Deeper than Breathing: 1. Chapter 1: Legolas

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1. Chapter 1: Legolas

Above all else, elves have a gift with song. When Eomer meets with the remaining fellowship, he sees in Legolas and Aragorn an opportunity to rouse Théoden and fight off the dead hand of Saruman. He persuades Legolas to accompany him back to Edoras while Aragorn and Gimli find the hobbits. Legolas has an important task- to reach Théoden, to convince him to rouse the Riders and to lead them against Saruman. But Eomer is arrested immediately they arrive and it will not be long before Grima has Legolas similarly incarcerated.

Note: Slightly AU.  Grateful thanks to Dwimordene for letting me use her idea about Legolas awakening Theoden.

Chapter 1: Legolas

It was too cold to stand really. Eomer shrugged his thin blanket closer. Even colder to sit huddled on the plank that was supposed to be a bed, but was in reality, only a way of getting his feet away from the cheerful rats that scurried unafraid on the floor. Rats, he shuddered. He had never liked rats – even Eowyn was less scared of them than he… he stopped. Too much thinking- that road led to misery and despair, and Eomer would rather be angry. He glared at the bowl of water that he had carefully set down on the floor so he would not kick it over. And guarded it from his fellow occupants- it helped him to focus on the precious water – stopped him thinking and kept alive the bright hot anger. He imagined the rats as little Grimas and took his pleasure as he could.

A distant sound, metal and wood disturbed him… a scrape of iron.

And then, footsteps.


A thin shaft of light swung around from a corner and then was followed by brighter light, several lanterns, and that hated voice.

Eomer snarled. Good. Something to be really angry about.


What this time?

Several heavily armed soldiers appeared, lamplight glinting off their drawn weapons. And between two of them, a heavy shape slumped. They carried something, no, someone.
Eomer's eyes got used to the light. He couldn't see whom but he was suddenly afraid. He gripped the bars, catching a glimpse of gold hair, and his heart stopped… it was taller than Eowyn. He breathed again. Safe. She was still safe.

'My Lord Marshall,' Grima sneered. He bowed, eyes looking up, anything but deferential; impertinent and knowing. 'I do apologise for disturbing your rest…' he sneered, 'we have brought another traitor to join you.' Keys jangled and the door of the next cell was thrown open. The lanterns swung as the heavy body was shuffled carelessly through and fell heavily against the iron bars.

'Quick- afore he wakes up and starts agin' muttered one soldier. The door was hastily slammed shut. Another fumbled clumsily with the keys.

'He's waking- quick!' clunk- the lock was fast and the soldiers, drawing a collective sigh, stepped back and lowered their weapons, as their burden shook its head and murmured something.

Eomer gasped, 'My lord Legolas!'

Weakly the elf whispered, hands moving slowly to clutch his head. Eomer could not hear his words, they sounded distant and confused. Legolas was slumped where they left him.

'C'mon lads- he's safe down 'ere'.' the sergeant seemed only too happy to move off but Grima grabbed his sleeve suddenly. Eomer caught the look of surprise and revulsion, quickly suppressed, in the sergeant's face.

'No sergeant.' Grima hissed. 'Leave by all means. But you will leave this torch and a guard on the door. He may wait beyond the door however….Go'.

There was a short muttered argument amongst the retreating soldiers and then, only Grima.

Eomer leaned back against the dank wall – shutting out of his mind the discomfort and the horrible thoughts that crept in. He would not start any conversation with the Worm, for that is what he sought. Eomer knew he had become sport for the man.

The yellow lamplight glowed softly in the gloom, bathing Grima's face and for a moment, Eomer recognised the man who had been so insignificant at Meduseld for so long, a petty hungry man, but without power or influence, without respect… but a man nonetheless. And for that moment, Eomer realised the disappointment of Grima, who would never live up to the Mark and its riders, who would never be in songs or saluted by his fellows….and then Grima turned slightly, all his focus on the elf, and the hunger was sharper, feral and yellow, and the vision of the man was gone. Here was Eomer's enemy. He wanted to kill him.

Sound to his left snapped him away from the knuckle-clenching fury building in his heart and he came to himself- it would do no good to react to Grima- it would only give him more power. He focused on the sound. Legolas was speaking, softly, and pain trembled in his voice.

'So, you awaken, my lord' Grima spoke quietly. 'I am so sorry that we cannot lodge you better as you are accustomed. And I can only apologise for the company… but I cannot have you looking, listening and sneaking about. I might almost say you were a spy… but never let it be said that I am not a fair man. You will face interrogation and trial tomorrow and then, I am sure, we will …hear… everything'. Grima drew himself up a little and his gaze sharpened, focused on the elf. He seemed to draw himself up and together.

Then he spoke again.

It seemed then to Eomer, that the air between them seemed to tremble and waver in the torchlight, that the shadows drew more closely about them, and voice of Grima changed. It grew, quietly and powerfully, and coiled about the elf like a thick smoke… he was no longer certain what he was seeing. 'Indeed, we will hear you… and you will speak the truth whether you will or no'. And Legolas could not breathe. Eomer stood helpless, as the elf moved his hands to his throat, his mouth, seeming to choke. Grima glided forwards, his eyes yellow in the torchlight, narrowed. He raised his hand slightly and the elf fell forward as if released from some choking hold, falling hard on his hands and knees, long hair hanging forwards over his face and breathing hard, sucking in great lungful of air. 'Do not mistake me, Legolas Thranduillion.' The voice was low, but to Eomer, it seemed inexorable, thrumming the air around him, irresistible in its threat and promise, 'I know you. And I know your cause.'

Grima backed away then, the torch flickering, casting his shadow huge on the walls, and turned and left.

'Legolas!' Eomer suddenly felt his limbs his own again. He clutched at the bars of his cell 'Are you alright?' Hands reaching through the bars, seeking to loosen already torn and loosened clothes. Stupid question, he berated himself, of course he isn't! He is in a cell. And tomorrow, they will torture him- and he would say anything. Eomer had seen Grima's interrogation, not experienced it- no point in torturing Eomer. Grima already knew far far more than Eomer. Eomer berated himself- it was all his fault. He had persuaded the elf to come with him, to abandon his friends and to follow him to Edoras. He had persuaded the elf that he was needed here, to rouse the king, to remind him of old alliances and glory. Instead, he was here, in a cell, in the dark dank cold of a dungeon.

At least the elf's breathing seemed calmer now. His gasps slowing and body relaxing now.

Eomer reached through the bars separating them, and laid his hand against the elf's forehead, feeling the heat of his blood.  And no one knows he is here. Slowly then, futile knowledge dawned. Grima would kill him. Publicly. Execute him as a spy or worse with a confession from the elf, tortured out of him, about the dreadful plots made against the Roherrim by the Witch of the Golden Wood, and others. Scrabbling for a cloth, Eomer's foot dashed against his precious water bowl and sent it spilling across the filthy floor – wasted. He cursed and swore, falling back against the stone wall.  Grima would use the opportunity to kill Legolas, and alienate the men of Rohan from any Elven kingdom that might, possibly, barely, have still been a possible ally.  Rather, those same potential allies would be filled with horror and revenge. Rohan would be besieged on two fronts… and Gondor would fall, and the Kingdom of Men be over. It would be Sauron's victory. He groaned, kneeling beside the elf and uselessly staring at him.  He had no skill as a healer; he had no idea what to do, so he slammed his fist against the stone wall, scraping his knuckles.  Realising he had sunk hopelessly on his knees Eomer put his head in his hands.  He groaned again, tormenting himself with the possibilities. It was hopeless.

His scalp prickled.  He was being watched by two bright eyes, curious, and amused? Not rats, he thought.  Although he had begun to feel that he was a source of entertainment of the rats recently… no, these were disconcerting, searching.  Eomer felt decidedly foolish- like a child who is being indulged by its uncle who knows everything and is watching him struggle to open a very easy box. He met the other's gaze with a glower of his own.

'You seem remarkably recovered.' he said rather irritably.

The elf raised a quizzical eyebrow. Of course, thought Eomer. He would.

'I thought he had choked you' he added.  He felt annoyed now. He had been really scared the elf was suffering and now it seemed that he was playing along all the time.

'He had' the elf said matter of factly. 'Indeed, that was a useful test - he has some other that is not his own.' he added thoughtfully.

'What happened?' asked the man. 'When I left you, you were with Eowyn, you were going to try to find a way to see the king. Is she safe?'  When the elf nodded briefly, Eomer had not realised he had been holding his breath waiting to hear his sister was safe.  'What went wrong?'

The elf tilted his head thoughtfully, 'I made a mistake,'  he said, 'I simply underestimated Grima of all people,' he sounded disgusted with himself, 'and I got caught. He is right. I was spying, in the King's rooms no less, and Grima and his henchmen were waiting for me. I gave him everything he needs to make me into an enemy of Rohan.' He shook his head. 'Only a fool would have walked into that trap.'

'Ah.' said Eomer. There didn't seem much else to say. 'Well then.'

The elf seemed to be waiting. Eomer did not know what he was supposed to do next. And then after a pause, the elf said, 'Well then?' His eyes bright and fixed unwaveringly on his.

Eomer remained on his knees. He looked at the elf. Then looked down. He sneaked a look back up at the elf. He was still looking at him…really looking. Not exactly staring… but almost as if he were remembering every detail, examining him, looking into him, at the way his muscle and sinew and bone held together and made his shape, the way his mouth worked and the place of his heart and the way this would make him act, move, think , feel ... love… Eomer looked away quickly. He needed to focus. What was going on?

 'What is going on?' he said aloud. Beama- his mouth was working independently of his brain!

Legolas tilted his head to one side, still gazing at him in that disconcertingly intense way and he had a slight smile on his lips. 'What is going on?'  he repeated.  The elf's words were spoken with a slight lilt, Eomer had noticed when he first heard the elf speak out on the plains. It was a strange accent, he softened the consonants and elongated the vowels slightly, it was more... fluid… softer than Eomer expected. Stop it, he told himself.
'Are you going to repeat everything I say?' Eomer snapped. He knew he wasn't coming across well. Legolas laughed. It was totally out of place, anachronistic, unexpected, and suddenly, astonishingly, Eomer felt his heart surge.

'Lift up your head, Eomer of the Riddermark' said the elf, and he seemed somehow more real than the walls that had closed in on Eomer for too long. 'Not all is yet darkness and even then, elves have good eyes in the dark.' He rose to his feet, not awkwardly or as in pain, as Eomer expected from the way he had come in, but with the athleticism of a warrior poised for action.

Legolas came to the bars they shared and placed his long hand there, placed his palm carefully, as if noticing the iron grill for the first time. 'For oft is said it is darkest before dawn'.  His eyes glittered again, in the dark and Eomer felt his otherness and strangeness.  'Come, I have been in darker places than this and survived. We still live and out in the world, the horses of Rohan run and the grass grows green and strong, soon the stars, beloved of my people, will begin their song… listen.'

Eomer wondered who was madder, the elf for his strange words, or him for listening to it and feeling gladdened.

The elf beckoned him over and drew closer, his strong, beautiful face sharp and fey.
'No. Listen.' he said insistently. And he drew his fingers lightly down the other's face. They left a trail of warmth, heat… Eomer closed his eyes briefly, and then stared into the face of the other. Then quickly looked away. The gaze was too hard, too direct, it hurt to look at that brightness, intensity that would strip him, pare him to the bone. He heard the sputter of the only torch, and a hiss of air, a draft fingering its way into the dungeons. Nothing else.

'No.' A whisper of breath now on his skin. 'Listen.' Eomer frowned. And looked back up . He listened.

Silence. No, something else. Far away it seemed at first. Then stronger, a song, no words, just sounds that ran one into the other… an endless stream of notes that made him think of the great grass plains, horses running, the wind across the grass, cold and laced with frost from the mountains…

He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. He caught an elusive scent of moss and pine trees. When he looked up, he looked up into the strange eyes of the elf. Eomer felt his soul lurch. He knew that sound. It was the elf. He had brought the song, he was singing, humming it quietly, under his breath. He knew Eomer. 'How…..what… how?'

The elf smiled, an eldritch smile. Eomer remembered what they said about elves and wondered. Legolas seemed to hear his thoughts and said 'We all have our song… even you, Eomer of the Mark… even Grima, although he has forgotten his.'  Then he sighed, and the sound was like the whisper of leaves in the wind.

'What are we going to do?' Eomer whispered, feeling like a frightened child whose older brother has just found him in the woods. Legolas smiled, and it was no longer fey. His eyes were steel and his jaw set.

'Now we will turn the tide. Now we will start to win.'

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.

Story Information

Author: ziggy

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: General

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 10/20/10

Original Post: 12/20/08

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WARNING! Comments may contain spoilers for a chapter or story. Read with caution.

Deeper than Breathing

curiouswombat - 22 Dec 08 - 5:08 AM

Ch. 1: Chapter 1: Legolas

A fascinating chapter.  I look forward to more of this story.

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