Title: Beginning
Author: Númenora
Rating: PG-13 (?)
Pairing/Characters: Aragorn/Legolas
Warnings: AU, Slash, Angst, a bit of the warm & fuzzy.

Setting: A bedchamber in a inn somewhere.

Disclaimer: All known Characters are Tolkien's.

Beta: none all mistakes in English and Elvish are mine.

Timeline: TA 2971
Word Count: 2800

Summary: Something is bothering Estel and Legolas is concerned, but will Estel's confession make him happy or break his heart? Written for the LegolasAragornSlash Yahoo Group April/May Drabble Challenge. 1st Place Winner.

A/N: This is AU for the obvious reason, but also because I am playing around with certain events like who should be where at this time. Aragorn should still be in Rohan or just now going to Gondor to serve with Ecthelion II and Arwen should be in Lothlórien at this time (though she is not present in this fic, she is mentioned several times).

Thoughts and stressed words are denoted with italics

oOoOo

Legolas put aside the wet towel that he'd been using to dry his hair and walked out into the bedchamber where Aragorn was standing near an open window.

"I am finished with the bath, Estel; if you'd like, I could call for more hot water."

"Nay, Lassë—I will use yours," Aragorn said distracted. He knew that the water would be virtually grime-free. No matter how many days he went without bathing, Legolas never seemed to get very dirty.

"What is wrong?"

"I'm not ready to return to Imladris, Mellon-nin," Aragorn turned to look at his companion.

The vision Legolas presented—hair free and shinning; the elf in nothing save a light shirt that fell to just above his shapely knees—had Aragorn breathing hard.

"Are you well, Estel—you are not becoming ill, are you?" Legolas hurried to the adan's side, running his hand over the still grimy face feeling for fever.

Aragorn took the pale hand into his tanned one—he was sorely tempted to kiss it, but he resisted the urge.

"I am fine—truly." His smile was wistful.

Legolas' look was dubious, but he accepted his friend's assertion for the moment. They stood close until the Sinda pulled his hand free, a strange fluttering seizing his stomach as often happened whenever Aragorn touched him or stared at him in the manner that he was then.

"You really should bathe, Estel," he said to cover up his sudden nervousness.

"I smell so bad, do I," Aragorn laughed; they'd had this conversation many times.

"A troll smells better," Legolas joked, his friend not as unpleasant smelling as he made out.

"I can take a hint, Ernil taur calima," he said, chuckling. He stared a moment longer, then he went to bathe.

When Aragorn returned, Legolas was standing in the same spot near the window he had been in before. The Sinda turned to him and laughed.

"And what is so funny?"

"Did you even wash your hair?"

"Yes, of course—why?"

The archer reached up and plucked grass and leaves still hiding in dark-wavy locks. Holding up a brown leaf, Legolas arched a perfect brow at Aragorn making him laughed sheepishly.

"What else will I find if I check, hmm? Sit," Legolas ordered and Aragorn sat on the floor at the foot of the bed.

Sitting on the end of the bed, straddling Aragorn's naked shoulders, Legolas began to part the ranger's hair. "This is disgraceful! There is sand and dirt all throughout—stop squirming and let me do this!"

"You know, my dear Prince—when Iam King, I shall do some bossing of my own!" Aragorn said as he ran his fingers through his tangled hair, only to get them slapped by his royal companion.

"You stay there while I get your comb—you do have one, don't you?"

"Ha-ha—very amusing, Lassë; it is there on the table near my healer's pouch.

When Legolas had it, he took his seat behind Aragorn again and he started to untangle the man's hair, removing the leaves, grass and sand. Aragorn was very amused by Legolas' actions, but he was very happy to have the elf so close. He glanced to the side at Legolas' smooth, creamy, muscled thighs either side of him. His breath became labored again as he struggled not to touch his best friend and secret love's the lovely limbs.

"Estel," Legolas began slowly as he continued to comb Aragorn's locks, thinking that the man really did have nice hair. "Estel?" He repeated when he received no answer.

"Hmm?" He really wanted to touch Legolas, his clean scent assailing Aragorn senses.

"Why don't you want to go home? I know that Lord Elrond would love to have you home again as would," Legolas paused only briefly, "Arwen, who must miss you terribly."

Aragorn frowned; he didn't want to answer this question. He was so distracted that he failed to hear the catch in Legolas' voice at the mention of the Evenstar. He only wanted to stay in this room forever with Legolas.

Legolas' hands stopped moving as he fought his sadness; he felt guilty as well. He was not aware that Aragorn wished the same thing as he—to stay here with the other. He loved this man with all his heart; if he were honest, he would admit he that had from their first meeting.

After a time, Aragorn stood up, though he was loathed to move from the cocoon of the Sinda's bare thighs. But if he was to speak his mind, then he needed distance so that he would be able to string together more than two words of any sense. He looked into the Prince's beautiful blue eyes, deep like pools that he could drown in quite easily.

"I would love to see Ada and the Twins if they are there, but...," he hesitated briefly. "I do not wish to see Arwen just yet, Lassë.

"But why?" Legolas was too concerned about his friend to find any joy in this; he knew that Aragorn loved Arwen deeply ever since he was twenty-years-old.

"Because I am loathed to break her heart." He said simply, but the archer knew that real pain accompanied the declaration.

"I do not understand, Aragorn," Legolas rarely called him by his birth-name.

"If I saw Arwen now, I would have to tell her that my love for her has changed. That I am no longer the young, impressionable boy who declared himself to her among the birches in Rivendell." The last was said with much regret for he'd expected to love Arwen until his dying day.

Legolas was silent and gave Aragorn the time he needed. He continued after a moment of reflection. "She deserves not to be led along with no hope of living the future we'd once planned."

"But—I thought that you loved her more than any other on Arda," Legolas' lovely face frowned as he pondered what could have happened to change Aragorn's feelings.

"No, Lassë—not more than any other. I love her still, but as a sister; I have for a while now. There is only one person whom I love that much, Meldomelin." Aragorn's heart began to beat fiercely in his chest as he stood before his heart's desire—afraid to admit his feelings to the beautiful ellon.

He didn't fear rejection (well actually, he did fear that), but the loss of Legolas' friendship and respect; he never wanted to be without those special gifts. He would rather continue on, bearing his true feelings in silence forever than to lose Legolas in so cruel a manner. But he had crossed a point of no return; if Legolas asked him who this someone was, he would answer him truthfully for he could never lie to him.

Legolas stared at the floor; he had lived with the reality of Aragorn and Arwen for so long, now they were no more. He was ashamed to admit that he'd secretly wished for this day. But now, there was someone else—a nameless, faceless someone who held Aragorn's heart. His friend was correct in one thing—Aragorn was no longer a boy; a boy whose great epic love could not survive his maturity. Aragorn was now a fully-grown adult male. One who has seen much in his forty years in Middle-earth; the child was gone and the man was truly in love this time. Legolas could hear it in his voice. The archer's frown deepened as he watched spots of wetness hit the floor—first one, then two, then three. He raised a hand to his face and realized that he was crying—he hadn't cried for a very long time.

Aragorn saw the tears on Legolas' fingers and the floor. Legolas, he thought, was weeping for Arwen—the two of them having known each other for centuries. The dúnadan knelt before Legolas and took the elf's hands into his own.

"I know that I have disappointed you, Lassë—Arwen is your friend and I will have to hurt her now. Please forgive me if I've lost your respect—I never wanted to lose that nor your friendship." He brushed away an errant tear with the pad of his finger.

Legolas looked at Aragorn as if he spoke in some obscure form of Orcish. "You could never lose my respect or friendship, Aragorn—not even if you tried."

Aragorn was so relieved that he laughed and asked Legolas teasingly, "Not even if I decided to go live among the Dwarves?"

"Not even then," Legolas rejoined, though his heart still ached.

"What if I swore never to bathe again?" Aragorn teased for he actually loved bathing, but there weren't many opportunities in the wilds.

"I would still be your friend, but it would be a long-distanced one! I shall gift you a carrier pigeon to carry our missives backwards and forwards."

"No—I shall forgo that last one; I couldn't bear never seeing you again." He said seriously.

His serious mood forced Legolas to remember his sorrow. Part of him didn't want to know, but he had to ask who this person was who stole Aragorn away from Arwen. The dúnadan knew that Legolas would ask, so he braced himself.

"Who is she, Estel?"

"She is a he," he said.

Legolas hadn't expected this; he thought that Estel preferred females. Perhaps he'd fallen in love with one of his kinsmen or one of the horse-lords of the Riddermark—perhaps Prince Théoden who was reputed to be a bright, handsome young man of twenty-three years.

"Did you meet him in Rohan?"

"I met him in Rivendell."

Legolas was really confused; he'd never noticed Aragorn showing interest in anyone like that. But of course, he hadn't been in Imladris of late; Estel could have grown close to someone while Arwen was in Lothlórien or it could have been someone from Lórien itself.

"I see..." His voice trailed away and he became reflective.

Aragorn still had the Prince's hands in his. "He is quite the elf—lovely, kind and wise; he has a very non-elf-like since of humor. I think he gets it from the company he keeps."

Aragorn continued to watch as Legolas remained quiet. "I've never met a more skilled archer than he—a true wonder to behold."

All of a sudden, Legolas got angry. How dare Estel just kneel before him, expounding the virtues and skills of this elf! He was not vain, but Legolas knew of no one in Rivendell, Lórien or Mirkwood who was more skilled with a bow than he was! Why he...

Legolas' eyes widened as he looked into Aragorn's blue-green ones; there he saw amusement, but also a deep love tinged by a little fear.

"Estel? This elf—is he...?" His heart tripped as Legolas struggled to finish his question. "Is he...Me?"

"He is, Pen Velui—he most certainly is!"

"Well," Legolas began in a grave tone. "I am going to have to rethink my assertions about our friendship."

Aragorn's face fell and his heart wanted to break apart in his breast. "I see—I understand, Lassë."

"I don't think that you do," Legolas placed a finger under Aragorn's bearded chin, lifting his handsome face up to look at him. "I could tolerate this from you as just a friend; but if we are to be lovers, then I will not live among Dwarves—that just will not do!"

Aragorn laughed heartily in his relief, loving even more Legolas' humor. He grabbed the Sinda, pushing him onto his back on the bed making Legolas shriek like an elfling.

"That was not funny, Elf!"

"Oh, that was very funny, Man! Why else would you be laughing so?" Now Legolas was breathing hard having Aragorn so very close.

"I laugh because I am happy. The love of my life is in my arms and I believe that he loves me, too, though he has yet to say so."

"Im mela lle, Estel—I have for a very long time."

"Melin chen, gûren," Aragorn said as he caressed the flawless skin of Legolas' face—something he'd longed to do.

"I feel as if I'm dreaming! Is this real, A'maelamin?" Legolas asked in wonder, running his hands along Aragorn's strong shoulders, finally cupping the beloved face between both his palms.

"It is real, but I never thought this day would come—I never dared hope."

"What does this mean for us, Estel?"

"I hope that it means that you and I will share our lives together—that you will love me for as long as I draw breath or for as long as you can bear to love me. Whatever you give, I will take."

"Then I give you my all, Estel." Aragorn stared in wonder at Legolas, still not believing the archer loved him, but knowing the truth of it.

"Will you kiss me now, Estel? I am dying to taste you," Legolas stared at the man's delectable mouth smiling crookedly at him in that way that made his heart beat faster.

"With pleasure," Aragorn breathed before lightly brushing his lips over the soft ones of the Elda in his arms.

Legolas touched Estel's lips with his tongue, tasting him. Estel groaned and he gripped his love more firmly and began to run his tongue along Legolas' lips as well.

Legolas used his tongue to gently push into Estel's mouth and began exploring it with much fervor. Estel was in heaven; nothing he ever imagined came close to the reality of kissing his elf Prince. He tasted so sweet like honey. Estel entwined his fingers into the Prince's soft tresses and using them to pull the slighter form more firmly into his embrace and to deepen the kiss—devouring him at the same time.

They both became light-headed due to lack of air and their overwhelming passions. They moaned into each other's mouths as they shared their first kiss; then Legolas wound his arms around Aragorn's neck, almost strangling him in his need to get closer with more than their eager lips and embracing arms.

Estel broke off the kiss reluctantly, cursing his need of air and breathing. He looked at Legolas as if he'd never seen the Prince clearly before. His face displayed his love, adoration and wonder and Legolas' own reflected the same. They resumed their kissing, but gently this time, continually tasting and touching, nibbling ears and throats. They soon had to break the kiss again when air became necessary once more.

"I want to make love to you, Lassë, but..." Aragorn's voice was regretful and apologetic.

"Buy you wish to speak with Arwen first?" At the man's nod, Legolas said, "I understand, Aragorn and I agree. I want you to be all mine when I place my mark upon you; and I plan to mark you but good, A'mael!" He joked, but was serious at the same time.

"I cannot wait as I will be doing some marking of my own! I want you and no other," Aragorn said with meaning. "I suggest that we leave for Imladris at first light. The week it takes for us to get there will be torture! But you shall be very pleased with our time together."

"I would hope so; I'm quite fond of kissing and holding you like this." Legolas told him.

"I feel the same, but that's not what I meant."

"What did you mean?"

"I meant that it you will be pleased for I shall be bathing in every pond, every fall; every river and every stream we pass."

Legolas laughed, "Oh? Why is that?"

"Now that I've tasted you, I desire you even more; so I will need cold baths to get me through until we can truly be together!"

"I shall have to do the same—but I suggest that we find separate streams because I will not be able to keep my word if I have to see unclothed."

"Agreed—but I think that I will take you up on your earlier offer of getting fresh water for the bath, but it will be cold water and not hot!" Aragorn chuckled.

"Very well—but not just yet as I do not wish to leave your arms."

"Agreed," Aragorn repeated, kissing Legolas again. Then he said, "I was fast falling into despair thinking of the talk I must have with Arwen—the sadness of our ending. I am still reluctant to see her hurt, but now I can rejoice, too; she and I may be ending, but you and I are just beginning. Our love is like the first bud of spring after a long, cold winter."

Nodding in agreement, Legolas said, "To our beginning, Estel." They then sealed it with a kiss—a promise of more to come.

Finis

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Elvish phrase glossary:

Lassë – Leaf (Quenya)

Ernil taur calima – Bright forest Prince

Meldomelin– Dear friend

Ellon – Male elf

Pen Velui – lovely one

Im mela lle – I love you

Melin chen, gûren – I love you, my heart

A'maelamin – My beloved

A'mael – Beloved