This story was written for Grath's challenge. It involved Aragorn being the slave instead of the usual plot line of Legolas being mistreated and saved by Aragorn yada yada yada...

Now, due to the fact that I could not see Legolas having a slave, I improvised and, well, you will see what is happening as you read though I am leaving a lot of things unanswered - would not want to spoil the story already, would I?

Umm, yes, this is slash, will be Aragorn/Legolas but at the moment it is a Legolas/my own evil lord guy - but again, I am getting ahead of myself.

Hope you enjoy...



Chapter One

The Unwanted Gift


I've heard this life is overrated

But I hope that it gets better as we go.


Legolas stared down at the man with a face devoid all emotion. He could see little more then twenty years of life in the mortal and his facial features stood as a strong backup to his assumption. Well, that was, all but one little detail. His eyes. The human's eyes seemed to hold a drop of wisdom that Legolas had seldom seen among the race of men, even those twice this human's age. Even through his travel worn clothes and the chains binding his limbs, Legolas could see that spirit within the man, see that knowledge and will to fight that so few seemed to possess within these dank halls.

Looking into the storm grey eyes, Legolas knew that they frightened him. Such power shown just within the stranger's glance always meant a hidden purpose, a plan unto his own.

...Such power was dangerous.

A hand running through his hair brought the Elf's attention back to the man standing behind him only just in time to get his reactions in check. How he wanted to flinch, to pull away from that sickening touch that sought to state its apparent possession.

"A gift for you, my pet," the husky tones of the voice made the Elf want to retch; to shake uncontrollably until the hand was forced to recede. But it would not, and he knew it; even if he squirmed and yelled, the hand would always be there. His own invisible chains.

"Well," the man asked again as he slowly pushed the Elf's golden hair to one side, exposing the pale, slender neck of the once archer. "What do you say?" warm breath trailed over Legolas' skin, causing an involuntary shudder to run up his spine as his flesh prickled.

A small laugh from behind and then a soft kiss; as brutal as a deep bite. The man obviously thought that Legolas was enjoying this, that he liked the way the human's touch made his flesh crawl...he could not have been further from the truth even if he tried.

"Thank you, my Lord," Legolas said, his words even and clipped while years of training kicked in. Always the same reply. Make him happy, never step out of line. It was a dance, a constant waltz that never ended and one which he had to keep up else the outcome become disastrous.

The lord's hand came to rest on the Elf's left cheek, cupping the side of his face and turning his head to the side. "I knew you would like it," the man whispered as his thumb drew lazy circles on the porcelain cheek and jaw.

'Smile' Legolas told himself. Offering the man a brilliant smile that had taken him months of practice in front of the mirror to perfect and make believable, Legolas nodded his head in a gracious manner.

Tracing a finger over the Elf's lips, the lord leaned in closer to Legolas' face, a coy smile spreading his mouth and playing at the corners of his eyes. "Just remember..." the man said softly yet Legolas could still detect that dangerous undertone.

The man licked his lips quickly before letting his tongue dart out and run across the bottom lip of the perfectly still Elf. Leaning back, content for the moment, he nuzzled his head into the side of the archer's head, his lips stopping next to the fair one's ear while his hands rested possessively on Legolas' slim shoulders. "...just remember that you are mine."

There again. The words that Legolas so hated hearing, detested with everything that he was and disagreed with everything that he had once known. No one should claim ownership of another, especially not in such a way.

The door swinging open on its hinges caused the Elf to jump despite himself and all his emotional schooling. One hand moved from his shoulder and rubbed at his neck, obviously the lord's attempt at calming the startled being that he held.

"My Lord," the guard at the door said softly while taking in the scene before him; the slave on the floor who was staring intently at the standing Elf, the way the guards master hovered over the blond and the fact that Legolas looked as if he had a knife to his throat.

Frowning slightly, the guard continued. "My lord, there has been another attack on the south-western border. Your presence is requested immediately."

Sighing, the man took his hands from the Elf's skin and grabbed his cloak off the small lounge that stood against the wall. Wrapping it tightly around his shoulders, he crossed the room once again and grabbed Legolas' chin tightly, yanking it up roughly so that they were looking eye to eye.

"Wish me luck," something in his voice had changed; as if he held Legolas responsible for what was happening

"Good luck," clipped and yet condemning at the same time, as if the blond wanted to curse the human instead of wish him well.

The human lord offered the Elf a small, patronizing smile, all traces of his past kindness gone, scattered into the wind like the kneeling slaves freedom. Storming out of the room, his temper obviously in a flare, the guard offered the remaining two figures a small smile before closing the door.

As soon as the door clicked into place, Legolas seemed to weaken, his strength and past composure crumbling in on itself to the point of forcing the Elf to seek the safety and comfort of a nearby chair. Letting his head drop into his hands, the Elf gently rubbed at his temples, trying to get the intense pounding to stop and clear his mind of the thoughts that made him shudder.

How long had it been like this? He honestly could not remember. It was as if this life, this fear was all that he had known for his entire life. Yet, deep down he knew that that was not the entire truth. Sometime, a long time ago, he had been happy and free to do as he did it all go so wrong so quickly and why could he not remember it?

"Master?" the small voice broke into his attempts of resurrecting the memories long since lost. Snapping his eyes up and looking at the slave that he had all but forgotten, Legolas felt a twinge of pity for the young man. He was too young to be brought here, far too inexperienced to be thrown into a world as dangerous as this. He should have his whole life ahead of him, not be fated to rot in a life of slavery.

The use of the term 'master' made Legolas almost shudder again. Had the boy been in this position before or was he just accepting of what fate had dealt him? Most slaves that the Elf had seen brought here fought till there was barely an ounce of life left in them...and yet this boy, this boy was already compliant to where and what position he had found himself in.

It seemed wrong in a way.

Almost against his wishes, Legolas felt his heart soften towards the man that knelt perfectly still before him. The human had his large silver eyes locked onto the Elf's and as they gazed at each other, Legolas felt an involuntary shudder run through his body for the second time that day.

"What is your name?" Legolas' soft voice filled the silence as he questioned the boy that continued to stare at him.

"Strider, master," the boy said, his eyes darting slightly to the left as he quickly thought of an alias.

Catching onto the boys lie, Legolas sighed slightly and cocked his head to the right. "First," he said gently, "do not call me that, and secondly, what is your real name?"

A smile seemed to come over the man's face, his eyes turning the colour of stars as his lips bowed upwards. "They call me Estel, my lord."

Legolas' right eyebrow arched in shocked questioning at the use of an Elven word for a human's name. And such a name; something long lost in this house of stone. "Hope?" he asked out loud, his voice almost choking on the word of prospect. "How did you come by that?"

"I grew up in Rivendell, my lord," Estel supplied his answer.

To say that Legolas was caught by surprise was an understatement. Rivendell, the Last Homely House; sanctuary to Elves and human's alike. Long had he heard stories of the fabled river city and her beauty. He had studied sketches and painting alike in the library, mulled over tapestries portraying the buildings that seemed to grow from the forest in a seamless flow. For as long as he could remember, he had wanted to visit the city, to see the full colours of nature in bloom and thriving while walking among his own kin.

"Legolas, it is just Legolas," he said somewhat wistfully, his mind still mentally wandering the hidden paths through the lush, water vapor filled forests of the city he would never see. "No titles, no nothing."

Bowing his head slightly in what Legolas could only pick as being despair, Estel nodded, his eyes never leaving the rug covered stone floor. "As you wish."

Silence set about the room, cloaking all with its darkening grip. It seemed as if the sun withdrew her rays from the room as the loud clashing of steal upon steal floated in from the window at the western side of the room.

"You are frightened of him."

The statement caught Legolas completely by surprise and brought his eyes darting back to the young slave. "Excuse me?" he asked incredulously and with a slight choking cough.

Estel's head lolled to the left while his eyes seemed to look the seated Elf up and down with a scrutinizing curiosity. The man's gaze made the Elf squirm in his chair, his eyes forever darting away from the possibility of making contact with the other. He could almost feel Estel's gaze upon him as if it were really a hand, slowly tracing down his arms, across his chest and gliding over his face. Many times the lord of the house had done such a thing to Legolas, but in those times it was a horrid, disgusting feeling that swept through the Elf. But not this time. This time it almost felt enjoyable, sensual...

"That man, Lord Ruksyn" Estel said softly whilst continuing his study of the Elf before him, "he scares you - I saw it in your eyes." Forcing eye contact with his new 'master' Estel offered him a small, sad smile. "I saw the way you wanted to flinch at his touch."

"You saw no such thing." Legolas informed him as he averted his gaze. Why did he feel as if he could not lie to this human?

"You may be able to hide it from a human," Estel chided slightly, rather shocked at his own daring, "but one with the training of stand no chance." A sly smile crept over Estel's face as he saw the Elf pale, the colour drain from his face faster then the light from the world at dusk.

"Stop it!" Legolas snapped at the boy as he jumped from his chair. "I want no more of such talk from you, do you understand?"

"As you wish."

Sighing, Legolas walked silently over to the window. Rising up on his toes, he gripped the high sill and peered out at the darkening land that stretched out before him. Nothing grew outside the fence line of the city and of the crops that had been long established nothing remained. All had perished into the flames of the invaders when they came tramping across the land in numbers greater then Legolas could count.

He did not know who they were or even understand the reasons for trying to invade this Valar forsaken place. There was no happiness here, food hard to come by for most, water even more so and the treasure rooms lay all but bare. So what could they possibly want with any of this land and her useless people?

"Worried about him?"

Again the question shocked Legolas though this time he did not jump. It was strange to have someone talking to him. Lord Ruksyn was not on Legolas' list of people that he craved conversation with and, even if he were he was always busy since these raiders came. Anyone else was forbidden to come near him by orders of the Lord of the house under the claim that Legolas was 'his'. A clam which Legolas hated to hear.

"The attacks are coming more and more frequently," Legolas informed the young man while avoiding the question previously presented to him. "Whoever they are, they are growing in both strength and numbers and yet none seem to be able to get through the defenses." There seemed to be a sense of sadness underlying his words which spread to cover his entire composure as he spoke.

"You want them to conquer your home?"

It was strange, even through all the questions the young man asked, Legolas could not really detect even the slightest hint of real confusion. It was as if he could see what Legolas could not and was just making polite conversation.

"This is not my home..." Legolas sighed while turning from the window and moving next to the young man.

He was still crouched upon the floor, the only thing that had moved since he was brought into the room being his head and eyes as he intently watched the Elf walk around the room. He had a regal air about him that Legolas found curious and was almost drawn to. He seemed to be the adventurous type, one that would never be told what to do by others - the type of person that Legolas wished he could be. Those facts only confused the Elf even more - Estel seemed fiercely independent and yet here he was, somehow caught and dragged all the way into the middle of nowhere so that he could serve as a slave. It was such a waste of a person that, had Legolas been anyone else or anywhere else, he would have befriended within a moment.

"It is not?" Estel queried as Legolas went to work on the locks of the chains.

His past revelations seemed to put the Elf on edge and he unintentionally snapped, taking his current anger out on the boy. "Do you have to ask such questions?"

Young Estel seemed undaunted by the sudden harsh tone in the Elf's clipped voice and answered steadily and truthfully. "I am inquisitive..."

Such an innocent answer and yet so daring. Had Legolas been anyone else, the boy would have been in severe trouble for such an insolent answer and utter disrespect. "Well that will get you nowhere in this house." Legolas said, wanting to save this human any trouble in the future. "Learn to stay quiet, do not ask anything and become invisible. That is the only way that you will ever stand a chance of living long enough to try to escape. Learn that and you may be able to steal your freedom."

"Not the usual prep talk given to a slave from his master..." Estel joked with a small smile while Legolas finished releasing his wrists from the shackles.

Standing from the floor and lifting the chains with him, Legolas looked down at the smiling man for a mere second. Something about his gaze unnerved the Elf and Legolas found that he could not stand looking at the human for too long.

Lips pressed together in a tight line, Legolas turned away from the man and headed toward the door to find someone to take Estel to the serving quarters.

"I am not your master," Legolas repeated, "but I am not your friend either. Remember that."



Ok, well that was the first chapter. I know that it has left a lot unanswered, but that is the point! *evil laughter*

Anyway, please review and let me know what you think,