by Cassia and Siobhan

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    Celboril walked up on the small grouping, a tray of cheeses and fruits in his hands.  The look on Aragorn’s face froze him in his tracks.
    “What is it?” the servant asked cautiously not at all sure that he even wanted to know.
    Legolas quietly answered him as he relieved the elf of the tray of food, taking it back and placing it near Gandalf’s things.
    Aragorn looked to the older man, his eyes full of questions begging for help and answers.
    Gandalf nodded, “You need to go then, all of you.  See if you can't help them and free your brother.”
    When the ranger didn’t move, the older man tipped his head in question and eyed the younger. “What is it, Estel?”
    Aragorn’s eyes were fastened on the elf behind the wizard, still unconscious on the bed.  He spoke softly, afraid of his own words, “I can't leave him.  And what if...what if Elladan is...” He couldn’t finish the sentence.
    Gandalf stepped in front of the boy and blocked his view of Elrond.  “Now you listen to me, young one,” redirecting the ranger’s eyes to himself, “I will stay here with your father and he will have the best of care.”  The wizard smiled gently into the dark worried eyes that watched him. “You go and see to your brother and I will send you help.”  He laughed as the human quirked an eyebrow up in question.  “Don’t worry. You’ll know it, when you see it.  Just see to it that you accept it when it is offered.”
    “I don’t under...”
    Gandalf pushed the young man out of the bedroom door, motioning for the other elves to leave as well, “You will, you will.  Now quickly, be off with you all and bring that brother of yours back to me.  I have plenty of athelas in my bag this day.”  He smiled and walked back into Elrond’s room, heading for the veranda and sweeping the window doors open, talking to himself the whole way, “Plenty of other things too, like that pipe of mine.  Where did I set that thing down now?”  The wizard cast his eyes to the grey skies and began to speak to them.
    Legolas grabbed Aragorn’s sleeve and hauled the ranger after them as they ran out of the house and down the valley path, following Moranuen back to the abandoned villages.
    “What did he mean, Legolas?” Aragorn asked as he ran next to his friend.
    “It’s hard to know with Mithrandir.  We’ll just keep our eyes open and hope we recognize this help of his when we see it.” 

    The severity of the situation was overwhelming when they reached the collapsed building.  The water had reached the top of the gully it was backed up into.  There was no falls anymore, only a deep, deep pond, that the Bruinen flowed ceaselessly into, and it was about to overflow.  The dam the elves had put up against the water that wanted to rush down into their valley and destroy was beginning to crumble; the water it contained ran in ever-increasing rivulets over its brim, drawing dirty streams through the dirt and mud near the pile of debris that the elves were working in.  In a very short time this place was going to be the swift flowing course of a new river.
    Moranuen called to Elrohir.  The elf turned at the sound of his name, heaving a boulder from the debris and wearily dropping it onto a pile out of the way.  His face was dirty and tear-stained and his hands were bloodied and torn from the frantic work of digging his brother out.  Long strands of dark hair hung in his eyes, having worked their way free from the catch at the nape of his neck, and he brushed them away with the back of his hand smearing blood across his forehead.
    "Estel?"  His voice was rough from calling all night to Elladan.  He walked wearily towards his adopted brother.  "Estel?"
    "Elrohir," Aragorn quickly closed the gap between them and pulled his brother against him. "I'm so sorry I wasn’t here sooner."
    "I thought I'd lost you too," the elf spoke softly.  The past twenty-four hours had held more grief and stress than he could bear.
    "You have lost no one." Aragorn pushed his brother back and tipped the elf's chin so he was forced to stare into the ranger's eyes.
    "Father..." Elrohir couldn’t finish the sentence and his eyes, full of sorrow and bleary from lack of sleep, begged the human not to force him to.
    "No. No, Gandalf is with father right now and he will be just fine.  Gandalf promised," Aragorn assured his older brother.
    "This is true?"  The silver eyes glanced between Aragorn and the other elves that accompanied him.
    "It is.  I was there."  Legolas smiled gently at the elf. "We have come to help dig out your brother and Mithrandir will see to his recovery as well."
    "Gandalf even promised to send help." Aragorn added, trying to encourage his overly weary brother.  The elves behind him had slowed in their work as they listened to the news from Rivendell.
    "Elladan stopped calling to me after midnight."  Elrohir walked dejectedly back to the pile of rumble.  "I have not been able to hear him since." He raised his hand and indicated the area where the elves seemed to be concentrating most of their effort, "He is in here, in this area.  I just can't get to him."
    Aragorn squeezed his brother's shoulder gently, "We will.  We'll find him."
    They all set about removing the stones and broken timbers that blocked them from accessing the trapped elf.  The smaller pieces had been cleared away and they had worked inward fairly well until they were stopped by a large slab of stone that lay at an angle, jutting out away from them and pinning the rubble beneath it.  To clear the area behind it would take far longer than the time they had left and it was impossible to dig under it.
    By this time the water running over the lip of the dam had increased from tiny rivulets to small streams turning the dirt under their feet to mud.
    "We need to lift it!"  Legolas called to Aragorn as he rounded the rubble after inspecting the backside of the collapsed building, "There is no way around it, we don’t have time."
    "We need leverage. Fetch some of those timbers from the pile of debris.  We will use them to try to raise the stone." Legolas glanced behind the elves to the pile of rubble that had been removed.
    “It will never work,” Celboril commented wearily.
    “It must.” Aragorn shot back, his words harsher than he meant them to be.
    The elves ran back to the pile of refuse they had moved and drug some of the longer beams to the front of the rock slab.  Placing the ends in the mud under the block they pressed down, lifting the chunk of wall a few inches.
    "Again!" Legolas called, groaning as he strained against the weight of the rubble.
    Without warning a shadow passed across the dim sun thrusting them into momentary semi-darkness.  In a second it was gone. Aragorn cast his eyes skyward, dreading what it could mean.
    A dark shape hurtled from the side of the rift plummeting towards them, a cry torn from its throat pierced the valley with its shrieking call.
    Legolas glanced up.  Recognition dawned as the shape took form and swept back up into the sky only meters above their heads.  "It is Mithrandir's help!” he cried. “It is Gwaihir!"  A smile lit his face as the huge eagle circled once overhead and lighted down behind them, neatly folding its wings against its broad back.
    Sharp black eyes watched them and the bird tipped its head curiously as it took in the situation. “Mithrandir called and said you needed assistance.” Its voice was soft and deep, like a thrumming in the chest. “I have come to help.”  Gwaihir hopped forward curiously, quickly taking in the severity of their predicament.  Aragorn took a step back and Legolas reached out to keep him from falling, laughing at his friend’s surprise.
    The elf walked forward and formally bowed. “Gwaihir, it is good to see you again.  We would welcome your help.”  He turned back to Aragorn and introduced the great eagle. “This is Gwaihir, he and his kind live high in the Encircling Mountains."  The eagle stretched its neck out towards the ranger, eyeing him with keen intelligent eyes.  "However, it has been many years since we had the pleasure of their visits."
    Gwaihir loosed a cry of acknowledgement, unfolding powerful wings. “How may I help you now?”
    He had seen enough to know what they were attempting to do and had realized they would never accomplish it alone.
    Emboldened by Legolas’ familiarity with the eagle, Elrohir stepped forward and bowed his head. “Gwaihir, I am Elrohir, son of Elrond. My brother, Elladan, is trapped beneath the collapsed building. I believe he is under that slab buried in the debris. Can you help us move it?”
    “It would be my honor, son of Elrond.” The eagle inclined its head slightly.
    With one downward sweep of his wings Gwaihir vaulted skyward and landed on top of the block slab they were trying to move.  His lethally taloned claws dug into the stone as though it were clay and he called out to them to take up their positions once more, that he would try to lift the stone and shift it to the side as they levered it up.
    Legolas ran back to the piece of wood he had been using as a lever, encouraging the others to do the same.  As soon as the elves and the human were in place, Gwaihir loosed a piercing shriek and began beating the air with his wings, straining to draw the rock up and out of place.
    Dirt and mud sprayed the elves working around the perimeter as the wind from Gwaihir's attempts stirred the area where they were standing, pelting them with drops of water and small twigs.
    The footing was treacherous now that the grounds were slick with the water from the overflowing dam.  It was all Aragorn could do to keep upright and maintain his position as they slowly shifted the stone slab to their left.
    Legolas, however, was not so lucky.  A small bit of rock struck the elf in the eye, causing him to lose his balance as his hands flew to his face to relieve the biting sting caused by the foreign object.  His ankle twisted under the sudden shift in weight and he slipped beneath the slab that was being slowly levered away.  Rubble on the opposite side of the obstruction moved as the weight of the block was slid out of place and the elf's leg was trapped, pressed viciously into the mud.
    Legolas winced and gave a small cry, but no one could hear him above the wind kicked up by the beating of the eagle’s massive wings and the grating rumble of the moving slab.  The elf panicked slightly and tried to pull himself out, only adding to his injuries.  He frantically twisted onto his stomach and attempted to crawl away from the moving stones that had trapped him and were still falling about his pinned leg.
    Aragorn saw what had happened. “Legolas!”  He saw the panic in the elf's eyes and the pain that crossed his face as he tried to pull himself free.  Making sure Celboril had a good grip on the beam they were plying, he ran to the fallen elf.
    "Lie still," he commanded, pressing the elf further onto his belly as the ranger threw himself onto the ground next to his friend.  He moved his hands against Legolas' leg to where the stones had fallen onto him, his fingers gently probing for any way to release the elf's leg. No one else had noticed what had happened yet.  Aragorn shouted for them to halt, but no one heard.
    The stone slab grated oddly as Gwaihir moved it farther to the left. With the help of the elves, it was nearly out of their path and they would be free to resume digging for Elladan.  Aragorn realized with a start that the angle of the rock and the path it was moving on would crush Legolas in moments if he didn’t free the elf.
    "Stop! Stop!" The human called to the eagle straining above them, shouting as loudly as he could, desperately hoping that the bird heard him over the noise of the moving rocks.  Thankfully, the great eagle did.  "Gwaihir, Legolas is trapped.  Hold the slab still for a moment while I free him or it will crush his leg."
    The eagle loosed a shriek and stopped dragging the stone away, instead hovering with it suspended over the downed building, pulling the weight of the block upward with him.
    Moranuen and Elrohir lay down on the other side of Legolas while Celboril rounded the stone slab and crept underneath it into the tiny crawl space provided as Gwaihir held the block up. Working quickly together, they were able to dig Legolas out.  Aragorn eased the elf onto his back and slipped his hands under the prince’s arms, pulling him safely away from the slab.
    The elves immediately ran back to their work and eased the stone wall far enough out of the way to continue their search.  When the great eagle released its hold on the large piece of rubble, it tumbled off the pile and splattered onto the muddy ground, driving the refuse beneath it deeper into the mud.
    Aragorn knelt by Legolas, trying to see the extent of the damage that had been done to him.  His frantic attempts to free himself had created a nasty gash that ran the length of his calf but, other than the cut, there was no outward damage.  He gently helped Legolas into a standing position, but the elf collapsed back to the ground when he tried to put weight on his injured leg.
    A shout rose from the elves working on the pile of debris and Aragorn ran back to Elrohir's side, leaving Celboril to watch over Legolas.
    Gwaihir had forced his head into a small opening they had uncovered, breaking up through the rubble with his strong beak.  “In there,” he instructed and turned to the elves, stepping lightly out of the way.
    Aragorn was on his hands and knees before the eagle had cleared the crawl space, forcing his way into the tiny enclave.  The stones and timbers had fallen in such a way that a small pocket had formed as the building had collapsed.  There was scarcely any light in the dank hole as Aragorn crawled in, his body blocking most of it.  Water dripped down through cracks in the rocks around him and he felt blindly in front of him, calling quietly to Elladan.
    His fingers brushed into something soft and he froze dreading what he would find.  Slowly he fingered the softness and realized in an instant that it was his brother's hair. "I have found him!" he shouted back at the others, his voice muffled by the rock. "Elrohir! Legolas! He is here!!"  Elladan was pinned face down, his body covered with pieces of the fallen building.  Shakily, Aragorn reached forward and moved his fingers across the elf's face down towards his neck, pressing under his chin, hoping against hope that he would feel a pulse.
    With a sigh, Aragorn dropped his head down until it touched the wounded elf's. "Oh Elladan, you live.  Thank Iluvatar. I can’t lose you."
    Working quickly, the ranger passed the small stones and broken beams that held his brother pinned back out the tiny passage that he had entered.  On the outside, Elrohir was frantically working with the others to enlarge the entrance.
    Within moments Elladan was freed, his body pulled from the wreckage of the collapsed building.  Tears of relief ran down Elrohir's face as Aragorn and Moranuen quickly worked over the unconscious elf.  Elladan had sustained a nasty head wound from the collapse of the building and his left leg and arm were both obviously broken.  What injury he sustained beyond that was hard to tell. His face was bruised and he was covered in dirt and mud.  
    Gwaihir had watched in silence until now.  He had been told what to do in the event they had found anyone still alive and with a short, sharp cry he jumped forward, pressing his way into the ring of elves.
    “The elf lives?” he asked curiously.
    “Yes.” Aragorn glanced up at the eagle as Gwaihir edged in closer, his black eyes focused on the ranger as he tapped the unconscious elf's chest gently with his beak.
    "Then let me take him back to Mithrandir.  He awaits him in Rivendell.”
    “I don’t understand."  Aragorn watched the eagle intently.
    Legolas limped forward with the help of Celboril. "Gwaihir can easily take Elladan back to Mithrandir for us.  His weight will be nothing for the great eagle."
    Aragorn nodded. "Very well.  But wait one moment."  The human quickly shrugged out of his overcoat and glanced at Moranuen.  Understanding what the ranger intended, the elf gently moved Elrohir out of the way and helped the man carefully wrap Elladan in the cloak.  They tied the sleeves off across Elladan's chest, securing his broken arm in place and moved away from the elf, motioning the others to follow suit.
    When the elves had moved out of the way, Gwaihir spread his wings full.  “Then I will inform Mithrandir to expect you all within the hour,” he called to them as, with one downward sweep of his powerful wings, he jumped off the ground and gently but firmly wrapped his talons around Elladan's body and bore the elf away toward Rivendell.
    They watched the eagle go until the tips of the trees hid him from their sight.
    "We need to leave."  Legolas broke the silence, speaking quietly. "The water has gained its edges and we are in danger here at its base."  He swallowed against the pain shooting up his leg as their attention was turned on him once more.  
    Aragorn stepped next to him and wrapped his arm around Legolas' waist and helped him stand, allowing the elf to lean most of his weight against him. "He is right, we must go."
    In unspoken agreement they all began to move quickly out of the area away from the crumbling dam.  Celboril walked on the other side of Legolas, his arm wrapped around the prince’s shoulder, lending his support, as they swiftly climbed the ridge back up to Rivendell. 

    When they reached the steps of the palace, Legolas was worn through and through.  His leg throbbed and he feared the damage was much worse than he had originally thought.
    Gandalf met the ragged group at the door and ushered them quickly in, directing one to one room and another to the guest quarters to clean up, placing them throughout the large house.  Elrohir would not rest nor allow his wounds to be tended until he had seen Elladan with his own eyes and knew that his brother would live.  So he was led into a guest room where Elladan was resting, now awake.  The elder twin had been cleaned up and Gandalf had bound his wounds and splinted his broken arm and fractured leg.  A small pot of athelas bubbled cheerfully in the corner.  Elladan broke into a wide smile, despite the bruises and cuts to his face, when he saw his twin.
    Elrohir reached out shakily to his brother but the old wizard caught the elf’s dirty, bleeding hand in his own.
    "You'll not touch my patient with hands like that."  He laughed lightly, dragging the protesting elf over to the wash basin and gently submerging Elrohir's hands in the warm water.  The elf hissed and tensed as the heated water touched off pain in his injured hands.  His palms were lacerated and the skin on his fingertips had been torn away in his frantic attempts to free Elladan.
    Aragorn walked into the room in time to see Gandalf forcefully press Elrohir's hands under the water.  "It will hurt less if you would work with me, young elf." The older man intoned, his strength far greater than his years belied as he gently washed the dirt from Elrohir's bruised hands.
    “I can help,” Elladan offered, trying to sit up in bed, but the splints made him clumsy and he was still slightly dizzy from the wound to his head.  He tried to right himself but fell towards the small stand next to his bed.  Gandalf leaned quickly over to steady the elf, brushing against an ancient Numenorean vase that decorated the low tabletop.  Elrohir jerked his hands out of the water and rushed to Elladan’s side, trying to avert an accident.  He bumped into the wizard in his haste, causing Gandalf to step closer to the bedside.  Elladan, insisting that he needed no help, tried to lay back down on his own but the fast move of sitting up had caused him to nearly black out and he reached out with his splinted arm, accidentally knocking Gandalf’s hand back against the vase.  The jar tipped and spun on its base, unbalanced by the shift in its weight.  Gandalf’s attempts to save it were unsuccessful and it fell to the floor and shattered.
    “Now see what you did?  Just lie still, things will be fine,” Elrohir chided his twin as he eased Elladan back down onto the bed, laying the elf’s splinted arm across his chest.
    “I did that? I think not, brother.”  Elladan looked over the edge of the bed at the mess on the floor. “That was definitely your doing. I had things under control.”
    “Under control. Right.” Elrohir rolled his eyes and pushed Elladan back against the pillows.
    Gandalf watched incredulously between the two as they bickered amongst themselves.  Even after a trip to Mandos’ door they could find the strength to give one another a hard time.  
    “Just wait till Father finds out you’ve broken his vase,” Elrohir continued as he tucked Elladan back in, moving his fingers stiffly over the sheets.
    “Enough!” Gandalf’s booming voice silenced the argument.  He frowned at the two elves, kicking the shards out of the way under the bed, “You’d never know from your arguing that you almost died under a pile of rubble or that you nearly scraped your fingers to the bone to save his hide.  It’s a vase.  It can be replaced.  Now stop it at once.”  He grabbed Elrohir gently by the wrists and led him back towards the wash basin. “My patience with you both has grown very thin indeed,”  the old wizard growled under his breath as he began to clean the elf’s hands once more.
    Aragorn stood in the doorway, unnoticed by the room’s occupants, shaking his head and smiling. Some things would never change.   He watched as Elrohir winced and drew his breath in sharply from the pain as Gandalf cleansed his wounds.  Finally he entered and approached the wizard, offering his help.
    "Here, let me help."  Aragorn pressed up against the counter on the other side of his brother and carefully took one of the elf’s bloodied hands in his one.  He glanced over to the bed where Elladan rested before laying a questioning gaze on Gandalf.  The eldest twin had not acknowledged his younger brother’s presence.
    The elderly man caught the look and smiled warmly, "Your brother will be just fine.  He needs to rest now, that is all.  He has a nasty cut to that head of his and he has suffered a broken arm as well as a nearly broken leg, but he will recover and be right back to normal before you know it."
    Elrohir tensed as the two worked on his wounds.  As gentle as they were he had not realized until just now that his hands really were hurting.  The adrenaline and fear had sustained him through the night and only now that they were wearing off did he realize that he had indeed hurt himself quite badly.  He started to tremble slightly as reality and weariness stole over him.  Aragorn noted the shift and tried to distract his brother.
    "Thanks a lot, Gandalf. As normal as he was before?  That’s not saying much. Are you telling me with all your expertise you couldn’t improve on him just a little?"
    A soft snort of disgust could be heard from the bed where Elladan lay lightly dozing and the old wizard frowned at the human in mock indignation, "Are you questioning my abilities, boy?"
    The easy banter worked and Elrohir laughed lightly as the two talked back and forth, relaxing slightly as his hands were removed from the now muddy water and gently lathed in ointment before being wrapped.  A cot was brought in for him and set up near Elladan’s bed.
     Aragorn paused by Elladan’s side, his fingertips lightly brushing his eldest brother’s good hand.  Elladan was sliding back towards unconsciousness, but his eyes fixed on Aragorn for a moment.  Aragorn smiled gently.  “You look like a building fell on you,” he teased softly, giving the elf’s fingers a light squeeze.  
    Elladan didn’t smile this time.  Pain that had little to do with his injuries flittered briefly across his face.  Weakly pulling his hand away from Aragorn’s, he dropped his gaze and looked away.  He was overjoyed that his little brother was all right, but he could not forget that his thoughtless words had helped propel Aragorn into danger in the first place.  He wanted to say something, but he didn’t know what and didn’t feel that he could meet Estel’s eyes after letting him down so badly when he had needed an elder brother’s love, not their irritation.  Blackness was pulling enticingly at the elf again.  Before he could find the words he wanted, it claimed him once more and the older twin fell back to senseless sleep, wearied from his injuries and his guilt.
    Aragorn swallowed the hard lump in his throat and blinked rapidly several times.  The elf’s actions made him think that Elladan was still angry with him and his brother’s rejection stung like a slap in the face.  Aragorn couldn’t blame Elladan for not wanting to look at him after everything he’d managed to mess up these past few days, but it still hurt more than the young ranger wanted to admit.  
    Putting his own feelings aside, the human crossed around the bed to where Elrohir was leaning against the wall with glassy eyes as if he had forgotten how to move, or were simply too weary to do so.  
    Aragorn gently eased Elrohir down on to the cot that had been brought in and the elf was asleep before his head touched the pillow, exhausted from the long and terrifying night of trying to free his twin.  
    The ranger covered his brother with a blanket and stood in the doorway for a few minutes, watching the twins sleep.  Gandalf stood behind him, smiling to himself.  He laid an old, weather-worn hand on the young shoulder and turned the human away from the room walking him down the hallway.
    "Let us go see to Legolas before he decides that he is just fine," the wizard teased lightly steering Aragorn into his own room where the elf prince had been taken.
    The ranger laughed, knowing full well from previous experiences what a horrible patient his friend made. 

    Legolas had been helped out of his muddy clothing and was wearing one of Aragorn's long tunics and an old pair of the ranger’s breeches.  The cut to his leg had been quickly bandaged but a red stain on the dark pants indicated that the gash was bleeding again.
    Unaware that he had visitors, the prince was trying to get up from the bed unaided.  He braced himself against the edge of the mattresses and limped slowly towards the water pitcher, where it sat on a table against the far wall.  He was unsteady on his feet and his injured leg buckled under him.  With a cry the elf stumbled forward but Aragorn rushed into the room and caught the prince, easing him down to the carpeted floor before he could fall.
    “Just what did you think you were doing?” Aragorn moved around in front of the elf and crouched down to glare into the fiery silver eyes.  
    Legolas frowned at his friend.  He was tired, thirsty and incredibly irritated with himself over the fact that his body was betraying his weakness.
    Opening his mouth to retort, the elf was interrupted as Gandalf slowly paced into the room. “Do not say that you are just fine, young prince.”  His blue eyes twinkled merrily as the ranger glanced up at him.  “Up with you now and back into that bed.”  Gandalf glared at the two of them to stave off any argument.
    “Legolas, if you need anything you have only to ask.  I am just down the hall. I would have heard you,” Aragorn spoke quietly to his friend as he helped the elf stand gingerly to his feet.  “It looks as if you reopened that cut.  Come on.” He steered the prince back to the bed, steadying the elf against the side of mattresses as he jerked the sheets back.
    Legolas eased himself onto the tall mattress and reluctantly laid back down.  Aragorn helped him as best he could, gently settling the elf’s wounded leg on top of the thick comforter.
    “Don’t do that again.”  Aragorn cautioned, leaning over his friend and smiling.  “I need you to be well, my friend.”
    A small smile touched the elf’s lips as he relaxed on the soft bed. “I hate being wounded when you need so much help. It’s really not that bad.”
    “The help he needs, young one, is for everyone in this house to do their part and right now that means for you to get well.”  Gandalf brushed the ranger aside, smiling at the human out of the corner of his eyes.
    Legolas rolled his eyes as Aragorn laughed at him.  “He’s right.  Everyone left in this house is wounded,” the ranger commented sarcastically, looking down at his own cut and bruised hands.
    The elf winced and softly groaned as Gandalf moved his hands gently down the prince’s leg, feeling for broken bones. Aragorn watched the wizard anxiously.
    Gandalf straightened slowly and stared hard at the elf. “Well, you will live.”
    “Really?” Legolas countered his light observations sarcastically, causing Aragorn to snicker.
    Gandalf frowned at the elf, which only garnered the old wizard a mischievous smile. “I do think I have had quite enough of ill-tempered patients to last me my entire lifetime.”  He turned towards the ranger and shooed him out the door. “That cut on your friend’s leg must be dealt with and I do not need you hovering around. Go do something useful with yourself. Things are quite under control here.”  He smiled as he pushed the young human out the door and turned back towards his patient. “Now as for you, young elf...” his deep voice was cut off as the door was shut behind the ranger. 

    Aragorn stood in the hallway for a moment listening to the easy banter of the old wizard and the light laughter of his friend.  Legolas would be fine, Gandalf would see to it.  He glanced at his hands; they had begun to sting from the cuts and tears that lacerated them.  For the most part his hands were clean, having become so while he was seeing to Elrohir, but the fact remained that they needed ointment and bandaging.  He walked slowly down to the small refreshing room off the hallway and seated himself inside near the sink trying one-handedly to see to his own injuries.
    Moranuen walked silently down the hall and spied the ranger trying to bind his own hands.  He pushed the door wider open and entered the small room.
    “What are you doing?”  Kneeling on the carpet, the elf took the bandages away from the young human and set them aside, carefully inspecting Aragorn’s hands, “Now see here, you can’t think to do this by yourself. Why didn’t you ask for help?”
    Aragorn looked up from his hands to the elf who began gently rubbing a soothing ointment into the palm of the ranger’s left hand, where a nasty gouge marred the soft skin.  “Actually I thought everyone was wounded or resting.” The human answered softly.
    Moranuen smiled, “Well not everyone. I have been keeping a watch on that dam.”  He turned the man’s hand over and carefully rubbed the ointment across the tops of his fingers.  “It doesn’t look good, Estel.  It’s amazing it’s still standing now.  Give it a couple of hours more and it will not be able to hold any longer.  And if the skies drop their rain as they are threatening to, then it may be sooner yet.”
    Aragorn nodded silently and watched while Moranuen wrapped his palms in bandages, leaving his fingers free to move.  “Well we still have a bit of time before we are forced to leave. Let us pray it is enough. But someone should go into Strayton and warn the townsfolk. They’ll need time to prepare in case it’s not.”
    Moranuen looked up into the dark silver eyes watching him and nodded. “I will go then, for you are needed here.  I will inform the people so no one is lost.”
    “Thank you Mora.”  Aragorn gazed at the elf, knowing how hard it would be for the warrior to return to the town and the people who had received him so poorly earlier in the year.  A thought occurred to the ranger and he instructed his friend further, “Take one of the horses and ride to Taradin’s.  He is the hunter that was caught sneaking into Rivendell some time ago.  Do you remember him?”  When Moranuen nodded Aragorn continued. “He lives on the outskirts, past the jailhouse.  Do not stop or talk to anyone else.  Taradin will listen to you and he will let no harm befall you.  Tell him I have sent you.”
    “I will do this.”  The elf touched the human's knee. “It will be all right Estel.”
    “Thank you Mora.  I knew I could count on you.” Aragorn looked back to his bandaged hands, they felt better now and he worse.  The tiredness showed in his eyes when he glanced back towards his friend as the elf stood.
    “Estel, go rest.  You look ready to fall over.”  
    “Thank you for the help also.” He held up his hands and smiled. “I will go rest, but I have one more room to visit before I do.”  He eased past the elf and walked slowly up the hallway, the weight of the household bearing his shoulders down.
    At the end of the hall he stopped and glanced into the room, gazing at the chamber’s sole occupant.  Moranuen watched him, hearing the human’s heavy sigh as he slowly entered the bedroom.