Chapter Six

Travelling proved extremely trying. The movement of the horse constantly jostled Legolas despite Aragorn's best efforts to steady him, and in turn, the sensation would sicken the elf. After one too many halts, the human had eventually given up pulling Legolas down from the saddle and had instead pushed the little mare onwards even while the archer had retched and heaved. They were out of time and could no longer afford to stop if Legolas was to get the help that he so desperately needed. Besides, Aragorn had before been covered in far worse things than bile whilst fighting against the dark forces of Middle Earth. Leaning forward in the saddle, Aragorn pressed a kiss to the elf's temple and passed him the waterskin before once again focusing his thoughts on reaching their destination. The human could feel the mare tiring beneath them, but he needed to push her further still before he could change horses.

The moon had risen high in the sky by the time the weary travelers had descended into the valley of Imladris, and when Aragorn's gelding clattered over the stone bridge and into the courtyard of the Last Homely House, the bright celestial sphere was at its zenith. But they had made it - and not a moment too soon, the human thought grimly as he checked on the limp archer in his arms.

"Legolas? Legolas, we are here. Awaken, my friend." Aragorn nudged the elf, and then lightly shook the unresponsive form until a pair of azure eyes opened and a pained groan could be heard over the exhausted panting of the horses. "Legolas, I need to get help. Can you remain here without falling?" Glassy eyes turned to meet those of the human as the archer tried to process the words that seemed to be directed at him. His face was ashy and clammy and he seemed barely conscious. Still though, he made a valiant effort at a smile.

"Let go, I am taking you down." The elf's reaction had spoken more than any verbal response could ever have, and the human gently pried the archer's hands loose from their position on the saddle horn. "Here, put your arm around my waist, like this." Aragorn kicked his feet free from the stirrups and swung his leg over the saddle in preparation to dismount, just as Legolas slumped sideways into him. Exhausted from their travels, the young man was caught off guard and both he and Legolas tumbled to the ground. Reflexively pulling the archer close was all Aragorn could hope to do to protect his friend from harm. The human hit the ground hard. The wind was knocked from his body as a tearing pain assaulted his arm, and it was a moment before he was able to force himself upright, nauseated and frantically trying to draw breath. Finally, he was able to suck in a lungful of air, and immediately used it to call out to the unmoving elf still grasped in his arms. Hearing his name, Legolas twitched and let out a small whimper before starting to retch again.

Just as this latest bout seemed to have passed, the elf went limp, his head lolling into his own mess. When Aragorn failed to elicit any response from the still form, he rolled the archer onto his side so that he would not choke should he be ill again, and then something inside the human gave way. The levee that had been holding back all the emotion of the past day broke, and Aragorn let out an agonised wail.

"Help! Ada!" he cried out. Panic rose within him, threatening to take control, and with a last glance at the unconscious elf, Aragorn scrambled to his feet and dashed headlong for the front door, pounding upon the heavy wooden panels with all his might. "Someone, help!"

Just as Aragorn was about to give into his despair, one of the panels cracked open, and a raven head popped out.

"Estel?" Aragorn jumped backwards in surprise as the opening widened and two identical elves enveloped him in a crushing embrace. "What is the meaning of this?"

"Brother, what has happened?" Elladan was the first to pull back, noting the human's distress.

"You are bleeding!" Elrohir reached for the human's arm, but Aragorn wrenched himself loose, his anguish clearly escalating.

"Legolas! Courtyard!" he gasped between sobs, taking off running with the Noldor twins in hot pursuit. "Ro, get Ada!" The younger twin skidded to a halt and doubled back the way they had come, giving his brothers a worried look as he went.

Reaching the still form, Aragorn threw himself to the ground beside the wood elf, Elladan quickly following suit. Unable to stay the trembling in his hands, the human gathered his friend into his arms and rocked him, heedless of the pain that this brought upon his arm, or of the wetness that seeped from the limb and into the archer's tunic.

"Legolas, come back to me," he urged, trying vainly to instill calm into his voice, even as tears still ran down his cheeks.

"Estel, he is burning up!" Elladan withdrew his hand from the elf's forehead in alarm. "What foul poison has befallen him?"

"Adi, no," Aragorn shook his head. "I think it is side sickness," he whispered. The human tried to stand, his precious burden still cradled to his chest. His legs betrayed him though, and Elladan was quick to step in to prevent his brother from falling.

"Estel, allow me." The Noldo tried to take the prince from Aragorn, but the human shied away, clutching the archer fiercely.

"Just help me to bring him to Ada! He will know what to do."

Elladan nodded, gently steadying Aragorn. The human was making precious little sense, but the elf knew that questions could wait until the current situation had been stabilised. Judging by the sticky heat radiating from the young man, it appeared also that the Mirkwood prince was not the only one who was presently running a fever.

"Of course Estel." As the Noldo guided his brother up the stairs, he made a mental note to send the first servant he saw out to attend to the two horses who stood in the courtyard. Based on sight alone, both appeared to have been ridden hard and would need care.

"Adi! Estel!" Elladan and Aragorn looked up at the shout from the doorway, and Elrohir burst forth, closely followed by the Lord of Imladris. The younger twin drew in a horrified gasp at the sight of the prince, and concern flared in his grey eyes at the crimson stain that now covered Aragorn's forearm. He started towards the pair, but was halted by Elrond's hand as it descended on his shoulder. The elder elf passed his son and reached his newest patients, pulling them quickly into his arms before stepping back to analyse the scene.

"Oh my child. I am here now - let me help." This time, Aragorn did not resist as Legolas was lifted from his arms, and Elladan was there again to catch him when his own legs buckled. Elrohir could stand it no longer and darted forwards to rejoin his brothers.

"Estel, what happened?" he hissed.

Aragorn started to mumble an exhausted answer, but he was interrupted by his foster father's stern voice.

"Hush, Elrohir. There will be time yet for details. Help get Estel to the healing wing first. Elladan, run ahead and prepare the room." At this, both twins fell silent, each falling into his respective role. Aragorn was having trouble walking, and Elrohir, not wanting to waste time, scooped the protesting human into his arms.

"You are hot, little brother!" he pressed his lips to the human's forehead and his concern intensified, his steps quickening unbidden.

As soon as they had entered the healing wing, Aragorn wriggled free from Elrohir's grip and quickly crossed the floor to where Elladan and Elrond were laying Legolas down on a bed. The prince was starting to come around and was making soft sounds of pain, and Aragorn gently took the elf's hand in both of his. The human's left hand was slick with blood and a few drops fell onto the crisp white linen.


"Estel." The archer's eyes opened slightly and a weak smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Adi, Ro! Lord Elrond." The smile widened but vanished in an instant as a wave of pain crashed over the elf. Aragorn managed to roll him over just in time as the prince's stomach sought once more to turn itself inside out. The episode was particularly long-lived, and as the human comforted his friend, he related the past events to their present company. Elrond listened intently, every so often instructing one of the twins to fetch various herbs and instruments from the shelves and cabinets that lined the room.

As Aragorn concluded his tale, explaining his theory on the elf's affliction, Elrond nodded gravely.

"I fear it is as you say, my son. Fortunately for Legolas, he has had you to take care of him so far, for you have done well." Elrond grasped Aragorn's upper arm lightly before he straightened and turned to the twins. "Elladan, begin administering the medications while I examine Legolas. Start with the most potent of those for sickness, and then give for inflammation and fever. Elrohir, please begin triage on Estel."

"Ada, no! I need to help Legolas." Aragorn struggled against his brother as the Noldo tried to get him to take a seat on a nearby bed.

"Penneth." The Lord of Imladris paused in his ministrations to turn grey eyes filled with kindness on his youngest son. "You have already done much. Rest now, and let Elrohir tend your wounds. I promise that I shall call upon you should it become necessary." Aragorn deliberated for a moment, but submitted to his brother's touch, though his eyes remained on his best friend.

"Estel, that tunic needs to come off. I have to see the wounds." The raven-haired elf interrupted the human's thoughts as he pulled lightly on the edges of the garment. With a sigh, Aragorn nodded and unclipped the pin that held his cloak in place, shrugging off the soft fabric and then trying to help Elrohir with the tunic. Much like before when Legolas had tended the injury, the human only complicated the matter as he fumbled with his left arm, and Elrohir soon stopped him. "Brother, you are worsening the bleeding! Raise your arms; it will be easier if I take over - else I fear I shall have to cut this from you." Too fatigued and troubled to give a witty retort, Aragorn simply complied, allowing Elrohir to separate the filthy vestment from the young man's torso, taking the light cotton undershirt with it to expose the human's bare chest.

Aragorn tore his eyes away from Legolas as the fabric was pulled over his head, and let out a grunt of pain as the sleeve was tugged loose from his arm. He dropped his eyes to look at the offending limb, noticing how the bandages that Legolas had so painstakingly applied were soaked in blood, while more continued to trickle slowly down his wrist and into his palm. Of course his stitches had had to tear when he and Legolas had fallen from the horse. Aragorn let out a frustrated huff and then resumed his watch over Legolas as Elrohir applied himself to unwinding the strips of cloth. Elrond was slowly working his way over the wood elf's abdomen; every so often he would pause in this task to ask Legolas one or more questions. While Legolas was clearly in a great deal of pain still, he seemed calmer and more coherent than he had been before. Mercifully, whatever Elladan had given him must have begun to take effect already - or mayhap it was simply the presence of the Noldor healers and the restorative properties of Vilya, which never left Elrond's finger.

"Ai, little brother." Aragorn clenched his teeth as Elrohir peeled away the bloodied wrappings from his arm. "This is badly infected. You know what comes next." The Noldo's face was apologetic as he pushed herbs towards the human. "Chew these and keep pressure on the wounds whilst I prepare the unguent." Aragorn nodded mutely and did as instructed, his concern for Legolas outweighing any dread he might have felt over the procedure to come.

As he watched, Elrond straightened at the same time as Legolas gave a sharp cry of pain. Elladan, who had been standing at the prince's shoulder, immediately cradled the archer's head in his hands, soothing the wood elf. Aragorn lunged forward, intending to join his eldest brother and nearly knocking the mortar and pestle from Elrohir's hands, but Elrond turned to face him. The elf lord's extended arm halted the human's forward movement, and Elrohir readjusted his tools and continued his work. Elladan looked up at the scuffle, but remained with Legolas, his fingers softly massaging the elf's temples.

"My sons," the healer began, "Legolas's condition, as you well know, is extremely serious. Estel, it is indeed side sickness from which Legolas suffers." Aragorn's face fell and he let out a small, fearful sound at this. "However," Elrond continued, "I believe there to be hope still. He has not ruptured internally and so the infection remains contained. Elladan and I have treated his symptoms and made him as comfortable as possible for now, but there is one other medication that he will need; one made from a very particular kind of mould - you are all familiar with this one. I will begin working on the remedy at once, but its preparation cannot be rushed. What Legolas has been given now will buy him some time, however - " Elrond was interrupted by a loud, purposeful cough from Elladan, and all eyes turned to the eldest twin, who was staring pointedly at Elrohir.

The youngest Noldo appeared to shuffle his feet for a moment and gulped almost imperceptibly before straightening his shoulders and composing himself once more.

"Ada, I did not finish my prescribed course for the arrow wound from last week. I -" He averted his eyes, not wishing to see the expression which he was sure had taken up residence on his father's face. "The wound was healing well without it. Las can have it - it is still in my chambers." Elrohir winced and raised his eyes once more, only to see that Elrond was positively beaming. Elladan flashed his brother an amused grin as he wet a cloth and gently sponged Legolas's face, carefully removing any evidence that the elf had earlier passed out in his own vomit. "I will just go and fetch it then." Not knowing how to react to the eerily delighted Peredhil before him, Elrohir put aside the mortar and pestle and stood nervously to leave. As Elrond crossed the few paces of floor necessary to take his son's place beside Aragorn, the younger twin found himself caught in a powerful embrace.

"Ai, my son! Never did I think that I would see the day whereupon I praised you for your recklessness. Go now, and return swiftly!" Elrond released his son and sat lightly upon the bed alongside Aragorn. The human's eyes shone with relief as he watched Elladan caring for Legolas. Though the prince's eyes were closed, the slight twitch of his lips showed that the present situation had not escaped the wood elf's awareness.

Elrond shook his head, still smiling, and took up the mortar and pestle, inspecting its contents before setting it down, his countenance becoming serious once more.

"Estel, show me." The elf lord gently placed a hand over that of the human, who held the dressings tightly to his still-bleeding arm. Aragorn shifted his hand and Elrond lifted the dressings - the healer's brows knitting in concern as he did so. "This is not good," he muttered, "Elrohir was correct." The healer palmed his adopted son's forehead, his frown deepening. "At this rate, it will not only be Legolas requiring that remedy."

"And once Legolas is well, it will all have been worth it." Aragorn looked satisfied, knowing that even the Lord of Imladris could not possibly argue. The Noldo shook his head again - this time in resignation, and scooped some of the thick paste that Elrohir had mixed onto his fingertips.

"Give me your arm, penneth." Elrond carefully pulled the young human's arm into his lap and began spreading the mixture thickly over the festering wounds. The stitches had been torn loose in many places, and the broken skin was inflamed and swollen, with angry red tendrils beginning to form and spread outwards from the deep lacerations. Aragorn yelped in pain and drew back as Elrond's fingers brushed over a particularly painful area, and Legolas's eyes shot open. Sensing that the elf would attempt to sit up, Elladan held him down and hushed him until Aragorn had recovered his composure enough to reassure the prince himself. The human bit the inside of his cheek as Elrond finished and bound his arm tightly, knowing that soon the herbs would have eased the pain enough for the wounds to be properly treated.

"Ada, I have it!" Elrohir returned, striding briskly through the room and holding aloft a small bottle of liquid.

"Thank you, Elrohir." With a light clasp of Aragorn's shoulder, Elrond rose and took the potion from the other elf, holding it up to the flickering candlelight as he turned it this way and that. Once he was satisfied, the Lord of Imladris took the brew to Legolas's bedside, his footsteps closely followed by first Elrohir and then a slightly unsteady Aragorn. The human cradled his arm to his chest, looking visibly pale.

"Legolas." Elrond placed a hand on the prince's forehead, waiting until the blue eyes fluttered open before he spoke. "I have here a medicine that I need you to take. I need you to swallow this and keep it there - do you think you can do that?" The elf balked, immediately turning wide eyes on Aragorn. Feeling helpless, the human let go of his arm and reached out to grasp the elf's hand, wincing as he accidentally jostled his injury. Elladan appeared to notice this, and sidled in next to his brother, tucking an affectionate arm around the human's waist.

"I cannot!" Legolas cried. "Estel, tell them!" Distress was mounting on the fair features. "You have seen what happens." The wood elf's breathing was speeding up, and Aragorn leaned in closer to calm him, thankful for Elladan's supportive hold on him as he did so.

"There has to be something we can do!" Aragorn looked imploringly to Elrond, who looked to already be thoroughly contemplating a solution.

"I believe that there is. Legolas, I will lend you my strength, but I will need you to trust me in order for this to work." The wood elf sighed unhappily, and looked to Aragorn for reassurance. The human nodded encouragingly, which seemed to be all the convincing the prince needed.

"Then I will try."

"Thank you, penneth. Lie still and be calm." The Lord of Imladris settled himself on the bed and indicated for the others to step back, before he took each of Legolas's hands in his own and asked the wood elf to breathe with him.

As he followed Elrond's instructions, Legolas felt both his pain and sickness lessen as strength seemed to flow from the Noldorin healer and into his mind and body. The elder healer gasped in sudden discomfort, and Legolas tried to break the contact but Elrond's grasp refused to give way. "Keep breathing with me, Little Leaf. I can endure this." Legolas murmured a reluctant agreement and once more surrendered himself to the healing connection.

"Elrohir, the medicine." Elrond's voice was low and soothing, and Legolas allowed the younger twin to bring the bottle to his lips. His throat closed up as the liquid entered his mouth, but he swallowed at Elrond's instruction to do so. Immediately, Legolas felt his body prepare to reject the fluid and panic rose up within him as his stomach started to contract. "Legolas, focus on me!" Elrond's voice broke into his consciousness. "Breathe." And suddenly, Legolas found that he could. His stomach immediately began to settle and the sickness receded slightly. "Just like that. Close your eyes and allow me to fight for you. You can do this, penneth." Elrond closed the distance between himself and the archer, bending forward until their foreheads were pressed together. Legolas swallowed and whined in discomfort as his body again protested, but he settled faster this time. Elrond's grip on his hands tightened and the elf lord kept up a steady stream of calming words. "Breathe with me," he repeated, "Just breathe, and know that I will remain here with you for as long as you need. Breathe with me." Gradually, the lines of discomfort on Legolas's face faded, and his once-ragged breathing eased into a gentle rhythm. Elrond remained in this manner for several long minutes before he raised his head slightly. "Elladan, Elrohir." Though his strained voice was but a whisper, the twins at once became attentive. "Take Estel back to his bed and treat his arm. I will remain here with Legolas." Both the younger elves nodded, and Elrond again dropped his head to meet that of the wood elf's. He started to sing to Legolas in a low, steady hum, his voice reverberating through the chamber.

Elladan had to half drag the mesmerised Aragorn from the bedside in order to once more deposit him onto his own bed. Elrohir lifted the human's booted feet up onto the bedding, his slender fingers immediately beginning to work on the laces. While his twin tugged off their brother's boots, Elladan took Aragorn's arm and turned it palm-up in his lap. He gave the forearm an experimental series of taps, trying to gauge the human's pain sensitivity. Aragorn hissed softly and grimaced, but nodded to the elf to continue. Blood was already seeping through the bandages and everyone knew that the wounds needed to be dealt with sooner rather than later. The older twin gave the human a look filled with sympathy, but dutifully unravelled the bandages to expose the long gashes.

"Ro, hot water please." Elladan picked up a fresh swathe of gauze and wet it in the bowl that his twin brought. "Estel, I am sorry; this will hurt." Aragorn set his jaw and indicated to the Noldo that he should continue. As soon as the gauze made contact with the weeping flesh, the human bit back a cry of pain. "I am so sorry, brother," Elladan murmured, but his ministrations did not cease.

"Estel, how about I tell you a story?" Elrohir plopped down beside him and ruffled the human's shaggy dark hair. "Your fever has to come down, and while I work to cool you, I could tell you about the time that Adi and I switched out Arwen's shampoo with - "

"Ro!" Elladan admonished, shooting his twin a warning look, but he was only half serious.

"Lighten up, brother! It is for a good cause." Elrohir winked at his twin and picked up the wet cloth, with which he began lightly to sponge Aragorn's chest. "It was the year 325 of the Third Age - Arwen was but 84 years of age, and like many young elf-maidens, our dear sister was very concerned over her appearance…"

"You are fortunate that our dear sister still sleeps, or she would surely have your head," Elladan mumbled, but his eyes held a mischievous gleam as Elrohir, unperturbed, launched into his tale with gusto.

In this manner, the twins were able to get Aragorn's wounds thoroughly cleaned, restitched, and rebound. The human had even chuckled at a few particular parts of his brothers' mischief during the process, though his eyes never long left Legolas. With the procedure now completed, Aragorn allowed himself to fall back against the pillows, dizzy and sick with pain. While Elladan cleaned up and dutifully packed away the supplies, Elrohir handed Elrond's youngest a small mug.

"Drink this, Estel. For the pain. It will help with your fever too." The human was still far too hot for the elf's liking, even after the Noldo had sponged nearly every inch of his brother's skin. Aragorn accepted the remedy with no protest, attesting to just how ill and exhausted he truly was. He looked over at the wood elf again. Legolas had fallen asleep whilst he and the twins had been busy, and though Elrond still kept a watchful eye over the slumbering form, the youngest elf in the room appeared to be resting peacefully. Aragorn took a cautious sip of the medicine, finding that it did not taste nearly as foul as he had been expecting. A sense of calm had descended over the room, and Aragorn could feel drowsiness settling heavily over his senses.

"What happens now?" he wondered aloud.

"Now," came Elrond's voice from the bedside, "We wait. We have done everything in our power for Legolas, and the rest is up to him. It is my belief that we have treated him in time, and we will keep a constant vigil over him to monitor and treat his condition. Our Greenleaf is strong, and he is fighting this. Though it is early to say, I believe he will pull through for us." Elrond smiled tiredly.

"Have hope, Estel." Elladan, having finished his duties, took a seat beside the human and draped an arm around his shoulders, pulling his youngest brother in close.

"We have seen Las suffer worse and live to tell the tale." Elrohir joined them on the human's other side and pulled the covers over all three of the bed's occupants. His statement had not been entirely true, the Noldo realised with some trepidation. For whilst the prince of Mirkwood had indeed survived a myriad of maladies, side sickness was something else entirely - an affliction which even he and Elladan were out of their depth with. He opted not to correct his mistake however, instead pressing the back of his hand to Aragorn's forehead. Frowning, he rearranged the covers so that more of the human's body was exposed.

"Like what?" the human questioned, but then shook his head, causing Elrohir to let out a quiet sigh of relief. "Actually, I do not wish to know." His voice was soft with weariness, and it was clear to the twins that sleep was close for the human.

"Finish your medicine and then you must rest." Elladan gave their patient a gentle nudge, and Aragorn resumed sipping at the mug. When he had finished, Elrohir took it from him and placed the empty vessel on a small end table near the bed.

"Rest now, little brother," he encouraged. Aragorn's head was slowly nodding towards his chest, but at Elrohir's words, the human tried to shake off the sleepiness.

"But, Legolas…"

"But, nothing, Estel." Elrond's voice was stern. "We will care for him, and we will wake you should his condition worsen. Penneth, the best thing that you can do for Legolas is to rest and give your body time to heal."

"We will be here the entire time." It was Elladan who lovingly ruffled the human's dishevelled hair this time, causing him to give up with a sigh. If nothing else, Aragorn knew when he was beaten - there was no way in Arda that he could argue with all three Noldor elves and win.

"Fine, I will rest. But only for a little while, and then I will help to care for Legolas."

"Very well, brother." Had Aragorn not been so thoroughly drained, he would have seen the smirk that passed from Elrohir to Elladan. The older twin opened his mouth to say something, but shut it when it became clear that the mortal was already asleep.

"Very well, indeed." He hummed, fondly pushing strands of damp hair from the human's forehead.

When Aragorn awoke, beams of hazy sunshine flooded in through the window and joyful birdsong filtered into the room. He took a moment to get his bearings, and once everything came flooding back to him, the young human bolted upright in bed, his eyes searching for but not finding what he sought.

"Legolas?!" Panic and horror rose in Aragorn's voice as he took in the sight of the empty room, and he made ready to vault from the bed. Worst case scenarios were already flashing madly through his mind.

'Estel, brother! It is alright!" A hand shot out to restrain him, and only then did the human realise that Elladan still lay beside him. Of the other elves, however, there was no sign. Aragorn turned searching eyes on his brother, his body still coiled like a spring. "Calm yourself, little brother." Elladan's voice was husky with sleep, and the Peredhil brought a hand up to rub at his eyes. "Legolas wished to relieve himself, and Ada and Ro went to accompany him, that is all. They have not been long gone, and will surely return soon." Aragorn's jaw dropped open in disbelief as he struggled to make sense of the Noldo's words.

"Legolas went to… relieve himself?" he exclaimed incredulously. When last Aragorn had laid eyes on the wood elf, he had been barely conscious, and his body devoid of anything to relieve itself of.

"Yes, Estel." Elrohir chuckled as he dragged a hand through his silken ebony tresses. "It is well past midday and he has been drinking tea with Arwen all morning. Elves do have bladders, you know."

"Drinking tea?" Aragorn echoed dumbly, becoming more confused by the moment. "But surely - ?" Elladan's grey eyes were alight with merriment as he rescued the human from his bewilderment.

"You will find that Ada's cocktail of treatments has begun to work at a great pace indeed. Legolas is still sick, but he will recover. He - " The elf's next words were lost as Aragorn turned and flung both arms around the unsuspecting elf. Not even the pain that spiked through the human's left arm could slacken his grip, and Elladan had given up on ever dislodging his brother when a voice spoke.

"Estel?" The voice was weak and trembly, but nevertheless unmistakable. At once, Aragorn released his hold on the Noldo and whipped around to face the speaker as a delighted grin lit up his features. This time, Elladan was not fast enough to stop Aragorn from launching himself from the bed, almost falling on his face as he did so, for such was the human's eagerness to reach the one who had spoken.


In the doorway stood Elrohir and the Lord of Imladris, supporting the prince of Mirkwood between them. Legolas was pale and his legs shook from the effort of supporting his meagre weight, but he locked eyes with Aragorn and flashed a triumphant grin.

"You are awake at last, lazy human!" he laughed, ducking out from the elves on either side of him and taking a halting step towards the human. The elf was lucky indeed that Aragorn had moved in kind, for no sooner had the human wrapped his friend in an embrace than Legolas collapsed into him as the elf's strength gave out. Aragorn staggered slightly to regain his balance under the unexpected weight, but his legs held.

"Easy, Legolas," he murmured into the pale golden hair. It smelled sweetly of meadow flowers and Aragorn realised that the remaining vestiges of the elf's sickness had been washed away. Legolas had been changed into fresh nightclothes and his body was surprisingly cool as it pressed against the human's still-exposed chest. This only made Aragorn cling to him all the more tightly, relishing the contact.

All too soon, Aragorn had to pull away as Elrond and the twins rushed to aid them, but there was no need. Aragorn started to usher Legolas back to bed, waving off the others' assistance. The human could feel strength returning to his legs as he moved, and he easily settled his charge into the bedding. The elf's face was tight with pain, but even so, the prince's smile refused to budge.

Upon straightening, Aragorn realised that he too would need to follow in Legolas's earlier footsteps. A change of clothes and a bath would hardly go amiss either. He turned and headed for the door, but was halted as Elrond's hand closed around his upper arm.

"Estel, just where do you think you are going?" Elladan and Elrohir snickered quietly in the background, knowing their father all too well.

"Nature calls." Aragorn couldn't help but laugh.

"Indeed." Elrond frowned and palmed his youngest's forehead. "Fine, I will allow it." He nodded sagely, eliciting further giggling from the twins, who had busied themselves with braiding Legolas's hair.

"Why, thank you, Ada." Aragorn rolled his eyes and gave a mock bow, earning himself The Eyebrow.

"I suppose you will not mind me accompanying you to ensure that you do not become lost on your return journey." Though the elf lord's expression remained stern, his eyes betrayed the humour that his statement had alluded to. Both Aragorn and Legolas (and indeed, the twins too) had become infamous for suddenly turning up missing from the healing wing, and Elrond Half-elven, son of Eärendil and Lord of Imladris, would have none of this on his watch. "And on your return, the twins and I will tend your arm."

Upon his reappearance into the room, refreshed and clad in a fresh set of clothes, Aragorn made his way once more to the bed, resigning himself to the misery that lay in store for him at the hands of Elrond and the twins. As he passed Legolas's bed though, the wood elf's arm snaked out from under the covers and yanked the human backwards by his shirt, causing him to sit down on the linen to avoid falling over. When he turned to face the elf with a quizzical look on his face, he found that the archer wore a wide grin and that the creases in his face had smoothed - thanks in no small part to something the twins must have given him, Aragorn supposed. As if on cue, Elladan and Elrohir appeared on either side of him, holding bandages and various other supplies. Elrond approached and pulled up a nearby chair, carefully setting out the supplies on the bed.

Aragorn subconsciously tensed up as Elrond took his abused arm, but then the human felt a familiar hand slip into his own. He looked over at Legolas, returning the elf's contact in a firm squeeze as his heart swelled with joy despite his pain. For they were in Imladris, surrounded by loved ones, and soon all would be well. No matter what hardships the next few days held, everything would be alright, and that was all that mattered.

The End

And so we come to the end of this story. A few notes on the medical details in this story, for those who are interested in knowing. Appendicitis can rarely be caused by blunt force trauma to the abdomen, and so too can it very rarely be resolved by aggressive antibiotic treatment alone (sourced from credible medical journals). Given that Legolas's constitution is that of an elf and not a mortal, this approach seemed to be worth going with in this story. I got hold of The Atlas of Middle Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad, which served as my cartography reference for this story. I plotted out both Aragorn and Legolas's route into The Angle as well as their return journey, worked out the distances, and then compared the return journey distance to the distance able to be traveled by a fit endurance horse in one day to ensure that them getting from their camp by the river to Imladris in a day was not unrealistic. I can highly recommend The Atlas of Middle Earth, as there are detailed regional maps as well as particulars of smaller areas too, like the layout of Imladris. Thank you for reading this story; I hope you have enjoyed it and that you will stick around for whatever I write next.

Acknowledgements for this story go to Attenia, for keeping me motivated, and then to BookWorm624 - I'm not sure if I subconsciously got the idea for Elrond and Legolas's scene from the chat we had, but I thought of you after this scene decided to write itself, and thought that I'd give you credit anyway. And of course, to everyone who has read and especially reviewed this story, you have my heartfelt thanks, as it is all of you who keep me going in this endeavour.

~ Zeiphyx