33. Chapter 33: Osgiliath
Disclaimer: As always, not mine and no money made.
Beta: Anarithilen. Please read and review her story Dark Forest at the MEFA site. It is wonderfully rich.
Warnings: None for this chapter but explicit sex in the next chapter.
Thank you to those people who are still kindly and faithfully reviewing.
Chapter 33 Osgiliath
The fallen town was like broken teeth, its once high towers and turrets crumbled and jagged. Huge chunks of masonry littered the fields and empty windows like eyes watched them as they passed within the useless walls. A cold wind swept from the East, and heavy clouds loomed over the mountains. But the men of Gondor had been busy since Pelennor. The walls swarmed with men passing rocks and piling them one upon another, re-building the walls, and from further away Legolas could hear the sound of hammers and chisels, ropes creaked and wagons trundled back and forth near the river as they rebuilt the bridge.
Legolas helped Gimli slide down from Arod, and then dismounted himself. He noted the slight squeeze in his ribs, the coldness of the wound in his chest but he was determined not to show anything or Gimli would be straight off to Aragorn and insisting he remain behind in Osgiliath when the resumed their march. As it was, the elf and dwarf had remained behind while the vanguard rode to view Minas Morgul. Aragorn would not hear of Legolas going then, and strangely, Legolas had not felt like protesting in the least.
He need not have worried about showing any sign of injury, for Gimli stroked his beard and looked about critically. 'This town is hardly worth rebuilding,' he told Legolas, in barely disguised irritation. 'Look! The very foundations are razed in some places. And surely it is more strategic to build further down river and hold the ford?' He shook his head in disappointment at the vagaries of men.
Legolas knew little about stonework but he trusted Gimli and if Gimli said it was hopeless, he believed it probably was. But still, he liked the Men's determination to save their town...it reminded him of home and his father's grim defence of the forest. But the very thought of home made him tremble and something in him threatened to break so he shied away and leaned against Arod for a moment. He listened to the horse's steady heartbeat and stroked the long glossy neck. Arod turned his head back towards him and nudged him slightly.
'You must stop spoiling that beast, Legolas,' said Gimli. 'Let us find Pippin and get some food.' But he patted Arod on the shoulder as he went past and he did not sound cross.
Legolas led Arod to the line of other Rohan horses and unlike the others, did not tether him but let him roam free. The horse immediately dropped his head to snuffle the meagre weeds and tufts of grass sticking up from the rubble. Nature survives all, thought Legolas and saw it as a sign of hope. He smiled to himself and slowly followed Gimli towards the wagons where they would find Pippin. They had spent some of the day with Pippin in the wagon until Gimli complained it was even more uncomfortable than riding the wretched horse, and Legolas had felt confined and restless and wanted to ride anyway. Now as they worked their way back to the wagons, they moved between the small campfires that had sprung up, the makeshift tents, the groups of men. Some looked up at him as he passed and greeted him; others gaped in awe that one of the Firstborn walked out of the legends, but he felt a little vulnerable and thought he must be feeling the effect of the unusual wound. His hand stole up to rub it surreptitiously, hoping that Gimli did not see him.
They passed two masons, poring over a plan, one had a stick of chalk tucked behind his ear and both were coated lightly with stone dust. They looked up as the dwarf and elf passed them and one called out, 'My lord? The Rohirrim call you Stone master...will you give us your wisdom?'
Gimli beamed with delight. 'Ah! It would be my pleasure, masters. I see you have some plans there. Would you allow me to look...' Gimli stuck his hands in his belt and bent over the plans with delighted interest. 'Now, you are looking
at this corner here...' He stubbed his finger down at the map and then glanced up at a wall.
Legolas sighed and leaned against the wall, watching the carpenters and masons, the wagons trundling past hauled by oxen, the soldiers putting up tents and building campfires, and he suddenly felt very alone without the dwarf. He found himself looking anxiously up at the sky and rubbing his fingertips together, and he knew that was a warning but he could not remember what it warned him against. It faded gradually but he maintained a wary watchfulness.
He felt like he had been in a dream and now was awakening. There was still much he could not remember, and sometimes it was like watching something seen through a silk screen, blue-silver, shadows and muted voices on the other side. If he could only dissolve the veil...He thought perhaps someone could tear through it if only they knew how. But somehow the violence of that frightened him, really frightened him, he who had felt fear but not been frightened for centuries now. But he did not need to do that right now, he thought.
Gimli had walked over to a pit and was standing, talking animatedly with a growing group of men. He was going to be some time, Legolas knew so he stilled himself and leaned slightly into the wind; the horses huffed and breathed the wind, let it tease through their manes. The wind lifted his hair and rippled the edges of his cloak. It fluttered the banner that held the seven stars and the White Tree and he watched, thinking that so much was tied up in those simple signs, the heavy undertones of destiny, and it was not only Aragorn who had been wandering for so long. The men of Numenor, the Dunedain, had returned to their birthright and some of the men of Gondor looked upon them with awe and some with a little fear. The clear deep notes of their destiny drew them onwards.
But he looked for someone else who was not there. He searched the faces for grey eyes, long back hair pulled back from the stern, noble face. But he could not hear the song of eagles over pristine snow on high mountains and he knew then that Rávëyon was not here. Slowly he withdrew his attention and let the Song play beneath his awareness, no longer amplified by his attention but in the background, like air or warmth or shade.
At last the group of men clustered around Gimli broke up, laughing and nodding as the dwarf said something. Gimli looking pleased, waved his pipe towards Legolas and said something to the men that made them laugh again briefly, but it was warm. Legolas looked up and caught the fond look on the dwarf's face as he approached and smiled.
'Do you feel they can be trusted to build without your supervision now?' he asked lightly but not unkindly.
'They are good men and with a little direction, they will listen to the stone and let it tell them where to build now.' Gimli absently stroked his beard and then his hand rested on the small pouch he carried next to his heart and Legolas knew that was where he kept the three strands of the Lady's hair...And he blinked. He remembered. Gimli had not known how great a thing he had asked for and been granted where another greater smith had been refused.* At least, that was what he had been told by Haldir in Lothlorien, for in the Forest, they knew little of the Noldor and their tales.
'Now, where is that hobbit. I am hungry and he will be where the food is.' Gimli rubbed his hands together.
Slowly they made their. way back to the wagon where Pippin was helping unload supplies. The hobbit was running between the wagon and the sergeant at arms, carrying messages to the mess tent and cook. Legolas watched him for a moment and remembered the merry hobbit who had left Rivendell those many months ago. He had seemed so unsuited to the Quest then, too young, too protected from the bitter world beyond the green Shire.
Pippin caught sight of him and waved, his face breaking into a happy grin. 'Hullo!' he called and waved to them. His face was flushed and smiling and Legolas almost thought he would bounce on his toes. 'How good it is to see you both!' he called cheerfully, and dug his hands in to his pockets, feeling around, then triumphantly brought out two apples. Legolas smiled, for Pippin had not lost his exuberance or his delight in the small things, and for that, Legolas was immeasurably glad.
'Have you been saving those for us, Pippin?' Gimli asked, feigning astonishment.
'I have!' Pippin looked inordinately pleased with himself for his restraint. 'Come and talk to me. Beregond says I have finished for the moment and he will call me when he is done talking things through with the company's cook. It's extraordinary how much organisation goes into an army on the march,' he told them. 'But I suppose you are to used to this and it is not at all extraordinary,' he finished looking suddenly abashed.
'On the contrary,' Legolas said lightly. 'Elves do not organise themselves like this at all. We live off the land and the land provides. We have waybread - like lembas - and that sustains us. At least, we do in the Forest. So this,' he waved is hand at the busy camp, 'is as new to me as it is for you.'
Pippin smiled and looked relieved. He looked away for a moment and then back up at the elf. 'Legolas, are you feeling better?' he asked with concern.
'I believe I am, thank you, Pippin. My shoulder barely hurts at all and my head only hurts if I try to remember.' Legolas was aware of Gimli becoming very still and knew the dwarf was listening intently. He wanted to sigh and quashed his irritation because he knew it was out of love that the dwarf was his self-appointed guardian.
'What are you trying to remember?' Pippin persisted.
'What happened. Where Rávëyon is. How did I end up injured.' Legolas paused briefly, thinking and then said slowly, 'It is such a blur to me, and when I try to remember something prevents me, and I am looking at shapes and figures through a veil...it...frustrates me.'
'Well, only Elrohir knows what happened on the mountain,' Pippin said helpfully.
'Pippin!' Gimli cried out and the hobbit stared at him with a round oh.
Legolas barely noticed the dwarf's agitation. A stern and noble face crystalised in his mind then, with penetrating grey eyes and raven black hair pulled back severely...Rávëyon. Elrohir. Of course.
And suddenly he could see the tall figure, taller than the Dunedain, as tall as he was himself and strong, heavier set, with a swordsman's strong, broad body, lean and hard, and the softness that shone in his grey eyes he had leaned over Legolas as he awoke, and said, 'Beloved.'
'Elrohir...' Legolas said slowly, and then again, as if savouring the name. 'Ah. I have been a fool. Of course.'
And now he remembered more clearly and the things that had swum around him, just beyond reach, just beyond sight, came back in crystal clarity. Rávëyon. Peredhel. Long black hair trailing over his shoulder, pulled severely back from the strong face. Full lips pressed together in concentration, and in concern when he awoke.
'Rávëyon,' he said with absolute certainty, absolute pleasure.
'Elrohir? Is that who you mean?' Gimli demanded, watching Legolas with fierce possessiveness.
'Yes.' The relief overwhelmed him.
'I thought this Ravay-on was just some figment of your illness...Ah, I wish I had asked you more now,' said the dwarf penitently. 'It would have saved us both much heartache.'
'I am sorry, Gimli. I never thought to speak more. It was all so blurred and I have been confused.' Legolas smiled at him gently for he was assured now. 'I am going to find him now,' he said resolutely
'Well, you won't find him here,' said Gimli, folding his arms and standing firmly.
Legolas stared for a moment. Was that why he could not find him? Had he left...or worse? He felt his shoulders slump and his heart fell. 'Then where is he?' he asked, trying to keep the desperation from his voice but he knew he had failed in that for Gimli looked at him with sudden concern.
'He's gone...' the dwarf said gently. 'To Minas Morgul. With Aragorn and Gandalf.'
Legolas felt a surge of relief closely followed by fear. 'Minas Morgul? He has gone there?' And he felt the wound in his chest like ice and rubbed it with his hand. Gimli turned on him, fixed on him like a hawk.
'Now don't you fret,' he said quickly. 'Aragorn and Gandalf have gone too and they will all be back soon. That city has been abandoned the scouts say. If you want to see Elrohir when he returns, then you will.' Gimli looked ready to tackle Elrohir himself and manhandle him all the way back to wherever Legolas himself was just so the elf could see him. 'But I don't want anything like last time,' he added warningly.
Legolas looked at him carefully. 'What do you mean?'
'Well, the fighting and bickering and the nasty looks.'
'Gimli!' Pippin said warningly. 'Gandalf said...'
Legolas looked straight over Pippin's head at Gimli as if Pippin were not even there. 'I do not think you can mean Elrohir...' he said in astonishment, for Elrohir had called him beloved, and had leaned over him with a tender love.
'Well, if you say so,' Gimli said skeptically. 'He did make it clear he wished to mend the bridges with you. He told me as much on the SeaSong. But even so, I am surprised he's the one you have been looking for. Are you sure you don't mean Elladan?' Gimli asked but did not pause. 'You got on better with him from the start. I suppose though, perhaps what happened later...' he trailed off.
Legolas frowned. Something...Elladan...something had happened if only he could remember...his head began to hurt.
'Gimli! You are not supposed to tell him what happened,' Pippin said again, more loudly.
'And I did not, did I?' demanded Gimli irritably but he looked anxiously at Legolas who rubbed his temples for the pain was intense now; the silver-blue veil had thinned and trembled now, and he thought he could discern shapes behind it, moving, gesticulating, and tangling together briefly. He remembered a body pressed up against his and long black silk tendrils of hair, trailing over his shoulders...
'Why do you say this, Elvellon? There is no enmity between Elrohir and I,' Legolas said softly, wincing and frowning against the pain. It felt hollow as he spoke, but he knew...Elrohir had declared himself as Legolas' beloved. He must be Rávëyon, the one who had called him back, reached out to his very soul and touched him. Elladan's name had sparked something but it could not compare.
'Gandalf said not to tell him stuff,' Pippin said warningly. 'I did try to stop you.'
Gimli looked suddenly at Legolas and he looked torn. 'I know that, but it causes him more distress when he does not know,' he said. 'Legolas? I do not want to distress you,' he said anxiously and he moved to the elf's side and grasped his arm.
'He told us not to,' Pippin insisted, shaking his head and watching as Gimli agonised.
'Please,' Legolas pressed his hand against Gimli's shoulder. 'Tell me.'
'I will only tell you about Elrohir though,' said Gimli. He turned to Pippin pleadingly. 'Look, you can see not knowing makes him worse!' he protested. He turned to Legolas and patted his arm. He pressed Legolas lightly and nodded, indicating he should sit and Legolas was glad to do so. He had not realised how fragile was his recovery.
'You did nothing to deserve it though,' Gimli began awkwardly. 'Elrohir really didn't like you at first, Legolas. It was his fault-you had done nothing.' He looked down at Legolas defensively, a little angry still at the injustice towards his friend. 'You and he argued at Linhir. It ended up with you both fighting, you drew your knife, he his sword, Aragorn was furious.'
'Well, he would be,' supplied Pippin helpfully, having given up trying to stop Gimli and thinking that at least it would be Gimli in trouble with Gandalf for a change as the dwarf had started it. 'How did that look to all his folk watching his friend and brother brawling on the quayside like a couple of drunken sailors,' he added with an air of sanctity.
'Pippin,' Gimli glared at the hobbit. 'That does not help.'
'I begin to remember that...' said Legolas slowly. He had been walking on the grey stones of the quay...a tall figure, long black hair whipped by the wind, sable cloak pulled, flattened around him by the same wind, turning on him, nobility turned to savagery, the fire and antipathy of someone he admired and then hard, splitting blows upon his cheek, head, chest...knuckles burning and then pulling back...the scrape of steel and... the press of a heavy body above him. He gasped. They had drawn knives. How could that be? He remembered a long thin scar on his chest that was not this dreadful bloodless wound...
'But he took you from me when you were injured, and brought you aboard the SeaSong,' Gimli was saying.
Legolas blinked. 'Injured? I was injured during the battle?'
He shook his head, bewildered, for the silver-blue veil wrapped him now, and he could not fight his way beyond it. There had been something else, something that distracted him...something that lingered even now, something in the wind, in the air. The longing had struck him in the pitch of battle, swept him down the river as it carved its way through Gondor...to the Sea...
He became aware of someone pulling on his arm and voices raised in concern. He blinked and came back slowly to himself, the grey sky, the army settling, a clank of pots, the crackling fires, and he looked upwards where the voices came from....Elvellon and the hobbit... Pippin. He blinked again and looked at them in bewilderment.
'...told you not to say anything!' Pippin was saying reproachfully to Gimli.
Gimli did not reply but held onto Legolas, biting his lip in consternation. 'How can we not tell him anything? It torments him not knowing...' he agonised, holding Pippin's gaze. 'If I tell him about Elrohir, it might distract him from the you-know-what, comfort him.'
Legolas looked up and saw that Gimli's fingers twisted in the ends of his beard. He frowned and remembered that the dwarf chewed his beard when he was upset. That meant he was upset now.
'It will comfort me,' he said soothingly. 'Tell me, please. Everything. From the beginning.' He rested his long hand on Gimli's strong shoulder until he felt the dwarf sigh and he knew he would tell him then. Gimli settled himself down next to Legolas and drew out his pipe but Legolas found he did not mind.
'Elrohir came with the Grey Company,' Gimli began....and Legolas listened as the story unfolded and he found himself nodding. Yes... he remembered...the hostility and cold gaze from one he had admired as a young warrior, the icy remarks. And then the grey stones of the quayside at Linhir, where the Dead swirled and eddied like the grey Sea, reached and whispered their anger, their lust for blood of the living...The red hot fury of the elven warrior and the searing pain of steel slicing through skin and muscle...And then, quite suddenly he remembered he had heard them, the sharp keening on the wind, saw the white wings catch in the brief sunlight that broke through. Gulls flying inland, upriver. Legolas's own heart soared and plummeted at their call and at the touch of cold salt spray on his lips....
But Gimli had not finished and when he spoke of the elven warrior who had taken Legolas from him, and brought him aboard the SeaSong, Legolas did not see what Gimli described. It was not Elladan who had delivered him as Gimli believed. Instead he saw a ring with a dark gem flashing in the golden light…and he knew this was Rávëyon, who had called him with his crimson healing. Elrohir. Yes...Elrohir. And he had called him back again, this time under the cold starlight in the stone city, beneath the ruined city walls...
But the silver-blue veil drew across once again and he could only see distant figures, felt a prickling in his fingertips that he knew meant danger but could no longer even remember what that danger was although he had known it for all of his long life. He could not think on it for his mind skittered away from it, slid off it like it was ice, slipped off and into the next memory...Rávëyon had taken him to Aragorn's tent where he had healed him, healed the scar that would not close until Rávëyon touched him...
Legolas pressed his fingers to his temples then, and frowned. There was something else...He remembered sprawling in a chair and Elrohir kneeling before him. He had humbled himself and had leaned towards him, chaste and repentant himself...and...and...Ai!
Legolas covered his hot face with his hands and pressed his lips together in shame. He had leapt up and followed Eomer. Unthinking fool that he was! And had hurt them both: Eomer because he had stumbled upon Legolas with Elrohir and was yet raw from his bereavement, and Elrohir because Legolas had fled after the man when Elrohir had humbled himself, knelt before Legolas so chastely and offered to heal him. He was a thousand times a fool!
Not only a fool, but a careless one! On the night after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, had he not lain in the tent on a cot too narrow and too short, restless and hot with embarrassment at his breathless arrogance? And had he not decided to keep himself under control? And instead he had immediately gone out and hurt one that he cared about, and one that he loved.
He paused and shook his head slowly at his crass stupidity, unaware of Gimli and Pippin's concern, but knowing that more had happened now than he could remember. Knowing that he had felt this hot shame and guilt and that misery had followed...
He knew he had walked a narrow gravel path winding upwards into the mountains and the whortleberries and junipers had lined the narrow goat track leading up and up and up...and ahead of him strode the tall Half-elf, with long black hair pulled severely back from his stern, proud face. The grey eyes had been furious, hurt, angry and Legolas could do nothing to change it.
So. Now he remembered. It was his own foolishness that led to Rávëyon avoiding him. And who could blame him?
Yes, there was more but it still played out behind the silver-blue curtain and he knew there was pain and suffering there, knew he was not ready...and it was then he knew the veil was thinning and he did not want to see beyond it. There was a gap between his following Elrohir along the narrow track, and awakening in the Houses of Healing, where Elrohir had leaned over him and gently said 'Beloved'. But this was enough for now.
Legolas turned. 'I remember,' he said and Gimli stared up at him in consternation.
'You remember what though, my friend? It cannot be everything.' Gimli did not say how he knew, but there was a great fear in the dwarf's eyes. Legolas tilted his head to one side, enquiring, and because he knew the dwarf and hobbit loved him, something very terrible must have happened up on the mountain.
'There are some gaps that I think I can reach for if I wish to...But not yet I think. Perhaps there are things I cannot face just yet.' And Gimli looked so relieved that for a moment Legolas was afraid. But he knew he had to find Rávëyon, Elrohir, and make things right with him. He had hurt him, and needed to somehow make things right again.
Later, as night fell and the wind picked up to blow away any clouds that lingered, he left Gimli and Pippin snoozing gently and replete in the cook's tent. Pippin had thoroughly ingratiated himself with the cooks. And with both the dwarf and elf being such famous warriors and friends of the Lord Peregrine, they had been thoroughly spoiled. Legolas had not eaten much however. He was nervous and excitement pooled in his belly.
Now he walked purposefully between the campfires and tents to the edge of the camp, below the ruined walls of Osgiliath. He looked for a high place, a quiet place that might be sought by someone whose song was of eagles soaring over pristine snow. No longer would he search for Rávëyon, glimpsing a sable cloak here or arriving to see a tall figure disappear into a crowd. This time, it would be Rávëyon who came looking, and Legolas would be waiting for him.
Bright stars pricked the darkening sky one by one, and far away, in the distance along the road to the Morgul Vale, he heard the blowing breaths of the cantering horses, the jingle of harness and the flutter in the wind of the black banner that Halbarad had carried to his death and would not let fall. And with them, came Rávëyon.
Steadily he made his way through the ruins, listening to the song of the land and stones that made the city. He paused in the empty square of the town that had once been a marketplace and looked up to the towers that stood at each corner. He climbed the broken steps to a ruined tower, above the sleeping world of men. Half the walls had been torn away by Orthanc fire and he paused to look up at the stars, growing brighter in the night sky. He climbed until he found himself at the top of the tower, and between the battlements. He looked over the town square. On the other side, the fires of the Host sparked and flickered against the ruined walls. The jagged edges of Osgiliath rose around him and slowly the stars scattered thickly across the sky. Darkness of night. Deeps of night.
He slowed his breathing and listened. Listened to the sounds of the world; the camp had stirred at the return of their lords and there was the soft snuffling of the horses greeting each other, the muted clatter of sentries roused from their watch, their wakefulness and alertness. There were the Rohirrim horsemen who had gone with Aragorn, their song like the pounding of hooves on the wide plains, and the ring of steel and stirrup under the high blue sky, so wide, so far, only wisps of cloud high high above...And amongst them, closer, richer now, the Dunedain with their steady hearts, horse and rider, and the flutter of the banner in the wind that held the seven stars and the White tree. There were other songs too…the soft sough of wind-filled sails, and the breath of the Sea; Legolas shivered with a sudden joy and would have lingered there but for another...
Leaning into the wind, he listened most intently to the different songs that wound together, twined together inescapably...there was one that was moonlight on still pools, where the currents were deep and strong far beneath the still surface. And the other... the other was a crimson flood of passion and furious lust, a cry of eagles hunting high above the mountains, with the keen frost-laden air on the dark pines and the iron tang of blood on steel... Rávëyon.
Legolas' heart leapt and then quietly, almost below the sounds of the world, he began the song that would bring Rávëyon to him.
- ROTK The Black Gate Opens.
- This refers to a tale in the Silmarillion where Feanor asks Galadriel for a strand of her hair. She refuses. It makes her gift to Gimli really rather beautiful I think.
The next chapter is written but this was getting to be so long and Anar felt it has a rather different character...which it does. Warnings for explicit sex. It will be posted within the next couple of days however so you don't have to wait long.
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.