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And Leaves of Gold There Grew

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I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.
Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the Sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a golden Tree.
Beneath the stars of Ever-eve in Eldamar it shone,
In Eldamar beside the walls of Elven Tirion.
There long the golden leaves have grown upon the branching years,
While here beyond the Sundering Seas now falls the Elven-tears.
O Lórien! The Winter comes, the bare and leafless Day;
The leaves are falling in the stream, the River flows away.
O Lórien! Too long I have dwelt upon this Hither Shore
And in a fading crown have twined the golden elanor.
But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?
(The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien)

 

And Leaves of Gold There Grew

Legolas had heard countless people tell stories of the moment they knew they were in love. His father loved his mother's smile. His mother loved how his father's eyes filled with light when he was happy. Even Galion, who was a somewhat indiscriminate lover, would wax poetically about his latest conquest to whoever would listen, praising a sense of humor, a teasing smile, a furtive touch at a banquet or a particularly splendid mane of hair.

For Legolas, it happened when strong hands tightened a blindfold over his eyes; the scent of male musk and the teasing caress of a single strand of silver hair against his neck stifling all further protest.

“Move,” Haldir said, still a little gruff after Legolas' earlier outrage over how he was to be treated. Legolas obeyed as if in a dream, hoping against hope that he had not given himself away. Haldir was infuriating. To treat him, a prince of the Greenwood as an outsider, as a stranger to be distrusted as much as the dwarf was not to be borne. And yet, when Haldir's hand came to rest on his arm, he swallowed, feeling light-headed at the realization that without his sight, he was completely in Haldir's power.

“You are very proud,” Haldir mused after they had walked a while. Legolas kept his silence. Haldir laughed and lightly stroked his shoulder in reassurance, causing Legolas to shiver involuntarily. “You need not talk to me if you do not desire, but I bear you no ill will, Thranduilion. I, too, would rather have shown you the beauty of our forest, but certainly as a prince of your people, you realize the dangers that now beleaguer us? We cannot take any chances, not now. Too much is at stake.”

Legolas swallowed, feeling out of his depth when once more, a strand of hair brushed his cheek, smelling sweet and clear and green, reminiscent of leaf and grass and the small, hidden flowers of the forest.

Did Haldir know what he was doing? Was he so easily read that Haldir had discerned his weakness the moment of their first meeting?

“I bear you no ill will either,” he said somewhat thickly, then stopped when Haldir wrapped one arm around his waist to gently lead him past a little brook, the ground beneath his feet slippery with wetness.

Why is this happening to me? So much was at stake. Mithrandir had fallen. And yet, despite the danger of their journey, the slightest touch by Haldir made him tremble, made him feel as if he could forget all he was, all he had sworn to do.

Was it all in his mind? Had Mithrandir's loss somehow turned his grief into a need for companionship so great that he would react in such a way to the first touch of another, no matter whom?

Then Haldir's hands bade him wait for a moment, and he felt weak with a strange longing and insecurity when he listened to the footsteps of his companions and their guides growing fainter as they marched on. Haldir's hand touched his cheek, and Legolas' lips parted instinctively, torn between his yearning for a kiss, for another touch, and the fear that he was imagining the strange tension between them. How could this be more than his senses playing a trick on him because he was blindfolded? And yet, he was focused so completely on Haldir – on his touch, his scent, his melodious voice – that even without his sight, he could not help but feel that there was more, that Haldir was interested in him also.

He had to be...

Legolas faltered when instead of another touch – a kiss, even! - he felt those strong, nimble fingers in his hair. Then Haldir laughed softly; still so close that when he exhaled, his breath ghosted over Legolas' ear.

Legolas shivered and closed his eyes beneath the blindfold, almost swaying with the sudden longing that came over him.

“It was just a leaf,” Haldir said, and Legolas listened with all his senses; yearning for a single hint of an answering need in his voice. “We stand beneath a mallorn, the first we have passed. You are right, it is not fair that you should enter our realm this way, and yet I cannot change it. But even if you cannot see our golden trees just yet, you should have a memento. And,” he laughed again, the sound so soft, so intimate that Legolas knew he was not imagining it, he could not! – “it does look good in your hair. The gold is darker than your own, but it suits you. And soon, you shall look upon our trees with your own eyes.”

~~~

How had this come to pass? Haldir had imagined many things that might happen the moment the group of nine companions first set foot in the forest. They had brought grave news and tidings of even greater importance and yet, even stranger than Men and hobbits and a dwarf seeking to enter Caras Galadhon together was the fact that a Prince of the Greenwood had nervously sought out his company, pale with grief and uncertainty and with what Haldir hoped, feared and did not quite dare to believe was desire.

He had felt a strange surge of longing in his heart before he even saw Legolas for the first time. A voice sang sweet, clear notes of Nimrodel, accompanied by the gentle sounds of the stream. Had he already been lost in that moment? For when he saw him a short time later, the heaviness in his heart only magnified.

A son of Thranduil. What right had a man like he to long for something so far beyond him?

And yet, when later he touched the spun sunlight of silken hair for the first time, breathed in the scent of the other’s skin while he fastened the blindfold, he could not help but admire the prince's beauty, his strength, his stubborn protests.

Haldir knew he was overstepping his bounds. To blindfold Legolas was only his duty – but to let the tip of a finger linger for the smallest moment, to stand just a fraction too close to breathe in the scent of his hair was not his duty at all. He knew that neither the king of Eryn Lasgalen nor the Lady of Light would look kindly upon a mere borderguard taking such liberties with a guest; even if said guest came in the company of a dwarf.

At night, he rested next to Legolas, attentively guarding his sleep while he listened to the sounds of the forest around them, ever alert for the sound of yrch. His eyes never left Legolas' face, taking in the beauty of the perfect lines, soft, red lips and tired eyes that even in repose held a haunting grief. He came to know him well during that night, traced the fine features he did not dare to touch with his eyes instead, committed them to memory so that no matter if he never saw the prince again, the remembrance of his beauty would stay with him always.

Nothing happened as the night passed. Nothing could, nor did it the following day and night, with other eyes upon them; other guards who were bound by duty just as he was to accompany the fellowship to Caras Galadhon.

Haldir knew he would never forget the moment when he gently slipped the blindfold from Legolas' face and the prince beheld for the first time the vision of Cerin Amroth. Golden leaves reflected in the sky-blue of the prince's eyes as he stood and gazed – and then he turned, and Haldir was lost. Legolas' eyes were filled with wonder, with love, and Haldir trembled when he realized that Legolas' first instinct had been to search out his own eyes; to share his joy and wonder with him of all people.

~~~

In Caras Galadhon, their paths parted for a while. The fellowship was shown to their quarters, fed and cared for while Haldir, a guard returned from duty, had different obligations to fulfill. But later, when the moon rose and the stars gleamed through the dark shadows of golden leaves, he walked; sleepless, restless as laments filled the air. His heart was heavy, though not wholly from grief. His sorrow for the loss of Mithrandir was true and yet there was a different feeling; a strange yearning to still be guiding the prince of Mirkwood. He remembered breathing the subtle scent of his hair as he guided him with gentle hands though the glorious forest that had been his home for all of his life, being the prince's eyes for him. The journey had fostered a strange closeness between them and Haldir could not help but grieve for the loss of the bond that had connected them; if only for so short a time.

When Legolas stepped out of the twilight beneath the trees, Haldir did not question it. Later, he would say that it felt destined, like a certainty planted deep inside his heart by one of the Valar; a scene playing out at last that he had already observed countless times in the Mirror of the Lady of Light.

Haldir had never done so; had never looked into it himself, but that made no difference when they came together. Doubt remained, a breathless fear of rejection that was born from the undeniable truth that he, little more than a simple soldier, was overstepping his bounds by even resting one trembling hand on the chest of Legolas, who was a prince.

Legolas, the son of Thranduil – who seemed to crumble at his touch, the eyes that were filled with the light of the stars just a moment ago now half-closing to reveal great weariness and grief. In that moment, Haldir knew he was lost. Awe and perhaps even fear of the prince's name and birth might have been able to keep him from giving in to the need that had begun to burn like a fire in his chest, but this – how could he resist this simple need of comfort from one so deserving of comforting?

With his other arm, he drew Legolas close, exhaling almost in shock when Legolas turned eagerly into his touch, surrendering into his embrace as if he had never known anything else.

Haldir could feel his own heart thundering in his chest, knowing true need for the very first time in his life. He wanted to touch Legolas, to press his lips to that silken hair, to draw his hands along the slender, fine limbs, to hear him sigh, to watch him sleep, to see an answering, all-encompassing love gazing back at him from those beautiful eyes.

"Haldir." His name came as a broken whisper from Legolas' lips, and he shuddered to hear it, knowing irrevocably that he was lost.

How could he ever love again after this? Here was greater magic than anything he had ever felt in the presence of the Lady. Here was the simple, terrible knowledge that this was meant for him – and if he could not have it, that he would never love again; not like this, not with every part of his being filled by the knowledge that this beautiful, strong, suffering prince filled his heart with helpless love.

~~~

Legolas did not weep, although grief for Mithrandir had filled his heart with shadows. One great light had winked out of existence, leaving eight smaller candles to stand against the growing darkness. How could they continue without his guidance?

Yet continue they must, or else all would be lost.

Legolas shivered, allowing himself for the first time since Gandalf fell, since he saw the terrible, ancient might of a Balrog with his own eyes, to let go of all pretense. He could not despair so while in the company of the others. Despair was a dangerous poison, and already he feared it ran through the veins of more than one member of the fellowship.

He knew Haldir would not travel with them. Haldir would stay. Haldir would do his duty; would guard his realm. In this moment Legolas desired more than anything the freedom to stay; to join Haldir and stand at his side, to maybe find out in time if this strange feeling that drew him to Haldir could indeed become love.

But he could not stay. He had a duty of his own, which might very well claim his life, and Haldir...

Was this love? Legolas wondered in despair. Certainly, he had desired before, had taken comfort and given it. But this – it was unsettling and terrifying as well as beautiful. With one look at him, one word of rejection, Haldir might crush his heart as surely as the Balrog would have done, had it not been for Mithrandir's sacrifice.

A hand rose to touch his cheek – dare he hope – was it – trembling...? A moment later Legolas broke; holding on to Haldir as if he were falling, and perhaps, perhaps that was what he was doing.

Haldir's mouth tasted of apples, tart and sweet and fresh, and an underlying uniqueness that might have simply been Haldir himself. For a long moment, Legolas did not even register that Haldir's gray-clad arms were embracing him, that Haldir was kissing him with as much ardor and desire as he could have hoped for. Strangest of all, in that moment, Legolas broke the kiss and stepped back, feeling suddenly awkward and out of his depth.

"Haldir..." he began, then fell silent, not knowing what else to say. How could he speak of love so soon? He barely knew Haldir. Two days they had spent together, and though he certainly desired him, how could he speak of more? Would Haldir even possibly want more?

Haldir's finger came to rest on his lips. "Don't speak now," he said, looking as nervous and ill-at-ease as Legolas felt, but also strangely determined, as if he were about to ride into battle and uncertain of the outcome.

"I – let me speak first. I know that I have little right to touch you. I have even less right to say what I will say to you now. Were your father or the Lady to hear, I do not think that either would be pleased. I... you make me feel such strange things, Legolas. Something I have never felt before. If... if I can but offer you comfort, I will be happy, and never ask for more. My hand trembles when I touch you and I say the most awkward things; it feels as if my heart is going to tear itself apart from fear and uncertainty and..."

Haldir shook his head. "I am saying it all wrong. But... but do you feel this too?"

Legolas did not trust his ability to speak and so he simply nodded.

"Since I first heard you sing, I felt an emotion I have never known before; or at least not like this, not in such strength," Haldir said humbly. "I know that I am reaching for something far above me and if you tell me to go, I will. But first, I need to know if... if there is even the smallest possibility that you feel the same. That you feel as drawn to me as I am to you. I never–”

“Yes,” Legolas said, and then he laughed, because after all it was as simple as this. “Yes. Since you first put that blindfold upon me. Your voice... your every touch... Surely you must have known? Did you not see me tremble every time a finger brushed my skin, every time you whispered to me and I felt your breath in my hair? I have nothing to give, Haldir. I am sworn to the quest. And now that even Mithrandir fell, I think that there is a great possibility that I will not return. Even so, what little I have is mine to give; for the days that remain us – will you take it? I want it to be yours. My body, my heart, my love...”

“Be mine for the time that remains to us,” Haldir whispered, and at the touch of those cool, strong fingers against his cheek, Legolas closed his eyes, sighing a moan as he was kissed again, the taste of Haldir at once so familiar and so startlingly new that he dizzily thought that he could spend months kissing Haldir and never tire of it.

~~~

Haldir watched with something almost approaching awe as Legolas explored his talan. Who would have thought that one day, a prince would stand in his rooms? A prince whom he would bed...

He flushed a little when Legolas stepped forward to inspect his resting place, uttering an amused sound when he found the length of gray cloth that had served as a blindfold on his journey to Caras Galadhon.

“You kept it?” he asked, taking it up to press it against his cheek with a smile. “Any particular reason for that?”

Haldir flushed a deeper red. “You well know the reason,” he admitted, smiling at the musical sound of Legolas' laughter.

Legolas' smile turned into something just a little gentler, a little... needier, Haldir thought might be the right word. Legolas looked down at the blindfold in his hands, then, after a moment, wordlessly held it out to Haldir.

"Please?" he said simply, and Haldir reacted without thinking. He took the length of cloth from Legolas' suddenly trembling fingers, moved close enough to breathe in the scent of his hair. Again he gently fastened the blindfold over Legolas' eyes, just as he had upon their first meeting but this time, he pressed close enough to feel the warmth of Legolas' body, and to allow Legolas to feel the heat of his own rising arousal.

"You need not beg," he murmured. "Never."

Legolas exhaled, once more unable to see, and Haldir slowly ran his fingers down his arms, enjoying every little shiver the touch wrung from him. He allowed himself the things now he had been unable to do when they first met. Lifting the hair away from Legolas' nape to press a kiss to the sensitive skin, smoothing his hands down his sides to enjoy the firm, slender musculature of the archer; resting his hands on the slim hips to draw him close, to keep him still while Haldir's hardening shaft pressed against his buttocks.

Without another word, Haldir reached around to start untying Legolas' breeches. It did not surprise him to find that Legolas was hard too; it pleased him and he made a sound of appreciative approval when he had freed him and took him into his hand.

"Very nice, Legolas," he murmured into his ear, gently stroking once, twice, while Legolas' breathing grew heavy. "I think I would like looking at you. All of you. A pity you cannot look at me." He chuckled softly. "Well, perhaps later. But for now, you are mine to enjoy..."

He finished stripping Legolas while the prince could do nothing but stand still and try to bear his touch. It made him shiver and tremble, and yet all he could do was to wait and allow Haldir to bare his body to his gaze. The feeling of sudden power was as intoxicating as wine to Haldir, and for a long time he simply enjoyed. He stood fully clothed before Legolas who was now wearing nothing but the blindfold, touching him all over with possessive hands to find what would make him sigh, what would make him tremble.

At last, Haldir led him to his bed, helping Legolas to lay down on it. He hated to lose the rush of power that came from being fully clothed while Legolas was completely bared to his gaze, but his own need was growing ever greater and he admitted to himself with a wry sigh that he would not be able to hold out for much longer.

He positioned Legolas on his stomach, watching him for another long moment, the beautifully rounded buttocks, the lovely sculpted landscape of his back comprised of pale skin, of strong muscle, sinew and bone.

"Have you done this before?" he murmured, gently trailing one finger down the crease of his buttocks until the tip lingered against the tight, hidden muscle.

Legolas shivered. "Yes," he admitted, his words almost a moan.

Haldir smiled. "Enjoyed it?"

Legolas shivered again and the muscle relaxed just the slightest fraction so that Haldir slid inside him. Just the tip of a finger, but it was enough to feel him, hot and tight, and his reaction was sweeter than anything Haldir could have imagined.

"Y-yes," Legolas admitted again, his skin beginning to gleam with a light sheen of sweat, his thighs parting in unconscious invitation while Haldir's finger slowly slid deeper inside.

Legolas almost sobbed. "Please..."

"No need to beg, I told you," Haldir chided him gently, and Legolas turned his face to the side, moaning into the sheet as Haldir crooked a finger, gently massaging the spot that made Legolas surrender to him so willingly.

"I wonder... who would dare to bed the son of the king? Some high lord? A favored warrior? Hmm... a childhood sweetheart? But those first loves are rarely inventive when it comes to bed-play –and you seem to know very well what pleases you, my prince," Haldir teased.

Legolas moaned again, slowly writhing beneath him, coming undone from nothing more than the skillful touch of a single finger. Haldir watched, knowing that he was teasing himself, wondering who had taught Legolas about these kinds of pleasure – wondering how much sweeter it would be to feel him writhe and whimper while he was buried to the hilt in that fine, sweet body.

"My captain," Legolas admitted breathlessly and Haldir swallowed, feeling strangely aroused as he imagined it. "My first post as a guard. He was so... good, so experienced. Liked it too much, him inside me... had to change patrols at last. Oh Valar, Haldir!"

He arched, his entire body tensing, and Haldir stopped the tormenting motion of his finger for a moment.

"Mmh, I can see what a distraction you would be," Haldir said noncommittally. "But, I'm not your captain, and you are not my guard."

"W-would be," Legolas whimpered when Haldir at last drew back to open his own breeches, kicking them away without care before he dipped his finger into a jar of grease. "Would be anything you want, just please..."

"No begging!" Haldir breathed again as he leaned over him, still clad in the tunic of fine, gray wool. "It's not needed... I will have you anyway, whether you beg or not."

He forced himself inside then, and Legolas was indeed so sweet, so willing, shivering beneath him while Haldir pressed another kiss to his nape, tasting the salt of his sweat on the gleaming skin.

"He taught you to take it like this?" he inquired, his own voice darker now, breathless, but still keeping up the questioning because Legolas' utter abandon and willingness was just too arousing.

Legolas whimpered again and tensed around him, forcing a moan from Haldir as well. “He did,” Legolas admitted, biting his lips as Haldir's thrusts picked up speed. “He... liked me this way. I liked it too. Like it still, so v-very, very much.”

Tears welled up beneath the blindfold as Haldir's thrusts grew harder, though Haldir knew it was not from pain, but from the angle of his thrusts and the nearly unbearable pleasure. Legolas could no longer talk, only sob with need, and Haldir's control began to slip as well. He raised Legolas to his knees, making another pleased sound when in this position, he could slide inside even deeper, and Legolas, who was a trembling, moaning mass of need, cried out so loudly when Haldir's hand wrapped at last around his neglected erection that he wondered how soon the news would spread through all of Caras Galadhon that he had bedded the son of Thranduil, and bedded him well enough to make him plead for more.

He came before Legolas did, with a sudden, surprising shock; spending himself with a few more jerking thrusts until he stilled, trembling as if he had sparred for hours. Legolas stilled as well, silent except for his heavy breathing, though Haldir still held his swollen shaft in his hand.

As if to test him, Haldir did not move until his own heartbeat had calmed; softening inside the prince's body. Legolas still felt good, so hot around him, and Haldir once more became aware that he was still half dressed, wondering if the gray wool of his tunic was scratchy against the prince's sweaty, bare skin. He swallowed at the rush of power the thought gave him, taking in the prince's flushed, tear-stained cheeks, the disheveled, sweat-soaked hair, the beautifully formed body that was trembling beneath him and yet held still without him needing to speak the command aloud.

Haldir smiled tenderly. Yes, Legolas needed, and he would see to his needs... in his own time.

"Did you like that?" he asked, taking care to speak calmly, dispassionately.

Legolas' breath came in beautiful, desperate little gasps.

"V-very much," Legolas admitted, the gray fabric covering his eyes darkening further from either tears or sweat. Haldir smiled to see it, still refusing to move.

"What do you like most?" he inquired curiously, and Legolas whimpered again when the pad of Haldir's thumb brushed over the tip of his shaft as if by accident, finding the glans already slick with the first few drops of his essence.

"W-when you come inside me. I... I like feeling that."

Haldir pressed another kiss to his shoulder.

“You should see yourself right now. You look so lovely like this. So aroused...”

Legolas tried to bite back another whimper when Haldir's hand slid lower to cup his testes for a moment. Haldir chuckled at his reaction, and then gave up any pretense of wanting to prolong the torment. The night was still young after all, and Legolas so enchanting that he knew he would lay claim to him anew after they had both calmed a little.

He smiled wryly, feeling the first stirrings of interest as soon as Legolas began to moan again. No, it would not take long at all, he thought, pleased and fascinated by his own reaction to Legolas, drinking in every little sound of pleasure like a man starved for water as he stroked him. When Legolas found release, he was so overwhelmed that he made an unintelligible sound that could have been a curse, a prayer to one of the Valar, or, as Haldir liked to imagine, his own name. He pressed more kisses to Legolas sweaty back, almost giddy with joy at this strange thing he had found with the prince, gentling him through the last tremors of pleasure until he slipped out of him at last with a sigh of regret. He moved the prince into a more comfortable position, curling up at his side with a feeling that was not quite unlike that of a pleased, curious cat with its prey.

Only that he did not want to harm Legolas but comfort him, he thought and smoothed a sweaty strand of hair away from his face before he gently freed him of the blindfold.

Legolas blinked at the light, then gave him an exhausted smile, still flushed and – still a little shy, Haldir realized with surprise when after an awkward moment, Legolas hid his face in his hand, pleased to find that Legolas was laughing softly, not weeping.

“Ah, how can it seem so embarrassing now, just because I can see you?” he asked, his voice a little muffled.

Haldir could not help but grin. “That's it, then? I was afraid you regretted what we did.”

Legolas peeked at him through his fingers, cheeks still red. “Not regretting, but... oh, I can't believe the things I just told you! And how foolish is it to feel embarrassed now?”

Haldir smiled and gently drew his hands down. “Not foolish at all. I can understand.”

“Somehow not being able to see made it so much easier. Easier to.... trust. To just let go. Just feel, and react, and give...” Legolas' voice trailed off. Then he gave Haldir a thoughtful look. “You knew that, didn't you? Somehow you knew that this was exactly what I needed. It really was. To not think for a moment of what has passed, of what is to come... Thank you, Haldir.”

Haldir leaned forward to press a gentle, chaste kiss to his lips. “You are welcome. It was my pleasure, in the truest sense of the word. Believe it or not, it helped me as well. An hour ago I was thinking that someone like me should not even dare to think such thoughts of you as I have since I first saw you... Having you at my mercy, naked and blindfolded quickly made me forget all about my qualms.”

“Foolish worries. Someone like you might just be what this prince wants most in the world,” Legolas said, and Haldir laughed in relief and pleasure, taking up the blindfold again.

“I am glad to hear that. Then, if perhaps you are in further need of comforting for the days you will remain here, it will see further use.”

Legolas blushed again, but nodded almost eagerly. “I hope it will. But Haldir, I think I should tell you... I am not always like this. “A hint of frustration entered his voice. “I don't always... need so much...”

“Do you think I would mind that?” Haldir shook his head with a smile. “You'll have what you need of me as long as the fellowship rests in Lórien. Only allow me to give you a gift as well, in return for the trust you've given me.”

He looked at the length of gray cloth in his hand; a simple thing, now stained with sweat and tears, and yet a miracle that had allowed him to see the most beautiful sight he had ever beheld. “I will keep it as long as you are here, but the day you leave, I shall give it to you; to take with you and remember me by. When all this is over, when there is no more war and the light returns to our realms, come seek me out, my lovely prince, and I will gladly wear the blindfold for you.”