Note: Haldir's death in TTT is to me one of the saddest things in the movie, and I felt the need to write it into a fic.

When Legolas heard the strange horn sound, he felt hope rise in his heart. Elrond had not forsaken them, because this was surely an Elvish horn!

He followed Aragorn out of the chamber, feeling again the relief that they had managed to fix the gap that had opened between them when Legolas had given vent to his fears and misgivings.

Legolas was not quite sure anymore what had driven him to confront Aragorn in a manner that was sure to provoke the Man's wrath -- and in front of all those frightened people, no less. All Legolas knew was that the time when he thought Aragorn dead, and then his miraculous return to the living, that those things had forced him to face some things he had not been prepared to face. Something had had to give, and this something had turned out to be Legolas' optimism, which had been taxed beyond its limits far too many times during their desperate quest.

But as soon as Legolas had seen the look on Aragorn's face, the exaltation he had felt at finally being able to lash out had turned to ashes in his mouth. He had not intended for Aragorn to turn away from him, not again, not after he had just gotten him back.

Taking two steps at a time, Legolas pushed those thoughts out of his head -- things were alright again with him and Aragorn, were once more the way they had been before. Legolas could forget once more what it had felt like to lose Aragorn, to see him turn away. That kind of thing was not spoken of between them, that much Legolas knew of his precious friendship with the Man. He had decided quite some time ago -- in Lorien, to be exact -- that he was not going to risk ruining it by violating the unspoken borders they had set themselves.

They had now reached the entrance, and Legolas felt his heart soar as he set eyes on his kin, garbed in armour that had last been worn during the Last Alliance -- only it had not, in fact, been the last alliance. The Elves had come again to renew that alliance and fight with Men at their side.
He was still taking in the breathtaking sight in front of him, as he heard Aragorn give a shout of joy and surprise. He took the last few steps in a run, and Legolas realized who had led the Elves to Helm's Deep, even before the Men in front of him parted to give him free view of Haldir of Lorien.

Haldir. The guardian of Lothlorien had come to their aid.

If Legolas had imagined beforehand what his reaction might be, he would have expected to maybe experience a pang of regret, the way he had felt it when he had seen Haldir again after many years, standing proud and tall, with his bow arrogantly aimed at the glowering Gimli. The sight had made Legolas' mouth go dry as he remembered days spent walking under tall trees, hunting for deer and orks, and nights spent in each others' embrace. Legolas had been young and it had been his first trip outside of Mirkwood, and Haldir's sureness about everything had seemed very appealing to him, as were Haldir's humour and beauty. Haldir had been his first male lover, and ever since Legolas had found that, generally speaking, he preferred men to women.

Haldir had been beautiful then, just as beautiful as he was now, fixing his amused gaze on Aragorn.

Legolas might also have expected the bitter taste of jealousy, taking him back to the night after they had met Galadriel. The lament for Gandalf had driven him away from the rest of the fellowship, and Legolas had walked beneath the silver trees alone, trying to accept that Gandalf had perished before his very eyes. He had been so absorbed in his thoughts that he had almost walked right into Haldir -- and into Aragorn. They had not noticed him, had been too lost in a heated kiss, wrapped around each other in the moon light. Legolas had not been surprised to find himself remembering what Haldir's kisses tasted like -- what had surprised him, however, had been the unbidden thought, startling in its intensity, that it should be him that Aragorn should turn to for comfort.

So Legolas was a bit taken aback when his reaction to Aragorn's fierce embrace of the astonished Haldir was pure joy. It was good to see Aragorn laughing like that, and it was good to see Haldir's eyes soften. Elves did not hug in public, therefore Legolas' own greeting was a bit more subdued, but not less genuine.

Haldir seemed a bit surprised at Legolas' reaction as well, which was no wonder, considering Legolas' less than cordial attitude towards him in Lorien. But then he relaxed and his usual cockiness asserted itself once more: "Ai, Legolas, you must have been very lonely indeed to hunger for my presence like that! And that with this handsome king of Men around - didn't he warm you in those nights spent sleeping in the dirt?"

"No, he didn't. Not everyone feels the need to bed their companions -- also, it would have felt strange to take the lover of my ex-lover, Haldir!" Legolas laughed at the look on Haldir's face, who had obviously expected him to get angry, and discovered that he had really missed this, missed Haldir's lightheartedness, that appeared whenever he was not fighting.

"So you know? Really, you should not let the fact that I've had him stop you -- he's a good catch, and the two of you would be well suited." Haldir grinned, but there was also something else in his eyes, as if he was trying to tell Legolas something. "And I should know, shouldn't I, my pretty prince of Mirkwood?"

They didn't have the time for more banter, because Aragorn needed them to decide the adaptations to their strategy now that they had a battalion of trained bowmen to strengthen their defences. Legolas noticed a slight strain in the Man's voice as he called both their names, and that Aragorn's eyes kept going back and forth between them, as if he was trying to figure something out.

Later, Legolas caught sight of Aragorn leading a smiling Haldir away. He swallowed, feeling that he knew pretty well what would happen once they were in a secluded spot, and tried not to dwell on the fact that he was not quite sure of who he was envious, Haldir or Aragorn.

After nightfall, with the enemy forces spreading out as far as his Elven eyes could see, Legolas had pushed that kind of thought out of his consciousness. It felt good to stand side by side with his kinsmen, the time of waiting drawing to a close. Soon they'd be knee deep -- or waist deep, Legolas thought, looking down at the impatient Gimli with a grin -- in dead Uruk-hai.

He felt a familiar presence at his back as Aragorn made his way along the battlements and stopped behind his two friends. Much to Legolas' surprise he felt a warm hand settle on his lower back -- not for long, but for long enough to send trails of heat spread all over Legolas' body. He barely heard Gimli's and Aragorn's banter, concentrating instead on memorizing the feel of that touch. His gaze wandered over to where Haldir stood, and he met the other Elf's eyes, which seemed at the same time amused and bemused as Haldir watched them.

Legolas decided that he'd ponder all this later, after the battle -- if they won and there was actually a 'after'. But as Aragorn moved on, Legolas found himself in inexplicably high spirits.

The print of Aragorn's hand was burning on his skin.

During the battle there was no time for thought, except for those few moments when Legolas felt his heart stop because Aragorn had once again managed to be right where everything fell apart.

And then there was Haldir.

Haldir, whose death Legolas did not see himself. One moment Aragorn had called for them to draw back, and when he routinely checked for him next, Legolas saw him cradling Haldir's body, paying no heed to the Uruk-hai around him. So still, so impossibly still.

It could not be. Not Haldir, not him, everyone but him! Legolas knew he had no time to let it sink in, he had to be alert, had to draw and release, draw and release, kill enemy after enemy. He was only glad that Aragorn had the command over the Elves, because he didn't think he could have carried that burden. Not now. Commanding meant thinking, and thinking meant remembering. Remembering Haldir, remembering that he would never again hear him laugh, would never again see him draw his bow, would never again feel his touch, surprisingly gentle.

So Legolas stopped thinking and concentrated on keeping Aragorn, Gimli, and himself alive.

Afterwards, when the surviving Rohirrim rode over the battle field, killing methodically the enemies not yet dead, Legolas went to find Haldir's body. He could not bear to leave him to be burned with the other dead.

He was not surprised to find Aragorn already there, cradling again what had once been the proudest warrior of Lorien.

"I am sorry for your loss," Legolas heard himself say.

Aragorn shot him a curious look. "I had the impression that your loss is far greater than mine, Legolas."

Their eyes locked across Haldir's too-still face, and Legolas had the distinct impression that things were exchanged that he could not put into words. Sadness was there, grief, but also longing, a desire for something neither one was willing to acknowledge, yet with Haldir between them they could not deny it.

It was Aragorn, who broke the spell first, getting up with Haldir in his arms: "We should bring him back to Lorien to be buried beneath a mallorn tree, with the honors he deserves -- but I'm afraid all we can do is find him some other tree here in Rohan..."

His voice was soft and his eyes gentle, as he looked down at his dead lover's face, and Legolas had to turn away quickly. Covering up his reaction, he looked around the countryside and finally pointed towards the mountains.

"There's a lone elm tree over there. Haldir would have liked that -- he always liked to be treated specially..."

Aragorn chuckled softly: "That he did -- and he deserved it." He started to walk down the stairs, obviously intent on carrying Haldir all the way up into the mountain.

Legolas followed right behind, making sure that Aragorn did not stumble.

They were silent as they walked towards the tree Legolas had pointed out, and only a lonely bird's song broke the silence as they buried Haldir, neither one unsure as to what words were appropriate.
Aragorn's hands smoothed down the blood stained Elven armour, a wordless good-bye, and in his heart Legolas sang a song of courage and beauty, of friendship and love.

Maybe later he would be able to sing it out loud, to share it at least with Aragorn, knowing that he'd understand and appreciate it.

Only as they walked back to the ruined keep, Aragorn broke the silence. "I'm glad you are here, Legolas."

Legolas stopped his descend and turned to face the Man, trying to figure out what meaning stood behind those simple words.
"I am also glad about your company, Aragorn," he finally answered, knowing that his words were the truth, and yet a lie through omission. He meant to say so much more -- but how could he?

Aragorn was still looking at him intently, his eyes shining brightly out of his dark face, dirty with blood and earth. Finally Aragorn seemed to find what he was looking for: "I don't think I could have born it if you had been killed, too, Legolas..."

His hand was hot on Legolas' arm, and Legolas tried to think of something to say in response, but all he could do was lock his eyes with Aragorn's and cover his hand with his own.

They stood like that for what could have been an eternity, before Aragorn broke their silent communion and turned to go on. There was a curious half-smile on his face, and Legolas wondered if his face wore the same expression.
Following Aragorn's swift step back towards Helm's Deep, Legolas needed the moments of silence before the noises, smells, the simple presence of all the people there intruded upon his senses again, to try to regain his shaken balance.

He wasn't sure what was happening with them, wasn't sure why everything seemed to have changed so quickly. In all the time he had spent with Aragorn, there had always been something different in their relationship compared to that between their other companions, but whatever it was, there had been no need to give voice to it.

Until now. Or maybe the change had happened when Haldir had appeared, coming to their aid so unexpectedly and welcome.

Haldir. How Legolas missed him already! They had not seen each other often after deciding that they were both not ready for a long term commitment. But no matter how many decades, sometimes even centuries, had passed, Legolas had always known that Haldir was alive, that he was singing, laughing, and hunting -- and loving, always so full of love and life -- somewhere in Middle Earth. That one day, he would see him again, hear his laughter and be annoyed by his arrogance again.

But no more. Never again would any living being set eyes on Haldir of Lorien.

Unexpectedly, Legolas felt his throat constrict and tears gather in his eyes. He swallowed hard -- this was not the time for tears, he did not want the people of Rohan see an Elf cry. His grief had caught him by surprise, swift and overwhelming -- a bit like Haldir himself --, but it was private, not meant for public display.

A sound must have escaped him, because Aragorn turned towards him abruptly and looked at him searchingly, his clear eyes piercing, reading Legolas as they'd have read a book. Legolas lay open before Aragorn, and he discovered that he didn't care anymore. He was tired of holding back, tired of thinking before acting, so he just closed his eyes and let Aragorn enclose him in his arms.

The arms that had held Haldir so lovingly now held Legolas, and Legolas found that it seemed right that way. His wrapped his arms around the Man and felt him relax under his hands. It occurred to Legolas that he was not the only one in need for comfort and he was more than glad to be able to give Aragorn something he needed.

They stood like that for what seemed like a long time, before Legolas felt something shift inside of him, pain giving way to something altogether different.

He opened his wet eyes to meet Aragorn's, noticing tears in them as well. In fact, tear drops were running down the dirty cheeks, leaving white tracks in their wake. Legolas lifted a hand and followed them, wiping the moisture away gently. Then he put his fingers to his mouth and tasted the salt, his eyes never leaving Aragorn's face.

The Man was still holding him tightly, following his every move intently, grief suddenly replaced by an emotion Legolas had only seen once before -- beneath the mallorn trees of Lorien, with the man Legolas had once called his love.

And it seemed right somehow, no longer confusing and complicated, but as if it had been meant to be that way. What had Haldir said, almost the last words he had ever spoken to Legolas? "The two of you would be well suited. And I should know, shouldn't I?"

Legolas couldn't help but laugh, a clear, carefree sound. It seemed as if Haldir had known them better than they had known themselves. Aragorn looked at him curiously, but instead of explaining -- there would be time for that later -- Legolas leaned in and kissed the ranger, feeling him stiffen in surprise and then relax and respond.

And while they stood there, over the battlefield that had seen so much death and pain the night before, locked in a kiss full of promises and hope, Legolas thought he heard Haldir laughter over the blood pounding in his ears.