Author's Note: First LotR fic! Yay! This is one of my all-time favorite slash pairings, so I figure it's about time I wrote something for it. This is will have quite a few chapters, and it may be updated at a fairly slow rate, because I'm writing a lot of other fics at the moment as well. I'm aiming for one chapter a week, but it might be longer between, so don't hold your breath. Fic title is from the song Lothlorien, from the Broadway Production of the Lord of the Rings. Chapter title is from the Song of Beren and Luthien (most of this was written while listening to the musical adaptation by the Tolkien Ensemble).
Warnings: Slash, non-graphic violence, some smut, mature themes. Sporadic doses of poetry.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Lord of the Rings, more's the pity. That honour belongs to Mr. Tolkien the genius, who was brilliant enough to come up with that long-winded tale and stubborn enough to write it out.
A.N.2: I feel compelled to start this with a warning. I am a dedicated, near-obsessional LotR fan, so I will try my utmost to get all the facts straight. However, some canon facts will obviously need to be altered to fit my AU. Also, I no doubt will occasionally make mistakes. It happens to all of us. If you catch anything major that I've messed up, that doesn't seem to be on purpose, please feel free to drop me a line and let me know.
A.N.3: So, to summarize... basically, this chapter is what "really" happened during those sappy scenes in Rivendell. 'Nuff said. Most of the Elvish is, once again, courtesy of the Grey Company: I swear that site has saved my skin so many times. I speak fragments of a half dozen elvish dialects from different fandoms, but none comprehensively - hell, most of them don't even have a comprehensive elven language.
A.N.4: The underlined dialogue is quoted directly from Peter Jackson's LotR Trilogy.
Chapter One: Stars in Shadow Shimmering...
On a bridge in Imladris, surrounded by the lush forests and the soft grey mist, above the gently tumbling river, two people stood. One a human man, handsome and noble, with the bearing of one whose royalty could be concealed but never cast aside. The other an elven woman, black-haired and pale-skinned, fair as the evening star. They stood close together, heads bowed, hands all but touching. Any who observed the quiet pair assumed them lovers and passed by, smiling and saying nothing, content that what they saw had been the truth of what there was to see.
They were terribly wrong.
"Are you certain of this, Arwen?" Aragorn murmured gently in Elvish. His voice was pitched low and warm, meant to sound like a lover's endearment. Arwen nodded, her dark eyes shining with determination.
"Yes." she whispered, keeping her voice likewise soft and intimate. "I love you like a sister, Aragorn, and I would do anything within my power for you. Besides, you deserve this chance at happiness: all your life has been about duty, burdens, and destiny. So has his. You both deserve this one chance to have one true light in your lives. I knew that we were never meant to be, Aragorn, and my heart belongs to another now. I will do what I must to keep you both safe on your journey: see that you keep him close. You know how rare this kind of love is among our people, Aragorn, do not ever let him go."
The Ranger smiled, a soft light dawning in his grey eyes.
"I can certainly promise you that, Arwen. As long as I live I will never let him go."
"Good." Leaning in close, she brushed her lips lightly against his cheek, a chaste kiss of friendship. "Now go. You have made your appearance with me, for the eyes of my kindred: go greet your prince. I am sure he is anxious to see you after all this time."
Aragorn grinned. "Your wish is my command, my Lady." he murmured teasingly, brushing his lips lightly over her hand before turning and making his way back up the path to his own chambers in the House of Elrond.
His blood was thrumming in his veins as he hurried along the twilit walkway. He was fortunate indeed to have such a kind, understanding friend as Arwen. All of Rivendell believed them to be in love: in all Middle-Earth, only Elrond, Arwen, Glorfindel, Gandalf, and Thranduil knew the truth. Aside from the lovers themselves, of course.
Aragorn opened the door to his chambers and there he was, standing in a shaft of moonlight falling in through the open window, like some mystical angel of old. His eyes were radiant sapphires where they caught the light, bottomless oceans where they did not: his smile outshone the moonlight itself, warm and loving and breathtakingly beautiful. Aragorn felt an answering smile spread across his own face, warmth blooming in his chest as he stepped forward, closing the door softly behind himself. The other broke the silence first.
"Legolas." the name was barely a whisper, but he knew the elf would hear. In three long stride he had crossed the room and was holding the elven Prince in his arms. Legolas melted into his embrace, smiling his dazzling smile as he leaned in to brush his soft, coral-pink lips against the Ranger's own more weathered ones.
"Cormamin lindua ele lle." Legolas breathed, his musical voice instantly easing the weight on Aragorn's soul. "I missed you, A'maelamin." The Ranger smiled and returned the kiss, with a little more force behind it this time.
"I missed you as well, Lassë. Though only a month, it seems it has been a year." Aragorn murmured tenderly, lifting one hand to weave his fingers through silken strands of spun gold. "It is torture to be parted from you, my love. I only wish we had more time, to remain here and simply be together..."
"As do I, my love." Legolas sighed, resting his head on Aragorn's shoulder, his light weight resting easily against the Ranger's strong chest. His sea-blue eyes slid closed as he settled into his lover's warm arms. "We have work to do yet, though. Perhaps when the Ring is destroyed... perhaps then we will be free to be together."
Aragorn forced thoughts of the Ring from his mind as he cupped his fingers lightly under the elf's jaw, tilting his head back so that their eyes met as he whispered huskily, "We still have tonight, though. Arwen will see to it that we are not disturbed."
A familiar, mischevious sparkle lit the Mirkwood Prince's smile as he gave Aragorn a delighted smile. "Perfect."
They pressed together in another kiss, unsure of just who had initiated it, but not caring. Aragorn let his one of his hands slip down to the elf's waist, pressing him close, the other stroking his flaxen hair. Legolas's kiss was as sweet as he remembered, tasting of cool wind and clear brooks and starlight. Aragorn had never figured out how his lover managed to taste like starlight, but he quite noticeably did. Whenever he asked Legolas about it, the elf laughed and said that Aragorn was just flattering him.
Legolas sighed with pleasure as the Ranger's hand shifted to caress the his pointed ears, teasing the ultra-sensitive tips. His own hands trailed down Aragorn's strong back, tracing well-remembered lines of muscle and sinew as he murmured, "Your mortal impatience is wearing off on me, love. There was a time when years seemed like days to me: now a single month seems like an eternity."
Aragorn chuckled softly as he drew the lithe archer across the room to the bed. "And I must be picking up some of your famous Elven patience, considering I survived a month without you at my side."
Legolas was already working at the ties of the Ranger's shirt, smiling wickedly, his earlier solemnity melting into the mischevious fire that Aragorn loved so much. Few indeed were privileged enough to see an Elf drop their mask of emotionlessness and admit to the passions that could run so strong in their veins: Aragorn knew that it was an honor beyond measure that Legolas trusted him so much. "Oh? Do you mean at your side, or in your bed?"
"Both, as you very well know." Aragorn replied, grinning. Legolas finally got the tunic off and pulled Aragorn down onto the soft mattress, blue eyes sparkling.
"Well, I suppose I can forgive that. After all, I am extraordinarily attractive, so..."
"You talk too much." Aragorn said wryly, before silencing him with a passionate kiss.
Elrond scrutinized the map once more and sighed. "If the Enemy does indeed strike against Rohan first, and the Horse-Lords fall, then Gondor will have no allies close enough to help them. We must find a Bearer for the One Ring quickly, Gandalf."
The old wizard nodded, but before he could say anything, Arwen stepped into the room. Elrond frowned at her.
"Where is Aragorn?"
"I've come to make his excuses." the lovely dark-haired elf said, a smile tugging at her lips. "He is... otherwise occupied for the evening."
Gandalf smiled, while Elrond sighed. "You mean Legolas has gotten ahold of him. I don't suppose we'll see either of them until the Council tomorrow morning."
Arwen smiled in acknowledgement, and Gandalf shook his head. "Do not be too hard on them, Elrond. I remember when you were evading your tutors in favor of slipping away with a certain blond Elf lover of your own."
Arwen laughed delightedly at the rare sight of Elrond blushing. It was a well-known fact in Rivendell that Elrond and Glorfindel had been lovers for many, many years, though neither Lord ever expressly confirmed it. Elrond cleared his throat, forcing his face to become inscrutable once more. "Indeed. I suppose there is no harm in letting them have this night to themselves: if the Council tomorrow goes as I have seen, then both will be setting out on a dark and perilous journey. Let them have this one night of peace before the storm breaks."
"Thank you, Ada." Arwen said warmly, smiling at him. "I must go: I received a letter from Haldir this afternoon, and I am most anxious to read it. Good night." She curtsied slightly to Gandalf and glided out. Gandalf looked at Elrond, smiling slightly.
"Do you still think that she and Aragorn would not have made a good match?"
"I think that perhaps they would have done well together after all." Elrond admitted grudgingly. "However, I am still deeply grateful that both found love elsewhere. I would never wish the heartbreak of loving a mortal on my daughter, you know that. And however alike she and Aragorn may be, Legolas is clearly the better match for him. Not even as a child was Aragorn so clearly happy as he is with Legolas."
"True." Gandalf murmured. "Quite true. Arwen is clearly content in her love for Haldir - and Aragorn will need Legolas's strength and wisdom in the days to come. Dark times are in store for them, the Prophecy is proof of that much. Yet, I believe that with each other's strength to support them, they will both be just fine."
The next morning, the Council convened. Legolas was a bit surprised at the gathering: he had not expected so many dwarves to answer the call. He supposed that, in the face of a threat such as the One Ring, even long-ingrained rivalries seemed to lose their impetus.
That, or (more probably) the dwarves simply wanted to ensure the elves did not steal the Ring for their own. As though a mere handful of dwarven warriors could have prevented the elves from taking the cursed artifact if they wished to.
Though he was slightly on edge from the presence of the dwarven envoys, he had no true quarrel with any present until Boromir of Gondor began to speak. His voice was laden with the fervent power-lust the Ring inspired in most men: his eyes shone as he spoke passionately of the strength and glory of Gondor, how they could tame the Ring to their will and use it against the Enemy. Legolas was hard-pressed to hold his tongue even then, but when Boromir insulted Aragorn, keeping silent was simply no longer an option.
Aragorn had done what Legolas was sorely tempted to do, pointing out that no mortal could safely use the Ring. Boromir turned to glare at him, his expression haughty.
"And what would a Ranger know of this matter?"
Legolas was on his feet in a heartbeat, anger breaking through his elven calm as he said coldly, "This is no mere Ranger. He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. You owe him your allegiance."
Elrond winced slightly, but did not intervene. If Boromir had been more aware of elven customs, he would have understood the affront he had given to any elf who claimed a bond with Aragorn, and he would have understood that the most prudent course was to back down and accede to Legolas's challenge. Instead, the Gondorian turned a skeptical gaze on Aragorn.
"Aragorn? This is Isildur's heir?"
"And heir to the throne of Gondor!" Legolas snapped.
"Sit down, Legolas." Aragorn murmured in Elvish, his tone soothing. Still seething, but somewhat appeased, Legolas resumed his seat. Looking slightly shaken, Boromir also sat down, but Legolas's sharp ears caught his muttered words of Gondor needing no king. The elf's blood boiled, and in that moment, his dislike of Boromir was set firmly in stone.
Aragorn caught his gaze, though, and the reassurance in his lover's grey eyes calmed Legolas considerably. They had to retain their secrecy - the Prophecy was reason enough to ensure that, in addition to the strong possibility that the truth of their relationship would throw the Council into utter confusion.
As Elrond had feared, it was Frodo Baggins who volunteered to take the Ring to Mount Doom. Legolas could not help but admire the young Hobbit who had so bravely stepped forth, and his words were sincere as he pledged his aid alongside Aragorn.
Moments before the Council was dismissed, Elrond stood and surveyed the assembled representatives. "There is one more thing I must ask of those of you who shall travel on this quest. How many of you are familiar with the Glîr uin Melethryn?"
There were blank looks on all but Legolas, Aragorn, and Gandalf. Gandalf cleared his throat.
"The Glîr uin Melethryn is a prophecy, made many years ago, about the return of Sauron. It states that when Sauron returns, the only salvation for the City of Gondor and the lands of the West shall come in the form of a love so strong, it can withstand even the power of the One Ring."
Elrond nodded. "The wording is quite specific.
When the shadow in the East is rising
And the Deceiver reaches forth his hand
Only love, sacred, pure and untouched
Can hope to save the Western land
One will walk the paths of shadow
To Belfalas of the Great Sea
The other to the very ends of Arda
By the Nazgûl hunted shall be
Against the One Ring shall they stand
In defense of all that was ever free
But should they waver from their course
Doomed shall be the proud White Tree.
Clearly, whoever the prophecy refers to, one of them in particular is in terrible danger. However, we are not certain of the subjects' identities. For that reason alone, I must ask one thing of you all. It is quite possible that you will meet one or both of the subjects of the prophecy during your quest: if you observe any hints as such, please, say nothing. We must do nothing to place the subjects in any greater danger."
There were some odd looks at that, but all present nodded without comment. Legolas could feel his heart beating rather more quickly than usual. No, they were not certain as to the 'subjects'' identities... but they had a very good idea. If they hadn't strongly suspected, Elrond would not have been so calm about Aragorn and Arwen's ruse. Indeed, if not for the prophecy, there would be no ruse at all: Aragorn had told Legolas years ago that he would love nothing more than to admit to their relationship, if it wasn't for the strong possibility it might put Legolas's life in terrible peril.
Elrond refused to explain exactly what, but something in the prophecy seemed to have convinced him that it spoke of Aragorn and Legolas. Hence the secrecy. That was also the reasoning behind this rather cryptic request: they needed to avoid awkward questions, in the event that someone in the Fellowship became suspicious. The lovers usually had a hard time keeping their hands off each other whenever they were in close proximity: a certain amount of that could be explained away as them being very close friends, but eventually someone was bound to sense the truth.
As the Council members rose and filed away, Legolas saw Aragorn speaking to Frodo, and felt his heart quicken a little with the thought of the impending journey.
The quest for the salvation of Middle-Earth was beginning.
Evening found Aragorn standing in a grove of gently whispering willows, gazing up at the stars. The Council that morning had been difficult indeed: so many minds, so easily swayed by the Ring's seduction. Elves and Dwarves within range to insult each other. The son of the Steward of Gondor, so brave but so foolish and reckless, urging use of the One Ring.
"Your thoughts are heavy, Estel."
Elrond had appeared soundlessly at Aragorn's side. Of all the elves, only Elrond, Legolas, and Elrohir and Elladan still occasionally called Aragorn by his childhood name. Aragorn smiled wearily.
"No heavier than yours, Ada." Raised as Elrond's own son, in private Aragorn still called him father, much as Elrond still called him Estel. With his true family long dead, Aragorn could never put into words how grateful he was for Elrond taking him in. "Most likely a good deal lighter, in fact."
Elrond smiled faintly. "True. You created quite a stir at the Council, my son - or rather, Prince Legolas created a stir on your behalf."
Aragorn grimaced. "I noticed. I can hardly fault him, Ada: I'm just as protective of him as he is of me. More so, depending on how you look at it - I still have my more human tendencies. I might have taken my fists to Boromir if he insulted Legolas in such a manner."
Elrond chuckled softly. "You shall have to curtail those impulses for a time, Aragorn. I believe that even Masters Took and Brandybuck would become suspicious if you defended Prince Legolas's honor so... vehemently."
A lilting voice pierced the evening stillness. "I shall make sure that he behaves himself, Lord Elrond." Legolas glided out of the shadows like a golden wraith, his blue eyes sparkling as he slipped comfortably into Aragorn's arms. Aragorn looked down at his mischevious lover in amusement.
"You, Legolas, are the sole reason that I would be in trouble. How precisely do you hope to prevent that?"
Legolas's reply was lost to Elrond, since the blond elf had chosen to lean forward and whisper directly into Aragorn's ear. Whatever he said, it provoked a warm chuckle from the world-weary Ranger. Allowing himself a rare smile, Elrond shook his head.
"I will leave you two now, Estel, Prince Legolas. Enjoy this last night of peace: I fear the dawn will come too swiftly for us all." He turned and made his way back toward the main palace. Legolas smiled.
"Sound advice indeed, my love." he purred, trailing soft kisses along Aragorn's jaw. "We ought to retire for the evening: after all, we shall need a great deal of rest for the journey..."
Aragorn grinned. "Now why do I get the feeling that you're not really planning on resting much at all?"
Despite the soft shadows of evening, and the looming oppression of the One Ring, the glades of Rivendell still seemed to sparkle at the Mirkwood Prince's laughter.
Cormamin lindua ele lle - my heart sings to see you
A'maelamin - my beloved
A.N.5: So, please review, let me know what you think! To use a seasonally appropriate simile: feedback is even better than Halloween candy. C'mon, people: feed the dragon, you know you want to... pretty please? (While you're at it, feel free to rate the patheticness of this plea on a scale of one to ten, one being mildly pitiable and ten being absolutely hopeless.)