Fearful Desire

by Ignoble Bard

Warnings: AU. Slight BD and NC (nonconsensual)

Archiving: Anyone may archive this. Please email me and tell me what format you will accept.

Disclaimer: Three of Tolkien's characters, one of Tolkien's lines. See if you can pick them out. ;-) The rest is just a product of my lurid imagination.

Feedback is both wanted and appreciated.

Author's note: I would invite anyone who likes the idea of the collar in this story to write a story of their own using it in whatever way you choose. It will be interesting to see what else it can do.

Special thanks to my beta reader Getty. A most wise counselor without whose support and inspiration, I would never have written or finished a story. (and she's good with titles too)


The grey wizard bustled purposefully about the large room in the palace of King Théoden, checking charts and maps, reading from a large book of power chants, and muttering under his breath. In the past few weeks, the danger had grown closer and he was preparing a magical defense for the riders of the Riddermark, a charm that would make them invincible in battle. There was one ingredient still required, however, and he hoped the Rohirrim would be successful in their foray into Mirkwood.

Gandalf had long been a friend and sometime adviser of the King, which had put him at odds with Saruman, head of the Wizard's Council. The white wizard saw no reason to 'meddle', as he referred to it, in the business of Rohan, but Gandalf could not bear to see the proud horsemen fall to the alliance of Orcs and hillmen who had been amassing a great army. So far, the fighting had been confined to a few skirmishes along the borders. Then, within the past two weeks, scouts had reported a mighty army moving in from the direction of Helm's Deep. With no time to evacuate the city of Edoras, and no where to evacuate to, with the approaching army cutting off the route to their beloved stronghold, King Théoden had asked Gandalf for help, and he had agreed gladly.

The grey wizard tested the powerful words, and a loud rumbling began. Gandalf broke off the chant at once, and nodded in satisfaction. Silence settled upon the room once again. Then he heard noises coming down the hall, shouts and sounds of a scuffle, a cry of pain, then heavy footfalls drawing ever closer to his door.

Suddenly, the door burst open and five men entered, dragging a weakly struggling Elf. The fair creature's arms were held behind him, shackled, and his ankles bore shackles as well. A bloody gash upon his temple, still fresh, explained the cry Gandalf had heard in the hall. An older bruise could be seen just under the gash and a little beyond, probably where the men had struck the elf during his capture. The Elf's clothing was torn and dirty, his green and brown garments ripped at the chest and neck, exposing an expanse of smooth chest, with a few small scratches running vertically from his right nipple. The laces of his leggings were broken and his boots were covered in mud, the toes scuffed, as though he'd been dragged, face-forward, while unconscious. Gandalf was pleased to note that, otherwise, he appeared undamaged. He also noted the Elf, upon seeing him, had stopped his struggles at once, and was looking at him with wide, fear-filled blue eyes.

"You have done well, men of the Riddermark," Gandalf said. "I believe he will do nicely."

"I hope you can use this one, wizard," a tall, burly man, taller even than the Elf, said boldly. "He has done nothing but fight us since he has awakened."

"Yes, I can see he is quite spirited, but surely not much more difficult to tame than any other stallion," Gandalf said, amused at the disheveled, battle-wearied appearance of the men. This Elf must have put up a fine resistance, if the look of these men was any indication, and shackled as he was this could not have been easy. Gandalf was greatly pleased; he would make a powerful charm indeed.

"He is not tame yet, wizard," another of the men said.

"That is easily remedied," Gandalf replied. He retrieved a mithril collar from his workbench and approached the Elf.

The fair creature looked utterly terrified when he saw the collar was engraved with very ancient Elvish words, words he could not read, but which he recognized from his studies of the ancient ways of his people. For the first time, he spoke.

"Mithrandir," he pleaded, using the wizard's Elvish name, "I do not know why you have had me brought to this place, but please do not bind me to you. I do not wish to be a slave."

The men looked at each other uneasily. What power could the collar hold to frighten a creature that, even after being ambushed and knocked unconscious then chained hand and foot, it had taken five of them to subdue?

"Hold him tightly," Gandalf told the men. "Once this is placed on him, you will no longer need to hold him at all."

The Elf began to struggle again as five pairs of hands gripped his body tightly from every direction and held his head nearly immobile. Weakened as he was from the earlier blow, outnumbered, chained, the Elf could do nothing but cry out in helpless despair as the collar was locked about his neck. Immediately, the spell took hold and he felt a weakness descend upon his body such as he had never known. The men released him once the collar was in place, and he stood as proudly as before, seemingly unaffected, though both he and the wizard knew differently.

"You may remove his shackles," Gandalf said, confidently.

The men looked uncertain, but one of them, a heavily built blond man, finally obeyed, removing the fetters from the Elf's wrists and ankles. The fair creature moved his arms experimentally. Every movement was slowed, as though the very air about him had thickened to the consistency of molasses. Added to this was an overall, unaccustomed feeling of weakness. He cast his eyes upon the floor, his shoulders sagging in defeat.

Gandalf looked at the men. "You see, he will be no trouble now. You may leave us."

The men looked at each other again, still not entirely convinced, but finally the tall one said, "May the Valar protect you." They all shuffled out; relieved their ordeal was over, ready for a hot bath and an all-too-brief rest.

When they were alone, Gandalf looked the Elf over appreciatively. "Do not fear," he said reassuringly, "I have need of you for a time, but you are not a slave."

The Elf returned his gaze unhappily, his blue eyes filled with unaccustomed sorrow. "What does it matter what you call it? You have taken my freedom. For as long as I wear this collar, I am in your thrall and must obey."

Gandalf's smoky blue eyes softened into a look of sympathy. "What is your name, child?" he said gently.

"I am no child," the Elf retorted. "I am Legolas, son of King Thranduil of Mirkwood."

Gandalf's eyes widened in surprise, "Yes," he said, "I remember. You were but a youth the last time we met, before your father closed his borders and made your realm off-limits to all, including wizards."

"I am beginning to agree with his reasons," Legolas replied acidly.

The wizard chuckled, "I am sure you do," he said. "Still, I do not mean you harm, Legolas. But there is something I need from you, something which, I believe, you would not freely give."

"And what is that?" the Elf's eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"Your seed," Gandalf said bluntly, watching for his reaction.

Legolas blanched, his pale skin going wraith-white as the color drained from his face.

"What?" he whispered hoarsely.

"I am preparing a defense for the riders of Rohan. They face a great enemy and have asked for my help. The only thing left to complete the charm is the seed of an Elf. Any Elf would have done, but you will have an exceptional potency."

Legolas flushed hotly. "I will not allow this," he said angrily. "You have no right..."

"And you have no choice." Gandalf snapped, and went to stand directly in front of him. Legolas recoiled and took a backward step, intending to bolt for the door, but then found he could not move. He stood, paralyzed by the power of the collar, while Gandalf placed his hands at the top of his fair head, not touching but hovering within a knife's edge of his skin. Gandalf moved his hands downward and Legolas felt warmth and a slight vibration emanate from the wizard's palms as they moved along his body. He knew the wizard was testing his aura and he would have shuddered at the foreign sensation if he had been able. As it was, he could not move a muscle and so stood helplessly as the wizard continued downward.

When Gandalf reached his groin, the heat and vibration from wizard's hands increased, and Legolas felt his member respond, threatening to burst the broken laces of his leggings as it hardened. He moaned softly and his pale cheeks flared crimson, but the wizard seemed unfazed by his humiliation. Thankfully, Gandalf did not linger upon his shame but kept going in a smooth, steady motion until he reached his feet. The wizard then broke the contact and stepped back, and Legolas found he could move again.

His rough treatment at the hands of the Rohirrim, his shame, the wizard's collar, all caught up with Legolas at once, and he went suddenly weak. He reached for a nearby table to steady himself, and Gandalf, instantly concerned, brought over a chair and bade him sit. He obeyed gratefully, sinking onto the chair with a barely disguised expression of relief, his hand to his head.

"You are strong," Gandalf said, "but I should have realized you are in pain."

He wet a cloth and brought it to Legolas' temple, where the blood was beginning to trickle toward his left eye. Legolas winced when the cloth was pressed to the wound but did not pull away, allowing the wizard to minister to him. The wizard said something, very softly, and in only a moment the wound had closed and was beginning to heal.

He offered Legolas water, and the Elf drank greedily, as though his thirst had burned for some time. When he finished, he handed Gandalf the cup and looked up at him pleadingly, but the gaze that met his told him the wizard was unmoved.

"How do you...?" How will you...?" Legolas stammered. He looked down and he blushed again, "take what you need?" he finished faintly.

"The usual way," Gandalf said, his eyes twinkling in amusement.

Legolas' blush deepened. "And when..." he said, then stopped as a lump rose to his throat, "Please, Mithrandir, please spare me this," he choked out, his eyes stinging with unexpected tears.

"I would spare you, if this was not necessary," Gandalf soothed, stroking the Elf's silky hair. "But I need this to finish my defense for the riders, and time grows short."

"Why must I be a pawn in your game against the enemies of Rohan?" Legolas asked resentfully, "I owe no allegiance to these Men."

"They are a stout, worthy people, Legolas. I cannot stand by and watch them overrun when it is within my power to help them. If you knew them, you would perhaps feel your sacrifice was worth it."

"But I do know them," Legolas protested angrily, then continued more calmly as the weakness stole over him again. "They kidnapped me, beat me, spoke foul things to me, and dragged me before you as a common prisoner. And you vouch for their worthiness, you, who would enslave and use me against my will. What gives you the right to place the fates of some over the fates of others?"

Gandalf smiled ruefully. As one of the Maiar, this was indeed his right, and his obligation, but he could not speak this to the Elf.

"I do not have time to convince you," Gandalf said sharply, "nor do I have the desire to do so."

Legolas flinched at the harsh tone. He looked at the floor, then sadly up at the wizard. "And once you have taken what you need, you will release me?"

"Not immediately, but when you have served your purpose," Gandalf promised.

Though not pleased with this answer, Legolas knew the wizard would not be swayed. He sighed resignedly. "When must this be done?"

"Now." Gandalf said, motioning Legolas to rise. He did so reluctantly and the wizard led him to an area within the large room, behind a tall, painted wooden screen. A bed was there, and Legolas made a point of not allowing his gaze to notice it.

"Remove your clothing, all of it, and lie down," Gandalf commanded.

Legolas began immediately, but nervously, to obey. He leaned over, grimacing in pain as he did so, and removed his muddy boots. He then removed the tatters of his outer and inner tunics, folding the ruined clothing carefully, and placing them on the floor beside the bed. Gandalf noticed that, in addition to the scratches on his chest, Legolas had many more scratches and bruises. An especially large bruise ran the span of three ribs on his right side, and his wrists were raw and abraded from fighting his iron bonds. Gandalf made a mental note to treat him when the charm was completed. Legolas, reaching for the broken laces of his leggings, hesitated, looking miserably at Gandalf.

"There is no other way?"

"No."

"Perhaps I could do the deed myself," he said hopefully. "You could give me a container of some sort."

Gandalf shook his head. "I must draw it forth myself, else the charm will not make."

Legolas closed his eyes and sighed heavily. He then took a deep breath and quickly slid his leggings down and off in one swift motion. He did not bother to cover himself, (what was the point?) but his entire body blushed bright pink in shame and he trembled slightly.

Gandalf, startled for a moment by the Elf's singular beauty, was rendered speechless. The slender, naked body before him had an aura that glowed a healthy, if sorrow dimmed, golden hue, surrounding his fairness with light. His limbs were perfectly proportioned, his musculature compact and well delineated beneath his pale, supple skin. Legolas was, as were all males of his people, hairless below the neck, save for a small golden pelt surmounting his rosy, limp penis. He stood with an unconscious, easy grace that complemented his fine features and proud, smooth body. The wizard stood looking at him for so long that he began to wonder what was wrong.

Then Gandalf caught Legolas' look and he came back to himself at once.

"Lie down," he repeated gruffly.

Legolas obeyed gracefully. He stretched out on the bed on his back, arms held stiffly at his sides, his trembling becoming more pronounced.

Gandalf sat beside him and rolled up the sleeves of his grey tunic. He placed a reassuring hand on Legolas' chest, rubbing in a small, circular motion as he looked into the Elf's apprehensive blue eyes.

"Relax yourself as much as possible," Gandalf instructed. His smoke-blue eyes, beneath bushy grey brows, were compassionate, almost apologetic, and Legolas felt for the first time the wizard's own remorse about the deed he was about to perform.

He tried to obey Gandalf, but was not entirely successful. He wondered briefly if the collar had the power to render him insensate, so he would not have to feel anything as the act was done, but was too embarrassed to ask. If that were possible, he told himself, Mithrandir would surely have mentioned it. Despite the wizard's brusqueness, he appeared truly sorry to molest him against his will.

The wizard began, with both hands, to massage his chest slowly, moving lightly, warmly over his skin. The feeling was pleasant, but not particularly arousing, and Legolas relaxed a little more. Then Gandalf's roving fingers encountered his nipples, petting and circling the sensitive flesh, and Legolas gave a small gasp as his member stirred in accord. The wizard, noting his reaction, continued stimulating his nipples, rolling and pinching them gently. Legolas gave up all pretense of aloof restraint and closed his eyes tightly, trying to escape inside his mind, to separate the desire of his body from the rebellion of his thoughts.

This too became impossible as Gandalf's hands roamed him freely; gliding over his torso with gentle movements, carefully avoiding the large bruise on his side. The wizard's hands moved lightly and reverently over the fine muscles of his chest and belly and Legolas' breaths came short and shallow as he surrendered to the pleasant feelings stirring within his body. His mouth parted slightly, revealing the moist tip of his pink tongue and a glimpse of white teeth.

Encouraged by the Elf's responsiveness, the wizard's hand slid lower, lower, caressing his rippled abdomen, and gently tousling the golden hair beneath, drawing a whimper of need from the fair creature. Legolas was shamed by the knowledge that the wizard was forcing an undeniable pleasure from him. Forcing an intimacy born of expediency rather than desire. But most shameful of all was the fact that this indignity seemed to spur his arousal rather than dampen it.

At last Gandalf reached the object of his quest, gently encircling the Elf's firmness, feeling through his fingertips the potency of the fair creature radiate from his innermost maleness. Though he was an Istar, Gandalf, in his present form, was not immune to the lure of the flesh. He felt his own staff stiffen in empathy as he began to stroke the Elf.

In a short time, Legolas began to pant and moan alternately, his muscles tensing and relaxing, his brows, above his tightly closed eyes, were knitted together in concentration as he neared his peak. Gandalf was practically gasping himself as his own hardness throbbed with need, but he continued his inexorable pace, whispering the words as he pulled a flask from his robes.

He had timed the moment of the Elf's release to perfection, positioning the flask at the very moment, rapidly mumbling the chant that would give the seed its most compelling power. The rumbling began again and the wizard's hand, smoothly and rapidly working the length of the Elf's straining member, glowed with energy. Legolas felt a mighty sweep of emotion, of need and sensation, surge over him, and he cried out and came, his ecstasy completely overpowering all other emotion.

After a long moment, Legolas opened his eyes slowly, the blue depths murky and unfocused. He panted breathlessly as he wearily descended the summit of his passion, alone. For when he came to himself at last, Mithrandir was nowhere to be seen, having disappeared behind the screen to complete his enchantment. Though glad the wizard was gone, Legolas also felt a sense of melancholy at the removal of the warm, skillful hands from his body. The latter emotion disturbed him, and he put it firmly from his thoughts, not wanting to deal with it in his present frame of mind.

He sat up and looked at the wooden partition separating the bed from the wizard's workroom. It was painted with a colorful triptych of a group of riders, men and women, racing across a green field. Legolas admired the workmanship of the thing, though he still could muster naught but bitterness toward the people of Rohan just now. His fingers wandered to the collar at his throat, absently tracing the Elvish words engraved there as he considered what to do.

He looked to where he had placed his clothes and noticed suddenly, and with alarm, they were gone. He pulled the coverlet from the bed and wrapped it about himself, intending to march around the screen and demand the wizard give him his clothing back - tattered and dirty as they were - when Gandalf suddenly stuck his head around the screen.

"Stay put, Legolas." he said, "I am having a robe brought for you."

"I do not want a robe," he said angrily. "I want some proper clothes and I want for you to keep your word and release me."

"I said I would release you when your purpose was served, that has yet to be seen. If I need to repeat the charm, it will be faster if you are not dressed." Legolas looked so crestfallen that he added. "The King's tailors are making you some new garments. You could hardly return to your realm in the rags in which you were brought in."

"The clothes I was wearing were my best travel garments," Legolas shot back. "I do not want anything from these people. Only their borders receding swiftly behind me."

"If you would rather wear that," Gandalf smiled, indicating the coverlet Legolas clutched tightly about his waist, "you may do so. I merely thought you would prefer something more dignified."

Legolas lunged angrily at the wizard, but before he had taken a single step, the collar paralyzed him, rooting him to the spot. His eyes blazed at Gandalf, clearly communicating to the wizard what he would do if he could reach him. His hands fell limply at his sides and his cover fell as well, exposing him once more to the wizard's gaze. Burning with shame and anger, he could only stand, still as a statue, until the wizard chose free him.

Gandalf did not choose to do so. He disappeared around the screen again and Legolas stood paralyzed for he knew not how long. Finally, the wizard looked in on him again and Legolas felt his limbs were once again under his own control. A knock then sounded at the door and he jumped in anxious surprise.

He snatched up the coverlet and gathered it around himself hastily, shrinking back toward the bed. He heard Gandalf speaking with someone at the door. In a moment, the wizard returned, carrying a soft blue robe draped over one arm and a tray filled with food and drink in his hands. He placed the tray on a small table nearby and offered the robe to the Elf.

"This belongs to the King, it may be a bit large on you," he said.

Legolas took the offering and slipped it on quickly. It was, as Gandalf had warned, overlarge on him, but he looped the sash around his waist twice and cinched it tightly to compensate. He sat back on the edge of the bed, not moving to eat or drink, though the food smelled delicious and his stomach growled a plea.

"Will you not eat?" Gandalf asked. "You are obviously hungry."

"Did the charm make?" Legolas asked dispiritedly, ignoring the question.

"Better than I had hoped," Gandalf replied. "I have sent it to the King. He wishes to come by this evening and thank you personally."

Legolas looked at Gandalf, aghast. "You did not tell him...?" he began.

"No, no," Gandalf said quickly. He only knows his men brought you by force at my request and that I needed something from you. He does not know what, or why."

"And when he finds me in your rooms, stripped and collared, what will he think?" Legolas said bitterly.

Gandalf tapped a finger against his pursed lips thoughtfully. "I cannot say," he mused, grinning. He sobered at the look on Legolas' face. "I told him your clothes were damaged beyond repair and requested new ones be made. I told him also that you are being held against your will for a brief time, that you are displeased but resigned, and that you bear his people no blame. I have protected your honor, friend Elf."

"Do not call me 'friend'," Legolas snapped. Then his look turned resentful and he blushed again. His anger only caused the collar to sap his energy, and he sagged wearily, subdued by his own willfulness.

"My protests exhaust me," he sighed sadly. "I am ashamed to admit that, though forced, your attentions were not entirely unpleasant." Even the bitterness left his eyes then, and only his shame and sorrow remained.

Gandalf came and sat beside him upon the bed. "I am truly sorry this was necessary, Legolas. Still, you are very beautiful and I cannot deny that I enjoyed the opportunity to pleasure you in this way, however selfish it may have been."

Legolas looked at Gandalf with wide eyes, surprised by the wizard's admission. Gandalf was regarding him tenderly and Legolas looked away quickly, his face coloring slightly. He felt both confused and embarrassed; confused by the feelings Gandalf's look gave him, feelings of warmth and fondness, and embarrassed by his response to the wizard's touch; ashamed that he had liked it; ashamed the wizard knew he liked it.

He did not know how to handle this loss of control. He was a skilled warrior and the son of a King, a slave to no Man. Yet, in being forced to give up control, he felt a strange sense of freedom that beguiled and unsettled him.

"I - I think I would like to rest now," he said softly.

"Will you not allow me to heal you first?" Gandalf asked kindly, laying a warm hand upon his thigh.

For the first time, Legolas was aware of the pain of his body. His head no longer hurt - Gandalf's previous mending had seen to that - but his ribs were sore and it hurt to breathe. He had been so caught up in all that had happened, fighting the men, fearful of Gandalf, excited to unwilling pleasure, that he had not realized the extent of the beating he'd been dealt. Still, he hesitated, considering the offer before answering. Healing would almost certainly mean the wizard would have to touch him again, and he was not sure he could tolerate that just now.

Gandalf saw his hesitation and hastened to reassure him, "It will take but a moment and a little balm, and you will rest more easily afterward."

Legolas could see the wisdom in this. He made his decision. "Then you may do so," he ceded, with the quiet dignity of a true elven noble.

"Remove your robe and lie beneath the cover," Gandalf said, and he rose and disappeared behind the screen.

Legolas obeyed as swiftly as he was able. When the wizard returned, he found the Elf lying upon the bed, his lower body discreetly covered. Gandalf opened a jar of strong-smelling ointment and tended Legolas' bruises and scratches. Legolas flinched as the large bruise on his side was touched and Gandalf added a few words to the ointment, instantly relieving the pain and knitting the cracked rib beneath his soft skin.

When Gandalf finished, Legolas gave him a small smile of thanks. The wizard nodded and left him alone. Though the pain of his body was no longer troubling him, he still found rest difficult as he replayed the events of the past several days in his head, from his capture by the men to his disgraceful pleasure at the hands of Mithrandir.

Legolas remembered little about the wizard except that his father had thought well of him for a time. He had met Gandalf once when the wizard was visiting his father on some errand but had noted little about him, save for his oddly pointed hat and kind, intelligent eyes. As Mirkwood had became a darker, ever more dangerous place, his father had chosen to close the borders, making it a crime punishable by death for anyone to enter his realm. If the men who had captured him had attempted to enter the territory of the Wood Elves, they would have found themselves facing his father's justice. As it happened, he had been traveling to Mirkwood from Rivendell, and had not quite reached the borders of the Great Greenwood, when the men had ambushed him.

He lay quietly, trying to sort out his swirling thoughts, and then he heard the door beyond the screen open and close. Had Mithrandir gone out, he wondered? If so, he might yet escape. As he thought of escape, a blanket of lethargy settled over him. He surrendered to the feeling and relaxed upon the bed. Sleep took him within a moment.

When he next awoke, he knew not when he had slept or how long, but he felt refreshed, his mind untroubled. His thoughts turned to Mithrandir: the wizard's kind, smoky eyes, his electric touch, his mixture of command and concern. Though he was loath to admit it to himself, Legolas could not deny his attraction to the man.

He got up and put on the robe, then he turned his attention to the tray of food Gandalf had previously brought in. It was a savory stew and he tasted it cautiously. To his surprise, it was still warm. It was also delicious, and he ate hungrily, washing it down with a remarkably fine wine which Gandalf had included on the tray.

Legolas heard a rustling behind the screen and Gandalf came around it shortly afterward. The wizard smiled to see the food gone.

"Did you rest well?" he asked.

"Yes, Mithrandir, I feel much better. Thank you," he replied quietly.

"The King will be here soon, will you speak with him?"

Legolas swallowed hard. He looked up at Gandalf nervously. "Do I have a choice?"

"He wishes to thank you in person, but you do not have to see him if you do not wish."

Legolas thought a moment. "I would prefer to be properly dressed before I receive him."

Gandalf smiled inwardly at the Elf's words: 'receive him', as though Legolas were granting an audience to Théoden, though it was he who was the King's unwilling guest. He was truly his father's son.

"As it happens, your new clothes arrived a short while ago," Gandalf said.

He disappeared behind the screen again and returned with a splendid set of garments, made of a rich yet sturdy fabric of forest green. The inner tunic was of a soft, fawn colored material that complimented the green outer garments. A pattern was woven faultlessly into the fabric of the outer jerkin, a pattern of a white horse, the symbol of the King of Rohan. Along with the fine clothing was a pair of light, doeskin boots, perfectly suited to an Elf. Legolas looked the clothing over with approval. He then gave Gandalf, who stood by watching him, a jaundiced look.

"You may leave," he said haughtily.

Gandalf gave him a sheepish grin. "But of course," he said, and hastily ducked behind the screen.

Legolas quickly slipped the robe off and the garments on. The collar of the under tunic was high, and he laced it close to hide the mithril collar he was forced to wear. He then nimbly and quickly rewove his braids and combed his fingers through his long golden hair. When he was finished, he felt almost himself again. 'Now if I only had my weapons...' he thought bitterly. He stepped around the screen and heard Gandalf gasp sharply.

"What is wrong," Legolas said, startled.

"Nothing." Gandalf said, recovering quickly. "It is just that you look resplendent in those clothes, the very likeness of a prince."

Legolas blushed at the compliment. "When will the King of Rohan be here?" he asked, trying to hide his discomfort.

"Soon, I am sure." Gandalf said. "Would you like to look around a bit? I have many maps and books which might pique your interest."

"I suppose." Legolas wandered over to a nearby shelf and perused the selections idly, his back to Gandalf. "Does the collar prevent me from leaving these rooms?" he asked offhandedly.

"It does not." Gandalf said.

"Will it prevent me from leaving Rohan?" he asked, trying to quell the anticipation in his voice.

"It will not." Gandalf said.

Legolas spun around at once, looking at Gandalf in shock and anger. "Do you mean it will not prevent me from leaving this cursed place, from going home?"

"That is not the purpose of the collar." Gandalf admitted.

"Then there is nothing to keep me here!" Legolas shouted happily. He could not believe he had not asked Mithrandir the properties of the collar sooner.

He strode over to the door and turned the handle, intending to make for Mirkwood as speedily as possible, forgetting everything but his elation at the knowledge he was free.

"And how will you remove it?" Gandalf asked calmly.

Legolas stopped cold. He turned around and his eyes held a look of woeful bewilderment. "I could - I - oh," he said as he realized his dilemma. Then he straightened and looked Gandalf in the eye.

"I will find someone to remove it for me," he said resolutely.

"There is no power of the Elves that can remove it. You cannot remove it. How does it make you feel?"

"You know very well that it weakens me!" Legolas cried angrily. His anger caused the collar to do its work and he leaned back against the door and closed his eyes, trying to will the strength back into his enfeebled limbs.

Gandalf stood by helplessly, watching him fight the collar and lose. He felt like a man who captures a rare and beautiful bird, then watches in horror as it beats itself to pieces against the golden bars of its cage. He went to Legolas and touched his arm gently.

"Do not fight it, Legolas," he pleaded. "I promise I shall not keep you here any longer than necessary."

Legolas turned away, leaning his shoulder upon the door, his fingertips resting upon the polished wood. As his anger spent itself, his strength increased gradually. He felt foolish and sick at heart.

"I will not submit," he gasped stubbornly.

"Yet who are you fighting?" Gandalf reasoned, "Only yourself. The deed has been done, the die cast; now you have only to wait. Your time here could be spent pleasantly enough, if you would but allow it."

Legolas turned to Gandalf, looking at him boldly. His anger stirred again, and was just as quickly dampened. "And if you have need of me again, am I to simply enjoy that also?" he snapped. Then he colored hotly and looked away as he realized what he had said.

Before Gandalf could reply, Legolas stepped away from the door, looking as though a warg might be lurking behind it.

"Someone approaches."

Gandalf opened the door and looked out, but he saw no one. Then, "Ah, it is the King. He is down at the far end of the hall, heading this way."

Gandalf stepped back, leaving the door open, and within a moment, King Théoden swept in. He wore leggings of dyed blue leather and a richly brocaded jerkin of royal blue with dark green trim at the neck, wrists, and down the front. Each outer forearm was decorated with an appliqué of a white horse. Around his neck hung a gold medallion with the figure of a horse and rider struck into it.

He greeted Gandalf warmly, then turned and acknowledged Legolas, who stood proudly beside the wizard.

"So you are the Elf my men told me of," he said. "You are very strong and fierce. Would that we could persuade you to join us in battle tomorrow. But Gandalf has told me your assistance here is more valuable."

"Even if I were allowed to choose, I would not join your battle, Théoden King," Legolas replied respectfully. "Without the power of your wizard, I would not be here at all."

Théoden nodded. "I am sorry for the necessity of your abduction, but my people need you to survive. If it came to the survival of the Elves, would you do less?"

"You do not know for certain that your survival hinges on Mithrandir's charm. I hear your people are quite skilled in the way of the horse and lance," Legolas replied.

"Skill does not always aid the warrior who is outnumbered. I can only apologize to you and thank you for your efforts on our behalf, however unwillingly supplied," Théoden said with a small nod. "And I can offer you, when the time comes, the choice of two of the finest horses in all of Middle Earth."

"I cannot accept your apology," Legolas said truthfully, "but neither do I blame you or your men for acting upon the advice of Mithrandir. Since the horses of your people are legendary for their stamina and swiftness, and as I am most eager to make my way back to Mirkwood as quickly as possible, I will gladly accept your two fastest." He made a small, polite bow.

Théoden nodded, "It shall be done. Even if I fall in battle, you shall have your horses and your leave to go. I have commanded it." He turned his attention back to Gandalf. "I may not see you again, Gandalf, so I wish to thank you also, old friend. Whatever you desire of me it is yours."

Gandalf smiled. "I will reserve your offer in the form of a favor, to be granted whenever I have need, no questions asked."

The King gave him a inquiring look, but Gandalf gave nothing away. He nodded. "You shall have it."

Théoden then looked at each of them in turn. "Many thanks to you both. And now, I must take my leave, there are still preparations to make."

As the King left, Gandalf started to close the door, then he stopped and turned to Legolas, "Would you like to look around? You are not bound to this room, and it might be good if you met some of the people you are defending."

"Yes," Legolas said after a moment's thought. "I think I would like that very much."

Legolas spent the rest of the evening wandering through the palace, speaking with those not busy preparing for battle. Most of them had never seen an Elf before and they looked upon him with wonder and curiosity as he walked among them. Legolas was amused by their reaction to him but was also flattered and moved by their thanks. He discovered the people to be as Gandalf said, not warm or effusive, but hearty and forthright. After a few hours, Legolas found himself according the Rohirrim a grudging respect.

As he started back to Gandalf's room, he came upon two of the men who had kidnapped him. They stopped when they saw him and stood regarding him warily, as though fearful of attack. Legolas gazed at them with equal guardedness.

"We would ask your forgiveness, Elf, one of them said at last. I heard we hurt you rather severely and we are sorry for that. If you had not fought so fiercely, we would not have had to use such punishing force to subdue you."

As the man spoke, a small, fair-haired girl ran up to him and hugged him about the knees, nearly knocking him over. "Daddy!" she cried, her eyes filled with tears, "Do not go!"

The man squatted down and hugged her tenderly. He spoke soft words of comfort, telling her to be brave, that he would not be gone long, nor would he be injured. He pointed to Legolas. "The enemy's arrows will not find me, thanks to this Elf."

She looked up at Legolas, meeting his cool gaze with surprising boldness for one so young. Her big brown eyes shone with tears. "Thank you for helping my daddy," she said.

Legolas went down on one knee and smiled at her. "You are most welcome, little one," he replied. He looked at the man, "I hope my contribution will ensure the safe return of your father."

The man smiled at Legolas, his gratitude apparent in his eyes. He kissed his daughter. "It is time for bed, Déorwyn. Go back to your mommy."

The little girl kissed him then turned to Legolas. She regarded the Elf curiously for a moment, then gently touched the tip of one of his pointed ears as though to see if it were real. She gave him a sunny smile and Legolas smiled back at her. Suddenly shy, she ducked her head and ran off without another word. The man and Legolas stood at the same moment and an awkwardness descended upon them.

The man finally spoke. "Our thanks to you, Elf," he said. The other man piped in, "Yes, Elf, many thanks."

"Legolas," he said. "My name is Legolas."

"Our thanks to you, Legolas. May your people know only peace and plenty."

Legolas nodded, "Good morrow to you men of the Riddermark. The blessings of the Valar go with you."

He took his leave and went back Gandalf's room; his heart lighter than it had been in days.

When he returned, he found Gandalf sitting by the fire, reading a book. He came into the room and took a seat and the wizard looked up at him.

"Did you have a pleasant walk?"

"I did, Mithrandir. The people of Rohan were most gracious. I no longer bear them ill will for your arrogance."

Gandalf grimaced at these words. "You think me arrogant?"

"I do."

"Then you may well find this arrogant too. Strip off those fine clothes and put the robe back on," Gandalf said snapping his book shut with a thump.

"And if I refuse? I see no reason for you to keep me nearly naked. Your need to use me can not be so urgent that it could not wait for me to remove these things."

"If you refuse, I will use the power of the collar to paralyze you and do it myself. As for my decision to 'keep you naked', that is indeed my decision, the reason for which I have already told you. You will not question me in this matter again!" Gandalf thundered.

"Is it for the sake of your spell that you seek to humiliate me in this way," Legolas asked sharply, "or your own prurient enjoyment?"

Legolas suddenly felt himself paralyzed again. Gandalf came toward him and Legolas could only stare straight ahead in helpless fear. Had he pushed Mithrandir too far? He remembered a saying he had heard long ago about wizards: 'subtle and quick to anger'. What form might Mithrandir's wrath take?

Gandalf's fingers loomed before him, coming ever closer to his unblinking eyes. Then he pulled down Legolas' eyelids, blinding the Elf to his movements. Legolas felt an overwhelming panic within his breast, made sharper and more urgent by his inability to see what was happening or to take action. He felt Mithrandir's angry hands upon his body, unlacing the front of his jerkin, practically tearing it open. Then his inner tunic was pulled from his body, exposing him to the wizard's hungry gaze, a gaze he could neither see nor thwart.

When Legolas' chest was laid bare, Gandalf paused for a moment, gazing on the inviting swath of smooth flesh, dotted with two flat, coral pink nipples. The wizard licked one finger and slowly, lightly, circled the Elf's left nipple. He watched, entranced, as Legolas' defenseless, immobilized body responded to his touch, the sensitive nub pebbling saucily beneath his stroking finger, the Elf's breath hitching with a small click in his ivory throat.

Gandalf leaned down and took Legolas' lips in a soft, yet insistent, kiss, slipping his tongue past unresisting lips as he continued stroking the Elf's tender flesh. A distressed moan quivered along the wizard's probing tongue and a wetness touched his cheek. He drew back at once and looked at the fair face before him. Legolas' closed eyes were wet at the rims; his dark lashes glittering in the firelight as tears slipped unchecked from beneath his eyelids and flowed down his reddened cheeks, giving his fair face an aspect of horrified resignation that pierced the wizard's heart.

Gandalf moved away and Legolas felt himself released once again. When he opened his eyes, he found Gandalf slumped in a chair across from him, his trembling hands covering his face.

"Forgive me, Legolas," the wizard begged. "I swear that my intent was never to harm or humiliate you. You are beautiful and I have wanted you since the men brought you to me. When I tested your aura, I could tell you would be open to what I was prepared to do to you. Then, when you were sitting on the bed and confessed your pleasure at my touch, I sensed you wanted me also. But when you came in just now and called me arrogant, something within me broke. I thought I could take you without guilt, for it would be as you wanted it also. Now I see I was wrong. I would never force you."

Legolas wiped his tears away hastily and went to Gandalf. He knelt before him and, taking both the wizard's hands in his own, looked up into Gandalf's remorseful, smoky eyes.

"I have also been dishonest with you, Mithrandir," Legolas admitted. "I have been frightened of you and angry with you by turns, but I do not deny that I feel an attraction to you. You pleasured me most skillfully, and though I wanted you to believe so, it was not entirely against my will, for it excited me and felt most pleasant. I am confused Mithrandir. I do not know what is happening to me. This cursed collar is unnatural. It saps my strength and binds me in a most unwholesome way. When you use it to paralyze me, it wounds my spirit and I feel like I am dying."

Legolas bowed his head, burying his face in the wizard's long robe. He felt Gandalf slip one hand free from his grasp and place it gently on the back of his neck. The wizard hummed an almost inaudible chant, and the collar fell away. The Elf looked up at once, meeting Gandalf's caring gaze with grateful, blue eyes.

"I free you, Legolas. You are no longer bound to me," Gandalf said, a trace of unhappiness in his voice.

Legolas felt strength flow rapidly through him and his spirit soared like Gwaihir. He leapt to his feet and spun around, laughing for joy as the dampening weight of the collar left him, and with it, all his fear and frustration.

He looked at Gandalf and his merry thanks to the wizard froze in his throat. He was bewildered by the ill tempered look with which Mithrandir regarded him.

"Shall I have someone summoned to bring your horses now?" he asked with a wearied curtness.

Legolas looked at him in surprise, the realization of what his freedom meant slowly sinking in. He looked to the door then back to Gandalf, his conflict plain to see. As his eyes fell upon the wizard, he noticed that Gandalf's strength seemed to have ebbed even as his own had returned. In the firelight, his face looked haggard and his whole posture bespoke exhaustion. His shoulders sagged, he quivered slightly, and the eyes beneath his bushy brows looked lusterless, like a distant, fog-enshrouded mountain.

Legolas quickly donned his tunic and pulled his chair up beside Gandalf. "I believe I will enjoy the King's hospitality for a while yet," Legolas said gently, laying a hand on the wizard's arm.

Gandalf looked at him; he seemed faintly surprised but smiled warmly. Legolas saw an instant change in the wizard's demeanor and any lingering doubts about his decision fled his mind instantly. With a bit of a start, he realized he did not even care if the charm would have to be made again. Suddenly the thought of Mithrandir's warm, gentle hands was not frightening or humiliating at all.

The wizard seemed to sense this for he said, "And if I require your services again, would you be willing?"

"Yes, Mithrandir," Legolas said, a pretty blush rising unbidden to his cheek at the admission. "Now that the collar has been removed, I no longer fear your touch. I will stay until you give me leave to go, and do what you ask of me."

"I will not ask you again unless I must," Gandalf assured him, patting his arm.

Legolas felt a small thrill shoot through him at the touch, but he simply nodded.

Gandalf stood and stretched. "The Rohirrim ride at dawn. I will take my rest now so that I may be ready when news of the battle comes in." He paused as though remembering something. "But the bed, I'm afraid, will be quite close quarters for two. Still, you are welcome to share with me if you will."

"Elves need little sleep," Legolas said. "I will remain in here by the fire and take my rest beside the hearth."

"As you wish," Gandalf said, though Legolas thought he seemed a bit disappointed.

As Gandalf retired, Legolas sat in a chair by the fire and picked up the book Gandalf had been reading. It was a text of very ancient Dwarf runes, and Legolas put it down without a second look. He looked at the collection of books on a nearby shelf and found one of elven poetry, written in Sindarin. Taking it down, he took a chair by the fire and began to read.

The poems told epic tales of heroic deeds and battles fought and won. Legolas read them with a stir of longing, wishing he might someday have the chance to test himself in a mighty cause. Reaching the end, he sighed and closed the book, seeing the candle on the mantle had long since burned past its last mark, and noticing the fire was beginning to fail. He put another log on it and watched as it slowly snapped to life.

He sat back in the chair, watching the fire dreamily as he thought about Mithrandir. He imagined himself going behind the screen, stripping off his clothes and sliding beneath the covers. Wrapping the wizard in his arms and listening to the deep, slow breathing of the man as he slept. The thought made him smile, and that is how Gandalf found him at morning light.

The wizard entered just before dawn and found Legolas asleep in the chair, his elven eyes open, staring unblinkingly at the dead fireplace. Gandalf gazed on him for a time, a thoughtful look on his face. The Elf sat completely still, his breathing almost imperceptible, his glowing aura illuminating the small space around him without benefit of artificial light, his lips curled in a tiny smile of satisfaction. The wizard thought this Elf to truly be the fairest of all the fair folk he had seen in his millennially long years. He noticed the mithril collar, still lying where it had dropped the night before. Gandalf wondered with a transfixed sort of wistfulness what it might be like to know the willing touch of such a creature.

The wizard thought of the last time he had seen Legolas. He had been visiting Thranduil on an errand he could not now remember; yet he remembered Legolas perfectly. The young Elf had just come in from the forest with two companions in tow, his bow slung carelessly over his shoulder, his blond hair braided, as he wore it still today, and tousled by the wind, his cheeks pink from running. Thranduil was obviously proud of the youth, boasting to Gandalf that his skill with a bow was unmatched, even among his royal archers. The wizard had made polite noises and smiled at Legolas, who had blushed modestly at his father's words. Thranduil had dismissed him then, telling him to clean up and go to his studies. Gandalf felt disgruntled as he watched the youth go, he was quite pleasing to look upon and made the old wizard feel more vigorous and cheerful than he had in many years. He had not seen Legolas again until the Rohirrim had dragged the Elf before him.

The wizard picked up the collar just as Legolas stirred and turned to him, the smile widening on his lips, then instantly fading. Seeing the collar in Gandalf's hand, the Elf paled and sprang to his feet, looking at him in horror.

"Have you changed your mind about granting me my freedom?" Legolas asked in a trembling voice.

Gandalf was dismayed in his turn by the Elf's words. "Oh, no, no, Legolas. I was merely putting it away," Gandalf said soothingly. "I give you my word I will not bind you again," and he went to his workbench and took up a small wooden casket, stowing the offending collar away and out of sight.

He turned to see Legolas watching him, visibly more relaxed, yet still wary.

"You are free to do as you choose, Legolas." Gandalf said firmly. "I am sorry for what I have done to you. To see you fearful, your merry spirit dampened ... well, it would ill-suit any Elf, but you most of all."

Legolas gave him a hesitant smile. "If you do not intend to bind me again, you do not need to apologize again," he said.

Gandalf laughed at this. "Then I will cease at once," he said, smiling. His smile faded and he smoothed his robes in a self-conscious sort of way. "I will go have breakfast brought in," he said, "and see if the riders have departed."

"I think I would rather eat in the kitchens than in the room," Legolas said, looking around the jumbled workroom with its maps, potions, and parchment scrolls. "I have seen all I want to see of this place for awhile."

Gandalf's face fell, but he quickly recovered and gave the Elf an understanding look. "If you would like, I could show you around the city, and we can offer our help to fortify the battlements."

Legolas beamed at this news. A chance for activity made him almost as happy as the removal of the collar. "That would be most welcome," he agreed.

And so, he and Gandalf went out among the people. They toured the city walls, Gandalf giving advice and Legolas pitching in to help with the physical labor of shoring up the ramparts and battlements. To the people working upon the city walls Legolas was once again an object of curiosity. His clothing, fit for royalty, gave them pause, and his elven bearing made him seem too noble to be walking among what was left of the Rohan soldiery. Some of the older men, left behind to defend the city in case the riders failed, expressed their opinions that the slender Elf would be of little use for hard work. When they discovered his strength and endurance outmatched their own, they were much amazed, and more than a little jealous.

With only a small break for lunch, Gandalf and Legolas spent the day doing what they could within the city. As the sun began to set, they started back to the palace. They had gone only a quarter mile or so, when a small bird flew down and landed on Gandalf's shoulder.

He turned and spoke softly to the bird and it took flight at once, soaring in a graceful arc toward the westering sun. Legolas watched it go with an unabashed longing as it disappeared from even an Elf's view. Gandalf regarded him understandingly.

"It will not be much longer, Legolas," he said kindly. It is time to go back. Will you accompany me to our room?"

Legolas gave a sigh, a small one, but enough for Gandalf to notice.

"I would like to remain out here for awhile yet," Legolas said, "before I return to the confinement of the indoors. It looks to be a beautiful, clear night."

Gandalf was reluctant to leave the Elf alone. Without the collar, there was no way to stop him from fleeing if he chose. Though Legolas had said he would remain, Gandalf knew that even the fortified walls of Edoras could not hold an Elf who was determined to escape. But he had made his decision when he had freed Legolas, and he would not go back on his word.

"Stay if you will, but not too late. I have received news that the battle is well joined. It should not be long before I know whether the charm will need to be made again."

Legolas flushed and nodded curtly. "I will come to you shortly," he said.

He watched the wizard leave and then took a small footpath that skirted around the inside courtyard of the palace, wandering aimlessly through the darkness. He made his way leisurely along the dusty castle pathway, pausing to look at the stars shining overhead. Elbereth shone down beautifully, but there was no moon. Legolas felt a pang of sympathy for the soldiers. He knew the lack of light would aid the Orcs, whose night vision easily surpassed that of Men.

As he turned a corner, he saw the King's stables at the end of the path ahead. He knew the best horses of the Rohirrim were carrying their warriors, but he had heard much of the horses of Rohan and desired to see them. He thought it strange Gandalf had not offered to show him the stables as part of their tour of the city, but then he remembered the look on Gandalf's face when he had refused to return to the room and he knew - the wizard did not trust him. Gandalf thought he would flee at the first opportunity and, though he did not blame him for thinking so, he was yet stung by the wizard's lack of faith. Still, he thought, Gandalf had released him from the collar.

He slowly continued on, intending to take just a peek inside, when he stopped short at the sight of two armed guards, stationed outside the stable doors.

"Who goes there?" called one of the men.

Legolas did not move. He did not know the password.

"It is Legolas, the Elf, guest of Mith ... er, Gandalf the Grey," he replied.

"What business have you at the stables at this hour?" the guard asked, stepping forward to get a better look at him. The other man remained silent and stood in the shadows, his hand upon his sword.

"The horses of Rohan are legendary. I thought to have a look at them."

The man looked him over skeptically. "Well, you are an Elf, that's certain anyway," he said. "I have heard the wizard had an Elf brought here. Are you he?"

"I am."

"I cannot give you leave to pass. You are not to be allowed near the horses."

Legolas' anger flared at once. "And why not? Does Gandalf think me a horse thief?" he said heatedly.

"I know nothing except that our orders are to keep you away from the horses," the guard said. "It is not the wizard's order, but the command of the King himself. He said if Gandalf gave you leave, you could enter, but otherwise you are not to go in."

The guard stood his ground firmly, though he was quite nervous. He had heard the tale of Legolas' capture and was wondering if his weapons would protect him should the Elf decide to ignore the King's order.

But Legolas did not attack. He looked sadly at the large stable doors, disappointment writ on his face. Upon seeing his expression, the guard's manner softened.

"If you would like to come back tomorrow, with the wizard to vouch for you, we will be happy let you pass," he said helpfully.

Legolas flushed with anger and embarrassment. To think that he, son of King Thranduil, should be treated like a child who must ask leave of others to enter here or there. He who had spent the day helping to secure this city of Men in which he had no stake and little interest.

He clenched his fists and turned away, not trusting himself to answer the man with words instead of a punch in the face, though he knew the guards were not at fault.

He stalked back to the palace in a foul temper, not even taking time to stop and notice the stars glittering peacefully above. The castle guards greeted him, but he barely spoke. He entered Gandalf's room and found the wizard sitting by the fire once more, having a leisurely smoke. The smell of the pipe weed did nothing to improve his mood.

"Did you know I have been barred from the stables?" he demanded.

Gandalf took the pipe from his mouth and looked at Legolas in surprise. "You went to the stables," he said. "Why?"

"I did not go there seeking escape, if that is what you are thinking," Legolas said defensively. "I was wandering about and happened upon them. Thinking to have a look at the fabled horses of the Rohirrim, I approached, but was stopped by a guard. The King has commanded I shall not enter save with leave from you."

Gandalf regarded him thoughtfully. "I will give you leave, if that is what you wish."

"I do not deny I am most eager to return to my home," Legolas said glumly, "but I gave you my word I would stay until you released me. I would not simply steal a horse and leave. Do you think me without honor, Mithrandir? For the King of Rohan most certainly does."

"The King knows only that you are here unwillingly. He did not know otherwise when he left this room last night. I am sure he would not have posted a guard if he knew your word had been given," Gandalf said soothingly.

Legolas considered this for a moment, then sighed and sat down on the chair he had moved close to Gandalf's the night before. "I just want this to be over," he said wearily. "The world of Men is unpleasant to me. They shut themselves in with stone and wood. I see few trees here, and those I do are silent and do not sing. The one thing that dwells in this land I admire, the horses with such legendary spirit, I am not permitted to look upon."

"The King has a splendid garden," Gandalf said brightly. "We did not have time to visit it today, but you may go see it by starlight if you wish. I can call for you if I need you."

Legolas smiled sadly at Gandalf and shook his head. "No, Mithrandir, thank you. The gardens of Men are as controlled and dead as their hearts. They find nothing beautiful they have not manipulated and shaped to their own ends."

"I do not believe that to be true, Legolas. Most Men think Elves quite beautiful indeed, and yet your race has been neither manipulated nor dominated by them."

"And yet, I am brought here to aid a cause of Men on the orders of their wizard," Legolas said wryly.

He was surprised by Gandalf's sudden explosive laugh. "Your reasoning is impeccable, my friend," he said, "but your conclusions are faulty. However, I am willing to accede that Men do not always appreciate the finer things. The Elves are the authors of all that is fairest in Middle Earth."

Gandalf looked into Legolas' eyes, his gaze filled with such warmth and longing that the Elf felt color rise to his cheeks under the smoky blue intensity. He looked away quickly. Gandalf took Legolas' hand gently in his own, and rubbed his thumb over the smooth, strong back of the Elf's slender hand. Legolas returned Gandalf's gaze, his own bright eyes glittering with desire, intermingled with a tinge of trepidation. Though neither spoke, each sensed what the other was thinking.

Finally, Gandalf said, "Because of the circumstances under which you are here, circumstances of my doing, I will not ask this of you. The decision must be wholly your own."

Legolas considered the wizard's words. He never thought he could be so drawn to a man, so desirous of his look or touch. Gazing into Gandalf's peaceful, smoky eyes, he knew what he wanted.

"I want you to ... touch me again, Mithrandir. I want to ... to do more with you," Legolas stammered softly. He dropped his gaze, feeling foolish. Why was it so difficult to express to Mithrandir his desire?

Gandalf smiled and patted Legolas' hand. "And you are certain of this?" he asked gently.

Legolas looked up at him, and this time his gaze did not waver. "Yes, Mithrandir, it is what I have wanted since your first touch upon my aura. I was frightened and ashamed, for I knew you would discover my feelings and I feared you would use the collar to exploit them, or to humiliate me before the Men. But then you released me, and you kept your word and allowed me out on my own, though I knew you were reluctant to do so. I no longer fear you, Mithrandir, in fact, I greatly desire you."

Gandalf's returned the Elf's gaze with equal candidness, and delight. "Your trust is a great honor, Legolas," the wizard said, "and your desire for me is no more than my own for you. I believe I may have loved you from the first moment I saw you, many, many years ago. But I know for certain that being in your presence this day has shown me my true heart on the matter."

Legolas looked into Gandalf's eyes and saw an intelligence and a robust liveliness that belied his graying hair and wrinkled cheeks. Somehow the wizard looked to him both ancient and strangely youthful at the same time. He reached out and touched Gandalf's whiskered face, slowly tracing his long beard. Looking down at his hand, where it lay upon the wizard's breast, Legolas smiled a small smile, then returned his eyes to Gandalf's, giving him an eager look.

Gandalf took the Elf's hand in his and, without breaking eye contact, kissed it gently. Then he stood and Legolas rose as well. They moved behind the screen, where they stood facing each other. Legolas hesitated a moment, then gently placed a hand behind the wizard's head, pulling him into a kiss. The kiss was immediate, hungry, and deep, the wizard as needful of the connection as the Elf. Legolas slipped his tongue past Gandalf's lips with a joyful enthusiasm, where it was met with equal ardor by the wizard's own. As the kiss continued, their clothed bodies came together, sharing their radiated heat and desire.

They broke the kiss with a soft, moist sound, and Gandalf gently bit and teased the Elf's full lips before nipping his way gently along the firm jaw, tickling the smooth skin delicately with his whiskers, until he reached the fair creature's tender earlobe. The wizard's teeth gently grazed the petal-soft flesh there and he felt the Elf shudder, his breathing quicken, at the sensation. Gandalf held onto the Elf tightly, to support him, as his tongue gently traced the outer rim of Legolas' sensitive ear, causing him to gasp and tremble in his arms.

The wizard knew Elves were particularly responsive to stimulation of their ear tips and lobes so he spent a moment teasing Legolas until his moans of pleasure grew desperate. His body began to undulate helplessly against Gandalf's chest and belly, his hands clutching the sides of the wizard's robe. Gandalf chose to break the contact before the trembling, whimpering creature came undone, gently but resolutely disengaging himself from the clinging Elf.

Legolas' eyes opened slowly and he came to himself a little as Gandalf began to undress him, tugging open the laces of his clothing. Legolas moved, as though in a dream, helping the wizard strip off his fine garments. With his cooperation, the wizard's deft hands had him bare in seconds, his throbbing member already primed by the stimulation of his ears and the wizard's hands upon his body. Seeking to return the favor, Legolas plucked helplessly at Gandalf's long robe, which had neither seam nor lace that he could see, until he was forced to give up, not knowing how to continue.

Gandalf gave a small chuckle and pulled the Elf close, giving his ear a tiny lick before divesting himself of his long, heavy garments. Legolas closed his eyes and shivered but when he once again opened them, Gandalf was naked before him without him discovering how the deed was done.

Gandalf's lean, surprisingly firm body captivated him, though he barely had time to notice it as Gandalf once again pulled him into a deep kiss. He felt the wizard's ardent sex press against his, creating a shared, charged heat as his long fingers explored and caressed the wizard's body. Gandalf put a hand upon his firm buttocks, pulling him closer, and Legolas responded by grinding his hips slowly, sliding his slippery hardness against the wizard's own.

They moved together for a time, kissing and nipping each other playfully, their bodies pressed close in a slow dance of gradually building arousal. Then, the back of Legolas' legs bumped the bed, causing him to halt the kiss and Gandalf to pull back, breaking their contact. Legolas gracefully reclined upon the bed and the wizard settled in beside him. The bed was indeed close quarters, as Gandalf had said, but neither seemed to notice.

The wizard began to kiss his way down Legolas' body, his lips and tongue causing a ripple of skin here, a flexing of muscle there. By the time he reached the golden fleece that curled delicately before the silken column of his desire, Legolas was moaning softly, his hands twisting the sheets, his eyes keenly following the wizard's downward movements. Gandalf's breath stirred the downy curls, eliciting a pleasing gasp in return. He took the Elf's fevered firmness into his mouth and Legolas made a sound between a sob and a moan, throwing his head back and closing his eyes as the wizard swallowed him in one swift motion.

Gandalf stilled, allowing the constricting warmth of his throat to massage the full length of the Elf's cock before sliding gently upward. As he reached the tip, he gave a swirling flick of his tongue and Legolas shuddered and cried out, involuntarily pushing his hips upward even as the wizard pulled teasingly away, giving his squirming partner a final lick before pulling off entirely.

Legolas' eyes snapped open and he looked at Gandalf pleadingly, a whimper of mindless need escaping him. But the wizard just smiled and began kissing his way upward again, his long beard trailing ticklishly across the Elf's throbbing member as the fair creature writhed in a frenzy of helpless desire. When he arrived again at the full red lips, Legolas, moving with the startling swiftness of his kind, seized the wizard and flipped him on his back, kissing him fiercely.

Gandalf submitted to the overture with a burning desire of his own, but this time it was Legolas who pulled away, leaving the wizard gasping with needful longing. He straddled Gandalf's hips and, reaching behind him, firmly stroked the wizard's ready hardness. Legolas swiftly gathered the fluid that wept from the flared tip and used it to prepare himself. He then took a deep breath and sank slowly onto the wizard's staff, easing his way down in a measured, smooth motion.

The wizard moaned softly at the sensation, watching the sleek form of the Elf move sinuously upon him, the heat from where their bodies touched inflaming his passion with renewed urgency. Gandalf gazed raptly upon Legolas' face, drinking in the image before him. The sight of the glorious Elf, enveloped in a soft, golden glow, pointed ears flushed with arousal, warrior braids framing his fair, masculine face, his brilliant blue eyes half-lidded and sensual, threatened to cast the wizard prematurely from the peak of his pleasure.

He touched Legolas then, letting the motion of the Elf's body determine the ebb and flow as his hands slid over the slight swells and ridges of his lover's lean, finely muscled torso. Legolas felt the wizard's clever fingers urge him to quicken his movements and he obliged, angling his hips to receive the greatest inner pleasure as he rode swiftly toward climax. Gandalf slid one hand down to grasp Legolas' hardness, and the heat and vibration the Elf had felt before from the wizard's hands now flowed through his entire body, catching him up like strong wind takes a tender leaf. Legolas came, a rapturous cry ringing in his elven ears, not knowing or caring if it was the wizard's voice or his own he heard. The force of his ecstasy caused all his senses to desert him, and he collapsed upon the wizard and saw no more.

When next his eyes opened, he found himself lying cradled in the wizard's arms as Gandalf watched him peacefully. Legolas looked into the loving smoky eyes feeling the gentle glow of their shared warmth wrap him in a cocoon of blissful serenity. They lay together for hours, not speaking, simply sharing themselves with each other until the spell was broken by a sharp, unwelcome, pounding upon the door.

"Wizard, wizard, news from the front! The battle is won!"

Gandalf gave Legolas a quick kiss on the nose, smiling at the Elf's gentle blush, and the two untwined themselves reluctantly. As they rose to dress, Gandalf looked at Legolas as a man who, leaving his homeland for a long journey, seeks to commit its every sight, sound, look and taste to memory for fear he may never return. The Elf's nude perfection - brightening the drab room like sunlight through stained glass - was a sight Gandalf knew he would cherish all his long days.

The messenger informed them that the battle had been won, with only meager losses on the side of the Rohirrim. There was to be a feast in two days time to celebrate the victory and Théoden King very much wanted Gandalf and the Elf to attend. They looked at each other and Legolas smiled sadly at Gandalf.

To the messenger Legolas said, "Please tell the King I extend him my thanks but I cannot enjoy his hospitality any longer. I must return to the Great Greenwood at once, for my father will send to search for me if I am more delayed."

The messenger frowned; he did not like having to present the King with bad news. He looked at Gandalf. "But you will attend the festivities, will you not?"

"I am afraid I must also decline," Gandalf said regretfully. "I believe there is some business in Mirkwood that I must attend to also." He looked at Legolas and raised a hopeful eyebrow, "With your father's leave, of course."

Legolas smiled broadly. "I think I can convince my father to welcome at least one wizard into his kingdom. Especially one who saved his son from a group of brigands on the journey home."

"But what shall I tell the King?" the messenger asked unhappily.

"You may remind your King of a favor he owes me," Gandalf said. "One to be repaid with no questions asked. He will know of what I speak. Now, have horses readied for us. The two swiftest in Rohan as, I believe, Théoden King has commanded.

The messenger, still frowning, hesitated a moment as though about to speak, then bowed and left.

Legolas turned to Gandalf, a mischievous sparkle in his bright blue eyes. "And do I have the wizard's leave to depart?" he asked, "for I am bound by my word to stay until he releases me."

Gandalf returned his look, a twinkle in his own smoke-blue eyes. "Then you must stay with me ever, for I have much release yet to give you."

Legolas laughed, and the sound was like the tinkling of many bells.

finis