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 donít 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. Iím 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, donít get it- whatever! Just keep in mind that flames will be used to heat my very cold dorm room. (along with Lady Ariannyaís hot water bottle)

Author's Notes: This is the eighth installment in the Double Edged series, which means more character interaction! I hope this whole interaction thing is going okay, please let me know what you think about it -if you can offer some constructive criticism, and hints on how to improve, I would really appreciate it! Reviews are, of course, much appreciated. 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 itís no trouble to send out a note if people want to know whatís up. If you are interested, let me know, and give me your e-mail address. Right - on with the story!


Double Edged

Chapter 8 - First Light

By Kitsune

       

The ground is cold and harsh beneath me. It seeps the warmth hungrily from my body, like a child suckling at its motherís breast. The earth here is level and smooth, cleared of all debris. My body is wearied from our travels, and my mind is exhausted from the questions and doubts that assail it. I have resolved my mind, and will absolve my heart. The grieve which has been worming its way deeper into my soul since I first set eyes on the Evenstar has loosened its coils, and begun to relax its grip. I should sleep while I am able. Sleep will soothe my overheated brain, restore the determination to my spirit, and help my body forget the sharp pangs of hunger that plague it.

It is these very pangs that hold salvation at bay. My stomach cramps, my throat closes against my spine, and my mouth no longer has the strength required to water. Yet no amount of food or drink could relieve this famine. My body does not cry out for steak, does not beg for hearty gruel, nor plead for stew. Even a meal prepared by the most capable of the Elvesí chefs would find no welcome in my mouth. No, my rebellious body hungers for something of a quite different nature.

My eyes fasten on pale, smooth skin stretched over corded muscle. My teeth desire to plunge into the choicest of all meats, to judge its consistency for themselves. My stomach rumbles at the subtle hint of the sustenance afforded by desperate cries. My lips tremble with masochistic anticipation of the learning new textures. My tongue longs to discover the unknown taste of a soft, entreating mouth.

Desires that have been long repressed beneath the weight of more pressing matters (forgive me, Arwen) flood my body, and my soul. They wheedled their way in through the cracks in my armor of ignorance, and have opened the floodgates. What first made its presence know as a tiny trickle has metamorphed into a raging river that carries me along with it. I am powerless to fight it. But I must. Surely I cannot give in...

He has been quiet and withdrawn. When his voice makes an appearance, it is brief, low, and nearly curt. Long I have known him, and never before has he been short with me. It is clear that some care plagues his mind, and grants him no reprieve. Yet when I questioned him earlier, his eyes refused to meet mine, and he passed off his unease upon his concern that our food supplies were growing low. He lied to me. Legolas has never lied to me. He has never had any need. What can possible be the cause for his current reticence?

My shoulder and hipbones dig into the softly packed soil beneath me as I again adjust my position, rolling onto my side. Yet another futile attempt to relieve the discomfort of my body. This time though, my uneasiness is increased as luminous eyes track from the shadows beyond the meager firelight to my location. My breath lodges itself in my throat, my lungs freeze on the inhale, half-full. My body is almost unnaturally still. I silently will the Elf prince to look away. I cannot feel my body with his eyes so intent upon me. My own eyelids squeeze shut. He will, of course, know that I do not sleep. Oh, gods, I hope that he will pass it off. Take no notice, Legolas. Return to your watch over the darkness beyond our camp. Just do not stare at me so. I am not thinking correctly, my mind is muddled, and the demands of my body increase exponentially. If he would only look away! I cannot control my desires for long. If he continues to fix those bright eyes (how is it possible that I see them with my eyes shut?) upon my figure, I am quite likely to do something that I am certain that I will regret. I am breaking! I shall either explode and tell him off much more loudly and unkindly than is appropriate, or I shall assault him with my needs, desperately press our bodies together, bear him sweetly to the ground, join my mouth to his... Oh! I cannot think about that! I must not! I must...

Thank the heavens. His eyes have turned away, and again I can breathe, draw the rest of the breath into my body, and release the tension that has built up in that eternal moment. When did I grow so incapable of controlling myself? In these circumstances, my lack of self-control could prove disastrous. What if we were attacked because I was mooning over an elf instead of watching for enemies? How could I possibly forgive myself? I must remedy this situation. I will tell him of my weakness. Perhaps he will scorn me, or reject me, but surely he will understand that it is better for me to admit to my failing than to repress it and thereby ruin our chances to fulfill our mission. Surely he will not hate me... Gods, do not let him hate me! I am only human. He has always understood my limitations, and expected me to do all that I am capable of within their borders. He will trust that I have done all that I can. He will not blame me for my inability to do more. He canít. He mustnít. For without his understanding, and his acceptance, the strings that have held my soul together will grow frail and bitter, and will snap. I would lose myself without him.

And... perhaps... if I am very lucky, and the stars choose to smile upon me... No. I will not allow myself to fall under the sway of false hopes. Whatever must be, will be. And I shall do all that I can to be deserving, if not of his love, then of his friendship. I shall not betray him by letting my shortcomings rule me.

"Aragorn. The moon has reached her height." The soft voice wraps around me, pulling me from my thoughts. I search the darkness with wary eyes. He is clearly outlined by the glow of the fire behind him. His voice is much gentler than the brisk tones he has been using, but his face is distant, his gaze fixed on some far away point. As much as I had been trepidatious of his eyes settling upon me again, I feel the lack of such connection much more. The distance which he creates cuts through my addled mind, bringing a swift shot of clarity.

I struggle to my feet. My body feels as though it has been through an intensive training section. My legs are unsteady, and my skin twitches almost imperceptibly. A hand that is the color of the moonlight grasps my forearm, pulling me into a sturdier stance. I can feel his heartbeat throbbing from depths hidden by strong muscle and impenetrable skin, thundering through the cloth on my arm, and tattooing its rhythm into my skin and my soul. The hand travels slightly down my sleeve as his living brown eyes finally fasten upon my face, though they still avoid my eyes. But when smooth, bow-calloused skin meets the rough, battlehardened leather of my own hand, and the tremble that has taken up residence under my skin races through the point of contact to surge through his body, his strict control is momentarily lost. Deep-souled eyes are startled into contact with mine. I can see the tremor as it carves a path through his soul. For just a moment, I allow myself to follow the fresh road to his heart. My peripheral vision shrinks, everything around his eyes grow dim, and I begin to see the chinks in his soulís armor. But the dry palm is withdrawn, the control regained, eyes averted, and all contact is lost.

I nod - indicating either my acceptance of his reluctance, or my thanks for the awakening. He can interpret it as he chooses. The shadows swallow him from view of my mortal eyes as he takes my place on the floor and I head to claim his previous station. The night is thick, cold, and lonely. But I shall hold my post, warmed from the inside by the flame I barely saw kindling in his eye. The night is dark indeed, but the morn draws ever near.


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