title: Mourning Doves
fandom: Lord of the Rings
characters/pairings: Aragorn/Legolas, Gimli
rating: G/Teen
warnings: kissing
summary: Legolas and Aragorn discuss what is fleeting.
notes: for daimeryan_rei, her ficlet on demand. ^_^ i'm placing it at the end of TTT, rather than the middle of FotR, tho, just because, when i got to thinking of it, it seemed to fit better. movie continuity, as i have yet to read the books...

The day had grown late without anyone taking notice. They would spend the night in the deep, and then they would make their way back, just in case a secondary army of orcs was on their way. Aragorn thanked whatever forces had prevailed upon Theoden to start to think clearly. The Deep had been a mistake, but they had survived it.

Not all of them, of course, and that was why they lingered in these blood-soaked fields. Aragorn was anxious to rejoin Merry and Pippin. There was always the outside chance they had news of Frodo. Staying here raised his hackles and left him feeling off-guard. There were too many shadows, and too many crevasses, and stray orcs could well be lying in wait for a chance to take some fresh meat with them to their graves.

Gimli had gone back inside the Deep, to keep Eowyn company, and Aragorn was grateful of it, else the strong-headed woman took up a sword and joined the parties combing for orcs. They had little daylight left, and once the sun was gone, their foes would regain their fortitude.

He needed to find Legolas, though. It preyed upon his mind that another of his charges had slipped from his view. Gandalf was more than capable of looking after himself, and was probably wiser about it than even he would be, but Legolas was passionate and quick of temper; he would charge head first without giving thought to his compatriots.

There was too much blood in the air, and too many feet pounding on the ground. All of his skills abandoned him. He could not track in this melee. He needed an anchor, a compass.

He turned his eyes to the scowling sky, and a glint of something flashing in the corner of his eye brought his attention to the ramparts. There was movement there.

There were too many dead, and the danger was still too real. Theoden had decreed that they would leave the bodies, of both foe and friend, right where they had fallen. It was a harsh decision, but Aragorn did understand it. They had living to attend to; but that did not mean he would abandon their dead.

No one noticed as he slipped past the rubble that had been the outer wall, and stole up the steps to the ramparts. The smell of blood was thick, and sickening, and already, the scavengers had come out to feed. Orc flesh was like poison on the land, but there were more than enough dead men and elves to draw the worms and maggots up from the earth. He kept his hand on the hilt of his blade as he stepped respectfully past the corpses.

His alertness drained from him when he found the source of the movement. He stood perfectly still, watching in detached fascination, as Legolas cradled the head of Haldir to his chest, keening softly, musically.

He half wanted to stay, to watch, to comfort, if possible, but his lack of experience in that arena inspired him to want to go. It was too raw a moment to share, he felt, so he turned to go back from where he had come, but his attention was elsewhere, and he missed spotting an arm in his path. He nearly fell onto his face, catching himself a loud grunt. He had not yet even had time to be embarrassed before he felt the wind of an arrow flying past his cheek, missing him by mere hairs.

"Aragorn!" Legolas was clearly shocked, and he was soon at Aragorn's side, helping him up. His face was etched with regret, but it was the tears that gave Aragorn pause. "My sincerest apologies! You caught me unawares."

Aragorn reached up to trace the wet lines on Legolas' face. "My friend, there is no need to apologize. I am sorry to have disturbed you."

"In truth, I am glad that you have interrupted me." There was the faintest hint of color in Legolas' cheeks. "I fear that I have tarried too long here in this nightmare's grave."

Aragorn put his hand on Legolas' arm, staying him. "Do not be ashamed that you need time to grieve. We all do."

Legolas looked away, his pride choking him. "And yet, all others put their hands to the tasks of the day, while I waste my talents on those who can no longer be saved."

"Legolas." There was a way in which the saying of his name affected the elf; Aragorn could see it in his posture, in the slightest of ticks in the corner of his eye. His voice alone could bring Legolas over the edge when they were both breathless and needy. "I mourn with you, my friend. He was an elf beyond measure."

The elf's shoulders lowered minutely, and Aragorn took the chance at embracing him.

Reverting to elvish, Legolas sighed into Aragorn's hair, "I do not know how men endure it. I have watched you die, many of you, seen how you all bear under the weight of it. Haldir was elf-kind. He should be as endless as the wind and the water and the growth of new things."

"Sauron's evil seeks to destroy all that should endure." Aragorn placed his lips on Legolas' cheek, and sighed with him. "We shall put to right that which is has been undone."

"We cannot undo this," Legolas sighed, his arm sweeping out to indicate the wreckage of life.

"I am sorry, Legolas." Pain lanced at Aragorn; he had been too late to save Haldir, and they had been too few to fight well against the massive armies of Saruman. None of this would be happening if Isildur had only fulfilled his pledge...

Legolas' mouth was on his now, taking him deeply into passion. Aragorn drifted with it, until desperation tinged and colored it, and then he sought to bring it under control. His lips were raw and red, and even Legolas' fair skin was marked with the kiss.

"We cannot dwell on what is done, neither of us. The road ahead is too long to carry so much weight with us." He brushed his hands over Legolas' face, wanting very much to cover his long, lean body with his touch.

"How?" There was naked pleading in Legolas' eyes. "How do we do that?"

Aragorn paused to consider. "We take the good with us, his strength, his love, his compassion, his courage, and we leave behind the regret and the sorrow, as best we can, until eventually, all the sorrow is gone, and only the good remains."

"How long?" Legolas asked, like a child wanting a cut to heal right away.

"In time, my friend," Aragorn whispered in intimate elvish, "in time."

"Well, how do you like this!" Gimli boomed, his hands at his belt. "They walk away from the work to speak sweet nothings into each other's ears!"

Legolas blushed powerfully, but Aragorn refused to let him pull away. "Gimli..." he warned the dwarf.

"There is food prepared inside. It is nothing more than mead, dried meat, and stale bread, but it is more nourishing than rocks."

Legolas nodded abruptly and brushed past Aragorn to leave. Gimli stood in his way, refusing to step aside, and had his say with the elf, speaking too low for Aragorn to hear, but he could see the effect the words had on him, and he was glad for the dwarf's interference.

Aragorn followed at a more leisurely pace, watching Legolas' fleet feet taking him far ahead.

"That boy couldn't saunter if his life depended on it," Gimli noted dryly, and Aragorn had to smile for it. "I will take watch tonight over you. We can surely find some out of the way space for the night." Gimli looked up at Aragorn sharply. "You both could use a warm bed before the journey in the morning, and he will need what you have to offer, I'd wager."

Aragorn was taken aback, unable to form a response immediately. The simplest thing to say seemed best, so he just offered a quiet thanks.

Gimli snorted. "Just keep the noise down. The last time, I had a helluva time explaining to the hobbits about elfin massage therapy. You're damn loud, Aragorn."








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