Title: The Last Journey
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings
Era: Fourth Age of the Sun
Genre: AU, Action/Adventure
Rating: M / FRM
Main characters: Aragorn, Celeborn, Elladan, Elrohir, Elrond, Éomer, Erestor, Faramir, Gandalf, Gimli, Glorfindel, Haldir, Legolas, Meriadoc, Nazgûl, Pippin, Thranduil (, OCs).
Pairings: Legolas/OMC (brief Aragorn/Arwen, Éowyn/Faramir)
Summary: After many peaceful years that have followed the war against Sauron, everything changes. Evil returns, striking without warning, and it is stronger than ever before. It is time for the final fight, but who shall achieve victory?
Work in Process.
Warnings: Characters’ death (major, OC), violence, torture, slash, mild sexual content (het and slash), plenty of evil, etc.
Sometimes I wonder how Aragorn does it. When all people seem to disagree him, he finds a way to turn their minds to his own profit. Legolas smiled, watching as the Men of Gondor passing him by. Morchaint snorted under him and Legolas ran a soothing hand along the dark horse’s neck. Gimli also shifted behind him, muttering something about unruly beast. Legolas chuckled, turning to look at the Dwarf sitting behind him on horseback. “You have something to say, master Dwarf?”
“If you are ready to continue on, I would prefer you to do so. As soon as I get down from this beast, the better.”
“Ah, but you are indeed riding the beast now. And it isn’t so horrible as you thought, is it? And it doesn’t matter how I ride: the Men cannot go on any faster than they are now if they wish to get their horses alive through Rohan.”
“Hmph,” Gimli snorted, shifting his axe in its belt. “I heard from Faramir that we are not going to stop in Edoras.”
“Yes, so I heard as well. Aragorn doesn’t wish to linger on the way. But worry not, we will stop in Helm’s Deep to drop your people there.”
Gimli visibly reacted to the word “drop”, glancing up at the Elf accusingly. “Are you planning something?”
Legolas tried to look both surprised and hurt. “Me? Well, I must admit that our journey has been with little excitement...”
“Right, right,” Gimli put in, looking at the Men passing by. “I still wonder if this is a smart move to do. After all, we all have dreams at times.”
Legolas sighed, playing with Morchaint’s mane. “I know, but this dream is different. I think that Aragorn also knows this, for he reacted immediately.”
“And the dream seemingly keeps repeating itself,” Gimli muttered.
Legolas looked back, shocked. “What do you mean?”
“Ah, do you think me stupid, Elf?” Gimli exclaimed. “You have been seeing nightmares since we left Minas Tirith, and it is not normal for you. Nor is that that your eyes are closed. Are you well? You can tell me if something is wrong, you know.”
Legolas snorted, turning away from the Dwarf. Of course Gimli had noticed. For now, Legolas had been somehow able to hide his continuing nightmares from Aragorn. Rafél had kept his silence, but would not do so for long. That Gimli brought up the matter first wasn’t anyhow surprising.
“I am fine. They are just dreams.”
“Then you haven’t yet recovered from your earlier wounds. Dreams do not make you close your eyes, do they?”
“And what if they do?” Legolas shot back, annoyed. At the moment, the idea of throwing Gimli down from the horse felt very appealing.
“You are not going to speak with me, are you?” Gimli stated at last, shaking his head.
Legolas didn’t answer, but instead he guided Morchaint forward, joining to the group of Men again. As much as he loved Gimli, he could not speak of his current situation. It was far too personal. Maybe later, when this all was over. When he had the answers for himself.
They indeed circled Edoras, making their way swiftly as possible to Helm’s Deep where they would fill their supplies and Gimli’s kinsmen would leave them. When they finally arrived to the Deep, both the Men and horses of Gondor were worn out. Aragorn promised them a day’s rest, no more.
Making his way to his own current room in the citadel, Legolas tried to suppress a yawn. He hadn’t slept since his small debate with Gimli, making sure that no more nightmares would be noticed by the others. Now he felt tired as ever, his body screaming for rest. Maybe Gimli was right. I am still recovering, and my body knows that. Maybe I should listen to it more carefully.
“Legolas,” came a soft call, and the Prince turned around at the familiar voice. Rafél halted beside him, his features revealing none of his intentions.
Bad thing, Legolas decided, preparing himself.
“You should rest,” the guardian stated smoothly, stepping aside to let a group of Men pass them by.
“I am about to do that. I took care of Morchaint, and the next time I am required is in a meeting before we depart tomorrow.”
Rafél didn’t say anything, but nodded slowly, starting to walk to the direction of Legolas’ room. “We must speak,” he finally continued, making Legolas sigh. “I suppose I do not have to tell you of what.”
“Well, there are a lot of choices...” Legolas tried.
“Do not act like a child, for you are not one,” Rafél said sternly without looking at Legolas. After all their years together, it sometimes seemed that even words were not necessary between them, even less the looks.
“But there are many things you may desire to speak of with me,” Legolas replied.
Rafél suppressed a sigh, stopping when he reached the door of Legolas’ room. Swiftly, the older Elf opened the door and closed it when they both had entered. “Now, this dream of yours... I would like to hear the truth.”
Legolas froze for a moment, standing with his back turned at his guardian, but then resumed his undressing. He would keep him mind, this time. He was an adult, like Rafél had pointed out, and he would not be forced to tell the other nothing.
“Legolas,” Rafél said, his voice patient but pressing. He knew the game Legolas was playing, but he also knew he would eventually win it. He always did, ever since Legolas had been a child.
“It is no business of yours,” Legolas finally said, anger in his voice.
“How can I protect you if I do not know the threat?” Rafél stated.
“I do not need your protection. I am sure you have better things to do than follow my every step and see that nothing happens to me. And it has began to look like that you are getting rusty: how many times during the last few months you have actually done your job and protected me?” As soon as Legolas was finished, he regretted his words. But it was said, and a small part of him was relieved that it was done. For it was the truth. At least, when you looked it from one point of the view.
When there was no answer from Rafél, Legolas turned around, all his anger and weariness falling away in a second. Rafél stood with his head bowed, his shoulders slumped with defeat. His silence told enough, and through their bond, Legolas felt the other’s guilt. Self-hatred. Helplessness.
His defiance falling, Legolas stepped forward, winding his hands around Rafél’s shoulders. “I am so sorry,” he whispered, pressing their foreheads together. “I am just so tired and afraid. I feel like I am not in control of what happens around me, and it angers me.”
Rafél finally raised his head, his eyes searching Legolas’. “I know, I feel it. And it worries me. You are not acting like you usually are, and all the time I fell less and less able to defend you...”
“It is my own doing that you are not able to follow – to protect,” Legolas confessed, not sure of what time he was speaking of. “But I will try harder to give you a chance. Just please... stay with me. Alone, I fell weaker. I know I should not, but at the moment, I feel so alone.” Legolas stepped back slightly, noticing that he spoke like a frightened Elfling. He had not spoken to Rafél like this for thousands of years, but it felt good, somehow.
“I am not going anywhere,” Rafél whispered, kissing Legolas’ forehead tenderly. “Now, go to sleep. You need to rest.”
Legolas nodded, glancing at the bed on the other side of the room. He knew what waited there: more dreams. Suddenly, he didn’t feel like sleeping anymore.
“I will watch your sleep,” Rafél offered suddenly, pushing Legolas towards the bed. Legolas glanced at the older Elf, and then nodded, smiling vainly. Rafél knew of his dreams, anyway. Crawling to the bed, Legolas waited for Rafél to join him, and with a soft sigh, Legolas sank into Rafél’s arms, falling into sleep after some minutes.
Rafél watched at his protege’s peaceful face, his own features suddenly twisted with worry. He knew something was wrong. But Legolas was not ready to speak of it, and so he would wait. But how long it is safe for me to wait before things go ill? Settling down more comfortably, Rafél watched Legolas, noticing yet again that the other’s eyes were closed in a most un-Elvish fashion. And Rafél knew it was not a healing sleep Legolas was in. Something was seriously wrong.
Aragorn marched out of the main doors of Helm’s Deep, inhaling the fresh morning air. It was a perfect day for travelling. Though he would not enjoy of the day’s beauty, he was sure. Other things much more gloomy were on the surface of his mind.
“My King Elessar,” came an honouring call and Irolas stepped in front of the King, bowing. “I was sent to inform you that King Éomer has arrived. He will reach the citadel inside few minutes.”
“Éomer?” Aragorn asked, surprised. “What is he doing here?”
“I am sure we will hear soon enough, my liege,” came another voice and Faramir joined them, bowing at Aragorn.
“True,” Aragorn decided, making his way to the battlement so he could see the approaching company. Indeed, Éomer’s flag flapped in the front of the arriving riders, the King’s own horse easily found from among the other horses.
“What is all this commotion about?” came out a deep voice, and Aragorn turned to welcome Gimli.
“Good morning to you as well, Gimli,” the King of Men said with a smile. “Éomer is arriving.”
“Oh,” Gimli stated. “Did you send him a word?”
“Nay, I did not. But, we shall hear of his intentions soon enough: I think he has just reached the citadel.”
Indeed, the voices of Men rose into air, the Men of Rohan welcoming their King with even more passion than they had welcomed Elessar yesterday. Not that it offended Aragorn: he was happy that the things were as they were.
The sound of horses approaching made Aragorn turn, and he saw Éomer and his men gathering on a bottom of the stairs. Approaching his fellow king, Aragorn ran through the possibilities as to why Éomer had arrived. He got his answer soon enough.
“My Lord Elessar,” Éomer bowed. “I heard you travelled past Edoras few days ago. I was most surprised that you did not pay us a visit.”
“I am afraid that me and my men were in a hurry,” Aragorn explained, clasping hands with Éomer. “Otherwise, I would have stayed in your capital city. But as it was, I tried not to delay. But come, why have you ridden all this way? Certainly you did not come for this information alone.”
“Ah, my reason is purely selfish: I indeed wished to meet you and hear why you are in such a hurry.”
“Then let me tell you in private. I will depart ere the midday has come, so there is no much time for debate.”
Éomer nodded, and after giving is horse to one of the stable-boys, he followed Aragorn back to citadel.
When Legolas reached the courtyard, it was milling with people, the cacophony of voices ringing in his ears. Rafél also grimaced, shaking his head. “It seems that we are departing with more Men than we arrived,” the elder Sinda stated.
“You think so?” Legolas asked, stepping forward again. Morchaint would not like such a commotion around, he was sure.
“Knowing Éomer...” Rafél began, but didn’t finish. Legolas grinned, walking to the sea of Men. After a small search Legolas indeed found his horse, standing in a peaceful corner. The great horse flickered his ears, neighing as a welcome. Lumén stood beside the black one, also welcoming his rider.
“It will be such an effort to find the stunted one from this group,” Legolas joked, making Rafél snort.
“You will find his easily by voice, or by the smell of rusted chain,” the other Elf said back, somewhat more serious than Legolas before.
Legolas shook his head in dismay. “Will you never learn to trust in him?”
“I already have,” Rafél corrected, mounting his horse. “At least since the attack to Eryn Lasgalen. He would have died for you.”
Legolas fell silent, mounting Morchaint slowly. He knew that Rafél trusted in Gimli, at least enough to leave them two alone. Maybe there would be a day when they all could...
“Master Elf, I hope you haven’t forgot me already,” came a voice from below, and Legolas looked down, extending his hand to help Gimli mount behind him.
“I am glad you made it, master Dwarf. I thought for a moment that you were again so amazed by the beauty of your caves that you could not leave them so soon. Or then you were just too annoyed to ride upon this beast again.”
“Ah, that is good, you are learning, whelp. Now, let us find Aragorn,” Gimli chuckled, tapping Legolas to the back.
“Whelp..!” Legolas exclaimed, but Rafél silenced him quickly, guiding Lumén forward. If there would be a sparring match between the two, they would not make out of the Deep today.
It took them a little more time to spot Aragorn, and even more to reach him. Usually, as soon as the Men noticed that Elves were approaching they stepped aside, but today there was too much excitement in the air. After several minutes the trio reached the King of Gondor, earning an amused glance from the Man.
“Well, here you are at last. We wondered where you were,” Éomer called out, looking at the Elves respectfully. After all these years, he still wasn’t quite at ease with this immortal race.
Aragorn was going to say something when another voice interrupted him. “Lord Gimli, I would ask you something, if I am allowed.”
Gimli looked down from his place, a smile appearing to his face. “Ah, young Fundal, how can I help you?”
The youth looked ashamed, glancing quickly at Adír who stood behind him. After an encouraging nod from elder, the youth continued. “I would like to come with you.”
Gimli looked at the other Dwarf surprised, then shifted his gaze to Adír. When the other Dwarf nodded again, Gimli frowned, nodding. “You may come, but do not slow us down. Search yourself riders, and we may be on our way.”
Fundal let out a joyous shout, and Adír drew the youth away, knowing that they would depart at any moment. They soon found riders for themselves, yet their mounting was a far more awkward than Gimli’s.
Gimli smiled, shaking his head. “I wonder if that is dangerous...” he murmured. “The youth wishing to travel with us again.”
“At least he is in good company,” Legolas answered with an equal smile.
“I suppose we are ready, then. Let us be on our way.” Aragorn raised his hand, not wishing to dare the peace between two friends, and immediately several commands rose in the air, marking that the riders were going to depart. The road opened immediately, and Aragorn rode out, his companions close behind.
to be continued…