The ride from Isengard was emotionally painful for Aragorn. Although when watching Legolas and Gimli ride up front together, he didn't feel the same intense jealousy as he had back at the lagoon, he still felt confused and hurt about his relationship with Legolas. Aragorn knew that he was being unfair on Legolas. Considering what had just happened to him, (though Legolas had never directly mentioned what occurred when he was taken captive by Saruman, Aragorn could fully well guess what had taken place) he couldn't expect Legolas to come running back into his arms. But Aragorn did wish that Legolas would talk to him, instead of leaving him with this feeling of uncertainty. Suddenly, Legolas turned around, and caught Aragorn's eye, a blank, expressionless look on his face. Aragorn realised he had been staring at the elf, and shaking himself to clear his thoughts, he tried to focus his attention elsewhere, trying to ignore the angel-like creature who filled his thoughts the way someone else used to do... Warning himself not to follow that train of thought, he tried to distract himself by looking around at his other companions. He listened with a half an ear to Merry's incessant chatter, and found himself worrying slightly about Pippin's unusual silence. He hoped the dark globe hadn't affected Pippin in the way that other objects of evil, like the Ring, seemed to have affected others.
Legolas carefully rode his horse, not paying attention to Gandalf's occasional glance of concern and taking no notice of Gimli's mumbled complaints. He was busy with his own thoughts. He realised that Aragorn was probably somewhat hurt over his coldness and his refusal to talk to him, but he just didn't feel like communicating with anyone at the moment, least of all someone who sent him on an emotional roller-coaster ride every time he saw him. He loved Aragorn, he respected him and admired him. He viewed Aragorn as a noble being, and so different to other men whose position of power made them become conceited, like Boromir. Yet at the same time he felt the polar opposite of those emotions. He hated. Hated himself for falling for Aragorn and leading him to betray Arwen, hated Aragorn for falling for *him* and showing disloyalty towards Arwen, and he hated Arwen for being with Aragorn in the first place. If only Arwen had not been willing to give up her immortality, then his conscience would be a lot lighter.
Thinking about the issue, Legolas wondered if he could do what Arwen did. Give up his immortality? For a fallible, clumsy human? True, he loved Aragorn, but he found himself speculating if it was more worship and admiration than love. And the idea of giving up his immortality scared him. To go from ashes to ashes and dust to dust. To fade from a strong, proud person, to someone weak and frail, who would eventually rot in a grave. To live a life where you thought you'd achieved something, then to have it all vanish, and become as meaningless as another grain in the sands of time, as the years pass and the world forgets about you. To not be able to wonder continuously in the forests and woods, and enjoy the serenity, because you would be to busy rushing about, trying to cram everything into your short life. A shudder passed through Legolas' body. Having his immortality taken away, was to him, the equivalent of a bird having its wings removed. How could Arwen do something like that? She must truly love Aragorn, and now he was taking him away from her? Legolas felt disgusted with himself. Giving up to the inevitable, Legolas realised that however much he didn't want to, he needed to talk with Aragorn.
It was already late at night when they arrived in the valley of Dol Baran. They were all anxious to sleep, but Gandalf wisely insisted that guards should be set before they slept. After a few moments of discussion, they had agreed on who should keep watch that night. There were a few light-hearted complaints from those who had been chosen, while the rest sank down wearily by the roots of the hawthorn and tried to sleep. Legolas, grateful for not being chosen, made his way to where Aragorn, who had not been so lucky, was resting. As he slowly made his way towards him, he felt a sinking feeling in his heart at the look of anticipation in Aragorns' eyes.
"Aragorn?" he whispered, as he sat down beside the semi-awake Ranger. Aragorn reached out to touch Legolas as a response, but Legolas moved out of his way. He didn't want to be touched, he couldn't...the memories lurked in the recesses of his mind, and he didn't want to awaken them, but he still felt guilty as a wave of sadness washed over Aragorn's face.
"I'm sorry," Legolas apologised, "I just can't... not yet..."
Aragorn nodded his understanding. "It's fine, Legolas. I understand, we have time."
"That's the issue." Legolas turned to face Aragorn. A confused look shadowed his face as he sat up.
"What do you mean?" he questioned Legolas.
"Time. I don't think we're going to have it. In fact, I don't even think that 'we' is the right word to use". A look of absolute horror passed over Aragorns' face
"NO!" he almost screamed, and then realising where they were, he quietened down, "You can't say that, Legolas. I know what you've been through, and know you're upset now, but you won't be like this forever. We can still be together, I'll help you through, we..." Legolas cut him off mid-flow with a negative shake of his head.
"No, Aragorn," he spoke softly, "this isn't just my turbulent emotions speaking, but something I should have realised from the beginning. What Arwen did for you, I don't think I could ever do."
"That doesn't matter..." Legolas interrupted him again
"Yes it does. If I could continue to live after your death, then that's not true love." Aragorn looked pained at his words, but seemed to realise what he was saying.
"I do love you, Aragorn, but not in the way which could make us partners. I admire you as a King, as a leader. I want to serve you..." this time it was Aragorn who interrupted
"I don't want your servitude, I want your love."
"Then all the love I can give you, you have. Just understand, this is not the kind of love which will lead to us sharing a bed, but one where we can learn to respect each other sincerely."
"But everything I feel for you..."Aragorn still looked hurt
"Believe me, it's not easy for me either, but deep inside your heart, do you really wish to abandon Arwen?" Aragorn slowly shook his head. Restraining the visions which he knew would plague his dreams tonight, Legolas hesitantly reached out to touch Aragorns' arm. Aragorn seemed surprise at the contact, but he managed to give a tortured smile back at Legolas.
"Now try to rest for a while, Aragorn. We can talk more tomorrow."
Leaving Aragorn to his private thoughts, Legolas slowly made his way back to where he was going to sleep. Although his steps were lighter than the ones he had taken when he was going to speak to Aragorn, a heavy weight still rested on his heart. Drifting off into an uneasy sleep, he hoped that he had done the right thing.
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