The Test of the Fellowship
"Thank you, Legolas." Aragorn still felt shaken by Boromir's sudden death. He had never thought it possible to befriend Boromir but in the end they had become companions who respected each other.
"It's the least I can do," assured Legolas.
Aragorn and Legolas lifted Boromir's dead body and placed it in the small boat. Aragorn pressed Boromir's hand close to his chest; even in death Boromir clung to his sword. "He was a good man, and a great warrior." For some reason he felt the need to speak these last words aloud. "This will be his last journey..."
Legolas took a few steps back, giving Aragorn some privacy. His heart mourned Boromir's passing as well. As an immortal it was hard to understand death, but he had witnessed the passing of his mortal friends for several hundred years. He knew their sorrow, their regrets, the guilt they sometimes carried and wished he could soften the pain. His eyes found Gimli's. The Dwarf moved impatiently, ready to chase after the Uruk-Hai. He understood the Dwarf's need to see the Hobbits free, but he also understood Aragorn's need to say goodbye to Boromir.
He didn't know if Aragorn approved, but he began to sing one of the Elves oldest laments. The pure sound of his voice drifted through the air, silenced the birds and he briefly lost himself in the sad melody.
From the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sandhills and the stones;
The wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans.
'What news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring to me at eve?
Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve.'
'Ask not of me where he doth dwell - so many bones there lie
On the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky;
So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea.
Ask of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me!'
'O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward road runs south,
But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea's mouth.'
Aragorn, surprised at first, appreciated Legolas' gift. It was rare that Elves mourned the passing of a Man. His eyes filled with tears, but he quickly wiped them away and pushed the boat in to the water.
Gimli listened enthralled. He heard the Elves sing when Gandalf died, but Legolas' voice was like crystal, cutting through the air and filling Middle Earth with its magical sound. He had never before heard something like it and a single tear appeared in his left eye. It was truly beautiful and it felt like all life in the forest around them had come to a halt, listening to the haunting melody. He found that he was holding his breath listening to it. His eyes found Aragorn's and he was surprised to see them full of tears.
Finally the song ended and Legolas hesitantly made eye contact with Aragorn, hoping the song met with the Man's approval. Maybe he should have asked first...
"That was beautiful," whispered Aragorn, deeply touched. "Thank you. I know it's rare for Elves to mourn the death of a Man..." Legolas' eyes held an expression Aragorn couldn't label. Dismissing it for the moment, his eyes followed the small vessel. It dove over the edge and became part of the waterfall. Boromir had had a hero's funeral. Now it was time to go Orc hunting.
Aragorn hated admitting it, but he needed a rest. Gimli, Legolas and he hadn't rested since the Uruk-Hai had taken Merry and Pippin and the pace was wearing them down. The only one who seemed fairly rested was Legolas; the Elf didn't tire that easily and briefly Aragorn envied the Elven Prince.
The Elves... His thoughts drifted back to Arwen, the lovely Elven Maiden who had offered him her immortality. He closed his eyes, recapturing that moment before they had left Rivendell. Arwen had never looked more lovely, her eyes had spoken of her love for him, her hands had touched his, offering him her pendant.
It's not right. She's an immortal Elf. Giving up her immortality to be with me is too great a sacrifice. It took him a long time, but in the end he convinced her not to bind herself to him just yet. Reluctantly she agreed to wait after the quest was completed, when he once more returned to her.
Aragorn shook his head. It was folly of Arwen to give away her immortality. With the passing of time she would come to eventually hate him for it. Their love was pure now, maybe even too pure. Her love sometimes frightened him. He was a warrior, he lived and breathed death, knew life's perils. He feared that Arwen, once mortal, would regret her decision and blame him for it. No, he couldn't let her do this.
Arwen... He sighed and smiled as her beautiful face appeared in his mind's eye. She was too beautiful, too good, too lovely. At times like these, he wished she had fallen in love with an Elf and not with him.
"Aragorn?" Gimli frowned, finding their leader lost in thought. "Our bellies are empty; we need food."
Aragorn looked the dwarf in the eyes. "Master Dwarf, then find us something eatable."
Gimli nodded pleased. "A fine roast would do." He swung his axe over his shoulder and marched toward the trees. They camped at this clearing for the night and he hoped that the Uruk-Hai were forced to rest as well otherwise they would gain too much distance on the fellowship.
Aragorn watched the Dwarf until Gimli vanished from view and then turned his attention to Legolas who was building a nice, warm fire. The nights were growing increasingly cold and they needed the fire's warmth.
Aragorn nodded encouragingly when Legolas' eyes met him. "I'm sure Gimli will bring back some game to fill our bellies with." Unexpectedly his stomach growled, reminding him that he needed to eat as well. He pushed himself constantly, sometimes even forgetting the needs of his body.
Legolas answered with a nod of his own and then turned his attention to tending the fire.
Aragorn sat down, rested his back against rock and continued to watch the Elf. Legolas was, like most Elves, a man who guarded his privacy very keenly. It was one reason why Elves were considered a mystery by all other races. They rarely showed strong emotions and always seemed in control of the situation, but Aragorn knew better. Often it was merely a front to keep the curious ones at a distance.
The fact that Gimli tolerated Legolas was a good sign. Dwarves and Elves hardly ever got along, but he hoped that these two were the exception. They needed to work closely together if they wanted to survive this quest and free the two Hobbits.
The silence began to weigh heavily on him and he tried to think of something to say. "You have done well on this quest, Legolas. I'm thankful that you decided to join us. Your bow has taken down many foes." He monitored Legolas' reaction closely and thought he saw a ghost of a smile on the Elf's face.
"Thank you, Aragorn. I'm honored to be part of the fellowship."
The silence returned, irritating Aragorn. They worked well together in battle, but unease crept up on him during moments of peace. He silently admired the cat like grace Legolas displayed when sitting down and leaning back his head.
During all the years that he had lived with Elves, he had learned to see beneath the beauty that blinded most. Yes, the Elves were beautiful, but they also carried a great burden. Most races envied them and with that envy came fear and hate. It set the Elves apart, isolated them, and even here and now Legolas seemed isolated and alone. The fact that Legolas felt comfortable enough to relax spoke of the trust between them.
Suddenly Legolas' eyes widened, and his hands reached for his bow. Aragorn heard the noise as well. "It's Gimli, returning from the hunt."
A moment later the Dwarf appeared, dragging his prey behind him. "Sparkle that fire, Elf. Our bellies will be full tonight." He sighed, regretting they didn't have any malt beer to go with the meat. He dropped the rabbits in front of Legolas, who ever so slightly raised an eyebrow. "I caught them, you prepare them!" Gimli laughed, enjoying harassing the Elf a little.
Aragorn stepped in before Legolas and Gimli got in to a verbal fight. "You're a good cook, Legolas and we're hungry..."
Legolas eventually nodded his head and reached for the rabbits. Aragorn gave Gimli a look full of warning. He hoped the Dwarf would stop pushing Legolas.
Seeing Legolas give in amused Gimli to no end. Haughty creatures they are, the Elves. Think they are better than the rest of us. Never trust an Elf...
When Legolas had joined Frodo and Aragorn, offering them his bow, Gimli had reacted quickly, offering his axe as well. No Elf could keep the Hobbit safe! A Dwarf was a force to reckon with, but an Elf?
He studied Legolas closely. He had to admit that the Elf wasn't that bad... for an Elf that was. They were haughty and arrogant creatures, looking down on the Dwarves because they lived in great cities beneath the earth. Legolas was the first Elf he encountered that tried to fit in. The Elf carried out orders, helped and even seemed compassionate, but then again, one never knew with Elves. For the first time in his long life Gimli considered giving an Elf the benefit of the doubt. He couldn't deny that Legolas had saved his life in battle many times. When the Cave Troll came after him Legolas had distracted it with his arrows.
Gimli smiled pleased, smelling the roast over the fire. Normally Aragorn wouldn't allow the fire, but it was cold and they needed the meat to stay in a good shape. The Uruk-Hai wouldn't come after them now that they had the Halflings. Come to think of it, the Uruk-Hai hadn't been particularly interested in anyone, except for the Hobbits.
He cursed Saruman for creating the monsters. If he ever got his hands on the wizard Saruman would pay for unleashing this plague on Middle Earth! Shuddering, he hoped that Merry and Pippin would survive. Tracking them down was already taking too long!
Legolas removed the meat from the fire and handed pieces to Aragorn. Gimli moved at once, obtaining his share of the meal. His hand briefly touched Legolas' when the Elf handed him his food and the skin's softness annoyed Gimli. These Elves were way too perfect!
He settled back, rested his back against the trunk of an old tree and started eating. Legolas was merely staring at the meat, not eating and it made Gimli frown. Elves preferred fruits and vegetables, but even Legolas needed something substantial filling his stomach. "You'd better eat, Elf. Who knows when we get to eat again!"
The look Legolas gave him seemed vaguely unfocused and Gimli wondered if Aragorn had caught it as well. Something seemed off, but why was he only noticing now? He exchanged a glance with Aragorn, finding the Man frowning as well. Yes, Aragorn had noticed as well.
Legolas sighed and gave in without speaking a single word. Appeased Gimli nodded his head, but he was still keeping an eye on the Elf...
I must be more careful. The Dwarf is no fool. I can't risk him getting suspicious so I must eat and eat well. Legolas forced himself to swallow another piece of meat. Although the rabbit tasted good, he wasn't hungry and the meat made his stomach contract in dismay; it didn't want the food.
He quickly glanced at Gimli. The Dwarf was still watching him and to his surprise, so was Aragorn. Both men were studying him closely, making him nervous. He had done an excellent job at hiding his injury thus far, why were they growing suspicious now?
It had happened when the Uruk-Hai had taken Merry and Pippin. Everyone had been so focused on Boromir dying and the two missing Hobbits that no one had noticed the arrow tip in his shoulder. He had removed the largest part of the arrow, but the tip was still buried in his left shoulder and the infection was getting worse.
When he had first examined the injury he had smelled the poison on its tip. Although Elves were fast healers, the poison proved too much and it was spreading through his upper body. Tiny blue lines showed its progress and he wasn't sure how much longer he could keep up with Aragorn's grueling pace.
Pressured by the looks aimed at him he took another bite and swallowed it. Although it showed weakness he averted his eyes and focused on the fire. He couldn't tell them that the Uruk- Hai's arrow was slowly poisoning him. The quest came first, personal well being second. If he told them they might insist he stayed behind or take him to a healer. That would cost them precious time, which they didn't have.
Once they were asleep he would seek out the healing herbs that would slow down the poison, hopefully long enough for them to free the two Hobbits. Once more their stares were directed at him, making him more than just a little uncomfortable. He had to convince them that everything was fine.
He waited until they had finished eating. "Why don't you sleep? I can stand guard."
Aragorn actually raised an eyebrow. Legolas forced himself to rise and meet the man's stare. "You need the sleep. We have a long road ahead of us."
"Wake me in five hours," ordered Aragorn. "Even an Elf needs to rest now and then."
Legolas nodded. He hoped he found the healing herbs quickly; he needed to gather as many as possible. As long as he could slow down the poison he could aid Aragorn and Gimli in their quest.
It took Legolas an hour to find the plant he was looking for. He crunched the leaves between his fingers, slipped down shirt and tunic and pressed the crushed leaves in to the wound. Pain stabbed his shoulder and he hissed. Hopefully the pain was a sign that the plant was fighting the poison. Munching on more crushed leaves, the healing potion of the plant moved through his body.
Legolas gathered more of the plant and put it in a pouch attached to his belt. Feeling better, his eyes scanned his surroundings. Aided by his sharp hearing he quickly made sure that they were alone. The Uruk-Hai were too far away to hear or see, but his Elven senses warned him that they were still relatively close.
He sat down on a rock overseeing the clearing and smiled. Aragorn and Gimli were sound asleep, trusting him to keep them safe.
Gimli, the Dwarf irritated him most of the time, but he had to admit that Gimli was an excellent warrior. The Dwarf's axe had saved his life a few times and he felt indebted. He did his best to befriend the Dwarf, but overcoming Gimli's distrust was difficult. The Dwarf had voiced his opinions clearly that day at the council. Never trust an Elf.
And then there was Aragorn; the Man was a mystery to him. Aragorn was Isildur's heir, heir to the thrown of Gondor and yet the Man refused to take his rightful place. It was something he couldn't understand. He was a Prince himself, but his father had chosen another as his successor, so he had been sent to Rivendell as the King's messenger. Although he would have been honored to rule his people, he also enjoyed his current way of live. He was free to go where he pleased, free to fight Sauron. He wasn't sure he would do well, locked up in a castle as his people's ruler. He had made his peace with his destiny a long time ago, but then he had met Aragorn.
Aragorn possessed a physical strength and an amount of willpower that automatically made him a leader and it was only logical that Aragorn assumed command of this quest. He learned to trust Aragorn's judgment and tried to only offer his advice when needed, helping Aragorn make his decisions.
But there was something else about Aragorn that pulled him close to the Man. He had first noticed the attraction when Aragorn had leapt in to his arms when the bridge of Khazad-Dum had collapsed. He had caught Aragorn, making sure he didn't fall. He had felt it then, the attraction. Was it mutual? He didn't think so. Aragorn's heart belonged to the fair Arwen.
Legolas stared at the stars, realizing he was setting himself up for a lot of heartache. He should stop this infatuation now before he truly and deeply fell in love with Aragorn. Aragorn loved Arwen, and would never return his feelings. His mother's advice sounded in his ears, remembering her wisdom. "Remember, my son. Elves can die of a broken heart... Never fall in love when you know it is unrequited."
His mother's advice had seemed so simple and wise back then, but he had been a child and he still had to encounter passion. He had loved before, had loved and lost and it made him weary to love again. But love came without warning and his heart always beat madly when Aragorn was close. It was most distracting in the heat of battle when he was focused on keeping Aragorn safe.
The throbbing in his shoulder cut his musings short. Flashes of pain shot through his shoulder and he wondered if it was a good sign or not. He briefly considered going to Aragorn and ask the Man's help. Aragorn knew about the healing potions of herbs and maybe he knew of another plant to aid his recovery, but he quickly dismissed it. He couldn't tell Aragorn; it would slow them down. He had to deal with this alone.
Aragorn woke hours later. Looking at the stars, he realized that it was time for his watch. Why hadn't Legolas awoken him? Frowning, he checked on Gimli. The Dwarf stirred, opened his eyes and went back to sleep after identifying Aragorn.
He pushed back the blanket and got to his feet. His eyes quickly found the lonely figure of Legolas. The Elf's shape was clearly visible as the moonlight illuminated the night sky. "What do you think you're doing? You're making yourself an easy target!" The Elf should know better than to present himself to their enemies like that!
Irritated, Aragorn headed for Legolas, intend on lecturing the Elf, but when he stood in front of Legolas, he found that the Elf's eyes had an unfocused look. He's asleep on his feet! Aragorn felt worried. It was unheard of that an Elf fell asleep while on watch! Maybe he's more tired than he wants us to know. The urge to lecture Legolas vanished. Instead, he raised a hand and rested it on the Elf's shoulder.
Legolas' flinch took him by surprise. Elves didn't like to be touched, but he had hoped that Legolas would accept his touch. Quickly he withdrew his hand. "It's my turn now. Go and rest, Legolas."
"I'm fine. I don't need to rest."
Aragorn noticed the fine pearls of sweat on the Elf's brow. Something was wrong. "I will make it in to an order if I have to..." He would see to it that Legolas rested. "We don't know what lies ahead of us. We should be prepared... and rested." He clearly heard Legolas' sigh. The Elf was acting most peculiar and that worried him. "Is something wrong, my friend?" At least, he hoped that Legolas considered him a friend. "You can always confide in me. I won't betray your trust."
Legolas' mouth opened to speak, but then the Elf shook his head. "It's nothing. Do not trouble yourself. I will do as you say and rest."
Aragorn's worry increased when Legolas turned around and left without another word. He watched the Elf make his way back to their camp and frowned; something about the way Legolas moved was wrong. At dinner he had seen Gimli's expression; the Dwarf had also realized that something was amiss with the Elf. "We'll talk about this in the morning, Legolas. You won't keep secrets from me. We need to trust each other in order to survive."
Gimli opened one eye when Legolas lay down, rolling himself in to his blanket. He couldn't put his finger on it, but a foul stench emanated from the Elf; a smell that shouldn't be there. He popped himself up on one elbow and observed Legolas, who had fallen asleep the moment his head had touched the ground. The Elf was sound asleep with his eyes wide open. It set off his alarms.
Giving in to his curiosity, he got up and walked over to the Elf. He sat on his heels, inhaling the smell and trying to label it. His concern over the Elf puzzled him, but he proceeded nonetheless. He let his hand hover above Legolas' face, feeling the heat the Elf's skin radiated. The Elf was obviously feverish; the question was, why didn't want Legolas them to know?
Elves didn't get sick, didn't get diseases, so what was ailing Legolas? Soft murmurs suddenly left the Elf's lips. He tried to make them out, but Legolas' voice was too soft.
Gimli looked up at the rock where Aragorn stood watch. He wanted to confer with the Man about Legolas' condition, but couldn't leave the Elf right now. "I'm losing my mind in old age, worrying about an Elf!"
Suddenly a warning sounded through the dark night and Gimli immediately recognized Aragorn's voice.
Gimli acted at once and tried to wake Legolas. "Elf, wake up!" To his horror, Elven eyes had turned unfocused and misty. "Elf, what's wrong with you?" Gimli didn't wait for an answer and grabbed his axe instead. Looking up at his enemy he found that Aragorn had made a mistake in judgment. "Saruman's creations!" This weren't Orcs! "Elf, we need your bow!"
He charged, trying to buy Legolas some time. He aimed his axe at their chests, taking them down one by one, but there were too many Uruk-Hai and he was alone. A glance over his shoulder told him that Legolas had staggered to his feet and was now aiming his arrows at the attacking pack, but he swallowed hard, seeing how unsteady Legolas' hands were. This wasn't good at all!
Hearing a battle cry, he realized that Aragorn had arrived. Black blood dropped from the Man's sword. "Aragorn, we need to get the Elf in to safety. Look at his hands!"
Aragorn's eyes sought out Legolas and his heart missed a beat. The Elf was swaying on his feet and sweat covered his brow. His hands were shaky, but his arrows still met their target, but for how much long? His instincts had been right, something was wrong with Legolas and he had let the Elf go! Calmly he searched his surroundings. "Quickly, take him in to the cave. The entrance can be defended by one man!"
Gimli nodded and hurried toward Legolas. "Let us go, Elf, you can't stay out here in the open."
"I'm fine... I can fight..."
Legolas' voice sounded weak and trembled with chills. Gimli shook his head disapprovingly. "We don't have time for this, Elf!" Resolutely he beheaded one Uruk-Hai who tried to attack Legolas from behind. Once he had dealt with the abomination he grabbed the Elf's right hand and pulled him along. Legolas released a strangled moan and tried to free his hand. Gimli didn't have time to wonder about Legolas' failed action and dragged him in to the cave. "Stay behind me, Elf."
Legolas collapsed against the wall, leaning against it for support. He raised his bow, aimed his arrow and managed to hit one Uruk-Hai in the chest. The creature went down but another one appeared.
"Aragorn!" Gimli needed help!
Aragorn realized his friends' predicament and unleashed a roar. He attacked the Uruk-Hai, fighting himself a way over to the cave. He could still see Legolas' form in the dark cave and the Elf was slowly dropping to his feet. Only a few more seconds and he would reach them, join Gimli in his fight, but then the earth shook beneath him.
Gimli immediately realized the danger they were in. The walls of the cave shook and sent stones falling down, which were starting to block the entrance. If they wanted to get out, they had to move! "Elf, now!" Not getting a response he turned around to tell Legolas to hurry, but the words got stuck in his throat, seeing Legolas on the ground. The Elf was breathing heavily and blood showed on his tunic. When had Legolas been injured?
His instincts took over and he flung himself at the Elf. He was too small to protect Legolas with his body, but he could protect the Elf's head. Cradling Legolas' head against his chest, he held on to the Elf, hoping the earth would stop shaking. Only moments later the rocks already blocked the entrance, cloaking the cave in complete darkness.
The Uruk-Hai stopped fighting, staring at each other in wonder. Aragorn used the momentum to his advantage and attacked. A roar sounded from deep within the earth and the Uruk-Hai listened as if receiving an order. Unexpectedly they retreated from the cave.
Aragorn stared at their backs in disbelief. Why were they retreating now? Does it matter? chided his conscience. You should be thinking of Legolas buried in that cave... And Gimli, added Aragorn belated. Legolas... Legolas had to be alive.
He put his sword in to his scabbard and started to claw at the stones like a mad man. "Legolas! Legolas, Gimli, can you hear me? Answer me!" First he had lost Boromir and now he faced losing his other companions. No, refused to lose them! "Talk to me!"
Nothing. No voice sounded from inside the cave. Using his bare hands he began to roll away the rocks. "Legolas, don't give up. I beg of you." Until this moment he hadn't fully realized just how important the Elf was to him. Now that he faced losing Legolas, he also faced his growing feelings for the Elf. "Legolas, please... Gimli!"
Gimli coughed to rid himself of the dust that had settled between his teeth. The rumbling deep inside Middle Earth had stopped and he judged it safe to move. Opening his eyes he noticed that several sun beams made it through the blocked entrance; it was enough light to see clearly in the half dark.
Several large rocks had come crushing down and as he tried to move his right leg a sharp pain washed through him. Cursing loudly he managed to look over his shoulder. A rock had fallen on top of his knee; he probably hadn't felt it before due to his armor. His next concern was Legolas. The Elf was still beside him, head locked safely against his chest. "Elf, can you hear me?" He needed Legolas' help in getting the rock off of him. Only then could he help his companion. "Elf!"
Legolas stirred and Gimli sighed relieved. For one brief moment he had feared the Elf had died. "Elf, get to your feet and help me. We need to free my leg."
Legolas had a hard time sorting out his thoughts. They were spinning, running in circles; the fever must have gotten worse. He opened his eyes and immediately realized that something was wrong; complete darkness surrounded him. His nose twitched, recognizing Gimli's scent. What was the Dwarf doing this close to him? "Gimli?"
Gimli smiled. "Good thing Elves are tough. Listen Elf, the cave collapsed and buried my leg under a rock. Can you get it off me?"
"Why is it this dark?" Legolas strained to see. Even in the dark his Elven sight should guide him, but all he saw was the pitch black of the dark earth.
Gimli frowned. "Yes, it's dark, but the sun has found a way inside." Feeling Legolas move, he released the Elf. He got a good look at Legolas' face and was shocked to find it deathly pale. He could smell the blood on Legolas' tunic and the sharp scent of herbs. That was what he had been smelling earlier! "The rock, Elf, lift the rock!"
"You must tell me where... I can't see... It's too dark..." Legolas pushed himself up to his hands and knees and tried to compensate with his hearing now that the darkness had taken away his sight.
"Use your hands, Elf..." A dreadful apprehension swept through Gimli. Elves were well known for their sharp sight and there was enough sun light for Legolas to see. What had taken away the Elf's sight?
Legolas followed Gimli's suggestion and ran his hands over the Dwarf's body until he encountered the rock. "It's big... and heavy." He wasn't sure he could lift it in his weakened state. Suddenly his heart contracted. Was the poison rendering his eyes useless? Had it taken away his sight? What was next? Don't think about it. Concentrate on freeing Gimli!
Gimli held his breath when the Elf tried to lift the rock. He felt it move and he tried to pull away from it... unsuccessfully. "Again!"
Legolas set aside the pain that coursed through his abused body and used his last strength to roll the rock off of Gimli's leg. Exhausted, he tried to compose himself. There was no need for Gimli to find out about the poison now.
Suddenly Aragorn's voice carried into the blocked cave and Gimli was the first to react. "We're alive, Aragorn, we're alive. We'll dig ourselves a way out."
"I'll help!" Aragorn continued to move the rocks, hoping to reach his friends shortly.
Inside the cave Gimli stretched, rose to his feet and tested his limbs. "Nothing's broken. Dwarven bones are strong like steel!" The grin froze on his face, seeing Legolas sway on his knees. "Now, Elf, stop hiding the truth and tell me what happened!" Acting instinctively he forced Legolas to lie down. The fact that the Elf didn't protest worried him the most.
Legolas managed a weak smile. "Don't trouble yourself, Master Dwarf. Find a way out and help Aragorn free the Hobbits."
Gimli growled softly. "Abandon a friend I will not!"
"A friend?" Disbelief sounded in Legolas' voice. If only he could see the Dwarf's eyes. He felt helpless and vulnerable, cut off from his sight. However, the fact that Gimli was looking after him seemed to prove the Dwarf's words. "A friend? I thought Elves couldn't be trusted..." Talking exhausted him. His entire body throbbed with pain and he knew the blue lines had spread from his shoulder to the rest of his body. The herbs were too weak to stop the poison.
"Fool, tell me what happened or must I make you?" Gimli's fingers were surprisingly gentle when they unbuttoned the Elf's shirt and tunic. He shook his head, seeing the blue lines marring Legolas' smooth skin. Pushing down the shirt farther, he found the wound. "When were you hit, Elf?"
"When we lost Boromir..." Legolas knew it was useless to deny. "The tip's poisoned. I tried to stop the poison from spreading, but..." His body was slowly giving in to the poison, luring in him a false sleep, the sleep of death. It was so easy to close his eyes and give in...
"Don't you dare die on me, Elf!" Gimli hated the fact that Legolas had hid this from him, why hadn't he looked closer? "Why hide it? Answer me, Elf."
Legolas struggled back to the surface of his mind. "Didn't want... to slow us down... Merry and Pippin..."
"You're important too, Elf..." Gimli barely managed to hold back more curses, instead he used his powerful voice to reach Aragorn. "Aragorn, can you hear me?"
"Yes!" Aragorn doubled his efforts to free the entrance.
"We need to hurry. The Elf is wounded."
The words cut through Aragorn's heart. "Damn it..." He wouldn't lose Legolas like he had lost Boromir, but removing the rocks took time, time which Legolas probably didn't have.
It took Gimli some effort, but he managed to slip out of his coat. He draped the heavy, leather coat over Legolas' body, hoping it would warm the Elf who felt icy cold to the touch. "Come on, Elf. Talk to me. I forbid you to die!" He hoped it would provoke a response... and it did.
"Dwarfs are so stubborn..." Legolas felt the coat on top of his body. "Thank you..."
"Don't you dare drift off again, talk to me, Elf."
"What do you want to know?" The fever was making it hard for him to sort out his thoughts. Aragorn's face hovered in front of him and he felt delighted to be able to see again. "Aragorn... I knew you wouldn't desert me..."
"What was that?" Gimli frowned. "Yes, Aragorn will dig us out. Have faith, Elf." Chills tormented Legolas' body and Gimli wished he could build a fire to keep them warm, but he didn't even have a blanket. He took hold of the Elf's hands and rubbed them, hoping to get them warm. "Don't die on me, Elf."
In his feverish mind Gimli's voice became Aragorn's. "I won't... I'll live for you..."
Gimli's frown deepened. "Elf..."
"I know I can't have you, my love. Your heart belongs to Arwen... and mine belongs to you... An Elf can die of a broken heart, did you know that? I saw it happen once... He simply died... His love didn't want him..." Legolas released a long, shuddering breath. "Maybe it's better this way."
Suddenly Legolas' words made sense to the Dwarf. "You're in love with Aragorn?" He laughed amused. An immortal Elf had fallen for a mortal Man? Only trouble could come of it, but he liked trouble. It provided him with action.
Alarmed, he registered that Legolas was no longer reacting to his teasing. "Oh no, you don't. Elf, talk to me!" He shook Legolas by his shoulders and the Elf's eyes flashed open. Panic and pain shone from them. "I'm sorry," he apologized. "But I can't let you die. Aragorn would kill me." The name seemed to soothe Legolas.
"Ara... gorn?" His world consisted of darkness and pain and he had no way of telling if Aragorn was close.
"He'll be here shortly. Hold on, Elf, hold on." Gimli strengthened his hold on Legolas. "I want you to listen, Elf, as I tell you of the great Dwarven cities beneath Middle Earth..." He hoped that his voice would provide Legolas with a beacon. "Listen, Elf, listen."
Aragorn shredded his coat and wrapped the fabric around his hands. They were starting to bleed after hours of digging and the pain distracted him from his task. It had turned dark without him noticing it and the full moon shone brightly tonight. Listening closely he every so often heard Gimli's voice, talking about the great Dwarven cities. Had the Uruk-Hai chosen this moment to attack, they would have found Aragorn defenseless, solely focused on rescuing his friends.
Finally one heavy rock gave away and Aragorn quickly jumped out of its way as it caused the wall of rock to collapse. Aragorn released a triumphant roar. Not losing any time, he climbed over the remaining rocks and forced himself a way in to the cave. If he could get in, Gimli and Legolas could easily get out.
"Gimli!" He felt relieved, seeing the Dwarf hold on to Legolas. The Elf stared unseeing at the ceiling. "How badly wounded is he?" Gimli's grin took him aback. What was the Dwarf grinning about?
"Ah, Aragorn, there you are. Our Elven friend knew you'd come for him."
Aragorn dismissed Gimli's remark, focusing on Legolas instead. "We need to get him out." The Elf needed fresh air, sunlight caressing his body and damp grass beneath him for it would aid his recovery.
"Be careful," admonished Gimli Aragorn. "The tip of an arrow is buried in his shoulder."
Aragorn swallowed hard. "Poisoned?"
"I fear so."
Together they carried a nearly unconscious Legolas out of the cave. They placed the Elf on the grass and Aragorn realized the need for a shelter, which Gimli promptly offered to build.
Aragorn sat on the damp earth, pulled Legolas' head in to his lap and examined the injured shoulder. He effortlessly identified the herb Legolas had used to fight the poison and he grew hopeful again. He knew a much more potent one! The blue lines had spread over Legolas' back and chest, and they were climbing up his throat and face. He had to act now if he wanted to save Legolas. "Don't worry, I won't let you die..." He had to think clearly if he wanted to save this beautiful creature. An Elf wasn't supposed to die this young.
"I built a shelter... I can smell rain and thunder in the air. We'd better move him now."
Aragorn nodded quickly and slipped his hands beneath Legolas' knees and back, gently lifting him. He noticed the amused glance Gimli gave him, but he chose to ignore it, concentrating on the Elf instead.
Gimli had done a good job. Large leaves made up the roof of the shelter and the strong poles would withstand rain and storm. Tenderly Aragorn lowered Legolas on to the grass. He removed the heavy coat and handed it to Gimli. "Thank you..." He unrolled his blanket and placed it on top of the shivering Elf. "Thankfully there's a full moon tonight... Gimli, I need to gather some herbs. Stay close to him and make sure he stays warm."
"My axe will keep him safe," promised Gimli passionately. "He won't die as long as I'm here."
"Thank you, Master Dwarf." Gimli's vow deeply touched him. "Keep him safe for me. We won't lose another companion tonight." He watched as Gimli sat down next to Legolas, and assured that the Elf was well protected he went deeper in to the woods.
The moonlight helped him find his way. His fingers greedily harvested the herbs and slipped them in to his pocket. Not enough, it still wasn't enough. He needed more if he wanted to save Legolas' life and finding the herbs was taking too much time. Again he repeated his promise; no one would die tonight and certainly not Legolas...
Gimli held tight on to Legolas' hand. The Elf was mumbling in his fever, but the name of Aragorn was no longer on Legolas' lips. Gimli wondered what to do with his newly acquired knowledge. So, the fair Elf was in love with Aragorn, who had given his heart to Arwen, Elrond's daughter.
Lost in his musings, he pushed a lock of fair hair behind Legolas' ear. "We can worry about that later... First you need to survive, Elf..." He smiled kindly. "I don't have any sons or daughters. Battle was my constant companion. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm honored to be your companion. Your character treats are the ones I would have wished for my son, if I'd had one." Guilt began to eat away at him. "I shouldn't have said that, never trust an Elf. I know better now."
Sounds coming from the bushes told him that Aragorn had returned. "Did you find the herbs?"
"Yes..." Aragorn knelt beside Legolas and checked on the injury. "I need water..."
"I'll get it." Gimli picked up his flask and hurried to get the water. It was only a short walk, but it still gave him time to ponder everything that had happened. Somehow, his view of the Elves had drastically changed since meeting Legolas.
Aragorn started to chew the herbs, making them release their healing potion. Then he pried open Legolas lips and let the juices drip in to the Elf's mouth. "Fight! You can't give up like that. We need you!" He watched as Legolas' body twitched and the Elf finally swallowed. "Yes, you can fight this."
"Your water..." Gimli handed Aragorn the flask.
"Help me get the shirt and tunic off of him. I need to wash out the wound." Aragorn worked quickly while Gimli supported Legolas as the Elf sat upright. "It's worse than I thought. When did he get injured? Why didn't he tell us?"
"He didn't want to slow us down."
Aragorn shook his head. "If he had told me earlier he wouldn't have gotten this bad."
Gimli started to feel uncomfortable seeing the Elf like this. "I will take first watch..." He marched away, hoping Aragorn possessed enough knowledge of herb lore to pull Legolas through.
Return to Archive | next