Don't Wake Me Up Chapter 12
"So, you really need to leave here." He looks over at me from where he is laying, sprawled on his back in the meadow.
"Yeah, I guess you could say that." I look over at him, having finished my tale. I left out the names of my friends, but aside from that I told Alister everything. He sits up and looks down at me, and I can see the way he looks at me. As though, nothing has changed. As if I am the same fighter that I was, the same as before. I smile, because I know that I've already earned his respect. I stand, dusting off the light doeskin shorts and shirt I made for myself with his help. It has a more feminine design and fits me well, suited for the climate and activities. He helped me make several pairs for varying temperatures, and assisted me in dying them using various berries and flowers. We've become quite close, though we still sleep apart, taking turns sleeping on the floor.
The sky begins to darken and we gather our stuff before we start to head home, walking the miles as we chat idly about the world. We climb up into the tree and we lay our weapons down in the corner. I toss him an apple as I bite into one, savoring the crispness of the red fruit. I finish it, going next for the meat. Alister sits quietly beside me, eating the lightly seasoned meat. Considering how little we have to season things with, we're doing well. I finish and lie down, tired from my day. Alister takes his place on the floor, lying quietly near me.
"You can sleep up here, you know. With me. It isn't a big deal, you shouldn't have to sleep on the floor." I look down on him as he lays on the animal pelts he's cleaned over time. He sits up, looking at me. He opens his mouth to speak but then closes it, choosing instead to climb into the bed on the far side from me. I curl up, my back to him, and wordlessly we fall asleep.
I awaken to the sensation of someone breathing on me. I turn to find the culprit, and am greeted by the sight of a still-sleeping Alister. His eyes are lightly closed and he looks peaceful, I sit up and stretch, looking out one of the small windows. The soft light of dawn is soothing, and I lie back down, deciding to take my time. I turn and face Alister who is taking up a large part of the bed. I sigh, a smile finding its way onto my face. I'm glad it's him, out of anyone. I trace a tiny scar on his jaw with my fingers, forgetting for awhile how much I hurt.
His eyes open at my touch, though he doesn't move in the slightest. I look at him, the silence seeming so long between us. I sit up, looking away with a light blush on my cheeks. Could it be that I have feelings for Alister? I mean, I've spent several months with only him for company, of course we're close. I ignore the thoughts, standing up and running my fingers through my hair. I tie it back and look back to see him still sitting, looking in silence.
"Why won't you talk to me?" I ask, flustered by his lack of words. He lies back down, wordless.
"Talking complicates things that I don't want to be complicated." The simplicity of the comment stops me cold. I look at him curiously, not knowing how to respond. He stands, getting out of bed slowly and changing into a lighter shirt before walking towards the little door, barefoot with only an apple he grabbed from the bowl.
"You're not wearing shoes... and you aren't bringing weapons?" I ask, unable to contain my curiosity. He looks at me, a small smile on his lips.
"A good fighter does not need a weapon to be potent in combat." The way he says it makes me feel like a joke is being played on me. I don't bother responding, I just follow him from the tree house. While I learned a bit of martial arts when I was younger, I did not learn much. I learned basic attacks and defenses, and while I am not entirely defenseless, there is much I can learn. We reach the meadow and I look at him expectantly. He begins the lesson, teaching me stances. We finish the basics and then he teaches me how to defend myself. Some of it I remember, and some of it I don't. I watch him and mimic his movements, learning quickly. We continue like this for hours until the sun starts to set. I am exhausted and will undoubtedly have bruises by tomorrow. We retrieve our armor and talk as we return home, walking instead of running as we usually do.
Several more months pass like this, with him teaching me unarmed combat, fine tuning my ability to use a bow, improving my swordplay, and learning how to use throwing knives. It is easier than if I had never done it at all, but it is still difficult. I bear many bruises from our sparring, though now he and I are evenly matched.
It has been over a year now since I first arrived, and I find that it is not nearly so bad. We continued sharing the bed since that first night, though we are always silent. There is something about those times that just demands it. After a long day training, I head to the house and before I can climb up Alister stops me.
"I want to show you something." He says. I nod my consent and together we run through the forest, laughter following us as we tease each other. This man is my best friend, and I don't know what I'd do without him now. I don't think about the future anymore. Eventually we will escape here and return to the world out there, but not today. Not today.
He stops me by the river, and we follow its course, heading upstream. The sun sets and the stars are our light now. The moon bathes the world in an unearthly glow, a luminescent light that used to remind me of Legolas's nobility. When he was lit up by the moon's soft light, I would always know he was royalty. Alister isn't as intimidating. I feel like I don't have to worry about messing up when I'm with him. My thoughts wander to Legolas and I miss him even more. I miss his smile, and the way his eyes lit up when he spoke to me. I miss the way we would stare up at the stars or just enjoy the beauty of the world.
"We're here." Alister's voice drags me from my fantasy. I take in the sight before me, and am awestruck. It is beautiful, the moonlight illuminating the waterfall. The water catches the light and reflects it, making the water look white. The trees around it are bright green during the day, and the flowers are normally purple. Right now, the starlight is making them pale and even more beautiful than they are during the day.
"It's beautiful." My voice is reverent and he smiles a full smile. My eyes are wide and I am entranced by the beauty before me. It smells so clean and fresh, and I can hear the fierceness of the rushing water. The falls themselves are only about fifteen feet tall, but somehow their smaller size makes them even better. It feels so surreal. During the day it is impressive, during the night it is flawless.
"When I was first trapped here, I was miserable. Bitter, upset, lost. I wanted to die, and just let everything go. I grabbed my sword and left one night, trying to find the best place to do it. I found this place and I just couldn't… There is beauty, even in misery. I stayed my hand, and decided to live on." His eyes are far away as he talks, and I pay close attention to every word. He rarely talks about his past, and I gather it is a painful one. Even after he escaped the orcs. I am suddenly glad that he didn't die, and I silently thank whatever deity may be listening that he is alive.
He turns to me and our eyes meet. I realize that we are only a foot apart, and I don't remember getting so close. Suddenly my mouth feels dry and my heart beats a bit faster. Those four inches seem like a mile right now, and I look up at him. His fingers touch my chin, tilting my face up towards his. I could stop him right now. I could, if I wanted to. He leans closer and my eyes close as our lips meet. The kiss is gentle and chaste, and I can feel the stubble along his jaw. I lean into the kiss, every thought fleeing my mind. I think of Legolas, and I feel something snap within me and I pull away from him. Suddenly I feel like a traitor, and I am afraid that I'll be sick.
"I'm so sorry…" I say, and run. I run for a long time, and he does not follow. I finally stop, collapsing. I cry for a long time, longing desperately for Legolas. I think of him and then it hits me hard. I cannot remember his face. I remember his hair, his height, his smile, but I cannot put everything together. I cannot remember his eyes and it kills me not to know this. I cry myself to sleep on the forest floor, shaking and longing for the man I cannot have.
My eyes open as dawn touches the earth. I am calm now, because I know what I must do. I must get out of here, I must return to him. I must return to Legolas. It has been fourteen months since I have seen him, and that is far too long. I hate myself for forgetting my place, and my oath to Frodo. I must leave, for them. I must leave, for me.
I find a nearby pond and draw a slender knife I always keep with me. I bring it up, looking at my reflection in the cold steel. My hair is still tied up in a ponytail, and I grit my teeth. I cut it off and my hair falls around me. The short strands fall around my face, short and different. I need different.
I return to the house and find Alister within. He is eating, and has dark circles under his eyes. He seems sad when he sees me, and my heart twists. I shouldn't have let him get so close. I care for him, but I can never love him like I love Legolas.
"I have found the way. I found it long ago, but only now are you strong enough to leave with me. I have found the source of power in this place, but I will need your help to destroy it. A powerful necromancer resides near the swamps, and near as I can tell he created this place so that he could spend years studying and growing stronger, and only a few months would actually pass. I assume something went wrong, as now we obviously cannot leave, and I am willing to bet that neither can he. If we were to kill him, then there would be no power to fuel the effect and we would be free." He speaks without much inflection in his tone, and I cannot help but feel bad. I should have told him from the start, but it's too late now. I just nod.
"Alright, let's go." I grab all the weapons I can carry, tucking knives into my boots and armour wherever I can safely put them. I am once again thankful that orcs have occasionally entered Alister's domain, as without them we would not have so many weapons. Not all of them are in the best condition, but they will all serve us well. I tighten my sword belt and refill my quiver before stopping to look at him. This is all very spur of the moment, and we don't have much of a plan. He has been my sole companion for over a year, and I trust him. I only hope he has a place to go when he escapes, as I cannot imagine him wanting to accompany me. I sigh and restring my bow. I finish and pocket Rea's statue before grabbing an apple and taking a bite. I'll need all of my strength for what is to come. I hope it's enough.
This chapter was not in the original. It was added later because I felt it was needed. So that's that! It was fun to write and create, and I hope you all enjoyed it.