General disclaimer: if I owned them, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this, that's for sure.
Hey all, this is just a little vignette I couldn't get out of my head, it came to me as I had my own mini-marathon since I now own all three LotR dvds. There's some angst, h/c, deep contemplation, friendship stuff, you know the drill. Set after the Battle of Helm's Deep, it involves mainly Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli, with cameos by Gandalf and our favorite boy soldier Haleth. It's just a one shot, so please don't think I've abandoned Overcoming Darkness, it is getting written piece by piece. For now, please enjoy my little piece of elf angst, I like to call …
A Battle Worth Fighting For
The brilliant light of dawn crested over the hill, ushering with it Gandalf, Eomer, and the mighty Rohirrim. The orcs below cried in fear. They knew the power of the white wizard, the strength of the Rohirrim, and hated the glow of the sun. These three elements combined caused them to flee with newfound terror, forgetting their orders from Saruman and the passion they had held earlier in bringing down the great walls of Helm's Deep, and destroying the race of Men.
Legolas looked out upon the fields, and for the first time felt joy at their sight as he watched the dark army flee, pursued by the Rohirrim. Rejuvenated by their retreat, and the arrival of Mithrandir, the elf took up his sword with new strength and hacked at the foul beasts around him. He was able to cut down as many of the creatures as he had previously, but now they were running in fear, instead of converging for attack. Arod still carried him without fear through their black ranks, and he admired the horse's strength of will to run gracefully through the lines of armed Orcs.
Beside the elf, Aragorn and Theoden continued to fight, also taking inspiration by the sight of Gandalf and the Rohirrim. With a battle cry the three even took chase after those enemies that fled. They killed those they caught and continued after the remainder that were headed for the trees. Their horses galloped, determined not to let their prey escape. It was only Gandalf that saved them from following into the forest.
The White Wizard bid them not go into the forest, so despite their desire for vengeance, the warriors drew back and watched them flee. Legolas was too astonished to celebrate when the forest suddenly came to life, swaying and moving without wind, with the dying screams of orcs and uruk-hai emerging from the seemingly peaceful woods. He had never known trees to have such power, despite his lifetime spent with him, and it was wonderfully amazing.
He looked to Aragorn as the screams began to die a few moments later. The man was still staring into the woods, but he sighed, clearly relieved the battle was finally done, and that they had been victorious. When he turned he found Legolas looking at him, a small smile on his face.
"Well fought, mellon-nin," Legolas commented, wiping dark blood from his face. Aragorn could only nod, too exhausted for a true reply. The ranger then spotted Gandalf near the edge of the field and began towards him. Normally Legolas would follow, but he longed to be cleansed of the fight, and to be with friends, so he dismounted Arod, releasing him to wander in the far fields, and walked backed towards Helm's Deep. His hand unconsciously drifted to rest upon the left side of his stomach. The blood flowing from beneath his tunic was fresh, the wound underneath having not had any chance to heal throughout the battle. It pained him but he would wait to have it seen to, first he wished to find Gimli and Haldir, ensure they were well, and then rest. Truly, all he wanted after so much fighting and death was rest.
Aragorn trudged through the battlefield, stepping over orc bodies while trying to clear the grime from his face and hands. He had freed Brego to wander in the plains for the time, since it was difficult for the horse to walk through so much carrion. The ranger was making his way back towards the Keep to see his friends and help in the healing houses, knowing his skills would be greatly appreciated. As he began to climb the great walkway leading to the gates he spotted Legolas alone on what remained of the Deeping Wall. The lone elf was moving rapidly from place to place, seemingly in search of something. Aragorn did not know what, and the archer disappeared from sight shortly after. Now curious, for there was no reason for Legolas to be in such a place, the ranger decided the healing houses could wait a few moments and jogged to meet up with his friend.
He found Legolas had moved off the wall and to the ground which was littered with the bodies of elf, man and orc. With a look of desperation the elf would move to one body and then the next, inspecting it quickly and then rushing to another. Aragorn was surprised to see his usually calm and stoic friend was tense, almost panicked and his anxiety seemed to be growing with each body he inspected. The ranger ran to the elf now, determined to find out what was wrong.
"Legolas," Aragorn started, surprising the elf. "What do you search for?" The archer was kneeling next to an elven body, almost unrecognizable amid the blood and gore, and looked up when Aragorn called to him. Seeing who it was, Legolas slowly turned back to the body at his feet. He did not know the elf that he now stood beside, but he did know that this elf had lived only hours ago - had walked the earth, alive and well, full of wisdom and knowledge, strength and love, and now that had all been lost. Legolas bowed his head; so much had been lost.
Ignoring Aragorn's question, Legolas replied a few moments later, saying only, "Haldir is dead," his voice soft with grief and respect.
Aragorn nodded in understanding as his eyes suddenly fought against tears with the harsh recollection. He had seen the noble elf fall, the light fading from his eyes, but had yet to find a chance to tell his friends or deal with his own feelings of loss.
"I know. I was with him. He fought to the end," Aragorn said, not losing the composure he so needed. Legolas did not look at him. He shook his head and then rose stiffly, moving on to the next body. Aragorn followed him and watched as he checked corpse after corpse, sometimes pushing dead orcs from atop the bodies. He never seemed satisfied and continued along the battleground.
"Legolas, what are …?"
"So much death, but there must be more here, Aragorn. I cannot be the last. So many there were here, all with skill, courage and heart in battle. Even one is an endless loss, but there must be more here to carry on. They are somewhere," Legolas muttered, but with such passion that Aragorn knew the elf's heart was filled with grief. The man stopped, realizing what his friend sought, and became scared for him because he knew he would not find it. Legolas turned to him then, after finding yet another fallen elf, tears shining in his eyes. "Aragorn, please, help me look. Have you seen none of them alive? They were not in the Keep, but perhaps they found refuge elsewhere. So many there were here, fighting with us, brave and strong, wise and valiant, coming to our aid without thought of reward or self regard, each deserving of life, and embracing it. So much could not be lost without the very world breaking; surely I cannot be the last."
Aragorn shook his head, feeling such sympathy for his friend as he ever felt before. He knew elves felt more and grieved deeper than any man could imagine, and to lose so many of his kindred so suddenly must have been an unbearable agony for the prince of Mirkwood.
"I am sorry, I have seen none of your kin alive," Aragorn said, reaching for Legolas's shoulder. The elf avoided the contact and continued across the field, Aragorn close behind.
"No, there are more. So many could not have perished," Legolas said as he strode from body to body still searching for life, but his voice lacked conviction, and held only fear of the truth. "They are here somewhere, by the Valar Aragorn help me look!" he pleaded, tears brimming his eyes.
Aragorn strode towards him, and though it pained his heart, he grabbed the elf's shoulders, and forced him to stand before him, "Legolas, the dead have already been searched, you are the only one left. I am sorry."
Legolas tried to pull away but Aragorn's grip was strong and he would not relent until the elf could face the truth. So he stood, looking out upon the blood and death tainting the valley, seeing only his fallen kinsmen on the ground before him, brutally slaughtered and decorated with their own blood, and that of their enemies. They had all lived when the night began, and before that they had survived for millennia, but now their bodies were cold, their spirits were absent, and their vast collection of knowledge and wisdom was forever wiped clean. Legolas was the lone survivor and as he gazed into each face, seeing the lifeless, dead eyes of his kin the impact of all that had been lost truly hit him, and he accepted the truth.
The tears flowed freely with this acceptance and the elf brought a hand to his face, "I cannot be the last, so much could not have been lost," he said one last time, pleading now to be contradicted, "I cannot be so destined for solitude."
Aragorn's concern mounted as he realized suddenly that his friend grieved not only for his people, but for himself as well. The elf prince had shown such honest happiness and relief to see his kinsmen arrive at Helm's Deep, not only for their aid in battle, but so he would no longer be the only of his kind in the world of men, battling for the fate of Middle-Earth. After spending so many months away from his own kin, surrounded by men, dwarves, and hobbits, it had been a glorious gift to be graced with the company of his people in battle. But now they were fallen. The orcs had been vicious as they broke through the wall, and their hatred for elves had led them to slaughter the Eldar first, and more brutally than the Men. The elves had also not known the terrain of Helm's Deep, making retreat difficult. In the end, Legolas, who had been free of rank to move about the battle as he chose, and knowing the layout well, had been the only one to survive.
"I should have died with them," Legolas whispered, sinking to the ground now, one leg crossed beneath him, the other bent with his head resting upon it. "If I am to die in this war, I would have it be with my own people." Aragorn dropped to his knees as well, knowing he must find his friend some comfort or he would be overtaken with grief.
"No, Legolas, you were meant to live. We have been through so much on this quest, in battle and friendship, can you not see that you were meant to be a part of it, and still have more yet to do?" Aragorn asked.
Legolas shook his head, his grief blinding him to the important role he had played thus far in their fellowship, "I have done nothing my kin could not."
Aragorn almost laughed, knowing all too well the prince's naivety of his talents, "I do not believe that. Do not forget I know elves better than any man. There are few with your skill in battle, Legolas. For centuries you have fought to defend your home from evil, with only bow and knife against spiders and orcs. And throughout these past months you have faced more foes than most of those who fell this night could dream of seeing. You were well prepared for this battle, my friend, more so than those who came to our aid; do not fault yourself for having such knowledge."
"It is still not right, that I alone should live to carry on when so many others are deserving of life," Legolas countered him, obviously still not convinced.
"Do not so quickly curse the gift of life," Aragorn chastised, but the elf took his comment with bitterness.
"It is a punishment, not a gift. My kin around me dead, with only further battle and torment in my future, and I am left alone to represent my people in this war. Alone to carry out with honor and valour the place of elves in this dark time. T'is a responsibility I am unsure I can face," Legolas confessed in a rare moment of uncertainty. "To have lost so much already and then be forced to continue on, knowing only more death and war lie ahead, it blurs the moral lines that should appear clear to me, and makes me wonder what purpose we hope to have." At this Aragorn reached for him, clasping his shoulder tightly and forcing him to meet his gaze.
"Then know at least that you go not alone. I too am laden with grave and heavy burdens on this quest, most of which I have yet to face, but as we have done throughout this journey, we shall both meet them together. I will always be with you Legolas, as you have been for me, never forget that. Immeasurable losses have been fallen on us, but think what we shall lose if action we do not take. We will lose all, a future I cannot let happen, and I do not believe you will either. I will not say do not grieve for your kin, but such is sadly not the time, and I beg you not to let this grief overtake you," Aragorn pleaded. "I will need your strength in these coming days, I cannot continue alone down this road. I need you to walk this path with me, to see its final steps."
Legolas nodded slowly, his eyes closed. It was clear the elf was fighting to regain control of himself and his emotions. "It is well, mellon-nin. Please do not think my words to mean I do not value your friendship, or Valar help me, Gimli's, but this sorrow is grievous. I must be alone for the time, to make peace in my own mind."
At this Legolas stood shakily, then turned around to begin to walk away. The elf's words had done little to alleviate Aragorn's concern for his friend, who still feared he may succumb to a death of grief, and somehow sensing this, Legolas turned back around, "Do not fear for me, Aragorn. I will see this journey to its end, if not only to see the dark lord defeated once and for all, but to stand by your side in friendship as your destiny unfolds in the glory that it warrants."
Aragorn smiled, relieved and touched by his friend's words. Legolas turned around again, eager to leave the death of the battlefield, but had barely gone two steps when he collapsed to one knee, his left hand clutching at his side and a barely concealed hiss of pain escaping his lips.
Aragorn ran forward in shock, "Legolas!"
He knelt in front of the elf, and judged by the pain etched on Legolas's face that he should not have worried about grief taking away his dear friend, but physical hurt and injury.
Looking down, he now spotted the fresh blood on the elf's left side. He was so covered in the filth of battle that it was easy not to notice the wound, but the red blood spilling over the elf's hand was definitely his own.
"By the Valar, why did you not speak of this? Do not move. Damn your elvish pride, Legolas, this is serious. Let me see," Aragorn ordered, trying to peel away Legolas's hand.
Legolas gritted his teeth and shook his head, rising once more.
"You may see to it later," he mumbled, trying to leave the battlefield once more. Aragorn stood before him, not allowing his friend to take a single step, and marvelled at how he could miss such a grievous wound. Beneath the grime, the elf's skin was paler than normal, and his eyes shone with exhaustion, and what may have been the beginnings of fever.
"I will see to it now," Aragorn said, his voice brooking no arguments.
Legolas tried to sidestep him once more, but could not. His movements were becoming slower and weaker, "Please Aragorn, I do … I do not …"
The elf was fortunate Aragorn had stayed close by, for the ranger easily caught the archer when his eyes suddenly slid shut as the fatigue and pain overwhelmed him, and he lost his battle with consciousness.
Aragorn was surprised by the elf's sudden fall and slowly lowered him to the ground. He slapped the elf's cheek lightly, trying to get a response.
"Legolas! Legolas, answer me!" he called several times, but his friend was beyond hearing. Then to himself he said, "I have lost too much already Legolas; I can not lose you as well."
Aragorn took his pulse and found it weak but steady, then moved to the other side of his friend to look over the injury. Lifting away the tunic, he found a deep knife wound in Legolas's side. The blade had been pulled away clean before it was able to tear through the elf's stomach, but Aragorn could tell by the amount of blood that it had happened some time ago, and was yet to be cared for in any way because blood still flowed steadily. Quickly ripping a piece of his cloak, he placed it against the wound and looked about for aid. He quickly recognized the small stature of one soldier crossing the battlefield and called to him.
"Haleth, come and help me!" Aragorn yelled urgently. The boy immediately turned and smiled to see Aragorn alive, then his face fell as he ran forward and saw the bloodied elf. "Help me carry him."
Haleth hesitated, not able to see the faint rise and fall of the elf's chest, "Is he alive?"
"Yes, now help me get him to the house of healing so he may remain so," Aragorn said, standing and pulling one of Legolas's arms around his neck while he kept his other arm around the elf's waist. Haleth did the same and together they began to walk with the weight of the elf between them.
"He must be one of the few; I have not seen any other elves alive. Did they take refuge elsewhere?" Haleth asked, his young mind uncomprehending of the pain he prodded with his words.
"I do not believe so," Aragorn replied, flinching as Legolas moaned in pain. "There may always be hope Haleth, but with it sometimes comes great sacrifice."
The boy nodded, finally understanding the loss, and remained silent. They soon reached the healing house. Haleth and Aragorn laid Legolas on a clean blanket on the floor, for the beds were already occupied with the injured. He was deathly pale and his breathing was becoming shallower.
"Haleth, find me some cloth, bandages and water, and any healing herbs you come across," Aragorn ordered the young man. Haleth quickly ran away to search for the items as Aragorn ripped away the rest of Legolas's tunic and looked over the gaping wound. The bleeding was slow, but only because he had lost so much blood already by running and fighting with the wound open and unattended to. Now the adrenaline and excitement of battle had died away, and Legolas was left in grave condition.
Aragorn gently laid a hand on the elf's forehead on the pretence of checking for fever. As his fingers lingered, the man dropped his head; his breath was beginning to come in sharp gasps as he battled down his emotions. The loss of so many elven lives had been a blow to Aragorn as well, but now to face the possible death of one of his dearest friends caused a greater anxiety than he had ever known. The wound was serious to be sure, but Aragorn would not normally consider it life threatening in the case of an elf. This was not a normal situation though. The injury had gone untended for so long that the ranger feared the damage of blood loss, but more than that, he worried that Legolas may not have the will to push himself back to life and recovery. The elf's heart was aching with the pain of the loss of his kin, so Aragorn knew that the prince's normally vibrant and energetic spirit may be lacking the strength to survive an ordeal such as this.
"This is all they would give me," Haleth reported, breaking through Aragorn's thoughts when he returned a few moments later with a great armful of the needed items.
Aragorn took the cloth and water from him then pointed to the floor, "Put the rest there."
Haleth did as he asked and then stepped back, not wanting to get in the way.
"Can I help?" he asked a moment later, though Aragorn clearly knew what he was doing.
"I can tend to him best by myself. You could find my friends, Gimli and Gandalf, the White Wizard, tell them where we are," Aragorn requested, appreciating the boy's eagerness to be of aid.
"Of course, I'll see they come," Haleth assured him and then disappeared, away from the blood, death, and screams of the healing house.
Aragorn first cleansed the wound, knowing infection was a definite possibility, then created a poultice with the herbs Haleth had brought him. Thankfully, they were what he needed, plus a few more, and the concoction was strong. Probing the injury, he found no major organs had been damaged and blood loss was the only real concern he had. He placed the poultice over the wound, and then held it in place with bandages, always taking the utmost care. Just as he had finished for the time, he heard the indignant steps of Gimli approaching.
"Aragorn! Where are you, lad? Ah, there, what's this nonsense I hear about the elf being … hurt?" Gimli stopped upon sight of Legolas. The elf was very pale, his pants were stained with great amounts of blood, and his bare chest was heavily bandaged over what Gimli knew had to be a serious injury. "By the Valar, when did this happen? He seemed fine not half an hour's past."
"I do not know," Aragorn admitted. "We were talking, and I thought him fine as well, then he collapsed suddenly and I discovered the injury."
Gimli was about to say more when a voice from behind interrupted them, "Good, you have tended to him then."
The two companions turned to see a man of Rohan behind them, still grim from battle, but at least pleased to see the three together.
"What was that?" Aragorn asked.
The man tilted his head towards Legolas, "I was fighting near him when he was injured. I had intended to escort him to the house of healing then but he seemed to hardly take notice of the wound after it happened. He quickly checked the injury and then returned to battle. As you can imagine in the chaos I was hard pressed to pursue him, but I am glad you have found him alive."
"Crazy elf, doesn't know a wound must be tended to before it can heal," Gimli muttered as he stood and began to pace.
"Do you know at what time in the battle he was injured? I ask only because I know not how much blood he has lost," Aragorn asked the man.
"It was some time ago," he told them, then thought back. "It was right after the gate was sealed back up, when the orcs first broke through. He sheathed his bow and knife and threw a rope over the side, for what purpose I cannot say, and asked two men to watch his back. They did try but a fierce uruk got past them and stabbed your friend. He would not release the rope, but did kick the uruk away and onto another's blade before the knife could be twisted further."
Gimli was actively growling now, "That damn, damn crazy elf."
The man continued, but seemed perplexed by Gimli's mutterings, "Another came to help him with the rope so he may take a moment to pull the knife free. He examined the wound for only a moment and then continued his task. When next I looked to the wall, he was gone."
Gimli's words were passionate now, though becoming harder to understand, "Who does he think he is mounting such a rescue? … never asked … no common sense … think he's invincible?" Then he announced quite seriously, "If he dies I swear I'll kill him! Never mind, if he lives I shall kill him as well!"
Aragorn understood Gimli's sentiment; Legolas had been injured while saving their lives by rescuing the two of them from being trapped before the gate entrance. They had been thankful for his help, but had also been completely unaware of the injury he sustained in doing so. Now, Legolas's actions, and the withholding of information on his well being, could very well cost him his life, leaving the two with a debt they could never repay, or forget.
"Thank you for your concern, and your watchfulness, my fellow," Aragorn told the man dismissively, who then went on his way to check upon his other comrades and friends.
Aragorn checked Legolas's temperature and found the beginning of fever, something he had not wished for. Lifting up the bandage he was at least thankful the blood loss had slowed, for he desperately did not wish to cauterize the wound.
"Is he going to be all right?" Gimli asked a few moments later, when he had calmed himself down.
"That depends upon Legolas," Aragorn replied, then saw Gimli's confused look and added, "The wound alone should not be life threatening to an elf for they heal quickly, but Legolas suffers from more than this hurt. He has lost a brace of kinsmen in this fray, and that grief is enough to burden his heart and perhaps take away his will to continue on in this world."
"You mean to tell me an elf may die of sorrow? That is ridiculous!" Gimli exclaimed, having never heard of such a thing.
"It is quite true, and has happened frequently enough in the past," Aragorn replied. "Legolas has promised me though that he will see this quest to its end, and I can only hope that he will hold true to his word."
Gimli still seemed unbelieving, but judging by the solemn look upon Aragorn's face, he decided the man was telling the truth. He was unsure how to take this information, for grief and heartache were not much discussed in dwarven culture, it was something one handled themselves and rarely shared. Sitting back on his heels, Gimli crossed his arms and contemplated his newest and most reluctant friend.
"Well, as far as I know him, he seems to be an elf of his word. I do not think he will break it without a great fight of wills," he said a moment later in response to Aragorn's words. The comment had been meant to help assuage the man's concerns, but the dwarf quickly remembered that Aragorn had known Legolas a great deal longer than him, and understood exponentially better the intricacies of elves.
Aragorn nodded in agreement but said nothing. Moments later the doors to the healing house opened once more, and a great white figure hurried in. Gandalf passed the lines of injured men, accompanied by the click of his falling staff, and did not stop until he reached the ranger, dwarf and elf. His features fell as he looked upon the pale face of Legolas and he shook his head as he crouched down beside Aragorn.
"It is true then," Gandalf remarked to himself as he placed a hand on the elf's brow. "You always have a way of finding trouble young prince of Mirkwood," he said gravely but then looked at Gimli and Aragorn, a smile creeping on his lips, "but you also have great skill in finding a way out as well."
The man and dwarf took some comfort in this and watched as he inspected the wound while keeping a hand on Legolas's forehead, murmuring words that could not be interpreted.
"He took the hurt some hours ago," Aragorn told the wizard in hopes of being some help.
A moment later Gandalf sat back on his heels, seeming satisfied.
"He will be fine in time. Legolas Greenleaf has yet some part to play in this war and shall remain with us for some time yet to come. Some would say too long, but I am not one to judge such things."
So sure was Gandalf in his assessment of the elven warrior that he was then able to persuade Aragorn to leave the healing house and go with him for counsel. The two had much to discuss about the near future, and they would both have to speak with King Theoden before the day's end as well. The ranger knew the necessity of such speech but was loathe to leave Legolas's side.
"Will you stay with him, Gimli?" he asked, it being the only way the man would be willing to leave his friend.
The dwarf crossed his arms and planted his feet next to the elf's bedside, "It would take an Oliphant to pry me away."
Aragorn smiled and stood to leave, "Thank you. We may be some time, I'm afraid. He will probably remain in sleep for a great while, but his bandages need to be redressed in the next few hours."
"I will see to it," Gimli assured him, and then, seeing Gandalf waiting impatiently by the door added, "Go, he will be fine."
Aragorn turned to leave, then stopped and moved to say one last thing, but Gimli cut him off, "I will find you if there is any change in him, good or bad."
When at last the ranger left, Gimli sighed, "That man hovers worse than a hummingbird."
Then he took the cool cloth Haleth had brought for them and placed it upon the elf's forehead to combat the growing fever. When that was done he sat back, not entirely sure what a proper bedside manner should entail.
"Seems to be just the two of us now, laddie," Gimli commented softly, unsure if he was speaking to himself or Legolas. He decided he was indeed talking to the elf, and saw no reason why he shouldn't continue to do so. After all, if elves had such damn fine hearing as they say, then he should be able to hear him even in sleep.
"Now, I am not one to take no for an answer, so you heed me when I say that you will not die here. As much as it pains me to admit it, you are a friend Master Elf, and I should miss your grand company." He paused and then slowly a smile formed as he leaned forward, almost conspiratorially. "Besides, we have not yet finished our game. I do not think you will leave this world knowing I bested you by a single kill, you would find no rest in death at all if you had such a thing hanging over your head. We agreed the game would last until the end of this dark time, therefore you must last as well."
Legolas's head lolled to the side, but his eyes showed no signs of opening. Gimli sat back, deciding it had been foolish of him to try and bring the elf back with words, especially when it had been actions alone that allowed their friendship to even begin. What seemed an age ago in Lothlorien, the death of Gandalf had paralyzed them all with grief. Seeing that the other mourned as deeply as himself, the elf and dwarf had agreed to put an end to the tension and feud between them, not only for themselves, but for the sake of the rest of the fellowship as well. Once they were at peace they were free to truly talk and get to know the other, and found they had a great many things in common; they both held great love for their homes and would fight to protect them, they both loved a good competition, and they could finally admit that they admired the other's skill in battle, the elf for his grace, and the dwarf for his strength.
It was then that the competitive side in them came alive and they wished to know who the better warrior to be. Legolas had had a great many more kills in his life, but his life had also been a great deal longer, so they decided that throughout the remainder of their journey they would count their kills and at the end discover who came out the victor. This also served as an unspoken way of promising each other they would see the end of this quest together. At Emyn Muil the battle had been tense and sorrowful, so much so they forgot their promised game, but here at Helm's Deep it had truly begun, and Gimli did not wish for this to be its end, despite his current lead.
Hours passed yet Gimli remained by his friend's side, sometimes talking, sometimes looking over the room, once he slept. It was shortly after he had awoken that he noticed a pair of pained and unfocussed blue eyes watching him.
"Gimli?" Legolas began, his voice sounding confused, but was cut off by a coughing fit. He coughed and moaned at the same time as his hand lingered to his still healing wound, ignited in pain due to his body's tremors. The dwarf quickly handed him a glass of water, which he was pleased to see the elf was strong enough to lift himself.
"Easy, no, you're not about to sit up just yet," he ordered, pushing Legolas back down after he had finished the water. "I've orders to see that you rest."
"Since when do you take orders from anyone?" Legolas asked jokingly, as he reluctantly laid back.
"Since I happen to agree with them. You gave us all a scare laddie, and none of us wish to see a repeat performance," Gimli said, beginning what he had meant to be a lecture on hiding injuries in battle, but stopped when he noticed Legolas chuckling. "What is so funny?"
"I am sorry, I simply find it humorous when you call me 'lad', after all I am many years your senior," Legolas said still grinning.
"Well, you don't look it," Gimli replied off hand as his defence, honestly not understanding how one so young in appearance could be any great deal older than himself.
"Elves do not age in physical appearance, my friend. We age only in wisdom and knowledge."
Gimli huffed, "Then you must be quite young indeed, for those are two traits in which you are sorely lacking." Legolas laughed again, but Gimli was now intrigued. "How old are you then?"
"2913, give or take," Legolas said, watching Gimli's reaction. The dwarf's eyes grew wide and then suspicious.
"No, I do not believe that. Only moments ago Gandalf referred to you as a 'young prince', you cannot have borne so many years."
Legolas looked at him knowingly, "Yes, but when you are so ancient as Gandalf to have forgotten the number of years you have lived, then you may refer to even the Lady Galadriel as young."
"Good point," Gimli said, staring ahead now in thought. A moment later Legolas shifted and then grimaced as the knife wound awoke and throbbed relentlessly. Now that he had no battle to focus on, or friends to aid, the elf found the wound was an extreme source of agony.
"Here," Gimli picked up a nearby chalice and held it out for him. "Aragorn left this; he said it would help with the pain."
Legolas lifted a hand in denial, the jest now gone in him, "I do not need it."
Gimli held it out once more, "Do not think that simply due to injury I will not take you by that horrid hair of yours and force this down your throat."
The elf looked truly surprised for a moment, but then reluctantly took the chalice from the dwarf and drained most of its contents, simply to appease him. The sounds and smells of the healing house had only now truly reached him as his mind unclouded from sleep, and the moans, the stench of blood, and the sight of so many injured quickly brought back to him his own grief, and he remembered all that had been lost. It completely extinguished his good mood and in fact tore at his heart as if a fresh wound.
He handed the disgusting medicine back to Gimli and laid back down, closing his eyes.
"Thank you Gimli, for your watchfulness and your care, but I wish for solitude. I cannot stay in this place," he said, now pushing himself back to a sitting position.
"You're not to move. You're not to think of moving. So quit your thinking and lay back down," Gimli ordered now, trying to force the elf still without hurting him more.
"Gimli please, I cannot stay here so surrounded by pain and despair. Let me go outside at least, and I shall promise to rest," Legolas whispered hurriedly as he fought to rise. The dwarf would have none of it though and finally asserted himself, standing and using his body mass to push the elf's shoulders back to the floor.
"You're staying here, for one so I may keep an eye on you, and for two, so you will not injure yourself further, and three … well, you're better off in here, for though there is injury and pain, there is also life. Outside these walls you will find little more than death my friend," Gimli said softly, still holding him down. A moment later Legolas ceased his struggle as the dwarf's wise words took hold, and he realized them true.
He sighed heavily and draped an arm over his face, "Please leave me then, Gimli, at least. I am sure you know that I have much to consider and come to terms with."
Gimli rose, understanding Legolas needed time alone to sort through his sorrow and decide where he now stood in this war. But before he left, he spoke these words.
"Death is a horrible thing, worse even for your people I'm sure, due to its infrequency, but it is not an end to all things. Life continues on, and many things that make this world beautiful still flourish. There is great despair in this time, but if we all let our grief control our actions, then there would be no one to fight this evil. I would like you by my side fighting, Legolas, when this darkness's hold is broken, and the sky lightens as the earth can finally sing once more in delight."
The dwarf left him then, the wonderful image of a world in peace, singing and beautiful still playing in his mind. It was something he longed to see with his own eyes, something he yearned to feel in his soul. His friends had all begged his company in these final days, and though his sorrow was deep, he would overcome it for them. He knew he could find the strength to bear his grief and continue on to ensure the lives of his kinsmen had not been lost in vain. He would recover swiftly and then fight, to his last breath if necessary, to ensure the pain he suffered from this war would not happen again in Middle-Earth.
It was a battle worth fighting for, and he wanted in.
His resolution strengthened, he shut his eyes in rest. There was much to be done in these next days, and he would need his full strength. After all, defeating evil was trying work, and more importantly, he had a certain game with a dwarf that he was set on winning.
Hope you liked it. Did I end too abruptly? Was there enough closure? I don't write a lot of vignettes, I'm more of a complex plot line kind of girl, but I couldn't get this out of my head. Please tell me what you think and thanks for reading. Robinyj