Better Than This by Karasu

Feb. 1, 2002
"Full of Grace" by Sarah McLachlen(sp?)

The Fellowship crossed through deep forests, over rivers, and across wide plains. Rarely did they light a fire and never did they forget to place a guard while others rested or slept. Attention was fully on protecting the small Hobbits in company, especially Frodo - their carrier of the Ring.

Thus Aragorn had distractions to keep his thoughts off of his beloved Elf and the discomforting silence between them. Purposefully the Ranger kept to the back of their group and spent his time quitely observing the Hobbits and getting to know Boromir better. He didn't seem to realize that the Elf had taken to himself, only participating in light banter with the Dwarf Gimli.

Legolas was not so fortunate. His focus had been fine-tuned with his skill of archery and it applied itself elsewhere whether he wished it or not. While he was carefully keeping track of his companions, his mind still would wander to thoughts of his ended love and his weakness not to pursue. The distance between himself and Aragorn was painfully wide and at times he felt he could see the gap, wide and vast, with no bridge to connect them.

As they kept on along their path, Gandalf announced their next destination, that of the way through the Caradhras.

The winter here's cold and bitter, it's chilled us to the bone.

As a whole, the group did not fare well in the freezing cold and impossible amounts of snow within the mountains. Gandalf took the lead and cleared the path for the others. Legolas was the only one able to move freely on top of the snow and took over scouting ahead and marking their progress. The poor hobbits - feet wrapped in furs -trudged behind Gimli with the two Men taking up the rear.

"How long must we go?" worried Merry.

"I'm afraid my toes will fall off," Pippin agreed.

"This is our safest route, we will continue," Gandalf told them, once again plowing forward.

Ahead, Legolas had stopped, position showing that he was listening for something. The Fellowship continued past him, glancing to him for any warnings. Soon Gandalf had stopped and looked up as well. A voice echoed ominously through the crevices and the snow rumbled with disatisfaction. Quickly the Elf pinpointed their main trouble.

"Take cover!" he yelled before throwing himself towards the rock wall to shelter himself as the avalanche fell. With his body he covered Frodo's while Aragorn and Boromir covered the other Hobbits.

We haven't seen the sun for weeks, too long, too far from home. I feel just like I'm sinking, and I claw for solid ground.

It was suffocating. The stark whiteness was so thick and heavy, feeling impossible to move. It crushed his body, attempting to push him down. He knew he couldn't do that so he held back, bracing himself on frozen limbs that felt about to break. Yet, if he let go he knew that even with his light weight he could crush the creature below him. It was getting hard to breathe, and he feared for the others, wondering if someone had gotten out yet.

The small space that was open between himself and Frodo was filled with the carbon dioxide releasing itself from their breaths and Legolas knew he had to move. Sorely he shifted his weight to his knees and one arm. Shifting his other arm to gain some mobility, he shoved his arm up sharply and prayed the avalanche had not buried them too deep.

A pale hand, slightly tinted blue with cold, broke the surface of the white landscape and grasped weekly for a handhold. Hurriedly Aragorn moved towards it and left Sam to help dig Merry and Pippin out.

Noticing the slower movements of the familiar hand before him, Aragorn estimated where a head should be and scooped away snow as quickly as he could. Pale hair decorated with ice and snow finally appeared and Legolas' head lifted, mouth open and gasping for air. Below him, Frodo did the same. Unsteadily, the Elf loosened himself further so as to allow the Hobbit a way out. Aragorn reached over after and grabbed Legolas by the arms to lift him out as well. It was thoughtless and automatic, for it was only natural to do in such a situation, but it threw the Elf off, and his eyes darted away as he slipped his stiff body from helping hands.

Aragorn watched him find a spot on the rock wall and then turned his attention to Gandalf's words.

I'm pulled down by the undertow, I never thought I could feel so low, and, oh, darkness, I feel like letting go.

Anxiously eight of the nine stood within the doorway leading towards the way out. They wanted to move, to escape the hellhole once known as Moria, but they couldn't. Gandalf stood on the bridge with furious determination emanating from his tall body drawn up to its full height. Staff and sword in hand he called once again to the monstrous, fiery beast before him, "You shall not pass!"

In shock, the Company watched as one half of the bridge collapsed and drew the fiery beast down deep into the black, endless cavern. A victory, then, and they could be safe! It was not to end so happily, however, and instead a last attack came from the falling demon and its whip snatched Gandalf's leg, dragging the wizard to the edge where he clung on.

Someone cried, "Gandalf!" but no one was sure who.

The old man's face extended his last message of, "Run, you fools, run!" They last saw him slipping over the edge and disappearing into the abyss.

Some tore up the steps, too stunned to think, while the other half took a few moments to realize what had actually happened. Aragorn stared, shocked, the expression managing its way to his face, while Frodo began to scream in chokes, attempting to make some last attempt at a rescue. Legolas came to the Man's aide and took the Hobbit in his hold, his own face pinched with pain. The Ranger was the last to leave, shooting off last minute arrows at the orcs that had began firing once again.

Outside there was sunlight, which was a shock to their eyes after their days in the deep, dark caves. Everyone had parted, finding some place to fall as their grief and loss struck them. Frodo was sobbing and Sam was by his side with little idea how to help. Merry and Pippin were in a shocked mess of their own. Boromir moved between the two groups of Hobbits, trying to ease their worries with the few words that managed their way through his lips.

Legolas walked forward in a trance, finally resting himself on a boulder and looking at the others with a vacant expression. Aragorn appeared but looked at no one, moving ahead to a higher position where he could look out over the land.

If all of the strength and all of the courage come and lift me from this place. I know I can love you much better than this:

Full of grace,
Full of grace, my love.
It's better this way

"Legolas," the sound of his name wakened him from his stupor and he glanced quickly to Aragon, who was not looking at him, but motioning to the Hobbits. "Get them on their feet."

Dumbly the Elf stood and began making his way forward, slowly placing things together and trying to convince himself it would be all right to continue, even with the sorrow that laid heavily upon them now.

"Aragorn! Have a heart! We are all dead on our feet and need time for grieving. Do you care for nothing?" Boromir shouted.

Legolas came to a stop beside Merry and Pippin and looked back in the Ranger's direction. Grey eyes flashed for a moment and Aragorn's voice was testy when he justified his actions; "We have only a few hours before darkness falls and I will have us moved from this place before orcs and trolls overrun us. There is now no time for lamenting!"

"Why? Why should we continue?" Frodo cried, stumbling in the direction of the Man who had just spoken.

"Master Frodo?"

"Gandalf is lost and with him so is all hope. We have failed, we have failed our task!"

Before others could break into further argument, Legolas rushed forward and dropped to a knee before Frodo, gripping his shoulders and looking at him sternly, willing him to understand. "Frodo, my friend, understand, please. We are alive, you are alive... 'Tis one accomplishment made and we are outside the dark halls. We have further to go, but we will fare it together. Hope lost? Nay, it isn't yet. You hold hope itself and if you decide that the hope will fall, then so be it."

Slowly the Elf stood and moved away, gazing ahead towards a distant line of trees. "Either way, I shall accept your decision."

The moments dragged on forever, no one else able to add to Legolas' words. Finally Frodo whispered, "We must move quickly."

A small boost of confidence found its way into everyone's hearts now that they had confirmation as to what they were to do. Aragorn directed Gimli to where they were headed before falling to the back with Legolas.

"You have done well," the Man complimented quietly.

Legolas kept his eyes ahead, murmuring, "I know not where those words came from. It upset me."

"I'm not sure I follow you, my friend."

The Elf's face gave way to pained sadness. "Frodo, he wore his emotions so loud and apparently. But I knew -know - that it is what... you feel," he ended in a soft voice. He stopped as Aragorn did and finally faced him, staring intently into the opened expression on the other's face.

"I apologize," Legolas whispered before he leaned forward to wrap his arms about his (former-) lover and kissed the Man's lips, trying to rid himself of all that was eating its way through him. There was a time when Aragorn grasped the Elf's arms with his hands and kissed back hungrily, so obviously missing the feel of lips on his own. It ended all too soon, however, when both realized they had broken something they were not supposed to touch again.

When Aragorn drew back hurriedly and turned slightly, Legolas didn't waste any time and caught up with the others quickly and didn't look back, for the moment caring only about the hurt he was feeling as the sensation of tears played in his heart.

I said, Haven't seen this place before. Where everything we say and do, hurts us all the more.

In Lothlorien they found a place for rest and a sense of comfort. The Fellowship was able to spread out again, if they wished, and collect their thoughts in preparation for the rest of their journey ahead.

Legolas stayed near the edge of the clearing where the hobbits were gathered around a fire and eating. Quietly he listened to the lament that played for Gandalf, but he refused to translate it for anyone who asked.

As time kept on, the Elf left the Hobbits behind and took a slow-paced stroll as he worked on forgetting the kiss he had shared with Aragorn earlier. It was still beyond him why the Man pushed him away while still loving him, but whatever Aragorn asked.... he'd answer to.

It was a shock when he came across the Men of their Company, sitting together as they talked in low tones, bodies close. The pale-haired Elf bit the inside of his cheek as he stayed hidden to the side, unable to turn away yet, wanting to know what was happening. Could Aragorn be needing the attention of his own kind? Had he gotten tired of Elves and their love for him?

After a short time it was easy to see that Boromir was greatly disturbed and Aragorn was comforting him. Still, Legolas could not be sure on the motivations behind the actions. His sharp hearing picked up much of their conversation but nothing stood out to him immediately.

"How can you be so cold one minute and comforting the next?" Boromir asked softly, finally making Legolas feel on edge. Aragorn was silent, almost visibly drawing in on himself. The other stopped him with a hand on one of the Ranger's arms. "Do not deny me an answer, friend."

"I am not used to company, leave me be." Aragorn stood up and moved away, his back towards Boromir and Legolas.

Boromir stood and moved forwards, softly, and it amazed the Elf that his love would not turn around to see what the Man was up to -

All thoughts cut off once Boromir's arms carefully encircled the Ranger's waist and his lips rested near one ear. His words were too quiet for even the Elf to hear at that distance.

Retreating, Legolas felt his insides clamp together in pain.

It's just that we stayed too long in the same old sickly scheme,

Maybe this hurt so much because of how long and how intensely they loved - had loved - one another, Legolas thought. He sat on the bank of a small stream, legs drawn close to him as he stared at his fingertips leave trails in the water.

Betrayal didn't dominate his mind, even though he hurt from Aragorn's interactions with Boromir; everything built up and lay before him to look at. All the restrictions they had forced upon themselves was killing him, and, if Aragon truly still cared, then the Man was also suffering. Why they were keeping apart was beyond him.

'Now my mind goes only in circles...' Sighing, Legolas lowered his forehead to his knees and tried to clear his mind. All he needed right now was a break from the mission and from his thoughts as a whole. He could have opted to leave for the West with Elrond, but he had chosen a mortal love instead with a Man torn between destinies.

The Elf stood as those thoughts finished and tossed his hair back, erasing the single teardrop that had escaped. He walked back to camp, composed.

Why did he let them remain apart? Because of Aragorn himself, because of how many stressing choices he all ready had to make. Legolas would never want to burden him further.

and I'm pulled down by the undertow, I never thought I could feel so low, and, oh, darkness, I feel like letting go.

Dreams came that night to the Fellowship, both of happier times prior their journey and of saddened times mostly centering around Gandalf's fall. The Hobbits snuggled closer together for comfort and the sturdy Dwarf rolled over, closer to the fire. The Men lay near one another but did not move and Legolas would awaken near the end of each dream with dread and then fall back into a doze.

Not long after their arrival in Lothlorien, the Company set off again, split into three beautifully carven boats. Along the river Boromir, Aragorn, and Legolas rowed with their passengers sitting before them. The Elf picked up the sound of distant Orcs along the way and they kept on, searching for a place to camp for the night.

Once they finally pulled ashore, each found a place to stretch their legs and scout the area. They decided the guard schedule before splitting their ways to do what they wished. An unexplainable exhaustion dragging Legolas forced the Elf to find a comfortable place to perch. As he watched the others with little interest, he felt his mind slip away.

If all of the strength and all of the courage come and lift me from this place I know I can love you much better than this: Full of grace, full of grace.

"Will you have dinner?" Sam called to Legolas, feeling unnerved at the blank stare that the Elf had kept up since they first landed. It was still light out, the only way they'd be able to have a fire, and the Hobbit had prepared an early supper.

Legolas came to his senses with all gazes on him, indirect or otherwise. Slowly he slid from the top of a ruined statue and approached the others, accepting his bowl silently. They ate with little talk, tension rising again now that they had left the safety of the Elven house.

As soon as he finished, Legolas wandered away towards the shore, laying by the water on his side and trailing his fingers on the damp ground. The water came and went, playing at his arms before retreating. He remained like than for another hour or so until the sun was about to disappear and night had properly fallen.

Gimli had the first watch and sat near the Elf, talking about one thing or another and trying to prod the nearly lifeless being into some reaction. His attempts failed miserably throughout his entire watch. The blonde had only rolled onto his opposite side to stare blankly up at the Dwarf while the ends of his hair became wet with the incoming water. Excusing himself quietly, Gimli returned to the main camp and woke Aragorn.

"Master Aragorn, the Elf still hasn't responded. Is it some illness?"

Hearing the Dwarf's concern made the Ranger frown as he sat, glancing towards his friend. "I cannot be sure. Take some rest, I will see what I can do," he assured, briefly resting a reassuring hand on the Dwarf's elbow.

"Care to talk about it?" Aragorn questioned as he took his spot beside the motionless Elf. The other seemed not to hear him so he pushed farther. "Legolas? Is it about something that we were?"

'He uses past tense automatically,' the blonde noted sadly. 'Don't make him worry, remember?' With incredibly slow movements, the Elf sat, droplets of water falling from his hair and sand sticking to him.

Despite his best intentions, Legolas found himself opening his heart, "It disturbed me, how you could comfort Boromir so. You take so much on your shoulders, so much pressure. You keep confusing me, changing now and locking away all I knew. Why do we keep apart? What real reason? I have still seen love in your eyes... What have I done? I don't know what I'm aiming for anymore."

He knew his mistake immediately but it was far too late to correct it. Instead, Legolas bitterly scolded himself and reminded that love shouldn't be an issue any longer. Watching Aragorn, the Elf knew that the Man was preparing to take him back, to heal the Elf's wounds, but only hurt his own.

"Forget it, it's not an important issue," the Elf said flatly, the words tasting like rotten wood. "We means nothing now and I have no right to press you for anything. You can't love me for god knows why and I can't love you." He felt like retching to rid himself of the ugly taste left behind at his words.

Aragorn said nothing, only shadowed his grieving but relieved expression crossing his face. He knew not to answer Legolas' questions now, to justify himself, for if he did he would open their relationship and that would lead back to pain worse than he could deal with at the moment.

When the Man finally moved away, Legolas watched after with a fallen expression. "I love you," he uttered, face contorting as he tried to sort out his thoughts enough for sleep.

I know I can love you much better than this.

Boromir's ashamed report of what had happened between him and Frodo set the rest of the Company into action the next morning. Scattering apart they ran to find the Hobbit. The orcs arrived during that time, forcing a fierce battle upon the Fellowship.

In the midst of chaos, Frodo and Sam crossed the river on their own, intent on finishing the journey for themselves. Merry and Pippin were carried off by orcs, their cries echoing in grief for the death of Boromir. Aragorn was the first to arrive at the dying place of the other Man. Elf and Dwarf arrived shortly thereafter and watched on from afar.

Legolas kept his gaze on the two Men, knowing that if Boromir had lived, Aragorn may have found a new partner. Perhaps another Man could love the Ranger better? It would fare better, of course... and what was he thinking?

Shaking off his irrelevant thoughts, he followed Gimli back towards camp. It was then that he noticed the missing ship and the disappearing outlines of Hobbits on the opposite shore.

"We must hurry or they will be too far ahead!" Legolas moved to push in the boat, but turned back, sensing something from Aragorn. Studying the Man's stance, he knew. "We will not follow them..."

"We have failed, the Fellowship is broken. They are not in our hands, but will shall not allow Merry and Pippin to perish." His eyes took on a determined glint as he approached the other two remaining members.

Glancing over his shoulder again, Legolas uttered a brief prayer of hope for their friends and looked back to Gimli and Aragorn. "Are you with me, my friends?"

Gimli began to smile and placed his hand on top of Aragorn's and Legolas soon followed, a smile marking slight pain finding his face. They turned quickly and dashed back through the forest in hopes of catching up to the orcs.

It's better this way.

Running, his long legs pumping up and down, his mind began to clear and organize itself better. His hurt lessoned, even if the sadness still lay deeply embedded within. The original task was out of their hands, now, and yet this new journey seemed so much more important. Ahead he could see the loose hair of the person he loved thrown back by the wind. 'I can understand, now,' he thought. Briefly his eyes closed and he carefully closed the way to his heart, keeping it safe until he could once again be with Aragorn in a time where they could love each other as they wanted.

Chapter end notes: For real this time unless I get to the other books really soon ((not likely ;;^^ I'm backed up on yaoi books...)) and get further inspiration....
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