Those Left Behind by Ahlmora

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Story notes: I am mourning the death of the lovely, lovely Haldir myself after seeing the movie. Terrible waste of a sexy Elf **sob**.
Helms Deep had been successfully defended – at a terrible price. The bodies of Men and Elf alike lay in layers of flesh and armor, faces still and pale with death. Aragorn needed only to glance at his friend Legolas to see the deep pain in the Elf's eyes as he gazed upon the dead bodies of his kin.

Aragorn himself could find no joy in their victory. Not only was the cost of life high, but he knew that the struggle was not yet over. The fate of Middle Earth rested in the hands of the two Hobbits traveling alone on the treacherous road to Mordor. All the rest of them could do was keep fighting – and hope the losses had not been in vain.

"Your heart is heavy, my friend." Legolas said from behind him.

Aragorn turned his eyes towards his Elven friend and nodded tersely. "Yes, we have suffered a great loss of life today."

Legolas' eyes shone with unshed tears as he laid a hand upon Aragorn's shoulder. "They will begin removing the bodies soon. I thought you would wish to say a final farewell to Haldir."

Aragorn looked away and shook his head. "I cannot." His heart wrenched unbearably at the mere mention of the Elf's name. He swallowed hard and spoke with barely restrained emotion, "He died in my arms, Legolas."

Legolas smiled softly and squeezed the Man's shoulder gently. "Then his last moments were in the arms of one he loved, and who loved him in return. We should all be so fortunate."

Aragorn squeezed his eyes shut as he fought the tears that stung his eyes. He inhaled sharply and ran a shaking hand over his face. For a few moments he could not speak, could not even open his mouth, for fear of bursting into great sobs of grief. Finally he managed, "What was between us ended years ago. I do not deny that my feelings for him never faded. Whether Haldir felt likewise, I can not say." He disengaged himself from Legolas' grip and walked away.

Legolas sighed as he watched his friend leave, shoulders slumped, responding only absently to the words of praise the soldiers of Rohan bestowed upon him. The heir of Ilsidur carried a heavy burden on his heart.

Aragorn was not aware that he had brought himself to the one spot he had sought to avoid until he nearly tripped over the Elf that was kneeling on the stone before him. The slender blond-haired figure cradled in his arms the body of Haldir. The mourner's head was lowered and the melodic voice was speaking in low tones in Elvish to the lifeless form.

The Man nearly walked away, thinking perhaps it was a sign that he should leave Haldir behind and relish the memories he had of an Elf who had been strong and passionate, the Elf Aragorn had once and still did love. That he should not taint those memories by gazing upon an hours-dead corpse.

But when the words of lament of the Elf holding Haldir caught his ears, Aragorn found himself unable to move. The words coming from the mourner were not a simple prayer for the dead, but words to a lost love.

Aragorn gazed upon the scene as many different emotions flooded through him. It explained Haldir's reaction when Aragorn had embraced him when he first arrived at Helms Deep. The Elven warrior had started to close his arms around him and had simply stopped, arms halfway extended, hands in the air. Now Aragorn knew why. The Elf's lover had been with him. Aragorn had not known that Haldir had taken a new lover since their relationship had ended. When the Fellowship had visited Lorien, Haldir had carefully avoided speaking about his love life, although he and Aragorn had spent many hours together speaking of what had transpired in their years apart.

The subject of their past relationship had been carefully avoided. It had pained his heart, but at the same time he had thought it was for the best. It could only hurt them both to dwell on old feelings, to reopen wounds that were barely scabbed over.

The Elf before him lifted his head and the two men's eyes met. The Elf's softly angled, almost feminine features shifted into a small smile, although it did not touch his eyes, which were wide and blue-gray. The full lips parted slightly, exhaling a soft breath before the Elf spoke.

"You have come to say your goodbyes as well, I suppose," the Elf sighed softly and cast his eyes to the still, pale form in his arms. He was quiet for a long moment before he spoke again. "Haldir told me a great deal about you."

Aragorn's eyes widened, taken aback. "He did?"

The Elf gazed at Haldir for a moment longer, then bowed his head to gently kiss his forehead. "Farewell, my love", He whispered into his ear before gently laying the body back onto the ground. He rose and his gaze once more met Aragorn's. "I am Elaran," he began. "Haldir – I loved him very much." His words seemed to choke off and the Elf looked away. He drew a deep breath and managed, "I will leave you to your farewells."

Aragorn watched the slender fair-haired Elf walk away. He lowered his head, unable to turn his eyes towards the lifeless mass of flesh that had once held him in times of joy and passion.

"Farewell, beloved. You are forever in my heart."

He walked away without looking back.

Later that evening, Aragorn found himself seeking out Elaran. He couldn't help feeling he had ruined the Elf's parting moment with his lover, and wanted to apologize for doing so. But, he admitted to himself, that was not the only reason. He was curious as to what Haldir had said about him to his new lover – his replacement.

Feeling guilty and silently cursing himself for thinking of the Elf that way, when he was suffering just as much as Aragorn if not more, the ranger made a circuit of the grounds as he searched. He finally found Elaran sitting alone atop one of the walls surrounding Helms Deep where the battle had taken place. The Elf sat poised on the ledge, one leg hanging over and the other drawn up as he stared out into the darkness.

"Am I disturbing you?" Aragorn asked.

Elaran did not look in his direction, and Aragorn waited, knowing that with the sensitive hearing Elves had there was no doubt he had heard his question. Finally the Elf said, still looking straight ahead, "I have been expecting you."

Aragorn stepped closer. "You have?"

The Elf inclined his head slightly in a nod. "I saw your face when I said Haldir had told me about you. You are curious as to what he said, are you not?"

Aragorn nodded. "Yes, but – I also wanted to apologize if I interrupted your farewell. I never meant to interfere. I was not aware Haldir had taken a lover."

Elaran turned his gaze towards the ranger. Silken golden locks gently floated as the evening breeze caught the fine strands. He nodded slowly and a small smile formed on his full lips. "Haldir was rarely one to speak of his personal life," he murmured. "However, he spoke a great deal about you, to me at least." The Elf looked back out at the night sky, "Your strength, your courage – he spoke of you with great admiration." He paused. "He said that your relationship ended because he realized you had a greater destiny, one he would only hold you back from. He knew he had to let you go so you could fulfill what you were meant to be."

Aragorn felt tears sting his eyes. "I thought it was because he didn't love me anymore," he said in a voice rough with emotion. "That a mere mortal was not good enough for him."

Elaran reached out and took hold of Aragorn's arm as he spoke urgently. "Do not ever think that! He loved you with all his being. He loved you enough to let you go, even though it broke his heart."

Aragorn met the Elf's gaze. "And you helped to heal that broken heart."

Elaran smiled again. "I like to think I did. Although there was always a place in his heart for you that no one could ever touch."

Aragorn laid a hand on the arm touching him and squeezed gently. "I thank you for filling his life with love for the time he had left. I – only ever wished for him to be happy." The ranger's eyes closed and a tear trickled down his cheek.

The Elf leaned closer to him and leaned his forehead against Aragorn's. "He knew that. But still, he feared that you would be sad if he told you about us, that it would distract you on your quest. That is why he did not tell you about me," he said softly. "I let him have his time with you, because I know he needed to say a final farewell." Elaran exhaled slowly, his breath playing over the ranger's face. "We were planning to sail to the West soon."

Aragorn opened his eyes and looked into Elaran's own shimmering orbs. "I'm so sorry."

Elaran smiled sadly. "So am I. I cannot imagine eternity without him"

Aragorn drew the other man close to him and wrapped his arms around him. The Elf rested his head on the ranger's shoulder and Aragorn felt the tremors run through Elaran's body as he quietly sobbed.

After long minutes the Elf was silent and still against him. Aragorn gently stroked the silken hair of his companion gently. "Elaran," he murmered into his ear, "I would be very honored if you would accept my companionship through the dark moments we must both face ahead of us."

Elaran lifted his head and smiled – a sweet smile, full of hope. Aragorn could easily picture this Elf in the arms of Haldir, filling his heart with sweetness and love. The Man could feel Elaran having a similar effect on him.

"I believe – that Haldir would have approved." Elaran confirmed. "I would be honored, for whatever time we have left, to be by your side."

The two men's lips met, and they were for a small time aware only of each other. Eventually they would part, by life circumstance or by death, but for now nothing else mattered but each other, and the love they had once shared for the remarkable, beautiful Elf known as Haldir.
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