Title: Nothing But Death
Author: Amy Fortuna (amyfortuna@yahoo.com)
Pairing: Legolas/Aragorn
Rating: R
Series: Don't know. This universe may have more to say to me.
Feedback: If you would like to give it, I would like to receive it.
Summary: A wound, a meeting, a vow, and a loving.
Notes: This is a quasi-movieverse fic, as in the books there is no implication that Legolas and Aragorn had ever met before, but in the movie, well, yes. Also, in this story, Aragorn and Arwen are not lovers, but have more of a brother-sister relationship. (Hey, it's my story, and I can twist canon if I want, right?)

Also, contains a number of references to various little-known essays on the fate of Men and Elves, including the "Converse of Finrod and Andreth." ("And I saw as a vision, Arda Remade...")

----

"Life to us all in Middle-earth is but a fragile breath, Aragorn son of Arathorn." Dimly, Aragorn heard the words as though they echoed in his mind, and, moving slowly, one man against what seemed thousands of Orcs, he began to fight a doomed battle.

"I have not fulfilled my destiny," was the litany that ran through his mind, kept him strong, kept him fighting. But one man alone, even one so mighty as Aragorn, could not fight alone against the numbers that faced him.

He was the only thing delaying them from reaching Rivendell. His companion, Halbarad, had been sent on a swift errand to Imladris, when they sensed the coming of the army. Help surely would be on the way, but it would be far too late. He was going to die, but at least those in Rivendell would not.

"The Enemy is subtle indeed," he had told Halbarad. "He wishes, I deem, to take the Elves unawares and wipe out Rivendell, if his Orcs can find it. And if he should fail, what is a company of Orcs to him?"

Such raids were rather common, and were sent out not from Mordor, but rather from the Misty Mountains. Yet their deeds were controlled and witnessed by the one Enemy of all, and it was his will that ruled them. These Orcs were doing his bidding and no other. And Rivendell was dangerous to the Dark Lord, for there his enemies found rest and succor.

Aragorn had grown up in Rivendell and would have died before it fell to the Enemy. And now, it appeared, he was about to do exactly that. A swift stroke, and another, and he was surrounded.

Arrows came flying. One pierced his side, and he fell to the ground, bleeding, for the wound was deep. Lying there, half-swooning, he lay so still that the Orcs thought he was dead indeed, and did not bother to check, for haste was of importance. They had shaken off the sting that troubled them, and their only desire now was all speed.

Swiftly they passed over him as he lay, and sped toward the valley of Rivendell, just a few hours south.

When they had gone, Aragorn allowed himself to breathe again, but could not sit up or move, dizzy from pain and loss of blood. Slow minutes crawled by like hours as he waited, and finally essayed to crawl, inch by inch, toward the water of a small stream that ran nearby. He was almost there when strength gave out, and he slumped to the ground.

The world faded into warm blackness and the scent of blood.

----

"Do not yet open your eyes," a voice said in the language of the Elves, a voice Aragorn did not know. "You have suffered, and grievously, but you are safe now, and will soon mend. Rest, my friend, most valiant of Men."

"Who are you?" Aragorn said, obeying orders and not opening his eyes.

"I am Legolas, of the Elves of Mirkwood," the voice said. Aragorn felt a cool hand touch his brow, in almost a caress. "Sleep, Elf-friend, for so I perceive you are."

"By the tokens I bear, I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and was raised in the house of Elrond as his own," Aragorn answered, wearily.

"I have heard your name and of your most mighty deeds," the voice of Legolas said. "You are indeed valiant among the foes of Sauron, but you have suffered grievous hurt. You would be dead by now, had I not found you, on my way to Elrond's house."

Legolas' hand was on his shoulder now, soothing and quiet. "Sleep, Aragorn. Sleep in peace and be healed."

Some hours later, Aragorn awoke to find it was morning. He opened his eyes and looked about. He was lying on the forest floor, an elven-cloak spread beneath him. His garments had been cleaned, mended, and put back on him, and his wound did not pain him.

A bright light walked through the trees toward him, and he stared hard at it, trying to discern the features of the Elf who had saved him. A moment, the light faded, and Legolas dropped to his knees beside him.

"The race of Numenor is hardy indeed," Legolas said to him, fingers tracing Aragorn's forehead in an ancient gesture of goodwill and blessing. "That arrow would have killed a lesser man in a moment, and we can only thank the Valar it was not poisoned."

"I have lived many years in the Wild," Aragorn said. "I am used to toil and pain."

"But Orc-arrows?" Legolas smiled. "Few make friendly acquaintance with those and live to tell the tale."

"Rivendell?" Aragorn asked. "Is Rivendell safe? How long have I slept?"

"Only the night away," Legolas said. "And of Rivendell I do not know. We can do nothing more to help Elrond. You are weary and wounded, and I will not leave you."

"I sent my companion to warn Elrond," Aragorn said. "If only he should come there in time!"

Legolas' eyes suddenly filled with sympathy. "Be at peace," he said. "Rivendell is defensible, and Elrond's powers in that valley are great."

"I know," Aragorn said. "It is my home, until I should find another."

"The White City is your destiny, Aragorn," Legolas said, suddenly, quietly.

"How much do you know of me?" Aragorn demanded.

"You are Isildur's heir," Legolas answered. "I have heard your name in councils."

"If you are a member of the Council, then I may freely trust you," Aragorn said.

"I represent my father," Legolas said. "But the last time I was in the Valley of Rivendell was before you walked the green earth."

"That has only been seventy years," Aragorn said.

"Were you of the Elf-kin, you would yet be a child," Legolas said. "But you are a Man, and thus wise beyond the few years you have been given."

"I am only a Ranger of the North, requested by Gandalf to protect the Shire, driven to protect Rivendell by my love for it and the people who live there."

Legolas smiled, and took Aragorn's hand in his own. "No mere Ranger are you," he said. "Rest again now, for we have talked enough, and you must recover strength. I must also rest, for I too am weary."

"Stay beside me, then," Aragorn requested.

And Legolas did so.

----

They stayed in the woods for four more days, and Aragorn's wound slowly began to heal. After a time, knowledge and awareness of each other grew in their hearts, and Aragorn could feel a tingle of beautiful wonder spark along his spine whenever Legolas touched him.

Aragorn did not know exactly when he had fallen in love with the Elf. Was it while watching him tend wounds with a tender hand and a gentle touch, or was it while they lay sleeping close together? Could it have been far earlier than Aragorn thought, when Legolas was only a voice in the darkness, calling him back to the light?

"Time brings all in Middle-earth to fruit," Legolas said on the morning of the fifth day. "And it brings healing to you, I deem. If we take the road for Rivendell today, you will not be in pain too great. My horse will bear us swift and smooth."

Aragorn bowed his head, and allowed Legolas to assist him onto the horse. Legolas leaped up behind him and put his arms around him to keep him steady.

"Bear us with all speed to Rivendell, Lightfoot," Legolas told the horse.

The horse ran swift, but yet the wound of Aragorn was painful. He let his head fall back onto Legolas' shoulder. Legolas murmured words of quiet comfort as the miles sped by.

They cantered up to the steps of Rivendell, after ascertaining that all the Orcs had been driven away, and were almost immediately met by Elrond himself, along with a young-looking mortal man, both of whom hastened to aid Aragorn from the horse's back.

"I reached Rivendell almost three hours before the Orc army," Halbarad told Aragorn. "Not a single Orc will return to waylay travellers on the mountain path."

"We have been terribly anxious about you, Estel," Elrond said to Aragorn. "Halbarad here told us you were trying to delay the Orcs to buy him time. It was almost certain you were dead. My children are still out looking for you."

"I am alive," Aragorn said. "That is due to the ministry of Legolas, who found me in the woods and brought me back to life."

"Our thanks are due to him," Elrond said formally. "This Man is like one of my sons, and is very dear to all here in Imladris, Legolas."

"He has become dear to me as well, in the last few days," Legolas answered, bowing.

"Come," Halbarad said. "My lord must rest, for not yet is he healed."

Elrond nodded. "And you as well, Thranduil's son," he said.

"I ask leave, Master of Rivendell, to watch over my new-found friend," Legolas said, following Aragorn's footsteps down the hall.

"And I grant it." Elrond bowed his head. "I shall give orders that none shall disturb you. Doubtless my children will disregard those orders, for they all love Estel dearly. But pardon them only."

Legolas smiled. "Elladan, Elrohir, and Arwen are welcome to greet Aragorn when they return."

Legolas followed Halbarad and Aragorn down a long stair and into a room that opened on the waterfall side of the house.

There, Aragorn was bathed in the small warm stream that ran through the floor, heated by some trick of Elrond's making. At last clean, he stumbled across the few feet of floor to the bed.

"You are weary," Aragorn said to Legolas, who had also bathed, much more quickly. "Come, the bed is large enough for us both."

"I will stay with you, and gladly," Legolas said, helping Aragorn into the bed. Halbarad watched this, and quietly departed, doubtless to stand guard at the door.

"I thought my life was over," Aragorn whispered. "In those moments, all I could feel was endless regret that my destiny lay still in doubt. I have no heirs, and I shall not live forever. Time draws to the point, and the Enemy is mustering armies. Will you stand by me, Legolas of Mirkwood, in my direst need?"

Legolas leaned over, placing both hands on Aragorn's shoulders. "I will stand beside you. You have the strength of my arm, I promise."

And Legolas kissed Aragorn, quietly, first on the forehead, then once on either cheek, then once, swift and tender, on the mouth. "I bind myself to you with the vow of a kinsman. Where you need aid, there will I render aid. Where you need counsel, I will give it. Where you need love, there will I give love. Let nothing but death break this vow betwixt you and me."

"Nothing but death," Aragorn echoed, and returned the kisses, lingering long on each of them.

In those first fragile moments, the vow-kisses faded into love-kisses, and time stood slow and then stilled, tarrying a little for happiness.

"Are you well?" Legolas asked, concerned.

"Well enough," Aragorn answered. "If you are gentle."

"I am always gentle," Legolas replied.

And he was. The slow tenderness of Legolas' touch on his body, bringing joy into his eyes, was in itself enough to make Aragorn gasp and arch into the bliss of the Elf's hand on him. Legolas was light, and time became as light as the Elf-years, releasing Aragorn from its grip.

"Even Valinor...itself...could not compare to you," Legolas breathed as Aragorn sighed a long shuddering sigh, feeling the pain and tension seep away from him.

"Your hands...your lips, your eyes," Aragorn whispered. "I have never known beauty so great."

"You jest, surely," Legolas said, smiling. "Have you never beheld your face in a mirror?"

And soft touches faded, slow, into sleep.

----

They were awakened, hours later, by laughing voices from the hall outside the room. Legolas woke first, and sat up, drawing a light finger over Aragorn's forehead, soothing away the exhausted look on his face.

"Friends to greet you, I believe, son of Arathorn," he said. "If I am not mistaken, the children of Elrond."

Aragorn opened his eyes, smiling as he gazed up at Legolas. "Gladly will I greet the ones who sought for me, though it was another who found me," he said.

"Seeking, finding, losing, gaining, winning, and *keeping*," Legolas laughed. "You are my own, child of Men, and my vow is bound to you."

"And mine to you, if you would have it so," Aragorn sighed. "Let them in."

"Dearest of brothers!" It was Elladan's voice that first reached Aragorn's ears. "We have traversed the whole of Wilderland in a vain search for you."

"Not the whole of Wilderland, it would seem, brother," Arwen said, laying a hand on Aragorn's shoulder with a friendly smile. "We may have missed a cave or two."

"From the borders of the Shire to the borders of Rohan we have sought," Elrohir said, approaching Aragorn in his turn. "We delved in foul Orc-holds in the Mountains, stood on Weathertop and gazed on the lands below, and no trace of you could we find."

"It is Legolas that you must thank," Aragorn said, inclining his head toward the Elf, who had remained near the door. "It was he who found me half-dead and nursed me back to life."

The children of Elrond turned to face Legolas, and all smiled at him. "We know you from of old, friend," Arwen said. "Why do you not come to our midsummer feasts?"

"My father kept me at home for these many years," Legolas said. "But now he has given me leave to spend all the days that I will traveling. On my journey here, I met Aragorn, and now I will not leave him, for my heart has become bound to his."

"And our midsummer feast?" Elladan asked, smiling.

"If Aragorn wills it and his duty permits, we shall be there," Legolas said.

"I do will it," Aragorn said, and laughed. "But I know not yet if duty permits."

"You have our promise," Legolas said. "Now, leave us in peace for a while. My friend is not yet healed, and I would have nothing that should further injure him."

Elladan bent, kissing Aragorn's forehead, while Elrohir and Arwen each kissed a hand. Amid much laughter they departed, giving all good wishes for Aragorn's swift recovery.

An inexpressibly tender look came over Legolas' face as he turned back to Aragorn after closing the door behind them. "Did we but dream our vows or did we make them?"

"You made yours to me," Aragorn said. "I made none to you, and I would do so, if you wish."

"You are mortal, young one," Legolas said. "Well do I know how fickle mortals may be. Elves are not so, for they find one love and keep it, though the Ages march steady on."

"Then your vow was indeed a love vow," Aragorn said.

Legolas sat down on the bed and took up Aragorn's hand, raising it lightly to his lips, before he answered.

"Yes," he said, looking deep into Aragorn's eyes. "It was a love vow."

"Then I should also make my vow, and we should name the Name," Aragorn said. He smiled, quickly. "Did you not wish for betrothal bands of silver? I know the ceremonies of the Elves far better than I know the ceremonies of Gondor. Will it not grieve your father to learn of me, who you have known but less than a month?"

"You are mortal, Aragorn," Legolas said. "A year to you is as a hundred to me. I cannot wait another moment, if you are indeed willing to make your vow and name the Name."

"I shall not be fickle, beautiful Elf," Aragorn said. "If you will bind yourself to me, the least I may do is promise you faithfulness for the length of my days."

Legolas bent and kissed him, swiftly, on the mouth. "I would rather spend one lifetime with you than face all the Ages alone," he whispered, hot, against Aragorn's lips.

"Will you, too, plead before Mandos, desiring a different fate?" Aragorn asked. "Or do you believe, as do I, that the fates of Men and Elves are not forever separate, and that one day, the races will mingle, walk together, and understand each other?"

"I have known few mortals," Legolas said. "But I cannot believe that the One would separate those who love one from another. We shall meet again beyond death, Aragorn son of Arathorn. We shall."

"Then I will make my vow to you," Aragorn said. "Until death I promise you my sword in battle, my hand in your need, my love at night. Until death I make you my constant companion, to be separated from you only when duty wills it so. I will share your sorrows, delight in your joys, and comfort your pains. I will be your shield even as you are mine. I will be yours to hold, yours to kiss, yours to love. This I vow by the One, Eru Iluvatar, and by Manwe and Varda."

"I hear your vow," Legolas answered, in the words of ritual. "We need no witness, for the One and the Valar are our witness. I claim you, Aragorn son of Arathorn, of the race of Men, for my own, now until death claims us in his turn."

Legolas bent and kissed Aragorn again. Suddenly the fire that lay smouldering between them leaped into bright flame. Aragorn pulled Legolas deeper into the kiss and they both fell into the wonder of each other, smiling at the glory they each found in the other.

"Let me love you," Legolas whispered, drawing back from the kiss. "You are weary yet. I only want to taste you and hold you against me."

Aragorn, breathing quick, laid a hand against Legolas' cheek. "I will be a feast for you, my Legolas," he said.

Legolas laughed, and began stripping the light robe that Aragorn wore away from him, who simply lay smiling against the pillows, submitting to the Elf's handling. Legolas nuzzled against his throat, not quite biting the tender skin there, and slowly made his way down, combing through the fine hairs of Aragorn's chest with fingers and mouth.

Aragorn gasped as Legolas bit, oh so gently, at a nipple, and then danced his way down the curve of his hip, where nearby, Aragorn's arousal was making its presence known.

Legolas only smiled, and licked all the way to Aragorn's feet, then back up again.

"How - slowly - does - this - elf - intend - to - feast?" Aragorn groaned, gasping at Legolas' kisses to his stomach.

"A feast so excellent should last all night," Legolas smiled, looking up.

"The feaster should remember to pay courtesy to his meal," Aragorn said, pulling Legolas up to him for a kiss. "I am famished, Legolas, starved for your touch."

"More in some places than others," Legolas laughed. "But the reveler should save the best for last."

"No more, Legolas, I am nearly spent," Aragorn breathed. "Embrace me with yourself, and let us complete this union."

Legolas did. Covering Aragorn with his own body and covering Aragorn's mouth with his lips, they fell together into one realm of the mind, where they both touched each other in a sudden meeting. Bright figures hovered above them as they seemed to stand together in a great hall.

"This joining is true," Aragorn said.

"We have willed it," Legolas replied.

"And we witness it. May you be blessed," the bright figures said to them.

And they fell back to Middle-earth, the demands of their bodies aching at them for completion. It was not long until the world of sight, hearing, and touch collapsed around them in their embrace.

Gentle, they came back into wakefulness. Legolas smiled at Aragorn.

"Are you tired?" he asked, quietly.

"In body, a little," Aragorn confessed. "But in spirit, never."

"Then sleep. Sleep, my love, and I will watch over you."

With the soft sounds of the waterfall outside and Legolas' quiet breathing next to him, Aragorn slipped pleasantly into dreams.

END