Title: Changing

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Lord of the Rings (set after RotK)

Rating: PG (if that)

Pairings: Gimli/Legolas, Aragorn/Legolas-past implied

Disclaimer: There's no way I could claim any rights to these characters and their universe or gather any income from this

Summary: With Gimli away, Legolas is slightly bored and his wanderings take him to Aragorn, who he had assumed was unavailable in a meeting. The truth of the matter, however, is much different and unexpected.

Notes: My third 'Friday Fic'. I hadn't meant it to end quite as... down as it did. I suppose it depends on your pairing preferences, though. And, given my way of seeing the LotR relationships, it had to happen as it does here. It's just not... well, not a particularly upbeat ending from some standpoints.





     Snowflake upon snowflake tumbled down from the sky, and yet the moment each and every one settled down on the ground, it was no more. The ground was warm, from many traveling it, and from the torches and fires burning in the rooms beneath. So the light dusting of snow covered only the trees, and some of the walls, whose stone was thick and far from the warm ground. Legolas pulled his hand from the warm pouch in the front of his cloak and brushed his fingertips against the stone. Gimli was away in the Glittering Caves with the other dwarves, and would not be back for a day yet. Legolas had just returned from a short trip to Ithilien, himself, and the waiting for Gimli was starting to take a toll on him. It was starting to get to the point where he longed so for Gimli that nothing could distract him, including the changing weather.


     Not knowing what to do with himself, Legolas walked up through the levels of Minis Tirith, snow falling lightly and melting as though it wasn't there at all. There was none of the beauty that came from a lovely snowfall, none of the pristine powder covering everything, none of the beautiful icicles hanging down from every window and overhang. Nothing but a little dampness there and there, including on his shoulders and hood.


     As he passed through the doors leading to the great hall, he pulled back his hood and shook his hair free. The warm fires lighting the entry hall warmed and comforted him, and dried what parts of him had been damp. He was about to turn to one of the guards and ask how the inside proceedings were going, when the doors opened and out spilled a dozen advisors and dignitaries. Faramir was last out, and gave Legolas strange look, as though not knowing quite what to say. "Is something wrong?" Legolas asked, pulling him aside. The dinner meeting had been scheduled to go far into the night if it needed to. Legolas had not even considered it ending early enough for him to meet up with Aragorn.


     Faramir ran a hand through his hair. "Well, yes, I suppose there is. We have decided to adjourn for the night and pick back up several days from now." He bent and tightened the laces off his boot, then tugged his traveling cloak on.


     Legolas helped pull his sleeves down and fasten the cloak in the front. "What happened? Surely there was not a disagreement?" Though the work was long, it did not seem to be the sort of thing that was so disputable as to require a break.


     "Nothing of the sort," Faramir said, pulling his hood up over his head. "If you go within, you will see what I mean. And I daresay you should be of some help." He cracked a smile, the glow showing most in his cheeks and eyes. "For none of us had the courage and our sympathies were too great." They nodded to each other, then Faramir took his leave, heading towards the stables to collect his horse and ride home for the night.


     Confused, Legolas passed the guards without a word and headed in. At the end of the room, to one side, there were a few men and women quietly clearing the table. The hall looked as grand as it ever did, with statues and carvings done right into the walls. Legolas tried hard not to let his emotions show as he passed the one of the fellowship, but it was hard not to as he looked upon the faces of his friends carved into the rock for all time. The great windows which stretched from marble floor to high ceiling showed that the snow was still coming down, perhaps a little thicker than it had been a moment or two before. Legolas hoped Faramir would make it home without too much of a chill in him. As he approached the table at the end of the hall, he spotted the reason for the meeting's abrupt end, and this time he could not hold his smile back.


     Aragorn sat at the head of the table, in the only chair which wasn't neatly pushed into the table, in front of the only plate which still held food. He had an arm bent and laid flat against the table, and his whole body was hunched over, his head resting upon his arm, face looking down at the table. His other arm was stretched out on the table, as though reaching for something he couldn't quite get to. However he was not reaching; he was fast asleep. Those clearing the table looked hesitant to go to near him, and slipped away quickly as Legolas gestured for them to leave him alone with the king. Too much sympathy and not enough courage, Faramir had said. Well, it seemed that only Legolas had the proper amounts of each to not only approach the sleeping man but bring him out of sleep.


     He waited until they were alone before bending a little and placing a hand on Aragorn's back. He rubbed up and down soothingly. "Estel," he whispered. Aragorn grunted in his sleep. Legolas pushed back his smile, not wanting Aragorn to see it on his face. "Estel, you had better wake now."


     After a momentary pause, Aragorn sat straight up, smashing Legolas' hand against the back of the chair. "What happened?" he asked, looked around frantically at the now empty table, then looking up at Legolas. "What are you doing back?"


     Legolas gave a soft smile, which stayed primarily in his eyes. "I finished my business in Ithilien, so I returned early. As for the meeting... you fell asleep, my dear king. And the men had not the heart to wake you."


     Aragorn coughed, looking around the now deserted room. Then his head snapped back down, and he sneezed into his chest. "h'KEHshhhh! huhKshhhh!"


     Wincing at the sound of the resulting snuffles, Legolas reached across him and drew a handkerchief from Aragon's pocket. Affronted, though only for show, Aragorn snatched it from him and wiped his nose before stuffing it back away. "Let me help you to bed," Legolas offered, taking Aragorn's arm and tugging him up.


     Aragorn pulled away and stood up on his own. Before he could take a step, another sneeze gripped him and made him lean on the table. "h'KSHuhhh! Sniff, sniff!" Wearily, he drew first his hand, then his sleeve beneath his nose.


     Legolas took his arm to straighten him, then reached across and pulled the handkerchief out again. He folded it neatly into Aragorn's hand and closed one hand over the fist reassuringly. "There, now. Let me help you to bed." This time, Aragorn let him.


     The royal chambers were not far, and luckily there was very little cold and snow to pass through to get there. Upon their arrival, they found the fires lit throughout, and the bed turned down already for him. Legolas guessed that word of the king's illness had spread even faster than normal gossip. Arwen, Legolas knew, was away with her young son, visiting elves and showing him off to those of her kin still in Middle Earth. The room lacked its normal soft glow, without her there. It seemed empty and cold, even with the fires and candles lit throughout.


     Aragorn helped himself over to the bed, sitting at the end, and hunching over. He buried his face into the handkerchief. "ehhKShhhh! hehKetchhh! h'Kuchhhh!" Then he emptied his nose in the handkerchief as best he could, and lay back against the covers with a sigh. "I cannot believe I fell asleep in front of them all. Half the reason I chose a dinner meeting was so that I would be sure not to fall asleep. Who falls asleep as they are eating?"


     "Someone who is not feeling well," Legolas replied, pulling thick socks and a nightgown out from the top drawer. So many years had gone by, and still he remembered what Aragorn kept in which drawers. His hand trembled slightly at this, and he slid the drawer shut to cover that which Aragorn had not seen anyway.


     Legolas stood in front of him, waiting patiently for Aragorn to change his clothes. He helped when needed, slipping the man's boots off, unbuttoning the vest. Then he traded clothes and made sure Aragorn could dress himself properly. "At least one could have had the decency to wake me," Aragorn said, slipping the gray nightshirt over his head. His words were slightly muffled as he did. "I felt even worse waking to an empty table."


     Having collected Aragorn's clothes, Legolas set them to the side to be washed. There was no telling how many sneezes or coughs Aragorn had directed into his chest or shoulder during the day, nor how many times he had used his sleeve in place of a handkerchief. "I believe they thought that if you were so tired as to fall asleep while having a meal in front of them, you must have needed the sleep very badly. Besides, you are normally a gentle and reasonable king. But there is no telling how you will be when you are ill. I doubt any of them wanted to risk angering you or getting stabbed accidentally for their troubles." Legolas waved his hand, and Aragorn took the cue to crawl up the large bed to his pillows, and then slip beneath the sheets on one side.


     "Are you saying," he said, straightening his nightgown beneath the covers, "That I am a different person when I am sick?"


     Legolas pulled the heavy covers up, tucking the down-filled comforter around him last. "That's precisely what I'm saying," Legolas nodded. "You overwork yourself."


     Aragorn coughed and rolled over in bed. "I do not. I, huh, I am very responsible. huh-huhChihhh! h'Chooo! ehhChuhhh!" He snuffled and rubbed his face into his handkerchief. He pulled his other hand out from beneath the covers and refolded the handkerchief to get a clean spot before snuffling and blowing into it more.


     Walking back over to the dresser, Legolas pulled several handkerchiefs out of the second drawer from the top, finding them on the right as always. "Normally you are responsible," agreed Legolas. "But when you are sick, it is a very different story. You work yourself harder than ever to compensate for the fact that your body is weakened, instead of taking it easy as you should. You snap at anyone who suggests you should do otherwise, and you refuse treatments until you've run yourself down to the point where you're incapable of doing anything." He took Aragorn's crumpled, used handkerchief and traded it for a clean one. "And therefore, ill, fatigued, and overworked, they were not stupid enough to wake you tonight."


     "hh'KUHChhhhh! KChooo!" He seemed happier snuffling into the clean handkerchief than he had been with the other one, which Legolas tossed onto the pile of dirty clothes. "You woke me," Aragorn pointed out.


     "Yes," he said, again restraining a smile. "Apparently I am stupid enough."


     "You're not," Aragorn argued with a chuckle, as Legolas tucked the covers around him again. His rolling over onto his side and the sneezing had dislodged the blankets. "You simply know me better." He looked up into Legolas' eyes, seeing the smile, seeing the sympathy, seeing the caring. And though he wanted to say something, a fierce yawn gripped him before he could.


     "I do know you," said Legolas. "And I know you need your rest now." He brushed his fingers gently over Aragorn's warm forehead, sending his hair to one side of his face or the other. Aragorn closed his eyes at the touch. "Unless there is something else you need right now?" The man shook his head and held back a cough. Legolas nodded and headed from the room as quietly as possible which, for an elf, was quiet indeed.


     Aragorn coughed outright this time, and lifted his head off his pillow. "Legolas?" he called out. What he needed right now was clear, though neither could bring themselves to say it. While he frowned on healers or servants attending to him, Aragorn had always craved the company of close friends or family when sick, even if he were asleep. Legolas stopped and paused in consideration, and Aragorn watched his back for a few moments. Then, decisively, the elf turned and walked back. Without a word, he kicked off his boots and dropped his cloak to the floor. He stripped off his top layer of tunics and sat down on the other side of the bed. Aragorn rolled over onto his other side to face Legolas. Legolas re-tucked the covers around him, then placed a hand reassuringly on his back. "Could you..." Aragorn spoke up quietly. "Could you touch my forehead again in that way you do?"


     Legolas reached down and drew his fingers across Aragorn's forehead, tucking a bit of the dark brown hair behind an ear. "Do you mean this way?" Aragorn nodded and smiled. "Mae dh Estel." Obedient and relaxed, Aragorn drifted off to sleep.


     Elves required much less sleep than humans, and the day had not been a particularly trying one for Legolas. So he stayed up most of the night, petting Aragorn who smiled in his sleep, sitting by his side simply to be there and offer what reassurance he could from his presence.


     The windows on the far wall of the bedchamber showed the snow storm pick up as it darkened into night outside. With his elvish eyes, he could see the dark clouds as they blocked out the moon and stars, and deposited snow upon the fortress. It was a mesmerizing sight, the snow coming down in swirls and streams, aided by the wind to fly in unpredictable patterns in front of the windows. The snowflakes were big, big enough to see from across the room, and the windows fogged around the edges, making each snowflake which drifted past seem as though it had come from nowhere. Legolas did not need to see them to know that this onslaught of snowflakes was sticking to the ground this time instead of melting. With a sigh he closed his eyes, hoping that the snowfall would do nothing to delay Gimli's return or cause the dwarf any harm in traveling.


     The morning came, dim and dismal, with the heavy clouds obstructing the sun's rays. The overcast sky did not let the sun in through the windows of the bedchamber. It did not let the light fall upon the pair sleeping in the great bed. So neither man nor elf woke at dawn, or anytime soon thereafter. In fact, it was far into the morning when they woke.


     It was uncertain as to who woke first, as they both stirred at roughly the same moment and both opened their eyes in surprise. Legolas was stretched out on his back, with Aragorn lying against his side, head on Legolas' chest. One of Aragorn's arms was draped over Legolas' waist, his hand on Legolas' crotch. Legolas' arm had been wrapped around Aragorn's body and slid beneath the neck of Aragorn's nightshirt. They were both frozen in place with shock for a moment, then each retracted hands and scooted away.


     "I'm sorry," mumbled Legolas. "Must have fallen asleep. And... well, Gimli sleeps on me like that." The tips of his ears twitched from nervous embarrassment.


     Aragorn rubbed his eyes and nodded. "I thought you were Arwen."


     "All elves look alike?" Legolas tried and failed to inject a little humor into the situation.


     Aragorn shrugged sheepishly. "More like old habits die hard." He rubbed the back of his neck, looking away. "You remember when we used to sleep together every night?"


     A soft smile crept onto his face as he nodded. "I remember lying awake, holding you all night long. And I remember you sleeping with a knife under your pillow and a sword under the bed."


     "Some things never change," Aragorn admitted, lifting his pillow on the edge to reveal the hilt of a knife. Then he quickly dropped the pillow and cupped both hands to his face. "hhh'Kchooo! h'Tchuhhhh!"


     Legolas retrieved a clean handkerchief, which had been lost to the covers during the night, but instead of holding it up to Aragorn's nose for him he simply handed it over. "And other things do change." As Aragorn blew his nose, Legolas bent over and dressed again, lacing up his boots and throwing his cloak back on. He stood, declaring, "I will go check on breakfast. You need something warm and soft this... morning." The pointy tips of his ears wiggled nervously again, thinking that Aragorn had found him warm and soft already. With a deep breath, he leaned over the bed and brushed Aragorn's hair from his forehead with a gentle touch. Then he pressed his lips against Aragorn's with an even gentler touch. "Just stay here and rest. Unless there is something else you need more immediately right now?" Aragorn shook his head and closed his eyes. "Then I shall return soon."


     Legolas stood and headed for the door, looking out of the window as he passed close to them. The snow was as a thick white blanket, and though everything was grey and cloudy, the snow had stopped falling for the time being. The foremost thought in Legolas' mind was a hope that conditions were fair enough to allow Gimli safe passage, for after the long night and the strange way of waking, he longed for the dwarf. Gimli would be walking much of the way, as he wasn't at all fond of riding a horse on his own, but had already started out through the passages beneath the White Mountains to avoid the weather. Still, he could be quick when he wanted to, and the distance excluding the passage was not too very far to travel.


     "h'IKShhh! huhChuhhh! huhChhhh!" At the door, Legolas paused and looked back at Aragorn. Aragorn, who was coughing and snuffling, alone in bed, and looking very miserable indeed. Legolas' gut reaction was to turn back and tuck the covers back around him, then stay and reassure him with soft strokes and pettings. But as he looked back, he caught sight of other things in the room. The vanity and mirror on one side, the pair of robes hanging to the sides of the bathroom, the baby cradle on the far wall that had not seen use for a half a year but still looked well kept as though it would be expecting another resident soon. Slowly Legolas turned back around and pushed the door open, resolved to ride out to the halfway point or further after breakfast to collect his dwarf.





Mae dh- Rest/Sleep well