Completely A.U. Legolas slave fic. This story was inspired by Bluegolds story "Bound", which can be found here: http://daemel.freespaces.com/authors.html#blue
I use similar plot ideas here with her permission.
Betareader: Many thanks to Surreysmum, who polished this and made it so much better! She also saved me from some serious embarrassment.
All still remaining errors are my own.
Disclaimer: Universe and characters are not mine, but Tolkiens. The idea of the spell, however, belongs to me.
For all other disclaimers and authors notes see Story Intro.
Aragorn gave the room another look-over, then he dropped to his knees before his trembling slave and took him by his shoulders. With a quick shake of his head he said quietly:
"That was very brave, but very, very stupid!"
Legolas looked back at him, puzzled. Aragorn was not angry? But the expression of his masters eyes told him differently. Aragorn was upset, very much so, and his eyes showed an odd mixture of concern, anger and fear.
"What did you think you were doing?!" he hissed at his Elf, quietly and angrily. "You scared me badly today! I thought I'd lost you! I thought I would be forced to watch you die, or worse! Do you think I wish to watch you being killed or mutilated?"
Legolas looked back at him with eyes burning with unshed tears. "I do not care!" he said desperately. "Aragorn, they will enslave my sister!! They will take her away from her Elflings and put her under the spell! Father will die of grief!" A few of the tears escaped and ran down his cheeks, but he refused yet to let them flow unchecked.
Aragorn shook him angrily. "No, he will not," he said, "He can't under the spell. Yet I admit that it would pain him greatly. As will losing you!" He relented a bit and stared angrily at his desolate companion.
"Maybe they will enslave her, too," he said finally, still fierce. "But at least she will live! Your nieces and nephews will live! Thranduil will care for them, as will her husband. They all will survive. Think, Legolas! Do you think your father would rather hear that you were killed, or cruelly mutilated and left to die miserably of the spell that binds you? Because I very much doubt he would prefer that option!"
Legolas stared back at him. Defiantly he said: "He has already lost me, Aragorn. He shouldn't have to lose her, too!"
Aragorn shook his head. "Nor would he wish to lose you!" he snapped back. "He hasn't yet, you know, since he knows you are still alive and he did have the chance to see you now and then. If you are executed, though, he will lose you for good. Besides, you are not free to make that offer. You belong to me! Do you think I wish to see you killed or left to die or cruelly mutilated beyond any possibility of recovery or healing, without the chance to protect you?! Because that is it what you risked today!"
Legolas looked back at him and saw his eyes were still dark with grief and fear. Still, he could not bring himself to be grateful. Instead he felt betrayed and hurt.
"I do not care!!!" he spat back. "If it can spare Silivren my fate, and save more of my people, then I'd much rather face Elrond's punishment than see her delivered into his hands, too!"
Aragorn slapped him, hard. "You forget your place!" he snapped. "You have no leave to yell at me!"
Legolas jumped, startled. He could see that Aragorn was more hurt and angry at his words than truly upset at his tone and disrespect, yet was quickly losing patience. He ducked his head.
"Forgive me, master," he mumbled.
Aragorn shook his head. "You will be punished," he said, "and it needs to be thorough. You heard Lord Elrond. Yes, it seems I will have to work on you very thoroughly indeed, tonight."
The Elf shuddered.
Then he looked up again and said, still a bit defiantly: "Punish me if you must. But still I would much rather die or face mutilation, if it could spare Silivren from slavery, and save more of my people from this fate." He waited for another slap that never came.
Instead, Aragorn took his face into his hands and held his gaze. "And I do understand," he said, "for were our places reversed, I would choose the same. But you don't have that choice. Nor do I think your sacrifice would do more than postpone her fate. Lord Elrond is intent to take all your siblings hostage. Were you to sacrifice yourself the way you intended, I fear he would simply find another reason all too soon."
Quietly he offered: "I'm sorry, Little Leaf. Please do not throw away your life for something that can't even be changed by your sacrifice."
Legolas closed his eyes. He leaned forward, and Aragorn caught him within his arms and held him tightly while he finally allowed the tears to flow unhindered. Aragorn petted him soothingly, yet made no further attempt to console him, since he knew well how useless that would be.
Behind them they heard a clear, decisive voice: "It will not come to that!"
Aragorn turned without releasing Legolas from his arms. There stood Glorfindel again, glorious in his fierceness: a golden headed Elf with regal bearing and the strong, fierce light in his gaze of one who had seen Valinor during the Time of Trees1.
Aragorn gave him a respectful bow, yet did not rise from his current position on the floor, still holding his slave. Calmly he said: "My Lord Glorfindel, I have to thank you for your kind words and your defense of Legolas today. It is good to see you back in Rivendell. I am sorry that I found no time to speak to you before the council."
Legolas disentangled himself from his master's hug, yet Aragorn did not completely let go of him and still held one of his arms. He bowed his head deeply to the Noldor Lord and echoed his master's greeting. "My Lord!" he said. "I have to thank you, too!"
Glorfindel nodded back at him. "Do not fear, Greenleaf," he said, "Mithrandir is working on Lord Elrond as we speak. He will convince him to lift his ruling concerning Mirkwood's penance and your sister. This is not a time when we can afford to weaken ourselves and our defenses by fights between our kin and by pointless cruelty towards each other. Mithrandir will make him see that, too!"
He left his place and knelt beside them. He took Legolas' hands. "Ai, Legolas! I'm glad to see you well again! When I came back to Rivendell and heard in what state Estel found you, I greatly berated myself that I didn't take care of your needs before I left!"
Legolas just stared at him for a moment. He was overwhelmed. For a moment he found no words to express his gratitude, and he did not dare to truly hope or allow himself to be relieved, yet. In his confusion, he finally mumbled the first thing that came to his mind, a more automatic response and not in the least what he truly wanted to say.
"Thank you, My Lord," he stammered, then he caught himself a bit and gave the older Elf a grateful nod. "There is no need for you to berate yourself for this, My Lord Glorfindel," he added, "Estel healed me well. And you know why we deemed it better at the time to wait for his return."
The golden headed Noldor looked at him sadly. "I remember it well, yet it was an ill decision. Your master was just in time to save you. I should never have allowed myself to risk your life like that!"
He sighed. "However, concerning your troubles, Thranduilion, I tell you again you need not fear. Lord Elrond will be forced to go back on his decision. There will be no penalty for Mirkwood for Gollum's escape, neither on your sister and your people, nor on you. More so, your participation in this quest may yet bring freedom for your people."
Legolas finally gathered himself together. He looked at Glorfindel with reluctant hope. Hesitantly he said: "My heart desires greatly to believe you, My Lord Glorfindel. But Mithrandir has tried to change Lord Elrond's mind concerning our fate before and has yet to succeed."
Glorfindel nodded a bit regretfully. "That is true," he said, "yet this time is different. This Quest concerns the fate of all people of Middle Earth and it is a much greater matter than the escape of a mere prisoner. And in the war that is upon us we will only have a chance when all people of Middle Earth stand together. Elrond will be forced to go back on his judgment this time."
Legolas still looked reluctant to believe him fully, but he bowed his head in gratitude. "Thank you, My Lord. I do hope that you will be right in this," he said hesitantly.
Glorfindel smiled at him.
"By the way, I wish to pay you my respect for what you did today. To offer yourself as sacrifice to protect your people – that was a noble deed. Even if your offer was not accepted, you acted like a true prince of your people."
Legolas ducked his head. "I am no prince anymore, My Lord" he said bitterly, "I am a slave. And my offer was made without authorization of my master. I am afraid I failed him by making it."
Glorfindel raised his brows. "Still it was honorably done," he said. "Slave you may be, yet you are still a scion of the house of Oropher, and never did it show more than today. Surely Aragorn would see that, too?" He graced the Ranger with the full weight of his gaze.
Aragorn shook his head.
"I told him it was bravely done, but very stupid," he said. "I doubt that any sacrifice of Legolas would do more than postpone Lord Elrond's plans. He seems intent to bring Thranduil grief at all costs. I would not have him do that using Legolas, not more than he has already done by enslaving him, anyway."
Glorfindel still looked at him and Aragorn resisted the urge to squirm under his gaze. "Even a postponement might be enough to save many lives," the Balrog Slayer said. "And Legolas offered his life of his own free will, without hesitation. You should honor that, son of Arathorn!"
Aragorn could not help blushing, yet he held his gaze. "I do," he said. "I am just loath to see him die at Elrond's hands or to stand idly by and see him executed on a whim alone. Besides, My Lord, I still doubt very much that it would do any good for his people. Not more than he can do at my side on this Quest, anyway." He turned back to Legolas. "And I know you can do more good for them as long as you live," he added quietly and fiercely. "Especially on this Quest!"
Legolas just bowed his head. He said nothing.
Glorfindel sighed. "Well, your master may be right at least in this," he said. "Your participation on this Quest may be enough to repay any debt Mirkwood may have owed in the past. If we succeed, as a reward, the ban on Mirkwood may be lifted and there will be no further hostages from your realm."
Legolas looked at him, eyes wide. Aragorn looked sharply up and locked his gaze with Glorfindel's again. "Do not promise that!" he said fiercely and harshly. "You can not enforce it! Nor can Mithrandir!"
Legolas looked back at him, pale and betrayed. Glorfindel stared coldly at Aragorn.
"You fear to lose your slave?" he asked. "You are loath to give him up, as you would have to do should Mirkwood be free again?"
Aragorn still held Legolas' shoulder with one hand, and now he gripped him, hard. "I would not want to be bereft of him, that much is true," he said with brutal honesty, "Even if I were to lose Legolas to freedom and not to death, it would be hard on me to part with him. But even more important is the fact that you don't have the power to force Elrond to agree to that. Do not make promises to my slave that you can't enforce! Nothing will rend a heart more than betrayed hope and trust, and Legolas deserves better!"
Legolas bowed his head again and looked down bitterly.
"There is no freedom for me, anyway," he said. "As long as I remain under the spell."
Aragorn gazed back at him, sad and troubled. It was true, yet it dismayed him greatly that his slave seemed so loath to remain with him. Although he had to admit that the thought was selfish, he had still hoped that Legolas would maybe even remain with him out of his free will if he but had a choice. Yet probably that time was long in the past now, if it had ever truly existed.
Glorfindel looked dismayed. "That is true," he said. "As long as the spell remains unbroken, you and the other hostages under the spell will remain slaves. And we now know no way to have the spell undone."
He drew a deep breath.
"Still, if the Quest succeeds, we can at least try to force Elrond not to demand any more hostages. You and the other hostages bound by the curse may remain slaves, but the rest of your people shall be safe at last. That much at least he may be forced to accept, or so I hope."
Aragorn petted the trembling shoulder under his hands. "You hope," he said, "Yet you do not know. Meanwhile, Legolas remains under my power and in my possession. And Lord Elrond demands I punish him tonight. He will not retreat from that, at least."
He felt the Elf under his hands starting to tremble even more and gave his shoulder a little squeeze. "I'm sorry, Little Leaf," he said. "But you left me no choice. If you are to leave Rivendell with me, I'll have to punish you, and do it thoroughly enough that he will find no reason to do it himself."
Legolas trembled harder, yet he bowed his head. Glorfindel looked dismayed.
"Besides, I would have to punish you anyway," he said. He looked at his slave. "You had no call to blurt out my identity to the man of Gondor!"
Legolas shook under his hand, but still bowed his head to him. "I am sorry, master," he said, as it was expected,"I will take gratefully whatever punishment you give to me." His voice broke. He was seized by fear and grief, and by sheer exhaustion born out of his inner turmoil. He knew that Aragorn spoke the truth; Elrond's demand had been clear enough.
But he feared the night. To face Estel's games, even the most harsh and cruel ones, was one thing. To face a thorough punishment that would satisfy the Lord of Rivendell was something completely different, even if the fact that Aragorn would mete it out himself would hopefully ensure that he at least survived it. It did not matter that Aragorn would find pleasure in the whole thing, too. This was still about penance, and that meant it would be much darker than any game Aragorn loved to play. He feared what Aragorn would do to him, and he feared he would not be able to bear it. Not if it was Estel who was hurting him like that.
Aragorn kissed his brow. "Go to your father's people, then," he said, "to bid them farewell. Tell them they need not fear for you, nor for your sister. Glorfindel is right. I think Mithrandir might succeed at least with that, for my foster father can hardly afford to enforce this while we are on this Quest and have to face this war, so do not fear for her."
He felt Legolas tremble again and kissed him once more. "Hush! Do as I say. Come to me after the evening meal. Don't be late!"
Glorfindel looked dismayed. He had been about to protest, yet he had heard Elrond's words and demands too. "Just do not be too hard on him," he warned. "Tomorrow, the fellowship will have an early start and you will travel a long day!"
Aragorn nodded. "I will see to it," he said and released his slave's arm. Legolas rose,With a last bow to both Glorfindel and his master he went away.
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Glorfindel watched him go, then, as the slave had left the room and closed the door, he turned back to Aragorn and gave him a hard stare.
"You do not wish to lose your slave," he accused angrily. "Even were Mirkwood freed you would still wish to claim him!"
Aragorn nodded grimly.
"I admit that it would pain me to part with him," he said, "even if I were to lose him to freedom, not to death. But even more I feel that bitterness may fill his heart if he were promised freedom for his people and felt himself betrayed. I would not have him hurt by false promises!"
Glorfindel subjected him again to the full weight of his Elven gaze.
"You care for him," he said, "yet it doesn't hurt you that while he remains your slave he has to bear your needs."
Aragorn merely looked back at him. "It does not hurt me," he admitted grimly. "Yet as long as the spell remains unbroken, we both have little choice and the question is moot. Except I could bestow him on you?"
Glorfindel looked startled, then his gaze turned troubled. "You would wish to give him up?" he asked.
Aragorn stared right back at him. "Wish?" he asked, "Nay! I said that to lose him would be hard on me. But Legolas is dear to me, and I am mortal. I would be less troubled by his fate if I knew him to be safely bestowed on another Elf who could meet his needs under the spell who would treat him gently. You like and honor him and treat him with respect. I would be glad to know him in your care."
Glorfindel held his gaze for a moment, searching for any kind of deception. When he found none, his gaze became even more troubled. Regretfully he shook his head no.
"You shame me, Dunadan," he said. "Your request honors you. But I can not do that, Aragorn."
He bowed his head.
"I like Legolas well enough, and gladly I will give him what he needs for a few weeks while you are forced to be afar. But deeply I regret the day I let myself be drawn into that spell, and every time when I am forced to give it its due it wounds my soul anew. And I would not force myself on Legolas, nor do I wish to bond to him. Neither would he wish to bond to me."
Aragorn nodded. "Nor will I give him back to Elrohir and Elladan," he said, "and least of all I'll have him back in Elrond's hands."
Glorfindel bowed his head even deeper. "No," he admitted. "You can't do that."
Aragorn's face was grim. "I rather would kill him myself than condemn him to that fate," he said fiercely, "especially after today."
Glorfindel said thoughtfully: "I think if you asked Legolas, that he'd much rather stay with you, and go to the Halls of Mandos when it is your time. He is loyal to you, and I do not think he would wish for another master. Though I would wish that you were less hard on him."
Aragorn nodded again. Quietly and grimly he concluded: "As I said. I need him, and to lose him would be hard on me, but unless the spell were broken, I also hardly see another choice."
Glorfindel looked troubled again.
"But what will happen once you wed the Lady Arwen?" he asked. "What then shall become of him?"
Aragorn answered thoughtfully: "There may be a solution. Just yesterday I spoke with Arwen about that. She may yet allow me to keep him."
"Keep him?" Glorfindel asked incredulous, "besides your bond?!"
Aragorn's face was grim.
"Legolas can not bind himself under the spell," he reminded. "He can not bind himself the Elven way, neither to me nor anybody else, even should he wish. And I am human. I can not bind myself your way, as much as I may wish it. Arwen's bond with me won't be disturbed. And I'd much rather keep him than force on him another master who treats him even worse. Arwen agrees to this."
Glorfindel looked deeply disturbed.
"This arrangement sound ill to me," he said, "yet until the spell can be broken I see no other way. I hope that Legolas will heal in Mandos once it is your time. Still, I will mourn his passing, as I will mourn the Lady Arwen, and you."
Aragorn smiled at him.
"It is early yet to mourn me and my future wife," he said. "Great danger awaits us. I may die on this Quest or in the war; Arwen may yet choose to go to Valinor. I am hardly married and much less I am already king yet." He made a face. "Not that I ever wished to be," he added, "or would even make a good one!"
Glorfindel cocked his head. "You still fear to face your destiny," he observed, "yet it would give you the power to protect those who you love." He hesitated a moment, then continued seriously: "And for me your lifetime lasts only a blink, even though I've already visited the Halls of Mandos once. Still I say you will make a good king, Dunadan." As if in an afterthought he added: "At least if you can learn to wash more often!"
Aragorn laughed. He was grateful for the Elven Lord's attempt to lighten the mood.
"Then I will leave you now so I may find the time to do so once more before our journey starts tomorrow, My Lord Elf," he said. "After all I do not wish to harm your nose!"
He stood and bowed, then left.
Glorfindel looked after him, still troubled. Sighing, he stood too and went to attend the midday meal in the great hall. After the meal he went off to search Legolas. He was sure the slave could use somebody to talk to and to console him, if possible.
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- End of Part II -
-- TBC ---
(1) The two Trees of Valinor, Laurelin the Golden and Telperion the Silver One, predating the sun and moon, which are indeed their last two living fruits. The Trees were slain by Morgoth, which started the War of the Jewels and the exile of the Noldor. Technically, Glorfindel as a reborn Elf had not seen the Trees in his current incarnation, yet his fea (spirit) had and it was just enhanced by his travel through the Halls of Mandos.
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