Bridge Over Troubled Water by Sidhgannele

[Reviews - 1]


Table of Contents

- Text Size +
Story notes: This is my attempt to write a songfic that isn't completely obnoxious, as well as one actually written around a GOOD song. If you haven't heard the song, you probably won't enjoy it or really feel the impact. It's also hurt/comfort (my personal favorite)... nuff said. Many thanks to Simon and Garfunkel for their beautiful and thoroughly inspiring music (for many are the times this song alone has moved me to tears! And that others by the sanme artists have moved me to frenetically dancing across the room...). Ah yes, this fic is also movie-based...I went with what inspired me, what can I say? Plus lots of thanks to Em the Grammar Nazi and Seri the Canon Nazi, the Sarah Lawrence College Programming Board for allowing me to watch the extended Fellowship TWICE consecutively on the big screen and therefore finish this fic... and of course Marina. hmmm, anything else... Did I mention I really, really like feedback? (Ok, shut up, girl, and let the people read...)
Bent with many days of pain, sleeplessness, hunger, and cold, a lone rider crossed the valley of barren sand flats and approached Helm's Deep. As a cold and foreboding wind blew over the flats, Aragorn tugged at Hasufel's reins, urging him to move onward. The horse obeyed, sensing its rider's growing urgency. This urgency, in fact, was the only thing spurring Aragorn on; his body was bruised and aching, his mind troubled. From the hilltop, he had seen the advancing army of Orcs, thundering over the rocky knolls. Thousands and thousands there had been, trampling all in their path and leaving behind them a wasteland, and all carrying, on banner and helm, the White Hand of Saruman. This sight alone had pushed Aragorn to defy his own limits and spur Hasufel to a gallop – he had to reach the fortress in time, and warn King Theoden, no matter how much his own body might protest. Which it did, but Aragorn stubbornly bore it no mind. Slowing the horse, he proceeded up the bridge that led to the great wooden doors, a massive curved swath of stone cutting through the jagged mountainside – and marshaled the last of his endurance for the news that had to be given.

Just inside the walls, the fortress was brimming with refugees from Edoras. Dimly, Aragorn reflected that Eowyn had done well in leading them here. However, she was the last person he truly needed to see at this moment. Surrounded by hundreds of grimy and careworn faces, crying children, old women slumped in corners, he felt more bedraggled and broken than ever. At least now he would be able to help his companions once the fighting began. The sword cut on his shoulder was still unhealed, not to mention so many cuts and bruises from the fall that his entire body felt black and blue, and Aragorn's stamina was next to nothing. The strain of leading desperate men in a desperate quest for weeks on end had taken its toll.

During the past few days, it had taken all the endurance he had to keep a clear mind as a leader instead of falling to the ground and lamenting the futility of it all. But to give up the battle, to give up the quest... that was inconceivable. Still, he had to wonder: would it take more strength to declare and accept defeat now, or to keep doggedly carrying on with the world and the very elements against him? Aragorn forced himself for what seemed like the hundredth time to push all thoughts of defeat from his mind, but they threatened more than ever to overcome him. What would happen to the men if their leader gave up hope? Nothing good; of that Aragorn was certain. Laboriously, using the few ounces of strength he could muster, he tugged at the reins, encouraging Hasufel, who was by now equally tired and ragged, a few more steps forward, before dismounting and tying him at the nearest post. The animal had saved Aragorn's life, the man reflected, by nuzzling his face gently as he lay unconscious on the river bank. However, there was one thing that nobody, man nor beast, could save Aragorn from: the nightmares that had haunted his mind in that darkness...

Arwen had come to him on that riverbank – he knew at once it was merely a vision, but her kiss had felt all too real, and her voice had indeed sounded in his ears, and its echoes had lingered there for the hours, maybe days, that all had been dark. The face of his beloved fading from his sight, a tear in her eye as she disappeared, moving in step with the booming voice of Elrond, had swam up into his mind's eye. He had seen Arwen moving through a thick fog in a procession of Elven maidens, all clad in black robes, their faces hooded, the only light coming from the lanterns they carried. She had pushed back her hood slightly and looked back at the homeland she was leaving, and back at him, her face forced to be placid but her blue-grey eyes misted like the dream-sky with regret and sorrow.

It seemed like an eternity since he had said, outright, that this was what he wished: for her to leave Middle Earth and keep her eternal life, and, above all, to remain untainted by the past that had so suddenly returned to ensnare him. No other should have to bear the burdens of Isildur, he had tried to reassure himself many a time, but the words now seemed empty. It seemed he could hear Elrond's words too, as he had spoken them to Arwen: "Why do you linger here when there is no hope? Aragorn will die, and there will be no comfort for you... There is nothing for you here, only death." Every word Elrond had spoken was true, his decision had been the wisest, and that Aragorn could not change or deny – and he knew he was powerless to stop any of Elrond's plans once they had been put into motion. This fact, more than anything, made the vision too painful to bear.

He didn't even have the Evenstar anymore -- the shining symbol of Arwen's immortality, given to him long ago – therefore he possessed nothing of her at all, only a few dim and painful memories. His body ached all the more now, with a physical knowledge that he would never feel that touch again...

The sound of a crowd gathering around him jerked Aragorn's troubled mind from its wanderings. He was suddenly surrounded by murmurs of "He's alive! He's alive!" from the ragged Rohirrim, and saw the Dwarf Gimli run forward to embrace him. The dwarf's grip around his waist was strong, just on the manly side of a bear hug, but Aragorn hardly felt it, nor did he hear the dwarf's praises of his valor and foolishness. He found his way out of the grip and headed for the doors to the keep, the confused hubbub still all around him.

Inside, it was quieter, a place for the affairs of state and strategy more than a refuge for desperate crowds – but nonetheless abuzz with worried activity. Tension hung upon the air like a thick, cold fog. A wave of nausea passed over Aragorn as he tried to take another step forward – but the sight that met his eyes caused him to pause in his tracks. It was Legolas, his golden hair and nearly opalescent skin seeming to glow with a warm, unearthly light, not offset but only enhanced by the look of concern that flitted across his face. The rosy lips trembled uncertainly in their thin line, then broke into a worried half smile. "Le ab-dollen." (1) he spoke softly, and half jokingly, as if to cover the worry in his voice. "You look terrible."

Aragorn tried to speak, but that power had been taken from him as well along with his physical strength – albeit for an entirely different reason. He managed a weary "well, at least I'm alive" smile, but could not hold it as he saw two tears of joy spring to the elf's blue eyes, and finally his own face dropped the façade and fell, betraying a look of ultimate despair.

Without words, Legolas extended a hand and placed it on Aragorn's unhurt shoulder, and gently led him away, into a small room off the main corridor. His hand felt cool, soothing and his touch light as a feather, yet conveying more genuine sorrow and love than any other physical motion possibly could. Aragorn let this touch sustain him in order to keep on walking, until the door to the room closed. The room – not much larger than a closet - had once been used for storing weapons, but they had all been removed for use by the makeshift guard set around the walls of the fortress. Theoden does not know just how much he will need these weapons, Aragorn thought grimly.

As the wooden door heavily creaked shut, Aragorn leaned against the rough-hewn rock of the wall for support, but managed to barely show the weakness that was overpowering him. His breath came ragged and shallow - as if every one of the thoughts, all of the threats, that now assailed him were pressing down like a thick, dark fog, filling his vision with vague smoky shadows and making the air nearly impossible to breathe. The spectre of failure weighed upon his limbs, constricted itself around his chest - even his eyelids were weighted down by the deathly cold knowledge of being alone, and yet alive.

He let his eyes close for a moment and forced himself to take a deep breath – a second later realizing that he was now in Legolas's arms. The elf's arms encircled his leader as gently as any lover's, but with a strength as if they were made of thin invisible steel, refusing to let him go. Aragorn felt his own arms move slowly into a returned embrace, and leaned his head on his comrade's shoulder. The strands of golden hair brushed across his scratched and grimy face, and the pure white flesh of the elf's well-shaped throat - what was visible above the rough cloak - was a soothing touch on one temple.

A voice, Legolas's voice, only inches from his ear but seeming miles away, murmured, "We all had left you for dead. I am sorry, my friend, I am sorry... I would have stayed to search... Theoden ordered us to leave the dead..." Legolas's voice broke, and a single warm, salt tear slid down his cheek, to find a resting place in Aragorn's bedraggled hair. Finally the ranger let his fatigue, weakness, and sadness overcome him – only pushed over the brink by hearing his friend weep. Tears escaped from both eyes, and he felt himself fall into Legolas's strong arms, sagging as if with a physical burden too great to bear. Gently, Legolas bent his knees and eased the enervated warrior into a seated position on the stone floor, his back against the cool stone, and crouched beside him. Slowly, Aragorn disentangled his fingers from his comrade's hair and let his arms fall limply at his sides. Eyes closed, no longer able to maintain the façade of the fearless leader, he murmured, "I've lost it all."

"All?" echoed Legolas, the word carrying both a desperate need to comfort and a desire to know just what had been lost. Even though it pained Aragorn to continue, he hoarsely forced the words out, each syllable sounding as if it carried all the world's burdens.

"I lost the battle; I abandoned my men in foolishly fighting a single Orc and its mount. I lost the Evenstar – Arwen's jewel; her life, her love... lost." The words grew more painful still. "And I've lost Arwen too." His voice cracked and trailed off.

"Lost her?" The line of care between Legolas's limpid blue eyes deepened at this.

"I saw her through the darkness when I was so close to death... She receded from my sight and disappeared... Elrond is sending her away, to the Undying Lands of Valinor, and there's not a thing I can do to stop him. I always knew this had to be - I could not lay the curses of my ancestors upon one so innocent - but... She is gone forever. I have failed." Aragorn leaned all the more heavily against the rough rock, the last words still leaving bitter traces of truth on his tongue. A light touch on his shoulder made his eyes flutter open again, and he saw one of Legolas's clasped hands open to reveal the Evenstar that he had given up for lost. The silver chain was miraculously untarnished, and the jewel twinkled with the same inner fire he remembered from Arwen's eyes... the eyes he used to lose himself in...

But a glance up showed a different pair of eyes: two blue pools made even more watery by barely-contained tears. Aragorn closed his hand over the life-gem as if in a dream, quivering inside at the touch of human hand to Elven hand. Legolas bent his slender legs beneath him and lowered himself to sit on the stone floor next to Aragorn. He moved closer, so close that the man could feel a warm breath on his cheek, like a spring breeze, only one that moved raggedly with a sorrow akin to that which belabored his own. Two smooth hands folded around the grimy, rough one clutching the life-gem; the two corrugated calluses from years of wielding an Elven bow let Aragorn know it was none other than his friend's touch, that he was safe now.

From inches away, although it seemed like miles and miles, Aragorn heard the elf draw a shaky breath and begin to sing an unfamiliar melody:

When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes I'll dry them all.
I'm on your side when times get rough
And friends just can't be found.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

The voice was clear and pure, with a sweet tinge of sadness and sincerity, that brought Aragorn again close to tears. As the last note died away, Aragorn opened his eyes, to be greeted with the sight of Legolas's face, boyish yet carrying a look of care that betrayed its thousands of years. "I mean every word," the elf whispered. Feeling something stir deep inside of him, Aragorn smiled faintly. A sad, sweet ache slowly spread from the hidden place where he knew his heart must be, penetrating deeper than anything inspired by any other creature - man, woman, or elf.

"And do you really?" Aragorn's doubts began to resurface, his face and voice again turning to steel. "Orcs by the thousands are coming over the hills even as we speak. We cannot survive this battle; Helm's Deep will be lost, this silly makeshift army will be slaughtered and the women and children enslaved. Truly, I know not how much longer I can fight this war - how long I can stave off fate. I have led all the forces I could, into as much danger as I dared, for months; I can lead these men no further. I can lead you no further."

The long, tapered fingers of Legolas's hand tentatively traced the tear in Aragorn's tunic, finding and delicately touching the half-healed wound beneath – which sent small, bittersweet bolts of lightning to the center of the man's heart. However, some of the warmth in the elf's touch was gone, and his eyes grew cold as steel. "Alas, friend, I feel the same uncertainty. It tugs at my heart more greatly by the moment; sometimes every breath seems born of futility." The silver voice began to quaver to the breaking point. "But Aragorn – ai, Aragorn – " The steeled look of impending bad news disappeared in an instant from Legolas's face, and his fair cheeks burned scarlet, anguished tears springing to his eyes once again. "Alas, Aragorn, I would never survive losing you. At Lorien, after we lost Gandalf, I would have surely lain down in my tracks and wept had I not seen your face. And now - I thought my strength would fail me when I heard you were dead; I know not how I kept clinging to hope. I was the first to notice you were gone; instantly I feared the worst but hoped beyond myself that you lived. Even the Orc's dreadful hand pointing to the cliff, and Theoden telling us to leave the dead... these cut me deeper than any blade, but by Gilthoniel I hung on. The others were ready to put you in the past, to leave without so much as a search to see if you lived – and that more than anything has been tearing at my heart all this time. I swear, Aragorn, I swear, upon my honor I shall never leave you to such a fate again!"

Struggling past the muteness this impassioned display had reduced him to, Aragorn dared to speak. "On your... honor?" he whispered hoarsely in bewilderment, for he knew that honor was the highest thing a elf had to give, next to his eternal life.

"Tancave, iaun nin (2) ... I will defend you even though it may mean fighting to my own death." Now a crystalline tear spilled from one eye, falling in a slow track over the elf's delicate cheekbone – a display of beauty and valor that made Aragorn's own eyes cloud over yet again.

The slender Elven hand moved upward, past the rough fabric of Aragorn's tunic and cape, over the wind-burned skin of his neck, and came to cradle the lean line of his jaw, smooth fingertips caressing his rough cheek. As his heart seemed to melt, and limbs to lose all power, Aragorn was transfixed by his comrade's luminous face, as the elf's eyelids fluttered and he drew another breath to sing again, with a renewed but tenuous strength:

When evening falls so hard, I'll comfort you.
I'll take your part when darkness comes
And pain is all around.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Then, without words, the hand began to move, drawing Aragorn's face closer and closer to Legolas's own. The smooth lips parted slightly, and the cool touch of another hand on Aragorn's neck swept him forward into the kiss. The warrior was powerless to do anything but give in to this passion, a new sensation that, strangely enough, seemed as if it had been haunting him for years. Fireworks exploded behind Aragorn's closed eyes, and he found his lips returning the kiss, his own arms twining around Legolas, finding a resting place somewhere amid the waterfall of golden hair to pull him in closer. The rough and smooth pairs of lips searched, drew the man and elf seemingly deeper and deeper into one another, as if their souls had flown together. As Legolas's tongue forced Aragorn's half-closed lips open, inviting him to drink deeper, the man felt his entire body tingle and become limp and his heart race. Yet at the same time a well inside of him, a gaping, empty void, was beginning to fill, and he started to receive strength from an inner force he did not know he had. Waves of passion seemed to break over his aching and battered flesh, the gentleness of the Elf's touch assuaging the pain as the slender hands caressed his sore back and shoulders. Every sensation ran at its height as the ecstasy of Legolas's touch washed away the pain. Aragorn could hear the blood thrumming in his ears, smell the wild green scent of fern leaves and clover honey on the Elf's skin, and feel his comrade's heart beating in unison with his own.

They pulled apart, reluctantly, like a resilient knot of hithlain trying to untie itself, the last thing to come apart being the mingled panting of their breath – and even that was slow to disengage. However, their opened eyes stayed fixed on each other for a heartbreakingly long time. Aragorn felt the elf's gaze penetrate his own, just as the words penetrated to his very heart again – this time sung almost in an overcome whisper:

If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

Closing his eyes, Aragorn took a deep breath and stood, bracing himself with one hand on Legolas's shoulder – although now he seemed to move with a new strength, and some of the heaviness was gone from his limbs. He said nothing, not daring to break the silence left by the last note – but gratitude seemed to well up in a mist from the depths of his grey eyes, and his lips broke into a wistful smile. The azure eyes of the Elf smiled back at him, reassurance shining from them; a careworn expression mingled with pure, innocent love – yet also his head was raised nobly and stubbornly as if he would not, could not be moved. This was unlike anything Aragorn had ever seen in his Arwen's eyes, and the tide of emotion that swept over him was a new one. It felt as if every nerve in his body tingled, as if his heart overflowed with a more noble love than any spoken of in the tongues of Man or Elf, and as if his legs would bear him to the end of his days to fight for this beautiful, noble creature that had given all of himself - to fight off Uruk-hai, to resist the curse of his ancestors, to defeat... anything. Aragorn knew his purpose once again, and no thousands of Orcs could ever sway him from it now.

Gravely Aragorn turned away and opened the door into the corridor, carefully glancing around him for any source of danger – or any prying eye - as was his habit. His heavy boots tapped gravely on the stone floor as he strode down the corridor to the high-ceilinged central chamber that served now as a makeshift throne room. His face had its original look of hardened steel, ready to bring the most hopeless of news, yet even as he pushed open the massive, ornately carved wooden doors the song rang in his ears again. He could feel that same strength that had flooded him during the kiss bearing him up once more, moving him forward into the uncertainty of imminent battle – dear, noble Legolas would be fighting right behind him...

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Chapter end notes: 1 - "Le ab-dollen." = "You are late."
2 - "Tancave, iaun nin" = "Yes / Certainly, my sanctuary." I didn't know any REAL Elvish terms of endearment except for "lover" and that just wasn't appropriate here.
You must login (register) to review.