The Choice

By Aralinn

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter 27

She only let herself lie on the ground a few moments, just long enough to get herself somewhat collected and ready to face the group. She was sore from head to toe, but that was not what made it so hard to get up. No, what made it so hard was she had no energy; it was as if it was drawn right out of her. Each little movement took extreme effort and it felt to her as if lead had been stuffed into her arms and legs.

"Miss Evelyn! Miss Evelyn! Are you alright?" two voices rang out above her as she pushed into a sitting position. Looking up, she spied the two hobbits rushing to her sides. They each offered her a hand to haul her up, though it only really got her half way. She let them think they did the hard work. She did not want them to feel like they had not helped.

"Yes, yes, I'm fine, just a bit shaken." She answered them in a rush, barely above a whisper. Trying to reassure them, as much as herself. She gave them a slight smile when she saw the concern still etched upon their faces.

Her heart was still racing and her stomach in knots but she was on her feet. She looked around, surveying the damage. At least three soldiers lay dead on the earth, another five or so visibly injured. She knew Legolas and Aragorn survived, she had seen them right before she killed the orcs, but what of the others? She had not seen them since the battle started. Her eyes darted left and right until they landed on the stout figure of Gimli and the old tattered pointy hat of Gandalf, walking side-by-side towards the others. Evelyn remained where she was, separated from the group, just observing as the men immediately began tending to one another and the dead.

Before she knew it though, she was encompassed in a flurry of activity. Her entire company, in the blink of an eye, and surrounded her before she completely register what was going on. Their voices all slurred together, asking the same questions at the same time. Her mind was not able to comprehend the onslaught, so she found herself starring at them wide-eyed and silent. The elf's strong grip on her arms finally got her mind to register the chaos around her.

"Are you alright?" Legolas asked, once he saw that her eyes focused on his, leaving their dazed and confused state.

'I…I…" she shook her head and squinted her eyes closed for a moment, forcing her mind to focus on the voice and the face in front of her. Opening her eyes, she saw Legolas standing in front of her, hands still gripping her arms in a vice grip, his eyes shining with concern. "Yes I'm fine, just a bit tired.' She admitted allowing her gaze to drift from the piercing blue stare, to her arms which she saw were tinted a bright red. Following the trail, she saw the blood trail lead to the elf's arm. A gasp escaped her lips; she had, momentarily, forgotten the severe injury he received on her account. "You, however, aren't."

His eyes darkened, "It is nothing."

It was Evelyn's turn to narrow her eyes. "Lying does not become you." She scolded. "Now, you will let me tend to it before it gets infected."

"I shall do no such thing," Legolas scoffed, seemingly offended.

With a raised eyebrow, she regarded the elf prince. "After all the healing and tending I assisted with at Helms Deep, I can promise you I am quite immune. Unless of course you were prefer Gimli to assist you?" Evelyn chastised, not expanding on what it was exactly she was immune to. Those around her choked on their stifled laughter, only to receive a glare from the Prince.

"Aragorn is a skilled healer." He countered.

"Can he stop the bleeding instantly? Otherwise a wound that deep will bleed for many days, and possible fester Can you take that risk?" Legolas could not give a reply, he only stared at her lips pursed tight, "I didn't think so."

With a pinched look about his face, he gave his consent, "Very well then."

Aragorn helped her to gather the needed supplies he packed in his gear. It was just the basic cleansing solution, salve, and bandages, but it would be enough. Once she had the items she needed, she turned to find where the prince had gone. She found him sitting on a small rock, some distance from the others his back laid bare and a pale white in the dark. The dark oozing blood quite stark against his pale back.

She did not bother to announce her approach; she could tell from the way his body tensed, he knew of her approach. Setting the supplies down, she began soaking a rag in some water, trying not to let herself be distracted. Evelyn was sure she lied, partly any way, when she told them she was immune. She was immune to the wounds, what she was not immune to was the elf in front of her.

Steadying her hand, she slowly began cleaning the drying blood from his back. She could feel every strong tense muscle under his skin and found her eyes drifting across his back. She swallowed a thickly. 'Stop!' she scolded herself, 'this is so unbecoming. I cannot seriously be admiring an elf's muscles, it is not right.' Her heart rate was back through the roof. In addition, she could not help wonder what in the world was wrong with her. She definitely did not have this problem when she tended the Rohirrim's wounded. They were no Princes, she told herself, and they were men. Moreover, they did not have the strange strained relationship she seemed to share with the elf. That was it, surely, that is all it was she concluded to herself. Or was it? A small voice echoed in her mind that she pushed aside as quickly as it came.

Without another pause, she made herself start the task ahead. With slightly shaking hands, she began to wipe away the blood that had congealed around the wound. Legolas tensed more at the touch of the rag, but said not a word. She continued until the only blood left, was that which was still freely slowly from the wound. The wound was deep. Evelyn could clearly see the muscle splayed open and the exposed tendons. It would be a wound that even when healed, would probably cause pain and stiffness for the rest of his life, she hoped being an elf, the healing would be substantially better than for a human. Once that was done, she set the rag down and raised her right hand. She watched her hand carefully, thinking on what it was she wished to accomplish, hoping she could still do it. Setting her mind to the task she watched the ice form slowly on her fingertips and gave herself a small smile at the accomplishment. It formed a delicate spider web of ice crystals that glistened in the moonlight.

Gingerly she laid her fingers on his skin, nearly jumping at the tingling she felt upon the contact. Legolas did jump.

"Sorry." She mumbled, cheeks flushing pink. She was glad no one could see. She felt like a teenager again and mentally scolded herself. Closing her eyes so as not to be distracted by the muscle she could feel under her fingers, she concentrated on the task. A cool sensation filled her fingers and she slowly traced them down the wound. In her mind, she pictured the ice webs pulling the torn muscle together, clotting the vessels that were spilling blood, and picture his skin neatly folded back together. When she opened her eyes, she saw the bleeding had stopped and the wound was cauterized. Though the area was still at least an inch wide and a good six or seven long, it seemed to hold relatively well. Especially considering she really had no clue what she was doing. Though she knew it would hold until she wished otherwise. Without another word, she finished the cleaning and applied the salve and bandage.

"There, all done." She said turning away from his exposed back, gathering Aragorn's supplies in her arms.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. We're even now." She replied, and walked briskly away, not trusting herself to look in his direction. Evelyn was much too afraid of what emotions may be plastered to her face.

Legolas watched her walk away as he reached for her shirt. A mixture of emotions rushing through his head, but none he truly wished to focus on. He was loathe to admit that his shoulder felt much better, though movement strained it. He could feel the cold cords she used to bind the muscle and feel the cold line of ice that kept him from bleeding, but that was all. The damage done to his nerves was probably irreversible; the area would probably always be somewhat numb.


Not sure what else to do, Evelyn went in search of Hasufel, luckily he had not gone far in the commotion and was not hurt. Wooing him quietly, she was able to get the burly stallion to come to her. She talked to him softly as she worked her hands over his tense body. Ever so slowly, she felt him begin to relax and let out a deep sigh of relief, which she did as well. It was nice to keep her attention focused on something so relaxing. However, there was no way she would be able to relax completely, she was still very much aware of her surroundings and knew instantly when Gandalf and Aragorn approached.

She saw Aragorn's grimy and battered hands touch the chestnut's side near her own, seemingly lost in his own thoughts. Gandalf she could make out from the corner of her eye, standing slightly apart from them. Finally, she broke the silence when she saw neither planned to do so and something was clearly troubling them. She could see it in their grim lined faces.

"What do we do now?"

"We continue on to Rohan." Aragorn replied.

"Is that the best option for us?" she questioned. "The orcs will return. They will follow us there. Is that truly what Rohan need after Helms Deep?"

"The orcs are slaughtered there are none to follow." He reasoned, but the hard lines of his face did not lessen in their intensity.

"Aragorn, you know as well as I they will come for me again. They will not stop so long as I live or Sauron survives. He will hunt me." That got his attention; she watched his jerk around to face her. Gandalf she saw watched her with an admiring pity, but remained silent.

"Sauron cannot know of your existence." The ranger countered.

"He does. When Sauruman used the palantir at Orthanc, he saw me and he knew me for what I was." She had not voiced her fear until know, she had kept it suppressed but she knew the truth, and it made her body quiver. She did not know what to do. So long as either of them lived, she would never be truly safe and all those with her, wanting to protect her would be in the line of fire. No one around her would ever be safe either. A part of her reason she should sneak away in the middle of the night, they would not pursue her far, and then the people she had learned to trust and befriend would be safe, at least from her. Nevertheless, Evelyn also knew she was not brave enough for such a feat. She was a coward. She knew she would stay with them, she would bring them all into great danger and she hated herself for it.

"I had feared as much." Gandalf finally spoke his voice soft and filled with worry.

"Stay near us, we shall watch over you." Aragorn told her.

"That is what worries me." she gave him a half smile, turning back to stroke Hasufel. "I am a burden and a danger to all those around me." Speaking the words took her back many weeks when she first traveled with the company. She remembered how they had spoken in secret of what a burden she was, it brought a pang to her heart. Nothing had changed.

"Do not give up on hope." Gandalf told her, giving her shoulder a reassuring squeeze before walking off to where the others were standing.

She looked at Aragorn from the corner of her eye. Had he given up hope? She remembered their conversation from before about his love of Arwen. She remembered the spark of hope she saw in his eyes when he had just the slightest inkling she may have stayed.

"What about you? Do you still have hope?" She asked him.

"Only a fool's hope." He replied giving her a grave smile.

"A good thing we are all fools then I suppose."

"You would be good friends I think, Arwen and you, should you ever meet." Aragorn said in almost a whisper. "You remind me of her in a way. There is strength in you, even if you do not see it." He spoke truthfully. They were very different, but he could see the same determined strength spring into Evelyn's face that Arwen held when someone she cared about was in trouble or needed her. Yes, the woman had her faults and weaknesses, but she had proven herself each time it was needed.

"Thank you. But I think you give me more credit than I deserve."

"No, I do not think that I am." He smiled again, and this time left her with the stallion as he made his way to Gandalf's side once again.

Evelyn was not sure what to think. It was the first true compliment she had received, the first true praise, though she felt it much undeserved. Surely, her mistakes outnumbered the times she had actually been helpful. She shook her head; it would do her no good to fixate on that. It would only make things worse.

Turning, she led Hasufel back toward the group where the other horses had gathered. Then she went in search of Gimli and the hobbits as her stomach gave a nasty rumble. If anyone had something to eat, it would be one of them. Though she found she could not help herself when she turned to gain one final look at the Elf, standing off to the side, his back to her. With a small shiver, she continued her search.

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