’t ask him to stay with me.  I won’t ask him to stay with me. 

I want him to stay with me.  But I will not see him age.  I don’t want to see him fade.  Not with time, but with boredom.  With fatigue.  Never has an Elvish youth betrayed his blood and immortality for love, and I would not ask it of him.  I can’t conceive of it, I don’t want to think about it. 

If I could freeze time I’d do so in an instant, these minutes living on peril and fear and grief just so I could see him this way and be myself, myself the way I want to be, still strong and able. 

I don’t want to age.  I don’t want to die that way; I’d rather die on the field at the hand of some orc or monster than die in traction in some bed.  I don’t want to age.  Selfish indeed I am, and human truly is my blood. 

But I won’t put him through that.  I wouldn’t put her through that either, but what I will or no with her is but a passing consideration.  She does what she wishes, and I love her all the more for it, my little sister who was so much more older than me. 

I’ll remember him this way.  I’ll remember him this way forever.

Anything else is beyond my reach, and I’m desperate and weak enough to go on loving and dreaming of a memory. 

Sometimes lovers kill each other; kill themselves, to keep each other near.  I’ve seen the mother’s of slaves, prisoners themselves, drowned their own children to keep them from being sold away, to protect them from the dangers of the world. 

It chills me, but I understand the mercy in it.  The selfishness in it, sometimes.  Time comes and destroys and changes the old and gives life to the new.  Time is cruel.  Time is patient. 

I love him too much to kill him. 

I could not kill him to save him.

I will not keep him if that is the price he pays.

I’ll take what I can, and pray to the Valar that he understands.

I doubt he will.  I scarce understand it myself.


Legolas surveyed the bright festivities quietly from the side, drinking the alcohol that was offered to him and smiling and conversing with those who approached him, those from inside the city-state who recognized him as the Elf who had brought the woods and green life to the city during the reconstruction, and those from foreign sovereignties who recognized him as royalty and a warrior. 

Through it all, Legolas turned his head to whisper in another Elf’s ear, “We’ll depart before morn.  Make the preparations.”

Then the Prince of Mirkwood continued to survey the converging and merging crowds quietly, before finishing his drink and leaving where it could be later found and collected.  Then he left.


Aragorn caught him the corridor.  Legolas’ finery was already stripped and gone, wearing tough riding clothes against the chill and rain that would accompany a long journey.


Legolas turned towards Aragorn, paused politely and gave a small bow at the neck, lowering his eyes to the ground before raising them to Aragorn’s again. 

“Milord.  Congratulations on your marriage.  I wish you and your lady the best of luck.” 

Aragorn cut him off quickly, quietly, if there was more he would have said.

“You’re leaving,” he said curtly, nearly accusingly.  Legolas nodded to the side, keeping his head and eyes lowered while still watching Aragorn, and smiled faintly.  His voice was as clear and calm as ever.

“Yes.  Word came from Mirkwood this afternoon, and I am unable to tarry further due to certain complications.”


“Accept my condolences, milord, and my thanks for your hospitality.  As much as I desire, I must take my leave-”

“Damn it elf you will not shut me out again!”

Legolas blinked in apparent surprise at the sudden outburst, and tilted his head to the side, radiating innocence and naiveté.  A lucid man familiar with Elves would have ducked and started running.*


“…I meant no-“

“Shut up!  Just shut up, right now.  Save your neat little words for another time, I’m not interested now.”

Aragorn turned his head and ran his fingers through his hair distractedly.  The Elf watched all this, watched the emotions play brazenly on his face, before carefully choosing his course of action.  Legolas’ eyebrows lifted in mock surprise, and his eyes glinted feral.

“…True?  And prithee, Lord of Gondor, what would interest you, on the night of your nuptials?”

Legolas had a good voice, clear and clean when he wanted it, yet could easily turn it into something dark and sweet and temptingly dangerous.  His voice whispered the words like a cordial invitation into Hell itself.  He was, quite, quite faintly, smiling.


“Your good lady waits for you now, does she not?  As she has waited for so long…It, indeed, would be a crime against her to keep her waiting further.”

Legolas smiled gently, faintly at Aragorn, demanding his gaze, his voice leaving aftershocks of promise and pleasure in the gray dry air.  Aragorn kept it.  And then he broke down, only slightly. 

“…I-I’m sorry.  I’m in a difficult situation, and it’s not one I can slash or stab my way out of.”

Legolas eyes slitted fractionally, and his voice dropped in tone and strengthened.  The cold regality came back easily to him, and was familiar and welcome.

“I do not expect you to…milord.  You have my blessing.  What more do you want?”

Aragorn glanced at him briefly before returning to his shirtsleeve.

“…Her life was compromised before she came here.  There was nothing left to do.  I didn’t know she was going to do it; I would have stopped her if I had known.  I didn’t know.  I couldn’t leave her, not after what she did, what she sacrificed!…She wouldn’t have anything then.  I couldn’t leave her.”

Legolas nodded.  He already knew.  Aragorn had already apologized. 

“I would not expect you to.”

“…But you hoped I would.”

There was a still.

“…Goodnight, milord.”

“Legolas,” Aragorn’s voice was quiet, pleading.  A vein of strong dignity ran through it, nicely complemented by the soft humility that cradled it.  Aragorn took a step towards Legolas’ back.

“There is nothing left to be said.”  Legolas didn’t bother to turn around to face him; he would not look at him.  He would not look at him and simply continue to walk, and matters would care for themselves.

“There’s plenty more to say…I’m sorry.  I didn’t think-“

“No,” Legolas fought down a small smile.  He could hear the confusion plainly in Aragorn’s voice.  Humans were so adorably predictable at times, Aragorn sometimes chief among them.  “You need not take guilt-“

“I’ll do what I like, elf.”  Humans were also predictably stubborn.  Legolas fought down the urge to snort.

“Thou’rt being childish.  I am not accusing you of anything.”

“I’ll do what I think is right.  She chose me freely, my own choice was thus decided, regardless of what my heart-“

“No.  You continue to misunderstand.  Whatever happened--between comrades in battle stays as thus.  In battle, and no further.”


“Your lady waits for you.  My father requires me.  The war is over, milord,” Legolas smiled faintly, turning slightly.  “The war is over.  And what was done…to survive it-“


“Is also over.”  For a second, Aragorn saw Elrond, or perhaps Celeborn reflected in the torchlight.  Legolas’ voice was never so hard, so cold and solid like granite as it was now.  It would tolerate no argument, and would turn to teeth and steel on the spot.  Aragorn’s muscles relaxed in preparation, and Legolas must have understood his expression, for his tone softened and lowered instantly.  “Done.  That which does not agree with our current style of life—must be over.”

“…You really mean that.”

Legolas could hear the disbelief…the shock.  And, underneath it, the pain that had been festering for some months now.  It all came through very clearly, in Aragorn’s voice.  Aragorn was hurt; afraid, and very soon he was going to get angry.  Or perhaps not, it was too hard to tell with Aragorn, at times.  He wanted to run.  He wanted to run very badly.  He didn’t run.

“Your lady waits for you, milord.”

Aragorn blinked once, slowly.

“I’m aware of that….And stop calling me ‘lord’ elf.  You know who I am.”

“…Do you?”


There was no fire in that remark, no sting.  No, Aragorn was not going to get angry.  Aragorn was going to get depressed, and perhaps later drunk.  Legolas sighed, curled his fingers, and wondered why he cared.

“…You required comfort, as did I.  While it was permissible at the time, it cannot be so now.  It is not so now.”

“Perhaps…but you don’t believe that.”

“It is true milord-“

“I know it’s true.  But you don’t believe it--and neither do I!  And don’t call me ‘lord’.” 

In truth, Aragorn had never, in his known existence, felt royal.  Had never felt noble.  He knew how to lead, how to care, and how to tell what people wanted and what people needed without them saying it. 

In truth, Aragorn knew everything one really needed to guide people well, and history would prove as much.  But he did not feel superiority that was bestowed with the crown, and being addressed with such deference by Legolas, the  clerk, the nobleman, his ethereal lover…felt wrong.

“…I’ll take my leave now, milord.”

“Dammit Legolas-“ Aragorn snarled, and reached out without thinking.

“Don’t touch me.”

Remarkable, how quickly violence came to both of them once words were no longer interesting.  Legolas’ eyes were dark and narrow, canines flashing in the dull torchlight, and Aragorn had instantly flowed into a stance, hand already on his sword.  His hand was throbbing, bruised and a little damp, and quite possibly broken.  Legolas had always been incredibly strong, as archers had to be.  Swordsmen could be a bit slight if they were fast and knew how to strike well, but archers had to be strong to pull back on the bow, the aged wood and string, hard enough to puncture skin and armor. 

“I’m not done with you,” Aragorn’s voice stalked on the floor.  He stood his ground, and was deceptively still.

“But I am done with us!  All that there has been to say has been said and now should be forgotten.  You can’t hold on to two, Aragorn, nor would I consent!”

Legolas’ voice was sharper and harsher than usual, losing some of the Elfin fluidity and chilliness that made it so irresistible.  He was also using contractions in his speech, a sure sign that his nerves were frayed.  It took sometime for understanding to dawn on Aragorn. 

“…You thought that—Have you no understanding whatsoever-“

Legolas cut him off coolly, frigidly, sharply furious without splendor.  “I understand that there have been made…too many conflicting agreements, milord.”

Aragorn said nothing.  Aragorn thought nothing.  He had…predicted, that the climax would be painful.  Regrets.  Sorrow.  Grief.  He had not expected violence.  He had not expected so much anger.


So this is what it’s boiled down to, is it?  Agreements.  

Legolas had rarely looked so alien and distant, had never looked so inhumanely mechanical and lifeless as he did standing only a some feet away in his familiar Elvish traveling garb, the torchlight whispering and caressing the warm cheeks and dyed wool of his tunic.

“…So that’s it.  You’re just going to walk out and forget anything ever happened.” 

Aragorn studied him for any reaction, any rebuttal or glimmer of rebellion.  He kept his own voice dispassionate, distant.  A king had pride.  It was a requirement.  And he was king now.  By blood, by heart, and by mind.  As Isildur’s heir.  And, contrary to belief and in accord with their very definition, kings did –not- ask.

“It’s all history to you.”  Silence.  “Just dead facts, is that it?”

Legolas’ gaze was still, constant.  Immortal. 

“I am an elf, milord, as thou ‘art fond of reminding me,” he said quietly.  “All things are history to me.”


You return to where you belong, to where you are needed.  You return, always, to where your heart calls you, even if it calls out to nothing.  Even if you don’t know where to go.  It still calls, and you will always return, though few recognize this, as the location changes.

And few know their own hearts.

Home is where the heart is.


“And the children?”

“Well, and thriving, milord.”

“Ah.”  Aragorn’s attention now wholly followed his gaze that watched the setting sun from his open window.  It was nearing winter, and the leeches warned heavily against the cold and illness that the air bore, especially at His Lordship’s age.  Aragorn nodded solemnly to their warnings, and heeded them dutifully when the Lady Evenstar was near. 

When she was near.

When she was not, he commanded them furiously into the streets, nearly threw them out himself with his glare and voice alone, and into the many sick and healing houses that seemed to grow in numbers daily.  The people needed them more than he did, and he grudgingly endured their ministrations only for Arwen’s piece of mind. 

Already, he had lived far longer than many of the people of Gondor, save the Lady herself.  There was so much one could argue and contest, before Death’s seduction was complete.  Of course, Arwen would not readily accept or understand that. 

It made him smile, how his little sister was so wise, and yet still so naïve about the ways of Men.

Soon…it would be soon. 

And she knew it, didn’t she?  She knew, for all his show and bravado and smiles and dry sarcastic humor and jokes.  She knew.  Elladan and Elhorir had come the past few months once for a visit, and they had talked nearly as they had been as when they were children.  Nearly.  Before her eyes.  But behind them…

The twins were Elvish.  They wore this fact like armor, like medical gloves, lest they dirty their hands with something not Elvish. 

So Aragorn had suggested a brisk horse ride through his country.  Both twins had accepted.  Arwen, and anyone else, were discreetly excluded.

Aragorn later claimed that he taken the turn too fast for his horse, and so explained his shoulder.  Elladan darkly joked that the ground had risen up as a cat, the bewitched and magical ground, and had startled his mare into rearing, and his sister should count herself lucky that her brother escaped with only a black eye, and not eaten by whatever creature slumbered beneath the soil.  Elhorir had merely shrugged, and said an accident had happened to him earlier, and it was only now that the bruises were showing on his ribs.  The minor scratches all three sported on their faces were merely caused by the thick brush that they had driven so recklessly through. 

Arwen said nothing.

Elladan spoke with Aragorn much later, when they were alone in one of the libraries that the castle maintained.  The air smelled of dust and leather and polish, and light was dim in regards to huge amount of paper kindling that permeated the space. 

They sat in chairs opposite of each other, words a little rougher and saltier than Elves were wont to use coming out of Elrond’s blood child, and a smile wafting in and out of existence on his lips.  Skeptical, Aragorn listened carelessly to Elladan’s dry accounts of his travels in the far world and supposed fatal battles and discreet, romantic love affairs and…

…Aragorn was never quite certain how Elladan had ended up in his lap, arms painfully tight around his shoulders, and sobbing brokenly, angrily against his neck. 

He was less certain how to react.  Gingerly, hesitantly, he put his hands flat on Elladan’s back and waited.  Words came to him, to his ears, in broken incoherent Elvish and Common.  Words of disdain.  Words of damnation.  Words of regret and sadness and desperate denial.  Little of it made sense.  Finally, came the confession:

“I loved you, brother,” came the words silently, wetly into his ear.  “I love you still.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry, I didn’t—

“And I love you in return—brother.  Not always,” Elladan had laughed weakly, brokenly, and Aragorn smiled.  “And not often, for you are the damndest creature to ever were silk and Elrond’s insignia, brother…but my love you have.”  The grip on his neck and shoulders tightened.  “And the fault is not yours.  Not yours.  Remember that, my brother.”

Against his neck the elf inhaled deeply, grimaced, and rubbed his eyes against the cloth and skin.  A deep flush was already working its way up his neck, to his cheeks, to mark his rare moment of weakness.  His ribcage moved in waves, and he relaxed his death grip on Aragorn’s flesh.  But he stayed there, in his embrace, for most of the night.  Later, he seemed to ignore that the encounter absolutely, save he was a little easier to speak with and smile.

Elhorir kept his distance, and his silence, courteous always among his host and hostess, but no more.  He chose his encounter in the stables.  Despite his status and wealth, Aragorn would allow few others to care for the horse of his personal choosing.  He had been unharnessing him when cool dark eyes caught his, held him still, and an equally cold pale fingers took his hand from the bridle.

Turned over, gently handled, pressing down on the skin and muscle to feel the bones and learn where the borders of pain lied…Wondering over the texture and feel, the vague powderieness that seemed to coat the skin and would not wipe off…how the skin could be pulled away from the flesh without breaking, recoiling in morbid fascination at the sight of the blue veins so visible at the wrist, nearly coming out of the skin…

Wondering how the tanned smooth hands that he had helped fashion childish arrows and stone daggers had metamorphed into the things he saw before him now.  When they had had the strength to pull him from his horse and push him from his perch in the tree and give him a bruised wrist and black eye.  How had they managed to bruise his ribs so badly that morning two days ago, in this state?

Where had Aragorn gone?  What happened? 

Elhorir probed harder, deeper.

What had happened? 

Blue eyes, light sterling azurine eyes still flecked with silver that still shown with a light of their own were waiting, when he raised his gaze to Aragorn’s.  The Elf’s eyes were dark, fathomless, and faintly hostile.  Aragorn waited, patiently. 

“You have made my brother cry, mortal.” 

Aragorn did not ask how he knew.  He doubted Elladan would mention it, or even admit to it, in the severest of interrogations to even Elrond had he been there, much less to his twin rival and partner Elhorir.  He didn’t bother denying it.

“You will not do the same to me.”

Ah, so that’s where this was leading, was it?  As if Aragorn wanted company in sorrow, in regret for his age and aging.  It was a fact of human life.  He had accepted it long ago.  A dark smile played on his lips, and his eyes narrowed.

“I have no desire to.”

Elhorir studied him longer, piercingly, perceiving far more that what Aragorn’s eyes showed, trying to look beyond into his heart and soul itself.  It was a disconcerting, familiar sensation.  This is where Elrond’s strength and perceptibility had gone, to this one and not the others.  Elhorir nodded once, curtly.

“No,” he said softly.  He nodded again, more easily.  He held Aragorn’s hand easily in his own and squeezed.  Aragorn gripped in return. 

“You did well.”


“…Ye goddamned ‘umans.  And the damned elves o’ course, ye canna do none right wit’ them about ye…but still I canna na see ye.  I don’t understand ye, and I’ve known ye longer than any o’ the damn fairies and wenches ye’ve littered the place wit’.  They’ve no right ta be ‘ere…they don’t do anything!

Aragorn grinned weakly.  He had said as much for the majority of his lifetime, but it felt indescribably good to have someone else say it as well. 

“Heh, so now ye smile laddie, eh?  Ah, reg’lar, that’s wot ye be, a dinty hard bitten larriken an’ gods ‘elp me iffen I know ‘ow the ‘ell you became king.”  There was a pause.  “Ye did well at it laddie, ye did reel well…an’ nobody else couldenna done better by it.  They wouldenna gottana fair keeled ta do ‘alf the things ye did there, friend.  Ye did well.”

Yes, they all said he did well.  Quite often.  Aragorn wondered absently if they were trying to convince him, or perhaps themselves.

“Still as much as a cold bastard as ye ever were, but that’s only ta be ‘alf expected then, innit?  Nobody thought ye’d do it, some bumpkin outta the damn woods, but ye did, didn’tcha, aye?  Better’n any o’ those fairies could’ve…near better than any man ‘ad right to do.” 

There was another pause, and Aragorn felt himself under close inspection. 

“An’ ye know to wot I say, Aragorn.”

No.  Not really.  I only did what I thought was right.  And…I hated it.  I hated myself for it.  I hated doing it.  Strange, but I never hated Gondor for it.  Nothing and no one escaped my scorn or anger, save Gondor herself.  The very cause of it all.

“Ye know ‘e is ‘ere.”

Quiet.  Still.  Check.

“An’ ‘e’s been waitin’, fer sometime now, aye.  Talkin’ wit’ the Lady now…but ‘e’ll come soon nuff ta see ye.”

A cold, rough hand with burning blood beneath the skin and strength impossible gripped his arm gently.

“Be kind, Aragorn, be kind.”



There are moments so grotesque, so indescribably unfair, that they shouldn’t have to happen.  They have no right to happen.  They have no right.

It’s only a part of the irony, that they are so common, these moments.  That they have made themselves necessary.  That they have been woven into the very fabric of life.

This does not give them right.  They have no right!

It was not dramatic, unromantic, and completely practical and platonic.  It shouldn’t have been, though.  But anything else would have been entirely too painful. 

In the end, there truly was only memories, only sensations recorded in electric packages to keep the darkness away in one’s head, because no light came through the eyes anymore because they were never open.  There was the faint communication of touch, his hearing was still active, and he was still alive.  Still alive, but barely.

It was fearful, frightening, on how fragile he was.  First impulse, first overwhelming driving overriding impulse was to get him indoors, somewhere shielded and protected where nothing would brush him, because he would fall apart if something did.  But he was already indoors.  And there was nowhere safer. 

His eyes trailed everywhere in horrified fascination.

My God, what happened?  Why?  Why; he did nothing wrong?  Why? 

He didn’t deserve this.  Not like this.  Not this. 

Legolas had seen worse, he had seen too many.  He had seen far too many, too often, and all the more common now.  Time stopped for…this was wrong.  This was wrong.  They shouldn’t have to change like this.  They shouldn’t have to change like this

Not like this.  On the field.  In the darkness.  Not here, not like this, not where everyone could see the weakness and strength like they had the right, like they were somehow better…like it was all somehow all acceptable.  This wasn’t acceptable.  This wasn’t all right.

He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath.  He struggled.

When he opened his eyes again, light blue eyes were regarding him coolly, almost dispassionately, watching him while tears ran in neat, thin streams down his cheeks, perfectly symmetrical of each other.

This shouldn’t have happened.  This shouldn’t have happened.

We, shouldn’t have happened.

But…Aragorn had known, hadn’t he?  He had known.  He hadn’t let us…He hadn’t let us happen.  Beyond the initial, beyond the preliminary and the passion and lust and affection…he didn’t let me love him.  Not…He let her.  But she didn’t…not madly, not passionately, desperate, not like me.  Not like…

He knew.  He knew all the time.

What right did he have, to decide this?  What right did he have to keep it secret?

“My gift,” he whispered softly, so softly he almost didn’t catch it.

“This…is my life.  My gift.”

Legolas wasn’t sure what he did, how or where he moved, he was barely in control.  He was too stunned to do much of anything, and turned his head down while his eyes unfocused and flashed and constricted and widened all out of control.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.  Not here.  Not like this.

His hand was gripped tightly. 

“My gift.  My life.”

Legolas shook his head gently, demurely, disagreeing politely as he did nearly everything politely. 

No.  No not like this.  It can’t happen like this.  It happens later, much later, or it ended differently somewhere else, or it didn’t happen at all, but it didn’t happen like this.  Not slow.  Not ugly.  Not a losing battle against a passive faceless enemy.  Not like this.  This was no war, this was no warrior.  This was…cattle.  Not like this. 

Elves didn’t do it like this!  They didn’t…he was nearly Elvish, there was some in the blood, it shouldn’t have to be like this.  It shouldn’t.

Where was the passion, the life, where was the fire?  He’d felt it, he’d been burned over and over by it and he had rejoiced in the marvelous unbearable intensity that wracked through and over his skin and nerves, the feeling of simply being together, of simply touching and kissing and knowing that this was forbidden and it was perfect and that they were absolute opposites and everything about them being together, being in love, was absolutely impossible.  It was doing the impossible, being the forbidden, what they had done, a human and elf, man and man, civilized and primal and they had done it.  They had done the impossible. 

For a few days, yes, but the fire never really never went out.  The fire could never really go out.  It was eternal.  It was immortal.  It shouldn’t…it shouldn’t have been based…it shouldn’t…no…

“This is not a gift.”

That was all he had said.  That was all he could say.  Even as he spoke the words, he knew they were too harsh, out of place and time, that they didn’t belong and he regretted them before they even began on his lips.  But he meant them.  He meant them and hated them and they were the only things he knew as true. 

Aragorn had simply smiled, and squeezed his hand, his flesh cool even to Legolas.

There were things that Elves were denied, things that despite their knowledge, their beauty, their perfection, they were not fit to have.  They were not fit to understand.  They grew older, but changed little.  They were frozen in time, and only became more and deeper of what they truly were. 

They had no fire to them, inside of them.  They couldn’t take it.  They could only reflect the vitality, the fire in other’s, be it man or beast, could only mimic and watch and wonder and reflect like mirrors of beauty and perfection.  But they couldn’t take it.  That was denied to them. 

Because while ice and water could last forever, fire always, eventually, went out.  That was its charm.  That was it’s power, it’s element, that everything bright and hot left so the darkness was never forgotten, that the cold was just around the corner, so nothing was taken for granted.  Nothing could ever, should ever be taken for granted.  It had to be cherished. 


Legolas closed his eyes, breathed in, and leaned over to kiss him gently on his brow.

“I love you.”

Aragorn said, smiling faintly.

“My thanks, Strider.”

Legolas sat back, quietly, and continued to hold his hand.




Author's Notes: …and the story’s over.  Done.  And my gratitude to my reviewers who’ve stuck with me through thick and thin, I never expected or even believed I could write anything this long, much less in story format.  The fic—to be cliché, but it’s very true—was written for and by the reviews, who gave me ideas and inspiration when my own ran dry.  I am extremely proud of this fic, and consider it to be the best thing I’ve written and posted yet, though I hope not the last.  I’ve fallen in love with the characters, and in truth now I feel like we’re breaking up.  Like we’re saying good-bye, you know?  I’m rather sad, to tell the truth.

Yeah.  Something like that.  This is the real ending, I’m not entirely satisfied, I kind of prefer the last chapter to this one, but this is what came out, and I thought it best just to throw it out and see what happens.  It had to end here though.  Sorry.  Just did.

Thank you, and goodnight. 

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