Against All Odds
By: Estelle

Rating: PG-13 to R (for a little blood)

Feedback: Constructive criticisms will be kept close to the heart and flames will be used to power the balrog that I'll be sending after you. LOL!

By The Hands of Another
Never Tell (with author's permission)

Archive: Feel free to but please e-mail me and let me know the URL so that I can go and have a look-see.

Beta: Karri.


Not really a series. I'm just putting them in chronological order.

The Haircut
Aragorn's Revenge
The Need of Many
By The Hands of Another

Disclaimer: I do not own any of J.R.R. Tolkien's characters or worlds. Everything recognizable belongs to Tolkien and everything else belongs to me. I did not obtain permission to use these characters and I'm not receiving money for this story. I merely take them out for a spin and will return them in one piece… more or less. g

Summary: When someone from the past came back to seek revenge on Aragorn, will Elladan, Elrohir and Legolas end up paying the ultimate price? Or will the ranger be able to protect his brothers and friend from this madman?

Author's Note: When Tolkien said that Aragorn was raised in the House of Elrond, I assumed that Elrond took him in as his adopted son. That will make Elrond's twin sons, Elladan and Elrohir, his adopted brothers. And Aragorn is in his early twenties in this story. No idea how old Legolas is supposed to be but I am assuming that he is younger than Elladan and Elrohir. This is also an AU story because I've neglected the fact that Aragorn had met Arwen after he had been told of his heritage.

I'd also like to thank Cassia and Sio for allowing me to take Celboril out for a spin. :D

Additional Disclaimer: This is sort of a sequel to "By The Hands of Another" although you do not need to read it to understand this one. However, it would definitely make more sense if you've read it. If not, this story will spoil the little surprises in "By The Hands of Another". And there will be a minor flashback from Rhonda's "Never Tell" which deals with child abuse. If this topic disturbs you, I recommend that you either skip the flashback or do not read this story. You have been warned so please do not flame me. :P Of course this would still make sense without reading it first but just in case you want to be thorough, her story can be found on FFNet under the pen name leggylover03 (storyid1523402) Sorry can't give the URL. Somehow FFNet doesn't like it and have a tendency to chew it up :P And it also took off all the special characters which is making my life a living hell because I'll have to change all my styles! curses and grumbles.

# flashback


Chapter 1 – Out In The Cold

The evening sun dipped beyond the trees as Elladan and Elrohir set up camp for the night. The three-day hunt was amazingly successful, and the brothers were rather pleased with themselves.

Gathering some twigs and dried leaves, Elladan managed to kindle a fire within seconds. The gentle evening breeze rustled the elf's dark brown hair and disturbed the leaves above his head. Elladan knew that the night would be cold, but since elves were not as affected by the weather as humans were, he would be content just to sit by the fire with his younger brother and drink a cup of hot tea. Elladan snickered, remembering how Elrohir hated being referred to as the 'younger' one.

"What's so funny?" Elrohir asked, carrying a kettle of water he had filled at a nearby stream. He set the kettle on the fire and sat down on the grass beside his brother. Rummaged through his pack for some tea leaves, sprinkling them into the water. "So? Care to share the joke?" the younger elf pressed his older brother.

"I was just thinking about our other, more unsuccessful hunting trips with Estel and Legolas," Elladan answered with an angelic smile on his face.

"Uh huh." Elrohir did not believe a single word his brother had said, but he did not wish to push him for the truth. The day had passed without them bickering, and he wanted to see if they could survive the entire day without their usual debate. Returning his brother's smile with his own mischievous smirk, the younger twin stretched out lazily beside the fire and waited for the water to come to a boil.

"If we leave early tomorrow morning, we should be home before dusk." Elladan popped a dried fruit into his mouth and passed another one to Elrohir. "We will have one more day of peace and quiet before Estel's and Legolas' arrival. After they're back, I doubt we will get much of those."

Elrohir nodded. His brother was right. Five months of peace would be over in another two days, and they intended to enjoy the remaining days to the fullest.

Two weeks after the incident with Morion, Aragorn had insisted on escorting Legolas back to Mirkwood, much to the elf's annoyance. But after profuse apologies and a change of the word 'escorting' to 'accompanying', the elven prince accepted the offer reluctantly. However, the twins could see that Legolas was grateful for the company. The powerful nightmares he had been having since the demon's capture still kept him up most nights, and he was often seen standing at the balcony in the middle of the night staring out into the darkness. It pained them and their father to see the elf prince suffering the consequences of the possession, but Legolas would just brush them off casually when asked about the dreams, claiming that he was fine. The truth was he needed a friend to be there when he woke from the nightmares, even if it was just a familiar presence to calm his frayed nerves.

Life was back to normal again after the two of them set out for Mirkwood. Elrond took a few days off his daily duties when he could no longer tolerate Glorfindel and Erestor's constant complaints that he should take some time to rest and regain his strength after all that he had been through. Elladan and Elrohir had also reverted back to their usual selves, filling the house with laughter and annoying squeals once again.

Aragorn's letter came a month later, informing his family of his safe arrival in Mirkwood. He said that King Thranduil had invited him to stay for the Mid-Autumn Festival, and he had gladly accepted the offer. Everything was well, and Legolas' nightmares seemed to have lessened after he had returned home to his people. They had told the King all that had transpired, and Thranduil expressed his sincere thanks to Elrond for saving his son's life.

The letters came regularly for the next three months, but after that they stopped abruptly for several weeks. Just when Elrond and the twins started to worry, a messenger bearing a letter arrived at Rivendell.

"Do you remember the look on father's face when he read the letter?" Elrohir chuckled as he chewed on the dried fruit.

"How could I forget!" Elladan laughed as he removed the boiling kettle from the fire and poured out two cups of hot steaming tea.

"I thought he would strangle the messenger, although it wasn't his fault that Estel was injured when he went on border patrol with Legolas." The older twin passed the tea to his brother, who accepted it with a small nod.

It had taken several letters and a handful of death threats from the twins to finally force Aragorn into explaining the nature of his injuries. The young human had apparently gotten bitten in the buttocks by a wolf during one of their patrols. He claimed that the injury was not life threatening but rather painful and humiliating. He had to let the healers tend to his wound and had stitches put in. The worst part was that he was unable to lie on his back or sit for weeks. The twins had burst out into laughter after their initial shock, finally understanding why the letters stopped for quite some time. Elrond however was not amused by the situation and the twins could understand their father's protectiveness over their little brother. Aragorn was meant to do greater things rather than being chased around by rabid wolves. He would reclaim his heritage when the time was right and take his rightful place as King of Gondor. His life was too precious and Elrond would do anything to protect his son from harm. The twins and Legolas had also sworn to protect him with their lives.

"Legolas should have known better than to take Estel out on a border patrol, knowing his tendency to attract trouble." Elrohir laughed at the memory. He sipped at his tea and watched as a smile crept into his twin brother's face.

"Yes, but it may be Legolas who attracted the trouble, and not Estel. Don't forget that trouble seems to find him, too," Elladan remarked.

"Yes, both of them are walking disasters!" the younger twin joked. Suddenly, he tensed, hearing a twig snap behind them.

Weapons drawn, the twins sprang to their feet with lightening speed, only to discover four hooded figures standing huddled together near the trees. The strangers were unarmed and Elrohir could see that they only carried a small pack each. The tallest of the four men took a cautious step forward and lifted his hands, palms out, to show the two elves that he bore no weapons and had no ill intentions towards them.

"Peace, we mean you no harm." The man spoke slowly and clearly not sure what the elves' reaction would be. "We are traders. Two days ago we ran into a group of bandits, who took our possessions and left us with nothing save what we're wearing now. We are cold, weary and hungry and were wondering if we could share your fire to warm our bodies."

The other three men moved to join their leader, keeping their hands out, as well, to show that they, too, were unarmed. Elladan and Elrohir relaxed, lowering their weapons as they realized that these men were indeed harmless. Sheathing his knife, Elladan beckoned the weary travelers over to the fire.

"Come and join us by the fire. We have some hot tea and dried fruits."

The four men jogged over to the fire and immediately started to warm their hands over the welcoming heat. Elrohir poured out some tea for the men, who accepted it gratefully.

"You know what…" The younger twin trailed off and glanced over his shoulder at his brother, who nodded, knowing exactly what his twin was thinking. The younger twin smiled broadly. Turning back to the hungry men, he said, "I think we can spare a couple of rabbits, if you're willing to cook them."

The men's eyes widened in delight. Nodding enthusiastically, they started discussing among themselves how they should prepare their gourmet dinner. Elladan and Elrohir chuckled at the traders' reaction. Removing two rabbits from their sack-load of game, they handed the animals to the excited traders. The leader accepted two small knives Elladan offered and handed one of them to a man with dark curly hair. Curly took the knife and started to skin the rabbit expertly. Leader gave the other knife to a younger man who bore a scar on the back of his right hand, which Elrohir inwardly nicknamed Scar. The last of the four men was the eldest among them. Elder went to gather more firewood, while his companions prepared the rabbits for cooking. Leader chatted casually with the elves, never once mentioning his name. The twins did not reveal their names to him either. After all, they doubted that they would be seeing each other again after this night.

A few minutes later, the rabbits were roasting over the fire, and soon the four men were enjoying their evening meal. Elladan and Elrohir sat some distance away from the crowd, as they ate and watched them curiously.

"Something is not right," Elrohir said softly, throwing a suspicious glance at the group of men.

Elladan nodded in agreement. "They don't look like traders. Did you notice the way they skinned the rabbits? Seems like they had done it countless times."

"Yes. Traders are not hunters. They usually do not catch their food." The younger twin looked over at their guests, who were chatting merrily among themselves. "But they seem harmless. I did not detect any weapons, and they seem rather friendly."

"Nevertheless, it is best that we keep an eye on them just to be safe," Elladan said, taking the exact words out of his brother's mouth, and Elrohir could not agree more. Nudging his brother slightly, Elladan signaled discreetly that they should join their guests.