A New Leaf
bailey.connie AT gmail.com
Summary:(from site admin, as cryptic as it may be!) Time heals most wounds, but all regrets. Warning: m/m sexual situations
Disclaimer: These are not my wonderful characters; they belong to the professor.
Thank you, Jean.
::v:: ::v:: ::v::
The Elf's voice floated up from the garden, and Aragorn paused on the balcony.
Shall I tell you a tale of Aragorn before he was King? When he was a boy called Estel living in the House of his foster-father, Elrond of Rivendell? Would you like that, or would you like to hear a rousing saga of the Dunedain Rangers on the borders of the kingdom? Shush, Eldarion, let your sister speak; it is her turn to choose. What shall it be Elen? Thank you, young Theodred; I know her name is Elentari, but the princess and I are old friends and I think I might be forgiven some lapses in protocol. No, I will not explain protocol to you just now. It is time for Elen's story.
Ah, that is a fine choice, your highness. I shall tell you of how your father and mother wed despite many obstacles so they could give Gondor her beloved prince and princesses. And you are so very well beloved by the people. You must always remember them when you are come to thrones and crowns of your own. Yes, even you, Theodred. You will rule Ithilien one day of your father's right, and perhaps Rohan, as well, if your Uncle Eomer has no heir. However, you have years and years before you will have to bear these responsibilities. Now, let me see how quiet you would be if there were Trolls nearby.
Aragorn leaned a bit farther over the marble railing and smiled at the sight of three-year-old Elentari climbing into Legolas's lap as though the Elf were as formidable as Caradhras. Mirkwood's Prince was careful not to help, knowing the determination of Aragorn's daughter and how it touched her pride to be treated like a baby. However, once enthroned on the Elf's lap, she was happy enough to be cuddled by her favorite adult. She reached for one of the braids, hanging so temptingly close, and with a charming frown of concentration, began reweaving the silken tresses as Legolas told his story. Eldarion moved closer, leaning his cheek against Elen's chubby leg, as he gazed up in rapt attention.
Aragorn crept down the stairs as silently as a Ranger hunting Orcs, slipping behind the hedge of flowering shrubs that bordered the Vesper Garden. Designed by Elves and constructed by Dwarves, the courtyard was a marvel of harmony between living things and stone and was the one most beloved by the children of the palace. Aragorn could well understand its appeal with its gargantuan marble planters carved in the shapes of dragons, castles and ships that sailed a sea of green. If he had grown up here, rather than Rivendell, he would have spent many hours at play here.
Unwilling to interrupt the charmed moments of the story hour, but unable to resist being a peripheral part of it, the King stayed behind cover, as he stole to a bowered bench. The pollen drunk bees wove erratic paths from blossom to blossom, humming a tuneless lullaby and the Sun through the leaves was the hand of benediction upon the Man's tangled hair. He unpinned his cloak and spread the dark red velvet over the chill stone before he sat to enjoy an unfettered and infinitely precious measure of time.
The King woke with a start, looking into the eyes of the one that would always be his soul's first choice no matter how divided his heart might be. Muzzy with sleep, Aragorn reached out and the Elf sank to his knees beside the leafy bed. Strong arms embraced the Man, a cool cheek was laid against his and soothing fingers combed back his sweat damp hair. A breeze drifted through the room with no walls bringing with it the scent of elanor.
"We are in Lothlorien," Aragorn murmured.
"I was ill."
"Very ill, but the magic that lingers here has healed you."
Aragorn pulled back slightly and looked around. "We are alone?"
"Arwen thought it best that I bring you here and I will not argue with the daughter of Elrond. Now that he has gone over the sea, there are none so skilled in healing as she."
"She is as wise as she is lovely. I feel…" Aragorn smiled suddenly, a teeth-baring grin of well-being. "I feel good. I have no pain and naught worries me. This land does indeed still hold a measure of the Lady of Light's power. It is not possible to be sad here."
Legolas did not answer and Aragorn tipped the Elf's face up until he could see it clearly.
"I see that I am wrong," the King said. "It is possible to be sad here."
"Nay, I am not sad. My heart rejoices to see you whole in spirit as well as body."
"You look sad. How may I cheer you?" Aragorn asked, as he swung his legs to the living wood of the platform.
Legolas watched Aragorn stand, clad in naught but light and shadow, and marveled anew that so fragile a shell could contain a spirit that burned so brightly. Though the King had passed his hundredth year, he looked to human eyes to be the same age as he was when he took the throne. Elves saw deeper than the skin, but even to Legolas, Aragorn seemed evergreen. Rising, he went to stand with the Man at the edge of the flet.
"If you would please me, you would turn over more responsibility to Eldarion. He is almost twenty and ready to prove the worth of his teachers."
"Never had a prince such tutors," Aragorn smiled. "I have no doubt that my son will be a great king, but he still seems like a child to me. Do you remember story hour?"
Legolas took the liberty of leaning against the Man's naked back, putting his arms loosely around him, as they gazed out over the treetop ocean. "I remember."
"I used to sneak into the garden and lurk about, watching you with the children, and my heart wished… Well, it wished for many things that could not be, but I was always reminded of how much I had. A peaceful kingdom, a loyal queen and healthy heirs, a true companion." Aragorn turned so that he faced the Elf, putting his arms around Legolas's neck. "Do you recall how it was in the beginning? Here, where we met so long ago, ere I had seen Arwen and felt the doom of Beren fall upon me."
"Aye, Aragorn, I remember well."
"Though we were torn asunder when I put our love by for the good of Gondor, you have remained steadfast, never once reproaching me."
"For what would I reproach you?"
"For being foresworn."
"Ah, Aragorn, do not tell me you have carried guilt for that all these years. Even when you were a sunburnt stripling that moved through the forest as loudly as a Dwarf, I knew that you were destined for greatness. I knew that we would not spend our lives sleeping under the stars after a day on the trail. That was a dream; I always knew the reality."
Aragorn gave the Elf a dubious look. "Then why did you not tell me?"
The King was rewarded by the laugh that he had heard all too seldom. Elves should laugh, not wear grave and dignified expressions as they paced halls of cold stone in service to a Lord that he loved more than his own happiness. Legolas's merriment sparked Aragorn's and they held on to one another, laughing helplessly for no other reason than that the day was sunny and they were together. Gently, the Elf moved them away from the platform's edge until they had caught their breath.
"I wish this did not have to end," Aragorn sighed.
"All things end."
The King nodded. "I can always count on you to remind me of who and what I am. This illness, do you think it will return?"
Legolas nodded. "Though you never touched the Ring, you were a long time in its presence, and twice Sauron's mind touched yours. You are a strong Man, but even the strongest will take some hurt from an evil so great. As you grow older, the fevers will come more frequently, or so says Arwen, and I have no reason to disbelieve her."
"And I will be healed if I return to Lorien?"
"As long as the grace of Galadriel may be felt here, this place will be one of healing," the Elf said evasively.
"I see." Aragorn was silent for a long moment. "Then it is fortunate that I have such a worthy successor to wear the crown."
"Glad I am to hear you speak so," Legolas said. "If you continue to work so tirelessly, this malady will return more swiftly, and without the guarantee that you can be healed. However, if you were to live here in Lothlorien, the illness might never recur."
"Live here?" Aragorn repeated.
"It is Arwen's thought that living here will keep the sickness at bay. I did not wish to speak of it until I knew your mind."
"My place is in Minas Tirith."
"No, Aragorn, the White City is merely a symbol of kingship. You are the King, and Gondor is wherever you are."
"Again, you bring me back to what really matters. The people of Gondor deserve a King that is whole in mind and body. When we return, I will invest Eldarion with all my powers."
Legolas fetched a deep breath and let it out slowly. "You have cheered me, my Lord."
Aragorn palmed the pale silk of the Elf's hair. "Do you miss it?" he asked softly.
Legolas did not pretend to misunderstand. "I miss it," he said candidly. "There have been times when I burned for you so hotly that I thought my desire would ignite each torch I passed and reveal my dignified demeanor as the mask it was. I have never stopped longing for you, for your love, for your touch, for the passion that would flare between us without warning. Ah yes, I miss it, Aragorn, but we have kept our honor."
"At what price?"
"You have already named it."
"It was worth it then?"
To the King's surprise, another silvery laugh bubbled up in the Elf's throat. "Only Estel would ask that. Do you remember when Elrohir chided you for being too sensitive? Not of your own feelings, but those of all around you, and Elrond said that was what would make you a great king, that you think of others before yourself."
Aragorn smiled at the memory, and at his instant protest that he would not follow that path. "I was very young," he said.
"Always it has been your habit to put your own pleasure last," the Elf answered.
"But I have kept my honor," the Man teased gently.
"I find that mine does not mean so much to me as it once did."
"Elves," Aragorn said. "You can know them for a hundred years and they will still surprise you. What do you mean by such an outrageous statement?"
"You have done all that a Man could do for the glory of Gondor, and I have been content to help you in whatever manner you deemed suitable, but now I wish to be selfish and I wish you to be selfish with me."
"I am astounded."
"I am glad you are not taking this seriously," Legolas said. "Do you feel recovered?"
"It is as if I were never ill. In fact, I feel renewed."
Legolas took the Man in his arms again. "As do I, and for this once, if never again, your pleasure will come first."
Aragorn's brows drew together in consternation as the Elf's mouth covered his in a kiss that had been deferred for decades. All the longing of an eternal soul for its mate came through the physical link they shared, and Aragorn responded instinctively. Pulling Legolas closer, he poured all the passion he had stored up into the embrace. Clutching at one another, they went to their knees with the force of the feelings that swept through them.
"I had forgotten," Aragorn gasped, when they broke the kiss for air. "I had forgotten that the touch of your lips was more devastating than a troop of Uruk-Hai."
"Flatterer. Do not give me words, Aragorn. Give me your mouth again."
Aragorn's gaze met the Elf's, weighing, considering, predicting. Legolas leaned his forehead against the Man's and spoke softly.
"Do not think," he said. "Let me please you."
Aragorn answered with his eyes and was gathered into a fierce embrace that near drove the breath from his body. He was lifted in strong arms and laid gently on the bower bed, a hundred feet above the forest floor. Safe and at peace, Aragorn allowed himself to relax and take what Legolas offered, learning that it was pleasant sometimes to be the beloved, to indulge one's lover by submitting, until there was no taking or giving, but only sharing.
Legolas crouched over the Man, paying court to the lean, scarred body with mouth and hands. Aragorn bestirred himself to help the Elf disrobe, but was dissuaded with kisses and light caresses. With Elven strength, Legolas pressed the King back against the sylvan bed and lavished him with ardent attentions. Special notice was given to certain areas, but Aragorn was sure that the Elf had kissed each square inch of his skin. All except one. His aching manhood was scorching his lower belly with a heat that the fluid leaking from it did nothing to douse. He moaned in relief when the Elf moved downward, but Legolas did not touch his yearning shaft.
Instead, the Prince of Mirkwood lowered his leggings and freed his eager arousal. Aragorn propped himself on his elbows and watched as Legolas retrieved a flask of oil. The King drew breath to speak, but let it out again in a sigh as his Elf moved between his thighs. Aragorn did not say a word as Legolas readied him as he had many times prepared the Elf to receive him. Clever fingers found his pleasure and rubbed until he was moaning helplessly and lifting his hips in an abbreviated thrusting motion. And still the wicked creature would not touch his manhood.
Legolas withdrew his fingers, and laid a hand flat against the Man's stomach, urging him to lie still. Quickly, the Elf oiled his hard length and raised one of Aragorn's legs to rest on his shoulder. Taking himself in hand, Legolas traced his lover's cleft with the head of his shaft, nudging delicately at the glistening rosette, alternating his gaze between Aragorn's face and the stirring sight of his arousal couched at the Man's entrancev. "Tell me you wish this."
"I wish it," Aragorn murmured. "Give me joy, my Prince."
"All I have done, I have done for love of you, my Lord," Legolas answered as he leaned forward slightly.
Aragorn's breath caught in his throat as he was breached, and he resisted the urge to expel the invader. Gazing up at Legolas, the King relaxed and welcomed the Elf in every way he could. Legolas eased in, his sweetly curved lips parted slightly, and his eyes glowing with the heady sensation of sinking into his Man. Aragorn opened himself to the pain, allowing it to pass quickly through him leaving incipient pleasure in its wake. Legolas leaned in, sheathed to the hilt, and took the King's mouth in a kiss that made Aragorn forget any discomfort he might have felt. Withdrawing as gently as mist rising from a lake, the Elf watched the Man's silvery eyes for signposts to his bliss. A shiver ran through Aragorn's rangy frame and Legolas paused in his slow slide back into the untried passage. A roll of slim hips brought the tip of Legolas's shaft across the right spot and drew a throat groan from Aragorn. Having found the key to ecstasy, the Elf used it to unlock the gates of paradise.
Aragorn felt completely free as he had not in many years, not since the first days of the Fellowship. He gave himself into the Elf's hands without let or reservation, trusting Legolas with his pleasure as he had once trusted him with his life. The rod of flesh that moved within him fitted perfectly, filling him in a way he had always yearned for without knowing it. The Elf's passion and power humbled him and heartened him, and he was able to give up control for the first time. Opening eyes that sparkled with excess moisture, Aragorn reached up to cup Legolas's beautiful face between his hands.
"My love," he whispered. "Share my joy with me."
At last, Legolas took hold of the Man's arousal and stroked it. Aragorn's release roared through him like a dragon taking to the sky, pinions spread wide, spouting flames. He clamped down with his inner muscles in reaction and Legolas followed him into glory just a half step behind. The union of their spirits was as effortless and total as it had been in the days when they ranged together on the Northern borders of Gondor, two warriors with a single purpose, before Fate made them pawns in a game with the highest stakes of all. A game they had won by blindly betting all they had.
Legolas disengaged and rolled so that Aragorn lay half atop him and held the Man to his chest. Aragorn panted and trembled in reaction to the release that was still reverberating in every corner of his being. Perhaps it was because he had felt free to surrender himself so completely, but never had he felt anything to equal the bliss that left him as limp as a wrung rag. Legolas cradled him close, kissing his forehead, his temple, the part in his hair, murmuring sweet nonsense in Sindarin. The music of the extravagant endearments lulled Aragorn into a state of serenity that slowly sank into the sea of sleep.
When they woke, they wandered the Golden Wood for a time, arms about one another's waists, footsteps crunching in the brittle carpet of fallen leaves. In the morning, they rode for Minas Tirith and the abdication of many responsibilities. Eldarion was dismayed and thrilled when his father told him of his decision; Arwen was surprised and pleased. And the people of Gondor saw it as the natural progression. When it was announced that King Elessar would be living outside the city for his health, the general feeling was that good old Strider deserved a rest.
And so Man and Elf took up residence in Lorien and sailed often down the Anduin to Minas Tirith. They journeyed far afield to visit their friends in the Shire, Mirkwood, the Lonely Mountain, and many more besides. Whether it was some blessing of the Golden Wood, or the simpler magic of contentment, Aragorn retained his youthfulness until the last years of his life, never losing his joy in the passing moments for he knew what a gift each one was. And when the end came at last, he did not feel cheated.
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