Blood of a brother: Something dies by Aragornwriter|
Summary: What does one do when someone dies? Does one grief? Or does one hate? Aragorn is soon to find out.
Note from the author: This story is about grief, but not everything is always as it seems. I don't consider this a death fic.
What does one do when something dies?
When someone, one who is loved so dearly, goes before his days are due; goes where no one can follow?
Does grief rip out one’s heart? Does it destroy that which once felt good and right to leave only darkness and despair? Or does one cherish the time spent together, knowing, sensing, feeling that there was so much more to say, when that was never said?
What does one do when a life has ended by forces that were beyond one´s reach? What does one do with this uncontrollable anger that surges from within, that raves and rages and threatens to destroy the very heart of its mortal owner? When did truth become reality? Does one laugh or cry when remembering the times spent together? Or does one rage uncontrollably and incurably?
They say that life is a test for all mortals. That what we did is what will grant us access into the next life, into something that is beyond our grasp and perhaps even unreal. Who will guarantee us a passageway into a realm where life is quiet and peaceful? None can, for we are what we are: Mortals. We are those who live here without an inkling of what is to come next.
Nay, we are not like Elves who know that they shall pass into the next world, into a realm that has been given to them by the Valar. They know that they are willing and able to choose when to make the passage, when they feel their time here has passed. I have seen it in some who have left Imladris years ago. I have seen it in the eyes of their friends and loved ones, who did not mourn their passing but cherished their new beginning and looked forward to their own. For it would be then that they would see those again whom they loved.
Death was not the end for them, but a beginning. A transformation into a life so peaceful that one would have to be crazy not to accept it. Yet, I know that some would not go. I know that Luthien did not go out of love for Berend. I know that Arwen will not go should I ask her to.
But I know that others were supposed to go. My Lord Elrond, for example. My two brothers, who have lived good lives, who have proven themselves friends and warriors, compassionate yet strong.
And Legolas. My good brother Legolas who was supposed to go some day too, on a date yet unset.
Yet here he lies at my feet and he no longer breathes. His life’s forces have been torn away from his body, destroyed by something so strong that it could not be stopped by anything or anyone. He has been literally sucked empty; drained.
And I sink down at his feet and grief over his death for the few moments that I am allowed to. For the grief is so strong that it makes me angry, fearless, and eager to end this life myself. We are no brothers by bloodline or kin, not even by race. But we still are.
I can only imagine all the words that can be said. I can imagine the sword stabbing my chest, protruding my heart and cutting it right out of me. It may not have happened in any physical form, but it surely happened in every emotional way imaginable. This is no longer the life I wish to lead.
I rise up and turn and grasp my sword in my hand, strengthening my resolve.
I see them coming for me now. Dozens they are, and they all smell as terrible as the ones that were slaughtered before them. A horrible, death-defying scent surrounds me. And I scream out Legolas’ name and attack them. It is one against many, but many have nothing against one who defies death.
Come and get me! I wish to shout. Come and take me away from this life, as I shall rid you of yours!
The sword slashes, cuts, chops. The daggers do their work. I close my eyes and kill them like that, but I do not need sight to see them. I know what they look like in my head, for I have seen many of them and perhaps I shall see many more.
What would Legolas say should he see me like this … this bloodied, this battered, this upset? He would say, “By the Valar, Aragorn, you are a fool to destroy your life like this. You must move on, for it is but one life that is lost and there are many more to attend to in future.”
I do not listen to his voice of death. I kill. Kill. Kill. Kill.
And then, as I open my eyes, I see to my shock that I am all alone and cutting into thin air. All the beasts have already been slain, perhaps even hours ago. My shoulders feel strained, my arms stressed. My body is tired, my soul drained.
I stop and look down, and there he still lies at my feet. Dead to this world. Lost. There is no question about it.
We are all alone, and there is nobody who can help us now. There is nothing that can be done. All I can do is carry his body homeward and bury it where it needs to rest under the soil it was not meant to rest beneath. The body must be at peace amongst the trees its soul has loved so much, and it must become one with the ground, as it shall be drained from all of its beauty. But his soul I cannot save and the color upon the skin cannot be restored.
Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood, is someone I have known all of my life, someone I remember from as soon as I can remember. He was not always there, yet he was always in my thoughts. I looked up to him and the Elf that he was. I admired him for his resolve and fighting skills, and I hated mine that seemed so trite. So … human. I envied him for his swiftness, his fast speed and his deadly skill with the arrows and blade. I envied him, for I could never be like him. Yet he taught me to be myself, to teach myself what I had to become. He was as much a teacher as the dark-haired Elf who raised me.
What shall happen to us now?
I throw down the sword and kneel by his side, praying in silence that his soul can be saved. Then I cover his body with my bloodied cloak so that I do not have to see the wounds that have damaged him so. Slowly I lift him and carry him, and I leave the sword as a remembrance of this very day, where the Elf has been slaughtered in the battlefield. I cannot bear to carry it ever again, for it feels like a burden upon me. This sword, given to me by my brothers, could not save the Elf and therefore I hate it with a vengeance. I despise it.
Defenseless yet not empty-handed I start the walk. We are miles away from Mirkwood but the Elf weighs nothing in my arms, light as a child. When I was little, he would carry me like this.
I cannot bear to look at his face. The eyes wide open. The smile faded. The gaze lost to me. I cannot stand it! I linger and make an effort to cover his face with the cloak so I do not have to feel this hurt. Yet the pain lingers in my every move, every touch, every step.
Imagine what can be said. What can be done.
Think of living inside, of a life proceeding without him.
But I cannot.
There is blood on his hands, and blood in my eyes. His mingles with mine. If only I could restore the life taken from him. If only my blood was strong enough to give him his soul once more. But I have nothing to give to the Valar; nothing to trade his life with. The horses we left behind perhaps. An animal’s life for an Elf’s? It would not suffice.
Do not be a fool, he would say. What is life when there is a cloud shrouded around it? What would you let me think should I be replaced with you?
He was right of course.
The Valar had not granted him eternal life, and therefore I could not offer anything.
Rain comes down upon us. First slow, like a trickle you hardly feel. Then harder and louder, until it pours down upon us and becomes a sudden hailstorm. The world turns dark. Whereas the sun shone only minutes before, there is nothing but a dark and empty sky now that seems to mock us. I look up and let the hail touch me. I dare it to fall into my eyes and blind me, but it avoids me. Not even that punishment will be given to me.
Finally I stop underneath a large oak tree that has been standing in these woods for many years past, and hope that it will be split in half by lightening and strike me down. No such luck. I finally release my burden and place the body gently on the ground. Scooped inside the cloak, the head tilts gently to the side and remains like that. The eyes are still open. I dare not to stare into them, for fear of what I would see. Or not see.
I sigh and crawl to the ground, tired, no, exhausted, and stare at Legolas nonetheless. My eyes are void of tears and sadness. I feel drained. Empty. How can I explain to his father what I am taking into his home? He shall blame me, as I blame myself.
I cannot weep. I cannot scream.
Yet I stand and raise my face to the thundering skies and scream, “You have lost my love! I shall forever detest you, for you are unfair and unreasonable. You are no longer the Valar to me. You are the enemy.”
My shouts shall not change anything, but they light my heart. I sink down next to Legolas’ body and pray not to awaken again. Thus great is my grief. For once I do not see all that is still left to me. All I see is what I have lost.
I dream of blood. Blood everywhere. On my hands, on his body, his face, in his mouth, in my mouth as I bite my lips, and blood is drained on my clothes. Everything. I wake with a cry but no tears flee my eyes. I cannot weep. I fear I shall never be able to do it again. I am numb.
Nearly half a day has passed since his death. It feels a lot longer. The body of an Elf does not immediately go rigid, like a human’s does. It remains flexible and almost alive to the touch. I know that when I go on, I will carry it once more and it shall still have some warmth in it. Must I punish myself this way? Must I carry him home? Or must I bury him here and hope that he will be protected in death?
Nay, I think. I shall never leave him. I would rather perish in storms of hail while bringing him to his family. It is what I must do, for it can be my final token to him. I carry this misery alone. And after I shall deliver him, I shall go home and take my grief with me.
But I feel as if I have been stabbed with a dull knife. As if it has taken an eternity to slash through my skin, flesh and muscles to find the one organ that keeps a man alive. As if I am awake and sane to watch it happen. As if I am being punished this way for abandoning my brother.
“Why?” I hiss aloud, and I cannot bring myself not to look at Legolas. “Why him? Why this fair creature who has done nothing wrong? Do you have no respect for life? Do you not cherish it running its course through an Elf’s veins? Must you take someone who does not deserve it and leave all that is evil behind?”
I feel faint, because of lack of food and water. But I do not yield. I do not succumb to darkness, for I am too upset. I must fight my battle with the Valar. I must tell them how much I hate them now.
Of course no answer comes. I am alone in these woods with a lifeless body next to me, and trees that do not even shed their leafs, and birds that no longer sing, and animals that stay away from us as if they know that I would kill them out of spite with my bare hands.
I must battle this wave of hatred, yet I know I cannot. My heart is polluted and I do not know if it will ever heal again. Perhaps I will not allow it, for hate is so much easier to feel than love itself. “Aye, I do hate you now,” I say angrily. “I hate you more than my worst of enemies.”
I then close my eyes with a sigh and allow my head to fall upon my hands.
I do not mean it, I know. I cannot hate the Valar, even if they have taken my friend and brother. “Forgive me,” I whisper. “Forgive me for my expressions. You must heal me. Save me. Spare my heart.”
I lean forward, roll onto my side and turn my back to Legolas’ body. I cradle myself and rock my body until I am no longer cold, but strangely warm. And as I fall asleep at long last, I have found a strange new sense of peace. I feel as if the Valar are watching over me, and perhaps they are watching over Legolas too. I do not know.
I wake when light strikes my eyes. I believe it is early dawn but then am startled to notice that dawn has not even set in yet, and it is something else waking me. The moonlight? Nay, too strong. Stars? I do not know. I just feel strange. Watched.
I secretly hope I was lost in a dream, that all of this was a nightmare caused by injuries or fever. But it is no dream. For, as I turn, I see Legolas lying next to me. My sad eyes fall upon Legolas’ body once more. I see the paleness of his skin and the deep wounds caused by the enemies’ weapons. I see blood dripping out of them.
I see blood?
But that cannot be. A dead body’s injuries no longer bleed. The dead do not bleed. They whither away. They succumb. They no longer bleed.
Frantically I move towards Legolas, removing the cloak from his body and watching the body bleed. Several wounds, all covered and clotted in fresh blood. And the lips. They are no longer blue in color but a faint pink – a red. And the face, the skin: It is no longer ghastly pale. It is different.
But that cannot be. I saw him die. I saw death mark his face. I saw him as he would be buried in the ground. I saw him - … dead.
My hands work by themselves as they rip open his tunic and examine the wounds. The skin is warm and damp. The wounds are fresh. They are fresh! They can be healed! I work as if my life depends on it.
In ways it does.
I grasp my parcel with herbs, boil water and chew the herbs, and work and work until the darkness of the night is replaced by early dawn, and the bright light that has descended upon us has faded. Those who are watching however are still there.
They have created this miracle; granting me the powers to heal him. And heal him I will!
I do not know why, I do not understand what has given me the authority to do this. I do not know if all of this was but a ghastly dream. But I do know that I hold my friend’s life in my hands and I shall heal him. I must!
I am so tired. I wish to sleep.
I do not. I am healing my friend.
And heal him, I do.
It is another day past when Legolas lies bathed and bandaged by the campfire and sleeps. I stare at him in wonder. Have I really carried his corpse through these woods? Or have I toyed with his life all this time, not seeing that he was alive despite his injuries?
No! I say to myself. No! He was dead. He was gone. I saw it. I have seen it many times before. And I must believe that he was gone, so can I believe in this miracle.
Is it the Valar then who have aided me? They must have done so. But why? Why would they help me when I have cursed them? Or was it my curse that has brought them upon us? Or perhaps it was never me they wanted to aid, but this poor Elf who did not deserve such a death.
As I look up, I find Legolas staring at me from across the fire. His eyes are wide open and confused; his body is slightly turned towards me so he does not have to strain himself to see me. And he stares at me. He just stares while his hands touch the injuries he cannot see, but feels nonetheless.
“Hush now,” I say gently. “Do not speak”, for I cannot bear to hear his questions yet. “You are well. You are wounded, but no beasts can ever bring you down.”
He no longer speaks, but when I come to sit next to him, he sees in my eyes what he fears to hear. I cannot say it aloud, and he cannot ask the right question. Finally he just shuts his eyes and leans back and falls asleep again.
I watch him for hours and hours, for I cannot sleep and fear that I shall never do so again. I am afraid to go to sleep, I finally understand, for it is in sleep that the truth might come forward and I am not willing to accept whatever is given to me. I believe in miracles, yet I am horrified and terrified that this miracle might not be true, and that, when I fall asleep, Legolas might wind up dead after all. That this healing of his is just my mind playing tricks upon me, and that I shall find him long gone to the world when I wake once more.
Yet, as early dawn breaks once more, I find that my eyes are drooping and I slumber for a few brief moments. In fright and shock I awake out of pure fear that Legolas shall be gone once more. It is only then that my heart accepts that he is not dead, that he lies next to me and is very much alive, and healing.
It is only then that I raise my eyes to the skies, and know that the stars are still watching me, and I stand and see shadows in the clouds. Faces. Eyes. Smiles. They are there, and they have seen us, and they have granted me the ultimate wish.
I must believe in miracles, for it is this miracle alone that has valid evidence.
“Aragorn?” I turn and see Legolas lying on the ground, looking up at me. He slowly moves up, leaning on one arm.
I feel my heart break. It literally falls apart.
I fall to my knees.
And for the first time in days, I burst into tears, as I thank those who have watched over us.