Sing To Me by Vanimalion
All characters, places, and lore belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. I am naught but a humble fanatic and claim no ownership of these beautiful people or their world. This applies to all further chapters.
There are a few things that must be clarified before you read this piece, which I hope you do because that would make me very, very happy. Anyway, you should know that…
This is not slash. However, my Legolas is gay. There will be no romantic or sexual scenes between any characters (though there may be inexplicit references to such scenes that may have happened off-screen and in the past), but the fact remains. I am for some reason no longer able to comfortably write straight characters, so he is gay. Forgive me my quirks. His homosexuality is and will remain a reasonably prominent theme throughout parts of the story. You have been warned. Let the closeted gay commence.
Italicized text is not always a thought, but used also for memories, poetic effect, and any other non-conforming sections of the piece, such as the following prologue. Anything that fits outside of the standard narrative will be italicized. This will contain a fair variety of different things, so just read them as they come and take them with an open mind. They are what you make them.
My chapters may be of inconsistent length. I write this in whatever order feels best to me and all chapters will be made of scenes that I feel fit together as a whole. I will try to keep things reasonably even but my mind doesn’t always cooperate with me. Therefore, some chapters may be relatively long if there is a large scene or group of scenes that all fit, and some may be very short if I feel that a scene is independent. The quality and flow of the sections is my priority here, so length consistency will be sacrificed when need be. Bear with me, people!
This piece is beta read by MyselfOnly and Lindir’s Ghost, so a great big thanks to them. This probably wouldn’t be happening without their help. They are amazing 🙂
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy this little piece of my mind,
– Prologue –
– Legolas –
The first time I ever met them was after my mother died. They carried her in dead and my keeper tried to shield my eyes and take me away, but I slipped free and I saw. There was so much blood… I remember it dripping like some sickly red rain upon the marble floors. I saw her twisted limbs, her face contorted in pain, and I froze in terror, looking into dead and empty eyes.
And then I ran, slipping through secret spaces in my sprint to escape this invisible thing, chasing me with teeth of sun-stained bone like the tips of my child’s arrows, from hollow, empty eyes. And I lost my keepers and ran from this mortal’s monster that I saw could catch me, far from the world I had known, so safe and green and beautiful. It seemed to me that it was ruined forever. It was no longer a haven, and I felt I needed to hide away. I ran through long halls lit with torches that never burned out and I found myself before a door of oak. I screamed at it to let me through and it did, swinging open with a creak and I slipped within. There were torches there, but not as many and it was dim.
I was in a room of beautiful, glittering things of gold and silver, precious fabric, shining wood, and I buried myself under ancient, soft robes in a chest and I cried. And as I lay there I heard soft singing and was comforted.
I slept, and when I woke I left, finding my way back I knew not how, just guessing each turn, coming upon my Ada’s door and creeping into his lap. My short life and memory had been overfilled by my mother’s death, and I forgot about the old chest with the robes, and I forgot about the singing voices, and instead I just cried, still not quite understanding exactly what had happened.
When death struck again, taking one of my older brothers, I repeated my journey, searching, finding the door, the trunk, the robes, and again I listened to the voices singing without words down in the deep hall of forgotten things, and I was not afraid. It was safe, still, and my tears and fears were unknown by anyone. Save, of course, myself and the singers I could never see.
And then again I left, and I did not tell of what I had done. Not right then, and not to all.
But one night, nestled under the blankets of the palace we had created, my twin sister Erien and I hid from the beasts of the wild, a bag of apples and flask of stolen juice with us as previsions. We hid inside and played our childish games, and in the deep depths of the night I confessed to my sister where I had gone, and she smiled. “That is Ada’s treasure-place, Lassë. He hides precious things there. There are old things, magic things…” Seeing my rapt expression, she started at me with a maniacal leer, the gaps from her two missing baby teeth and the shadows of her tangled hair making her look half the witch of mannish tales, and I was frightened.
“Evil things, Lassë!” She paused, cocking her head as if listening to something. “Do you hear?” she said, “Do you hear them? I hear them singing, trapped down in the walls, at the very roots of the hill where the things are kept.” And she leaned close, whispering, “The old things, Lassë, the old things in Ada’s treasure-place… they have fëar, just like you and me, and they can see you, hear you, and they are trapped down there, tied to their old, evil, magic things… waiting… sometimes they float about and catch little hen-ellyn like you and take them down to the deep-places and turn them into stone, and then they be there forever!”
It terrified me, this description. I could not sleep for fear of the fëar coming out and getting me. I buried myself under a pillow in our palace of blankets, as if somehow the soft cloth and stuffing could protect me from wandering souls. I slept little, too aware of every sound from without, and in the morning I was tired from all my stress. My sister was as bouncy as she always was, and when I took her aside and asked her why she was not afraid of the buried fëar she said that they were her friends, and that she had nothing to fear from them. And so I stayed by her, scared that if I left her side they would get me, and I went no more down into the room to visit the singers.
After I had grown some and lost my childish trust, I told myself that Erien’s story was just a silly tale, and I knew that I could walk alone through the halls without fear of being possessed or murdered by wandering fëar, and so I began to forget about them. I had been taught to hide away my feelings, and a prince could no longer afford to run off into the bowels of the mountain at will anyway. I had duties, responsibilities, training. There was no more time for idle play and no more time to dwell upon my varying discontent. I took my responsibilities to heart, perhaps too much, for I was far too young. My people before myself, I had been told, and so I worked and was praised for my tirelessness and efficiency. What was asked of me was done, somehow, though I was tired and I hated being locked in those stuffy rooms, shuffling papers and getting ink on everything. Too young, I was, and too free of heart for such matters.
I longed to be set loose again, to be free of duties and allowed to run all day in the forest. But alas those days were almost passed.
And then everyone left, going away on their mission to Mordor, and I was left with Erien and my older brother, Elethas. And it was then, in my lonely youth, that the sons of Elrond came to visit us. And we were the two sets of twins, one dark and one golden like the sun. And we were hated by the staff, the four of us. Erien would steal things and we would sneak them into secret places and play with them, or if they were food we would have a tiny feast in some hidden chamber in a tower. I became neglectful of my duties and was chastised, yet I was happy. I was a child again, something lost so soon, and it felt good to play.
We became close in those years, the four of us. Knit tightly together like we were to no others, one tangled group of mud-stained, happy elflings just shy of their majority and inseparable, save by necessity. They were good days, and their presence broke a bit of the loneliness that was ever there, like a dark cloud over the mountain under which we all lived. Even my brother Elethas was not so bitter then. It was wonderful, and as I look back, I realize I have never been so happy since, and never have I had friends – family, truly – as close as those three. I was open then, and I let them in, all of them, and there they have remained.
Of course, this joyous time was not to last, not for ever. The war ended and only my father returned out of my family that had departed eight years past. Only one of five that had left, and I felt cold at heart for the first time. My father returned, Elladan and Elrohir departed with Elrond, and that happy time was over. It was just me, just me and Erien, alone in the palace under the hill. My father was a ghost of who he had been, though I admit I remember little of his true self. He was cold and distant and for many years the things he saw haunted him, and sometimes I would hear him screaming in the night when his dreams were dark.
He was coldest then, I think, although I feel it more likely that now it is all I know and therefore he seems whole to me. I know not. So much was uncertain when he returned, and such was my hurt and confusion when he stopped touching me. It is odd, the things I never knew I loved until I noticed their absence, and I may say that the friendly touch of my father’s hand was missed. He would no longer hold me when I was upset, he would no longer rest his fingers lovingly upon my shoulder, pat my back, or ruffle my hair and smile, amused at my reaction. Perhaps these were gestures only a child would wish to receive, and so I told myself. I was no longer a child and he was treating me in the manner of an adult. Adults did not get their hair ruffled. I should be honored, and I thought I was. And so I told Erien, one night in the secret places, and she looked at me and her gaze was sad. She always saw things more clearly than I did.
Then, barely past my majority, I was wed to an elleth from Mithlond that I did not, have not, and will never love as I should. Set up by our parents, we courted and then, in a brief moment of carelessness, she discovered a secret of mine – the one I hide from all, the sickness of which none ever speak. She found it and used it to her advantage then and bought my political influence and wealth with a string of bribes and threats to tell the people. She knew she could get me banished from the Greenwood for my perversion, should I deny her request to marry. She has always been cunning. But I would have wed her anyway, for she is not an unkind soul, only misguided, and she hides secrets as well. She finds solace in the touch of one of my guardsmen, and this I know and I care not. Indeed her affair is one of the reasons I wished to wed her, for this arrangement frees me from the task of lying with – and to – a true wife. It is something that I have never been able to find appealing, no matter what I do. It is this lack of lust for the female sex that I must hide. But though she blackmailed and bribed me, it was our own agreement, in the end, to marry for the betterment of our realms. The alliance we created between Mithlond and Greenwood is the only redeeming quality of our immorality and sin. And yet at the heart of it all we are naught but selfish, for we both have dark secrets to keep, and so we sacrifice ourselves to a life of lies, masking our shameful affairs with royal grace.
I show my love to the people and I am kind and gracious and good to my wife, but when I return to the mountain Miriel and I sleep in separate beds. She locks herself in our official quarters and I return to my private rooms, commissioned by me under the lie that they are one large studio for my painting. And they are, that part is true. Except that I sleep there as well, and entertain myself with ellyn, like my wife does with her bond-mate, only even more secretly, and with the added instability of the situation. Every encounter is carefully arranged and hidden, every meeting full of the fear that he might betray my secrets. And beneath it all there lies the guilt, every time, of being unable to want a woman in that way. I will be forever haunted by the knowledge that I am doomed to a life of dishonesty and deceit, failing in my job to care for my people, all because I am too weak to fix myself.
It is a nasty business, our marriage, but we are allied in our efforts to keep it secret. I would have her be happy, for her heart is good at the center, and she would keep our honor as whole as it can be, and so we hide, but to live this lie… ai, it grates upon me so, and he whom I love would be banished and I disowned, should our sickness ever be discovered.
Erien knew, though. Erien knew everything, for I have always told her all and I knew nothing I did would squander her love for me. And so I told her, and she understood, and she did not hate me, nor did she tell Ada. You see, I could always trust her. She was there, constant, strong, and wise. She always seemed to be ready to help me, and she always seemed able, and she saw things that I did not, and she would not shame me for my tears on the rare times that they came. I was close to Erien in a way that I was to no other, save perhaps the twins, but even they are still in the dark on some things. Erien was never in the dark. I spoke to her because she would always listen, just the way I would always listen to her, and I told her everything. It was the silent agreement of mutual aid.
And then she left, too, only I saw it with my own eyes. She and I were hunting upon our horses, riding through the trees, and we were laughing, stupid, young fools that we were, and we were heard. In our flight from the monsters that pursued us, her horse tripped and went down beneath her, rolling in a screaming tangle of legs, mane, and blond hair. And she was crushed beneath the weight of her worthy mare and I believe that her death was quick, as painless as possible. If the fall did not end her, then the crushing jaws upon her neck moments later certainly did, and for the brevity of the event I am grateful.
We never recovered her body, and I know not what happened to it, other than that I ran and when we came back there was only blood upon the ground. I do not like to think on it.
There was never anyone quite like my sister. The twins are perhaps the closest I have to her, but I see them too rarely. Our friendship is deeply personal and yet also distant. It is a sad thing, in a way, and yet also in many ways the closest I will ever come to true and complete honest friendship. Perhaps that is the sad thing, then. That Elladan and Elrohir are the best I can do.
Then, in the loneliness that began to creep upon me after Erien’s death, I began to wish for something I knew I had lost. What it was, though, I have never truly discovered. All I knew then was that I had lost it and I wanted it back.
And then I found it. Or rather, I re-found it. Or it found me again. It can be seen many different ways.
But no matter how you or I phrase it, the events remain the same. I was on a patrol in the South, at the borders of the darkening patches of trees, treacherous and blackened at heart. We were set upon by orcs and cornered, and I will not go into detail about what it is that I saw. Suffice to say I could not eat or sleep well for many days after. It was the beginning, in a way, of a time that would dull me so much that coming upon the partially devoured carcass of a comrade was no longer a shock or nerve-wracking event. But back then I did not know that there were far worse things, just like I did not truly know that what happened to Erien was rather merciful. I did not envy her then.
After I returned home to the caves that I hated, back to my wife and the life that was supposed to be mine, after I had been treated for the injuries I had received… after nearly two centuries of silence, I found myself walking yet again, down down down, and listening to the voices, singing without words, and I felt good, good in a way I had not for a long time… and I sat, safe for the first time in the deep places, listening as the voices sang.
– x –
But that was all long ago, when I was younger, when my life was dominated by pain sharp and jagged. I needed to go down there, to listen to the voices, to keep myself sane. I could not have coped without it, and sometimes I wonder if I am the not only one who comes here. Or perhaps I am just weak. Like the child that I was, scared and needing to hide in the soft darkness. The thought comes upon me too often, and there are too many things pointing to my inadequacy that I feel more every day that it must be true.
I still need them, though it is a different kind of pain that plagues me now. The wounds have healed over, but chips and barbs are buried beneath the skin, and they ache constantly. It is not so much the loss of a specific individual, or a specific act of horrific violence… it is the being of it all, the unending heartbreak and death. It is the dreams, the screaming endless in my mind, the fear… all the broken pieces cutting like glass at my sanity. It never leaves, never rests, and each day another family’s child is burned or lost. And there is simply no way to grieve for that and not be overwhelmed. I cannot allow myself to be lost to grief, no matter how heavy it is to bear. I cannot allow myself to fail my people in my duties any more than I already have. I must be strong. I must not feel. And therefore I have tried to cage my fëa, lock it in a little box so that it can no longer be touched, and no longer be harmed. And though it is the easiest way, I believe, it is painful. And though I try, and though I say that I no-longer feel, I cannot sleep the way I should. I cannot hold myself together. I have caged myself, yes, but I have done a profoundly bad job of it and it shows.
The voices are like the herbs that healers give, only for the soul. They sneak inside my mind and dull the pain away until there is nothing of me at all and oh is it wonderful to be numb. It is a release from all the creeping pressure. It is a quieting of my mood, a balance of my mind… it is predictability, sanity, and I have come to need that.
My wife knows of it, what I do. She can tell when I have been there, and she can tell when the pain starts to peak and I notice it again. Loss of heart is a quiet, dull thing, and I have become accustomed to it, but every now and then it is set off, and it grows, and at these times I must go down or bury myself in a bottle of strong wine. And she sees this and she knows. We often avoid each other, yet she knows me and she sees, and she disapproves. And yet I know that she still loves me. She does, but in an odd way. I am like a child to her, only one she does not fully wish to look after. She will not leave me alone, for she cares too much for my well-being, and yet she wishes that there were someone else to do this task, and I think she resents me for my problems. And that is fair. I would resent me as well.
But through all I am grateful. She has taken time to look after me in my slight insanity throughout our marriage, and even if it is out of guilt more than true affection I appreciate it. She has always cared, at least until he came. The weeks of our union turned to months, to years, and she was always there, and somehow I was balanced… and then she became pregnant and I was – and still am – ashamedly terrified at the concept of fatherhood. The boy, Evoril, has lived several years now, and yet still I cannot treat him as I know I should, and it is a shame upon myself, for I see that I fail him and it hurts me. He is sired by her mate, this child, and yet I am his father in all but blood, for we must hide our truth from all.
He is a sweet boy and yet I cannot succeed the way I must. He smiles and I see my lies in his innocent face, and my wife hugs him and laughs, and I know that I am dishonest, as I never wished to be, as is against my will and morality. And I know that I have failed to cure myself of my perversions. I have failed. He is a beautiful, bouncing, happy talisman of everything of which I am most ashamed, and his mother a representation of the love I will never know. She remains, eternally reminding me of that fateful wedding night when I lay upon my bed, still in the dark and quiet of my room, and realized that I would always and forever be alone.
– To Be Continued –