Scars- Chapter 32- Nothing is Lost...
...That May Be Found if Sought.
Reaching forward, he grabbed hold of a garment, but it was too coarse to be that of the maiden's beside him, even her outer mantle. He had not realized until now that his other hand was impeded, wrapped around the dead weight of something else. As his numb fingers curled around it to investigate further, he realized he was grasping hold of someone's limb as he felt flesh then hair beneath his fingertips. Reluctant to let loose his superior hold while the advantage was his, he used the garments beneath his other hand to pull himself forward as he leveled himself upwards.
Blinking the blinding grit away from his eyesight again, slowly a dark head came into focus in the growing daylight, then the tip of a pointed ear as it lay motionless upon the bulky covered torso of another. Pushing himself even further upwards upon his one elbow, Legolas at last noted that it was Elladan before him as he rested against the bandaged covered chest of his Human brother, while clasping the Man''s left hand within his own two. And above the raven-haired Elf's head upon his friend's chest, falling just short of the Ranger's chin, lay a white flower, similar to the one that the maiden had placed only a few short seconds ago within his custody.
Within the reach of his own hand he maintained possession of Aragorn's forearm. Sliding himself, further towards his friend with his free hand, the Elf moved himself into an awkward sitting position beside the pale Human and took hold of the limp hand beneath it.
In wonderment, Legolas called out his friend's name, "Estel?"
The stumbling movements taking place beside him, and at last the impetus of his spoken name, served to rouse the Ranger from his deep and troubling sleep as he groaned in acknowledgment, while his confused grey eyes flickered open once, then twice as a small smile, perhaps even just a grimace, played out upon his lips, before he surrendered himself once again to a now more restorative realm of sleep.
Gradually the world came back to life around him. A foreign feeling of cold attacked his awakening senses causing him to shiver as he made a weak attempt to draw his light cloak more closely about his trembling frame for additional warmth. But the great weight of weariness was too much for him, thwarting his actions and keeping him pinned prisoner against the unyielding ground beneath him. As his eyes opened slowly to investigate what encumbrance might be impeding him, his weary gaze took in the snatches of the still jeweled heavens overhead made visible only through the scattered breaks in heavy leaf foliage above him. As if on cue, his hearing became attuned to the life flourishing within its boughs. The predawn warble of birdsong heralded the much anticipated wake of the day star as it readied to do battle with the darkened firmament in removing nightfall's heavy cloak upon the land.
For a long time he just lay there, soaking in the splendor of the nature surrounding him, as if he was some long, weary traveler finally returning home after a lengthy sojourn abroad. But as the first, pinking rays of dawn met with the earth and began to spread the promise of their heat across his pale flesh, the same warmth of joy could not be found in the dullness of his grey eyes or the emptiness which filled his broken heart. For as the sun radiance illuminated the terrain around him, so at last the Elf remembered where he was and what sad circumstance had brought him to this place. A small, almost inaudible groan of pain was torn from his lips as a result, and though feeble in its origins, it held enough power to alert another who was anxiously waiting in the wings. Suddenly this unexpected presence was beside him, staring down at him in troubled expectation until building joy and relief blotted out his initial worry.
"Elladan! At last! Praise Elbereth!" Elrohir cried as his bandaged hands made to reach towards his twin's own, only to remember at the last moment in frustration that he was incapable of such action with his current handicap. Instead tears of emotion filled his previously solemn eyes as he lowered his head towards his brother and responded, "I thought you'd never wake up!"
Elladan felt the linen of the bandages, covering his brother's injured hands, frame his face before the coveted warmth of Elrohir's cheek brushed against his own as the Elf's lips touched his flesh. The intimacy of this brotherly caress proved too much for the elder twin as his thoughts turned immediately towards another who was missing from this familial scene. And with these thoughts, a keening cry of anguish caught within his dry throat causing Elrohir to draw away quickly in startled response.
Apprehension shown in his twin's grey eyes as he blurted out anxiously , "Did I hurt you, Elladan?"
The raven-haired Elf did not answer his brother's fearful inquiry as the state of his current agitation grew greater and greater with each passing second. His drawn face moved from side to side, as his frightened eyes fruitlessly began searching the immediate landscape surrounding him while the start of pained tears trekked down his still wan face. Finally, a tortured moan escaped his parched throat reaching his twins ears. "I was too late……too late to help……I waited too long...I failed him."
Elrohir's bandaged hands slid towards his brother's tormented features feeling the growing dampness of Elladan's sorrow beneath the bindings covering his flesh. Growing confusion clouded Elrorhir's troubled countenance as he tried his best to soothe his increasingly distraught brother before pushing aside any thoughts towards his own welfare while he moved forward to cradle his twin against his breast.
"No, Elladan. Hush……All will be well…… You must quiet yourself. For such exertion will do you no good. You have been ill for some time now……your longed for presence taken away from us……I was so afraid……but Iluvatar heard my prayers and brought you back to me……Hush now, brother, please for you will do yourself further harm." Elrohir continued on as he tried to soothe his brother's tortured lament.
Though unfounded, Elladan's grief was not easily assuaged, much like Elrohir's own anguish but a few short days earlier……
Elrohir would never forget the morn when he was shaken awake by a very disconcerted Halfdan. As his weary gaze began to refocus in the still dim light of day, he took in the troubled expression upon the young Ranger's face in front of him. He was on his feet before the Human had the time to utter a single phrase. Charging forth, despite his own precarious state of health, towards the vicinity of the dying embers of the nearby campfire, by which proximity the night before, he had left his brother Elladan to keep watch over a gravely injured Legolas and Estel.
What his startled eyes alighted upon in the seconds following was a powerful image that would forever remain etched within his psyche. Legolas, Aragorn, and Elladan lay within arms reach of each other, the two Elves, on either side of the Man. Elladan's proximity was closer than that of his Silvan friend's as his head laid pillowed upon their brother's bandaged chest while each Elf maintained custody of one of Aragorn's hands within their own. The three figures lay joined together in a heart rending chain of passivity.
"No!" Elrohir choked as the tragic realization of what had come to pass dawned upon him. "No!" He uttered again as he took yet another hesitant step towards the lifeless trio. 'NO!' His mind screamed for a third time as his grey eyes widened in horror at the dramatic spectacle now in front of him. 'Not all three, Elbereth! Not all three!" He gasped in disbelief.
He had held out little hope for his Human brother's recovery, not when Estel had used what little strength he had left to try and reach Legolas. But to lose all three of his companions in the short span of one nightfall? The shock was unimaginable. Sudden grief tore at Elrohir's heart as his eyes moved to lock upon his twin's pasty face resting against Aragorn's still chest before shifting to his now lifeless hands which maintained their life altering grip upon their youngest brother's flesh.
"What have you done, Elladan?" He began to utter in heartache before catching himself at the selfishness of his inquiry.
Tears of heartache streamed down Erohir's smooth cheeks as he fell to his knees mere feet from the unmoving group, while his grieving mind acknowledged the selflessness of his eldest brother's final actions upon these lands. Sometime during the night, while Elrohir in his weakened condition had succumbed to the much needed lure of sleep, Elladan had overcome the guilt and shame which had held him captive for so many years. Freeing himself from its paralyzing hold, he was at last capable of approaching their brother uninhibited. Realizing how very close to death the Human was, whether knowingly or not, Elladan's now unencumbered heart reached out towards Aragorn's spirit to form a unique and mystical tie with his brother. A bond very much like the one Elrohir, himself, had formed with Estel many years prior when the boy was left for dead by the Orcs' cruel attack.
Staring once again at the unbroken chain, Elrohir's grief-stricken heart acknowledged what must have ultimately taken place while he slept. It was not one soul, but two that Elladan had attempted to reclaim from the shadow of the veil. The raven-haired Elf's grief-stricken eyes moved across his Human brother's bandaged torso to witness Legolas' remaining clasp upon Aragorn's other hand. Even for the hardiest of his brethren, such a feat as Elladan had attempted in the hours before dawn, was unthinkable.
"Three all three? Please this cannot be so……" Elrohir repeated again as if in a stupor. "Why? Why, Elladan?" Elrohir at last put to word his previous, unspoken grief. "Was it not enough to lose Legolas and Estel, but to lose you as well?" The remaining Elf's voice broke. "Or did you go willingly, Elladan?" Elrohir's crushing sorrow suddenly turned to unexpected anger. "Was this your choice? Instead of remaining here in this land to grieve their loss alongside me, you allowed yourself to let go too! How could you do it? How could you do this to me? To leave me, brother, in this world to bear such insurmountable heartache alone?"
Dropping his head forward towards his now useless hands, Elrohir could no longer hold back the choking sobs welling up within him. So caught up in his pain, he was unaware that Halfdan had moved closer to join him until he felt the Man's hand reach forward to clasp his now hunched shoulders.
Turning bereaved eyes towards the startled Human, it took the grieving Elf a few moments to gather that Halfdan seemed as shocked as he had been when he had first come upon this tragic scene. However, the Ranger's confusion persisted instead of turning to similar grief as he lifted a shaky hand to point towards the devastating sight, Elrohir believed in front of them, before uttering in amazement. "He lives!"
Shaken to the roots by the Man's incredible prediction, Elrohir's head swung immediately upwards as his tearful eyes noted for the first time a faint hint of motion in the periphery with Legolas struggling to push himself upwards again. His feeble attempts at movement precipitated an accompanying yet weak groan from the Human beside him along with a slight twitch of Aragorn's head. Only Elladan remained unaffected by the impulse of this moment.
Pulling himself free from Halfdan's hold before stumbling forward towards his twin, Elrohir was hesitant to allow the fluttering of hope building within his breast to take full custody of his heart just yet, especially as his anxious eyes scanned Elladan's passive features. His bandaged hands useless, Elrohir made do with the resources available to him as he drew his face down alongside the endearing image which mirrored his own. "Please brother!" He whispered longingly. "Prove to me that your spirit still dwells on this side of the veil." The Elf beckoned towards his brother's ear. But when Elrohir's cheek brushed against his twin's own, the Elf was startled by how chilled Elladan's flesh felt against his own warmth and further words of hope died within his throat.
A new wave of tears stung Elrohir's eyes at what his touch along the greyness of his brother's complexion conveyed to him. "No!" He choked back, while he shook his head in denial. Unable to curtail the emotion sweeping over him, he made to grab hold of his lifeless brother, to pull him from atop of Aragorn and clutch him to his breast, but once again his bound hands made such an attempt futile. And so, he did the next best thing, as he crawled closer towards his kin to join in their intimate link upon the foreground before allowing his darken head to rest in melancholy resignation against the crook of Elladan's neck while his sorrowful words reached out towards his brother's still heart.
"You were giving until the end, Elladan,..." Elrohir's voice broke. " but you never allowed yourself to see thus, for you were your own worst enemy ...Yet, you could not hide from Father nor me the gentle spirit which guided your heart. Aye, I witnessed its altruistic actions more times than I could count. I will not forget you, brother, nor shall I allow Estel to forget how much you loved him. I will let him know… I shall put to words what you could not utter yourself to him during your lifetime. Be at peace now, dearest Elladan, for there is none more deserving than you of such rest..."
Burrowing his face further towards his brother's pale flesh, his grief stricken eyes caught sight, at last, of something white and delicate now laying but inches away upon the ground as if it had been discarded and was no longer of any use. Its pleasing fragrance called out to Elrohir, but the overwrought Elf turned his face away from its unspoken message of lasting hope. And so the Force, which governs over life, relied on another merciful means to alert the grief-stricken Elf of the hasty mistake he had made in the minutes preceding as Elladan swallowed reflexively under the pressure afforded by the weight of his brother's bowed head against his flesh while gasping feebly to intake yet another shallow breath of air into his lungs.
Elrohir's joy that day in discovering Elladan indeed lived was no less than it was today at his brother's long anticipated awakening. And seeing the despair which persisted on in Elladan's downcast eyes, Elrohir could not allow his twin to suffer another moment of distress as he shifted his brother's weight away from his embrace as best as he could with his current impairment. Then, with steadfast voice, brimming over now with the happiness growing inside of him , he instructed Elladan fervently, "Look over there, brother!" While one of his bandaged hands lifted Elladan's sunken countenance to direct his sorrowful gaze towards a tall oak, but a short distance away from them, under whose comforting branches a recovering Legolas and Aragorn now rested against its wide trunk .
Author's Closing Note: Many thanks for those of you who have left kind words, and to those of you who are still reading this story. My apologies for the long break. I never expected it to be six months before I could pick it up again. Work has slowed down for the summer. It was a very busy year from Sept to June. Then, I was struck by computer problems. I had to finally download Open Office to get this chapter to upload. Perhaps Elrohir, Elladan, Legolas and Aragorn were getting back at me for all the mayhem I always manage to throw their way? LOL! Well, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I think there should be one or two more at the most to tie up the loose ends. ( The chapter title taken from a movie line from Sense and Sensiblity ) Until next time! Sue a.ka. Quickbeam1