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Walk Beside Me by cheekybeak

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Story notes:
Something different.
Written in the first person: All Elladan.

This is set shortly after Walls of Glass and will probably make most sense if read after that and The Coronation, ( which I haven't even finished yet I know. My Bad.)

I think it will stand alone as well though.

The title is taken from a quote usually attributed to Albert Camus.
"Walk beside me and be my friend." Something my Legolas and Elladan could do with learning.
Chapter notes:
I know my stories are a mess of different styles, some funny, some serious. Here is another one. First person. What can I say, I like to experiment. All the same characters though.

I often cannot understand my sister.
Perhaps that is simply the way of it, Brothers and Sisters are just not designed to know the internal workings of each other's minds. Perhaps the fact I can decipher my own Brother from the inside out as if he was myself has spoiled forever my relationship with my other sibling for we could never attain such closeness and any attempt would be doomed to fail. She remains a mystery to me, an enigma. At times like these especially.

She has called me to the Woodelf's chambers, and for the life of me I cannot think why. He is not here and for that I am grateful, one less occasion of discomfort for me to manoeuvre my way through. The less we are together the better for all those close to us as well as ourselves. It was a relief to find him absent on our arrival. Why my sister would think it necessary for me to meet her at his rooms I cannot imagine.

It does not take me long to find out and the discovery is not a pleasant one.

The living quarters of his rooms are empty when I arrive, she is not there but I can hear her voice from beyond the door and move through into the bedchamber.
They are together. He sits on the bed and leans forward into her arms, their foreheads touch as she whispers to him, of what I cannot tell, too soft is her voice for me to catch her words, a murmur only. It is an intimate display and one which stirs my anger immediately. Must he destroy us all? Can he leave none of us alone? What would my brother do if he discovered them here? Either of my brothers for that matter. Thank Elbereth they are miles away.

Arwen senses my presence before I can speak and draws away but makes no apology. Legolas, I notice does not move, does not acknowledge my arrival but sits as he was, head down. He ignores me. Such a response is not unusual, manners are not his strong point.

"We have need of you Elladan." my sister says as if my discovering them here is entirely to be expected. "Legolas has recieved an injury. He needs a healer." Her voice is soft and gentle and folds itself with love around his name.

"I did not know he was expected here." I on the otherhand sound rude and discourteous and I see her flinch at my tone. What of it? I think to myself. She should not be here, not with him.

"He was not." She replies she leans towards him once again and places her hand gently on top of the bowed head of golden hair. "But I am pleased he has found us. Will you help please Elladan." It is not a question but a demand.

Legolas says nothing. There is no response from him.

If he will not speak to me then I resolve that I will not speak to him either. It is probably for the best. What I have to say would not be pleasant.

I move to her side and I hope she can sense my disapproval, my churning anger. I make no attempt to hide it.
"What is wrong?" I keep my eyes determinedly away from her and sweep a healers gaze across the elf in front of me. It is easy to spot the area of concern. His posture gives him away.
"The shoulder then." I say and reach out to touch it, gently I peel the shirt away from bloodied bandages. I may be angry, I tell myself, but I am a healer. I will not cause unnecessary pain. I am better than that.
Still he does not reply, does not acknowledge me and it rankles. It is I who have caught him here in such an uncompromising position. He should be pleading with me, apologising at the very least.

The wound itself when I have laid it bare surprises me for his shoulder is a torn and ragged mess, infection burns within it, I do not have to guess to know that. It has been neglected and now that I am close I can feel the unnatural heat of fever radiating from his skin.
"What has caused this?" I exclaim before I can catch the words and hold them back.

It is the first word he has uttered. His voice is low and I must strain to catch it.

"There have been no wargs here for many years!" I know I sound accusatory and I don't know why for it is obvious now that he has said it that this damage has been caused by those fetid jaws.

"I did not receive it here." He makes no attempt to elaborate and finally I must look to my sister for an explanation.

"Legolas has come from Imladris."

"Imladris? We did not expect you there. You did not let Elrohir know." Did he deliberately try to make me look a fool?

"It was .............unexpected." He sighed. He sounded defeated. It was most unlike him and when he said nothing more I turn to Arwen once again.

She cradled his head to her chest as if she wished to prevent him hearing what it was she was about to tell me. Her voice when she spoke, little more than a whisper.

"Thranduil has sailed. Legolas has been to the Havens."

"Thranduil has sailed?" I repeat her words as if their meaning is lost to me. "We knew nothing of this." I say in my defence for why had we not been there my brother and I? We should have been there.

When I turn back see to Legolas, leaning into my sisters embrace I am horrified. It is as if scales have finally been prised from my eyes. What I had thought was arrogance and rudeness is now exhaustion and despair. What was insolence is now anguish. Why had I not seen this? I am a healer! Why had I been so quick to succumb to my prejudice? I am wretched and yet the anger is still there. Always, always he makes me less than I am.

For the first time he raises his head to look at me.
"They are all gone. The forest is people...." His voice cracks, disintegrates under the hopelessness that weighs upon him.
"I looked for you at Imladris........when I did not find you......I hoped Elrohir would be here."

"He is in Dol Amroth, he and Estel." My sister says, "If he had known....if we had known they would not have gone. If we had known, Estel would have done this with you Legolas."

Legolas retreats to his silence, withdraws from the use of words. The emptiness that follows is awkward. I am ashamed of my error of judgement, I have wronged him. I concentrate instead on the wound, it will be a big job to clean this and not a pleasant one. He knows this and as I begin I see his glance flit towards Arwen. A rare moment of understanding dawns on me. He does not want her here, does not want her to see this, to see him if he falters. I decide I will protect him and it is an unusual feeling but I owe him this much.

"I do not need help Arwen, this is a job best done alone. Perhaps food will be welcome when I am done?" It is pointed and clear. I am dismissing her and she does not like it but she goes nonetheless. I work with speed and care. Pain is inevitable but I will not inflict it needlessly. Legolas is stoic as he always is. I have always admired his strength of will though I have never admitted it. In the end though the pain defeats him.

"Please Elladan," he gasps "Is there something? Can I have something? It is too much."
He is grey, sweat beads upon his brow. I have pushed him too far and I am ashamed. I know what it has cost him to ask me this. Why did I not offer something sooner? I had doubted he would accept it but still the offer should have been made. Why does he make me do this? What kind of healer am I?

"Of course." I say for what else can I do but rectify my mistake as quickly as possible. "Something for the pain or I can make you sleep?" I do not think for a second that will be an acceptable option but he surprises me yet again.

"That would be welcome."

I look at him closely as I prepare it. He is weary beyond endurance.
"When did you last sleep?" It is so much easier to deal with him when I am professional, all business, a healer. He answers me with a shrug.

"I forget."

Days then at least.

Once he is sleeping the work is easier, quicker but even then he stirs and moans. I have not protected him from the worst of it but at least now I have tried my best. Too little to late. My Father would not be proud of me tonight.

When my sister returns he is sleeping and I am next door, at his desk bent over the letter I struggle to write. She looks at me questioningly.

"He is sleeping." I answer her unasked question.

"And what is your verdict? How is he?" She asks.

"He will heal. It is more his despair which worries me. He should not have gone to the Havens. It is the last place he should be. What was Thranduil thinking?!"

"I doubt he gave him any option." She says matter of factly and she is most likely right. Legolas is his own master. Even his Father cannot rule him effectively.

She curls up on the stool beside me. It reminds me of when we were children and she came to watch me complete my studies. She used to seek out my company often then.

"What are you writing?"

"I write to Elrohir calling him back. He needs to be here."

"And Estel." She adds, it is always Estel with her. The centre of her universe.

"I do not understand why he did not tell him. Why Arwen? Estel will be hurt, so hurt by this. Why does he do this?"

"They are still estranged." She says, " You know this. Things are not easy between them. Legolas......he cannot forgive himself." Then she smiles quietly to herself, "and he is always full of secrets. You do not know him Elladan. Legolas keeps things close. So many secrets."

She does not know that I am one of them.

Then I wonder, is she one as well? The closeness between them when I found them nags at me and lays a poison in my mind.

"He is broken and needed comfort. That is all you saw." She snaps, her voice is hard and bitter and it does not suit her.

"Stay out of my head!" I frown at her, "I have told you that before. My thoughts are mine alone! Ask permission before you steal them."

"I am not in your head Elladan. I do not need to be to see what you are thinking."

"You are too close to him! It is not right."

"I am his friend and that is all. He has more honour than you know. He would never allow us to be more than that. Nor do I want it now."

"If you think that you are a fool!" Shame floods through me. Why do I say these things? What is about him that drives me to it? She withdraws from me and in the end it is I who gives in, who apologises. The ache at her loss drives me to it.

"I am tired, forgive me. That wound was difficult to treat. I caused him pain. I am sorry, if only Father was here, he would have done things better." I say and I mean the apology completely, for now.

She puts her arms around me and immediately I feel at ease. She is talented my sister, at caring for others.

"Silly," she says, "You are the best there is. Do not doubt yourself. He is lucky you are here."

For anyone else she would be right. For anyone else I am the best there is.
For Legolas?

Not for him.

For Legolas I am a failure.

And I know it.