Disclaimer: I own nothing Tolkien created.

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Summary: After receiving a cryptic message from Mirkwood, Lord Elrond hurries to the aid of the realm's troubled Crown Prince and discovers that things now are so very different for both of them.

Warning: This story is about a romantic relationship between the two main characters – Elrond and Legolas. It concentrates almost solely on the friendship and comfort side of the relationship and there are no explicit scenes or anything that could really be described as slash. However, if you really don't like that kind of thing then please don't read.

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As You Were

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Chapter 11

OIOI

Thranduil was staring out of the window into the darkness that now covered Mirkwood. It wasn't far from dawn but he hadn't sat down all night. True, he was weary but he remained restless. Several times Elrond had advised him to go to bed but he had refused, preferring to be up and about. The aching in his stiff limbs remained but Elrond had already given him something for his pounding headache, which was a major relief. The Lord of Imladris had also told him everything he knew about what had happened to Mirkwood, about what his son had done to protect both him and the kingdom. Thranduil realised this account probably wasn't the complete story but he was troubled by what he heard.

With a heavy sigh, Thranduil looked across at the bed. Legolas lay flat out, buried beneath the sheets. His neck was thinly bandaged but his feet, which were elevated on a soft pillow, were so heavily bandaged that they looked almost comical sticking out from beneath the sheets. Before he too had fallen asleep in the chair beside the bed, Elrond had thoroughly checked and treated all of Legolas' many wounds, including having to once again reset his shoulder. Thranduil had been horrified at what he had seen, what those Men had done to his son. Elrond had then seen to Thranduil himself, ignoring the king's protests that he was fine, explaining how he had been contacted by Legolas then how every night the prince had returned barely alive but also how brave he had been in the face of extreme danger and pain.

After that, Elrond had sat down to watch over the prince but within minutes he had joined him in sleep. So Thranduil had left them both to it and tried to pace off all the restless energy that continued to pulse through his aching body. That had been nearly five hours ago and he still remained restless.

Thranduil was distracted from watching the sun rise by a low groan from the bed. He spun around to look at his son at the same time as Elrond also woke to the sound. Running over to his son, Thranduil gently placed his hand on the prince's arm just as tired blue eyes fluttered open.

"He's awake," Thranduil told Elrond unnecessarily.

"So I see," Elrond smiled down at Legolas, noting him wince at the volume of his father's voice. "Soft words, Thranduil," he reminded the king gently.

"I'm sorry, ion nin," Thranduil then whispered.

Very slowly, Legolas turned his head to the side, trying to work out what was being said. Truthfully, thought, his mind felt so foggy and sluggish that he could hardly interpret what was going on around him. One thing he did recognise was that he wasn't hurting too much right now, although he couldn't quite recall why not. He remembered everything else - the hanging, Elrond being detained, his father coming – then everything went blank and he had no clue how he got here or even where 'here' was.

"Ada?" he managed to croak out.

"I'm here, ion nin," Thranduil assured gently, taking Legolas' hand. "Everything is fine." The king looked across at Elrond and asked in a whisper, "What is wrong with him?"

"I suspect he's just a little dazed. I gave him a pretty strong painkiller," Elrond answered, laying his hand against Legolas' forehead. "Just close your eyes and go back to sleep, melleth nin," he then whispered. Almost immediately, Legolas' eyes fell closed and he relaxed again, too exhausted to argue.

As Elrond stood up straight, Thranduil returned to the window, looking thoughtfully out for long moments. When he returned his gaze to Elrond, the Elven Lord was slowly downing a glass of water. "So, 'melleth'?" he asked after a while, startling the Rivendell Elf.

"Excuse me?" Elrond asked in confusion.

"Just now you called Legolas 'melleth'," Thranduil clarified.

Laying the glass down on the table, Elrond asked nonchalantly, "Did I?"

"Yes. When you said that Legolas contacted you I didn't realise it was to reconnect."

"It wasn't," Elrond said quickly, then sighed and sat back down. "He didn't send for me for that. I don't think it was ever his intention that I even stay in Mirkwood. He just needed a few moments of physical contact with someone who wasn't going to hurt him."

"But it progressed?"

"I suppose. I mean, it's…it's complicated."

Thranduil nodded and finally took a seat on the sofa. "Well, I hope you two finally manage to sort things out. Valar knows, Legolas has been pining for you long enough."

Elrond looked up sharply at this and almost hesitantly prompted, "He has?"

"Indeed," Thranduil answered with a smile.

"I thought that perhaps he was…glad to be rid of the commitment."

"Glad? Are you kidding? When he came back from Imladris last time he was downright miserable. He stayed locked in his room for a day then went straight out on a twelve-month patrol in the forest."

"Twelve months," Elrond mused under his breath, his gaze moving back to Legolas.

"Before he left I tried to ask him if everything was all right but he wouldn't speak of it to me. Of course, when you started writing so frequently, I guessed that something had happened between the two of you and he confirmed it when he came back. He said that you'd had a fight; he insisted that he had ruined everything and that you would not take him back. Then he got a letter from you and he seemed to cheer at its appearance." Elrond remembered that letter, telling Legolas that he should not come back, that he wanted nothing more to do with him. How he regretted writing those hurtful words. "He didn't let me read it but I know that he was devastated by its contents. He moped around the palace for a couple of days then said he was going on another patrol." Thranduil sighed, his eyes on his son. "I considered sending word to you myself but I think Legolas would have killed me had I interfered."

"No doubt," Elrond chuckled sadly.

"He worried me those first couple of years, Elrond. When he wasn't on patrol or working in his office, he shut himself away. I told him to take some time off, to visit Rivendell and try to work things out with you but he insisted that it was too late, that he had already lost you."

In truth, Elrond was surprised by this – not only by Legolas' reaction but Thranduil's too. The king had never condemned their relationship but he had always maintained a careful distance from it, content to allow it to continue so long as he didn't have to know any of the details, hence Legolas always going to Imladris and Elrond rarely setting foot in Mirkwood.

"I am surprised you encouraged him," Elrond said softly.

The king sat in thoughtful silence for a moment before answering, "I may not have always approved of my son's…dalliances, but I can't stand to see him miserable and without you he suffers. He would never admit it, of course, but he does. I want him to be happy and if this is what makes him so then I can only encourage it."

Elrond smiled. "Thranduil, are you finally warming to me?"

With a laugh, the king replied, "Maybe just a little bit."

Sobering once more, Elrond glanced over at the now peaceful Legolas. "Nothing is certain yet. What was said…It cannot be trusted. I don't think he was thinking straight when he said he would like to start over. When he wakes, he might decide differently." This thought saddened Elrond but it was the truth. Legolas had been suffering so much when he had spoken about wanting to start afresh, nothing he had claimed could be entirely trusted. Just for a moment though it was nice to believe it had all been real.

"He will want to," Thranduil suddenly said. "Legolas doesn't make rash decisions, not ever. If he said it then he meant it, no matter what."

"Do you really think so?"

"I know my son, Elrond. He wants you. He's always wanted you. And I think it's about time he did something for himself. He gives so much and asks for so little."

"That sounds right," Elrond agreed, remembering the events of the past couple of weeks.

"He deserves to be happy and you have always known how to make him happy. But I warn you now, hurt him intentionally again and I will take action," Thranduil added, the tone of his voice changing from kind to severe in an instant.

"I don't doubt it."

"And, just so we're clear, had it not been for Legolas begging me not to, I would have hunted you down and make you pay for what you did a long time ago."

"Understood," Elrond said, not doubting for an instant that Thranduil could – and would – do just that.

OIOI

The first thing that Legolas was aware of when he started to become more aware again was pain. Everything hurt, from his pounding head to his throbbing feet. He was laid in a soft bed and actually felt warm beneath the comfortable covers. Even though he was comfortable where he was, Legolas had the nagging feeling that he should be getting up to do something but he was having trouble remembering exactly what. Perhaps if he could open his eyes then he might get some answers. If only it were that easy. He was so tired and he had no desire to get up. And yet…Trying again, Legolas attempted to force his eyes open but when he did manage to open them a crack he was dazzled by sunlight and hastily closed them again, which was good as he didn't think he could keep them open much longer anyway. However, he still felt like he had to get up. Just as he was considering going back to sleep, he remembered why he felt the need to get up, remembered what it was he was supposed to be doing. He was supposed to be getting up to go to the Throne Room to appease the humans.

Suddenly, his eyes snapped open and he went to sit up. Before he could get very far, gentle hands were guiding him back down and he blinked blearily up to find Elrond stood over him.

"Shh, lie back, Legolas," Elrond's soft voice told him and he sank back against the soft mattress. "It's all right, everything is just fine. Just relax."

"Ada," Legolas croaked out, wincing at the pain in his throat that action caused.

"You shouldn't speak yet. Here," he handed Legolas a pad of paper and a pencil. "Write it down."

Messily, the prince jotted, "Ada?" on the paper and showed it to Elrond.

"Oh, he's fine. He slept for a while then went off to oversee things but he is perfectly fine," Elrond smiled and he saw Legolas breathe a small sigh of relief. "How is the pain? Bad?" Legolas nodded once, his throat too sore to even consider lying. "I'll get you something for that." The healer disappeared from Legolas' sight for a brief moment and he allowed his heavy eyes to fall closed. He hadn't realised he'd dozed off until he felt Elrond's hand being laid gently on his shoulder. His eyes opened and Elrond handed him a small vial of green liquid. "Drink slowly." Legolas lifted the glass vial to his lips and quickly swallowed, which resulted in a short but painful coughing fit, which left him breathless. "All right? That should work soon."

Once Legolas had his breathing under control, he picked up the pencil and paper from where they had slipped from his hands and wrote, 'Men?'

"All safely locked up in the cells. And everyone in Mirkwood has been freed from their spell and, besides a few severe headaches, everyone is fine."

Legolas nodded very slightly and wrote 'You?'

Elrond smiled kindly and laid his hand on Legolas'. "I am perfectly fine, Melleth. More concerned about you than anything. How are you feeling?"

The prince jotted briefly, 'Tired. Feet hurt.'

"I know," Elrond said sympathetically. "They should start to feel better so long as you stay off them."

'How long?' Legolas wrote.

"Don't worry, you've only been out a day." Legolas frowned in confusion so Elrond added, "It'll all come back to you soon." The prince nodded and lifted his hand to gingerly touch his neck. Elrond took his hand and held it tightly. "It's all right, Legolas," he said, sitting down on the edge of the bed. "It's all over now." He laid his palm against Legolas' pale cheek just as tears slipped from his eyes. "Shh, shh, it's all right," the Elven Lord said gently. "You did well but it's over now. Everyone is safe. You can relax now."

"Sorry," Legolas breathed, being cautious not to irritate his throat.

"What have I told you about apologising – and talking?" Elrond laughed.

Picking up his pencil, Legolas jotted, 'Sorry,' down.

"It's all right."

'How long until I can talk?' the prince scribbled.

"I can't say for sure; maybe days, maybe weeks. You are very lucky. It could have been a lot worse," Elrond said kindly, stroking Legolas' hair from his face.

Legolas nodded and wrote, 'You saved me.'

"Just in the nick of time," Elrond said grimly, remembering in painful detail the sight of Legolas dropping from the chair and slowly strangling. It was a memory – along with several others from this whole incident – that would haunt him for years to come.

'Thank you'

Elrond smiled at the underlining to emphasise his thanks and said, "I'm just glad I was there. A minute later and I…Well, it's over now."

'Can I get out of bed?' Legolas wrote after a minute and showed it to Elrond.

"I'm afraid not, mellon nin. You won't be able to put any weight on your feet for a while yet; they need proper time to heal. Besides, you are probably too weak anyway. Sorry," Elrond smiled thinly, knowing just how much Legolas despised being bedbound.

This was confirmed by Legolas' disappointment but Elrond was slightly surprised when a slight blush crept onto Legolas' otherwise pale face as the younger Elf hesitantly wrote on his paper then, lowering his eyes, as he turned the pad towards Elrond. 'Bathroom'

"Oh, I see. I will go and fetch you a chamber pot." At this, Legolas shook his head sharply. "I'm sorry, Legolas, but you can't stand up yet. I won't be a minute." Elrond left for a moment and Legolas dropped the only form of communication he had back on the bed and let his eyes fall closed. He still felt so tired. Months of being kept awake, at the hands of those cruel Men and feeling so uncertain about the fate of his kingdom seemed to have drained every last ounce of energy out of him. He felt now like he could simply fall into deep, black oblivion and sleep for a month, which would actually be quite convenient as it would give his wounds time to heal also. In a slight daze, he wondered whether Elrond would allow this. He very much doubted it. There was still too much to do in the kingdom anyway. There would be the human's sentencing to deal with and he still had to fully brief his father on what happened in the three months the king was drugged unconscious. Legolas wondered if the king and his council would insist on an immediate written report or want to wait until he was able to speak again. He also supposed that eventually he would have to face the consequences of what he had done. Not only had be brought those criminals into the palace and brought this upon his people but he had also stabbed and afterwards drugged the king. Surely there had to be repercussions for that.

Suddenly through the haze of exhaustion, Legolas felt the restless need to get up and get started on everything. Opening his eyes, Legolas threw the sheets off of himself, almost crying out loud at the pain in his shoulder. He sat up straight in bed and closed his eyes against the dizziness and the sudden tightness in his chest.

Just as he was trying to shuffle to the edge of the bed, the door opened and Elrond returned. Upon seeing the prince struggling to get out of bed he rushed over. "What on earth are you doing?" he exclaimed, taking Legolas' arm to stop him. The blonde Elf opened his mouth to explain that there was so much he had to do that he couldn't waste time lying around, but Elrond quickly reprimanded, "No talking! Now, lay back down." He helped the younger Elf lie back against the pillows and said, "You have to stay put for a while to give yourself time to heal. I won't tell you again." Once more, Legolas opened his mouth but before he could say a word, Elrond told him firmly, "No talking. Your throat will be very painful for a while, talking will only make it worse." He retrieved the paper and pencil from where they had fallen on the floor when Legolas had thrown his covers back and handed them to the prince. "Here, write."

Legolas took a moment to scrawl his thinking down then showed it to Elrond. "Well, first of all, you can't speak yet and secondly, your father went to the village so is no longer in the palace. And you are in no condition to explain anything or go and address the council. You have to rest." Legolas went to write something else but Elrond laid his hand over Legolas' and said, "No arguments, Legolas. Now, let us take care of your most pressing need first." Legolas glanced across at the bedpan Elrond had brought with him and shook his head. "Legolas, you are not getting out of this bed so this is the only way. I can get another healer in here if you'd feel more comfortable." Again, Legolas shook his head at this suggestion, which was just what Elrond had expected. Legolas had always been an intensely private person and the thought of having someone else aiding him in such an intimate manner was mortifying to him. "Come on, I'm sure you can mostly manage on your own anyway."

The prince's eyes briefly met Elrond's and he nodded, a blush already colouring his cheeks. He pointed to the door though and Elrond immediately understood and went to the door, locking it so no one could walk in on them. Meanwhile, Legolas had relaxed back, trying not to think about what was coming next. Even Elrond, whom he had been close to for a very long time, Legolas didn't feel that comfortable with.

For Legolas, the next few minutes were both painful and embarrassing and he relied on Elrond more than he would have liked. Of course, the experienced healer remained professional and discreet as ever, helping only when really needed or when he feared Legolas was in pain and looked away discreetly whenever he felt he wasn't needed. Not once did Legolas so much as glance in his direction, his face flushed in embarrassment. Once he was finished, Elrond helped him dress again and laid the sheets back over him before removing the chamber pot and cleaning up in the bathroom.

When he returned to the bedroom he unlocked the door to Legolas' rooms just in case Thranduil panicked at finding it locked then he went to the bed where Legolas had already started writing on the paper again. Taking a seat on the bed again, Elrond looked at what Legolas had written and was now showing him.

'Sorry,' the prince had written in small slightly wobbly letters.

"Sorry for what? You have nothing to apologise for," Elrond assured kindly.

Already Legolas was scribbling again and Elrond waited patiently until he tilted the pad so he could see. 'Shouldn't have to help'

Elrond reached his hand up and laid it gently against Legolas' cheek. He knew just how much Legolas hated to appear – or actually be – vulnerable and have to rely on other people. "Don't be silly," he whispered softly. "You have done more than enough already. I know it goes against everything you believe in but please let someone else take care of you for a while. You have been so much, melleth nin. You're hurt and thoroughly worn out. Now, Thranduil is perfectly capable of handling everything in the kingdom and whatever it was that you thought was important enough to further injure yourself for can wait." At this, Legolas scribbled down what his conscience screamed at him: that he had to answer for what he had done. "No, Legolas. No one thinks you have done anything wrong. You couldn't have possibly known what those Men were planning to do; no one could. And you did only what you had to in order to protect your people."

"Ada," Legolas whispered hoarsely.

"Legolas, you probably saved your father's life because you did what you did. You can't possibly think otherwise."

'Poisoned him,' Legolas wrote.

"No, you had no other choice."

'Stabbed him'

"Legolas, what happened, happened because of those Men, not because of you. Please stop torturing yourself over this," Elrond whispered kindly.

'Can't help it,' Legolas wrote, showing it to Elrond with a shaky smile.

"I know, Melleth, but try. Don't add unnecessarily to your troubles." With a small smile, Elrond leaned forward and placed a kiss on the young Elf's forehead. In a whisper, he added, "You deserve to rest now."

At these soft, kind words, Legolas nodded very gently and the tears that had been pooling in his eyes finally spilled down his cheeks. Upon seeing this, still close, Elrond wiped away the crystal tears, breathing, "Shh, please don't cry."

After a moment, Legolas pulled away slightly and Elrond also say back but remained reassuringly close. The prince slowly wrote on his paper and turned it towards Elrond, more tears falling as he did so.

'I was scared.'

Stroking soft blonde hair tenderly at this confession, Elrond admitted, "I know. So was I." A look of confusion crossed Legolas' features at which Elrond smiled and explained, "When I saw you hanging from that noose…I have never been so terrified in my life. And I have never before felt such relief as when you took that first breath. Honestly, I don't know what I would do if I lost you."

The prince looked deep into understanding brown eyes for a long moment and then wrote, 'Not going anywhere.' Now he looked almost hesitant as he waited for Elrond's reply.

A much brighter smile lit up Elrond's face though and he shifted so he was sat propped up on the pillows beside Legolas and gently pulled him close. "Neither am I," he answered.

Once more tentative, Legolas slowly wrote down on the pad and showed it to Elrond.

Looking down into sparkling blue eyes, shining with nervous anticipation, Elrond smiled. "I love you too." A smile also brightened Legolas' face at this and he allowed the Lord of Rivendell to lean down and press warm lips tenderly to his own with such love and kindness that fresh tears spilled from the prince's eyes. The kiss lasted only a few seconds but to Legolas it seemed to stretch on forever and he found himself disappointed when Elrond pulled away again. Once more, Elrond gently wiped the tears from Legolas' face.

When Legolas smiled weakly up at him, Elrond took the pencil and paper from Legolas' hands and put them on the bedside table out of the way. Turning back to the younger Elf, he said, "Now you have to rest. No arguments." Legolas nodded and laid his head down on Elrond's chest so he could remain close and Elrond didn't push him away, for which he was grateful. He didn't want to be alone right then.

Now that he was certain – for the time being at least – that he had nothing to worry about, Legolas found himself once more growing drowsy. He was so comfortable. The pain had eased somewhat thanks to the medicine Elrond had given him, he was warm and he had Elrond at his side watching over him. And he was still tired. He couldn't remember how long it was Elrond had said he had slept but it didn't feel like nearly enough.

Elrond started gently running his fingers over Legolas' hair and whispered, "Go to sleep, melleth nin." Almost in relief, Legolas let his eyes drift closed, snuggling up against Elrond's warmth. "I'll be right here," Elrond added as he felt the prince relax against him. "I'll be here."

The End