Marble skin by Penelope Z

I looked at my pale hands that almost against my will were reaching out for him, palms open, inviting. No, that was not what I meant to do, I wanted to say but my lips betrayed me and formed his name once more.

He hesitates, confused and slightly alarmed, he glances at the dwarf's sleeping form and then his eyes meet mine in an unspoken question. I hope he will tear his gaze away, reject my pleas with an impatient wave of his hand. There is no time to waste for such matters now, we must leave, we must hurry, for Merry and Pippin are begging for mercy, shoved roughly by foul hands and the Nine are running again, unfolding their dark wings over Middle-Earth.

But he doesn't. He straightens abruptly, breaches the distance between us in quick, silent strides and stands before me in patient expectation. His face is chalk-white, eyes ringed with bruises of weariness and grief. My fate is sealed.

I hear the sea calling for me in the darkness, every wave born out of the womb of the ocean is roaring out my name. The leaves of the trees above us rustle in mirthless laughter. Let him be, they say. He isn't yours to have, the dark King. He'll be gone one day, cold and silent in his marble grave. Come to us. Come back to us, child of the deep forests.

I'm shaking like an autumn leaf, that will soon fall from the treacherous branch, but as I sway about to collapse, two arms grab my shoulders in an iron grip, steadying me. His kind words of concern wash over me, do I need rest, he asks, do I feel ill, did I have a premonition.

He is so close I can smell him now, his scent of soil mingled with blood and suddenly I'm bold and careless, gathering the fabric of his cloak between my fingers, rubbing my hand on his stubbled cheek. His breath is warm against my skin. My eyes drift shut.

His muscles tense under my cold touch, his fingers wrap instinctively around the hilt of his sword, but he makes no attempt to move away. He's stunned and as he opens his mouth in surprised protest my lips meet his in a clumsy kiss.

A thousand phosphorous eyes stare at me in the velvet darkness. What have you done? A thousand tongues whisper, voices of creatures who dwell in night. He'll hate you now. He'll hate you now, they chant their pitiless strain.

His hands are already moving to push me kindly away, but no, they sneak around my waist instead, like twining vine, bringing us closer. He runs his hands over my back, buries them in my tangled hair, the pads of his fingers fluttering gently against my scalp.

A sound like a sob and a moan drifts to my ears and I realize it came from my own lips. I try to nudge his mouth open, a little at first, then more and his taste is bitter, wood burned to ash.

Gimli coughs in his sleep and we stiffen, breaking apart for a heartbeat. Aragorn brings a finger to his lips, nodding. Hush now, be quiet Legolas. A small smile chases across his face but no joy is hidden there and our hot mouths meet again in desperation, fierce wolves battling for dominance.

Pale mist envelopes us, two figures embalmed in the darkness. I'm shoved roughly against a tree trunk, his thoughts an angry torrent, glittering lances and black flags flapping in the wind. I can almost taste the marrow of his bones now, I can hear the red blood pumping in his veins.

He pulls me even closer, until the medallion she gave him is pressed against my collarbone, a cold memory. Her face swims in front of my closed eyelids, grave eyes, grave smile. I've betrayed you dear sister, companion of my childhood's woes and aching joys, I've betrayed you.

I can think of that no more. There is not much time left. In a minute he will pull away, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. In a minute Gimli will be awake. The sanguine sunrise will be here, awakening the morning dews, burning the veil of the night away. In a minute there will be day, signs to follow, dark enemies to hunt and a mission, a cause and a reason. And a Ring to burn and melt in the fires of Mordor.

The ocean cries out for me again. Come to us Legolas, the forlorn lands are calling. Come to our silver altars dripping with sacrificial blood and our silent forests where no nightingale sings. Come to where you belong elf, where there are no mornings and sunsets, no seasons and years, only Now and Here and Forever.

One day I will depart never to return and my memory will fade from the mortal mind. But not now. Not yet. There is a short time left.

A minute.

My sole comfort.

I will not ask for more.


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