Disclaimer: Not mine.
WARNING: Slash, Aragon/Legolas, lots of musing.
Part 2 - Legolas: Shadows
The stars shine like the inside lemonís rind tonight.†
They are not the pure diamonds that would normally grace my gaze, nor the misty candles before the annual showers.† I doubt my companions can discern the faint sour yellow that tints them, nor the sickly wan way they shine.
It bodes ill.
Yet most every item on our search warns of such tidings, both of ill and ominous comings.† The way the wind only blows part way, as if too exhausted to finish itís route.† Leaves fall lightly around us, yet the even that familiar event causes my eyes and ears to dart to source, my fingers aching for an arrow in my hands.†
With the constant stress and searching, I am more than certain that an enemy could cut me down effortlessly while my mind scattered to account for more immediate, harmless matters.
Like† accounting for every leaf that falls to the ground within a 15 yard radius of where I am.† How the leaves drift and tilt in the slight current, before landing gently on the ground that sounds akin of paper burning.†
Also, busy remembering the way the fall leaves crush and crunch under dead corpses.† Or the way their descent was altered ever so slightly by Boromirís final breathes.† How Gimliís stumping feet hammered the leaves and ground with the same repetition that I am imagine they use while forging the metal works that declare them so.†
Our cloaks had brushed against the current with restlessness on them.† If we had not waited so long nor dally as we do now to pursue the hobbits then we would have them by now.† Had I been but tracking with my own kinsfolk, the young ones would be safely out of harm and we would be on our journey to destroy the Ring.
But we are not.
Nor am I with my kinsmen, nor near any of them from any kingdom.† The dwarf sleeps heavily across the fire from myself now, while the human keeps watch.† I am alone outside the walls and trees that have long been my home, with a dwarf that trusts me little and likes me not and a human thatÖ.
A human that I do not understand.
His manner is one of a mercenary, cold and sure.† He was that way before, when he brought the wretched creature of Gollum to King Thanduril, my father, some years ago.† He had not met me then, but I had watched him from high and afar in the trees, and my impression was that of a mercenary.† For, that was akin to his profession at the time.
But he can be kind at times, as well as compassionate, which is why I think the hobbits trust him as they do.† He is open with them without allowing outside eyes to peer into his heart and mind, as I have tried.† Itís as if they have some secret agreement that others may not be privy to.
Of course I have noticed that he avoids me.†
He would not allow me to fight at his back at Moria without casting glances over his shoulders.† He will not meet my eyes when I speak, nor speak in return.† If he must trade words with me they are short and bordering on civil, the bare minimum.† Instead of looking at my face he concentrates on my shoulder or my forehead, close enough to fool an observer but not the speaking nor spoken to.
Arrogance, it is taught, is an inborn human quality.† Humans cannot be condemned or excused from this inherited weakness, it must simply be endured.†
I am finding it increasingly difficult to endure as the days pass, and it takes all the teachings of my fatherís court to ignore it now.† I am not certain how long I will manage it.
When we camp he always sat or slept farthest from the fire and closest to the hobbits, to be at their aid quickly should they need it.† Now that there are three of us he stays nearest to Gimli, though he does not sleep well with the dwarves constant snoring, as Iíve noticed during my watches.† Perhaps he knew I was watching him and figuring the puzzle he had placed before me.† He might have.† Perhaps that was why he did sleep not well.
He rarely sleeps well at all, in truth.† Iíve been following the intervals of his breathing and the rate of his heart beat closely and frequently enough to discern when the human is truly resting or when he is simply lying awake.† During my watches he is often drowsing or lying awake and feigning sleep.† When I observe him under Gimliís watches, however he sleeps full and deeply.
When he stood watch over us, I could feel his eyes scowling at my body while he thought I slept.† He did that often.
At first, I had suspected that he disliked Elves or did not trust us.† Many humans do.† Boromir did for a time, but grew to trust me and I would daresay like me in the time we knew each other.
Yet this Man has no reason to do this.† He was raised among elves, and it is rumored that he has relations with Arwen Evenstar, Elrondís daughter.† It cannot be that he disliked elves as a whole, as the dwarves and other humans are apt to do.
So it had to be something about me that disturbed him.
I do not think that he disliked me, although the signs did suggest it.† Yet if he did not want me as a member of the Fellowship, why conceal it?† He has nothing to fear, and I know from watching him that he would not allow fear to stop him.† If something were troubling, he would say so.†
He leads us well, treats us well, and trusts us well and deeply, save this wall of veiled hostility and coldness between he and I.† He hadnít trusted me in the beginning, but that has changed.†
The wall has not.
He is a brave man, cautious, kind, and honorable, and what stands between he and I forming a bond remains a mystery.† In that aspect, he interests me.† I know the feeling is reciprocated.
I am not the only one who has taken to watching the other sleep during the nightly watches to the point of obsession.
What he hopes to learn or gain from watching me sleep, I do not know.†
But he does; intensely, constantly, and a little guiltily.† I first noticed it when the hobbits were still with us, after Gandalf was lost to us.† Then it was only stray, lingering glances on my form, nothing alarming.† I watched the remainder of the Fellowship in the same manner, but felt no guilt from it.† From whence that guilt springs from in his heart I also do not know.†
Immediately after the hobbits departed and we began our search, the observation increased.† Even as we ran, his eyes ran wild from the orc tracks we were following to myself; questioning, quick glances that I felt but could never catch.† The first night we rested, his eyes never left me.† He made his watch longer than either Gimliís or mine.†
Even this day when we searched, today while scouring the track, his eyes still wander to me intermittently.† Only once I was able to catch his eyes wandering on my legs before traveling to my face.† His eyes were open and unguarded, and when we locked I read surprise, anger, and shame in them before he turned his head to the trail in front of us.†
He stumbled as he did so, catching himself before he fell.† He flushed violently before leading us forward.† He didnít look at me for nearly half an hour after that.†
He looks at me now.
I feel that heís searching for an answer in me to a question that he will not voice, from either fear orÖsomething else, I cannot imagine what.†
While I was willing to tolerate this behavior before, now it is unacceptable.† It makes both of us too distracted to find either Pippin or Merry quick enough before the orcs tire of them and hurt them or kill them.†
Gimli, while I have grown to respect and slightly enjoy his company, has little wood craft.† The tracking business falls mainly to him and I, and with my anxiety, his glances, and the general tension between us, itís not being done very well.
How to broach the problem is far more complicated than knowing it need be done.
Would Aragorn answer me if I were to question him directly?† Or would he turn me aside?† I think the former would be more like him; direct and honorable.† It would not be like him to run, much less from me.†
I do not think he fears me, any more than he hates me.† All I know is that he finds my company trying, as I sometimes find his.
That does not stop us from studying the other.
There is weariness in his eyes, one that I do not completely understand.† Humans live shorter lives than we do; yet I feel all most as much wisdom in his eyes as I did in Gandalf or Elrond.† The years between our races are measured the same, and an elf of his age would be yet a young toddler, not even yet a boy.
I wonder if they live life at an intenser degree than we do, or even if that is possible.† Would they feel the bite of steel sharper, sorrow deeper, the pulse of their blood deeper, reminding them of the river of time, and their short swim in it?† How do they breathe?† Do they savor the scents while they have them, or extract and hoard what gems they can trace in the air as dragons hoard gold.† Do they envy us?† Is that why he avoids me so?†
That I can believe.† After all, his Lady Arwen must forswear her immortality to live by his side and be his love, as Luthien did those many years ago.† I pity the Elven maidens whose hearts drew them to death.†
Yet I should pity all the harder if an Elven youth, a male, were ever to fall that deeply in to the well of love.† What would become of us as a race?† We would all be mortal, near human, save the few characteristics that separate our two species.
Would the Aragorn I have come to know do that to his Lady?† I cannot imagine it.† This man, cold and silent though he be, loves life.† He could not take her life, anymore than he would take mine.†
If he were to allow her, I believe that she would be but mortal in a windís breath.† And as for meÖ
There has never been a case before of a male Elf forsaking his gift for love of a mortal.
That does not mean that there cannot be now.
That does not mean it cannot be I.
That does not mean I cannot love.
I had meant to speak with him of the matter immediately as his watch began.† We stopped searching once the sun no longer cast shadows across the trees and the sky itself was no longer grey, but black.†
Camping has become a tedious and dismal affair for myself, who still feels the urge to search ever further, and the frustration of being shackled to those who cannot follow.†
I long for Merryís songs, rustic and idyllic though they were.† Pippin would sometimes join in at the more bawdy choruses, terribly off-key.† Then Merry would get ruffled and Pippin defensive and then the two would be mentioning relations, new and old, in a less than respectable manner, and rough housing on the floor, covered with dirt and leaves.
Boromir would sometimes join in on the mÍlťe, while Gimli would give the hobbits counsel on the best manner to ďbeat it to ĎimĒ.† Frodo would smile indulgently, and laugh sometimes, a rare feat now, from our Ring bearer.† Samwise would wait anxiously from the sidelines, and giggle at the two when not fretting.† Gandalf would smoke his pipe and shake his head, before turning southeast.
It was time before I realized that when one had lived with elves for so long, one learned how to disappear from even their sight.† This Man was such the case.
He stood in the shadows often, while the rest of the Company would make merry and converse amongst ourselves.† That was when I first took an actual interest him for the fact that he was he, and not because of his interest in myself.
The human might have been carved of stone, or a cancer on a tree trunk, so still stood he.† His grey eyes were ever down cast, a shadow of despair over his face.† He is often silent and contemplative, but rarely does he show any emotions other than loyalty to the hobbits and his devotion to duty.† There was hunger carved on the crevices of his face, and a sorrow in his eyes that I had not thought possible for a creature so short lived.
What does he think, late into the night?† What is he searching the horizon for?
I know very little about him, really.
This watch is his.† Gimliís had had the first, and mine was to be the last.† I havenít slept at all.
The stars are still blurry.† They still look sickly.
I blink my eyes.† Even though my they remain open at all times, I cannot see the outside world when I dream.† Sight fades away and darkness edges around my vision until the world turns black.† I, and all my kind, must blink before sight is returned to us.
My eyes turned over to where Aragorn had been stationed.† The spot was empty.†
Nor was he anywhere in my sight.† When had he left?† Why had I not heard him go?† For every second that I had been tracking the descent of the leaves, I should have heard him go.†
I rise silently, and went in search of him.† It is not wise to leave Gimli so unguarded, but Aragorn must be found first.†
Itís difficult to tell which direction he went; even had there been full light his tracks would still be difficult to find.† It was some time before I could locate him by the sound of his breathing.
My footsteps were silent, my own breathing not even a whisper.† I stopped breathing once I found him.
He had found a clearing in this dense wood.† How he had done it amazed me; one needs be an Elf to hear the songs of the wood and leaf, and hear them say where spaces in their bracken lie.†
He be a Man.† No Man should have been able to accomplish that.† No Elf could look as he did then.
He stood centered exactly in the clearing, a single sickly beam of moonlight leaning on the trees to his right.† I stood to his left, and saw clearly his profile.†
The light, faint as it was, cast grey and black shadows over the carpeting of leaves, making the floor seem more like water in the dark.† The contrast of light and dark was not lost on the Man himself, as his cloak created shards of darkness and ethereal light enveloping his form.† No light reflected off of him; he seemed to soak up the light, sickly and adulterated though it was.
His head was tilted ever so slightly towards the heavens, yet low enough to see the trunks of the trees.† The dark hair that draped around his face acted as a hood; making darkness surround him, envelop him completely, while his face was bathed in moonlight.† His eyes were closed.†
He looked grave, he looked ancient. The weariness and torment had left his face, and looked at peace.
He looked beautiful.
I have never thought that about him before.†
I had never thought that about himÖat all.†
Even remotely, anymore than one would think that bottom of oneís shoe is beautiful.†
Interesting perhaps, useful, and reliable certainly.† Not revolting or exceptionally disgusting, but nothing special.† Nothing worthy of praise or notice.† Elves will always retain the features of youth, so the idea of age is native only to Man and Dwarves.† This feature of ďagingĒ, had never been thought beautiful by myself or any other creature of my knowledge, but the Man that guidesÖthe Man that leads usÖproved me wrong.
He held his neck and head erect, but the strain and tension that I had known native to his posture was gone.† In its place was a quiet dignity.† Dignity, not the arrogance I had always known, but dignity.† Open, but not defenseless.† Majestic.† Royal.
So this was what the hobbits saw in him.
Why had it taken me so long to see it?
How long I stood there drinking in the sight of him, I cannot be certain, save only that it was not long enough.† Nor was the spell broken when his eyelids unsheathed to reveal the silver blue orbs, staring at the trees.† His face and clothes seemed to drink in the light, not even his eyes reflected it.†
Nay, they shone brightly with a light of their own.
Beautiful, a light navy with silver flecked and blurred in them.†
Not as the dull streams in Mirkwood in the snow, nor tinkling aged waterfalls in Lothlorien.† A metallic blue, a cold, shimmering mix of despair and desperation and death.
The light vanished from him when he felt my presence, and turned to look at me.†
And the moment passed.
The dark, shadowy Man was back, the mercenary, dark and sullen eyes widening minutely at the sight of me in surprise, before hiding even that.
His voice was low, gruff, when he demanded my reason for being there.† I gave some excuse that the training in my fatherís court had prepared me for; courteous, yet vague.† I donít remember what it was, nor his answer.† I am now certain he had sworn at me, but can not remember the exact phrase.† I was still searching for the angel that I had seen locked in the shadows and walls of the Man that I now saw before me.
An angel locked in a demonís cage.
He looked at me in his distant, cold way, a little baffled and suspicious, but again not willing to voice the question that plagued him.
We returned to the camp in silence.† Neither of us spoke nor walked to close to the other, but I could feel the tension arise between us anew and stronger than before.† The walls were mounted yet again, solid and powerful.† But the silence was different.† It was still tense, but no longer full of frustration as it once had been.†
The silence was waiting.† It was knowing.
And I the Elf, and he the Human, the Mercenary, the Angel, or Demon, as the case may beÖ
We waited with it.
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