Green and Greenleaf

EDIT: I've just re-edited this whole story and hopefully removed a lot of typos and added some polish. :)

A/N: Hi guys! Let me start off by saying that it has been a long, LONG time since I last posted anything here: indeed I thought I never would again, but things change. It scares me that I've been around five years without writing, and I feel like my abilities are fading, so this is an effort on my behalf to get them back. This fic was written in its manuscript form back in 2005 (A few months before Captive), and this is my attempt at turning it into something a little more decent and more befitting of my current writing level :P As I've been gone for so long, I would sincerely appreciate reviews on this one. By the way, the title for this is a reference to a saying that we have in the equestrian world: "Green and green makes black and blue," where "green" refers to an inexperienced horse or rider. And so, without further ado, let's begin...

Disclaimer: Unfortunately I do not own Legolas, Aragorn, or Lord of the Rings :(

Chapter One

Grey-cloaked, he padded with feline stealth over the forest floor. His deft, effortless movements disturbed neither leaf nor twig, and all the while his keen senses analysed the sounds of the woodlands, constantly searching for anything that may signal the presence of danger. After all, this was Mirkwood, home to a plethora of mortal perils. But, it was his home, and all mortal perils aside, he was rather fond of it.

Hopping nimbly atop a moss-covered log, the elf paused and threw back his hood, exposing long flaxen hair. Closing his eyes, he inhaled deeply of the crisp, barely-dawn air. He lived for mornings such as this one. Birdsong drifted to his ears from the surrounding trees, juxtaposed against the sound of a forlorn cricket, the chorus of which was subtly punctuated with the buzz of insects and the soft rustlings of some small mammal foraging in the leaflitter. He could smell the earthy, musky scent of the forest: the warm dampness of fallen leaves beginning to rot and give way to scatterings of fungi; interspersed with the cool, minty scent of the fog that still hung in wisps between the trees. This was it - the quintessential, very life essence of all that Mirkwood and his home, and there was simply nothing quite like it anywhere else in Middle Earth; nowhere else he would rather be but here, in this moment.

Grinning, Legolas exhaled slowly, opened his eyes, and gave a short, sharp whistle. It was answered by a low whicker. There was the sound of snapping twigs, and a dun stallion pushed his way out of a nearby thicket, startling a flock of small birds from the undergrowth. They flew off in an angry cloud, all at once chirping profanities at the clumsy equine who had disturbed them. The horse shook his head, snorting, and made his way towards the elf. "Thank you, Tavaro." Legolas rubbed the centre of the stallion's forehead and picked a twig from the long black mane. "Stand." The elf placed his hands on the seat of the saddle, and with a last, fervent glance into the trees, he sprang nimbly onto the horse's back and pushed his feet into the stirrups. With a light squeeze of his rider's heels, the stallion stepped forward cautiously, selecting his footing with care so as to move as silently as possible over the leaflitter.

Some time later, Legolas's stomach gave a growl, and he realised how hungry he was. Tavaro seemed to echo his sentiments, and whickered, pawing the ground. Reaching down to his left, Legolas opened the saddlebag and retrieved a neatly wrapped parcel of waybread. Unwrapping it and popping a cake into his mouth, he dismounted. He opened the left saddlebag and removed a small cloth sack, at the sight of which Tavaro's ears pricked and his head stretched towards it, his upper lip extended and wiggling around in an attempt to grab the sack. "Tavaro, stand!" said Legolas sternly, and the stallion jerked his head backwards, rolling his eyes in frustration. "Stand," repeated the elf. Tavaro was young, only four years old, and it was imperative that he not be allowed to pick up bad habits which could fast become dangerous to his handlers. "Back," commanded Legolas, and, lowering his head and chewing submissively, Tavaro began to step backwards. "Thank you, Tavaro." Legolas smiled. "Stand." And he emptied the grain onto a large, flattened boulder, allowing Tavaro to approach and eat once he showed that he was waiting calmly.

Legolas sat down on the edge of the boulder and, removing the cake of lembas that he was holding in his mouth, took it in his hands and started to eat hungrily. Finishing his breakfast, he rose and bent, picking up Tavaro's hooves one by one, gently removing mud and stones from the grooves of their sensitive undersides. Engrossed in his task, he failed to see Tavaro's ear twitch nervously. The next thing, Legolas was slammed into the ground as a crow burst from the underbrush, causing the young horse to leap sideways, striking out blindly with both back legs as he did so, and catching Legolas with full force in the belly.

Legolas lay sprawled in the leaves, stunned and disorientated. His world was spinning and he felt numb all over. Over the ringing in his ears, he could make out the sound of galloping hoofbeats as his spooked mount fled, and it was only when the sudden pain assaulted his midsection that he understood what had happened. Legolas screwed his eyes shut as the pain wracked his body, and he desperately fought to draw breath. No sooner had he managed to inhale shakily, when he felt dread descend upon him: Tavaro may have spooked from the crow, but a mere bird would simply not have elicited the horse's flight. There must be something else. Blindly groping for his weapons, Legolas willed his confused and protesting body to stand, but it would not, choosing instead to curl itself into a ball and wrap its hands about its middle. He wondered anxiously what manner of fell beast had so alarmed Tavaro. He sensed he was about to find out.

The approach of heavy footsteps spurred a surge of adrenalin in the young elf, who, with a grunt of pain, was able to force himself to sit up. He felt nausea rising in the pit of his stomach, and fought the urge to vomit. Curse his lack of focus! He would not be in this position if he had been more aware of his surroundings earlier.

"What have we here?" came a gleeful voice as an orc shambled into view, "An elfie? And wounded too!" Legolas gasped, and managed to grab hold of one of his white knives, pointing it at the creature with an arm that shook.

"Stay back, foul beast!" Contorting its face into something crudely resembling a smirk, the orc approached the elf and grabbed for his arm, however even in his weakened state, Legolas was too quick: the orc jumped backwards, black blood dripping from a deep cut in its arm. Not a serious wound, but enough to infuriate the creature.

"You! You will regret this!" it snarled. Not daring to get within striking range of the elf again, the creature somehow managed to heft the large boulder that Legolas had used for Tavaro's breakfast, and grinning wickedly, he hurled it at the elf's head.

Move! Move! MOVE! Legolas had overbalanced from the act of swinging his blade at the orc, and he watched in horror as the boulder seemed to hurtle towards him in slow motion. He had to MOVE. And then the boulder came crashing down on his shins, sparing his head. He heard something go crunch, and was unable to hold back a scream of agony. The orc took advantage of the situation, leaping onto the trapped elf and wrenching the knife from his grip, slicing deeply into Legolas's forearm with a hunting knife as it did so. The elf gasped as the orc's face was sprayed with crimson, and he knew that the artery had been opened. He frantically beat at the orc with his left arm, hoping that he could miraculously turn the tables. If he didn't, he was going to bleed out - and soon. Instead, he heard a loud pop from his shoulder as the orc wrenched his arm away, and the elf cried out again as his dislocated arm flopped uselessly into the leaves. The orc ran its tongue along the wound, savouring the taste of fresh blood, and Legolas felt his consciousness fade as the orc paused and then abruptly bit down into the wound. This was it. This was how he was going to die.

A/N: Well, there you have it. I was initially going to split this into two separate chapters, as it seemed to suit the overall pacing and flow; however I felt that that would make the chapters a little short. Again, please review if you're reading this, even if it's something super short. I just want to see if there is anyone out there reading my stories :) Until next time.