Title: Goodbye My Friend

Author: Yuggster

Rating: K+

Disclaimer: It's not mine...nothing...none of it.

Summary: Aragorn must say a final good-bye to Legolas. Set in movieverse, a bit AU. Written for the March Teitho contest.

Warning: You might want to grab a tissue before you read this one.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was something we had done countless times before, it should have been simple.

We should have known better.

No...I should have known better.

I know you tried to warn me. You always told me things like this are never what they seem.

But did I listen? Of course not. After all, I was the Heir of Isildur. Surely I knew what I was doing.

They why, my friend, do you pay the price?

I do not even know if you can still hear me. I hope that you can, that these words will stay with you when you finally wake up...if ever you do.

But I will be gone before you awake.

I cannot stay here, cannot bear to see the forgiveness in your eyes.

Truly, Legolas, I know you will wonder why I left. You will blame yourself, but you must know that you are not responsible. It is my fault.

I lead you into the battle. Foolishly, I thought myself invincible because we had faced foes like that many times before.

You cautioned me, but I would not listen. Then, ever loyal, you followed me.

Right into the trap.

I can still see it, Legolas. When I close my eyes I can still see the circle closing around us, the grim look in your eyes, the sword trembling in my hand...and the orcs trampling their own dead to get to us.

But I thought myself invincible. I was the Heir of Isildur! Surely such a prophecy would not be undone by mere orcs! We must be victorious!

I was such a fool.

Did you know I saw the first arrow pierce you? I saw it fly, but I could not warn you in time.

You eyes...the moment you realized you had been struck...I will never forget the look in your eyes. Yet you fought on, always at my back.

But I could not protect you. I saw the second arrow fly...and you lost the use of your sword arm.

My own wounds seemed so trivial, then. For at that moment I realized...

The moment you fell, I realized what a fool I had been.

It took so many orcs to stop you. And even then it was not until I had been overcome that you surrendered. I can still see the pain in your eyes, still see the poison taking its hold.

The orcs were cackling, victorious. Here they had an elf, the perfect object to torment! And defiantly, you took it all. They tortured you...and I was made to watch.

What happened next will haunt me forever.

I will never forget the look on your face when the orcs realized that you would not crack...and turned their attention to me. They knew you would not be so stoic when one you cared about was being harmed.

I could have born the pain, Legolas. But I could not bear to see you crack...to see you humble yourself and beg for my life. To see you subject yourself to every jibe, every insult, every blow, if only they would not harm me.

These memories...they will haunt me forever. But it is nothing less than I deserve.

I wish I could see your eyes one last time, brimming with life once more.

But I must go, to walk the path of my fathers. I do not know if I will ever see you again, Legolas. Perhaps the Valar will be merciful, and we will meet once more.

I can only hope for such a day.

Forgive me.

Goodbye my friend.

Legolas groaned, eyes slowly opening.

"Estel?" he called groggily. He turned his head, expecting to see his human friend beside him.

There was no one there...and yet he had heard him, only moments ago.

"Aragorn?" Legolas called, louder this time, fighting his own pain to sit up.

A dark-haired elf hurried over. "You're awake," Lord Elrond sighed in relief. "I was afraid you would not wake in time..." he swallowed.

Legolas frowned. "Lord Elrond?" he asked, seeing tears on the older elf's face. "What has happened?"

"You do not remember?"

The blond elf shook his head, puzzled by the elf-lord's broken tone. "Where is Estel?" he asked, wondering if perhaps his friend had been badly injured.

"Legolas," Elrond half-sobbed, pressing one hand to his face. "He is gone."

"Gone?" Legolas sat up straighter, heart pounding. Surely he didn't mean... "Where is he?"

Lord Elrond closed his eyes, placing one hand over the younger elf's. "He is...he did not make it, Legolas."

Legolas felt as though his heart had turned to ice. "No," he whispered.


"No!" ignoring the elf-lord's voice, Legolas swung his legs out of the bed. He stumbled, unable to stand on his own. "Estel!"

The elf's desperate cry rung through the house. Lord Elrond tried futilely to calm the younger elf, but Legolas would not be consoled.

"I will not believe you," Legolas cried, pulling away from the elf-lord's hands. "He cannot be...it cannot be true!"

"Legolas," Lord Elrond grabbed the elf by both arms, forcing him to meet his eyes. Legolas could see tears in the ancient orbs, and quieted. "I do not wish to believe it myself. But he is gone."

The blond elf shook his head, trembling from fear and grief. "No."

The older elf sighed. "Come," he gently supported Legolas on one side.

Legolas could barely focus, so turbulent were his emotions. He let the elf-lord lead him down the hall to Aragorn's room, hesitating on the threshold.

"We will bury him tomorrow," Elrond said quietly. "But I think you should say your farewell in private."

Carefully, the elf-lord opened the door, leading Legolas inside.

Legolas stopped still, his heart shattering.

Aragorn lay on the bed, his hands folded on his chest. Unnaturally still, unnaturally pale...his eyes closed as though he were merely sleeping.

The elf stumbled forward, falling to his knees beside the bed. "Estel?" he asked quietly, reaching out to take his friend's hand.

He nearly recoiled. Aragorn's flesh was cold...so cold.

"He had lost too much blood by the time we arrived," Lord Elrond explained quietly. "There was nothing more we could do...he wanted you to know that he was sorry for leading you into such trouble...and for leaving you."

Legolas barely heard the elf-lord's broken voice as he hesitantly reached out to touch his friend's face. It, too, was cold. Aragorn would never wake again. "Estel," he sobbed, burying his face in the man's shoulder.

He did not hear Lord Elrond leave the room, nor did he notice the others who came to pry him away from his friend's body. Not until they pulled him away by force to prepare Aragorn's body for burial did he leave, and then the sky was filled with Legolas' heart-wrenching cries.

The elf could not be consoled. The light in him had died with the ranger, and all who saw him saw only a hollow shell of the light-haired elf who had been a brother to Estel.

They buried Aragorn the next morning, letting his body rest in the soil he had known since childhood. He was not buried as Aragorn son of Arathorn, but as Estel Elrondion, beloved son and brother.

Legolas disappeared shortly thereafter. Whether he took a ship into the West or wandered the paths of Middle-Earth until the end of time none can say. But his voice can still be heard in the forests of Rivendell, singing a lament for the death of his brother, Estel, the last Hope of Men.

Reviews? Flames? Tar and Feathers?

Please don't kill me! It's not over yet! See? There's an epilogue still...if you don't like this sort of ending you can go on and read the rest of the story, and see why I labeled it as "a bit" AU and not completely AU.