Author's Notes: Everything belongs to Tolkien, Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema. This is written in the spirit of good fun and no profit is being made.
The Tactics Trilogy
Part III - In the King's Service
The Elf was conspicuously absent during the morning meal, as was the Steward and the young King of the Mark. Aragorn had left the threesome, for there was no other word to describe the state of affairs when he had entered their tent, animatedly discussing and illustrating other battle tactics. After Faramir's elaboration of how to shoot down a Nazgūl, Aragorn had no doubt that they had moved on to a careful dissection of Orc slaying in contrast to the more powerful Uruk-hai. Why, it would not have surprised the King in the least if Legolas had also divulged the secrets of defeating a cave troll, tackling a werewolf or spearing one of Mirkwood's fearsome giant spiders. He had learned through the years that his dear Elven friend was very . . . thorough.
At half past noon, the King of Gondor was sitting in a small private dining chamber, a silver knife in his right hand that he tapped rhythmically against the sturdy oak table. The Elf was late, and that was unlike him. Neither did Aragorn like to be kept waiting, especially when there was a pertinent matter of 'service' that the King wished to discuss.
"It is most unbecoming to sit and tap one's knife at the table," a musical voice reprimanded.
"It is most inconsiderate to be late for a lunch engagement and leave no word," the King said in return, eyes drifting to his right as the Elven Prince took his place.
"My apologies, Aragorn," Legolas said, hands clasped serenely on his lap. "You are correct. I should have left word that I would be late."
Aragorn nodded his head in acceptance of the Prince's apology and then said, "And what excuse do you have for your tardiness?"
"Nothing exceptional, I'm afraid," Legolas answered in a mildly theatrical tone. "I merely arose at an unusually late hour this morn."
"Yes, I missed your company at breakfast," the King said, motioning to an attendant that lunch should be served. "Did you not sleep well?"
"On the contrary," Legolas replied. "I slept like the dead. Worthy of a dwarf."
"I suppose that is to be expected," Aragorn said, the slightest touch of sarcasm coloring his voice, "after a night of such strenuous activity."
The Elf glanced at the Man and gave a half smile, saying, "I was disappointed that you did not join us last night. After all those years in the wilds, I have no doubt that you would have been able to contribute greatly to our 'discussion.'"
Aragorn grunted, a most unkingly sound.
"I saw no reason to stay," he said curtly, the jealousy now evident in his tone. "You appeared to have matters completely under control. My presence would have been superfluous."
The Elf remained silent, watching carefully as the attendants laid the food out on the table. Sweetmeats, bread, vegetables and fresh fruits were just a sample of the sumptuous fare. Beside him, Aragorn sat heavily in his seat, deep in thought. He had kept the King waiting and Aragorn was obviously not pleased. But there was more troubling the Man, and the Elf's thoughts drifted to his old tutors in Mirkwood and the lessons on appeasement that he had carefully absorbed. Now would be a good time to put those lessons to use.
"What weighs upon your mind, my friend?" Legolas asked.
"The notion of service."
"Yes." Aragon paused and studied the Elf as Legolas took a sip of wine. "How do you understand the term?"
"Service," the Prince repeated, "is defined as an act of helpful activity or aid; the performance of duties by a servant; the supplying of commodities; the providing of accommodation; the serving of a sovereign or a kingdom. Is there something I have missed?"
"I do not believe so," the King replied. "But the definition of service that I seek is of a more personal kind."
Legolas cast a curious glance at his friend and waited for the Man to continue as the attendants completed their task by placing a silver bowl of soup in front of both guests.
"How then would you define your service?"
After briefly looking at the King and receiving his permission to begin the meal, Legolas lifted his spoon and tasted the creamy soup while he thought of a suitable answer.
"My service," he began, "is first and foremost to my people, my father and my kingdom. Beyond that . . ." the Elf trailed off, a thoughtful look on his face, "my service remains to my friends, to the Fellowship, even though we are all but disbanded." He inclined his head towards the King to see if his answer had satisfied his old friend.
"Within the Fellowship," Aragorn continued carefully, picking up his own spoon and preparing to taste the soup, "how would you consider your service to me?"
The Prince found the King's questions puzzling but he merely smiled and said mischievously, "Do you wish for me to swear service to you? To swear fealty, as young Pippin did in a moment of great courage? Of course, my father and my people will always come before any service I would hold towards Gondor."
"If you were to swear such service to me," Aragorn said hypothetically, "what sort of service would you provide?"
"We have been friends for many years, counted by your lifetime," the Elf replied. "Do you not know me well enough to be able to recognize what service I may provide?"
"I know you well enough to be able to see how you effortlessly turn my questions against me," the King said, fixing the Prince with a long look that made Legolas smile.
"We have fought side by side countless times," the Prince continued. "You would have my service as a warrior and a captain, the accuracy of my bow and the deadly grace of my knives."
"Your battle tactics," Aragorn added, carefully enunciating each word.
Legolas merely smiled again at the King's tone and nodded his head slightly to acknowledge the Man's words.
"You are entering a new stage in your life, Aragorn," Legolas said as he watched the Man take his soup. "There are other kinds of service I may provide you, aside from battle tactics. Life at court is certainly not alien to me."
"Indeed," Aragorn agreed. "My uncouth ranger ways may need some discipline. Will you instruct me in the ways of this courtly life of which you speak?"
"We may begin at this very moment," the Elf declared. "Before I swear any kind of service to you," Legolas explained, "you should have a sample of what I have to offer."
"I have no objection to that," the Man replied.
With the King's permission, the Elf rose from his place at the table and came to stand behind the Man. Before he knew it, firm hands had lodged themselves on his lower back causing the King to straighten at the unexpected contact.
"One must never slouch at the table," Legolas intoned, unable to resist running his hands up and down the Man's back to ensure that Aragorn was indeed sitting properly. "Nor do we place our elbows on the table," the Elf added, slapping the King's right forearm and taking the Man by surprise. "Soup," the Prince continued, "is not slurped into one's mouth." His right hand rested below the Man's right elbow to maintain the correct position of Aragron's arm. Aragorn found the position slightly uncomfortable but he finished his soup, mildly grateful that Legolas did not need to correct the direction with which he took his soup with his spoon.
When the bowl was empty, an attendant came to take it away. The King, with the Elf now by his side, motioned for the attendant and his fellow companions to leave the room.
"These lessons are best carried out in private, do you not agree?"
"Privacy has its advantages," the Prince replied. He looked at the fare laid out before them and said, "What does the King wish to taste next?"
"What do you recommend?"
Reaching for the platter of sweet meat, Legolas placed a slice of veal on Aragorn's plate doused in thick sauce, followed by two bread rolls, a helping of the vegetable dish and a large chicken breast.
"No fruit?" the King inquired.
"It shall be eaten for dessert," the Elf answered.
Aragorn nodded but he had a different idea of what ought to be served for dessert. Nevertheless, the King of Gondor paid careful attention as his old friend went through a litany of rules that were to be observed during a meal ranging from the correct position to hold one's fork and knife (as well as the correct way to cut one's meat) to the type of conversations one must expect at a formal gathering. He thought Legolas was taking the matter rather seriously and he bided his time, waiting for the right moment when the Prince would be able to prove his 'service' to the King. The opportune moment came as the Elf swallowed his last bite of bread and they both sat in front of their empty plates. Legolas had hardly eaten anything during the course of the meal but Aragorn had grown accustomed to his friend's unusual eating habits. The King knew precisely what activity whetted the Prince's appetite.
"Dessert?" Legolas asked with a tilt of his head.
"My favorite part of the meal."
The Elf smiled and stood up again ready to serve the King since the attendants had been dismissed. But as he passed behind Aragorn's chair, the Man suddenly reached out and grabbed him by the waist, and the Prince fell ungraciously into the King's lap.
"Aragorn!" Legolas exclaimed in surprise, attempting to stand up but the firm arm across his waist refused to give way. "This is hardly appropriate behavior at the table," he chastised the Man with a reproving look.
"You speak of dessert," the King of Gondor said, unperturbed by the struggling Elf in his lap, "but I do not wish to eat the fruits that I see on this table."
The King's words caught the Elf's attention and Legolas stopped struggling, looking at his friend curiously.
"What I desire," Aragorn continued, "is a fruit eminently more succulent and delicious than any that may be found in all my lands." He paused and looked the Prince squarely in the eye as he said, "It is an Elvish delicacy, one that lies only in the heart of Mirkwood."
"An Elvish delicacy?" Legolas repeated. "From my own land? Strange that I have not heard of it before."
"No?" the King said, feigning surprise. "Then let me show you."
Aragorn leaned forward and picked up his silver plate, putting it to the side of the table along with his cutlery and moving some of the other platters so that a suitable space was cleared before him. Then he grasped the surprised Elf by the waist and plunked him on the very spot where his plate used to be. Legolas was always as light as he looked.
"This delicacy," Aragorn began, assuming the tone of an instructor that the Prince had used on him during the course of the meal, "only bears fruit with the correct stimulation. It must be coaxed and fondled, handled with care, and yet with a firm grip."
"It truly sounds like an unusual fruit," Legolas commented.
"It is unique," Aragorn confirmed, lifting the Elf's right leg to slide off one boot and then repeating the action on Legolas' other leg.
"And the nectar it offers," the Man continued, hands traveling up the Elf's thighs to rest at the juncture where leg met pelvis, "is the sweetest that I have ever tasted."
"You have piqued my interest," Legolas said, "and I am eager to see this fruit."
"Ah," Aragorn said with a devilish smile, "then we must first remove it from its sheath."
With these words, Aragorn reached for the band of the Elf's leggings and gave them a tug. Legolas understood and placed his hands on the space behind him, leaning back and lifting his hips off the table so that Aragorn could slide his leggings off, which the Man did, letting the material fall to the floor on top of the discarded boots.
"The fruit is not yet ready to be eaten," Aragorn explained, as he spread the Elf's legs, "for like all delicacies, it must be properly prepared."
"And how is this done?"
"I have found that it is often best to take the fruit in hand," the King answered, "and begin with a gentle massaging motion in order to heat the flesh."
"I see," Legolas said, eyes turning indigo with desire as he watched the Man's hand work its magic.
"Do you see how it hardens and expands?" Aragorn asked.
"Your technique is most effective," Legolas praised.
"Soon it will be ripe," the Man said with satisfaction, "and its texture will be like heated velvet."
"And then what shall you do?"
"I shall continue to test its firmness and its quality until it is nearly bursting."
"You wish to taste its nectar from your hand?" the Prince asked, an unmistakable note of disappointment in his voice.
"Perhaps just a small taste," the King assured him, running his thumb along the slit at the head of the Elf's shaft, coaxing a drop of fluid that Aragorn caught with his forefinger and brought to his lips. The Man licked the substance while the Elf cocked his head to the right in an inquiring gesture.
"Sumptuous," Aragorn replied. "But I have found from previous encounters with this rarest of exotic fruits that the nectar is best drunk directly from its source. However," he paused, "today I would like to add another ingredient to enhance the richness of its flavor."
Legolas glanced behind him and scanned the remainder of the food on the table, his eyes finally resting on the decanter of wine. He reached for it with his left hand and held it out to the King.
"Perhaps you could douse it with wine, if the wine's sweetness would not conflict with the fruit's natural taste?"
"The mixture of wine together with the fiery flesh of the fruit would be an intriguing combination," Aragorn said thoughtfully, accepting the decanter from the Elf and pouring some of its contents into his empty goblet. "I very much like the idea, if you are agreeable to it?"
"It was my suggestion," the Elf reminded him slyly.
"So it was."
Aragorn held the goblet on top of Legolas' shaft and looked to the Elf for confirmation. Legolas nodded, holding his breath in anticipation. Aragorn tilted the goblet and a splash of wine fell onto the head of the Elf's shaft, causing him to jerk involuntarily at the contact. He let out a small hiss as the wine trickled down his member only to be followed by a more liberal dose. He closed his eyes as the liquid cooled his heated flesh, and just when he had grown accustomed to the sensation, another touch enflamed his senses. It was a suckling motion laced with the gentle scrape of teeth. Legolas tried to remain still but the King's teasing was unbearable and he could not help but push himself a little deeper into the man's mouth. Aragorn understood the Elf's unspoken request and he took more of Legolas inside him, maintaining his suction. But the process seemed excruciatingly slow to the Prince and he found himself saying breathlessly:
"Like all fruits, one should not wait until it is over-ripe before eating. A fruit that is over-ripe, just like a fruit that is picked when it is still green, loses the pleasure of its ideal flavor."
Aragorn smiled to himself at the Prince's words but continued his slow pace. He had nearly engulfed the Elf's entire shaft and was enjoying the taste of this rare fruit immensely. He wrapped his tongue around it, milking it with his motions, tracing the outline of a pulsing vein. And just when he believed that there were no more ways he could torture the Elf, an idea sprung to his mind.
He began to hum.
Legolas was writhing now, at the mercy of Aragorn and his skilled mouth. The Elf had fallen to his elbows, and the only thing that prevented him from lying down completely as he wished to do, was the large platter of roast chicken and potatoes that was barely grazing his back.
"Aragorn," he begged.
The Elf never sounded more beautiful than when he begged, the musical lilt of his voice caressing the Man's name with his need. Aragorn savored the moment, knowing full well how rarely it occurred. But the King of Gondor was a compassionate man and, deeming that the Prince had atoned for the intimate strategy session from the night before, he brought the Elf to his peak and swallowed most of the sweet nectar that filled his mouth, leaving a small amount under his tongue as he patiently licked the Prince clean.
Legolas shuddered with his release, his head thrown back as his flaxen mane swept across the fruit arrangement that had been laid out on the table. Trembling slightly, he managed to raise himself off his elbows just as Aragorn was rising from his chair.
"Do I get a taste of this rare fruit that you prize above all others?" he asked, still a little breathless.
Aragorn smiled indulgently and placed his hands on either side of the Elf's jaw, wrapping callused fingers tenderly around the smooth column of Legolas' ivory neck. Then he leaned in and brought their lips together. Legolas had already parted his mouth in anticipation and his tongue immediately licked the essence that still lingered on Aragorn's lips before welcoming the invasion of the Man's tongue. The kiss was slow and sensual as Legolas explored every curve and crevice, seeking all that remained of the nectar inside the Man's mouth. When he was satisfied, he ended the kiss, tracing Aragorn's lips with the tip of his tongue one last time before pulling away.
"What is your verdict?" the King asked.
"It is indeed sweeter than the fruits of Gondor," the Prince agreed thoughtfully, "but I still prefer the more bitter fruits of Men."
"That is surprising," Aragorn commented. "What do you find pleasing about the fruits of Men?"
"They are rich and vibrant, full of vitality," Legolas answered, "and though they bloom for only a short time, their life burns with the intensity of an ever-stoked fire. I am consumed by their passion and the bitter aftertaste that they leave in my mouth is a reminder that I must cherish every moment before the long winter comes."
Aragorn was moved by Legolas' words and he leaned his forehead against the Elf's, letting out a long sigh.
"I have been foolish," he admitted. "You, of all people, do not need to prove your service to me."
Legolas tilted his head to the right as he swept down and brushed his lips against the Man.
"Don't I?" he asked with an arch of his golden eyebrow.
Aragorn let out a low laugh and replied, "The meal has ended. What more is there left to prove?"
"The meal may have ended," Legolas answered, "but that does not mean that the lesson is over."
"I see," Aragorn said, a half-smile on his face as he sat back down in his chair. Legolas remained on the table, long legs dangling from over the side. "What is next on our agenda?"
"After a meal," Legolas continued, "there are two schools of thought on what one should do next. The first believes that time must be given for the meal to be digested properly. It is customary for guests to retire to a sitting room or drawing room for cognac, mints and conversation. The other school of thought favors some sort of exercise, believing that the additional activity aids in digestion. Nowadays," he added, "one often compromises by resting for half an hour to an hour before undertaking any kind of strenuous activity."
"And which school of thought do you follow?"
"It depends upon whom I am with," Legolas answered truthfully. "In this case, a man such as yourself who is strong, healthy, and in the prime of his life need not wait an hour before pursuing other activities."
"I am flattered that you think so highly of my fitness," Aragorn said, "but what after-meal activity did you have in mind? A walk? Archery practice? Some friendly sparring?"
"A ride?" the Elf suggested.
"A ride?" the Man repeated, his smile growing wider.
"Did you know," Legolas asked, "that Mirkwood is not only famed for its Elvish delicacies, but is also home to some of the finest Elven stallions?"
"I have heard of their pedigree," Aragorn said. "Thus far, it is unfortunate that I have been unable to ride one of these stallions."
"Then your run of bad luck has come to an end," the Prince informed him, "for today there is a stallion of high quality at your disposal."
The Elf slid off the table gracefully and stood before the Man, grasping his forest green jerkin and pulling it over his head. The silver blue tunic that he often wore soon followed.
"Would you like to examine the steed?" the Prince asked.
Aragorn stood up and placed his hands on the Elf's shoulders, kneading them gently before traveling down the Prince's arms, feeling the firm muscles beneath and marveling at the softness of the skin. He ended at the Elf's wrists, encircling the right one and bringing it to his face as though he meant to inspect the structure of the bone. Instead, he placed the Elf's hand against his cheek, holding it there momentarily before kissing the pads of Legolas' fingers one by one.
"The forelegs of the steed are strong," Aragorn said, releasing Legolas' wrist. "I can see that they have often been put to good use and yet they still bear the mark of tenderness when the time calls for it. But what of the rest of the stallion?"
Aragorn turned his attention to the Elf's chest and placed his hand over the Prince's heart, feeling the rhythmic pulse beneath his touch.
"The resting heart rate of the animal is good," the King observed. "And I have no doubt that this sound heart will be able to withstand a great deal of pressure," he added, receiving an amused smile from the Prince.
"The rest of the steed's upper body is equally strong," Aragorn noted, continuing his examination. "It is firm and lean," he commented, hands now passing over the Prince's ribcage to settle on Legolas' flat stomach. "Perhaps a little too lean?" he asked, fixing the Elf with a firm look.
"This particular stallion," Legolas replied, "is known for its swiftness and agility. Unnecessary weight would be a hindrance to these skills."
"Perhaps," Aragorn said off-handedly, deciding to let the matter rest for now.
But Legolas was not of a like mind and could not resist having the final say.
"To be lean and light is part of the animal's natural build," he insisted.
Aragorn held back a laugh. He rather preferred this particular stallion to be lean and light, belying the enormous strength he knew the animal possessed, but he would not give the Elf the satisfaction of hearing him admit it. Besides, as lovely as the Elf's upper body was, what truly interested the King at this moment was to be found in the nether regions. He rubbed his fingers over the Elf's hipbone, massaging the spot before sweeping down to the inner thighs, purposely avoiding the groin. He ran his hands up and down the Elf's thighs, the motion instinctively causing Legolas to widen his stance.
"The stallion's hind legs are even more powerful than his forelegs," the King noted. "I can see that they were built for speed."
"And endurance," the Elf added mischievously.
"Let us test the animal's endurance," the King suggested.
"But you have not yet completed your examination," the Prince protested. "What of the animal's back?" he asked, turning around and spreading his hands on the table as he leaned forward. "And the stallion's flank? Do they meet with your approval?"
Aragorn took a moment to relish the sight that was presented to him: Legolas with his legs spread, leaning over the table at precisely the right angle, his golden hair spilling over his back in careless waves. The King took a step towards the Elf, hardly aware that his hands were untying the laces of his breeches and freeing his own constricted member until the material was pooled around his ankles. Aragorn stepped out of his breeches and slid off his boots, finally coming to stand immediately behind the Prince, his arousal teasingly pressing against the Elf's cheeks. Legolas pushed back slightly, rubbing himself against the Man so that Aragorn was forced to place a hand on the Elf's hip to still his actions.
"I see that the stallion is eager to be ridden," Aragorn said, his free hand tracing the contour of the Elf's spine in an upward sweep.
Legolas shivered in delight. His spine had always been particularly sensitive to the Man's touch. The gentle caress was followed by the wetness of a slick tongue as Aragorn decided to travel the same path again. Legolas could feel the heat from the Man's body as Aragorn leaned over him, though they did not touch, and the King's warm breath as it blew against his shoulder. With his other hand, Aragorn brushed the Elf's mane from his back so that it hung over Legolas' left shoulder. He planted a kiss on the now exposed shoulder blade before whispering into a pointed ear, "What shall we use for oil?"
Legolas scanned the table again. There was more wine. Too absorbent. Water? Ridiculous. Vegetable stew? Too thick. Glaze? Too sticky. Then the Elf's eyes rested on the bottle of salad oil that he occasionally liked to place on garden fresh greens. Perfect. He reached for the bottle and passed it back to the King, who removed the cork with a fiendish smile and poured the liquid into the palm of his hand. Aragorn coated himself liberally before returning his attention to the Elf's flank. Impulsively, he gave it a slap that made the Elf jump.
"I am examining the stallion's flank as you requested," Aragorn explained, barely containing his mirth.
"The rider dallies," Legolas shot back.
"Does the steed need no further preparation?" the King asked, slicked hands kneading the Elf's buttocks before slipping a finger in between the Prince's cheeks.
"The stallion is keen to be underway," Legolas said, "and is accustomed to the pains and difficulties of a hard ride."
"Very well," Aragorn said. "I cannot argue with experience. Prepare to be mounted."
No sooner had the Man spoken than he pushed himself inside, breaching the Elf's tight ring of muscle in one forceful thrust.
"It is a snug fit," Aragorn said with difficulty, firmly grasping the Elf's hips.
"Aye," Legolas agreed, feeling himself being stretched by the invasion. "The rider fills me completely. Shall we go through the paces?"
"Let us begin with a soothing walk," Aragorn said, gently rocking inside the Elf. "Before moving onto a trot," he added, after a few shallow thrusts.
"A brisk trot," Legolas encouraged, feeling the Man pick up his pace.
"As you wish," Aragorn said obligingly.
The trot soon turned into a rolling canter as horse and rider found their mutual rhythm. The stallion stretched his legs as the canter developed into a gallop of pounding hooves. Aragorn rode the steed hard but with great skill, while Legolas proved that the stamina of Elven stallions remained unsurpassed, with the exception of the Mearas. But in time both horse and rider felt the final hurdle approaching. Aragorn's grip on the Elf's hips had grown painfully tight as he tried to get in a few last thrusts, the interval between them growing wider as the pace of the ride slackened. Legolas hung his head over the table aware of the tingling sensation in his groin that accompanied his imminent release. The rider was also aware of his mount's needs and his left hand slid from the Elf's hip to grasp the hard member. The sudden touch undid the Prince as he bucked and released himself into the King's waiting hand. Aragorn joined him soon afterwards, wrapping his arms around the Prince's lithe form, feeling the Elf's heart beating strongly beneath his hand. After a moment, the King dismounted, pulling the Elf into his lap as he sat back down in his chair.
Legolas made himself comfortable, drawing his legs up and crossing them neatly. He leaned over and placed the Man's used plate in front of him, as Aragorn knew he would. The Man watched with an amused expression as the Elf began piling food onto the plate, all his lessons regarding decorum and etiquette completely forgotten.
"It appears that the stallion is hungry after his exercise," Aragorn commented.
"The stallion is famished after such a hard but enjoyable ride," Legolas replied.
"This afternoon's instruction," the King continued in a more sedate tone, "has reminded me how much I value our friendship and companionship above all others. I would not have you swear service to me."
The Elf turned around so that he sat sideways in the King's lap, long legs dangling over the side of the armrest. Aragorn placed his right hand over Legolas' knee before running it up the Elf's thigh. Such strong legs, but sleek and elegant like the finest bred stallion. He remembered what it felt like to have those legs wrapped around him.
As if reading the Man's thoughts, Legolas smiled and said, "The best kind of service is given freely out of loyalty and love." He lifted the Man's hand and entwined their fingers together. "You need never ask me to swear service to you, Aragorn, for you have had it these many years, and will continue to have it until the end of your days."
Aragorn was moved by the poignancy of the Prince's words, but he would not let the moment overwhelm him. Instead he cleared his throat and cocked his head to the right as he looked at the Elf in an inquiring manner.
"Service," he stated matter-of-factly, "is a notion that my most trusted subjects should be intimately familiar with. Would you agree?"
"I would," Legolas replied in the same serious tone.
"Then perhaps it would be prudent to initiate the Steward of Gondor into our ways?"
To this suggestion, the Elf merely smiled.
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