15. …And Now We’re Here
When I woke up it was dark. I blinked a few times to see if the darkness would clear, but either I was inside somewhere and the lights were all out or it was night. I slowly became aware of my surroundings, specifically of a warm, soft, breathing object that was acting as my pillow. When I poked it and it said, "Ow!" I sat up quickly and scooted away from it until I hit the side of what felt like a cave.
"Who's there?" I asked, not surprised to hear my voice waver.
It, or he, groaned. "Elladan," he answered, his voice sounding strangely subdued. At the sound of his name, my heart and my mind began to race.
"What…? Why…? Where…?" The thoughts flew through my head faster than I could verbalize them. What had happened after I blacked out? Why was I sleeping on top of him? And where the hell were we?
"Easy," he said quietly. "We are safe, for now, so we might rest." I heard him moving and could just about make out his figure across the room. It looked like he was trying to sit up and having some difficulty, which struck me as strange. He grunted and it sounded like he was in considerable pain.
"Are you ok? Do you need help?" I crawled towards him but couldn't quite see and instead bumped into him, knocking him down on top of me.
"Ow!" I cried out and heard his sharp intake of breath. He lifted himself off me and it seemed to take a great effort.
"I will be fine," he said, but his voice did not convince me.
"You don't sound fine," I said. "What's wrong with you?"
He was silent for a while and I wondered if I had offended him or said something wrong. I was about to apologize when he answered me.
"The blade that cut my arm was poison."
I gasped. This was getting all too real; I didn't want him to be poisoned. "Oh no," I moaned.
"My body will heal; it will just take time."
He sounded tired but not worried, so I hoped he was right. I sat next to him – I think; it was still difficult to see – and didn't say anything else. I wasn't sure what to say. I had so many questions I didn't know how to ask.
I heard him move again and make a noise that sounded like he was trying not to voice his pain.
"Can I do something?" I asked. I felt so helpless.
"Actually, you can." He sounded almost relieved. "About two meters behind you is a pack. In it is some flint. If you could bring it here, I could start a fire."
"I can't see…"
"I can," he said. He put his hand on my leg and removed it quickly, as if he changed his mind about the gesture. "I'll talk you through getting there.
With his direction I was able to find the pack and return to him. He rustled around in the bag and eventually pulled something out.
"Back away," he instructed. I slid away from him and heard him moving around, groaning a bit now and then. After a few minutes I saw sparks near where he had been sitting. On the third try, the spark became a flame, a warm fire in a pit in the middle of what was definitely a cave.
It was refreshing to be able to see again until I looked at Elladan. He looked tired, with purple circles under his eyes, and a sickly pallor to his skin. My surprise and worry must have shown on my face because he smiled weakly as he slid around the fire towards me.
"I surely I feel worse than I look."
I laughed, feeling uncomfortable. "I'm sure you don't."
He continued to smile but his fatigue showed in his eyes. "Do I look that bad?"
"Naah," I lied.
He chuckled and I had a hunch he knew I was not being truthful. Using his good arm, he lay back onto the cave floor.
"You can sleep now, again, and not want for warmth now that there is a fire."
So that's why I was lying on him.
"Thanks," I said, not realizing how tired I was until he mentioned sleep. I stretched out on the ground facing the fire and closed my eyes. I was almost asleep when I heard him whisper.
"You look so much like her."
I opened my eyes. He was on the opposite side of the fire, looking at me. Judging by his reaction, he thought I had already fallen asleep.
"Like who?" I asked, trying to stifle a yawn.
His voice was quiet and I saw pain in his eyes, but I was pretty sure it wasn't from the poison in his arm. A thought crossed my mind.
"Is that why you hate me?"
He sighed. "I don't…"
"Whatever," I interrupted. "Is that why you've acted the way you have? Because I look like someone else?"
He stared at the fire, his lips pressed tightly together. I studied his face, the pain and longing in his eyes, and everything started to make sense. I mean, if the woman's own husband mistook me…
"Oh my God! You're in love with Nerdanel!"
His eyes grew wide and his head whipped to look at me. He schooled the initial shocked expression and his eyes narrowed. My mind started flipping through all of our previous encounters and ended at the last one; or, at least, what I remembered from the last one, and I groaned. If he thought I looked like her… what could have happened…? Did I even want to know?
"Is she here?" I asked instead. "I mean, around here somewhere?"
He nodded and gazed back into the fire. "I saw her last the night before my brother and I departed Imladris."
How was that possible? That night was a blur, to be sure, but I knew he was there with us, and then I followed him into the woods, and then Justin came across us… unless…
"What happened between you?" I blurted out. He turned an incredulous look on me, so I quickly added, "I mean, was it anything that if her husband had seen, he would get all upset?"
Elladan scoffed. "Her husband's lunacy is epic and his temper legendary. I could glance at her sideways and it might upset him."
Despite myself I laughed, but I sobered quickly when I saw his look.
"Sorry. It was just a funny, although accurate, description of him."
He shrugged his shoulder and then poked at the fire with a stick, causing the flames to dance a little higher. "I only spoke to her that night. She would allow no more, since she knew him to be here."
I swallowed against the lump in my throat. "Would it have upset my husband, if he thought she was me?"
He rolled over onto his back and for a moment I thought he might not answer me.
"How am I to know what would upset a man whose acquaintance I have barely made?"
I knew by his tone that our conversation was over. I rolled over, turning my back to him and the fire and hoping that sleep would find me quickly.
"What? Do you want for me to kiss you now?"
"No! It was just a game."
"Why, then, would you say what you did?"
"Because I never have kissed an elf."
"Nor will you ever."
It was still dark when I woke again and the fire had died down to embers. I shivered in the pre-dawn air and pulled my arms into my shirt to try and warm them. It did not work; I continued to shake, my teeth chattering so much I was amazed it did not rouse Elladan.
I glanced at him. His back was to me and his breathing was regular. I was willing to bet that lying next to him would be much warmer than lying over here by myself. I slid closer to the dying fire, debating whether I wanted to forego all pride and use him for his warmth or if I would stay over here and suffer by myself.
The breeze that blew through the cave made my mind up for me.
I crawled over to where he was lying and, trying not to disturb him, lay down in front of him. Our bodies weren't even touching and I could feel the heat radiating off him. It felt good. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep almost instantly.
"Because I never have kissed an elf."
"Nor will you ever."
Someone was playing with my hair. It would have felt nice, had I not been sleeping. I groaned and shifted, hoping it would stop. It did not stop and that's when I realized someone was playing with my hair!
I opened my eyes and saw the ceiling of the cave. Then I saw Elladan, propped up on one arm and running fingers through my hair with the other. I must have missed something important.
Oh, and he had no shirt on.
"What are you doing?" I asked, pushing his hand away. That didn't work; he ran his fingers down my cheek, leaving a trail of warmth in their wake. I closed my eyes and exhaled, trying to get my body to stop responding to him the way it was.
"I had hoped you would come to me." His hand was on my neck now, my shoulder, my collarbone…
"Whoa!" I sat up, grabbing his hand and holding it away from my body. I hope you understand the enormity of the strength and willpower it took for me to do so.
He flipped his hand around so he was holding mine, sat up and pulled me towards him. With an ungraceful bump I ended up almost sitting in his lap, my free hand colliding with his chest in an attempt to steady myself. His skin was on fire and I pulled my hand away quickly.
"You're burning up!" I exclaimed. I didn't know how hot elves were supposed to be – no pun intended – but I didn't think this was normal.
He took my chin and tilted my head up. (I may have been staring at his chest. Look, I am only human here, and was trying my best). My stomach flipped when I saw the way he was looking at me. His eyes were intense enough that it was hard to hold his gaze.
"Does that not excite you?" His voice was rough with an emotion that seemed a mix between anger and lust. "Is that fire not what you want?"
"I… I… uh…" I stammered, trying to give my brain a chance to figure out what the hell was going on.
"Would that you wanted me the way you want him." With that, he pushed me away and got to his feet, his injured arm seeming not to bother him as much as it had during the night. He walked to the cave entrance and stood with his back to me, arms folded across his chest, blocking most of the soft light of the early dawn.
"As much as I want who? What are you talking about?"
He spun to face me. "Do you know how much it pains me every time she looks at me with your eyes, or smiles at me with your mouth?"
He grunted in disgust and kicked a stone out into the forest beyond the mouth of the cave. I sat where I was, silently shaking my head, trying to make sense of his ranting.
"You have no idea what I would give for you to look at me with the longing that she does."
"Hang on!" I said, aggravated as realization struck. "I don't look at you with longing."
"My point." He waved an arm in the air, and before I could say anything else, fell to the ground.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.