A Second Chance

Chapter 12

Emma blinked groggily as she tried to shake the sleep off. This was the first time that she had gotten more than two hours of sleep and she vaguely wondered what was keeping her oh-so-wonderful jailers. Eventually, she registered that their was a rather strange noise drifting down the staircase.

She moved over to the door to her cell and pressed her ear to it. After a short time, she was able to identify the screeches of orcs, but also the clashing of weapons. Must be some brawl. They don't usually use their weapons, Emma thought. Incapable of walking, she crawled over to the corner of her cell and leaned against the wall, trying to avoid jostling all the parts of her that were injured (few were not).

Suddenly a cacophony of screeches broke through her near total silence. Two orcs bounded down the stairs and over to her cell. Out of instinct, Emma pressed herself up against the wall. The smaller of the two went in and roughly grabbed her, effectively hauling her off the floor. Knowing that it was useless to protest, she just let them drag her out. She was forced to her knees and the larger orc stepped in front of her after taking a furtive glance back at the staircase. The smaller orc, who was now positioned behind her, grabbed a fistful of her hair and wrenched her head back, she couldn't help the squeak of protest that escaped her lips and was surprised when the orcs showed no reaction to it. Then she couldn't hold back her joy when she saw what the larger orc was holding, preparing to swing at her neck.

Oh, how many times she had dreamed of just dying, being released from the pain and suffering. It's not that she really wanted to die, she would rather live, but not like this, in constant torture. She would also never kill herself, couldn't dream of it. She wouldn't have the guts to do it anyways. Not to mention that it was morally wrong.

Still, she couldn't help the giddy feeling that welled up inside her as she saw the ax twitch towards her neck.

oOo

Thranduil drew his sword as he walked across the long bridge of Dol Guldur. He heard the alarms being raised, but did not really care that the enemey was alerted to their presence. He sensed the dark magic protecting the entrance as they approached it and held his palm up, facing the gate and reached for the flow of light inside of him. He sensed the Marchwarden doing the same next to him, though his assistance was not really needed.

He felt the shield of dark magic crumble away and proceeded forward. As soon as they entered, they were bombarded by orcs and wargs and orcs riding wargs and… was that a posessed rat? Thranduil shook his head and out of the corner of his eye saw a flash of bright red hair and knew that Tauriel had joined the fray, he smirked and in one fluid movement, leapt into the middle of the battle, sword swinging in around him like a whirlwind.

oOo

Tauriel twirled in a whirl of blades, orcs falling left and right and all the while, she was keeping an eye on her king, who was merely a blur of platinum and crimson, piling up even more bodies then she. Out of the corner of the eye she wasn't using to watch the Elvenking, she saw two orcs disappear down a staircase. She leapt after them, felling more orcs as she went.

As she crept down the stairs after them, she took her bow off her back and notched an arrow. Peering around the corner, she nearly froze at what she saw.

The two orcs were standing in the middle of the dungeons, one had the head of an… an elf maiden forced back and the other was just swing the ax towards her neck. Moving faster than one would think possible, Tauriel aimed and shot the orc holding the ax and then the other. The elf maiden gasped and fell forward on her hands.

Tauriel moved quickly forward and kneeled in front of her. She gasped when she saw who it was.

It was the mysterious elleth that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere in their forest… and then disappeared. Though Tauriel had seen her only a few times, she was not one to forget a face.

The poor girl was covered in barely scabbed over wounds and cuts that were clearly infected. She wouldn't look up and was staring resolutely at the ground between her hands.

"It's all right, we're here to help," Tauriel said in a soothing voice.

The girl's head snapped up and she stared at Tauriel like she had never seen another elf before.

"A-are you real?" the girl said in a hoarse whisper, "You aren't another, h-hallucination are you?"

Tauriel shook her head and said, "I understand that you probably want to leave here as soon as possible, but it may be best if you stay here for a little while…" Tauriel trailed off when she saw that the girl (whose name she couldn't recall) shaking her head as tears slowly dripped down her face.

"This isn't real… it isn't real… don't believe it… don't believe it… don't…" and then she promptly passed out.. Tauriel stared at the prone form of the elleth with wide eyes.

She lifted her head when she heard one of the elves calling her name. She replied and two sets of footsteps came down the stairs. She turned her head and saw that one of the elves had frozen staring at the girl with wide eyes.

He rushed forward and knelt next to the girls head, his hand hovering over her, as if unsure where to start. Finally he settled on trying to wake her up. From the way he was acting, Tauriel guessed that he knew her, somehow.

Tauriel was distracted by the elleth's moaning as her eyes fluttered open.

The girl's eyes locked on to the elf hovering above her and her she said in slight awe, "Carl?"

Tauriel did a double take, last time she checked, this elf's name was not called Carl, but 'Carl' grinned and said, "Yes, it's me. You are going to be alright, Emma."

She smiled wryly and said, "No, you can't fool me. I know none of this is real."

A brief flash of confusion flashed through his eyes, but it was quickly replaced with horror. Her mind connected the dots shortly after and she to felt horrified at what this elleth had gone through.

Carl gently lifted her in his arms and Emma (as 'Carl' had called her) buried her face in his shoulder, to hide the disappointed tears that were starting to drip down her face. When they reached the top of the stairs, she saw that the battle had ended and the elves were starting to cross the bridge back to the other side. The last part of there plan was all up to Lady Galadriel.

Emma looked up at the elf carrying her and said, "I can walk now."

He opened his mouth to protest, but she gave him puppy eyes as she whimpered, "Please…" Sighing, he set her delicately on her feet. She swayed slightly, but steadied herself, using Carl as a handhold. She turned to him and grinned a little, before throwing her arms around him in rather weak hug. He smile softly as he returned it.

Tauriel Thranduil in off to the right, wiping his sword off. The Elvenking turned to them, but when he saw Emma, he froze much like Carl had, though he managed to keep his face mostly calm. Mostly. He slowly approached and looked down at the girl in Carl's arms.

oOo

Thranduil cleaned his sword off on his cloak and looked around for Tauriel, he saw her tell-tale hair give an unruly flash and turned. He saw one of his guards supporting the small figure of an.. an elleth? How could an elleth be here in Dol Guldur? Let alone survive?

He felt his body lock up briefly. It couldn't be… he watched her turn around. His eyes widened a very tiny fraction. How, could she have survived? It's been more than a year…

He slowly walked over and saw that she was looking up at him and shielding her eyes, he raised an eyebrow, clearly sending her a look that asked 'What are you looking at?'

Just as he thought she would, she supplied an explanation, "Your hair. It hurts to look at it. To bright. Put it away," she was now covering both of her eyes.

Thranduil felt himself smirk slightly as he wondered if anything could change this girl, "Come now. Let's not be to over-dramatic," he said in a lofty voice.

She uncovered her eyes and looked at him with a strange expression. He raised his eyebrow again and was about to say something else when suddenly, her arms were around his neck. There was a collective gasp from the elves around them, but he didn't particularly care, focusing instead on gently returning the hug and trying to hear what Emma was saying, "I can't believe I've even missed your sassy remarks, your sassy face and your overall sassy demeanor."

Suddenly she froze and backed away, looking around with a slightly wild look, saying in a whisper, "This isn't real, this isn't real, it can't be," she buried her face in her hands and continued in unintelligible mutters. The guard slowly reached out to comfort her, but she wrenched away, curling up on the ground and sobbing.

Thranduil, seeing that nobody was going to do what obviously needed to be done, turned to the guard standing closest to him and told him, in a low voice, to bring his elk. He then, knelt next to Emma, feeling strangely concerned (he wasn't sure why he even bothered helping her, Valar forbid he had a soft spot for her…) and gently touched the side of her face, murmuring an elvish spell and seconds later, she was still and sleeping.

His elk approached and stopped next to him, kneeling down. He turned to the guard who had brought Emma up and told him to put Emma on and to wait there, before he walked away to the Marchwarden.

Haldir turned to him and bowed, "My lord?"

"Is everything prepared for the Lady?" Thranduil questioned, looking down at the other elf rather imperiously.

"Yes, my lord."

"Very well, let us go." Thranduil walked back to his elk and mounted up behind the sleeping Emma, arranging her position so that it was more comfortable for both of them, namely, her leaning against his chest with his arms around her waist, resolutely ignoring the stares he was getting.

They crossed the bridge of Dol Guldur and were greeted by the Lady of Light. She smiled serenely as she waited for all of the elves to finish crossing the bridge. Then, positioning herself so that she was facing the great fortress, she spread her arms wide and the powerful words that would transform the fortress into nothing more but rubble, her voice magnified by the sheer potency of the words.

Minutes later, the fortress came crashing down with a great crashing and booming. The elves let out a great cheer (except for the important ones, they were too special…) as they watched it disintegrate before their eyes. Once the dust had settled, they turned away and began the trek back to the halls of the Elvenking, where a great feast was being prepared.

Thranduil glanced down at the sleeping girl that was technically in his arms. He remembered the haunted look in her eyes and realized that she had probably changed more than anyone, including herself, had realized and that, knowing her, she was probably going to try to keep all the pain and doubt she was feeling bottled up inside, until it ate her away. Something inside him, for some reason, felt pain at realizing this.

And though he didn't know it, that same something inside him, resolved that it wasn't going to let that happen.



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