Thranduil had barely restored his energy with magic potions before heading out into the woods again. A circle of warriors accompanied him, horses treading warily on top of slippery bile. They did not have time to clear the path; Thranduil could no longer wait to ensure safety. So he set out once more into the vast stretches of foul shadow where danger lurked, and his warriors refused to leave him. And thus the elves were moving away from the castle, their horses tentative in their steps, when they were once again struck by the shadow.
This time, the responses of the elves were swifter, surer. They turned immediately and ran back to the castle, their horses struggling to retain balance atop the oily substance, as the black waves roared behind them. The progress was slow, and they were overtaken swiftly. The elves at the castle were thrown into chaos as the warriors returned almost as soon as they were out of sight, and the gates swung open.
This time, however, the elves did not run into the havens. Upon reaching the castle gates, Thranduil suddenly turned his horse around, and stood facing the rush of black magic, and his followers were quick to form a protective circle about him. But the king would have none of it; he pulled the warriors out of his way, standing at the front of the band, as they braced themselves for the impact. The tidal waves were nearing the borders of their havens. And then, head lowered and glittering eyes riveted on the darkness, Thranduil began to chant.
It was not so much a chant as it was a command. The king called to the power of the land, the gifts bestowed upon the Firstborn; the elven magic surged from under their feet as the tidal waves crashed into the outskirts of the protected lands. And standing outside the open gates, the band of elves stood in an arc, their king commanding the evil power to draw back.
A lethal gamble, they all knew. And they watched, hearts trembling with dread and hope, their spirits a battleground of fear and faith – as the healers of the kingdom chanted fervently, adding to the summon that awakened the breath of magic that rested in the land, their king's voice rising higher and higher into the sky, power growing in his heated, vehement words; and the king's voice continued to grow, echoing against the trees with venomous fury, striking the darkened forest with majestic force, ording the foul shadow to stay back, calling for the land to shield them, protect their Firstborn with holiness –
The black waves loomed higher and higher into the sky, crashed into them with a tremendous roar - and the black sea splattered, deflected by the invisible ring of pale blue that shielded the sanctuary. The furor of the waves danced before their eyes, only a breath away; and yet the elves remained rooted in place, their backs to their gates, blazing eyes upon the shadow.
And the havens remained untainted.
It was growing dark. Legolas sat upright, eying the man as he ate dinner. He curled up against the wall, idly fingering the blankets around him. He would have to pose again soon.
Legolas did not mind posing for this strange artist. He was obsessed with the beauty of the body, and though the elfling did not understand what he saw in that, he was willing to accept and respect a horizon of appreciation that he did not yet know. However, the way the man treated him these days...it was a change that was not wholeheartedly welcomed.
He did not understand. The elfling could not understand why this man touched him every chance he got; at first, it was a hand sliding against his collarbone, and falling away. Roloth had explained that it was a gesture of friendship. Strange, the way men showed friendship.
But then, it became more insistent, more possessive. As the elfling was arranging fruits on the table for breakfast, he would find hands snaking around his shoulders and back, holding him as the man kissed his neck; the man would approach him in between sessions of drawing, and run his fingers down his neck, his shoulders, his chest. And he would smile that strange smile, and say that it was a gesture of affection.
It was understandable. That was what the elfling continued to tell himself. The man missed his son, and doubtlessly Legolas reminded him of his son. He was lonely. He wanted to express love, for the elfling would be leaving soon. And the least he could do was to let the kind man express the love.
But it was strange all the same. No one had ever touched him thus. He tried to think back to his father's touches, how he had shown physical affection. Ada would sing him to sleep; he would kiss him. He would help him dress and undress, and they would frequently bathe together, which would result in a very wet and messy bathing chamber and a giggly elfling squirming under his father's mischievous hands. He would embrace him warmly, rock him gently as he slept in his arms. He would swing him around, pat his head, ruffle his hair, pinch his cheeks. He would chase him around the gardens, tackle him and tickle him, and kiss him again, and again...
It was not so different, was it? No, it was not so different. Legolas shook his head. After all, his father kissed him, hugged him, stroked his skin and hair...
But it was different. He shuddered. Ada's touches had not been so insistent, so possessive. His touches were light, tender. Soft touches that made him want to lean into him and cry, lean into him and sigh, and sleep, and smile. He had never held that gleam in his eyes as he eyed his body, stroking it with lingering fingers. He had always smiled and looked into him, not through him; his glimmering eyes were always upon his soul, which held the body – and Roloth's eyes seemed to see through the soul, only on the body. Always, only on the body. It was not the same.
But perhaps humans had a different way of showing affection. Yes, that had to be it. He was just showing affection in a different way. After all, weren't cultural gaps to be expected between the two races? And furthermore, Legolas had never had contact with humans before. Perhaps he was simply inexperienced. Roloth was still kind to him. He always held a smile, offered to help him undress and bathe, always asked him if there was anything he needed...
"Shall we begin?"
The voice broke his train of thoughts, and Legolas nodded mutely as the man rose from the table. He sat still, fingering the lacings of his tunic expectantly, and widened his eyes in slight surprise when the man did not reach for his canvas but instead walked toward him. Roloth sat down upon the mattress, smiling at the elfling. His body cast a long dark shadow across the walls dimly lit with a solitary candle. The flickering light was creating strange shapes, shapes that were incomprehensible.
"Tonight, I will be content to simply sleep by you. You have been humoring this old man for so long, you must be tired." His fingers lovingly stroked the child's jaw line.
Legolas tilted his head, and smiled lightly. "I am not greatly tired. You can go ahead."
The man shook his head, his fingers trailing light patterns on the elfling's neck. "No, dear Legolas, I cannot make you keep humoring me forever. Let me do you service tonight. Sleep on my bed."
The child blinked. "But I am quite comfortable on my bedding," he replied, perplexed.
And he had to slip out tonight unnoticed.
The candle danced relentlessly through the darkness.
Roloth smiled, this time a bit uncertainly. "Ah, but I would like to have you on my bed. It is bigger, and I...I would like to have a child by me in my sleep. It would comfort me."
At this, the child nodded with solemn understanding and sympathy in his young features. "I see."
Legolas plopped down onto the bed, pulling the blanket over himself. Roloth approached the table and blew out the candle. The cabin was instantly overcome with darkness.
The night was still dark when Legolas awoke. A strange sensation was invading his peace.
Yes. He had forgotten. He had to find Ada.
It had been too long. Pehaps Ada was hurt while searching for him. The trees were whispering danger.
Blinking hard to clear his hazy vision, the elfling slowly pulled himself up. And gasped when he found that he could not.
A warm body pressed against his own, as rough hands roamed over his body. It was hot, suffocating. Legolas sucked in his breath.
"Roloth," he called softly. "What are you doing?"
"You are beautiful..." The fevered whispers were hot against his skin. He realized that his tunic was open, his chest and collarbones bare against the man's desperate touches. The hands slid up and down and around, urgently, possessively, as if they wanted to make the body under them mold to the touch. Utterly possessed.
"Er, eh, Roloth..."
It was hot. And somehow, not very comfortable. He wanted to sleep in peace. Or go out and find Ada.
"You are beautiful..."
The man was breathing against his chest, his hands roaming.
After a moment of debate, Legolas decided that he wanted to move away. His body began to wriggle away from the man's touch, when the man hugged his legs and pleaded hotly.
"Don't move away from me...don't deny this old man this joy..."
He rubbed his face against the child's round knees.
"I miss my son...let me pretend that you are my son in the dark...have pity, dear Legolas..."
The child froze. He tentatively let out a weary breath, closing his eyes. The man resumed his fevered touching, breathlessly rubbing his body against that of the child. "You are beautiful..." he breathed, enveloping the small smooth body with his own. "Beautiful..."
In the darkness, the touches grew in tension, in passion. Hands traveled up, down, over, under – and the tunic was undone, hair disheveled, sheets crinkled, leggings rolled up to the thighs, as the man writhed in the dark, whispering and panting, over the motionless form of the child.
Suddenly, a clear voice cleaved the fervor of the darkness.
Roloth froze. The supple body under him suddenly tensed, and gentle hands pushed him off. The dim outline of the child slid out from under him, and sat up against the wall. Bright blue eyes glowed steadily toward his direction.
"You may pretend, but I cannot."
Ada did not touch him like this. This was not Ada.
The young voice suddenly seemed so wise, so strong. Roloth shivered. The child's clear eyes penetrated the darkness. He could not meet those eyes.
"No matter how hard you try, you are not my father." The boy at up straighter, watching the man. No emotion laced his words. His voice rang as steady and cold as the blue of his eyes. "Forgive me, Roloth. But you cannot be my father."
I love Ada too much to let anyone else pretend to be him.
The silence of the night darkened as the moon leaned sadly across the sky.