Fic: The Question

“If you want to, you have only to say.”

The elf, Legolas, said this to the fire, though he indicated Aragorn by the tilt of his head. The night was closing in about them. Before long, the hanging creepers on the trees at the edge of the clearing would become a curtain onto nothing, blackness.

Aragorn threw the stick from which he had eaten the night’s meat into the fire. The great chase over dale and plain to rescue their hobbit friends was over, and though they yet had cause to hurry on their path south, Aragorn had allowed himself the luxury of hunting.

No stick lay by Legolas. The elf had unwrapped a waybread from a leaf covering and taken perhaps two mouthfuls, before wrapping it again.

The hobbits were safe among the Ents in Fangorn, or so Gandalf had said. The wizard, with stumpy-legged Gimli seated before him on the great horse Shadowfax, had disappeared into the dusk faster than mortal eyes would credit, a day ago. He had gone to seek the missing horses Hasufel and Arod. The ranger and the elf had continued on foot for the time being, that evening and today while the light held. They had moved southward through the lighter woods that for leagues trailed, like Fangorn’s tail, along the banks of the Entwash.

Earlier this day, they had come across a small tributary stream that drained into a pool before continuing down a short, rocky fall. It flowed quickly enough that the water was quite transparent, revealing with startling clarity the irregular chunks of granite, remnants of some ancient rockslide, that lined the bottom of the pool.

“Will it be wholesome, do you think?” Aragorn had asked, intending to fill his waterskin. The words were not out of his mouth before it occurred to him that, of course, the elf was no more likely to know than he.

“I should think so,” Legolas had replied.

When Aragorn had stepped up to dip the skin, the water slipping across the back of his knuckles had been surprisingly temperate.

Aragorn surveyed the line of quiet forest across the other side of the pool. “I can barely remember the last bath I had. What say you?” He turned about and grinned at Legolas, only to be reminded that there was no point in grinning at elves. There were only two logical responses to grinning: to grin back, or to scowl in disapproval, and elves were not wont to do either. They merely stood there, as Legolas did now, and waited for you to collect yourself.

Legolas, slim, straight and impassive, peered down at Aragorn from further up the bank. “I shall keep watch, if you like,” he said after a moment, and sat himself upon a rock with no less fluid grace than if it were a padded chair at table.

Aragorn had begun to lay his clothing on a large rock, in the sun, part way up the bank. Tugging his leathers down his legs, he looked up, and was surprised to find Legolas’s eyes upon him.

The elf, meeting his gaze, showed no concern.

It was the same way that scholars sometimes took a slate and chalk and observed children at play, or animals nesting in the marsh, Aragorn supposed.

Aragorn dove towards the deep centre of the pool. Surfacing, he floated on his back, and kicked a great plume of water into the air. He laughed aloud and met the elf’s gaze again.

When Aragorn left the water, he stood unclothed for a time on a rock, and tossed some of the water from his hair. “Will you bathe?” he had asked.

To Aragorn’s surprise, Legolas replied, “Yes, all right.” He descended the bank, rock to rock, without apparent effort.

Since the precedent seemed to have been set, Aragorn was frank in watching Legolas undress. Of course, Aragorn reminded himself, he knew there would be nothing unusual. But there was a certain curiosity nonetheless.

Legolas unclothed was precisely as one would expect. His limbs were long, pale and elegantly formed. With his flaxen hair and what, on a human, would have been the flawless, alabaster complexion of a cosseted court lady, he should have been girlish. But there was nothing girlish about him. The set of the jaw, the square of the shoulders above slimmer hips, these ensured it. More than that, it was his perpetual composure, the profound stillness in his carriage.

Watching Legolas’s spare, clean dive, Aragorn wondered why the elf would purport to need to bathe. He had never seen him even appear to sweat.

 

Now here they were by the fire in the clearing, with the daylight in swift retreat.

Legolas had said something that seemed quite impossible: he had said, “If you want to, you have only to say.”

Aragorn had thrown his eating stick onto the fire. He turned to Legolas and asked, “What do you mean?”

Legolas simply returned his gaze, eyes steady in the firelight. Finally he inquired, “Is it dishonourable among the Dunedain?”

“I still don’t…” Aragorn replied.

“I think you do,” Legolas said, without rancour.

Aragorn, with a certain, growing alarm, concluded that he probably did. Legolas spoke as if he had nothing at stake in the matter at all. But then, Aragorn had known elves for whom, after so many centuries, that was indeed so. Life became like a wagon of players riding into town — you watched, and in due course it moved on.

Legolas was undoing one of his leather gauntlets; his seated body with its birch-straight back was otherwise quite still. One bright pennant of hair lifted on a gust of breeze.

Aragorn said, finally, “Not dishonourable, so much as…” He gestured, looking to the elf.

The elf looked back, dark eyed in the fading light, straight browed.

Aragorn felt a certain heat about his face and neck. “Do you want to?” he demanded.

“It has been a long way since we were in a position to socialise, and it seemed to me that you wanted to,” Legolas said. His chin, once he had finished speaking, returned to precisely the same tilt as before, or so it looked to Aragorn.

Aragorn opened his mouth, but could not for a moment think what to say.

“Are you in the habit of wanting anything?” he demanded at last.

It seemed that caused a brief ripple across the elf’s face, a squeeze at the bridge of the nose. “I want many things,” Legolas replied, examining his second gauntlet, which he had removed.

Aragorn looked quickly back to the fire. “Ah, then, it is only in my crudeness that I cannot see it.” He stilled the fingers that crept towards an insect bite on his wrist.

“I shall scout before we turn in,” Legolas said. He unfolded his crossed legs and entered the curtain of the trees.

 

From among the stand of long, straight trunks at the edge of the clearing, emerged another long, straight shape.

Legolas advanced to stand by Aragorn in front of the fire. “It is quiet,” he said.

“We will not set watch?”

“I shall watch,” said Legolas, “I have no need of sleep this night.”

Aragorn had begun to allow the fire to die down. It hissed dully.

“You have not told me if I was right,” said Legolas, who seemed to be unfastening the brooch at the neck of his cloak. He folded the cloak roughly and placed it by his gear.

“Right?” Aragorn asked.

Legolas, quite unaccountably, was standing astride the man’s outstretched legs. Aragorn’s hands lifted in defence at this sudden approach. He looked up at a figure wreathed in the firelight, its face consigned to shadow.

A slim hand cupped the man’s jaw. “Would I bathe, indeed,” Legolas said. The elf’s voice was a fine, low fluting.

“What are you…” Aragorn began. Legolas looked appallingly tall: a towering, bright-edged darkness.

“Still do I think you know,” Legolas said. His fingers moved a little under Aragorn’s chin. But Aragorn jerked his head up and back, freeing his jaw. He began to crawl backwards on his hands, out from under the elf.

With one long stride forward, Legolas caught the man by the shoulder. Aragorn allowed himself to be caught, though instinctively his eyes swept the clearing for a path of escape. His hand went to his chest, flattened over the pendant that hung there. The Evenstar felt insignificant under his palm, a trinket he could have crumpled in his fist.

Frozen in his reaching crouch, the elf began, “Well do I know elves.” He paused. “I do not think your lady would mind.”

“That is not the question,” Aragorn replied. He worked his fingers under the hand on his shoulder.

Legolas let go the man’s shoulder, instead clasping the hand that would have grappled with his. He took a second stride forward and knelt, settling himself into Aragorn’s lap.

With his other hand, Legolas palmed Aragorn’s furred cheek. “Now, then,” Legolas said.

They stared at each other. The elf’s fingers stroked the man’s beard, now with the grain, now against it.

A twig crackled in the fire.

Aragorn kissed Legolas, pressed his lips flat and full across the elf’s, confirmed with his fingers that the elf’s hairless face was indeed quite as satiny as expected.

The man searched for his voice. “All right, then,” he said.

“All right, then,” said Legolas, the corners of his mouth tweaking.

“What are you…” Aragorn began. But the elf’s tongue was in his mouth, furling around his. Aragorn’s tongue chased the curl of the elf’s around, as if pursuing a mollusc infinitely into its shell. He smoothed the fabric of an elven tunic, the pile shifting under his fingers.

Legolas caught Aragorn’s hands upon his belt buckle.

“Will you pretend I am a woman?” Legolas asked.

It took Aragorn a moment to reply. “Why would I do that?” he said.

“Have you lain with a man before?”

“Well, yes,” said Aragorn.

“But?”

“Yes,” said Aragorn. “That is all.” He pulled Legolas’s hand away from the belt buckle, unthreaded the tongue of the belt, and unnotched it.

Aragorn pulled the elf closer. “You are quite sufficiently pleasing as a man,” he said into a pointed ear. He ran his hands all the way up the elf’s smooth back under the tunic, the percussion of spine running under one fingertip.

“Well, then,” he heard Legolas say. Aragorn’s hands continued on their way back and forth across the elf’s skin, and his tongue found the crease behind the elf’s ear. Legolas’s weight shifted and rocked in the man’s lap. Back muscles moved in the skin beneath his hands.

Aragorn flipped his long-limbed bundle over and aside, onto the sleeping roll. He grinned as he watched Legolas breathe from the landing. The elf’s eyebrow twitched. When they reached for each other again, the space between them became a tangle of wrists as they took to each other’s lacings.

When they were bare to the waist, Aragorn ran a hand down Legolas’s long throat as it bottomed into a plateau of ribs, and dropped again into flat belly.

“You think I am pretty, like a girl,” Legolas said, with a lilt of amusement.

“On the contrary,” Aragorn said, his voice rough, “I think you are pretty, like a boy.”

Legolas lifted his head to free his hair, then settled it back off to one side.

“When you are quite finished,” Aragorn said.

Aragorn dropped his mouth to a delicately pink nipple and sucked. Riding the arch of the elf’s back, he smiled into the second nipple. When their lips and tongues met again, Aragorn tangled his fingers hard in long hair, and felt the braiding snag.

Soon they began to rock together about the fulcrum of their coupled, clothed hips. This conversation, at last, this tactile conversation, was unambiguous. Legolas cocked one long, legging-clad thigh to assist the hand that Aragorn moved back and forth along it.

Legolas whispered, his breath warm in Aragorn’s ear, “Unclothe yourself, or I may grow old.”

“I am at your service,” Aragorn replied. He turned about to get rid of his breeches and boots. When he turned back, he saw Legolas’s boots were already off. The elf’s hips were raised, awaiting Aragorn’s hands. Aragorn eased the leggings down and off.

Laying himself down again, Aragorn guided one of the elf’s knees aside. He stroked Legolas’s swollen length; saw the elf’s eyes had gone indigo in the half-light.

Aragorn watched the elf’s pale hand take up a slow, firm motion, wrapped around his own, almost shockingly darker, ruddier flesh. The pad of a thumb circled the man’s tip. “Oh,” he said.

Aragorn found that he needed to close his eyes quite tightly as this game established its rhythm. His own breathing was a heavy, enclosed scratching, like mice surprised at the back of a larder. He felt Legolas’s hips rocking up to meet his grip — soft curls brushed the heel of his hand with each down stroke.

“Would you have me?” the elf said after a time, his breath on the man’s throat.

“Elbereth,” Aragorn said.

“No, me.”

Aragorn pressed his lips against the place where the elf’s cheek dimpled, by the corner of the mouth. He slid his hand down around Legolas’s crinkled sac, and squeezed. The elf gasped.

When, at length, Aragorn eased his grip, Legolas said, “I have some salve.”

“Some salve.”

“Yes.” Legolas went to get up. Belatedly, Aragorn released him. He watched the elf, quite naked, pad around the fire to his gear. Returning, Legolas passed into Aragorn’s hand a small vial stopped with cork, fire-warm on one side.

The elf unfolded his long limbs again along the bedroll. The vial still tucked in his palm, Aragorn ran his hand across Legolas’s belly, dipping the base of the vial into the elf’s navel. Their tongues tangled wetly.

At last Aragorn slid his fingers, slick with resin-sweet salve, into the crease at the base of the elf’s body; ran them back and forth. Legolas pinched the man’s nipple quite hard. “What are you…”

“Forgive me. I assumed the patience of an immortal,” Aragorn said, and pushed one finger home.

At this intrusion, Aragorn watched Legolas’s spine straighten slightly, his knees arch a little higher. “You like that?” Aragorn asked hoarsely.

“I like that,” the elf said.

“And that?” Aragorn insisted.

“Yes.”

“Would you like another?”

“Yes.” The elf’s breathing had become audible.

Aragorn looked at the place where his fingers disappeared inside Legolas, the undulation of his palm evidence of invisible activity. The elf’s pale shoulders were thrown back on the bedroll; his slim thighs strained wider.

“May I?” Aragorn asked finally, his lips against Legolas’s jaw.

“Please,” Legolas said. The elf dropped a knee to allow Aragorn to climb atop.

Kneeling, Aragorn spread his thighs into a cradle for Legolas’s hips. He sighed to find the elf’s hands wrapped around him, slicking him with salve. The place Aragorn needed to insert himself was slippery now and less tightly puckered, but still it did not give easily. He pressed a little inside, rocked back, eased back in a fraction deeper. Then again, and again. His eardrums beat the pulse of his blood.

At last, fully sheathed, he leaned over Legolas. Irregular breathing made a mess of the kiss he offered, though they flailed their tongues together briefly. He rested his forehead on Legolas’s. “All right?” he whispered.

“In a moment,” the elf said, a hand cupping Aragorn’s elbow. And then, “All right.”

The first move outward was like trying to get wet riding boots off, but they soon began to slide more easily. Moving a little faster, Aragorn asked again, “All right?”

“Yes,” the elf replied. And then, again, “Yes.” He began to murmur.

Their bodies made a soft, wet noise. Legolas’s hands snaked up Aragorn’s braced forearms.

Aragorn would wonder later what came upon him at that moment. It had something to do with the tickle of Legolas’s snaking hands, the arc along which the elf’s knees gently rocked, the tangle in which Aragorn’s attentions had left the elf’s hair. He thought of how Legolas had first asked about this, as if it mattered not to him either way. Aragorn demanded, “If I want to, I have only to ask?”

“What?” Legolas gasped.

“Your suggestion was but a kindness to me? You have for yourself no particular preference?”

“I did not say such a thing!” Legolas fought for breath. There was a slap as hips met behind.

“And yet, you implied it,” Aragorn rasped.

“I did not mean to,” the elf said.

“I think you did,” Aragorn said. He thrust briskly.

“I cannot argue when…” Legolas took hold of his own knees to brace them more steadily apart.

“When what?” Aragorn insisted.

“When you… cleave me so deep,” the elf got out at last.

Aragorn’s body turned itself inside out with a sudden, convulsive violence — a strangely silent operation. Though no sound came out, his mouth seemed jammed open.

A little later he let go Legolas’s slender hips. His slack lips found half cheek and half mouth. He dropped his head to the elf’s shoulder.

A night bird’s call sounded in the trees. Air moved on Aragorn’s back.

Legolas shifted faintly beneath the man’s weight. At length, Aragorn hoisted himself back to his elbows and to the side.

“Is this what ails you?” he said, fingers running down the elf’s belly.

“Yes,” Legolas said breathily as Aragorn palmed the source of the trouble. “Just a little… there.” Legolas’s brow furrowed, folded in upon itself.

“Come along,” Aragorn whispered, his wrist moving quickly. The elf had hold of his shoulder.

“There… oh,” the elf said, hips jolting forward, and then again.

Legolas was rather more sticky to hold than before. Aragorn drew the sleeping roll up around them.

“Oh,” the elf said, at the wetness of their embrace. “Don’t you have…?”

“Yes,” Aragorn said, reaching into his gear for a rag, “of course.”

 

Morning backlit the great elm to the southeast. The spent fire was a grey circle, the clearing’s dusty pupil.

Aragorn sat up, holding his sleeping roll to his middle. A breeze ran past his bare back.

Across the shade-dappled ground just inside the line of the trees was a slight, straight figure.

“The smoke above Mount Doom is heavy today,” Legolas said.

Aragorn said, “You climbed the tree?”

“Yes,” Legolas said.

Aragorn pushed his hair back from his face. “Come over here,” he called across the clearing.

Legolas made no move. “We should depart,” he said. “Steedless or not, the Rohirrim await us.”

“You remind me of this, why?” Aragorn said.

The elf was silent.

A drift of leaves had fallen during the night. Aragorn had to shake some of them out of his leathers before he could dress.

The long, fair figure inside the line of the trees waited, motionless.

They were perhaps ten paces on their way, beginning to enter the deeper shade cover, when Aragorn seized Legolas’s wrist. “Were you quite comfortable climbing that tree, then?” the man said in a low, quick voice.

“Oft do my people live in trees, as well you know, Aragorn,” Legolas replied. He freed his wrist.

“That was not the question,” Aragorn said. But the elf had become a flash of hair amid the foliage.

4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. Michelle December 9th, 2011 8:01 am

    I like how mysterious Legolas stays throughout the whole story. You can guess what he wants, but just like Aragorn you’ll never be sure. That’s much better than the usual crybaby Legolas you see in fanfic, who’s only waiting for Aragorn to save him:)

  2. Eyebrow of Doom January 3rd, 2012 4:32 pm

    Thank you yet again. Yeah, I am totally into Legolas the taciturn badass. He practically only talks in concrete haiku in canon!

  3. elfscribe October 3rd, 2014 6:43 am

    I remember reading this many years ago. It is among my all-time favorite LOTR fanfiction stories. It remains so. I enjoyed revisiting it and really glad you still have it available. Thank you.

  4. Eyebrow of Doom October 3rd, 2014 11:42 am

    Oh hurrah. I seem to remember your user name as a repeated nice commenter, too! I am a data hoarder so it’s not going anywhere… 🙂

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