The death of Gandalf was a blow to them all. Worst of all, Legolas was weakening. As another member of the fellowship hovered very close to death, the company crowded around him with tear streaked faces. Legolas was struggling to stay awake.
"Master Legolas we can't lose you too. Let Strider carry you for a while longer." Sam begged.
"I can make it to Lothlorien." Legolas said.
"We have to move fast before the orcs catch up to us." Strider told them all. The ranger parted their circle around the Mirkwood prince and approached Legolas swiftly.
The human lifted the elf up bridal style. The elf lay limp in his arms.
"I said I could make it."
"By all means, do jump out of my arms and leap onto your feet," Aragorn challenged him grimly.
When Legolas just returned a look of confusion, Estel nodded to himself and led the company down the mountain, bearing his friend in his arms. The elf was limp in his grasp.
Along the way, it soon became apparent that Frodo and Sam were injured. Aragorn only stopped to attend to them, boiling water and bathing their wounds with athelas. When the ranger examined Legolas, he found himself struggling with the elf like as if he were dealing with a wounded animal.
"That hurts! Let me be." The Prince ordered him.
"I'm only touching your stomach. It is alright. Calm down."
"No! Stop. I don't want to be touched right now." The elf moaned.
Aragorn narrowed his eyes as he visually examined the bloated stomach, the showing ribs, and the violent flinches. Legolas needed herbs and rest as soon as possible. He finished examining him and backed away, letting the elf roll over and curl up in response to the pain.
"We are almost to Lothlorien. We can get you help soon. I am sorry to have failed in my care of you, my friend."
Legolas rolled back over and glared at the ranger.
"Do not be so thick-headed, Estel. I would not even be alive now if not for you."
"But you are in pain," Aragorn pointed out.
"I will not be in pain much longer. If there is a place on Middle Earth where I can be healed, it is Lothlorien." Legolas smiled at him.
"I hope you are right, my friend. Come, we must hasten."
He positioned Legolas's arms around his neck and prepared to lift him, but was stopped by Boromir.
"You tire, Aragorn. Let me take him. I'll let you know if he grows worse."
Aragorn grudgingly let the man carry the elf. The ranger went and told the hobbits that they would be moving on, with which he received the response of a chorus of groans.
Pippin flopped against Merry's shoulder wearily. Merry laughed and patted his cousin on the back.
"We're nearly there, aren't we, Strider?"
"Yes. Once we enter the woods, we will be met by the border patrol."
"They won't shoot us on sight, I hope." Boromir said darkly. He was still, ironically, holding Legolas, a member of the race he was wary of.
"These dark times have made them suspicious, but I do not think they shall strike before questioning us," Aragorn counseled him.
As they trekked on through the day, Legolas observed Boromir. The man was staring off into the distance, scowling and frowning. The elf tried talking to him, but the man paid him no mind. Sighing, the elf let the Gondorian be. The elf was too weary to strike up a conversation, at any rate.
"I can see the forest!" Sam called from up ahead.
The hobbits ran to join him. Even Gimli sprinted to catch sight of the famed woods of Lothlorein. The woods were a deep green, studded with golden flowers. Mist hovered in front of the shadowed forest. Instead of being the foreboding mists of Moria, these mists drifted and danced. The trees stood tall and ancient.
The weary elf cracked a smile.
"It is as beautiful as I had remembered it." He said.
"I've never seen it before. It steals my breath away." Frodo grinned, eyes alight.
There all stared for a few minutes more. Until there was a shrill call of: "Merry, mushrooms!"
Pippen ran towards the forest, spotting large patches of mushrooms near the bases of the trees. The fellowship laughed. And soon, everyone was running down the hill and joining the mushroom gathering party.
Sam was directing them on what to pick.
"No, that one is poisonous, Strider. Careful not to let it mix with the other ones. Pippin, don't start eating them before we can even get the chance to cook them!"
Legolas and Boromir watched the chaos with amusement.
The man set the elf down at the base of a mallorn tree. Legolas leaned his head against the old tree, feeling its strength and sturdiness. He gave a gentle sigh, closing his eyes. His blond hair was tangled and dirty with travel. His pale and gaunt face relaxed. He felt as light as air, spirit drifting along with the breeze. He felt detached from his worldly body. He was drifting far away…
He was interrupted by voices speaking to him, bringing him back to earth.
"Legolas. My lord, Legolas. Come back to us now. I know you can come back."
The voice was elven and male. As Legolas awoke, he felt strong hands clasping his shoulders. Legolas's eyes focused on the young elf in the cool light of Lothlorein. For a moment, he thought he was seeing a reflection of himself. The hair of the elf was a shimmering blond like his, and he wore the clothing of a warrior.
But this elf's eyes were dark, not clear blue. He looked as if Legolas should recognize him.
"It is. How are you feeling?" The Lothlorien guard was staring intensely at him.
"To be honest, not well." Legolas could feel his body aching and his limbs felt too heavy to move.
"Here, drink this. It will help with the pain until we reach the healers."
The elf was holding a wooden goblet carefully in his hands. He attempted to hand it to Legolas, who hesitated.
"Aragorn has told me a little of your illness. We have to bring you to the very best healers available. You might be tended by the lady Galadriel herself."
"No!" Legolas said loudly.
Haldir raised his eyebrows.
"Do not bring me to the lady. My illness is…shameful." Legolas looked away.
Haldir gently reached out, cupped a hand under Legolas's chin, and turned his head back towards him.
"You very nearly died. Now is not the time for embarrassment or shame. I will do what I must to help you. It is my duty to my kingdom and to your companions."
Legolas slumped back to the ground and gave a small groan.
"Let us talk of this no more. May I help you up? You need to drink this." Haldir slipped an arm around his shoulders and helped him sit up. The younger elf gave no protest. His body quivered, hand shaking, as he lifted the potion to his parched lips. Legolas drank delicately, and soon his vision starting fading into grey.
Haldir felt the young elf slump in his hold. The drug had worked on him quickly, knocking him unconscious to protect him from further pain. The Mirkwood elf's hair was dull. His natural glow was almost gone, and there were deep shadows under his eyes. Haldir sighed.
A couple of Haldir's troops brought a stretcher over to them. After settling the feather light elf in the stretcher, they marched in the direction of Lothlorien's city. The fellowship was only one clearing away, resting, and waiting anxiously for news about Legolas. Haldir followed his men to the heart of Lothlorien, leaving others with the job of giving the grim news to the company of the ring, the news that the prince of Mirkwood would probably not last the night.
The first thing that Legolas became aware of was silence. The silence felt like a presence in itself. It was heavy and endless. His body, that had felt as if it had been floating and capsizing, was stable.
He was heavy on a comfortable, but firm surface. He was covered with a silvery blanket to ward off the unnatural chill. The material of the coverlet was velvety, and it slipped and flowed around him like water when he plucked at it with his fingers.
He lifted up the blankets. He wore completely unfamiliar garments. He was dressed all in white and silver, the colors of the Lothlorien people. He wore a simple tunic and breeches that fitted his skinny body like a glove. He blinked. He placed a tentative hand over his stomach. Frowning, he prodded and poked his abdomen. There was no longer a burning pain. His eyes widened. He pressed harder against his vulnerable abdomen, still there was nothing.
He sat up, running his hands over the front of the silvery tunic. At long last, he uttered a gasp, and then a brilliant smile split through the worry lines on his face. He gazed up at the sky, looking through the shadowy canopy of trees to see the sun shimmering high above.
The wind rustled through the gold and green leaves. The breeze trickled by, from in between the trees, cool on his skin. He closed his eyes still smiling, still wondering how close he had come to lose all of these beautiful earthly things.
A soft tread through the fallen leaves distracted his thoughts. He reluctantly opened his eyes and saw the white lady walking towards him. She wore a light blue and silver embroidered gown, long golden tresses cascaded over her back and shoulders. Legolas murmured a greeting, staring at his boots, face suddenly warm. He watched the ground until her bare feet came into view, hem of her sky blue gown trailing beside her.
He looked up at her, finding a wise gaze boring into him. Her eyes were darkly colored, but they sparkled with mirth. Her full lips twitched into an obvious smile.
"How are you feeling? She chirped in a musical tone.
"I am very well." Legolas grinned. "I would never believe I could feel so well again. How did you do this?"
"I have my ways, Prince Legolas. Though suffice it to say, you have another friend in Imiladris who lent me his services." She scratched at the ring on her finger.
Legolas saw that the skin around her ring finger was red and swollen.
"I hope that was not on my account," he grimaced, nodding towards her injured hand.
"Lord Elrond and I do what we must. I am very pleased your health is restored. Though, you must use caution yet. You have been weakened severely by the illness." She put a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Just being released from the pain is a true blessing. I owe you much gratitude." Legolas laughed.
Suddenly, the lady frowned and bit her lip.
"Legolas, I must tell you something. You are not healed."
Galadriel's eyebrows had drawn together and the ends of her lips curled downward.
"What? How can I not be? I feel no pain," said the young elf with dismay.
"I could help suppress your body's destruction this time, but I was not able to cure you. You will bleed again someday. How far that is in the future…that is still uncertain."
Legolas hung his head; his shining hair hiding his face. He clenched his fists, trembling.
Then, the strangest event occurred. The lady of the wood, the elven queen and owner of the one of the three rings knelt before him. She was silent as she crouched down in the lush grass. Delicately, she tucked his hair behind his ears. The action felt achingly paternal to Legolas's haunted psyche. She caught his gaze and smiled weakly.
"Do you think life on middle earth is worth the suffering?"
As she waited for her answer, she looked up at the sky, giving Legolas time to think.
Finally, he stammered out: "Y-yes".
"Why?" She tilted her head to one side.
"I can think of seven reasons: Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and Sam. They need me. And…" He paused, blushing.
"They love you." She finished simply. "There is no shame to love and be loved by your comrades. That is the reason many individuals choose to live. Since the reason for your presence here is among the living in middle earth, the grey havens shall remain as unknown to you as the Hall of Mandos. I wished only to learn of your plans. I think the fellowship shall be pleased to learn of your decision."
"Indeed. I am glad of their patience with me thus far. I am constantly surprised by their friendship and kindness." Legolas smiled.
Legolas rose, unsteady on his feet. The lady of the golden wood took him by the arm and led him back to the company. The clouds threatened to block out the sun in the sky, but the sun shone too brightly to be obscured from sight.
Author notes: I know this a purely hurt/comfort story, but I had to post it after scrolling past the numerous and annoying Mary Sues and self-insertion into Tolkien's world fic.
I really appreciate you took time to read this, and any feedback would be lovely.