The rest of the scene that was started in 'Preparations'. The lines of the song are from The Lay of Beren and Luthien, by Tolkien himself. I hope you enjoy this!
And please, someone – how do I get the center function to work? I write this in word and then save it as html, and so far it saves the format of bold and italics, but not center. I've tried putting the html tags on in word, then saving as html file, but that just shows the tag as print when I put it up. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!
PS. Sorry for the long delay! I don't so much have writer's block (I know exactly what's happening next) as a shocking motivation deficit! Also I'm back at Uni now. But it's more the lack of motivation than anything. Someone get me back on track!
A Welcome Bath
A shadow amongst shadows. Wind stirred at the ivy leaves, and then stilled. Legolas froze. Only his heartbeat began to race.
It cannot be.
He stood poised, waiting. His keen eyes searched the unbroken darkness, and then he closed them, relying on his other senses.
As he waited, strong arms trapped him from behind. A fraction of a second too late, Legolas began to struggle. He was fast, but the other was strong.
'Don't struggle, my beautiful elf. I am holding you for ransom.'
The voice was low and husky, and even without looking, Legolas knew the other was smiling. He stiffened.
'Ransom?' he asked. 'And what would you take, in return for my release?'
'A song,' Aragorn replied. 'And a kiss.'
Despite himself, Legolas laughed – a glad sound that had not been heard from him in some time. 'You are welcome to the kiss,' he said, and turning in Aragorn's arms, proceeded to deliver.
'You came,' Legolas said a touch breathlessly, a little while later.
'I did,' said Aragorn. 'Did you fear I would not?'
The elf was silent.
'I will always come for you. Always, Legolas.'
'What kept you?' asked Legolas.
Aragorn sighed. 'Elrond. My father suspects, and he does not approve. I have been on night watch since the night after the ball!'
Legolas gave a low chuckle. 'You look like it,' he said, taking in the other's tangled hair and dirt-smudged face. 'And you smell like it.' He did; he smelt of horses, and leather, and musk. Legolas breathed it in. 'I think you need a bath, Aragorn.'
The man began to protest, but the elf slipped away from him.
'As you can see,' Legolas said teasingly, 'I was just about to have one.' A candle suddenly flickered to life, and another, and another, casting rings of warm light around the elf who lit all the ones around the bathing room.
Suddenly Aragorn noticed that the elf indeed had been preparing to bathe, and was standing unclothed before him.
'In that case,' he said, a gleam coming into his eyes, 'I suppose I will have to join you.'
The tub in Legolas' room was enormous. There was plenty of room for two, and still not be cramped. Aragorn gazed at the steaming water in awe.
Legolas raised an eyebrow at him. 'Have you never seen a bathtub, Aragorn?' he said archly. 'If there are no baths in Rivendell, it would well explain why you all smell!'
'And if all your bathtubs look like this, it would explain why Mirkwood has neither the time nor money to govern its land!' retorted Aragorn with a grin.
Legolas looked at him in surprise. 'But this is a normal bathtub, Aragorn.'
The man's expression made him want to laugh, but Legolas refrained, not wanting to offend him too much. 'What do you wash in?' Legolas asked curiously.
Aragorn felt his cheeks grow red. Of course, he remembered the huge tubs in Rivendell. And in Elladan and Elrohir's rooms, especially! But since his time in the wild, he had been more than content to wash from a small basin of water. It was a lot quicker than hauling enough water to fill a pond-sized bathtub!
Mercifully not pressing the point further, Legolas stepped into the tub. The hot water swirled around him, and came up to his thighs. Aragorn peeled off his clothes, and joined him in the water. It was almost scalding-hot against his skin, and pressed against his chest when he sat.
It had been perfumed with scented oils and a dish of liquid soap sat on the edge. Legolas ducked his head under the water, and came up with his hair streaming. The braids which usually held it back from his face were gone, and without them, Aragorn was surprised to find that he looked younger. It made his face less grave, and more innocent.
'You are meant to be getting yourself clean,' Legolas remarked in amusement, 'not just watching me do it.'
Aragorn smirked. 'I can bathe anytime I wish.' He ignored Legolas' raised brow. 'Watching you bathe, however…'
The firelight gleamed on the elf's wet skin, showing the contours of his face in sharp relief. Aragorn watched in fascination as Legolas lathered the soap to a handful of bubbles, and scrubbed his skin with it.
'Let me do that,' he said.
He gently rubbed the soap over Legolas' shoulders, lifting up the mass of dripping, golden hair to run his hands over the back of the elf's neck. His back was smooth and firm, deceptively muscled. Aragorn traced a line lightly from the nape of the elf's neck to the small of his back. Legolas squirmed.
Aragorn grinned mischievously, but as Legolas' back was to him, the elf couldn't see that. Aragorn let his hand wander in a feather-touch over Legolas' shoulder, travelling down his arm and then onto his side. Legolas had to stifle a squeak, despite his best intentions.
'Stop that at once!' he demanded, but was interrupted by a giggle before he could finish the sentence. Aragorn's hands had moved to Legolas' stomach, and were lightly stroking the sensitive skin. Aragorn felt Legolas squirm then shudder from his touch, as the tickling became unbearable. The man made his touch firmer, just at that point, but before his hands could stray any lower, Legolas wriggled from his grasp. The soap on his body was in his favour, and Aragorn's attempt to keep the slippery elf in place only resulted in a splash that sent water and suds cascading over the edge of the tub.
Legolas looked at him accusingly, but Aragorn could not keep from laughing.
'I don't see what's so funny,' Legolas sniffed, but Aragorn only laughed harder.
'Neither do I,' he managed. 'But you started laughing first!'
Aragorn received the distinct impression that, had Legolas not been a thousand year old elf, he would have stuck his tongue out at him.
Legolas stuck his tongue out at him. And then started to laugh at the shocked expression on Aragorn's face.
'Come,' Legolas said at last, mirth still bright in his eyes. He dipped his slender fingers into the soap. 'You are dirtier than I.'
Aragorn eyed him with distrust, but Legolas sighed impatiently. 'I am not as juvenile as you,' he said archly. 'That must be a trait of men – or of Rivendell!'
Warily, Aragorn let the elf move behind him. Legolas' hands were gentle as they moved across his back. He pressed harder, and Aragorn tensed as the Legolas' probing fingers found a stiff knot of muscle in his shoulder.
'You are too tense,' Legolas said, disapprovingly, and with a touch of concern.
Aragorn sighed as Legolas' skilled hands and the warmth of the water eased the tension in his muscles. 'That feels,' he murmured, 'wonderful.'
A small smile crossed Legolas lips. 'I am glad,' he said, softly. He leant over to kiss Aragorn's shoulder, and gracefully rose. Water spilled off him. Legolas took his hair and wrung the water out, watching as the drops made concentric circles in the tub. Aragorn's own hair was dripping and plastered to the back of his neck.
Legolas stepped out of the tub, and wrapped a robe around himself. Aragorn left the water a touch regretfully – perhaps Elladan and Elrohir were onto something, with all that bathing – and toweled himself dry with cloth Legolas had used, then put on a borrowed robe.
'I could watch you forever,' Aragorn said, as Legolas ran a brush though his water-logged hair. He stepped behind the elf, and gently took the brush from him. Legolas' hair was fluid and silky, and untangled despite the water. Legolas purred softly with contentment as Aragorn's ministrations continued.
Aragorn chuckled. 'You sound like a well-fed kitten.'
Legolas' eyes were closed with pleasure. 'Mmm.'
'You owe me a song.'
'A song?' Legolas' voice was slower, slurring slightly from delightful sleepiness.
'It was part of your ransom, elf,' Aragorn reminded him. 'Without the song, I won't let you go.'
'Oh,' Legolas sighed. 'But perhaps I don't want my freedom.'
Aragorn's hands paused in the brushing of Legolas' hair. 'I wouldn't have let you go, anyway,' he confided.
'Scoundrel of a human,' said Legolas lazily.
'I still want a song,' Aragorn said, smiling.
'Only if you give one in return,' mused Legolas.
Aragorn cleared his throat roughly, and mumbled something unintelligible.
'What was that?'
Aragorn blushed. He loved the music of the elves, and knew by rote the words of all the songs. But since he had turned from a boy to a man, his voice was pitifully unsuited to the high, pure melodies that elves sung. The teasing of his brothers had ensured that his participation in songs had been purely observational from then on.
'A man was never meant to sing like an elf,' he muttered, echoing the teasing of Elladan.
Legolas opened one eye. 'What kind of lover are you, if you refuse to serenade me from below my window?' he teased.
Aragorn shook his head decisively. 'Not for all the mithril on Arda, my friend.'
Legolas closed his eye again and pouted slightly.
'But you will sing for me?' Aragorn asked, hopefully.
'How can I refuse?' Legolas asked lightly. Then a pause, long enough to make Aragorn wonder whether the elf had succumbed to sleep. 'What would you have me sing?' Legolas said at last.
'A song of love,' said Aragorn softly, and Legolas nodded.
'The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair…'
Aragorn sat, still as the night, as Legolas' voice filled the room. 'You are,' he whispered when the song ended, 'so beautiful. In every way.'
Legolas turned to face him, wisps of his unbound hair framing his face like a halo. He smiled, and ran his finger down Aragorn's forehead to the tip of his nose, and brushed the man's lips. Aragorn closed his eyes at the touch, a soft moan escaping his mouth.
And then the touch was gone, and so was the warm and comfortable presence of the elf leaning into him. Aragorn opened his eyes in shock and disappointment. Legolas stood by the bed, an inviting smile on his lips. He cocked his head at the man.
'Coming?' he said, not showing any signs of the shy elf that Aragorn had known the last time. And then Legolas, as if realizing the forwardness of his actions, blushed, and became more irresistible than ever.
Aragorn was by his side in a heartbeat.
Legolas chuckled to himself at the man's eagerness, but he had to admit, he was just as keen. He had missed the man's kisses so much, missed the scent and taste and touch of him.
And then the world spun suddenly and erratically, and for a moment Legolas lost all sense of orientation. He gasped, and reeled from the unexpected feeling. Only strong arms saved him from crumpling to the floor.
'What is it?' asked Aragorn, concerned
Legolas took a slow, deep breath in. Gradually, everything stopped spinning. 'Nothing,' he said, dismissing it. 'A sudden dizziness – it has passed.'
But Aragorn was not convinced. Legolas' face was pale, and his forehead was damp with sweat. His eyes were squeezed shut against the dizziness, but now Aragorn saw the blue shadows smudged under them, and cursed himself for not noticing sooner. He thought of the ease in which he had gained access to these chambers, unnoticed by Legolas, and remembered the elf's inability to break free from his initial hold.
'Legolas,' said Aragorn, his voice so gentle and worried that Legolas felt his heart constrict. A comforting hand stroked his brow. Legolas leaned into the man's arms. He was almost certain he could stand on his own without falling over, but it felt so good to be held.
Aragorn carefully picked the elf up, cradling him in his arms, and both marvelling and worrying over the lightness of the elf.
'It is nothing,' Legolas protested again, as Aragorn gently laid him on the bed.
'Lies ill become you, my love,' said Aragorn quietly, and Legolas was forced to look away.
'For how long has this been happening?' asked the man, lying beside the elf, and wrapping his arms around him.
A sudden fear gripped Legolas, and he would not answer.
'Legolas?' Aragorn's voice was firm, and worried.
'It is nothing,' repeated Legolas, but without the certainty he had managed earlier.
Aragorn began to rub the elf's back, in slow, soothing motions, and Legolas lost himself for a moment in the love of the man.
'When did this start?' Aragorn asked him again, softly.
'Nine nights ago,' Legolas answered reluctantly. 'The night of my betrothal feast. The night I met you.'
Please, review! Reviews get me motivated, and at the moment, I need all the motivation I can get!