Disclaimer: Not mine. No money. Etc., etc., etc.

AN: Another little one that I was inspired to write this month even though I don't have the time. I feel like I should apologise for even writing a fic on this topic, but since I don't control my Muse…it's hard to apologise for her (except that I'm Canadian, so I apologise for everything). I am probably committing yet another sin for the writing of this, but since liking the movie is clearly a sin in the first intense, I can't be making it much worse doing this.

Tauriel was not a trained healer. At least, not in the sense the actual healers of Thranduil's realm were. She had some training, because all elves that served in the guard had some training. They knew what to do for a spider bite and how to treat such injuries as might occur when one runs headlong into danger in dark forests. Tauriel was fairly confident in her ability to keep another elf from bleeding to their death or dying of spider poison until they could return to the caves.

But she was not a healer. She had only the most basic of herb knowledge, but athelas was a basic herb, at least to the elves. It was the most effective plant for treating spider venom, at least in the first instance and it grew widely enough in northern Mirkwood to make it relatively easy to find, when needed. Usually one member or more of each patrol carried some of the dried leaves too. Tauriel had never had to use it directly herself, but she knew the principle.

She had never even considered the possibility that her first try at elven healing would be on a dwarf. If someone had told her that even a week before, she would have laughed politely at them and questioned their gift of foresight.

She was also not one to panic in a crises, but there was that flicker of a moment after the last orc died with a scream and she looked around the small house that she did not know what next to do. She had known the dwarf, Kili, was mortally injured. The orc they had brought to Thranduil for questioning had been only too pleased to tell them. And if she was honest with herself, Tauriel knew that part of the reason she had left against the orders of her king was to find the dwarf and to what she could for him. That he was so very ill already somewhat shocked her. That she felt a moment of fear that she could not help him was less of a surprise. Untested skills could not be relied upon, she had been taught.

But Legolas was calling for her to follow him and she could tell when she met his eyes that he only half expected her to follow. They knew each other so well after all these years; which was probably part of the problem in the first place. At least, part of what Thranduil saw as a problem. In her heart she had never even considered what he accused her of. And nor, in her heart, was there room for a dwarf either, even if Tauriel wondered if Legolas thought that was the reason. The young creature of stone intrigued her and had been more polite to her than any dwarf she had previously known, even in the days of the height of Erebor. They had found some common ground, and that was rare enough in these days of darkness. But she could not love him.

She was starting to think she could not love anyone, and perhaps that was her fate.

But these thoughts had plagued her through her desertion of her homeland and across the bridge to Laketown. There was no time for further consideration. She sent a silent apology to Legolas who was racing into danger, praying she would not find herself responsible for the death or serious injury of her prince.

And then another dwarf was there, clutching something familiar and she had no time left to think, no time left to wonder at untried skills or love or anything else. There was a being in need of her aid and as she had remarked only too recently to Legolas, she could not stand by and let others suffer when it was in her power to do something about it.

Tauriel remember lessons in her youth about how to call on her fëa. She wracked her memory as she crushed the plant into the bowl held out for her, willing that this worked. No one deserved to die this way, condemned to spend eternity as a spirit servant of the darkness. She could tell the young dwarf was near to fading.

The words came back to her, though the memory was distant. Dry, boring lessons in the healing halls with the head healer and half a dozen equally bored new members of the king's guard. She had paid more attention then most, but less than she ought.

She drew on power she had never needed to call on before. Her power came from her strength and skill with weapons, but this was something else. Something deeper, but as she called it came nonetheless. She could feel it around her and within her and channeled it down into her hands and into the wound, hoping it would be enough.

For one instance she thought it would not be. The strength of evil that rebelled against her was stronger than she had expected, but it was just as startled itself to find a fight on its hands and fighting was something Tauriel knew how to do. She fought back and, slowly, the tide turned. She knew the moment she was successful; she could feel the evil retreat and vanish and knew she had won. The dwarf would recover.

Tauriel came back to herself to find the room silent around her, and felt tired for the first time in her life. She had spent part of her spirit and she knew that would take time to recover. She had never quite appreciated what it must be like for the healers.

On the table, Kili looked even more exhausted than she felt. But the evil she had sensed in him before was gone now. The wound was clean and it would heal. He would recover his strength.

Tauriel was glad of it, though her heart clenched when he asked if she could have loved him in another life. Another time. She knew the answer was no, but he was tired and hurt and she could not bring herself to speak. When his eyes slipped closed in sleep she breathed a sigh of relief and walked less than gracefully to the nearest chair to sit.

One of the human girls handed her a cup and she drank of the water within, noting the taste was not as clean as the water that flowed through the mountains about her home. Still, it was water and it gave her the moment she needed to recover herself. She nodded her thanks to the child.

'Are the rest of you well?'

'Oh, yes!' the older of the two girls exclaimed, clearly shaken. 'Yes, we're fine. Did you heal him?' she said, motioning to the sleeping dwarf. Four other pairs of eyes turned to look at her, one far more hopeful than the others.

'Yes,' she said, her voice soft. 'Yes, he will recover. The evil is gone from the wound.'

'What was it?' Kili's brother asked.

Tauriel sighed. 'A wound of evil. A morgul wound. I have not seen one…' she paused. 'I have never seen one. They come from a time before I was born. I did not think it was still possible. There is a greater evil here at work then a company of orcs, no matter how powerful their leader is.' That troubled her. She had suspected for some time that a greater evil dwelt under the forests of Mirkwood, but Thranduil had been so certain… It bore thinking about, although such things were probably outside her ken.

'He will heal,' she repeated, for the benefit of the brother. 'I will help you to set this place aright.'

'What should we do with the…bodies?' the boy asked.

'Burn them is best. Take them to the shore and burn them.'

'I'll get help,' he said and disappeared out the door.

Tauriel wondered for a moment if she should go after Legolas. It was her sworn duty. She would be exiled or worse for failing to obey the order he had given her. But she could not. There were people here who needed her help and they were undefended. If there were more orcs around they would need her.

The sound came down from the north. It spoke of fire and blood and death.

Tauriel had heard it before. She knew, instantly, that she could not protect these folk from it.