Disclaimer: I own nothing, yadda, yadda, yadda, even though I wish I did. So yea, I'm making nothing from this so there's no point in suing me.

Summary: Legolas and Aragorn take a hunting trip together, but something goes horribly wrong.

Rating: PG-13

Legolas closed his eyes and took a deep breath, enjoying the beauty of the forest around him. It had been a long time since he had the opportunity to travel this far into the forest unaccompanied by guards and it was invigorating. It was as if his senses had become dormant during the many months working within the palace walls, and only now that he was free of his duties did they come alive again. However, it was not because Legolas' duties were so strenuous that his senses all but ceased. In fact, it was just the opposite. His senses began to hibernate due to a lack of use.

He had always known that his older brother would be the one to rule the kingdom after his father and he was not jealous of the fact. But sometimes, Legolas wished he had more important responsibilities. Over the years he became accustomed to being treated as a child by his father as well as his older siblings, he even expected it, but he never understood it. Perhaps they felt the unnecessary need to protect him because he was the only one to bear a strong resemblance to their mother, whom passed away shortly after Legolas' birth. Or perhaps, it was simply because he was the youngest in the family. Either way, the continued worry over his wellbeing led him to the belief that they held no faith in him and pushed him into a headfirst battle to prove his own worthiness.

He remembered well the day a messenger from Rivendell came requesting a representative from Mirkwood. Legolas leapt at the opportunity to prove himself in a task that was obviously of great importance. Knowing full well that his father would be unable to deny him if given the right form of persuasion, Legolas pleaded with his father and eventually Thranduil relented and allowed him to go, never guessing the destiny he had prescribed for his son by doing so. Once there, Legolas saw the brilliant opportunity to prove himself and it was this desperation that truly pushed him to join the Fellowship. He believed that if he could aid the Fellowship and represent his people, even if he died, he would finally prove himself to his father and earn his place in the royal family.

When it was time for Legolas to return to Mirkwood after the War of the Ring, he was more than a little apprehensive. He had not asked for his father's permission to join the fellowship and even though they had been successful, he feared his father would see his actions as insubordination. Yet, when he entered the palace, his father stood there with tears streaming down his face. Thranduil rushed to his youngest child and wrapped his arms tightly around the bewildered prince. "I am proud of your success, but even happier for your return my son," Thranduil whispered into Legolas' ear. Legolas merely hugged his father back, in shock at his father's uncharacteristic display of emotion. It was not that his father was uncaring, he had just never burst out in emotion like this and it took Legolas completely by surprise. It was then that he finally understood his father's intentions at keeping him safe.

The next few months passed by wonderfully. Legolas appreciated the time he finally had to relax and rest from the war, but he was even more thankful for what appeared to be a new relationship with his father. Instead of usual talk of weather, books, and training, his father seemed to seek and appreciate his opinions on important matters concerning the kingdom. Never before had Thranduil even mentioned such matters, and now Legolas was being treated as some sort of advisor.

Yet, after awhile, Legolas was back to fulfilling every menial task that Thranduil deemed appropriate for him. He ran messages to bordering kingdoms, instructed the warriors in archery, and led perimeter checks of the land to ensure their people's safety. Yet, with the war over, peace was almost everywhere, and never once in the many months he scouted did he come across any trouble. It was obvious that Thranduil had once again felt it necessary to protect his youngest child.

However, Legolas performed his duties without protest out of respect for his father. He knew that these tasks must be performed, yet he never understood why it had to be him. His generals were more than capable of handling such activities themselves, yet his father continued to ask for his assistance. Eventually though, it began to wear on Legolas. He became restless and very quiet, barely speaking with anyone. It was as if he had shut down, retreated into himself, and became simply an outer shell of himself, going about the motions of the day out of habit.

Legolas could feel the change in his manner, but to him it seemed impossible to stop. He hated the tasks he was asked to perform, but never once asked to be relieved of them. He felt that now it was his duty, just as his father had to rule, he had to obey and he began to devote all his energies to that which he was asked to do. Yet, he continued to feel useless to both his father and his kingdom and everyday sipped further and further into the recess of his mind.

It was around this time that a messenger came from Gondor in search of Legolas. A note had been hastily scribbled onto a piece of parchment and immediately Legolas recognized it as Aragorn's scrawl. He read it quickly, his heart hammering in excitement at finally hearing from his friend. It had been a long time since they had communicated, but Legolas had understood the silence. After all, it isn't easy becoming a king for the first time.

After reading the message for the third time, Legolas smiled for what seemed like the first time in months. Aragorn himself must have been feeling restless for the note was an invitation to go hunting with him for a couple of weeks. Legolas immediately filled with excitement and impatience and rushed to his father to ask for his permission. Upon seeing his son happy for the first time in ages, Thranduil readily agreed and ordered that preparations be made for his son immediately.

All of that was behind him now. He was alone in the forest and every noise, every scent, every tall tree standing before him brought him back to life and renewed his soul. Soon he would be reaching Gondor and he felt comforted for the first time in awhile. Strange, he thought, that his home, the one place that should give his heart some rest, is the one place he can never rest.

Thanks everyone who's still here! I know this chapter was kind of blah, but I needed to set up the story. It will get better soon, I promise! This is my first fic so please R&R! Helpful criticism greatly appreciated!