As soon as he was sure that the others in the Fellowship were sunk deep in sleep, Legolas slipped away among the mallorn-trees of Lothlórien. It was better that none of them were troubled. In their eyes, let Legolas remain the merry friend to the Hobbits, the brother in arms to the Men, the fellow outsider with the Dwarf. If he was ever to steal time for himself and his own affairs on this journey, this was the night.
Perhaps it was a small matter, the way Haldir had mistrusted Legolas's companions, and let an elf-kinsman be dishonored with weapon-point. Nonetheless, it galled him, even a day later. The kindliness and honor of Galadriel and Celeborn had not cooled his irritation. He would have some satisfaction for his honor from Haldir, one way or another, tonight.
Legolas tracked Haldir as subtly as he had once trailed the beasts of Mirkwood. Few of the Galadhrim elves marked his passing. It was easy to mark Haldir leaving a cluster of march-guards with an evening farewell, like a stag breaking from the herd to stray into the hunter's arrow-range. Haldir paused in a clearing to gaze up at the stars, skin silvered by the faint light, hair falling like a golden shadow, his bow loose in his hand.
"Will you draw arrow on me again, Haldir?"
As Haldir spun around, startled, Legolas could not resist adding: "It would not be wise."
The Sindarin elf stalked forward so that the starlight illuminated him as well. By their pale golden hair, they might have been of the same clan; by their haughty glances, they could have been rival princes. After a moment, though Haldir was slightly taller of the two, and his limbs were a touch heavier, he fell back before the stern face of the other elf-man.
"Think you that I will stand myself to be insulted so with weapon? And me and all my fellow travellers weighted by dark tidings?"
Haldir stood his ground. "Treachery is not unknown, Legolas, even among kinsmen. Treachery was the undoing of other hidden elf-realms before Lothlórien. An Elf with seven others, a Dwarf among them - never has such a thing been seen at our borders."
"You thought me a traitor?" Legolas hissed. He closed his eyes and mastered himself; he did not spring upon Haldir in a rage. But when he opened his eyes again, they burned with his chained anger.
The two lean figures circled each other in the midnight glade, every long warrior-muscle tense. Haldir saw those eyes and decided that Legolas was too fell for him to master. "I - I did not know your errand! I meant no insult! Besides, if insult was had wrongly, it - it was beyond your companions' subtlety."
"Not beyond Aragorn, to be sure. And even were my honor not subtle, o Galadhrim, you have offended it."
In the shadows, Haldir flinched. This was no light thing for one Elf to say to another; especially for one who was now an honored guest to say to their host's servant. "What would you have as weregild of me? Shall I go north to your realm, from Laurelindórnan, and serve the Sindar princes twelve years times twelve? Or shall I go south with you to war and darkness?" In this exchange of honor, Legolas's reply to him would be as an oath for Haldir.
Legolas's smile was as bright as a knife. He had contemplated several burdens to place on Haldir, but seeing the other's broad shoulders in silver silk, he chose the one that pleased him best.
"Do not fear, Haldir; I may be a stranger from afar, but I will not tear you from Lothlorien. But serve me this one night, and my honor will be soothed; lay with me and give me a warrior's ease."
Haldir laughed sharply in relief. "Small recompense you ask! That is no hardship, for though you are thrawn and bold, you are handsome as a tall mallorn-tree."
Legolas withdrew a step in the darkness and spoke mockingly. "No hardship, you say? To lie with one you thought a traitor? You may wish later you had known me better before you spoke. Perhaps I shall ask a different weregild, then; what if I asked that you should lie beneath the rough Men of our company? They have fought mightily! Surely they deserve..."
Haldir cried out in raw horror, and fell down to say, "No! Do not ask that of me, lord!"
Legolas stepped up to the elf-man kneeling in supplication, feeling the heat of anger in his blood change to the warmth of lust. "How kindly you speak to me now! And how quickly you are downed before me; do not forget it! Come, stand before I bid you to your knees again. Take me to a glade not barred by a path, Haldir. I do not think you want your kindred to see how you serve me, this night."
Haldir stood, his head bowed to hide his flushed face. Then, unspeaking, he turned east from the glade. Legolas followed, equally silent.
They passed some way through the woods. Similar as they seemed, now, by their different postures, they were master and servant. Haldir glanced back once. Legolas was tall and dark behind, with eyes gleaming, and the weapons Legolas still bore were crisply outlined by their black shadows. Was this, thought Haldir, how simple Men had felt upon first meeting the Avari, the Dark Elves; trapped under surpassing enchantment and surpassing threat?
"This place is calm, lord," said Haldir. Legolas glanced around; it was an open sleeping-place (or trysting-place) used by the Lorien-elves, with dry wood and tinder tucked under nearby roots and bushes, and a fire-ring of small stones.
"Build us a fire," ordered Legolas. He stayed standing while Haldir knelt in the ashes of the ring, building fire anew. Haldir kindled fast and well; soon a hot, flickering light filled the glade, making all the shadows darker. When Haldir went to rise, Legolas stopped him with a gesture.
"Strip you to the waist, Haldir." Legolas compressed his lips to keep from smiling as he saw Haldir carefully fold his silver tunic and place it well away from wayward coals. Haldir was less careful of his cloak and weapons, tossed away by nervous hands.
"Now let me see if the value of the weregild I would take for my honour is equal to it," said Legolas, reaching down. Haldir knelt still while Legolas toyed with his thick, clean hair, traced a chill hand down the clean-muscled chest, rasped keen nails over the strong, trembling archer's back. The only thing that stopped Legolas in that hour from whipping off his long belt and dealing that back twelve perfect strokes was that the noise might draw alarm.
When Legolas gently tilted his head back, Haldir lifted his eyes slowly up the other elf's body. He saw a dark cloak, and tall boots touched with silver; dark leggings; a tunic of leather, bound about with straps and belts; black leather greaves binding steel-sinewed arms; a grim yet beautiful mouth; and a darkling gaze that held the firelight in its depths, and stared devouring at him. They balanced for a moment, each in the other's gaze.
"Aye, gold in the firelight you are," said Legolas. "A worthy ransom."
With a clean blow, he slapped Haldir so hard that the kneeling elf swayed, and tears sprang to his eyes from the shock and pain. Legolas then dragged him half-upright by a hard hand in his hair. "To your feet, Haldir! I weary of stooping low to you."
"Yes, lord," gasped Haldir, staggering up. Haldir's own pride held him straight, but he did not dare meet the eyes of Legolas again.
Glancing sidelong, Haldir saw Legolas reach behind his back, where his weapons waited. There was a light ringing sound as he brought his hands down again, each one bearing a long knife. Their twin blades were honed steel bright as silver, and their handles were old, old bone, yellowed and so worn to the touch that Legolas's hands melted into their curves. The knives' points arced up hungrily as Legolas held his wrists crossed for a moment, drinking in the sight of Haldir quailing before the lengths of blade.
With a cruel curl to his lips, Legolas threw the knives, with blinding speed; both sprang into the earth but a hair's breadth from Haldir's feet, one on each side. Haldir cried out and reeled back, and Legolas snapped, "Do not move!"
Haldir froze between the knives and glanced up. This displeased Legolas, and he slapped Haldir again, across each side of the face this time, fast and hard as if putting arrows to the bow.
Quietly, Legolas said, "If you look at the snake to see if it may strike you, it will strike you. Move not, until I say." He waited to see that his command was obeyed, and that Haldir stood still between the blades again.
Legolas swooped down and drew the blades from the earth. "Tch! And I must clean them now," he said, stroking the knives over Haldir's feet. Once the blades touched Haldir's ankles, they were not released from the line of his body; Legolas drew them up with exquisite slowness, turning and pressing the flat of the blades to polish them against Haldir's garments. Haldir swallowed when he felt the blades dance around to the inside of his thighs; he spread his legs so that their passage would be smooth. When Legolas stopped both the knives at a certain measure against Haldir's crotch, the elf with steel against his flesh forgot to breathe.
Legolas flipped one knife up so that the blade lay along the swell of Haldir's erection. "I thought I asked you not to move. Yet it seems that part of you has shifted?" queried Legolas.
"I did not will it, my lord," said Haldir through gritted teeth. "It is beyond my keeping at this hour. Please - forgive me, lord."
Legolas eased the knives up and over Haldir's waistband, so that the metal was cold against Haldir's flesh. The ice-fire of the blade-width changed to a sharp line of pain as Legolas turned the blades once more. Their edges traced slow up Haldir's chest, pricking as they went, leaving a hot red seam of a scratch up each side, up at last to the hollows of Haldir's throat. As soon as the blades rested there, and Haldir tensed as if made of steel himself, Legolas lifted them slowly. Without looking back, he slid the knives home into their sheaths.
Haldir was gasping as if he had run a league in six minutes, but Legolas's firelit expression had barely changed. The beauty and terror was too much for Haldir, and he cried, "Let me serve you, lord, I beg you!"
As if he had not heard, Legolas rested his hands on his own waist with an arrogant air. "Two knives I have sheathed, Haldir. Now I would sheathe a third. To your knees again."
Haldir dropped like a stone and leaned forward shamelessly. As Legolas shifted his tunic and leggings slightly, he said to Haldir, "Your tongue had best be as golden as your hair, and fair as your woman's mouth, or else I will demand your services for the Men, and even for the Dwarf, if he desires it! And keep your hands above your own waist; grip to me, if you cannot still them. You will not spend your lust yet, servant."
"Yes, lord," said Haldir, and that was the last he spoke for some minutes. Once released, Legolas's rod was hard and hot as fresh-forged iron, slick with the fluids of withheld desire. Haldir would have marvelled that the other elf's malehood was flushed with blood to the peak, although no kindly touch or caress had passed between them, but that Haldir was in the same state from receiving such abuses. Their first real embrace took place with Haldir shaking in the loam and grass, twining his arms around Legolas's back and behind as the standing elf sheathed the full length of his iron blade in Haldir's mouth.
This was Haldir's only chance to torment Legolas in any way, and he took it, daringly, teasing pearls of liquid desire out of the shaft with his tongue. He dipped low to nibble and suck at the base, to nuzzle the musky, dark-golden hair and taut testicles at the root. Legolas permitted this, and even allowed Haldir's hands to roam until they grasped the taut muscles of his backside. But then Legolas twined his hands through the wealth of Haldir's locks again and pulled the well-shaped head firm so that he could ride the open mouth before him as he willed it.
Haldir choked and coughed, and felt his scalp sting, but did not try to shirk, even though tears oozed from his eyes from the stress and pain. "Hold, Haldir, hold," growled Legolas, and choked Haldir twice over as he came, pressing in sharp, fast thrusts into Haldir's mouth and throat.
They reeled apart as Haldir gasped and swallowed, and Legolas shook his head to clear it. Legolas closed the distance between them by stepping forward again, placing one booted foot against the side of Haldir's spread legs. "I see you are obedient, Haldir! Well is this weregild paid, but for the last; I would watch you make yourself come, knowing that you are," Legolas broke into a wicked smile, "a useful servant."
"Even your thrall, were you to ask it," said Haldir, wasting no time and undoing his breeches. His work was fast; his own cock seared with pleasure as he stroked it, and when Legolas's heel pressed him back further, Haldir was undone, and cried out for the pleasure and shame of it.
Haldir had flung his head back in his passion, and when he opened his eyes again, he looked upon the stars. The fire had died down, and the orbs above were sharp and bright as their strange passion had been. Legolas was held as well by the stars. They glanced at one another, their eyes gentler, as if the star-goddess Elbereth had freed them from their pride. Legolas reached out to raise Haldir up beside him. They stood without releasing their hands.
The challenging chill was gone from Legolas's voice when he spoke again. "Come, Haldir! Speak no more of thraldom, but of forgiveness. I forgive thee fully for thy slights. Perhaps thou can forgive me, too; sometimes I feel as fierce in love as in battle. But I am no kin-slayer, though I brandished knives at thee."
"As for that! I must remember to offend all the proud Sindar who come this way, if they will use me so!" They laughed together. "But thou did not ask for a lovers' coupling, but for a warrior's comfort, and well I know that warrior's loves are strange after battle, or before peril. Thou stand at the cross-roads of both."
"And well I know it," whispered Legolas. "But so do thou, and all in this land."
"At least I stand in my land and among my kin. I called thee and thy fellows friends upon Cerin Amroth; and I would call thee friend again now." They pressed their grasp together firmly, then parted. Haldir glanced around for his gear and dressed. Again in silence, they marched back to the glade where they had confronted, parting with an embrace and their deep, long, only kiss.
When he returned to the Fellowship's low flet, Legolas went and sat nearby beneath a tree. There, he removed his weapons and much of his leather gear, and let himself feel weary. He thought of Mithrandir, the horror known in Moria and unknown of Mordor, the fragile balance of the quest. In his mind, he replayed his exquisite torment of Haldir, glad to be able to fold it into his memories, a moment of power and passion worthy of the hot-blooded Eldar of old.
Worthy even of a song; but the others would not understand. The gentle hobbits, the noble Men - Legolas sat up sharply and smiled his knife-smile again. Were not the Dwarves tough, thrawn folk, known for keeping deep secrets? Surely it would please Gimli to be trusted, and to hear of how Haldir had paid for their honor. What better way to increase their fellowship? Cheered and patient, Legolas waited for the dawn.