Disclaimer see Chapter One.
Author's Notes: It seems you guys really want an update. ;-) I am very glad that my story means so much to so many of you, thank you for all your touching or entertaining reviews (I liked the very creative threats you came up with)! ((hugs)) You should have the review replies by now. MaddyPaddy, thank you for your review – you are right about Disneyworld, I think next time I'll hide there. (g)
This chapter will be the last one, so I want say thank you to all reviewers and readers once more, and to everyone who placed me or my story on alerts and favourites lists! ((huggles))
Here is the last chapter, which should answer all remaining questions. ;-) As always, I would love to hear what you think:)
- Wounds -
Chapter Six: Healing
"True friendship never dies."
There were voices. They seemed to be rising and ebbing, first in the distance, and then closer to him. He did not understand, and he felt no need to listen. Then there were hands, touching him, but they seemed to be as distant as the voices. He ignored them, content to drift in the comforting darkness. Suddenly, there was a shock of warmth, more painful than pleasant, nearly rousing him out of his stupor, but he clung to the darkness stubbornly.
There was a memory of pain and despair, and he shied away from it. The voices were louder now, and there was someone beside him. He heard parts of sentences, and then, a voice broke through to him. "Is he alive?" the disembodied voice asked, but then there was only murmuring. There were hands on him again, and this time the darkness receded and he could do nothing to stop it. So he gave in, slowly becoming more aware.
Suddenly he wanted to know who was here with him, and where "here" was. He fought to open his eyelids, and though they seemed to be filled with lead, he finally succeeded. There was a blurry face in front of him, leaning over him. He spotted a hint of something golden, and it triggered a memory.
"Legolas…?" he asked, surprised how weak and rough his voice was.
The face in front of him got clearer now and he looked into green eyes that showed both sadness and sympathy. "No, my friend. I am afraid I am not him," a melodious voice answered.
"Yes, it is me. Rest now, Estel. You are very weak."
A warm hand touched his brow, and then he knew no more, falling into darkness once more.
When he awoke for the second time, everything had changed. It was warm, there were no voices, and he was lying on something soft. He felt surprisingly well and could not stifle a sigh of contentment.
"Estel?" a voice asked.
It sounded familiar. He felt quite awake now, and in spite of his comfortable position something inside of him was restless, urging him to wake up, reminding him of something that he should remember. Aragorn gave in and opened his eyes. The sight that greeted him was unexpected, yet welcome. One look was enough to tell him that he was back in his room in Rivendell in his own bed, covered by a heap of blankets.
Something about that felt wrong. He looked around, still a bit confused, and soon found the face that belonged to the familiar voice he had heard before.
"Elladan?" he asked, disbelievingly.
The face of the dark-haired elf immediately lit up in a relieved smile, and he came to sit on Aragorn's bedside. "Welcome back, little brother," he said. "I have missed you. You could have chosen a less dramatic entrance, you know?"
The face of the elf showed lines of worry and fear that Aragorn did not remember seeing there before. It was obvious that he had caused his brother pain. Something bad must have happened to him. His memory stirred, and something in him screamed for attention.
"I have missed you, too," he answered softly, while he was still trying to sort out the bits and pieces of broken memories in his head.
Rivendell. He should not be in Rivendell. Elrond. And then suddenly everything fell into place. "Legolas!"
He bolted upright, but Elladan immediately grabbed his shoulders and gently pushed him back again. "Easy, Estel," he chided gently. "Take it easy. You were nearly dead when they found you."
"Legolas?" Aragorn asked again, not sure if he wanted to hear the answer or run from it. Fear turned his stomach into tight knots as he remembered the last time he had seen his friend, and grief threatened to tear his heart in two. Who had found them, and when? Legolas… Had he already been… dead? He slowly looked up at his brother, fearing what he would see in the other's gaze.
Elladan hesitated, and Aragorn felt his world start crumbling around him. Then there was a light touch on his arm. "I am sorry," Elladan said, searching his gaze and holding it. "I did not want to scare you. Legolas is here, right in the next room."
Aragorn looked at him apprehensively, not able to ask anew.
"He is alive, Estel," Elladan added with a soft smile, seeing that Aragorn needed to be reassured. "He was on the brink of death for quite some time, and he has yet to regain consciousness, but he is alive."
Aragorn was suddenly glad that he was still lying down. The relief that washed over him with hearing those words was so strong that he was not sure whether he would have been able to remain upright anyway. He remembered Legolas' closed eyes, his still face… He was sure that these memories would haunt him for a long time to come, if he would ever be able to forget them.
He was still unable to shake the image of his dying friend from his mind, and suddenly he knew that he needed to see Legolas for himself. He sat up again, looking at Elladan warningly to forestall any attempt to keep him back. "I need to see him," he said simply.
Elladan did not look too happy, but he nodded reluctantly. "As long as you dress in something warm," he said. "You were nearly frozen when they brought you here."
Aragorn nodded, shoved the blankets aside and placed his feet on the floor. Slowly, he rose. There was a short bout of dizziness, and he felt a bit weak, but all in all he felt well. Wordlessly he donned the additional clothes that Elladan handed him, and then he walked over to the door without hesitation, impatient to see his friend.
Legolas' usual room was right beside his own, and there was a connecting door between the rooms that now stood wide open. Obviously someone had anticipated that he would want to see his friend immediately. He paused in the doorway for a moment, his eyes fixed on the still figure on the bed. The pale face woke too many memories, and for a moment he was afraid to go on.
Then he felt Elladan's hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently. "It is alright, Estel, he is only sleeping," he said, and Aragorn was grateful for the understanding in his brother's voice.
He stepped forward, slowly walking into the room until he stood at Legolas' bedside. For a while, he simply looked down at his friend. Legolas' eyes were still closed, which sent another pang of fear through him, but now he could see that his friend's face had regained some colour, and his breathing was deep and regular.
He sat down on the bedside, lightly touching one of Legolas' hands. It was warm. Aragorn breathed a sigh of relief and felt himself slowly relax. There was no doubt that Legolas was very much alive. Legolas had about as many blankets heaped on him as Aragorn had had, and the man lifted them gently to get a look at the elf's wounds.
Legolas' light sleeping tunic was half open, and he could see that the body beneath was wrapped in bandages. Satisfied, Aragorn covered his friend with the blankets again and tucked them back in around him. Elladan had come to stand beside him, watching both him and Legolas.
"How are his wounds?" Aragorn asked softly.
"Healing well," the elf answered. "Though I did not think anyone could survive through this when I first saw him." He saw Aragorn's curious glance and realized that the man still did not know how they had been saved.
"When he saw the signs of a heavy snowfall in the mountains, Halbarad decided to follow you. Luckily he met Glorfindel and Elrond and an escort of elves who had set out from Rivendell to find you."
"They were looking for me?" Aragorn asked, stunned.
"Yes," Elladan answered. "We had seen the signs that the winter would be long and hard, and we did not even know if you and the rangers had the necessary supplies. It was father's decision to look for you, and he left Elrohir and me behind to guard Rivendell. I do not know if foresight had anything to do with it, but it might very well be the case, as I dare say none of you would have survived otherwise."
"So… Elrond really led them?" the ranger asked, still not able to fully understand what he was told.
"Yes, he did," Elladan replied patiently, understanding only too well why this was so important for Aragorn. Halbarad had decided to tell them everything, hoping that he would help his leader by doing so, and not do greater harm.
"Halbarad told you…?" the man asked softly.
Elladan simply nodded. "When they heard what had happened, father and Glorfindel immediately decided to go after you. As elves, they were not hindered by the snow. It took them a while to find you, but as you can see, they finally succeeded. At that time, Legolas was already well on his way to the Halls of Mandos, and you would not have survived much longer than nightfall. Father needed all of his skill to keep Legolas alive until they reached Rivendell, while Glorfindel was taking care of you. You needed nothing but warmth, but Legolas… We had to fight for his life for two days."
Aragorn looked both shaken and relieved, his gaze fixed on the face of his peacefully slumbering friend. "It was my fault, Elladan," he said quietly.
Elladan said down beside him, hearing the distress in his brother's voice. "You could also say it was father's fault," he answered thoughtfully. "Or mine. Or Elrohir's. I am quite sure Legolas would tell you it was his fault."
Aragorn could not help smiling. "He did tell me," he replied. "He was awake for a while after I had brought him to the cave. When I found him-" He shook his head, looking down at his friend to calm himself. "I thought he was dead," he whispered.
Elladan put an arm around his shoulders, and the man smiled gratefully. "He had run into some orcs. He had managed to kill them all, but they had slain his horse and wounded him grievously. When I found him he had been lying there in the snow for who knows how long. He was barely alive. I carried him into the cave and tended to him, and after a while he regained consciousness."
"So you had time to talk?" Elladan asked.
Aragorn nodded. "He forgave me, though I really don't know why. Then, in the night, one of the wounds got infected and he was burning with fever for a while. That drained the last of his strength. In the morning I discovered we were snowed in. The last thing I remember is that Legolas was dying…" He trailed off, the memories still too painful to put them in into words.
"It is over now," Elladan reminded him gently.
Aragorn smiled back at him. "I cannot believe that I am here again. I have missed my family."
"You have been missed, too," a voice behind them said.
Aragorn stiffened. He rose and turned slowly. Elrond was standing in the doorway, looking at him. Finding no traces of anger or bitterness on the elf's face, the man allowed himself to relax. "Thank you," he said, heartfelt gratitude in his eyes. "For saving our lives."
Elrond walked into the room until he came to stand directly in front of Aragorn. "Foolish child," he spoke softly to the human. "I may not be happy to lose my daughter, but do you really think it would make me happier to lose a son instead?"
Aragorn looked at him, completely bewildered, and in the next moment he found himself enfolded in a tight embrace. After some seconds, he hugged his father back just as tightly.
"I am sorry," Elrond said softly. "I did not want for any of this to happen, and it was never my wish to hurt you."
"I know," Aragorn murmured, and in that moment he did. "I am sorry, too. As you said, I was foolish."
"I told you so, you know," a sleepy voice spoke up behind them.
Aragorn tensed, then he whirled around and met the gaze of two slightly drowsy blue eyes that he had never expected to look at him again in this life. Legolas smiled softly, and Aragorn sat down beside him, feeling joy and relief well up inside of him. He looked into the face in front of him for a long time, then he leaned down and carefully hugged the elf.
"I should have listened," he said softly. And then whispered into one pointed ear: "You scared me so much."
"I know," Legolas answered quietly, holding the human close for a moment. Aragorn smiled into his shoulder, rejoicing in the fact that the terrible weakness had finally left his friend.
Then the human straightened slowly and looked down at his friend, watching him closely. "How do you feel?" he asked, not even trying to hide the concern in his voice.
"Better," the elf answered with a smile. "Much better."
Suddenly Aragorn became aware that he was home, that the friend he had believed to be dead was alive and would recover, and that the family he had believed to be lost to him still loved him. Once again, he felt humbled, and immeasurably grateful. He felt Legolas' gaze on him, and knew that the elf was reading his thoughts. When he looked down, Legolas had turned his head and was looking out of the window. Aragorn followed his gaze and saw that it had started to snow.
- The End -
P.S. To all of you who asked: there will be more stories from me, I just have to finish them first. ;-) Any news about my stories can always be seen in the "Coming soon"–part of my profile. Until the next time,