A/N This is my newest LotR fic and I hope you all enjoy it. Thanks to all of you who have enjoyed my last two fics: Words Will Break My Spirit and Friendship is a Light of Hope. I hope you will enjoy this one just as much! I think you all know how much I love to torture our favorite Ranger snickers.
Timeline: A few months after Friendship is a Light of Hope.
Chapter 1: Leaving
Aragorn walked down the halls of Imladris. He was leaving with his friend Legolas that day. The two were headed to Bree; Aragorn had to go check on the people there for the Rangers. He was considering going to the Shire but he didn't think they would have enough time.
"Leaving so soon, Estel?"
Aragorn turned around to see his father's friend and advisor, Glorfindel, walking towards him. "Yes, I am afraid so."
The blond elf nodded. "How long do you expect to be gone for?"
Aragorn looked slyly at Glorfindel. "Why? Waiting for me to get back so that Elladan and Elrohir will play their pranks on someone else?"
Glorfindel chuckled. "No tithen-pen, I was just curious as to how long you expect to be gone for. No one ever tells me anything around here." He pouted.
Aragorn laughed and shook his head. "I should be back in a little less than a month. Legolas is coming, so it may be longer."
"Is there a specific reason as to why you are going?" Glorfindel asked.
Aragorn sighed. "The slave trade is growing in the south, I am supposed to find out if anyone in Bree knows about it. The Rangers are curious as to what the people of Bree know; they have to have seen the slave traders come through. If they have not...then I do not know what I will do."
Glorfindel nodded. "That is a grim task."
Aragorn sighed. "I know, but hopefully I will be able to collect the information."
"Yes, let us hope. Tell me Estel, what will you do if you find a lead to the slave trade? Will you send word?" Glorfindel asked.
Aragorn thought for a moment. "More than likely I will meet with the Rangers. If I cannot do that I will send word to Ada. Elladan and Elrohir would be able to get to the Rangers and tell them what I have found out. I am hopeful that I will find a strong enough lead so that I may follow it myself. If I can do that then I will definitely send word to both Ada and the Rangers. It would be wise to have help."
Glorfindel nodded. "Good plan." He patted Aragorn on the shoulder. "Good luck; I hope you find what you need."
Aragorn smiled. "Thank you. I hope so as well."
The two went their separate ways in the hall.
Aragorn went to Legolas' room. He had already packed his small bag and was now waiting for Legolas. He knocked on the door before entering. He didn't want to just waltz inside the room; his friend might throw something at him.
Legolas looked up when he saw Aragorn. He was sitting on the window seat, gazing out the window. It was still early morning, so he had a wonderful view outside. "Are you ready?"
Aragorn nodded. "Yes, I have been ready for a long time now."
Legolas smiled and got up from where he had been sitting. He picked up his quiver and bow, threw a water flask over his shoulder, and grinned. "Well, I am ready as well."
The two walked out of the room and went to Lord Elrond's study. Aragorn knew better than to leave without saying goodbye to his father. He would have a lecture on courtesy when he got back if he didn't say farewell.
Aragorn knocked and entered the room. "Ada?"
Elrond looked up from the scroll he was bent over and smiled at his son and Legolas. "You are leaving?" he asked, sighing. He didn't want his son to leave so soon.
Aragorn nodded. "Yes, Ada. We just came to say goodbye."
Elrond smiled and stood from his chair. He held a sigh back and walked over to his youngest. "Did you say farewell to your brothers? I am sure they will want to know you are leaving at this moment. You mentioned something last night, so I am sure they are waiting for you."
Aragorn grinned. "We are going to say goodbye to them soon."
Elrond nodded and fixed the two with a stern look. "I will see you soon, is that correct?"
Aragorn chuckled. "Yes, Ada. I will be home soon," he replied in an innocent good-boy tone.
Elrond looked at the two. "Neither one of you will return to me injured, pained, or in any other way wounded."
"No, Lord Elrond, we will not return in pain," Legolas replied.
Elrond smiled and pulled his son into a tight hug. "I love you Estel, I do not wish to see you hurt again."
Aragorn released his father. "You have healed me so many times."
Elrond looked at Aragorn. "If you hurt, please let it be physically."
"I would rather not hurt at all," Aragorn replied dryly.
Elrond sighed. "You know what I mean, Estel."
Aragorn nodded and kissed his father's cheek. "Yes, Ada, I know."
Elrond looked at Legolas. "Look after him, Legolas. He is still a child."
"I am what?" Aragorn demanded. "I am an adult!"
Elrond chuckled and shooed his child away. "Of course you are," he said gently.
Aragorn laughed and stuck his tongue out. "I will miss you, father."
Legolas watched all of the loving banter with an amused expression. "I promise to look after the child. You never know what he can get in to."
Aragorn rolled his eyes and began to mutter evil things under his breath.
Elrond smiled gratefully at Legolas. "Look after yourself too, Legolas. I do not want you to be injured either."
"I will look after him, Ada," Aragorn said.
Elrond nodded. "I know; that is what I am afraid of."
Aragorn glared and Legolas chuckled.
"We will be fine, Lord Elrond," Legolas said, bowing politely.
Aragorn grabbed his friend's arm. "Let us go, you prissy creature."
The two friends walked from the room. They had all they needed. Aragorn carried a little food, while Legolas had the empty water flask. They would be on foot, but they didn't need much. They would be able to eat the things found in the wild.
Aragorn had his sword on his belt and his daggers hidden on his person. "We must say goodbye to my brothers. I really do not wish to find something squishy in my bed when I get back because I did not say goodbye to them."
Legolas chuckled. "Alright, Estel. Where do you think they are?"
Aragorn thought for a moment. "More than likely they are waiting by the door. I left once without saying goodbye to Elladan," he looked at Legolas. "Bad idea."
Legolas chuckled. He could only imagine what the older twin had done. "We let us go say goodbye to them then."
Aragorn nodded and the two went to the front door. Sure enough, both Elladan and Elrohir were seated on either side, waiting.
Elladan stood and walked over to hug Aragorn tightly. "Stay out of trouble, Estel. I know how hard that is for you."
Elrohir walked over and did the same. "Yes, please do not get hurt too badly."
"I do not want to get hurt at all!" Aragorn protested.
Elladan checked Aragorn's daggers to make sure they were latched in place. "Yes, well, knowing you, it is impossible for you to return uninjured."
Aragorn pulled away. "They are all safely concealed and latched! I am not a little boy any more Elladan! I do know how to keep my weapons in place."
Elrohir patted Aragorn's cheek. "Have fun, tithen-pen."
Aragorn rolled his eyes and turned to Legolas. "Do you see what I have to put up with around here?"
The twins' affected airs of innocence made Legolas laugh.
"I will take good care of the little boy. Do not worry yourself," Legolas told them.
"Send us word if you need help," Elrohir said.
Aragorn nodded. "We will. If we do not send word in two months, please go to the Rangers or come to Bree."
Elladan smiled. "We would have done that anyway, Estel." Elladan kissed Estel's head. "Safe travels."
Elrohir pulled Aragorn into a tight hug and kissed his cheek. "Safe travels."
Elladan and Elrohir patted Legolas on the back.
"Be safe as well, Legolas. We do not want you to be hurt," Elladan told him.
"Do not worry, we will not hug you," Elrohir teased.
"Good. I do not think he wants to be mothered anymore than he has to," Aragorn remarked sarcastically. "Valar knows I am."
The twins smacked their brother lightly and opened the door for the friends.
"Have a safe trip!" they called whilst the two walked from the house.
They waved over their shoulder and continued on their way. It would take them about a week to reach Bree, and they were looking forward to spending time together. The two friends rarely got to go on a normal trip together; they were mostly getting in trouble and were forced to return.
"Do you feel better now?" Legolas asked.
Aragorn looked at his friend. "Please, might we speak of something else?"
Legolas nodded and easily changed the subject. "How are your archery skills now, Estel?"
Aragorn shrugged. "Not as good as yours, but they are good."
The two continued to talk about archery for the next few hours. There was nothing much for them to do but they made good progress through the wilds.
When it was getting dark Aragorn decided they should make camp. "We should build a loft," he told Legolas. "It will help keep us safe in the trees."
Legolas nodded. "Yes, tithen-pen."
Aragorn glared. "You are becoming like my brothers, Legolas."
Legolas chuckled. "Would you like me to mother you as well? You seem to love it when they treat you like their child."
Aragorn couldn't help but laugh. "No, thank you! I have three parents and they are Elladan, Elrohir, and Lord Elrond."
Legolas ruffled his friend's hair and helped him build the loft.
Aragorn picked up Legolas' flask and looked up at his friend. "I am going to collect some water from the river. Would you get out the food?"
"Of course, I will serve it," Legolas called down to him.
Aragorn nodded and headed to the river to get the water. When he returned to the tree they had built the loft in, he pulled himself up and climbed onto the platform.
Legolas handed Aragorn a handful of berries along with two strips of dried venison. "I cannot find the bread in that…thing." He pointed at the tattered sack that Aragorn carried.
"You are so dainty. I do not understand why you will not stick your hand in there." He opened the sack and pulled out some lembas bread. He broke off a piece and handed it to Legolas.
The two ate, talked, and laughed for two more hours. When the moon had been in the sky for an hour Legolas looked at Aragorn.
"You sleep, I will wake you when it is morning."
Aragorn shook his head. "No, you need to sleep."
Legolas looked at his friend, concerned. "No, Estel, you need rest. I can still see the fatigue. Those emotions took a toll on you, mellon-nin; you need rest much more than I."
Aragorn stifled a yawn and nodded. "Wake me a few hours before dawn. You should get a few hours of sleep as well."
Legolas smiled. "We will see; rest now."
Aragorn rolled his eyes and lay down on the loft. "Good night, Legolas." He was quickly asleep.
Legolas watched his friend sleep for a few hours. He hoped that Aragorn would heal soon; it had been hard to watch him in pain. He looked up at the sky where the dawn was approaching; in another hour he would wake Aragorn.