Summary: During the Midsummer celebrations, Legolas lays eyes on something he should not touch. But when we cannot fight desire, we give in.

Pairing: Legolas/Estel (Aragorn)

Warnings: Mild slash. Hardcore Legolas fans might be upset at finding him less sugary sweet than usual. I've taken some liberties... Slightly AU.

Disclaimer: Not mine; I claim nothing.

A/N: For those of you who know Swedish it might be interesting to note that I drew some inspiration from Swedish troubadour Cornelis Wreeswijk's wonderful love song Balladen om Herr Fredrik Åkare och den söta fröken Cecilia Lind (The ballad about Mr Fredrik Åkare and the pretty Miss Cecilia Lind). I guess this is the product of some cultural blasphemy.

And I know Aragorn's birthday is on March 1, but to match the song, I sort of ignored that detail.

A merry Midsummer to you all!

More than Moonlight

Small lights spread their golden glow through the bluish dusk. They were hung in the trees and enveloped by the blue the effect was similar to that of the summer sky above, where glimmering stars shone down upon the Valley.

He had donned his second finest tunic, the most elegant one still resided in a drawer in his chambers in the Wood. His hair was tied back from his face with tiny braids adorning the otherwise quite simple style; like this it was out of his way, away from his face, kept from bothering him. It was not his way to leave his hair cascading down his back and nor did he keep it very long. A bow and arrows were best handled by the not-so-vain.

When he spotted Glorfindel among the assembled, he smiled. With one exception, he corrected himself. Magnificent as always, the famous warrior practically shone in the mingling of gold and blue. He stood out, the flaxen hair a rare sight here at almost any time. Thus, he was quite unique himself, and that never hurt.

In fact, were he to be honest with himself there were many a fair form in the gardens tonight. A thousand years ago he had nurtured a boundless fascination, bordering on lust, for the brethren of Imladris, but he had reined himself in when he had made their acquaintance and quickly discovered their inclination towards the opposite sex. A shame it was and remained, but it could not be helped.

Someone called his name and he was drawn into conversation. A glass of sparkling wine was pressed into his hands and he drank. Laughter rose towards the midsummer sky and as the night waxed, the sweet scent of grass and flowers slipped through the crowd.

"Legolas, if I may boast," Elrohir emptied his glass, handed it to his brother and proceeded to roll up his sleeve. He held out his left arm and grinned. "My third. What do you think?"

Legolas bent down to examine the markings on the pale skin: it was an intricate design and the ink as black as a winter's night.

"Elegant," he smiled. "I like it."

"Too delicate for you?" Elrohir asked. "You usually prefer something more..." he grimaced in mock distaste, "crude."

"The tougher the warrior, the rougher the decorations," smirked Legolas. He took a long sip of wine and nodded at the tattoo. "That suits you."

Elrohir snorted and rolled his sleeve down. Elladan handed him back his glass. "So, old friend, what have you to show?"

Legolas shook his head. "Nothing new. I think five will do for now."

"Don't want to scare off the lovers? They might think you a wild man from the South..." Elrohir snatched a carafe from a passing servant and refilled their glasses. "We wouldn't want that to happen or we would have no juicy stories from your travels." He gave a smirk of his own. "We'd grow bored."

Elladan grinned. "You've come at a good time, we had not many official bindings this spring."

Legolas spent a few moments defending his honour but soon let it be. Roads were long and journeying was wearisome. There was nothing wrong in finding some company were company could be sought. He had never himself seriously contemplated binding and suspected he would soon be utterly weary of any elf that wanted such a commitment from him, and of the life that would undoubtedly follow. He challenged the darkness that seeped forth into the world, scrubbed the blood from his weapons, and rose to challenge once more. And he took lovers along the way – for relaxation or in a sudden desire for inspiration, a craving that more often than not quickly diminished once the physical act was ended.

The wine was sweet on his lips as he surveyed the crowd. Glorfindel was out of the game apparently because he was ushering a pale-eyed male Legolas had never seen before towards the space that had been cleared for dancing. Music had begun playing just after sunset. He spotted one or two former lovers but his gaze did not linger upon them. Instead it strayed to a tall and slim form crowned with a mess of dark locks. He frowned at the sight.

"El," he nudged Elladan's arm, "who's he?"

His friend followed his gaze and confusion was soon replaced by a broad smile. "That is Estel. Do you not recognise him?"

"No? Surely..?" Legolas squinted though he already saw the boy all too clearly. "He has grown..."

"They do that, humans... too," said Elladan. "Rather handsome, he has become."

"Indeed," murmured Legolas, impressed and unable to mask it.

"Legolas..." Elladan forced him to meet his gaze. There was a hint of a warning in his voice. "As far as I know he's untouched and untried... If you consider..." The rest of his sentence completed itself silently between them.

"Would you kill me?" He was not speaking in jest only.

"If you hurt him, I would enjoy torturing you for many long hours," Elladan said and he too was partly serious.

Legolas nodded and allowed himself a last look at Estel. It must be the moonlight... for no mortal he had ever laid eyes on glimmered like that. He tried to make sense of it, but then there was more conversation and more wine, and he forgot all about the boy.

:~:~:

The summer stars were turning is the dark blue sky as he threaded his way through the crowd and tried to avoid the couples who were oblivious to anyone walking past. Legolas spotted Elrohir whispering sweet promises into an ear of a pretty female who had her hand resting on his shoulder. And sure enough, not long thereafter they made for a darker corner of the gardens and disappeared from view. Snickering, Legolas silently wished his friend a joyous night and for a moment was so distracted that he bumped into someone who crossed his decided-on path.

"I'm sorry!" Large eyes locked with his and for a second their silvery light blocked out everything else. "I did not see you."

Shaking off the sensation, Legolas managed to raise an eyebrow. "Invisible, am I?"

The boy shook his head vigorously. "No! Not at all, no. I just..." he flushed, "looked in another direction."

He really had grown, Legolas mused. This youngling had little in common with the child he had spent a couple of hours playing with when he last visited Imladris. Well, there was the hair... and the eyes. Beautiful eyes... like pewter and water combined. But now when he could speak he made a little more sense... perhaps.

"Good to know," Legolas nodded.

"What?" Estel stared at him in confusion. "I am sorry?"

"That I am not invisible." He smiled and found it was very, very easy. Around them, the music convinced more and more guests to join in the slow dancing.

"Oh, right." The boy's cheeks were still a bit rosy. "Yea, I guess."

"You remember me?" Legolas shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He was comfortable here and found he wanted to continue the conversation if possible. For a while, to see where it might lead.

"Um..." The grey eyes were wide and there was a touch of anxiety to them. "We have met before?" He sounded far more nervous than rude.

Legolas deepened his smile and half turned towards the woods. He was pleased to note that Estel turned with him. "You were two, I think. We attempted to build a house out of small sticks and twigs but we never figured out the optimal design." He glanced at the boy. "Then you got bored and ran off."

Some more colour crept into Estel's cheeks. "I don't remember that..." He dropped his gaze to the grass. "You do not come here often then?" he inquired.

"That depends on how you interpret 'often'. All in all I have spent some years in the Valley, and I try to visit when duty permits."

He scanned the crowd. Glorfindel was dancing with the nameless male and was wholly engrossed, none of the twins were in sight and neither was Elrond, or Erestor for that matter. Legolas weighed his options, then came to a decision.

"Would you like to dance?"

Estel's eyes flew to his face. "Dance?"

"We could just blend in with the rest," suggested Legolas smoothly. "Start off right here where we stand... I'd like to know you better."

"Okay..."

The boy hesitated. He was immaculately dressed in dark leggings and a cream coloured tunic. He wore no robe like the elder inhabitants of Imladris and thank the Valar for that! Legolas had never understood why anyone would confine themselves to flowing fabrics that restricted every move you tried.

Since his young companion seemed at loss, Legolas caught his hands and placed them on his waist. He steered Estel by his shoulders, away from the trees but not deep into the mass of swaying couples. When the boy did not stiffen in protest, he slipped his own hands to Estel's waist so they mirrored each other. He set a slow pace and left it up to the flow of the night to enfold them.

"Are you enjoying the celebrations?" he asked so as to break the silence that had settled between them. They were far apart; a decent distance, he supposed, though he was beginning to think he might prefer something else.

"I am," Estel nodded. "I picked the flowers for the tables this morning."

Legolas swung them around to see better. "Then you did good," he smiled. "They are beautiful." He could not resist: at the final word, he caught Estel's gaze and held it.

The human blinked and then quickly looked away. "It was nice," he mumbled. "I like spending time in the woods."

"So do I." Legolas was mindful to not increase his hold on the boy's waist. Truly, Estel had grown into a tempting creature. It was hard not to... indulge. He steeled himself and made sure he was still smiling. "But then, I belong to one."

There were two woods to choose from and Estel visibly hesitated. "The..?"

"My father is Thranduil of Mirkwood," said Legolas and he watched the grey eyes widen once more.

"You're a prince?" It was a breathless statement. Estel pulled back a little. "Forgive me, I knew not or..."

"Hush." Legolas gently swung them around again so that they ended up closer to the trees, not far from where they had first met that night. "Worry not. It's only a title. I am Legolas."

Comprehension dawned on Estel's face. "My brothers said you would come and they looked forward to it."

"I am glad to hear it."

A stray ray of moonlight danced in the boy's dark tresses and briefly skidded across his lips. Full lips, slightly parted in astonishment. Legolas fought down a flare of desire but treacherously his feet guided them deeper into shadow.

As the rush of surprise melted from Estel's features he relaxed anew and Legolas drew a fraction closer. Through the fabric he could feel warm skin and a tug of longing deep down in his stomach sped up his breathing just slightly.

"You have grown..." he murmured and watched the exchange of darkness and light upon pale skin.

Estel mumbled something but did not look away this time. His gaze, full of wonder and spiced with trepidation did not leave the elf's face.

Legolas loosened his grip a little and his palms brushed over the small of Estel's back. "Tell me," he said quietly, "if you want to be left alone."

The boy gave a tiny and awkward shake of his head. "No." Almost soundlessly.

No one paid them any attention as far as Legolas could see. The further away from the crowd they danced, the more fragrant the air grew as the scent of the woods and groves beyond flowed more freely.

"You are so beautiful," he whispered and drew even closer. He let their bodies come together and felt an answering tremble in the boy. "Enchanting..."

Estel did not reply but did not pull away either. Legolas let the music guide them and soon they were perfectly concealed behind a group of hazels. He stopped moving and drew a long breath. He really had not meant to do this, but... With one hand still resting in the shallow bay at the base of Estel's spine, he used his other to tip the boy's face upward with gentle fingertips.

The grey gaze was still steeped in wonder and fear but the soft whisper was sweet, "Please kiss me."

And he did. Legolas leaned in and brushed his lips against Estel's. He lingered there, adding no pressure at first. He lost sense of his surroundings as he explored the soft flesh, and with the tip of his tongue he teased it, feeling himself dissolve into the night. Estel's lips parted, perhaps in surprise, and Legolas tasted a little more. Balancing on the edge, he finally forced himself back to reality.

Even shrouded in shadow, Estel shone with amazement. He licked his lips slowly, his eyes never leaving Legolas' face. There was too much emotion in them and it served as a sharp warning.

"I..." Legolas drew another breath but it was harder this time. "I should not have kissed you, I'm sorry."

Disbelief immediately swept over Estel's expressive face. "What?" He blinked and then tried to say something else but could not form the words. He clearly had not expected rejection.

Legolas quickly let go of him and stepped back. "Forgive me, I lost control. You are the brother of my friends, the Lord's ward..." He felt a completely unforeseen stab of shame and regret as he watched how the boy's shoulders dropped and the light quivered in his eyes. "And you are far, far too young," he concluded.

"I'll soon turn seventeen," said Estel but his voice was weak.

Legolas shook his head, trying not to look into those eyes that were shining with even more silver now, of the liquid kind. "Too young..." Definitely too young, and so terrifyingly pure no one should ever touch such innocence, least of all him. "Please, Estel... This is a bad idea."

"But you asked me to dance?"

"I know, and it was wrong. Forget it happened, and forget the kiss, it is for the best."

"You are just going to forget this?" Estel kept his voice down but it was laced with pain he had not bargained for.

Legolas tried to dig up words that would explain. He considered saying that he was a battle-hardened warrior who only chose nightly company when it pleased him, but it seemed like a cheap way out. The boy deserved better than that, even if it happened to be the truth. He tried to ignore the hurt that was building in Estel's eyes but his heart responded oddly and ached at the sight.

"Listen," he tried. "This is... not appropriate."

"Who says that?"

"Everyone would say that," muttered Legolas. "I would say it myself – I do so now even."

"But..." Estel took a step closer so they were apart no longer. He dared to place a hand on the elf's upper arm. "Please?"

Briefly closing his eyes, Legolas tried to steady his thoughts. Soft music still drifted around them and blended with muted voices that were close but not close enough to see. He had had some wine but not nearly enough to make him this reckless. There was something about the boy... He cursed his own stupidity. A pretty face and shining eyes, and he was lost. That was unusual and uncomfortable. It was, what?, some hundred years ago – and probably another hundred – that he had last felt something deeper than pure lust for another.

Estel's fingertips suddenly brushed his cheek. "Please?" he whispered.

Despite the sinking feeling of doom in his breast, Legolas' heart softened at the word and the shy caress. He felt himself respond, he knew he should fight it, but the gentle encouragement weakened his resolve and he exhaled slowly.

"I will not lie with you," he murmured.

"Okay."

Estel's fingertips brushed his temple and then ghosted over his forehead. Legolas opened his eyes and met a hopeful gaze. Not yet.

A smile curved his lips as he twined a strand of dark hair between his fingers. He stole a moment to simply watch as that hope reached out to encompass the boy's entire form. Then he drew nearer until their mouths were so close that his lips tingled with expectation.

"Kiss me again" breathed Estel.

The moonlight filled the sky as Legolas pushed aside the rest of the world and complied.

End

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