Tauriel sat numbly, her mind in a fog and her gaze blurred. These were feelings she had never experienced before. Her mind was normally sharp and focused, no room for musing or slipping into memory, her eyesight keen and missing nothing. But the tightness in her head and the overwhelming feeling of a great weight pressing down on her from all sides reduced her movements to slow efforts and her thoughts to trickling fantasies... If only she knew what to do.
"You must be waiting for me." The voice, familiar, though she had only heard it a few times outside of the queer distortion that the cell gave his words, made Tauriel look up quickly, and set aside the fibres she was deftly weaving into a new bowstring. It would be ruined now, but it was no great effort to begin again. She was sitting on the bench outside the king's'counsel chamber and biding her time until he summoned her to give the weekly report of the borders.
"No, I am not," she replied evenly, cautious not to give her voice too much welcome. "Though you may be flattering yourself."
Kili laughed lightly, and made his way across the court to take his seat beside her. She stiffened.
"You are far from a guest here, master dwarf," she found herself saying, "We have only let you out because you are the last here and barely escaped death from your wounds."
"You think I don't know that?" His merry words was in danger of being overheard, and Tauriel snapped, "Lower your voice."
"We couldn't nave anyone thinking that we're on friendly terms," Kili whispered dangerously, his eyes wide with mock caution. "That would be terrible.""You don't understand." Tauriel once again set to weaving the strong strands together, her eyes carefully watching as they were deftly joined by the magic of her skilled fingers. "Your healing was merely out of mercy. I did not wish you to die." Too late she realized what she had said. "I – we... did not wish you to die," she muttered, as hasty, yet ill-believed amends.
Standing, and crossing the room, Tauriel felt a sudden wave of dizziness wash over her, and she was only vaguely aware of her wrists feeling cold shock as they broke her fall. Lifting her head, she peered from beneath the curtain of her hair and saw the tilting floor before her. Oh, Elbereth. Her mouth was both dry and damp at the same time, and thin, cold saliva seemed to rise from her throat and fill her mouth, running between her clenched teeth and seeping through her lips, closed though they were, against the assault of weakness. She tried to lean back, to ease herself into a sitting position instead of creeping like an infant on all fours, but the disorienting effort was too much, and so she lifted her arms to propel herself forward, the heels of her hands banging along the ground as her knees followed, pulling herself toward the delicate basin in the corner of the room.
Graceless, she collapsed against the wall, her legs splayed out behind her, her forehead against the carved stone as her body convulsed and she spit out a small amount of acidic fluid. Her own breathing was loud in her ears, and her shoulders ached with the effort of holding herself upright. Resisting the urge to give into the blackness that hovered around the corners of her vision, Tauriel was only vaguely aware of a quiet exclamation and booted footsteps hurrying across the floor.
"You – you healed me?" Kili stared. "I did not know," he added in a small voice, a smile playing over his mouth, and his efforts to hide it not succeeding. "Did you have something to do with my clothing being lost?"
"There was too much blood. It had to be removed and discarded. This robe is much more suitable.""Did you undress me yourself?" His eager brown eyes sought hers and Tauriel looked quickly away, making her distaste apparent.
"I am no healer, but I have undressed many of my warriors to attend to their wounds."
"Did you like what you saw?"
Tauriel never failed to be shocked at his boldness. "I never like the sight of blood," she replied evenly, taking a deep breath. Reaching the end of her fibres, she leant down briefly to place the ends firmly beneath the toe of her boot, before straightening, pulling the newly woven string taut, and tying the end in a skillful loop.
"I can hardly move in this thing; I don't know how," Kili complained, tweaking the fine fabric that draped his short frame.
"All you do is walk forward," Tauriel replied blandly, tying off the other end of the bowstring and running her fingers along it's firm strong length. Kili watched her closely.
"You're good," he said at last.
She intended to regard him briefly, but his gaze magnetised her own and held her in thrall.
"Thank you," she said, though his eyes poured feeling into her until she felt she could do nothing but break their gaze to preserve her consciousness.
"Did I offend you?" he asked. "I only... I want you so much. I want to be allowed to love you."
Tauriel made no response, but stood ,a bit feebly. "I need time to think.""At least it's not a no."
"This is forbidden."
"So are a lot of things."
Legolas knelt beside Tauriel's deflated form, and put a warm arm around her shoulder.
"Please – don't –" she managed, weakly pulling away from him. "It's nothing...""Let me help you, mellon," Legolas said gently, pushing her dampened hair back from her pale brow. "You are unwell."
"It will pass, it always does." Her voice was light, and she began to say more, but her body was wracked with another convulsion and she choked, disgorging nothing into the bowl.
"Always?" Legolas's brow furrowed as Tauriel leaned back against him, her form comfortably heavy in his strong arms. "This has happened before?""For about a week now," she said thickly, sighing, and shutting her eyes. "Forgive me. You should not be here –"
"Nonsense. Have you spoken to a healer? They would be able to tell you what ails you." Illness was almost a nonexistent thing for an elf, and as such Tauriel knew the cause. She just did not expect the violence of the symptoms, or the immediacy of their effect.
"I know what it is," she said, her head lolling back and to the side, but then jerking upwards as she made an effort to hold it up. Legolas placed a gentle hand on her brow and leaned it back until it rested in the crook of his elbow, and situated himself until they were leaning their backs against the wall. "There's no need."
"Tell me," Legolas said. "You know I can tell my father that you need to – "
"I can still go on the patrol," Tauriel said, her voice surprisingly firm. "I must, and I am strong enough to push through this."
"This is most unexpected, since you are not –""Please. Just let me rest for a moment."
"Alright." They sat in silence for a moment, the thudding of his heart a comforting feeling against the back of her shoulder, and Tauriel gave a large sigh. Leaning forward, she gave her friend a brief smile, before slowly getting to her feet. He watched as she wavered for a brief moment, and then stood steady. "I must be a mess," she murmured, crossing the room and beginning to fasten on her cuirass and pull a comb through her tangled hair.
"Tauriel –" The prince of Mirkwood got to his feet, and smiled softly at her. "You know you can tell me."
Her eyes were strangely sad. "I know. But not this time, my friend. I thank you for your kindness."