Chapter 10 – Recovery
"Staying by her side all day and night will not make her wake."
Eowyn spoke as she came in to the room. Legolas did not look up, but kept his eyes trained on Seraphina's face. She had been sleeping since yesterday, when she collapsed in the throne room.
He remembered the feeling of seeing her being taken away; it felt like half of him was being torn off. He had slept fitfully, dreaming of her, often waking, shouting and kicking. His necklace had changed too, and it matched hers. He could not remember when it had happened. His mind was always on her. Even when they had been reunited with Gandalf, his happiness was short-lived. He could just about act normally but he was constantly thinking of her.
When he had seen her in the entrance hall, it was like he was a blind man seeing the sun for the first time. Pure joy had filled him up, and he was sure that the others could practically see it bursting out of him. His joy had quickly turned to anger when he took her from the soldier's arms. She was on the brink of death. He had laid her down on the table, clutching her hands, trembling with rage. Who ever had done this to her would pay. How dare they subject her torture? How dare they try and take her away so soon after he was reunited with her?
Legolas jerked back to the present as a hand touched his arm. He swiped away the tears that had trickled down his face.
"Do not hide your tears. It does not make you weak."
Eowyn's voice was soft and gently squeezed his arm. Legolas nodded, and watched Seraphina again. She mumbled, and her eyebrows drew together. She reached out a hand, and grasped Legolas'. He clasped it to his chest, smiling. Even when she was unconscious, she knew that he was there.
"She must mean the world to you."
Eowyn sounded wistful and Legolas smiled as he looked at the battered face of the one woman he had ever loved.
"No, she doesn't. She IS my world. I was separated from her once before and that was a mistake. We had only just reconciled and she was taken from me."
Legolas' voice was pained, his eyes searching Seraphina's face. Eowyn said nothing and merely stood quietly by his side.
"To see her in this condition is…there are no words I can say. I can only hope she will pull through. I have to believe in her strength. I cannot, I will not, lose her. Not again."
Eowyn nodded silently, watching as Legolas tenderly tucked the sheets a little tighter around Seraphina. He brushed a kiss across her forehead, and stood up, reluctantly letting go of her hand.
"I must change her bandages. Would you mind watching over her will I find Aragorn?
Legolas spoke to the lady, walking towards the door.
"There is no need. I am perfectly capable of assisting you."
Eowyn replied, looking a little confused. Legolas stopped at the doorway, one hand resting against the wood.
Legolas' voice was quiet but forceful.
"I do not mean to offend you, Lady Eowyn, but something this intimate must be done by people close to her. Aragorn is her brother in all but blood."
He heard Eowyn take a sharp breath and he was expecting her to put up an argument, but she merely expelled the breath, speaking sharply.
"As you wish."
Eowyn's voice was cold, and Legolas felt a twinge of guilt. She had been nothing but helpful since Seraphina arrived, and he was refusing to accept her help. Opening the door, he cast one more look back at Seraphina's unconscious face before going in search of Aragorn.
Legolas stood on one side of Seraphina, Aragorn opposite him. She was laid out on top of the bed, the covers pushed down. She had been stripped of the night-gown she had been changed in to. Her bandages covered most of her body, protecting her modesty.
"You have seen her stripped of clothes before, and yet you still blush, my friend?"
Aragorn's voice held a note of amusement. Legolas said nothing, but glanced up at Aragorn, smiling briefly. Gingerly, Legolas started to peel back the layers of bandages around her chest. Aragorn was holding her up, his hands placed underneath her. Legolas pulled the final strip of cloth away and drew in a sharp breath.
Her wounds had been horrific when she had first arrived. Deep lacerations covered her front and back; most were infected, and some were still bleeding. A gaping wound covered the middle of her back; it looked like the flesh had been gouged out. Bruises covered her face and arms, and she had a black eye. Her clothes had been ripped. Her hair had been matted with dried blood and dirt. Altogether, she was the picture of death. Legolas could not even begin to imagine what she had been through.
Now, Legolas reflected as he checked her wounds, she was starting to heal. The lacerations had been stitched up, and they were closing up nicely; a few of the shallower ones had already closed and were fading. The wound on her back was a different matter. It had been severely infected; Legolas had cleaned it as best he could and stitched it up, but he was not the healer that Seraphina was. The infection had cleared up, but the wound was still raw and blood oozed out every so often. Her bruises had faded quite quickly, showing that they were well on their way to disappearing soon enough.
"It looks as if she needs only a bandage for her back."
Aragorn's remark made Legolas' spirits lift marginally and he nodded. Picking up a vial of clear liquid, he soaked a piece of gauze, and pressed it to the wound. He wound a fresh bandage over the gauze, tying it securely so the gauze would be held in place. He picked up the discarded night-gown and, with Aragorn's help, dressed her again. Aragorn laid her back down gently, and drew the covers over her. Seraphina mumbled, and curled in to a ball.
"We should leave her be. You need to eat, my friend."
Aragorn spoke, his eyes on Legolas' face.
"I cannot leave her side. What if she wakes and I am not here?"
The panic in his voice was evident. Aragorn came round to where Legolas was standing, and placing an arm around his shoulders, gently but firmly, drew him away from the bed.
"If she does wake, you will know. You need to take care of yourself as well as her."
Aragorn's tone was sharp and Legolas hung his head miserably. He did not want to leave her, even if it was only for a few hours. Aragorn opened the door for Legolas. He hesitated in the doorway. Aragorn pushed him out and shut the door quickly before Legolas could dart back in. Sometimes, Aragorn thought as they made their way to the dining room, dealing with Legolas was like dealing with a child.
"How is the wee lassie doing, then?"
Gimli asked the question around a mouthful of broth. Legolas and Aragorn had joined Gimli and Gandalf at the entrance to the dining hall. They had sat at a table together, and were joined by Eowyn. Their dinner had arrived shortly afterwards.
"She is healing Faster than when she first arrived – her proximity to me has sped up the recovery process. She will still be fairly weak when she awakens, however."
Legolas pushed his spoon around the bowl, not wanting to eat anything.
"In which case, you must eat and keep your own strength up. She will need your support. You have taken good care of her – now look after yourself."
Eowyn chided the Elf gently. She was sitting opposite Legolas, next to Gandalf. Legolas glanced up at her and the Shield-maiden merely gave him a pointed look. Sighing, he picked up his spoon and began eating the broth. Satisfied, Eowyn spoke to Aragorn.
"I confess to not knowing who Seraphina is, my lord. Despite helping to tend to her since she arrived a few days ago, I have not heard much about her."
Aragorn looked at Legolas, who was still eating, although taking only small bites. The Elf caught his eyes and gave a small nod and the Ranger turned his attention back to Eowyn.
"She is part of the Company that left Rivendell. She was taken by Uruk-Hai shortly after we leftLothlórien. As for her history…she is Queen of the Noldor Elves, a race of Elves that have left these shores. Seraphina is a close friend of mine - of all of ours."
Eowyn stared at Aragorn for a moment, taking in the information. She had not expected the battered she-Elf to be royalty! The dark-haired Ranger smiled briefly at her shocked expression before returning to his broth. He had revealed only what was necessary; Seraphina could tell her the rest, should she still be curious.
"Forgive me if I am prying, my lord, but…is she your wife?"
Eowyn spoke directly to Legolas, hazel eyes locked on to his face. The Elf jerked his head up, eyebrows raising slightly. After a moment, he nodded, pushing his bowl away before speaking.
"Indeed, my lady. We knew each other as children, but we did not see each other much as we grew. We met again a few centuries after the War of the Last Alliance, and married a century after that. As to the exact years of how long we have been wedded, I cannot remember but I know it has been nearly three thousand years."
Once again, Eowyn was shocked in to silence. She knew of Elves' immortality, but she could not wrap her head around the fact Legolas was thousands of years old. He looked as though he had barely passed thirty summers!
"If you will excuse me, I will take my leave and return to Seraphina. I thank you for the broth, my lady."
Legolas announced his actions, standing up. The other four exchanged glances and the Elf frowned a little, not missing their looks.
"She does not need a constant vigil any more. Four days have passed and from your own admission, she is healing well. Go to sleep in your own chamber tonight."
Gandalf spoke gently, but there was a clear command in his voice. Legolas started to shake his head, but stopped suddenly. His shoulders slumped slightly.
"As you wish."
He turned and walked away, without saying goodnight. He passed through the doorway, and turned left, towards his chamber. Aragorn blew out a frustrated breath.
"Leave him alone for now, laddie. If your wife arrived, looking the picture of death, would you not struggle with it too? Would you not want to spend every waking moment by her side?"
Gimli spoke up unexpectedly, his kind words uncharacteristic for him. Three pairs of astonished eyes turned to him but the Dwarf remained unphased and shrugged his shoulders slightly, finishing off his broth.
"With those pearls of wisdom, I suggest we all retire. These past four days have been taxing."
Gandalf spoke in to the silence and the party followed his advice, each going to their respective chambers.
Legolas could not get comfortable. His mind refused to settle and, with a frustrated growl, he left the bed and stalked over to the window. Gazing out at the night, he sighed, running a hand through his hair.
Legolas did not know how to explain it but it was like an invisible force was pulling him towards Seraphina. He had barely left her side since she arrived, and had presided over her care like a hawk. Most thought it was merely a distraught lover worried about their partner. However, it was something more for the blonde Elf. When Elves married, they were bound together for life and death. They were tied together for eternity, their thoughts and feelings shared between them. The greatest torture for an Elf was to take their spouse from them; to force them to live without them.
It had been agony for Legolas. He had kept his turmoil under wraps but every day without her had been a struggle. All he had wanted was to track the Uruk-Hai that had taken her, but somehow, they had lost them. Instead, they had followed after Merry and Pippin. Every league that was put between him and Seraphina only added to the weight that had settled in his chest when he saw her being taken. His mind continually went back to her; memories of years past played almost constantly, adding to his misery.
At one moment, shortly after finding the remains of the Uruk-Hai the Rohirrim had decimated, a terrible rage had coursed through Legolas. The unfairness of his situation had hit him right in the gut. He had only just been reunited with her; had only just got her love back and she had been ripped away. He had wanted to destroy anything in reach, to take it his frustration and grief. Somehow, he had managed to keep it under control but it had simmered below the surface – until she had found him.
Legolas jerked out his memories, not wanting to relive the moment when he had seen her. Turning away from the window, he hesitated for only a moment before striding to the door and slipping out of his chambers. He darted down the corridor, steps silent as he headed towards Seraphina's room. Reaching the door, he cast his eyes around to make sure no-one was around before walking in, shutting the door gently.
He made his way to the chair beside Seraphina's bed and sank in to it, feeling almost instantly calmer. Legolas settled in to the chair, and lulled to drowsiness by her even breathing, he fell in to a restless slumber.
Legolas started awake. A burning sensation gripped his chest. He fumbled down his tunic for his necklace. Examining it, he saw that it was glowing softly. It burned his hand, but he continued to look at it, confused, until a voice broke in to his thoughts.
"Be careful not to think too hard, my love. You might hurt yourself."
Legolas gasped, and jerked sideways, losing his balance slightly. He righted himself and looked up - straight in to the amused eyes of Seraphina.