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It was at times like this that Legolas wished they had brought their horses. He stuffed the last of the smoked venison into the drawstring satchel he had made days ago from the cured hide of a buck Estel had killed. Not one to waste anything if he could help it, the Prince had also kept several smaller pieces of the cured hide for patching – patching to be used should his or the Ranger’s trousers, satchels, or boots need to be repaired. Likewise, he had kept the beams and the thickest of the tines of the buck’s antlers; he had no plans for them currently, but with a little crafting and after a trip to the smithy in Bree, Legolas might make of them a few utility knives. It was his very need not to waste the gifts they took from the forest causing him now to wish for Arato to pack it all, because even though their supplies from Imladris dwindled, somehow they were still accruing other items as they went.

He paused in packing their bags to see what Aragorn was doing. The human had taken the second watch during the night, but he had not slept during the first watch as intended, for the two lovers had become distracted by each other; thus, Estel had spent little time actually sleeping. Not that Aragorn was one to complain, especially since he was the one who had instigated their betting game of whose stone could skip the most times across the lake’s surface, the wagers of which had been articles of clothing. A consummate stone skipper with years of bored practice, Legolas had lost the game on purpose, much to Estel’s knowledge and delight, and had finally shed his last piece of clothing – his trousers – to stand nude before his lover. It hadn’t taken but moments afterwards for Aragorn willingly to divest himself of his own clothing and the two to end up on the bedroll by the fire, entangled and definitely not sleeping.

Unsurprisingly, Legolas noticed the somnolent Adan sitting under the tree nearest to the lake. Had the Ranger been an Elf – or specifically a Wood-Elf – Legolas might have thought Estel and the old oak were communing. Over the past few weeks, this particular oak and the slight cradle created by its roots had become the Ranger’s favorite spot. In fact, when once Legolas had sat there, Estel had made the Wood-Elf move and claimed that it was ‘his chair.’ At this moment, while the Silvan packed their satchels, Aragorn reclined in his seat with a tiny tin mortar and pestle, in which he ground the wild mint leaves he had found earlier this morning. As Legolas watched in amused aggravation, the Ranger poured a little water into the crushed leaves. He could smell the fragrant scent of the mint from where he stood.

He is saddened to be leaving, I think, the Silvan decided, his own determination and relative good cheer falling a notch at the realization that his Adan lover wished to remain where they were.

Legolas would cherish every memory he and Estel had created while here in this secluded, remote dell, but a vague foreboding had begun to sour the Silvan’s enjoyment of their stay. They could have remained for a few weeks longer. The Elf knew winter was not the best time for humans to be travelling, but Estel was no mere human – he was better equipped and more experienced at surviving the wilds in the winter than were most of the Edain, and of course, he had Legolas to keep him warm every night, for the Wood-Elf never grew cold from the algid seasonal winds. They now had enough smoked venison stockpiled to keep them fed for at least a month, could forage from the forest the complementary greens and nuts required to stave off malnourishment, and although they were not close to Bree, they were not so removed from civilization that they would be unable to find a village to supplement their supplies if needed.

Even still, it wasn’t a matter of necessity or anxiety over the coming winter creating within Legolas this overwhelming urge to leave the area. From the first night of their stay beside the lake, Legolas had the distinct feeling they were being watched. When his indistinct uneasiness had only grown with each passing night, the Prince had told the Ranger of his worry. Trusting Legolas’ instincts entirely, the Ranger had insisted they take turns on watch again, as did they usually, and the next morning, he and Estel had trod the perimeter of the small lake in its entirety, even going so far as to comb the forest surrounding the shore. They had found signs of movement, of course, but only of the kinds of wildlife one would expect to find in the woods. Appeased that they were truly alone in their quiet copse of oaks along the shimmering, clear lake, the two had spent the evening and night swimming, eating, and then pleasing each other in idle leisure. But once done, once Aragorn was asleep with Legolas taking watch despite Estel’s insistence that there was no need, the Wood-Elf’s foreboding had returned to him.

Finally, despite Estel’s yearning to remain, Legolas convinced the man they must go. The human had not argued, he had not tried to dissuade the Elf, nor had he asked for a reason; Aragorn had reluctantly acquiesced to his lover’s desire to be gone from here. And so, this morning they would leave.

I think he dawdles in hopes I will change my mind, the laegel pondered in slight peevishness. He left off his task of packing to walk to where Aragorn sat. Taking a deep breath, the Elf tried to calm his irritation. Over the last few days, the undefined menace mounting in his mind had begun to take its toll on him, and he found himself irritable when normally the Prince was forgiving and merry to a fault. With another deep breath, he stood before the quiet Ranger and dampened his uncharitableness by giving the Adan the benefit of the doubt, thinking, Or perhaps he is merely tired from being up all night. Or he thinks that because we leave here, we grow closer to this journey ending, and thus our time alone coming to an end, as well.

To gain the man’s attention, he first said, “Estel,” ere he told him, “You could be of help. I am almost done packing now, but there are still things that need doing before we leave,” he complained mildly to the Ranger.

Estel searched the ground around him, pointedly ignoring his Elven lover as he went about his business. When finally the human found for what he looked – a small twig of green wood – the Adan leant back, folded his legs at the ankle, and popped the end of the twig in his mouth. As he chewed the twig’s end into a tattered mess, he spared the Prince a disinterested frown before settling more comfortably against the oak’s trunk. After a long silence, the human looked up to Legolas as if surprised he was still standing there.

“I could help, yes,” the Adan replied in onerous ostentation.

Estel pulled the twig from his mouth, checked the end, which now looked like the broom corn from a besom, and finding it sufficiently softened, took up his mixture of mint leaves and water. He dipped the besom’s broom into it ere he began to use the frayed end as a brush of sorts to clean his teeth. He swept the make-do besom around his upper mouth in idle motions, a slight grin gracing his bearded visage from the simple pleasure of the tingling mint refreshing his mouth; or, perhaps the Adan was trying to goad the Wood-Elf with this insouciant performance, which was the more likely cause for his growing smirk.

Legolas was fighting a losing battle not to grin in return. He tried valiantly to keep up the pretense of annoyance. “As you are not particularly busy, perhaps you could actually stand up and do something, rather than sit on your arse?”

“I am actually quite busy, thank you,” the Adan replied with a huff of mendaciously affected exasperation.

Aragorn dipped his besom into the mint mixture again and proceeded to clean the lower half of his mouth, sweeping the twig’s frayed end over and around each and every tooth, along his gums, and even giving his tongue a swipe or two. Although Legolas stood there waiting for a better reply than the one Aragorn had given him, the Adan took his time in his task, and once done, he tossed the twig aside, picked up the tin mortar, and took a swig of the thickly minted water, which he then swished around his mouth before swallowing it with a satisfied grin.

At this, the Prince could not help but to laugh. Although Aragorn’s mouth was now cleaned of their breakfast and smelled of freshly crushed mint, he had also embedded several of the mint leaves between his teeth in the process, and so now smiled a strangely green grin. Forgoing his pretend anger entirely, Legolas dropped to his knees in front of Aragorn, straddling the human’s thighs as he did so, and compelled the man to look up by grasping the Ranger’s whiskered, angular face. Without a word, he pressed his lips to Aragorn’s lips, seeking entrance to taste the mint he could smell upon the Adan. Estel kept up the subterfuge of indifference for a split second by refusing to open his lips, but once Legolas settled his rear upon the Adan’s lap, the Ranger possessively reached out to grab the Elf’s lower hips with both hands, yanking Legolas down hard onto the growing need between the human’s legs. Estel then opened his mouth, though he gave the Prince no chance to do as he had wanted in tasting the mint upon the man’s lingua, for Aragorn’s tongue coarsely pushed between the Elda’s lips, where it swept along every crevice of Legolas’ mouth in thorough greed.

If he had learnt nothing else over the past several weeks of being here alone with Estel in the wilds, Legolas had learnt this: the man was insatiable. Now that the two lovers were alone, without family or sentries nearby, and now that Aragorn was assured that Legolas’ desire for him was honest and not some symptom of grief, the Ranger was unappeasable when it came to carnal pleasure. Luckily for Estel, the laegel was always eager to comply to the man’s every desire, for he wanted the Adan as much as the Adan wanted him.

With a laugh, Legolas broke their kiss to lick his lips, telling the Ranger, “Busy indeed. You’ve done a fine job – save for all the leaves you have stuck between your teeth.” He licked his lips again, which were burning pleasingly from the stout menthol of the herb. “It tingles.”

In a flash of inspiration caused by the Elf’s words, Estel did not bother to answer but latched onto the curve where the Elf’s jaw and ear met and suckled the flesh there slightly, causing this skin to prickle similarly to how his lips still tingled from their kiss. Crudely, without warning except for a spry grin, Aragorn grabbed hold of the hem of the Prince’s tunic and undershirt to haul them upwards. The abrupt action caused Legolas to teeter backwards, and though he caught himself with his hands, he was given no chance to sit upright again, for Estel already had his mouth upon the Wood-Elf’s chest. He twisted one hand in the Adan’s thick hair, encouraging the Ranger’s questing mouth as it laved a stinging path from one roseate bud of flesh upon the Elf’s lithe chest to the other. The human’s mentholated lips, tongue, and teeth nipped and laved their way back and forth, but the untended bud felt more afire than the one currently being swathed by the Ranger’s attentions, for the cool morning air upon the sensitized, prickled flesh only heightened his pleasure when the man’s focus returned to it.

“Morgoth’s arse, Estel,” he sighed. He could feel the human’s shaft under his rear; suddenly, there were too many layers of cloth between them. By his hold of the man’s hair, he wrenched the Adan away from him. Try though he did to touch Aragorn, to bring him similar pleasure, the human did not want to stop tasting the Elf. He began, “Let me – ”

“Not now. Can’t you see I am still busy?” the Adan interrupted in a mischievous tone, his hands making quick work of the ties to Legolas’ trousers.

In passionate, hurried, and concupiscent impatience, Aragorn jerked the Elf’s trousers over his hips and down his thighs, ere he pushed the Prince to his back on the grass before the human. Only because he trusted the human completely did he not flinch or cringe at the somewhat rough treatment. Estel was not hurting him, of course; in fact, the manhandling only seemed to incite the Elf’s lust evermore. Nearly ripping the leather in his zeal, Estel pulled the Elda’s trousers past his bare feet and off him entirely, ere he flung the Elf’s legs wide open, exposing his swelling cock and the voracious opening to his body that always craved the human’s flesh to fill it.

Aragorn took up the remnants of the mint leaves and water. Sitting betwixt the laegel’s spread, bared legs, he slid two fingers into the mixture to slather them in the green tinted liquid. Legolas watched in prurient, flushed pique as Aragorn began to fondle him with those same fingers. The moment the mixture touched his skin, Legolas gasped in wonder. Many times in his long life, he had eaten the leaves of a mint plant, used them in tea or foods, or as Aragorn had just done, used them to clean his mouth; however, he had never thought to use them like this. A tingling sensation spread upon his skin everywhere the man’s fingers trailed, just as it had from Estel’s mouth moments earlier. Starting at the laegel’s tailbone, sweeping between the sculpted halves of his arse, swirling over the sensitive, grasping ring of muscle hiding his entrance, and ending at the underside of the painfully taught sacs under the Elf’s already straining, leaking cock, Estel teased the Wood-Elf with the subtle, tingling effects of the minted water.

He groaned in unabashed desire; by its own accord, the opening to his body clenched and unclenched in anticipation of being glutted by the man’s shaft. The explicit sight made Aragorn groan in response; forthwith, he dipped his fingers back into the mint leaves, scooped up some of the fresh smelling mixture, and pressed it against the laegel’s opening. At this, Legolas relaxed the ring of muscles guarding his breach, which allowed Aragorn’s fingers to slide inside him easily. Within seconds, he could feel the tingling within, as well, and nearly spent his seed at the peculiarly delightful sensation.

Neither could wait a moment longer to have what they sought from the other. They used no oil. They needed no oil. Between the minted water and the copious amount of seed leaking from Estel’s shaft, they had lubrication enough to ease the man’s entrance into the Elf’s body. Even had they not, Legolas would not have cared, so eager was he to feel his Adan lover stretching him open and filling him to his breaking point.

Once inside the Elf, the flesh of their lower bodies meeting since the Adan was housed as deeply inside the Prince as he could get, the Ranger laughed heartily and buried his face into the underside of the Wood-Elf’s neck, just under his chin. “I had no clue it would tickle this much.”

Pulling the Silvan from off the ground without pulling free of him, Aragorn sat back against the tree with Legolas astride him. Leaning backwards and placing his weight upon his hands while still facing the human, the Elf began to move his hips in a languid gait. The tingling of the mint leaves created a kind of pleasant itch within his innermost flesh that he could only soothe with friction from the Ranger’s rigid shaft, but the more he moved, the greater the tingling sensation grew, until he was bucking wildly into the human’s lower body. With his mint-covered hand, the Adan began to stroke the Silvan’s cock in time with each violent rut the Elf made against the man’s body, while Aragorn pitched his own hips upwards to meet each of Legolas’ thrusts downwards.

The whole of his attention, the whole of his being and of his existence was centered upon the receiving opening between his legs and the giving shaft between Aragorn’s muscled thighs. He forgot everything in that moment – the strange foreboding he had felt for days, the recent turmoil and woe of his life, and the imminent end of his and Estel’s time together. There was nothing; nothing but Estel and him; nothing but the pleasure they shared. It didn’t take much longer for the Elf to lose himself entirely, to become wanton and mindless, a vacuum to be filled only with the man’s seed as the Ranger gave the Elf proof of his satisfaction and adulation, the consequent knowledge of Aragorn’s love for him, and of even greater volume, the unfathomable love he felt for Estel.

When his cock shot forth his seed, he let loose a shuddering cry. His arms nearly gave out under him; however, in anticipation of this very thing happening, or so it seemed to Legolas, Estel quickly snaked his arms around the Wood-Elf’s waist and yanked him forwards and thus to him in a tight embrace.

“Greenleaf?” the Adan asked with slight trepidation, for the Elf had not stopped shaking.

Unable to speak just yet, Legolas laid his forehead against the top of the human’s head and tried to catch his breath. Soon, though, Aragorn pulled away so he could look into the Elf’s face. With a worry that Legolas had long since grown tired of seeing upon his lover’s face, the human observed the fair Elda, but upon noting how the smiling, flushed Silvan was merely winded and spent, he chuckled in lighthearted contentment. Gently, the man slid his softening shaft free of the Elf’s opening, prompted the Silvan to move to one side, and then shifted Legolas so he sat upon Estel’s lap with the side of his torso reclined against Aragorn’s broad chest. Eagerly, the Prince rested his head upon the human’s shoulder and let the human hold him. He had never willingly had a lover besides Estel, but Legolas found himself wondering if all lovers were as giving, patient, and snuggly as was his whiskered Ranger after a bout of carnal play.

“The next time you decide to clean your teeth,” the Elf finally managed to say in a voice hoarse from his raucous pleasure, “you are not allowed to use mint.”

“And why is that, Greenleaf?” the human retorted in amusement. The Adan’s hands idled along the Elf’s back and sides; as always, Aragorn was happy just to touch the Wood-Elf, and could never have his fill of merely caressing the Prince however he could. Estel teased the laegel, “Was that not a good use for the mint?”

“It was an excellent use of mint, which is why next time you clean your teeth, you are not allowed to use it. I’d much rather save it for this, instead,” he replied, wrapping his arms more tightly around the Adan to whom he had tied his heart, his faer, and his existence.


With their bags now packed and their waterskins filled, with food aplenty and their weapons honed and at ready, the two lovers had nothing left to do but leave their campsite. They had already washed off in the lake, dressed again, doused the fire pit with water, and returned the area to a nearly pristine condition. And still, Estel lingered.

The last several weeks were among the best weeks of the Adan’s life. All he had ever hoped for from Legolas, he had found here in this clearing, in the copse of oaks by the lake’s shore. Since declaring his love for Legolas by the brook that night so many hard lived months ago, Estel had feared never to be able to enjoy his love for his Greenleaf while his Greenleaf also enjoyed his love for Estel. But here, they had found the peace he had wanted for them both. Aragorn was no fool – no matter what his twin Elven brothers might tell him – and thus, he knew Legolas’ sorrow was merely abeyant and not dissolved. He knew the Elf’s faer was no longer the open, gaping wound it had been before, but like any healing wound, infection could be hiding underneath the surface, festering slowly until it found outlet.

However, the Ranger also knew Legolas did not hide his sorrow from him. Over the past several months, Aragorn would not have trusted the laegel to be honest with him about the condition of his ailing faer – not because Legolas was a liar, but because the Elf was always careful not to worry those whom he loved out of fear of burdening them. From what Legolas told him and how he acted now, the only concern the Elf held recently was over his strange belief that some unknown being lurked around their campsite. It was odd for the Silvan to feel disquiet in the forest – so odd, in fact, that despite their both having fruitlessly searched the woods surrounding the lake and spending boring nights sharing watch, Aragorn could not entirely dismiss his Elven lover’s discomfort. As much as he didn’t want to leave the lake and the relative tranquility he and Legolas had found there, he sensed the growing unease in the Elf’s mind, even after the Wood-Elf had given up trying to convince the human of the skulking, undetectable being’s existence.

So now, they walked along a deer path away from the lake, though not before the Ranger spared a final look back to it. We will return here. I will see to it. Perhaps years from now. But we will return, he promised himself.

Before him, Legolas was humming softly. Estel had never heard an Elf with a poor singing voice and the Prince was no exception. No matter the content of the song, the laegel always made it sound like bittersweet melancholy, like a summery wine imbibed in a harsh snowstorm, bringing with it warm memories for the frore winter’s night. He merely followed the Elf in a satisfied, tired, and lulled trance, certain that Legolas would hear or see danger long ere he did.

His mind wandering, his gaze on Legolas’ lean back, and finding sure footing by instinct, the Ranger nearly didn’t stop in time before running right into the Elf. Just a few strides in front of him, the Prince had come to a dead stop, his humming abruptly ending mid-note. Normally, when out in the wilds, the Elf and Ranger had a range of nonverbal means of conveying information. Simply put, if the Wood-Elf discerned danger, he would hold up his hand to both quiet and halt the human behind him. But now, Legolas did neither. Aragorn inched forwards with carefully muted movements. Belatedly, the Wood-Elf held up a hand to stave off the Ranger’s questions or his approach, but by then, Estel was already behind the Silvan, his chin nearly resting upon Legolas’ shoulder in his effort to follow the Prince’s line of sight.

What does he see? the Ranger wondered in vexation.

If something fell laid ahead, Legolas would have an arrow notched upon his bowstring already, Aragorn was sure; or, if the enemy were too numerous for them to take on, the Elf would have incited the Adan into following behind him in hiding amidst the trees, rather than standing here in this open path. After several long moments of no strange sounds or motion from up ahead, Estel finally whispered into Legolas’ ear, “What do you see, Greenleaf?”

“Do you not see it?” he asked the Ranger, his voice barely audible.

Whatever it was, Legolas could not look away. Again, he peered out in front of them in the general direction in which the Prince looked, but again, he could see nothing out of the ordinary. Several arms’ lengths in front of them, a fallen oak laid upon its side with massive mushrooms growing out of its slowly decaying trunk, blocking the deer path they followed. Beyond that, there was only the same scenery as closer nearby – that is, brush, trees, bushes, and weeds, with the occasional twitter from a bird, buzz from an insect, or rustle of small game. Indeed, the wildlife was as noisome as usual, which portended to Estel that nothing ill laid up ahead, for a large predator or fell beast would have frightened away the skittish birds and reclusive squirrels, chipmunks, and various other small animals.

The Ranger shook his head in confusion, which the Elf saw from the corner of his eye and took as answer to his question. With crossness, as if he perchance thought Aragorn was being intentionally dim, Legolas hissed at the Adan, “Right in front of us – there, by the hollowed oak trunk.”

“What am I supposed to be seeing?” he asked the Elf in a similarly irascible tone. He received no response.

Now considering that the Silvan was playing some prank upon him as recompense for his orneriness that morning, Estel sidestepped to walk in front of Legolas, but he got no farther than the Wood-Elf’s side, for Legolas’ hand shot out and took a violent hold of the Adan’s tunic at his side. Unintentionally, in doing so, the Elf’s hand struck the Adan’s ribs – hard – which knocked the wind out of the human momentarily. With a chastisement upon his lips, Aragorn turned away from the uninteresting sight before them and to his Elven lover with all intentions of letting the Wood-Elf know that his prank was not appreciated. Yet, the sight of Legolas’ face ended his complaint at once.

He had never seen the Prince look so horrified.

“I see nothing there,” he assured the Elf. Concerned panic began to mount in the man’s chest, which caused his body to thrum as if he had just run at full speed up a hill. He swallowed thickly, painfully, and tried to choose his words carefully so as not to accuse the Silvan of hallucinating, although it was foremost in the Ranger’s mind. After weeks of hearing Legolas’ claims of being watched and well aware that the Elf had hallucinated a couple of months ago during the worst of his torment and sorrow, the human immediately feared it was happening now. Softly, hiding his apprehension behind what he hoped sounded to be a mild curiosity, Aragorn asked again, “What do you see?”

Owlishly, the Silvan blinked a single time, and though his face turned towards the Ranger as if to look at him, Legolas’ wide, disbelieving, cerulean eyes remained upon the sight afore him as he told Estel, “A child.”