8. Chapter 8: Fever Dreams Are Funny Things
Chapter 8: Fever Dreams Are Funny Things
Elrohir hurried outside, his heart beating louder and faster. He had never thought this would be the day he found himself doing something as... extreme. But he knew that it was only now that he could return the favor Legolas had once given him.
In the light of events, he could only hope that he would be of help to Thranduil as the Elven-king had suffered enough for the problems caused partly by him and his disappointing father.
When they Erestor led him there, Elrohir could see the problem immediately. Not only was Glorfindel looking far more worried than he had even been, the torn expression on the Elven-king told him all he needed to know. His fury rose when he saw the one he called his father grinning as Thranduil's arrow went wildly astray.
Elrond glared at his son as they approached.
"What is he doing here?" Elrond asked, directing the question at Glorfindel.
"I am not going to answer this, my Lord Elrond, but I believe a time out will be appropriate now," Glorfindel replied to him, stopping the contest.
Elrohir was raring to approach and only Erestor's warning held him back. The younger elf could see the struggle the king faced and he knew that if he stood any chance of winning, it was only if he concentrated on the contest. Elrohir certainly did not wish his father would win this.
"I won rightfully, why should you stop the contest?" Elrond asked Glorfindel.
"I can end this contest right now and declare that you did not win at all," Glorfindel warned and at Elrond's silence, he gestured for Elrohir to approach the king.
Elrohir could feel how the king was caught in images only he could see. He did not need to know much to tell that he was tormented by the grief of losing his son, and of all the misfortune that might await his precious child otherwise.
"King Thranduil, look at me!" Elrohir directed the king firmly.
But there was no response. Thranduil let his bow fall to the ground, his lips mumbling his son's name.
Elrohir looked toward Glorfindel with despair written in his blue eyes. He had no inkling how they should deal with the king's agony especially with his adar's poor attitude to exacerbate it: Elrond was now smiling as he recognised the pain on Thranduil's face, content in the knowledge that he had won the contest fair and square.
While in the healer's room…
Elladan sat in the chair close by Aragorn, using the dry leaves to wipe the cold sweat from his feverish brother. He could see the way his brother jerked as the fever tormented him, and it pained him to see his little brother in such pain.
His father had told him of how Estel, though the boy recovered quickly whenever he was under the weather, had once been in bed for six days and only on the seven day had the fever broken. Elladan remembered what the healer told him then, "Fever dreams are funny things for humans.They make them say things that they long pushed to the back of their minds, or even facts that their feverish mind had twisted."
Looking at his brother, he wet the leaves with some fresh cool water and dabbed them on the human's skin. "Well, little brother, I do hope that the fever would not cause you any harm," Elladan said softly, as he looked towards the door, forlorn in the knowledge that there would be no one entering to lift his spirits. The contest was still going on; no one could come.
With a worried frown on his face, Elladan continued wiping Aragorn's forehead. If anything, his brother seemed to be burning worse from the heat of the fever than ever before.
"Legolas…" Aragorn was mumbling as his head thrashed from side to side.
"He is not here, Estel," Elladan replied softly, but it gave the man little comfort.
"I killed him… Forgive me Legolas… I left you alone in the cold… What kind of friend will do it to another? I am the one that should be dead… not you…"
Elladan stared at his brother, shock clearly written on his face.
'You did not kill Legolas… How I wish Legolas were here to clear it up for you…' Elladan thought in despair, and but he tried to keep that out of his voice as he spoke, "Aragorn, I do hope that you can hear me. You did not kill your friend; Legolas is still around, he must be… Please, gwador, listen to my voice."
But the man was too lost in his recollection of that last hunting trip with Legolas, remembering how they walked on the snow with no worries at all.
He followed Legolas on the white blanket that covered the ground and though Aragorn could feel the cold shivers sentthrough his body, he did not want Legolas to see him easily overcome by the freezing weather.
"L... Legolas..." He called the elf, though he found it hard to talk.
"Are you all right, Aragorn?" Legolas asked as he turned around. It was perhaps his first time hearing the man speak so slowly.
"I am well, I am well," Aragorn replied to him and then he added with a smirk, "Don't I look well?"
"Somewhat... Well, your voice is saying something different," Legolas grinned at him.
"W... what kind of answer is that?" Aragorn asked.
"The obvious, can't you tell?" Legolas replied to him, still grinning.
"Oh, Valar, help me..." Aragorn called and looked helplessly at the sky as he heard Legolas laughing at his words.
"It is not funny, my friend," Aragorn insisted, but this only sent the elf into another laughing fit.
But within a second, Legolas had stared at him as though trying to know what the human meant. He did not want to lose his friendship with the man, and he hoped that his laughing would not end the bond of friendship that they shared. As Aragorn noticed how something had passed across his friend's face, he asked, "Are you... Are you all right, mellon-nin?"
"I am fine, Estel," Legolas replied and then,looking at his friend, he asked, "Are we still friends?"
"O... of course," Aragorn replied and tried to make himself take a larger step on the slick snow, which only caused him to fall over, "Why... did you think... otherwise?"
"I thought I might have offended you, and it was my fault that we ended up like this, in the cold," Legolas replied, averting his gaze.
"Legolasss... Look at me!" Aragorn called to him, still shuddering especially with his clothes now wet.
Legolas looked at him, not masking the worry on his face.
"Our friendship is forever, do you understand?" Aragorn saidstrongly as he tried to hidehis shivering.
"I do, thank you,mellon-nin," Legolas said, and seeing the man still soaking wet, he suggested, "I think that we should find some warm place. I do not want to be the one explainingto Lord Elrond how you ended up sick again."
"Good thinking, my friend." Aragorn thanked him since neither did he wish to explain how he was unwell before the huntingeven started.
Legolas nodded and started to walk on, and then he stopped when he did not hear his friend's footsteps, "Aragorn," he called, "Is something wrong?"
"I... a-am... c-c-cold..." Aragorn was stuttering. He could barely control his jaw and his legs were feeling particularly numb.
With a slight smile, Legolas went to his side, and supporting him with an arm, he helped him toward the closest cave he saw.
Elladan stared at his brother, hearing his mumbling and calls for Legolas. The way his voice trembled sounded as though he was suffering from a bitter cold.
"Estel," Elladan called him, hoping that, somehow, even in the feverish dream, his brother could hear his voice, "Estel, it is I, Elladan."
There was no recognition or response from Aragorn, and that made Elladan far uneasy. Raising his hand to his brother's forehead, he could felt the heat intensifying. His heart skipped a beat at that. He was clueless not. He did not know what he should do, but he did not want to lose his brother to the fever either.
With a heavy heart, he made his decision. Contest or no contest, Estel's health and life was more important. That was his priority now.
"Forgive me, Estel," Elladan said as he left the room, and the house.
Elrond had sensed the presence of Elladan even before he approached. "What are you doing here?" Elrond demanded.
Elladan could hear the angry tone from his father, but thinking of his brother, he found the courage to speak. "It's Estel. His fever is getting much worse while you're enjoying your contest," Elladan replied mockingly.
"Did you gave him Athelas?" Elrond asked him, ignoring the younger elf's bitter tone.
Elladan nodded and added, "I used whatever was in the room. I'm not sure I know what to do now."
Before Elrond could reply, Elrohir clasped his hand on his brother's shoulder. "I trust you to do whatever is good to help our younger brother," he said reassuringly, "If you need me, ask Lindir to call me."
"Master Elladan," Erestor addressed him, "There is a book on healing herbs in the library. If you search through the section on fever or infection, you may find something to beat the fever."
Elladan nodded to him gratefully and with a final smile at his twin, he took his leave.
Seeing that the matter was resolved, Elrond stared at the others impatiently, waiting for the confirmation of his win. "Have you decided on the winner?" he asked.
"Nobody won, as you remember, Lord Elrond, we had a time-out, so you can choose to stay stay here or to help bring down Aragorn's fever, " Glorfindel reminded him.
"I will stay, then, but I do hope we can resume this contest soon. I have much to do before the morning is over," Elrond said haughtily.
Elrohir walked toward his father, visibly angry at his attitude. "I wish I had Estel's courage to hit you for that," he said.
Thranduil came over, and giving Elrond a look of disgust, spoke to Elrohir, "He is not worth it, Elrohir, let's go."
Elrohir nodded at the elf-king but shot one last line at Elrond, "I am ashamed to have you as my father; King Thranduil makes a much better adar."
With that he followed the king toward the shade of the trees and sat with him, thinking of strategies to help him focus and win the contest.
Glorfindel and Erestor watched for their lord's reaction, but Elrond did not seem to have heard Elrohir as he concentrated on what he could do for the contest, wishing to win Thranduil, no matter what came in his way.
Elladan hurried toward the library, not wanting to lose his brother to the fever. As he quickly looked through the shelves, he found the book Erestor had mentioned about and brought it to the wooden table.
Elladan found the section and read it carefully. The description of symptoms resembled his brother's fever, and he took the book along with him to his adar's room, where he found the right herbs.
Without wasting time, he returned to his brother's side and put the herbs and book beside the bed before finding an empty pitcher. "I will heal you, my brother," Elladan said, as he saw the man's eyes moving rapidly under his eyelids. Quickly, he headed toward the stream, and filled the pitcher with water before returning.
He arranged the new herbs and checked the book, then he took some water from the vessel and sprinkled it upon his brother's pale skin. Picking up one of the leaves, he wiped his forehead with it, hoping the cool water would refresh his brother.
"I will take care of you, little brother," Elladan told him gently as he took a fresh leaf, adding the herbs and placing them on Aragorn's forehead, "You will be all right, Estel."
But the man was still moaning for Legolas, apologizing, and asking for forgiveness.
"You did not do anything wrong, little brother," Elladan said earnestly.
'I wish to know what happened between you two on this hunting trip,' Elladan thought as his brother mumbled something indiscernible. There was nothing he could do but wait, and hope that the river water, along with the herbs, would help lower the fever. Hopefully Elrohir would be able to help Thranduil much better than he was helping Aragorn.
An hour later...
Elladan looked up from the chair as saw his twin and the king enter the room. As he saw the light dancing in the king's eyes, he stood up. "What happened?" Elladan asked the king, while his twin brother went to check on Estel.
Thranduil faced Elladan as he replied, "I won Lord Elrond." He smiled and added, "If you are looking for your father, though, he is still in the garden arguing with Lord Glorfindel and Lord Erestor."
Elladan grinned and said to him, "That's the best news I have heard all day."
Thranduil smiled and nodded, then looking toward the bed he asked, "How is Aragorn?"
"He is still feverish, I am afraid," Elladan replied.
"Elladan, muindor," Elrohir told him, smiling. "You did great as far as I can tell; the fever is coming down."
Elladan turned over at once, not having realised that. With a sigh of relief, he added, "I'm glad it worked. It was growing worse and I didn't know what to do."
Thranduil clasped both hands on Elladan's shoulders. "You have certainly done well, and I believe you will be a great healer when the time comes," he smiled.
"I am proud of you too, brother," Elrohir added, watching as Elladan's frown gave way to a genuine smile.
Thranduil walked over to sit beside Aragorn's bed and noticed that Aragorn was moving his lips as though whispering.
"This is bad," Elladan said as he noticed it as well. "There's something that happened between him and Legolas, and I wish to know what it was."
"What do you mean?" Elrohir asked his twin.
"He has been apologizing and asking Legolas for forgiveness," Elladan replied.
The three of them watched as the man stirred, and they moved to allow him some space.
Elrohir sat Aragorn's side, prompting him to wake. "Open your gray eyes for me, little brother," he teased him lightly, and then he continued, "You are safe, my brother."
Aragorn could hear his voice and he tried, but his eyes felt too heavy. As he felt Elrohir's arm soothing him, he tried again, and this time, his eyes open a crack.
"You are doing well, Estel," Elladan told him and then he filled a cup with water. "Let me help you to sit and then you can have a little water."
Aragorn did as he was told, though he still felt weak. As his eyes adjusted, he saw King Thranduil before him, and his expression turned to shame. Quickly, he lowered his head and looked at the sheets.
"Aragorn," Thranduil called to him gently, as he noticed that, "What is it that troubles your heart?"
Aragorn felt the fear vibrating through his body, and he quickly hid his shaking hands under the covers. After a long time, he rose his head slowly to meet the king's eyes.
"What is it Estel?" Elrohir asked with a heavy heart as he noticed the fear overshadowing his brother's gray eyes.
Aragorn stared at the king, and when he finally replied, he was almost whispering, "I killed your son."
Thranduil stared at him blankly, not certain that he heard it right. "What did you say?" Thranduil asked him, his voice not as confident as before.
"I killed Legolas."