Author's Note: So here it is, the edit! The first one anyway, I'm planning on editing again. Then again after that. Author's notes and review thanks were removed to make the story flow better, various typos were fixed (but I know I missed a lot, hence more edits to come), a few grammatical things too (but the same here as with typos) and just a few things I wanted to add were put in, the story, however, is exactly the same.

Disclaimer: Quite unfortunately, I own none of these characters and do not claim to. They all (well, except those who you've never heard of) belong to JRR Tolkien, his estate, and New Line Cinema.

Warnings: This story has a few things that I know some people do not like, please use caution before proceeding as this story includes mentions of rape, non-graphic slash and is considerably AU.

Still here? On we go… 

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At Long Last

Chapter One: Familiar Stirrings

He wished, but not with hope. --Milton

It didn't feel wrong anymore. The chains pulled around his wrists and the collar around his neck with the small circle of silver that another chain could be attached to, but it wasn't really the restraints that felt so wrong. It was the situation. The tiny cloth that was all that was allowed around his waist, the way spoke not to him but at, but most of all it was what they did to him.

The way they touched him and said disgusting things. All they were was brutal hands and calloused fingers: drunken breath and husky voices. It wasn't right, but it didn't feel wrong now. But what was worst of all this was the way the once fair creature didn't even resist.

This was life now. Escape would not come. And Hope was even farther away. A spirit that once soared free and lived amongst the trees was crushed.

All that he wanted was death, but he dare not hope for it.

~*~*~

"Aragorn!" A light voice called out to what it hoped was indeed Aragorn, son of Arathorn.

The object of hope turned and smiled. "Hello Frodo," Aragorn said turning and waiting for the Halfling to catch up with him.

"I thought it was you, but it's been so long I was worried I was mistaken," Frodo said smiling happily as he approached Aragorn.

"Aye, it has been much too long Mr. Baggins," Aragorn replied continuing to walk, but this time with a slower pace to accommodate his hobbit friend's shorter stride.

"Are you coming or going?" Frodo questioned tucking an errant curl behind his ear.

"Going, I'm afraid. Arwen is probably quite worried, she expected me back nigh three months ago," Aragorn said looking down regretfully at Frodo. He wished he'd had the time to visit with his friend on this journey and he was already far off his expected timeframe. Frodo nodded sadly.

"I understand, Aragorn. You cannot keep the fair lady waiting. But I have business in Rivendell, would you mind if I accompanied you thus far?" Frodo asked, with what seemed to Aragorn, a glint of hope.

Aragorn smiled widely. "I would enjoy your company immensely, Master Hobbit."

"Wonderful. If we may just make a quick detour to my home, we can be off without further tarry."

~*~*~

The birds used to speak of Hope. They sung to him as his Captors dragged him through various towns and forests. But now the birds would not even look at him. He was a disgrace, a monstrosity, a vile creature undeserving of attention. He deserved no Hope. He was deserving of nothing, not even death. But that didn't stop him from craving it.

Sometimes the trees would still whisper to him. Or caress him softly with a stray leaf. They spoke of happy times before and of happy things that might come. He used to try and talk back to the trees, but his voice was always silenced by one of those brutal hands.

On dark nights when only the trees were still whispering to each other and on occasion to him, he often wondered if he still had a voice. It hadn't been used in so long, it was silenced long ago, along with his spirit. He itched to hear its sound again; he couldn't remember his own voice, save what was in his head. Once he'd almost tried speaking but then the meanest of his Captors had stirred and he didn't dare.

Night felt heavy today. He missed the light of day when these things never happened. During the day he was never flipped upon his stomach and violated so. Dirty fingernails pulled at his dirtied hair as a soft moan came from the Captor that was using him.

He wanted death. And perhaps daylight.

~*~*~

"You don't mind if Sam comes along, do you?" Frodo asked as he gathered up the various artifacts he wanted to take with him to Imladris. Satisfied with his choices, he turned to Aragorn who was watching him with a slight smile.

"Of course not, I'm fond of Sam," Aragorn answered.

"Good then, he should along any min…" there was a soft knock on the door and Frodo smiled, "Make that now."

The Hobbit went to answer the door, and came back with Sam. Samwise Gamgee smiled when he saw Aragorn, who smiled back.

"All ready to go, then?" Frodo asked shouldering his pack. Man and fellow Hobbit both nodded and followed after Frodo as he went out his circular door.

~*~*~

For a while the trio had walked in companionable silence. The voyage to Rivendell was a long one by foot, but Aragorn was satisfied with their progress so far, he decide a bit of talk wouldn't hinder them.

"What's your business in Imladris, Frodo?"

"Not much, really. I just wanted to see it again, be with the elves for a bit," Frodo answered with a soft smile.

"Yes, being around the elves is healing in many ways. I have been away from them far too long," Aragorn answered with a wistful sigh.

Sam nodded his agreement at this. "How long do you reckon it'll be 'til we reach Rivendell?"

Aragorn looked thoughtful. "At the very least a month if we continue at this pace on foot. But luckily, I know someone in Bree who will lend us mounts."

"How long will it be until we reach Bree?"

"Perhaps a week and a half, maybe two."

The Hobbits nodded, and the trio continued on making small talk as they went.

~*~*~

He watched the bustling town move past him. Small creatures—that looked like Men only half the size but with bigger, harrier feet—and Men walked all about talking cheerfully and doing work. These Men and Halflings seemed like they belonged to another world.

A world that he was no longer a part of, one that was long forgotten and only vaguely missed. These creatures seemed so odd. They were free in a way that he hadn't been for… How long had it been? He couldn't recall.

He wondered if they appreciated that freedom at all. He'd never appreciated freedom when he had it. It just seemed liked something that would always be there, he'd never have to struggle for it.

With a deep, but inaudible, sigh he leaned back against the wall outside the building that he'd been placed adjacent to. It felt cold to his bare skin but he didn't move away from it. Instead he closed his eyes and thought of things the trees had told him on the way to this odd little town.

He was lost in his memory when a fluttering of wind brought his eyes sharply open. Before he remembered his chains, he tried to leap to his feet. The restraints prevailed and he fell back with a sharp thud.

Coming back to his senses, he looked about and saw a single black bird with splash of red on his tail feathers fluttering in front of him.

"It comes," the Bird said.

He blinked, startled and convinced that he was dreaming. The Bird just looked at him, wings flapping and eyes curious. The bird awaited a response, half patient, half exasperated.

The victim of so much abuse blinked again and pinched himself on the one part of thigh he could reach with his bound hands. Pain. He was awake? Certainly not. Birds did not speak to him anymore; he was too vile a thing.

But he had to know, just in case this was real. His lips trembled and there was a vaguely familiar stirring in this throat.

"What comes?" It sounded alien, from some distant place anywhere but from his lips. Hoarse and soft. Thin white fingers tried to move to his throat, but the restraints held tight.

"Hope comes."

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