Finally! It took me ages to finish this! My bad.
It the time some of you have been patiently waiting for. I present to you the last chapter of 'Tomorrow Once More'!!
Hit it, guys!
WARNING : Uhh…You may find what it is at the ending. I'm not telling now.
Previously, on Tomorrow Once More…
Amazed by the elf's tenacity to kill him, Aragorn could only stare and weep. "Ai, Legolas. You really want to kill me…brother?"
Legolas abruptly went still.
That's the word again!
Something flickered at the back of his mind. He tried to grasp it, so close and yet so far. Too complicate to understood, difficult to comprehend. A small fragment from the broken collage of his mind.
He saw it again—identical cut in the middle of his palm, on Aragorn's palm.
An oath taken, "You watch my back and I watch over yours."
Legolas flinched. Now where did that come from?
A bit uncertain, Legolas moved forward—and cried out in anguish when he stepped on his bad leg, the broken knee giving away. He crumpled to the floor with a grunt, and lay there motionless.
"Legolas?" Aragorn tentatively called.
No answer. As one, they all gathered to surround the fallen elf.
Worried, Thranduil touched his son's shoulder. "Legolas, please answer me. Can you hear us?"
Legolas' only response was a low, pitiful groan.
After exchanging nervous looks with his father, Keldarion gently turned his brother onto his back. Dismayed, they all gasped out loud at what they saw.
Buried in Legolas' belly was the dagger that he had tried to use on Aragorn.
Now, the story continues…
"Legolas…" Thranduil choked in horror as he stared at the dagger impaling his son's body. "Sweet Elbereth, what have I done?"
While the rest of the elves were equally dumbstruck, the healer in Aragorn quickly took control.
"No, my lord. This was not your doing," the man said, placing a reassuring hand on Thranduil's arm. "Legolas still lives. Let's get him to the bed, the better for us to treat his wound."
Together, they gently hoisted Legolas off the cold floor. He was completely unresponsive, except for the occasional moans of pain.
"What on earth…?" Keldarion and the others suddenly came to a halt, staring in bewilderment at the jumble of sketchbooks littering Legolas' bed.
Without a word, Aragorn gathered all the books and placed them on a small table. He then turned the covers and plumped up the pillows with the efficiency of a chamber maid. "All right, you may put him down now. Gently, please."
If the timing was not so dire, Keldarion and the Rivendell twins would have teased the King of Gondor about his unusual display of housekeeping. But Legolas suddenly whimpered from pain, and they quickly lay him down.
"Lord, it…hurts…" Legolas gasped as he lay prone in agony, clutching at his belly.
Sitting by Legolas' side, Thranduil reached up and brushed a golden lock off the prince's temple. "It's going to be all right, son. We will care for you."
Legolas' eyes fluttered open, his gaze unfocused, confused. "Father? What's…going on?"
The elven king had to swallow hard before he could answer. "I…I caused this. I…"
"It was an accident," Aragorn quickly intervened, bending over Legolas as he inspected his friend's injury. "All that can wait, but this…"
The man shook his head with a sigh. He caught the clean towel Keldarion tossed at him, and pressed it against the bleeding mass. "This must be treated immediately. We must take out the dagger to—"
Aragorn's voice broke off when Legolas abruptly struggled to rise.
"No, Legolas!" Thranduil cautioned, grabbing at his son to support his swaying body. "You can't move about. Your wound…"
Then they all watched, mesmerized, as Legolas reached out a trembling hand towards Aragorn. A bit anxious that his friend might attack him again, the man just stayed still, gazing steadily at the expressions of wonder and uncertainty on Legolas' wan face.
And no one was more surprised than Aragorn when the elf swiped his bloodied palm against the crown of the man's head—the same move both of them had made when they took oath as sworn brothers many years ago.
"Estel…" Legolas broke down, tears of remorse running down his cheeks.
"That's what I'm called," Aragorn nodded, "by my close friends and family."
The man then placed his hand on top of Legolas' head before he added, "By my brothers."
"Estel," the elf whimpered again, "Forgive me…brother…"
With that, Legolas' eyes rolled upwards and he collapsed in his father's arms.
"Legolas!" Thranduil and Keldarion simultaneously cried out as they tearfully embraced him, fearing the worst.
Aragorn quickly checked Legolas' vitals and breathed out a sigh of relief. "He still lives."
As if to remind himself, he announced it once more, louder this time, "He still lives. The blade must be out of him before we can close the wound to stop the bleeding."
Thranduil raised his eyes to glare at the man. "Then what the blazes are you waiting for? Get to it!"
Aragorn straightened, turning to face Elladan and Elrohir. "We have work to do."
The sons of Elrond nodded. They had inherited the art of healing from their father, so they knew what was to be done.
"Our healing pack is in our room," Elladan said, already rolling up his sleeves to get down to business.
"I'll go get it," Elrohir volunteered. He paused to lay a hand on Legolas' chest, softly saying, "Don't go anywhere till I come back, you thickheaded elfling."
"I'll get the servants to bring in some hot water and more towels," Keldarion said next, relinquishing his brother fully into Thranduil's embrace. Wiping the moisture off his face, he walked with Elrohir to the door, where they met Gallard standing guard there still.
Understandably, the draq looked mighty stricken. "Is he…is he going to be alright?"
"That's what we want to make sure of," Elrohir grimly responded and pulled the door open. Too late he realized that the ladies were still out there, trying to find their way in. The elf was suddenly bombarded with a barrage of questions, followed by jostling female bodies.
"What happened, Ro?"
"Is everyone all right?"
"Move out of my way, you oaf!"
"Hey, ladies! Stop trampling me!" This last bit came from Gimli. The dwarf was lying sprawled on the floor, struggling to get back to his feet. "You are all harridans! Harridans, I tell you!"
Gallard almost laughed. Almost. "You all right, master dwarf? The ladies too hard for you too handle?"
"Stand in my shoes and you'll know what it actually feels like," Gimli grumbled as he brushed off the dust off his tunic. He paled when he saw Legolas. "Blimey. This is a lot worse than I thought. Is he dead?"
"Not if we can help it," Elrohir said and hurried away.
Keldarion, meanwhile, had pulled his wife aside. "Legolas is badly hurt," he told her worriedly, "I'm going to ask the servants for a supply of…"
"No, let me," Aislinn hastily interrupted. She could see how deeply troubled her husband was, and she wanted to help ease his pain in any way that she could. "You should stay with your brother. Give him some of your strength. Just tell me what you need."
Keldarion then told her what they required to treat Legolas' injuries.
"I'll handle it," she promised and gave him a peck on the cheek. Before she went off, she added, "Be strong, my love."
When Keldarion returned to Legolas' bed, he was dismayed to see the other two ladies already clinging to their respective husband, weeping.
Arwen was checking Aragorn all over, exclaiming with distress to see the cuts and scrapes he had suffered at Legolas' hand. And Narasene—the ever gentle but strong Narasene—had completely broken into pieces. She was sobbing uncontrollably against Legolas, horrified to see the dagger still buried in her husband's belly. Thranduil did everything he could to calm her, but obviously not doing a good job of it because the usually formidable elven king looked as if he was about to lose it himself.
Keldarion exchanged knowing glances with Elladan before they quickly worked to put some order on the situation.
Gently, Elladan pried his sister's hold on Aragorn. "I'm sorry, my dear, but you have to let Estel go. Legolas needs him now."
Arwen blinked away her tears and slowly began to pull herself together. "But Estel is injured himself."
"These are just flesh wounds, nothing serious. I've had much worse, remember?" Aragorn smiled to reassure his wife. "Legolas truly requires my attention."
Still Arwen looked skeptical, but then she saw how Keldarion and Thranduil were having a tough time prying the nearly hysterical Narasene from Legolas' side.
"You are right. My being here and distracting you is not helping any. But I can help take care of Narasene," said Arwen. The Gondor queen then went to her best friend, enveloped the crying lady in her arms and gently tugged her away from the bed. "Nara, your sons need you right now."
"Legolas…" Narasene whimpered as she was led away.
"He is in good hands," Arwen was heard comforting her as they went out the door. "But your twin boys need to know what has happened to their father and you should be the one to tell them."
By the time Elrohir returned to the room with the healing pack under one arm, followed by the servants with supplies of fresh towels and warm water, Aragorn was already gripping the hilt of the cursed dagger, about to start the agonizing process of withdrawing the blade out of Legolas' body. Thranduil and Keldarion stood next to each other in the background, their eyes fixed on the whole procedure.
Pressing a cloth pad against the wound, Elladan said calmly, "One clean steady pull, Estel."
Aragorn grimly nodded and did exactly that.
Hours later, Aragorn finally straightened, kneading his back with a low groan. Next to him, Elladan and Elrohir were tidying up their healing kit and gathering the blood drenched towels.
Thranduil instantly came from his seat in a far corner of the room and advanced towards them. "Well? Is it done? How is he?"
The Rivendell twins paused what they were doing, while Aragorn hesitated—mixed reactions plastered all over three faces.
Keldarion came in from the balcony. Unable to stand looking at all the blood leaking out of his brother, the elder prince had rushed outside to steady his already rattled nerves—and pray. He had never prayed that hard in all his life. But looking at the peculiar expressions of his friends, Keldarion realized he had not prayed hard enough.
Or that his prayers were already too late.
"Is Legolas going to be all right?" he softly asked, staring not at Aragorn or the twins but at his unconscious brother, lying so still and looking so small in that huge bed.
Elladan, the stronger of the brothers, took the liberty of responding. Placing a hand on Keldarion's shoulder, he solemnly said, "We've done all we can."
Naturally, Thranduil didn't like that answer. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"He has lost too much blood," Aragorn then explained, "The blade cut through an artery. We managed to sew it shut, but there's also the issue concerning the spleen..."
"But he no longer has a spleen," Keldarion protested.
"Exactly," Aragorn nodded, recalling the surgery he had done to remove his friend's ruptured spleen last year. In an attempt to save the man's abducted son, Eldarion, Legolas had been captured and cruelly tortured by Movrak, a Haradrim merchant, resulting in that terrible injury.
"Without the spleen," Aragorn continued, "Legolas' immune system is completely vulnerable. With the wound he has now, he is facing the danger of infection. And if infection sets in, I'm not sure he can recover."
Thranduil's eyes glinted with equaled despair and anger. "Are you saying my son has no chance of recovery?"
Aragorn sighed. "I'm saying 'if', my lord. If infection sets in."
"And yet, in most cases, the probability for infection with the kind of injury to the belly is pretty high," Elrohir stated, and then he turned sheepish. "Uh…I mean…err…sorry."
"We will make sure that won't happen," Elladan said, throwing a glare at his twin. "We will keep a close watch on Legolas."
"You mean, other than that there's nothing more you can do." Thranduil's voice was bleak, as if he was accepting defeat. Keldarion reached over and gave his father's arm a reassuring grip.
Aragorn and his brothers exchanged uneasy looks. After a while, they turned back to the royalties but said nothing.
With a weak nod, Thranduil went to sit by the bed and gazed sadly at Legolas. "Well, then. I thank you for your effort. But please leave. I want to be alone with my son."
Aragorn and his brothers understood. They didn't need to see the elven king's face. The sound of his voice was enough to tell them of the deep guilt Thranduil felt for causing hurt to his son, unintentionally though it was.
"We will come back later," Elladan quietly told Keldarion as they headed for the door. "Somebody needs to monitor Legolas' condition around the clock."
"All right. But I take the first watch and it starts now," Keldarion responded. He looked at Aragorn. "And you need to catch some rest, Estel. Look at those cuts and bruises. Legolas bashed you up good, didn't he?"
The man emitted a small grin. "Only because I let him."
And then his smile faltered, his lips trembling as his eyes pooled with tears. "He remembers me. He calls me Estel. He remembers me and now he is…he is…Ai Valar! I wish I could do more for him. I wish I could do more…"
Seeing that Aragorn was quickly losing the reins on his emotion, Elrohir wrapped an arm around the man's quaking shoulders and began to steer him away. They met the anxious looking Gimli and Gallard walking to and fro in the hallway, and told them in the shortest words possible of Legolas' condition before they resumed walking.
Gimli wanted to stay by Legolas' bed, but seeing the forlorn Thranduil already sitting there caused the dwarf to turn back to the draq. "I need a drink. You need a drink? Of course, you do. Come with me, bird. Let's go stuff our faces."
Gallard gave Keldarion's shoulder a sympathetic pat and went to follow Gimli. The draq didn't need a drink, but he surely needed to give company to a particular dwarf who looked dangerously close to weeping.
A moment later, Elladan also left after giving some instructions to Keldarion on what signs to look for in Legolas' deteriorating condition. "Call us immediately if anything changes," he said, "Don't wait."
Keldarion shut the door and returned to Legolas' bed. "Father?"
His father didn't even look up at his approach, but the elven king did respond, "Do you think his time is finally overdue?"
That made Keldarion stop. Had his father given up hope already?
"No," the prince replied with full conviction. "Legolas still has at least one more millennia on his life, mark my words."
Thranduil looked up then with a sad smile. "You seem so very sure."
"I am sure. My brother is a stubborn block, isn't he? He never surrenders. He never quits. He always bounces back after he goes down. He always recovers after he gets hurt. He always returns when we think he…he is gone for gg…good." Keldarion's voice finally cracked. "He always returns…"
Wordlessly, Thranduil rose and went to hug his eldest son.
"He is not dying," Keldarion adamantly said, even though he realized the extent of his brother's grave condition. "He will get better."
"I agree." Thranduil nodded, gathered his composure and pulled away from the embrace. "Thank you for reminding me."
Keldarion sniffed and escaped from his father's gaze, willing his tears not to spill over. He paused when he noticed the stack of sketchbooks atop the small table. Curious, he picked one up and turned the pages. After a while, his face drained of all colors.
"What the bloody heck is this?" he exclaimed with a gasp, a look of utter horror conquering his face.
"Oh, I should've gotten rid of them years ago," Thranduil responded. He was seated by Legolas' side once more.
"What?" Keldarion was understandably incredulous. "You mean you knew? You knew about all these…these…appalling sketches?"
"Of course, I knew. He is my son. And there's nothing about either of you I don't know," Thranduil said, straightening the coverlet that covered Legolas to his waist. "I even know where you hide that portrait Legolas did of you naked."
Keldarion choked, his eyes bulging. His mouth opened and closed repeatedly, but he was unable to make a quick rejoinder.
"Father, don't change the subject," he finally managed to snap. "We are not talking about that bloody portrait. We are talking about these portraits, a whole bunch of them in my hands. What are we to do about them?"
"Put them back on top of that ledge, where they belong," Thranduil easily replied.
That was not what Keldarion wanted to hear. "Seriously?"
"Seriously." Thranduil nodded. "Frankly speaking, I want to burn them—the hideous ones, I mean. But they belong to Legolas. It's like his journal, didn't you realize? It's up to him what he wants to do with them."
Although he didn't fully agree, Keldarion knew that his father spoke the truth. "I believe this is why he went berserk earlier. He saw the sketches, put two and two together and came up with ten! Stupid bloody idiot."
"Yes, he got the wrong conclusions," the king confirmed. He ran a loving hand down Legolas' cool face. "The boy can be terribly dense some times."
"Make that all the time," Keldarion scoffed. He gathered the sketch books in one arm, leaped atop a dresser and climbed over to the ledge he knew to be Legolas' favorite brooding spot. Reluctantly, Keldarion pushed the books to very farthest corner, stared at them for one very last time before climbing back down.
As he had promised Elladan, Keldarion took the first watch, but his father refused to leave his ailing son's side. So they sat silently together on either side of Legolas, watching him breathe what could be his last, desperately seeking for any signs of recovery, and hoping not to see any symptoms of infection.
Later, at midnight, Narasene entered the room—cradling a dozing son on each arm.
"I can't stay away," she claimed as she came near her husband's bed. "I just can't, and please don't make me."
"Oh, Nara. Of course we won't make you stay away. How can we?" Thranduil rose and took little Hadrian from her before giving her a hug. "You deserve to sit with him just as much as we do."
Keldarion also stood, pulling Linden into his arms. "He will want to see your face first when he wakes up."
Narasene sat down on the bed to peer anxiously at Legolas' pale countenance. "He has not awakened? But Aragorn said they managed to stop the bleeding."
"They did, but…" Looking briefly at Thranduil for support, Keldarion grudgingly added, "Legolas is not out of the woods yet. He still needs to do a lot of recovering."
Tenderly, Narasene ran her fingers through Legolas' hair—combing it down back to order. "He was such an idiot, hurting Aragorn like that. But I love him just the same."
"Idiot? Make that a three-time stupid numbskull!" Thranduil then quickly looked down at the stirring elfling he cradled in his arms. "Oops. I forgot that innocent ears are listening."
Hadrian blinked groggily at his grandfather, nuzzled against the king's breast and promptly fell back to sleep. Thranduil's face softened. "Innocence. What a precious thing that is."
The door opened once more. This time Aislinn walked in, and she carried a tray of refreshments with her.
Still holding his nephew, Keldarion rushed over to her. "What are you doing, carrying heavy things around?"
"Oh, posh. I'm pregnant, not a weakling," Aislinn smirked, but she let her husband take the tray from her with his one free arm.
"Still, you need not do any strenuous work. Let the servants do it," Keldarion grumbled, placing the tray on the side table.
"Really, beloved, you worry too much." Shaking her head at him, Aislinn then turned to look on Legolas. "He still sleeps?"
Narasene just nodded, unable to say more due to the tightening in her throat.
Aislinn patted her shoulder. "That's a good sign. It's a healing sleep. He will be cranky when he wakes up, though, I think."
Straightening up, she turned to the king. "Would you like some tea, my lord?"
Without waiting his response, the woman poured him a cup and handed it over. When she faced her husband next, Keldarion spoke first, "No, I don't want any bloody tea. I want you. Come here."
He grabbed her hand and tugged her towards the love seat by the window. There, they sat cuddled together, cradling the sleeping Linden between them.
Not long after, Elladan and Elrohir appeared, thinking to take over Keldarion's shift of taking watch. But Keldarion or Thranduil had no intention to leave their posts at all, so the twins resumed by making a thorough checkup on their patient with the others watching like hawks over their shoulders.
When they were done, both Elladan and Elrohir exchanged looks only they understood before retreating into a corner to have some private discussions.
Moments afterward, the door opened and in walked Aragorn, hand-in-hand with Arwen. The man's looks had improved now that he had treated his own cuts and bruises, but he still appeared wan and a bit strained. He stopped by Legolas' bed, frowned to see no improvement in his friend's condition, and then went to join his brothers.
The door opened.
"Hey. How's it going?" Gallard said, looking sheepish. "I can't sleep. Might as well be here keeping you all company."
Behind him, Gimli stumbled in, looking slightly tipsy from all the wine he had drank that night. "I need to look at that crazy elf. He is still alive, isn't he?"
The dwarf nearly toppled over when he bent to peer at Legolas, but Thranduil managed to grab the back of his tunic just in time.
"You are drunk!" the elven king growled, pushing the dwarf away in disgust.
"Am not!" Gimli retorted and sat down abruptly on the floor when the room started spinning on him. "Dwarves never get drunk."
"Stupid braggart," Thranduil snapped.
"I could say the same about you too, my lord," said the dwarf, "To think that you…"
"Hush, please," Narasene interrupted, but she was gazing intently at her husband. "I think Legolas is coming around now."
That got everyone's attention and they all swarmed the bed, staring anxiously at Legolas whose eyes finally fluttered open.
Legolas couldn't recall how many times he had awakened that way—looking up at so many faces peering down at him. From their grim expression, he had no trouble deducing that this time might also be the last.
"Legolas? Darling?" Narasene was stroking his head. "Can you hear me, sweetheart?"
He feebly raised one hand to clutch hers. "I hear you…just fine…Nara…"
"Oh, thank the stars," Thranduil gushed in relief, squeezing Legolas' other hand. "We have been so worried, boy. About time you rejoined the world."
Legolas didn't respond to that. He knew right away that something was not fully right with his body. The fear he felt then was immense. What if this was only a ruse, for him to wake up briefly only to fall back to oblivion, never to wake up again?
"Legolas?" Keldarion's gentle voice pulled him back to awareness. "We are here. We are all here. Don't worry a thing. Just rest and get better."
"You will be fine, son," Thranduil added, "Elladan and Elrohir have checked you over. And so did Aragorn. They will tell us if anything's out of the ordinary."
Elladan and his brothers stirred with discomfort. "Then we're sorry to be the bearer of bad news, my lord," the eldest twin said with a somber tone, "Because something is out of the ordinary."
Thranduil's expression instantly darkened. "Now you decide to tell us?"
"Father." Legolas tugged at the king's hand. "It's all right. Let him…explain."
With an apologetic glance at Legolas, Elladan took a deep breath and faced the others before saying, "We've taken the necessary steps while inspecting the wound. We found out that…"
Elladan suddenly lost courage, so Elrohir quickly came to his twin's aid, "Internal bleeding has started anew, and there are some tell-tale signs that infection has set in. Without his spleen, Legolas has no defense whatsoever. "
In other words, Legolas was dying right before their very eyes.
To everyone present, it was as if they were being hit by a splash of cold water in the face—shocking and confounding. For a long painful moment, silence reigned.
As his family and friends stared at one another with growing dismay, a sense of calm strangely came over Legolas. "I expected as much," he said with a sad smile. "I guess I've…finally run out of luck. Maybe it's time I fade away."
"Stop saying that," his father admonished. "You cannot be sure…"
"Please, father, let me finish," said Legolas imploringly. "I know this is hard, but it must be spoken. I feel the life of me…slowly drifting away, even as I speak. I may not have the chance...or time…after this."
The elf looked directly at Aragorn. "Estel. It's all…so fuzzy, but I remember you now. We are blood brothers."
The man came near to grasp his friend's forearm. "Forgive me for causing all this."
"No, Estel. It was all me." Legolas managed a weak chuckle. "I was being stupid. I'm sorry I tried to kill you."
Aragorn could hardly speak. The lump in his throat felt so huge. "Most people…would think it is a great honor…to die by your hands, my friend. Including me."
Legolas returned the man's grip as much as his strength would allow. "Ah, but then…you would be a too easy kill, brother," he teased.
That was the last straw. Aragorn's tears spilled over as he kissed Legolas's knuckles, and then he stumbled away towards the balcony, already weeping uncontrollably. Arwen hurried after her husband to give him comfort.
Elladan and Elrohir leaned down to squeeze Legolas' shoulders. "Prove us wrong," they simultaneously said. "Please, prove us wrong."
"I'll see what I can do," Legolas jokingly replied, even though tears were swimming in his eyes.
The twins moved aside for Gimli, but the dwarf simply glared.
"I'm not saying goodbye! Why should I? That crazy elf is not going anywhere!" he growled. He turned to Gallard, "Come on, draq. Let's go play a game of cards while we wait for him gather his senses."
With a slight shrug, Gallard grinned sadly as he patted Legolas' knee. "I'll look after the crazy dwarf."
Legolas watched with sorrow as Gallard joined Gimli on the couch across the room. He knew that the dwarf was in denial, knew that Gimli was taking the news pretty hard, but Legolas just had no better words to say to appease his oldest and dearest friend.
"Don't expect to hear any goodbyes from me," Thranduil snarled. "You think I'm going to let you simply give up, just like that?"
Legolas' tears fell unchecked. As always, his father hid his fear with anger.
"Neither will I," said Keldarion, looking equally upset and having trouble not to cry. "I'm going to sit here by your feet to give them a hearty whack if you as much as show signs of...of d…d…dying."
Swallowing hard, Legolas seek the right words to say to the both of them. In the end, he only managed, "I love you too."
Thranduil had to clear his throat repeatedly before he could speak. "Likewise. Now I want you to just lay back and relax. You will wake up tomorrow morning, hale and restored."
"You truly believe…I will see another tomorrow?"
"Yes," both Keldarion and Thranduil replied, nodding their heads vigorously.
"So stop whining and go back to sleep," his father added, patting little Hadrian who started to stir awake in his arms.
Unable to make any appropriate response, Legolas looked to his other side—towards Narasene. She was silently weeping, but she mustered a smile for him, leaned down and kissed his lips passionately.
With her, no words were needed after all.
Not surprisingly, Hadrian and Linden decided to come awake at the same time, asking for their father. The twins struggled to get to him.
"All right, all right," said Thranduil as he put down his grandson. "Hold your horses, boy. And don't jostle your father. He is hurt."
"Hurt?" Linden also broke away from his uncle's hold to crawl up to Legolas' side. "You hurt bad, Dada?"
Legolas was able to put up a cheerful face for his sons. "Of course not. Dada is a super elf, remember?"
The twins innocently giggled. "Can we sleep with you, Dada? Can we? Please?"
"Oh. But, darlings, Dada needs to…"
"It's all right, Nara," Legolas said, already swiping the covers to let the twins snuggle in. He gathered the elflings to either side of him and hugged them close, half sobbing. "Sleep t…tight, boys. I…I love you…"
"Love you too, Dada." Hadrian and Linden each wrapped one arm around their father, linked their free hands on his chest and steadily drifted back to sleep.
Legolas closed his eyes, trying to stem the stubborn flow of tears. As someone tugged the blanket over him and his sons, questions swam in his mind.
Am I going to survive this night? Will I live another day? After I die, what becomes of my loved ones? Will they live on?
Legolas drifted into a coma not long afterwards.
It was to be the toughest vigil in history for Legolas' family and immediate friends, because they knew that only miracles would bring him back this time.
The sound of birds chirping pulled Legolas back to consciousness.
He eyes blinked, disoriented. Looking to his left, he found Narasene stretched out on her side on the same bed with him, with the twins.
He glanced to his right. Thranduil was nodding off in his huge seat.
When he looked straight ahead, he found Keldarion sitting with his back against one of the bedposts, Aislinn's head resting on his lap.
He raised his head a little and scanned the room. The rest of his friends were either lying or sitting in any available spaces they could find.
Gimli lay slumped on the couch, while Gallard was fully stretched several feet away on a mat right in front of the hearth. Arwen lay in Aragorn's arm on the love seat by the window. Elladan and Elrohir each took a chair near to the balcony door.
They were still asleep, his family and his friends.
And then he realized something else.
He was alive. He survived the night!
"Son? You're awake?"
Thranduil's voice was so soft it was almost a whisper, but Legolas heard it loud and clear. He smiled at his father. "It is morning."
"Yes, it's morning." The elven king numbly nodded, looking so shock and elated. "Looks like you'll see another tomorrow after all."
"Tomorrow once more," Legolas agreed. He promptly broke into tears and lunged into his father's arms. "There will be another tomorrow for me!"
Thranduil also cried, and laughed and then cried again, sobbing noisily as he crushed his son in his embrace. The sound woke everybody else at once.
"What? What? What's going on?" Keldarion jumped to his feet in great alarm. "Oh, no. Is he…?"
Thranduil pulled back so that Keldarion could see his brother giving him a teary grin. "Not yet, Kel. Not yet."
Keldarion shook his head with wonder. "Ai, brother. How many lives do you actually have?"
There was no answer for that, so Legolas simply reached over and hugged his brother. Next, he grabbed Narasene and kissed her—long and hard. By that time, everyone else had surrounded the bed, asking questions and growing increasingly excited by the minute.
"See? I told you he's not going anywhere!" Gimli enthused, causing the others to burst into laughter.
Surprisingly, Linden and Hadrian slept on peacefully despite the entire commotion.
In all the confusion, one of them suddenly noticed something very interesting.
"Legolas, how's your leg?" Thranduil asked, staring at the said leg.
"My leg? Uh…which one?"
"The one that I kicked last night, to keep you from getting to Aragorn."
Legolas' mouth dropped opened. "Whoa. That was you? You kicked me? I thought it was Kel or somebody else."
"I overreacted. Sorry for that."
"No, it's all right, father. If not for your actions, Aragorn might be dead already. I had totally lost my mind then. I didn't know what I was doing."
"Never mind that. But, truly, how is that leg? I broke it, didn't I?"
"Which one was it? The left one or the right? I don't feel any difference."
"I believe it was the left one," Elladan said, also getting mighty interested with this discussion. "I splint it up myself."
"Was it?" Legolas frowned, giving both legs some demonstrated movements. "But it feels…fine. Nope. No broken bones. It's completely healed. Here, see for yourself."
After removing the splint and giving a quick check, they knew that Legolas spoke the truth. His leg—both of them in fact—looked normal.
Something clicked in his mind as Legolas stared at his belly, at the bandage wrapped around his middle. Without a word, he hastily worked at the bindings and began to unwind the dressing.
"Mm…Legolas, do you think that's wise?" Keldarion asked worriedly.
"I just need to make sure," Legolas said. He pulled the final strands of the bandage away to gape at his wound.
Except that there was no more wound. Not even a scar. The skin on his belly was as before—smooth and perfect.
"That's impossible," Aragorn said out loud with a gasp.
"I know your healing skills are good, but that good?" Gallard spoke, looking highly impressed. "What potion did you give him?"
"Trust me. This is not our doing," Elladan said, shaking his head. "What we did was only to stop the bleeding. And no medicine whatsoever can heal a wound this fast. Not overnight."
"Besides, he was near death. We were certain he would die," said Elrohir, clearly dumbfounded. "We have no ability to do this. It must be Legolas himself. He must have done something."
"Me?" Legolas looked dazed. "But…but I don't know how this happened, I swear."
He froze suddenly. The sight of his sleeping sons had jerked his memory somewhat. "Wait. I had a dream just before I woke up. A very peculiar dream, about the twins."
"What about them?" asked Narasene, anxiously.
Legolas didn't answer. He was glancing, back and forth, at Linden and Hadrian snuggling against his sides. "Ai, Elbereth. Is this possible?"
"What are you saying?" Thranduil asked as he also peered at his grandsons.
"Manyan. That's the only explanation," Legolas said, tears spilling over his cheek once more, this time with mixed reactions. He didn't exactly know what he should feel for the new discovery. Joyful? Sad? Fear?
"One of my sons is a manyanhealer," he tearfully claimed, pulling both twins into his arms, "But which one?"
Thranduil made the decision for him. The king reached up and moved his fingers down the back of Hadrian's neck. He yelped audibly when he found what he had been looking for.
"He has it." Thranduil visibly trembled while saying this. "Hadrian has the stone of manya in his neck."
"So has Linden," announced Keldarion, going white in the face. He had done the same inspection on his other nephew and found the slight tiny bump there, on Linden's nape right under the child's dark hair. "Linden is a manyan too."
Legolas' entire body started shaking. "No. No, no, no. That can't be. Two manyans? But there can be only one!"
It was understandable that he was terribly scared. The last time a pair of twins were manyans, one of them had killed the other. That was why afterwards only one manyan existed at one time, to escape such tragic conflicts.
Legolas exchanged troubled gazes with his wife. "We've created a pair of manyan healers. What the blazes are we going to do?"
Biting her lips to stop herself from bawling uncontrollably, Narasene just shook her head and gathered her precious family into her arms.
As usual, whenever he was in any predicament, Legolas looked up to his father and brother for aid.
"Please. Please help me," he implored, "I honestly don't know what to do now."
"You don't have to do anything," Thranduil soothingly said. "I believe it's all going to be fine, Legolas. You'll see."
"But two manyans? It is not supposed to be that way."
"Maybe this time it is," Keldarion stated with encouraging smile. "Count your blessings, brother. You deserved it."
Legolas turned back to Narasene. His wife smiled back. "It's definitely a blessing, my love. Don't you agree?"
"Yes, but…" Still unsure of what this new outcome would entail or what his sons' future would bring, Legolas turned to face the others.
To his surprise, he came to realize that his memory was fully restored. His sons' doing, no doubt.
"I remember everything now," he said, smiling finally. "The year is 3021. I got hit by lightning while climbing down the redwood tree in the garden. It was your birthday, father."
"This is truly a blessing then," Thranduil exclaimed. "Your memory is back!"
"Oh, yes, it is. I remember everything now," Legolas grinned at his father. "I just wish I didn't remember crashing into your chamber that morning and interrupted your little extra curricular activities..."
Thranduil's face reddened.
The others looked on with bafflement when the elven king wordlessly raised his hand and smacked his younger son upside the head. Then, roaring with laughter, he crushed Legolas into his embrace. Also laughing—though he didn't fully understand what the head-smacking was all about just now—Keldarion joined in.
"Oh, goody! Group hug," Aislinn squealed, pushing under her husband's arm to get included.
For fear of breaking the bed, the rest stayed back but they recompensed by giving a merry applause. Gimli even went out the door and shouted, "Bring up the wine! The crazy elf lives on!"
The crazy elf lived on indeed.
It was a week later when another mishap struck Legolas.
He was sitting in his father's garden, sharpening his twin blades—all the while keeping a close watch on his twin sons who were playing among the flowers.
Linden jumped about to catch a butterfly, with Hadrian egging him on. As it flew higher and away, the boys quickly lost interest and started to hound something else. They saw a white rabbit hopping out of the vegetable patch, so of they went, sliding and tumbling after it.
Legolas laughed at their antics, but his laughter instantly turned into a yell of anguish as the whetstone he held slipped, causing the sharp edge of the blade to slide up his arm.
With a curse, Legolas dropped everything to clutch at the wound. Blood was already dripping from it to land on the grass at his feet.
"You clumsy clot!" he swore at himself, looking frantically around for something to bind the cut.
His sons came running then. "What happened, Dada?"
"Dada was careless, that's what happened," Legolas replied through gritted teeth. He was about to head back to the palace for treatment when he thought of something.
Crouching until he was eye level to his sons, Legolas asked, "Err…can either one of you help me here?"
Linden and Hadrian looked quizzically at each other, and then back at their father. "Help you how, Dada?"
"Heal me, like what you did to me last week. Remember? That night when I almost died?"
"But I didn't do it," said Linden with a shrug.
"So it was you, then," Legolas spoke to his other child.
Hadrian shook his head. "Not me either."
Legolas was thoroughly confused. If it were not his sons, then who did? But the twins were manyans.
Or weren't they?
I'm sure you all just 'love' the twist. He he he…
So what could this mean? The start of a new fic? Hmm. Maybe, maybe.
Before I sign off, I would like to say THANK YOU to all of you for reading, THANK YOU for never giving up on me, and THANK YOU for just being fanfic fans. You give aspiring writers like me the passion to continue on writing even though when it feels as if the world has come crashing down on you. You make me go on, guys.
And a special THANK YOU to my beta, Sara. Love you, girl. You've helped me a LOT! My English has vastly improved because of you! Hugs and kisses to you. Mmwuah!
Okay, guys. That's it for 'Tomorrow Once More'. Meet you all in another story.
Adromir has left the building!