Disclaimer:

…Not even gonna say it.

Rating:

R – to be safe


CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Aragorn had not known his feet to have moved so fast in the House of Elrond.
He burst through the doors of Elrond's study, chest heaving as his eyes scanned the wide room. Erestor, who sat facing Elrond, hands extended as if in the middle of explaining something, jumped in surprise. Glorfindel was at his usual spot by the window, leaning back with his arms crossed. Elrond turned his gaze sharply as Erestor was abruptly cut off, staring at Aragorn for explanation. Aragorn stared around the room for any sight of Legolas.

None.

He glared at Elrond, eyes wide.

"Where is –"

"The stables." Glorfindel spoke from across the room, bright eyes meeting Aragorn's.

"Estel you must let him-"

The man turned and ran, heedless of Elrond's attempt to speak.


Legolas touched a hand to the horse's neck, tapping the steed lightly as he secured his pack to the saddle. The mount turned its head to lip at Legolas's shoulder. The elf avoided the contact and smiled weakly, taking his time as he led the horse out of the stables.

He had refused help from the stable hands and now, dressed in a grey tunic given to him by Elladan, he lifted a pale hand to shield the sun from his eyes as he stared at the gates ahead of him.

His heart still ached. He did not know why…or perhaps he did, though he ignored the tormenting sensation as he adjusted the cloak around his shoulders. He was ready to leave here, he could not possibly stay any longer. Slipping a foot into the stirrup, he was about to swing gracefully atop the steed when a voice caused him to freeze.

"Legolas!"

The elf clenched his jaw and tightly shut his eyes.

Fool. A voice taunted.

He should not have assumed that Aragorn would sleep through his departure. Should not have assumed that things would go so simply and smoothly. Aragorn would not allow it.
With that thought, a brief smile touched his lips…memories of how Aragorn's restlessness had entertained him in days long past. The ranger's relentless need for adventure had always intrigued him. Though now…it was a burden to him. He could not shoulder it...he had no desire to.

The elf slowly let his foot lower to the ground and he turned to face the man; face blank, impassive.
Aragorn looked flustered. His hair was a wild mess and though his piercing eyes seemed glazed with fatigue, they still seemed to burn with unnameable emotion. Legolas dropped his eyes.

Aragorn took a step forward. Slow, careful, as if approaching a startled animal.

"Please," the ranger pleaded, "All I ask is for mere moments, please."

Legolas glanced at the horse, then back at Estel. If he was fast, he could leap upon it in mere seconds and leave Rivendell far behind him. Dramatic, yes, hurtful, no doubt...but nescessary? Indeed. The thought left him uneasy.

He was no coward…that was not why he was leaving.

"The sun shall not wait also, I cannot tarry here." Legolas turned toward the horse.

"Is this what it has come to then?" Aragorn murmured, shaking his head, "Can you not even stand to speak to me? You would leave without saying a word?"

Legolas' hand curled into a fist against the saddle and he worked his jaw, turning his eyes toward Aragorn.

"Do not make this harder."

"Of course," The man snickered bitterly, "I can see this is extremely hard for you."

"You would not have -"

"Have understood?"

"Have let me go." The elf corrected, his eyes pools of misery beneath the forced indifference.

Aragorn clenched his jaw tightly, blinking fiercely and staring anywhere other than Legolas to clear the burning in his eyes.
Why was he acting so weakly when he knew he was to be strong?
Perhaps he had never understood just how much his friendship with the elf meant to him…but then, he should have known that fate would wish to show him this through such a cruel lesson.

"You say I did not betray you."

The elf dropped his eyes and nodded very slightly. Aragorn stared across at his friend, shaking his head, Valar how it hurt to be pushed aside so fiercely. It had happened so fast…

"Would you rather you had killed that man?" Aragorn asked, searching the cold eyes as they lifted.

"Would it honestly matter?" the elf replied, "He is dead."

"He is." Aragorn replied, swallowing the knot of tension in his throat. His jaw ached and his head pounded mercilessly, "Mayhap he was not the only soul that died there…"

"Farn." Legolas snapped, turning his back once again.

"You wish you had killed him." Aragorn alleged as he stepped forward, desperate to keep his friend from leaving, "You wish I had not."

"What I wish," Legolas growled as he swung around, "Is to be left alone! Why can you not accept that!?"

"Could you!?" Aragorn shouted, his hands curling into fists at his side as his voice echoed in the courtyard, "Could you?" he asked again, slowly, hissing the words.

To that, Legolas knew the answer and what was worse, was that Aragorn knew it also. The ranger extended a hand toward his friend's shoulder. Legolas stepped back, shaking his head.

"Avo, Aragorn...please.."

Aragorn dropped his hand, "I could not let you kill that man."

"It does not matter." The elf insisted again, shaking his head.

"Of course it matters. It is why you refuse to speak with me; it is why you have withdrawn further."

"No, it is not." The elf growled, reaching across to the saddle only to have Aragorn take a step closer.

"Elrohir is awake." the man murmured - he knew he was grasping desperately for anything that would keep Legolas in Rivendell if only a little longer.

Legolas paused, eyes staring straight at the leather of the saddle as the words registered. His hand stilled and he waited for the man to continue.

Aragorn licked his lips nervously.

"It would mean much if you would at least speak with him ere you left."

Legolas knew the truth behind those words…Estel would delay his departure for as long as possible. But then he could not find it in his tired heart to be angry. He would have done the same….once.

Legolas did not spare Aragorn a glance as he brushed past the ranger, blond hair sparking in the morning light as he strode into the House of Elrond. Aragorn turned to look at the horse, saddled and ready to carry its new master through a forest filled with a memory of pain.
With a heavy heart he turned and followed the elf.


Alone in the chamber, Elrohir lay back, staring up at the blurred fog of the ceiling, squinting as he tried to focus his eyes. The dull ache caused his head to pound and he sighed, allowing his face to relax. His father's healing remedy had begun to wane and he could feel the dim agony throbbing in his ankle.

It was then that he realised that both Elladan and Aragorn had mollified him. With his inability to feel the pain anywhere other than his head and eyes, he had clearly forgotten that he was crippled…he would not be able to support his weight on his ankle and Estel had most probably gone to walk around the gardens whilst pretending to visit their father. Though the thought caused him to feel like a child being patronised, it also brought with it vague amusement.

The pain was sharper now and he realised that it was not only his ankle that burned, but his stomach. Frowning, he allowed his hand to shift to his abdomen, where he let his hands touch the bindings. The memory of what had happened caused his gut to lurch and he closed his eyes to combat the nausea.

He had not seen what had been carved into him and the thought caused a shudder of unease to wrack his tired body. Carefully, he sat up in the bed, dragging his body tiredly. Propped against a pillow, he carefully undid the bindings, more by sense of touch than by trying to make out the blobs of colour before his eyes.

Slowly the bindings gave way and he let his hands trail over the scars on his stomach, frowning as he tried to decipher the word with the tips of his fingers. The ridges of flesh nearly caused him to withdraw his hand, though his curiosity spurred him on.

The sound of the door clicking shut caused him to turn his head and his hand stilled.

"Glorfindel?" he asked, squinting as he made out a smear of blond hair, pulling the covers up to hide his stomach.

"Nay." The voice was low, though not unkind.

Elrohir blinked in surprise, "Legolas?"

"How do you fair, Elrohir?" the elf asked as he took a seat beside the bed, leaning forward to gaze into the large, unfocused eyes.

"I do wish people would stop asking me that." The elf smiled, "Though I cannot say I am the best of company."

"Nor I." Legolas admitted with a feigned smile.

Elrohir dropped his eyes, "I did not think I would see you." a dry laugh caught in the brother's throat, "Well, my choice of words is poor."

Legolas shook his head, "Elrohir, I-"

"How do you fair, Legolas?"

Legolas bowed his head, "I am well."

The brother laughed sadly, "I should not be surprised that I am being lied to so often in my present state."

Legolas lifted his eyes and was about to speak, though he thought better of it. Elrohir was glad the elf did not try to deny his words and he gazed at the blond blur.

"You have come to say goodbye." It was not a question.

Legolas swallowed, "I have."

Elrohir's brow furrowed and he turned his head away, "Navaer, Legolas."

The elf prince clenched his jaw, "News of your health shall be brought to me."

"I've no doubt."

Legolas stared quietly at the twin for a while, ere he rose to his feet, leant down and gripped the elf's shoulder lightly. Elrohir turned his head and gripped Legolas' arm. It was a gesture of blessing; of acceptance…it eased the prince's heart.

Hannon le...

"Navaer, Elrohir."


Legolas stood beside the horse once more, staring at the gates ahead of him. He had not spoken to anyone of his plans to depart, so if he stayed that bit longer it, would not cause great interest or suspicion.
He had known that Glorfindel had seen him enter the stables as dawn had broken, though he knew the elf lord would not interfere with Elrond's decision, even if he were not in agreement.

Elladan and he had shared a glance of understanding as he had left Elrohir's room for the second time, knowing in his heart it was right that he had seen the young twin. Though to have seen Elrohir as he was, had caused the weight in the Mirkwood elf's heart to grow that much heavier. Would it were that he could have left when Elrohir had recovered - but to have stayed much longer...he could not.

But it was Aragorn that now chained him to the House of Rivendell. The twins had accepted his decision, had given him their silent blessing…but Aragorn…the man would deny him it and in his heart, he could not find anger nor resentment…only a great sadness.

As the sun cut through the forest, he stared silently at the gates. They beckoned to him, offered him the freedom, the respite from it all...the promise of home. His eyes hardened as he strove to strengthen his resolve. He stared up at the heavens.

This would be his last goodbye.


Elladan smiled as his brother drained the mug of its contents, a grimace on his face at the herbal bitterness. When those eyes looked at him once again he felt the smile vanish. He could see the frustration as Elrohir struggled to focus and he bowed his head, trying to search for words of comfort.

He did not have to as the door opened and Elrond's regal form stepped into the room, dark eyes falling on the sight of the twins. Elrohir turned his head.

"Adar?"

Elrond looked over at Elladan and his glance spoke volumes. The elder twin gripped Elrohir's hand and then made to leave the room. Elrond's eyes were locked on Elladan, their intensity unnerving, even to his own son, who avoided the probing stare.
Ere Elladan could leave, Elrond's hand lifted and touched his shoulder, gentle…so gentle a touch that Elladan found if difficult to meet his father's eyes and he just stood still, staring at the floor.

Elrond slid his hand to Elladan's chin and titled his son's head toward him. Elladan tensed, unused to such attention from his father. The elder twin's reaction did not go unnoticed by the elven lord. Sensing Elladan's discomfort, Elrond dropped his hand, nodding toward the corridor - granting his eldest son permission to leave. Elladan obeyed without question, not once looking back.

Sighing, Elrond turned toward the mirror image of his eldest child and shut the door quietly, moving over toward Elrohir. He lifted a hand to avoid sitting upon the sleeve of his robe and sat gently upon the bed beside his son.

"Are you in much pain?" Elrond asked, touching his hands to Elrohir's forehead, ere turning his son's head toward him to examine the scar on his face.

"Law, adar." Elrohir replied, "Though my head aches." He admitted with a frown.

Elrond gripped the back of his son's skull lightly, touching his thumb to the twin's temple, "Try to rest." He advised, lowering his hand.

Elrohir nodded, dropping his cloudy gaze. Though he did not see the intense stare that bore into him, he could sense it and he shifted on the bed, uncertain what to do. Elrond's hand gently rose again and he cupped his son's cheek. Elrohir turned his head toward his father…though frustration welled when all he saw was a blurred figure.

Perhaps that was just as well. Seldom did Elrond's eyes shimmer as they did then. Seldom did he show sign of his fear as a father. How close he had come to never seeing his children. It could have been any one of them.

Valar….so close.

He stayed that way with his son for a long while, until Elrohir's eyelids drooped and he laid the twin down to rest as a healing sleep embraced him.

Quietly leaving the room, just as Erestor entered with a supply of herbs, Elrond quietly turned and made his way toward Elladan's chamber. He paused outside of the door for a moment, listening.

Silence.

He entered like a shadow, moving across the room without a sound. His dark gaze alighted upon the figure that had collapsed on the bed, one arm tucked beneath his head. Elladan's eyes were blank and unseeing as he slept and he looked like the child he had once been.

Elrond smiled the briefest of smiles as he walked over to the eldest brother, sinking down onto the bed behind the twin and stroking the dark hair away from his son's face. Elladan barely stirred, dead to world as the weight of exhaustation and sleepless nights kept him happily enfolded in slumber.

"I'm sorry, Elladan." he murmured quietly.

The twin did not stir.

Elrond sat staring for a while longer, until duty pulled him from his son's side and drew him from the room.

He did not see the twin's eyes refocus, nor did he hear Elladan leave the room moments after him and sneak back toward Elrohir's chamber. Sliding onto the bed next to his twin, he stretched his legs out and laid his head back against the headboard. Staring at the wall, he considered the actions of his father and sadness stole the light from his pale eyes.

I'm sorry, Elladan.


Legolas eased the horse forwards in a lazy walk toward the gates of Rivendell. Each echo of the horse's steps upon the coble echoed in his mind, making the moments pass far too slowly. Though soon, he passed through them, his head held high as he stared straight ahead, refusing to glance back.

As he had imagined it, so it was. Estel appeared ahead on the road, atop his horse, stubborn gaze meeting the elf's. Legolas drew his horse to a halt, unable to pass, so long as Aragorn barred his path.

Their eyes met…though there was a distance between them so vast that both had to blink in shock at the sheer ache in their hearts. Aragorn appeared weary, his eyes were ringed with shadow and his face was pale from lack of sleep. Legolas himself, appeared strange to the eye. His face lacked its usual light and emotion. Though he was dressed in fresh attire, his hair like spun gold it was no more than a mask to shroud a bruised heart and spirit. Aragorn met those eyes he had once known so well.

"I shall ask it of you again." He spoke.

"Please, do not." Legolas replied, his voice edged with weariness.

"Do not leave…not like this." Aragorn beseeched, "not like this…"

Legolas stared hard at the young human.
Valar…why did it always hurt?
Aragorn's eyes moistened and he blinked, clenching his jaw as if ashamed of the emotion. How had it come to this?

Why…? Why!

His most treasured friend…their last parting had been one of joy and hope, of promise and laughter. That Legolas had vanished…that Legolas never did return to see him again, as he had promised. Yet staring across at the elf, in those dull, tired eyes he could see a flicker of emotion, a flicker of his friend.

Then with three words spoken from the elf, he was sure that he had truly lost the friend he so cherished and the grief was so alien that it choked words from him. His throat constricted and he could not speak. The rift between them grew far too wide…and with his last three words Legolas burnt the final bridge across that rift…the last bridge, extending toward Estel.

His last words…the words he would leave Aragorn with to remember him by.

"Let me go."

And he did.

And the elf did not once glance back as he spurred his horse down the open path, blond hair billowing behind him, ere he drew the hood upon his fair head.
Aragorn did not turn his horse to watch the ghost of his friend ride away and instead, he squared his shoulders, clenched his jaw and rode his horse back through those gates.

It was over.

It was done.


END


Sindarin Elvish Translations
Navaer
, ElrohirFarewell, Elrohir.
Law, adarno, father
Avo - don't
Farn! – Enough!
Adar - Father


Wey! Finished it! At long last!

I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

Thank you so much to all of you who have followed this story through to the end! I hope that you enjoyed it! For any of you who are interested, the sequel to this story "Break To Deliverance" can be found on my profile page - its still on the go.
I shall now set to work on that story once more now that I have finished re-posting this prequel!

Thank you again to all of you who have left me such wonderful, encouraging feedback - and thanks to all the readers!

Catch you in the next post of the sequel!

Silver Thorne

xxxxXxxxx

Reviewers: Again, I apologise for not leaving much time for people to leave feedback with the last two chapters!

Deana - Heya Deana! I hope you liked this final chapter! Thanks so much for your constant feedback - it means the world! Hannon le! Hopefully catch you in the posts of the sequel! Take care!