Note: Written for Aislynn, as replacement fic for the Secret Santa. Hope you like it... I'm afraid it's only slightly slashy, but this is what happened when I sat down to write Legolas/Aragorn. 🙂

Legolas remained in Middle earth until after Aragorn was dead.

He had made Aragorn a promise and he kept it faithfully, through all the years. It was not easy, seeing Aragorn grow old, but luckily the years were kind to Aragorn. The blood of Elros did not fail him and he remained himself - only a bit more grizzled and a lot wiser. Legolas actually liked the way he changed ever so subtly with every visit to Minas Tirith, even if he could not imagine the world without Aragorn in it that they implied.

There had been a world without Aragorn once, not so very long ago in the span of Legolas' life, but looking back it seemed that Legolas had done nothing but wait for the day he first met Aragorn, a young man in Elrond's house. After that things started happening, and the more or less traditional spider slaying and orc fighting in Mirkwood gave way to a greater purpose. The common purpose had strengthened the ties of friendship between Aragorn and Legolas even further.

It had been during the War of the Ring that there had been another significant change in their relationship, and despite all the pain and sorrow of this time, Legolas still cherished the memory of this time. It had been then that he made his promise.

Aragorn had been so very tired and close to despair as they chased desperately after Saruman's Uruk-hai and never seemed to make any headway. Legolas had never seen him like this before, and it caused him almost physical pain. When he had approached him during one of their short breaks, seeing that he did not sleep although he sorely needed it, he silently laid a hand on Aragorn's shoulder, lacking the words to comfort him.

Aragorn looked up, deep lines in his face that made him look like an old man. "I thank you for your kindness, Legolas, but I cannot rest until we have freed Merry and Pippin." But he did not shrug Legolas' hand off, and Legolas kneeled down beside him.

"Then let me stay awake with you, my friend," he said quietly, letting his arm come to rest around Aragorn's shoulder. They sat in silence, their bodies touching warmly in the cool night, and slowly Legolas felt tension drain from Aragorn, as if their silent communion gave him at least a small measure of peace.

"Are you going to leave Middle earth once our quest is over, Legolas? Have you had enough of Men with all their deficiencies?" Aragorn suddenly broke the quiet, his voice slow with thought and sleep.

Legolas studied his profile for a while without answering. This seemed important to Aragorn, and he wanted to give him an honest answer. And it came to him, as if a small voice was whispering it to him: "I am not yet weary of this land, nor of its people. If we win this war, then I hope to spend several more years here. During our journey I have seen much which has intrigued me, and I have the feeling that there is much more waiting for me. I would see you King again, Aragorn son of Arathorn, and I would see your children play in safety and happiness."

He paused and met Aragorn's unwavering gaze. "I might not understand the ways of Men very well, but I think I understand you, my friend. You are thinking of the changing times, and a part of you would like to leave them behind like the Eldar, because our world is what you know." Aragorn looked surprised, as if he had not expected Legolas to really see what was behind his question, and Legolas smiled and took Aragorn's hand, feeling its roughness under his smooth fingers and the tightness of its grip. It felt -- right.

Something stirred in Legolas' heart, an emotion only half-known until then, and it gave his words strength: "At least as long as you live, my friend, I will remain here, so that you always have a reminder of what is part of your heritage as well. Let me be home for you, if that is what you'd like."

Aragorn's answer came promptly and sincerely: "Yes. I would like that very much." His embrace was long and hard, and Legolas reciprocated in kind, taking in every detail of this moment. When they broke apart, Legolas had something he knew he would never forget, not in a thousand lifetimes of Men. But he remained silent, not wanting to disturb the moment of peace Aragorn had found through his promise.

He had known in this moment that there probably would never be a right time to share his feelings with Aragorn, because Aragorn's path lay differently and no good would come out of disturbing sleeping dragons. And all in all he had found keeping his silence not very difficult.

He had remained in Middle earth, following his own path in Ithilien and with Gimli, and only occasionally had he returned to Aragorn, to share memories and renew their bond, which was undimmed by the passage of time. He fulfilled his promise gladly, giving Aragorn a home he could turn to when the world of Men threatened to become too much for its King and desire for his youth among the Eldar woke in him.

And through it all, Legolas watched and remembered. Because he knew that Aragorn was doomed to die, as was the way of Men, and with him would die what Legolas called home.

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