Disclaimer: I only wish they belonged to me...

Dedication: Elfie, for being such a sweetheart. She made me a beautiful banner for a fic request that I couldn't write. She was so nice and forgave me, so I'm dedicating this fic to her. Thank you, Elfie, for your awesome banner and your endless patience!

Author's Notes: Italics are Elvish words in Sindarin (found in movie Elvish verbatim of script, or researched in Sindarin by myself if original). For the translation, please refer to the end of the story. Credits are given at the end for research. And yes, researching Elvish is a bitch.


Bleeding Hearts

Part Four of the "Just a Glimmer" Story Arc
Part One of the "In The Dark" Story Arc

By Eruntalince

       

Black tongues, poisoned words, and sinuous snakes dwelled heavily on Aragorn's mind as he watched the people of Rohan throw Grima Wormtongue's belongings on the ground and burn them in the center of town. It was an appropriate name for the wicked advisor that had only been thrown out that morning. Part of Aragorn regretted not letting King Theoden slay the treacherous bastard that was responsible for pillaging of Rohan. But to forget mercy is to allow oneself to sink to the level of one's enemy.

Even as the smoke rose to the window Aragorn gazed at, his mind wandered into an area he had refused to let himself trod since his short break in the wood whilst hunting Merry and Pippin. But now, assured of their safety and with King Theoden returned to his people, Aragorn was finally, truly resting for the first time in four days. Yet his thoughts troubled him and prevented him from the sleep he had abstained from for so long. It was not the arduous and treacherous trek to Helm's Deep with the people of Rohan that rested heavily on his heart tonight. Nor was it the sharp words of their king spoken to Aragorn when the Ranger overstepped his bounds in giving advice. It was not even the awesome task of saving Rohan from Saruman's clawed grasp. No, what weighed on Aragorn this night was something else...

Aragorn sighed, and pulled off the tunic Eowyn had given him when she insisted upon washing his, Legolas', and Gimli's clothing. Legolas was pleased and quietly gave her his clothing, whilst Gimli protested and only Eowyn's pleading and a few threats from Legolas convinced him to divest himself of clothing. Baths were given to all three warriors and Aragorn was shown to his room after dinner. He was quite refreshed, honestly, but only physically.

His heart was weary.

Aragorn ached for comfort, for solace. He ached for the loving touch of another, for a soft kiss in a tender moment. But his Arwen was far away, perhaps even preparing to sail to Valinor. Part of him hoped that his failed attempt to return the Evenstar might force her to join her people in the Undying Lands, but mostly he hoped that she still hoped. He wanted her to remain with him, but he didn't. Yet, without her, he had no one.

Except perhaps another Elf that belonged with his people, and not a weak Man.

Aragorn sighed and withdrew from his window, not desiring to look upon the stars tonight. He found comfort in darkness and silence tonight, and the stars reminded him of the Elven songs Arwen sang to him. He opened his chamber door and peered down the long, dark hallway, but heard not even a footstep. Aragorn headed out, his heart heavy with sorrow and guilt.

Perhaps it was the distraction of his thoughts, or the natural light step of Elves, but Aragorn did not notice Legolas until he was practically on top of him. Legolas' bright blue eyes widened and he reflexively took a step back, his pale face becoming paler when he realized who stumbled on him in the dark.

"Good eve, Legolas," Aragorn said lightly. They had said little to each other but what was necessary whilst trailing Merry and Pippin. Not since their short break in the woods, where Legolas had attempted to give Aragorn solace...

"Good eve, Aragorn," Legolas said quietly, his soft, musical voice laced with sorrow. He had given Aragorn Elven Communion, a sharing of the soul, and revealing his love for the Ranger. But Aragorn had turned him away, fearful to accept the love of another immortal creature. But Aragorn could not deny the strength Legolas had imparted upon him. Even now, Aragorn could feel Legolasí love, his faith in Aragorn, swirling about his being, invigorating him. Truth be told, Aragorn knew Legolas' Communion had given him the strength to last the past four days.

An awkward silence passed between them. They had not worked out how their relationship would work now. For they had gone too far, and lay together as lovers. And friends that become lovers rarely remain friends after the bed grows cold and unwelcome.

"Legolas, I..." Aragorn tried to say, but his voice died for he could not put what he thought and felt into words. He had rejected the Elf, pushed him away. But now that he was looking into Legolas' soft blue eyes, Aragorn ached for Legolas to return to him.

"Why are you not sleeping? You should rest," Legolas said gently, his implacable Elven mask revealing no emotion for Aragorn to read.

"I cannot. I have tried," Aragorn said evenly, looking away from Legolas' eyes.

"Perhaps if you read a book...or took a walk?" Legolas suggested. His hands were folded in front of him, and he stood very still.

"Would you...care to join me in a walk, Legolas?" Aragorn asked softly, rising his head and meeting the Elf's eyes again. He swallowed nervously, wondering if Legolas would still continue to act as though nothing was changed between them.

Legolas blinked, a brief moment of emotion flashing across his smooth face, but then it was gone. "If you wish, Aragorn," Legolas answered evenly. Aragorn wondered if there was sarcasm hidden in that statement, but decided not to pursue it.

"I wish it," Aragorn replied.

Legolas made a graceful gesture down the hall, stepping aside so that Aragorn would be able to fall into step with him. As they walked together down the halls of Rohan, both silent, Aragorn marveled at gracefully and quietly Legolas walked, even by Elven standards.

It was an awkward silence that fell over both of them. But together they walked, burdened by this awkward silence, neither willing to relinquish it just yet. Aragorn turned a corner and stepped outside King Theoden's keep. Legolas followed him as he walked the steps and to the edge of the great hill that the keep stood on. Legolas stood beside him, both watching the wind play about the grass on the darkened hills of Rohan.

"It is a very lovely kingdom, despite its lack of trees," Legolas commented, breaking their silence.

"It is indeed," Aragorn said softly. Pleasantries were something they had never exchanged before. They had shared a real friendship, a sharing of minds and hearts. They had been brothers, before they were lovers.

Legolas did not respond to Aragorn, and merely folded his arms behind him. The wind caught his hair and blew it to the side, catching Aragorn's eye. Aragorn could stand this awkward silence between them no longer.

"You really do love me, don't you?" Aragorn asked, dropping every sort of pretense they had adopted over the past few days.

Legolas' face remained smooth and calm, as though he had been expecting Aragorn's question. "With all my heart and soul," he responded, his musical voice fluttering out as though he was reciting poetry.

"I did not mean to hurt you, Legolas," Aragorn said truthfully.

"I know."

"I don't think of you as my whore. I never did. I ache for your touch as much as I ache for hers," Aragorn confessed, baring his heart. He had to get it out. He had to say what he felt, else he would go mad.

Legolas turned his face towards Aragorn, and the Ranger realized that Legolas was crying. A single tear streamed down his face, soon followed by another. "Do you think I do not understand how much you love the Lady Arwen? I understand it better than anyone. And if anyone ever deserved your love, it would be her. I understand how it hurts you to know that if she remains with you, that she will die. I understand everything you feel, Aragorn. Everything except how you feel about me," Legolas said, his voice breaking. His Elven mask was gone.

Aragorn took a step towards the beautiful blond and gripped him by the shoulders. "I cannot tell you what I myself do not know, Legolas. But know that this rift that I put between us troubles me to no end. I love you as my friend, as my brother, if nothing else. You gave me comfort and solace. You put me back together when I fell apart. Your love strengthens me even now. I do not know what I ever did to deserve the love of two beautiful Elves, but I cannot deny that it makes me stronger than I would be on my own," he said kindly, desperate to make Legolas feel better.

Legolas said nothing, and though tears continued to stream down his face, it seemed to Aragorn that what he said helped to heal part of Legolas' broken heart.

Aragorn only met the kiss he gave Legolas to be one of comfort, a kiss of friendship. But as their lips met, a hunger possessed both he and Legolas and they greedily devoured the other's lips. Aragorn wrapped his arms around Legolas, entangling his hand in the soft silk that was Legolas' hair. He could feel Legolas' hand cupping his face, even as the other gripped his shoulder. Aragorn was lost in the sweet taste of Legolas' warm, moist mouth. Passion possessed them for a moment.

And then the moment was gone.

It was Legolas who pulled away, breathless and flushed. His eyes searched Aragorn's for a moment, and then he took a step back, putting space between their bodies.

"Sleep well, Aragorn," Legolas said softly and then disappeared silently into the night.

Leaving Aragorn to his thoughts.

       

It was quite obvious to Legolas that Eowyn fancied Aragorn.

He cast a glance at Aragorn who stared ahead with an odd look on his face. Eowyn was staring at the jewel that hung about his throat. No doubt she would soon discover that Aragorn was already rather taken.

It seemed that everyone was destined to fall in love with Aragorn. Legolas would only be half surprised if Gimli or King Theoden confessed some burning passion for him. It was starting to wear on the Elf's nerves. Was it not bad enough that he had to suffer the fact that Aragorn was bound to Arwen, an Elf maid who may or may not abandon him for Valinor, but now he had to suffer the juvenile infatuations of some mortal wench?

Legolas sighed. He was being uncharitable and he knew it. Eowyn had made no advances toward Aragorn, and probably wouldn't, the moment she found out Aragorn was betrothed. She seemed like a noble woman, filled with untapped valor. She was certainly lovely, and if her attentions were focused on Legolas, he could not deny he might pay her more than a little mind. In many ways, she reminded Legolas of the Lady Arwen.

And that similarity is what made Legolas so bitter. What if Aragorn thought to assuage his guilts and desires with her, as he had once done with Legolas? What then? Would there be another broken heart added to the trail of pain that Aragorn seemed to leave behind him?

And then there was an allure to her that neither Arwen nor Legolas possessed. A similarity to Aragorn himself. She was mortal. She was a woman of the race of Men, and could understand Aragorn in ways that no Elf ever truly could. Would that draw him to her? Would he forget about Arwen, who might leave the shores of Middle Earth and him? Would he forget about Legolas, whose love was misguided and taboo in Aragornís culture? Would he forget about them and draw Eowyn to him? She would so easily cleave to him...

Legolas sighed, his mind going over the events of the previous night. The kiss he had shared with Aragorn had made him ache for more, but it was he who broke it off. It was he who quelled their passion. Legolas couldn't let himself be drawn back into the bed of pain he and Aragorn shared. Legolas thought he could enjoy Aragorn's touch, free from attachment, but he was wrong. It was obvious that Aragorn was not including Legolas in his choices for lovers.

But Legolas wondered still at Aragorn's words of comfort, and wondered more still at the kiss he had started the night before they left for Helmís Deep. And he wondered if it hurt the dark-haired Ranger when he drew away from their kiss.

Legolas felt eyes on him, and he turned and realized that Aragorn's eyes were fixated on him with a gaze so intense and filled with yearning that Legolas was left breathless. Eowyn stood beside the handsome Man, calling his name, but Aragorn ignored her, staring longingly at Legolas as he gripped the jewel of Evenstar about his neck. Legolas met Aragorn's eyes with the same longing.

And then the moment was broken and Aragorn turned to Eowyn. Leaving Legolas to wonder if he indeed had no hope of gaining the Ranger's love.

And then madness was upon them.

       

"Get the wounded on horses. The wolves of Isengard will return. Leave the dead."

Legolas' heart clenched and he looked up from the ravine he stood over to give King Theoden a look of horror. Inexplicable anger coursed through him. Surely Theoden could not be suggesting that they leave Aragorn behind!

"Come," Theoden said gently, clapping a hand on Legolas' slim shoulder and then turning away to find his horse.

Legolas stood at the edge of the cliff as Gimli softly cried, his eyes wide, staring down at the ravine. Aragorn wasn't dead. He couldn't be dead. Legolas would know. Forever was his soul bound to Aragorn's, though the Ranger was not bound to him. How could they just leave Aragorn behind? He had to be just around the bend. Legolas could still feel Aragorn!

King Theoden walked away, his shoulders heavy with the losses they had suffered against the wild riders. Gimli followed him shortly after, leaving Legolas at the edge of the cliff. Legolas thought his heart would burst, and just for a moment, he considered tossing himself after Aragorn.

"Aragorn chuina!" Legolas shouted angrily after the Men and Gimli, who went to saddle their horses. The shock of the soft-spoken Elf shouting at them caused a few of Theoden's men to gape at Legolas. Legolas was livid with angry frustration.

Though he knew no Elvish, Theoden seemed to know what Legolas was saying. He rode his horse up to Legolas. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Aragorn would not want you to waste time looking for him. If he is to return, then he will do it on his own power. You cannot help him. You do not know where he is. But you can help me. I need you, Master Elf. None of my archers have your keen sight and skill. The forces of Isengard are breathing down my neck. Would you abandon my people to save one man, friend though he may be?" Theoden asked, his tone not unkind.

Legolas swallowed, forcing calm upon himself. "Forgive me, your majesty. None have lost so much as you. I will not abandon you," said Legolas heavily, and when he raised his golden head, his face was implacable as always. Theoden nodded to him and then turned away. After all, Theoden had lost his son, and yet he still walked on. Legolas expected no sympathy from the King of Rohan for the loss of a lover in comparison to the loss of a child.

Legolas held the Evenstar in his hand tightly as he mounted his horse in front of Gimli. He willed his prayers and hopes to the one person left in all Middle Earth that could guide Aragorn back to safety.

And far across the war-torn land, Arwen Undomiel heard Legolas' prayer.

       

Arwen had guided him back to life, just as surely as Legolas had.

Aragorn had felt the echoes of Legolas' love, framing Arwen's own, as he dreamed of Arwen's kiss. He had felt Legolas willing him back to life. He had felt Arwen willing him to get up. He had felt Legolas willing him to Helm's Deep. It was hard now, for him, to separate their love. He needed them both, and he understood that now. They both gave him strength.

Aragorn slid off Brego, his loyal horse that had brought him to the last bastion of Rohan. Gimli pushed through the crowd and tearfully welcomed him back. "Where is he! Where is he! Get out of my way! I'm gonna kill him! You are the luckiest, the cunningest, and most reckless man I ever knew! Bless you, laddie!" Gimli cried.

But Aragorn was distracted as he embraced his dwarven friend. "Where is the King?" Aragorn asked. Something drove him more than even love. He had a purpose. A driving need.

He needed to save Rohan.

Aragorn walked purposefully through the crowds of Helm's Deep, his head hung low, belying the import of what he knew. He had to see the king, and tell of the approaching army. The strength of the Elves who loved him hung in the back of his head, paling before the danger Rohan was in. Though Aragorn did not know it, the people before him parted like water, for he walked more like a king than their own.

All parted but for one, who stood before him.

Aragorn raised his head, and smiled. "Le abdollen," said Legolas. Emotions Aragorn could not grasp shined in his bright blue eyes. "You look terrible," Legolas added in dismay, and then clapped a hand to his friend's shoulder.

Aragorn clapped a hand on Legolas' shoulder as well, grinning. He could feel love permeating from the touch on his shoulder. He felt strong and ready now. For anything. He had what he needed to make it through the upcoming battle.

Legolas' hand opened before him, revealing the jewel of Evenstar. Aragorn could feel Arwen's love as surely as he could feel Legolas' at that moment. He felt whole. And he felt torn in two at the same time. But there was no time for that. No time for him to confess how he felt...

"Hannon le," Aragorn whispered, resisting the urge to kiss Legolas. He simply took back the Evenstar, clutching it to his heart.

"Le maesdollen," Legolas whispered back. There was something slightly different about Aragorn. He walked differently. He was stronger somehow. He walked as a King of Men, not a Ranger of the wilds.

"The army of Saruman is almost on us, Legolas. We must warn the King. Fetch Gimli. Pednamo," Aragorn said gently, massaging the slim shoulder under his hands, and then he turned away, heading to the battlements where King Theoden walked.

Legolas nodded, going to look for Gimli, until he felt eyes on him. He glanced to side and saw Eowyn, tears brimming from her sky blue eyes. Her gaze was following Aragorn's receding back. Legolas suddenly realized that Eowyn did not just fancy Aragorn, she loved him as much as he and Arwen did. And it broke her heart as much as it did Legolas' that Aragorn loved his Elf maid, not her.

Her glance fleetingly passed over Legolas. He gave her a sympathetic look.

She turned and fled away from him.

Legolas sighed as he met Gimli. For now there were three that loved Aragorn. And only one could be chosen. His heart bled for Eowyn, as it did for himself. And even for Arwen, who must choose between Aragorn and her people.

And the Elven archer had a dreadful feeling as he joined Aragorn and Theoden in their council of war that much more would bleed this dark night than his heart...

       

"Aragorn chuina!" literally means "Aragorn is alive!" (Eruntalince Translation)

"Le abdollen." literally means "You [are] later-come." Translated to "You're late." (Movie Translation)

"Hannon le." literally means "Thank you." (Movie Translation)

"Le maesdollen." literally means "You [are] well-come." Translated to "You're welcome." (Eruntalince Translation)

"Pednamo." literally means "Speak to we [imperative]." Translated to "We need to speak." (Eruntalince Translation)


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