9. In Fear Of The Silence
Chapter Eight: In Fear of the Silence
A sense of foreboding hung heavily on the air of the Houses of Healing. The healers could take it no longer. They demanded the situation had to change. It had been going on for a little over a week and it was disrupting the other patients. They petitioned the king to rectify the situation, for surely enough was enough.
Aragorn sighed. He would prefer to keep the dwarf bedridden for a little longer, but no one could take any more. There were not many things more irritating than a bored dwarf confined in a bed, especially since that bed was right next one holding an unconscious elf who happened to be said dwarf's closest friend. Gimli had taken to questioning everything anyone did concerning Legolas.
"They were not gentle enough."
"The sheets were not straight enough."
"The elf is not getting enough nourishment."
It went on and on. Gimli had appointed himself as Legolas's guardian, and as such was making everyone crazy. The healers were right. It was time to get him up and on his feet.
Aragorn had been surprised to find Gimli's leg was not crushed, but only lower leg broken. The rocks under that boulder had saved Gimli the possibility of losing a limb. It had not been difficult to set the broken bones, and the gash from the rock had been easily stitched. Being dwarves were quite hardy, Gimli was fast on the mend.
Providing Gimli with a set of crutches made specifically for a dwarf and his shorter stature, Aragorn had given strict instructions that Gimli was only to move around for a short amount of time in the Houses of Healing or the garden behind it. Seeing the relief in the faces of the healers as the dwarf thumped down the hall, Aragorn made his way back towards the Citadel for a council meeting. He knew his friend would be fine, for he was confident Gimli would not leave Legolas's side for any length of time.
He was mistaken.
Celedae stomped a hoof and swished his magnificent, silver tail. He was not happy. The elf never left him alone this long. Something had happened, he could tell.
Daily, someone came to bring him food and water, to clean his stall and groom him, but the elf did not come. The horse did not trust these strangers who never spoke to him other than to issue commands, but he tolerated them. Somehow he knew this is what his master would have him do. Celedae missed his elf friend and the steady stream of words and song that accompanied him. The silence was upsetting for the gray stallion and he was fearful for his master.
Suddenly, a strange sound caught the horse's attention and his delicate ears pricked forward towards the door of the stall and the aisle beyond it.
Thump thud...Thump thud...Thump thud...
Was one of the other horses lame? It would have to be severely lame to limp like that. No…wait, not enough feet…what wasthat?
Thump thud...Thump thud...Thump thud...
Celedae could take it no longer, so he reached his head over the stall door and looked down the aisle. Stunned by what he saw, the horse stood frozen in place, watching the strange, yet somewhat familiar thing come closer.
Thump hop...thump hop...thump hop...
Gimli maneuvered carefully on the crutches Aragorn had ordered made for him, slowly making his way down the corridor, a frown creasing his heavy brow. Navigating the Houses of Healing or the wide, smooth garden paths was one thing; a stable aisle with buckets, straw from bedding, hay and other debris was another thing entirely. It did not help that the dwarf was weighed down with worry. It had been ten days since that cavern had fallen on them… Ten days of pain… Ten days of boredom… Ten days of uncertainty… Ten days of silence...
Legolas was still unconscious.
As he thumped and hopped and thudded down the stable aisle, Gimli pondered the elf's condition. There had been no change. None. Aragorn came to see Legolas twice a day to check on the elf's condition, and sometimes Arwen would come sit and talk to Gimli and sometimes even to Legolas as she held his hand. She said it would be good for Legolas to hear familiar voices, but Gimli could not bring himself to speak to his friend yet.
The prince's basic needs were being attended by the staff of the Houses of Healing, though Gimli found such means to be quite distasteful. Unconscious, the elf could not swallow without choking, and though elves could go longer without food and drink then Men, they still required nourishment, especially when so severely wounded. But the only way to get such into him was rather distasteful to the dwarf's way of thinking. The first time the healers had entered with their enema equipment to infuse his friend with liquid broth, Gimli had nearly come out of his bed, broken leg or no, to prevent his friend suffering such humiliation, even unconscious. It had taken Aragorn's assurances that it was the only way to keep Legolas alive that held Gimli back.
Gimli shuddered as he remembered and was grateful when they positioned a screen to block his view of the procedure. He hoped Legolas never found out. The elf would be both humiliated and furious, even if the extreme measures had kept him alive.
Slowly, the many injuries Legolas had sustained were beginning to heal. At least, that was what Arwen had tried to assure him. In the past when Legolas had sustained an injury, which was not a frequent occurrence, the dwarf was always surprised at how quickly the elf healed. He found similar injuries to himself often took twice as long to heal than anything Legolas sustained, and dwarves healed faster than Men or Hobbits. So Legolas's slow healing was a worry to Gimli and evidence of how severe the injuries were.
Thump hop...thump hop...thump hop...
Gimli looked up into the eyes of Celedae. The silver stallion looked down on him with a surprised blink, and Gimli could almost see the horse reasoning why he had come. Of course, he told himself as he had told Legolas many times, that is crazy. Horses do not reason like people do.
Then why was he here? The question stumped Gimli momentarily, but he quickly had his answer.
He was here for the elf. Legolas would never abandon his friends, be they dwarf, human, hobbit or horse. If Legolas was awake, he would ask someone to check on Celedae and to reassure the horse. Utter foolishness, Gimli knew, yet here he was, and deep down the dwarf knew he was about to make a fool of himself.
It was not that he disliked horses. Gimli had not been around ponies much of his life and rode one of his own. Moroch — the small dark-brown pony gifted to him by Eomer King, and to Legolas's surprise given an elven name — was in one of the first stalls in the stable. Gimli had stopped to visit him briefly on his way inside.
But horses were so high off the ground, and dwarves preferred to travel on their own two feet when possible. Legolas had changed that for Gimli. When traveling with the elf, Gimli still rode behind Legolas as they had since the War when Eomer had loaned them Arod.
Now, he was paying a call on Celedae, for it was the right thing to do. Legolas would find it immensely amusing, were he awake.
Balancing carefully, Gimli reached a hand up to the horse and rubbed the soft, grey nose. The stallion was looking at him curiously, and Gimli figured the horse was wondering why he had come...
Blast it all! He was doing it again!
Finding it difficult and tiring to continue balancing on one leg, Gimli saw a chair across the aisle and being ever the resourceful dwarf, he hooked it with a crutch and pulled it to the front of the stall. Now he could stay awhile. As soon as he sat down, Celedae's head was lowered to his lap, and Gimli grinned. With the low doorway, the stallion could reach over quite easily and did so, making low rumbling noises that Gimli had heard him make many times with Legolas.
Gimli rubbed the horse's head and sighed. He was rewarded by Celedae dropping his head lower so Gimli's fingers could scratch behind his ears.
Gimli had not spoken of his fears concerning Legolas to anyone, not even Aragorn. He had harassed those caring for the elf and put up a good show of being in good spirits, but concerning the fears deep inside, he had remained silent. Every day the elf remained unconscious, the fears grew stronger, building in his chest and causing it to ache. The silence was torture.
He looked at the gray head he was rubbing. Even if the beast did not understand a single word, he could still listen. Gimli could speak of his fears without having to worry about anyone saying anything in return. Looking over both shoulders to make certain no one was around before he began to articulate, Gimli hesitantly began to talk to the horse about the events of the past ten days. He grew more confident as he spoke and shared his fears.
A long time passed as the dwarf continued to murmur softly to the horse, his hand stroking Celedae the whole while. As the gruff voice droned on, Celedae sighed. Finally, the silence had been broken.
To be continued….
Concerning the care of Legolas. People cannot swallow reflexively when unconscious, as has been pointed out to me by several medical professionals. An old way of keeping someone hydrated when unconscious for long periods of time was to use enemas. The colon absorbs the nutrients and it can keep a person alive. Distasteful though that method may be, it is medically accurate and I believe could be used by the learned Men of Gondor, especially Aragorn who would have learned from the Elves.
Moroch (MORE oak) - means 'dark horse'. Gimli's dark brown Rohirric pony, a gift from Eomer.
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