Title: Alone in the dark

Warning: Violence, don't eat while reading.

Rating: T

Disclaimer: Not mine. Just playing with them.

Summary: Legolas and Aragorn are not only caught by orcs, but held in a small, dark cave. Can they survive this ordeal?

A/N: Aragorn is maybe 20 in this story. Futhermore, this is a re-post. I had posted this story a while ago but then decided quickly to delete it. Here is now the re-post. I have not changed the story, merely deleted some mistakes. Please note that the story is not beta-ed and that English is not my native tongue.

The darkness of the cave was too absolute, the silence too still. A shuddered breath left his cracked lips, followed quickly by a sob that he could not suppress. Reaching out with bloody hands, he slid down the rough stone wall, unable to hold his weight on shivering legs any longer. Another sob escaped him, overshadowing the sound his body made when he hit the stony ground. He could not breathe, he could not think, he was lost in the darkness, alone.

He drew his knees to his body and wrapped his arms around them, trembling. The coldness settled in his bones with crushing pain, and once more the silence of the cave pressed on his ears. When the first tear rolled down his dirty cheeks, he bedded his head on his knees, letting them flow freely in the darkness. The darkness made him weaker, made him loose hope, but the darkness was not the worst. He could fight against the darkness. It was the silence that beat him. This silence that told him only too clearly that he was alone now. They had taken him away from him, and he had not been able to stop them. They had killed him. And soon, they would come to take him, too.

(what seemed like an eternity prior to these events)

"In there with you, maggots." The orcs howled and cheered, shoving Legolas through the small tunnels of the orcs' lair in the western side of the Misty Mountains. The walls were rough and black, and whenever Legolas was thrown against them, he cut his clothing and arms on the rocks, leaving a trail of elvish blood behind, a macabre sign of his passing. The deeper they ventured inside the tunnel system, the darker it became. Only one of the foul beasts carried a torch, but the orcs had no problem seeing in the dark, and neither had Legolas.

But he knew that his companion had, and Legolas feared for the young ranger who was dragged into the tunnels behind him. The orcs cheered and snarled at the young man, calling him names and telling him what they would do to him. It made Legolas's blood boil and freeze at the same time in fear for his friend. And whenever he heard the sound of his friend stumbling in the dark and falling to the ground, his heart constricted in sympathy and concern.

Before long, the orcs that had grabbed his arms on both sides gave him a strong push, which propelled him inside a small cave, a few feet deep and not high enough to stand. He fell to his knees heavily, scraping them at the rough stone. But in the same moment he turned around quickly, for he knew that Aragorn would undergo the same treatment. The next moment, the young ranger was practically thrown through the small opening, just as Legolas had expected. He felt the weight of the man slam against him, toppling them both to the ground. The orcs howled with glee and laughter.

"Sweet dreams." One of them said, before he spit on the ground at their feet. A crude looking but very stable iron door was shut, and they were left alone in the darkness. The heavy footsteps of the orcs vanished, and when all was silent, they finally dared to move. Aragorn rolled down from Legolas, releasing a shuddering breath. Legolas could see him blink a few times as if he tried to clear his vision, and he wondered whether the man had taken a blow to the head in the fight in which they had been captured.

"Strider, are you alright?" He asked softly, feeling his own skin crawl, so close to the presence of the orcs. And if he was honest, his voice was not as steady as he would have wished it to be.

Aragorn nodded, turning his face into the direction of Legolas's voice. "I'm fine." He said, a bit shaky. "How about you?" Aragorn asked, wriggling his wrists to test the bonds with which his arms had been bound behind his back.

"Fine, I'm fine." Legolas lied, testing his bonds as well. The rope might have been old, but the knots held, much to his chagrin. Sighing, he looked around in the dark. Although he was an elf and had therefore better eyesight than the young ranger, he could not see much. The darkness in the cave was absolute, and even if they would have had a torch, Legolas quickly found that there was nothing to see. The cave they were in was small, with neither cracks in the ceiling nor any other visible features.

A shuffling beside him made Legolas redirect his focus on the young ranger. He watched as Aragorn shifted again, grimacing slightly. With a small sigh the man shuffled backwards until his back hit one of the walls, stretching out his legs before him with another grimace. Although Legolas was not sure in the dark, he meant to see a darker spot on Aragorn's leg. Concerned, he scooted closer.

"Strider? Where you injured in the fight?"

Again the man turned his face into his direction, but Legolas knew he could not make out his face in the dark. Huge eyes looked straight through him, and Aragorn reminded Legolas of a lost child. "Not seriously. The orcs wanted to capture us, not kill us."

"Not seriously?" Legolas asked skeptically. They had been on their way to Imladris and had left the Misty Mountains almost behind them, when they had been attacked by a large band of orcs in the night. The fight had been brutal, but quick. Although the two friends had slain many a foe, in the end the sheer mass of orcs had overwhelmed them. In Legolas opinion it was a miracle that they were both still alive at all.

"Does it matter?" Aragorn asked dejectedly, letting his head rest against the wall in his back. "Let us face it, Legolas. We are caught by orcs, and they will do with us as they please."

Scooting closer to the man, Legolas let himself sink down beside him, so that their shoulders touched. "Someone will find us. Your family will worry when we do not reach Imladris." He tried to make his voice sound optimistic, although deep inside he already knew that there would most likely be no escape this time. To his surprise, the man snorted softly beside him and commented with a small ironic laugh.

"Can you imagine the lecture we would receive would my brothers ever find out about this?"

Knowing that the man did not really expect an answer, Legolas gave none. Instead, he shifted closer towards the young ranger, hoping to give him some warmth and hope simply by being there beside him. It was silent for a few minutes, with nothing to hear but their soft breathing. Then suddenly, Legolas heard a soft whisper in the darkness, "Legolas? I'm scared."

"Avo osto, Estel." (Have no fear). Legolas said equally as softly. "Your brothers will find us. As long as we stay together and stay strong, nothing these beasts can do can hurt us. I promise."

Oh, but hurt them they did. They came in the night, for in the cave, where no light reached, there reigned an eternal night, a darkness so absolute that Legolas felt his own elvish glow diminish steadily, being sucked away by sheer blackness. When the footsteps neared the door, Legolas shook Aragorn awake, who had fallen asleep despite his fear and worry. A key rattled in the lock, and when the door was shoved open, the flickering glow of a torch filled the small cave. At first, they took Legolas with them.

He did not resist, knowing that it would be fruitless. He would need his strength to survive whatever it was they had planned for him. And although his heart beat wildly in his chest and his hands became clammy, he turned around, looked at Aragorn and gave him a small smile. If it was the last time he saw the young ranger, then he did not want the man to remember him beaten and defeated.

But it was not the last time he saw him. When the cheering of the orcs died down, when he felt his legs give out under him and his vision turn slowly darker, Legolas knew that he would see Aragorn again. He was taken from the wall where he had been hooked up and brought back to the small cell. His legs dragged across the floor, for he could not get his feet under him, and when he was thrown inside the cave and the floor rushed up to meet him, he knew that it was not over yet, not for a long time. And for the first time since they had been captured, Legolas felt a small pang of fear. And then, the felt nothing at all.

When he woke up, still caught in the darkness, the first thing he became aware of was the soft voice that murmured soothing words to him. Rolling over and cringing at the pain in his chest his broken ribs caused him, Legolas gazed around. His movements caused the voice to stop, and a moment later Legolas felt someone scoot closer.

"Legolas? Legolas, are you awake?" Aragorn asked, his voice barely above a whisper, as if the silence of the cave forced him to speak softly.

"Aye, I'm awake now." His chest hurt, making his voice quiver slightly, and Legolas sank back to the ground tiredly. The orcs had not been kind to him, but not that bad either. They had played with him, toyed with him. There had been no intention to kill him. Not yet.

"How do you feel? Are you hurt badly? I could not examine you properly in this cursed darkness." Concern swung in the question, and Legolas had to smile. Here the two of them were, caught by orcs and Aragorn was asking with true sincerity if he was hurt badly. Smiling beside the pain, Legolas shook his head, "Nay, do not worry Estel. I am not hurt that badly." When the worst of the pain in his chest died down, Legolas got on his hands and knees and moved over to sit beside the young ranger. Aragorn's hands were still tied behind his back, and so Legolas began to remove the bonds as gently as he could. And then, they sat in the darkness and waited. Aragorn did not ask his friend what the orcs had done to him, and Legolas did not tell.

The next time, they came to take Aragorn with them. Despite his resolution to not fight them when they came, Aragorn could not help but struggle against the hands that clawed at him. Legolas saw how he tried to free himself from the orcs' grips, but the foul beasts simply kicked his feet out from under him, twisted his arms on his back and dragged him away into the darkness. And Legolas watched helplessly, unable to do anything. Swallowing, he sat down on the cold ground and waited.

He did not have to wait long. He knew that the cave the orcs used to torture them was close, for he had been brought there, too. But either the cave was closer than he had thought, or Aragorn had stronger lungs than he had ever thought possible. When the first screams echoed around the small prison cave, Legolas jumped to his feet, banged his fists against the door, and screamed at the top of his lungs at them to stop. But they did not. The cheers of the orcs followed each of Aragorn's pained screams, and when Legolas thought he could face it no longer, the screams stopped.

For a few long moments, Legolas was sure his heart would simply stop moving, but when he heard the orcs move towards the cave, obviously dragging something between them, it resumed beating with double speed. The door swung open, torchlight blinded him for a moment, he heard something soft being dropped and then the door closed again, bathing him in darkness.

He was faster on his knees than he had ever thought possible, sinking down beside the young ranger. One look at the torn shirt, the bloody clothing, and Legolas felt his insides revolt. Turning the man around softly so that he was lying on his back, Legolas cringed in sympathy when he saw the bruises already forming on Aragorn's face. Wiping away a small trickle of blood from a cut on the man's cheek, Legolas whispered softly, "I am so sorry, Estel." And then, he leaned back at the wall, holding the man's unconscious body close. Soon, the copper smell of blood filled the small cell.

Days passed. Sometimes, they came for them both, and sometimes they only came to taunt them. Then they would rattle with the key or open the door, laughing at them and pretending to take one of them away to the other cave. When they left, Aragorn and Legolas would sink down again, shaken, but unbelievable glad that they were still there, still together.

Maybe the waiting was the worst. When would they come again? Who would be next? They had not spoken about what happened when they were gone, their wounds spoke their own language. Neither had they acknowledged to each other that they were always grateful when they were picked and not the other. Yes, the waiting was worse than the beating, the whipping and the pain. To wait in the darkness, listening to the pain of the other, not knowing whether the stillness at the end meant that they were now truly alone, that was the worst.

Sometimes, the orcs would give them some stale water and some crumbs of hard bread, but none of them ate anything. More than once Legolas tried to get Aragorn to eat, but the man refused. With nothing but darkness to see, they could not tell how many days passed, but from the stubble forming on Aragorn's chin, they knew that it had been many days already.

And then, they came again to take Aragorn with them. He had long ago stopped to struggle when they came, saving his strength for what was to come. This time, it was bad. In the prison cell, Legolas felt the minutes pass by, and with every chocked scream he heard, he felt his own body jerk reflexively. Legolas never screamed when he was with the orcs, not willing to give them that satisfaction, and he knew they hated him even more for it. He also knew that for Aragorn, screaming in pain was not a sign of weakness in the face of the enemy, but the only way to get through the pain and the fear, to channel them and give some of it away. And Legolas was glad that his friend had found a way to deal with the pain. And still, he wished that Aragorn would not scream so loudly, for it hurt…and it hurt deeply.

When the screams died down abruptly, Legolas sighed shakily, waiting for the usual shuffling in the tunnel, signaling him the return of his friend. It did not come. He waited, straining his ears, but there was nothing. No shuffling, no grumbling from the orcs who complained about having to drag the ranger back to the cell. Feeling his heart beat frantically in his chest, Legolas stared at the door. Where were the sounds he was so familiar with by now?

Moments passed by, nothing happened. This could not be true, this could not have happened. Legolas repeated in his head over and over, not willing to accept the only explanation he had for the silence. Surely the orcs had not gone so far…they could not have tired of them yet, could they? They had not killed Estel…they had not…

And then, he laughed shakily in utter relief when the sounds of shuffling reached his ears. He was not alone yet, he would not be alone in the dark with nothing but death to await him. Sinking back, Legolas waited, until the door to the cell was thrown open and Aragorn was flung inside. The door shut again with a metallic clang, more shuffling and cheering, then silence and darkness. But, he was not alone, as long as he was not alone in here, nothing could hurt him.

When he awoke hours later, Aragorn did not tell Legolas what the orcs had done to him, but there was no need to. The shirt the ranger had worn was gone, and instead deep lacerations covered his back and shoulders, oozing blood sluggishly. More dried blood plastered the young ranger's hair to his skull, but without any water or pieces of clothing, there was nothing they could do to help him, for Legolas had lost his shirt days ago.

After the beatings, the hunger and thirst came. It was nothing that announced itself with shuffling in the tunnels or cheering, but it came silent and invisible. The hunger was not the worst. After a few days without food, their stomachs got used to the lack of food, and stopped complaining. But the thirst was bad. The blood they lost during the beatings made their bodies scream for water, for something to replace the blood, but the orcs never gave them enough, never enough. As an elf, Legolas did not need as much liquid as Aragorn, and so he gave the young ranger as much of the precious water as he could. But when the fever set in in the young mortal's body, not even that could help him any longer.

"Estel, please, drink this." Legolas tried again to coax some of the muddy water into Estel, but the man simply shook his head, too tired to answer. The whiplashes on his back had become inflamed, as well as most of the other injuries he had sustained, and the lack of food and water was wearing him down, while the constant darkness gnawed at his spirits.

"It is the only water we have, Estel, and I do not know when they will give us more. Please, drink this." Legolas tried again. He knew that even if his friend drank the water, it would do little good, but it was all he could do to help. His own injuries burned and itched, and he knew that it was simply a matter of time before they would become infected, too, elvish blood yes or no.

"I'm tired, Legolas." Aragorn mumbled softly, never opening his eyes. He had not opened them in a long time, Legolas knew. But truly, what was there for the young man to see but darkness all around him?

"Then drink this and I will let you sleep, Estel." An attempt at blackmailing, but if it worked, Legolas would be more than happy. A sigh reached his ears, slow and deep, but then Aragorn turned around and weakly reached out his arm to take the cup from Legolas.

Placing the cup into Aragorn's hand that was bloody from his own blood, Legolas helped him to drink, for the ranger's hands shook so hard that he could not hold the cup. After that, Aragorn lay down again without another word and fell asleep, leaving Legolas alone with his thoughts. And when the orcs came the next time to get one of them, Legolas was inwardly glad to escape the silence of the cave, even if only temporarily.

More days passed, filled with more pain and suffering. The orcs had not yet tired of them, oh no. But when they came and took Aragorn from the cell, Legolas did no longer fear to hear his screams. Aragorn was long past screaming, not having the strength anymore. When he was gone, Legolas counted the seconds, hoping to hear the familiar sound of orc feet dragging the young man down the tunnel, of the key being rattled in the door. And when they came to get him, he hoped that Estel would hear the same sounds when they brought his beaten body back to the small cave.

One day, the door opened to reveal a smaller orc, with ugly teeth and yellow eyes. More were with him, somewhere in the darkness. They gloated at them and hurled insults, but Legolas barely heard them. Aragorn lay in his arms, asleep or unconscious, Legolas could not tell. They had brought him back some hours ago, and he had not stirred yet. No wonder, Legolas thought, trying to avoid looking at the scorched skin on the man's belly and chest. The orcs had been cruel. They slowly lost the fun at the game they played.

When Legolas did not even raise his head at the screeching orcs, instead resumed to stroke the hair out of Aragorn's too pale face, the orcs threw something at his feet, something that smelled horrible and made Legolas's stomach churn violently. He did not look, he did not want to listen, but some of the orcs' words sunk in.

"There, maggots. Food for ye!" And then the door was shut again, letting the darkness return.

Legolas did not move until he was certain that he orcs were gone. Then, he gently placed Aragorn on the cold ground, feeling his own wounds protest the movement. The long hours of sitting still and unmoving in the cold had made his muscles stiff. He crawled over the stone floor, unheeding of the smaller scratches he received. His fingers and hands were numb to pain by now, his fingers strained or broken by the orcs. Elven archers were hated the most, Legolas knew that for certain now.

His hand hovered over the object the orc had thrown inside. The smell from the thing reminded him too much of the smell he had scented when they had brought Aragorn back; burned hair and flesh. But then he reached down and touched the thing. He lifted it on front of his eyes to see better, and when his brain interpreted the information his eyes send it, he pressed a hand on his mouth and swallowed thickly. There in his hand he held a roasted rat on a stick, with snout, legs, tail and all. The fur still smoked slightly.

Disgusted, Legolas had the impulse to throw the rat into a corner of the small cave, but then he closed his eyes briefly and returned to his place at the wall. Elves could go without food many days, but humans could not. Aragorn woke a few hours later, in pain and weak. He did not speak much, his breath rattling in his lungs. The fever still burned brightly inside his body.

"Estel? Are you awake?" Legolas asked softly, stroking some of the dark hair out of Aragorn's eyes.

"Yes." Aragorn said softly, his voice rough and scratchy from lack of use and water.

"Here, open your mouth." Without thinking too much about what he was doing, Legolas pried a piece of roasted flesh from the rat, holding it in front of the young ranger's mouth. "You have to eat something."

Wrinkling his nose, Aragorn turned his head away. "What is this? I'm not hungry, Legolas."

"You have to eat, you need the strength, mellon nin." Legolas tried again, still holding the piece of food in front of Aragorn's mouth. He knew that the man was not totally coherent; the fever and pain had weakened him too much.

Aragorn opened his eyes and blinked a few times, frowning when he could see absolutely nothing. "What is this you have there, Legolas?"

"Food. Please eat something, Estel." Keeping his voice gentle, Legolas tried to cover his disgust for what he was doing, but Aragorn had to eat something. The man had lost a lot of weight already, and Legolas did not know how long a human body could go without food in such circumstances.

"Have you eaten already, Legolas?" The question cut into Legolas's heart like a dagger into butter, and he swallowed thickly. How came it that after all that had happened to him, Aragorn was still concerned about his own wellbeing?

"Aye, my friend, I have." He lied, then brought the piece of roasted flesh to Aragorn's lips. The man hesitated, and so Legolas pushed the flesh past the man's lips and placed it into his mouth. Aragorn swallowed without chewing, and he did not ask what it was he was eating. Maybe he suspected, maybe he knew. When he had eaten all he could, he sank back against Legolas's chest, falling asleep quickly. And Legolas threw the rest of the rat as far away from him as he could, holding back a sob. The rat smashed against the opposite wall and fell to the floor, not two feet away from them.

When they came for the next time, Legolas placed Aragorn on the ground. The man had fallen into an uneasy, fever induced sleep, from which he would rouse only to mumble incoherently. It hurt Legolas that he could do nothing to help his friend, and with every day that passed, his hope that they would be found diminished. Who would look here for them? And if they did, would it be in time? But this time, they did not come for Aragorn. No, they came to get him. Legolas did not resist the claws that grabbed him, but he threw one last look over his shoulder at Aragorn, hoping that he would see him again.

This time, he screamed. As loud and as long as he could. The orcs were cruel and knew no pity. He felt their knives slice into his flesh, he felt his warm blood run down his arms, and he actually felt it when his hip was ripped out of the socked, sending such an intense pain through his body that he thought he would throw up. He knew that his defiance, his refusal to scream was only making the orcs angrier. But that was not the reason he let it all go now. It was the fact that there was no one to hear him. And maybe, maybe he could vent some of his pain and worry and fear. And in a way, it helped.

He woke up in the darkness of the cave, feeling cold and shivering. His body was one big source of pain, one huge bruise. He tried to move, but he could not, for his leg would not cooperate and his hip screamed at him in agony. Suddenly, he felt hands on him, holding him, and he struggled, thinking it to be the orcs.

"Sh, Legolas, don't move. You'll only hurt yourself, mellon nin." It was Aragorn's voice, scratchy and painful to even listen to, but it was there. Legolas felt himself being shifted against something soft, then warm fingers against his cheek. "Sleep, Legolas." Blinking against the darkness, Legolas could see Aragorn's face looming above him, eyes closed and skin pale, but the man was coherent enough to hold Legolas against his chest so that he would not lay on the cold ground. Thankful that he was not alone in the darkness, Legolas closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Legolas did not know how much times passed, but then they came again. The shuffling on the ground in the tunnel, the flickering light of the candle. By now, Aragorn was too weak to even get up, and so they dragged him from the cave, cursing him and his human weakness. Aragorn gifted Legolas with a small smile before he was dragged away into the darkness.

Soft screams echoed down the tunnel, almost too soft for Legolas to hear. And then, after what seemed too short a time, they stopped. Sitting in the darkness, Legolas waited for the shuffling and dragging sounds, but they did not come. With a pounding heart he waited, remembering the last time it had taken so long for his friend to be brought back. In his head, he silently counted the seconds. They turned into minutes, and no sound reached his ears but his raged breathing.

Legolas climbed to his knees, then his feet, ducking his head so that he would not hit the low ceiling. His dirty fingers searched for the door, his hands balling into fists and hitting softly against the metal. A low sob escaped his lips, and he hit the door weakly. "No, please no." It was but a whisper and there was no one there to hear him.

The darkness of the cave was too absolute, the silence too still. A shuddering breath left his cracked lips, followed quickly by a sob that he could not suppress. Reaching out with bloody hands, he slid down the rough stone wall, unable to hold his weight on shivering legs any longer. Another sob escaped him, overshadowing the sound his body made when he hit the stony ground. He could not breathe, he could not think, he was lost in the darkness.

He drew his knees to his body and wrapped his arms around them, trembling. The coldness settled in his bones with crushing pain, and once more the silence of the cave pressed on his ears. When the first tear rolled down his dirty cheeks, he bedded his head on his knees, letting them flow freely in the darkness. The darkness made him weaker, made him loose hope, but the darkness was not the worst. He could fight against the darkness. It was the silence that beat him. They had taken Aragorn away from him, and he had not been able to stop them. They had killed him. And soon, they would come to take him, too. And then he knew that he was now truly alone in the dark.

He waited in the dark, unable and unwilling to find the will to fight. He knew, when they came for the next time, he would not go back to this cave. But they did not come for him that day. And not the next day.

Legolas was ripped out of an uneasy sleep by shuffling sounds in the tunnel. Wiping his hands across his cheeks, Legolas lifted his aching body into a sitting position. He was ready. The sounds came closer to the door, so familiar. The key rattled in the lock, and then the door was thrust open. But behind it there was no darkness, but bright torchlight. Too bright for eyes that were used to the darkness the orcs loved so much.

Flinching, Legolas lifted his arm in front of his face, turning away from the light that streamed into the cave. Then, someone shouted something, and the next moment he felt himself being engulfed in an embrace. Confused, Legolas looked at the someone, only to realize that it was one of the twins. He could not make out which one, for his eyes were watering, but he was sure that it was one of the sons of Elrond.

"Legolas! By the Valar, we thought you were dead." The twin said, letting go of him. Blinking against the light of the torch, Legolas glanced at the door. He could see some more elves in the garb of the warriors of Imladris, and behind them some dead orcs lay in the tunnel.

Through lips cracked from lack of water, Legolas said slowly, "You came, you found us."

"Aye, we found you, Legolas." The twin said, glancing quickly around the small cave. Now in the light of the torches, Legolas could see the dried blood stains on walls and ground, and the remnants of the rat that he had tossed away. The flesh of the dead animal was covered in a greenish fungus. The sight made his stomach churn violently, and he closed his eyes until it had passed.

The twin placed a hand on his shoulder, "Legolas, where is Estel?"

Alone in the dark. He was alone in the dark and Legolas knew that even though he was found now, rescued by warriors that had been sent out to search for them when they had failed to reach Imladris, he would not see the light again the way he had done before all this had happened. Swallowing thickly, he locked his eyes with the twin, a part of his brain recognizing him as Elladan, "They did not bring him back the last time. He is not here."

"Legolas, what do you mean?" There was worry in Elladan's voice, worry and fear.

"He is gone." Legolas said softly, before he buried his face in his hands, shutting out the light to be alone in the dark again. There were sounds around him, orders to search the whole tunnel system were given. Movement told him that the elves spread out to search for the young ranger. He did not understand why they looked for him. Aragorn was alone in the dark, as was he.

Strong arms lifted him and carried him out of the small cave, up the tunnel, making the familiar shuffling noises although they were elves. They brought him to the mouth of the cave, where the stench of the orcs was not that strong, where he could have seen the stars had he looked. But he did not. His wounds were treated and he was given water and food. And with the worried eyes of the elves on him, he fell asleep, knowing that he would wake up in darkness.

Whispers woke him, rising into louder murmurs while he listened. Then shouts and yells. Slowly, Legolas opened his eyes, turned his head into the direction the shouts came from and tried to make out what it was all about. The warriors of Imladris blocked his view from the tunnel that led to the lower parts of the cave system. But then they parted, revealing Elladan and Elrohir. The older of the two carried something in his arms, wrapped in a cloak. Then, one pale and bloody arm fell from the bundle, and Legolas knew that they had found Aragorn.

He closed his eyes again. Had he not told them that he was gone? But to his confusion, the murmurs did not die down, but grew in intensity. Orders were given and a strange activity filled the place. More confused than ever, Legolas sat up slowly, holding his broken ribs and trying to ignore his damaged hip.

Through the legs of the elves he could see Elladan place Aragorn down on a bedroll, stroking dark hair from the sweaty forehead. And then, as if he had felt his look upon him, Elladan turned and locked his eyes with Legolas's. A small, almost invisible smile turned the corners of his mouth. In the next moment, another elf barred Legolas's sight, but he knew. He had read it in Elladan's gaze. Aragorn was alive.

He was not alone in the dark anymore. They were both not alone in the dark anymore.

The End.