After the wounds Gandalf's sacrifice left within them Lorien was the right place to be, the right place to mourn for their fallen friend. Legolas was often away, sometimes with Gimli, sometimes with Haldir and the other Lorien Elves and sometimes alone but never with Aragorn. Therefore Aragorn followed him one day when Legolas set off alone. The Elf had to have noticed him but he simply kept walking as if he wasn't followed. They had known each other for so long that Aragorn had little problems keeping up with Legolas' light steps. It would have been different in Mirkwood where Legolas had the advantage of being at home but Lorien was foreign land for both of them.
Legolas finally stopped in the middle of a small clearing, unremarkable compared to the places that could be found in Lorien but far away from everyone else yet still inside the protected borders of Lady Galadriel's reign.
"Aragorn." Legolas said eventually, acknowledging Aragorn's presence.
"Legolas." Aragorn said in return but Legolas didn't react visibly to his name.
"Legolas." Aragorn repeated and came nearer. A faint tremor like an autumn wind that blows through golden and red leaves but doesn't pick them from their trees ran through Legolas' body.
"I came here to mourn, Aragorn. Why are you here?" He asked in a restrained voice.
"Are you blaming me?" Aragorn asked in return.
"Blaming you for what?"
"For Gandalf's death, for not grieving for him as the rest of you do, for..." Legolas' eyes passed over the evenstar around Aragorn's neck and Aragorn's fingers came up to touch it. He understood and laid his other hand on Legolas' shoulder.
"I said my goodbye to her in Imladris. She's going to sail westwards." There was no real conviction in his voice beside a faint hope that he might convince Legolas that his words were the truth.
"And yet you still wear this."
"It was a gift." Legolas gave him a small smile. "I know." He despised how much he wavered between wanting this and being afraid of it. There had been a time when his thoughts had been free of Aragorn, when following his own heart hadn't mean betraying one of his oldest friends. But y the time he had reminded himself that he wasn't supposed to want this, want Aragorn, it had already been too late.
"Aragorn..."He said, offering a last stand. He knew Aragorn thought he loved him but then it was easy to care about someone when you thought the end was here.
"I'm sorry." Aragorn replied and withdrew his embrace. He took a few steps back, trying to regain his composure.
"You're right. Whatever happened on in Imladris, I shouldn't have – Regardless of what was going on, it isn't appropriate and –"
Legolas had been telling himself no for as long as he knew Aragorn that they couldn't, that he shouldn't and Aragorn wouldn't. He thought he knew himself, but he was obviously wrong, because this was worse. He couldn't stand here, maybe in the same place Aragorn had once proposed to Arwen and let him say no.
"I've never felt like this." He admitted: "I don't like it very much." Aragorn looked up at that, trying not to look too hopeful. He stepped nearer until his chest was nearly touching Legolas' back and he wrapped his arms around his waist. Legolas could feel Aragorn's breath and the scratch of his beard against his cheek. His presence masked the eternal song of Lorien and Legolas' heart was weary from too many losses and too many fights. The warmth of Aragorn's body and the strength of his arms promised rest and safety and why shouldn't Legolas be selfish for once as well?
"I'm sorry." Aragorn whispered, dry lips brushing Legolas' ear but Legolas wasn't sure to whom Aragorn was apologising. Maybe to all of them. "I'm so sorry. It'll be worth it, I promise. It'll be worth it."
It's not right, Legolas told himself as he tried to banish Arwen from his thoughts. This will never be right.
He tilted his head to kiss Aragorn softly even though a voice inside screamed betrayal of one of his oldest friends and all of his own convictions and principles. He turned around in Aragorn's arms, resting his own hands on Aragorn's shoulders.
They shed their clothes like the trees did with their leaves, strewn across the earth of Lorien's forest.
There was a confidence to his movements that Legolas envied and, he realised after a moment, he found himself jealous of all the others Aragorn had done this with.
"You," Aragorn gasped breathlessly against his skin, "only you. From this day on."
It was a promise Legolas knew Aragorn capable of keeping, but he took it anyway. Why not be selfish about that, too?
Legolas wanted to get closer, wanted to melt into Aragorn's skin and be a part of him. Then they never would have to return to the world, this would never have to end... it was blood and sweat and bliss so brutal it bruised the flesh, tore at the soul. Hidden between the silver trees of Lorien in the golden light of morning it was easy to let heat soak through them as burning kisses and touches that left invisible scorch marks. It was easy to say honest things half-hidden in the dark hollows of each other's necks, to hide their flushed cheeks with the brightly golden sunlight of Lorien to blind them.
Aragorn's eyelids fluttered close and when Legolas kissed them he tasted salt-water.
In that instant, Legolas understood everything. He understood everything and he wanted everything, he wanted it all. An instant, a lifetime anything and everything the world had to offer, as long as this human was with him.
And in that instant he knew without a doubt that his and Aragorn's future had been decided a long time ago. It was over, long, long before it had started.
He had had his moment of weakness, of selfishness and he would pay the price for it in watching Aragorn marry Arwen and wither and die.
They were always meant to say goodbye.