Author: Silivren Tinu
Summary: After the loss of one of his Dúnedain rangers Aragorn falls into doubt and Legolas tries to help. Short friendship fic.
Disclaimer: The characters and places mentioned in this story belong to J.R.R. Tolkien and not to me. :(
Author's Notes: Just a little ficlet that was written for a challenge on the SNWCG forum. Thesubject was "Fear". I hope it will be enough to keep certain readers from starving. ;-) Enjoy, and, as always, I'd love to get feedback. :)
Thank you to Imbecamiel, my wonderful editor! (huggles)
- Doubt -
"A friend is someone who believes in you
when you have ceased to believe in yourself."
It had been a hard day. There had been an unexpected fight, and one of the rangers had been lost. The Dúnedain rangers had always been small in number and Legolas knew that they would feel their loss keenly, especially Aragorn, who was not only one of them but felt responsible for each life under his command.
After Legolas had circled their new camp several times to ensure that they were as safe as possible, he went back and began looking for his friend. He soon located Aragorn, standing alone on a little hill behind the small camp. Quietly he made his way over to his friend. He was not sure whether Aragorn wished for company right now, but he knew that he needed it.
For a while the two friends simply stood side by side, gazing out over the land beneath them. From this point they had a wide view over rolling hills and forests up to the majestic peaks of the Misty Mountains in the distance. Dusk was nearly upon them, and mist was rising over a river and from some of the valleys. Behind them, the men made a fire, and their low voices and the crackling of wood could be heard, along with the songs of some lonely birds in the small wood behind them.
"Sometimes I fear he has already won," Aragorn said finally, in so soft a voice that anyone but an elf might have missed it.
Legolas looked at him, but Aragorn seemed to be looking intently at something in the distance. He followed his friend's gaze. Aragorn was looking towards the South-East, not at the mountains but rather through them. Legolas did not need to ask of whom he was speaking. Though the resignation in the ranger's words had shaken him, the elf stayed silent and waited for Aragorn to go on.
"He is stronger than I am," the ranger continued. "He does not care about his losses. As long as the One Ring exists, his strength will not wane, even if he is alone in the end." He closed his eyes. "I feel my strength wane and my will falter with each life that is lost. What if my heart simply breaks before I even get a chance to challenge him?"
The pain and despair in his friend's voice was more than Legolas could bear. He put his hands on the man's shoulders, turning Aragorn around and forcing the ranger to face him. "You do not really believe that Sauron is stronger than you because he does not care for anyone or anything but himself," he said gently.
Aragorn looked at him, doubt and hesitation in his eyes. "Perhaps I don't," he admitted, "and yet it seems to be the case. Perhaps I just don't want to. If I should lose you…" Pain and deep fear flickered in his eyes, and he turned his head away, unable to meet his friend's gaze. "Or Halbarad - Elladan, Elrohir… Arwen… I do not think I could bear it."
Legolas looked at him for a long moment, compassion and warmth in his eyes. "I understand," he said quietly, and Aragorn knew that he did. Legolas had been in the same situation hundreds of years longer than he had, and many elves had been lost to the growing shadow in Mirkwood during that time.
"But you are wrong," Legolas went on. "Caring for others is your strength, not your weakness. We will prevail against Sauron because we fight him together. Friendship and love are bonds that make us stronger, that make us more than we could be on our own. As huge as Sauron's army may be, each being under his command will always fight alone. They do not know love or loyalty, and they only obey because they fear. They will turn as willingly on each other as upon their enemies. Theirs is the weakness, my friend, not yours."
Aragorn was looking at him now and Legolas could tell that he listened attentively, though his eyes were still dark with doubt. "But he cannot be defeated by the loss of a close friend or the woman he loves," he said softly.
Understanding that the fear of further losses still weighed heavily on the human's heart, Legolas tightened his grip on his friend's shoulders until he had his undivided attention. "What are you fighting for?" he asked, holding the man's gaze.
Confusion showed in Aragorn's face. "You know my reasons to fight him," he said.
Legolas smiled softly. "I do, but it seems you need to be reminded," he answered quietly, watching his friend closely. "Are you fighting to become King of Gondor? Or to be able to wed Arwen? Or because you want to command a great army? Do you want to wield the power of a king?"
Aragorn looked aghast. "Of course not!" he said, taking a step back and breaking his friend's grip on his shoulders. Indignation flared in his eyes. "You should know me better than that!" Then he blinked, seemingly becoming aware whom he was talking to. A hint of understanding dawned in his eyes.
"What are you fighting for?" Legolas repeated gently, never once moving his eyes from Aragorn's.
"For all those I hold dear," Aragorn answered slowly, thoughtfully. "For those I do not want to see fall under the shadow. For the freedom of their people and the beauty of their lands."
Legolas tilted his head slightly, as if in approval. "That is the difference between you. Sauron only fights for himself, to gain power and prolong his unnatural existence. He does not give, and he does not receive. He is alone. He draws his strength from the Ring, and if the Ring is no more, he himself will cease to exist. You draw your strength from the people you love, but even if you lose some of them they will still be with you. In here." He laid one hand on the man's heart.
"The memories will not fade," he added softly, "and the love will not fade. That is why you will be able to bear the grief, and why you have a strength that the Evil One will never know." He fell silent, and seemed to be lost in memories of his own for a while.
Aragorn did not move or speak for a long moment. Then he put his own hand over the elf's, which still rested on his heart, and squeezed it. "Hannon le," he said softly. "You have reminded me of something I should not have forgotten."
"That is what I am here for," Legolas answered simply, and smiled at his friend. He could not hide the sadness in his smile.
It was nearly dark around them now, and Aragorn turned his back to the darkness in front of them and looked down on the campfire instead. It blazed brightly and cast a warm golden light on the men around it. He put a hand on Legolas' shoulder, who was still looking out into the darkness, causing the elf to turn and face him.
"Let us go back," Aragorn said. "Both of us could use some light and company now."
Legolas nodded, and soon after they were warmly welcomed into the circle of men, leaving the gathering darkness behind.
- The End -