Chapter 28 – Love can hurt
I sat quietly on a chair, hands resting on my stomach, in the throne room of Minis Tirith. Legolas sat next to me, one hand entwined with mine, his thumb slowly stroking the back of my hand. Gimli was sitting in the Steward's seat, smoking his pipe, seemingly relaxed. I knew better: the hard look in his eyes and the slight tremor in his hand revealed his anxiety. Éomer, Aragorn and Gandalf were standing, discussing plans. Legolas and I had not left each other's side since being reunited. He had insisted on me being present in the throne room, rather than leaving me in the Healing Houses. My back ached and throbbed, but it was a pain I could ignore, so long as I did not move too much.
"Frodo has passed beyond my sight. The darkness is deepening."
Gandalf sounded panicked, and I shared a look with Legolas. If Gandalf was worried, things were not as light as they seemed.
"If Sauron had the Ring, we would know it."
Aragorn answered the wizard, his voice soothing. How he could be so calm in a situation like this, I did not know. My thoughts were swirling, and I felt nauseous. Whether the nausea had something to do with my pregnancy I couldn't figure out, but it was not helped by the worry I felt for Frodo and Sam. Were they safe? Were they close to ending this madness? Had they fallen in to darkness?
"It's only a matter of time. He has suffered a defeat, yes, but behind the walls of Mordor our enemy is regrouping."
Gandalf's sombre words were met by silence from our group. I shifted a little, grimacing as pain flared through my back. It seemed as if I always had something wrong with me these days and I idly wondered whether I would ever fully heal. Legolas leaned in suddenly, brushing a feather light kiss across my cheek before settling back as if nothing had happened. I looked at him in surprise, a small smile turning the corners of my mouth up. Such displays of affection were uncommon from him, but I welcomed them; it was a reminder that even after all I had put him through, he still loved me.
"Let him stay there! Let him rot! Why should we care?"
Gimli's harsh words pulled me from my observation of my partner. The dwarf looked defiant, the smoke from his pipe curling lazily in to the air, spiralling towards the arched ceiling.
"Because ten thousand Orcs now stand behind Frodo and Mount Doom."
I answered Gimli's questions, words tinged with despair. Again, there was silence as everyone absorbed my words.
"I've sent Frodo to his death."
Gandalf sounded horrified, his eyes wide. I tightened my hand on Legolas', suddenly fearful. I hated the thought that appeared in my mind but I couldn't help it: what if Gandalf was right? What if he had sent Frodo to his death? If that was true, what could we do?
"No. There is still hope for Frodo. He needs time, and safe passage across the Plains of Gorgoroth. We can give him that."
Aragorn sounded every inch the determined King, and I felt hope stir in me. At our confusion, Aragorn explained himself, his dark eyes scanning each of our faces.
"Draw out Sauron's armies; empty his lands. Then we gather our full strength and march on the Black Gate."
Gimli choked on his pipe, spluttering a little. Éomer spoke up, voicing what must be in everyone's minds.
"We cannot achieve victory through strength of arms."
I kept silent, feeling cold all of a sudden. I could feel the excited energy radiating from Legolas. Aragorn's next words confirmed my fears.
"Not for ourselves…but we can give Frodo his chance, if we keep Sauron's Eye fixed upon us. Keep him blind to all else that moves."
I swallowed hard as Legolas stood suddenly, his hand slipping from mine.
I watched as Aragorn nodded, clapping Legolas on the shoulder. I averted my gaze as Legolas looked to me, not wanting to see the light in his eyes, or the excitement in his being.
"Sauron will suspect a trap. He will not take the bait."
I looked to Gandalf, noting the weariness that surrounded him. Aragorn laid a hand on his shoulder, lending silent comfort.
"Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?"
Gimli sprung up, a broad grin on his bearded face. I stood too, rather more slowly, careful not to aggravate the laceration on my back.
"Seraphina, there will be a horse for you from my company. Many have not got riders and…"
Before I could change my mind, I spoke quickly.
"I will not be going in to this battle."
I cut Éomer off, glancing at Legolas. He looked shocked, as did the others. I sighed a little, and explained.
"I am wounded, and would be a hindrance rather than a help. I am with children, and I do not wish to put them in harm's way more than I already have; I've lost one child before and I will not do so again. And I ask something that is hard: I ask that Legolas remains behind also."
No-one spoke and I drew in a shuddering breath, my stomach roiling with unease. Those were two reasons why I could not go, but the third was more important. Whilst fighting in Minis Tirith, I had felt my mind begin to weaken. I was close to Mordor, and Sauron's influence could reach me. I had fought it as I had fought his soldiers, but I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. Standing before the Black Gate would be dangerous, and I did not want to put my closest friends in more peril.
"I cannot stay behind. You know that, Seraphina. It is my responsibility to defeat Sauron, to help Frodo rid this land of his evil."
I stared at Legolas as he stepped forward, not really believing his words.
"Responsibility? You think that is your only responsibility? You are a father, Legolas! You must think of your children now. I do not want them to grow up hearing only stories of you!"
My voice rose, and I knew everyone could see how upset I was. Discreetly, Aragorn turned away, motioning the others to do so. They walked towards the door, leaving Legolas and I facing each other.
"It hurts me to know that you think I will die in this battle. After all we have been through, you think I will fall at the last stand?"
I shook my head in exasperation; why couldn't he see what I was getting at?
"I do not think that…I know that! It is a fool's hope to think you will win this, to cause a big enough distraction so Frodo will reach Mount Doom. Sauron is stronger, and far wiser, than you think."
I could see the anger in Legolas' features but I was past reason; I could not lose him, not now.
"Is he? You would know that far better than the rest of us, wouldn't you? I understand your reasons for staying behind; I am not as blind as you believe me to be. I see the tremble in your frame; I feel the weakness in your mind. Sauron is influencing you, and though you fight the darkness, you believe you will fall. I know you want to protect us, but is staying here, among innocent and unarmed people, the better option?"
For a moment, I was lost for words. Legolas had got right to the heart of my fear. I would fall – I could sense it in the air. I was terrified of what I would do when I turned: would I massacre the people? Would I take Minis Tirith and force the others to kill me? However, I was far more scared for the effect on my children. I would do anything to keep them from the darkness that was Sauron but I was helpless. For once in my life, I did not know what to do. I needed Legolas to help me but I had taken the wrong path. This knowledge caused anger to rise up, and I answered, my words harsh and cold.
"Would you rather I kill Aragorn? Gimli? Éomer? Gandalf? If I go before the Black Gate, I may as well walk in to Mordor, claiming my allegiance to Sauron. If I stay, I have a chance to fight it. If you cannot see it that way, I do not have the will or patience to make you see."
His eyes narrowed, and the fury rolling off him made me take a step back.
"How can you be so selfish? Where is the Seraphina that would fight against the forces of Sauron, even in dire circumstances? Where is the Elf that always found the light, even in the pitch black? Where is she?"
I stared at him, seeing how hard his eyes were. I cleared my throat, and answered, eyes brimming with angry tears.
"She is gone! This war has destroyed her. I have made mistakes, and awful decisions. Leaving you in Rohan was the worst one I could have made, but I had no choice. Now, I must live with it. I must stay, if not for us, for our unborn children. They deserve so much better; they are pure, and I will die before I let anything pollute them as it has us."
For a moment, his eyes softened, and his hand reached for me, but he dropped it. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I tried to brush them away, but they would not stop. Why did it have to be like this?
"Boe i 'waen, Seraphina."
His words were softer than they had been a moment ago, but the terror and anger still consumed me and I turned away. Taking a deep breath, I spat the word, not caring if it hurt him.
I heard his choked sob but I did not move. I felt him reach for me but I flinched away, refusing to look at him. After a beat of oppressive silence, his fluid steps walked past me quickly. I remained still, unable to move as I heard him leave. Slowly, I raised my head. The tears kept coming as I realised the consequences of my words. I placed my hands on my stomach, staring at the door that my One in Particular had left through, taking my heart with him. I had vowed never to be separated from Legolas again, and I had let him walk in to a battle he may not return from. I bowed my head, eyes looking at my hands, watching the teardrops splash on to them as I spoke.
"Forgive me, my children."
This is a sort of filler chapter before the last battle. Yes, I am a cow and made Sera and Legolas have an argument. And yes, Sera is a bit of a bi…big idiot. Reviews would be lovely, but if you can't, thank you for reading it! I love you all, my wonderful readers!
Boe i 'waen, Seraphina – I must go, Seraphina
Ego – It's a rude way of telling someone to go away