Monday, February 23, 2015

For the Love of the Lord of the White Tree: Legolas and Aragorn's Friendship

I wrote this essay because I love the friendship between Legolas and Aragorn as much as I love the Arwen/Aragorn ship – which is saying something! It infuriates me that the friendship between Legolas and Aragorn not only gets overlooked most of the time, but that some people even outright deny that it is canon.

First, though, I want to clarify a few things, from other discussions I've had. When I quote Aragorn and Legolas sharing knowledge, I'm not showing that as a sign of earlier friendship, but of compatibility and similarity. Also, my point is not the fact that Legolas makes Aragorn smile once, or gets Aragorn back on track once, but that he does it repeatedly and is the only one to do so.

When did Aragorn and Legolas first meet? We cannot say. We know that Aragorn spent 44 years wandering in the North as a Ranger, and that the search for Gollum started in TA 3001 and (after some off periods) ended in TA 3017. We know that Aragorn brought Gollum to Mirkwood, “for we agreed that this should be done.” (The Council of Elrond)

It may be that Aragorn and Legolas first met during the quest for Gollum, but that leaves 27 years in which Aragorn was wandering the North. I cannot believe that he never traveled to Erebor, Dale, and Mirkwood in all those years. It is a very important area strategically and politically. However, we will never be able to say for certain when they first met. With that, on to the text!
Aragorn: “Still I for one am glad that he is safely kept by the watchful Elves of Mirkwood. His malice is great and gives him a strength hardly to be believed in one so lean and withered. He could work much mischief still, if he were free. And I do not doubt that he was allowed to leave Mordor on some evil errand.” - The Council of Elrond
Aragorn is confident in Mirkwood's elves, and takes comfort in their skill (to find out why Gollum was taken to Mirkwood specifically, see here).
Escaped?” cried Aragorn. “That is ill news indeed. We shall all rue it bitterly, I fear. How came the folk of Thranduil to fail in their trust?” 
Not through lack of watchfulness,” said Legolas; “but perhaps through over-kindliness. And we fear that the prisoner had aid from others, and that more is known of our doings than we would wish.” - The Council of Elrond
Aragorn's outburst is understandable, given Legolas's disturbing news. As for Gollum, it makes complete sense to me that Aragorn wouldn’t tell Legolas about it, even as close friends (he doesn't even tell Thranduil). It’s a top secret mission and if Sauron gets any hint that they have knowledge about the Ring, they’re dead. Gandalf (and Aragorn) cannot take the risk of a possible security breach.
Elrond: “For the rest, they shall represent the other Free Peoples of the World: Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Legolas shall be for the Elves; and Gimli son of Glóin for the Dwarves. They are willing to go at least to the passes of the Mountains, and maybe beyond. For men you shall have Aragorn son of Arathorn, for the Ring of Isildur concerns him closely.” - The Ring Goes South
We are not told when or why Legolas was picked for the Fellowship. However, Elrond tells Frodo this almost two months after the Council of Elrond. The fact that Legolas has stayed in Rivendell all this time implies that he was chosen early. My belief is that Legolas insisted on joining the Fellowship because of Aragorn and their close friendship.
There lie the woods of Lothlórien!” said Legolas. “That is the fairest of all the dwelling of my people. There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till the spring comes and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey. So still our songs in Mirkwood say. My heart would be glad if I were beneath the eaves of that wood, and it were springtime!” 
My heart will be glad, even in the winter,” said Aragorn. “But it lies many miles away. Let us hasten!” - Lothlórien
Aragorn confides that he too will be relieved to be in Lothlórien. He is replying to Legolas; but we don't know if the others heard him or not.
At last Legolas turned, and seeing them now far behind, he spoke to Aragorn. The others halted, and Aragorn ran back, calling Boromir to come with him. 
I am sorry, Frodo!” he cried, full of concern. - Lothlórien
Aragorn, overwhelmed with the day's events, forgot about Frodo and Sam's injuries. Legolas notices their trouble and nudges Aragorn into action. This is the start of a crucial pattern – Aragorn depending on Legolas when he is overcome by a dark emotion.
Eight,” said Legolas. “Myself, four hobbits; and two men, one of whom, Aragorn, is an Elf-friend of the folk of Westernesse.” - Lothlórien
It is interesting that Legolas singles out Aragorn of the entire company – Boromir too is of Númenórean descent, after all. However, Legolas emphasizes that Aragorn is an Elf-friend who can be trusted.
I am an Elf and a kinsman here,” said Legolas, becoming angry in his turn. 
Now let us cry: 'a plague on the stiff necks of Elves!'” said Aragorn. “But the Company shall all fare alike. Come, bind our eyes, Haldir!” - Lothlórien
I think this really shows how comfortable Aragorn is with Legolas – we never see him make this kind of comment with anyone else. Aragorn knows Legolas isn't going to take offense or hold it against him, and he slips from the role of leader for a moment of genuine exasperation.
An evil of the Ancient World it seemed, such as I have never seen before,” said Aragorn. “It was both a shadow and a flame, strong and terrible.” 
It was a Balrog of Morgoth,” said Legolas; “of all elf-banes the most deadly, save the One who sits in the Dark Tower.” - The Mirror of Galadriel
Legolas has lore knowledge that Aragorn doesn't. This is the beginning of a pattern, where Legolas and Aragorn share knowledge with each other.
None save Legolas and Aragorn could long endure her glance. - The Mirror of Galadriel
Aragorn was raised by elves, he has an inherently elvish nature. That is why it is only he, and Legolas (an actual elf), can meet Galadriel's gaze.
What is that, Legolas?” he asked, pointing to the northern sky. “Is it, as I think, an eagle?” 
Yes,” said Legolas. “It is an eagle, a hunting eagle. I wonder what that forebodes. It is far from the mountains.” 
We will not start until it is fully dark,” said Aragorn. - The Great River
Aragorn relies on Legolas, double checking himself. He is then able to come up with a plan.
It was decided that Aragorn and Legolas should at once go forward along the shore, while the others remained by the boats. - The Great River
Aragorn goes scouting with Legolas, instead of anyone else. Legolas is the obvious choice for scouting, but Aragorn isn't. “It was decided” sounds like a group decision, but the way it's phrased implies it was the timing they decided.
Aragorn: “Which way would any of us choose in Frodo's place? I do not know. Now indeed we miss Gandalf most.” 
Grievous is our loss,” said Legolas. “Yet we must needs make up our minds without his aid. Why cannot we decide, and so help Frodo? Let us call him back and then vote! I should vote for Minas Tirith.” - The Breaking of the Fellowship
Aragorn's uncertainty and hopelessness is clear. Legolas jumps in and gently prods Aragorn into calling the group back together and making the vote.
Aragorn: “If you would let me choose, then I should appoint three companions: Sam, who could not bear it otherwise; and Gimli; and myself. Boromir will return to his own city, where his father and his people need him; and with him the others should go, or at least Meriadoc and Peregrin, if Legolas is not willing to leave us.” - The Breaking of the Fellowship
We don't know for sure why Aragorn doesn't want Legolas to go to Mordor, but I think it's because Legolas, as an elf, stands out more than the others (especially on the Unseen plane, see more here). Though, Aragorn also knows Legolas well enough to know it is not likely that Legolas will consent to leave them.
Gimli had his axe in hand, and Legolas his long knife: all his arrows were spent. When they came into the glade they halted in amazement; and then they stood a moment with heads bowed in grief, for it seemed to them plain what had happened. 
Alas!” said Legolas, coming to Aragorn's side. “We have hunted and slain many Orcs in the woods, but we should have been of more use here. We came when we heard the horn – but too late, it seems. I fear you have taken deadly hurt.” 
Boromir is dead,” said Aragorn. “I am unscathed, for I was not here with him. He fell defending the hobbits, while I was away upon the hill.” - The Departure of Boromir
Legolas and Gimli halt in amazement, and then grief. Legolas then rushes to Aragorn's side, afraid that he is fatally injured. Aragorn replies that his hurts are in the mind, not the body.
Aragorn: “I sent him to follow Merry and Pippin; but I did not ask him if Frodo or Sam were with him: not until it was too late. All that I have done today has gone amiss. What is to be done now?” 
First we must tend the fallen,” said Legolas. “We cannot leave him lying like carrion among these foul Orcs.” - The Departure of Boromir
Aragorn is overcome with despair, and Legolas prompts him into action.
But we do not know whether the Ring-bearer is with them or not,” said Aragorn. “Are we to abandon him? Must we not seek him first? An evil choice is now before us!” 
Then let us do first what we must do,” said Legolas. “We have not the time or the tools to bury our comrade fitly, or to raise a mound over him. A cairn we might build.” - The Departure of Boromir
For the fourth time, Legolas cuts through Aragorn's dark emotions and nudges him into action; supporting him.
S is for Sauron,” said Gimli. “That is easy to read.” 
Nay!” said Legolas. “Sauron does not use the elf-runes.” 
Neither does he use his right name, nor permit it to be spelt or spoken,” said Aragorn. - The Departure of Boromir
While Legolas's bond with Gimli is certainly deep, he and Aragorn connect on a different level. They are equals – they can talk about lore, or the unseen influences, because Aragorn was raised to understand Elvish thought. We know that he is above any other mortal, but I don't think we ponder the consequence of that enough. There is a large part of himself that no mortal will ever understand.

(We see this issue a few times just between Legolas and Gimli as well; for more on them see here)
For a while the three companions remained silent, gazing after him. Then Aragorn spoke. “They will look for him from the White Tower,” he said, “but he will not return from mountain or from sea.” Then slowly he began to sing: 
Through Rohan over fen and field where the long grass grows 
The West Wind comes walking, and about the walls it goes. 
What news from the West, O wandering wind, do you bring to me tonight? 
Have you seen Boromir the Tall by moon or by starlight? 
I saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey; 
I saw him walk in empty lands, until he passed awayInto the shadows of the North. 
I saw him then no more. 
The North Wind may have heard the horn of the son of Denethor. 
O Boromir! From the high walls westward I looked afar, 
But you came not from the empty lands where no men are.” 
Then Legolas sang: 
From the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sandhills and the stones; 
The wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans. 
What news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring to me at eve?Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve. 
Ask not of me where he doth dwell-so many bones there lie 
On the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky; 
So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea. 
Ask of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me! 
O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward road runs south,But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea's mouth.” 
Then Aragorn sang again: 
From the Gate of Kings the North Wind rides, and past the roaring falls; 
And clear and cold about the tower its loud horn calls. 
What news from the North, O mighty wind, do you bring to me today? 
What news of Boromir the Bold? For he is long away. 
Beneath Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he fought. 
His cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought. 
His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest; 
And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast. 
'O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze 
To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days.” 
So they ended. Then they turned their boat and drove it with all the speed they could against the stream back to Parth Galen. - The Departure of Boromir
Aragorn and Legolas sing together for Boromir's funeral boat.
Maybe hunting Orcs came on him and he fled,” said Legolas. 
He fled, certainly,” said Aragorn, “but not, I think, from Orcs.” What he thought was the cause of Frodo's sudden resolve and flight Aragorn did not say. The last words of Boromir he long kept secret. - The Departure of Boromir
Aragorn corrects Legolas on the reason why Frodo fled.
For the moment Aragorn was at a loss: the orc-trail had descended into the valley, but there it vanished. 
Which way would they turn, do you think?” said Legolas. “Northward to take a straighter road to Isengard, or Fangorn, if that is their aim as you guess? Or southward to strike the Entwash?” 
They will not make for the river, whatever mark they aim at,” said Aragorn. “And unless there is much amiss in Rohan and the power of Saruman is greatly increased, they will take the shortest way that they can find over the fields of the Rohirrim. Let us search northwards!” - The Riders of Rohan
Moment means “a specific point in time, especially the present time.” At a loss means “perplexed; puzzled.”

Aragorn in not merely pausing for a moment, he is truly confused. Knowing this, Legolas starts listing off ways and asking Aragorn which way he thinks the Orcs would go. His prompting clears Aragorn's mind and lets him start leading again.
Aragorn was searching, bent towards the ground, among the folds and gullies leading up into the western ridge. Legolas was some way ahead. Suddenly the Elf gave a cry and the others came running towards him. 
We have already overtaken some of those that we are hunting,” he said. “Look!” He pointed, and they saw that what they had at first taken to be boulders lying at the foot of the slope were huddled bodies. Five dead Orcs lay there. - The Riders of Rohan
Legolas finds the orcs' bodies.
Yet however you read it, it seems not unhopeful,” said Legolas. “Enemies of the Orcs are likely to be our friends. Do any folk dwell in these hills?” 
No,” said Aragorn. “The Rohirrim seldom come here, and it is far from Minas Tirith. It might be that some company of Men were hunting here for reasons that we do not know. Yet I think not.” - The Riders of Rohan
Legolas relies on Aragorn's knowledge of other peoples.
Look!” cried Legolas, pointing up into the pale sky above them. “There is the eagle again! He is very high. He seems to be flying now away, from this land back to the North. He is going with great speed. Look!” 
No, not even my eyes can see him, my good Legolas,” said Aragorn. “He must be far aloft indeed. I wonder what is his errand, if he is the same bird I have seen before. But look! I can see something nearer at hand and more urgent; there is something moving over the plain!”  
Many things,” said Legolas. “It is a great company on foot; but I cannot say more, nor see what kind of folk they may be. They are many leagues away: twelve, I guess; but the flatness of the plain is hard to measure.” - The Riders of Rohan
Having noticed the eagle, Legolas cries for Aragorn to look. Aragorn replies with an endearment for Legolas, and says he can't see it. Then, Aragorn notices movement on the plain, and asks Legolas to look. Neither is afraid to give and take, supporting and prompting the other.
You are our guide,” said Gimli, “and you are skilled in the chase. You shall choose.” 
My heart bids me to go on,” said Legolas. “But we must hold together. I will follow your counsel.” 
You give the choice to an ill chooser,” said Aragorn. “Since we passed through the Argonath my choices have gone amiss.” - The Riders of Rohan
There is a notable difference between what Gimli and Legolas say here. Gimli speaks very pragmatically – Aragorn is the leader, and the one with tracking skills; therefore, it is his choice. Legolas speaks from a more emotional view – he feels they should go on, but that they must not separate. Gimli states that it's Aragorn's choice; Legolas says he'll follow Aragorn's advice. A subtle difference, but an important one. Legolas's response gives Aragorn emotional support that Gimli's doesn't.
They are far far away,” he said sadly, turning to Aragorn. “I know in my heart that they have not rested this night. Only an eagle could overtake them now.” 
Nonetheless we will still follow as we may,” said Aragorn. Stooping he roused the Dwarf. - The Riders of Rohan
Here Aragorn is providing the support and hope, when Legolas confides in him.
Aragorn: “There is some will that lends speed to our foes and sets an unseen barrier before us: a weariness that is in the heart more than in the limb.” 
Truly!” said Legolas. “That I have known since first we came down from the Emyn Muil. For the will is not behind us but before us.” He pointed away over the land of Rohan into the darkling West under the sickle moon. 
Saruman!” muttered Aragorn. - The Riders of Rohan
Legolas and Aragorn both feel (and know) the unseen influence against them. Legolas enlightens Aragorn to the cause of it.
Aragorn halted and examined the tracks closely. 
“They rested here a while,” he said, “but even the outward trail is already old. I fear that your heart spoke truly, Legolas: it is thrice twelve hours, I guess, since the Orcs stood where we now stand. If they held to their pace, then at sundown yesterday they would reach the borders of Fangorn.” - The Riders of Rohan
Aragorn confirms what Legolas's intuition said.
Following with his keen eyes the trail to the river, and then the river back towards the forest, Aragorn saw a shadow on the distant green, a dark swift-moving blur. He cast himself upon the ground and listened again intently. But Legolas stood beside him, shading his bright elven-eyes with his long slender hand, and he saw not a shadow, nor a blur, but the small figures of horsemen, many horsemen, and the glint of morning on the tips of their spears was like the twinkle of minute stars beyond the edge of mortal sight. Far behind them a dark smoke rose in thin curling threads. 
There was a silence in the empty fields, and Gimli could hear the air moving in the grass. 
Riders!” cried Aragorn, springing to his feet. “Many riders on swift steeds are coming towards us!”
Yes,” said Legolas, “there are one hundred and five. Yellow is their hair, and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall.” 
Aragorn smiled. “Keen are the eyes of the Elves,” he said. 
Nay! The riders are little more than five leagues distant,” said Legolas. - The Riders of Rohan
Oh, you two. Aragorn listens to the ground, and figures out what is coming towards them. Legolas, on the other hand, can see exactly what is coming towards them, and doesn't say a word until Aragorn does.

Legolas being his sassy self makes Aragorn feel better, as he smiles and compliments Legolas again. Endearingly, Legolas doesn't understand it.
Gimli and Legolas looked at their companion in amazement, for they had not seen him in this mood before. He seemed to have grown in stature while Éomer had shrunk; and in his living face they caught a brief vision of the power and majesty of the kings of stone. For a moment it seemed to the eyes of Legolas that a white flame flickered on the brows of Aragorn like a shining crown. - The Riders of Rohan
Legolas stares at Aragorn in wonder, for this is the first time he sees Aragorn showing his 'King side'. Legolas has a moment of foresight as he sees the white flame flicker on Aragorn's brows.
After a while Legolas spoke again. 
Celeborn warned us not to go far into Fangorn,” he said. “Do you know why, Aragorn? What are the fables of the forest that Boromir had heard?” 
I have heard many tales in Gondor and elsewhere,” said Aragorn, “but if it were not for the words of Celeborn I should deem them only fables that Men have made as true knowledge fades. I had thought of asking you what was the truth of the matter. And if an Elf of the wood does not know, how shall a Man answer?” 
You have journeyed further than I,” said Legolas. “I have heard nothing of this in my own land, save only in songs that tell how the Onodrim, that Men call Ents, dwelt there long ago; for Fangorn is old, old even as the Elves would reckon it.” 
Yes, it is old,” said Aragorn, “as old as the forest by the Barrow-downs, and it is far greater. Elrond says that the two are akin, the last strongholds of the mighty woods of the Elder Days, in which the Firstborn roamed while Men still slept. Yet Fangorn holds some secret of its own. What it is I do not know.” - The Riders of Rohan
More complementing, and giving and taking of lore, between Aragorn and Legolas.
It is likely enough,” said Aragorn; “yet I am not sure. I am thinking of the horses. You said last night, Gimli, that they were scared away. But I did not think so. Did you hear them, Legolas? Did they sound to you like beasts in terror?” 
No,” said Legolas. “I heard them clearly. But for the darkness and our own fear I should have guessed that they were beasts wild with some sudden gladness. They spoke as horses will when they meet a friend that they have long missed.” 
So I thought,” said Aragorn; “but I cannot read the riddle, unless they return.” - The White Rider
Legolas and Aragorn are once again of the same mind, and Gimli isn't. This is a pattern that will continue.
Well, here is the strangest riddle that we have yet found!” exclaimed Legolas. “A bound prisoner escapes both from the Orcs and from the surrounding horsemen. He then stops, while still in the open, and cuts his bonds with an orc-knife. But how and why? For if his legs were tied, how did he walk? And if his arms were tied, how did he use the knife? And if neither were tied, why did he cut the cords at all? Being pleased with his skill, he then sat down and quietly ate some waybread! That at least is enough to show that he was a hobbit, without the mallorn-leaf. After that, I suppose, he turned his arms into wings and flew away singing into the trees. It should be easy to find him: we only need wings ourselves!” 
There was sorcery here right enough,” said Gimli. “What was that old man doing? What have you to say, Aragorn, to the reading of Legolas. Can you better it?” 
Maybe, I could,” said Aragorn, smiling. “There are some other signs near at hand that you have not considered. I agree that the prisoner was a hobbit and must have had either legs or hands free, before he came here.” - The White Rider
Legolas gives a fanciful and slightly sassy explanation of what could have happened to Merry and Pippin. I believe that Aragorn's smiling because of Legolas; Gimli just asks for his opinion. If he is, once again Legolas has improved Aragorn's mood and made him feel better, all by just being himself. Aragorn shows his skill, as he noticed some signs Legolas did not.
Legolas took his bow and bent it, slowly and as if some other will resisted him. He held an arrow loosely in his hand but did not fit it to the string. Aragorn stood silent, his face was watchful and intent. 
Why are you waiting? What is the matter with you?” said Gimli in a hissing whisper. 
Legolas is right,” said Aragorn quietly. “We may not shoot an old man so, at unawares and unchallenged, whatever fear or doubt be on us. Watch and wait!” - The White Rider
Legolas and Aragorn are on the same page, thinking the same thoughts, and Gimli isn't.
The Ents!” exclaimed Aragorn. “Then there is truth in the old legends about the dwellers in the deep forests and the giant shepherds of the trees? Are there still Ents in the world? I thought they were only a memory of ancient days, if indeed they were ever more than a legend of Rohan.” 
A legend of Rohan!” cried Legolas. “Nay, every elf in Wilderland has sung songs of the old Onodrim and their long sorrow. Yet even among us they are only a memory. If I were to meet one still walking in this world, then indeed I should feel young again! But Treebeard: that is only a rendering of Fangorn into the Common Speech; yet you seem to speak of a person. Who is this Treebeard?” - The White Rider
This time it is Legolas who has the greater knowledge.
Five hundred times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in my home since then,” said Legolas, “and but a little while does that seem to us.” 
But to the Riders of the Mark it seems so long ago,” said Aragorn, “that the raising of this house is but a memory of song, and the years before are lost in the mist of time. Now they call this land their home, their own, and their speech is sundered from their northern kin.” Then he began to chant softly in a slow tongue unknown to the Elf and Dwarf; yet they listened, for there was a strong music in it. 
That, I guess, is the language of the Rohirrim,” said Legolas; “for it is like to this land itself; rich and rolling in part, and else hard and stern as the mountains. But I cannot guess what it means, save that it is laden with the sadness of Mortal Men.” 
It runs thus in the Common Speech,” said Aragorn, “as near as I can make it. [cut]” - The King of the Golden Hall
More giving and taking of lore and knowledge.
He climbed up and found Legolas beside Aragorn and Éomer. - Helm's Deep  
Legolas fights beside Aragorn, not Gimli.
Behind on the upper steps knelt Legolas. His bow was bent, but one gleaned arrow was all that he had left, and he peered out now, ready to shoot the first Orc that should dare to approach the stair. 
All who can have now got safe within, Aragorn,” he called. “Come back!” 
Aragorn turned and sped up the stair; but as he ran he stumbled in his weariness. At once his enemies lept forwards. Up came the Orcs, yelling, with their long arms stretched out to seize him. The foremost fell with Legolas' last arrow in his throat, but the rest sprang over him. Then a great boulder, cast from the outer wall above, crashed down upon the stair, and hurled them back into the Deep. Aragorn gained the door, and swiftly it clanged to behind him. 
Things go ill, my friends,” he said, wiping the sweat from his brow with his arm. 
Ill enough,” said Legolas, “but not yet hopeless, while we have you with us. Where is Gimli?” 
I do not know,” said Aragorn. “I last saw him fighting on the ground behind the wall, but the enemy swept us apart.” 
Alas! That is evil news,” said Legolas. 
He is stout and strong,” said Aragorn. “Let us hope that he will escape back to the caves. There he would be safe for a while. Safer than we. Such a refuge would be to the liking of a dwarf.” 
That must be my hope,” said Legolas. “But I wish that he had come this way. I desired to tell Master Gimli that my tale is now thirty-nine.” 
If he wins back to the caves, he will pass your count again,” laughed Aragorn. “Never did I see an axe so wielded.” 
I must go and seek some arrows,” said Legolas. “Would that this night would end, and I could have better light for shooting.” - Helm's Deep
Lots to go over here. Legolas is the only one to save Aragorn's life during the battle, covering him and giving him safety (Gimli saves Éomer's). Legolas gives Aragorn comfort and support when he worries about the battle going ill, and Aragorn does the same for Legolas when he worries about Gimli. Also, for the third time, Legolas makes Aragorn feel better just by being himself.
Taking his leave, he returned to the walls, and passed round all their circuit, enheartening the men, and lending aid wherever assault was hot. Legolas went with him. - Helm's Deep
Legolas stays close to Aragorn, helping him rally the men.
Behold the White Rider!” cried Aragorn. “Gandalf is come again!” 
Mithrandir, Mithrandir!” said Legolas. “This is wizardry indeed! Come! I would look on this forest, ere the spell changes.” - Helm's Deep
Gandalf arrives, and both Aragorn and Legolas cry out. Legolas then tells Aragorn to come with him, because he wants to go explore the forest before it disappears.
You have drunk of the waters of the Ents, have you?” said Legolas. “Ah, then I think it is likely that Gimli's eyes do not deceive him. Strange songs have been sung of the draughts of Fangorn.” 
Many strange tales have been told about that land,” said Aragorn. “I have never entered it. Come, tell me more about it, and about the Ents!” - Flotsam and Jetsam
Both Legolas and Aragorn have heard strange songs and tales about Fangorn, and they want to know more.
So four of the Company still remain,” said Aragorn. “We will ride on together. But we shall not go alone, as I thought. The king is now determined to set out at once. Since the coming of the winged shadow, he desires to return to the hills under cover of night.” 
And then whither?” said Legolas. 
I cannot say yet,” Aragorn answered. “As for the king, he will go to the muster that he commanded at Edoras, four nights from now. And there, I think, he will hear tidings of war, and the Riders of Rohan will go down to Minas Tirith. But for myself, and any that will go with me ...” 
I for one!” cried Legolas. - The Passing of the Grey Company
Legolas is adamant that he will go with Aragorn, even though he has no idea where that is.
Where is Aragorn?” he asked. 
In a high chamber of the Burg,” said Legolas. “He has neither rested nor slept, I think. He went thither some hours ago, saying that he must take thought, and only his kinsman, Halbarad, went with him; but some dark doubt or care sits on him.” - The Passing of the Grey Company
This shows that Legolas knows Aragorn well, as he knows that something is bothering Aragorn greatly, and that Aragorn hasn't rested at all.
Presently Éomer came out from the gate, and with him was Aragorn, and Halbarad bearing the great staff close-furled in black, and two tall men, neither young nor old. So much alike were they, the sons of Elrond, that few could tell them apart: dark-haired, grey-eyed, and their faces elven-fair, clad alike in bright mail beneath cloaks of silver-grey. Behind them walked Legolas and Gimli. - The Passing of the Grey Company
Legolas got concerned enough to go track down Aragorn, after he failed to show up all morning.
Farewell, lord!” said Aragorn. “Ride unto great renown! Farewell, Merry! I leave you in good hands, better than we hoped when we hunted the orcs to Fangorn. Legolas and Gimli will still hunt with me, I hope; but we shall not forget you.”
Aragorn hopes that Legolas will come with him on the Paths of the Dead.
Aragorn: “Well, I must eat a little, and then we also must hasten away. Come, Legolas and Gimli! I must speak with you as I eat.” 
Together they went back into the Burg; yet for some time Aragorn sat silent at the table in the hall, and the others waited for him to speak. “Come!” said Legolas at last. “Speak and be comforted, and shake off the shadow! What has happened since we came back to this grim place in the grey morning?” - The Passing of the Grey Company
Legolas gives Aragorn time to collect his thoughts, and then (once again) prompts him into action, asking what happened.
Aragorn: “But I do not go gladly; only need drives me. Therefore, only of your free will would I have you come, for you will find both toil and great fear, and maybe worse.” 
I will go with you even on the Paths of the Dead, and to whatever end they may lead,” said Gimli. 
I also will come,” said Legolas, “for I do not fear the Dead.” - The Passing of the Grey Company
To me, it seems as if Legolas is playing down the matter, as we know he will go wherever Aragorn goes. However, Aragorn is worried about what they will find, so playing it down is a good idea.
But as Aragorn came to the booth where he was to lodge with Legolas and Gimli, and his companions had gone in, there came the Lady Éowyn after him and called to him. - The Passing of the Grey Company
Halbarad and the rest of the Grey Company is there, but Aragorn rooms with Legolas and Gimli.
They need more gardens,” said Legolas. “The houses are dead, and there is too little here that grows and is glad. If Aragorn comes into his own, the people of the Wood shall bring him birds that sing and trees that do not die.” - The Last Debate
Legolas says he will help Aragorn restore his city, if they win.
Gimli: “But neither did I prove; and I was held to the road only by the will of Aragorn.” 
And by the love of him also," said Legolas. "For all those who come to know him come to love him after their own fashion, even the cold maiden of the Rohirrim. It was at early morn of the day ere you came there, Merry, that we left Dunharrow, and such a fear was on all the folk that none would look on our going, save the Lady Éowyn, who lies now hurt in the House below. There was grief at that parting, and I was grieved to behold it.” - The Last Debate
Remember, “only those who knew him well and were near to him saw the pain that he bore.” - The Passing of the Grey Company

Legolas is close to Aragorn, and knows him well, as he noticed Aragorn’s pain. Legolas tells us that seeing Aragorn in pain caused him pain, and that all who know Aragorn love him; which shows both how highly Legolas thinks of Aragorn, and that Legolas loves him.

Some think that Legolas is only talking about Éowyn's grief. However, the wording is not right – Legolas does not single out either Aragorn or Éowyn (he says the neutral “there” and “that”). If Legolas was talking about just Éowyn, he would say something like, 'she grieved at their parting'; likewise if he was only talking about Aragorn. Both Aragorn and Éowyn were grieved, albeit in different ways; and Legolas perceived both griefs (for more on Éowyn and Aragorn, see my Éowyn essay).
In the uplands of Lamedon they overtook our horses, and swept round us, and would have passed us by, if Aragorn had not forbidden them. 
At his command they fell back. “Even the shades of Men are obedient to his will,” I thought. “They may serve his needs yet!” - The Last Debate
Legolas is not with Aragorn because he knows they will succeed. He is with him out of love and loyalty.
Strange indeed,” said Legolas. “In that hour I looked on Aragorn and thought how great and terrible a Lord he might have become in the strength of his will, had he taken the Ring to himself. Not for naught does Mordor fear him. But nobler is his spirit than the understanding of Sauron; for is he not of the children of Lúthien? Never shall that line fail, though the years may lengthen beyond count.” - The Last Debate
Legolas not only sees how great Aragorn is, but he also sees how terrible Aragorn could be. Only a true and close companion can see someone else that clearly. Again, he clearly thinks highly of Aragorn - Sauron cannot understand Aragorn because he is too good a soul.
Gimli: “Yet whatever is still to do, I hope to have a part in it, for the honour of the folk of the Lonely Mountain.” 
And I for the folk of the Great Wood,” said Legolas, “and for the love of the Lord of the White Tree.” - The Last Debate
This is my absolute favorite line from Legolas about Aragorn. “For the love of the Lord of the White Tree”. Legolas does not just want to fight to bring honor to and do well by his people; he wants to fight out of love for Aragorn. Legolas’s love for Aragorn is indeed deep and eternal, for him to equal Legolas’s home, family, and people.
And I,” said Legolas, “shall walk in the woods of this fair land, which is rest enough. In days to come, if my Elven-lord allows, some of our folk shall remove hither; and when we come it shall be blessed, for a while. For a while: a month, a life, a hundred years of Men.” - The Field of Cormallen
Legolas seems to be measuring time by Aragorn's lifespan – Aragorn will live for another 122 years. He also refers to Thranduil as his elven-lord, not his liege-lord or father. It implies that Legolas has loyalty to and love for another lord as well, one that is not an elf. He can only be talking about Aragorn.
Legolas his friend also brought south Elves out of Greenwood, and they dwelt in Ithilien, and it became once again the fairest country in all the westlands. - Appendix A
Legolas leaves his home for Aragorn, and he makes Aragorn’s land flourish. He is the only one to move close to Aragorn, and I think that’s telling.
But When King Elessar gave up his life Legolas followed at last the desire of his heart and sailed over Sea - Appendix A
Legolas denies his heart’s longing and stays in Middle Earth because of Aragorn. He was measuring time by Aragorn's lifespan.


So you can see that there is indeed a great love between Legolas and Aragorn. 

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