Okay, long time since I've written a LOTR fanfic, so this might be a bit off. It is AU to both movie and book. It takes place after the battle of Helms Deep... just thought that our favourite Ranger and Elf couldn't have gotten off without a scratch. :D
Contains angst and limp, but no slash. You could read it that way I suppose, but there's not going to be any snogging. Sorry.
In the darkness and horror of a battlefield swamped with the cold bodies of the fallen, nothing stirred.
To anyone who looked upon it, the scene was reminiscent of a man's darkest nightmares, of the furthest reaches of hell. The air was heavy with the smell of blood and sweat, still lingering like a curse over the stretch of land. The ground had vanished beneath corpses, Uruk-hai and man and horse alike, warped together in a twisted, bloody mass. Limbs lay scattered across the carnage; dark, inky blood dripped steadily from clawed, grey fingertips; mouths stretched wide in screams of terror; eyes stared up into the face of death, empty and unfocussed. The battlements of Helms Deep rose up, like some rocky spectator of the scene, part of its surrounding wall crumpled and collapsed like paper. Maybe there had been survivors, but any such man had crawled, limped or staggered to the safety of the hold long ago. In the confusion it had been hard to identify individuals, hard to decipher one man from the other.
Now, in the gathering dark, nothing stirred.
Well, almost nothing.
He wasn't sure whether he was alive or dead as he rolled heavily onto his back and concentrated on breathing. His throbbing head failed to take into account that if he was breathing, he must surely be alive. Instead, the facts that leapt out at him was that his side was wet with thick blood, that agony was spearing through his body, that his sword-arm wouldn't move when he told it to, and that dark dots were dancing before his eyes. He fumbled through these thoughts, trying and failing to piece them together. When he finally did, however, he managed to draw one small conclusion - he was in trouble.
The sky stretched above him, a yawning dark hole into which he felt he might fall if he dared get up. It couldn't be that late in the day, and yet miserable clouds had blocked out the sun, casting a black shadow over the world. It felt like night. No, worse than that... he took in the bodies around him, the corpse of an Uruk-hai which was lying across his legs. It felt like the land of the dead.
A sudden rush of irrational fear surged into him, and with a muffled moan he pushed himself upright. The world titled and he slumped down onto his elbow, blinking in surprise. Something was very wrong with him. He kicked weakly at the Uruk-hai lying over his legs, managing eventually to push it away. The action took more effort than it should have, and left him panting. He curled his legs beneath him, put both hands against the ground, and heaved himself up to his feet.
The movement sent a wave of dizzy nausea through him, closely followed by a searing, burning pain all over his body. He instinctively clutched at his sword-arm, felt hot blood writhing out of his shoulder and around his fingers. His stomach heaved, but he managed to control himself. His last memories of the battle hung in his mind, taunting him. They were surprisingly clear, considering the state he appeared to be in now.
He had been fighting, that much was clear. He had galloped out with the Kind, for one last desperate act to save Helms Deep. He remembered the determination, the adrenaline coursing through his veins like lightning, the savage triumph he felt as he slashed at the monsters rushing at the from atop his horse. And then the joy, the relief as he looked up to see Gandalf on the horizon, closely followed by the Riders of Rohan. The river of horses had spilled down the hill, an unstoppable force as they pounded down on the enemy. Helms Deep's salvation at last. After that, things had been more confusing. The Uruk-hai had fought back viciously, and he remembered being dragged from his horse as they swarmed in on the King. Someone had called his name then, someone had reached for him in vain. He couldn't quite remember who that was, though... and then he was amongst the Uruk-hai, and he was fighting, fighting not just for Helms Deep but for his very life...
He hadn't been alone.
Clear as a beacon, a figure had swung down from a horse and made a dive for him, eyes burning with fury as twin blades came up against Uruk-hai axes. He had been weakening, but then the figure, that person who he couldn't quite place had rushed into the fight with him. They had fought like brothers, perfectly in sync, back to back against the enemy, and even though the Uruk-hai were fierce he could remember laughing, laughing out loud with exhilaration....
Was that when it had happened? It must have been. He remembered the burn as a blade pierced his shoulder, a fist rammed into the older wound in his side. He had gone to his knees from the force of the blow, gasping helplessly, and his gaze had found those blue eyes so close to him and yet too far away to help. Then something had rammed into his head, and he had fallen into darkness, stars bursting before his vision. The last thing he had seen were the eyes of that figure, his brother, the horror and disbelief that passed over his face...
"Legolas," he whispered, coming back to the present with a sharp jolt. He whirled around, sending his own head spinning once more, searching desperately for any sign of his friend. "Legolas!"
There was no answer. The only things that met his gaze were the bodies around him, the blood, the death... what if Legolas was there somewhere, buried beneath the foul bodies of Uruk-hai, his silvery blonde hair streaked with scarlet, his eyes blank and unseeing...
He came out here for me... if he's dead, it's my fault...
Aragorn couldn't bear it. He plunged through the bodies, slipping and stumbling, gasping as pain stabbed at his head. A soft heat was creeping through his hair, matting it together, searing in the hesitant breeze. His head must be bleeding again.
"Legolas!" he roared, his hoarse voice a wail in the silence. "Legolas, mellon-nin..."
In the back of his mind, he thought he heard someone call back. But when he turned, the world became a mass of grey, green and brown, and he couldn't make out any single person. It must have been his mind playing tricks on him, cruelly dangling hope in front of him before snatching it away again...
There was something he should be doing. He should not be wondering this barren wasteland alone, he should be looking for help. But heNi sí an edraith achen leave, not with the knowledge that Legolas was out here somewhere. Legolas would do the same for him... He was moving once more, a disembodied limb caught at his foot, and he staggered and dropped to his knees. His hand came down on something sharp and he flinched backwards, yelping. Why did he feel so scared? He never felt like this, this pathetic, this needy... he hated it, and yet he could not shake it off. He struggled to his feet once more and forced himself on, squinting at the bodies on the ground.
He couldn't find Legolas... couldn't find him...
"Legolas," he repeated, his voice shrinking to a mumble.
That shout came again, like the cry of a bird, from somewhere across the battlefield. This time, Aragorn couldn't tell if it was in his head or not, because the world was spinning around him and he felt sick... and then he was on the ground again, his fingers curling into blood-soaked soil as he retched, choking as he panicked and tried to breathe -
"Aragorn... Aragorn... Estel!"
Hands came down hard on his arms, sending a tongue of fiery pain up his side. He groaned and tried to push the hands away, but that grip was like iron. And he was shaking now, shaking so badly that he couldn't even breathe, couldn't think. Darkness closed over his head like water, drowning out the voice that was now close to his ear. He didn't want to know anyway. He had to find Legolas. Nothing else mattered. But then, the darkness pressing in on him was surprisingly heavy and silent, and wrong in every way.
"Estel! Tíro nin, iallon achen!"
He had never heard that voice so terrified ever before. That voice which was so familiar. With a huge effort, he pushed his eyes open a crack.
Legolas was leaning over him, arms wrapped around him tightly. His blonde hair had fallen down over his face in a curtain, his usual neatness lost as strands stuck to his forehead. His eyes were wide and burning with fear, such fear as Aragorn had never seen before. Blood was trickling down his face from a wound somewhere on his forehead. Aragorn stared up at him in confusion, trying to understand what had just happened, how he had ended up on the ground.
"Estel," Legolas repeated, his voice lower now but just as scared. "Estel, do you not hear me?"
Aragorn blinked. He wanted to speak, truly he did, but the words would not come. Every time he began to think, his mind turned blank. He had forgotten why he was even here. He frowned, swallowing hard in an effort to regain his voice. A bitter taste raced over his throat and he winced.
Relief made Legolas' shoulders slump, and the elf cast his blue eyes skywards as if to say 'thank you' to whatever entity he had been praying to. He gave Aragorn a wobbly smile, squeezing his arm with slender fingers.
"Aragorn, are you trying to worry me to death?" he demanded, clearly trying to sound reproachful. But his voice shook too much, and Aragorn wondered for the first time what he must look like to the elf. Covered in blood and dirt and barely conscious... well, that would certainly account for the elf's fear. He tried to explain.
"I... I had... t'find... you."
Legolas' eyebrows twitched upwards. "Indeed? I thought I was the one trying to find you."
Aragorn let his heavy eyes fall shut once more, wincing as pain rolled over him once more in an exhausting wave. Instantly, Legolas was crying out again, shaking him roughly.
"Aragorn, no! You must stay awake, you must!"
It hurt when Legolas touched him. It hurt to think, to open his eyes. He shook his head as much as he could, screwing his eyes shut. He just wanted it to end, just for a little bit.
"Legolas... Díheno nin... I-I can't..."
Legolas suddenly pushed upwards firmly, dragging Aragron off the ground. Aragorn coughed weakly, struggling to keep a grip on the world as his head span and his body crumpled around him. Arms wrapped around his shoulders, pulling him close against the lithe body beside him.
"Aragorn, you must try," Legolas hissed, his voice strained as he shouldered Aragorn's dead weight. "Come."
Aragorn tried. He managed a few steps leaning heavily on Legolas, but then his legs were giving out beneath him once more. Legolas staggered, struggling to keep them both upright. Aragorn reached out blindly, closed his hand over the leather jerkin beside him.
"I-I'm sorry..." he rasped, his own voice strangely distant.
"Avo drasto le, Estel," Legolas replied, his voice steady despite the effort of keeping Aragorn on his feet. "Ni sí an edraith achen."
Tiro nin - look at me
Iallon Achen - I beg of you
Díheno nin - forgive me
Avo drasto le - don't worry
Ni sí an edraith achen - I'm here to save you
Done. No idea when the next chapter will be up due to school exams and stuff, so sorry if there's a gap between this and the next one! Reviews are welcome.