Disclaimer: I still do not own anything, though I wish I did! Then Aragorn would be all mine.
A/N: I just wanted to experiment with the idea of Legolas's death and the effect it would have on Aragorn as well as everyone else. I don't know how long this will be, yet. We'll see. Please Review!
The cold, biting wind blew harshly against the tear stained face of the broken ranger. It seemed that ever since the death of his best friend, winter decided to make its presence known much sooner so as to remind the mourner that the icy chill would be nearby for longer than desired. The nights were worse it seemed as they only stood as a constant reminder that the feeling of warmth was always going to be overshadowed by the frigid darkness, and these days, it seemed that only in this darkness could the ranger seek refuge as if it understood what he was feeling. Clutching his cloak tighter to his body, the ranger rose from the place where he was silently sitting, turned his back to the rising sun, and numbly walked away.
After a short time, the Last Homely House was slowly coming into view. The ranger's footsteps over the trodden path were soon surpassed by the rising sound of morning songbirds and other creatures. As Imladris drew nearer, horses could be heard off in the distance accompanied by shouts in elvish of the morning hunters. It seemed that the world was still in motion as though nothing had occurred. Everyone and everything seemed to have found that time stops for no one and that life moves on regardless of circumstance. Despite all of this distraction, the ranger remained unaffected, turning a deaf ear to all that surrounded him as he found himself falling into an endless abyss that was soon swallowing all reality. He did not want to move on…he could not move on as everyone else had.
"Estel?" a concerned voice asked loudly enough to penetrate the occupied mind of the young man.
Pulling himself ever so slowly from his daze, he looked up with empty eyes, barely seeing the dark haired elf in front him. It seemed that Elladan had finally discovered where his brother was disappearing to ever night. Aragorn was always able to return home before anyone came to summon him for breakfast (which, of late, was always left untouched), or at least he thought he was improving his abilities to stay undetected. A deep sigh escaped his lips as he realized that nothing could ever go unnoticed in Elrond's house.
"Estel, father is terribly worried about you. You barely eat. You disappear every night leaving you with little chance to sleep. I know that Legolas' dea--" Elladan's lecture about his brother's well being was suddenly ended when a fist connected with his jaw. Surprised blue eyes met cold gray ones. Aragorn had yet to utter a single syllable, but his feelings were heard loud and clear. Without another glance at his fallen brother, Aragorn continued walking down the path leaving an absolutely speechless elf behind him.
His pace seemed to have quickened since his confrontation with his brother. Why couldn't his brother see that nothing he said or did would help him? Only his best friend could do that but he was…no, he didn't want to acknowledge what had thrown a hole so deep within his soul. He ignored anyone who came bearing sympathy for his loss. After a while, it all seemed so meaningless since no amount of pity on Middle Earth could assuage Aragorn of his despair and guilt.
Aragorn was so preoccupied with his thoughts that he lost track of time completely. It wasn't until he looked up to see the worried eyes of his father and his other brother at the breakfast table that he realized where he was.
"Estel, ion nin, please sit," Elrond asked politely though Aragorn knew it was more of a demand. Wordlessly, Aragorn pulled out a chair at the opposite end of the table, and sat down. He braced himself for the lecture he was sure to hear from his father. It seemed that the same dialogue arose everyday. Constant worry and eager understanding laced every conversation as Elrond pleaded with his son to see that death was not an end but a beginning, and that he needed to take better care of himself before he was beyond the point of any help. Much to Aragorn's surprise, though his face remained impassive, those words did not come. Instead, Elrond began the morning differently.
"Estel, hunting, as you know, has been very difficult as of late, because of the early approaching winter. It has come to my attention that your help would be very much appreciated. Elrohir and Elladan plan to depart early tomorrow morning. Would you like to accompany them?"
Aragorn could not help but let his eyes show the astonishment at his father's request. It had been three months since Legolas' death and no one had been able to say anything besides a few condolences and speeches about his health. In those three months, Aragorn barely voiced a single word or thought leaving everyone to believe that he had finally succumbed to grief, letting his spirit wander while an empty shell continued living. However, Elrond knew better. He knew that with enough time his son would heal, but he also knew that empty words of comfort would not help his son move on. He learned that well whenever his meager sympathies met deaf ears. Elrond understood that a change in tactic was much needed so by treating Aragorn like a normal person, instead of a fragile vase that might break with the weight of a feather, he hoped that his son would find his way past his grief.
A small voice in Aragorn's head was telling him to take the opportunity to escape for a short time, that it would do him some good to accept change in his daily routine. However, his heart refused, making the man realize that by leaving Imladris he would be leaving his friend behind. Leaving meant moving on and Aragorn was not ready for that just yet. After a few silent moments, Aragorn listened to his heart and shook his head, turning down the request.
Despite his refusal to accompany his brothers on the trip, Elrond believed that he was making progress. A few months prior, Aragorn would have become angered at the idea and fled from the room. Now, he seemed to at least contemplate the notion of living his life and accepting his loss, at least that is what Elrond hoped his son's hesitation meant.
A few minutes passed as silence enveloped the room once again. Without saying anything to excuse himself, Aragorn rose from the table and walked away from his family, leaving them worried for his sanity, as it seemed they still could not make him utter a single word to them.
"Please, listen to me, stubborn human. Sleep tonight. I will take watch."
The conversation began the same way every night for the past week since Legolas was injured, though he would be ashamed to admit that the cause of his injury was his own horse. Many jokes resulted from that incident as Aragorn could hardly ignore the fact that an elf's horse was spooked. Since that time, Aragorn insisted on his friend resting, as he stood watch in his place, much to Legolas' dismay.
However, unlike most nights, Aragorn finally yielded to Legolas' pleas of rest. This only attested to how exceedingly exhausted the human was. As the veil of night crept into the forest, Aragorn at last allowed sleep to overcome him as he lay beneath the brilliant stars…
…Aragorn jerked awake suddenly as a strange feeling washed over him. He could not quite understand what had brought him out of his restful slumber. He looked around to see Legolas a little ways away, attentive and crouched, eyes looking around in the darkness of the trees. Aragorn instantly knew that his friend sensed a looming danger. The fact that he wasn't awoken immediately meant that Legolas was not sure that they were personally threatened; at least, that was what Aragorn wanted to believe despite Legolas' impeccable perception. However, in his heart, Aragorn knew that Legolas wanted him to have as much uninterrupted sleep as possible, even if it meant protecting him alone.
Suddenly, the air hissed and dark projectiles shot from the woods. Seeing his friend awake, Legolas instantly moved towards him and pinned him to the ground, covering his body in protection. Simultaneously, heavy footfalls could be heard pounding the soft earth as grunting orcs came rushing out of the woods, weapons in hand.
Aragorn made a move to rise, when he found that the weight of his friend refused to move. Adrenaline and worry fueled the human, helping him to wiggle out from beneath the blonde elf. When he made it to a sitting position beside his friend he noticed a black arrow embedded in his back near his heart. He wanted to aid his friend who lay half conscious, panting on the ground, but he knew that if he had any chance at all, Aragorn needed to dispose of the orcs first.
Renewed energy aided Aragorn in his upcoming battle. He met each orc with a fierce spirit as the need to defend his friend enhanced his drive to stay alive. One particularly large orc was getting the better of him, each blow more forceful than the last, until Aragorn could barely stay focused. He silently cursed his past stubbornness, as his fatigued body grew even weaker.
His attention was so focused on the orc before him that he did not notice the orc coming up behind him holding a rusty axe overhead to break Aragorn's skull. As the blade was being brought down, he finally was able to defeat the large orc in front of him with a stab to the side and a final slash that decapitated him. He turned suddenly, catching the movement behind him. Before he could register what had happened, the axe finally came down, only Aragorn was not touched. Blonde hair flashed in front of his eyes as a weight leaned against his chest…
…Legolas, with a last burst of energy, launched himself in the orc's path with both knives drawn. He would not allow his friend to die so easily, especially by being stabbed in the back, so to speak. With both knives crossed, he caught the axe just before it reached his friend. His injured body almost refused to hold the weight causing him to lean heavily against the body behind him. With Aragorn's support, he was able to successfully fend off the attack and push the orc back before collapsing to the ground. Aragorn quickly took his sword and ran the orc through without a second thought.
Finally the battle was done. Bodies littered the ground, black blood shining in the light of the moon. Aragorn looked around in disgust, his thoughts racing, barely comprehending everything that had just happened. His gasping friend brought his mind back to reality.
"Legolas, mellon nin," Aragorn cried desperately as he knelt down holding his friend's body in his arms. Blood from his back streamed down Aragorn's supporting hand. The arrow was broken, as the man's fingers ran across the splintered wood. It must have broken when he fell against his chest defending him.
"Estel…" Legolas could barely speak as his breathing grew shallower and shallower. Blood began to seep from the corner of his mouth as the elf coughed. It was obvious that the damage was fatal and that even an elf could not escape death. His body was slowly shutting down.
"Legolas, no! Do not leave me here. You cannot. I will never forgive you if you do." Tears ran down Aragorn's cheeks as he tried desperately to staunch the flow of blood from his friend's back just to feel it continue to slip through his fingers. As skilled a healer as he was, he could not save him. "Lasto beth nin! I will take you to my father. He will heal you and you will be as good as new; you'll see. He can heal anything. Just think of the adventures…" Aragorn's voice broke in desperation as he thought of this being his friend's last adventure. It tore out his heart to know that this was it. As many adventures as they've had, as many scrapes as they had gotten into and escaped from, this was the end. So simple…no glorious death in war fighting for a cause…just a simple hunting trip that went wrong…It was not right!
"No…adventures…for me," Legolas rasped, a small hint of a smile on his face. Pain filled eyes laid on the man before him. "Please…mellon…live…s-smile…laugh…f-for-forg-" The last word was interpreted by a violent coughing fit, but Aragorn knew he meant 'forgive'.
"Saes, saes…" Desperation laced Aragorn's soft, heartbroken voice.
With those last words, Legolas' eyes lost all focus as the life within them faded. The breathing came to an end and the broken body lay still. Aragorn could do nothing but stare at the lifeless eyes. He was completely in shock. Besides a few tears, he could not cry. He did not care anymore as his heart was broken and his soul mourned for the piece that was lost…
…He did not know how long he sat there or what happened afterward, but Aragorn's next conscious memory was riding slowly on his horse with Legolas in front of him. They were slowly entering Rivendell when two twin elves came running towards them, worried about the condition of the two friends who always seemed to find trouble. Their faces fell when they saw the condition of the elf and the unexpressed pain in the man's eyes. They stopped in their tracks as they finally understood what happened though unbelievable as it seemed to be.
Elrohir composed himself first, walking over to his brother's horse and bringing it to a halt. Quietly, he moved to lift Legolas' body from the horse. However, Aragorn's arm refused to release the blonde elf from his custody.
"No..." came a soft, almost inaudible voice. "Do not take him...do not take him away. He needs me. I have to save him..." Aragorn's eyes looked lost as they pleaded with the raven haired elf before him. He looked like a lost soul desperately searching for a reason...a reason for death...a reason for everything.
"Let me take him, Estel. He does not need..." Elrohir was going to say, 'he does not need your saving anymore', but the words sounded too cruel. Instead, he whispered, "You already saved him. You can do no more."
He was surprised at how easy it was as his brother did not put up a fight at all. Worry was etched in his face at Aragorn's sudden unresponsiveness. The man just sat there, head bowed in pain and guilt, as he allowed the dark haired elf to take the body of his best friend. Elrohir was going to say something when his twin came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder. Understanding the silent words, Elrohir walked away, carrying Legolas' body.
Elladan mutely walked over to his brother who had yet to move from the horse. He placed a gentle hand on his brother's knee trying to offer support while bringing his brother back to reality. Aragorn barely looked up as he slowly dismounted from the horse. His shaking legs were barely able to support his weight, and it was only a matter of moments before he collapsed into his brother's arms, welcoming the dark escape…
The memories of that day ran through Aragorn's mind over and over again. Each night, he relived those last moments, as he sat staring off into space in that same clearing where that horrible incident occurred. This was his escape from reality. In this spot he could see his friend again and remind himself of his own guilt. Maybe it was punishment for what he did to the elf. Maybe it was just his way of staying close to his friend. In any case, Aragorn refused sleep so that he could come here, because in his mind, his need for sleep was what caused his friend's death in the first place.
A few days after his father's offer, Elladan and Elrohir along with a few other elves, departed from Rivendell on their planned hunting trip. Before leaving that morning, the two twin brothers made a special point to bid their brother goodbye. After all, he would undoubtedly avoid them and retreat even further into himself. When they were sure that Aragorn listened to them, they sought out their father intent on securing their brother's safety.
"Ada, we will be leaving shortly," Elladan stated, amusing his father greatly.
"And why, my son, would you have to personally find me to say goodbye. You know that I would never miss sending you both off."
"Ada," Elrohir began. He looked at his twin once more before continuing as if trying to reassure himself that what he was about to say was not an overreaction. "I know that Legolas has only been gone a few months, and I understand the feeling of loss for even pleasant memories haunt me as they only serve to show me what will forever be missing…" Elrohir trailed off as though succumbing to his own thoughts of despair.
"I know. His death has affected us all deeply," Elrond said softly with a deep sorrow in his voice that was almost unbearable to hear. Being a father, he often became overly protective of anyone left in his charge, as was evident in his ease at becoming Aragorn's surrogate father. He had known Legolas since he was an elfling, and because of this, he felt as though he had lost his own child that mournful day. He could easily sympathize with the late elf's father who after the funeral and initial shock, took to retreating within his kingdom, refusing any unnecessary conversation or contact with anyone. In his heart, Elrond knew that he would not soon be free of his grief. The only thing he, himself, could do was continue to live, for the world did not stop for anyone, as he unfortunately learned in his long life.
"Ada?" Elladan asked concerned at his father's blank expression.
"I am sorry. I was just remembering," Elrond said as he waved away his sons' worries.
"We are worried about Estel. He needs help, and I do not think we can give it to him. I don't think we can save him this time," Elladan stated sadly. Silence enveloped the room as all three elves truly felt the impact of those words. Elrond broke it first.
"Estel is still grieving. He does not understand why his friend was taken from, especially an immortal. His whole world has been shattered. We cannot make him well until he accepts our aid," Elrond said this without looking at either of his sons. Instead, his eyes were locked on his desk as though he was trying to convince himself that time would truly heal his son's wounds.
"What do we do in the mean time?" Elrohir asked not at all liking his father's answer.
"We wait. He will come to us. And when he does, we will pick up the pieces," Elrond said with more confidence. Accepting their father's judgment, Elladan and Elrohir left the room in resignation not wanting to wait but knowing they had no other choice. However, they did not know that this hunting trip was the opportunity Elrond was waiting for to finally talk seriously with his son.