You Can't Take Me

Chapter 9

Dimoriel's exit had not gone unnoticed. Legolas had been watching her exchange with Lord Maenthol from the corner of his eye. When he saw her sitting at the table, looking determinedly away from him, he had been astonished at her transformation. All her wildness seemed to have been removed. She looked like a proper lady, dressed in her dark crimson gown, her hair expertly braided. As soon as Lord Maenthol had approached her, he felt his teeth clench, trying not to watch them interact, but unable to help himself. He managed to hold a seamless conversation with the elf next to him while also carefully observing the elves conversing nearby.

He didn't know what was said, but something happened that made him instantly stop talking. He could feel the change coming from Dimoriel despite the distance. He turned to look at her, ignoring the elf asking if he was alright. Through gritted teeth, Dimoriel said something to Lord Maenthol and his companion, before turning on her heels and walking quickly away. Fearing the worst, he quickly excused himself and followed her.

He had almost reached the forest when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"What happened?" Duarthon said, voice full of concern, Lithiril standing behind him anxiously.

"I am not sure. She was talking to Lord Maenthol and Lady Faencol and one of them must have said something to set her off."

"We need to go make sure she doesn't hurt herself," Duarthon said, following Legolas as he made for the trees. "She is probably heading for her house."

The three elves began running in the direction of Dimoriel's home, Legolas in the lead with Duarthon and Lithiril close behind. They had run about halfway there when they heard an animal-like shriek off to the north. Legolas stopped abruptly, turning towards the sound.

"That has got to be her," Duarthon said, pausing briefly before the three of them switched directions. The shrieks got louder as they ran deeper into the woods. They were far away from any dwellings by that point. Dimoriel must have had enough willpower to get herself away from others before completely breaking down. This was little consolation, however, as she was without a doubt doing severe damage to herself instead.

Legolas stopped abruptly again as he spotted Dimoriel through the trees, standing near a stream that had undoubtedly halted her rapid flight. She let out another shriek and flailed angrily at a nearby tree. A flash of metal in the moonlight indicated she was once again armed as she attacked the tree viciously.

"She has a knife, Legolas," Duarthon cautioned as Legolas began walking slowly towards the enraged elleth. He nodded his understanding, his eyes on Dimoriel. Her dress was in shreds, torn by her flight through the dense undergrowth and her wild flailing with the knife. In the moonlight, what remained of the gown no longer looked like a deep, warm red. It looked angry, blood red, blending in with the real blood that was dripping from the new wounds on her arms and legs. She turned towards Legolas, her eyes not seeing him as she slashed at a pile of stones near the stream, sending sparks flying. Her face was lit by the moon, her face filled with madness, a demonic look to it as the shadows played across her features.

"Do something," Lithiril pleaded, her hands over her mouth as she watched in fear as Dimoriel flung the knife into the river, picking up jagged rocks and throwing them everywhere as her shrieking continued.

"Dimoriel," Legolas said softly, still walking slowly towards her, ducking whenever a rock came close to his head. "Dimoriel, you need to calm down."

As before, she acted like she had not heard him. She turned away from him to grab another rock, giving Legolas the chance to lunge forward and pin her arms to her sides. Duarthon attempted to get near enough to take the sharp stone away, but she kicked out at him. Legolas grabbed her wrist, forcing her to drop the rock, but he paid the price for letting go of her right hand. Her fist came up and hit him square on the jaw. Grunting in pain, he grabbed her other arm and dragged her away from the rocks.

"Duarthon, hold onto her for a second," he said roughly, shifting his grip to keep her from kicking out as the other elf drew closer. Duarthon managed to get a hold on her as Legolas let go, backing up out of her reach as he pulled out his own knife and began cutting strips of fabric from his tunic. Ignoring her shrieks and attempts to pull free, Legolas tied her ankles together tightly before moving on to her wrists, which he tied behind her back as Duarthon let go.

Breathing heavily, the elves stepped back, watching Dimoriel writhe on the soft ground, still emitting her high-pitched screams.

"What do we do now?" Lithiril asked, her eyes wide at what she was witnessing. Duarthon put his arm around her as she stood trembling in fear beside him. Neither of them was concerned with the blood and dirt that now covered both their clothing. Legolas touched his jaw gingerly, knowing that in the morning it would be sporting a dark bruise.

"We wait," he said, eyes still on Dimoriel. "She will wear herself out and fall into unconsciousness, then we can take her back home."

"I understand her reluctance to be around people now," Lithiril said softly. "I had no idea it was this bad."

"She'll be alright," Duarthon said, kissing his wife's forehead to reassure her. "I would just like to know what set her off."

Legolas nodded, sitting down on a root to wait out Dimoriel's fit. He had a hunch he knew what had set her off, but didn't voice his opinion. If he was right, it was unlikely Dimoriel was going to share the story with him.

When Dimoriel finally slipped into unconsciousness, Legolas carefully undid her bonds, picking her up gently so he could carry her home. Lithiril and Duarthon walked behind him, quietly conversing about what they should do to help Dimoriel when she woke.

Lithiril carefully opened the door for Legolas when they reached the house so he could carry her inside and up the stairs. Duarthon went to make tea for when she woke as Lithiril followed Legolas upstairs to Dimoriel's room. As he crossed to the bed, Legolas noticed the small wooden chest sitting in the corner underneath a stack of books. He brushed his curiosity aside as he focused on the injured elleth.

"Poor thing," Lithiril said, looking down on Dimoriel's limp form as Legolas put her on the bed. "She will need a healer."

"I doubt she will go to one," Legolas said, examining the extent of her wounds for the first time. She had a number of small cuts on her legs and feet, but they had already stopped bleeding. He brushed some of the mud off her calves to make sure there was no more damage there, before taking in the damage on her hands and arms. Her scarred knuckles sported a number of new cuts, though none as severe as the last time he had cleaned her up. Her hands were badly cut from the rocks, and she had managed to cut her thigh with the knife before she threw it away.

"Go and get some water and I'll get started on her wounds," he said authoritatively, ripping some of the shredded fabric off the bottom of her gown so he could get to the cuts on her legs easier. Lithiril went across the hall to the washroom, returning with some towels and a bowl of water.

Legolas began carefully cleaning off the dirt and blood on her arms and hands as Lithiril pulled a chair to the bed and started cleaning her legs. The worst was the cut on her thigh, which needed stitches. Lithiril found a sewing kit and began working on the gash once she had cleaned the wound.

She was about halfway done when Dimoriel began shifting, letting out a soft moan.

"I will be downstairs if you need anything," Legolas said, standing up to leave. He had a feeling Dimoriel would be more willing to talk with Lithiril if he was not present. Lithiril nodded, continuing her work as he returned downstairs to wait with Duarthon.

Dimoriel groaned, opening her eyes with a hiss as she felt a sharp pain in her thigh.

"Sorry, I am almost done," Lithiril said softly from her left. Dimoriel looked around at the elleth sitting beside her.

"How much of that did you see?" Dimoriel asked, leaning back and closing her eyes.

"Enough," Lithiril said, glancing up at Dimoriel. "I am sorry you had to go through that."

"It isn't your fault," Dimoriel said, feeling a pain that had nothing to do with her injuries as she said this.

"What happened?" Dimoriel was silent, wondering how to explain to Lithiril what had set her off.

"It is hard to explain," she said finally, wincing as Lithiril stuck the needle through her skin once more before tying it off. As Lithiril sat back in her chair, Dimoriel sat up on the bed, glancing down at herself to see the extent of the damage.

"Try?" Lithiril asked, concern in her voice as she looked up at her friend. Sighing, Dimoriel struggled to find the words to explain her recent outburst.

"I guess I didn't know the extent of my own feelings," she began softly, looking down at her recently wrapped hands. She felt tears in her eyes as she fought to continue. "I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that Lord Maenthol was betrothed, but I wasn't prepared for it. I really did like him, Lithiril. He was so kind to me. But when she told me all that he had shared with her, I couldn't take it. She knew everything about me. It was clear she knew everything the king had shared with him and more. Never once had he spoken about her to me. I guess that shows how close we were. Or weren't, as it turns out. She brought up Gondor, and I guess that was what triggered it. I couldn't take it. I felt my control slipping, so I ran while I could. Please tell me I got far enough away that no one got hurt."

"No, you were far from the Festival when you lost control," Lithiril said sympathetically. "The only person you hurt was yourself. Well, you did manage to hit Legolas pretty hard in the jaw, but he will be fine."

"Prince Legolas was there?" she asked, feeling worse.

"He noticed you were starting to slip, so he followed to make sure you were alright."

"More to make sure I got far enough away not to hurt anyone else," Dimoriel replied bitterly.

"You shouldn't judge him so harshly, Dimoriel. He was just concerned you would seriously hurt yourself. Even after we got away from the Festival, he still wanted to make sure you were alright. He was the one to keep you from doing any real damage to yourself. He carried you back here and cleaned you up. He and Duarthon are waiting downstairs to make sure you are alright."

"He is just following his father's orders," Dimoriel said softly, still looking at her bandaged hands. She could tell Legolas had been the one to tie them.

"His father has more important things to do than send his only son to watch you," Lithiril said with a half-smile. "He is genuinely concerned about you. Anyway, Duarthon made tea if you would like me to get you some. You should probably go to sleep soon. You've had a long day."

"I won't sleep tonight," Dimoriel said, standing up to find something else to wear. "Sorry about your dress, by the way."

"I have plenty of dresses, I am not worried," Lithiril said, watching as Dimoriel got a thin tunic and leggings out of her closet and began changing, moving slowly to keep from reopening any of her wounds. "But you really do need to sleep. It will help the healing."

"It isn't that I don't want to," Dimoriel said, grunting as she pulled the tunic over her head with difficulty. "I just can't. I will fall asleep for a little while, and inevitably I have nightmares that make me wake up screaming, unable to go back to sleep."

"Is there anything I can do to help?"

"I don't think so," Dimoriel said sadly. "The only time it didn't happen was after my last attack, when Duarthon and Prince Legolas were with me in the mountains. I don't know why I didn't have the nightmares though. I cannot explain it."

"I am sorry, Dimoriel," Lithiril said, standing up as Dimoriel sat back on her bed. "Do you want that cup of tea?"

"Please," Dimoriel said softly, leaning back against the headboard with a sigh. "It will help me go to sleep for a little while, anyway."

Lithiril returned to the bottom floor, where Legolas and Duarthon were sitting, waiting for news.

"How is she?" Duarthon asked solemnly.

"She will be alright," Lithiril said with a smile. "I am just going to make her a cup of tea and then let her try and sleep. Poor dear says that she never sleeps through the night after these attacks."

"She did last time," Duarthon said, confused. "I am pretty sure she didn't wake until dawn."

"She said that was the only time she had never had them, but she didn't know why. She is pretty sure that the nightmares will return this time."

"Legolas," Durathon said, turning to him. Legolas looked up from the table he had been staring at intently. "You sang to her that night, didn't you?"

"Yes, I did," he said softly.

"Do you think that is what stopped the nightmares?"

"It is possible," Legolas said, unsure of himself. "She was whimpering in her sleep and I thought it might help."

"I think we need to test this," Lithiril said, holding out a teacup and saucer towards him. "Go talk to Dimoriel about it."

"I don't know," Legolas said doubtfully. "We are not on the best of terms at the moment."

"This could help get you back on good terms," Duarthon said encouragingly. "It doesn't hurt to ask."

"Alright," Legolas said with a sigh, taking the cup and saucer from Lithiril as he stood. He slowly climbed the stairs and knocked softly on Dimoriel's door.

"Come in," she called through the door. He opened it slowly, eyes falling on her propped up against the headboard, her head down as she read a book on her lap. She looked up, her eyes surprised as he walked towards her and put the tea down on her bedside table.

"Prince Legolas," she said softly, watching him sit down in the chair next to her bed.

"Lithiril says that you are expecting nightmares when you sleep tonight," he said softly, not entirely sure how to explain himself. Dimoriel was silent, watching him closely. "Do you remember anything about the night up in the mountains after your attack?"

"Nothing specific. I remember waking up surprised because I had not woken up screaming in the middle of the night."

"You started whimpering not long after you had fallen asleep. You were restless, turning back and forth. I could tell you were having nightmares."

"That is normally what happens. Dark images of the past haunt me, growing more and more vivid until I wake up screaming at how real they are. But last time…" She paused, her face screwed up as she thought. "Last time, just as the nightmares were starting to get bad, they faded. A soft light appeared instead. What happened?" she asked, her curiosity peaked now. Legolas stared at the book in her bandaged hands for a moment, before looking up and meeting her eyes.

"I started singing."

"Singing?" Dimoriel said in surprise. "That is all?"

"Yes," Legolas said softly. "That is all. I know we are not on the best of terms right now, but I would like to try again, if you are alright with that."

"You want to try singing to stop the nightmares?" Dimoriel asked, not quite believing him. "Why?"

"Though you chose not to believe it, I do want to help you. If you'd like, I will sit here tonight and keep an eye on you. Not because my father wants me to, but to help you."

Dimoriel was silent, staring at him. She seemed to be trying to determine if his offer was genuine. He did not look away, determined to convince her that he meant every word.

"Very well," she said finally. "We can go up on the balcony. You can lie on the couch and I will try to sleep in my hammock."

"Whatever makes you comfortable," he said, standing up. Dimoriel swung her feet off the bed, standing slowly and picking up the teacup and saucer delicately. "I will go tell Duarthon and Lithiril that I am staying." Dimoriel nodded, exiting the room and climbing the stairs to the upper floor as Legolas proceeded down the stairs to the living room.

"So? What is the verdict?" Duarthon asked, standing as Legolas descended the staircase.

"She is going to let me stay. She is going to try sleeping in the hammock on the balcony tonight."

"I hope this helps," Lithiril said nervously. "A good night's sleep will certainly do her good."

"I hope so," Duarthon said, making for the door. "She has had a rough day."

As Duarthon and Lithiril departed, Legolas climbed the stairs once more, exiting onto the balcony where Dimoriel was lying curled up in a blanket in her hammock. The couch was off to the side, several pillows and a blanket stacked at one end.

"Do you need anything from downstairs?" Legolas asked, looking at Dimoriel as he stood in the doorway. She shook her head, so he made his way over to the couch, organizing the pillows so he could sit propped up, looking at Dimoriel.

"I am sorry," she said softly as he worked, making him pause and look around at him.

"For what?"

"Everything. For being rude and difficult all the time. For being ungrateful for everything you've done for me. For punching you in the face earlier."

"Lithiril told you, did she?" Legolas asked, rubbing the tender spot on his cheek.

"I can already see a bruise forming," Dimoriel said softly as he sat down on the couch.

"It isn't the first and it won't be the last," he assured her, pulling off his boots and leaning back, his lanky form taking up the entire length of the couch. "It will be gone in a few days."

"Did I do that to your tunic too?" she asked, looking down at the frayed end. "I noticed my knife was missing."

"You threw your knife in the creek," Legolas explained, looking around at her. "I'll try and find it tomorrow. And no, I did this. I didn't happen to have any rope on me to keep you from doing more damage to yourself."

"I am sorry," she said again, looking at the opposite end of the hammock as he took off his damaged outer tunic. The light green one he wore beneath it shimmered slightly in the moonlight. "But thank you for making sure I didn't do more damage, and for cleaning me up."

"You're welcome," Legolas replied, settling back onto the couch. "I am glad we were able to catch up to you before you hurt yourself further. Bloody knuckles and shallow knife wounds I can heal. If you had stabbed yourself or broken a leg, it would have been harder to fix. I would have had to take you to the palace to see the healers."

After a moment of silence, Dimoriel continued her apology.

"I am sorry for making you miss the archery contest this evening, too."

"In all honesty," Legolas confessed. "I had forgotten about it. As much as I enjoy them, it isn't as much fun when everyone expects you to win. It's more thrilling to be the underdog and surprise everyone. I remember the first time I did it. No one expected me to get as far as I did."

Silence fell between them for a while. Legolas closed his eyes, enjoying the cool autumn breeze on his face. He was glad that Dimoriel was at least speaking to him. His bad mood from the last month was starting to dissipate just having her talk normally with him again instead of using her hostile tone.

"I thought he was different."

"Pardon?" Legolas asked, looking around at Dimoriel.

"Maenthol. I thought he was different. All the times he came over, he never once asked about my past. But he just talked about it at home instead. With her."

Legolas was silent. She hadn't said it explicitly, but she had said enough for him to understand what had really set her off. She hadn't known about Faencol. Clearly she had strong feelings for Maenthol, which were not reciprocated. If he had known, Legolas would have warned her about him. But all this time he had been telling himself that Dimoriel was helping him grudgingly, and that she didn't actually like him at all. He felt guilty now, knowing that his silence had upset her.

"I am sorry for not warning you about him," he said, trying not to say anything to suggest he understood her full meaning. "I just didn't think you would actually help him after he had bothered you the first few times. I didn't think you would believe me anyway."

"I should have trusted you," Dimoriel said softly. "I am just paranoid that everyone looks at me like the monster I am."

"You aren't a monster," Legolas said, looking around at her again. "You can't help what happened to you."

"I did terrible things in the war," she said bitterly. "Things I cannot forgive myself for."

"It is in the past now," Legolas said, trying to sound comforting. "It is best just to let those things go."

"I would if I knew how," she said with a sigh. They fell into silence again. This time, Dimoriel fell asleep. Legolas watched her as she slept, hoping that he would be able to offer some small comfort. He knew he couldn't fix everything, couldn't take away the memories that haunted her, but he could give her a little bit of peace, just for a while. Instead of waiting for her to start tossing and turning like last time, he started singing softly not long after she fell asleep. For over an hour he sang, hoping that his voice was enough to stop the dreams from disturbing her for a moment that night.

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