Note: Per canon, we have arrived at the day Aragorn should leave Minas Tirith. There is nothing written that says what time Aragorn left but it is my guess it would have been early and that he rides in the vanguard with the Sons of Elrond, Legolas and Gimli. Of course, this would be a bit hard for Legolas so I have played with the timeline a little and made it so they leave the next day. Things will adjust on the way- don't worry.
Disclaimer: Not mine. No money.
Beta: The unsurpassed Anarithiien- works so hard to make this good!
Thank you to those who have reviewed - I got a bit worried at the last chapter for a bit because the reviews were slower and I thought perhaps I had left things for too long. I just can't write as much as I did before for the moment. Sorry- updates are going to be a bit slow but I will try to get things out as quickly as possible.
Chapter 29: Fellowship
Gently loosening his hand from the strong fingers that curled around his, Elrohir rose to his feet, and reached over to pull the door open and called softly. He knew Elladan would be nearby, felt his strong, calm presence, knew he would be working with the injured, and for a moment he felt selfish; he should be doing as his brother and tending the wounded. But he glanced over again at Legolas and felt anew the soft delight that the Woodelf was alive. They could spare him; there were others who could dress wounds, bring comfort, he told himself.
'Is all well, brother?' Elladan asked from the doorway and Elrohir turned to him and smiled. Elladan looked like he had been sleeping after all. His hair was a little mussed and he blinked sleepily.
'He has awoken...not truly, but it begins. He spoke his own name.' Elrohir could not help the softness in his voice, nor did he miss his brother's troubled gaze.
But Elladan only nodded silently and came to stand beside him. He hesitated for a moment and then reached out and lifted Legolas' eyelid. The startling green iris was opaque with dreaming and the pupil wide, like a cat's in the dark, shrank in the light. Elladan said nothing and bent to feel his pulse at the throat. His hand hovered for a moment over a purple bruise, and then felt its way to the vein.
'His pulse is slow and steady,' he said and he reached down to press his hand lightly against Legolas' wound. 'Nothing like the wild beating of yesterday when we brought him in.' Elladan became utterly still, his long hair fell forward over his shoulder, a sheet of black silk shining like mercury, his grey eyes narrowing to half closed, and Elrohir wondered if he too looked like that when he reached into the souls of those he healed.
After a while, Elladan opened his eyes. 'He is closed to me I fear,' he murmured. 'And I do not know where he roams. It may yet be the Havens for him whatever happens...now that he has heard the gulls.' He straightened and sighed. 'The price was high indeed, and yet may still be higher. But at least he will have time enough to recover to ride for Lorien should we fall. That is if you can find anyone who will go with him.'
'There are healers here who will look for sanctuary in Imladris if Gondor should fall,' Elrohir heard himself say and it seemed to come from far away, talking so steadily about his and Elladan's own deaths, for he knew that should his brother fall, he would also. 'I have seen to it.'
There was so little time left suddenly. So little time with Legolas. So little time with Elladan. And he had so much he needed to say for Elladan's quietly uttered question still hung between them... 'Did you ... did you touch her? That is all I need to know. It is all I can bear.' And though he had answered truthfully, it was not the whole truth.
'It is well that you have.' Elladan yawned and smoothed his hands over his gleaming hair. 'Aragorn will lead the army from the city tomorrow. He has already ordered troops to Osgliath to protect the stone masons and workers who repair the defences destroyed by Sauron's armies.'
'So soon?' Elrohir asked, concerned. He glanced down at Legolas' still, pale face. 'I had not thought Aragorn would be ready yet.'
'The whole city is ready.' Elladan stepped away from him and looked out of the window to where the morning sun rose above the mountains in the East, still shadowed and dark. 'Gandalf urges us on. He talks as if we should have already left and I fear there is much left to do in ordering the defence of the city. It is less than one day's march, and but a few hours ride to Osgiliath. And from there but a short way to Minas Morgul if we go through the Morgul Pass — six days march if we go to the Black Gate...Gandalf counsels the latter. He says we should head straight for the Morannon and confront Sauron there.' He looked back down at Legolas and then said, more gently, 'You are willing to leave him then? '
'I would delay if I could, but was there ever any question that I would not go with you?' Elrohir stared up at his brother. 'Surely you do not think me such a coward that I should skulk here while you and Aragorn ride to your deaths? No! I have said that I have much to atone.' He looked down again at Legolas and smoothed a hand over the long blond hair. 'And he is safe here. I will ride with you.'
Elladan was silent for a moment and outside a robin sang.
'It is not only Legolas to whom I owe much,' Elrohir said quietly.
Elladan paused for a moment and then Elrohir heard him step towards him. He did not look up but his brother's voice came from above him. 'You will not atone anything simply by dying. It will not absolve you...and we have yet to speak of it.'
Elrohir became very still. He closed his eyes and in his heart, he knew Elladan had read him right; it was the way of escape. The Gift of Men. To die and sleep until the Ending of the World. To forget. To leave it all behind. His thumb stroked over Legolas' still hand lightly, for once Legolas remembered, he would not want Elrohir...and once Elladan knew everything, he would reject him too. So perhaps he could atone with his own death...perhaps if he could save a few worthier folk, perhaps he could wash himself clean. He bowed his head, and then lightly he felt Elladan stroke his head and he felt a warmth and love soak into him; cool, blue peace, like moonlight on a still pool and petals floated. He felt tears on his cheeks and bowed his head so Elladan could not see and he knew his brother wanted to forgive him... but he did not know everything, and Elrohir could not forgive himself.
Quietly Elladan moved his hand from his brother's head and moved towards the door. But he paused and looked back. ' Stay with him for as long as you can, brother. Make him remember you when we have gone.'
Elrohir stared as his brother left, feeling the weight of the moment; he was leaving to ride to battle, a battle they did not hope to win, for that was not why they were going... And here lay his heart.
After a while, he reached out and smoothed the pale, lovely face, traced the generous lips that were still now and wished they would smile for him. He watched as the eyelids fluttered and a seam of green appeared. Legolas watched him from half-closed eyes, his cheek flushed with sleep. Elrohir thought he heard an eagle cry, far above, wheeling above the pristine snow on cold mountains far away...
He did not press Legolas although he was clearly awakening, allowing him to feel his way slowly back to awareness and then consciousness. Elrohir slowed his movements, smiled gently, spoke only rarely and quietly, like the Woodelf was a wild animal that might flee at any moment. And Legolas gazed at him warily at first, and then feeling the warmth and tenderness that Elrohir flooded him with, he smiled tentatively. Elrohir rested in the low chair next to the bed, gazing in rapture at all he thought he had lost.
Eventually Legolas spoke again. 'My lord, you called me.*' His voice sounded raw and husky and Elrohir remembered how he had screamed and screamed up on the cold mountainside, and how he had screamed again only the night before when Aragorn had tried to awaken him... too soon, ah. Too soon. He hoped that now it was time.
Elrohir smiled and slowly reached for his hand. When Legolas did not pull away, he gently touched the long fingers, the strong hands but he did not speak, letting Legolas make his own way through the maze of memory and half-dreaming. He poured clear, cool water laced with honey from a pitcher that stood on a chest nearby, and watched as Legolas held the cup to his lips. His hands trembled a little, but he could it steady this time.
That was enough for Legolas and, handing back the cup, he rested for a while, letting his eyes drift, but not falling asleep. He gazed at the sunlight as it slid slowly, inexorably across the limestone floor, threaded by the shadows of branches and twigs of the lime trees outside.
After a time, Elrohir rose and opened the window to let in the scents of Spring, the warmth of the morning, and the robin sang. Legolas smiled a slow, beautiful smile. His strange green eyes softened and his flaxen hair spilled over the pillows. Elrohir thought he had never seen anything that touched him more deeply. He bit his lip and looked away. How unworthy he was to be here.
'Rávëyon.' The croaked word startled him out of his misery and he turned to stare in astonishment. Legolas remembered him. He bowed his head in shame for it was far more than he deserved.
Legolas frowned when he did not speak. 'Are you not Rávëyon?' He looked down, inward and Elrohir could see the struggle for memory. 'Then I do not know you...I am...I am Legolas Thranduillion. Of the Forest...'
'Yes. Of the Great Forest of the North,' Elrohir sat beside him. 'Your father is Thranduil, the Elvenking.'
Legolas looked suddenly vulnerable and met his eyes briefly before he cast his gaze down. He toyed with the sheet and picked at a thread, plucking at it until it came loose. 'What happened?' he asked quietly, as if afraid to hear his own voice and his trembling hand hovered over his throat as if afraid to touch it.
'You were injured,' Elrohir said gently. 'We thought we had lost you. But you are here, safe with your friends.' Legolas held his gaze hard, and did not speak but he clenched his jaw. Elrohir wanted to drop his gaze at what he thought was disbelief, but he forced himself still. 'I am your friend,' he said softly, holding the hard green stare and it was Legolas who looked away, confused.
Legolas fiddled with the loose thread and then looked down at his hands seeing them for the first time, slowly he lifted his arm and stared at the tiny cuts and nicks in his skin. His lips parted slightly in confusion and he turned his hands over to see the palms smooth and unblemished.
'I thought I had burned,' he murmured huskily. His fingers brushed over his own arms, shoulders, felt the tiny wounds that had been made to hurt and not kill. His hand came to rest above his heart, where the morgul blade had plunged. 'I thought I had died...' His eyes went wide and distant and Elrohir reached out and touched him lightly, calling him back, letting the warmth and love bathe him, drench him, pour into his wounded body and soul.
Legolas let his head fall back so his long hair streamed over the pillows and swept down to the floor. His eyes closed and lips parted, panting slightly. 'It...hurts.'
'Hush.' Elrohir reached out and rested his hand against the Elf's beating heart, flooding him with warmth. Alive. Restored and returned to him against all hope. 'I will guard you. You are safe.'
He stroked the long wintergrass hair and felt its cool heaviness in his hands, and remembered that night in Aragorn's tent when he had fallen back, lost in desire and sensation. And then he looked away in shame. How could he have felt lust at the idea of Legolas in agony and pain? How could he have wanted that possession, domination, subjugation? He did not really understand it himself but he knew it was not Legolas he had wanted, but some idea of Legolas subdued and in his power. It was not what he felt now. Now he wanted to protect Legolas, to take away the fear. So intense was his feeling now that his chest hurt.
His hand gently, lovingly strayed over the long hair, let it trail and slip through his fingers, wondering at it. And then he glanced down and saw that Legolas looked up at him and his gaze was rapt.
'You were with me. In that place.' Legolas stared intensely at Elrohir so he felt he was stripped bare with every part of himself open to Legolas' scrutiny; he flinched, for surely Legolas would remember that Elrohir had scorned him. Soon he would see the bruises on his neck that were there before the Nazgul and recall that brutal assault.
'I was. I tried...' He hung his head. 'I failed.' Elrohir let his hair hide him. His hand stilled, fell back to the counterpane and he looked down as strong fingers caught his. How could he leave Legolas here, alone and vulnerable, the only Elf in Gondor? His brother's words came back to him. How could he abandon Legolas, even if it was to die for the greater good? He would be entrusting Legolas into the care of some unknown healer and hoping they would find a way to the Golden Wood where Galadriel would take Legolas to the Havens with her, trusting that when they fled Middle Earth, they would be allowed into Valinor. And if not? If not...He could not think beyond that sobering thought.
But Legolas held his gaze steadily, searching... and then he half closed his eyes as if listening and a slow smile curved over his generous mouth, and Elrohir heard the cry of the wild eagles, high, high above, circling in the frost-blue sky above pristine snow. He felt something in him shift, some lump, some knot of misery uncurl and stretch into stillness, and he knew he was hearing his Song in the distance.
Later a messenger came from the lord Elessar who had requested Rávëyon's presence. Legolas did not know who Elessar was but he thought something was afoot. He could sense the city's excitement, hear distant trumpets and drums. But he could not concentrate, and he let his attention slide from the anxious messenger to his Rávëyon's beloved face. He wondered why the Elf Lord looked so unsettled.
Rávëyon bid the man remain with Legolas, in spite of the discomfort of both parties. He told Legolas that he would send someone more familiar as soon as he could. Legolas felt as uncomfortable as the man, who stood nervously near the door and regarded him with a mixture of awe and fear.
Legolas fixed him with an elven stare and soon he felt the man wilt and twitch.
'It is quite in order for you to leave me alone,' Legolas said softly. 'My lord Rávëyon will send another soon and I am not going to leap out of the window.'
'If you say so, my lord,' said the man with huge relief and he scuttled quickly out of the door, almost slamming it in his anxiety to be gone.
Legolas smiled and leaned back onto the pillows. For the first time, however briefly, he was alone and could think, work out what had happened to him. He drew a deep breath but it hurt his ribs and he thought he must have broken or bruised some. But he could not simply lie here and know nothing of what went on beyond these stone walls, not with the trumpets sounding and the drums beating a march. He knew he was not at home, for Thranduil would never approve of such vulgar, Noldorin display, he thought. And as he smiled, he felt an unbearable loneliness.
Clenching his fists, he pushed himself to sit up, breathing steadily. His ribs hurt but not badly and he knew there was something beneath that bandage that he did not want to look at just yet. It felt cold, alien. As though something were within him now that had not been there before, that something of himself leaked from that wound and it was not blood. He could not think about it just now, he did not feel strong enough. So he forced himself to stand, one hand clutching at the headboard and the other clenched into a fist against the pain... but it was not as bad as he expected. Just bruising. His muscles ached and his ribs hurt...but there were no bones broken and no searing agony when he moved. He touched his head. Nothing. Nothing to explain why he could not remember.
He stood for a moment, adjusting to being on his own two feet. He felt a little wobbly, like he had been drugged, or... or...somewhere else. And it felt strangely uncomfortable. He glanced nervously out the window, feeling his fingertips buzz and prickle. He closed his eyes and tried to remember but his mind simply refused to go back. He was met with a wall of silver and white light, like staring at a wide, wide river with sunlight turning it mercurial.
He stepped a little shakily towards the window, wanting to see beyond these stone walls. Then he rested his fingertips against the cool glass for a moment and caught his own reflection in the glass. He looked nothing like himself, he saw with puzzled surprise. His hair looked different, unbound as it was, unfamiliar. He remembered he had been traveling in the wild for a long time. His eyes looked sunken and his cheeks hollow, as if he had been ill. He lifted his hand and looked again at the tiny cuts and nicks that were healing fast but he still had no memory of how he got them. Even now. He lightly touched his fingertips to the scars on his skin, on his face, bruises on his neck, chest, and then lingered on the white linen bandage that wrapped around him, testing the edges, lifting it where he could to slide an experimental finger across the scarred flesh. But he stopped short of looking, as though he knew, deep down what he would find and his mind shied away from it.
He could not remember being injured. But that was not unusual; that had happened before. He remembered. There was a time...yes... there was a time once... in the thrill of battle, the heat in the loins, the sheer lust, that he had been badly wounded, and only afterwards his brother had looked at him aghast at the severity of his wounds, and then bundled him off to a healer, scolding him so his ears burned...
Legolas paused, and felt his way back along that thought...his brother was not here. And he, Legolas, was not where he thought he should be...There were no trees, only the ancient lime trees in the garden. No other elves here apart from...Rávëyon...who was not an Elf. He was a Half-Elf. Peredhel...That must mean...was he in Imladris? No. This was a city of stone.
He leaned his cheek for a moment against the cool white wall, and listened to the song of the city, the stones soaked in blood and war, how they trembled. The One they had waited for had returned. A memory teased him, something elusive… a smoky, bitter smell beneath the fragrance of athelas, and he was strangely comforted by the thought.
Slowly, slowly, he turned his own song to heal, measured the inward knitting of muscle. He smoothed along the nerve endings and gentled the pain and listened to the harmony of his body's healing, let it soothe and knit...heal. He felt the tug of new skin stretch and thicken. The silver-blue light, like glass or sunlight on a river, was still there and when he reached for it, he could not touch it, could not penetrate those precious lost memories, but for now it was enough to feel his body stretch and heal, the bones and sinew knit and smooth back into place, to feel his muscles slide and stretch.
He leaned his back against the wall more heavily; he could not get past that wall like silver glass. In his chest was a slow ache that spread and made him feel cold. He hugged his arms about himself and shivered, feeling the scars on his arms and ribs, like the ones on his face and chest, deeper on his arms, long and thin, like he had been sliced with many blades. He could not remember. But he felt a cold, cold spear of pain lance through him and suddenly he needed Rávëyon. He wanted to be safe for he thought he heard a high-pitched shriek that set his nerves jangling and the ice cold spear...
He felt the world tilt suddenly, and throwing one arm out to steady himself he knocked over a pitcher of water and it flowed over the limestone flags and pooled, silver water...rippling, light catching it silver blue. He stared as the breeze teased at the open window and he caught a scent, a song that wound about his heart, like a skein of silk on the breeze, wind-blown, blue and silver like...like... something he had known once and could no longer remember.
He tilted his head and closed his eyes, listening. A song... It called him home...but it spoke not of the trees and great woods, or of clear streams running through forest glades... No, this one caught on the wings of white birds that flew upriver and called and wheeled in the bright sunlight.
'Legolas! You're up already! We knew you wouldn't be in that bed for long,' A cheerful voice cried.
Legolas blinked slowly and looked up to see...someone he knew but his mind stumbled for the name and he did not know how he knew a hobbit that was not Bilbo. Bilbo. He savoured the name. Bilbo Baggins. He was the hobbit who had burgled Smaug. Smaug was the dragon...Ah. Of course. He remembered the gloriously golden dragon, massive armoured limbs curled on his bed of gold and jewels, smoke curling from his nostrils. Power, violence and destruction coiled in that slumbering dragon. No mere beast, his cunning and wisdom was beyond all ken, immortal or otherwise. Legolas had been terrified. As he should be.** He glanced down at his naked shoulder.
'Elrohir asked me to come,' the hobbit was saying and Legolas glanced up again dazedly. How could he have forgotten the hobbit was there?
Afternoon sunlight was warm on his skin. The window had been thrown open and there was the scent of the earth warming and a small brown bird chirped happily and hopped amongst the branches of the ancient lime trees that were bursting with pale green buds. Legolas thought how shady the garden would be in the Summer with the big leaves unfurled and the huge silvery branches.
There was a clinking and chinking sound from the doorway and the hobbit was staggering in, carrying an enormous tray laden with food, but Legolas could not bring himself to lift his hands to help. Instead he looked down again at the painted dragon that curled protectively about his torso, hugged him with its proof of the courage of the Elves of the Wood.
'Gimli will be here soon. He wanted to come here straight away but Aragorn needed him to look at the Gates. They are all out there,' the hobbit chatted on cheerfully, although Legolas had no idea of whom or what he spoke. 'Eomer and Imrahil are there and Faramir is out of bed and at least able to give some advice. But he won't be going either.' Legolas thought that the hobbit might have been sitting with him before, chattering about all sorts of things and places and people as he did now, but he could not remember for sure; he let it wash over him, grateful not to be on his own, uneasy without Rávëyon but a nervous fluttering seized him whenever he thought of the Elf-lord.
The hobbit's quick eyes darted over the tray. 'I think this is...teatime!' he announced pleased. 'But you haven't even had breakfast yet so perhaps this can be breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses and lunch! Gimli said to bring it. He said you'd be hungry. Aragorn didn't think you would be, but Merry and I decided Gimli was right. Gimli isn't happy about the Gates, says they have not been repaired as well as they should be and that if he had but a dozen dwarves they would make gates fit for the returned king… or something like that anyway. I wasn't really listening. But he is right. They do need to be repaired before...well, before They attack again. Because we will all be gone soon and...' The hobbit stopped speaking suddenly and stole a glance at Legolas as if he should not have said so much.
But Legolas did not know who or what the hobbit meant and he did not ask either, just let the words flow around and over while the hobbit busied himself with setting a table with plates and bowls. Legolas let his mind drift...but not too far... not to sleep. He did not want to sleep. He feared to... to sleep was to go back to the Fire and he felt the burn edge along his nerves, felt the darkness, like ink bleeding into his veins, and the towering shadows that had pursued him down the mountainside... the long claws that reached out and snagged on his flesh... No, not flesh, they tore into his spirit-light, snagged on it and ripped little pieces off so they floated away and the darkness consumed them slowly, bit by little bit...
The hobbit babbled on oblivious, spooning out something into the bowls, lifting lids of things and clattering away and slowly, Legolas brought his breathing back, focused on the ordinary. He listened gratefully to the hobbit's chatter about someone called Gimli and someone called Aragorn, and someone called Merry. He wondered at first if that was the name of the hobbit's pony and then was glad he had not asked, for Merry was clearly his beloved.
'Legolas? Are you all right?' the hobbit had paused in his arrangement of things and was gazing up at Legolas with wide eyes full of concern.
'Yes. I think so...um...'
'Pippin,' said the hobbit helpfully as he led him back to sit on the bed, and Legolas nodded. Pippin. Familiar but not known...yet, he reminded himself. The old man in the white had said he would recover slowly...The old man in white was Gandalf, he remembered, though he had forgotten again a moment later. And a memory...
...Olórin stood there, holding out his arms and calling him...Olórin would help him, would stop them...but above Olórin a dark shape suddenly dived and swooped and a terrible winged shape, shadow and ...and it was like the Balrog but ice not fire...Nazgul! They had come and Olórin turned and fought them and then he could not see anymore...the darkness and ice had come for him...wanting to run, he pulled on the threads that bound him, tugged and tried to flee but there was another in danger...and though he tried to lure the darkness and ice away by running, the shadows stood over the fallen elvellon, angrau-pau, bloodbrother, friend and he could not leave his friend so he too was dragged back...
He felt a small hand on his arm and Pippin was looking up at him with concern.
'Shall I get Gimli?'
Gimli was the dwarf, thought Legolas and sighed. No, Gimli would fuss and fuss and try to make Legolas sleep. He remembered now that the dwarf had already been in twice during the night and ordered everyone about. Rávëyon had been there then, and stopped them from giving him potions to make him sleep. He shook his head. Rávëyon. He thought of the light gleaming on the Elf-lord's black-silk hair and remembered Rávëyon had called Legolas 'beloved'. But those grey eyes were too deep, and for Legolas to look into them was to be lost, and he was frightened of the tremor of nervous excitement and fear he felt when Rávëyon was close… and the hurt...
'Very well.' Pippin interrupted, declaring in a voice that signaled that this was momentous and helpful. Legolas lifted his eyes and tried to focus on the hobbit. 'I have decided that since I am the only member of the Fellowship who is both hale and hearty, and actually here, that my job is to tell you everything that has happened so you get your memory back.'
Pippin settled himself in a small chair that seemed to have been brought in especially for him, because Legolas remembered that the Wizard had harrumphed and scowled and tried to sit in it but almost got stuck,... Wizard... Olórin. Gandalf...Yes. He remembered. Gandalf was the meddling Wizard who brought nothing but trouble...It was his father who said this. Thranduil. He felt a wrench of sorrow and anxiety at the thought of his father, but still he did not know why. Every time he thought of home, he was troubled. But he seemed unable to hold onto any thoughts for very long, certainly not long enough to work anything out.
Legolas' stomach rumbled and he realised he was hungry. Pippin gave him a wide, cheerful smile and Legolas could not help but smile back. He liked the sense of mischief he got from Pippin and he seemed fond enough of Legolas to spend time with him. He was part of a Fellowship...and Legolas wondered if it was a Fellowship of Hobbits or if Legolas was also part of it. He found himself hoping it was the latter.
'You remember I have already told you about how old Bilbo came to have the Ring, and no one else even suspected anything, even though I did.' Legolas smiled at Pippin and nodded although he had no recollection of any of this whatsoever. Pippin was ladling some sort of stewed meat and vegetables into a bowl for Legolas and suddenly it smelled delicious. He had not been interested before but he saw now there was hot new bread, and yellow cheese and his body suddenly realised it was famished.
'...well, the Ring had been found by that little goblin creature, Smeagol and he dropped it and it was picked up by Bilbo. Ah! see, you remember!' Pippin said cheerfully. 'And you remember the Ring came to Bilbo?'
Legolas had a strange feeling as he listened. The name Smeagol made his stomach lurch and he paused, but the silver-mercury wall slammed down. And he was hungry. So he ate. He was so hungry, like he had been emptied of everything and needed to be replenished and Pippin helped him to a second serving and then ladled the stew into a second bowl for himself.
'Well, Bilbo decided to go off on more adventures and he left everything this time to Frodo, his nephew if you remember. And that included the Ring.'
Pippin stopped and peered at Legolas for a moment, as if he should be doing something other than stuffing food in his mouth. Legolas suddenly smiled, for Pippin looked, for an incredulous moment, just like Thranduil if Legolas forgot his manners — that imperious, quizzical stare that needed no word and every one of his grown sons would drop their gaze and shuffle. He glanced up at Pippin, his eyes brighter than they had been.
'...Well it was after Bilbo had gone that I realised this was no ordinary magic ring that Frodo had,' Pippin was saying proudly. Legolas looked at the hobbit with wonder and amazement that Pippin should be such as master of lore and learning.
'How did you know it was...?' he asked with his mouth full and reaching for the loaf of lovely fresh bread, still warm. 'How did you know it was... It?' he finished one mouthful and tore off another chunk and smeared it over the butter, not even bothering with a knife.
Pippin beamed at him approvingly. 'You see Legolas, I have always thought you were more like a hobbit than one of those Rivendell Elves. And now you show not only an excellent hobbit-like understanding of how I found this out, but a very hobbit-like appetite too. Have some more stew.' Legolas nodded and held out his bowl to be filled for the third time. Pippin was of course eating a second helping and Legolas was grateful that the hobbit had agreed to eat with him, just to keep him company.
Pippin chattered on while Legolas ate and Legolas felt more and more curious about Pippin who was vaguely and pleasantly familiar, and to whom —according to Pippin himself— the West owed so much and yet recognised also little.
'So after you realised it was the One Ring, and organised Frodo's escape from the Shire and warned Gandalf about Saruman,' Legolas asked, ignoring the tiny niggle at the back of his mind as he said this, 'did any of the other hobbits give you the respect you deserved, or did they still not understand what a great scholar they had amongst them?'
'Oh,' Pippin waved away the query with great nobility. 'I do not expect them to understand. Education in the Shire outside the Great Smials is...well, let is just say it leaves a lot to be desired and ...well, frankly, Legolas, I have found it best to allow others to take credit. I am happy to serve.'
Legolas swallowed the food meekly and nodded again. He was impressed that Pippin had worked out that Saruman was evil; even Thranduil had never really quite been sure about Saruman and he knew everything. But apparently not as much as Pippin. And that bothered him for some reason; surely Pippin must be a great hero in The Shire?
'Well, I gathered Frodo, Sam and Merry together in Bag End. Of course I had guessed that Gandalf had been delayed by Saruman, even though I counseled him not to go! Sometimes even the Wise do not listen to me.' Pippin shook his head sadly and Legolas wondered that the Wise had so easily dismissed the hobbit when he had already been proved right on so many weighty matters. He felt a surge of fondness for Pippin and resolved to confront the wizard about this as soon as he felt strong enough.
'And that meant it was my duty to get Frodo out of there as safely as possible. So I sent old Fatty Bolger to the new house to pretend Frodo was moving there, and then we waited until day and then set off...' The hobbit shuddered then. 'It was the Nazgul that made it real,' he said.
Legolas froze. A cold chill spread through him and his limbs felt heavy and cold...his hand drifted to the bandaged wound in his chest and it throbbed slowly as if in a memory. He looked down at the pile of food and felt suddenly sick for a memory had begun to crawl its way out of his head.
'When those Black Riders pursued us across the Shire, Legolas, I can tell you,' Pippin continued in a low voice completely unaware and sunk in the horror of his own memories, 'I had never known fear until then. The very sound of their terrible voices almost froze me and they were relentless. They would not stop. They...'
The spoon clattered from Legolas' fingers. He stared unseeing at the floor as a cold hand reached for him, reached into his chest and suddenly he could not breathe. His heart pounded and he clutched the bandage where it burned. His breath came in short fast gasps and he was dimly aware that there was shouting and a sudden flurry and a crimson warmth suffused him, warmed and calmed him and a voice spoke in his head, through the terror and he recognised it and turned towards it as he had before...it called him back as he fled, so he paused and wondered and was reassured that the terror had not followed him. Instead there was a song of eagles crying in high places above pristine snow, high crags, remote, untouched...
Elrohir slowly withdrew from Legolas, satisfied that he had calmed and had returned to them and now trod the paths of elven dreams. He blinked slowly, aware of the fragrance of athelas permeating the room and mingling with the scents of the garden and spring air. Slowly he looked up and saw it was Aragorn steeping athelas once more in boiling water that Pippin poured for him. The hobbit glanced up and caught his eyes guiltily and the fragrance stole about the room and soothed them. Aragorn sighed and rubbed his hands over his eyes. He was frowning and there were lines at the corners of his eyes.
He carefully removed the barely-marked bandage from Legolas's chest and handed it to Pippin, who seemed to be the self-appointed orderly. 'I do not understand. This should have killed him but it has not bled and is nearly healed.' Aragorn peered at the wound across Legolas' chest, prodding it carefully with his finger and shook his head. 'The muscles are not knit yet, but there is no lasting damage.'
'Not to his body, for it is not a physical weapon for the Elves.' Another voice murmured nearby, and Elrohir looked up to see that Gandalf leaned on his staff in the doorway and that Gimli stood anxiously beside him. 'It is a weapon older than Sauron,' Gandalf continued, sounding distant and far away.
'Gandalf, you said the morgul blade cut his spirit from his body,' Pippin said in a hushed voice filled with horror. 'You said that orcs were Elves once...Is that what...?' but he did not finish the thought.
The wizard stirred himself. 'Ah. I thought the last of these had been destroyed on Weathertop. I do not think the Nazgul were trying to turn Legolas into an orc if that is what you think, Pippin. That takes a long time and even Sauron has not managed to do that. No, I think they were doing something else entirely.'
Elrohir took a breath, looking down at Legolas whose face was flushed, lips parted softly. No, he thought to himself, the Nazgul had not attempted Morgoth's twisting of Elves. Not that. But something as dark, something easier. He closed his eyes in disgust at himself, that he could have been tempted by the Nazgul, that he could have been tempted by Legolas as his thrall.
He looked away to find himself watched carefully by blue eyes that were bright and cold, that held him, stripped him to the bone. Elrohir felt something inside himself shrivel in fear that he would now be exposed. But instead the wizard asked, 'Will you be riding with Aragorn in the vanguard when we leave tomorrow?'
Elrohir was caught off guard by the question and did not answer immediately. Aragorn glanced up suddenly and Elrohir realised that this had not even crossed Aragorn's mind. The man opened his mouth to speak but changed his mind and looked away instead.
'I have told Elladan that I ride with you.' Elrohir said quietly and he saw the grateful relief in Aragorn's face and smiled. 'I told you, I have much to atone,' he added quietly.
'You will be glad to hear that you still have my axe,' Gimli crossed the room and stood beside Legolas, looking down. 'But there is no chance that you will have his bow. If he cannot even stay awake for a few hours or sit with Pippin, I cannot think that he will be ready to ride a horse.'
Elrohir moved quietly to the window and looked out across the garden.
Pippin fidgeted a little and said quietly, 'It wasn't Legolas' fault. It was mine. I started talking about the Black Riders and I didn't think...'
'Of course not!' declared Aragorn, looking at Gimli and ignoring Pippin's interruption. 'I did not even think it... He has done enough. And if he reacted like this to the mere mention of the Nazgul what would he be like should we encounter them, as we surely will?'
'Yes... well I am not sure that Legolas will see it that way,' said Gandalf thoughtfully. 'And it will probably be best if no one tells him anything about marching upon Mordor.' He glared at Pippin who opened his mouth to argue and then closed it again, thinking better of it. 'I think you had best come with me, Peregrine Took, and stay away from Legolas in case, just for a change, you speak without thinking first!'
'But how... how do we say goodbye?' Pippin asked sadly, and Elrohir too hesitated. The hobbit's face was downcast and he held Legolas' hand, as he had when they first brought him back here. The Elf lay, unmoving, green eyes opaque with dreams that were soft now, not the horror that he had faced alone on the mountain.
Gandalf looked down suddenly and his face softened. 'How indeed.'
'I will stay with him, Gandalf,' Gimli grasped Pippin by the shoulder and squeezed slightly. 'At least until it is time to go. I cannot leave without saying something, but I will not tell him it is goodbye.'
There was a snort from Aragorn and the dwarf turned to him and said acidly, 'There is something you would say, Aragorn?'
Aragorn spread his hands as if to ward off the dwarf's anger. 'You cannot hide anything from Legolas, Gimli. You should say your farewells now and leave. None of us wishes to do this, but you most of all he will suspect. And he will want to ride with us. And he will be a risk to himself and all of us. He cannot wield bow or blade. Even an Elf will not recover from this as quickly as he would need.'
Gimli drew himself up and looked outraged. 'Do you mean to say that I cannot work a little subterfuge on the Elf?' he whispered angrily, but he sounded too easily annoyed to Elrohir and he thought Aragorn was right. 'And he would have six days on the march to recover. We have seen him recover from worse in less time.'
'That is true, Aragorn,' Elrohir added. He had seen worse injuries amongst Elves and they recovered. And the Elves of Mirkwood — of the Wood, he corrected himself — seemed so much hardier than others he had known. 'This is not a wound of the body. That part will heal quickly.'
Aragorn turned away from both his brother and the dwarf in irritation. 'Do not give in to him, Gimli. If he guesses, you will not resist him. I know you!'
Gimli made a disgusted noise, equally irritated and said, 'Go now. All of you before you wake him up. I will stay here and I will bring his memory back to him before I leave.'
Aragorn's eyes gleamed. 'I will wager you will not return his memory but you will tell him everything we wish to keep from him.'
'And you and I, Elrohir, have not yet spoken,' Gandalf said meaningfully, interrupting Gimli's outraged cries. Elrohir did not flinch although he wanted to. This was inevitable and right. He had to tell Gandalf, and then Elladan. But he wanted first to bid farewell to Legolas. He was not the only one and as Aragorn rose to his feet, still bickering with Gimli, the man's hand lingered on Legolas' for a moment and he looked down at his comrade and friend. Pippin hung back as the others left.
'It isn't fair,' he whispered, as he had the night Legolas had told them of Gandalf's plan. 'He's come all this way, left his family behind and even when Saruman showed us that awful vision thing, he didn't leave. And he could have, Gimli, couldn't he?' Pippin gave a sniff and wiped his nose on the back of his hand. 'And he could have turned back after Gandalf told him about the gulls. He thought he was going to be killed then...And perhaps Galadriel was right, because it looks like we are all going to die anyway. But it isn't fair...I wish...I wish...' But he never said what he wished for because a sob finally struggled to the surface and he hurried out of the room leaving only Gimli and Elrohir.
'Ah. It's all too much for all of us,' muttered the dwarf compassionately. Elrohir said nothing. He wished the dwarf would go too but Gimli had planted himself firmly in the small chair and watched him astutely. Elrohir knew he could not stay with Legolas now as he wished; he had been summoned by Gandalf, and he had yet to speak with Elladan. And he needed to, before they rode out. There would be no time once they left the city.
Elrohir stroked his hand over the Elf's sleeping face, his green eyes soft and dream-filled, wheat-pale hair spilled over the white linen, lips parted softly. Elrohir wanted to press his mouth against the warm lips but he did not think the dwarf would approve so instead he rested his hands over the dreadful wound and sank his awareness down, down, into the Elf's sleeping soul and he listened to his own Song wind about the notes of green leaves, of clear forest streams running over mossy, granite rocks, tumbling into shady pools where ferns grew and sunlight dappled...Here lay the heart of Elrohir Rávëyon. And when he left he did not look back.
*'My lord, you called me. I come' Faramir says this to Aragorn when he is awakened.
** This refers to the initiation rite of the Cult of the Dragon amongst the Woodelves and whose signature is the Dragon. Yes- I will get round to it one day.
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.