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Axe and Bow

A Legolas and Gimli fan archive

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The Last Act of Love

by Azarad

Category:
Rating: PG
Warnings: AU
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JRR Tolkien. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Feedback: Yes
Summary: AU. Legolas is captured by Orcs. A/N:





"Gimli," Aragorn said as calmly as he could. "One of the scouts saw our friend with the retreating horde."

"Then, he is alive," Gimli muttered, fingers pressed to his heavy brow, his right hand squeezing the haft of his axe.

The dwarf's voice reminded Aragorn of a shallow stream rushing over gravel. It was a forlorn sound. Aragorn looked at the western sky. The sun was sinking into a bed of deep purple clouds. They were all tired and they wanted nothing more than their own blankets.

"Yes, taken alive," Aragorn said, biting his lip and thinking it better if he'd been killed outright on the field of battle. The fate of captive Elves was cruel.

Aragorn squeezed the Dwarf's shoulder. Anything to seem reassuring. He did not tell the dwarf all that Feldyn had told him. The band of orcs that captured Legolas were traveling toward Isengard. The scout had spied the Elf on his feet, dragged along at a good pace. He had taken no grievous hurt yet, but when they camped he would be tormented. Finally, at Orthanc Tower, Saruman would extract what he wanted before tossing Legolas back to the war chiefs for their sport. There was no hope for Legolas. Bitter, his last days would be.

"So, when do we follow them, Aragorn?" Gimli asked.

"At this hour we travel by horse. Are you with us?"

"Arod must not deny me. I go to save our friend."

"I'm sure he'll remain constant. I myself will give you a leg up onto his broad back."

Aragorn patted the eager, restive creature. Gimli's stubby fingers dug into the thick mane and his short legs soon straddled the wide dappled back. The man stroked the horse's cheek and whispered into a sharply pricked ear. The animal calmed and waited patiently for the others. In a twinkling of the evening stars, the troop was ready to follow the orc trail. Eomer led them with Aragorn at his side.

"Off we go then," Gimli said to his mount.

The good beast pawed the earth and sprang away with the others.

In a low rumbling chant, Gimli sang in his native tongue, "After the foul creatures we fly, carried on the fleet hooves of hope."

Long, the Riders of Rohan galloped over moor and plain, leaping down banks and galloping up slopes. At midnight they splashed through one of Isen's shallow streams and up a forested hillside. On they went as the sun's last rays became a dim memory. They galloped steadily until the moon's harsh light glittered on the vale of Isengard, turning to obsidian the blackened land surrounding Orthanc.

"Glad I am that you are with me," Gimli whispered to his faithful Arod as he stroked his neck. "I know you are his friend. It is only right that you and I bring him back."

They waited, giving both horses and men a chance to breathe, on the ridge overlooking the great orc encampment. Then Aragorn raised his long arm. He pointed far to the right at a little knot of orcs asleep on the ground surrounding a chief's shelter. There, chained to a blasted tree, was a captive. He was a slim figure with bright hair.

At that moment, Gimli's expression changed from desperate hope to awe. He stared at the tall man, a warrior who would soon rule over the lands of Gondor. Here was the captain who would lead men into battle and bring them out again into a world of peace and contentment.

Eomer walked up along side Aragorn. Gimli caught the whispered words.

"My best man can make the shot," Eomer said.

Aragorn answered, "Better death than torment, though it grieves me."

Then, Aragorn turned to Gimli. "What say you?" the man asked.

"You mean to take him from the orcs. Is that not so?"

"Yes, Gimli," Aragorn said softly, kindly, his eyes glittering with unshed tears. "Release him into death."

Slowly, Gimli understood. He stared around at grim men, jaws clenched and hands white on their weapons. He looked again into the vale choked with crawling orcs. There had to be a way to get down there.

Aragorn knelt. He grabbed Gimli by the hands. He hissed, "We are sorely outnumbered. Yet, we cannot surrender him alive to our foe. What we do now will be our last act of love."




CHAPTER 2

Aragorn knelt. He grabbed Gimli by the hands. He hissed, "We are sorely outnumbered. Yet, we cannot surrender him alive to our foe. What we do now will be our last act of love."

"I must try to save him, Aragorn," Gimli said. "I must."

The tall man gripped the pommel of his great sword. He squeezed his eyes shut and tossed his dark mane back. He blinked away his tears and nodded. He waved to Eomer who approached stealthily. They huddled together and spoke in low voices.

A quarter hour later, as the moon sank low behind the hills, a lone orc shambled along between the rows of its sleeping fellows. A hundred sharp eyes followed the footsteps of the small, grotesquely bent creature. Arrows, fitted to strings, waited restlessly. Aragorn bit his lip. Eomer at his side laid a warm hand on the man's shoulder.

"A song there will be to remember this night."

Aragorn sighed deeply. "How I wish to hear Legolas sing once again."

Secure in their vale, the orcs set no watch. Gimli crept up to the lone tree stump and halted. Legolas stared straight ahead. He seemed to be dreaming in the way of Elves. He wandered the forests of his homeland far from his suffering at the claws of the orcs. A dark bruise marred his high cheekbone. His scalp was bloody where they'd torn out a handful of bright hair.

Gimli spoke a single word, "mellon". Like the gates of Moria, the eyes of Legolas opened to see Gimli his comrade, dressed as an orc in the midst of orcs. The look of relief on the Elf's features was Gimli's treasure.

"Long I waited for you, Gimli," whispered the Elf in a voice as dry as leaves in autumn. "Yet, you are not my only small ally." The perfect bow shaped lips were bruised and swollen, but the smile upon them was sweet.

"What's this?" Gimli gasped as shredded bonds fell away from the Elf's wrists. In his hands Gimli held tiny, warm creatures. Then, the black eyed field mice scurried down his arms, hopping to the ground and hiding once again in safe burrows.

"Enough of your Elfish ways with good beasts," Gimli hissed. "Now, we must get back, old friend. Put this on."

A dirty, grey cloak, rolled in mud and horse manure, was flung over the bright hair and pale limbs of the Elf. A slim arm arched over a set of strong shoulders. They moved slowly at first away from the shadows of the orc chieftain's shelter.

"Hunch down, you great sunflower, or we'll be noticed."

"Those orcs are fast asleep. Strong enchantments I wove into my evening song."

"Glad I am that you had your wits. Now, how fare's your strength? Can ye' climb?"

"Were it a mountain of glass, I could, Gimli. You are with me."

They scrambled up the side of a ravine neared the edge of the orc encampment. Scattered among the sleeping forms were wargs, their great tails curled over their ugly snouts.

"Quiet now," Gimli warned. "Wargs lie among them."

Taking a deep breath, Legolas uttered a soft, rustling sound, a sighing of the winter wind in bare branches. Gimli pulled the cloak tighter and shivered. Orcs and wargs curled tighter too into their bedding of dry grass, lulled by frosty memories into snug sleep.

When the pair were out of grave peril and climbing the ridge toward their allies, Gimli said, "You must teach me that song. It would quiet even Hobbit children."

Like a ripple of water over shining pebbles, the Elf's laughter tripped. To Gimli's ears it was a welcome sound, like the ringing of hammers in the forge. Glad too was the sound of men breathing easily and replacing their long shafts within their quivers. Aragorn returned the great bow of Lothlorien to Legolas. They clasp hands. No words were needed.

Then Gimli heard a long low whistle and the clop of horses' hooves on rock. They would be safe away soon. Arod snuffled them both. On his broad back they climbed, the Dwarf in front, the Elf clinging to his broad belt this time. Eomer smiled and signaled his men. By dawn's light Gimli would tend his friend's hurts. With the war to come, it would not be his last act of love.



-End-

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