The Touch of the Palantir

By: Cheryl W.

Disclaimer: I don't own The Lord of the Rings or anything in conjunction with The Lord of the Rings nor am I making a profit from this story. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: Major spoilers for the movie ROTK! I loved the scene where Aragorn wrestles the palantir from Pippin and Legolas supports him as he is brought to his knees under the power of the stone. Of course, my mind wondered about how this contact had effected Aragorn and in my twisted mind sprang this tale of friendship.

Loved to hear what you think!

***********************************************************************

Without hesitation, Aragorn tore the palantir from Pippin's grasp, headless of the danger he faced, his only desire to rescue the hobbit. Instantly the palantir dealt him agony of a degree he had never experienced. It was only by Legolas's strong grip on his shoulders that he did not collapse onto the floor but instead fell only to his knees. Sensing the elf's effort to take upon himself the agony that tore through his friend, Aragorn, in desperation, opened himself up to the agony. Crashing to the ground under the strain of agony, he forced his fingers to unclench their grip on the palantir and the black orb rolled from his touch.

But at the palantir's departure, Aragorn's agony did not fall away but seemed to burst afresh over him. A shiver coursed through him then the agony faded, leaving him lying limply upon the ground, Legolas's hands still clutching his shoulders. Drawing in a steadying breath, Aragorn's eyes fixed upon Pippin and a pain of another sort pierced through him. Beginning to push himself up, Aragorn was gently aided by his best friend into a seated position. Legolas did not relinquish his supportive hold on Aragorn as both elf and ranger watched Gandalf tend to the hobbit.

Legolas could feel Aragorn trembling under his hands and he leaned closer to his friend, hoping his presence would offer Aragorn some comfort. Relief surged through him as he watched Gandalf break through the paralysis that had gripped Pippin. Pippin was not critically harmed, therefore Aragorn's small contact with the palantir could not have harmed the ranger extensively.

But Pippin's words did little to ease Legolas's worry for Aragorn. Pippin had been in contact with Sauron...and it was that connection that Aragorn had interceded with. To think that Sauron had touched Aragorn..had the chance to maybe see the threat the ranger was to him...Legolas shivered now in fear, earning him a surprised look from Aragorn.

"Is he still here?" Aragorn breathed lowly, his eyes searching his friend's.

"No," Legolas replied, "I no longer feel his presence." Then his look intensified, "The question is, do you feel his presence?"

Instead of answering, Aragorn began to climb to his feet, again Legolas offered his aid. Once his feet were gained, Aragorn pulled slowly from Legolas' grip and, now assured that Pippin would be well, he quietly stepped outside. Pulling the door closed behind him, Aragorn took a step to the right but his strength faltered and his legs crumbled under him, swiftly sending him toward the ground.

But strong arms slipped around his waist and chest, stopping his collapse onto the stone floor. Immediately Aragorn knew whose arms held him and upon whose chest he now heavily leaned. Moments prior these same arms supported him when the Palantir's power brought him to his knees.

" Aragorn!" Legolas cried softly in alarm and worry, clutching tighter to his best friend. "I will call for Gandalf."

"No," Aragorn refused, though his voice was weak, his strong resolve seeped through the one word.

Legolas did not dispute Aragorn's wishes but eased the man to the ground, while he himself knelt behind him, never relinquishing his hold on his friend. Leaning forward, Legolas clearly saw Aragorn's face in the moonlight. Fear spiked through him as he saw blood was coming from Aragorn's nose. "The palantir has harmed you!"

"I am well, Legolas," Aragorn assured with more strength in his tone.

But Legolas softly refuted the words, "You bleed, Aragorn," and the elf tenderly wiped the blood away with his fingers. Then he held his bloody fingers up to Aragorn's sight.

Startled, Aragorn raised his own fingers to his nose only to find they too came back coated in the red of his blood.

"Gandalf must see to you!" Legolas insisted but Aragorn's hand gripped Legolas' arm that still wrapped around his waist and he turned his head to meet his friend's eyes. "Do not call him, Legolas. Pippin needs him."

"As do you," Legolas objected seeing the fading signs of pain in Aragorn's eyes. "Sauron has touched you, harmed you."

Aragorn tightly closed his eyes as the memory of that touch swept over him again. The palatable evil, the immeasurable strength, the burning hatred. "I...I felt the call of the ring, the deceptions it offered but this...this touch" a shiver shook the man and the elf pulled his friend tighter against his chest wrapping his arm around the man's shoulders.

"He will never touch you again, Aragorn," Legolas swore.

Aragorn opened his eyes and their depths held dread, "If we fail he will destroy us all, Legolas. None will survive his wrath..." silently he said, 'least of all me.'

"Then we must not fail," Legolas said with steely resolve.

Silence held for a moment before Aragorn lightly countered "You elves make everything so simple."

"Life is simple, it is you humans who tend to make things complicated," Legolas countered, a smile beginning to turn up his lips.

To that Aragorn insisted, "Nay, we make things interesting. Think how boring your life was before you met me."

"It was boring...and safe. My father never lectured me for days about taking foolish risks and I never spent much time in the healer's ward.." then his words became hued with warmth, "and I never laughed so hard or enjoyed life so well. I would not forfeit any time I have spent in your company."

"Even upon this journey? Moria, Helm's Deep..the battles to come?" Aragorn questioned with surprise, but anguish entered his next words, "You could be in Valinor, Legolas, with your people, with your father. If you left for the grey havens now, you could catch one of the last boats..."

But Legolas firmly interrupted, "No, Aragorn. My place is at your side."

Hoping to sway his friend's resolve, Aragorn softly predicted, "Legolas, if Sauron should be victor, there will be no escape for you."

"Then I will share in whatever fate awaits you, my brother," Legolas pledged without hesitation or fear.

But his friend's oath caused guilt to flash through Aragorn. "Elrond was right to ask me to send Arwen to Valinor. I should have done you the same kindness."

But Legolas quietly returned, "Arwen will not thank you for your "kindness" when she realizes her love for you does not wane...even in Valinor. I pray instead that she follows the dictates of her heart...as I have done."

"You are the most stubborn elf I have ever known," Aragorn retorted back but with love in his voice.

"And you are the most reckless human I have ever known. Why did you have to grab that Palantir!" Legolas rebuked but humor coated his tone.

Aragorn sighed dramatically, "I was wondering when the lecture would begin."

"If your father or brothers were here..."

"Valar help me! Can you imagine the lecture I would have had to endure after getting dragged off that cliff by the warg?!"

"That reminds me...I was so glad to see you alive that I forget to deliver the tongue lashing you so deserved."

Aragorn laughed and called out, "Peace, my friend, peace. I think it best if you saved the lectures until the end of this journey."

"You are just hoping I'll forget some of your reckless actions," the elf guessed.

"A human can always count on an elf's faulty memory."

"Faulty memory?!" Legolas scoffed and shoved Aragorn playfully from his grasp. "You are confused human. It is your race that can not remember events from moments prior."

Aragorn turned to face Legolas, "I thought you told me you "forgot" to tell your father about that last spider incident we had."

"A momentary forgetfulness only," Legolas denied.

Aragorn laughed, "Nay, it was cowardice, my friend. Pure and simple."

"Cowardice?! You dare call me a coward?!" Legolas challenged in mock outrage, though he could not keep the laughter from his voice. "It was you who camped outside for five days instead of returning to face your father's wrath over the destroyed wine cellars."

Watching the two bicker, Gandalf closed the door and retreated back to his bed. Whatever ill effects Aragorn had suffered from the palantir, it was Legolas who had found a way to comfort his friend. 'Better than I could with a thousand chants and potions,' Gandalf concluded with a smile upon his face as he crawled again under the covers and fell asleep to the sound of laughter shared between brothers.

The End.

Again I would love to hear what you think!