This chapter is dedicated to: HobbitIvy, PeculiarXemma (really enjoyed your perspective!), Elven Destiny, Jen Gurl 24, Aranel Mereneth, Avey, Caelhir, Wtiger5, Nevaratoeial, Little Birdy 2, CountryGirl6699, love07, and Tiamaria40.
Chapter 50: Remembrance
Legolas struck Adrendil down atop the high walls of Minas Tirith, and all watching silently below gasped to see the famous elven prince, friend to their king, seemingly all things gentle and noble as such is the way of the elves, take the life of his own captain with a powerful sweep of the sword across the chest. The elves had a name for such a perfectly timed move, meant not to disable but to kill one's enemy outright- durtha sul, a deathblow.
Men clattered up the high stairs of the southern wall in Minas Tirith. Their king, Aragorn Elessar, the Elfstone and friend to elves, grimly led the way, for all had witnessed his beloved friend Legolas Thranduillion duel and kill the elf captain high above the city that day.
The pain in his side was almost unbearable, and the thought of leaving Adrendil's body, still warm, amid the blood and cold stones of the wall, was even worse.
"Legolas," Aragorn's voice was soft, cautious, and the king watched his friend rise, leggings soaked in blood and his side blooming red as well. From the moment the elf had held Adrendil at sword point, no even before then, from the time the duel had begun, Legolas had already started to calculate what this debacle would cost Aragorn, in what a difficult position his actions would place his friend.
Adrendil had cursed him with his dying breath, and still Legolas felt remorse. He was surely a sentimental fool. But he could not make himself forget Adrendil's last words cursing him to never leave these shores. He knew what his friends would say, what he hoped they would say—that he had been in the right to end Adrendil's life, but even so Legolas avoided Aragorn's knowing gaze as he met him on the wall.
Legolas crashed to his knees before Aragorn, knowing full well that the people below needed to see his submission to their king, if anything to replace the vicious image of the cold-blooded warrior striking down one of his own in lethal precision. It was misdirection at its best, but neither friend discounted the inherent value of the elf's actions. Both knew the toll on the prince's pride.
"King Aragorn," Legolas said, averting his gaze, his head lowered in submission, "I humbly await your judgment."
The king did not answer but rather pulled Legolas to his feet and braced him with a hand on his forearm, meeting his eyes for the first time, saying, "Legolas, you did what you had to do."
Legolas held his gaze, not yet willing to be absolved so easily, "Aragorn…I could have disarmed him. I could have—"
The king interrupted. "Not now, Legolas. Let my people see that I support you which I do." He glanced down at his friend's abdomen darkly painted crimson.
"You've been wounded?"
"Superficial, Aragorn," Legolas said quietly. "Happened right before…" He stopped just as Miredhel joined his side, averting her eyes from the violent scene before them.
"Be that as it may, Legolas, we are still going to see your injury treated." Aragorn exchanged a glance with Miredhel. "My lady, will you take Legolas to the Houses of Healing? I will have my men see to the removal of the body."
Legolas cut his eyes to the king. "He was one of mine, Aragorn, and despite his crimes, still deserves elven tradition. We do not leave our fallen untended. I should carry him down myself, and-"
Aragorn leaned in and cut him off. "Don't be an ass."
Legolas arched an elegant eyebrow. Miredhel's eyes widened. Ah, Strider still lurked under the kingly raiment.
"Fine," Legolas agreed, and Aragorn signaled his personal guard to accompany the elves down to the House of Healing.
The crowd watching dissipated, a mixture of emotions playing across their human faces; humans never had been as adept at concealing their feelings as the First Born. Legolas unabashedly met their eyes, feeling he deserved whatever censure he read on their faces. Others lowered their eyes, unable to bear the piercing gaze of one so fearless and deadly in battle.
Miredhel took his hand in hers, sympathetic, but not in pity, never pity.
The pair of them earned many odd glances and even outright staring en route. Elves were an uncommon enough sight, but elves disheveled, blood-stained, and accompanied by the king's guard sufficiently caused a permanent halt to the usual pedestrian traffic. When Miredhel and Legolas passed the seventh gate to wind down the street to the Houses of Healing on the sixth level of the city, they unexpectedly met up with Belegil and Sulindal coming through the parting crowds.
"Valar, Legolas! We came as soon as we heard!" Belegil exclaimed, darkly glancing at the pair of them, and he gestured loosely at his lord's bloody attire. "What happened?"
"Adrendil attacked Miredhel," Legolas said flatly. "I was on the seventh level and heard her scream. They were in the east courtyard, and when I got there, he was holding her at knife point."
"What? Why?" Belegil exclaimed, his normally fluid voice cracking with disbelief.
"He killed Eledhel," Miredhel said brokenly. "I found proof, by sheer coincidence, but I found the mithril arrows in his room. He caught me there and knew that I had seen them."
Sulindal spoke up, keenly eyeing his leader. "And Legolas, you fought him?"
Legolas nodded, his mouth a thin line.
"Well, where is he now? Where are they taking him? I think we should take him back to your father for judgment," Belegil added with a wicked grin.
Sulindal shot his brother a disapproving look.
"What?" Belegil protested. "I've just heard some things about Thanduil's dungeons. That's all. Who hasn't, frankly?"
His twin brother warningly gripped Belegil's shoulder and looked pointedly to the prince, disheveled and of weary heart. The perfect lines of his face were still perfect, ever noble, but the grim set of his lips, the tension evident in his posture belied his calm appearance, and beyond the subtle, Legolas was streaked in blood from the waist down. Something grievous had happened in that courtyard.
Legolas' eyes slid to Miredhel, and his voice was low when he spoke, "Adrendil refused to surrender. We fought. I—" He looked down and swallowed hard before meeting Sulindal's steady gray eyes. "I killed him."
The prince's voice sounded uncertain, unsure—if such a thing could be credited to one who had lived his entire life in surety and steadfast will, (or at least cultivating the appearance of it). For Legolas knew his façade of confidence now to be an utter falsehood—he knew nothing, felt nothing. He was numb. He felt everything. Oh, Valar! Adrendil's blood stained his hands, and he had spilled it.
Sulindal's eyes sharpened, and he opened his mouth and closed it again. For one with a gift for uncanny observation, one who prided himself in being able to read people well, Sulindal was at a loss to guess what the prince must be feeling. That he was angry about the outcome, there was no doubt, but his eyes were so bleak, exhausted even.
"Thank the Valar then, that you are both safe," Sulindal said carefully and looked to his brother. "Tell us what we can do to help."
"Are either of you injured?" Belegil enquired softly, and Miredhel nodded with a firm look toward the prince. The brothers then set themselves on either side of Legolas and Miredhel, as a pair of very determined, severe escorts. Neither would brook any more delay, and they hastened the pair of their friends to the Houses of Healing until at last they stood in the entry way and Ioreth, the elder healer, arrived.
Ioreth was more than a little alarmed to find Legolas Thranduillion, friend to her own king, seeking aid late that afternoon. What a sight he was! Dripping blood on her newly sanded foyer floor! She had only seen him quit young master Farothin's chambers a half hour ago. Now he returned looking like a veritable battle scourge, and his lady looked just as ill as he.
"Lord Legolas," she said uncomfortably, her easy human face betraying her shock. Though she knew him to be probably older than herself, ancient even, his youthful face and wan expression tugged on her matronly heart, and before any of them knew it, she was clucking away like a mother hen and guiding the prince into the hall with a gentle hand on his back.
She led them toward a private room, not near Farothin's, as Miredhel had the good sense to request that Farothin and Celeril not learn what happened just yet, at least not until Legolas had been tended to and had been given time to compose himself.
Trailing after Ioreth and Legolas, Miredhel's eyes met a welcome sight, one she had not dreamed possible-Roren resting in bed, pale, but definitely alive. Her young guard who had risked so much against Adrendil's wrath had survived.
"Legolas," she breathed. "This brave young man saved my life. I accosted him on the stair and begged his protection from Adrendil." Miredhel's eyes shone, and Roren flushed from her praise.
"I only wish I could have really stopped him, my lady," Roren offered meekly.
Legolas' eyes lightened, and he patted Ioreth's hand to release his forearm, so he might step into the room.
"Not many could have stood against Adrendil and lived to tell the tale," the prince countered. "He was a true master, and you were showed much valor in placing yourself in harm's way to protect Lady Miredhel."
"Was a true master…he is dead then?" surmised Roren, and the young man could do little to hide his relief at the thought.
"Yes, Roren. He is dead," Miredhel answered quietly. "Prince Legolas fought him." She did not add 'and killed him,' but the words hung in the air as surely if she had.
"I think I would have liked to have seen that," the young guard intoned. "Just that sort of sword fight, between two elves, two masters—it must have been something!"
Miredhe's eyes darted to the elf beside her, fearing for a moment that Legolas would have been put off by Roren's comment, as he had seemed sorely shaken by Adrendil's death at his blade.
But Legolas had spent much time lately in the presence of young mortals, namely the Fellowship, but mostly Aragorn, and he had become accustomed to the brashness of their address and their tendency to speak without thinking. No, he was not offended, merely amused.
"Young man," the elven prince said, his voice soft and melodic, "you have had your fill of violence and action today it seems, or you would not be among the Healers' wards. But—I would not deny a request from one who saved my beloved from certain death."
The young guard's eyes widened, and for the first time upon entering the room, Legolas carefully held Roren's questioning gaze. "Yes, he would have killed her had you not intervened. For that, Roren, Guard of the Citadel, you have my gratitude and my deepest thanks, and if it should please you, I would offer you a place in my guard in Ithilien as well, where you could have the opportunity, should you wish it, to train with true elven masters of the sword." The prince smiled, a small thing, but radiant nonetheless.
Two bright spots appeared on the young man's cheeks, and he ducked his head. "I—uh, thankyoumilord—" he mumbled in a rush of words.
Miredhel then took Legolas' arm to quit the room, but before leaving turned again to Roren and smiled at him, a rare thing from her in these days since her brother's death. Legolas' own heart was gladdened to see it despite his melancholy, and Roren was practically undone at the sight of it—the two bright spots on his cheeks deepened to a full-out crimson.
"Thank you again, mellon," she said, and added mischievously, "it means friend in elvish."
They left before they could see Roren sink back onto his pillow with the most ridiculous, boyish grin on his face.
Once they reached their own private room only a few doors down, the door was firmly shut and bolted with Sulindal standing guard solemnly on the other side. Legolas finally allowed his shoulders to sag. He slouched against the work table in the smallish healing room and pulled his hair together with one hand and with the other tentatively prodded the wound just below his ribs.
Miredhel had been collecting the necessary bandages and ointment, but turned sharply when she heard him hiss.
"Don't do that, Legolas," she said and worried her lower lip. "Here, let me help you." She was by his side in an instant, staying his hand with her own long careful fingers, and together they haltingly pulled the tunic fabric away from the angry red wound, a slash as long as the length of Miredhel's hand, but thankfully not very deep.
Miredhel dared not broach the matter of the fight, or Adrendil for that matter; Legolas' grief was far too near, and if there was anything Miredhel understood, it was loss. And guilt. She felt she could probably write an entire archive devoted to the topic; she understood better than most what he must be feeling, not just from the bond they shared, but from her own private struggles as well. She had despised those well-wishers who had meant so well but thought that talking about her grief would make her feel better. No, she would not push Legolas to talk of what happened earlier.
He would tell her when she was ready. She hoped.
Refusing to lie down, Legolas sat on the edge of the work table, and Miredhel took a healer's inventory of his bare torso as she methodically cleaned the wound. "What is this, Legolas, perhaps the third, fourth time I've had to treat you on this journey?" she asked lightly, desperately hoping to distract him.
"Only the second," Legolas protested with another hiss. Miredhel had begun to close up the wound. "The only other time was at the village of men, on the Anduin, after the orc ambush in the canyon."
"Fourth," Miredhel corrected. "Or are you forgetting the night I put the burn medicine on your back?"
In spite of himself, Legolas grinned. "No, my lady, I would not forget that time. In fact, I had considered ways to get burnt again, just so I could have the experience repeated. Still, that only makes three times I have been at your tender mercies."
Miredhel tied off the extra fabric of his bandage. "Orc camp?"
"Aragorn tended me that night, not you, my love," Legolas said and inspected her handiwork.
"For that, I am thankful," she confessed looking over his neck, across the top of his fair chest, and then back. She could still see the raised welts where his captor's chain had struck him. The wounds were healing nicely, but oh! Her poor prince! He had suffered much and then to be wounded again—the road to Ithilien had cost him dearly.
"I know what you are thinking, Miredhel," Legolas said, his voice low as he brushed his hand over her heart only to linger there, a solid, warm comfort to them both. "I see it on your face as clearly as I feel it through our bond."
"Legolas," she murmured, and covering his hand with her own, searched his eyes, so dark and limitless.
"I'm here, Miredhel," he reassured her, "and I just thank the Valar that you are safe. When I saw you on the ground in the courtyard, your dress bloody—" a tremor ran through him.
Miredhel rested her forehead against his. "It's over now, Legolas. Adrendil is dead."
He sighed and pulled away. "I should not have killed him."
Miredhel hesitated, choosing her words carefully. "Legolas, he murdered my brother. Don't look for condemnation here, for you won't find it. Besides, he attacked you—would have killed you," she hedged.
"Perhaps," agreed Legolas, but darkness lingered in his eyes.
"Let us go, return to our rooms to rest and change." Miredhel decided on practicality as a much needed balm. Where words had little effect, perhaps bathing and the promise of clean clothes would. She knew enough of Legolas to recognize his deep abiding appreciation of niceties.
Both elves were surprised to open the door and find Aragorn pitching a quiet argument with Sulindal on the other side of the hall.
Miredhel and Legolas shared a grimace. "Do you think we could sneak past them?" the prince asked flatly.
"Unlikely," supposed Miredhel, and she pressed a quick kiss to her beloved's cheek.
Aragorn and Sulindal paused in their discussion, and Aragorn eyed the elven couple across the hall. Both Miredhel and Legolas curiously watched while Sulindal placed his hand on the man's shoulder and ever so slightly shook his head. Aragorn shrugged and quietly said, "It's for the best, Sulindal. It must be done."
Then the king addressed them from across the hall, and leaving Sulindal's side, came to stand before them. Aragorn's eyes were sympathetic, so much so that Legolas found himself growing mildly annoyed. Whatever the two had been discussing, Sulindal had obviously been against it.
"Legolas, the banquet in your honor tonight—I am still hosting it, if you would agree to attend," Aragorn informed him.
"What? Why?" moaned Legolas and then added, "Do you really think that is wise, Aragorn? Let's celebrate my friend, the murderer?"
"Legolas—you're not—" Miredhel returned sharply.
"I think, if anything, cancelling banquet would confirm it," Aragorn retorted, but Legolas was one of his dearest friends. The king desperately wanted to help make things right for him, to help him in any way. He placed a calming hand on Legolas' shoulder, like he would have soothed a skittish colt.
"I know my people," Aragorn assured him. "Many may have doubts about what happened today, and it is far better to assuage these doubts and rumors now, openly, rather than later."
Legolas eyed Aragorn's hand on his shoulder and then met the king's gaze. He trusted Aragorn implicitly. He just hated spectacle, always had. It was just the sort of thing his father relished and Legolas despised. He gestured for Aragorn to follow him down the hall, away from Sulindal, but especially Miredhel. He did not want his lady hearing any of what he considered telling Aragorn.
"Whatever you think is best, Aragorn. I am sorry for putting you in the middle of this."
Aragorn stopped his friend with a look. "Legolas, few could have done what you did on that wall today. You fought and killed a dangerous murderer who directly attacked one of my guards and would have killed Miredhel."
Legolas was silent.
"Nobody blames you, Legolas," Aragorn said quietly. "Your actions up there on that wall were completely justifiable."
"Aragorn," Legolas said slowly. "You know the history of my people. The kinslayings of Naglarond. Adrendil reminded me of it at the very end. What I did today was unforgivable."
"Not to me, Legolas."
"I wanted to kill him, Aragorn. I could have just as easily disarmed him, and I killed him," Legolas said vindictively, but his eyes were bright, almost wet.
Aragorn shook his head disbelievingly. "Adrendil would not have surrendered to you, Legolas. And as much as you may have desired his blood in revenge for Eledhel's death, Adrendil forced your hand in this."
"Perhaps," Legolas agreed in word, but not in look.
"You will see tonight, my friend," Aragorn coaxed. "Your people will show their support for you at the banquet. All will be well." He led Legolas back to Miredhel with the promise that they would find fresh clothes and hot water drawn when they reached their rooms.
Neither Miredhel nor Legolas spoke at all on the return trip to Legolas' room. As soon as the door closed behind them, he pulled his lady into his arms.
"Miredhel," Legolas murmured. He lowered his head and leaned into her embrace, letting her arms come around him, burying his face against her hair, her scent.
"I don't want to think about it anymore. I don't want to think, period," Legolas declared tiredly, his voice strained. He needed her so badly. He wanted Miredhel next to him, under him, her body, her heat, the warmth of her spirit—to help him forget what happened, what he did.
His eyes impenetrable met hers, and he could have drowned in their depths. She was so pure, innocent in so many ways despite her grief. He was not. The violence of the war, bloodshed he had seen, bloodshed he himself had committed, his sea longing—that misery in itself—were reason enough. Then he had killed again, this time one of his own kind and had been cursed for it.
"I need to be alone." His voice was flat.
"Legolas—" Miredhel started.
"I can't think about it anymore. Please—just go for now, Miredhel."
Miredhel shuddered against him and pulled away. She knew he wanted, needed physical comfort, and she would gladly give him that, but his emotional reserve was still there, like a closely guarded wall, sheltering his innermost feelings from their bond. Did he think she couldn't tell that he was holding back, denying the fulfillment of their bond? She was no expert, but she knew that a true bond—the elves called it oira yanwien en fear- required both elves involved to submit completely to one another in trust, a complete and unreserved opening of one's fea. Mind, body, soul, oira yanwien en fear was forever.
"You ask, but you will not give, Legolas Thranduillion," she answered softly, feeling the pain and truth of her words as she spoke them, and a small part of her that had lain quiet for many days sizzled in response.
"Why won't you let me comfort you? What about after the war? Did you not bed maidens to chase away the bad memories?" Miredhel asked, fighting to keep her temper in check, as Legolas shrugged sheepishly.
"I don't understand why you would let them help you, but not me," she snapped in response. Miredhel grimaced inwardly. She was NOT going to let her temper rule her actions. She stepped away and thoughtfully twisted the ring on her finger. Taking a deep breath, she softened her voice to say "Please, Legolas. Let me share your burden. I asked this of you once before when we were only friends, and you denied me. Why?"
He grabbed her roughly by the shoulders, forcing her to look at him. "Because I value you above all things. I won't hurt you like that, Miredhel. I want our love-making to be just that—out of love, not hurt or anger—and it shames me that I would even consider asking it of you, like some meaningless courtesan."
"The difference is that I'm asking you, Legolas. I love you for you, not just the perfect courtly prince that everyone else sees. I want all of you. Do not deny our bond. Do not deny me."
His eyes flashed painfully. It would be so easy to let go. Legolas clamped down on his emotions hard and shook his head. "No, Miredhel," he said, looking pointedly at the door, and when she stood her ground and refused to leave, the prince cuffed her by the arm and hauled her out.
"You have no idea—Miredhel," he hissed, "of what it's costing me trying to protect you from this," and he angrily gestured toward himself, "from me. I cannot—will not—do this to you."
"Then our bond means nothing…" Miredhel answered brokenly, and he pulled the door shut in front of her. She could hear the lock clicking into place on the other side. "…nothing, if left incomplete," she finished, tightening her jaw. He may be the prince, but she would not allow him the last say in this matter...
To my readers-thank you all for the reviews and messages for the previous chapter! Hey, help me break 500-leave a review for the story! Pretty please?
I also had one weirdo-review (you're always bound to get a few of those every now and then...) that claimed I had copied my entire story from some other much superior story from another site. Has anyone else seen this? If you've ever come across any random versions of Building Ithilien on other sites, please let me know, so I can have those taken down.
Thanks and much love,