Title: It's Nothing

Author: Yuggster

Rating: T (violence)

Genre: Action/Adventure, Angst

Disclaimer: Not mine. This story was written for entertainment and not for profit. But if someone would pay me to write this I'd have the best job ever.

Summary: Aragorn attempts to hide an illness from an injured Legolas, with nearly tragic results for both of them. No slash.

Author's Note: Happy Valentine's Day! This story was a rejected idea for the January Teitho contest (changed my mind to do something more lighthearted). It's shorter, only three chapters, and I'll post it over the next couple of days.

For those of you following Fear No Darkness, I wasn't able to get the next chapter finished for tonight's update, but it should be up tomorrow.

The elf grunted in pain as the orc's blade tore a long, jagged gash in his side. He easily dispatched the creature, cursing inwardly when he caught sight of the foul sword, covered in filth and a faintly-shimmering liquid.

He clamped one hand over his injury, whirling back to meet more foes with admirable grace despite the wound. Across the clearing his companion, thankfully, remained uninjured throughout their skirmish.

Legolas smiled grimly as another orc fell, pleased to notice that there were only two left of this scouting party. He and Aragorn had simply been returning to Rivendell after a short trip to bring medicines to one of the nearby villages, but they had, predictably, run into trouble on their way back just as night was beginning to fall.

Trouble, in this case, was a rather large band of orcs. They had managed to avoid the main band, but had run into a scouting party of eight.

The battle was fierce, but fairly short, and Legolas sighed in relief as the last orc was dispatched (decapitated, actually, by Aragorn). He fought back a wave of dizziness, leaning against the tree beside him in an effort to keep from falling over.

"Legolas?" Aragorn had instantly noticed his friend's actions, and was at his side in a moment. "What happened? Are you injured?"

Pushing himself up and forcing the dizziness aside, Legolas waved Aragorn's hand away. "It is nothing, Strider," he replied, readjusting the hand over his wound. He could feel the blood seeping through his tunic and prayed the wound would stop bleeding before Aragorn noticed anything.

"We should get moving," the elf added, gesturing to the fallen bodies around them and hiding another wave of dizziness. Now was not the time to tell Aragorn he was injured...it would only worry the ranger, and they had to keep moving. "The rest of the orcs may find us," Legolas continued, abruptly stumbling as another wave of dizziness struck him.

"Ah, Legolas," Aragorn gently caught the elf by the arm, lowering him to sit on the ground. "You are hurt."

"It is nothing," Legolas insisted.

"I will be the judge of that," the ranger said with a frown, prying the elf's arm away from his side.

Silence reigned over the clearing for a moment, broken by a gasp of pain from the elf and a muttered apology from the ranger as the man probed the wound. "I'm afraid it is poisoned," Aragorn said with a sigh. "Hold on, let me—"

"Strider, we can't," Legolas grabbed his friend's arm, wincing as pain exploded in his head. "They might come."

Aragorn sighed, nodding in agreement. He dug an herb out of his pack, crushing it between his fingers and smearing it into the elf's wound. "This should help slow the poison," he explained quietly. Without another word he placed a folded rag over the wound, pressing Legolas' hand against it. "Press down on that, it will slow the bleeding," he murmured, quickly gathering any weapons or supplies that had been dropped in the clearing. He gently pulled the elf to his feet, wrapping one arm around his waist and supporting him from one side. "The horses are gone," he commented wryly. "We need to find shelter."

The elf grinned slightly, fighting another nauseating wave of dizziness as his knees threatened to buckle beneath him. "Not a cave this time," he muttered.

"Legolas!" Aragorn chided with a slight laugh. "I think we'd be thankful for a cave if the clouds decide to rain."

Squinting upward, Legolas noticed the gathering clouds for the first time. "Of course," he groaned as the pain from his wound seemed to radiate throughout his body. "Estel, why is it that disaster strikes every time I am near you?"

Aragorn chuckled, shaking his head. "I do not know, my friend. I do not know."

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The ranger sighed and shook his hair out of his eyes, grimacing as more water made its way down his back. He and Legolas had been trekking through the rain for more than an hour now, looking for some shelter that was at least marginally dry. Aragorn had hoped they would have found their horses and could have ridden straight for Rivendell, but, typically, they had no such luck.

Legolas had long since lapsed into some semi-conscious state, the fever raging in his body sapping all of his strength.

A flash of lightening finally revealed what Aragorn was looking for. There was an old cave in this region, used by rangers who were seeking shelter. The rangers had crafted a door to look like the side of the mountain to hide the cave from unfriendly eyes, but it was fairly easy to find by those who knew it was there.

With a quiet murmur to his friend, Aragorn gently set Legolas down against the rock and tapped along its surface for the hidden catch. He found it, and the door easily swung open.

"Come on," he whispered, hauling Legolas back to his feet. "It is a cave, but one often used by the rangers. It will be safe."

He half-carried the elf down the short hall to the room within, moving easily through the dark as he knew the layout of such refuges, and hurried back to latch the door.

Fumbling in the dark, he managed to light a small fire in the fireplace and held up a burning brand to see the small room. The cave was fairly close, meant only to house one or two rangers for a short amount of time, but it was fairly clean and, more importantly, dry. Smoke from the fire escaped through a hidden chimney in the rock, also letting fresh air in.

Satisfied that they were safe, Aragorn ignored his sopping wet clothes and turned his attention to Legolas. The elf was feverish, barely aware of his surroundings.

Quickly searching through his pack, Aragorn found a packet of herbs that had managed to stay dry, and he breathed a sigh of relief as he recognized several that would help combat the poison. He lifted Legolas onto the bed, wincing at the old stains on the blanket. It wasn't the cleanest of surroundings, but it was better than treating his wounds in the forest.

He peeled away the elf's tunic, breathing a sigh of relief that the wound didn't look much worse than it had an hour ago. The poison must have been mild, then, or else Legolas had been lucky and not have absorbed much.

A quick trip to the door brought back a bucket full of rainwater, and Aragorn heated some in a small kettle to clean Legolas' wound. He made a paste from some of the herbs and gently spread it into the jagged cut left by the orc's blade, relaxing a bit when he realized it was fairly superficial and would not require stitching.

"You were almost right this time, mellon-nin," Aragorn muttered. "It is very nearly nothing." He wrapped clean strips of bandage around the elf's middle, covering the wound, and frowned when Legolas didn't respond. The elf had finally passed out, pain and fever overwhelming his body.

Sighing heavily, Aragorn pulled spare clothes out of their packs and spread them on the floor to dry—almost nothing had escaped the rain. "And this is such a nice cave," he commented, carrying on a one-sided conversation with his unconscious companion. "It's more of a house than a cave—I dare say even you could accept it," he added, turning to glance at Legolas. He stopped suddenly, his heart pounding as he noticed an alarming change in his friend.

Aragorn dropped to his knees beside the bed, anxiously feeling for his friend's pulse. His hand nearly recoiled when he touched the ice-cold skin of the elf.

His anxiety doubled. He'd thought the poison was mild, but apparently it was stronger than he'd anticipated.

The ranger turned back to their packs, furiously digging through them for something—anything—that hadn't been soaked by the rain. He found a few things that were only a little damp, and quickly replaced his friend's wet clothes with what he'd found in the packs. There was also a spare blanket he found in the corner by the fireplace, a bit tattered but still in decent shape, and he also wrapped this around his friend.

Back out in the rain, Aragorn hunted up a fairly clean, brick-sized stone near the door to the cave and brought it in, setting it just on the edge of the hearth. With a sigh he sat down beside the bed, reaching up to lay a hand on Legolas' arm, sighing even deeper when he noticed little change in the elf's temperature.

Aragorn bit back a sneeze that tried to force its way out of his nose, shaking his head as an all-too-familiar stuffiness began to make itself known, compounding with the aches he'd been feeling since the day before. Ignoring both, he crawled over to the fire, using the tongs to pull the stone he'd found away from the fire and wrapped it in a rag. He put the now-warmed stone at his friend's feet and pulled the other blanket over him.

With Legolas taken care of, Aragorn finally sat down to rest, leaning sideways against the bed with one hand on the sleeping elf.

It seemed he had barely dozed off when Legolas shifted beneath his hand. Aragorn was awake in an instant, bending over his friend to discover that the chill had departed and the elf was feverish again.

He pulled the blanket off the elf and pushed the still-warm stone away. "Legolas?" he called, taking his friend's hand and wiping his face with a cool cloth. "Can you hear me?"

The elf was moaning restlessly, his eyes fighting to open. The fever wasn't dangerously high, but it was enough to concern the ranger. "Squeeze my hand if you can hear me," he murmured, smiling a bit when the elf complied. "I have something that may help you...can you wake up for a moment?"

He was rewarded when Legolas finally opened his eyes, pain-filled blue eyes finding his. "Strider?" he asked in a whisper.

"Aye," the ranger turned his head to hide a cough, disguising it as merely clearing his throat. "One moment," he said, turning to the tea that had been steeping on the hearth. He helped Legolas to a sitting position, gently lifting the cup to help him drink when the elf proved too weak.

The cup drained, Legolas leaned exhaustedly against Aragorn. "What is wrong with me?" he asked, confusion coloring his voice.

Aragorn smiled. "It is certainly not 'nothing'," he couldn't resist saying. "You were poisoned by the orc's blade...it is more severe than I thought, but you should mend quickly."

Legolas nodded, grimacing at the joke the ranger made as his memory came back. "And you? Are you all right?"

"I am fine," Aragorn said reassuringly, ignoring the tickle in the back of his throat. He didn't have time to be sick, and it wasn't something Legolas should worry about. "Just got a bit of smoke in my throat when I was tending to the fire."

Thankfully, the elf was too disoriented to catch the ranger's lie. "I always said smoking was bad for your health," he murmured sleepily.

Aragorn chuckled, wincing as the laughter tried to turn into a harsh cough. He turned away, covering his mouth with one hand and squeezing his eyes shut in an effort to hold the coughs back.

His friend stirred, pushing himself up on his elbows and laying a hand on Aragorn's shoulder worriedly. "Aragorn?"

The ranger waved him away, pausing to take a slow breath. "I'm fine," he rasped, somewhat annoyed at the elf's concern. Legolas was the injured one...this was just a bit of a cold.

"You don't sound fine," Legolas replied worriedly, his voice still weak.

"It's nothing," the ranger snapped, instantly regretting his tone. "I'm sorry, Legolas. Do not worry about me, I will be fine once we get home."

The frown on the elf's face said he didn't believe Aragorn's words, and the man sighed in frustration. "You need to rest," he said, trying a different tactic. "I'm afraid the poison is very strong, it might be days before you fully recover. I would prefer you to be rested before we try to make it back to Rivendell."

He stood to check on the drying clothes he'd spread about the cave, sighing with relief when he found that they were almost dry. His clothes had almost dried out, as well, but the last few hours had left him chilled and oddly lightheaded.


The elf's weak voice made him turn around again, and he knelt beside the bed clasping his friend's hand. "Legolas?"

Legolas merely shivered, his eyes closing in pain, his grip on the human's hand tightening.

Aragorn frowned, tugging the blanket back around the elf's shoulders. Legolas' skin was cool to the touch—not dangerously so, as it had been before, but enough to worry the ranger. "Be calm, Legolas," he murmured soothingly. "It will pass."

He shook his head as the elf finally calmed, trying to blink back the heavy blackness that seemed to be dancing on the edges of his vision. "We'll be...home...Ada..." his voice trailed off as a sudden wave of dizziness struck, and Aragorn suddenly stood and lurched toward the door, unsure if he was going to be sick or simply pass out.

The ranger vaguely heard his friend calling his name, and the last sight he saw before unconsciousness finally won its battle was the stone floor of the cave rushing toward him with alarming speed.

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