Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
A/N: Thanks you for the reviews: punkballet, AtlantisGirl12, and BlackFyre94. Thank you to all who have faithfully read this story and have enjoyed it. This is the last chapter! It is complete. A sequel may be written. I am working on a novel at the moment so we'll see if I still have a muse left. Enjoy!
The quiet foot falls of Aragorn's feet were the only sounds resonating through the empty hallways of his home. His decision to leave was not an easy one, and in a way, he felt as though he was betraying his best friend. Legolas would never have lost faith in him despite desperate circumstance, and the man knew this. Aragorn felt as though he were giving up on the elf, his heart finally breaking under the strain of the constant unknowing. Legolas may never awaken again, and he just couldn't be there to watch as the elf's body withered away into nothingness, forgotten over the long years, remaining nothing more than a vague memory in the man's broken mind. No. He had to leave…
With his weapons collected and his travel cloak secured around him, Aragorn walked calmly through the house, his eyes capturing every detail of the things he passed. A heavy sigh escaped him as a constant foreboding seemed to crush his lungs. The truth hit him: he may never return. Not because he would not be welcome, he knew, because his family would eventually forgive his cowardice of leaving his friend behind. It would be because he would not have the strength to return for fear of facing the demons of a buried past, seeing the ghost of his friend, eyes piercing his with a haunting look of accusation.
The feelings of grief overwhelmed him; Aragorn could barely breathe. He stopped walking and leaned heavily against the wall. He slumped over as he gasped for air, his heart beating rapidly in time with the aching in his head. He squeezed his eyes shut trying to block out the world around him as he tried desperately to hang on to consciousness. Just when he thought he was going to pass out, a hand gripped his shoulder tightly. Soothing words of calm entered his chaotic mind and his body seemed to respond. A faint ache still plagued his head, but his breathing slowed and his heart quieted. He was dizzy as he looked up to see who had come. For a second he thought it was Legolas, but it did not take long for his vision to clear and the fantasy to disintegrate.
"Ada," he whispered almost inaudibly. The elf's sharp hearing, however, recognized the words immediately.
"Ion nin, why do you do this to yourself?" He questioned rhetorically. Aragorn just hung his head before slowly straightening up from his lean against the wall. "I am sorry, Estel, for what I said before. I am wearier than I thought, it would seem. My temper got the better of me." His apology was sincere, but Aragorn just shook his head.
"Do not apologize for stating the truth."
"Still, I should not have acted that way. Such severe truths should not be revealed in such a manner." Knowing it was a losing battle, Aragorn nodded in acceptance.
"I…I still have to go," the man whispered softly, not meeting Elrond's eyes. When he did look up there was only understanding and concern.
"Iston. And I will do as I promised, but I ask one thing in return. Say goodbye…" Aragorn understood the request almost immediately. His body stiffened under the elf lord's grasp. Seeing his discomfort, Elrond continued, "You need this closure. If…when something happens to him, you will never forgive yourself as long as you live. Regret is a heavy burden to carry." Resigning to his father's control, Aragorn felt himself being led to the doorway of Legolas' room. Before he knew it, he was alone in the room staring at his friend's lifeless body; Elrond had slipped away silently giving him privacy.
As though his limbs were stiff with tension, Aragorn forced himself to stand beside Legolas' bed. His eyes scanned the body before him. Unlike the last time he had seen him, the elf was much cleaner and more comfortable. All of the dried blood spots had been wiped away, and the bruises faded slowly becoming yellowed with time. His blonde hair was brushed and cleaned, fanning out on the soft pillow like a halo. Peace graced the elf's pale features, and if Aragorn hadn't known any better, he would have thought him merely asleep. The sight overwhelmed him as the man's legs gave out beneath him. He fell back into a chair by the bedside eyes never leaving his friend.
A tentative hand reached out to stroke Legolas' pale cheek, but Aragorn pulled it back quickly as though electrocuted. His skin was so cold, so fragile. The icy breath of death seemed to be stealing the elf away. Aragorn's only comfort was the slow rise and fall of his chest. Tears filled his eyes as he took in every detail of his friend, trying to picture him alive and well, laughing at his clumsy human traits. Expecting the shock of cold this time, Aragorn took the elf's hand in his and gently stroked his blonde hair with the other. Not sure if he could speak, Aragorn merely leaned over and kissed the elf's forehead. His mind was racing with so many things that he wanted to say as he sat back down in his chair. But no words seemed to form. He didn't have the strength to say goodbye…not now.
Instead he whispered a soft prayer in elvish as he stood to leave the room. He was almost out the door, one step closer to escaping, when he stopped. He was torn. He couldn't leave like this no matter how much he wanted to. His father's words rang in his head. He knew he would regret it forever. Aragorn turned around slowly and made his way back to his friend's side. He sat down on the side of the bed and spoke quietly to his unconscious friend.
"I am sorry, mellon nin. I am so sorry for many things. I wish you would wake up and tell me that this is all just a nightmare, but I know you won't. My heart is broken without you. I see nothing for me anymore, at least not here…" His eyes looked away from his best friend as a sob escaped his throat. "Oh, Illuvitar forgive me! But I cannot stay, Legolas. I can't be here for you anymore. My will is gone; my strength depleted. I cannot bear to look into the mirror everyday and see the reason why you are here. You made a sacrifice; you saved me. But I cannot save myself…and I cannot save you. So I am leaving, mellon nin. I am leaving to bury the pieces of my heart. I love you, my brother, I love you. Remember that always. Until next we meet…until next we meet."
Tears ran down his weary face as he released his hold on Legolas' hand. Aragorn felt the pain of the past weeks crushing down on him and the grief of the current situation overwhelming his mind, but his heart felt lighter in some way. Taking one last look at his friend, Aragorn turned and left the room. He moved quickly through the hallways and before he knew it, he was standing in the stables. The tears continued to flow, but he did not stop them. Instead, he jumped on his horse's back and ran out of the stables leaving Rivendell behind. When his home was merely a spot on the horizon, Aragorn slowed his horse and turned around one last time. "Goodbye, Legolas," he whispered as he and his horse ran out of sight.
Elrond was standing on his son's balcony when he saw the man leaving Rivendell on horseback. He prayed silently that he would be well and that the gods would take care of him. Aragorn was lost, and Elrond hoped that he would soon find his way. Weary from the day's events, the elf lord decided to check on Legolas. As he walked through the halls, he thought about the repercussions of his son's actions. Aragorn's departure would be tough on the family to say the least. Elladan and Elrohir would be hardly pleased by the events. It would take a great deal of persuasion to stop them from going after their brother. As for Legolas…that would be another issue entirely. Not a day passed that Elrond didn't pray for the young elf's recovery. As each hour ended, the chances of awakening became slimmer and slimmer. His mind was consumed by the many scenarios that could unfold. Before he knew it he was standing in Legolas' room, not far from where he had left his son only minutes ago.
He walked over and sat down in the chair that was once occupied by Aragorn. Elrond leaned forward and removed the blanket from Legolas' body, inspecting the injuries that were close to healing. Seeing that no infections had set in, he pulled the blanket back up over the elf's chest, tucking it in around him as though he were a child. He smiled sadly and placed a gentle hand on Legolas' cheek. His eyes widened in shock as he pulled away almost immediately staring at his hand in awe. Elrond looked down and stared at the young elf's face. What he saw changed everything…A single tear traced its way across the pale skin and onto the soft pillow beneath him.
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