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And... on with it!
Legolas's whole body ached with pain. Sharp throbs pulsed from his chest, stomach and head. He tried to pull away from it, but found that he could not move. He did not care - he just wanted to return to that darkness where everything would end. Maybe then the pain would go away and he would not have to worry anymore. But then he had a niggling feeling that there was something he had to do... something he was supposed to be helping to achieve... what had gone wrong? What had happened to him?
"Legolas. Legolas, I know you hear me. Come back to my voice."
He recognized that voice, and yet he could not quite place it. This worried him: usually his memory was perfect. He floundered in the darkness, at a loss as to what he should do.
The pain abruptly drew stronger, and Legolas unintentionally let out a moan of agony. He tried to open his eyes, but they were so heavy that he could hardly even blink. Slowly, he managed to crack them open. Blurred lights and shapes swam before his eyes. He struggled to focus on something - anything - but his mind was a mess of confusion.
"It is alright, Legolas. You must feel a lot of pain right now, so do not worry about feeling confused."
His voice would not work properly, coming out slurred and mumbling. His lips almost felt numb, the way they fumbled around letters. A hand came down on his shoulder, strong and supportive. A face slowly came into focus above him, but he blinked hard. This could not be true... he was hallucinating...
The old Wizard's face broke into a smile. "Yes, it is me."
Gandalf simply shook his head. "Later, Legolas. All you need know now is that I have returned to you. How do you feel?"
But Legolas was no longer listening. Memories were rushing into his head. The river Anduin, the attack of the Uruk Hai, the long, exhausting journey across the grasslands of Rohan... panic lit up in his chest and he tried to sit up. Agony jolted through him and he froze, letting out a short gasp of pain. Tears formed in his eyes.
"Calm yourself, Legolas, and lie still," Gandalf scolded, holding him still. "Your body is still very weak. Everything is alright-"
"Where are the Hobbits? And Aragorn? Gimli?" Legolas's eyes flickered as more memories assulted him. Frodo and Sam... he hadn't seen them since before the fight... where had they gone? They couldn't be... dead?
"Legolas." Gandalf squeezed his shoulder until he recieved eye contact. "You have no reason to fear."
He moved aside slightly, and Legolas turned his head. Only a few feet away from him, a dust-covered, travel-weary Aragorn was asleep in a chair. Legolas felt a mixture of relief and confusion. Where was he? He looked around the room for the first time. He did not recognize it, but the bed in which he was lying was comfortable and so he did not really mind.
"He refused to leave your side," Gandalf said with a smile.
"What happened?" Legolas asked, his voice hoarse and rasping. After his latest little outburst, his throat seared when he spoke.
"You are in Rohan. Merry ran to tell us of your condition, and we rode out to find you. Just in time too, I think." Gandalf rose to his feet. "I will order you some water. Lie still, you have lost much blood."
He moved to the door and ducked out through it. Legolas's eyes instantly began to grow heavy, but he forced them to stay open. He looked at Aragorn. His friend looked weary and strained, but he did not seem to be injured. A smile spread over Legolas's face as he looked at him. Normally their places were reversed: it was usually he pulling Aragorn out of a sticky spot.
It seemed that their luck had held, and the Uruk Hai had not caught up with them.
Suddenly, Aragorn stirred and sat upright, rubbing at his face.
"Gandalf?" he mumbled. "Any change? You shouldn't let me-"
He broke off as he opened his eyes and saw Legolas looking straight back at him. He jerked to his feet.
"Ai, Estel," Legolas replied, smiling. "Ce mae?"
"How long have you been awake?" Aragorn asked. "Have you spoken to Gandalf? He was right here..."
"Only a little while... he's coming back soon," Legolas replied, wincing as his chest throbbed once more. "Aragorn... le hannon."
Aragorn shook his head. "No, don't. You were the one who saved me, mellon nin. Please, you cannot keep doing this... endangering yourself will not help anything."
Legolas raised one eyebrow. "Wouldn't you do the same for me?"
"Well, yes, but-"
Aragorn scowled and pushed his hand through his hair. Legolas turned his gaze on the ceiling.
"We will always protect one another, Aragorn. That is what brothers do."
Aragorn sighed and moved closer to the bed. "Yes, I suppose it is. You scared me, Legolas. I thought you were lost."
"So did I, to tell the truth," Legolas replied. His throat seared and he wet his dry lips, wishing Gandalf would return with the water. "Have... Have you heard from Frodo and Sam?"
Aragorn shook his head. "No, but Gandalf agrees that we shall not follow them but will give them a path. As soon as you are well, we will appeal to the Elks to help us destroy Isengard."
Legolas nodded. "Very well," he said softly.
He glanced over at his friend. Aragorn grinned.
"Wouldn't Elrond be furious if he could see the state we are in now?"
And, despite the pain that leapt through his chest, Legolas laughed.
Aragorn pressed his ear against the door. He could hear Thranduil and Legolas's raised voices from inside, but he could not quite make out what they were saying. The voices suddenly lowered considerably, and Thranduil snapped something. Legolas replied quietly. Aragorn strained his ears for any sound at all, pressing himself up against the wood. He could barely hear anything... the door opened. Aragorn scrambled backwards, overbalanced and fell hard onto the stone floor. Legolas looked down in surprise, and then shut the door lightly behind him, grinning.
"If I asked you what you were doing, would I regret it?"
Aragorn scowled. "I was trying to see if you were winning or not. Did you?"
"Well, my father has agreed to let me chose my own 'bodyguard' if that's what you mean. Although he wasn't happy to hear that I had been galavanting around the forest with a lowly man."
He held out a hand and pulled Aragorn up to his feet. Aragorn scoffed.
"A lowly man? Charming."
"We will be leaving in a while. My father never likes to leave Mirkwood unattended for long." He hesitated. "I hope we shall meet again soon."
"We will," Aragorn assured him. "I will visit you, or we could meet on a hunt."
"You have been a good friend to me, Aragorn. You've done more than you have to." Legolas held out his hand. "May our friendship live through to the end of this world."
Aragorn took his hand, a smile quirking the corners of his mouth. "I pray that it will, brother."
Legolas hesitated, and Aragorn wondered if he had gone too far but then the Elf nodded and smile. "Brother," he agreed softly.
Ai - hi
Ce mae - are you well?
Le hannon - thank you
Mellon nin - my friend
So that's it! I hope you all liked it, please review! Thanks so much to everyone who's reviewed all the way through this story, because you are the ones who helped this story get finished.