Disclaimer: I don't own LOTR.
Summary: A sleepless night for Sam leads to an interesting conversation with Legolas as well as a new position for the hobbit. Frodo was not the first to speak of Samwise the Brave.
Just a simple encounter that could have happened sometime during the journey of the Fellowship.
Sam sighed, trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in despite his many bruises. The Fellowship had faced their first real battle today: a group of at least fifteen orcs. Although they had defeated the creatures without much trouble, Sam was sure they had all gained a few new scrapes. Thankfully, it seemed no one had sustained any more serious injury.
Since it had been getting dark anyway, Gandalf only made them walk to a safer area before allowing them to make camp. After a small meal spent mostly in silence, the elf – Legolas – disappeared into a tree. Aragorn had explained that he planned to scout the area from the trees, in case more orcs prowled close by. The others settled into sleep, save for the dwarf – Gimli – who took the first watch. Secretly, Sam wondered if that was such a good idea. Legolas had not returned, and he noticed that the elf and dwarf had a tense relationship, holding tightly to the grudges between their people.
After a few more minutes that seemed like hours, Sam decided a new approach to sleep might be worthwhile. He quietly got up, careful not to attract attention from Gimli, and grabbed his waterskin. There was a stream nearby, and a little water was sure to do him some good. Using all the stealth he had learned from years of being dragged on ridiculous little adventures by Merry and Pippin, he snuck into the woods. He would not be gone long; no need to worry anyone.
But once Sam got close enough to see the stream, he stopped and hid himself behind a tree. Someone else was already down there, a shadow against the water. He watched carefully, afraid any movement would attract attention from the creature he could not quite see. A breeze moved the clouds away from the moon, and a soft white light illuminated the figure. Sam held back a gasp; the creature was glowing in the light of the stars! Of course, then, this was no enemy to be wary of. The moon revealed that it was Legolas who knelt next to the stream, busy with something Sam could not see. Perhaps the elf had the same idea as the hobbit. Sam moved forward, and Legolas immediately looked up, a hand reaching for the knife lying on the bank next to him.
"Master hobbit! What are you doing up and about when the rest of our company rests?" asked the elf, relinquishing his hold on the weapon.
Sam shrugged, "I'm afraid I could not sleep. I was hopin' a drink of water might help, but my waterskin was empty. Did you find any orcs?"
Legolas laughed, a sound just as enchanting as that of the stream, "Nay, little one, I did not. We are safe for the night, and should not find trouble in the 'morrow, either."
The hobbit stayed several feet back from the edge of the river, entranced by his elven companion. "That's good. What a poor adventurer I turned out to be; one fight and I feel ready to run!"
Legolas shook his head, "Not at all, Sam; you were very brave today, and you were a great help to all of us. If I had faced such a force when I was at your level of experience, I would have fled. I have seen many hundreds of battles now and there are still times when I wish I could run. The important thing is that you stay despite your fear."
"Thank you, that does make me feel a little better about everything," said Sam.
"I am glad," Legolas smiled. "Now come forward, Samwise the Brave! There is plenty water here for both of us."
Sam blushed, but moved next to the elf. He could not help looking over his shoulder every few minutes to wonder at the glow coming from his companion's skin. It was then Sam realized that Legolas was not wearing a shirt. He looked to the water and saw that Legolas was washing it in the stream. "Did your shirt get dirty?"
Legolas seemed momentarily put off by the question, but quickly smiled and started to wring out the tunic. "Dirt I do not mind, no matter what our filthy ranger tells you, but I will not wear something that is covered in the black blood of orcs any longer than I must."
Sam looked down at his own clothes, relieved to see that he had not suffered the same atrocity. "I can understand that. Those are nasty creatures, and they smell awful!"
To the hobbit's delight, Legolas laughed again. "Yes, that is partially why I decided to wash away the blood. I can deal with smelling like a mortal for a few months, but I certainly do not want to smell like an orc!"
Sam smiled despite himself, "Now that isn't very nice, Mister Legolas. Mortals do not smell!"
Humor glinted in the elf's eyes like stars, "Perhaps not to a mortal. Nay, do not be offended Master hobbit, I merely jest. We all smell of the journey, but underneath it I can sense fresh dirt, beautiful flowers, and wonderful fruit. You must be a dedicated gardener."
"I do like to grow things," Sam admitted, "though I'm not accustomed to so much wild forest."
"You should come to the Mirkwood someday. Most of it is wild and more than I care to admit has fallen into darkness, but you would like the Queen's Gardens. When I was a child, they were a wonder to behold. They always belong to the Queen of the Mirkwood, to do with as she pleases." He frowned. "Unfortunately, they have grown as wild as the woods, and perhaps as dark. There is no queen to take care of them now."
Sam thought he would cry at the sight of a sad elf. He wondered what had happened to the queen, but did not want to make his new friend think on what must have been very painful memories. "I'm very sorry, Mister Legolas."
Legolas ruffled the hobbit's hair and stood up. "I thank you, little one, but it is well. It was a very long time ago even by elven reckoning, and it is high time we hired a new gardener." He turned away from Sam and went to hang his shirt on a low tree branch next to several other items the elf must have already washed.
Sam gasped, "Mister Legolas, you are hurt!" There was a deep gash in the elf's side, just below his ribs, that Sam had not been able to see as he had been positioned on the opposite side.
Legolas looked down, and Sam swore he heard him mutter something that would probably translate into something that could make even Merry and Pippin blush. "Oh, 'tis nothing, Samwise. I have been fighting spiders for so long that I forgot the way orcs fight, and my attention lapsed. I'm taking care of it now." He gestured to a wooden bowl on the floor filled with a pasty substance.
"But that looks awful, and it's been hours since we fought those orcs! Why didn't you say anything?" Sam shouted.
Legolas knelt in front of the hobbit so that they were eye to eye. "Sam, please do not shout. We may be safe for now, but it will not help if you call all of Mordor down upon us."
"Fine, but why didn't you tell anyone you were hurt?" Sam hissed, surprised at how worried he was about this near stranger.
"I did not wish to slow down our company. We needed to find safety before rest…or healing. Besides, you will find that Aragorn is rather stubborn when it comes to the duties of a healer. He would never let me hear the end of it, and he would probably force us to rest another day. I do not need that, and we cannot afford it," the elf explained. "To be honest, it is also rather embarrassing for an elf to be the first of our company injured beyond a scrape, and in the very first fight! That is something else Aragorn would never let go." Legolas' ears turned slightly pink, but the hobbit did not notice.
Sam crossed his arms, "Still, you should have said something. It won't be any help to us if you end up really hurting yourself, either."
"I suppose you are right," Legolas smiled, "but as I told you, I am taking care of it now." He sat down next to the river again, picked up the bowl, and coated two of his fingers in the paste. Then he gingerly began to spread the grey-green gunk over the gash. He hissed, but did not pause or flinch.
"Can I do anything?" asked Sam.
"No, though I appreciate the company." Legolas washed his fingers in the river and inspected the wound again, frowning. He spoke to himself in elvish before looking up at Sam. "On the other hand, perhaps you can help me. You know how to sew, do you not?"
"Yes, but what has that got to do with anything? I'm not all that good; I just know how to mend things," said Sam.
"Well mending is what I need. Could you find a needle and thread? Preferably a neutral color, but anything you have will be fine."
Sam stood up slowly. "Um, alright. I'll have to go back and get it."
"Try not to draw to much attention; I do not require more than one nursemaid," Legolas smirked. "If they catch you, please do not tell them anything of me, or Aragorn is sure to worry."
The hobbit nodded, "I can try." He ran off again, pausing momentarily to glance back. Legolas was continuing to apply the herb paste to his wound. Sam wondered if the errand was only meant to distract the hobbit, so he resolved to return as quickly as possible.
When he got nearer to their campsite, he slowed down and crept behind a tree. Gimli was still on watch, but Sam could tell that the dwarf was not entirely alert; the day's events had tired him as much as the rest of them. It gave Sam the opportunity to sneak behind Gimli and silently ruffle through his pack. Thankfully, it did not take him long to find his small sewing kit. He grabbed a needle and the first thread he could pull out before shutting his pack and stealing away from camp once more. Gimli turned once, but a squirrel was blamed for the noise.
When Sam got back to the stream, Legolas was washing more of the paste off his hands. Sam could see that he had covered the entire wound in the paste, which made it look even more ghastly. "What is that stuff?" he asked.
Legolas looked up, "A few different herbs mixed with water. Very useful for cleaning out cuts and warding off infection. It also numbs the pain."
"We use some things like that in the Shire, but I've never seen it all mixed together."
"It only works with certain herbs, or their individual effects will be diluted. All of these are from the Mirkwood, and while they grow freely around my home I have found them to be rare in many other places," he explained. "Was your mission successful?"
Sam pulled the needle and thread out of his pocket. "Yes."
Legolas raised an eyebrow toward the thread. "Green?"
Now that Sam looked at it closely, the elf was right. The hue proved to be a deep forest green. Sam apologized, "I thought it was black, and I just grabbed whatever I could. I thought it would be better to leave as soon as possible."
Legolas smiled, "You were right; even the dwarf would have noticed something eventually. I suppose it is appropriate; my name translated into your tongue means 'greenleaf.'" His smile changed into a thoughtful frown. "Are you very squeamish, Sam? Does blood bother you?"
Sam contemplated his answer for a moment. "It bothers me that you are hurt, sir, but other than that the sight of such a wound does not make me ill. Not anymore."
The elf nodded, "Good; I could do this myself, but I would much rather have the aid of another. My sewing skills leave something to be desired, and the placement of the wound would make it difficult for me."
"What do you mean?" asked Sam, wary of what he would receive as an answer.
Legolas took a breath, apparently trying to find a way to explain what he needed from the hobbit without frightening him. He decided to be straightforward. "I need you to sew the wound closed; it is clean now, and I wish for it to remain so. Besides, it would leave a terrible scar if I let it heal like this!" The last part was an obvious attempt to lighten the situation, but it did not phase the hobbit.
"What?! But Mister Legolas, I couldn't! I've never…I could never…I don't want to hurt you!" Sam backed away, his grip on the needle tightening. "I've never done anything like that before!"
"You will not hurt me, you will be saving me quite a bit of trouble. Master Samwise, you have been very brave on our journey thus far, and I would not ask this of you if I did not believe you were able to do it," said Legolas. He stood, but remained where he was next to the tree he had hung his tunic, cloak, and weapons on.
"But…but…" The hobbit moved forward again in spite of himself.
Legolas took Sam's hands and locked his eyes. "Sam, please. I need your help."
Sam took a deep breath. "Alright, I'll do my best."
Legolas smiled, "That is all I can ask. Would you prefer if I lay down?"
"You're the one who's hurt, do whatever makes you comfortable!" Sam exclaimed. Inwardly he groaned; had he really just agreed to give stitches to an elf?
"It would make me comfortable to make it easier for you. Truly, Sam, it will not hurt me very much; I know a bit about healing myself, and the herbs I have been using have already numbed my side."
Sam bit his lip. "Fine; lie down so I know you won't tear the stitches if you stretch out."
Legolas nodded and took his cloak from a tree branch, placing it on the dirt and then lying on top of it. He rolled onto his good side so that his hobbit healer could completely reach the gash. Meanwhile, Sam tried to prepare the needle. It took him several tries to thread the needle, and once he did he groaned. "I need to go back to camp again. I have to clean this, and that will require fire…they're sure to notice!"
Legolas shook his head, "No need, little one." He sat up again and reached for the bowl of paste he had been using on his side. "This will clean your needle as well as it cleaned my blood."
Still looking a bit suspicious, Sam took the paste and covered the thin bit of metal. When he was done, he took the opportunity to inspect the elf's wound. Legolas had been telling the truth; though deep, it was clean and certainly not life-threatening. Sam bit harder into his lip; what he was about to do might not hurt him now, but once the effect of the herbs wore off Legolas was sure to be in a great deal of pain. A hand reached up to grasp his arm. Sam looked down at his 'patient,' who was giving him a reassuring smile. "All is well, mellon-nin, and all will be well. Worry not; I am ready."
Sam released his lip and sucked in a deep breath, "Alright, if you are sure." Legolas released his arm and turned away again to watch the stream. Sam put the needle against the elf's pretty, smooth skin and, after a moment's hesitation, pushed it through. Legolas stiffened and Sam stopped moving. "Oh, I am sorry!"
Legolas shook his head, "I am in no pain. It is merely an uncomfortable feeling, like trying to sleep with a rock under your bed."
"You will tell me if it hurts, won't you?"
"Aye, I promise. But even if it does, you must not stop – do you promise?" Legolas asked, turning his head back to look at the hobbit.
Sam gulped, "Yes, I promise." Satisfied, the elf put his head back on the cloak. Once Legolas was settled again, Sam pushed the needle out on the other side of the wound and pulled gently until enough string was through. The rest of it was easier, and Sam tried to pretend he was sewing curtains and not skin. Legolas was obviously not comfortable, but Sam looked over at the elf's face occasionally, and he never seemed to be in any real pain. When Sam was done, he tied the string in expert knots; that was one thing he had always been good at. He checked over his work, gently prodding and pulling. Satisfied, he helped Legolas sit up.
The elf looked over the stitches briefly before smiling at his healer. "A fine job, Master Samwise, far better than I could ever have done. Hannon le, mellon-nin." He reached into his bag and pulled out a roll of bandages.
"That's thank you, right?" asked Sam, helping the elf to rip enough to dress the wound.
"Yes, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have made things far easier for me, though I request that you continue to keep my injury a secret," Legolas replied as he carefully put on a fresh tunic, easily covering the bandage.
"Only if you promise to let me check on it," said Sam.
"That seems fair enough, though I can assure you that it will be very nearly healed within two days. We elves heal much faster than most," he replied, replacing his cloak and weapons. Sam was surprised to see that the shirt was already dry enough for Legolas to put it in his bag. Then again, it was probably made by the elves, and Sam was sure quick drying was the least of the tunic's secrets. "Shall we return to camp now, Master Healer, before the dwarf attempts to count us?" asked Legolas.
"I guess we should…oh, wait! I need to get my water!" said Sam, heading back over to the stream where he had left the waterskin.
Legolas waited for Sam to fill it and take a drink before gesturing toward the soft orange glow farther into the woods. "You go first, and I will distract Gimli from your arrival." He reached for a tree branch and started to hoist himself into the nearest tree.
"Wait!" Sam called, grabbing the elf's cloak to keep him on the ground. "Mister Legolas, you should not be climbing trees like that! You'll hurt yourself!"
Legolas laughed, "It is alright; I have been climbing trees since I was naught but an elfling, and that was a very long time ago. I did this once when my arm was broken – though I would appreciate, again, if you did not remind Aragorn of that incident. I trust these trees; they have not been tainted by the darkness around them. They will carry me safely."
Sam was hesitant to accept what would be wildly tall tales from anyone but an elf. "Very well, but if you do not come back within ten minutes of me I will wake Aragorn and tell him you are hurt."
Legolas grimaced, "You are a harsh nurse, Master Samwise. I will do as you say, though I was unaware of how manipulative hobbits could be."
Sam blushed, "I just want to make sure everyone is safe."
Legolas ruffled the hobbit's hair, "I know. Now, I swear to be there within ten minutes, so you had best be back within that time frame as well!" The elf disappeared into the leafy branches, and Sam swore he could hear a soft laughter from above.
"Hey! No fair!" he cried, running back to the camp.
True to his word, the elf appeared just as Sam entered the camp, effectively distracting Gimli by jumping out of the tree directly in front of the dwarf. Sam snickered to himself as he lay in his bedroll, feigning sleep as the elf and dwarf bantered. Finally it grew quiet, and Sam opened one eye to look around. Gimli was grumbling at his watch station, now fully awake, and Legolas was lying on the edge of Sam's view, lying with his eyes staring up at the stars in the elvish sleep that had frightened the hobbits (and Boromir, though the man refused to admit it) on their first night as a Fellowship. Resolved to force the elf to allow him to look at the wound again before the end of the week, he rolled over and finally fell asleep.