Title: Darkness

Series: Book of Days (basically, it's a series of missing moments. Little scenes between Aragorn and Legolas that will take place throughout the trilogy – please read author's note (2) for more info.)

Author: Erika

Rating: PG-13 (non descriptive references to torture and rape)

Summary: The darkness of Moria makes Legolas restless.

Timeframe: Takes place in Moria, before the battle with the cave troll, while Gandalf is trying to remember what way to go.

Spoilers: For the FOTR, as if any of you haven't seen it.

Category: Angst, POV.

Disclaimers: It would make me the happiest person in the world to be able to truthfully say that Aragorn and Legolas belong to me, but alas, it is not so. I make no money from this, and it is written (against my will) for entertainment purposes only.

Feedback: Both positive feedback and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated and will be cherished!

Archive: Please ask and send me a link to your site so that I can check it out. =D

Author's Note: (1) It's been a few years since I last read the LOTR in its entirety so these missing moments are basically based on the movies. I apologize in advance if I contradict anything that's stated in the books; any mistakes are purely accidental. (2) So far, this series consists of the following stories: "A Light in the Darkness", "A Friend Such As You", "Darkness", "The Comfort of Listening", "There is Always Hope", and "Fall of a Friend".

Darkness

Legolas:

Moria. It was dark here. Heart wrenchingly dark. Oppressively dark. And cold. So bitterly cold. I felt as if the very warmth of my blood was seeping from me, as if some poison was slowly drawing every last bit of life from my veins.

There was no life here. Only death. Sometimes it felt as if there was not even that. Sometimes it felt as if there was…nothing. Nothing but darkness. Darkness and despair. For a woodland elf, there was no greater evil than the lack of life. For me, there was nothing I feared more than emptiness.

And Moria was empty. So empty. Empty of light. Empty of life. Empty of goodness. Empty of everything.

I felt as if I was slowly being driven mad. I needed to feel something, anything. I needed to feel the liveliness of the wind, the beautiful spirit of the trees. I needed to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, the refreshing touch of water against my body.

It shamed me to admit it, but I was frightened. This…place gave birth to a fear that I had not felt in many years, a fear that I thought was no longer a threat to me. I had been wrong. Now, that fear was slowly crippling me. If we did not escape this perdition soon I…I did not no how much more of this I could bear. I was already on edge, jumpy. And this delay frustrated me. How long would it take Gandalf to remember our path?

Retreating from the others, I found a desolate corner and let myself slide down against the wall. How long had we been here? I couldn't say. Without dawn or dusk, time blended together into an endless web of obscurity.

I shivered.

"Legolas?" Aragorn's gentle voice reached my ears but I did not look at him. My friend, understanding my fear better than any other could, had tried to comfort me since we entered Moria. He had taken to walking last in our procession through the mines but whenever the darkness grew more dank or the lifelessness more oppressing, he would slip past the rest of the companions and walk beside me for a while. I appreciated his thoughtfulness but there was nothing he could do to stave off the darkness. Not even Gandalf's staff could do that, for the light it offered was hollow and fake.

My friend concernedly stood over me. "You are in need of rest, Legolas," he reminded me, well aware of the fact that I had not slept since entering Moria, "Take this time to regain your strength."

I shook my head. "I cannot sleep here. I shall know only darkness if I do. How can humans sleep in such obscurity every night?"

Aragorn sat down beside me and shrugged. "It is not such a bad thing," he told me. "It was not always so for you either. You have greater reason to fear the darkness than any of us."

Finally, I met his gaze. I knew of what he spoke. Years ago, just after Aragorn and I had been drawn together in friendship, I had been captured by orcs. They had stripped me. Bound me, gagged me, and blindfolded me. For nearly five days, they had tormented me. Raped and tortured me. In the bitter darkness and cold I had wept and begged death to take me, but death had not come. Instead, Aragorn had. He had rescued me. Saved me.

The entire ordeal was a blur to me. What I remembered best was the darkness and the pain, how cold and scared I had been. For countless months after that, I could not take rest at night. It was too dark. It reminded me too much of my captivity. If ever I slept at night, I would be assaulted with memories of what the orcs had done to me. I would wake up screaming or crying. Or both.

Little by little though, the fear had passed. Aragorn had helped with that. He had soothed me when I awoke from nightmares, comforted me when I could not sleep. He had helped me heal.

It had been years since I had last felt this fear of darkness, but now it twisted itself around me again, choking me. Nothing had ever reminded me of my captivity more than the chilling obscurity of Moria. The orcs had taken me to a lifeless, barren wasteland. I could not see it, but I had felt it. Had felt it in the sense that I had felt nothing, nothing living, nothing good. Just as I felt now.

"I thought I had overcome that fear," I blushed, "In Moria though, it is not only the darkness. It is the evil as well. The evil of being so disconnected from all that is living. I feel as if I am surrounded by…nothing."

Aragorn draped an arm around my shoulders. Normally such an action would have pleased me but we were in plain vision of the other companions and I would not have them think we weak. Tensing under his touch, I protested, "Aragorn, the others will see…"

He sighed and an annoyed flicker passed through his eyes. "You are an able and proud warrior, Legolas. They know this. Allowing them to see that you are not infallible will not diminish their respect for you." He did not remove his arm. "I know it makes you uncomfortable, but for once, my friend, please allow me to console you in something other than utter privacy."

I knew that if I asked again, Aragorn would release me. It would frustrate him, but he would release me nonetheless. I glanced at the others. No one was paying us any mind. Perhaps, it would be all right to allow this.

I forced myself to relax but could not contain the tremor that momentarily wracked my frame.

"You are cold?" Aragorn frowned, concern marring his normally subdued tone.

I nodded by way of answer. At the confused furrowing of my friend's brow, I explained. "You know that what the orcs subjected me to while I was their prisoner has made me susceptible to such things."

"Ai, but it is rarely so. Only when–" Aragorn stopped short, comprehension dawning.

"You understand then. I am afflicted with the ability to feel the cold when I am filled with the same sense of utter lifeless despair that nearly robbed me of life during the seemingly endless torture."

A heart wrenching sadness shimmered in Aragorn's expressive eyes. "I did not realize this had affected you so terribly. I am sorry. I would transport you from this place if I could."

I tried to smile in reassurance at my friend but was unable to. Was there no end to this seemingly interminable barren obscurity?

"Estel," I swiftly switched to the melodic tones of my own language so that the others would not understand, would not hear my painful admission. "I am scared."

Aragorn's hand found mine. He said nothing. Instead, he soothingly rubbed the palm of my hand with his thumb. When I looked at him, his eyes were pained. He did not like seeing me like this. He wished he could take away my fear. I wished the same thing.

"If I sleep…I'm afraid of what I will see," I confessed.

"Then allow me to help you find your rest, as you have so frequently helped me find mine," he offered, drawing me against him. "I shall tell you a story."

"A story?" I repeated dubiously. Aragorn had been gifted with an amazing talent for storytelling. While I did not doubt his ability ease my way into sleep, I did doubt his ability to keep the nightmares at bay while I was asleep.

"A bedtime story, if you will," Aragorn clarified, smiling.

I stiffened. A bedtime story? A child's story. A story told to youngsters who were afraid of monsters that did not exist. I was not frightened of fantastical creatures that hid under beds or in the recesses of closets. My fear had been wrought from very real experiences and though it humiliated me, I would not have it ridiculed.

"I am not a child and I will not be treated as one," I retorted icily.

Aragorn's eyes drifted shut. He tightened his grip on my hand. "Were you treating me as a child when you sang me a lullaby that night, ten days after departing Rivendell?"

My anger drained away. I sighed regretfully. What was I saying? Aragorn was trying to help me. "No, of course not. Forgive me," I murmured, "This place has me…on edge."

Aragorn reached inside the folds of his tunic and pulled out a small leather pouch. "I have something that might ease your mind." He drew my hand forward and emptied the contents of the pouch into it.

I stared in wonder at four small methlas leaves. Methlas leaves, when mixed into a hot tea, had immense medicinal abilities. They could ease pain and accelerate healing. They were also very long lived. They would survive, fresh and green, for many months after being cut from the methlas tree. These, I knew, were very old; but even still, I could feel the life in them. It was nearly nonexistent and fading, but it was something. It was comfort.

Carefully closing my fingers around them, I held my fist over my chest, close to my heart. "Thank you."

"Now," said Aragorn, speaking in elvish, "try and relax. I will tell you the story Elrond always told me when I was young and frequently I awoke from nightmares." He smiled then. "Trust me, Legolas, you will sleep peacefully."

I nodded.

Finally allowing my weariness to overcome me, I settled against my friend and let myself to be lulled to sleep by the melodic tones of his voice. For a few minutes, the images his words wove were vivid but they faded from my mind as I drifted towards slumber. The darkness of Moria slowly receded from my vision just as Aragorn's words ebbed into silence. The last thing I heard was my friend's soothing promise: "Sleep well, Legolas, and do not fear. I will watch over you."

THE END