Disclaimer It all belongs to Tolkien.
Chapter 1: Decisions
"We will go through the mines."
The snow swirled around the small hobbit as he proclaimed the fate of all the Company. Through the white blizzard, Legolas just managed to see Aragorn's head drop ever so slightly, a concerned look clouding his eyes. Legolas longed to speak with him, but knew there would be no time in their struggle to get off Caradhras alive. His golden hair whipped up around him, flying before his eyes and making it hard for him to see.
"So be it," Gandalf said, his voice heavy.
"I will not go!" said Boromir. "Not unless the vote of the whole company is against me. What do Legolas and the little people say?"
The Hobbits were silent having Frodo already spoken for them, and though their disappointment was obvious at not returning to Rivendell, it was also obvious that they would all follow Frodo; even to death. Such was the loyalty and strength of the Hobbits.
"I do not wish to go to Moria," said Legolas, "though if it is Gandalf's wish to go, I will not object, for his wisdom is beyond our years." His silver eyes clearly showed for a moment that he did not wish to go to Moria any more than Boromir did, but years of experience had taught Legolas how to hide such things. His muscles tightened into a mask of indifference as he cast his eyes back towards the clouds above.
"How far is Moria?" Boromir asked, now resigned to their fate.
"There was a door Southwest of Caradhras some fifteen miles as the crow flies and twenty as the wolf runs," replied Gandalf.
"Let us start as soon as possible, or this mountain will be the death of the Halflings," Boromir said, his attitude completely changing. Not that his statement was untrue, for the hobbits were behind the large man, shivering.
"True!" said Aragorn, "But Moria will not be much better I fear."
Legolas said nothing, too immersed in his thoughts, was he, to listen to the conversation. Where just a few moments ago he wished to speak with Aragorn, he now felt the eyes of the ranger upon his back and, for some reason, resented it. Instead of returning to the front of the Company, he took up guard at the end of the group. He did not wish to be interrogated; least of all by Aragorn. He determinately kept his gaze away from Aragorn and kept his mask of indifference on. He himself could not explain why the decision bothered him so much; he didn't need someone, let alone a human (even if said human was his best friend) to understand why he was so affected.
Legolas stepped behind Boromir as Aragorn moved forward to speak to Gandalf with haste.
"Legolas does not like this," Aragorn said quietly with a quick glance at Legolas. Though his friend was not inept at hiding his emotions (quite the opposite), Aragorn knew when something was bothering him. The prince's face was taut and his eyes barren of emotion—a sure sign he was hiding emotion. The wind was whipping the elf's hair in front of his eyes and hiding the silver orbs from further judgment. Aragorn turned back to the Istar.
"Nay," said Gandalf thoughtfully, as he looked towards the golden-haired prince. "Yet as a warrior of the Elven King, Legolas knows his duty. He will not stray from the path before. What has happened to him is unforgivable and, indeed, would cast doubt into any mind about to attempt what we are doing. As such, the darkness of the mines is much to reminiscent of his time in captivity."
"I do not know what took place during the tenure of his captivity," said Aragorn softly after a long moment of silence, save for the howling of the wind. "All I know of is the enemy captured him and took him deep into the darkness of caves."
"Yet it is not my place to tell you. Legolas will tell you when he is ready; but he has suffered through trials and torment no Elf—or Mortal—should have to go through," Gandalf answered with a heavy sigh. He shook his head despondently. "We are lucky to still have him with us…" said the Wizard, more to himself than to Aragorn.
Aragorn glanced at Legolas, who was gazing at him unblinkingly. Aragorn forced himself to smile and continued walking onward, unaware that a frown had already been etched onto his face.
It was evening. Gimli now walked ahead beside the Wizard, so eager was he to come to Moria. Unnoticed, Aragorn dropped back to where Legolas was.
"Legolas—" Aragorn started to say but stopped at the look in the Elf's eyes. Legolas seemed to shake himself mentally from a memory and flashed Aragorn a false smile. The ranger was not fooled and Aragorn began to say something else but was interrupted once again, this time by a yell from Gimli. Rounding the corner they saw before them a low cliff, some five fathoms high, with a broken and jagged top. Over it a trickling water dripped, through a wide cleft that seemed to have been carved out by a fall that had once been strong and tall. They had reached the walls of Moria.
Gandalf and Gimli both began searching the walls, looking for the entrance. Aragorn hurried forward while Legolas hung back, scanning for danger; imminent or subtle. Gimli and Gandalf were now having a conversation about the hidden doors and how hard they were to find. After Gimli had commented on how sometimes even the dwarves forgot where the doors were, Legolas could not help but comment. "Why does that not surprise me?"
The Dwarf growled at him. Legolas knew he should not have insulted the Dwarves and normally he would have ignored him but right now his emotions were running wild...
Finally, Gandalf found the door; it appeared as the moon shown on it. Gandalf told them the riddle, though he himself could not figure out the answer.
"These doors used to be open all the time, but those were friendlier times when even Elves and Dwarves got along," said the Istar.
"It was not the fault of the Dwarves that their friendship waned," said Gimli.
"I have not heard it was the fault of the Elves!" Legolas retorted angrily.
"I have heard both," said Gandalf, breaking up the argument, "and I will not give judgment now; for I fear if we were to go over everything that has ever passed between elves and dwarves we shall be here for many a fortnight which is a luxury we do not have; but I beg you two to at least be friends and help me out." Now Gandalf eyed Legolas, knowing full why Legolas had been acting so irrationally.
Legolas looked away from Gandalf's stare and instead concentrated on the water. Black in appearances, reminding him of his own fears at the moment, the water was giving Legolas a horrible feeling, though he dismissed it, blaming it on his irrational and sudden fear.
Legolas was eyeing the water when Gandalf abrupty sprang up; he was laughing as he said the word mellon, elvish for friend, and the doors opened.
"Absurdly easy," said the wizard, chastising himself but with humour in his voice, "as most riddles are once made known!"
While Gimli was boasting about the Dwarves and their hospitality, Boromir interrupted and pointed out all the dead bodies that littered the ground. Indeed, Legolas felt it should be called the Tombs of Moria when presented with corpses before him.
Legolas knelt down beside a skeleton and pulled an arrow out of the Dwarf's head. Staring at the crude weapon, he suddenly knew what kind of arrow it was.
"Goblins!" he had cried. He notched his own arrow, scanning for danger. He heard something moving, but was not aware of the direction of the sound. A sudden panic overcame his mind; if he did not know where, then he was helpless.
"We make for the Gap of Rohan, we should never have come here, now get out of here, get out!" Boromir shouted, while beginning to run.
Legolas turned slowly to follow, still scanning about for the direction of the noise, but before they could do anything something caught Legolas' eye. A tentacle had grabbed Frodo's ankle as Sam yelled: "Strider!"
The other three hobbits freed Frodo, but not for long. This time around eight tentacles shot out of the water, knocking down the rest of the hobbits and grabbing Frodo by the ankle before proceeding to drag the screaming Hobbit back. A great monster rose out of the water and Legolas immediately started shooting arrows at it while Aragorn and Boromir hacked at it with their swords. He could see another tentacle coming up around Aragorn, and throwing caution to the wind, he grabbed his own white knives; he sprinted to the water and sliced half of the tentacle.
Legolas cursed softly as he ran back to the waters edge; they needed him shooting arrows, not trying to be some hero!
Finally they almost got Frodo free; Boromir had called out: "Legolas!"
Legolas drew one more arrow, notched it and shot at the beast's eye. The arrow flew true and hit its mark: the Watcher's eye. The monster dropped Frodo into Aragorn's arms and they all ran back to the caves. As soon as they all got in the cave, the monster smashed the doorway in and they were left in pitch-black darkness.
"Does darkness frighten you, prince?"
Legolas shuddered as memories drowned his mind, glad that no one could see. Closing his eyes and attempting to calm himself, he answered the question.
Suddenly, from the tip of Gandalf's staff there came a faint radiance and Legolas sub-consciously leaned in towards the light.
"We now have but one choice; we must face the long dark of Moria. Be on your guard, there are vulgar and fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the world." Gandalf said, half to the Fellowship and half to Legolas, who was standing before him.
Legolas stepped to the side and let Gandalf pass but quickly followed, so he could stay near the light.
"Quietly now, it is a four day journey to the other side; let us hope our presence may go unnoticed," Gandalf said as they started.
Legolas let out a breath he had unconsciously been holding as the sound of footsteps filled his hearing. Soft footsteps.