Disclaimer: Only borrowing Tolkiens characters for my fantasy.
Inside the Darkness
Part 9 - The Mirror
Lurtz stared at his reflection in the mirror, marveling at his changed appearance after taking a bath. He couldn't honestly remember ever taking such an elaborate bath. The bathroom had taken him aback at first, but then he had entered, brushing aside leaves and flowers. He had never seen anything like it. There was a small forest growing in the bathroom. Were there birds as well? He swore he heard them sing and fly about the place. He had descended in to the warm pool and had immersed his body completely. When he had surfaced again he had frowned, seeing the dirt and last remnants of war paint float on top of the water.
After taking his bath he had found large, warm towels next to the pool and he had wrapped them around this form. He had dropped them when he came to a halt in front of the mirror.
He now studied himself. Beneath the dirt and war paint hid dark skin, maybe a little closer to bronze, which didn't completely displease him. His body was rippling muscle, bred for strength as well as stamina. Next he studied his face, and for the first time he became really aware of his pointed ears. Now that the long wet hair clung to his back, he let his fingertips glide over the pointed ears. Legolas had told him that Orcs and Goblins had been Elves once, but they had been corrupted by the dark forces. Did he still carry some Elf traits himself?
Baring his teeth, he flinched. His teeth were sharp, created with the purpose of being able to rip Man flesh from their bones. He quickly closed his mouth again, feeling out of place here. Elrond should have send him away!
"I hope I am not interrupting..."
Lurtz looked over his shoulder, recognizing Elrond's voice. Their eyes met and Lurtz saw an unidentifiable expression in the half-Elf's eyes. Suddenly he realized it might be inappropriate to be naked and he covered himself with a towel.
"I brought you clothes," said Elrond, approaching his guest. "And I hoped you might join us for dinner this evening."
"Why are you doing this?" Elrond could have taken the easy way out by ignoring him. He accepted the burgundy robes that Elrond handed him, hoping Elrond had gotten his size right.
"Legolas seems to care about you and you are my guest. I would be a bad host if I ignored you." Elrond walked over to the window and pointedly looked outside.
Lurtz got the hint, dropped the towel and began to dress. The soft fabric felt alien to his skin, but he managed to properly don the robes. Once more staring at his reflection he startled at the change.
"I see they fit," said Elrond pleased.
Lurtz nodded. "Thank you..." His long dark hair was a mess and he wasn't sure what to do with it. He used his fingers to comb through the long strands.
"Allow me..." Elrond stepped behind Lurtz and signaled him to sit down.
Lurtz briefly felt confused. What was Elrond offering?
"Let me comb and braid your hair."
Lurtz followed Elrond's order and sat down. This was most unexpected. He was no longer sure who or what he was. When he looked in to the mirror he saw hidden Elven features beneath the Uruk-Hai's.
Elrond took hold of a comb, beautifully crafted from wood, and began to untangle the dark mass. "I must admit to being surprised. You are nothing like I thought you would be."
Lurtz laughed bitterly. "I doubt I represent the majority of my race. I did terrible things whilst belonging to their pack. It still amazes me that I am capable of a different behavior."
"Maybe Legolas has something to do with that?" suggested Elrond, as he finished combing the tangles from the dark hair. Skillfully, he began to braid it.
"He has everything to do with it," admitted Lurtz. "How is he doing? I want to see him later."
"He is still asleep and you may visit whenever you want. You are very protective of our young Prince."
Lurtz snorted. "He is a Prince then? I didn't know that." Legolas hadn't told him.
"Aye, the youngest son of King Thranduil of Mirkwood. His father will be greatly thankful that you saved his son's life." Elrond opened a drawer and withdrew a hair clip from it.
Lurtz continued to study himself in the mirror. "I barely recognize myself."
Elrond nodded. He had finished braiding Lurtz's hair in a similar fashion to his own and now studied his handiwork. The Uruk-Hai looked handsome in a strange sort of way. "What are your intensions with Legolas?"
Lurtz gulped. "My intensions?"
"Aye, do you plan to stay or to leave him here?" Elrond searched Lurtz's eyes. "I see in your eyes that you are in love with him."
"I will leave," said Lurtz, staring at the floor, no longer able to bear his reflection. This was a lie. He wasn't an Elf!
"And I repeat my earlier question; where will you go?"
"Back to my pack," said Lurtz, shrugging his shoulder. "This isn't real..."
"It is real," said Elrond firmly. "Do not leave yet. I am sure Legolas will want to thank you properly."
Lurtz shrugged again. "I will visit with him when he's awake."
Elrond nodded and left.
Lurtz lifted his eyes now that he was alone and looked in to the mirror once more. The man that stared back at him was a lie. The Elven robes and braids didn't change his black heart.
Glorfindel struggled to his feet, wishing this damned headache would finally go away. Instead the throbbing intensified and he stifled a pain filled yelp. It was the same whenever he tried to leave his bed. Whenever he got vertical the headache overwhelmed him. He fought the urge to throw up, and leaned heavily against the wall. Luckily Elrond wasn't present to see his misery. At least, he hoped Elrond wasn't in the room. He didn't know for sure. No, if Elrond had been close, the Lord of Imladris would have made himself known by now... or wouldn't he?
"Elrond?" He steadied his breathing and listened to any kind of sounds in the room. No, he was fairly sure he was alone. The nausea hit again and he shivered violently. He hadn't felt this bad when he had been in the Halls of Mandos! This was torture. Realizing the bile was raising in his stomach and to his throat, he headed for the bathroom, hoping he had the direction right. The convulsions in his stomach suddenly brought him to his knees and he retched miserably.
"Meldir, what are you doing out of bed?" Elrond rushed into his friend's room, blaming himself for Glorfindel's condition. He shouldn't have left! One of his servants could have tended to the Uruk-Hai, but he wasn't sure how his people would react to learning one of Saruman's creatures was inside the walls of Imladris!
Glorfindel flinched, hearing Elrond's voice. He didn't want Elrond to see him in this state! He wanted to say something, but more bile rose, making it impossible to speak. Suddenly one strong arm wrapped itself around his frame and his long hair was pulled back.
"Just let it happen," advised Elrond. His heart went out to his friend. When he had examined the head injury he had expected Glorfindel to become nauseous and dizzy. "I told you to stay in bed for a reason." When Glorfindel was done, he helped his friend back to his feet.
"Where are you taking me?" His bed was to his right, he knew that much, but Elrond was leading him in the opposite direction.
"You cannot stay here. Your rooms need to be cleaned and I cannot keep my eye on you here. I am taking you to my private chambers." Elrond heard Glorfindel take a deep breath and smothered the protest before his friend had a chance to voice it. "And that is final!"
Glorfindel swallowed his objections now that Elrond had made it an order. He couldn't defy his Lord!
Elrond pushed the door to his chambers open and guided Glorfindel into the bathroom.
Suddenly Glorfindel froze. "What are you doing?"
"Removing your clothes." Elrond marveled at the expression on his friend's face when he removed the stained tunic. "Trust yourself to me."
Glorfindel's head slumped forward as his strength left him. "I will always trust you." He quavered when Elrond's fingertips ghosted over his bare chest. He considered protesting when Elrond removed his leggings, but he didn't have the strength.
Elrond lowered Glorfindel in to the shallow part of the pool and made sure his friend was comfortable. "I need to contact the servants so they can clean your rooms. Stay here and do not worry about falling asleep. I am here to look after you."
"Thank you, meldir," whispered Glorfindel. He waited for Elrond to leave and then rinsed his mouth, eager to rid himself of the disgusting taste of vomiting earlier. The water did wonders and he started to relax. He wasn't sure how he felt about Elrond seeing him this weak and vulnerable, but his Lord's gentle touch made things bearable.
"Glorfindel? Are you still awake?" Elrond had returned and now studied his seneschal who seemed to feel better.
"Aye, I am still awake."
"I brought some towels. It is time to leave the pool and rest." Elrond unfolded the towels and wrapped Glorfindel in them after his friend struggled to his feet. Elrond indulged himself as his eyes explored every part of his friend's naked body. How he longed to wrap Glorfindel in his arms, with no clothes between them and his groin stirred, telling him how much he desired the other Elf. /Nay, I cannot give in to this desire... / He willed his arousal to fade as he guided his friend toward the bed.
Glorfindel suddenly felt a soft mattress beneath his fingertips and the silk sheets told him where he was. "This is your bed. I am sure my room has been cleaned; I can return there."
"Nay, you will stay here. I want you close in case you feel nauseous again." Elrond removed the towels, sighed privately at feeling the smooth skin beneath his fingertips and then pulled up the covers to keep Glorfindel warm. "I want you to rest and you are not leaving this bed. Do I make myself clear?"
Glorfindel whispered a soft yes, too apprehensive to move his head in order to nod. He was trying very hard to ignore the fact that he was in Elrond's bed, a place where he had craved to be in the past. /I am here because he is worried about my health not because he loves me. I have to stop doing this to myself./
"Rest now, sleep."
Elrond's voice almost lured him back in to sleep, almost. What really pushed him over the edge was Elrond caressing his face. The butterfly touches were soft and spoke of great concern. How he craved those caresses!
"Sleep, meldir, sleep..."
Unable to fight sleep any longer, Glorfindel gave in and allowed himself to drift off.
Recognizing the vacant stare in his seneschal's eyes, Elrond leaned in closer and brushed Glorfindel's brow with his lips. "I can never tell you how much I love you... nīn bellas."
Legolas woke slowly, and he had trouble leaving the dreamscape where his healing had started. Eventually he managed to focus on his surroundings and he blinked once, trying to determine where he was. This wasn't the cave where they had taken refuge. /But nay, Glorfindel took us to Imladris. I am at Master Elrond's house and Lurtz is here as well./
"You're awake..." Lurtz smiled pleased. It was obvious that Legolas hadn't noticed him yet.
Legolas cocked his head and his heart missed a beat seeing Lurtz. The Uruk-Hai was dressed in Elven robes and his hair was braided. /I dreamt of him looking like this, but he seems uncomfortable... I wonder what is wrong./
Lurtz leaned in closer. "I'm here to say goodbye."
"Goodbye?" Startled, Legolas tried to sit upright, but his features contracted as pain traveled up his leg. "You cannot leave!"
"I must. I can't put Imladris or you in any danger. We both know the memories are strong and that they overwhelm me. I don't want to hurt anyone accidentally."
"Lurtz, stay. Together we will find a way to deal with your memories and I am sure Master Elrond can help as well." Legolas extended his left hand and possessively placed it on Lurtz's knee. "Do not go."
Lurtz was tempted to give in, but his concern for Legolas' safety won. "You must understand. I'm a danger while I am here. I can't take the risk of anyone getting injured because of me!"
Legolas unexpectedly removed his hand and stared at the ceiling. "I am unable to stop you then... I thought you cared."
Legolas' tone broke his heart. "It's because I care that I must leave..." He rose to his feet and looked in to Legolas' eyes. "I will stay two more days and then I will leave."
Legolas averted his eyes, and remained quiet. /I am going to lose him.../
Elrond left the dining room, disappointed that Lurtz hadn't joined him for dinner. It had been his intention to talk some more to the Uruk-Hai, but Lurtz had stayed in the guest rooms. Fearing something was wrong he made his way to his study where Elladan was watching over Legolas. Approaching his study, he heard their voices. He made his presence known by clearing his throat.
"Ada." Elladan smiled. "Legolas is doing better."
Elrond returned his son's smile and then directed his gaze at Legolas. The other Elf still looked pale, but the feverish expression was gone. Elrond frowned, sensing something troubled Legolas. "Elladan, leave us. I wish to talk to Legolas in private."
Elladan rose from his chair, grinned at Legolas and then left the room.
Elrond took the seat his son had vacated and studied Legolas. "There are questions that demand answers."
Legolas lowered his eyes. "You are referring to Lurtz."
"And to the feelings you have for him." Legolas blushed and Elrond couldn't help but smile. "You care deeply for him."
"It might be even more," admitted Legolas nervously. "I think I am falling in love with him."
"And he returns your feelings."
Legolas looked at Elrond questioningly. "Do you think he does?"
Elrond nodded. "Aye, I think he loves you, but his is a dangerous love, my young Prince."
"His memories are dangerous," whispered Legolas. "Everything should be fine as long as he does not remember his past."
"He admitted to me that he recalled everything," said Elrond reluctantly. "He remembers his dark deeds."
Legolas raised an eyebrow. "And he did not go berserk? He did not try to hurt you?"
"He was calm and in control of his emotions when he told me." Elrond leaned in to the comfort of the chair. "Am I to assume that you did not tell him about your attraction?"
Legolas' eyes darkened. "Nay, I did not dare mention it. And when he visited he told me he would leave in two days."
Elrond considered this new information. "You do realize he has no place to go but back to his pack?"
Legolas briefly closed his eyes. "Arguing with him is useless. He is stubborn."
"Like a certain Elf I know..." chuckled Elrond. "A lot can happen in two days' time, do not give up yet." He lifted his right hand and rested it on Legolas' shoulder, squeezing reassuringly. "I doubt he really wants to leave. I will talk to him."
Legolas' eyes filled with gratitude. "Do you think I should tell him how I feel about him?"
"I cannot answer that question," said Elrond thoughtfully. "Ask yourself if you trust him. Would you entrust your life to him?"
Legolas frowned. "Most of the time yes, but..."
Elrond nodded. "You need to talk to him about his past, his feelings. Only then can you make a balanced decision." Legolas was growing tired again and Elrond soothingly stroked the long hair. "Rest now. You can worry later."
Legolas sighed sleepily. "Do not let him leave before I have the chance to talk some sense in to him."
"I promise," whispered Elrond. The light in Legolas' eyes faded; the Elf was asleep. Elrond got to his feet and headed for his private chambers to see to his other patient.
Frustrated, Glorfindel considered thwarting Elrond's orders not to leave the bed. He had to change into clean clothes and join the dawn patrol. At least he assumed it was morning. He pushed back the covers, angry that he couldn't perform his duties. For thousands of years he had faithfully served and this was the first time that he felt like a failure. He had to find ways to compensate for the loss of sight!
And there was no better time to start then now! Determinedly he swung his feet on to the floor. He cursed as he sat up too swiftly. /Slowly, do everything slowly. You do not want to throw up in Elrond's private chambers!/
He lifted one hand to his chin and supported his head, which felt incredibly heavy. /Bite down the pain and the nausea./ Glorfindel pushed himself to his feet, but gasped in pain as his head lolled to its right. Maybe he should have followed Elrond's advise to rest. Suddenly his knees buckled beneath him and he started to fall. /I must make sure I do not hit my head again.../
Reaching out his right hand, he tried to break his fall, but he never hit the floor. A pair of strong arms wrapped themselves around his waist, keeping him on his feet. The first thing he noticed was the scent. /Elrond!/
"Glorfindel, I ordered you to rest! Do not make me tie you down!" Elrond's heart had missed a beat seeing Glorfindel crumble in front of him. He had rushed to catch the stubborn Elf and he now lowered Glorfindel back on to the bed. "Do you want your eyesight restored?"
"Aye," whispered Glorfindel, panting softly.
"Then rest! You must give your body time to heal!" Elrond placed a hand on his seneschal's chest and held him in place. "Please, meldir, listen to me."
Glorfindel sighed. "I hate being confined to bed when Uruk-Hai might be close. They attacked Legolas at one point and they might have followed us to Imladris. I should be out there, patrolling the borders. I am useless!"
Elrond understood only too well. He was a warrior at heart as well and realized how hard being blind was on his friend. "Rest a few days and I feel certain that your eyesight will return. Continue to disobey my orders and you will never heal. Must I lock my door the next time I leave to ensure you will stay and rest?"
"I regret causing you this much trouble," said Glorfindel apologetically. "But I can only think of my duty to you... and Imladris."
Elrond carefully studied Glorfindel. His seneschal looked depressed. "Legolas will make a full recovery. His leg will heal and he will be able to walk, run and ride his horse again."
Glorfindel smiled pleased, thankful that Elrond had changed their subject. "And what about the Uruk-Hai?"
"He bathed," chuckled Elrond, but then he grew serious again. "And he could almost pass for an Elf once he had dressed properly."
Glorfindel pushed deeper in to the comfort of the mattress, suddenly feeling old and tired. "And you are comfortable with him staying here?"
Elrond nodded. "Aye, I think he can be trusted... and our young Prince has fallen for the beast. Maybe he can tame it?"
Glorfindel grinned at the image Elrond painted. "The young Prince is stubborn."
"Aye..." Elrond sat down on the side of the bed and let his right hand hover above Glorfindel's brow, afraid to touch. "Do you promise to rest?"
"Aye, I promise..."
"Very well and now move over..." The startled expression on Glorfindel's face surprised Elrond. "I need to rest as well. Tomorrow morning I will check on our guests and inspect Imladris' defenses. I was a warrior once... I can carry out your duties while you are recovering."
Elrond riding in to battle was a sight Glorfindel would love to witness. Suddenly the mattress moved and a warm form settled down beside. "I should return to my rooms instead of continuing to invade your privacy."
"You have your orders, Glorfindel. You will rest here... The bed is big enough for the two of us." Elrond rolled on to his side until he faced his friend. He was tempted to wrap an arm around Glorfindel and hold him close, but his seneschal wouldn't accept or appreciate that so he forced himself to be content with staring at Glorfindel's handsome features. "Sleep will aid your recovery. Do not worry about Imladris or me... We are safe here."
Glorfindel wanted to believe that, but a sense of foreboding chilled him to the bone. /Elrond is in danger.../ He didn't know where the knowledge came from, but he knew he had to stay close to his Lord if he wanted to protect him from evil. /How can I protect him when I live in darkness? I can't even see the enemy!/
"Rest and sleep," said Elrond in a hypnotizing tone. "Sleep now, meldir, sleep."
Unable to fight the suggestion Glorfindel relaxed and dozed off.
Elrond, who was still watching his seneschal, sighed relieved when Glorfindel drifted asleep. "During all these years you kept me and my family safe... You helped raise Arwen and the twins. You comforted me when Celebrian left and I can do the same thing for you. I have been a healer far too long. This particular time doesn't call for a healer, but for a warrior. This time I will protect you, nīn ind."
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