What Used To Be

FemaleSpock: Dramatic is good, right? I wanted it to be kind of -what's going to happen?- because it was kind of the chapter that ends the main point (or second main point. The other one is Aragorn going to be friends with Legolas again, of course). I'm glad it worked!

Nosterineth: Well now I have some friends on YouTube! Yay! Yes they're finally free, now all they have to do is find Aragorn...

PeppyPower: Isn't it nice when you find you have a new reviewer? It gives me that fuzzy feeling I usually only get when I'm daydreaming about things that'll never happen. I'm really glad you liked that bit, anyway. I didn't even think about it as a flame...it was concrit! I like concrit and will definately try and work more on my descriptions!

stlova: Great! OK now I'm going to ask you a question on that. OK...when they were filming the running scenes in The Two Towers all three of them had an injury. Who had what, and how? (A long one...but I found that hilarious.) Also, did you like the chapter...?

Chapter 11

It was an awkward journey though the forest. In the immediate area around the cave, it was dark with large trees blocking out any hint of light coming through from dawn. This cast strange shadows on the floor, which was hard and dry. There was almost no vegetation, apart from the trees and wasn't a very pleasant place to be. After around half an hour of struggling through the trees everything thinned out, a bit of grass appearing here and there, bushes fighting for a space on the moss and fern covered floor. This made it slightly easier, but not by much.

"I can't go any further." Dari whispered finally. He dropped down to the floor and crawled over to a nearby tree.

Legolas watched hum worriedly. Dragging yourself through the forest in order to escape from a horde of angry men who wanted your blood when you had several painful injuries was not fun at the best of times, and this was certainly not the best of times. This thought only made Legolas even more desperate to reach Aragorn - and reach help. He could only imagine what they were going through, wherever they were. Were they even alive? He didn't know. But he had to find out.

"Eldarion," Legolas said. "I need to know where you were attacked. If we can find that place, we can follow your family's tracks. That's the only way I can think of to find them."

"It was...a sort of clearing, but it wasn't that big. Really just a patch with hardly any trees. It was on the path we came by, about two days in..."

Dari screwed up his face to remember, even though it had only been a few days ago.

"Thank-you." Legolas replied gratefully. Now he leapt up into a tree, so he could clear his thoughts easier. The path led North-East before turning, and from that he was sure the cave was in a pretty much Eastern direction. He couldn't be sure, but he thought they had now gone in a South-West direction from the cave, which meant they had to be close to the path! He thought he must be almost directly between the old Elven camp, and the clearing Dari had mentioned...

Legolas jumped down from the branch he had been sitting on. He saw that Dari was asleep, and although Legolas didn't want to wake him he didn't want the boy to wake up and think Legolas had deserted him.

Legolas bent down to wake him. "Dari," Legolas said softly, then a little louder, "Dari!"

"What...what is it?" Eldarion asked, blinking as he awoke.

"I'm going to have a look around, I won't be long. I don't think anyone will find you here, but will you be alright on your own?" Legolas asked.

Dari nodded, looking as if all he wanted to do right then was rest.

Legolas stood up and considered which direction to explore first. He knew he hadn't come to the path Aragorn had taken yet, or he would of been able to tell (he hoped). Therefore, he decided, if he headed in a North-West direction, he had to reach the path eventually.

So that was where he went. It wasn't the most interesting exercise Legolas had ever done, but it wasn't the least, either. After forty minutes, he began wondering how long he should travel for before turning back. Fifthteen minutes after that, he found the path. Legolas couldn't help feeling relieved that this, at least, had gone well. He wasn't entirely sure which side of the clearing that Dari talked about he was on, but he didn't care. He was that much further to returning Eldarion to his family.

Legolas returned to the clearing much faster than it had taken him to reach the path, but then he wasn't watching out for anything. He found Dari awake when he got back, but only just.

"I found it." Legolas announced with a smile as he strode back over to Dari, who jumped a little, because he hadn't known Legolas was there, and doing this made Dari wince. "Are you okay?" Legolas added worriedly.

"Fine." Eldarion replied, although he wasn't.

"The path is only an hour away at most." Legolas told him. "Then we only have to follow it."

This is what they did. It was quite painful, for Dari anyway, and it took them a little over an hour to reach it. When they did (Legolas supposed it was early afternoon) Dari once again sank down against a tree.

"Are we resting here?" He asked hopefully.

"I was thinking we should probably carry on down the path for as long as possible, and then rest all night." Legolas said with regret, hating to cause the boy more pain.

"Just for a few minutes?"

"Of course."

They spent a few minutes in silence before they began heading back down the path.

"Do you recognise this place?" Legolas asked.

"It all looks the same to me."

Legolas gave Eldarion a reproachful look. "It does not. Each tree is unique. Just like people."

Eldarion raised his eyebrows. "Yes, says the Wood-Elf."

Legolas laughed. "Very true."

It wasn't long after that they reached the clearing. They knew this was what it was, because it was clear there had been a fight, and quite recently too.

"I'm sure they're fine." Legolas assured Dari.

Legolas was sure that the Gondorians had continued down the path towards the village of men Legolas knew to be nearby. That was where Legolas headed.

"We'll go a little further and then stop for the night." Legolas promised Eldarion.

They eventually stopped for the night, and the following morning they ate most of the food Legolas had in his bag. Then they carried on, stopped for the night, and continued in the morning...Just how far away is this town? Legolas wondered to himself about midday. He was worried about Eldarion, who was looking increasingly worse for wear every hour. But the Elf was surprised Dari had gone on for this long. It was unfortunate they didn't have horses to take them, because it was taking much longer for them to arrive than was good for Eldarion.

"Legolas, I can't do this any more!" Dari finally cried. Legolas, who was a little ahead of him, tuned to find Dari exhausted, slumped on the forest floor. He immediately rushed back to help him, but Dari had his eyes closed. Legolas was sure Dari hadn't been harmed worse than whipping and being knocked out, with little food and drink which wasn't as bad as it could of been, but it hadn't been properly treated either. Or maybe he's just tired, Legolas thought hopefully as he picked Eldarion up and carried on.

It wasn't more than an hour later that Legolas saw the welcome sights of a village. Which would surely be the one they were looking for! The were no walls around the village, but the outside buildings were so tightly packed that there was only one possible entrance/exit. This was what Legolas headed towards.

Standing guard were a pair of Gondorian guards, who were surely there in case their attackers came back to finish off the job. When they saw Legolas, not looking himself at all, coming in holding Eldarion, they hurried out to meet Legolas and relieve him of the boy.

They were also quite obviously confused. One of them hurried into the village with Eldarion while the other walked behind with Legolas, asking what was going on, how he had rescued Dari.

"It's a long story." Legolas told the guard. "One that I think Aragorn should be the first one to hear."

The guard nodded, and no sooner had they stepped inside the village than had Eldarion entire family, plus Gimli, flown out of the doors of one building, as the other guard handed Dari over to Aragorn. Legolas wasn't even noticed in the rush, as Arwen, Lauri, Hal and Gimli surrounded Aragorn who tried not to let them trip him up as he returned from where he had come from, presumably to use his healing abilities on Dari. Everyone went straight in after him except Hal, who was slightly quieter than his sibling and family. He took after his mother in personality, to say the least. Hal turned round to scan the small courtyard they were standing in, and saw Legolas. A look of surprise and happiness came over his face before hurrying right over to the Elf.

"Legolas? Was it you? Did you rescue Dari?" Hal breathed as he enveloped Legolas in a hug.

"It was me." Legolas confirmed with a smile.

"It was? But I thought you were sailing? Where are the other Elves? How- how did you do it? What hap-"

"Calm down, there will be plenty of time for explanations later. For now, we should just worry about your brother." Legolas laughed at the boy's eagerness.

"Does Ada know you're here?" Hal asked, calming down, but only slightly.

"I don't think so-"

"We should go and see him then!" Hal began dragging Legolas over to where the rest of his family were.

"But your father is healing Dari. It's a family moment." Legolas insisted. He was quite worried about what Aragorn, Arwen and Gimli would say about his part in all this.

"Gimli is not family."

"Not by blood, at least."

Hal narrowed his eyes. Legolas decided Hal was not so much like Arwen after all, although she could certainly be scary enough when she wanted to be. "Come on." Hal said in a voice that implied he wasn't going to take no for an answer.

Legolas went, and followed Hal into the building and up a short flight of stairs. There they came to a door, which Hal pushed open enthusiastically and hurried in. "Nana, Ada, guess-"

"Ssshhh." Arwen scolded. "Your father is trying to work."

"But I-"

"Halbarad, you brother is- Legolas?" Aragorn was sure he was imagining things as he looked up at his friend, who really couldn't be there. He was supposed to be in Valinor, or at least on his way to Valinor. At his word, Arwen, Gimli and Lauri looked up at Legolas, who smiled at them embarrassedly.

"Legolas?" Arwen repeated in surprise.

"Arwen." Legolas replied, and then circulated the room. "Aragorn, Gimli, Lauri."

"What are you doing here?" Aragorn said, still in shock.

"I tried to tell you but-" Hal began.

"Ssshhh!" Arwen said.

"I came back with Dari." Legolas gave Hal a comforting look.

"You?" Gimli demanded.

"Me."

"You're supposed to be on a ship!" Gimli spluttered.

"But I am not, I am here." Legolas pointed out.

"I didn't even think about it." Aragorn muttered as he stood to approach Legolas. "You found Dari?"

"Yes. Later, I will tell you about it. Now, just worry about Dari."

Aragorn scanned the Elf, looking for any injuries. (There was bound to be something.) Finally he smiled, as he found nothing. Well, nothing life-threatening.

"Legolas, you should go and get cleaned up." Aragorn said eventually.

Legolas nodded. "Where can I-"

"I'll take you." Hal offered eagerly.

Legolas was then whisked off to a washroom, while the others looked at each other. None of them knew what to say.

"I wonder where all the other Elves are." Lauri said. "I mean, surely they would of come with Legolas?"

No-one knew how to reply to that, so Aragorn sat down with Dari again.

Meanwhile, Hal hurried the Elf back down the stairs, and down a corridor. "There you are." Hal said happily. "I'll go and get some of Ada's clothes for you to change into." He turned and hurried back the way they'd come.

Legolas tried to look excited about this and failed miserably. Personally, he would rather of kept going in what he was already wearing than wear anything of Aragorn's, but there was little he could do about it.

It took a while for Legolas to wash, but it was no wonder considering he hadn't washed for days. When he was done he found a neatly folded up pile of clothing, which he put on unhappily. Looking at himself in the mirror whilst wearing the new clothes he noted that Aragorn had clearly put on a lot of weight recently. He looked longingly at his own clothing lying on the provided seat, and wondered how long it would take for them to be washed and dried.

Well, there was not much he could do about his unfortunate clothing arrangement, but he wanted to go and see how Eldarion was doing. He made his way back to where the others were, and paused for a moment outside the room. Then he knocked lightly on the door.

"Come in." Aragorn called quietly.

Legolas went in, and to his surprise there was only Aragorn and Dari, who was still unconscious on the bed.

"Where is everyone else?" Legolas asked, seating himself on a chair by Eldarion's feet.

"Er- they're downstairs-um...sorting things out." Aragorn seemed to be trying not to laugh, despite everything.

Legolas looked up at his friends in surprise. "Are you choking?" He asked, completely seriously.

"Is that MY tunic?" Aragorn laughed.

Legolas narrowed his eyes, something he did extremely well. "Yes. I see you've put on weight."

"Ah," Aragorn said. "I suppose you came to check on Dari? He's doing fine, in any case, and now is as good a time as any to tell me about your little expedition."

"I suppose so." Legolas agreed. He then told Aragorn everything he could remember about the past few days of his life, with the exception of a few things. He failed to mention, for instance, Linnod's reaction to Legolas's request. He didn't think Aragorn needed any more reason to dislike the Elf at that moment. He also decided to leave out his attempt to deceive the Captain - Aragorn didn't need to know about that, either. Besides, it was rather embarrassing. Apart from that, he went through everything, from Athan coming to find him until the moment he had walked into the village with Eldarion.

Aragorn listened avidly the whole way through. When Legolas was finished his eyes travelled slowly over to Eldarion and then back over to Legolas. Then he stood up, and to Legolas's slight surprise pulled the Elf into a hug.

"Thank-you, mellon-nin." Aragorn whispered. "If it weren't for you, I don't know what would of happened." Now he paused and pulled back to look at his friend. "You didn't sail. After all that...and you didn't leave. What do you think your father is going to say?" Aragorn nearly laughed as he imagined Legolas telling Thranduil why he wasn't in Valinor.

"I don't know." Legolas replied a little meekly. "I was rather hoping I wouldn't have to, and I could just come back to Gondor with you."

"That's not very brave of you, now, is it?" Asked a soft voice from the doorway. They turned to see Arwen standing there smiling gently at them.

"Alright then." Legolas smiled back. "I suppose I would have to go back, to get those Elves for Ithilien, anyway."

Aragorn looked at Legolas with delight.

"That is, if you still want them...me." Legolas added carefully.

"Don't be ridiculous." Aragorn said. "Of course we do."

"Good. In the meantime...what exactly are you doing in a village of men?" Legolas returned to his seat, as did Aragorn, and Arwen sat down in a chair between them too.

Aragorn then went on to slowly describe their attack in the clearing, and stopped after he described his decision to carry on towards the village.

Then Arwen took the story up.

"We travelled here, and it took us about a day." Arwen recalled. "When we arrived, we began healing the wounded and burying our dead. We also sent out a messenger to a nearby town, larger than this village, asking for help, for some soldiers to be sent over as quickly as possible. Some of the men from this village offered to help, too."

"We were going to be leaving tomorrow. If hurt, they were not hurt badly, and a small group of men arrived from the town yesterday. But you turned up, with Dari, so we don't have to worry about that." Aragorn put in.

"I was just downstairs, arranging for the soldiers to travel back home, among other things that now need to be sorted out." Arwen supplied.

Legolas nodded. "Did you hear my side of the story?"

Arwen nodded. "Thank-you, so much, for bringing our son back."

"Even if he is in rather bad shape." Aragorn said.

"He is not in bad shape. He is just worn out." Legolas defended himself.

"Right." Aragorn agreed. " You should go and rest."

Legolas nodded. "Where should I-?"

"I'll take you." Arwen said. "Look after Eldarion, Estel."

"What else would I be doing?" Aragorn asked softly, turning his attention back to his son.
...

In the day that followed, Legolas somehow found himself in the field just outside the town, with Gimli, Hal, and a few of the Gondorian guards practicing battle skills. Legolas excelled everyone with bow, Gimli excelled everyone with the axe, and the guards were very good with the sword. Hal, of course, wasn't specifically good in anything yet, but Legolas thought he had potential with the bow while Dari, he suspected, would probably favour the sword.

Just as the sun began setting they group made their way back to the village, where Lauri informed them all excitedly that Dari had woken up just after the group had left, and had been talking almost non-stop all day. Gimli, Hal and Legolas immediately hurried into Eldarion room, where Dari was sitting in bed with his parents on either side.

"Dari!" Hal cried excitedly, before rushing up to the bed and glaring at his brother. "What were you thinking?"

"Oh, I've already had that lecture off Nana and Adar. I don't want another one!" Eldarion complained.

"Already?" Legolas asked. He was impressed. Even his own father hadn't lectured him as quickly as that after he'd been injured in a reckless action.

"Best to get it over and done with." Aragorn said defensively. He was sincerely hoping that the Elf would not remember the little 'incident' that had occurred when he was twelve, which had involved Elrohir, buckets, honey, feathers and a lack of clothing. After the three hour long lecture Elrond had given him about how it was wrong to knock people out with metal buckets, then take of their clothes, cover them in honey and finish off with dropping a pile of feathers over them, Aragorn had sworn that, no matter what, he would never, ever lecture any of his children, no matter what they had done. He had also promised that if he ever did, Legolas was allowed to knock him out with a bucket, take off his clothes, cover him in honey and feathers and leave him somewhere extremely public.

"So," Legolas said conversationally. "Does anyone know where the buckets are kept?" He slowly met Aragorn's eye. The smile he held there told Aragorn, quite clearly, that Legolas did remember that incident. He should of known better than to hope that the Elf would forget something.

"No." Aragorn said in a firm voice.

"I don't know what is going on here." Arwen interrupted. "But I suggest you both stop it now."

Legolas and Gimli both sat down on a chair. For the rest of the evening, the group relaxed, talked, laughed, and told embarrassing stories about each other. It was surprising how easy it was to do this, despite everything that had happened. But no-one mentioned it at all, for fear of disrupting the evening.
...

Two weeks passed quickly. The wounds on Eldarion's back healed, although the mental wounds would always be there, buried, but still reachable. Soon it was time to head back to Gondor, but this was more complicated than one might think.

Legolas wasn't sure what to do. Aragorn, Arwen and their children were heading back to Gondor with the guards, and so was Gimli, although he would only be staying for a little while. Legolas could either return with Aragorn and his company, or go straight back home to Eryn Lasgalen.
The second option was not particularly endearing. Legolas had come up with the master plan of the entire group making a short detour to Mirkwood and then carrying on to Gondor. At this suggestion, Aragorn had snorted into his cup.

"You do not expect me to come? As enjoyable as it would be to see the look on your father's face when you show up, I do not have a death wish, and I'm sure he is not going to be pleased when he finds out why his son is not safely in Valinor like he thought."

"It will not be that bad, Strider." Legolas insisted.

"Don't try and use nicknames to make me agree."

"You've met him before. He likes you!"

"Yes, of course he likes me. The troublesome human who constantly drags his youngest son into all sorts of danger."

Sensing failure, Legolas turned to Arwen. He than widened his big, blue eyes and made them as innocent as can be. He knew Arwen couldn't resist them.

"Arwen? You're not afraid are you?" He asked hopefully.

Deliberately, Arwen turned away. "Legolas, stop doing that. No, we are not coming with you. We'll come with you to the borders of Eryn Lasgalen. Then we'll just carry on to Gondor."

So Legolas admitted defeat, and the plan of action was set.

Three days later, the company left the village with many thank-you's and goodbye's to the people who had housed them. They rode on, towards the borders of Mirkwood. Legolas promised he would, as soon as he was allowed, follow on to Gondor, probably with a group of Elves for Ithilien. Secretly, Aragorn, Gimli and Arwen all thought it would be another seventeen years before Legolas would be allowed out of Mirkwood's palace. None of them expected Thranduil to control his temper.
...

The journey back was uneventful, thankfully. After a while Legolas went his separate way and the others returned to Minis Tirith. Slowly, the family and Gimli settled back into normal routine in Minas Tirith. Every morning and every evening Aragorn looked out of his bedroom window to look for Legolas, but he never saw him.

Four months passed. One day, as normal, Aragorn spent a few minutes studying the horizon after he had woken up. He then went on for breakfast, and then the first (of many) council meetings. It was midway through the afternoon that a servant hurried into the meeting room, and told Aragorn that a large group of Elves had arrived, and the leaded had introduced himself as Legolas.

Aragorn quickly adjourned the meeting, and hurried out to meet his friend.

Legolas and the Elves stayed in Minas Tirith for a month, giving the city's children archery lessons most days, and when Gimli returned to the Glittering Caves, they moved out to Ithilien. There Legolas stayed (with a few visits back to Mirkwood) until Aragorn passed on. When Dari became King, Legolas then sailed, with Gimli.

Epilogue

Two weeks after Legolas arrived in Minas Tirith, Aragorn walked out of his room in the morning only to have a metal bucket fall on him and knock him out. Accompanied by Hal, Dari and Lauri, Legolas then proceeded to remove most of Aragorn's clothes, cover him in honey and feathers and then moved him a little further down the corridor. When Aragorn woke up, he was not pleased. Legolas brightly told him that they could of moved him into the dining hall, but didn't, so Aragorn decided to count himself lucky.

...

Super long chapter I know but I am not finishing the story on 13 chapters...thats just asking for no helpful reviews and a load of flames! I also don't want to drag it on for much longer. I also know it's been quite a while since I last updated but I've been busy what with the time of year ect. Well I want to say thanks to everyone who's reviewed because it's been really helpful and encouraging! Also thanks to people who have been favouriting (this has also been encouraging) and finally any others who have read this story through to the end. If you haven't yet reviewed, well, no time like the present! I'd love to know what you all thought of the ending because I am not feeling too confident about it right now and if you have any improvements you think I can make to it...THAT would be useful! * By the way, I haven't put Thranduil in very good light this chapter, but I don't think he was an abusive, alcoholic ect, father. I'm just playing on the fact that he has a temper.

OK, I hope you all have a wonderful New Year, and thank you all for reading it this far! :) :) :)