After spending a pleasant afternoon with Gimli at the reserve, Legolas felt reluctant to return home.
He and Gimli had watched the training sessions and, as expected, no one wanted them in their team. The human teams flat-out refused to consider either of them. The elven teams were keen to have Legolas, knowing his skills with a bow, but didn’t want Gimli as well and, likewise, the dwarvish teams didn’t want Legolas. One of the dwarf teams consisting of some of Kili’s friends who knew of his training session with Legolas considered it, but ultimately decided that accepting an elf would not work.
Regardless, the afternoon gave them the opportunity to practise their own skills and observe the skills of the other competitors. They made their way around the course, working out where they would be strong together and where they would struggle without a recognised swordsman in their team. They also tried unsuccessfully to think up a good team name.
When they left, instead of taking a bus Legolas walked home as slowly as he could. The only thing keeping him moving at all was the hope of seeing Aragorn. When he eventually arrived, he dawdled outside a while, trying hard not to stare at the Peredhel’s house.
Once he got inside and shut the door, he had a distinct feeling of déjà vu seeing his step-siblings sitting on the lounge watching him. Bain and, disappointingly, Sigrid were glaring at him. Tilda simply looked upset. Legolas looked around, half expecting to see his father standing there glaring at him too.
He took a breath. “What’s going on?”
“Our Da’s upset because of you!” Bain replied.
“Yeah you, you stupid pointy eared elf. Our Da had a fight with your da when he got home from that bloody club and now they’re both ignoring each other!”
Several thoughts raced through Legolas’ head. His father and Bard had argued? He hadn’t seen them argue once since they got back together, they were so sickeningly in love. And, if they had argued, it meant Thranduil had come out of his dissociative state far quicker than before. Legolas also felt a quick flash of hope that maybe, just maybe, he would see Aragorn tonight after all.
“It’s all your fault!” Bain continued on. “If you didn’t want to go to that stupid barb…”
“That’s enough Bain!” Bard interrupted, entering the room.
“But it’s true.”
“I said enough!”
Bain flopped backwards on the lounge, beginning to sulk.
“Now,” Bard continued. “All of us, except for Thranduil, are going to the barbeque and I have told Dr Peredhel that we will be there soon. So I suggest you all go and get yourself ready.”
“I’m not gonna visit a bunch of elves, it’s bad enough having to see this one every day,” Bain muttered, gesturing rudely at Legolas.
“Fine. Stay home then. I’m sure you and Thranduil will have lots of things to talk about.”
Tilda laughed as Bain screwed his nose up in disgust at the thought of being alone with their step-father all night.
Bard smirked as well. “It’s up to you.”
Not appreciating his father’s response, Bain muttered something unintelligible under his breath and stormed upstairs to his room. Bard looked at Legolas and the two girls.
“Come on you lot,” he said. “Go and get ready.”
The girls got up straight away and went to their rooms, Sigrid already lost in thoughts of the twins. Legolas followed behind after saying a quiet thank you to Bard.
Alone in his room, Legolas grinned. He was going to see Aragorn! Legolas grabbed his bag of archery gear off the end of the bed where Bard had left it and put it away. Then he stripped down, ready to shower. As he walked towards his en suite bathroom, he caught sight of himself in the mirror. Usually, he avoided looking at himself in the mirror, especially when naked, but this time he stopped and looked himself over critically.
Legolas did not consider himself to be particularly good-looking, despite having received plenty of attention from other elves as he grew. Compared to his father, he was shorter, less well-built and definitely weaker. I would never have made it as a prince, he thought to himself.
He looked at his hairless chest and thought about what Aragorn’s might look like. He knew that, unlike elves, human males were often hairy-chested and he wondered what it felt like. He did know what it could look like, having seen Bard shirtless once.
Not long after Thranduil and Bard got back together, Legolas had needed to get up in the middle of the night. As he went past his father’s bedroom, the door was slightly ajar and he stopped when he saw Bard standing by end of the bed. Thranduil appeared and ran his fingers through the hair on Bard’s chest. Legolas was fascinated, he had never seen anything like it. Was it soft like normal hair? Thranduil bent his head and started to kiss Bard, causing Legolas to flee. They recently had sex education classes at school and now that Legolas knew what happened, the thought of his father doing “sex things” was too horrid for the thirteen-year-old to contemplate.
Now seventeen, he knew sex wasn’t the horrible sounding thing he once thought, but still, he had never considered it with a human. His father once told him humans – especially males – could barely control themselves and only ever thought about sex. That seemed to be confirmed when Bard found a bunch of magazines with pictures of naked women hidden under Bain’s mattress. Elves usually only had one partner during their lifetimes, and sleeping with multiple people was almost unheard of. The outrage in the elven community when Thranduil dared to re-marry still astounded Legolas.
Legolas’ gaze moved further down his torso until he caught sight of some of the bruises on his side. He frowned and moved on quickly, not wanting to think about that. He jumped in the shower and washed quickly. When he got back to the bedroom he stood in front of his wardrobe, trying to decide what to wear.
Legolas considered a few outfits, dismissing them almost instantly. He laughed quietly to himself because Sigrid was known for going through nearly her entire wardrobe before deciding what to wear, and here he was doing something similar. He hoped he didn’t end up with his bed covered in rejected clothes like Sigrid often did. He wondered what Aragorn would wear. Legolas finally decided on something and stood before the mirror wondering if Aragorn would like it. His eyes widened in horror as he realised he had been wearing his dressing gown when Aragorn saw him earlier. No wonder he smiled at me, Legolas thought, he probably thought I was a complete slob.
When he went back downstairs, he found Bain waiting with Bard. Apparently Bain had decided the thought of staying home alone with Thranduil was worse than going to the barbeque. Once the girls came down, they headed off and Bard led them around to the Peredhel’s back yard as arranged with Elrond earlier.
The two families stood facing each other uneasily; four humans and one elf looking back at the family of four elves and one human.
Elrond was surprised to see Legolas with them. He looked at Bard with a newfound sense of respect – anyone who could convince the obstinate mule called Thranduil Oropherion to change his mind must have some extraordinary powers of persuasion!
Bard was the first to speak, going up to Elrond and offering his hand. “Thanks for inviting us over.”
“No problem,” Elrond replied, shaking Bard’s hand.
The ice broken, the families split up. The twins turned their full charms onto Sigrid while Arwen spoke to Tilda, who still thought Arwen was the prettiest lady she had ever seen. After a pause, Bain followed the twins. He had planned to stay with Aragorn as he was the only other human boy there, but the idiot seemed to be intent on making googly eyes at bloody Legolas. When the adults headed towards the barbeque, Aragorn and Legolas were left alone smiling awkwardly at each other. Neither of them seemed to know what to say.
Aragorn smiled tentatively and had just opened his mouth to speak when Elladan called out to them.
“Hey Estel, we’re giving the others the grand tour. You two coming?”
Aragorn looked questioningly at Legolas who shrugged in response.
“Estel? I thought his name was Aragorn,” they heard Bain say in the distance.
“Come on then,” Aragorn said and they followed the others into the house. He had to resist an urge to place his hand on Legolas’ back to guide him to the house.
Arwen and Tilda were already inside, and Tilda started speaking the moment they got inside. “Look, their house is exactly the same as ours but backwards, it’s like looking in a mirror!”
“They used the same plan for all houses in this street,” confirmed Elladan. “Just reversing the layout every other house.” Elladan had a keen interest in architecture and had studied the city plans once the White Council announced their plan to relocate them to a central area.
They went upstairs to look at the bedrooms. Bain snorted when they saw that Arwen had the same bedroom as Legolas. “You’ve got the girlie room.”
The twins ignored him, having already learnt to ignore Bain when he spoke about Legolas, and carried on with the tour. The last room they went to was Aragorn’s, who had the same room as Bain. As Legolas looked around, he saw a sword mounted on the wall above Aragorn’s bed. He smiled as an idea formed in his head – although he would have to speak to Gimli first.
Tilda stood beside him as he looked up at the sword. “Is that in elvish?” she asked, referring to the nameplate under the sword.
“Yes, it’s in Quenya, though not many elves speak that language anymore.”
“How do you pronounce it?”
“And what does it mean?”
“It means ‘Flame of the West’,” Aragorn answered, coming up behind them. “It used to be called Narsil but after it broke and I had it fixed, I decided to change its name. It’s kind of a family heirloom. It’s been in my family for generations.”
As he stood next to Legolas, his hand twitched a few times as he resisted the urge to rest his hand on Legolas’ back again or touch his arm. Over the other side of the room, Elrohir saw what he was doing and nudged his twin.
Ever since he was a toddler, Aragorn had been more “touchy feely” than the rest of the Peredhel family, always hugging and putting his arms around people he liked. None of the Peredhels minded, but when living in Rivendell it took many elves by surprise to be hugged by the young human. To most elves, public signs of affection were frowned on. As he grew and became more aware of the differences between elves and humans, Aragorn became more restrained, restricting his displays of affection to his immediate family. It seemed Legolas’ presence had brought these characteristics back into the open again.
Elladan and Elrohir stood and watched him with identical grins on their faces. They looked at each other and silently agreed: so much fun to be had!
Elrond called them downstairs to help with the food so they left Aragorn’s room and congregated in the outdoor entertainment area. Arwen helped Elrond and Bard with setting out the food they had cooked while everyone else was upstairs. Then Elladan and Elrohir took over, serving out food to everyone while treating Tilda and especially Sigrid like royalty. Legolas couldn’t help but laugh at the fuss the twins made of the girls. Sigrid spent most of the night blushing, especially when Elrohir concentrated on her alone.
After they ate, everyone drifted away into groups. The adults went inside to the lounge to have a few drinks. The twins took an arm each of Sigrid’s and escorted her to the pool area; Bain tagging along again, determined to prove his worth to the twins. Arwen took Tilda upstairs and showed her various ways the Imladris elves braided their hair.
Aragorn took Legolas and sat them on a bench underneath a tree overlooking a series of flower beds. At first, they sat there awkwardly, still unsure of what to say. Aragorn may have grown up with elves, but he did not know much about Mirkwood elves. He knew there was bad blood between his foster father and Legolas’ father but not the details. Legolas knew the details but did not know how the feud would affect Aragorn’s thoughts about his family, and more importantly him. As the night wore on, they opened up about themselves, their lives and their interests. They were both surprised how easy they found it to talk to each other.
Their conversation petered out into a comfortable silence and they sat watching the last of the sunset. Legolas became aware of the distance between them and suddenly wished he had sat closer to Aragorn. Aragorn must have had similar thoughts as Legolas realised the human had slid a little closer and placed his hand between them on the bench. Legolas, too shy to make an obvious move, also rested his hand on the bench beside him, not close enough to touch but close enough to feel the heat from Aragorn’s hand.
Legolas had just started to reach out a finger towards Aragorn when he heard Bard call out it was time to go home. He jerked his hand away hurriedly, giving Aragorn an embarrassed grin.
Aragorn watched as the families said their goodbyes then Legolas and the Bowmans left. He turned to go back inside but found Elladan and Elrohir waiting. He sighed quietly, recognising the grins on their faces only too well.
“Oh Legolas,” Elrohir exclaimed. “You’re so pretty!”
“Oh Aragorn, you say the sweetest things.” Elladan pressed the back of his hand to his forehead, pretending to swoon and fall backwards, allowing Elrohir to catch him in one arm.
Elrohir looked down at his twin with a phony look of concern. “Don’t worry my darling Legolas, I will always catch you!”
Arwen came over and punched so Elrohir hard on the arm holding Elladan that he pulled his arm back involuntarily, causing Elladan to fall to the ground in a heap.
“Hey, what did you do that for!” Elladan growled as he dusted himself off.
Arwen gave him a glare that would leave even Elrond quaking in his boots before turning around and ushering the beetroot-red Aragorn inside.
Elrond watched from the upstairs balcony with concern etched onto his face. He too had seen the warning signs that Aragorn was falling for their new neighbour and dreaded seeing Aragorn get hurt. Again. He didn’t know if it was a human trait, but Aragorn had a history of falling for people who were the wrong choice for him. As far as Elrond could see, Aragorn getting involved with a son of Thranduil could only end badly. He sighed resignedly – he knew he had to talk with Aragorn.
Aragorn was in his room when Elrond knocked on the door.
“Can I come in?”
Aragorn nodded. Elrond sat on the bed next to Aragorn and looked out the window while he decided what to say.
“I know this subject embarrasses you, but I need you to be careful.”
Aragorn looked at him in confusion.
Elrond continued, “Legolas is not like us. He’s a full-blooded Sindarin elf. And you know that normally elves bond to only one person. They will only have se…”
“Ada!” Aragorn exclaimed and screwed up his nose. “Is this going to be one of those sex talks about hormones and how disgusting we humans are?”
Elrond shook his head, “I’m not saying that at all.” He took a breath. “I just… I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Aragorn looked away from Elrond, his mouth tightening. He knew what Elrond was referring to; he knew he’d made mistakes in the past but he also knew he’d grown since. “I’m older now,” he said eventually. “I won’t do anything stupid.”
Elrond smiled back at him and stood up. “I know you won’t. But just be careful anyway.”
“Sure, Ada,” Aragorn replied.
As he lay in bed, Aragorn first thought of Legolas and their conversation that night. He tried to remember everything Legolas had told him about himself, not wanting to forget a single detail. Despite himself, his thoughts started to drift into the past and to his previous… infatuations. He understood his foster father’s concern – in the past, he had shown a tendency to fall madly for people who hindsight showed were not right for him.
The first had been Arwen.
When Aragorn was first fostered by the Peredhel family and given the name Estel, he grew closest to Arwen as she was the nearest to him in age. After he learnt to walk he followed her around like a faithful puppy whenever she was in Imladris. Following the disappearance of her mother, Arwen continued to visit Lothlórien for extended periods of time. Estel felt her absence the keenest and looked forward to the days she returned.
One day, when Estel was twelve, Arwen returned from one of these trips. He saw her walking towards him and was suddenly struck by how beautiful she was. Aragorn had recently entered puberty and was still adjusting to the changes in his body. He couldn’t remember Arwen ever looking so otherworldly. Sunset was approaching, and in the dusk, it seemed like Estel had fallen into a dream.
Estel ran up to her and hugged her. Arwen hugged him back with a smile, accustomed to her foster brother’s exuberance. The hug went on for a long time, even for Estel, and Arwen started to notice that he had grown since she last saw him – he was taller and had developed more muscles. When they finally let go she also noticed the shadow of a beard and moustache on his face.
If Aragorn had followed Arwen around a lot before, now he was barely parted from her. He was also more attentive, constantly giving her gifts and flowers. Arwen didn’t understand these changes in his behaviour completely, having only been a baby when the twins went through the elven version of puberty. Like anyone would, she was flattered by the attention and did nothing to discourage him, despite noticing her father frowning every time Estel gave her another gift.
The next time she went to Lothlórien, Estel and the twins travelled there later to visit her. Arwen had not been at her grandparents’ home when the boys arrived so Aragorn went to Cerin Amroth, a favourite place of both of them, and waited for her.
As she approached him, she noticed he was playing with a ring on his finger. It was the Ring of Barahir, a ring that along with a broken sword had been given to him by Elrond when he told him his name was actually Aragorn.
After he greeted her, Aragorn offered his ring to her and asked if she would be his girlfriend. Arwen was taken aback by the question – it was not something she had ever considered. She had never looked at another person and thought about having a relationship with them, let alone with Aragorn. She thought about all the gifts Aragorn had given her over the past months and suddenly understood her father’s concern.
Aragorn was heart-broken by her rejection. He had been convinced Arwen and he were destined to be together. They would get married and have a son and at least three daughters. He would build her a white castle for them to rule over. Or so he thought.
After Arwen, there was a procession of others who Aragorn developed crushes on, both male and female. There was the occasional human but, as he lived in Imladris, it was mostly elves. None of them were serious until he met Glorfindel and Erestor.
He had known Erestor for a while, as Erestor helped Elrond with the running of Imladris. One day when Aragorn came home from school he saw Erestor was there. He didn’t think anything of it until he got inside and came to a complete stop when he saw a blond elf standing beside Erestor. Aragorn’s eyes widened, all his previous crushes – even Arwen – seemed like nothing compared to this golden-haired wonder standing in front of him.
He learnt the elf was called Glorfindel and that he was some kind of legendary warrior who had served in the elven army previously. He now lived in Imladris, to serve Lord Elrond, and was also Erestor’s flatmate.
Once again, Aragorn was smitten.
When Glorfindel started tutoring upcoming warriors in swordplay, Aragorn was one of the first to sign up. He wasn’t technically a warrior, but Glorfindel was happy to make an exception for a Peredhel, especially a student as keen as Aragorn. After Arwen, Aragorn knew better than to constantly give gifts to Glorfindel to signify his interest, so he contented himself with being the best student he could and by trying to show how mature he was. He worked hard with his sword and took extra lessons from Glorfindel to spend as much time with him as he could. Outside of the lessons, Glorfindel was also at their house a lot. He would come with Erestor when he was there to discuss issues with Elrond, and Aragorn would talk to him as much as he could.
As the months went on, Aragorn had all but convinced himself there could be something between himself and Glorfindel, if only he was a bit older. Elladan and Elrohir did their share of teasing him about worshipping Glorfindel, and telling him he better not let Erestor find out, but Aragorn simply wrote this off as part of the standard teasing from the twins.
Aragorn didn’t understand the friendship between Glorfindel and Erestor: to him, they were too different. Glorfindel was outdoorsy and athletic, outgoing and friendly. Erestor, on the other hand, was an indoor person, very bookish, and to Aragorn, he seemed cold and withdrawn. Aragorn had never seen any signs of affection between the two and, completely forgetting elves do not show affection publicly, decided it proved that only friendship existed between them, no matter what the twins said.
About six months before the Peredhels left Imladris, they hosted a farewell gathering for all the families that would eventually move out. Aragorn had spent months working on a custom scabbard and belt for Glorfindel. He had meticulously researched Glorfindel’s family history and had carefully worked Glorfindel’s family emblem into the leather. He decided the party would be a good place to give the gift to Glorfindel and announce his intentions towards him.
When it came time to give the present, Aragorn had a last-minute panic attack about the quality of what he made and wanted a second opinion. He didn’t want to ask his family so, through lack of any other option, he approached Erestor.
Erestor looked at him in shock as he explained what he had done and why. He also felt a brief flash of anger towards Glorfindel. Everyone had seen how Aragorn felt about Glorfindel – the human’s emotions were never well hidden – and Erestor had told Glorfindel many times he needed to tell Aragorn of their relationship before it went too far. Glorfindel had laughed him off, saying humans fell in and out of love all the time and Aragorn would be no different.
Aragorn mistook Erestor’s expression to mean his workmanship was terrible.
“Aragorn,” Erestor said gently. “I’m sorry, but Glorfindel is already in a relationship.”
Aragorn shook his head wildly. “No, no, he can’t be. I’ve never seen him with anyone.”
Erestor looked at the ground, unable to look Aragorn in the eye.
Aragorn opened his mouth to speak again when he noticed the expression on Erestor’s face. Suddenly the twin’s teasing came back to haunt him.
“Y-you?” he asked brokenly.
Erestor nodded. “I’m sorry Aragorn. I wanted to tell you.”
Aragorn looked at the scabbard in his hands, and in a sudden fit of temper, twisted it out of shape and threw it to the ground, grinding it into the dirt with his foot. He muttered about being an idiot and wasting his time before he turned and fled.
Erestor picked up the scabbard and started brushing the dirt off. He saw Elrond and Glorfindel approach, both having seen Aragorn run off. He exchanged a glance with Elrond and looked pointedly at Glorfindel, confirming Elrond’s suspicions.
“I told you that you needed to speak to Aragorn,” Erestor snapped, slamming the scabbard against Glorfindel’s chest.
Glorfindel looked at him in confusion, his hands coming up to take the scabbard. “What is this?”
“Aragorn made it for you, to show you how he felt about you!”
Glorfindel had time to give Elrond a guilty look before Elrond walked away to find his foster son.
He found Aragorn in his bedroom, the twins and Arwen already on the bed surrounding him. Elrond came in and stayed just long enough to give Aragorn a hug before leaving them alone. He knew that his children would take care of each other and, in the meantime, he had a certain blond-haired elf to remove from his property.
After that, Aragorn swore off all romantic attachments, and in the six months until they moved to the White City, he succeeded. Meeting Legolas, however, seemed to have changed his mind. He just hoped that things with Legolas would turn out differently.