Disclaimer: Tolkien owns most, my muse owns the rest.
Staring up at the ceiling of the room they had been loaned, Aragorn sighed. The room was tiny, smaller even than the tent they normally slept in, and more crowded, and much more unclean. He and Legolas had to share a single bed. The space on the floor was taken up with their packs, and the boxes and wardrobes that belonged in the storage room. It was the only space the village could provide, but it was freezing cold.
"I am sure that we would be warmer outside," grumbled Aragorn, pulling the blankets tighter around him, "If not for the wind." It was dark, and they were trying to sleep, but Aragorn was shivering far too violently for that. He had been momentarily warmed by the deer they had eaten earlier that day. It had been a hard chase for him and his elvish friend to capture the doe, but the tiny town they were staying in was freezing and starving simultaneously. Legolas and Aragorn were there to help them through the hardest winter in many years. The other members of the Dúnedain were littered around the rural villages to help, the same as them.
Legolas hoisted his only blanket of himself and placed it on top those Aragorn had. He could withstand the cold much better than the trembling human. "Would you like to test that theory?"
"No, and thank you," smiled Aragorn. "But you are going to come under here and stay warm as well mellon nin. I am not having you freeze to death as well." Heaving a sigh, Legolas pulled the covers over himself as well and wrapped an arm around Aragorn's waist. He smiled when Aragorn melted against him and the human said, "That is so much better."
"Good, now you can sleep," Legolas said, prodding the human. The two of them were used to such intimacy. They shared everything. Well… at least… almost everything… There was almost nothing that Legolas did not know about Aragorn, and very little that the human did not know about Legolas. When there were only two people in the emptiness of the wilderness, there was nothing for to do but talk with one another. They had told each other their deepest secrets and once you have spent a night curled up, sheltering in an alcove under tree roots together, a bed would not be the limit of how comfortable they were with each other.
"I am planning to," muttered Aragorn, closing his eyes, but a moment later they snapped back open at the noise he had heard. "Did you hear that?" He pulled away and sat up, the sheets pooling around his waist.
Groaning, Aragorn said, "I fear that I may have." They waited, Aragorn tapping his fingers impatiently on the thin mattress, but the sound came again, and this time Legolas jerked up too, swearing. It had been a howl; a high, keening wail that fluctuated in pitch. "Wolves."
"It was closer this time," Aragorn exclaimed, launching himself out of the bed, "They will be coming this way, they will be starving. We can barely keep ourselves from that!"
"They will surround the village, kill anyone they can," gasped Legolas, pulling on a shirt as Aragorn attached his sword to his belt, shirt already on. They had seen the wolves attack before.
"Or, alternatively, the herds around here. The people will die either way."
They met each others' eyes for a single second, and sprinted out of the room, Legolas with only one shoe on, but that was when the first scream sounded. Outside the house, people were running out of their homes into the tiny village's main street. The dozens of ramshackle huts squatted at the bottom of a large valley, and it lacked defensive walls around it. The only thing to protect it was the people inside, and they were running around chaotically, in illogical partners. They would easily be picked off, one by one. A child cannoned into Legolas' legs, crying, before rebounding into his mother's arms. The young, weak ones would be the targets.
A shape in the distance caught his eye, indiscernible to the humans, but easy enough for him to identify. The wolves were spreading out, slinking around the village. They were huge, but were attacking at night; they thought that no one would be able to see them.
Legolas shouted, his voice rising above the panicking crowd. "Get towards the centre; stand by the fire at the middle. Women and children. Men, grab weapons, anything that you can find." Aragorn was muttering quickly to the head of the village, and Legolas gestured fro the Ranger to come closer. He brought the chief with him, and Legolas hurriedly asked, "The animals, they are locked away for the night?"
"Yes," the man reported, "For emergencies such as this." He was trembling ever so slightly, and Legolas saw the glint of the skin that shined on his face, a scar from a wolf attack that had claimed his wife the winter before. Everyone was scared; the heartbreaking howl of a wolf terrified and struck a chord within each heart. Morale would have to be rallied before they had to fight if they wanted to survive.
"Good. Assign four, no, maybe five men to guard it. Armed them with torches at the very least," Legolas ordered, briskly. "Keep ten with the women and children, and go with them. Get the rest with me."
Knowing that Legolas would have the people under control in a matter of moments, Aragorn sidled closer and asked, "Where do you want me?"
"With me," was Legolas' only reply.
Another sound echoed in the darkness, this time not a howl but a bark, as Aragorn and Legolas were joined by eight more man, all that were left unassigned in the village. That as when the battle started. The wolves flooded into the village in unison, rushing inwards as if a dam had broken.
Legolas started with his bow, but only killed three before realising that using them at such short range would be dangerous to the citizens. As he drew out his knives, he shivered at the sharp metallic sound they made when taken out. A grin lit his face when one sliced through a wolf's neck. Perfect. He easily took out several of the vicious creatures before, suddenly, he heard a yell behind him, and whirled to see a man who had been knocked to the floor and was under a huge white wolf, which towered over him. It was massive, bigger than any Legolas had seen before, and he knew that it was the alpha. He threw a short knife towards the wolf and it thudded into his leg. The wolf turned with a growl, mixed with a high yell of pain, and advanced on Legolas, red eyes flashing.
Without warning, it leaped, and only Legolas' lightening fast reactions made him raise his knives fast enough in a cross, to catch the wolf in the chest. In a ripping motion, he jerked the knives away. Warm blood spurted into Legolas' face as he cut the wolf. He blinked it away from his eyes as the huge, snarling wolf crumpled to the floor.
Wiping away the blood with his sleeve, Legolas sucked in a lungful of cool air. He then knelt down next to the fallen man, and asked, "Look at me, I am here to help."
Clutching at his chest, the man gasped, "It squashed… the breath… out of me and… I think it… broke some ribs." Sweat beaded on his pale forehead, and his dark eyes, that Legolas noticed stared in opposite directions, were wild.
"Do not worry, you will be fine," Legolas assured. "Let us get you to the fire. You will be safe there." He hauled the fallen man to his feet, and glanced around. Already there were fewer wolves; these attacks were always swift. Either all the wolves were killed or ran, or the humans face the same fate. "What is your name?"
"Tylin," the man croaked, in a voice barely audible over the yells and howls, as they took uneven steps towards the light of the fire.
"I am Legolas," the elf told him, trying to distract the grimacing human from the pain he was obviously in with every step.
"I know," replied the man, with a smile that was contorted.
Legolas smirked: of course they all knew. Strangers to villages as small as the one they were in were rare, and they had eaten with everyone every night, but he did not pay attention to anyone, but Aragorn and the head of the village. He regretted that in that moment, but abruptly, he whirled around, almost dropping the man he was supporting. It was a scream, and he knew that yell anywhere. He had heard it far too often, and every time it shot through him, almost physically hurting him. "Aragorn!" he exclaimed. "Can you go on your own Tylin?"
"Yes I… think so," Tylin said, and Legolas released him, tearing away to where he knew Aragorn's cry had come from.
Almost immediately, he found the human, next to a dead wolf, lying in a pool of blood, but the human had a hand trying to stem the flow of scarlet near his shoulder. It was not working.
With a fleeting look, Legolas checked the land, and found the wolves had almost all disappeared or been killed. Only three were still engaged in fights, and were being hacked down by groups of men, so e was free to crouch by his friend's side. "Aragorn, are you alright?"
"I could be better," said Aragorn, sitting up. Legolas looped an arm around him, carefully avoiding touching the wound. He could see bone there, and winced.
Watching Aragorn's pale face flickering with pain instead, Legolas murmured, "Come on. We will get you to the Healer's house, mellon nin."
Instead of being able to lie down in one of the two beds at the house of the one Healer, the only place Aragorn had to rest was the floor, where he sat up against the wall. The two men in the beds were in much worse states, and Aragorn did not begrudge them the comfort, although he knew that the elf whose shoulder his head rested on, wanted to. "I am alright," Aragorn muttered, watching the Healer frantically rushing around trying to help people, through heavily lidded eyes. He had been given a tea to kill pain, as all the injured had, and it was making him drowsy. The gentle hand rhythmically stroking his hair was not helping him stay awake either. "Calm down."
"You already said that you could be better," Legolas argued in a whisper. "So could everyone in this room."
"What? What do you mean? Are you injured? How could you be better?" gasped Aragorn, jerking upwards to look at his friend.
"Hush. You calm down this time," Legolas soothed. "I would be better if you were not injured, if everyone was unhurt."
Aragorn felt his attention draining away with his energy, and closed his eyes. "At least the wolves are gone now," he muttered.
"And they will not come back," assured Legolas, in the same quiet voice. Aragorn wished he would speak up. One of the men in the beds was screaming, and Aragorn shuddered at the sound, wanting to run from it. It was heart breaking. Legolas spoke again, and Aragorn tried to focus on the elf's musical voice. "I killed the leader."
Internally, Aragorn rolled hi eyes. Legolas would always be the best fighter, it seemed. He would always take down the most powerful, where no one else could. "Showy elf," Aragorn mumbled, flicking Legolas' leg.
"You know that. Go to sleep, human."
"How are you feeling?" A voice Aragorn did not recognise broke through his thoughts, and though he tried to reply, his tongue was too thick, his mouth too dry.
Another voice Aragorn did not know, replied in a hoarse, stuttering voice. "The Healer… says I will… be fine in… a month."
"And why are these people here?" the first voice demanded.
Legolas' melodious voice floated into Aragorn's hearing, professing, "Your son said that we could use the spare bed. The room we were staying in was dirty, with Aragorn's would… I was not happy with him in there. Tylin said that this house was clean, and I have to thank you. It is indeed perfect."
"I do not have a whole room for the two of you, and there is only one bed." The first voice spoke again.
"That is alright. We only had one bed before, and we know that this house was not offered because there was no separate room. We also do not mind sharing a room with your son, if he does not mind," Legolas trailed off.
"I do not," the second voice said.
"Legolas…" Aragorn croaked, and almost immediately the back of a soft hand was laid on his cheek.
"Aragorn, are you awake? How are you?" Legolas asked.
Opening unfocused eyes, Aragorn merely wrinkled his nose. His head was spinning from the medication, and he wanted to fall back to sleep. His arm however still hurt, though he knew it would have been fixed as well as it could have been in the situation.
Legolas' smirk hovered above him, as Aragorn was silently guided into a sitting position, and a cool glass of water pressed into his hand. "Drink mellon nin."
He gulped down the cold drink, letting it clear his mouth and relieve the burn in his throat. Once done, he gasped, "Thank you."
His elvish friend perched on the bed, making the mattress dip ever so slightly. "The Healer said that your arm should be better in about three weeks. And you are not allowed to fight until then."
Raising his eyebrows, Aragorn asked, "Fight as in 'lift a sword and stab things with it' or 'argue with you when you try and make me stay in bed for the next two days'?"
"Both," Legolas grinned. From behind the blonde elf, a man slumped in a chair, cleared his voice. Legolas' eyes widened with surprise, as if he had forgotten about him, and said, "Aragorn, this is Tylin, Tylin, Aragorn. This is Tylin's house. He is letting us stay until you can see straight."
Aragorn tried not to laugh, and said, "I am grateful. Thank you." He held out his left hand for the other man to shake, not wanting to move his injured arm and, when it was shaken, Aragorn winced. Tylin's hand was clammy. Over Tylin's shoulder, an elderly woman smiled, presumably the other man's mother.
She and Legolas started to talk, whilst Aragorn just listened to them. They were merely discussing what to make for breakfast, but he saw Tylin watching them with fascination. No, not them. It was hard to say with the man's mismatched eyes, but Aragorn was quite sure that he was gazing at Legolas, and Aragorn did not like the way he leered at his friend.
A/N: Challenge fic from CameoCorbin. This must be, what, my fifth attempt at this chapter? And this is the best I can mange. I hope it's OK. It's probably not. Let me know.