by Aranel Laerien

"Aragorn?" Legolas called softly.

The man turned around and sighed as Legolas came and sat beside him on the cool grass. There was just no way of evading the elf, was there?

"Can't sleep?" Legolas asked. "The trees of Lothlórien are said to bring healing to the weary."

Aragorn shrugged and looked at the leafy canopy. "They have yet to work their power," he said wryly.

Legolas noticed that worried frown, the familiar slump of the shoulders… "Man trasta le, gwador?" he asked. What troubles you, brother?

Aragorn only sighed.

Legolas shook his head. That stubborn human! he thought, must he bear every burden alone?

A cool zephyr breezed through the leaves. Legolas saw how Aragorn leaned against the trunk of the tree, enjoying the sweet forest aroma that wafted along with the wind. The elf lay back on the grass and gazed contentedly at the glittering lights in the sky.

"Aren't you going to tell me to look to the stars yet?" Aragorn asked teasingly.

Legolas seemed surprised. "Do I always do that?"

"Of course!" Aragorn gave him a playful slap, "You're an elf…"

"That's nothing to do with it," Legolas protested.

Aragorn shrugged, giving him a superior face. Legolas rolled his eyes and fell quiet.

Aragorn sighed again and this time, he began tentatively, "What shall we do now that Gandalf is lost?"

Legolas turned to face him. "We should carry on what he would have us do," he said.

Aragorn shook his head. "But what of our fellowship? Before the Falls of Rauros, Frodo will set off for Mordor. Sam and the other hobbits would follow him, but Boromir has his heart set on Gondor. Will this be the breaking of our fellowship?" Aragorn paused for a moment. "And, should none who may fight go with the hobbits, how shall they enter Mordor unharmed? Can the quest continue?"

Legolas let the man regain his composure, then he asked softly, "Aragorn, gwador nîn, why do you burden yourself with things you cannot control? We will not leave these forests nor reach the Falls for some time yet, and who is to say that the Valar may have other plans?"

Aragorn looked at him doubtfully.

"If nothing," Legolas continued, "the hobbits' strength lies in their endurance and stealth. They do not fight in open war but would evade all sentries and bring down the head. Do not underestimate them, my friend."

Aragorn kept quiet, unable to refute the truth of the elf's words. Finally, he nodded in acceptance.

"And you should sleep now," Legolas added firmly, "here, safe under the eaves of Lothlórien, we must all rest and regain our strength."

Aragorn looked guiltily away. Then he drew a deep breath and stopped, letting it out slowly. Legolas watched on, frowning slightly as Aragorn fidgeted with a blade of grass – he always did that when he was distracted. The man looked up at last.

"And you," he asked, "where will you go then?"

Legolas' face lit up in mirth. "Look to the stars, Aragorn–"

Aragorn groaned.

The elf laughed, indulging in the man's mock-despair, then he continued more seriously, "As surely as the stars shine in the sky, I will go with you to whatever end."

Aragorn smiled gratefully. "Hannon le, gwador nîn," he said, "that is more than enough for me."

Legolas laid a hand on Aragorn's shoulder. "Whatever happens, my friend, we shall go together; whatever comes, we shall face it together. You are my friend, my brother, and you ever will be."

Aragorn nodded with conviction, his anxieties dissipating somewhat. "To death and glory!" he said grimly.

Legolas looked at him and grinned. "To immortality!"