Disclaimer: The elf, the ranger and the dwarf aren't even close to being mine The others are.
Summary: To save Aragorn's life at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Legolas intercepts an arrow meant for his friend. As the elf lies dying, Aragorn makes an unusual request.
A/N: This story was written for the Teitho Contest theme: If I Could Turn Back Time. (It won third place!) It alters events in the RotK movie, which in itself is an alteration of the book. I hope no one minds too much, since this story is just for entertainment.
HE JUST DOESN'T LISTEN
BY White Wolf
The golden-haired elf slid gracefully down the trunk of the huge Mûmakil he had just dispatched and stood before his dwarven friend, Gimli. He gave a quick jerk of his head and quirked an eyebrow that clearly said, "So what do you think of that?"
Gimli gave Legolas an even stare. He was greatly impressed by what the elf had just accomplished, however, the archer's expression looked much too arrogant to allow the dwarf to express his admiration. So instead, he said the one thing he knew would irk the elf. "It still only counts as one."
"One?" Legolas said in total disbelief. "That is a gigantic beast. It should easily count as half a dozen, if not more."
"Ha!" was the short reply, as Gimli crossed his arms over his broad chest, though he still held tight to his beloved ax. "It's one creature, so it counts as one kill. Size has nothing to do with it."
Legolas had the perfect opening for a comeback about Gimli's size, but he had too much affection for the dwarf to do so. He insulted Gimli often about a number of things related to being a dwarf, but ever since they had become friends, his diminutive stature was not one of them. Gimli had his pride, and Legolas would not, even in jest, wound that for anything.
When Legolas didn't make any further comment, Gimli knew he had won the brief disagreement and snorted in triumph. "Best you continue, elf, if you think you can best me." His tone clearly told Legolas that he didn't think such a thing was possible. Then the dwarf turned and marched away, waving his ax, obviously intent on adding to his own tally of kills.
Legolas sighed. It wasn't really all that hard to best Gimli at their little contest, but convincing the stout miner of that fact wasn't going to be easy. Legolas knew he would just have to kill so many of the enemy that his count would be far too high for Gimli even to think of challenging the result.
"Nice kill," came a familiar voice from behind the elf, as he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Grinning, Legolas turned around and saw the equally grinning face of Aragorn, ranger, future king of Gondor and most important to the elf, his closest friend.
"What's up with Gimli?" the man asked, as he watched the dwarf's retreating back and purposeful stride.
"He is not happy with me. I told him the Mûmakil should count for at least half a dozen kills, but he does not see it that way. He claims it only counts as one, since it is only one creature."
Aragorn laughed, not only at the explanation but at the fact that Legolas and Gimli were still playing the game they had begun at Helm's Deep. "That's only because he didn't kill it himself," the ranger remarked. "If he had, it would surely be worth a full dozen."
"I have no doubt," the elf readily agreed. They both knew Gimli well.
Forgetting the dwarf and the contest, Legolas turned and surveyed the battlefield all around him. It was a scene of utter devastation. There were more bodies scattered on the ground for hundreds of yards in all directions than there were people standing upright or mounted. Fortunately, the majority of the dead were orcs and their comrades. He had no doubts as to who it was that had turned the tide in their favor. "The Army of the Dead has done its work well."
"Yes. And that's good for the armies of Gondor and Rohan. Unfortunately, Sauron's army has also done its work well, and that's not so good for us." His tone was full of sorrow for the brave soldiers who had lost their lives.
Legolas sighed. Aragorn was right. Too many of the dead belonged to those men who had paid the ultimate price to keep Minas Tirith from falling into the hands of Sauron and his minions.
The thought of orcs, wargs, trolls and Nazgûl roaming the streets of the White City, killing the terrified citizens at will, made Aragorn shudder. How close they had come to having that happen was too frightening a thing to contemplate.
Off to the right of the two friends, a group of Gondorian soldiers were surrounded and being hard pressed by a large number of orcs. The humans were in a desperate situation.
Clearly the battle was not quite over. "Shall we?" Aragorn asked, as he looked at the wood-elf beside him.
"That is why we are here," was the elven warrior's reply, and the two ran off to add their considerable skills to the fray.
More and more orcs had joined in the small battle, now being led by the ranger and the elven prince. The arrival of the two had lifted the sprits of the soldiers, and they had renewed their efforts to defeat the foul creatures intent on destroying them.
As always, Legolas and Aragorn had started out fighting back to back, fiercely attacking the enemy and defending each other, but the superior number of the enemy forced them farther and farther apart. They each managed to keep track of the other through quick glances, but eventually they were no longer able to see each other.
The swords of Aragorn and the soldiers rang out as they clashed with the scimitars of the orcs. Many more of the disgusting creatures fell than did men, but still the beasts continued to charge.
On and on the desperate struggle raged until the men, with their superior fighting skills, obtained the upper hand.
Finally, only men were left standing, as the last orc had his throat slashed in a scissor cut made by Legolas's twin knives. The blades were covered from tip to hilt with black blood.
As Aragorn surveyed the scene, he saw that there were no more foes left to defeat. He, Legolas and the soldiers had won the battle.
With a sigh of relief, the ranger lowered Andúril, which was also drenched in orc blood. He bent down, cleaned the cherished blade and then sheathed it.
Aragorn looked over to where he had last seen Legolas, but the elf was not there. A stab of fear gripped the ranger until he saw the golden-haired archer off to his right. The two friends smiled at each other, as Legolas walked toward him.
The experienced healer ran a quick eye over his friend's body, looking for any sign of red blood among the black that spattered the elf's clothing. There was none, and the man's smile broadened. It looked like they had made it through another battle unscathed.
Just then one of the soldiers called out to Aragorn, and he turned, his eyes lighting on the one who had gained his attention.
Out of the corner of his eye, Legolas saw an orc several yards away. At first he wasn't alarmed, since the creature was too far away to be an immediate threat. That is until the elf saw the orc raise a bow and point his arrow directly at Aragorn's back.
Legolas yelled at Aragorn, but the loud trumpeting of a nearby Mûmakil in its death throes drowned out the elf's warning call.
When Legolas reached behind him to grab an arrow, his hand met only empty air. Then he remembered that he had used the last one just before the fight with the orcs, so stopping the foul beast with an arrow was not an option, and the orc was too far away to reach in time by foot.
Legolas's expression turned to horror, as he saw the arrow leave the creature's bow.
The prince began to run toward Aragorn. Driven by desperation, his legs were moving faster than they ever had in his long life. His original intent was simply to knock Aragorn off of his feet, allowing the arrow to fly harmlessly over their heads. But that did not happen.
The soldier, who had called Aragorn, saw what was about to happen. He yelled Aragorn's name and pointed behind him.
Aragorn swung around just in time to see the black arrow only a few feet from him. Even with his quick reflexes, there was no way he could get out of the way of the speeding projectile. In the split second before it hit, Aragorn made his peace with death.
Suddenly, a flash of gold filled the ranger's vision, and Aragorn's heart seized, as he realized that what he was seeing was Legolas, as the elf had jumped in front of him. The orc arrow slammed into the elf's chest with a deceptively soft thud. The impact pushed Legolas backward, and he fell against Aragorn.
Without thinking about it, Aragorn instinctively reached out and wrapped his arms around the elf. It was then that he saw the black arrow protruding from Legolas's chest just above his heart.
The ranger's mind reeled, as time seemed to stand still. "No," he choked out in a voice that he had to force through his constricted throat.
Legolas was obviously still conscious, because Aragorn could feel the stiffness that was gripping the elven body.
Quickly recovering from the shock, Aragorn leaned his mouth down to the elf's right ear and whispered, "It's all right, Legolas. I've got you."
It was then that the man felt Legolas go limp, as if the reassurance that his friend was safe and that he was also safe within Aragorn's arms allowed him to release the tension in his body and drift into the awaiting pain-free darkness of oblivion.
Aragorn eased Legolas to the ground, careful not to touch the arrow. When several of the soldiers came over, he looked up at them. 'Kill that orc - now!"
Two of the soldiers ran off with swords raised.
"What can we do to help?" one of the others asked, as he stepped closer.
Aragorn recognized him as a Gondorian captain named Jother. "I have to get him to Minas Tirith. Find me a horse." His voice was low, but there was no mistaking the urgency of the command he gave.
Jother quickly gave orders for the remaining men to fan out and round up the first horse they came upon and bring it back as quickly as they could. He stayed close in case Aragorn needed something else.
Aragorn didn't like the idea of jostling Legolas on horseback, but it was the quickest way to get the elf to the city. He couldn't carry his friend on foot all the way to Minas Tirith and then zigzag up seven levels to the Citadel. He knew Legolas would never survive that kind of trip. And Aragorn wasn't about to perform the kind of delicate surgery the wood-elf needed out here on the dusty plains.
It seemed like an eternity before one of Jother's men arrived with a horse. The man jumped down and handed the reins to his captain.
Aragorn stood up, lifting Legolas with him. He walked over to the horse and then turned to Jother. "Take him until I mount, and then hand him up to me. He isn't heavy." He didn't think he had to tell this experienced soldier to be careful.
When Legolas was in Jother's arms, the man was amazed at how light the elf was. He had heard many things about elves, most he was sure couldn't possibly be true, but this was one fact he wasn't aware of: that grown elves barely weighed as much as a ten year old human child. So it was no trouble for him to lift the elf up to Aragorn's waiting arms.
Before riding off, Aragorn said, "Thank you, Captain. Now take these men and see if there are others that may still be fighting or may be wounded." In a much harder voice, he said, "I want every one of those foul creatures that still lives killed and burned. None are to escape that haven't already done so. I don't want them forming up and coming back for another attack. Report to me directly at the Citadel's House of Healing."
"Yes, Lord Aragorn. We won't let you down," Jother replied.
Even before his future king rode away, the captain had turned to round up the other soldiers and then proceeded to implement the instructions he had just been given.
Aragorn hadn't gone more than fifty yards before his horse came to a sudden stop and reared up, his front legs pawing the air. The horse was also snorting and shaking his head.
The ranger tightened his hold on Legolas, and offered soft words to soothe the panic-stricken horse.
It was then that Aragorn saw what was causing the horse's fearful reaction. A few feet in front of him stood the King of the Dead, arms raised in the air.
"You cannot leave until you have kept your promise," the ghostly figure said in a harsh voice. "We have done our part, now you must do yours."
Aragorn nodded. "You have redeemed yourselves, therefore, I hold your oath fulfilled. You and all of your host are free."
The ghost king nodded in return, a broad smile on his ethereal face. "It is finally done."
With those words, he and all the specters brought here by Aragorn from the Ered Nimrais vanished, dissolving into the air like smoke in a strong wind.
Relief, tinged with a sense of satisfaction, flooded the ranger. He couldn't deny that he was glad to be rid of the eerie ghosts. Yet, he was also glad that now they would find the peace they had been denied, since they had been cursed by Isildur, Aragorn's own ancestor, during the War of the Last Alliance over three thousand years ago.
That matter happily settled and not wishing to waste any more time, Aragorn urged his horse forward and continued the trip toward Minas Tirith.
Gimli heard the resounding hooves of a horse coming his way. At first, seeing only Legolas, the dwarf smiled, thinking the elf was coming to give him his final total of kills. As the horse came closer, however, Gimli saw that Aragorn was sitting behind the elf. He didn't know why they were sharing a horse until they drew even with him, and he realized Legolas was unconscious and being held by the ranger.
Aragorn was so focused on getting Legolas to the House of Healing in the city that he didn't even notice Gimli only a little way off to the side. A troll could have been standing in the dwarf's place, bristling with weapons, and the man would have been totally unaware of it.
Gimli's heart almost seized at the sight of the arrow in Legolas's chest. He knew immediately the desperate situation that existed. Afraid to distract the ranger, Gimli did not call out the way his heart wanted him to.
Instead, the dwarf looked around until he spotted a soldier standing next to a roan-colored horse not too far away. Gimli ran over to him. "I need your horse." He didn't want to be stipped in his mission and be accused of being a horse thief, so he asked, "Do you know who I am?"
The man nodded. "A friend of Lord Aragorn's."
"Aye. It's urgent I follow him, so help me onto this beast." It was so unlike Gimli to ask for help from a stranger, but now was not the time to exhibit his pride.
Once mounted, Gimli urged the horse forward, but it didn't move. "Okay, let's go, you obstinate creature."
When the horse still didn't move, the angry miner bounced up and down in the saddle accompanied by a swift, though mild, kick.
The horse finally understood what the excited being on its back wanted, and the animal started forward. More bouncing and a few dwarven curses had the horse moving at a gallop.
Hanging on for dear life, Gimli headed after Legolas and Aragorn toward the towering city of Minas Tirith.
When Aragorn reached the Citadel high atop the city, he slipped down from the horse and gently pulled Legolas into his arms. Carrying the elf swiftly to the House of Healing, the man entered and took his friend to one of the small private rooms reserved for the ruling family or special guests who may be in need of it. Luckily, it was empty.
One of the city's healers appeared in the doorway. "Lord Aragorn. How can I be of assistance?"
It wasn't until the ranger straightened up and turned toward him that the healer saw Legolas lying on the bed. When he saw the arrow, he noted its location and knew immediately that it couldn't simply be pulled out. It would have to be very carefully cut out. He said, "I'll get what we'll be needing," and he quickly disappeared out the door.
Returning shortly, the other man put a tray containing surgical instruments and several jars of herbs and ointments down on a small bedside table.
By the time that Legolas's tunic and silk undershirt had been cut away, Gimli had come huffing and puffing into the room. He stopped short, unable to stifle a gasp, as he saw the black arrow that was marring the normally flawless skin of the elf's bare chest.