You Can't Take Me

Chapter 17

Thranduil was less than pleased. He had just finished a conversation with his advisors, and had quite by accident found out that his son had not been entirely truthful with him.

Knocking on Legolas's door, the king waited impatiently for it to open. When it did, Legolas looked up at his father with obvious surprise, with a small amount of fear. It was instantly clear why. Over the prince's shoulder, Thranduil could see a dark-haired elleth by the fire, a book in her hands as she sat curled up on the couch.

"Ada? What are you doing here?" Thranduil saw the elleth look up instantly, obvious fear in her eyes as they made contact with Thranduil's.

"I would like a word with you, if you have a moment," the king said, though his tone left no option for argument. Legolas opened the door further to allow him in as the elleth on the couch stood quickly. As his eyes took in her appearance fully, the king addressed her directly. "Lady Dimoriel, I presume?"

"Your majesty," she said, curtseying quickly. From all he had heard about the elusive maiden, he was surprised to see she was in an evening gown, not a tunic and leggings.

"It is a pleasure to finally meet you in person after all the stories I have heard," the king said, though everyone in the room knew that it was a very limited pleasure, seeing as how she was sitting behind a closed door in his son's room.

"It is an honor to meet you, your majesty," she said, curtseying again hurriedly. "I shall leave so you may speak privately."

"Thank you," King Thranduil said, eyes returning to his son's as the lady darted past him into the hallway. He watched Legolas shut the door slowly, knowing that the prince was dreading the impending conversation.

"What can I do for you this evening?" Legolas said, eyes meeting his father's as he pretended he did not know the reason for the king's visit.

"As you well know, I am here because you have been keeping secrets from me," Thranduil said, his voice taking on a dangerous tone, daring Legolas to argue with him. "What is she still doing here?"

"I asked her to stay so her shoulder did not worsen during the storm when she could not return to have it looked at," Legolas said as if it were obvious. "It has yet to fully heal."

"Perhaps that is your excuse, but I do not think that is the full story," Thranduil said, his eyes boring into his son's identical ones. "She is dangerous and should not be here."

"She has not come anywhere close to an attack since she has been in the palace," Legolas argued, refusing to be bullied. "She has kept to herself and refrained from unnecessary contact with others."

"So your contact with her is necessary?"

"I am keeping her company."

"And why can Duarthon and his wife not do so instead?"

"They live outside the palace and would have to relocate here so they did not have to travel through the storms."

"Perhaps a better question," Thranduil said, voice rising. "Why are you alone with her in your quarters?"

"She keeps me company while I work," Legolas said, gesturing at the paperwork on his desk. "That is all."

"That is all? Are you certain?"

"Yes," Legolas said defiantly. "Whether you like it or not, she is my friend and I shall continue enjoying her company whether she is staying here or not."

"Is she just a friend though?" Thranduil asked, his temper getting the better of him. "Even I have noticed that there is not just an affable relationship between the two of you."

"I do not know what you mean," Legolas said honestly.

"Do not toy with me, Legolas. I know you love her. As much as I tried to keep you away from her, you deliberately defied me and now you are smitten."

Legolas was silent. There was no question in his father's statement. He said it as fact. And upon hearing his father say it, Legolas realized it was true.


"Pardon?" Thranduil said, not quite believing what his son had just admitted to.

"Yes. I love her. She is my other half. And I will not let you get in between us."

"You do not know what you are dealing with, Legolas," Thranduil said firmly, his voice somewhere between anger and caution. "As they say, if you play with fire, you will get burned. She is dangerous. I have seen what madness takes elves who have faced the horrors of war. I have seen what happens to minds that dwell on such terrors. Do not forget that I stood in the shadows of Mordor as your grandfather was slain in battle against Sauron. Your mother was all that kept me from descending into despair. But she suffered greatly as she fought against my demons. I do not want you to do the same."

"Dimoriel has left behind the demons that plagued her," Legolas said confidently, though in his heart he felt a shadow of doubt. "She is no longer a threat as she once was."

"Are you certain of that?" Thranduil asked, giving his son a hard look. "Can you look me in the eye and tell me that there is no chance Dimoriel's demons will resurface?"

"Yes," Legolas said, though his voice waivered slightly and Thranduil could tell that he was not at all certain.

"I have warned you as best I can," Thranduil said, his brow furrowed as he shook his head. "I know that sending her away will only draw you to her. Whatever happens now will be of your own doing. May the Valar have mercy on you."

Thranduil disappeared out the door before Legolas could offer any more comments. Despite the dark words Thranduil had spoken, Legolas felt only light in his heart. He loved Dimoriel. Why had it been so hard to see? He supposed there had always been some overriding circumstance that made him think his feelings were for other reasons, not love. His sorrow and sympathy for her after Maenthol broke her heart had covered his true feelings. He had been so angry and jealous because of his love. But when they talked together quietly on her balcony, he had felt such joy at being needed by her. When she was near death, he had thought his sorrow was for his friend, not because he might lose his love.

And as he thought of his own feelings, he thought of hers too. Was that what had changed, the night after the Festival? Her face was softer, her elven nature coming out stronger than he had ever seen it before. Could it be that she too loved him? His heart raced as he thought of her smile as he redid her bandages, how she had consented to let him ride with her, how she had been so patient with him after she woke upon their return from Dol Guldur. He remembered how she had stared into his eyes as he asked her to stay in the palace, how readily she had agreed to his request.

Eager to find out, he quickly exited his study, jogging down the hallway to her quarters. Knocking on the door, he waited impatiently until Dimoriel opened the door, her frightened look turning to a warm smile as she noticed he was there alone.

"What did your father want?" she asked immediately. Legolas sobered at her question. His father was anything but happy to find out that his only son loved a lady that he considered broken beyond repair. Smiling against this unhappy thought, Legolas entered her sitting room, taking the seat she offered him as she closed the door.

"He was unaware that you were still here," Legolas said honestly. He could not hide his father's disapproval of their relationship forever. She needed to know what hurtles lay ahead.

"You did not tell him?" Dimoriel asked in surprise. "Why?"

"I did not think he would approve," Legolas said, eyes following her as she sat across the table from him.

"He is not pleased, is he?" Dimoriel said, her face falling at the idea of having to leave.

"No, but he has relented to let you stay since you have caused no trouble thus far."

"Thus far," Dimoriel repeated with a frown. "Perhaps I should leave so there is no longer a risk. I do not want to cause problems between the two of you."

"Do not trouble yourself with such things," Legolas said, taking the hand she had rested on the table in his own. "I want you to stay. I hope that is enough to keep you here."

"I do not know, Legolas," she said, eyes meeting his. "It would probably be best for everyone if I left."

"Nonsense," Legolas said, gently lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it softly. He felt a happy feeling welling in his chest at the blush that briefly passed her cheeks at this action. "It would make me unhappy that I could no longer have you join me in my study while I work. I would hardly ever see you anymore."

"But your father would be happier."

"My father doesn't know you like I do," Legolas said, gently caressing the back of her hand. "If he did, he would know there is no reason to be concerned."

"Very well," Dimoriel said. "I will stay. At least for another few days."

"You make me very happy, mellonamin," Legolas said, standing and pulling her up with him. "Do not let my father's worries trouble you." He pulled her close, placing a loving kiss on the tip of her ear. Dimoriel looked up at him in surprise. Such a gesture of affection was generally reserved for lovers and close kin. He just smiled down at her, pulling her into a tight embrace. Now wasn't the right time for him to confess his love to her. He could tell she was deeply troubled by Thranduil's disapproval, so he held his tongue, waiting for the proper moment.

The second storm hit with just as must ferocity as the first. Unfortunately for Legolas, it only got worse from there, forcing him to go out into the forest, battling the elements to help those who had damaged homes that needed to be moved into the safety of Thranduil's halls until the storm ended. He was out until well after dark, fighting his way through the snow and the wind. It was with immense relief that he reached his own quarters that evening, thinking of nothing but a hot meal and bed.

His focus immediately changed when he opened the door to find Dimoriel sitting on his couch by the fire, curled up under a blanket, a book in her hand as usual. He smiled, shutting the door behind him and taking off his cloak and brushing off what snow still clung to his body.

"How bad is it?" Dimoriel asked without looking up, her eyes still moving back and forth across the page.

"It is getting worse by the hour," Legolas said, disappearing into his room to change into dry clothes. He returned a minute later to see Dimoriel finish her chapter, sliding a piece of ribbon in between the pages and shutting the book as she looked up at him.

"I made tea and brought up some soup from the kitchens if you would like some," she said, standing up and walking over to him. "You look cold." She surprised Legolas by reaching up with her hands and covering his ears, which were indeed red from the cold wind that had not been hindered in the slightest by the thick trees of Mirkwood.

"I will survive," he said with a smile, putting his hands on her wrists and pulling her hands down to kiss her fingers. Her warmth was a welcome change from the bitter cold he had felt all day.

He led her over to the table, forcing her to sit across from him as he ate. He told her of his stressful day out in the blizzard, and she showed her sympathy, though it was limited.

"I am sorry you had to go out in the storm," Dimoriel said, smiling over her teacup. "But my sympathy only goes so far. I have seen much worse storms than this in the mountains and managed on my own."

"What are you trying to say?" Legolas said, feigning hurt.

"I am saying that the more you complain about the weather, the less sympathetic I will be."

"You are cruel, Lady Dimoriel," he said, though he smiled. "Not all of us are as hardy as you."

"That is evident," she said with a laugh, standing and picking up the empty dishes and setting them on the nearby counter. Legolas beamed at her as she laughed, loving the melodious sound. He had never thought he would hear such merriment from her, but it was becoming more and more common as the days passed.

"Next time I will be sure to take you out with me. I shall take great pleasure in throwing you in a snow bank."

"You wouldn't dare," Dimoriel said, giving him an extremely skeptical look. "You would be too afraid of what I would do in return."

"Really?" Legolas said, pulling her towards him. His heart beat sped up as he felt her body so close to his, her grey-green eyes looking up at him in surprise at their closeness. "What makes you think I am at all afraid of you?"

"It would be wise to be afraid of me. After all, I have gotten the best of you in the past."

"I do not think either of those instances count," Legolas said, thinking back to how she had knocked him flat during her first attack, something no one has done in centuries, and how she produced a bruise on his jaw that had rivaled any he had worn before.

"If I can do that when I am not intentionally targeting you, then you best be concerned if I was actually coming for you."

"But you would never do such a thing regardless," Legolas said sweetly. "The guilt afterwards would be too great."

"If it was deserved, perhaps not," she said with a blank face, though her eyes sparkled with an inner light of mischief. The light changed to confusion, however, as Legolas's eyes once more took on the look that had done her in before. Her confusion and nervousness only increased as he reached up, brushing a strand of hair behind her ear, his fingers lightly caressing her cheek.

"What are you doing?" she asked, her voice catching in her throat. Emotions bubbled in her chest as he put his hand on her waist, pulling her closer with one hand as the other gently cupped her cheek.

"Showing you that I am not afraid of you," he said softly, though his words were laced with a deep tone that baffled Dimoriel, making her fingers tremble. Something else was going on. This was not a normal conversation between friends.

"Perhaps I should let you sleep," Dimoriel said, her voice higher than usual. "You had a long day." But as she tried to pull away, Legolas only drew her closer, leaving only a few inches between them as they spoke.

"I will be fine," Legolas said, his eyes not leaving hers.

Dimoriel didn't know what to do. The prince held her tightly in his grip, the look in his eyes making her tremble with a sea of swirling emotions. The more she stared into his eyes, unable to look away, the worse it got. She was just considering how she could escape when he spoke again.

"I love you Dimoriel."

Her heart stopped. Her lips parted in shock at the declaration, not believing she had heard properly. Love? No, he can't love her. That was ridiculous. But as her wide eyes looked into his, she saw clearly what emotion had caused her so much trouble over the last few weeks. It was love. Such strong love it took her breath away. Her trembling worsened as the seconds passed, both elves frozen by the words that Legolas had just said.

"I love you, Dimoriel," he repeated after the silence grew deafening. But this time, his words were accompanied by a swift meeting of his lips with hers. The warmth that filled her at his touch was like dragon fire. Where only moments before she was frozen by shock, she felt her body melting into his at the kiss, her eyes closing and her hands moving up to grip his tunic as the fire burned through her, igniting a part of her she did not know she still possessed.

But as it ignited such passions in her, it also unleashed a flood of realizations that hit the fire with full force, cooling the flames in a hiss of steam. He loved her. And although she so obviously loved him, the fire could not touch the steel cage around her heart. She was damaged. Broken beyond repair. The flood quickly doused the fire as these thoughts filled her head. As much as she loved him, it would be selfish to make him suffer at her hand. And he would. Her past would not let her out of the prison she had made for herself.

She quickly pulled away from him, stepping back out of his reach. A fear was in her eyes that he had never seen. Only moments ago he had felt only love in her touch, but now all that was gone.

"Dimoriel?" he asked, taking a step forward, reaching out towards her.

"I…I can't…I am sorry," she said haltingly, her voice breaking as she dashed out the door, disappearing down the hall.

Legolas stood still, hurt and confused. She had just accused him of being afraid of her, but the fear in her own eyes as she looked at him was nothing less than pure terror. In their brief kiss, he had felt his own love reflected in her touch, and had thought that she was his. But something had turned that love to panic, making her flee from him. Knowing he would not be satisfied until he had an explanation, he started after her down the hall to her quarters.

"Dimoriel?" he said softly, knocking on her door. There was no sound from within. He knocked again, but still heard no response. Unable to back down, he opened the door and found himself in her dark sitting room, her bedroom door cracked open, showing that the lady was not there.

Cursing darkly, Legolas ran back down the hall to his own room, changing rapidly into a tunic and leggings, grabbing his cloak as he tore out of the room, prepared to brave the elements once more to get back the lady he loved. She would not escape him so easily.

As expected, he found Sulinte missing when he reached the stables. He quickly outfitted Caranghir for the ride, whispering soft words of comfort to the stallion.

"I know you are not going to like going out in the storm," Legolas said, looking into his mount's large brown eyes. "But this is important. I would not ask this of you otherwise." Caranghir let out a snort. Patting the stallion's neck, Legolas mounted quickly, urging him into a gallop as they exited the stables into the frigid air and heavy snowfall.

Legolas leapt off Caranghir before the stallion reached a full stop outside Dimoriel's home. He knew instantly that she wasn't there. Two sets of tracks could be seen, one leading towards her house, the other away to the south. But he had to be sure. Opening the door hastily, he climbed the stairs three at a time, whipping open her bedroom door. His worst fears were realized as his eyes fell on the empty space where her wooden chest had once sat. She had not just fled from him. She was fleeing from everyone.

Racing back down the stairs, he shut the door behind him and leapt back into the saddle, racing off to see Duarthon and Lithiril. His last hope was that she had returned there to wait out the storm, which was making it hard for Caranghir to traverse the forest.

He banged on the door to their house urgently, not caring that they were probably asleep if Dimoriel had not stopped there. Her tracks had led up to the house, but he did not see footprints indicating she had dismounted. She probably wanted to see her friends one last time, but decided against it before continuing her flight south.

"Legolas?" Duarthon asked, opening the door with a robe wrapped tightly around him. "What are you doing out in this storm? Come in and sit down."

"I am afraid I am in a hurry, Duarthon," Legolas said, coming inside so he could talk, but refusing the seat offered to him. "Dimoriel has fled back to the mountains."

"Fled?" Duarthon repeated as his eyes flickered to Lithiril who had just appeared from their bedroom at the sound of Legolas's voice. "In this storm? Why?"

"You told her, didn't you?" Lithiril said sympathetically before Legolas could explain. "I was afraid this would happen."

"I did not think she would actually run away," Legolas said with a heavy heart. "It is my fault she is out in this. I should not have pushed so hard."

"I think you are both equally to blame for that," Duarthon said, putting his hand on his friend's shoulder. "But I will go with you and fetch her back."

"No, there is no reason for you to go out as well. I know where she is going, I will be fine."

"You cannot go out there alone, Legolas," Duarthon said with a frown. "This storm will be ten times worse in the mountains."

"Dimoriel is alone," he said firmly. "If she can make it up, then so shall I."

"This is ridiculous, Legolas. I am going."

"No you are not. I will order you to stay if I have to," he said angrily, not leaving Duarthon room for argument. "I wanted to see if she was here, but it is clear that she is not. I will return soon. My father will be wondering where I have gotten to, and I need you to tell him I have gone south. I am sure he will assume the worst, so there is no need to explain the details."

"Good luck," Lithiril said, watching Legolas open the door and step out into the fierce weather once more.

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