Summary: Legolas is captured by a man who looks extremely like Aragorn. This man tortures the Elf and makes him believe it is Aragorn who is hurting him. Can the broken friendship be repaired with time? Will Legolas ever be able to trust Aragorn again? Can he ever see who it was that really hurt him?
Rating: T. Good solid T.
Disclaimer: Tolkien's, NLC's, NOT MINE, unless some strange proof appears that evidences my direct relation to JRRT…and it shouldn't, 'cause I'm half Chinese.
As usual, flamers will be hog-tied and muled straight to the garbage chute. Go find someone else to bother, will you?
Legolas Greenleaf was alone, walking silently through Mirkwood towards his home. He had been out hunting alone that day, searching for a great spider that had been plaguing a village to the east. He had shot and killed it easily, unaided. It had been no strenuous task.
He did not wish for assistance, as none had been needed. He was not so foolish as to take on tasks alone if more was required than solo effort. Had he needed help he would have recruited soldiers from the palace to assist him. He desired nothing in the way of company.
Yet he was lonely.
There was only one whose company he really missed.
The Ranger from the North whose friendship he had long held dear had been gone from his presence for…well, far too long. It had been years since he had seen the Man, and he would quickly admit that he did miss his best and only friend, the only human he fully trusted.
His pace quickened and a smile graced his face as the thought descended upon him, Aragorn is coming today! He may even be there at the palace, waiting for me, as I walk!
It was true. Aragorn, after too many years, was finally making his way back to Mirkwood to see his old friend. The Man should be nearly at the palace by this point, actually, and Legolas began a steady jog in order to speed up his own arrival home.
A thought occurred to him, and he made a sudden left turn before swinging into the trees. He had not been traveling the normal road through Mirkwood, as he found it boring, but had been taking no certain path, merely using his own good senses to bring himself in the direction of home. Now he decided to travel through the trees and travel the remainder of the distance to the palace watching the main road, so as to see whether Aragorn was coming this way and perhaps plan a fake 'ambush' if he was.
However, he had traveled the distance quickly and found that Aragorn was not yet there, nor was he on the ground that Legolas had covered thus far.
Disappointed, the elf decided to backtrack and take a different way; perhaps Aragorn was trying to sneak up on him or had found the regular route boring as well. He began to mentally plan an 'attack', hoping to scare Aragorn out of his wits before beginning the well-earned reunion. His father would disapprove of what he would probably describe as 'childish behavior', but Legolas didn't care. He left Thranduil a note telling him where he'd gone, so his father wouldn't worry or wonder. This would be fun, and he would see Aragorn, and that was all that mattered.
Ten minutes later he was far away from the palace, and still he had not found his friend. He was beginning to wonder why. Aragorn knew which ways were good and which were dangerous, and he also would be eager to see Legolas, so he wouldn't waste time on heroics or some other equally time-consuming factor. Besides, Legolas should be able to track him, or find some sign of him, and so far he had seen nothing.
"Where are you, Aragorn, my friend?" he wondered aloud, and was startled when a voice behind him answered.
"Right here, mellon nin," came the voice of a Ranger. Legolas spun around, shocked that he hadn't managed to hear the human, to find a cloaked figure staring at him, a shadowy grin on its face. He seemed older than Legolas had last remembered him, although perhaps it was only because it had been so long that it seemed this way.
Legolas quickly regained his composure. "Aragorn! I—you—you startled me, that is all." There was a strange feel about the Ranger, something cold and bitter, but Legolas ignored it, telling himself that it was merely because he had not seen Aragorn in so long that it felt odd.
He moved forward to embrace his friend, smiling widely, so happy that finally—finally—he was with Aragorn again.
Aragorn met him and opened his arms wide to him, inviting a hug, and Legolas embraced him warmly.
"I've missed you," murmured Aragorn, stroking Legolas's hair.
"And I you," Legolas replied. "It has been too long, far too long."
"Aye," agreed Aragorn. "We must make a habit of this…I do not believe our years apart have done us any good."
"Agreed!" Legolas exclaimed sincerely. "Truly, we should visit more often."
He sighed, content merely to enjoy the other's presence for the time, when suddenly, Aragorn's hand tightened around Legolas's long hair. Legolas frowned slightly.
The elf pulled his head gently to show Aragorn he was hurting him, thinking that the Ranger had not meant to do it, but Aragorn's grasp only got tighter.
"Aragorn?" Legolas asked, confused, his elation beginning to give way to bewilderment. "Could you…?" He tried to pull away again, but Aragorn would not let him.
Nothing, not a hundred-thousand years, nor a large sign with bright lettering, nor the loudest-screamed warning message could have prepared him for what happened next.
The hand tangled in his hair yanked at it hard, jerking his head back so his throat was exposed. A knife appeared in Aragorn's hand, and he pressed it to the elf's throat even as he shoved him onto the ground and held him there
"Don't struggle, Legolas," he said lazily. "It'll only make things worse for you. You know I'm stronger than you."
"A-Aragorn?" Legolas asked, his eyes wide, staring in horror at the one he called his best friend, the one whose warm embrace he had just been enjoying mere seconds before. "What—what are you—why—"
Aragorn grinned at the shocked expression on the prince's face. "You didn't really expect our friendship to last, did you, Legolas, mellon nin? I thought you would have learned after the last time you made friends with a human…"
"No," Legolas said in shock, faintly. "You aren't—not Aragorn—I do not believe it is him—"
"But I am Aragorn," sneered his captor. "You trusted me, foolish creature, you thought me your friend…"
"But you are my friend," Legolas said desperately. "This is all a joke, some awful joke…"
Aragorn laughed unpleasantly. "It is no joke. I assure you what I have intended for you will be…well…let me just say that you shall wish yourself dead by the middle of it."
"But," said Legolas, his voice barely a whisper. "What about all the times you saved my life? What about the times I saved your life? We—we've fought together, we could've died together, we've been tortured, we've escaped together…were every one of those experiences a façade?"
The feeling of elation, of uncomparable happiness, of absolute joy he had had moments before was gone, replaced by a knot of horror, disbelief and dread. The human had been his best friend, there was no other except perhaps his own father that he would have trusted more. Never in his wildest nightmares would Legolas have dreamed this possible.
Aragorn shrugged carelessly. "Not a façade, no. I was your friend. I held loyalty to you. But things have changed, it's more profitable to me for this to happen than for our friendship to continue."
"No." Legolas would have shaken his head fiercely, if he didn't have a knife at his throat. "I don't believe you. I won't. You pledged me your friendship and loyalty, and swore upon your honor you would not break this vow ere you walked upon this earth. You would not break your oath. I am going to wake up, and this will all be a horrible dream. A dream. Nothing more."
"But it is no dream." Aragorn leaned close to Legolas, so close the elf could feel his hot breath on his neck. The Ranger pressed his knife harder onto the prince's neck. "Does this feel like a dream, mellon nin?" he asked tauntingly.
Tears pricked at Legolas's eyes, but not from the pain of the dagger. The Ranger with whom he had entrusted his life so many times was gone. In his place was a cruel monster, willing to sacrifice his own friend for his own gain. There was no nobility in that familiar face now. No pride of goodness, nor pleasure at good deeds. Only malice, sadistic delight and arrogance remained now.
Legolas knew it was his fault, of course. He had trusted the man, this so-called 'Estel', when he knew how faulty the morals of Men were. Aragorn was right: he should have learned after the last time he had had a mortal friend. He should have known that Men would always betray him. Now it was too late, and the single mortal with whom Legolas had bared his soul, had believed his forever-loyal friend, and who had saved his life on more than one occasion had turned against him.
"Do not weep, Legolas," said Aragorn with a mocking sense of soothing. "Save your tears for when you really need them. Save them for the true pain that is to come. Save them for when you have naught left but tears to give." He laughed again, and Legolas felt an overwhelming sense of despair racing through his entire body, stealing his breath and forcing him to shut his eyes to block out the pain of seeing his ex-friend's smirking face.
Aragorn produced a length of rope from his belt and used it tightly bind together Legolas's hands. The elf did not even have it in him to struggle. His spirit was dead, any trust he had in the race of Men was utterly demolished, and as he was hoisted roughly onto a horse after being blindfolded his last thought, as Aragorn pressed a sleeping-drug soaked rag to his mouth, was, Never shall I trust a Man again. If ever I chance to come upon one in the future, I shall slay him without delay or argument, so he can cause no more harm to my innocent race…
&- - - - - &- - - - - &
King Thranduil, son of Orophin and current King of Mirkwood, glared angrily at a large stone statue of a goat standing on its hind legs located outside of his son's rooms. It stared stubbornly back. He didn't even know why Legolas kept the ridiculous thing, although then again Legolas did a lot of things unfathomable to his father—such as hiding a baby spider under his bed, naming it 'Bain' (Sindarin for 'beautiful') and giving it Thranduil's best wine to drink. Drunk spiders were not a pleasant thing to behold, especially if they were living in your house.
It would have been one thing if Legolas had been an elfling when this had occurred, but sadly, it had only been three months prior to this very day that his strange son had—for whatever reason—fallen in love with the baby whose mother had been killed and taken it home without notifying his father. Then, of course, he'd given it the wine, and left again, forgetting to lock his door in the meantime. Naturally, the creature had escaped. Legolas had been crestfallen when he discovered it was gone, but Thranduil privately thought it was for the better anyway. That should teach his son not to disappear at random intervals for no reason, Thranduil thought.
Which brought him to why he was standing by Legolas's rooms to begin with. He wanted to find his son to ask him how the mission with the savage spider—not Bain, thankfully—had gone, and see if Legolas was successful.
"Legolas?" Thranduil pounded on the heavy oak door. "It's your father, Legolas. I want to talk with you…"
Heavy silence was all he got.
"Legolas?" Thranduil hoped the boy wasn't back there trying desperately to hide some strange speciman he'd taken pity on by hiding it in the wardrobe or something.
"Galenlas, you had better not be trying to hide something from me…"
"Legolas, open up!"
Fed up, Thranduil turned the handle and pushed the door open, cautiously at first to make sure there was nothing creeping and crawling around the floor, or something that might jump out and attack him.
There was nothing.
The room was empty.
Thranduil sighed. Then he spotted something lying on the desk near the window—the open window. It was a piece of paper, a note that read,
Gone to find Aragorn. Slow edain taking too long. Planning fake ambush along second main road. Back later. Oh, and mission successful.
Sighing irritably, Thranduil crumpled up the note and thrust it into his pocket. So that was where his impatient son had gone. To find the human who was supposed to be paying them a visit. Perfect. That would mean that once he came back with Aragorn, he would be far too distracted catching up with his friend to discuss the mission with his father.
"My lord?" A servant had appeared in the doorway.
"Yes?" Thranduil said, trying not to glare at the elf in his annoyance with Legolas.
"My lord, you have a visitor…a human, who calls himself Strider."
And there he is now. Wonderful. "I suppose my son" –he refrained from saying 'my maddening, happy-go-lucky, currently in-for-it son'— "is with him?"
The servant looked slightly confused. "No, Your Highness, 'tis only the edain. He has been requesting Prince Legolas for the last few minutes, and I actually came up here to find him but…"
Thranduil cocked an eyebrow. "Oh?" Well, then, where is Legolas? If he lied about finding Aragorn… "I will be down straightaway," he said, and the servant bowed and left.
Rolling his eyes the second the servant was out of sight, Thranduil set off, muttering the entire way about exasperating sons and their friends.
Aragorn was waiting in the throne room, an eager look upon his face. When he saw Thranduil, he looked slightly past the king, apparently looking for Legolas, and when his eyes found not the prince the eager look on his face faded, although he tried to hide it with a mask of politeness. Thranduil wasn't fooled, though; Aragorn wanted to see Legolas and was disappointed that he wasn't there.
"King Thranduil." Aragorn inclined his head and brought his hand to his chest in the way that was appropriate.
"Aragorn," Thranduil stated gravely. "It has been too long."
A moment of awkward silence pervaded before Aragorn, apparently unable to keep quiet, burst out, "My lord, if you hold no objections, I would seek out the company of Prince Legolas immediately. I—I feel as though I can no longer wait to see him, for I have dearly missed him these many past years."
"I have no objections," the king said, dryly amused by Aragorn's sudden passion. "Only one question—" He said as Aragorn made to exit the throne room.
"Yes, Your Highness?" Aragorn stopped, and Thranduil was reasonably certain that the human was doing all within his power to prevent himself from hopping from one foot to the other in his anxiety.
"Which way did you enter Mirkwood?" Thranduil asked.
"The second main road, my lord," Aragorn said, seeming puzzled by the question. "Why, if I may ask…?"
"The second?" Thranduil's brow creased in worry. "Legolas left me a note—here—" he pulled the paper from his pocket and handed it to the human. "He said he was going to wait for you by the second main entrance—did you not come across him, Aragorn, if this is indeed the path you took?"
"No, my lord." Aragorn's silver eyes clouded with concern as he read the note. "I swear, I have not so much as seen your son for years…I have no idea…"
"Then what could have happened?" Thranduil demanded, anger rising his chest. Either Legolas had been lying about the note, which he had no reason to do, or Legolas was in trouble and needed help. He met the eyes of Aragorn, who nodded in understanding.
There was only one thing to do: seek out the Elven prince immediately, and aid him if the situation required it.
Little did they know that at that very moment, Legolas was a hundred miles away and being tormented at the hands of the man he believed had been his best friend.
REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! Um…please? It'll help me get the next one up more quickly (hint, hint)… if there is enough interest I will continue, k?