Welcome again! Or not again, if you are new ;) traditionally, I must say some words from myself, for it is the first chapter after all (forget about the fact it's a continuation of the previous story). So, first of all, some organisation stuff. If you are new, I don't force you to read the first part called "Tears of the past", but I encourage to do that, because it will help you understand it all better. ;) and if you aren't new, I'm happy you decided to stay with me and read this story. :) Also, I want to remind you, this story focuses mainly on Legolas and Aragorn friendship, so they are the most appearing (can I even say like that?) characters, others like Pippin, Merry, Frodo Elrond etc. are not often in it. So if you wished to read about them and the ring, I encourage to find another story *of course no offence intended*

Reminder: I'm not english so mistakes may appear. In this story Arwen and Aragorn aren't in love, Aragorn is immortal human, not an Isildur's heir, blah blah blah, I think that's all ;)

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

~~~Chapter 1~~~

They have been running for at least 4 days in a row, without any break. They stopped once, only to catch air, but it was a moment. But Aragorn knew they need a break. They need to sleep. Although he wanted so badly to rescue their little friends, he had to decide to stop for a moment.

He was looking at his friend every now and then to see how he is doing. After he had told him the truth, they needed to go ahead, and they hadn't spoken with each other for the next 4 days. Until now. Yes, he wanted to talk to him today.

"We're stopping here, behind these rocks nobody shall find us." he pointed to the white rocks nearby.

"On my... my beard..." said Gimli, hardly catching breath. "I won't... say no to... this... Never again I... will do something like it..." he sat, or more, he fell to the ground, leaning against rocks.

"We can't stay here for too long. We have a task to complete. Two hobbits are waiting for us."

Gimli nodded and closed his tired eyes.

"Let me take a nap first... only for a... few minutes..." he whispered and was snoring shortly thereafter.

Aragorn looked forward and saw the blonde person, sitting on the one of rocks, staring in the distance silently. He approached, and saying nothing, put a hand on his back. The elf turned to him, but hasn't spoken. His eyes were wet, and his face emotionless.

"Legolas..." he whispered and sat next to him.

"Leave me alone, please..." he demanded quietly, hesitation in his voice.

"No. You know I cannot. You're asking for too much of me. We both know you don't want to be lonely now, do you?" he asked and their eyes met.

He heard the prince sighed and sobbed very quietly.

"Fine. You've won. I do not."

"Please, look at me, mellon nîn." he whispered. The elf obeyed with hesitation.

"What do you want Estel?" he asked gently.

"Nothing more than your peace. I'm so sorry, I really am. But I couldn't choose another way. The tracks are strong here."

"I don't blame you. I just, you know... Soon we'll cross the border. I'm not sure if I'm strong enough. I'm still afraid." he looked at him deeply, with pain.

"I know. And I hate it, I can't help you. This is really hard. I'm unable to help you more. I hate it. I hate it with all my heart. If only I had been earlier." his voice broke, and tears appeared in his grey eyes.

"It wouldn't have changed anything Estel. And don't put a blame on yourself, it's useless because you can't reverse time."

"I know. And I regret it. I wish to help you more. You're right, I can't reverse time, I can't make you suffer less. But I can hear you out. And advise, and tell you something you would like to hear. Please, talk to me, tell me all of your feelings. Shout. Cry. All what you need."

"All what I need is some warmth from the heart now. Your heart." he whispered and forced a small smile. But he wasn't happy.

Aragorn smiled back, glancing at green hills and views in front of him. It was so peaceful and quiet here, but he couldn't feel it. He looked at his silent friend and sighed lightly.

"Legolas." he began and the elf turned his head to him. "I swear I will be right next to you. Anytime you will need me. Remember that." he whispered and stood up.

Legolas looked down, on the ground, still saying nothing. Aragorn only shook his head sadly and came back to snoring Gimli. He let him rest, he was tired as well, but how can he sleep? All what matters now is life of Merry and Pippin. Orcs may be far away now, his ranger skills helped him much, but he will need also Legolas' instincts. But he couldn't disturb him, his situation was too bad for it now. He sat on the ground, closing his eyes. He tried very much to stay awake, but he lost this fight.

Legolas was thinking about what the ranger told him. Yes, he knew Aragorn will be with him but can he assure him nothing bad will happen? Nothing is definitely clear, what if those people are mean and cruel? What if they hurt him? He doesn't want it. He hoped they won't meet anybody. But the chance was really small. What if Aragorn die? Boromir has already done it.

"Elbereth, let him rest in peace and happiness..." he whispered with low and broken voice. "May his paths be golden and graceful..." he hit his chest and sighed.

Then, he looked around and noticed Aragorn fell asleep. They should be moving on, hobbits are farther with every minute. Orcs don't sleep much, nor does danger and war.

~~~o*o~~~

The day was warm but windy. He saw butterfly sitting on a flower. It wasn't usual view nowadays. He sat on the ground and closed his eyes. The butterfly flew up to him, sitting on his hand. It was beautiful and full of different colours.

"What are you doing here, little one?" he smiled.

The butterfly only slowly and gracefully moved its fair wings. It seemed to be calm, but something was making it nervous, he could feel those emotions.

"Yeah, I feel it too, my little friend." he whispered and glanced at fields in front of them. "War is upon us..."

On this words, the butterfly flew away and disappeared in the sky.

He had to wake Aragorn and Gimli. They must go now. He feels a little tired but he can't think of any rest with knowledge what orcs can do with his innocent friends. Evil never sleeps.

He came up silently but at the sight of his tired friend his heart started suffering, knowing he must wake him up, or they can lose tracks of hobbits. He kneeled and touched his shoulder gently.

"Aragorn... wake up, mellon nîn." he whispered. He wasn't good at waking people.

He got only quiet moans as a respond.

"Estel, please, wake up, we cannot linger." he shook his arm.

And finally, when the ranger heard his elvish name, he opened his eyes slowly.

"Wh-what is happening? Something bad?" he asked lifting his head.

"No, calm down, nothing is. I'm so sorry for waking you, I know you are very tired but we must move on." he smiled.

"No, don't be sorry, you're right. Tired or not, we have a job to do." he got up.

He was happy seeing his friend's smile. He was worried after the elf had told him to leave him alone. He could guess that under this smile is hidden fear and pain. But he decided to wait until his friend is ready to talk about it. He needed now to wake Gimli and they will go after the hobbits again.

~~~o*o~~~

Pippin was tired, he couldn't sleep, he was too afraid to do so. Merry seemed to be unconscious and it worried him.

"Merry! Merry psst!" he whispered trying to wake up his cousin. No reaction. "Merry! Wake up!"

Still nothing. Pippin looked at the orcs who were drinking something.

'Water! Excellent' he shouted in his mind.

"Hey!" he called one orc caring him. The beast turned to him. He wasn't happy, the hobbit interrupted his small talk with orc from Mordor, at least, he looked like the orc from Mordor.

"What do ya want, rat?" he asked hoarsly.

"My friend is sick! You must give him some water!" he demanded.

Orcs exchanged their ugly gazes and laughed.

"Water are ya saying, huh? Fine! Give him our medicine, boys!" he laughed hoarsly and loudly. Another orcs shouted clearly amused.

One of them opened Merry's mouth and spilled the liquid into it. And it wasn't a water, definitely.

"Stop it! Stop!" cried out Pippin when his friend jumped out from his unconsciousness state." Leave him alone!"

"Why? You want some? Huh? Then keep your mouth shut!" he laughed.

Orcs did it as well but left them in peace, returning to their talk.

"Merry?" he whispered very scared.

"Hello Pip."

"You're hurt?"

"I'm fine. It was just an act." he smiled.

"Merry... I'm scared..."

"Don't be, Pip. We will get out of here."

"How?" he asked, tears in his eyes.

"There must be a way. Remember what Strider and Legolas always used to say?"

He shook his head.

"There is some evil in this world. But good exists as well. And when it comes to some things, good always wins." he smiled again, wanting to relax his younger cousin.

"You think we will get out of this alive?"

"Of course. We have to. Because who will save Middle-Earth if not we?"

Pippin smiled and looked down.

"You're right. Thanks Merry."

"I-"

"I said quiet, you little beasts!" shouted one orc, shaking the hobbit violently.

Pippin gasped in fear and closed his eyes but didn't say anything more. According to things he knows, orcs aren't types of beings who like talking with their enemy.

Suddenly, the orc-leader stopped and looked around.

"What is it? What do you smell?" asked one of them.

"Manflesh." he hissed.

"They've picked up our trail..."

"Aragorn..." whispered Pippin very quietly, so only he could hear his voice.

"Let's move!" ordered the biggest Uruk-hai and started running.

Pippin quickly, unnoticed threw his leaf of Lórien on the ground. He hoped somebody we'll collect it and help.

~~~o*o~~~

They were running fast, as fast as they could. Only Gimli looked and actually was very tired. Aragorn laid on the ground, touching the grass and dirt softly.

"Their pace has quickened. They must have caught our scent." he turned his head to his companions. "Hurry!" he jumped on his feet.

"Come on Gimli! We have no time to waste!" said Legolas.

"Stop telling me what to do, elf! I can handle it on my own!" he hissed, today hasn't been his best day in his life. Too little sleep, too little food, and running all day and night without any longer break. He wasn't happy due to that.

Legolas rolled his eyes, smirking. He was farther than Gimli but he stopped as soon as he found himselft right in front of the main border. He swallowed hesitating on his feet. This is it, the country of Men. The only one place he wished not to see, and the only one where he needed to go to save his friends.

He must have been standing very long because even Gimli managed to catch up.

"What, the princeling cannot go any farther? Is he tired?" he said with mean smile.

He did not answer, he was looking at the ground under his feet with hidden fear.

"Hopeless..." whispered Gimli and stepped as the first one.

He disappeared from the elf's sight, and he saw his friend in the distance. He felt their presence nearby. He heard the dwarf's steps and turned to him.

"Gimli, where's Legolas?" he asked immediately noticing an absence of his dear elven friend.

"I suppose he got tired and left behind."

"What?"

"Odd, right? I thought elves are stronger, at least, more than him now." he shook his head.

"Gimli, take a rest and wait for us, fine?"

"Oh! What a silly question! Of course fine! You should know, Dwarves are natural sprinters. Very dangerous over short distances. We are not very good at longer marathons."

Aragorn smiled but didn't look at the dwarf. His gaze fell on the sky, then he rushed to his friend, he felt terrible, he totally forgot about him and didn't even stay close to him. He found the elf standing panicked and almost crying. He sighed seeing helpless prince, and approached him.

"Legolas?" he began and the archer looked at him "I am so sorry for letting you stand here. I shouldn't have left you." he said firstly.

"No. Don't apologise. It is not your fault I'm too hopeless to even cross the borders."

"What? No, no, no. You are not."

"I can't do that Estel. I can't..."

"Yes, you can. I know you can, I believe in you, mellon nîn." he tried to smile. "You must start doing this as well."

He looked at him, tears in his blue, innocent, scared eyes.

"Can you promise me nobody will hurt me?" he asked breaking Aragorn's heart. He couldn't. He couldn't promise him something what isn't sure. But how could he say 'no'? Seeing such a fear in his eyes, he could not. So he remained silent.

"See? You cannot. No one can."

"Legolas, you've come so far, you cannot give up now, I won't let you." he placed a hand on his shoulder but then, he moved it on the elf's back. "You are right, you are right I can't promise you nobody will hurt you. But I swore, and I swear now I will try my best to protect you, my friend. Trust me with this." he comforted him by a smile.

Legolas looked into his eyes but answered with the same, smaller, but full of truce.

"I believe you." he responded shortly.

"Thank Valar. And now, if you're too afraid to do it alone, I will help you, okay? Okay. So, come on, slowly, be calm." he whispered and squeezed gently by his second hand the elf's arm as he did it in Moria.

Legolas hesitated but after some time, he nodded, feeling support of his friend. He did the first step.

"Very well, now, come on, let's move on."

It looked like he was a father and Legolas - his scared child, unable to do something alone. Someone could consider it stupid or silly, seeing two grown men like that. But for them, it wasn't at all. They've been friends, and friends must help each other in situations like these. It is why the friendship has been created, to have a second, supportive hand in case of every bad time.

"See? It is pretty easy, you doing okay! I'm very proud of you." he smiled and loose his friend from his gently grip.

Legolas only looked around, and smiled as well.

"Hannon le, mellon nîn." he thanked in his native language.

"Glassen" he sighed and looked at hills where Gimli was resting.

They haven't spoken for a while, but then, Legolas broke this silence.

"We must move on. While we were resting, orcs disappeared from my sight. I cannot see them already." he whispered looking into his eyes.

"We will find them. For Boromir. To take revenge for his death. Those ugly beasts don't deserve any respect, nor even life."

"I know. But you are tired. As well as Gimli. You both should take a rest."

"I don't want to lie, I am, I agree. But hobbits' lives are more important at the moment."

"Elbereth, Aragorn. My heart would be in pain if we stayed here for a bit longer to rest, but I don't want you to be in worse state than you are now." he said stubbornly, approaching Gimli.

To his surprise, the dwarf wasn't asleep, he was awake and aware. He was waiting as Aragorn told him to.

"Are we ready?" he asked.

"Guess so. If you don't want to sleep more, let's go and not waste our time. Merry and Pippin haven't got it much." the prince said and took a lead.

He felt Aragorn's and even Gimli's concern of the hobbits. This valley was definitely too quiet and too peaceful. Something bad is happening here, something's evil...

T.B.C

Dictionary:

Hannon le - Thank you

mellon nîn - my friend

Glassen - A pleasure is mine

This is it! Another chapter, another book. I hope you will stay with me yet during this story, and the next ones :) Greetings!