|School of Rings II.
Aragorn looked down at the open, eager faces of the two hobbits before him, inwardly weighing their chances. Hobbits were not the best of fighters, and even for hobbits, these two made an unlikely pair. One looked more like a junior high school human boy than he looked like a first year hobbit. He was small and delicately pale, with a tumble of dark brown curls and a pair of big blue eyes. The other was taller and a little stocky. He was much closer to the type that Aragorn was used to seeing with a sword, but he was heavier than the average hobbit, and that did not auger well at all.
"Can you take the newcomers?" Boromir had said, his shadow falling across Aragorn suddenly. Aragorn had looked up from where he sat, in a casual pose on the floor, tending to his blade, to see a tall figure looming over him. "Haldir hasn't arrived yet, and I've got Student Council."
Aragorn's hand had stilled against his blade. "Is that a good idea?"
"It's just hobbits," Boromir had said.
Aragorn had followed his gaze. It was, in fact, just two hobbits, standing small and out of place by the door.
He looked back at Boromir. "If there's no one else," he had begun to say.
"Thanks," Boromir said, and was gone.
Aragorn had made his way over to the hobbits, feeling the significance of it with every step. There was a loose, friendly hierarchy in place within the sword circle that he was loathe to disrupt. They trained together under a single instructor, but they split into smaller groups for specialized work, and each group was led by a student of sufficient experience in the circle. Aragorn attended practice infrequently; he preferred to train alone. It was not his place to step in, and he was conscious that he would be treading on toes if he assumed a position of authority.
"What are your names?" said Aragorn. He was resting the flat of his blade against his shoulder.
"Frodo," said slight one.
"Samwise Gamgee," said the other.
"Short swords, then."
Both hobbits nodded. Sam said, "Yes, sir."
Aragorn stopped to consider Sam, more carefully taking his measure. "Aragorn," he said to him. "I'm taller, not more important. You don't have to call me sir."
"Sorry, sir," said Sam, wide-eyed.
"Where did you train before Rivendell?"
Aragorn was still regarding Sam, who said in a small voice, "I haven't, much." And then, in a smaller voice, "I haven't at all."
"Do you have your own sword, Samwise, or are you borrowing from the circle?"
"My own sword?" Sam looked at Frodo with a stricken expression.
"We're borrowing," said Frodo firmly, stepping in for his faltering friend. "And neither of us have any experience, they didn't have a sword club in our junior high school." To say that Frodo's head reached Aragorn's chest was being over generous. But Frodo was staring at him with that defiant blue gaze, as though daring him to challenge that he and his friend had a place in the training hall. Aragorn snorted and resisted the sudden urge to reach out and ruffle Frodo's curls. Hobbits got enough teasing from the rest of the circle. And as much as these two weren't going to be able to find their way to their blade hilts with two hands and a map, Aragorn admired his pluck.
"There should be spare swords for both of you," said Aragorn. "You're training with me tonight, but after a few lessons you should be ready to join the other first years." He saw both hobbits glance over at the first year group--mostly humans--who were beginning to run through some blade work at the far end of the hall. Simple exercises, but to a newcomer, they looked formidable. From their expressions, Aragorn judged that to a hobbit, they looked well-nigh impossible. "Welcome to the circle," he said.
A friendly greeting and an honest welcome.
As he made for the equipment cupboard, Aragorn clearly heard Frodo whisper, "He can't be as scary as he looks, Sam, or they wouldn't let him teach the class."
One of the third year elves had given him directions, and now Boromir was pushing his way through the outer fringes of the great forest. He lifted the occasional vine out of his way as he walked, and stepped over the occasional log. Moss peeked at him from the shadows, and the sweet scent of a dozen shades of green tickled his nose. Humans almost never came to this part of the school; the sounds of the main buildings were growing distant. It was typical of Legolas to be in the remotest possible location.
To the west of Rivendell lay the burrows of the Shire, a homey rather than impressive dormitory. The halls of Moria were rumoured to be vast, but they were underground, and no one but the dwarves had ever seen them. To the north, the tower of Gondor, nicknamed the White Tower, imposed itself on the school skyline, banners flying from its turrets, a symbol of human splendour.
But here, tucked demurely away in the forest, Mirkwood ruled in beauty. Student dormitories laced the trees like forest jewels, and the elves claimed the glades as their common rooms.
Legolas sat on a low tree branch in the furthest of these, reading. Boromir knew from experience that Legolas had heard him approach from a great distance. But when Boromir finally came upon the elf, Legolas coolly ignored him. If Legolas had been human, Boromir would have said he hadn't noticed him.
As Boromir walked up to the base of the tree, Legolas calmly turned a page.
"Stop pretending and come down here, would you," said Boromir.
Legolas looked up. He deliberated his choices for a moment--or appeared to--before he slid down from the branch, indicating his annoyance with a single aloof glance, too elfy to do more. Boromir had no illusions about the fact that he and Legolas didn't like each other.
"Why?" said Legolas.
"We've got Student Council."
"They called it today?"
"Five thirty," said Boromir.
"You came to get me early," said Legolas. He leaned his back against the tree trunk and waited.
Boromir shrugged. "I had spare time."
"This isn't the best place," said Legolas. "Everyone can see what we're doing."
"Everyone," said Boromir. It came out dryly. They were surrounded by leaves and empty forest, there was nothing watching them but the space between the trees.
"Your eyes are useless," said Legolas. "They cannot see in the dark. We're not far from Erestor's dormitory. Can't you see it? You must be blinder than I thought."
It was more than Legolas had ever said to him at one time, and it was an insult. Boromir frowned.
Legolas was already moving away from him, picking his way through the trees, ignoring Boromir's expression. The sunlight dappled in his bright hair. He dropped the words over his shoulder, like gold coins carelessly scattered for paupers to find. "Let's go this way," he said.
The forest was old, and though the leaves whispered and the occasional bird called out, a silence underpinned it all. Boromir's every step felt loud. Legolas, in graceful counterpoint to the human's clumsiness, moved soundlessly through the trees. Boromir crushed leaves and twigs underfoot. They were not so deep when they reached the clearing, and there was a welcoming feel to the forest, but unconsciously, Boromir knew from the silence that they had passed the borders of Rivendell's school grounds.
His conscious mind was elsewhere.
"We're not supposed to come here," said Legolas, drawing Boromir into the clearing by the bottom of his school jumper. Boromir let himself be pulled, until his body collided with Legolas's. They were both breathing shallowly. His hands dropped to Legolas's waist and then slid around and lower still to explore the curves he found there. They were kissing as they pressed against each other. Legolas's arms wound around Boromir's neck.
Legolas had started this, or that was how Boromir remembered it. Legolas had started it, but it was Boromir who couldn't end it. Legolas had infected him with the heady smell of the forest in spring sunlight; it was like an addiction, and made Boromir think of weakness. It made him think of his father.
A rush of bitter emotion at that, and Boromir tightened his arms around Legolas helplessly. The sting and the solace were one and the same. Legolas buried his face in Boromir's neck and let himself be held. It went on perhaps a moment too long, considering the indifference that was part of the understanding between them.
"I can feel you against me," said Legolas, his eyes closed.
"Put your hand on it," said Boromir.
"Just my hand?"
Boromir groaned. He felt Legolas's fingers at the button of his school pants, then felt Legolas slipping his hand inside, curling fingers around what he found there. Weakness. He couldn't bear it. He took Legolas's face in his hands and kissed him hard until Legolas grew breathless and lost his rhythm. Pushing Legolas back against the rough trunk of one of the surrounding trees, Boromir found his own way inside Legolas's clothes. They touched each other until even Legolas was close, his cheeks flushed very faintly with pink.
What Boromir wanted was to fuck him. That was what he imagined himself doing when he finally shuddered and came, gasping against Legolas's cheek. Fucking him, drawing cries from his pale throat. Legolas, for all his reputation, had a number of almost maidenly reticences during sex, but his refusal to do--that--had been anything but shy. Don't mistake me for a girl. I am not going to roll over for you or anyone. Legolas had flipped their positions as he had spoken, and Boromir had found himself looking up into a pair of blue eyes, startled by the reminder that Legolas was as strong as any human, despite his outward appearance of delicacy.
Legolas quickly followed him to completion, but Legolas climaxed the same way that he did everything, with contained grace; a sigh and a shiver and he was done. He leaned against Boromir briefly. He was more pliant in the moments after sex, but he never seemed overly moved. He drew back, his uniform smoothed down and once more immaculate. His breathing had already returned to normal. His hands were rising unconcerned to fix his hair.
A relatively new reaction to Legolas's indifference rose like a thick substance in Boromir's throat. He hadn't felt it at the beginning, when he had gloated at getting an elf under him. Boasted to his friends about it. He was the ringleader among his peers in Gondor. He was his father's son. If there was something he wanted, he usually had no trouble getting it.
He caught Legolas's wrist, stopped him from moving away. "Legolas--"
Their eyes met. Elves were impossible to read, even at close range.
Legolas's brows arched as he looked down at Boromir's restraining grip. "Are you going to hold my hand on the way to the council meeting?" Politely.
Boromir released him instantly.
They were on the edge of the familiar borders of Rivendell when Legolas abruptly stopped, his head thrown up like a wild creature that has heard some fell sound upon the wind. Elf. He looked far from human at that moment. Watching him, Boromir's thoughts turned again to his father, and filled with disgust.
"What is it?" Boromir said--or began to say--impatiently.
Legolas raised a hand to quiet him.
The wind made only a little sound as it swept through the tops of the trees. Their ancient branches shifted, and their leaves rustled against each other. When the wind passed, it left in its place silence.
From the traces of a handful of unnamed emotions, unease began to coalesce inside Boromir.
Sunlight fell in patches on the forest floor. Beyond the nearest trees, darkness. It was to the space between the trees that Boromir found his gaze drawn. He heard only the sound of his own breathing, and could see nothing. Legolas's words returned to him. You cannot see in the dark.
Slowly, Legolas's posture relaxed.
"Nothing," he said, though his gaze lingered on the tree line.