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Title: Namida (1/1)

Author: Persephone Elysian

Rating: PG-13/TV-MA
Pairing: Legolas + Frodo (some crushage, at least.)

Warnings: Angst, hobbit crushage, pretty elfage. ^_-

Archived:

Elysia: http://www.angelfire.com/id2/avalon

Elf'N'Hobbit:
http://www.geocities.com/fire_icegoddess2001/

http://members.tripod.com/darkgenesis2/

Apologies for all the cross-posting!

Author's Notes:

This is the first story in a Frodo/Legolas-centered trilogy of
stories I've been working on. It is followed by "In the Light of the
Stars" and a third story, Yakusoku wa Iranai (which is being
written). It's movie-verse with a touch of book-verse to keep things
interesting.

I do use one of Tolkien's lines from the first book in
this story -- it was a line of Legolas' that should
have been used during the Council scene but wasn't.
So I took it upon myself to insert it in an
appropriate (or so I thought) place.

As always, I have to thank my evil betas for both the
encouragement and trying to keep me in line. Amet --
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank God I have you
to keep me on my toes. ^_-

Timeline: Rivendell, just after Frodo's meeting with
Bilbo after the Council.

Feedback: Would love and adore you forever if you
send me any.

Disclaimer: I don't own "The Lord of the Rings" in
any way shape form or fashion. It
belongs to the Tolkien estate, Peter
Jackson, and New Line Cinemas.

***

Namida
A `Lord of the Rings' vignette
Persephone

'For all things turn to barrenness
In the dim glass the demons hold,
The glass of outer weariness,
Made when God slept in times of old.
There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Peering and flying to and fro,
To see men's souls bartered and bought.'
-- William Butler Yeats, The
Two Trees.

The leaves were swirling when he excused himself, a
rustling dance of dying brown and pale gold across the
shadowy rose quartz terrace. As the doors wafted shut
behind him, the sounds of the party within, of clear
Elvish voices raised in song fell away and Frodo
Baggins let his shoulders slump for the first time
that evening. His face felt naked, aching and devoid
for the first time of the mask he'd worn earlier, a
cheerful visage to prevent Sam from worry or Merry and
Pippin from uncomfortable questions or Bilbo from
guilt. `More guilt,' he corrected himself, feeling
his heart clench at the memory of the old Hobbit's
weeping.

The waterfall that ran through the heart of Rivendell,
gorged by the clear waters of the Brunien seemed
turbulent, echoing the chaotic downturn of his heart.
Bilbo had not meant him any harm, of that Frodo was
certain but he was equally certain that had he not
moved as quick as he had, his beloved Uncle would have
taken the Ring this afternoon, by force if necessary.
The way his face had seemed to crumple in, transformed
into that terrifying visage with its sharp teeth and
bulging eyes... He shuddered, reaching up to clutch
the Ring, turning it 'round and 'round in his fingers
to reassure himself of its presence. True, he was
aware of the Ring at all times, the weight of it
around his neck heavier or the itch of his fingers to
try it on greater than at others but there was some
thing more immediate and tangible about this. It was
not enough to feel the cold burn of it against his
skin, hidden beneath the mended folds of his shirt.
The craving to touch, to roll the simple gold band
around in his palm, perhaps to place it on his hand
was becoming worse, more so now after Gimli's attempt
to destroy it in the Council Hall. It called to him,
imploring him to escape before these high lords of men
and elves and dwarves sought to separate him from
his... He shut his eyes, forcing his hand down to
clutch the railing. 'I will not call it that... Never
that.' He didn't need to with the malevolent
sibilance of Bilbo's voice hissing the word over and
over in his head. 'Precious. Precious. Precious.'

'Preciouspreciouspreciousmypreciouspreciousmypreciousssssssssssss.'


He did not find the Ring precious; for all its fair
seeming, it was loathsome and corrupt, destroying
those it sought to use, all save Gollum and Bilbo yet
it had changed the two of them. Gollum had been
transformed into something mad and cruel, his thought
bent as on the Ring with a single-minded determination
that rivaled Sauron's. And Bilbo... Poor Bilbo had
escaped but even he was touched by its evil, stretched
to the breaking point. Allowing the Ring to stay in
Rivendell was impossible even had Elrond permitted it.
It would provide too much of a temptation for his
Uncle and if left to its own devices, the Ring would
use Bilbo, taunt and whisper as it did to Frodo until
it drove him mad. He could not claim to be any
stronger than Bilbo; indeed, he often felt he was less
than his Uncle, neither as strong or clever but he
still had the will and the youth to resist. Bilbo,
after so many years of unchecked, unconscious guarding
of the magical item had reached his breaking point.
To stay would see his final destruction and Frodo
could not allow that while he still had breath. And
so he would go, forsaking the shelter and comforts of
Rivendell to the fires of Mordor and the very heart of
Oroduin, the Mountain of Doom, to cast the Ring into a
lake of brimstone in the hopes it would be enough to
destroy its evil once and for all.

At least he would not be going alone. His heart was
lightened by the knowledge that Gandalf and Sam and
Strider would be at his side as would Merry and
Pippin. The prospect of Boromir in the Company was
more daunting. He gleaned nothing but good intentions
from the Lord of Gondor but buried underneath it all,
there was sense of mounting desperation. His words
rang sincere; in Boromir's place, he, too, would be
fearful for the Eye was ever fixed on Gondor and its
people, the men who had held Mordor at bay for
thousands of years. It was not something the Dark
Lord was likely to forget or forgive. However, if
they failed in their Quest, if Sauron regained the
Ring, then Minas Tirith would simply be the first to
fall. He doubted very much that Boromir would agree,
seeing only his people's destruction and he was not
alone in that. The Council had proven that Middle
Earth was divided as Men fought Elves or Elves fought
Dwarves or all three fought each other at the same
time. The differences between the races seemed so
great that even he was uncertain how well this
'fellowship,' this group of nine walkers to be set
against the Nine who ride, would work. There was
already tension between Strider and Boromir and they
were of the same race so how could they expect more
from Gimli and Legolas given the ancient enmity
between dwarves and elves?

'You borrow trouble before it has a chance to arrive,'
he reproved himself. The destruction of the Ring was
more important than any of the petty squabbles the
other races indulged in and they knew it as well as he
did. He had to trust that they would be able to put
those differences aside long enough for the task at
hand. Trust. Could he trust any of them where the
Ring was concerned? Before this afternoon, the answer
would have been an unequivocal 'yes' but now, after
seeing how its influence had ravaged Bilbo, he found
himself without answer.

"Your thoughts must be dark indeed, Frodo Baggins, if
you can scowl on such a perfect night as this, with
all of Rivendell laid at your feet."

He straightened, a nervous tremor running through him
as he pivoted in the direction of that disembodied
voice, trying to tell himself that he was in
Rivendell, that he was safe; no servant of Sauron he'd
run across yet would speak so plainly. It would take
nothing to raise his voice and bring Sam, Strider, and
quite possibly every creature in the place down. The
knowledge was reassuring but it was not enough dispel
his unease.

Still garbed in his robes from the Council, the rich
umber shimmering in the torchlight as it pooled around
him, the Prince of Mirkwood -- Legolas, Frodo
remembered, was regarding him with some amusement from
one of the house's many trellised alcoves. "Am I
disturbing you?"

'Yes,' Frodo wanted to say but bit his tongue. He had
nothing against the Elf; indeed, he was quite grateful
for his offered assistance earlier today but right
now, it was solitude that he wished for and was not
likely to have again once Rivendell lay behind him.
It would not do, however, to be rude, not to one who
was soon to be his companion, to one who had willing
laid his life down to protecting the Ring and him. So
he shook his head and waited, taking a step back as if
to invite the other to join him.

Legolas tilted his head, blond hair given a reddened
patina under the firelight. "Are you not enjoying the
feast?"

"Oh no," Frodo rushed to assure him. "The feast is
quite wonderful, Your Highness. Lord Elrond has truly
outdone himself but..."

He trailed off, searching for the words to explain
that he was not used to such lavishness, that the
presence of so many important people made him feel
uneasy, uncertain of his place. All of which, he was
quite sure, would sound ridiculous to the Elf.

"I was feeling confined," he replied, wincing at his
lame excuse. "I thought a breath of air might help,
Your Highness."

"Legolas."

"Excuse me, sir?"

"Legolas. Not 'Your Highness' or 'Sir'. You must call
me Legolas, Frodo, if we are to be companions," The
other chided in gentle remonstrance. Blue-gray eyes
appraised him, those deep winter pools flowing over
him with keen interest, bordering on open curiosity.

"Of--of course," Frodo stumbled over the words,
suddenly flustered by the Elven prince's attention.

The garment rippled like lazy waves as Legolas
approached, accentuating rather than hiding the lithe
lines of the Elf's body. His tread was light,
seeming to ghost across the ground, be it marble
floors or earthen fields with no sound or disturbance.
He stopped a few paces away, clasping the railing as
he leaned forward, face upturned into the night air
with eyes closed and a hint of a smile.

Frodo was struck once again by the size discrepancy,
by how small he felt standing next to the Elf. He was
still unused to finding himself in the company of
people so much larger than he. Back in the Shire,
Gandalf had been the odd one, singled out by his
imposing stature and manner. As a rule, Elves and
men, the "Big People" as his kind called them, passed
through the Shire on the rarest of occasions,
oblivious to their existence outside of tales. Why
this was, he was uncertain, although most Hobbits
tended to prefer things as such, content to worry
about their crops and holes instead of events eddying
around them in the outside world. Had he and Bilbo
been so odd with their concern? Perhaps, if he had
spent less time daydreaming of adventuring with his
uncle, he might have grown that 'Hobbit common sense'
that Sam had in spades and that he was accused (and
rightly so) of lacking. Perhaps if he'd spent less
time daydreaming, he would not be caught in events
beyond his depth and ken now.

Perhaps, should, would... What difference did it make?
He was committed to his road and naught could change
it.

"I never tire of this place, no matter how many times
or ways I see it," Legolas spoke at last, his voice
thoughtful. "Even in dark times as these, Rivendell
still shines. I would that things were as well with
my own kingdom. The dark things that were driven out
in the year of the Dragon's fall have returned in
greater numbers and Mirkwood is again an evil place,
save where our realm is maintained(1.)."

Frodo had guessed as much from the Council meeting and
Legolas' impassioned recitation of his father's
message to Elrond and Gandalf, but to hear the words
spoken so plainly threw a chill down him, worming deep
within. "Has Mirkwood truly become so dark?"

"Dark enough for my father to withdraw his people
within the borders of the kingdom." The reply was
sobering to say the least, Legolas' face darkening as
he spoke.

He turned his gaze outward, fixing on the courtyard
below, on the ethereal statues casting shadows with
each flicker of the torches. "I used to dream of
visiting Mirkwood with Bilbo," he confessed. "Of
seeing Laketown and the halls of your father. I
suppose I never will now."

"Never visit Mirkwood or never visit there with
Bilbo?"

"Either. Both. After all, there's no guarantee that
Bilbo will be... If we make it back from Mordor, I
mean." It was hard; trying to voice all the fears
whispering in his ears, heightened by the ever-present
weight of the Ring, heavier now than it was a few
moments ago. He tried not to think of his
confrontation with Bilbo earlier, tried and failed.
He bowed his head, pretending to lean farther out for
a better look at the courtyard, concentrating on
keeping his breathing normal, on steadying the tight
wrench of his chest before it became too difficult to
breathe at all.

A hand rested on his shoulder, the grip surprisingly
gentle for all the strength he felt in those fingers.
Using his free hand, the Elf tipped his chin upward,
forcing him to meet Legolas' smoky, concerned gaze.
"You've gone pale," he frowned, brushing his cheek
with a casual stroke of his fingers. "Cold, too.
Frodo... How long have you been out here?"

He bit his lip, trying not to gasp aloud at the
unexpected jolt that solicitous touch triggered in
him. His body seemed to light up in response,
tendrils of warmth branching through him as he
struggled to make sense of his companion's words. He
shivered, almost leaning towards the Elf before
stopping himself, confused by his actions, by
sensations he'd never felt before. He felt ... odd,
his heart picking up and his legs suddenly unsure of
themselves.

Legolas' frown deepened, and he caught Frodo under an
arm, leading to one of the benches and pushing him
down onto one before he could react or protest. Then
he knelt so that they were eye to eye, "Does your
shoulder pain you? Shall I fetch Elrond?"

"No," he managed, edging back a bit and rubbing his
forearms as if to ward off a chill. "I'm fine.
Just...just cold like you said."

It wasn't exactly an untruth but it was enough to
cause the Elven prince's eyes to narrow in
contemplation. A tiny line appeared in the other's
forehead and Frodo wanted to groan at the sight. Not
even a foot outside of Rivendell and he was already
resorting to subterfuge. What was wrong with him? It
wasn't as if he wanted to lie to him; the words came
easy, slipping off the tongue far easier than the
truth did. And the truth was... Well, truth was no
longer something he understood anymore. How could one
know the truth when you weren't even sure you knew
yourself anymore? When the people around you were
changing only you realized that they weren't, that it
was you who was changing, seeing the reality behind
the comfortable masks worn your entire life? Well,
what then? He had lived his entire life within the
Shire, within its borders and little streams, safe
from the tempests that rocked the outside world. It
was only now he understood just what a foolish
illusion that was. Everything he counted as certain
or facts were passing away, scattered by the wind from
Mordor, leaving him tired and afraid.

"I think far more than the cold troubles you this
evening, Frodo," Legolas expression was shrewd. "Will
you not allow me to help?"

"There is nothing that can be done."

"Will you not let me try?"

"Can you undo what the Ring has wrought in Bilbo? Can
you promise me that Gandalf or Sam or Merry and Pippin
will make it through this journey unscathed? Can you
promise me that I'm not leading us all into
destruction?" The words tumbled out, bitter and sad
to the dregs and he swallowed, wishing for a draught
that would wash away the hollow ache in his chest. "I
am sorry, Legolas. I did not mean--"

His words were stayed as the Elf put a hand atop his
clenched fists. "There is nothing wrong in being
afraid, Frodo. We all are. I think..." He paused.
"That this goes deeper than fear though. What has
happened to upset you so?"

Frodo studied the elf without reply, the glacial
beauty of his features, fair and perfect as the early
morning. The way his ears clipped into points at the
ends, not as pronounced or sharp as some of Elves he'd
seen but softer, slightly rounded around the tips.
Flaxen tresses spilled over his shoulders, elaborate
braids crowning his temples in a simple weave of hair
that he found more becoming than any coronet. For a
moment, his vision faded as it had back in the forest
and his wound burned anew with an echo of ghostly pain
as light seemed to suffuse and halo the Elf much as it
had Lady Arwen, so bright that he was almost blinded.
The rest of the world was gray, wreathed in fog and
ice but Legolas *was* shining, piercing the haze with
the mindless determination of a newborn sun. 'Was it
some glimpse of his soul?' Frodo wondered. His aura
was an unquenchable flame, a mighty corona flaring
outward towards him, almost crackling between them.
The image flickered then wavered away and Legolas was
himself again, a slender elf clad in an elegant robe,
his beauty tempered, less awesome and terrible in
aspect. His shoulder throbbed, hard enough to rob him
of breath then it too dulled, still there but no
longer as immediate.

So much of what he felt these days was like that, a
quality of unreality invading his waking hours bit by
bit until he felt more like a ghost haunting these
radiant halls, a body moving beside Sam and the others
while his spirit felt unmoored, tied only by the
thinnest cords to his flesh. The Ring was real to
him, all too real for his liking but its endless
droning was like a void, a darkness in his soul,
curling and raking a thousand tiny claws over his
mind. Its voice was louder these days, almost enough
to ring in his ears even in his sleep. That ringing
had become a mocking scream when Gimli's axe had
attempted to shatter it, the discomfort it had fed him
very near enough to throw him from his seat. It was
only Gandalf's presence that had stayed him, his
strength allowing Frodo to lay the Ring aside and not
rush to 'save' it. Not even Gandalf had been enough to
prevent him from taking the part Fate had offered.
There would be no green rolling hills of the Shire to
greet him soon, save in his dreams. Those hills and
streams seemed so far away now, brighter in memory
than the increasingly dim world that greeted him day
by day. Elrond had healed him but he was beginning to
fear that it would not be enough. The world was
veiled and whether it was due to the influence of the
Ring or the sting of the Morgul blade remained to be
seen.

It was odd then that when Legolas had touched him a
heartbeat and forever ago, he *had* felt something,
something concrete and clean, beyond pain, the first
such sense he had been blessed with since Amon Sul.
His response had been immediate, leaning towards that
sensation although why that should be so, he could not
say. It was beyond anything he had ever experienced
before and even now, he found his skin tingling,
scorching away the chill that had been with him for so
long now.

"Frodo?" Dark eyes called to him, threatening to
drown him where the One Eye had promised nothing but
flames. The hands atop his tightened, as if to draw
him back and he stirred, blinking away the daze that
sought to muddle him.

"It's Bilbo," The words slipped out so easily, prodded
by the persistent note of command in the Elf's voice,
the way those eyes fixed on him and only him. "And
the Ring. And all of this."

He sucked in a breath, letting it rattle through his
chest. "I am not hero, Legolas. I'm not a warrior or
wizard... I don't know how to fight, not properly
anyway. If Strider hadn't been with us at
Weathertop..."

"You faced down the Nazgul, Frodo," Legolas
interrupted. "The Nine. And you lived. Do you know
how many people can boast of such a feat?"

"I put everyone I'm with in danger," He shouted, then
lowered his voice, trying to curb his frustration. "I
nearly got Sam, Pippin, and Merry killed. And there
was nothing I could do! Nothing at all. If Strider
hadn't been there, they would have taken the Ring."

"But they didn't. The Nazgul aren't invincible,
Frodo. Nor is Sauron. If that were the case, then
he'd have no need for the Ring and there would be no
hope. Don't you understand? That's what you've given
us, Frodo Baggins. Hope. The hope that this long
nightmare may soon end, that the Ring may at last be
destroyed and Sauron banished from Middle Earth
forever. Without you or Bilbo, none of this would be
possible. All the free people of Middle Earth owe you
a debt greater than can be repaid."

Frodo felt his cheeks grow hot. "You make too much of
my part, Legolas. It is Bilbo we owe the debt to, for
keeping the Ring safe as long as he did.

His tone became reflective as he found himself
confessing, "I'm worried about him. Gan-Gandalf told
me about Gollum...About how he thinks he might have
been a Hobbit at one time. I didn't believe him at
the time but..."

'But now I think I do,' he wanted to say. It was
amazing how quickly his self-righteous convictions had
crumpled in the face of the Ring's power, in the
hunger he'd seen for it -- both in Bilbo and the
Nazgul. Such a simple gold band, so innocent it
seemed even as it floated from life to life,
destroying everything in its path. Isildur had been a
king, of the line of Westernesse, and he had fallen
pray to its machinations, even Gandalf feared its
power... What good could he possibly do?

"He'll be safe here, you know," The almost question
caused him to lift his head, meeting soft eyes warm
with compassion. He could get lost in those eyes if
he let himself and for a moment, he was tempted to.

"Is he?" The words were wistful, reaching for a hope
that he found wavering. If Legolas could sound so
certain about things, perhaps he could cling to that
hope a little longer.

"Rivendell is secure and even the Nazgul hesitate
before the power of Elrond. Besides, it is not Bilbo
that Sauron and his minions will be after once we
leave here."

"And for that I am grateful," he replied then paused.
"Legolas, do you think that once the Ring's destroyed,
the damage it has done will be repaired?"

He wasn't aware of how much he wanted an answer to
that until his question was met by thoughtful silence,
an abstract, almost uncomfortable expression crossing
the prince's face. It was the sort of expression
people wore when they had news you didn't want to
hear, truths that were upsetting. He'd seen that face
many times in his life, although it had never haunted
him as much as that first time, when His Grandfather
Brandybuck had taken him aside and explained that
there had been a boating accident and his parents had
been lost. He'd been fortunate enough then to have
Bilbo, the elder Baggins arriving the next day,
bringing with him the promise of a new family.

And now so many years later, he found himself at the
same crossroads. At least when Bilbo had left before,
it had been of his own violation; the divide
separating them now was not of their making, and was
gaining in distance with each passing moment. The
Ring was pulling him away, each step of his road
leading to the place he least wanted to go, to Mordor,
to the heart of Sauron's domain. He feared the
journey, feared even more the possibility of failure,
but it was something he was willing to risk. He just
wished he could be assured that some good would come
out of this.

"I know not," Legolas replied at last. His eyes were
distant, as if seeing some destiny that had not yet
spun out for the rest of them. "As Lord Elrond
mentioned earlier, it is possible that the power of
the Three Rings may be enough to heal this world, to
restore the balance that has been disturbed."

"But you do not agree?"

"The world is changing, Frodo. The time of my people
is passing away and all our love will not keep us in
this land. There will come a day when my people are
but a memory to those who remain behind. This world
will be in the hands of men and dwarves and yes, even
hobbits." Melancholy darkened Legolas' voice, his eyes
raking over the landscape around him, as if seeking to
imprint it on his memory. "I fear the end of this
tale will see the failing of much that is fair and
pure in the world but we are left with little choice.
The Ring must be destroyed or all will perish."

"Yes," he agreed, feeling ashamed in the face of the
Elf's quiet determination. His fears seemed so
childish, so silly in comparison. At least he could
hold to some hope of returning home when this was all
said and done, if they survived. What had Elrond, and
Legolas and the other Elves to look forward to except
the knowledge of their impending exile from their
homes? The thought made him cold, bereft of anything
save a tight fist of anguish choking him. The Elves
had been a part of his life in one way or another
since his childhood, sometimes only as figures in
beautiful songs Bilbo sang or later still, when his
Uncle had allowed him to accompany him on his
excursions, as friends. What would happen to this
land once their light passed away to the West? Better
to pass away than to be blotted out forever, he
supposed but he still grieved for what would be lost.


"Thank you."

The words fell, surprising the both of them with their
presence, Legolas' gaze now quizzical. "Thank you,"
Frodo rolled the words around, feeling them with his
entire body.

"For?"

"For agreeing to stand with me. For listening to me
when I'm sure you have more important matters to
attend."

"Little one," the Prince of Mirkwood's smile was
brilliant, his dark mood seeming to evaporate as he
touched Frodo's cheek with the lightest skim of his
fingers. "At this moment, I can think of no matter
more important."

There it was again, that strange sense of being drawn
out of himself, towards the archer. His awareness
seemed to narrow to the graze of fingertips against
his flesh, well worn with calluses and hiding a
strength that was belied by their slender length.
They were so close he could feel the heat of the
other's body through the gossamer thin cloth adorning
him. He wanted nothing more than to lean forward, to
take what warmth and security he could from the Elf.
He was so cold, from his wound, from uncertainty and
grief.... Would it wrong to ask such a thing? And why
did he desire it so from one he had just met? Why not
Sam or Gandalf? What was it about Legolas that made
him feel so at ease, as if for the first time, he
could be himself without the restraints of what was
expected of him? He was so many things to so many
people -- a 'Master' to Sam, cousin to Merry and
Pippin, a 'son' to Bilbo and Gandalf, the Ring-bearer
to everyone here. So many titles to lose himself in
until there was nothing left but the titles
themselves. What did he have of himself that hadn't
been given or assigned by someone else? Was there
nothing of himself that he could call his own? Even
the people of the Shire had made assumptions about
him, labeling him as strange because his mind saw
farther than the turn of the seasons and the pungent
smell of freshly tilled earth. They had made
allowances, as if to excuse his behavior because he
was 'Mad' Baggin's nephew--and heir to the largest
fortune in the Shire. If they knew the truth of why
he'd left the Shire so suddenly, they would probably
all shake their heads, tongues clucking in feigned
sympathy as if to say, "Well, what did you expect?
He's a Baggins, after all."

As much as he loved the Shire, he often felt he had no
real place in it. His heart loved its hills and
fields but often yearned for something more, a
restless slither in the back of his mind that urged in
quiet whispers every spring, growing stronger as the
years passed. As if his mind knew that there was
somewhere out there he should be, something he was
seeking that couldn't be found in the confines of Bag
End. There had always been some small voice in the
back of his head, urging him to wait, that his time
had not yet come. Over time, that voice had quieted,
settling as he had into life as the Master of Bag End,
life running at a steady if not sometimes monotonous
pace. Safe, uneventful, and on occasion dull but
there had been a sense of comfort in that. Gandalf's
abrupt return and their consequent flight had brought
that feeling back with a vengeance, and despite the
fear and danger each step brought him closer to, he
couldn't deny how some part of him welcomed it. This
was the adventure he had always craved and dreamed of
and in spite of the danger, he felt himself coming to
life, seeing mountains and the wrecks of ancient
towers, striding amongst the lords of Men, Elves, and
Dwarves as if he had a right to. The world was wider
than he'd guessed and filled with such visions, dark
and terrible with islands of beauty like Rivendell.

Legolas was like those mountains, solid and possessing
a perilous beauty that alternately intimidated and
haunted him. All Elves whether light or dark were
fair but there was something luminous about his
companion, something that comforted even as it made
him nervous. Not even Elrond with all his wisdom or
Lady Arwen's unearthly radiance had made as great an
impression on him. Perhaps it stemmed from the archer
prince's sworn oath to protect him, to help him
achieve his quest but Frodo thought it more than that.
What it was, he could not say but something about
Legolas called to him, called him with the same
intensity that the mountains and the road called to
him, beckoning him into some mystery he not yet knew
the name of.

There would be time enough to figure it out, he
supposed. Their road together would be a long one,
allowing him more of an opportunity to observe his
companion. The prospect excited him, more than it
should have and he frowned, wondering if perhaps the
poison from his wound hadn't affected his brain.

"Master Frodo?"

He nearly yelped at the sound of Sam's concerned
voice, so close to his ear, irritated that for a
second time this evening, he had been snuck up on.
Legolas stiffened beside him, revealing that in spite
his famed elven senses, he, too, had been caught
unawares. He bit his lip, trying to not laugh at the
slight discomfort on the Elf's face as he came to the
same conclusion.

His smile faded just a bit at the sight of Sam's
honest face scrunched up in worry. Sam was a dear to
him as a brother, more so now than ever, but he
couldn't help but resent the surge of guilt he felt
around him. Ever since Gandalf had seen fit to
appoint Sam as his manservant for this journey, the
other Hobbit had been taking his duties very
seriously, keeping him in sight at all times if he
could manage it. And as much as he enjoyed Sam's
presence, there were times when he longed to just be
away from his anxious presence, time to think and be
alone with his thoughts and not have to be brave for
the others. Legolas had seemed to understand that but
Frodo very much doubted Sam would and he would not for
the world hurt the other's feelings.

"I'm fine, Sam." His voice was gentle, answering the
question in Sam's eyes before it could reach his lips.
"I wanted some air."

"You should have told me," his friend's voice was
almost reproachful but whether that reproach was
directed at himself or Sam, he could not say.

"And let you miss observing the Elves, Samwise Gamgee?
Never in a million years. Besides, Legolas has been
watching out for me."

Sam fidgeted, half bowing in Legolas' direction as if
he were uncertain of how he should treat him. The Elf
raised his hand, "Please, Samwise, I have already had
to instruct your master in using my proper name. It
is not fit that you should bow to me if we are to be
companions and equals."

"Um, yes, sir. I--" Sam seemed even more flustered
than before and Frodo took pity on him, leaving
Legolas' side and clapping a hand on his friend's
shoulder.

"Come along, Sam. The night's young and we still have
to be there for Bilbo's recitation," he glanced at the
archer. "Will you come with us?"

Legolas' face was grave, turning back towards the sky.
"I think I will stay here for now. Rivendell is too
lovely to keep me indoors on a night like this."

He nodded, letting Sam lead him away, pausing at the
door for one last look at his newfound friend. From
this angle, with his face caught in the wonder of some
music that only he could hear, his body a study of
grace in repose, he seemed little more than a young
man, beautiful but no longer terrible. Almost dreamy
in expression as those sloe eyes caressed the
landscape. Frodo shuddered in silence, wondering for
the flickering of an instant what it would be like to
feel those eyes touch him in that way. The thought
fled as quickly as it had appeared but the feelings it
stirred... He shook his head as if to clear it,
following Sam inside even as that image seemed to burn
itself in his mind.

He wasn't sure he understood, wasn't sure how or why
but he felt something inside him moving, changing,
leaning towards the Elf as a young tree does the
light. Common sense told him that he ought not to
entertain such ideas, that he ought to stay out of the
affairs of the 'Big People' and mind his place.

But what did common sense know anyway?

***End

1.) J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Fellowship of the Ring," pg.
249 (The Council of Elrond). Legolas says this line
whilst delivering his report to the Council.

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