Genre: Angst/General. A lot of fluff, too.
Rating: T (just to be safe)
Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is the property of Tolkien enterprises.
Summary: On his way to a special festival in Mirkwood, Aragorn remembers his and Legolas' latest misadventure. No slash.
Note: Anything in italics is a flashback. The love referred to in here is brotherly love, not romantic in any sense.
He slew the last orc, grimacing in distaste as the black blood of the creature ran down his sword onto his hand.
The other band of orcs had somehow managed to overpower the prince, though he'd slain many even with his bare hands. Clearly upset at the loss of so many warriors, the orc captain was beating Legolas with his fists while two other orcs held the elf up.
Aragorn quickly counted the remaining warriors. Only seven. Good. He drew his bow and shot three of the orcs dead, flying silently into the clearing to kill a fourth. The orc captain and his two companions turned from their captive to charge Aragorn, and he fought them off with ease, killing them but earning a wound to his leg in payment.
"Legolas!" he cried, running to his friend, afraid of what he might find.
Aragorn looked up to see Legolas peeking into his chamber. "Come on in," he sighed. "Are you sure we have to go to this festival thing?"
The elf watched Aragorn in concern, hesitantly shifting his weight back and forth. "Aragorn, this is very important to me...to my family. But if you do not wish to go..."
The ranger sighed. Legolas could be more manipulating than the trickiest negotiator. "I will go," he said. "I am merely not quite in a celebratory mood."
Legolas smiled brightly, almost making the ranger forget his reluctance. Almost. "You don't have to stay long if you don't want to," the elf said, sitting gingerly on the foot of the bed. "Just at least long enough to put in an appearance."
Aragorn glanced back at the elf critically. "How are you feeling?" he asked, noting that his friend's movements were somewhat stiffer than usual.
"Aragorn," Legolas sighed. "I am well. Really."
"Mm-hmm," the human huffed, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I've faced worse injuries," the prince protested.
"I know, I've seen them. But you've always been drugged after those injuries so you wouldn't hurt yourself by being up and about."
"Legolas, you could have died," Aragorn shook his head, reaching for a comb to de-tangle his hair. "I didn't even know if you still lived, for a moment."
"Legolas?" Aragorn called softly, feeling for a pulse in his friend's neck. One side of the elf's face was bruised and swollen, streaked with dirt and blood. Legolas' side was a mass of bruises, torn open from an iron-shod boot. Aragorn could detect at least two broken ribs, possibly a third. By some miracle none had punctured his lung. He winced at the dirt that had been ground into the wound, knowing already by the inflammation that an infection was setting in.
On top of that, the knife wound in his friend's other side was obviously poisoned.
At that moment, the elf moaned. "Aragorn?"
Aragorn could have laughed in relief. "Don't move...you've been hurt."
Legolas raised his eyebrows, eyes half-open. "Is this supposed to be out of the ordinary?" he asked weakly.
The ranger did not appreciate his friend's attempt at humor. "This is serious, Legolas. Don't move."
With a wince, Legolas closed his eyes. "Are you hurt?"
Aragorn snorted. "Of course not," he said, ignoring the throbbing wound in his leg.
"Do not lie to me."
How did Legolas do that? "It isn't much," he said hurriedly, not wanting to worry his friend. "Caught me on the leg, that's all."
"What is your family celebrating this time?" Aragorn grumbled, trying to adjust the ties on his robe, still weak from his own wound.
With a sigh, Legolas carefully walked forward to help him. "Life," he said simply. "As you said, we could have died. My father wanted to celebrate that we somehow managed to return alive, yet again."
"You mean I managed to drag you back," the ranger retorted. "How do you manage to end up like this every time?" he asked, gesturing to the elf's torso.
Legolas raised an eyebrow, a hint of mischief in his eyes. "If you must know, I always throw myself into the most dangerous part of the battle to protect those around me."
Aragorn snorted. "Committing suicide so that others might live?"
"If it comes to that."
Annoyed at his friend's light tone, Aragorn turned away. "I have told you before, Legolas—"
"Not now," the elf interrupted. "Aragorn, I don't need another 'my life is not worth yours' speech. I protected you because you are my brother and I love you."
Aragorn sighed, letting his head drop. He had never had a friend like Legolas, not even among the rangers. Time and time again Legolas had thrown himself into danger, risking his immortal life to protect Aragorn. "I wish you wouldn't," he said quietly. "And not just because I am mortal," he replied, raising his voice as he saw Legolas about to interrupt. "You are my best friend, my brother, Legolas. I hate to see you injured...I'm afraid that some time I won't be able to save you."
The ranger grunted as Legolas leaned his slight weight against him. Even that much was enough to send his leg throbbing. "We can make it," he said softly. "We can do this."
Legolas grimaced, holding in a whimper of pain. "One step at a time," he murmured.
Aragorn studied his friend's profile in concern. Legolas was obviously in pain, and on the verge of blacking out. He had to get him back to the palace...he had nothing to fight the poison here.
"Remind me never to go hunting with you again," he commented, trying to keep the conversation light as they trudged through the orc bodies. "It always ends up in disaster."
"Not always," the elf protested faintly.
"Nine times out of ten," Aragorn conceded. "How do they always find us?"
He waited. Normally, this was where Legolas would make a sarcastic comment, either about their ill luck or Aragorn somehow bringing the orcs down on them, but his friend didn't say anything else.
The elf murmured something inaudible, his head lolling against Aragorn.
"No!" Aragorn stopped, gently lowering his friend to the ground. He felt anxiously for a pulse, fingers shaking. It was there...albeit faint and irregular.
"But you saved me this time," Legolas reminded his friend. "We made it back."
"Barely," Aragorn retorted.
"We're both alive," the elf said. "That is something worth celebrating."
"Right," the ranger sighed. "I guess we'd better get to this festival, then," he said, glancing over to see a strange, almost hurt, expression on his friend's face.
"You don't have to come if you really don't want to," Legolas said.
Aragorn was puzzled. Why was Legolas sosensitive about this? "I'll come," he said quietly. "Really, I don't mind...I just don't understand why it's so important."
"You will," the elf promised. "Do you need any help getting down there?"
The ranger shook his head, reaching for the cane the healers had given him. He was forced to use it while his leg was recovering, and had been warned not to spend too much time on his feet. "I'll make it. We don't have to stand up all night, do we?"
"Only for the opening ceremony," Legolas replied, holding the door open for his friend.
Aragorn studied Legolas out of the corner of his eye as they slowly walked down to the main hall. "Are you sure you'll be all right?" he asked. For all he knew, this festival could go on until morning, and Legolas needed to rest.
"I'm fine," the elf assured him with a bright smile.
"Legolas?" Aragorn called frantically, putting a hand on his friend's forehead. He closed his eyes in defeat. Legolas had a fever...a rather high one. His wounds must be infected.
The elf moaned, struggling to open his eyes. "St-strider?" he called.
"I'm right here," the ranger said, taking one of his friend's hands in his own.
Legolas managed to open his eyes, blearily fastening them on Aragorn. "What happened?" he murmured in a confused tone.
"You passed out—don't even try to tell me you're fine," Aragorn said. "Can you sit up?"
With a grimace, Legolas tried. Aragorn helped him, half-carrying him over to sit against a tree.
He rested for a few moments, stretching out his leg and studying the blood that was soaking through his rather hasty bandage.
"We need to keep moving."
Aragorn started, turning to stare at Legolas. "We need to rest," he argued.
"No," Legolas met Aragorn's gaze. "There is danger approaching...we must not linger."
"How did we make it back?" Legolas asked, grabbing Aragorn's elbow in support when the man stumbled.
"Your father's soldiers found us," Aragorn replied. "You blacked out again after you sensed the orcs coming, and I was trying to carry you." He shook his head. They had been lucky this time.
"How long, Aragorn?"
The ranger blinked. "What do you mean?"
"How long did you 'try' to carry me?"
Aragorn looked away. "Over an hour," he quietly admitted. Even when he could hear the howls of the approaching orcs, he had refused to leave his friend behind. He looked back, and was surprised to see tears in Legolas' eyes.
"Thank you," the elf whispered, and pushed the doors to the main hall open.
The ranger nearly stepped back in shock. Apparently, the gathered elves inside the hall had been waiting for them and burst into applause as soon as Legolas and Aragorn appeared.
"What is this?" Aragorn hissed to his friend.
Legolas smiled. "It's a festival...in honor of my brother." With a slight push, he propelled Aragorn into the hall.
Aragorn slowly hobbled to the center of the room, still staring around him in shock. He felt tears gathering in his own eyes. So this was why Legolas had been so insistent that he attend, regardless of his injuries.
He found himself standing before Legolas' father, King Thranduil, and started to kneel awkwardly.
Thranduil stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "This man," the king announced to all gathered, "Estel, son of Elrond, has been a good friend to my son, Legolas, for many years. I owe this man a debt I can never repay...the life of my youngest. Therefore, from this day forward he shall be as a son of this house."
With a discrete hand signal, Thranduil beckoned one of his servants forward. The servant carried a long, dark green cloak. Thranduil took the cloak and fastened it around Aragorn's shoulders with a simple brooch, styled to resemble a star.
Thranduil kissed Aragorn on the brow, as he would a son or an equal. "You will always be welcome here, Estel Elrondion," he said. "Whatever your station."
Tears in his eyes, Aragorn thanked the king. He barely heard what Thranduil said after that as he hobbled back to stand next to Legolas. "Why didn't you tell me?" he hissed.
Legolas smiled. "I wanted to surprise you. Would you have come if you had known what it was?"
Aragorn shook his head in exasperation. Of course he wouldn't have...he was not too comfortable with being honored in such a manner. "Thank you, Legolas."
The elf's smile broadened. "It was the least I could do for my brother."
Reviews? Flames? Tar and Feathers?