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: Okay, so I lied. There was only supposed to be ten chapters in this story, but Legolas demanded to have his say, and I didnít want to smush stuff together. I think that you guys deserve two decently written chapters, rather than a single longer chapter that is hasty, jam-packed, and not very well thought out. Thanks for hanging in there with me. 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!
Chapter 10 - DayBreak
There is solace in dreams even while none can be found in the living world. So many treasures of my own creation have I discovered in wanderings along the moonlight paths. I do not require a great deal of sleep, but I do need my dreams. It is only amidst the smoky tendrils of their caress that I can relive victories, fight in glorious battles from long before my time, or pull the veils from some of the deepest truths of my heart. Only in my dreams may I freely cherish a secret love. There is no guilt when the arms of a fantasy shade wrap around a dreamsweetened ethereal body. There is no reason why the lips of my soulís figure should not worship purely imagined flesh. There are no heartwrenching decisions to be made before my mental mind can silently sigh his name. There is no fear either of abandonment or rejection - my dreams cannot leave me. I shall ever be able to find some modicum of comfort in the arms of dreams.
I took Aragornís place after waking him for the watch, letting the residual warmth of his body thaw my frozen flesh. My conviction to admit to him my weakness has solidified into a pit of ice in my soul, and it denies all heat save his. And, entrapped within a seething turmoil I have never experienced before, it is to my dreams that I turn. I know well that I should not, but on this dark and comfortless night, it is the paths of desire that I blindly tread.
My dreamlover may not be substantial as the flesh and bone Man upon which he is based, but neither does he bear such burdens. I am free to run hungered airy fingers over nonexistent skin, and revel in the sensation. Certainly this half-life is nowhere near so satisfying as the true world experiences of the same would be, yet this is what I am given, and I could never turn him away, in any form. My mind and soul float in the delicate net woven of strands of love, and desire, affection and sensation, while my body is gripped in the harsh hands of another night alone.
As my dream Aragorn soothes my face with a loving finger, his voice sighs my name, and for a moment the worlds merge, dream and reality are become one. The Man born only of my heart, who lives only in wisps of my soul, is given breath, swelled into actuality with body and spirit. Then the mists of sleep clear from my eyes, and only Aragorn, Son of Arathorn, promised love of Arwen Undomiel, remains before me. Yet this Aragorn also touches my cheek with a single finger, and my skin burns with desire. My eyes are caught within his, and it seems, for just a moment (or an eternity), that more smolders inside them than the gentle warmth of friendship. I see in this instant his strength, his honor, and above all the flame of his passion for life. At this second, he is held for all time, preserved as an immortal fire that cannot cease. His soul transcends life. The light of his soul will illuminate all that are yet to come, and will guide them as the northern star shows sailors safely through tempests. In this moment he will live forever.
Then his hand withdraws, and I am left only with the impression of his flame seared upon my mindís eye, and on a small patch of skin on my cheek, that will forever recall his touch. An everlasting scar upon my soul that I shall cherish for all of my days.
His eyes are clear, yet hesitant when he addresses me, "Legolas, I would speak with you, if you will listen. There are matters which weigh heavily upon my mind." Sudden suspicion floods my brain. I thought last night that he had divined my secret. But will he speak openly about it? Perhaps it is something altogether different. I am not ready to explain myself yet. I need... to wash my face first, cleanse myself of the cobwebs of sleep (and of my dreams). I pull inside of myself, physically drawing my legs up against my chest, as though I can barricade myself from some verbal attack. It is with caution and doubt that I agree to hear his words.
"I have long carried a secret which has ... has tormented me." He has carried a secret? Oh Dear Gods! How long has he known? I chance a brief glance at his face. His eyes are fixed on the horizon, watching the sun paint the sky with her first hues. The warm colors cast a softness upon him that is entirely out of place with the accusation I fear he is preparing to make. I cannot stand to see such beauty, such perfection, and know that I have soiled it with my betrayal. I look away, my eyes darting nervously through the trees that encircle us. Perhaps a timely intrusion of orcs... Yet none come, and he continues, voice shaking ever so slightly. Gods, How could I have brought this upon him?
"I... I have struggled to make the best decision. I do not wish to harm an innocent... "
I cannot let him continue. If I confess, perhaps he will hear me out. If I can make him understand how I have struggled to avoid hurting him. "Aragorn... "
But he looks at me, and the expression in his eyes - almost deadened - kills the words in my throat.
"Please, my friend, allow me to unburden my heart." His eyes plead with me, and I am no more capable of denying him now, than I ever have been. I nod, reluctantly. I have sinned against him, and it is the least I can do to accept my punishment nobly. I steel my heart as I wait for his condemnation.
"For many years I have abided by an agreement that I do not feel I can carry out in good conscience. I find... I find that I cannot keep my vows, nor uphold my side of the contract." The crime has been committed, the criminal found guilty, and the punishment dealt. He does not wish for me to remain by his side. I understand, of course, but my heart is riveted with numberless fissures, tiny and deep. The one penalty that I know I cannot bear is the one that I must accept. Oh, how is this to be done? His gaze fastens upon me, and I am struck anew by his beauty, and his goodness. He loves Arwen with a love so pure and untainted that this world has never seen its equal. That love shines out of his eyes, and lays his soul bare. I have trespassed upon a sacred thing. I will bear the terrible weight of his judgment, because it is the only thing possible for me to do. I will bear it because I must. And my soul shall die.
It seems to me that all of the necessary words have been said, but he opens his mouth to speak again.
"I cannot wed Arwen."
Silence. I am utterly blindsided. I cannot begin to rationalize where this decision has come from, nor what it has to do with his rejection of me. It takes one very long and very still moment until my befuddled mind begins to wonder if, perhaps, I have misread the whole situation. Clearly this would be an agonizing decision to make, and possibly, this was the agony that has filled his mind... In which case... he may not know of my feelings for him. Dear Gods. I feel as thought I have been reborn. No, more than that. I draw in a slow, delicious breath, and it is as though I have never had the joy of breathing before. I will not lose him. I have learned from my mistakes, and if I can only stay with him, then I can force my heart to be happy with friendship. Oh, but to be allowed to serve him! I will not ruin this chance. I will perform my apparently settled role of confidant to perfection. It is under this realization that I can finally formulate the correct response, and I release my first breath, and ask if he is certain. I feel it is my duty to point out that Arwen cares deeply for him, and would have done so (though it fracture my swiftly mending heart anew), but he cuts me off.
"Arwen will live. She will forgive me, and, eventually, she will forget me. And I can continue to carry myself proudly. I can sleep at night, secure in the knowledge that I have done what I can to preserve some of the good and some of the beautiful that is meant to exist." I had not realized that her love weighed so heavily on his heart, but with these fresh eyes I can understand. He knows that in accepting her as his wife, he will effectually kill her. And I know that he could never condone such an act. But his love for her... The love that I still see blazing in his eyes as he fixes them on some faraway unknown... Surely he must realize that this love is worth dying for. To have a chance at such a blessing... He continues, unaware of my thoughts, yet paralleling them.
"I do love her, Legolas, but as a bird loves the sun. Or as a pond loves the ocean. She was never meant for me. And I refuse to sacrifice her to an inadequate love. What we share is not the stuff that dreams are made of, nor songs spun of. There is true love in this world, I am sure, and if any creature deserved a chance to find it, Arwen does. And she will have eternity to search."
Could I have been so mistaken? The emotion that I sensed within him is no insignificant love. It is something divine, created and delivered by the hands of the Gods. As is only fitting for so noble a Man. As is fit for the King. Perhaps he mistakenly believes that this is a one-sided gift. Though it tears my soul, I force myself to accept that it is my role to ensure that he not lose such happiness. I grasp his arm gently, ignoring the jolts that it sends to my heart, and conjure my voice from where it has fled to the depths of my soul, to ask, "And what of you? Do you find yourself so undeserving? What of your own chance at love? "
I search his face for the truth. If he does not love Arwen... His eyes meet mine, and the love that I had seen, pure and unsullied as the colors of daybreak, pour out of his soul laid bare. All of the barriers that I have felt built up between us are dissolved by the immense rightness of the feeling, and I finally see the truth.
"I have no need to search for love." He speaks words that carry his meaning upon a swift shaft of pure light directly to my heart. I have been so mislead by my own stupidity. The love that I saw does indeed exist within his heart, but it was at whom that love is directed that I have not seen. The gods have blessed me beyond anything that I could have imagined, and have shared with me a bit of their grace. I can find no words other than a startled, "oh." But I finally understand, and the understanding reshapes my soul. No longer scarred by his touch, but brought fully into being by his heart. I shall never lose this moment. It is what I have been searching for all of my life. His hands rise again to meet my skin, and he draws my face forward. Our lips meet and I find completion within his soul.
The moment stills, then stretches, defining me forever. When he pulls away I keep my eyes closed, clinging to the perfection. But then I realize that I do not have to cling to it, for as long as he loves me I will always have this moment. It will be secured within every breath that I take and every second that he lives. I open my eyes, wishing to see him and share this beauty. His eyes are clear and happy, for the first time in so long as I have known him, the happiness is not tempered with sorrow. It is a sobering and humbling realization that I am such as can give this to him. A tear forms in my eye. A tear of joy, of completion, perfection, and gratitude. Forms, and falls, tracing its way down my skin, and over the spot that first, and still, burned with his touch.
So wrapped in emotion am I that it take a moment for me to recognize that a transition has occurred. No longer do his eyes broadcast love. The walls have been rebuilt, and the doors closed. I am cut off from my soul with a harshness that is almost physical. He stumbles clumsily to his feet, muttering half-swallowed words that sound like "Iím sorry." Then he is gone, racing into the forest, and I am left alone, bereft, slowly going cold and bleeding inside.
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