Disclaimer: Only borrowing Tolkienís characters for my fantasy.
Inside the Darkness
Part 16 - Answers
Legolas kept a close eye on Lurtz, fearing the Uruk-Hai might cave in due to the poison and fall from his horse, but Lurtz seemed to be well. His dark eyes remained alert, constantly scanning their surroundings. "It seems like the poison affects you very little," remarked Legolas softly. Elrohir looked up as well, but the archers that had dropped behind didn't pay them any attention. Legolas' heart missed a beat when those large, black eyes met his.
"You got most of the poison out with your... method," said Lurtz tenderly. "I would not advice you to use it again though."
"Why not?" asked Legolas. Sucking the poison from its wound had always served him well.
"What if you accidentally swallowed some of it? You saw the effect it had on Elrond. That could have been you."
Legolas nodded once, realizing Lurtz spoke out of concern for him. "But it was not me, Lurtz. And I am not so foolish to swallow any poison."
Lurtz suddenly averted his eyes. "The last thing I would call you is foolish..."
Legolas grinned. "Methinks you have almost recovered from the attack. Does your shoulder still hurt?" He had applied improvised bandages, not have any at the ready, using his cloak instead.
"It does not affect me like it did Elrond," Lurtz shrugged. "The poison is made of Uruk Hai's blood and Saruman's. Those substances aren't alien to me."
Elrohir suddenly shivered. "But they are alien to Ada." He couldn't get the picture of his injured father out of his head. Elrond had looked dreadful. He spurred on the horse, yearning to be reunited with his father.
A few moments later the deserted cabin appeared in front of them and Elrohir turned to address his men. "Set up camp here. I will tend to our Lord who is more comfortable inside the cabin. Assign sentries and be aware of Uruk-Hai and Orcs." His orders were carried out and Elrohir slid from his steed's back. Looking up, he saw a curious expression on Legolas' face. "What is it, Legolas?"
"The cabin will be crowded, Lurtz and I will stay here and help make camp. Please call us, should you need help." Legolas exchanged a look with Lurtz who nodded. They had a lot to discuss and that would be nearly impossible with the others close.
"Suit yourself," said Elrohir. His eyes strayed longingly to the cabin, feeling his father's presence.
"Go, Elrohir. Lurtz and I can take care of ourselves."
Elrohir nodded thankfully. "And should that wound trouble you after all, Lurtz, I will look after it," he offered, before running over to the cabin.
Lurtz and Legolas watched him run, and detected another dark-haired Elf jumping off his mare and rushing toward the first. Elladan had arrived as well; carrying the healing herbs with him. "They deserve some privacy," said Legolas in the end. He slowly limped over to Lurtz. "Do you require assistance in dismounting your horse?"
"I can manage," laughed Lurtz amused. He let himself glide off of the horse's back and stood firmly grounded. "Where do you want make camp?"
"Near a fire..." Tonight was a night bereft of the moon and knowing Elrond was injured chilled his very soul.
Lurtz considered this. His wound hardly troubled him; Uruk-Hai were build to withstand pain and heal fast. "I'll get a fire going... Do you have a bedroll?"
Legolas handed Lurtz his bedroll, wondering about the man's behavior. An Elf came to collect their horse and led the mare away. Legolas followed Lurtz to the spot the Uruk-Hai had selected for them to spend the night. It was at the edge of the camp, but still close enough in case of a surprise attack.
Lurtz first unrolled the blanket and signaled Legolas to sit down on it. Then he left to gather some wood and he got a fire going within minutes. Uruk-Hai skills could come in handy after all. Once the fire was burning strongly, he sat down beside Legolas, staring in to the flames. He didn't know what to say to Legolas. Unexpectedly Legolas' hand covered his and the Elf rubbed his knuckles.
"Are you ready to talk?" enquired Legolas softly. He curled his fingers around Lurtz's and squeezed gently. Seeing the leather armor and war paint on Lurtz's face made him melancholy.
"Yes, I am," said Lurtz, nodding once. "But first I owe you an apology." Lurtz looked up and locked eyes with Legolas, who seemed strangely nervous all of a sudden. "You were right and I was wrong. I no longer belong with the Uruk-Hai. Since the amnesia something changed... in here." With his free hand he covered his chest, pointing out his heart. "All this time I was angry at myself for leaving Imladris, for leaving you. You were right on another account as well." Lurtz now returned the caress, gently stroking the back of Legolas' hand. "I love you. I have never loved before and I don't know what to do about it."
"Lurtz..." Legolas desperately tried to interrupt Lurtz, but the Uruk-Hai raised a hand, silencing him for now.
"You can talk later, let me finish first." Seeing Legolas nod, Lurtz continued. "I don't know if you noticed, but there are no female Uruk-Hai. When lust overcomes us, we turn to each other and... things can get rough. I don't know how to... court you, show you my feelings, but being at Imladris showed me a different way of treating people, and a possible mate. I'm trying hard to learn, but you'll need to guide me. Taking you like that doesn't seem right... not anymore. Doing it the Uruk-Hai way it would be little more than rape and..."
Legolas placed a long finger against his lips and Lurtz grew quiet, realizing Legolas was determined to speak.
"Lurtz, before we speak of this, you need to know one thing. Touch me intimately and by Elven standards we are considered married. Elves do not give in to lust easily, knowing we will spend the rest of our lives with that one person. We desire love above lust."
Lurtz inclined his head. "Married?" It was a strange concept to him. "There is no Uruk-Hai word for it."
Legolas smiled saddened. "It means that we will be together for the rest of our lives. Neither you, nor I can take other lovers and only death can us part."
Lurtz began to grasp the concept. "You would be mine forever?"
"And you would be mine," agreed Legolas. "Just the two of us as long as we live."
Lurtz found the concept attractive. "I'd like that."
Legolas raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure of that?"
"Yes." Lurtz carefully considered his next words. "And this will go in to effect when...?"
"When we make love for the first time." Legolas swallowed hard. Although he had wanted to have this discussion he now began to feel nervous.
"Make love..." Lurtz briefly closed his eyes. /The Uruk-Hai do not make love, they rape... How do I make love to you?/ Feeling insecure, Lurtz opened his eyes and looked deeply in to Legolas'. "And you'd have me?"
"That is what I have been trying to tell you, Lurtz." Legolas, calm once more, awaited Lurtz's answer.
"Oh, never doubt I want you, but..." Lurtz swallowed nervously. "Not yet."
"Not yet? What is that supposed to mean?" Would he ever understand Lurtz?
"First I want to take care of some things..." Lurtz raised an arm and carefully folded it around Legolas' shoulders. "My teeth..."
"Ai, Lurtz, but..."
"No, Legolas. I don't want to hurt you... No kissing until I visited the... what's called? The Healing House?" He hoped the healers could alternate his teeth, take away the jagged edges and make them smooth; more acceptable.
"This really bothers you," realized Legolas. Feeling Lurtz's arm around him made him smile and he leaned against the warm body beside him. "And remove the face paint..."
"Yes, I can do that now." Lurtz tried to read the expression in Legolas' eyes, but failed. How would Legolas react to the suggestion he was about to make? "Maybe we can bathe together? We passed a stream not so long ago."
Legolas nodded firmly. "But first let me gather some more appropriate clothes for you. That leather just does not suit you."
"And will you comb my hair?"
"And braid it like Elrond did?" Legolas laughed warmly. "Aye I will." Warmth and love blossomed inside his heart. "Our love is strong already, but it will continue to grow, melethron."
Lurtz looked puzzled at hearing that last word. "Melethron?"
"Aye, my love..." Legolas leaned in closer and pressed his lips to Lurtz, already knowing that his lover wouldn't part his lips or teeth, but he enjoyed the sensation nonetheless. "Get going, Lurtz. I will organize some clothes for you and I might even join you in the stream." Legolas shook his head, realizing Lurtz was blushing beneath his bronze complexion.
Lurtz got to his feet. "Don't take too long, Elf."
"Oh, I will be there," assured Legolas Lurtz. He stared at the Uruk-Hai's back until Lurtz had vanished from sight and then he pushed himself to his feet as well. His leg throbbed, but the pain was bearable. /What did I get myself in to? My father will never approve of my choice and not all Elves will understand... But the ones important to me already do. Lurtz and I can stay at Rivendell and join Lord Elrond's household. We can keep his borders safe./ Tired, Legolas collected the clothes he needed and then headed for the stream himself.
Elladan and Elrohir rushed in to the little cabin, both eager to see Elrond, but the sight that greeted them made them stop in their tracks. A soft smile broke through on their faces, seeing Glorfindel hold Elrond in his sleep. Their laughing eyes met, and Elrohir shook his head in amusement. "I do not think we will need to work hard to get these two together."
Elladan grinned and turned to the dying fire. "I will gather more wood. We need the fire to brew the tea." He handed his twin the healing herbs and left.
Elrohir sat down cross-legged on the floor. Now that he got a better look at his father he cringed at the damage Ugluk had done. His fingers hovered above the ugly cut on Elrond's face. "This one will leave a scar."
Elladan entered just in time to catch Elrohir's words. "I wish I could make them pay again!" He dropped the wood next to the fire place and rekindled it. "Why is Glorfindel still asleep?" The seneschal usually startled at the tiniest sound.
Elrohir's eyes narrowed. "He suffered a head injury twice. There might be complications and we should watch him as well. But for now I regret having to wake Glorfindel, but I need to examine Ada and Glorfindel is in the way." Elrohir placed the palm of his hand against Glorfindel's cheek, rubbing the tear streaked skin there. "He cried, Elladan..."
"Knowing Glorfindel, he is eager to take the blame for this. You are right, we need to watch him as well." Elladan began brewing the tea and watched Glorfindel and Elrond closely.
"Glorfindel, wake up." Elrohir weakly shook Glorfindel's shoulders. "I need to examine Ada..."
Elrohir's persistent voice finally got through to Glorfindel and he startled awake. Still thankful for his returned vision, he locked eyes with Elrohir, relieved to find the younger man here. "Elrond, is he...?" His glance shifted from Elrohir to Elrond and he cringed once more, seeing Elrond's bruised face. He started to raise a hand to touch Elrond's face, but froze in mid-air. /Nay, I lost my right to care for him when I failed him./ He caught the odd look Elrohir was giving him and he slowly untangled himself from Elrond, sitting up at last. The world briefly spun around him, but he bit down the comfort. "I should give you some space to work," muttered he embarrassed. He struggled to his feet, swayed, but shrugged off Elladan when the youngster tried to support him. "I will be outside." He tore his eyes away from Elrond and staggered toward the doorway, feeling miserable.
"Glorfindel, wait!" Elladan wanted to go after the blond, but Elrond moaned softly and the urge to be near his father overwhelmed him so he returned to the bed.
Glorfindel quietly closed the door behind him, wishing he could stay, but knowing he wasn't that privileged. His head still buzzed, but he determinedly ignored it as he made his way over to a tree, near to a fire. Camp had been made and several men were preparing their evening meal. Just the thought of food made his stomach contract angrily.
Seeing Elladan and Elrohir, he had expected them to be angry with him for the condition Elrond was in. He was in charge of Elrond's safety and he had failed them miserably. Closing his eyes, he thought back to the Halls of Mandos, their chill and solitude. /Coming here was a mistake, I never dared admit it before. Elrond called out for Gil-galad and I returned instead. Maybe I should return to the Halls and see if I can convince Gil-galad to return after all. Elrond loved him with all his heart... I should rectify this mistake.../
"Glorfindel?" Legolas frowned, seeing silver tears drip from the seneschal's face. Although Lurtz was waiting for him at the stream he couldn't turn his back on a friend in need. He placed the clothes on the ground and sat beside Glorfindel, waiting for the sapphire eyes to open.
"Legolas, leave me. I am terrible company." Glorfindel gave in and looked Legolas in the eye. He considered wiping away his tears, but it was too late, Legolas had already seen.
Legolas' compassion compelled him to fold an arm around the other blond. "Peace, Glorfindel. I am not the enemy." Glorfindel leaning against him made Legolas smile. "You are still tired and that head injury must be bothering you as well. What are you doing out here?" Why wasn't Glorfindel with Elrond?
Glorfindel sighed and shivered. Legolas wouldn't understand so why tell him? "It was too crowded in the cabin."
Legolas raised an eyebrow. "That is not your real reason for leaving."
Glorfindel stared at the dark heavens. Clouds hid the stars and a dark, heavy mood cocooned him. "You were on your way somewhere?"
Legolas sighed. "You won't confide in me... Why?"
"I do not want to burden you with my problems. Be on your way then. I will be fine." Glorfindel freed himself of Legolas' arm and leaned back against the trunk of a tree. "I will try to sleep."
Legolas knew he was being dismissed and Glorfindel's behavior angered him, but he knew better than to force the issue. Glorfindel would talk about it when he was ready. "I am always here should you need someone to listen."
"Thank you, Legolas." Glorfindel smiled weakly and watched Legolas leave. "But you can't possibly understand, Legolas..." Glorfindel, feeling utterly miserable, looked over at the cabin and wondered if Elrond had already regained consciousness.
"Elladan, Ada is waking up!" Elrohir gently moved a wet cloth across Elrond's forehead, removing dirt and sweat. "Ada..."
Elrond blinked a few times, trying to understand where he was. The last thing he remembered was being at Ugluk's mercy and then a black void had taken over. In that void he had heard Glorfindel's voice, but the words remained blurry. Looking at his sons, he forced himself to smile despite the excruciating pain in his ankles. "Elrohir... Elladan..." He raised a shaky hand and first touched Elrohir's face, then Elladan's. "I thank the Valar that they gave me a chance to see you again."
"You are safe now," blurted out Elladan, as his relief released him. He leaned in closer and cautiously hugged his father, but immediately pulled back hearing Elrond's pain filled groan. He had placed his weight on Elrond's ribcage accidentally. "Sorry, Ada." But Elrond still smiled at him and his father's fingers were tightly curled around his. "I missed you. I feared we had lost you!"
Elrond heard the distress in Elladan's voice and rubbed his son's fingers in an effort to soothe him. "I am back now, Elladan. Do not worry any longer." His eyes then sought out Elrohir's, which were warm and concerned. "I missed you, my sons." Elrohir carefully embraced him and Elrond ignored the pain that coursed through his body. "I trust in your healing abilities, Elrohir. I like to think I taught you well." Relieved he noticed that the poison no longer affected him.
"You are badly injured, Ada." Elrohir gently stroked his father's raven locks. "The bruises will fade, but the cut on your face won't. Your ribs will mend, but your ankles... By the Valar, what did that monster do to you?"
"He crushed my ankles," said Elrond weakly. It would take time to heal; being half Man now worked against him. "I never gave up hope," he whispered softly. "I hoped, nay, believed, we would be reunited again."
Elladan and Elrohir beamed at their father's words. "We will nurse you back to health, Ada," promised Elrohir passionately. "I already cleaned most scratches and I applied a healing balm to this terrible lash. Why did he have to cut your face...?"
Elrond sighed softly. "He took a perverse pleasure in making me suffer... What about my ankles?" Elrohir was right. The superficial wounds would heal quickly. His broken rib would take longer, a few weeks, but what really worried him were his ankles. Could Elrohir set them correctly? Would he be able to walk again?
Elrohir lowered his eyes. "I fear touching them. I have no experience in setting bones and... I cannot hurt you even more, Ada."
Elrond nodded. "I will not ask this of you then, Elrohir." His sons were already emotional at finding him in this condition and he could see something else troubled them. "Tell me what is upsetting you."
"Did Ugluk... did he..." Elladan swallowed hard, unable to finish.
"Did he... force you?" Elrohir bit his bottom lip. "We did not dare remove your leggings out of fear for what we might find."
Elrond smiled. "Nay, he did not. I escaped that terrible fate thanks to Lurtz... Lurtz, what happened to him?" As long as he didn't move, his ankles didn't bother him too much and he was eager to learn more.
Elrohir slid closer to his father and managed to get an arm around Elrond without the elder Elf flinching in pain. He slowly lay down, facing Elrond and stared deeply in to the dark eyes. Elladan, quickly added more wood to the fire and then joined them, carefully spooning himself behind his father.
Elrond marveled at them, and thanked Celebrian for giving him his sons. The twins had taken after him and were very special to him. His sons' body heat seeped in to his bones, warming him from the inside. Elladan rested his head against his back and sighed blissfully. /They used to do this until they came of age and I missed having them close. "Elrohir? What about Lurtz?"
"Lurtz took a knife meant for Legolas, but does not seem badly injured. They wanted some privacy and made camp near the cabin." Elrohir looked at Elladan, who had slightly raised his head to return the glance.
"Ada?" Elladan whispered softly in to Elrond's ear. "What is wrong with Glorfindel?"
The name startled Elrond. "Glorfindel... how could I forget about him? Where is he?" Suddenly their last conversation returned to him. "He vowed to stay near!"
"He left some time ago." Elladan frowned. "You are in no condition to chase after him. Let me fetch him."
Elrond's thoughts raced. Why had Glorfindel left?
"Ada, do you know he loves you? I wonder how he managed to keep that from us," said Elrohir. "Now that I know about his feelings, it shows in his every look or touch. He loves you passionately."
Elrond locked eyes with Elrohir. "I suspected as much. That is the very reason the Uruk-Hai managed to sneak up on us. I distracted Glorfindel..."
"How?" Elladan sat upright, realizing something was wrong with Glorfindel; why else would the seneschal leave?
"I kissed him..." admitted Elrond, fighting a blush.
"And he liked it!" Elladan slapped his knee. "Ah, Ada... Sometimes I wonder about you. Did you have to pick that time to show him?" But he felt relieved that his father returned Glorfindel's feelings and he saw approval in his twin's eyes as well. Elrond and Glorfindel deserved to be happy.
"Aye, that was not wise, but..." Elrond sighed, recalling the lovely blush that had graced Glorfindel's face. "I never thought he would return my feelings."
"That is what Glorfindel said as well," laughed Elladan. "Ada, I will find him and take him back here. Will you talk to him?"
Elrond nodded thankfully. Elladan left and Elrohir slowly slipped out of bed. "Drink this first. It will help lessen the pain."
Elrond sipped obediently. The blanket stopped him from looking at his ankles, but he knew they were twisted. "Glorfindel knows how to straighten broken bones but he will need your help, Elrohir."
"And after that you will rest and sleep." Elrohir disposed of the now empty cup. "I am so glad your spirit is not broken."
Elrond briefly averted his eyes. "They might have succeeded if you had not come to the rescue."
Elrohir instinctively reached for Elrond's hand and held it between his. "My heart dreads losing you, Ada."
Elrond looked at his youngest son and saw unconditional love in the brown eyes. "I love you as well, Elrohir." He tenderly wiped away the tears that had escaped his son's eyes. "But I am still here and I do not plan to leave you."
Elrohir managed a weak smile. "Let us hope that brother of mine finds Glorfindel, for I want to work on your ankles now." But before they would actually start to mend those ankles he planned to give his father a tea that would put him to sleep. He refused to put his father through even more pain. /Elladan, hurry! We need Glorfindel!/
Elladan located Glorfindel near the camp's largest fire. The blond Elf leaned against a tree, but the azure eyes weren't vacant yet. Glorfindel was very much awake. He sat on his heels, trying to catch the blond's gaze. "Glorfindel?"
Glorfindel drew in a deep breath. He expected one of the twins to show up eventually. "Elrond woke up?"
"And he is asking for you." Elladan wondered about the distant expression in the elder Elf's eyes. "Why do you not tell me what is really troubling you?"
Elladan would eventually make him tell so Glorfindel gave in gracefully. "I failed him, Elladan. I should have made sure he was safe."
Elladan moved until he sat cross-legged in front of Glorfindel, who once more avoided meeting his gaze. "You were still suffering from that head injury and Ada went with you to look after you. Do not turn this around. Ada had taken on the responsibility to lead the patrol. You were only there because you were too stubborn to rest!"
But Glorfindel remained depressed and Elladan used his trump. "You might have heard them had Ada not distracted you with that kiss." Aye, that got Glorfindel's attention and alert sapphire eyes searched his. "He loves you, Glorfindel, and right now he wants you close."
Glorfindel's mouth opened, but his vocal chords refused to co-operate. Elladan smiled, rested a hand on Glorfindel's and rubbed the skin soothingly. "You did not fail Ada, but you will, if you let this come between the two of you. Talk to him."
Glorfindel still wavered. "Elladan, I take my duties very seriously and it is my fault that Elrond got injured and..."
"No more 'and'," said Elladan, while placing a finger against Glorfindel's lips, silencing him. "Come with me and talk to Ada." Elladan rose and pulled Glorfindel to his feet as well. "Ada loves you, and Elrohir and I always cared for you. You can make Ada happy and I won't let you walk away from this."
Glorfindel sighed deeply, accepting Elladan's lead as the younger man guided him back to the cabin. "I faced and fought a Balrog, and I returned from the Halls of Mandos, but I never felt this frightened before," he admitted softly. Elladan looked at him reassuringly, but Glorfindel lowered his eyes. /I am not sure I can do this.../
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