A Wolf's Cry
Disclaimer: I do not own one thing that pertains to Lord of the Rings, that privilege lies with the wonderful J. R. R. Tolkien.
Summary: Following Aragorn's fall from the cliff at the Gap of Rohan as they journey to Helm's Deep, Legolas struggles to come to terms with the apparent death of his friend and how it affects himself and all those round him.
Authors note: Set before A Gull's Cry...
A big thank you to my betas Katy and Barbara. Also to Terri and Mysty for their wonderful love and support.
The sight of the large stone building standing proud amid the large rock formation made him shiver. It looked so cold, almost as cold as he felt deep within.
His heart, once so light and happy, now felt heavy and empty.
He did not recall the journey here, it seemed to be a blur. The last that he recalled was the Rohirrim King telling them to leave the dead as he stood looking down from the cliff, the very cliff from which Estel, his dearest friend, had fallen. At that moment, his heart had curled and died within him.
Legolas had dealt with death before. How could he not with the darkness that surrounded and ate away at Mirkwood, his home? But Estel had always been there since they met. He had cradled the human in his arms as a babe and watched him grow, had helped him come to grips with the complexity of archery.
"Well, Elf, are you just going to sit there and wait for the day to grow old or are we going in?" The gruff voice came from behind him. The words seemed callous yet there was more than just a hint of worry in the deep voice.
He blinked and looked around. The others in their group had already entered the Hornburg, leaving them to stand alone before the gates.
Legolas, the blond elf upon the white horse, shook himself from his thoughts and urged Arod forward.
"Of course not, Gimli, unless you wish to spend the night here?"
Gimli, the dwarf, seated behind the thin elf hated horses and could not wait to get off the beast.
The two of them must make quite a spectacle. Their two races were not known to get along. In fact were supposed to hate each other with an enmity that was truly frightening, when he gave thought to it.
And he had, hated the dwarf that is, at least to start with. Their meeting at the Council of Elrond had not been the best of starts. But since then, they had fought together and things had slowly changed. He liked the dwarf.
Legolas shuddered. The cold stone seemed to smother him as he urged Arod into the fortress and toward Théoden. He knew it was better to be near the King.
Inside the Hornburg, the people of Rohan worked to prepare for the inevitable siege. Women and men hurried about to make things ready for the coming battle. Would Saruman send an army to them? Legolas had no doubt. Saruman the White was a traitor. Mithrandir had found that out the hard way.
He brought Arod to a halt beside Théoden and dismounted, then helped Gimli down, although he grumbled all the way. Legolas ignored him.
He should have known that Éowyn would come and ask about Aragorn, but it hurt all the same.
"So few. So few have returned." She sounded as shocked as Legolas felt. "Where is Lord Aragorn?" Éowyn looked for the Dunèdain that had so captured her attention.
Legolas tried to answer, tried very hard to answer, but his throat seemed to close around the words. Gimli saved him from answering.
"He... he fell." The words sounded so final, so empty... so... so... There were no words to cover how he felt. The pain, the agony was too deep.
"He fell? But that cannot be..."
Legolas could not take it. He had to get away, to find somewhere he could be alone, to think, to work out how just one death among so many could leave him so desolate.
Legolas had felt grief and remorse at Mithrandir's apparent death when he had fallen in Moria, but that was nothing compared to this.
He did not know where he was going, he was running blind. All he knew was that he needed to see the sky, to leave the prison of these stone walls behind him.
He paid no heed to the cry of "Legolas?" from behind him. He could not face Gimli, not with his heart torn apart like this.
Soon the number of people around him thinned out and he was on his own, looking out over Helm's Deep.
A solitary bird made a mournful cry to the sky, a sky that was becoming dark and cloudy, and a reflection of his own dark feelings.
His Adar had warned him against getting close to Estel, a mortal. He had told him he would inevitably experience this grief. Legolas had accepted that, he truly had. He was no fool. He had simply not expected it to be this soon.
How could he face Elrond? How could he tell him that he had let his son die? It was his fault, all his fault. He would never, ever forgive himself.
Valar, Elladan and Elrohir would never forgive him. He could only be grateful that he would not have to tell Arwen. All of this would be hard enough.
If he lived through this, if Frodo made it to Mount Doom and destroyed the One Ring, then he would sail. He could not stay here now, not now. Not when the person who had helped him and come to mean so much to him was no longer here.
Legolas was stunned to find that he had tears running down his face. "Estel, please, please do not do this, please come back. You are needed, Gwador nin. I need you." It was no more than a whisper to the wind, full of pain and loss.
There was no answer.
The tears fell harder as he thought of the last time he had seen the twins with their brother. They had all been hunting together. It had been good fun, a much-needed respite for him from the growing evil that surrounded Mirkwood.
He pulled out the pendant that he had found in the foul orc's hand, the Evenstar. He held it up and expected the daylight to reflect and sparkle from its crystal gems. When it did not, he blinked in astonishment. When had it grown so dark? Night had fallen. He had been here all afternoon?
He turned with a sigh. Life went on, even if he did not want it to.
"There you are, Elf! I have been looking for you. You need to eat and then sleep." Gimli appeared in front of him and he jumped.
He had not heard the Dwarf's approach. How on Arda had that happened?
"I am not hungry." Was that his voice? It sounded so hollow, so strange. He did not belong here. He had to get out, this cold stone was killing him.
"Master Elf, you are going to eat and then you will sleep, even if I have to knock you out with my axe handle!" Gimli had planted himself in front of the Prince.
Gimli frowned. Legolas was too pale. He looked almost transparent as he stood before him and surely he should be glowing? The Pointy-eared Princeling always glowed at night, brightly as well, not this dull, subdued glow.
"Come on, Laddie. Yer can't stay here. Come with me." He pulled on Legolas arm and the elf passively let him lead him wherever he would. What did it matter where he was? Nothing mattered anymore.
Gimli led him into the hall. It was light and noisy and left him cold. He did not want to be here.
"Legolas. I was worried about you." Théoden suddenly appeared before him.
"I needed some time alone." Could that really be his voice? It was low and hollow, as if he was listening from a great distance.
"I can understand that. Aragorn was a good man. Had you known him long?" Théoden was not really interested, but he was worried about the elf before him. If there was to be a battle, an elven warrior fighting with them would be of great advantage.
"Since his childhood. If you excuse me, I must see to a missive for his Adar." He escaped before Gimli could stop him.
The only problem was where to go now? Gimli was right. He needed rest.
"We have a room, Laddie." Gimli was behind him. "Follow me. I will bring you some food."
Gimli seemed to have got the message that he wanted to be alone. He followed the dwarf through the stone hallways, not even noticing when some of the men and women deliberately moved out of their way or looked at them as if they were as foul as orcs. It did not matter, not anymore, and it never would again...
"Here, we are." Gimli pushed open a large wooden door and entered the chamber. Legolas followed listlessly behind him.
The chamber was large and contained three beds, enough for all three of them... the thought came unbidden and was then followed by crashing pain. There was not a third person to fill the third bed, not any longer.
Valar that hurt, the thought of never seeing Estel again hurt more than he could ever have imagined. Never to see that gentle smile, the grim determination, to hear the sweet laughter as a prank against the twins had worked and never to simply talk earnestly long into the night about anything and everything... He could no longer do that. How could the Valar have allowed this to happen? Could they not see that Middle-earth's fate rested upon those broad shoulders? Without Estel they were doomed. He was doomed.
"There is parchment, ink and quill on the table. Write your missive and I will see that it is sent. And, Laddie?" Gimli had stopped and had been watching the pallid elf as he looked around the chamber. He had seen his pain as Legolas' normally bright, now dazed, eyes had rested upon the third bed. He had to help his friend through this. To do otherwise would mean that he, Gimli, would lose not one but two friends and that thought was unbearable.
"Yes, Gimli?" The voice was distant and empty and Gimli could have sworn that Legolas was not even here in this chamber with him.
"He would not wish you to make yerself ill over this. He would want you to carry on. I will make sure that a fire is set. Would you like the window open?" Just because he was happy to be within the welcome confines of the stone shelter around him, it did not mean others were. He knew the elf that well, at least.
"Hennad." Again the tone was barely there.
"I will see to it then." The voice of the dwarf was even more gruff and curt than normal. He did not know how to deal with the Prince in this state. He also found himself wishing more and more that Gandalf was here. The wily old wizard would know how to help the elf... But wishes were not horses and elves could not fly, as his old father was apt to say. Gandalf was not here. He, Gimli, would have to use what he could.
Legolas was not even aware when Gimli left the chamber. He stood lost so deeply in thought that he would not have heard a rampaging Mumakil behind him, nor even seen it in front of him.
How long he stood there he did not know, would probably never know, but eventually, as if walking through a torrent of water, he made his way to the desk, pulled out the chair and sat down. This would be one of the hardest tasks he had ever undertaken and that was saying something.
With shaking hands he pulled a fresh piece of parchment before him. Picking up the quill he readied it with ink.
Memories once more flooded into his mind, fond memories of teaching Estel his alphabet, of guiding the small hand across the parchment and listening with contentment as Estel giggled with delight.
"Estel." Just the one word, but all the pain, all the grief, was so evident. A silver tear ran down his cheek once more.
It fell to join with the ink blot that had fallen from the quill. He could not do this. He did not know how to start. Greetings? There would be no glad greetings with this news.
He threw the quill down and rose unsteadily from the chair. He was cold and shivering. He was never cold and certainly had never shivered. He crossed to the fire and crouched attempting to get the wood to kindle, but failed miserably.
"Let me try, My Lord." The voice was soft and he jumped. A young girl was kneeling beside him. She took the flint from his suddenly nerveless fingers. It took her one try to set the spark to the wood and she fed the flames before building it up. Once finished, she turned to him once more.
"Let me help you to your bed, My Lord, you look ill." There was sorrow in her voice. She wondered how one so beautiful could be this pale or so sad?
"I am well, thank you." Legolas rubbed his hands together in front of the welcome warmth.
"Forgive me, but you really do not look it. Shall I bring a healer?" She peered at him worriedly. He had not yet cleaned up fully from the battle and orc blood was still splattered here and there over his tunic.
"I am uninjured, just tired." Legolas rubbed at his forehead. He had a pounding headache forming and he felt so nauseous.
"Laddie, I have food and wine. Ah, good, the fire has been set." Gimli had a tray in his hands piled high with food. The young serving girl rose to help him and placed it upon the table.
"He may need a healer." Were her last worried words as she left the two friends to their meal.
"Are you injured?" All thoughts of the food and ale had fled from Gimli's mind at her words.
"Tired." Just the one word.
"But injured?" Gimli would not let this go.
"Good, if I find that you have been hiding injuries..." He let the threat hang in the air. "Sit and I can sort the food out." Gimli had gone out of his way to find food that he knew that Legolas liked, fruit, vegetables, bread and cheese, anything as long as the Young Prince would eat.
Legolas did not even answer. He simply gazed deep into the flames of the fire, lost once more in his memories.
Gimli sighed and set about sorting the food out, it was obvious to him that Legolas did not wish to talk at the moment, lost as he was in the memory of his old friend.
"Here ye go, Laddie." He handed the platter to Legolas who jumped and blinked. He then blushed and Gimli was pleased to see the colour that suffused the wan face before him.
"Gimli, I… I am sorry I was not… I do not think that…" Legolas was blinking rapidly as he looked at his friend.
"Don't tell me ye canna eat it. Ye can and trust me ya will!" Gimli presented the platter once more, not moving until Legolas reluctantly took it from him. "I'll not be moving until ye finish that. I'll not be telling Gandalf that ye did not look after yerself."
"I do not deserve your friendship, mellon-nin. I thank you." Legolas took the platter, then the goblet that Gimli offered him.
Once he was satisfied that Legolas really would eat, or at the very least try, Gimli went back for his own plate.
They sat like that for some time with Gimli eating as well as he usually did, especially after battle.
Legolas though, only picked and pushed. Hardly anything made its way to his mouth and what did seemed to have no taste, almost like sawdust. The fruit seemed to be as hard as rock.
"You need to sleep." Gimli could stand it no longer. He had endured enough of Legolas rearranging his food only to start once again from the beginning.
"I am tired." There was a wealth of sorrow in his words.
"Then sleep. I will keep watch over you. No harm will come to you." Gimli made that a silent vow.
Legolas only nodded and moved to the bed. To Gimli it looked as if he felt every single one of his long years. No longer were the steps nimble, but slow and heavy. It looked as if he carried the weight of the world upon his shoulders.
Legolas sighed as he placed the barely-touched platter of food back on the tray. He had expected the dwarf to protest that he had not eaten enough. His father would have.
His father. Legolas felt his heart drop.
His father would be so disappointed in him right now. He let his own best friend, his blood brother, die and done nothing to stop it. A sob caught in his throat as he stumbled towards a bed. It did not matter which bed. He just could not remain on his feet any longer.
"Legolas?" No longer did Gimli call him Elf. When did that happen? When had Gimli become Gimli and not Dwarf?
"Yes, Gimli?" Legolas' voice was strained.
"Are you alright?" Gimli picked up the goblet Legolas had set to one side untouched.
"Then drink this." He watched as Legolas finally removed his bow and quiver. He also removed the sharp knives that he carried in their sheaths. Almost without thought, Legolas sat on the side of the bed and began to run a whetstone over the already keen edges.
Gimli gave a harrumph. The Elf had not even removed the last remnants of Orc blood from the blade he was working on. Legolas was normally as diligent about that as possible. As with all warriors, his life depended on his weapons. He was always meticulous about their care.
"That can wait, Laddie. Sleep first. Drink this." It was not a question.
"What is it?" Bewildered blue eyes looked at him.
"Just some soothing tea, it is a recipe that my own mother makes at times like this, honey and what-not, just to help relax you." Gimli watched as Legolas sniffed the tea. He raised his own goblet and drank the ale that was in his own mug. Legolas did not need to know that he did not have the same tea.
"You have some?" A dark eye brow rose in query.
"After today? Definitely." It was only a small lie, he told himself.
Legolas nodded and as Gimli took another sip he took one too. Sip for sip they sat like that until both goblets were empty.
"That was very nice, Gimli. Your mother must be wonderful." Legolas wiped his mouth and gave a loud yawn.
"Try and rest, Laddie. Here, let me help." He hurried to the Elf's side to remove the long suede boots that covered the slender limbs.
"I am fine, Gimli. Just leave me. I think I can…" His voice faded away as he fell back, his eyes already closed in sleep.
"Aye, ye will be. I am sorry, Laddie. If I thought ye would sleep, I wouldna have stooped so low." Gimli finished moving him and covered him with the blankets. He could not resist brushing the hair away that had fallen from its braids. To see the proud elf reduced to this was somehow both touching and sad.
He sat and watched as he had promised Legolas he would, keeping the fire tended and leaving only to go through the window doors to have a smoke. He made certain he was nearby at all times so that should Legolas need him, he would be there in an instant.
Who would have imagined this, a Dwarf worried about an Elf? His father would have kittens should he find out, but then, given the identity of this Elf's father as it was, it was understandable.
Somewhere along the journey from that ravine to Helm's Deep, something had happened within Gimli. No longer was Legolas merely the son of that despised Mirkwood ruler, no longer was he perceived as the haughty Prince, used to getting his own way.
Suddenly he had become a person who had lost his best friend and was hurting and confused about it as well. It was the first time in many years that Gimli's paternal instincts had been stirred like this, but Legolas had done just that. There was no going back now, he mused. They had shared too much, gone through too many changes to go back. He would just have to admit that he liked the Pointy-eared Princeling and be done with it.
The night slowly wore on and silence fell over Helm's Deep. The only signs of life were the guards on tower duty and the lights and torches that flickered in the breeze. Aside from that, nothing stirred.
Deep within the fortress walls, two of the most unlikely of friends slept, both at ease in each other's company.
Gimli, despite his best intentions, had fallen asleep. Legolas had not stirred.
A low groan sounded around the room and Gimli grunted before settling once more.
It was a long moment before the sound came again and this time a troubled golden head tossed from side to side.
Legolas Greenleaf, Crown Prince of Mirkwood, was in the midst of a terrible dream, one that he could not tear himself from, one that he was desperate to escape. He groaned and tossed his head once more.
/He stood atop the ravine. How had he returned here? He turned to call for Gimli and ask just that… but there was no one there.
All that was left were the dead, scattered like flotsam on a storm-tossed sea, not that he had ever seen that happen. He had read about it though, read and wondered. One day he hoped to find out if it was as he thought, but he did not expect that to be for some time. There was much still to…
"You killed me!" He turned in shock. There beside him stood Estel.
"Estel! Mellon-nin I have been searching for you!" He tried to hug his friend to him in relief.
"This is all your fault, Elf! How could you?" The words were filled with venom.
"Estel?" Legolas sounded uncertain for the first time.
"I though you were my friend!" Estel turned and Legolas caught his first good look at him.
He was sodden. Water seemed to pour from him in torrents. His clothes were torn and ragged. Blood cascaded from a wound on his forehead and had caused his left eye to shut. Blood also ran from between his fingers that were pressed with force around his forearm.
He was very grey and blue tinged his normally pink lips.
"I am! I tried to find you! I have the Evenstar for…"
"Do not speak her name, you are no longer worthy of that! You are tainted. You will forever be tainted."
"Estel, saes, listen?"
"To you? Never again. I trusted you to save me and you failed. You are a disgrace to your kind. I hate you, Elf. Hate you more than anything I have ever done. You disgust me. You are lower than an orc!" Estel spat on Legolas before turning and walking away.
No matter how he tried Legolas could not draw near to him. He just drew further and further away…/
Gimli woke with a start. Something had disturbed him. The source was immediately apparent. Legolas was tossing on the bed and moaning as if in pain.
"Legolas? Easy Laddie, it is just a nightmare. Wake up now." He shook the elf gently. Legolas was sobbing and it was enough to break the warrior Dwarf's heart. "Come now, Laddie, wake up."
"Estel." The groan was anguished.
So that was the problem. It had to happen, if he thought about it.
"Legolas, waken. It is a nightmare only. Wake up." The last was said with a desperate poke. It was finally enough to wake Legolas with a gasp and he rose shakily to sit on the side of the bed.
Gimli peered at him with great concern. "Are you alright?"
Legolas did not have the breath to answer. His breathing was still too ragged.
"Nightmare?" Another nod. "Want to talk?" A negative shake. "Can I get you a drink?"
"Wine." It was a strangled choke.
"Aye, let me see to that." He left and returned quickly with another tray. On it were a carafe of wine and goblets, one filled with ale and one for the wine. He poured the wine and handed it to the weary, grief-stricken elf. Legolas was still shaking so much that he could not hold the goblet on his own.
Gimli said nothing but instead helped him to drink the wine. He made no comment as Legolas drained the goblet dry in one swift gulp.
"Another, Saes." Legolas had to blot out the words from his dream, had to stop the voice that kept repeating in his mind. Would Estel really think that? Did he think that, wherever he was now?
It brought back another dream, another nightmare that had happened years ago, after his Naneth had been murdered by orcs. In that dream it had been she who had said those hate-filled words. "You are not my son. My son would not have let the orcs do this."
He had been fifteen in mortal years at the time, yet he had convinced himself it had been his fault and that his father would hate him. He had been wrong then, could he possibly be wrong now?
"Here ye go." Legolas drained that goblet as well, accepting another almost right away.
Four goblets later, he felt slightly better. He raised shaky hands to rub wearily at his face.
"I am sorry I woke you, Gimli. Please, go back to sleep."
"Can you sleep?" Gimli had to ask, although he knew the answer.
"Nay. I think I will find a bath and bathe. I want to make sure that Arod is alright as well." Legolas rose shakily and reached for his boots.
"I want you back here for the morning meal. If you are not there, I will come and find you."
Legolas nodded and left the chamber. Gimli sighed. This was going to be harder than he thought. He leaned back, thinking hard. He was not aware when sleep took him once more.
Dawn rose slowly. Mist cloaked the area around the Deep, making it difficult to see even the hand in front of one's face.
Slowly the inhabitants of Helm's Deep rose and began to go about their business. The smell of baking bread permeated the air along with the smell of meat cooking on the spit. The sounds of children's laughter resounded as they went about their chores and games. The women went about their chores, stopping to natter with neighbours about the worry of the potential war that was on the horizon.
As the court made its way to begin its day, a solitary Dwarf made his way down to the main chamber. He had awoken to find the chamber empty. Legolas had been nowhere in sight. He hoped that Legolas would be at the morning meal, and that he would not have to go and look for him.
Éowyn looked up as he entered and he had to admit that she did look better than she had the day before, still pale, yes, but better.
"Good morning, Master Dwarf, I hope that you slept well?" She greeted him with a sad smile.
Théoden looked up at her words.
"Good morning, Gimli, the elf is not with you?" The question was courteous enough, but it rubbed Gimli up the wrong way. The human King could know his name and not Legolas'?
"Good Morrow, Lady Éowyn, no, my sleep was disturbed. The Elf as you call him…" He turned to the King, uncaring if he hurt the King's feelings. "…has a name, it is Legolas."
"I know…" Théoden waved his concern's away.
"Then perhaps it would be of more importance to you if I gave you his official title?" There was real anger in Gimli's voice.
The chamber stilled as they listened to this play.
"Official title? He has an official title?" Théoden sounded confused.
"He does indeed. The ELF, as you call him, is actually Crown Prince Legolas of Mirkwood, the only son of King Thranduil." It was with great pleasure that Gimli saw the shock of realisation on Théoden's face.
"Prince Legolas? Why was I not informed of this? Ham…" He stopped. Hama was no longer there. He could blame no one else if there was an incident over this.
"Legolas does not see the need to foist his title on others. He is quite happy to be known simply as Legolas. As it is, Legolas is grieving, grieving hard. He did not sleep well and has not eaten since before yesterday now. Just because you think of him as an elf does not say that he has no feelings." Gimli finally ran out of tirade.
"I am sorry, you are right, Master Dwarf. I should not have judged by what he looks like. Where is Prince Legolas now? I could see he was distressed after Aragorn's death." Théoden was weary. So many things had happened. First there had been Wormtongue's betrayal, followed by the news of Theodred's death. Now this potential war… It seemed even his best intentions were not good enough.
"I have yet to see him this morning. I had hoped that he would be here. Has there been any other news?" He would first give Legolas the chance to come to the meal. If he did not, he would go and look for him.
"None as yet. This may yet be a false alarm, but I trust in Mithrandir and so here we are. Come and eat, Gimli, I am sure that you will have your friend by your side soon enough." He gestured towards the table and the food. They waited for Éowyn to sit and then joined her.
Legolas had not shown at all by the time the meal had finished. Éowyn could see how worried Gimli was. With her Uncle's permission, she asked to help search for Legolas. Théoden had even assigned some of his men to help.
The first place they looked was back in his chamber. Much to their disappointment, it was empty. Legolas' weapons still lay where they had been left.
"Where else should we look?" Éowyn asked him worriedly, they had been certain Legolas would be easy to find.
"He said that he would go and look to make certain that Arod was alright." Gimli smiled with relief. Of course! How silly! The Daft Elf had formed a bond with the white horse from the minute they had met. "He will be there."
They hurried down to the stables. The grooms and stable hands were going about their work and yet to Éowyn they seemed to be walking carefully, as if on eggshells.
Éowyn caught the first one that passed them by. "We seek Prince Legolas, have you seen him?"
"A blond Laddie, stands about… Well taller than you." Gimli looked at him anxiously.
"The young elf?" The stable hand asked, trying to clarify who they were actually asking about.
"Then, Master Dwarf, you have come to the right place. You will need to keep your voice down so that you do not disturb him, but he is here. We have tried not to disturb him. He looks so peaceful." As he was talking, the hand led them to the back of the stable.
Arod nickered softly to them as they moved near his stall. Éowyn greeted him and gently patted his nose.
Her mouth changed from a worried frown to a wide smile and she turned towards Gimli. "The lost has been found, Gimli."
Gimli did not wait for anything more, he hurried to the stall. Not even opening the door, he ducked beneath it.
Legolas lay on the straw that was piled up against the stall wall. He had been grooming Arod by the looks of it, for the horse was half-combed and the brush lay forgotten to one side.
He lay curled into a ball with one hand resting beneath his cheek. Gimli could see why the groom thought he looked young. Lying like that, he did appear so very, very young. Gimli's heart ached when he saw the silver tear tracks that still shined on his face.
"Ahh, Laddie." A blanket was pressed into his hand. Gimli did not need telling twice. He shook the blanket and covered Legolas.
The last thing they wanted to do was wake Legolas, now that he was asleep.
They walked away without speaking.
The groom turned to them once more. "Do you wish to know when he wakens?"
"Indeed. I wish to be here the minute his eyes open." Gimli had no doubt that now the shock had worn off, Legolas would feel even worse.
"I have a young boy who is the fastest runner here. I will make certain that he is ready." The groom told them.
"Thank you, I will make certain that my Uncle is made aware of this help. I am proud of you." Éowyn smiled at him. "I thank you for watching over our guest."
"You are welcome, My Lady." The groom looked proud.
Éowyn looked pleased as she led the way back to the Keep. "Uncle will be glad that we have found Legolas. He looked so sad. Seeing Lord Aragorn fall must have been terrible for him."
"Aye, especially when he has known Aragorn for such a long time." Gimli had to clear his throat.
"I could see their friendship right from the start. Only once before have I seen a friendship so deep. That was between my brother and cousin. Éomer is as devastated at Theodred's loss. I do not know what to do to help. All I can do is be there for him. I will as well. I loved them both."
"Lady Éowyn..." Gimli tried to stop her.
"Please, it is Éowyn. I do think this goes deeper, Gimli. I think you know this as well. Legolas is doing more than grieving." She brushed the sparkling tears from her eyes.
"Aye, you are right and I will not let it happen. By Aulë, I promise that I will not Legolas fade and die." Gimli stomped off, anger seemed to radiate from him.
He was warm, warm and fuzzy. He also had a raging headache. Legolas came slowly back into the waking world. He shivered.
He was still cold. He lifted stiff and cold hands that did not seem to want to work to his face.
"Drink this it will warm ye, Laddie." Gimli's voice came from beside him.
He took the proffered drink. "Hennad."
"You fell asleep grooming Arod. We got worried and came to look for you."
"I am sorry to worry you. I would never willingly do that." Legolas apologised.
"I know and you have no need to apologise. Drink and we will get you back to the Deep. You need to eat." Gimli gently chided him.
"I will try to eat." Legolas drank the tea.
Once finished with the tea, Legolas folded the blanket and handed it back to the groom with a small smile that did not reach his eyes.
They made it back to the Deep without any trouble. Once there, Gimli tried to steer them to the main chamber so that Legolas could eat.
"Later Gimli, I promise. I want a bath. I never did get one last evening and, unlike Estel, I..." He paled and stopped with a gulp. Before Gimli could say anything more, Legolas pulled free and ran from the hallway.
By the time Legolas reached their chamber, he was in tears once more. Ai, this hurt! How could he imagine one minute that Estel was still with them, only to realize he was gone the next?
When he managed to compose himself, a bath sounded better than ever. Towels had been left out for them and they looked thick and fluffy. Picking them up, he made his way out of the chamber. He could hear Gimli's panting breath from down the corridor and he hurriedly picked up speed. This way he could buy himself some time to compose himself fully. He would not be caught at this disadvantaged again.
A maid was walking down the hall way.
"Excuse me can you tell me how to get to the bathing chamber?"
"Of course, My Lord." She did better than tell him, she showed him, even helped him fill the tub.
Once she had left, he removed his clothes. The outer tunic was no problem, however, the silk inner tunic was a different matter.
Legolas hissed. The shirt had stuck to his skin making it difficult to pull away.
In the end, he had to wet the material to loosen the cloth. He should have seen to this last evening. Gimli would be so angry if he ever found out. He would just have to prevent him from finding out, it was that simple.
He had not come away unscathed from the battle after all. He had caught a sword across his back and upper arm. How Gimli had not seen he would never know, but then he had also been grieving and in shock. Now Legolas could buy himself that time to heal.
He lowered himself into the bath with a sigh. The water felt good against his muscles, he relaxed back.
The water was soothing and some of the weariness seemed to flee his limbs. Now that he had relaxed he was not sure he could move again.
Legolas closed his eyes. If he could stay like this, Estel would still be here. Still be with him...
Slowly the water turned colder and he had to move. He could feel the chill growing around him so finally he pulled himself up and began to wash properly. He could not fully reach the wound on his back. The soak would have to do.
He stood and swiftly dried himself noting with disinterest that his hands were shaking once more. He then pulled his pack towards him. He had a small reserve of healing herbs in there. He carried them as a matter of course when he was out in the wild.
There was still enough hot water left to mix some pain-killing herbs. That would also help to fool Gimli. He used his meat knife to pare the herbs and then mix them. Some he left to one side to mix in the water.
Then he pulled white cloth out of the pack to use as bandages. He cut it into strips and then quickly spread it with the paste and bandaged the wounds as best he could. At least the paste would help the linen stay in place. Then he did the most sensible thing. He washed his tunic, made certain the stain from the blood was well out. He had a spare shirt he could wear until this one dried. Gimli would think nothing of it.
Once finished he brushed his hair thoroughly getting rid of the knots that a night of tossing and turning had caused. He then braided it as normal. So normal, it was as if nothing had changed and yet... nothing was the same.
He drank the bitter herbal tea without even grimacing. The wet tunic over one arm, he left the chamber.
"Where have you been?" Gimli growled as he opened the chamber door.
"Bathing, mellon-nin, as I told you. Are you ready for some food now?" He turned bright eyes towards the Dwarf, who turned a suspicious eye to him.
"It is here. I thought you might prefer it to eating in the hall." Gimli felt something very wrong was happening here.
"Hennad, Gimli that would be perfect. I am hungry." Much to Gimli's astonishment, Legolas proceeded to clear his plate in short time. Never had he seen the Elf eat this quickly!
"I am going to go for a ride, Gimli, would you like to come?" Legolas was still bright. This was not the grieving Elf of earlier.
He was about to answer when a knock sounded at the door.
"Enter!" Gimli growled, not taking his eyes off the Elf before him. Legolas meanwhile had stood and spread the undertunic out over a chair before the fire. He was careful to keep the cut in the cloth out of sight. He would need to sew that up later when Gimli was sleeping.
"My Lords, Théoden King has asked for your attendance at meeting. He expects you within fifteen minutes in the great hall." The same girl who had helped Legolas last night was before them. Legolas turned and flashed a warm smile at her. Her dazed smile back made Gimli smile. "You look much better, My Lord."
"Thank you, I feel it." Legolas replied. "We will attend Théoden King. Thank you for conveying the message."
She bowed and left the chamber.
"Come, Gimli we have a meeting..."
"Wait just one minute!" Gimli reached out and grabbed at the Elf, catching his hand. "We need to speak about Arag..."
"Later, Gimli we do not have the time to discuss this now." He gently extricated his hand and made to leave the chamber.
"I will hold you to that, Laddie. How long have your hands been that cold?" There was real curiosity in Gimli's voice. He had never known Legolas to be this icy cold.
"Just now, Gimli. I washed my tunic before coming here. Why all the questions?" He pulled Gimli out of the chamber and down the hall.
They were heading towards the main hall and the audience with Théoden. Gimli was huffing behind him and Legolas was enjoying teasing him when he saw the man before him.
He knew it! He knew the Orc had to be lying. There was no mistaking the wavy hair, the way the man was striding. Estel was here!
Legolas forgot all about Gimli, all about Théoden. All he could think of was Estel and the fact that he was alive once more. His friend was here! Alive! Such joy, such wonder!
"Estel!" He ran after the man, ran and caught him just as he got to the main doors. Caught him and pulled him around and into a hug only to find that the person he held to him was not Estel, was nothing like Estel.
His heart dropped once more, crashing to the ground like a stone falling from a mountaintop. His hope was shattered.
"Legolas!" Strong hands caught him as he fell. "Easy, Laddie I have you."
Worried brown eyes looked down at him and he managed to croak. "Gimli?" Before darkness descended...
To be continued.
Well, that is the first chapter finished. This story happened because my PC crashed and I was left with nothing to do and no way of getting to my other stories to continue with them. Don't worry they are not forgotten.
Please let me know what you think? My other stories will be updated daily now...
See you soon!