The dark vision in the mirror slowly faded, leaving behind it a reflection of the tear-streaked face of a young ranger. "Do you understand what you saw?"
Aragorn blinked slowly, straightening up. It had been a vision...the battle with the orcs, Legolas' injuries...his death. "I understand," he said softly.
Lady Galadriel sighed. "You know why you must go into exile?"
"Yes." She had shown him the vision in her mirror to warn him that staying with the rangers would lead to his death...whether from pride or by accident...but he had seen something she did not.
He did not care if he died. He had not wanted the kingship, and would have been content to remain the foster-son of Elrond to the end of his days. But Legolas...seeing what his death had done to Legolas, the friend he loved more than a brother...he did not dare to remain.
"For the sake of your kingdom, you must leave," Galadriel said slowly. "There will be no hope for the race of men if you remain in Rivendell."
Aragorn nodded, glancing down to hide the rebellion in his eyes at the Lady's words. It was not for his kingdom, but for his friend, for he could not bear to know that his death would shatter Legolas. If he had to go into exile to keep the vision in the mirror of his death and his friend's anguish from coming true, then so be it.
And even if he never became king, at least he would not lead his best friend into such sorrow.
He turned to leave, stopping for one last look at the mirror, the picture of Legolas' grief-stricken face still fresh in his mind. "Goodbye my friend."
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