Disclaimer: Not mines. Make no money I. No sue, please.
Warnings: A/L Slash. No flame.
Author’s Rant: Hey peeps. New chapter, Legolas’s POV, more thinking, sorry about that. Action scene comes next, I promise, more touching and tension, but I’m not sure how soon. The easy part is the thinking, the hard part is writing it up.
Anyway thanks for reviewing, especially tindomerel for saying it was sexy, which I take as a big compliment because I’m not sure I understand the concept completely. Thanks also to Philosopher At Large for comments, yes I know the fic strays from the books, but that’s because when I started the first chapter I hadn’t read the books, just the movie. Now I have read the trilogy and Simalrillion, but I don’t plan to change the characters a lot because of them because I’m more concerned with the character’s integrity than the books’. I will try to sneak in facts though. To Akemi and Gendo, you guys rock I love you madly, and if you two were real I would marry you. Or, one of you, anyway. Muchas Gracis por la Blue Seeeress for Beta reading. Special thanks to Kyrri for all her insights on Legolas and research.
Part 5 - Taste
Alone was I in a dark misty void. I could not hear the sound of my breath nor voice when I called. I felt alone yet watched, the urge to flee but did not move. I was unarmed, and hunted, yet not afraid. I was waiting.
Something reached towards me, a cord of solid and tangible greyness, not evil nor darkness yet neither someone I would trust.
I seized it first, held it.
The dark greyness swirled under my grasp, but did not flinch nor wriggle, and was not cold. It felt like ash wood, dense and half dead, with no texture nor marks on it save it’s liquidly structure.
Heat came from it, and above it, like sunshine, yet damp, like steam. It did not move to harm me, and the warmth was…comforting. My hair was stroked gently. It reminded me of Mirkwood in the late summer.
At that time the kitchens would be steaming with food during the festivals with spices and cooking oil thick in the air. I would hide under the tables and chairs, pretending I was a ranger or sentinel in thick woods, searching for fell prey.
The kitchen maids would hover like so many crows at a nest, scolding "Get thee gone now, princling. We’ve ‘nough to do without thy father comin’ for yee", and at the same time slipping me sweet meats and honeyed fruit and various types of bread under the table and petting my hair and saying how cute I was.
So between the scolding and giving and stealing, I would have tasted every dish for the banquet before any other in the kingdom, even Lord Thranduil.
I thought perhaps that everything was a dream, and that I was truly awake in Mirkwood in the late summer. That it was not the chill hence spring, that I was not alone, that I was not cold, that I was not hunted.
And I wanted it so much to be true, that I awoke.
And saw the tinted stars in the frosty clouds ahead, the darkness overwhelming.
And saw reality all around me. The dying trees, Gimli’s vague muttering, the cold still air that enveloped the night.
Of Mirkwood there naught remained save my own self, and what trinkets and tools that I had brought from there. I was alone. As I had been, as I would be, as always until the quest ended or I died. I would be alone. I was a foolish to think otherwise.
I felt foolish, why should anything change now, because of a dream.
And yet my hand was still warm, my hair disturbed and tingling.
I rubbed my fingers against each other, savoring the warmth that one gave to the other, while puzzling the circumstance. It did feel wonderful though, as if a little bit of sunshine had outraced the night and moon simply to give me comfort. It was a nice thought, a bit selfish, but nice nonetheless.
How had this occurred, from what source?
It had not rained else wise the rest of myself would be wet and not warm, the air was a still musty-dry, so the heavy warm fog that comes some summers was not a cause either. In all the clear cutting cold, the sole possible sources of warmth were we, we three companions of flesh and blood, lest the orcs roaming the woods feel a sudden compassion for a lone elf.
And Frodo will face Sauron and get drunk on Shirish mead and lembas, while Gollum and Elladan wait on them. Right.
I had been dreaming ere the warmth, which was likely the cause for the warmth spilled on my skin and blood stirring in my arm. Much as it aggrieves us, Elves sometimes do not control our bodies when our minds in sleep are over activate, as I have for the last months. The act irritating and embarrassing, and we pity Men all the more who speak as well as move when they sleep unwell.
Likely one had held my hand and stroked my hair while I slept to calm me, case I had been moving unnaturally.
Touched my skin while I slept…
Without my permission or knowledge, of only their own volition or will or desire.
My cheeks flamed at this gap of vulnerability, as well as the either selfness or the concern of the toucher. I, who have been roused by a back stretching down the corridor from my bedroom in Mirkwood, I who can feel when the rain will be falling an hour before it does by the change in the air no matter how weary I am …I felt nothing.
I could have been killed so easily, so obscenely easily without even knowing the knowledge that I had been killed or who my murder had been.
For one of the few times in my life, I felt fear. Not the fear of dying however, I have yet to feel that panic, and believe I never shall. But the fear of when I might die, how I might fall, and if that shadow shall ever fall on me, or shall it pass. This night, this manner, and with an unknown murderer…this was not how I imagined dying. Not this way, not this way at all.
Yet it was a tenuous panic, caused by shame of carelessness and fear of what have been.
Gimli would not bother with me, lest he was suddenly seized by some source of madness. With rift between our races, likely more he would offer a throbbing shoulder and a few gruff yet benign words should my nightmares make their notice.
Not the Man. Never the Man. Not in a millennia. While the secrecy and mystery of the matter suits him well, he naught care for my health, nor likely many others. As long as the remaining Company was vertical, his duty was done. Whether we slept ill was not his concern; I did not want his pity. An outside source was a more prudent guess; a complete stranger would be kinder than him. Far more civil also.
It would be…pleasant, if he were to take the time to treat me in a somewhat civilized manner, but that will not happen anymore than the sun will rise from the west. Yet the only other creatures to traverse these woods save we are orcs.
My fingers ran to back of my head, where the fibers were disturbed and slightly damp. One strand in particular, stiffer and separated from the rest, oiled down. My nurse always threatened to cut that strand off, as it always found it’s way to my face when I was a child. Oil ran out of it, and onto my fingers.
Elves are a rather unique race compared to most of Middle Earth. We have a high stamina, a natural healing art, and live forever. We have not the strength of Dwarves, nor the recklessness of Men, but our immortality.
Our bodies are verily different from any other creature, and one of these traits is that we do not sweat. We cannot. Ever. Our bodies are always cool, and the temperature rarely raises, so for an embarrassingly long time I thought the habit to sweat was native to horses only.
Then I learned.
Even with the faint lighting and my grogginess, the sheen of moisture on my hand was clear, only on the outside and sides.
Sweat. That was what the moisture was. Another creature’s sweat and dirt on my hand. I wanted to spit, and if not for my upbringing I would have. Instead, I sniffed at my hand, listening to check that Gimli was still deep in the wood and the Man asleep. My senses identified the basic complex on my fingers, not exactly an Elvish skill, but one of a Ranger, or a hunter.
Horse sweat smells of straw and warm animal fat and wet fur. This sweat that I now had smelled of salt and vinegar, of dry broken leaves and oiled leather and steel.
Steel and leather.
The Dwarf’s axe is made of iron, combined with other metals long buried under earth to make the weapon unyielding. The handle is of oak wood, aged and well finished and oiled. The Man’s sword is of steel with a leather and bone handle, the bone polished like ivory and the leather well oiled with sweat and tallow.
Him. The Man. I have, a part-something of…that Man, on my hand.
My front teeth clenched together, while my cold hand shoved itself deeper into my breastbone, causing my heart to beat irregularly because of the unexpected pressure. I hoped not to break any bones, but that was not a concern then. How could he? That liar, deceiver, may he be striked with lightening, may his sword break again in battle, that cheat, that conniver, may the wind blow suddenly and my arrow find his neck, his innards sizzle and writhe on searing hot knives.
My shoulders pulled back, wanting nothing more to shrug as far as their ligaments would allow them from the soil on me. I concentrated on the skies, lest I did something rash.
I should hurt him. I think I will.
And yet, the crime was not cataclysmic. Nothing that had happened before. I had been drenched in the blood of enemies and drool of spiders before this, and their fluids had not brought on this anger, though their death followed it. Quickly. What about this disturbs me so, the mere fact that I have oil on my hands or that…that he did it without my knowledge.
He didn’t want me to know. He who won’t even deign to meet my eyes, whom hides himself from me and now he cares if I sleep well or not? Now?
But…why? He avoids me when possible, refuses to meet my eyes at all costs, and will not touch me, not even my fingers. Inconsequential objects and matters like passing rations of lembas or water skin or even brushing my cloak when we run and track. I wonder at the effort and time he takes to keep his distance. I think he fears I bear a plague. Though my own woodcraft is equal, nay, exceeds his own, he is rare to ask for my reading in the leaves and earth. This aversion, while irritating, was reliable. I knew he would avoid me. I knew what to expect. Now I am not certain what I know
I should hurt him for his actions. He earns punishment for his deceit, for his selfishness.
One does not ignore an Elf, one of the Fair Folk, in constant while their eyes be open, and then fawn and sweat over them when our eyes are closed and our trust placed. One does not lie to an Elf, tell them that thy character is coarse and dark and threatening, then show a new face, a fairer one, one of grace and power and heart-breaking loneliness and ethereal sensuality when it pleases them.
My racing heart stumbled on my rib bones and tumbled into the top of my stomach, where it lay panting and throbbing irregularly. Though my blood was already slightly cool, the temperature fell a little further, far beyond comfort.
This creature that I knew was not attractive. Nor amiable or even moderately civil. This creature, this Man…Beautiful?
I thought this insanity once before, and concluded that it was merely a trick of the lighting, the fatigue of our efforts and the despair that tolls on my spirit, making me see radiance and light where there were none. To go mad once is permissible, especially on our journey, but to fall twice? Twice?
My fingers, saturated with the mortality of another, danced lightly on my throat and esophagus, which were vibrating with the amounts of air they were forced to transport. The motion relaxed my heartbeat somewhat, reminded my lungs that they still needed air to flow through them. That the Man’s oils were also being rubbed on was disturbing, yet calming in a loose way.
I think…I was going into shock. Yes, the feeling was familiar, and not welcome.
On finding outposts, sometimes whole villages of Mirkwood ravaged and razed by wargs and spiders, I have seen warriors, grown elves and apprentices venturing into the wilderness to fight for the first time would feel no grief at all.
Only indignance, faint annoyance over the bloodied and torn bodies of friends and family. One morning a companion once pointed out an arm to me out of the melee and said that the owner had courted his older sister for marriage, and they had a child. The Elf found his sister’s necklace still in the arm’s hand.
It wasn’t until late that night that the Elf started to cry and scream. He could have only been 90, maybe 100 years old at the time, a child still.
Shock. That was what was happening to me now. It wouldn’t be later in the morning that I would truly feel the anger and revulsion that I should be feeling, and pierce his throat with my knives. Or an arrow, just to demonstrate my skill. I hope Gimli won’t hold it against me.
Or perhaps I should stay away from him, because the Fellowship truly has lost too many of its members already. I am certain Elrond would not approve of the murderer of his foster son, nor would my own father.
My hand trailed up and down my neck idly, of its will, without my permission. Cheeky, this hand of mind, like the Man who touched it. Unpredictable. Maybe some of his influence is controlling it. That is likely. True, really. I don’t want it to do what it’s doing. Soothing though.
My fingernails trailed up my neck, causing the nerves to tingle and squirm, scraping a faint hollow that crested and formed my jaw. My finger pads flowed back down my esophagus and Adams apple, bumping gently against the ridges in the tubing under the skin. My palm cradled my jawbone, while my hand twisted so that the back ran across my cheekbones, pressing down on my eyes till webs of red could be seen against the dark of my mind.
I didn’t want to feel this. The neck is the surest way to slay a creature, where even Elves are unprotected, where fangs and claws and razors will always aim. For one whom death is only studied and watched, it’s uncomfortable to be reminded of this delicate cord of sinew and skin that keeps me anchored to life.
It made me uncomfortable, to be reminded of this vulnerability. To feel my palm press down, I would go so far to say that it made me frightened, but that would be untrue. Elves know too much to be completely attached to life. Always knowing that you would wake to see another morning, no matter how horrific it would be, no matter how many friends one would have to watch wane and die. At times, I envy the mortals.
And yet, I do not stop.
My palm cradled my jawbone, while my hand twisted and rubbed my skin into my muscles so that the back ran across my cheekbones, pressing down on my eyes till webs of red could be seen against the dark of my mind. The bottom of wrist pulled the skin at my forehead, relieving some of the flat tension worms that burrowed and agitated my mind. I fought to suppress a moan of relief, pleasure flowing over me sweeter than water, over the ridges of cheekbones and through my neck, settling in the middle of my chest.
Even through the feeling was unnerving, or perhaps because of it, the motion felt…relaxing. Soothing, even. I ran my fingers back through my hair, finding the errant strand almost instantly. My fingertips pressed hard on my scalp, relaxing the tension, calming me, leading me back to sleep. Leis used to do this, before she became bonded and married. The kitchen servants in Mirkwood did this also. My fingers extended, holding the front of my skull.
I didn’t think like that, I didn’t want this. Was not the temptation of the Ring enough, the orcs of Saruman and the threat of Sauron suitable enough? I should be rising, hurting him, interrogating him, I should trying to exact revenge, and instead I’m massa--- not doing much of anything.
I could almost feel his pain through his eyes, that translucent silvery-blue eyes that held me enraptured that night, and haunted me the following day. I do not remember much now about his eyes, save that they remind of Elbereth’s gifts in the heavens when I try. Too blue to be starlight, too bright to be water, and far too luminous and silvery to be of sapphire. Were there such a thing as a blue silver steel, I would name his eyes that.
Why would he care? Why would he act?
For what reasons inexplicable this icy blue angel that resides in that shell that prison of a Mercenary…did care. He did care; somebody in all these dead phantom trees did care. Or, seem to. Might be able to. About me.
Perhaps I should have cried. I felt a little like crying. I felt like screaming my frustration and confusion for the heavens to answer, for had awoken in hope of finding myself home among friendly and familiar faces and had instead woken to the most potent and deadliest of deceits…a half-truth. For I was not home…. yet there was the slightest implication of the impossibility that someone might care here. Someone, I neither knew nor understood and altogether doubted his existence. I didn’t even like him.
Yet, as I think back to my earlier words, beauty and nobility, I would not mind accompanying that angel on whatever travails it took to free it. I could serve him, could have him for a friend and leader, someone to care for and someone to care in return.
Even if he be mortal…even if he be strange and dark, even if he be given already. Given already, to the most deserving of ladies, the Tinuveil.
Would I do that? Could I do that? Take what is not mine; take this mystery, this burden, this werewolf? I do not even know him; do not truly like him, yet I am considering jeopardizing my own well-being and another’s heart for him.
Perhaps I am too shocked to think straight. Yes, I think so.
I could not do that. No. No I don’t think so. For one, I am certain the Lady would try at revenge. With her father and brothers at her aid, I doubt I would live to my golden years.
For another, I am certain that the Man would skew and hew with his sword before he would allow me to touch him. Possibly with Elladan and Elhorir at his side, offering advice.
For third, I do believe that I would rather slit my own throat before love a mortal. For when my love, my true love and not simply my lover, is to leave this world for whatever place human souls go when they pass, they will take my heart with them. To love a mortal is to commit suicide. And I am not done living yet.
Of what am I speaking? I should be devising how to bring the matter up, not composing poetry of his beauty, which falls from him in the light of day, as does the life from trolls. A troll, a werewolf, are this human’s relations. Fell creatures, things of adversity, inferiority, nothing to be concerned with.
And yet…why do I think of him still?
Still feel him. Still feel the ghosts of his fingers, my fingers, across of skin and ache for more. A deeper, darker feeling. Why do I hunger for something I do not want? How is this possible? Why won’t he leave me alone?
My other hand rose and fell rapidly on my chest.
Ah, the hell with it. I already smell like a human, it’s not like a deeper gouge would be noticed on my bow next to the numerous scratches. I licked the tip of one finger cautiously, carefully, labeling the tastes and sensations as they trickled down the avenue of my tongue and down my throat.
Lukewarm, salt and dust mostly, the salt stabbing at the insides of my cheeks, the dust coating the roof of my mouth. The faint hint of vinegar, sour yet succulent, uniquely human, the lime green memory spoke of culture and wealth.
I did not think. I did not try. I did not want to.
My tongue darted out with a will of it’s own, pressed itself full against the back of my hand, felt the bones that unfurled out from my wrist. The muscles under my skin were cold, hard.
Warmth spread wings across my cheeks, flowed down my throat in a golden, beautiful movement, pooling in my stomach and varnishing my legs. The weariness fell, and I blinked as my heartbeat sped up. I hadn’t felt this way since we left Lorien, nay, Rivendell. I desperately wanted to race the length of Fanghorn, wrestle and fight, dispel the energy that healed my scars in my soul and eased the fatigue, literally overflowed my being. It was too much, it was too powerful, and it was addictive. Very addictive.
I stared at my hand in wonder.
What was that?
I did not start, and merely turned my eyes toward him, not even dignifying with moving my entire head.
When had he returned? Why had I not heard him?
Had he seen me? He glared at me, or made the attempt at any rate. He had caught me unaware, and would not allow me to forget. I returned the glare, as I was an Elf and he was not. That was reason enough to glare at a dwarf, a naugrim.
He looked away first, and snorted under his breath. He started swearing softly, loud enough for me to hear, but quiet enough to keep the Human from awaking.
He tasted like sex. Odd. That was why it was familiar. I had drank this juice off the throat and stomachs of former lovers, human and elf alike. Yet never had I known anyone to taste this way all the time. Of indecency, of seduction, and of promise.
By the Valar. I am going to have to kill him tomorrow.
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