7. Chapter 6 : Chase Away The Demons
Seldom did the elves of Lothlórien walk near the eastern part of their realm, for they tarried not near the talan upon which the Mirkwood prince lay. The fear of him and his mind did remain fresh in their minds since the evening when his screams sounded throughout the once-tranquil forest. When the others had come to his aid it was to find the elf covered in his own blood, his fingers scratching as much of his body as he could. His voice had grown hoarse from the never-ceasing shrieks, yet he ceased not in his madness.
Pleadingly he begged all present to catch the enemy - an enemy none could see - that rested in the corner. When one of his friends, having pity, explained to Legolas the images he saw were of his own mind, it was met with more madness, more frantic fighting till even his friends he held dear were victim of his fit. At last a drought to soothe him was forced upon him, and when they left his talan is was only his soft, quiet sobbing that could be heard from his room.
It was said his mind was possessed with ill thoughts, and Lothlórien mourned the prince of Mirkwood who had succumbed to a terrible illness. But Legolas did not need to hear the rumors to realize how others would treat him; he experienced them every waking minute. The elf maidens who helped him bathe let not their hands linger on his bruised body. Every person he met, during the rare moments when he did venture outside his talan, would cast their eyes aside, as if pretending he did not exist would ease his pain. And those who did give their attention to him did so in manner as though Legolas were a small child.
Legolas knew no malicious intent was behind their behavior, for no one was ever cruel to him. Yet the pain only intensified at the realization of how very much alone he was here. His every step ostracized him from the rest of elven society. They treated him with respect, but as if he were already deceased and they merely were preparing his body for the funeral.
He did not want their silent respect. He wanted to be held, comforted, to let them hear his screams of agony. After each bathe, sitting alone in his room, Legolas thought of his home, of his father and the tears in his father's eyes when he used to come to Legolas's room, seeking to bring him out to the living and open world. And though the talan was closer to the open air and trees than the deep caves of Mirkwood, Legolas never felt more isolated from the rest of the world.
Mirkwood. His home. The thought of it drove him to madness. How Legolas desired to return home! To run to his father's arms and cry, being wrapped in the comfort of familiarity. He missed his bed, the warm covers and the thick walls that hid him from the world. While he had grown to despise the days he spent there after his mother's death, he yearned greatly for it now, to return to those times of hiding in the darkness of his own bedroom.
But no darkness would keep his family away, and the thought of them breaking that comfort, in search of cheering him, only pained him further. What would they think - his father, brothers, and sisters - what would they think of his experience? Of coming to his room one day and finding his belly swollen with the ill-gotten child inside? How disappointed will they be?
Legolas sat up, breathing heavily as the thoughts came crashing down on him. He was a disgrace to the entire family. Twice he was burned, and so easily. He could not bear death when the others could find the strength to move on. And what of his rape? To be so easily ensnared in the demon's web, his strength drained from him with just a look of the devil's eyes.
His hands slid to his abdomen. How will he handle this forced pregnancy? He let the word slip from his mouth slowly in a quiet whisper, as if to say it any louder would shatter the walls about him. He let the word fill him with its every meaning. It was not natural. There could be no way the child could survive, and even if it did his body would not be strong enough to support it.
In his agony he did not realize that he dug his fingernails into his abdomen. They would think him mad, and perhaps he would be brought back to Mirkwood bound from head to toe. But he needed to do this, to stop further pain for himself, his family, and this forsaken child.
But what would Haldir think if he knew?
Legolas looked up in time to see Lady Galadriel. His fingers were still at his abdomen, digging deeper as though he could simply tear his trouble out of him. He studied Lothlórien's Lady in wonderment if she knew of his state, but she gave no indication that she understood. Silently she eased his hands away from his abdomen and motioned for him to lean back on the bed.
It was not the first time that Lady Galadriel examined his body for any changes, but never did she show understanding of what was taking place inside him. He searched her eyes for answers, hoping she would tell him something of his condition, yet the smile she gave him was without a message. And she would leave him feeling more lonely than before.
"Either the child has died or it is hidden from her senses," Legolas thought, "neither of which I can be certain. Mighty is Lady Galadriel, and any curse inside me she would have long noticed. Perhaps she killed it already and told me not, for thinking I do not know of my own curse. Or she has sensed it and let it live, but she means to keep it a secret from myself. Or she wishes to let me be the first to speak of it."
Each time Legolas held this same conversation with himself, and each time no answer could he reach that would explain Lady Galadriel's silence.
Legolas was not without company during the days, though in time the number dwindled. The event of Legolas's first encounter with the demon delayed his friends from leaving, for they worried for him and wished to remain beside him as means of support. Gimli had visited him often, though conversation between them was small and awkward, for Gimli knew not how to approach an elf who suffered such a heinous crime. And Legolas, though there was still love for Gimli in his heart, felt contempt at being treated as a fragile doll by the dwarf.
Aragorn and Boromir also payed him a visit, but to both Legolas felt too ashamed to look upon their eyes. They were there the first night that Legolas had seen the demon, and even as they sat with him now in efforts to hold a conversation with him, Legolas saw the demon again, covered in the black blood, grinning at him from beneath the same table Legolas had first seen him. He kept his panic buried, and when the men left, Legolas would throw himself onto the bed, beating his fists against his head in hopes of sending himself into unconsciousness. Yet nothing would dissuade the demon from crawling closer, its hands reaching out for him.
"What do you wish from me?" Legolas demanded. Still the demon crawled closer, and on its face was hunger for Legolas's flesh. And when the cold, sickly hands were on him again, no longer could Legolas bottle in his screams, and once more he was found alone, thrashing and screaming until he was subdued by a drought brewed by the elves.
It was this demon which troubled him the most. None could see or even sense him despite the many times Legolas drew attention to it. He wished not to believe their words that the demon was an imagining of his own mind, for he was certain this same creature was the one who touched him in the darkness, back in the cave where Glorfindel had taken him.
"Did you follow me or were you always here?" Legolas asked the creature after he was subdued and the healers had left his talan. "Was it you who was in the cave?" The monster neither answered him nor moved, but he leered at him from across the room, his sharp teeth gleaming bright under the moonlight. Meanwhile as the elves passed underneath the tree, they overheard Legolas's questioning the walls, and they shook their heads in pity and rushed off.
On the morning of the Fellowship's departure from Lothlórien, Legolas dressed himself, wincing with certain movements. The monster watched him from the shadows, leering in its mocking manner as it always did. Legolas tried to avoid meeting its gaze as he limped out of his talan for the first time on his own. He found Aragorn, Boromir, and Gimli just as they were about to leave, Gandalf having left days before. The sight of their swords and knives, and Gimli's axe equipped with them brought a rush of memories of himself when he was stronger of body and mind.
"Legolas, why do you leave your talan?" Aragorn asked softly.
The two Men and the Dwarf reached out to support Legolas, who almost collapsed. It seemed the slightest bit of activity tired him quickly, but he held himself as best he could in his old splendor and spoke to his friends.
"If Merry and Pippin can still be saved, then I must go with you," Legolas said. "I made my vow to be of service to the Fellowship, and this honor I still hold."
Each of his friends gave one another brief glances, and from the looks of their eyes Legolas knew already their answer.
"Please, I may still be of value among you," Legolas said, and he hated how his voice shook.
"Legolas, my friend," Aragorn said. "You are always of great value to us all. But you are injured and must heal. Do not overburden yourself."
"But it is important I go with you," Legolas said.
"We will not be able to sleep with the fear that we are overwhelming your strength!" Gimli said.
"Our love for you runs deep, Legolas," Boromir said. "In short time we've known you we consider you as our brother. We cannot ask you to challenge your strength so soon."
Legolas kept his face masked, though power of their words cut him deep. Honorable they thought him, but the truth was that Legolas wished to venture out and be slain in hopes of ridding himself of the child, and possibly his own body as well. And though he begged to go with his friends, the need to leave quickly was heavy upon them, as the fates of the hobbits were still unknown. And in the end Legolas watched them leave, and with them also was gone his only chance at meeting the merciful arms of death.
When they were away, he abandoned all sense of pride and strength, and falling to the ground he wept and cursed himself and his fate. At last a couple of elves took pity on him, and gently, as though he were a small elfling, they ushered him back to his feet and led him back to his talan. Many elves looked away in disgust or pity, and many covered their ears to block out the noise, either Legolas's wails or the gently soothing sounds of the elves seeking to calm him.
Dinendal had much duty to attend to in Caras Galadhon, but he took to leave to the northern border once he was complete with his task, and in his time in the main city he had witnessed much concerning Legolas and his illness. Grieved he was, and struck with compassion for the suffering elf. The knowledge of Haldir's love for Legolas was known wide among the elves, and Dinendal in particular was saddened at the twist of fate for the lovers. He remembered running across them when Legolas was still well and strong. It was not hard to see why Haldir fell for him, for all the joy and spirit of the world was in Legolas's gaze and his every graceful step. He brought much joy in those whose hearts yearned for it, and his departure with the Fellowship was met with forlorn, for they would miss him and they knew not when would be his next visit.
The treatment of Legolas now could not have been any more different. Secretly several elves of Lothlórien wished the Mirkwood elf had gone, at least back to his own land, for they regarded him with suspicion and contempt. Yet many others took pity on him, such as Dinendal, offering their company if they caught him waddling near the talan, looking lost and alone; and his arm was outstretched to the tree, for even walking had become a terrible burden for him to endure. And Legolas refused much of their offers, though he took company of a very few. Haldir was not among them, for he was ordered to remain in his station. But with him Dinendal brought tidings of Legolas to Haldir, hoping it would settle his aching heart at hearing the news. Yet it only worsened his grief, and for the second time Haldir left his station without official leave.
"He refused our counsel and left!" Orophin said to Dinendal. "Surely he will be punished for this!"
"Lady Galadriel is kind," Dinendal said. "Surely she will understand how this is affecting him."
"Perhaps it would be better if Haldir left his guard duties for a time," Rúmil said. "How can one put concentration in their work when there is a greater need to be with a loved one?"
The stories of Legolas's ill health were worse when Haldir reached Caras Galadhon. Since the broken Fellowship left Lothlórien, Legolas was caught having panic attacks worse than the ones before. The desperate cries for help against the demon still occurred, but now they were mingled with the fits of panic.
Lord Celeborn took Haldir to a talan up the highest tree, so that he could get a view of inside Legolas's own talan. There Legolas paced the floor of his room, submerged in another attack, and he shrieked long till his throat nearly tore, and he ripped at his hair and flailed his arms in desperation. The devastation and the utter helplessness of his pleas for Eru to end his agony sent a pain so grievous to Haldir that he nearly fainted. Lord Celeborn helped settle him back to his feet.
"This is why you cannot be here," he said. "Galadriel and I worry for your own health. There is a bond between you, though not solidified by a marriage bond, and being near him in this illness could destroy you along with him."
"But if I do not see him, he will fade completely," Haldir said. Legolas's screams could still be heard. "How long does this go on for?"
"It comes in waves," Lord Celeborn said. "Soon he will tire and he will collapse on the floor, and there he will remain till the next bout of panic seizes him."
"This is grave!" Haldir made to leave but Lord Celeborn grabbed his arm.
"Please, Haldir, consider your own health as well," he said. "Many of the elf maidens who help Legolas daily now leave his talan in tears. Some who have grown fond of him have also fallen into grief. This curse is poisoning anyone who nears him."
"I love him," Haldir said. "I will endure anything for him." Then he left, his heart pounding in his chest.
When he entered Legolas's talan, it was to find the fading prince sitting limply in the corner on the floor. Like a broken doll he appeared, beautiful and damaged at once. He stared into an empty space before him as if in a trance, the tears frozen upon his cheeks, and he moved not to look at Haldir until he was a foot away from him. The haunted eyes lingered on him, and Haldir thought the eyes now appeared more grey than before.
"Well met, beloved," Haldir said. "I apologize for not coming sooner. I was insisted to return to my station, as I had told you, but I feel I am needed here more and to be with thee."
Legolas spoke not, yet his eyes told Haldir everything. Haldir's resolve finally broke, and he ran to Legolas. His arms wrapped around the prince and he hoisted him up, and kisses he showered over Legolas's face. The sudden contact triggered another attack, and Legolas thrashed against Haldir and screamed.
"Please, beloved! It is I, Haldir," he said. "I am not Glorfindel. I will not hurt you. Please, Legolas!"
He settled Legolas on the bed, and instantly he placed a hand upon Legolas's brow, and he sent a prayer to the Valar to calm Legolas's heart. He endured the agonized words that poured from Legolas's mouth, and his breaking heart he ignored for the sake of helping Legolas. In time his panic subdued, and Legolas lay limp on his bed. Thus the night passed in this manner. Haldir watched Legolas for the entire night, never falling into reverie himself. And just as Anar broke over the horizon, Haldir noticed that the tray of food set for Legolas the night before was still untouched.
After that seldom did Haldir let a day go by without spending it near Legolas. And though he was glad for this Legolas also wished Haldir did not see him in his current state. Each time his eyes met with Haldir's, full of love profound and infinite, the sense of his own filth choked Legolas. They will never wed under this situation. He had failed Haldir; he had shamed him, and it bewildered him that Haldir still gazed upon him with much respect and love. But he wished it would end, the calling from his heart to wed Haldir, for it remained still, though it felt no longer like a song beautiful and glad but that of a devastated broken cry.
More terrible still was the life within him, who each night Legolas pondered how he could kill the child, to save himself from the fear and the shame of revealing the news to Haldir.
But in the night, he was thankful for Haldir's company, who sat beside him as comfort. Yet even under his loving eyes, Legolas would see the demon staring at him from beneath the table. Many times he thought to tell Haldir, hoping he would be able to see him. But the hope was gone when Haldir made no inclination of seeing the demon even as it crawled close enough to the bed to sneer at Legolas, close enough for the prince to trace with his eyes the details of the demon's burned face.
The helplessness of his situation seeped into his every pore, poisoning him. Just a fortnight after his friends left to find the hobbits, Legolas no longer could get up from bed, and he refused to eat. But Haldir had no mercy on him. He forced each spoon into Legolas's mouth, begging him to fight the illness. And though Legolas despised him for not allowing him the chance to will his own death, also he was glad for it.
The nights were the most worrisome for Haldir, for it seemed to be the time when Legolas's illness peaked. He was there on the first night when Legolas was found screaming about the demons. Haldir knew not whether to believe Legolas's tale. Never had there been such heinous creatures found in Lothlórien, not during Lady Galadriel's rule of the land. Though there was Gollum, he did not go deep in the city.
Yet Haldir was hesitant to declare Legolas's claims as mere talk of madness. He could not deny the look of terror on Legolas's face brought fear in his own heart. He would watch, silently, as Legolas's eyes roamed slowly over the room. One night his head was turned as if someone was speaking to him on the other side of the bed, and his breathing was quick and shallow as if he was anticipating an unwanted touch. Haldir in that moment rested his hands on Legolas's shoulder and he gently laid him back on his bed.
Another time Legolas's gaze traced over the walls as if something crawled on them, and Haldir heard the frantic whispers, "Two! There are now two!" And with his heart pounding, Haldir gripped his sword and searched around, seeking for the precise place where Legolas's gaze had been, hoping to find the thing that brought his beloved much terror. He was willing to destroy whatever frightened Legolas, to chase away the demons, but each time he saw nothing, though few times he was staring right into the eyes of the demon without knowing.
No matter whether he himself saw them, Haldir worried for Legolas's stay in the talan, and he waited for Legolas to gain back enough strength before he settled on an idea.
"Legolas, how do you fare this evening?"
Slowly Legolas turned to Haldir, and he wondered - and not for the first time - if the other elf could see the demonic corpse that leered at them from across the room. Legolas's eyes welled with the tears and he glanced away. No matter how many times he attempted to make Haldir understand what he was seeing, it was always met with Haldir concluding it was by his own mind. And a part of Legolas hated Haldir for it, but that hatred was also mingled with love and grief. He wished he would not be alone in being able to see the terrifying monsters.
As Haldir took Legolas by the hand, he noted the clamminess of the skin. Gingerly he stepped closer, allowing himself to embrace the tearful prince. Legolas did not object to the embrace, but he also did not return it.
"You are so very cold, my love," Haldir said. "Is there anything you need? Another robe perhaps? Do you hunger? Would you like me to make for you anything?"
When Legolas did not respond, Haldir spoke again. "Why do you not speak with me? Have I offended thee? If my presence is no longer welcome, then tell me so and I shall leave you at peace."
"I desire nothing," Legolas croaked out. "Please, stay." His eyes glazed around the room once more, obsessively drawing out all around him each angle as if in search for something.
Haldir frowned, wishing Legolas had not this fear. He had worked long and hard to bring Legolas from the fringes of utter ruin. Legolas had grown strong enough to walk, if with a bit of difficulty. But he was not fully healed. He still cried about the demons at night. Also Haldir sensed a change had taken place inside Legolas. Haldir could not place it, but he sensed something was slowly poisoning his beloved even now, weeks since Legolas was rescued from the cave where Glorfindel committed his despicable acts.
Haldir came out of his contemplation, and he noted that Legolas was still turning his head this every direction, checking for signs of a threat. The sight unsettled and grieved Haldir.
"I believe I know precisely what it is you need right now," Haldir said, and he hoped his voice was full of enough merriment to draw Legolas's interest. "Come with me. I have a special surprise to show you. I remember it was something you wished to see when you had first visited."
When Legolas did not respond, Haldir gave a small sigh. He searched for an outer robe to wrap Legolas in, then taking his hand and kissing his brow, he led Legolas out of the talan.
Haldir could sense the resistance from Legolas, who hated more than anything being seen by the other elves. Yet Legolas followed him, his back and his shoulders hunched. A defeated image he portrayed, and for a moment Haldir considered being tough on Legolas, shaking him and commanding him to walk with his head high like the prince he was. But Haldir held his tongue, instead choosing kindness and mercy to steer Legolas away from any wandering eye. They slipped through the trees, far away from the main village.
In silence they walked through the forest, the rustling of the leaves their only company. There was a strange comfort in this, Haldir thought, for the forest offered them a chance to clear their mind and rest in solace. However, the darker the night grew, the worst Legolas became. He could no longer follow Haldir as the building of alarm quickly consumed him. He froze and toppled to the ground, his body shattered with the screams and terror ripping inside him. Haldir kneeled next to him, offering a hand or just his presence for support.
When the attack subsided, Haldir helped Legolas back on his feet, but the attacks returned twice more during their walk, and twice more Haldir stopped and allowed Legolas to go through his experience.
"I am sorry. Forgive me," Legolas said after Haldir helped him up for the third time that evening.
"It is nothing to be ashamed of," Haldir said. He stroked Legolas's hair, rubbing his cheek against the top of Legolas's head. The closeness was something he needed, Legolas realized, and he melted into the embrace.
"It is easier to suffer here than in the talan," Legolas said. "No one could hear me save for you. No one is watching either. It is safe here."
The pain returned to Haldir as the realization hit him: Legolas was looking for the demons even outside of the talan.
"There is nothing out here tonight that will ever hurt you," Haldir said. He could not stop himself from kissing Legolas again, wishing deeply that his kisses could take away Legolas's pain. "There is only beauty tonight, and that I must show you."
He took him to a small glade often used for picnics among the families of Lothlórien. There were none there tonight, and surrounding them were countless of flowers blossoming. Their beauty was unlike anything ever to be seen in Middle-earth, for the kinds were that only ever found in Valinor in Lórien. The sight was breath-taking, and Haldir thought, also romantic. The flowers seemed alive this night, gleaming in vivid silvers, violets, reds, and golds.
There was no need for candlelight to be lit here, for the flowers themselves offered light. The sight was too glorious to invite any fear or demons, and yet Legolas sat without a word or show of emotion.
"What is this place?" he asked simply as he stared at a silvery flower.
"I wanted to take you to the place where my parents always brought me when the flowers were all blossoming," Haldir said. "It was long before Orophin was born. This place always mesmerized me. Even back then, I found it the place I would bring the one I love to share this moment, as I am doing right now.
"You had told me, countlessly before, how much your heart desired to see Lothlórien when it was not in winter. We are at the first dawns of spring. You get to see my home as it is when the leaves have not turned to gold. In all my travels in this world, I have scarcely ever found a place more beautiful than here during this time of the year."
"This is my gift to you. I wish for thee to be with me here tonight."
Legolas was still throughout Haldir's confession. He sat cross-legged and his eyes bloodshot from the tears. But he spoke none to Haldir.
"There is no beauty here," Legolas said at last. His voice was flat and laced with bitterness.
Haldir felt a cold stab through his heart, but when he looked up, he met Legolas's wide eyes. Legolas wiped away at the tears, which did not cease.
"I see no beauty!" he said again. "Where have you taken me? There is only death here. I cannot look upon anything without feeling their mortality! Seeing their death! Even Lady Galadriel I see her spirit dim! They will wither and disappear from this world, but ever is their fate better than mine! I must be chained to this dying world and feel every pulse of her still, yet I must bear to have my heart still beat when deep inside I have long withered and ceased!"
"Legolas, speak not these words!"
Haldir reached out for him, collecting Legolas into his arms. The elf cried fretfully in his protective arms, his shoulders quivering with the agony. And Haldir grieved. He had hoped the sight of sheer beauty would awaken the life and joy inside Legolas's heart, but now he felt foolish for ever thinking it would heal him.
"It was a mistake bringing you here," Haldir said. "Forgive me, Legolas."
"It is no mistake," spoke a third voice. Haldir turned to Lord Elrond, who had just stepped into the glade.
"My lord," Haldir bowed as much as he could while still supporting Legolas.
"Haldir, well met," Lord Elrond said. "Lady Galadriel said I would most likely find you two here, for of course she has seen you take Legolas into these woods.
"Legolas's body is fighting with all he had endured. He will not see beauty no matter their greatness at this point. It was the same with Lady Celebrían. I tried all I could to spark joy in her heart, but none could save her. I had to let her go in the end."
"Is this the fate Legolas must face?"
"He should have died long before now, had this been a simple case," Lord Elrond said. "With the curse put on him, we know nothing of what to expect. But it is clear to us that his mind could break while in this fragile state.
"Haldir, I ask that when the time comes, and it is soon, for you to let go of Legolas. His needs can be given elsewhere at this point. I must take him with me to Imladris to heal him. And the sooner we depart, the better it will be for him."
Though Haldir could not bear the thought of giving Legolas away, he gave a nod for he knew Lord Elrond to be wise in his words.
"You will not be separated from him for long. Lady Galadriel wishes to speak with you before you may join us."
"Yes, certainly," Haldir said as he felt his heart sink.
Back to the talan they made their way, with hearts heavier than before. It was hard to discern how Legolas felt from this news, for he rarely showed any reaction. It grieved everyone to think that Legolas had accepted his illness, and most of all Haldir. His own heart was crushing at the thought of having to let go of his beloved, even if it be a day or a week or a month.
Lady Galadriel joined them just moments after they reached the talan. Haldir knew not whether he should remain as the Lady of Light spoke with Lord Elrond, but as neither excused him to leave, he remained standing against the wall. He figured Legolas might need his presence for this little bit longer. Legolas sat on the bed and watched the two leaders deep in their discussion, his head tilted to the side as if he was held by but a string. He turned his head towards Haldir, and a stabbing pain shot through him as he peered into the empty, haunted pools that were Legolas's eyes.
Legolas was moved to lie on his back atop his bed, and Lady Galadriel examined him. It was with such care that she pressed on various points of his body, yet Legolas seemed to slowly shatter more under their gentle probing. When she pressed against his abdomen, a few tears escaped Legolas, and he turned his head away from Haldir and Elrond.
"Is he in pain?" Haldir wondered. "What injury does he hold in his stomach?"
"This too will heal." Lady Galadriel's voice hung in the air long after she spoke the words, her fingers brushing against the small scar on Legolas's lower abdomen. Legolas stared into her eyes for a long while as though to seek an answer silently, but he turned his head away again, wishing to hide himself from all the eyes that were upon him in that moment.
After their examination was completed they spoke of the arrangements, all while Haldir was still ignored. He took the time to study Legolas's face, watching where he eyes went and wondering whether the demons had returned to torment him. But if he was seeing anything, Legolas showed no sign. After his last contact with Lady Galadriel he had fallen into a state of deep reverie, it seemed, and he gave no heed to any words that anyone else spoke. But when Lady Galadriel and Lord Elrond had left, and Haldir made to follow them, he caught Legolas's pleading eyes.
"Will you stay beside me tonight?" he asked softly.
"Of course," Haldir said.
The day of Legolas's departure had arrived. Lady Galadriel had spoken with him privately of his duties, which he accepted. She was not angered by his rash behavior in the recent past, and as Rúmil had hoped, she allowed him to leave his duties as guard to remain with Legolas.
But even with the knowledge that they would be together again, Haldir was finding it nearly impossible to let Legolas go. So vulnerable Legolas was, and so determined Haldir was to keep him under his wing and not let go. But in the end, he led Legolas to the carriage where Lord Elrond awaited them. Throughout their walk Legolas spoke not a word. It had become normal for him to remain silent, at times sending Haldir a notion that perhaps his presence was unwelcome. But Legolas's request for Haldir to stay near him would always come, and Haldir always accepted, though often their moments together were filled with silence, or at times, Legolas's tears, which he sought to hide away from Haldir, was the only sound Haldir would hear during their time together.
"Good morning," Lord Elrond said. He nodded to Legolas. "Are you ready to depart from Lothlórien, Legolas?"
Legolas looked up to meet Elrond's eyes, and his own were filled with tears. "Would I going to Mirkwood instead," he said. "I cannot bear to be here without my family."
The kind smile Lord Elrond wore faltered for but a moment. "I understand your grief of not being with your family right now, my child, but do not worry. You will be among those who love you. You must heal under my care before your father can see you again."
"Will you tell him of all that has befallen me?" Legolas asked.
Lord Elrond hesitated before speaking. "He does not know and perhaps will not for a time. I do not think it wise to break him such news while he is far from you. He fought long over his grief over his wife's death. I fear the news of your illness could be what ends his life."
"So you would let him live in blind bliss that I am well and helping to restore Middle-earth from the evils of this world?"
"That is not our intent."
"But my home is closer to here than Imladris. Why take me back past Moria and the mountains? Bring me back to my family so I may bury myself back in my rooms as I had done after my mother's death. You can treat me there. You are no stranger to my land."
His voice shook from the crying, but Legolas no longer felt shame. He let his tears roll and his body tremble. A large warm hand sought his as another, a different hand, settled on his shoulder.
"Were it in my power, I would take you there," Lord Elrond said. "But the road to your home is very dangerous at this time. As we speak Dol Guldur grows more turbulent. I wish not to risk your life, for you have gone through enough perils already. The road to Imladris, though also not free of its own dangers, teems less with the filth we would find were we to go east. I will protect you there. You need to come lest your grief destroys your body."
After Elrond left them to offer some private time between them, Haldir whispered in Legolas's ear. "I will send your King a letter of your condition. I will not reveal all, but just the information you wish me to reveal to him."
Legolas looked for Lord Elrond, then seeing that the elf lord was not watching him, he pulled out a folded parchment and pushed it against Haldir's hand. Haldir took it quickly and pocketed it.
"I want him to know I am with Elrond, and my wounds are to be healed," Legolas said. "You may read it if you wish. If you give this to him, tell him I apologize for my failure."
"It is no failure, Legolas!"
But Legolas turned and followed Lord Elrond to the open carriage. It was of simple built yet in the eyes of Men it appeared as a magnificent throne for kings, for it was wrought in silver and gold. By the hands of Lothlórien's greatest smiths it was crafted, and meant for Legolas's journey back to Rivendell.
"It will not be long before I join you," Haldir said after Legolas was seated. "You will find me near you for so long you will sicken of me." He watched for the smile that never came. Then unable to stop himself, he reached out for Legolas's hand. "Please, my beloved. Hold on to this life. There is far more beauty in this world than you will imagine. I will not be long, I promise you."
Legolas turned to him slowly, and with his free arm he wrapped it over his abdomen. "Some beauties are a curse."
"Do not say that, I urge you," Haldir said, and studying Legolas's other arm, he wondered again of the injury to his stomach. "I brought you a gift."
Still keeping one hand over Legolas's, Haldir produced a flower from his pouch. He placed it on Legolas's lap. "This I brought from the glade I had taken you to a few nights ago. Take this to remember me, please."
Even when cut the flower seemed to give its own light. Like an intricate object made by hands of great elven smiths it appeared, but no expression was shown on Legolas's face as he studied it.
"It will die soon," he said.
"Then I pray it will take away your pain with it," Haldir said. "I will not tell you farewell for I expect to see you very soon. Please hold your chin up. Your pain will soon end."
Lord Elrond was already settled beside Legolas, and he bade Haldir a goodbye until their next meeting. Then with a command to the horses they were off. Haldir felt Legolas's hand tense, then suddenly Legolas was grabbing Haldir's hand as if to mean not to let him go. But in a few moments his hand slipped away, pulled away from Haldir by the carriages. Haldir caught Legolas staring at him for a moment before his head turned in the direction of Mirkwood. To that place he kept his gaze till he was out of Haldir's sight.
Alone in the glade, Haldir stepped back till he was against a tree, and silently he let his tears fall.
His affairs Haldir was certain to be done with as soon as he could. He spoke with Orophin and Rúmil, and to them he passed his duties as captain of the guards in the northern borders.
Before he left, he read over the letter Legolas wrote to his father the King Thranduil. Haldir was uncertain how to proceed, or indeed how Thranduil would react to a such a letter. Little did Legolas write in it, but even Haldir thought the letter spoke of many things that none had yet knowledge of, and this concerned him.
I was wounded while in the service for Lord Elrond. I am under his care, and my wounds are not fatal. I will tell you more upon my return. Forgive me of what I may bring to you.
Haldir debated whether he should send the note, uncertain if this indeed was an appropriate note to send to the king. Were he King Thranduil, he would have left immediately at news of his son's perilous injury.
At the very last moment, Haldir took the note with him and sought one of the younger guards of the northern borders.
"This note must be given to King Thranduil," Haldir said. "Tell him nothing more of what had happened, but assure him, if he inquires, that he is healing and doing well."
The guard nodded. He placed the note in the pouch of his carry-bag, and off he went.
"Perhaps I should have gone instead," Haldir thought. "But the road to King Thranduil's halls would take many days, perhaps longer with the growing danger, and I promised to join with Lord Elrond and Legolas as soon as I could, and several days have already passed." Thus he prepared for his journey and left, bidding a goodbye to his parents and to his brothers last before mounting his steed; giving the command, he rushed off.
To King Thranduil the note was never received. The guard had journeyed well, and though young in years he knew to pick a path free of the danger that plagued the other roads. But the path provided an illusion of safety, and as he passed by a thicket of trees, he caught sight of a mane of golden hair before he was mauled to death.
His fingers still covered with fresh blood, Glorfindel kneeled beside the fallen elf. And in his hands he read, and reread over obsessively, the note Legolas wrote to his father. With the blood on his fingers he smeared across Legolas's name.
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.