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Journey's End: 7. The Healer's Report
Tinánia swung her arm across the surface of the water, sending a wave over Legolas as he kicked his feet and slapped his arms in the water, Tathiel supporting him with one hand beneath his belly.
'Oh, no, a massive wave has knocked Legolas over!" Tinánia joined in the game, smiling apologetically at Tathiel, whom she had splashed as well. Tinánia rolled him on to his back and when he closed his eyes and held his breath she pushed him below the water, then quickly pulled him up again. "But he is like a jumping fish! Look how he has leapt out of the water!"
Legolas giggled as he wrapped his arms and legs around Tinánia. She grabbed him about the waist and tossed him back to Tathiel. "I think you are Tathiel's fish!"
Tathiel moved to sit on the ledge, with Legolas standing on her legs and leaning against her, one arm wrapped about her shoulder. He was breathing hard from all the exertion and excitement of his play and finally being able to go under the water. He watched with a huge grin on his face as Tinánia showed off for him by diving, turning somersaults, and walking on her hands below the water. Tinánia finally sat down next to Tathiel. Legolas jumped to her, grabbing her arm and moving to stand on her legs, as the water was deep enough he could not sit.
"How were archery lessons today?" Tathiel asked.
Tinánia smiled. "Meren is helping teach the novices right now. She paired me up with Doron, who is the best in our class."
"How did you fare against Doron?" Tathiel asked, knowing from the look on the elleth's face that Tinánia very much wished to be asked this question.
"I matched him," Tinánia answered triumphantly.
Tathiel laughed with delight. "Do you like being with the novices?" she queried.
"At first I just liked the archery," Tinánia admitted. "Some of the older novices overlooked me, as if I had no right to be with them. But then Prince Bregolas came."
Tathiel arched one brow at the elleth. "What did Bregolas do?"
"He treated me like I do belong there. He admired my bow and asked me how many orcs I had killed with it, and if it was better than the bow I had used to shoot the wolf. I guess that made me interesting to some of the other novices, and then they started to include me too," Tinánia explained happily.
"I am glad, Tinánia," Tathiel said as she hugged the elleth and Legolas together. She thought Tinánia looked happier and more lively than she had in weeks, now that she had found her place and been accepted by people who did not treat her as odd for all that had happened to her. Younger children looked up to her and older younglings and adults respected her, but among her own friends she had felt bereft.
"Where is Elumeril?" Tinánia asked suddenly as she gazed around the cavern.
"Elumeril has lessons this afternoon with Nathlhê," Tathiel answered.
"My ada says Nathlhê is one of the finest weavers in the realm," Tinánia commented. "I think Elumeril will become quite skilled too." She listened for a moment. "Is Eärundra almost done?"
"Soon," Tathiel replied patiently. "Camnesta examines her today and measures her progress."
* * *
Camnesta watched as Eärundra stretched her leg out straight behind her, then to the front, but saw her wince as she rotated the hip to bring her leg full circle. He wrapped his hand around the hip joint and gently rotated the leg again, feeling where the bones caught and ground against each other. He motioned Ethiwen to come over.
"Place your hand here," he instructed her, positioning her hand in the juncture of the joint. "Now lift her leg and slowly begin to rotate it this way. Eärundra, you tell us if this hurts. Do you feel the joint catch, Ethiwen?"
Ethiwen performed the maneuver and felt the catch. She applied a small amount of pressure, noting no reflection of pain in her daughter's face and moved the leg a little further.
"Why does applying just slight pressure allow the leg to move further?" Ethiwen questioned.
Camnesta smiled. Ethiwen was sharp. "When her hip fractured small spurs or fragments of bones were caught in the joint. They might belong there and they might not. The little bit of pressure eases the joint around them."
"Is that good?" Ethiwen asked. "It seems if the bone did not belong there, that would not happen."
"It is hard to say which case this is," admitted Camnesta. "We may never know. But it is good, regardless. Eärundra, your range of motion is very good. I think we will start with some muscle strengthening activities soon. The stronger those muscles become, the less pain you will have."
Eärundra smiled brightly at that news.
"I will write out her exercises for this next week, some in the water and some on the ground," Camnesta caressed the damp head bobbing next to him. "You are making good progress, child. I am very proud of you."
"Thank you, Camnesta. Nana, may I go play with Tinánia and Legolas now?" Eärundra asked, beaming from the praise.
Ethiwen turned towards the splashing and giggling. "Yes, you may."
Eärundra swam off to join her sister, diving under the water and coming up near the ledge, where she grabbed at Legolas' feet and tugged him into the water. All present were sure his shriek was heard in the great hall.
"Rundra!" Legolas' shriek turned into a laugh. He began splashing her in the face and she tossed him off to Tinánia, who had followed her into the water. She threw him in the air and did not catch him until he went under the water. He came up sputtering, but then laughed again.
"Nania, do it again!"
Camnesta smiled and watched the activity for a few moments, truly thrilled to see the three children doing so well. He turned to Ethiwen. "Ethiwen, would you send Tathiel to me? I would like to speak to her today, too."
Ethiwen swam down to join the children, and laughed as Tathiel admonished Legolas to behave before she swam away.
"Hello, Camnesta." Tathiel kissed the healer on the cheek.
"Greetings to you, Tathiel," Camnesta returned warmly. "I would like to hear a progress report on Legolas and you today."
Tathiel leaned against the wall, sinking down until the water covered her shoulders. "Legolas seems to have recovered from the incident, almost as if it never happened," she answered thoughtfully. "It was as if seeing the man brought back the memory of Hazad, but once he was in his room he must have felt safe, for he has not mentioned it since."
"How did he respond to Thranduil that evening?" Camnesta probed further.
Tathiel smiled. "He seemed excited to see him, but he wanted me to put him to bed that night. But he has behaved well with Thranduil ever since." She smiled. "When the pool was first ready, and Legolas wanted to swim very early one morning, he had a temper tantrum when Thranduil told him no. Thranduil handled him very well, Camnesta. I would not have done so well. He spoke sternly and firmly, and Legolas listened. Legolas has been more accepting of his ada ever since."
"Of course," agreed Camnesta. "A child respects and trusts those who discipline him appropriately, for he feels safe and knows his boundaries. It is because Legolas trusts his ada that he allowed Thranduil to be near him after he saw the man that day."
"I hope Tamil has recovered as well," said Tathiel ruefully.
"Tamil is a good man," Camnesta answered solidly. "He has even offered to help us with Legolas."
"How so?" Tathiel sat upright at this news.
"If we would like to try introducing Legolas to Tamil in a more controlled setting - perhaps in your arms, so Legolas is at eye level, he will make himself available," Camnesta replied.
"Would you recommend this?" Tathiel asked.
Camnesta saw the fear in Tathiel's eyes and sensed her hesitation at placing Legolas in such a situation again. He smiled inwardly, for it was a reaction he would expect from a child's naneth.
"We shall see," he answered noncommittally. "How has Legolas progressed otherwise? Are you able to be apart from him?"
"He is able to leave me," Tathiel clarified. "His ada or his brothers can take him off to swim or put him to bed and he is quite happy with them. One evening I tried to leave to spend an evening with Rawien, though, and he became quite upset."
Camnesta listened with interest as Tathiel related to him the details of that disastrous evening. He smiled reassuringly at Tathiel. "Elflings his age are controlling by nature. Legolas' situation is unusual, but he is not so different from other elflings." He paused, a gleam coming into his eye. "I think we shall try it again, for we have a goal now."
"What goal is that?" asked Tathiel, confusion evident on her face.
"Soon you will be married and perhaps Rawien would like his bride to himself for a few days," Camnesta teased. He was surprised when he saw the flicker of pain in Tathiel's eyes. His tone changed immediately. "Is all not well with you, Tathiel?. Tell me how you are doing now."
Tathiel was silent for a moment, then turned to the one who had taught her all she knew as a healer. "Camnesta, do you think I will ever be able to bear children?"
"Ever is a long time, child," Camnesta replied. He drew her up to stand before him and held her arms out. He looked at her kindly, his head cocked to the side, as he considered her person. "Let us get out of the water."
Camnesta jumped nimbly out of the pool, grabbing two large towels and their robes from the chair. He handed Tathiel a towel and dried himself off as well. Tathiel slipped the robe on and stood before the healer. Camnesta gently turned her around so her back was to him, then placed one hand on her forehead and the other over her womb, and closed his eyes. He felt her relax and allow him access to her heart and mind, accepting the calm and peace that he offered. He felt her womb start at his touch, felt the weariness that still pervaded her spirit. He finally withdrew, and gently pushed her down onto a low bench.
"You would not be able to sustain a child now," Camnesta answered truthfully. "Physically you are much recovered. You are not so thin as you were just a few months ago, but what you give of your feä to Legolas in your bond with him still demands much of your energy. He is starting to take more of that sustenance from his father, but you still bear the load."
"How long do you think it might be before we could consider conception?" Tathiel asked hesitantly.
Camnesta studied her thoughtfully. "It might be some time. Tathiel, are you reconsidering your decision to marry Rawien?"
Tathiel looked quickly away, but not before Camnesta saw the tears and felt the pain. He grasped her gently by the chin and turned her face to him.
"This is your own uncertainty," he said slowly, reading her carefully. "You have not spoken to Rawien about this."
Tathiel shook her head. "I am not being rational," she admitted.
"Perhaps not," Camnesta answered. "I think you must ask yourself if you are concerned about Rawien and what he wants, or if you concerned about what you want and your fear that it will not be an option for you."
Tathiel was silent.
"Do you believe that you should not marry if you do not know if you can bear a child?" Camnesta cut straight to the heart of the matter.
"I do not know," Tathiel answered softly.
"Oh, child," Camnesta knelt before her, drew her into his arms and hugged her. "I cannot promise you can have children. Not now, and maybe not for a number of years. Beyond that, who can say? But you must not throw away happiness simply because you do not know what the future holds."
He rocked her in his arms for a few moments.
"You have come so far, done deeds more wondrous than seemed possible. You have been home for only a few months and look how wonderful the four of you look. I cannot count ribs from twenty paces on any of you anymore," Camnesta teased. "It is a wonder any of you are alive, but most especially Legolas. No she-elf who had survived all of the events of those two years would be able to consider bearing a child for many years to come. It is not just you."
Tathiel perked up at that, and Camnesta knew he had nailed the issue exactly. "Not even the birth-mother of a child in that situation, nor a warrior - not anyone."
Tathiel smiled at him and threw her arms around his neck. "Thank you, Camnesta."
The slap of little feet on the rock preceded the small child flinging himself onto the healer's back. Camnesta reached over his head and grabbed the elfling under the arms, flipping him over to land in Tathiel's lap.
"It is Legolas' turn!" Camnesta tickled the naked elfling for a moment, then bundled the child into a towel and dried him briskly. Ethiwen appeared then with his robe and soon Legolas was warm and snug in Camnesta's lap. "How is Legolas?"
"Legles go under water and jump like a fish!" Legolas declared.
"I am glad to hear that," Camnesta answered. "Have you learned how to eat with a fork?"
Legolas giggled. "Yes."
"Well, then, you are making good progress. Do you sleep in your own bed?"
"Legles sleep in Legles bed," Legolas answered proudly.
Camnesta met Tathiel's eyes and saw her nod. For the most part Legolas slept in his own bed. But he still occasionally crawled into Tathiel's in the wee hours of the morning.
"Do you like the warm water pool?"
"Duil made it!" Legolas cried. "Duil made it for Rundra and me!"
"Yes, you have a very smart and kind brother," agreed Camnesta. He stood, Legolas still in his arms. "Shall I take you to your ada? I know where he is, and he would like to see you."
Legolas grinned, but the smile faded when he realized Tathiel was not standing too. "Tafiel come too?" he asked Camnesta.
"Tathiel has to get dressed and do me a favor. Then she will come find you."
Legolas pondered this for a moment. He liked Camnesta, and Camnesta would take him to Ada. He adored Ada. He clapped his hands. "Go see Ada!"
Camnesta had gathered their clothes and was walking towards the tunnel leading away from the pool when Legolas called over his shoulder. "Tafiel come for me later!"
Tathiel laughed and called back, "I will come see you later!"
Ethiwen sent her daughters off to get dressed and bring cool drinks, and then sat down next to Tathiel.
"You asked about having children."
Tathiel blushed. "I did. I know I should not worry about this right now, but it did not seem right to marry Rawien when I do not know."
Ethiwen chose her words carefully. "Do you think so little of Rawien that you believe he would reject you because you could not bear a child?"
The shocked look on Tathiel's face indicated Ethiwen's words hit home. "No!" she answered vehemently. She paused and blushed an even deeper shade of pink. "Oh, my, but that is exactly how it sounds, does it not?"
"Since Rawien would not choose such a course, then it seems you are the one considering remaining apart from the one you love because you fear not being able to bear his child. That is selfish," Ethiwen answered, her words harsh but her tone compassionate. She slid her arm around Tathiel's shoulders and felt Tathiel relax against her.
"It is hard being home, I think, when so much has changed. You are a mother without being a mother, Narawen is gone, and you are in love. You are just regaining your health and you learn you might not be able to bear children. And all of us tell you what to do and ask you constant questions about the children, so that we might help them as well. When did you last have an evening alone with Rawien?"
"We had dinner together once last week but it was a disaster," Tathiel answered truthfully.
"Then come with me, Lady Tathiel, for I and my lovely daughters are going to style your hair and pick out your gown and, of course, send messengers to ensure your melethron is free and suitably attired," Ethiwen laughed as she pulled Tathiel to her feet. "Legolas' siblings can play with him, and his ada shall put him to bed in his very own 'Legles bed' while you dance and sing the night away."
* * *
Legolas sat in Thranduil's lap, playing with the clasps on his father's robe as he told him all about his day. Camnesta watched silently from the doorway, his quick mind ever pondering what he might do to help Legolas learn to accept Thranduil as his father, as someone he would be as comfortable with as Tathiel. He was pleased that Legolas had allowed him to take him from Tathiel to Thranduil. It was a new situation in that Camnesta was not someone Legolas normally was alone with. However the situation of concern had been Tathiel leaving Legolas.
"So then you jumped like a fish," Thranduil attempted to clarify what his toddler was relating to him.
"Yes!" Legolas bounced gleefully now that Ada had the story straight.
"And then Camnesta brought you to me," Thranduil finished.
"Yes, and Tafiel come soon," Legolas responded, his little brow suddenly furrowing in concern. He turned to Camnesta. "Nesta, Tafiel come soon?"
Camnesta smiled. "Tathiel will be here soon," he agreed.
"Legolas! I brought your blocks. Do you want to make a tower with me?" Elumeril called as she entered the room.
"Yes, Meril!" Legolas responded in delight as he slid off Thranduil's lap to plop himself on to the floor next to the box Elumeril had set down. She sat down next to him, dumping over the box of blocks and laughing as he immediately began to stack them.
Celebrinduil joined them next, admiring the tower Legolas had built, and he began one to compete with it. Lathron and Bregolas joined the family, sitting with their father.
"Legolas seems quite occupied with the blocks. I wish Tathiel could just go out with Rawien," Bregolas said quietly.
Lathron shook his head. "Tathiel has never let him down. She said she would come, therefore she must."
Bregolas nodded his head in agreement. "This I know; I just am concerned that we will have another scene, and Tathiel and Legolas will both spend another night crying."
Tathiel entered the room then, dressed in a fetching gown of silver and with her hair braided in a becoming style. Over her arm she carried her cloak, which she quickly laid over the back of the chair. She moved to sit next to Thranduil when he beckoned to her.
"You look lovely, Tathiel," Thranduil said approvingly. "Where is your captain?"
"He waits in the hall," Tathiel answered uncertainly.
"Tafiel! Come see my tower!" Legolas called to her.
Tathiel moved to sit on a low footstool and admired the dueling towers the brothers were building. She then took a deep breath, "Legolas, I will come kiss you after you are asleep tonight. Ada will put you to bed."
Legolas was so busy playing he merely grinned at her as she stood and walked away from him. Camnesta handed her cloak to her, and she closed the door behind her as she left.
"Well?" Rawien asked as he embraced her.
Tathiel tilted her head to the door but could hear only non-descript chatter and laughter. "I think we made it."
Rawien grinned in delight at the thought of having her all to himself that evening, and tucking her arm into his, led her out into the night.
* * *
"Ada, where Tafiel?" Legolas asked at the dinner table.
"Tathiel is having dinner with Rawien. Would you like some more jam on your bread?" Thranduil asked.
* * *
"Ada, where Tafiel?" Legolas asked as Thranduil rocked him to sleep.
"Tathiel is walking in the moonlight with Rawien. Do you want to hear the story of the Great Wolf and the Brave Warrior or a story about the Little Elfling?" Thranduil replied.
* * *
Thranduil heard the door open quietly and the little feet pattering up behind him. He turned to see a solemn little face.
"Ada, Legles miss Tafiel," Legolas sniffed.
Thranduil picked up his little elfling. "I know you do. Do you want to sleep in Ada's bed for a little while?" When Legolas nodded, Thranduil placed the little elf on his own bed and then lay down next to him. He felt Legolas snuggle up to him, his hands curling a strand of his father's hair next to his cheek. The child was asleep a few moments later. Thranduil slept little that night, but treasured each breath and sigh and movement of the little elfling that held tight to him until morning.
* * *
Rawien sat on the bench, Tathiel in his lap, her head resting against his shoulder as they watched the stars appear in the night sky. He kissed the top of her head.
"I spoke to Camnesta today," Tathiel said quietly.
"What about, meleth-nín?" Rawien asked gently, although he suspected he already knew.
"I asked him when he thought I would be able to bear a child," Tathiel replied.
"What did he say?"
"He said I could not right now, and likely not for some time," Tathiel answered hesitantly.
"I would suspect not," Rawien replied truthfully. "Legolas is too young for you to even consider such a thing." He paused, wrapping his arms tighter about her. "I am selfish, Tathiel. Legolas is part of our lives and always will be, but I do not want to share you with any others right now. I want you well and whole and strong before we consider conceiving a child. But I do want you now," he said as he captured her lips with his own.
Tathiel wrapped her arms about his neck, pressing herself against his chest and smiling at the intake of his breath. She broke away from his lips to whisper. "Then I suggest you ask the king," she kissed him again, "and set the day," she captured his lower lip between her own, "for I want you too."
Rawien growled as he pressed her back down against his arm, resuming the part of the aggressor as he covered her lips with his own. He knew whom he would be speaking with first thing in the morning.
* * * * *
Author's notes: Just a refresher on Tathiel's condition from 'Valar'. I am using information from the Laws & Customs of the Eldar, where it says that the feä of the child is supported by the mother, who is directly supported by the father. That was obviously sundered when Legolas was born pre-maturely and his mother killed on his day of birth. Tathiel put all of herself into sustaining him. Tolkien said for the elves that the body was under the control of the mind. So even when she was near starving, Tathiel was still nursing Legolas, weakening her own body and feä to provide for his. This is why physically he was in the best condition of the four. Now that she is home, Tathiel is recovering. She is not 'bound' to anyone, so her feä has no other feä to strengthen it, except what a healer might offer her. There are no direct statements about the bond between parents and children after the first year of life, but in the case of Fëanor, Tolkien indicated he suffered the lack of a mother's nourishment when Miriel chose to leave her body and reside in Mandos. Based on that and the comments about how elves are tied to their children and space them, I extrapolated to suggest that Legolas and Tathiel's feär are still bound as mother-child in his early years and she still provides nourishment to him. If any is interested, I would be happy to provide the references (most are from Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol X).
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