Disclaimer: I do not own LotR.
So last year failed for fics (hardcore), but I'm really, really hoping that this year will be better, even though it won't take much. -.- At least I have a multi-chapter fic to start with. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it up. :D I have a few ideas for other fics (some not LotR) and I want to finally write them this year. Keep an eye on my LJ (same username) for any info. n.n
Anyway, I'm nervous about posting this but also really excited. I really hope you all enjoy; please let me know! n.n
Chapter One: Unexpected Loss
Sapphire eyes stared up at the cloud-spotted sky as he lay on his back, water splashing up his left arm.
He slowly blinked up at the sky, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
The blonde elf sat up, looking at his surroundings, the bright green trees, the lake beside him…
Where was he?
Estel had been searching for Legolas, convinced something had happened to him, for he should have already run into him. His stormy eyes kept watch for any sort of sign—anything out of place, passing tree after tree with no sign.
The warm breeze shifted his hair into his face and he growled in frustration, angrily wiping it out of his eyes.
After a couple more hours of nothing, he froze mid-step, his eyes searching. He thought he had seen a figure in the trees and squinted at it.
"Legolas?" the man questioned, hopefully, dismounting and drawing his sword cautiously.
The wood-elf suddenly dropped from above to stand before him, his twin knives drawn and at the ready, his eyes watching Estel warily.
"Legolas!" he sighed with relief, sheathing his sword as he started walking closer. "I have been worried, mellon-nin!"
The blonde merely tilted his head at him, keeping his blades raised in defense.
Estel stopped short, seeing the distrust his friend openly displayed. Upon closer inspection, he found that Legolas had been injured—from where he stood he could see dried blood on his forehead, his right sleeve and left thigh. He had no idea how serious the wounds were or if he had others.
"Are you well?" Estel asked slowly, his concern growing when his closest friend showed no recognition towards him, his knives still poised.
"Who are you?" the prince finally spoke, his voice full of confusion and doubt.
At first Estel thought Legolas was joking until he said nothing more and didn't even crack a smile. Estel gaped at his friend with eyes wide in shock and, for a moment, he forgot how to speak.
The man swallowed thickly. "Estel…" he finally choked out in disbelief, for he didn't want to provoke the elf.
Still Legolas only stared at him blankly.
"Put the knives away and tell me what happened, Legolas," he managed to say calmly while his heart pounded in his chest, hoping the blonde would listen to his plea. Of all the things he thought that could have happened—that he thought had happened—this had definitely not come close to one of them.
"Legolas…" the prince responded slowly, as if tasting the name. "That is my name?"
Estel felt as though he had been punched in the stomach as his breath hitched at the implication. He didn't even know his own name!
"Aye," he nodded slightly, distracted. He needed to examine his friend and get him to his father!
"As soon as we received word that you were visiting Imladris, I made haste to meet you part-way," he continued to explain, praying that something would fall into place, that his friend of many years, practically since Elrond had taken him in, would stop watching him so suspiciously.
"I was going to visit you…" Legolas trailed off, deep in thought, his blades lowering slightly, and Estel dared not interrupt. "From where?"
"Mirkwood," Estel sighed at his friend's obviously serious problem. "Here, let me take a look at you and we will talk more. It seems you have seen better days, my friend."
Birds twittered, filling the silence as Legolas thought about the man's words, sizing him up, trying to determine if he should listen to him.
Estel smiled encouragingly. "Please," he added as the elf before him hesitated.
Legolas finally sheathed his knives and slowly walked towards the man. He did another once-over before he sat down in front of him, placing his trust into this Estel, unsure of why exactly he thought he should do so.
Estel sighed heavily, saddened by his friend's behavior. He leaned over Legolas, going slowly so the elf would know his every intention. First, he checked the wound on his forehead and frowned at what he found: it was no more than a small cut, showing no signs of poison. It could not be the sole cause of Legolas' memory loss.
"How's your vision?" he asked softly, while getting his healing supplies and waterskin from his horse.
"Excellent, as always," the prince replied, eyeing the human.
Estel's lips quirked in amusement at the haughty remark.
"How long ago were you hurt?" he continued his assessment while he poured some water on a cloth, wiping the wound clean.
Legolas sighed wearily. "I know not."
The two were silent while Estel treated Legolas' wounds, cleaning and putting a salve on each to prevent poison from spreading, even though he saw no signs and knew that it likely would be too late if there had been. Only the injury on his right arm was deep enough to need stitches, which Estel expertly sewed.
Legolas watched the man curiously, he knew what he was doing and he felt that this was somehow familiar…
Estel was terrified as he packed up the supplies, keeping his face neutral. He had found no reason for the elf to suffer memory loss at all, let alone such a severe case.
The man looked back at Legolas and could tell his thoughts were going in much the same direction as he stared ahead; unaware of what was around him. Tears threatened to form at the thought that Legolas had no memories of their close friendship and at the sight of him looking so lost and forlorn.
He moved back over to the still-sitting elf and placed a hand on his shoulder. "We will figure this out, Legolas. All will be well," he smiled reassuringly, giving his shoulder a gentle squeeze.
Estel was rewarded with a smile in return, it was small but it was the first one that had been given since he had found him and he couldn't help but widen his.
He held out his hand, "Come. Let us make haste to my father."
Before he could even think about the action, Legolas took Estel's hand and stood up. Frowning at what he had done, he pulled his hand back. And the mistrust instantly returned.
"Your father? Who is he, and why?" the blonde quickly asked, halting Estel's movements.
Estel slowly closed his eyes in grief as he thought of what the memory loss would do to his father. He and Legolas may be the truest of friends but Elrond considered the young elf to be like a son.
"Lord Elrond of Imladris," Estel answered for the wood-elf. It felt strange to speak of him as though they had never met. "He will help you, he's one of the greatest healers," he continued, hoping that his friend would trust him, or at least tag along.
Ai, mellon-nin, what has befallen you? he wondered as he watched Legolas' uncertainty. Instead, he said aloud, "Where were you headed? You were following this path, were you not?"
Legolas slowly nodded, obviously torn. He had been wandering down that way… He hadn't even thought about it.
"Come with me, Legolas," Estel pleaded, the worry slipping through unintentionally.
Legolas was thinking hard about the situation, but at the words, at the man's tone of voice, his resolve broke. For whatever reason, he couldn't stand the thought of Estel being so despondent. Also, he really did have a problem and could probably use a healer since he clearly couldn't remember things that he knew to be important.
He felt relaxed and couldn't help but trust this man.
Finally, Legolas gave a nod.
Estel grinned with relief and nearly pulled the elf into a tight hug, barely restraining himself. He prayed that this memory loss was temporary.
However, he suddenly froze.
"Legolas," he started slowly, "where is Elen?"
Legolas stopped beside Estel and shook his head.
"Your horse," Estel nearly exclaimed, despairing over Legolas' beloved mare.
"I did not have one," the prince calmly replied. He couldn't help but think that he should have had one to cover such distance, and yet, when he had awoken, there had been no horse in sight. He was surprised at the twinge of pain he felt in his chest.
Estel sighed and prayed that the horse had made it to safety.
He looked up at the sky and closed his eyes. What was he going to do?
He snapped his head down and stared at Legolas wide-eyed. It was the first time since he had found Legolas that he had spoken his name, and he had said it so full of worry…
"That is your name, right?" the blonde elf questioned, his head slightly tilted at Estel's reaction.
Estel swallowed the lump in his throat. "Aye," he whispered.
Legolas frowned. "What's wrong?"
The dark-haired man pulled himself out of his despairing thoughts. "Nothing, Legolas," he forced a small smile, one that would never have fooled his old friend. "We shall simply walk. Arien could use the rest." He patted his mare's neck affectionately. He had ridden her hard in his frenzied search for his missing friend.
Legolas inspected him for a moment and then nodded. "Very well, let us make use of what light is left."
Estel couldn't decide if it was a bad or good thing that Legolas hadn't questioned him. However, he was right: they needed to move before they lost more light and so, he stepped beside Legolas. There were only a few hours left before they would have to seek shelter.
The two had been silent while they walked and it nearly drove Estel mad. The last time there had been so few words between them was when Legolas had been angry towards him during an orc hunt. But this time it was because Legolas didn't remember him!
After another couple hours, the two kept sharp eyes out for some type of shelter and about half an hour later, Legolas spotted a cave that would do if uninhabited.
Estel almost sighed with relief at the discovery. The quicker the night passed, the quicker he could get Legolas to his father.
As they neared the cave, Legolas readied his bow, notching an arrow and Estel drew his sword.
The man looked at the elf questioningly as they crept closer.
"I sense nothing. Nor do I hear anything," Legolas added after a pause.
Estel shot a surprised glance at the blonde that he had been able to pick up on his silent inquiry.
The archer paid him no mind; all focus on the cave before them.
The two approached slowly, senses alert.
Still, Legolas felt nothing and so they entered cautiously. It was a quick search once in the cave, for they found it didn't extent far back and, to their relief, they found nothing. As they put their weapons away, it seemed like nothing had inhabited the cave for quite some time and they hoped it stayed that way throughout the night, neither wished for a surprise visit.
Estel went back out to retrieve supplies from Arien and made sure she was set up for the night.
When the man re-entered the cave, he noticed Legolas' wary eyes were instantly on him again.
He sighed inwardly, ignoring the look. He didn't think he would ever get used it to, and he desperately hoped he wouldn't have to.
Estel sat down heavily beside Legolas, his body mentally and physically exhausted.
Realizing that Legolas had no pack of his own, he held out his hand towards his friend.
Legolas glanced over and was surprised at the lembas bread on the man's calloused hand.
"Here," Estel urged, taking a bite of his.
Legolas nodded in appreciation and took the bread.
"What have you been eating?" the man asked, making small talk.
"Rabbit, mostly," the archer replied curtly.
Estel sighed again at the short response, although he was grateful that Legolas had been able to keep his bow and knives with him during whatever had happened.
Minutes passed in silence while they ate.
Once finished, Estel cleared his throat. "Let me check your wounds, mellon-nin," he said gently, very aware of the little trust Legolas now held for him.
"I'm fine," Legolas replied.
Estel chuckled at the familiar response.
The elf raised an eyebrow at him, looking a little offended as though the man didn't believe him.
Estel shook his unruly head, but couldn't completely wipe the small smile off his face. "Humor me, please," he requested. He couldn't help but feel worried about some type of poison or drug.
Legolas studied the human's face and decided that he had meant no harm.
Expectedly, there was no change in the wounds and Estel was still greatly puzzled.
"Hannon le," he said while putting the bandages and herbs back in his pack.
Legolas merely nodded. He had watched Estel's every move while he had cared for him and the concern seemed genuine.
"I will take first watch," Estel suddenly said, edging closer to the cave's entrance.
Legolas opened his mouth to protest but was stopped by a simple, "Legolas, please."
He sighed and shook his head but didn't move. Instead he continued to watch Estel, confused about his behavior—his as well as the human's. He only wanted the return of his memories and wished he could remember how he had even lost them to begin with.
As he watched Estel, he honestly didn't think that this man was lying to him—this man who spoke the Elven language, knew his name and his horse's, and whose name meant hope.
Legolas sighed heavily, despairing over his thoughts. "I do not know who I am."
Estel quickly turned towards his closest friend, locking his eyes with Legolas'. "I know, my friend," he whispered in sympathy.
"It is frightening," the young elf admitted, breaking his gaze, his voice distant.
Estel froze at the words, for his friend was usually so full of hope, and it tore at his heart to hear Legolas speak with such doubt. "We will figure this out," he said again with determination; it was to comfort himself as well as the elf. He had no idea what was going on with his friend but he would do anything to help Legolas.