Hi guys! This just came to me in the middle of the night, and I couldn't sleep until I got it down. As such, I'm not going to be asking for reviews. I mean, if you want to review, that's great, but I'm not on my knees begging with a quivering lip and tear-filled eyes that break the coldest heart... Right. Enjoy!


((I do not own Lord of the Rings... Yet...))

Perceptions

I stalked away from the council, my shoulders still tight with too many emotions to name, none of them particularly pleasant. Just as I had feared, there had been petty bickering and insults when we had no time for such trivialities. The dwarves! And I was to be traveling with the one who attempted to destroy the one ring with his axe! Still, someone had to be there to keep him in check. The son of Denethor was altogether different; just remembering the sparkle in his eyes as he examined the ring was enough to make my skin crawl.

"Legolas!" called a voice from behind me. I stopped and turned my head to see Aragorn jogging to catch up with me. "What did you think?" he asked in Sindarin as he reached my side. The slight crookedness of his smile told me that he already knew exactly what I thought.

"The outcome was satisfactory," I said stiffly in Common.

He raised an eyebrow. "Satisfactory?"

I sighed. "Is that all you wanted, Aragorn? I must begin packing soon."

"Actually, there was something else," he said. He was still smiling, but his eyes, blue as my own, watched my face with an intensity that I knew all too well. "Why, exactly, did you feel the need to antagonize the eldest son of the Steward of Gondor?"

I raised one of my own eyebrows a fraction of an inch. "He deserved it," I replied calmly.

The teasing was gone from his face. "Legolas," he said warningly.

I continued to meet his eyes unflinchingly. "He asked why he should listen to you, and I answered."

He set his jaw. "I am not a child anymore, Legolas; I do not require your protection."

I raised my eyebrow even further, but kept my face otherwise expressionless. "Of course you do not, Aragorn."

Running a hand through his dark hair, he took a deep breath, making a visible effort to calm himself. I waited patiently. "Why did you do it?"

Why could he not let this be? I looked at him for several seconds, and then answered, my words clipped. "There are several reasons. I did not like how he looked at the ring; I did not like how he looked at Frodo Baggins; I did not like the arrogance in his every word and gesture. I also did not like the way that he spoke to someone who deserved his respect."

Aragorn glared. "I believe I specifically asked you not to bring up my lineage. And to Boromir? By Eru, Legolas, this was going to be hard enough without him resenting me! And now you are telling me that you did it because you just… don't like him."

I shook my head. "It is not that I do not like him, Aragorn; I do not trust him." I paused briefly, trying to find some way to articulate my feelings better. "Did you feel it?"

He blinked. "Feel what?"

"The ring," I said slowly, "Did you feel it trying to…reach you?" His face closed off entirely, which I took to mean 'yes'. I dropped my gaze to the fine white tile of the floor. "I did not-- I must admit, in my pride I did not think I would be able to feel its effects so soon after arriving. I could almost hear it, Aragorn." Just thinking about it brought it back, the feeling that someone was whispering right next to me in a voice too low to hear. I swallowed. "It made me feel anxious, almost ill. And then I looked over at the great son of Gondor," I continued coldly, "He was staring at the ring, and I could sense that it was speaking to him as well, as it was, I suppose, to all in the council. But the expression on his face was not disturbed or frightened or sickened." I looked up into Aragorn's face, and he flinched at whatever he saw in my eyes. "It was the expression of a man transfixed by a thing of intrigue and beauty."

"That is the ring's power," Aragorn said uncertainly, "It would have affected anyone—"

"Did you think it was beautiful, Aragorn?" I asked, my voice low.

He took a deep breath and opened his mouth to speak, then shut it and nodded slowly.

"As did I," I said softly, the words smooth, lilting. There was no way for him to tell how difficult it was to say them. "And that disgusted me, just as it disgusts you. There was no disgust in Boromir's face," I added, my voice hardening, "Only excitement and greed. When he was so disrespectful toward my closest friend with that greed still shining in his eyes, I decided to knock it out of him." A slight smile twitched at the corners of my mouth, though I couldn't really see anything humorous about what I was saying. "And I did. For a good two minutes, he forgot all about that cursed thing."

Aragorn looked at my face intently. "He is a good man," he said firmly after a long moment, "An honorable man."

I looked back at him, my smile now ironic. "And honor among men always equates with goodness?"

He smiled back, though the expression looked a little forced. "Just as immortality among elves equates with infallibility." I snorted inelegantly, and his smile became more genuine. "Or as royalty equates with actual nobility, or—"

"Estel," I said seriously, "I am going to knock you down."

He shrugged, grinning outright. "If you don't like it, mellon-nin, I would suggest that you listen to me when I ask you not to bring things up in the future."

The mirth faded from my face. "I am in earnest, Aragorn. Perhaps he is a good man; in fact, I am sure that he is. I just cannot—"

"Trust him," Aragorn finished wearily, "Yes, I know. I understand, and I will keep an eye on it, Legolas, as I am sure you will."

I relaxed, disproportionately relieved. "Thank you. " After a moment of awkward silence, I smiled again. "I honestly do have to start packing," I said, turning to continue down the hallway.

"Oh! Legolas, I actually had one more question, " Aragorn said quickly, and I turned back, my eyebrows raised expectantly. His smile had a mischievousness to it that brought back memories of a little boy with dark hair who had tricked a very taken aback elven prince into teach him how to shoot. "What did you think of the dwarves?"