The Skills of a Healer
Standard disclaimer: If I owned elf and ranger, my life would be a mess. So I'll leave them with Tolkien Estate, New Line Cinema respectively
Beta: charli800, best beta in Middle-earth
Author's notes: Done! Done! Done! This is the last chapter and I thank you people for your patience and encouraging words, even if I started hating this fic some months ago.
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, father, warrior and healer, woke before dawn. Quietly, he left his bed and walked to the window to greet the new day. The valley lay asleep still; the songs of early birds were yet full of joy and peace. Silver mist hung heavily between pine trees and rooftops. There was plenty of time still before he had to face his task. His task. He shook his head. To speak of Legolas Thranduilion as a task made the whole procedure sound methodical, almost cynical, he thought. Young Thranduilion was of elven kind and the interest in his wellbeing should come from the heart, and from the heart alone. It shouldn't be called a simple "task". He would have to use his skills in all their completeness, without the heaviness he felt. And yet he pondered and dwelt needlessly upon the words spoken centuries ago in Vinyamar, spoken to his great-grandfather Turgon, king of the Hidden City of Gondolin: "Love not too well the work of thy hands and devices of thy heart."
The dark haired half-elf inhaled deeply. Now was not the time to despair. He was wise and far-seeing, but could not in any case foresee the outcome of this day's events. Too troubled was his healer's mind. Alas! He had enough hope and skill left inside his heart, so he felt.
Thus he went to his personal baths to prepare himself once more. His hands would have to be very clean, so he would not cause any germs to enter the young elf's bloodstream while working on him. He carefully dressed in a white robe and tunic, now looking the classical healer. He would not have tarried upon such a garment hitherto, but today, it would be necessary.
As Anor's rays grew stronger and the bird's songs got louder, he wanted to take a brief look upon his patient.
They would take Legolas to an already well prepared room to perform the procedure. He could not attend to him while lying in bed, because there Elrond would have to kneel down to set his fracture. Silently, he opened the door to Legolas room and smiled at the sight. The elf still slept, his fair face relaxed and calm. His healthy hand lay in the lap of Elrond's foster son. Estel sat in a chair next to the bed, crumpled, but sleeping, too.
'It is like walking to my own execution,' Legolas thought wearily when Estel and the twins lead him to the prepared chamber one and a half hours later. He wore nothing other than short trousers; the bandages on his shoulder had been removed earlier and he caught a glimpse of the big blue-yellow bruise there and the red hot skin surrounding it. His arm was resting comfortably in a sling.
"How do you feel, my friend?" Estel asked as they reached the wooden door to a room at the south wing of the Healing Ward.
"I am fine." Legolas gave his usual answer as they went inside.
Bright sunlight flooded through the room and Legolas looked around. He saw Lord Elrond standing next to the big window dressed in white robes, but he also spotted something like a big table, also covered with white sheets. No bed. The young Sinda swallowed hard.
"Sit up here, Legolas. We chose this table instead of a bed so Ada would have proper access to your shoulder while he's standing," Elladan explained and lead him up to it. Legolas had to get on his tiptoes to reach the table and once more let his gaze wander around. Next to him, he saw another piece of furniture, like a small side table, with lots of tools and items on it: bandages and gauze, various knives, dangerously sharp, scary wound retractors and, in a small bowl, the delicate splints to fix his bone.
Legolas closed his eyes. He was....frightened. Aye. Even if that was an embarrassment to an elven warrior. He tried to compose himself, yet, pray tell-what if Lord Elrond would not be able to heal him? What if Middle-earth's best healer was to fail? He would be of no use as an archer ever again. He loved his bow, the most elegant weapon a warrior could think of.
"Fear not, for I am with you," suddenly, Estel was beside him, whispering into his ear and touching Legolas' left cheek to comfort him. Then he started to bind the archer's plaits and braids together. Legolas felt his heart hammer against his chest when Lord Elrond made his way to him, in his hand a cup filled with a dark green liquid.
"Are you ready, child?" he asked softly and Legolas nodded, his heart in his throat.
"You will feel no pain and experience a very deep, dreamless sleep. This is the strongest sleeping potion I can offer. You may be nauseated later, when you wake up, but that is of lesser importance. I want you to trust me, Legolas. Can you do that?" The intense grey eyes of the healer met confused sea blue ones.
"I trust you," Legolas almost whispered and he sipped at the bitter liquid. He swallowed slowly, almost reluctantly and handed the empty cup to Elrohir.
"You should lie down now, Legolas," Elladan said and helped the archer to lift his long legs onto the table. Elrohir picked a white blanket from the cupboard and laid it over Legolas, stopping at his hips.
"I am not yet tired," Legolas announced and held back a yawn. His eyes glazed over with a strange glitter, but he was still awake. "Sorry, young one, I forgot to tell you that this drug will need a little time to enter your bloodstream," Elrond almost sounded amused.
" 'Tis no problem," the blond elf retorted tiredly and his left hand grabbed Estel's sleeve.
"....you with me?" he asked groggily and Estel took the archer's hand into his own. "I am here, Legolas. Now sleep, mellon, close your eyes."
"It feels so strange. You all look funny," Legolas mumbled and slowly his eyes started to close.
"Estel...," he whispered and Estel lowered his head to understand what the archer was saying "next time we go for a ride, I choose not to break my arm. It hurts," Legolas finally said. Then the eyes of the wood elf closed, his body relaxed and his breathing became slower.
Elladan's long fingers searched for a pulse and he nodded. "Steady; his heart rate is all right, we can begin."
"I want all of you watch what I am doing here. You shall learn," Elrond said when he chose one of the sharp knives and without hesitation made a long incision on the archer's pale skin. Bright red blood started to seep out of the wound and Estel was there with long white cotton strips to absorb it. But it also dripped on the white sheets below the elf's sleeping figure. Elrond widened the cut with care: he did not want to cut into the nerve plexus right in front of the joint where all the nerves met, leading to the arm and the fingers.
"You see, there is a lot of swollen muscular pressure on this neural spot, " Elrond said and the three younger healers stuck their heads over his shoulder to take a closer look.
Elrond's skilled fingers worked almost magically, Estel thought. It took him a shorter time the three of them had anticipated to finally cut open the joint's capsule and reach the broken bones. Estel's eyes widened at the amount of damage they suddenly faced and even the elven lord had to grit his teeth. The entire humerus head was in pieces right now, after being re-fractured.
"It will take some time to put it back together," Elrond said simply. He watched Elladan, holding the wound retractors, give a small nod.
The dark-haired Halfelf worked efficiently but quickly, too. He took a small hammer and forced the splints through bigger bone pieces of the original humerus head to put them together with no space between them. Smaller callus pieces with no use, he removed from the area. The healer put this bone-waste into a small bowl Estel held next to him. When he was done, his fingers lingered around the now roundly formed joint again and found no more bone fragments. Estel, Elladan and Elrohir, who had taken over holding the retractors some time ago, watched in amazement.
"All done," the elven lord finally announced, smiling.
"Who wants to do the re-stitching? And remember, there are some ligaments which have to be stitched to muscles as well, I suppose all of you know the anatomy?"
"I shall do it, Ada," Elrohir said, already washing his hands in a bowl of alcohol and water.
It took him some time to re-stitch the ligaments to where they belonged, with a thread that would dissolve itself during the next weeks. Then he made his way back, through muscles and skin, back to the surface, always stitching and pulling the thread through the archer's flesh. When the younger twin was done, four splints could be seen above the joint. In the meantime, Estel took a wet cloth to get rid of the sweat on Legolas' forehead.
"Well done. When we take out the splints, the big cut will heal almost without a mark. For normally, as you well know, the Firstborn do not scar," Elrond added.
Elladan and Elrohir started to bandage the wound without any herbs on it.
"Herbs would not do any good on this tender wound, those splints sticking out and all," the older twin said, now checking on their patient.
Legolas lay perfectly still, as if he were in another time, place and world. Only his slowly rising chest revealed that he was still with them in the chamber. Outside, the rising of Anor showed the time of day: It was around late morning right now, which meant they had been working for more than four hours.
"His heartbeat is very slow, indicating that the sleeping draught has not yet left his body. And it will not be easy on him to wake up. Most likely, he will be nauseated," Elrond said. He still stood by Legolas's side and his long fingers found their way to the sleeping ellon's forehead. The Lord of Imladris closed his eyes and gave freely all he had to offer; since not only his hands were supposed to heal but his healer's mind also. He stood tall, concentrating, then withdraw in an almost unseen motion – knowing the young one would now heal, given time.
"Please take him to his bed in his own healing room, for I do not wish him to wake up in here," the healer added and Elladan slowly put his hands under Legolas' knees and on his healthy shoulder to carry the still sleeping archer to his room. Elrond did not need to say it, but the three of them knew that Legolas should not be on his own until he was fully awake once more. The elven lord and healer watched them leave when Estel turned around to have a last look at the former white sheets, now full of dark red blood. Legolas' blood.
When Legolas opened his eyes again, Anor's bright rays were streaming in through the south window, bathing the room in a cheerful afternoon glow. The elf lay quietly, moving his gaze slowly around the chamber, inhaling the crisp spring air. The bright light hurt his eyes and he felt ill, nauseated, simply not well. Consciousness seemed to play with him: it tricked him and fled away every time he tried to focus his eyes sharply. He managed to do so for mere seconds, then sleep came and claimed him again. Somewhere in his body, he felt things which had not been there before. He did not know how long it took him to finally open his eyes, but it was already dark outside the room and he heard the call of a lonely owl.
Aragorn's voice was low, next to him, and Legolas tried to concentrate on his friend. It was just then he felt his stomach's rebellion.
"Sick," he managed to mumble and suddenly Elrohir was at his side, holding a bowl .
"Take care and help him, Estel, we do not want to hurt his shoulder any more," Elladan mumbled and Estel was right there to sit up the retching elf. He held the blonde hair out of the way and whispered soothing words in Sindarin to distract Legolas from the pain and the always miserable feeling that came with throwing up. Because of his still empty stomach, the elf only brought up a small amount of liquid. Legolas did not say a word, but he allowed Estel to lay him down again, exhausted and with a few tears on his face. The ranger gently wiped them away with a cool cloth.
"This will go away, Legolas, vomiting is a common side effect of this drug," he said.
The elf closed his eyes again.
"How....long?" he whispered his question.
"A few hours. It is evening now," Elladan answered and brought a new bowl. Just in case.........
"Did it...did it...work?" Legolas asked tiredly. Estel felt the now warm fingers of the archer's right hand, blood streaming through them again.
"Aye, my friend, it did. Sleep a little more," he said and Legolas closed his eyes and fled from the already newly forming nausea, the pure and sweet flavors of fennel, purple coneflower and mountain arnica in the room lulling him to sleep again.
His next awakening was with a grumbling stomach. The ill feeling had gone and he felt hungry, but first of all, very, very thirsty.
"You are some warrior," Estel suddenly laughed, next to him and Legolas opened his eyes to see the reason: his left hand had closed around Estel's finger in sleep and he had his long legs stacked on his friends lap, only partly covered by the bedcovers. His injured right arm lay on top of a soft pillow and his hair had been unbraided again.
"How is the pain?" Estel asked, while his father entered the room.
"Bearable," Legolas said and inhaled deeply, only to moan aloud.
"Bearable only if you do not move, I suppose," Elrond chuckled and stepped closer: "I brought you some water."
Estel helped Legolas to sit up and the archer eagerly reached for the glass. One seemed barely enough. He would have emptied a whole bottle or at least two more had Elrond not stopped him once he finished the first one: "Enough now, young one. You should also drink this, a pain-relieving herbal tea, and after that, you can have breakfast."
"Breakfast?" Legolas asked and raised big, blue eyes.
"It is the next day, my friend. I told you this sleeping draught would be a powerful one," Estel grimaced.
"If it is breakfast, then I have a wish. I am ill so I think the cooks would do me a little favor?" the elf asked sheepishly.
"I already know what is going to come...," Estel mumbled.
"Strawberry pastries, " Legolas said happily. "What else?"
Lord Elrond left the room, laughing, then turned around: "Estel, get some sleep. I shall send the twins to keep Legolas company with his....umh...breakfast. And, Legolas, I am sorry to say: No pastries today but oatmeal. A lot easier on your stomach." Suddenly, the ranger felt tired from watching over his friend, but he did not want to leave, either.
"Just go," Legolas grinned. "I will not be sick again," he promised, while Estel stood up, in dire need of his own bed.
It was already evening, when Estel returned to Legolas' side. He had slept for about ten hours without even moving a toe, his own tiredness getting the better of him. Legolas was awake, when Estel entered the room. The elf's face was still pale and he had not touched his dinner yet, but he smiled happily at his friend's appearance.
"How are you feeling, Legolas?" Estel asked and pulled a chair next to his friend's bed.
"Your father said I am as well as can be expected, for he told me I must have lost quite an amount of blood," Legolas slowly answered. He sounded tired, but smiled.
Estel returned the smile, his heart laughing at the musical quality Legolas' voice again had, even if it sounded worn and tired.
"Would you mind my company?" he asked.
Now Legolas nearly laughed: "Estel, I have never minded your company. I do believe, more often than not, I would seek you out among the trees." Another wistful look crossed the fair features and Estel resisted the urge to reach out and wrap the Elf in his arms, knowing that such an action would cause Legolas more pain.
"Before you ask, my friend: No, I am not hungry. I was in the morning and ate the oatmeal then, but I did not eat after that for I still feel a little nauseous, " Legolas told him. "I know, your father said I would have to eat to regain some strength. So I promised to eat more tomorrow."
Only moments later, Elrond and the twins entered the room.
"Not hungry, Legolas?" The elven lord asked, but the younger elf again shook his head.
"Well then. You will have to eat in the morn. But I have come to start to exercise your shoulder," he simply said.
Legolas' eyes grew big at those words. And before he could say a word, Elrohir presented him a cup filled with his usual pain-killing tea.
"Worry not. It only contains your pain killer and a muscle relaxant, no sleeping herb, Legolas. Just drink it and I shall take a look at how your shoulder works," Elrond said.
Estel squeezed his friend's left hand and stood up to allow his father a little more space – and to help Legolas sit up in his bed. The elf gulped down his tea and tried to sit straight without showing how dizzy he felt. His shoulder hurt. But it only took minutes and he experienced the sensation of relaxing muscles.
"Sit behind him on the bed, Estel, I will move to the other side to take his arm," Elrond said and Legolas closed his eyes, afraid of the things up to come.
"Easy, relax, child. Let go of your fear," Elrond told him, while he loosened the thick bandages that were only slightly coloured with dark red blood.
"It looks good. The swelling and bruising have reduced. And now...just sit and let me do the work," Elrond asked, while he took Legolas' arm in his own. Legolas felt himself on the verge of panicking, but tried to remain calm, while Estel whispered soothing words into his ear. And then, he saw just how easily Lord Elrond moved his limb up and down, carefully and just a little bit, but he could feel how his shoulder came to life again. It did not hurt as much as he had thought or anticipated and Legolas was glad for that, a smile forming on his lips.
"Your shoulder is healing well, Legolas," Elrond commented.
"And if the elfling eats properly in the morning, we may let him out of bed," Elrohir added, smiling.
"Is that so?" Estel asked, surprised.
"Aye. Surgeries like this mayhap force the blood to build up clots. We can hinder that by sending the patients back on their feet again," Elladan reminded him and Legolas' smile grew even bigger.
"Am I allowed to visit Aranel and Aduial then?" the archer asked and Elrond laughed, too.
"Of course, young one. Tomorrow, with Estel's help, you can go out and take a look at how tall the filly is already."
"Dead center. No one could do better, Legolas." Estel stood behind his friend on the shooting range and directed the archer to lower his bow for a minute. Then he laid his fingers on Legolas' shoulder and easily massaged the muscles. Legolas just stood there, saying nothing. It was now about a week since Elrond had removed the four splints. And he was finally allowed to practice again. It was not easy drawing the string of his prized one hundred pounder bow back with his still aching, weakened shoulder, but he was working hard on it.
"You know that the muscles still need their exercise back, Legolas, do not push yourself too hard," Lord Elrond had warned him. Nonetheless, the blonde archer spent a great amount of time here with Estel, to regain his usual skills back, as fast as possible.
"Let me try again, Estel," Legolas begged. In those days, his will was strong again.
"You are one annoying Sinda.....and aye, before you even say it: I do know that you keep refering to yourself as a Silvan elf, my friend, even if your father is elsewhere entitled as one of the Sindar." Estel grinned and stepped back so Legolas could finally put an arrow on his bowstring again. Using a quiver would be out of question now: there was still too little strength within his arm. But Legolas just wanted to practice shooting, that was enough.
"Estel! That is so unfair! I am a Woodland elf, though one of a royal and originally Sindarin line. If that suffices......." and with that, he raised his left arm, holding the bow. His body knew what was going to be needed: 'Draw, hold, inhale, exhale, don't breathe and then release' he told himself and his right arm, still feeling somewhat numb in a few places, provided the needed movements. The arrow flew true and hit the bull's eye once more. "Perfect as usual. I would still trust your aim with my life," Estel commented sheepishly. Legolas, too, grinned.
"Thanks to your father. And to you. I am glad I trusted you," the archer said, when they slowly walked over to the barns and stables.
Aduial and Aranel joyfully greeted them. Legolas always had a carrot or an apple with him to please the horses and Galad looked over her wooden paddock, too, as if she were begging to get a carrot herself.
"I was wondering........," Estel started when Legolas fed the horses and shot him a curious look.
".....just when we shall have another try? Rohan is still waiting and Aranel should grow up here in Imladris, so we will not have to worry for them both," he said and gladly saw the elf next to him smile widely.
"Anytime, Estel," Legolas answered, laughing silently, his sea blue eyes displaying his eagerness.
A/N: Thanks for staying with me, my friends. Until next time! I wish you all health and a happy new year.