Part Six: Resigned Fate

Legolas stared at his naked friend lying prone at Lord Elrond's feet, his head turned just enough that Legolas could see Aragorn had not been rendered unconscious by his fall, for Legolas could see the Man's eyes blinking at the hem of Elrond's robes. And yet Aragorn just laid there, as if resigned to some horrible fate.

Legolas looked up at Elrond. The Master of Imladris was staring at his foster son with a slightly startled look. Then Legolas glanced over at Elladan and Elrohir who looked far more surprised by the Man's fall. No one moved, no one spoke or offered a hand up. It was as if time simply stood still.

Then a small gasp drew his attention across the room where he discovered Arwen standing with one hand covering her mouth, her eyes wide and focused on Aragorn's unclad and very naked form. He had no idea what had led to this situation, but in that moment, the humor of the situation hit him, and he felt his eyes crinkle with restrained mirth.

He cleared his throat, drawing Arwen's gaze to his own. Then he lifted a questioning brow and glanced down at Aragorn and back to Arwen. To his complete amusement, the Evenstar's face turned beet red and she spun around, folding her arms. The edge of her skirt moved, betraying the foot tapping underneath and it was all Legolas could do to keep from bursting into laughter.

Turning his attention back to Elrond, he watched the lord sigh. "Are you hurt?" Elrond asked the Man at his feet.

Aragorn just laid there, staring bleakly at the hem of Elrond's robes. "No," he murmured.

Elrond looked up and his gaze met Legolas's. Legolas felt his lips twitch, though he did try to hold it in. He dared not glance at the twins. As he watched, Elrond lifted a hand and pinched the bridge of his nose as his eyes slid shut. A moment later a most undignified noise left the Master of Imladris, then Elrond's lips took to twitching and the next thing Legolas knew Elrond Peredhel, Master of Imladris, folded double with laughter.

Beside him, Legolas heard the twins begin to snigger as well, but Legolas could not pull his gaze from Elrond. Had he ever seen the lord laugh so? Legolas did not think so. He grinned.

Aragorn continued to lie on the floor, but now his eyes were closed, his head shaking back and forth as if in denial.

"Adar!" Arwen's voice broke through their laughter. "It is not funny!"

"My daughter," Elrond managed, looking up at her but still partially bent with a hand over his stomach. "That," he pointed down at Aragorn, "is funny!"

Arwen's eyes widened and her face flushed again, this time in anger. Legolas could feel her ire. She opened her mouth, but before she could speak, Elrond restrained his mirth to a few chuckles and lifted a hand. "Enough. You should not be here. Go now. We will see that your betrothed is…" he cleared his throat, "properly cared for."

"Properly disposed of, he means," Aragorn murmured from the floor.

"I will not leave you to torment him further!" Arwen fumed, turning livid eyes upon each by turn.

"What did I do?" Legolas asked. "I just got here!"

"You shall never let him live this down," was her reply.

Legolas grinned. "Absolutely not."

"That's for certain," Elladan added.

Elrohir snorted.

Aragorn groaned.

"Out!" Elrond demanded, pointing to the door. In a huff, Arwen moved to obey, hesitating as she passed her poor betrothed. She cast another glance down at Aragorn, but Elladan reached out and grabbed her by the arm, effectively shoving her from the room, then closing the door.

Once the lady was safely from the room, Elrond bent down and began feeling Aragorn's limbs. "You are certain you are not hurt?" he asked.

"Does it matter?" the Man asked. "You are going to kill me, so what's a few bumps and bruises?"

Elrohir snorted again, and Elladan smacked him on the back of the head. "What?" the younger twin asked, looking affronted. "It was funny!" Elladan shook his head, but smirked.

"I am not going to kill you," Elrond said, standing and reaching a hand down to the Man. "You are capable of that all by yourself, it seems. Can't even get out of the bath without…" Elrond began to chuckle again.

Aragorn let out a long moan, but reached up and took his father's hand in one of his own. "This really is not what it looked like," he grumbled.

"Might I suggest that next time you lock the door?" Elrond said, raising a brow. His lips still twitched and the twins' eyes shone with mischievous amusement.

"Forget locking the door. I refuse to bathe in this house again." Aragorn declared, glancing about the floor.

Legolas picked up the towel that had fluttered to his feet and handed it to his friend, who snatched it around his waist.

"Not even a 'thank you'?" Legolas asked, smiling.

"No," Aragorn grumbled. "Arwen was correct; you shall never let me live this down."

"For certain," Legolas confirmed. "You would have to go to Mordor to get any reprieve…" He grinned at the Man.

Aragorn, however, cocked his head to the side. "You swear it? I go to Mordor and you'll forget this ever happened?"

Legolas felt his brows rise high on his forehead. "By the stars, Aragorn! You would be mad to go to Mordor just to get away from being teased."

"Do I have your word?" the Man asked again.

Legolas frowned. Elrond's eyes had taken on a strange gleam, and the twins seemed to be doing their best not to look at each other. Something was going on here, some secret they were privy to of which he had yet to be informed. But Aragorn go to Mordor? It was mad!

"On my honor as a son of Thranduil. If you go to Mordor, I will forget what I've seen…unless of course, I join you, in which case, I shall tease you every step of the way."

— o —

A couple days later…

"I will take it!" Frodo's voice rose over the clamor. "I will take the Ring to Mordor."The silence that followed that statement was deafening. "Though, I do not know the way."

Gandalf rose to his feet. "I will help you bear this burden, Frodo Baggins, as long as it is yours to bear."

Aragorn stood and strode over to the Hobbit. He knelt before Frodo. "If by my life or death, I can protect you, I will. You have my sword."

"And you have my bow…"

The End

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