1Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Lord of the Rings; it all belongs to Tolkien.
To Save You
Chapter 1 - Visitors In the Night
"You need to relax, meleth," Arwen spoke softly as she came up behind her husband, where he sat at his desk going over maps and trade agreements. "You have not slept in three days. You will do your people no good if you wear yourself out."
Aragorn let out a sigh, as he allowed his head to fall backwards for a kiss from his beloved. She was right, as usual. He had spent the last few days, and nights as well, working with different advisors on some treaties sent from King Eomer in Rohan; and he found his body wearing out on him more and more every second. All he wanted right now was to take Arwen in his arms and go to sleep.
That was not to be so.
"Milord Aragorn!" called the voice of Draden, who was Captain of the Guard for the city of Minas Tirith. The man was in his late forties and always seemed to be stressed out about something. Aragorn adored the man, thinking him an older brother at times, but his timing could not have been worse. "There is a matter of which I must speak with you."
"Can it not wait until the morn?" asked Aragorn as he rose from his chair and wrapped his arm around Arwen who frowned at the intruder, knowing that he was about to rob her husband of another nights' sleep.
Draden shook his head. "Unfortunately not, milord" he answered. Aragorn had expected him to say that, but he did not expect what next came from the captain's lips. "You have visitors, and they said that it was urgent that they spoke with you tonight."
Aragorn sighed. Of course he had visitors! "They want to speak to me in regards to what?" he asked, noting the strange look on Draden's face before the man answered him.
"A matter of which they want to inform you of, themselves, milord. Shall I send them in?"
A wave of the hand from the king was all the confirmation that Draden needed, and he was out the door in a matter of seconds to fetch the visitors. As the man left the room, Aragorn met the grey eyes of Arwen who looked up at him sympathetically as she kissed his cheek. "I will wait for you" she said softly as she turned and started towards the other door that led to a private passage up to the royal chambers. Aragorn watched her leave, but she did not get out of the room before a familiar voice, echoed from one of the two figures that entered the study, caused her to turn back around.
It was Gimli the dwarf, and with him stood the young lord of Ithilien, Faramir. The pair stood before the royal couple, soaked to the bone and looking as miserable as ever; but before Aragorn could usher a word of greeting, the dwarf spoke.
"Sorry to barge in on you so late at night, lady elf" he began, speaking to Arwen, who smiled at him as she and Aragorn rushed over to where their two friends stood and embraced them tightly. It had been months since they had seen these two, and the tired feelings they had were washed away at the sudden presence of those they cared for.
"Worry not about it, master dwarf" Arwen replied with a laugh. "We are happy to have you, regardless of the hour."
"I only wish that our visit was one brought on by better circumstances" Faramir cut in, after he had greeted Aragorn with the proper respects.
Aragorn frowned, and motioned for the two friends to sit down on the couch near the fireplace as Arwen asked Draden to have accommodation and fresh clothes readied for the new arrivals. "What circumstances brought you here, my friends?" Aragorn questioned, knowing that something was wrong by the looks on their faces.
"All is not well in Ithilien," Faramir answered with a sullen tone. This statement caused the king's eyebrow to rise. He was aware that Faramir and Legolas, who were named lords of the Gondorian wood years ago, had been struggling to bring life back to Ithilien after the darkness of Mordor had saturated it for so long. However, from the letters he had received from the son of Denethor, the men and elves that inhabited the forest city were so far successful at restoring the land to its former glory.
"What has happened?" asked the former ranger, as he took a seat across from the two companions. "Orcs?"
"No" Faramir was quick to assure. "We have been lucky, and have not had trouble with the dark creatures for some time now."
"What trouble threatens Ithilien if not the orcs?" Aragorn asked, though a part of him already knew what the answer was going to be.
"It's the elf, Aragorn" Gimli spoke. His voice was gruff and full of worry, but his beard and bushy eyebrows did a good job of hiding the trepidation upon his features. "He's getting worse."
Aragorn could not help but rise to his feet and turn away from the two who spoke to him. His eyes closed and he breathed in deeply, trying to calm himself at the mention of the elven prince. For months now, he had done all he could to keep his mind from straying to Legolas; it hurt too much to think of what had become of their friendship, and he did not want to deal with it anymore. He couldn't; it was just too hard.
Both Faramir and Gimli understood the king's reaction, and both looked at each other before the dwarf continued. "He is retreating further into himself with every passing day, lad" explained the stout being. Gimli knew that he was hitting a sore spot with the king, but he also knew that Aragorn needed to know how bad the elf's condition was becoming.
Faramir felt the same, and added more when he saw the dwarf pause. Gimli was taking the situation hard; for not only was he watching one friend slowly drift away, but he was also caught in the middle of the turmoil that had erupted between Aragorn and the prince of Mirkwood. "He refuses to sleep anymore, and no one has seen him eat a thing in days..."
"Why come to me with this?" Aragorn demanded, as he spun around to face his friends once again. Is face was red, and it was clear he was holding back tears. "What makes you think that telling me all of this will do any good?" He was shaking with emotion, and Arwen offered what comfort she could with an embrace.
"You are his best friend.." Faramir tried again, but Aragorn cut him off once more.
"Was! I was his best friend" the king corrected as he shook his head and pulled away from Arwen's arms, retreating to the window. "Legolas made it quite clear that our friendship was over."
Faramir's head hung low, as he thought back to the argument that had erupted between the two friends in the courtyard of Minas Tirith a few months past. It had been brutal, and both had lashed out at the other with hurtful words that only a close friend could deal out. It had ended with Aragorn being knocked down by an elven punch; after which, Legolas declared that never again would he return to the palace, nor would his and Aragorn's paths cross again if he had any say in it.
"He did not mean the things he said, laddie" Gimli assured as he stood up and walked slowly over to where his friend was standing, looking out the window in the direction of Ithilien. "Just as you did not mean the word you spoke to him. You both let your emotions get the better of you. You have to talk to him, laddie, you have to try.."
"I have tried, Gimli" Aragorn replied with a sad and quiet tone. He sounded like he had no hope within him and it broke the dwarf's heart. Aragorn had been devastated when the elf had shut him out of his life. Gimli knew that the elf's rapidly failing health was the result of not only the call of the sea, but also because of the guilt he felt due to of the loss of his human friend. Gimli also knew that it was going to have to be Aragorn who took the first step; Legolas would certainly let himself die before he faced Aragorn again, given all that had happened between them.
"You must try again" Gimli insisted, with desperation in his eyes.
"Why? So he can send me away again?" Aragorn demanded, as tears stained his cheeks. Honestly, didn't anybody understand how much it tore him apart to see emptiness in the elf's eyes when once there was such life and joy? Legolas was no longer the elf he had known, and it killed him every time he was faced with the reality of what had become of his dearest friend. "I cannot do it, Gimli. I cannot."
"Legolas is dying, Aragorn," Faramir declared sadly as he too rose from his seat. The young man had known that Gimli would not be able to tell Aragorn this bit of news, because it was simply too hard for the dwarf to handle as it was. Even now, at hearing the words spoken out loud, Faramir could see that Gimli flinched as though he had been slapped across the face. The king's expression was no different. Aragorn turned to the lord of Ithilien with an expression of both shock and horror.
"The elven healers do not believe he will last for very much longer" Faramir continued, hating himself for having to deal out this horrid news to the king. "They have tried to convince him to sail to Valinor, but he refuses any aid that they, or any of us, offer him. It is as though he is seeking death; he has no hope left."
Aragorn felt like he had been hit in the stomach with a stack of bricks. He had known that Legolas was not doing well, but a part of him had always believed that nothing could ever defeat the elf that he had loved as a brother for so many years. Legolas could not die; he was not suppose to. The thought was terrifying for the king.
"You are the only one who will get through to him, laddie," Gimli spoke. His voice was raw. "He needs you; whether he will admit it or not. You have to go to him, Aragorn; you are the only one who can save him now."
Aragorn shook his head. "No," he said sadly, "the only one who can save Legolas now, is Legolas. Unless he chooses to help himself... there is nothing you or I..."
"Then make him" Gimli interrupted, as he looked up to Aragorn expectantly. "Please, laddie."
A deep sigh escaped Aragorn's throat as he looked out the window once more. He was exhausted, and his emotions were peaked. Learning that Legolas was fading from life was the worst possible news he could have received at the moment, and as much as he wanted to run to the elf's side and plead for the elf to come back to them, Aragorn just didn't know if he would be able to handle the elf's rejection again.
A tear fell down his cheek as Aragorn thought back to the day that had begun the destruction of the relationship he had with and the elf. It was so long ago, yet every moment of it was still fresh in his mind. It had started out on such a bright note; he and Legolas had decided to take a short camping trip in the forest of Ithilien, but neither of them had any clue as to what had been in store for them that day.
6 months earlier...
"Is something bothering you, Legolas?" asked Aragorn as the two friends walked side by side along the riverbank in the woods just outside of Ithilien. "You seem somewhat distracted."
It took a moment for the elf to respond to his friend, but soon enough he turned and faced the King of Gondor with an innocent expression on his face and replied. "I am alright, Estel."
Aragorn rose an eyebrow. Years of friendship with the youngest son of Thranduil had allowed the man the ability to see through Legolas' stoic facade that he put on for the rest of the world. Aragorn knew that his friend was suffering from the sea longing; he had been for years now, ever since their travels during the war of the ring. He hated that Legolas kept his hurts to himself, and he worried that it might one day destroy the elf's spirit
"You always say that, my friend" the man said to his companion.
Legolas shook his head, a light smile upon his lips. "That is because it is the truth, Estel. You just refuse to believe that I am speaking the truth."
Aragorn paused and turned to face the elf, who matched his stance. "I am just..."
Putting a hand on the human's shoulder, Legolas interrupted Aragorn from going any further. "You are the King of Gondor, Aragorn" he began, "there are many important things that require your attention and worry; however, I am not one of them, regardless of what you and Gimli may think. Peace, mellon nin, I assure you I am well."
"Alright, I will let it go..for now" Aragorn answered with a nod, causing the elf to narrow his blue eyes at him before they continued to walk again. The elf's speech did not convince Aragorn, but he understood Legolas' need for privacy with matters such as the sea. It had taken a long time for the human king to gain Legolas' trust, and Aragorn knew that if you pushed too hard, it would do nothing but cause the elf to shut you out, and that was the very last thing he wanted to happen.
6 months later...
Unfortunately for Aragorn, that was exactly what had happened. The events that quickly followed were horrible; they had left Aragorn on the brink of death, and had robbed what little life Legolas had held onto after the call of the sea had waged war upon his mind and spirit. Yes, that day was devastating for Aragorn, because he knew that that had been the day in which the bitterness that sought to claim the elf, had succeeded and stole away his closest friend.
No, he couldn't face Legolas again. He couldn't bare to see what was left of the elf that he cared so much about. It would destroy him. Remorsefully, Aragorn turned around and met the sorrowful eyes of the dwarf and spoke his answer.
"I am sorry, Gimli. There is nothing I can do."
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