Standard disclaimer. I own nothing but dearly wish I did.
I have yet to decide if this is a one shot.
It had all gone terribly wrong.
The vague notion surprised him a little, as though every nuance of fear and desperation had been a trick played upon his mind, a fear without foundation because how could they possibly fail when they had justice and righteousness on their side, when theirs was a story of good and evil and everyone already knew the ending before the telling.
Surely his doubts had been lip service prayer, pained words uttered to show that he too was mortal and afraid, no higher in station than those around them in order to gain their trust at his humility.
He lay upon his back, the weight and agonies upon his body the barest whisper of a dream that faded and flickered with each long press of his eyes closing, every breath hollow and ethereal. Lacking substance and presence.
He was dimly aware of the copper tang that cloyed in his mouth, his tongue weakly probing the looseness of his tooth, the smallest of his injuries and yet the most fascinating to him as he stared up at the sky, eyes fixed yet unseeing on a scrap of dusk that drifted and filtered through the straggling scraps of cloud that scudded the darkening sky, the faint glimmer of a star holding his attention for the briefest of moments.
He could barely breathe.
Though whether it was from the knife wound or the sight at his side he could not tell. He could feel the clouded stare upon his face, burning as it traced across his cheek, every speck of blood under weary scrutiny.
The fingers clasped within his hand flickered briefly, compelling him to turn his head and spill the tears that had gathered in his eyes across his cheek.
"You should go." Legolas spoke, the whispered words more a sibilant arrangement of air between his lips, stained with the sweet and sickly smell of blood.
Aragorn traced the tired lines of the face before him, skin pale under the sky with not a trace of the battle to flaw him save the unnatural whiteness that seemed to seep all warmth from him, as though leeching the life from within himself that he would gladly give to save the dullness in the those eyes.
"I'll not leave." Aragorn whispered, as though placating a child in the darkness of the night when they call out from their slumber with haunted visions of spectres and beings.
He turned to face the sky again, trying not to see upon the edges of his vision the wavering line of the arrow that pierced Elvin flesh, running swift and deep and not close enough to its mark to make such an end that would have left him on his knees weeping, holding onto lifeless limbs and pressing his cheek to cold skin. Instead it had been like this he had found him, surrounded not by the blackened bodies that stained the ground with ghastly ore, but on the only green upon the earth around them. It was fitting that he should have fallen here, with the sweet smell of his nature beneath his back, the unspoilt blades caressing the back of his hand as it lay to his side. He looked to be only resting, and indeed it had seemed to Aragorn that as he gazed upon him that he slept in the way he sometimes did, eyes unseeing as though looking inward towards some beatific reveries, the softest hint of a smile upon his face and he was compelled to sit, to let his knees take the brunt of his fall as he slumped to the ground as Legolas turned his palm upward in supplication to Aragorn's questioning hand, letting the sword roughened hand slide loosely around his own as he whispered "Join me," into the encroaching darkness, drawing him down with compulsion to lay beside him.
"They will be looking for you." The elf said softly, as though they lay on the river bank at the end of a late summer day, his voice heavy with sleep, almost content.
"Let them look." As I have looked. Eyes scouring the land, the blood dripping from his side with each expired breath as his gaze flicked from face to face, reading the feathers of each arrow as though to decipher a path, following the footprints in the dirt as they turned and spun and parried with fluid grace that could barely be read beneath the gore. Of course he had heard them call for him, the voices far away both on the wind and in his mind, paying them no heed as he searched with pained step, his hand falling from his side as it too became weakened from its hold, each footfall costing him dearly, the patterns of the braids to look for dancing in front of his eyes.
The hand within his grip moved, fingers slipping to lace within his own, a brief clarity of strength and then... "I grow tired Estel."
Aragorn let his eyes be drawn back to that pale face, blinking through the hair in his eyes as he noted the sense of wonder in the elf's voice. Of course, he would never have felt weariness such as this, the slow seeping drain of energy that left without a fight, the cold that wove its way insidiously into every pore and made you cling to the ground as though to sink down within its darkened, blood spattered folds. So easy it would be to turn their cheeks to the grass, to let their lashes fall upon their cheeks and rest.
Only not to waken, to never see the sun rise or the moon that cast its grim pallor on the matted clouds above them set.
Aragorn felt his heart stir, felt the sluggish blood within his veins take speed, the thrum of hope and valour claw at his chest as he fought to rise, his weight wavering as he drew himself up onto his elbow, head rolling onto his shoulder as he stared down at joined hands.
"Elves do not sleep in the way of men," he mumbled, lifting his eyes with great effort to lock his gaze with his friend, "And I shall not allow you to succumb to slumber this day." He straightened, planting his hand upon the ground to balance himself as he tugged lightly upon the hand that had fallen lax within his. "Come."
Legolas seemed to sigh, an impatient sound that did not sit easily within his consciousness, as though about to be scolded as he had been so many times in his youth.
"Leave me be Aragorn, the light is fading can't you see." He eyes directed to the sky, a futile intolerance edging his voice that sought to drive irritation into Aragorn's mind.
"And it shall grow darker before the dawn." Aragorn countered, petulance colouring his words and he reached forward to place his hand against the elf's cheek, turning him so that they could look each other in the eye. "Do not make me mourn you." What he hoped for as a command instead left his lips as a brittle, broken plea, his thumb smoothing over pale skin and leaving the first smudge of chaos and destruction upon the striking face.
"As if I could ever defy your will." Legolas returned, the barest flicker of a smile gracing his lips. He brought his hand up from the grass to touch his fingers to Aragorn's wrist, briefly tracing the line of his pulse as though to reassure himself of the life that continued on. "Though I fear this is one duty I cannot be held to." The words shook as they left his lips, eyes dark and fading with the light as Aragorn brought his hand to rest upon his chest, fingers spread and framing the intrusion that even now drew life from immortality.
"Legolas..." the blood was warm beneath his hand, soaking into his skin with a horrifying intimacy. His fingers trembled as he turned them, his mind unravelling with terror. What could he say that would make this right, that would make up for his mistakes, for not daring to believe even his own doubts. For bringing them here, and to this. Kneeling and praying without hope as Legolas wiped the tears from his face and whispered words that should have been from Aragorn's lips. He should not be the one being comforted, to be forgiven. He turned his face into the tremulous touch, holding him fast as he kissed his palm, pouring out his grief and agony as he whispered, "Please." His breath burnt like fire in his lungs. "Please."
He held the hand to his face, eyes closed and pressed into the fading warmth, aware of the high ring of voices that called out too late, of the weight that sought to drag the light touch from his cheek, lax and spent, but he held fast, refusing to let go, to open his eyes to see the life and light gone from one who deserved unending days.
He could hear the footfalls now, the clamouring of voices and the hands upon his shoulder as softly spoken words rained down upon his ears to fall unlistened and ignored, for what council could they bring him now. His hand eased from its rictus grip, so very cold as every nerve yearned forward to cling to remaining heat, fingertips outstretched as he was borne away, aching desperation peeling at his heart as he turned to face the sky. "Please."