My deepest apologies to all, that I have kept you waiting so long for the final chapter is unacceptable. I have simply been overwhelmed with transferring schools as well as finding a job and unfortunately some things had to be placed on the back burner. Its just a short sweet little wrap up, but I hope you feel that it was worth the wait.

Part 16

Where Darkness Lives So Too Does Hope

"He should be well…" Gandalf said with a smile as he tightened the girth on his horse's saddle.

"You are sure you must leave us so soon, Mithrandir?" Elrond questioned as the wizard mounted his bay mare. The elf lord could not help but smile as the old wizard stuffed his grey brimmed hat on his head.

"Oh, I shall return, and it will be sooner than you think, my good Elrond." Elrond cocked an eyebrow at the response.

"Just give Estel a few months of rest, he has been through enough. Your 'adventures' will have to wait, especially after the last mishap, that you dragged him home from. And wizard, I never have forgiven you for instilling in him that dirty habit of smoking! " Gandalf laughed at the elder elf.

"So ready to accuse me? Humans, as I am sure that you have already found out, are very… curious." Elrond shook his head. "Farewell, my friend." Gandalf swiftly changed the subject.

"Yes, Farewell. Be safe Mithrandir, I have a feeling this is not the last time you will be called upon to heal Estel."

"Indeed," Gandalf nodded and spurred his horse out into the forests. On the wind, the elf lord caught a faint call… "Bed rest, master Elrond, lots and lots of bed rest…for the both of you!" Elrond smiled, it was easier said then done.

Aragorn had not moved in his sleep for the majority of the day. He had contracted a slight fever after being healed, but it had been no match for the healing skills of Lord Elrond, who managed to quell the affliction. The wizard had been right he needed rest. Legolas spent hours mothering the human, despite the Elf Lord calmly explaining to the prince that Estel just needed time to cope. Elrond, however, soon gave up his lecturing and eventually had each of Legolas' meals sent up to Aragorn's room. The Mirkwood prince kept vigil there for two days, his only reward being a finger twitch every now and then.

Finally, something inside Legolas snapped.

"Ranger, I can't take this anymore. Get up, or I will make you get up!" Legolas was nearly shouting. He could take the silent waiting no longer.

"Aragorn, you are so stubborn! Just open your eyes and let me know you are in there! I swear, if you do, I will clean your sword, fletch you new arrows… I'll even polish your saddle…"

"I never thought I'd ever hear those words from your mouth, my prissy elvish prince. I will most definitely have to take you up on that offer." Aragorn smiled sheepishly up at the elf, who had nearly fallen from his chair. The prince had never expected to hear a reply, but he was glad he did. Legolas would have punched the human if he had not seen the dark circles, and pale skin that the ranger now bore. Remnants of restless sleep and haunted dreams.

"Aragorn, you need to eat…" Legolas rose from the chair to retrieve a tray of food, but the ranger quickly grasped the elf's arm. Aragorn pushed the sleeve up as best he could with his broken hand revealing a fresh white bandage.

"It is nothing, don't worry, I am fine. You should be more concerned with your arm, Lord Elrond will want to reset it soon." The ranger's eyes grew stern.

"Don't change the subject. I know I did that, Legolas… I am so sorry." Aragorn whispered fiercely. He was so ashamed, so embarrassed at his weakness. "If I had of fought it harder, none of this would have happened… Oh Valar, how is my father. What have I done?" Aragorn begged the elf with tear filled eyes for the answers that he desperately sought but feared more than death.

"He is fine Estel. I am fine, and no one holds you at fault for what happened. It was out of your control. I understand…and your father understands as well." Legolas stated in an affirmed tone. His friend did not need guilt to impede his healing as well, and the prince would not have Aragorn torturing himself for something that he never meant to happen in the first place. Aragorn nodded, and Legolas again rose. After giving the tray to the human he turned toward the door. The man looked confused.

"I am going to get you father, Aragorn. You arm needs to be reset." The ranger paled after the elf left the room… more pain.

"Tell me again, why you didn't see fit to do this while I was unconscious." Aragorn ground out. He grit his teeth as Elrond gently probed the break.

"Estel, I was afraid that you would not be ready to deal mentally with the pain. You mind was so fragile." The elf lord stopped what he was doing and looked into the pained silver eyes.

"Ada, I am so sorry for what I did to you… I never meant…" Elrond pulled his son into a gentle embrace.

"Aragorn, I have not and never will place any blame on you for what has happened." Elrond pulled away and smiled, "It was just your bad luck. I think it is starting to rub off on all of us."

"Ada, if you weren't going to be setting my arm in a few minutes…" Aragorn laughed, and it warmed the elf's heart that his youngest was once again happy. He handed Aragorn some herbs to chew for the pain and waited a few minutes before calling Legolas, who had stepped outside to give the two some privacy.

"How are you feeling, Estel?" Elrond asked and the human looked back nervously.

"My arm feels a little numb." The ranger admitted, knowing that the façade would soon disappear as soon as his father started his work.

"This is going to hurt, but that is the best I can do for the pain. Are you ready."

"No," Aragorn ground out, as he clenched his teeth and set his jaw. "Just get it over with." Aragorn shifted forward, so Legolas could sit behind him. The elf wrapped his arms around the ranger and held him tightly against his chest. Elrond grasped his foster son's broken arm, and he began slowly working the bones back into their proper place.

The cry of pain that tore from Aragorn throat was loud enough to wake the dead. He pulled against Legolas, who only held tighter, despite the humans thrashing. Aragorn could feel the bones in his arm as they ground against each other and finally slid into place. The ranger grunted in pain and tightly shut his eyes, preventing the tears of pain that had welled up from falling. Finally after what seemed like an eternity of silence, he found his voice.

"That is two times I have had to endure this pain, the next person that comes near my arm will soon find themselves in the same predicament." He threatened causing the two elves to smile.

"Aragorn, these empty threats do not become you." Legolas jested quickly evacuating his position on the bed, and relocating to a chair well out of the ranger's reach.

"Dance away while you can, I do believe my saddle is in need of polishing, my prince!" Aragorn laughed as the elf's face fell. Elrond simply stood and suppressed a chuckle as he left the room. Those two were going to be the death of him.

"That promise I made… It was never meant for your ears… I was just…FINE!" Legolas gave up. He had been trapped. "Anything else, my lord?"

"No that will be all… what was your name again?" Aragorn feigned forgetfulness and nearly fell off the other side of the bed as the prince lunged at him. But he never hit the ground as Legolas' strong grip held onto the human's good arm.

"I am so glad you are back, mellon nin." Legolas whispered as he pulled Aragorn into a hug.

"So am I, Legolas, so am I." Aragorn replied as the elf pulled away, but a sly smile graced his lips. "Now get out of here, you have a lot of work to do!"

"Aragorn… get some rest my friend." Legolas smiled as he quietly left the room. The ranger smiled as he settled deeper under the covers, he was home.

As always I hope you enjoyed reading this chapter as well as the whole story. I will be taking a small break from LOTR ficts, the next will most likely be a batman begins torture angst fict, but who knows... you will just have to wait and see :). Once again thank you for your unending patience, your encouraging reviews, and your fantastic imaginations, they are what really help make these stories come alive. Best Wishes to all my readers... RangerAragorn44