11. A Plea For The Silent And Still
Chapter Ten: A Plea for the Quiet and Still
Another week passed.
Every day, for hours on end, Gimli could be found sitting next to Legolas. Often, he sat there holding the elf's hand, just watching his friend quietly. More often, he could be found talking to the elf, sometimes quite animatedly, to the amusement of the healing staff and those came across him chatting away as if Legolas were wide awake. Gimli ignored them.
Twice, when Gimli was talking, he thought he saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye, but when he turned to look, nothing had changed. Legolas was just as still as he had been since that fateful day when the ceiling had collapsed on top of them nearly three weeks prior. Gimli reckoned he wanted to see Legolas move so much that he had begun seeing things.
So it was, for all the time Gimli spent with Legolas, sitting and talking to him, he saw no sign of his friend waking. And the days crawled onward.
Several days later, Faramir greeted his king in the Great Hall, and he and Éowyn expressed their apologies for not coming sooner. As fate would have it, Elboron, their eldest, had come down with the same illness from which his sister had only just recovered. Thus their trip had been delayed for many days. Aragorn updated them on Legolas's condition, but it seemed to Faramir that nothing had changed from the details the king had included in his missive describing the accident. Éowyn and he shared a concerned look, before she excused herself and headed for the Steward's quarters to refresh herself from the ride. Faramir remained behind speaking with Aragorn.
"I sent a missive off to Thranduil," Aragorn told him after Éowyn departed, "to inform him of his son's condition at the same time I sent the message to you. I expect we will see a member of his family arriving before long. I only hope Legolas has awakened by then." Aragorn's voice trailed off.
Faramir could hear the unspoken worry in Aragorn's voice, and he was also concerned. Judging by the dark circles under Aragorn's eyes, the king had not slept much recently. His face held lines of strain and the Man just looked tired. It would seem that in balancing his duties as king and worrying about Legolas had taken its toll. And now, with the potential of a royal entourage from Eryn Lasgalen, Faramir felt troubled. Aragorn had enough to manage at the moment without the threat of Thranduil or one of his offspring arriving. Faramir knew of Aragorn's aversion of Legolas's family, and from what he had heard that dislike was well founded and reciprocated by the Elvenking and his children, with the exception of Legolas.
As they stood quietly deep in thought for a few minutes, Faramir could see the strain of having one of his closest friends in a near death accident was taking its toll on the King. Legolas had lingered in a coma now for twenty days.
"How is Gimli handling this, Aragorn? Is he well? You mentioned in your letter that he had been injured, but you did not say how badly." Faramir began to probe for more information.
"He is holding up well. Gimli's only serious injury was a broken leg, but he has been up and about on crutches for over a week now." Aragorn's lips tilted almost into a smile. "The dwarf moved into Legolas's room as soon as he was patched up. Almost drove the healing staff crazy! Once I let him up on crutches, he stopped harassing everyone. He spends a lot of his time with Legolas, though he does get out and move around the garden or goes to check up on his pony."
"Gimli? Check on a pony?" Faramir asked incredulously.
Aragorn did smile then. "Yes, he claims he worries that the 'valuable animal' is not being cared for properly, but from what I have heard from the stable hands is that he spends far more time with Celedae than with Moroch." He grinned. "Come, let us go and see them. I will tell you all on the way."
Faramir fell in beside his friend, and they headed out of the hall. As they walked towards the Houses of Healing, he hoped they would soon have a reason to rejoice. Perhaps Legolas would soon wake and all would be well again, allowing his King tod once again look like hale and like himself, instead of the exhausted Man who walked beside him.
Ten days had passed since he had started talking to his friend and twenty had passed since that horrible day the cave collapsed. Fears had been shared, but the worry remained. The longer the elf remained unconscious, the more Gimli worried. Aragorn had told him there was a chance Legolas might never wake up. Gimli frowned. He would not let the elf just slip away like that. There must be some way to prevent it!
He was sitting next to Legolas, lost in his thoughts. Aragorn had come to eat with him around midday, as was his custom, and Gimli had noticed the Man was not looking his best. Aragorn had not been sleeping well, so worried was he, and if Aragorn was worried, there was good reason. Legolas needed to show some sign of awakening soon, or hope would start to wane.
It was now drawing on evening, and Gimli had not left the elf's side since the midday meal. His leg was on the mend; he could feel it. The pain had dulled to an ache, and Aragorn had mentioned that he would need to start putting weight on it, while still using the crutches for support. Gimli knew that soon he would not need the crutches at all. Elves were not the only hardy race; dwarves too healed quickly. Gimli would be able to ride Moroch again before long. He would physically be able to return to Aglarond —not that he would.
Gimli had sent word to Dín, his second in command, along with the King's missive to Éomer. The dwarves of the Glittering Caves would be fine without him. Often had he taken extended leaves to visit Legolas, or to travel with the elf, and Gimli was confident of Din's handling of matters in his absence. His concern was not for his home or returning there.
"Come now, lad. Just a sign that you are still here. That's all I ask." Gimli pleaded with his friend. "You can sleep all you want, just give me a sign that you can hear me."
Nothing happened, not he had really expected anything to. Legolas had sustained serious injuries, and even if the head injury had not been so severe, Legolas would have needed the healing of sleep for a few days.
But not twenty days!
All bruising had completely faded from the elf's body. The wound in his leg had healed to a barely noticeable scar and the swollen hip had returned to normal. Aragorn had removed the bandages from Legolas's arm and from around the cracked ribs yesterday. The bones were now healed sufficiently; the bandages were no longer necessary. Even the bandages on Legolas's head had been removed to check the injuries underneath, but Aragorn had replaced them to be safe. The gash on the elf's head had healed, but there was a chance the bones in his skull had not knit themselves together completely yet. Aragorn was taking no chances.
Gimli squeezed the long fingers he was holding. Again he wished for a sign, just a small reassurance that all would be well, a reason to hold on to hope as he held the elf's hand.
Voices drifted in from the open doorway, and he looked up as the King and Steward of Gondor walked into the room.
Faramir looked shocked at the sight of the very still, very pale elf lying quietly on the bed. Gimli could not blame him. Never before had they seen Legolas look like this. The Lord of Asgarnen was always full of life; strong and graceful, he sported a smile for his friends and an intense elven glare for those who dared oppose him. He was known to sing softly as he went about whatever he was doing; he greeted life joyously. Legolas always seemed the epitome of life.
Now he looked almost dead. Gimli wondered how the Steward would have handled seeing him twenty days ago.
"He looks terrible! I never thought an elf could look like—" Faramir broke off as if he could not bring himself to finish the thought.
Gimli did it for him. "Like death." He had accepted this and had moved past it. Legolas was not dead, therefore it did not matter what he looked like.
"Actually," Aragorn said stepping forward to look more closely at Legolas, "he looks much better than he did. When we first found him, I feared he was dead. The improvement is encouraging. Most of his injuries have healed. It is only the head injury that concerns me now. It is unusual for an elf to remain unconscious for this length of time."
Gimli's heart constricted at this news, and he frowned. Yes, the elf was healing. But he was not waking. As Aragorn had said, an elf should have wakened long ago.
"Perhaps, he shall wake soon then, now that his injuries have healed." Faramir sounded hopeful.
"Perhaps," Aragorn replied, but his voice was dark and uncertain.
"And what of you, Gimli?" Faramir asked. "How do you fare? Aragorn said you walk on crutches as well as you do without them." The Steward switched to a lighter tone, as if by speaking normally everything would be all right. While it did not change the circumstances, it did lighten Gimli's heart and he gave the Man a small smile of gratitude. Legolas did not need dark conversation around him, but normal everyday talk.
"Aye, the leg is healing fine. I'll soon be off those sticks. I've been grateful for them, but one tires of them after a time." Gimli rubbed at his sides where the wood chafed at his skin. He was truly thankful he had not been confined to bed for the duration of his healing, but he did tire of using crutches. He looked down at the quiet elf lying before him. Legolas would have teased him mercilessly using them.
"Come Gimli, perhaps you will join us for dinner in the dining room tonight? It will soon be time." Aragorn spoke, and Faramir nodded encouragingly.
"Yes, come Gimli. There is much I would like to discuss with you." Faramir added.
Gimli figured they conspired to pull him from his vigil for a short time at least. Part of him longed for a good meal and lively conversation, but part of him was reluctant to leave Legolas. "I'll catch up to you," he agreed. "I want to stay a few more minutes."
The Men nodded and left him alone again with Legolas. "Well, elf, it seems I am required elsewhere for a time. I will return after dinner. Perhaps then, you'll cease your stubbornness and prove to me the strength of the elves." He smiled and added, "A curse on elves and their stiff necks!"
He almost fell out of his chair when Legolas smiled ever so faintly. And whooped when he noticed the slight pressure applied to his fingers as well.
Aragorn and Faramir had not gone far when a loud shout came from the room behind them. Rushing back, they found Gimli holding the elf's hand tightly, a suspicious glitter of moisture that might be mistaken for tears in his eyes.
"He smiled!" Gimli exclaimed. "He smiled and squeezed my hand!"
Dinner was held in the elf's room that night.
To Be Continued…
A/N – It is approximately 600 miles from Gondor to the Elvenking's halls. A messenger would take a minimum of two weeks to get there. The Elves would probably travel back more quickly.
Aglarond – the Glittering Caves in Rohan behind the Hornburg of Helm's Deep in which Gimli began a dwarven colony.
Asgarnen – the elven settlement in Ithilien under Legolas's rule.
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