Author's Note: This story was inspired by a certain scene in the movies. I don't think you will have any problems finding out which one. ;-) A big thank you to everyone who read and especially those who reviewed the last chapter! Feedback is always welcome. :D
Title: A Fighting Chance
Author: Silivren Tinu
Beta: the wonderful Imbecamiel (((hugs)))
Summary: Estel learns some lessons in archery, unaware that the skills he is now acquiring will one day help to decide the fate of Middle-earth. Both pre-LotR and LotR, movieverse. Characters: Little Estel/Aragorn, Legolas. Written for Prompt #134 "Chance" in the Owners of Aragorn Angst yahoo group.
Disclaimer: I don't own them – never have, never will. But I really enjoy playing with them whenever I get the chance. ;-)
- A Fighting Chance -
"Hold it steady," Legolas ordered calmly. "Now draw the string back to your shoulder and hold it there."
Estel did his best to comply, trying to keep the bow steady and the arrow trained on the target in spite of the fact that his muscles were beginning to tremble under the strain. He felt the elf's hands on his shoulders, slightly correcting his posture. Then his friend moved back to his side and nodded. "Let it go!"
With a sigh of relief, Estel released both arrow and string. The bow sang, and the arrow hummed through the air in a graceful arc… missing the target by inches. The boy stared at the three arrows clinging haphazardly to the outer rim of the target, and then at the empty quiver at his hip. He groaned and dropped to the ground, letting the bow fall into the grass at his side.
"How can this be so difficult," he complained, "when you always make it look so easy?"
Sitting down beside him in an unconsciously graceful movement, Legolas replied, "It probably has something to do with the fact that I have had several centuries of experience and practice in archery and you have not."
Estel cast him a sullen look. "You are aware that I will likely never learn to be an archer if you need centuries to do it rightly?"
Choosing to ignore that objection, the elf added, "Also, the bow is not your weapon of choice. Archery will be much more difficult for you to learn than sword fighting, because it does not come naturally to you."
The answer was another, louder groan.
Legolas looked at his young friend, amused. "It cannot be that bad," he said. "Glorfindel told me you are making remarkable progress."
Estel blinked, surprised. "I didn't think telling me I would be able to defend myself against several blind and lame orcs with wooden swords now was meant to be a compliment," he muttered.
The elf looked away, trying to hide his smile. "It is not easy to learn from a master of his art," he finally told the boy, sympathy in his eyes. "It often tends to make you feel slow or untalented, but the truth is that you usually make faster progress and learn more than you ever would with another teacher."
Estel sighed. "I'm only taught by masters of their respective art," he moaned.
"I guess that means you will be an outstanding warrior and scholar one day," Legolas attempted to cheer his young friend up. "Besides, you should have seen me when my father first tried to teach me how to wield a sword."
"King Thranduil is a swordsman?" Estel asked, immediately curious. "I thought… well, I just thought… that he would be a great archer, like you." He blushed a bit.
"I believe my father would excel with any weapon you gave him," Legolas answered with a smile, "but, if given a choice, he would prefer the sword. It was not him who taught me how to shoot the bow."
"Did he tell you you'd do well against a blind and lame orc, too?"
Legolas laughed. "He did not use quite the same words," he said. "Actually, he told me a dwarven child would be able to defeat me with a club for the first century or so."
"You can't have been that bad!" Estel protested, indignant on behalf of his friend.
"I think he just did not want me to become conceited," Legolas told him with a grin.
Estel chuckled. "Well, in my case I don't think I'll have any reason to become conceited soon," he said.
"I would not be so sure about that," Legolas said thoughtfully. "You are making good progress, even if the results are not yet what you would wish them to be. But I think it would probably be easier for you to concentrate on the benefit you have from learning certain things, instead of trying so hard to excel at them.
Mastering archery, for example, will provide you with an advantage that might very well mean the difference between survival and defeat, especially when you are outnumbered, because it allows you to decimate your enemies without having to engage in hand-to-hand combat."
Smiling mischievously, he added, "At other times, it might simply save you from having to endure an empty stomach, which can be just as dreadful a foe. Either way, having a bow and arrows with you and knowing how to use them is a useful thing and may give you the chance you need to survive."
Estel had listened attentively. "But what if I'm just not good enough?" he anxiously wanted to know. "What if someone depends on me and… and I miss, like I did before?"
"You can only do your best, Estel," Legolas said earnestly, understanding the fear behind those words only too well. "There is no 'good enough' and no failure, as long as you honestly try. And I know you will."
Estel thought about it for a moment, then he nodded slowly. "I would like to try again," he declared, meeting the elf's gaze. "Would you show me how to improve my aim?"
Legolas smiled at him warmly. "I will do so gladly," he answered, rising to his feet and offering his young friend a hand to help him up.
More than seven decades later, January of the year 3019 of the Third Age, inside the chamber of Mazarbul in the Mines of Moria…
Aragorn stood staring at the battered wooden door of the chamber of Mazarbul, which had recently become Balin's tomb, watching its wings shudder under the heavy blows they received from outside. He could feel more than see Legolas' steady presence beside him. They stood side by side, ready to shoot their arrows at anything that would try to come at them through that door.
In spite of the dire situation they found themselves in, facing battle with his friend at his side felt both familiar and strangely comforting. They had seen many battles together, and to this day, they had always prevailed, whatever the odds. Aragorn refused to see that change now, when so much more than their lives was at stake, even if they were only four warriors and one wizard standing against a flood of orcs and at least one cave troll, and had to protect the hobbits and the precious burden one of them carried as well.
The door creaked in its hinges, and the wood began to splinter. Aragorn's grip tightened on his bow and he adjusted his aim slightly. Though he would never think of himself as an archer, his skills with the bow had improved to deadly accuracy through long years of practice and experience. His eyes narrowed. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Legolas tense slightly, readying himself to let his arrow fly.
They would do their best to give the Fellowship a fighting chance today.
- The End -
I have to admit that was one scene in the movies I really loved. ;-)