16. [Insert Dirty Sword Euphemism Here]
"Elladan!" I shouted, jumping to my feet and running over to him, all annoyance forgotten. He remained still as I dropped to my knees next to him. His eyes were open but it didn't look as if he could see me. My heart raced and I felt bile rise in my throat. He couldn't be dead, could he?
But no, just as I was beginning to panic, his chest rose and fell. The movement was slight but it was enough to quell my fears. Relief flooded through me. I hovered over him, wanting to feel for a pulse or wake him or do something, but afraid to touch him. I waved a hand in front of his eyes, still wide and unseeing. There was no reaction.
An animal howled outside the cave a distance away. I approached the opening and looked out for the first time. Even though the entrance was well secluded, if someone – or something – passed by close enough we would be easily seen. There was more safety deeper in the cave but that meant I would have to move the unconscious Elladan.
I stood and walked around his body and stopped by his head. It shouldn't be too difficult, I thought. After all, elves pranced atop snow; how heavy could they be, right? I squatted down and hooked a hand under each of his arms. His skin was cool to the touch which struck me as odd since he had been so hot not five minutes earlier. I heard the animal again. It sounded closer so I stopped worrying about the temperature of his skin.
I tried to stand up but nothing happened; I was barely able to lift his shoulders off the ground. I checked under my feet, thinking maybe I was standing on his hair or something. Nothing. There was nothing impeding my movement. Frowning, I tried again; this time pulling back instead of up, hoping to drag him without lifting. That eventually landed me on my butt, my feet having slipped out from under me, and he still hadn't budged an inch.
Now, I am not a weak person. In fact, I have been called "freakishly strong." But this elf-man was not moving. I crawled over, knelt next to him and tried to flip him, thinking maybe I could roll him away from the entrance of the cave. That didn't work either.
A noise outside the cave – and very close by – startled me and I jumped to my feet. I was pretty sure something was approaching and here I was, completely defenseless with a comatose and half-naked elf lying at my feet. How was I supposed to defend myself against whatever was coming for us?
I leapt over him towards where his pack was and, sure enough, a sword lay not far away. I managed to pull it from its scabbard – it was very light but still unwieldy, at least to me – and I looked at the blade. It was surprisingly clean, considering that yesterday it had sliced through roughly a dozen orcs. I realized that it was bigger than it looked when he had been using it. Not to mention I had no idea what I was doing with it.
Holding the sword like a baseball bat, I hurried back over to Elladan and stood between him and the mouth of the cave. Leaving both hands on the hilt, I held it out in front of me, parallel to the ground and pointing towards the forest. I'm not sure what I expected, but I certainly did not anticipate laughter. It seemed friendly enough. Nevertheless, I gripped the sword tighter.
"I think it's cute," a familiar voice said from somewhere above my view. I tilted my head to look up into the trees as Elrohir dropped down in front of me. "She's protecting him."
I let my right arm fall to my side, careful not to slice my leg off with the sword, and put my other hand on my hip. I may have been relieved to see him but he sounded far too bemused for my liking, as an adult would while watching a child try to do something they really weren't capable of doing. Granted, that was not far off the mark, but still…
Another elf landed next to him and after a moment I recognized him from the regrettable game of "I Never" the other night.
"Tirithel?" I asked, hoping I had remembered his name correctly.
"How sweet," he said to Elrohir, and then smiled at me.
Elrohir extended his hand and, guessing his intent, I handed him the sword.
"Could you be more patronizing?" I muttered, stomping over to the wall and sitting down.
Elrohir knelt down next to his brother and placed the sword beside him. I pulled my knees in to my chest and hugged them tightly, watching the elves and hoping they had a cure for Elladan. Tirithel knelt down next to Elrohir and placed two fingers on Elladan's neck. He left them there for what seemed like an eternity. Elrohir remained still; watching with his lips pressed tightly together.
Tirithel bent and placed an ear against Elladan's chest. After a few moments he nodded, lifted his head and placed a hand on Elrohir's shoulder. My stomach dropped.
"I suspect it was spider venom, as you thought."
"Spider venom!" I gasped, visions of disgusting, car-sized spiders springing into my mind. I inched closer to the opening of the cave.
Elrohir's eyes flicked towards me briefly but he gave no other indication that he heard me.
"What is our course of treatment?" He didn't exactly sound worried, but he certainly wasn't sure of himself either.
Tirithel rose to his feet and shrugged. "Keep him comfortable; keep him safe. Eventually his body should recover." He bent and closed Elladan's eyes.
"Why did you do that?" I shouted, not liking the way he said "should."
Tirithel raised his eyebrows. "He will be in enough pain when he wakes. He does not need his eyes to sting with dryness as well."
"Oh," I said, hanging my head.
Elrohir scooped his brother up – as if he weighed nothing at all! – and carried him farther back into the cave. He placed him down gently and turned back to us.
"We cannot risk the journey back to Imladris while he is still unconscious."
Tirithel nodded. "I can stay, if you wish, since I am familiar with treating victims of spider venom."
"Yes, that would be the best course, I think." Elrohir agreed. He then took me completely by surprise by smiling at me and holding out his hand. "Come. I will take you back to Imladris."
I did not get up. I don't quite know why, but at that moment, I didn't want to be anywhere but in that cave; I felt I needed to be in that cave.
Elrohir sighed. "He will recover…"
"You don't know that!" I cut him off, hugging my legs as tightly as I could. My eyes started to burn and I squeezed them shut. I would not cry. I could not cry, if I expected him to take me seriously and let me stay.
I felt him sit down next to me and I risked opening my eyes. His expression had softened considerably. He put a hand on my shoulder.
"I'm sure this is frightening…"
"I'm not scared…" I cut him off again. I had a bad habit of doing that when I was upset or, well, scared. He raised his eyebrows. "Ok, maybe a little… but I want to help; I feel like I have to help. You guys saved me, saved my life."
Tirithel walked over to where we were sitting and crouched down. "It would help, actually, to know how he was prior to losing consciousness."
I thought back to the nonsensical ranting, the accusations of the longing with which I looked at him, the hair petting. Yeah, even if knowing about all that would help them, I'm not sure he wouldn't kill me for telling them if he ever woke up. Or perhaps it was just my embarrassment about how all that made me want to develop selective amnesia about my marriage vows and jump his very delusional elvish bones that made me not want to divulge. Either way, I needed to tell them something constructive and not condemning.
"He was very hot and I think he was delirious."
Elrohir raised his eyebrows again. "You think?"
"Well…" I stalled, trying to figure how much to say, how far to go. "He thought I was someone else."
Tirithel's eyebrows drew together in a confused frown. "Who?"
"It matters not." Elrohir said almost too quickly. I looked at him out of the corner of my eyes. He knew; I was sure of it.
Tirithel shrugged. "Delusions are normal, as is the fever. Was he speaking coherently, other than confusing you for another?"
I paused, replaying our conversation in my head and berating myself for the heat I felt in my cheeks. "Yes. He made sense he just," I glanced again at Elrohir, "didn't think he was talking to me."
Elrohir was watching me intently but Tirithel had apparently gained all the information he needed because he stood up and said, "Good. That means the poison has not compromised his thoughts. In the instances when that happens…" He shrugged, the implication of the danger as obvious as if he had voiced it.
Neither Elrohir or I responded and Tirithel walked back over and sat down next to where Elladan was lying. Elrohir stood as well and held a hand out to me.
"Come. It is time for me to return you to your husband." Ok, I'm not sure if it was he or my guilty conscience that put the emphasis on the last word, but I was feeling an awful lot of judgment coming from the elf. I'm not even sure why, since I hadn't been the one being all flirty and grabby.
I finally consented and took his offered hand, standing up and dusting off my pants.
"Fine." I said, drawing out the word to try and convey my annoyance to him. I took a few steps toward the mouth of the cave before stealing a look over my shoulder, back to where Elladan still lay where his brother had placed him. I felt Elrohir's hand on my shoulder.
"He will survive."
I met his eyes and realized he was saying it as much for his own consolation as mine.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.