The scene that meets me when I reach Legolas is horrific.
I am a seasoned warrior. I have seen death in all its guises, but this—this is soul destroying.
Taenor is dead. There is no denying it; there is no saving him. He stares at the sky, eyes wide, and he is not there. They are empty, his face chalk white. And the blood, oh the blood, a river of it flows from him. It is as if every drop he had is laid out on the ground before me.
Legolas is covered in it. .
He holds his hand to the wound in Taenor's throat, a desperate, futile, attempt to stem the blood which still seeps around his fingers, even now that Taenor is gone. I drop to my knees beside him and I know, I know instantly because I know him almost as well as I do myself—at least I used to—that all is not well with him.
"Legolas, let go," I say gently, as I put my hand over his. "It is too late."
But he will not and I must release his grip myself, one finger at a time. He does not speak; he does not move; he does not see me--his eyes are blank and he has fled from us.
"How bad is it?"
It is Erynion, so long have I known him.
He has been with me through all the tragedies in my life, and he is here again in this. My closest friend, and Legolas', he kneels beside me. It is not Taenor he asks after, for a child could see from across the glade how bad that is. No, he asks for Legolas.
Erynion and I have seen this before, this numb and frozen Legolas. His thoughts will mirror mine. As I shake my head, he will know what I mean. He Was there too that day; we did not know what to do then and I am no wiser now.
That horrible day rises up to flood my mind as clearly as if I was still there. I never think of it; why does it accost me now?
We were so young then--all of us--barely warriors, and Legolas, only a novice on his first trip south. Erynion and I had been before, once, perhaps twice. This was our first time with the Prince. Not with Legolas but the Crown Prince, Laerion, loved by all, especially his brother.
Legolas was as flighty then as he can be now when he is happy. He was light and joy; it would make your heart sing just to see him. A fine warrior with promise but distractible and impossible to cage. He had been held back because of it, and because the King could not bear the thought of his youngest—so full of light, so untainted by the dark—venturing south. Legolas argued, pleaded and, in the end, sulked, before the King would change his mind.
Laerion was as bad as Thranduil. He would not trust his wild, erratic brother to any other commander, not in the south. He argued long and aggressively with the King, who had grave misgivings of his sons traveling in the same patrol. They should not be in the darkest places of our lands together.
But the King could refuse Laerion nothing, and in the end he relented. Just this once—for Legolas' first patrol—Laerion could take command. He was clear it would never happen again—and it never did.
And all went well at first, but we did not anticipate Legolas' connection to the trees. It was always special. They cried to him, he said to me one night as we walked amongst them; he could feel their pain, see their tears at the darkness that enfolded them. I should have told someone. I should have gone to Laerion and we could have pulled him back, removed him from the south until he had been trained to ignore them... I was young and foolish; I did not realise the danger this posed and nor did he, so I said nothing.
It was a simple mistake, a moment of inattention in battle. As the trees wailed, he listened and lost his focus.
It cost him his brother.
For Laerion had his eyes on Legolas, and when he saw him stumble, stepped in front. He loved his small brother like no other and would never let him fall. The arrow meant for Legolas struck Laerion’s heart instead, and he was gone. One moment our bright, shining leader, the next dead on the forest floor.
Our Golden Prince.
It took three men to remove Legolas from his brother ‘s body. He cried and screamed and would not let him go. He was a broken child.
But when they had done so—when the brothers were finally separated—then Legolas disappeared. He was there but he was not, curled in a ball; he acknowledged no one. He would not talk, would not eat, would not move. He walked paths in his mind we could not reach.
And so we returned to the palace —one prince dead, the other lost to us. I will never forget my King ‘s face that day. He blamed himself and he still does.
They took Legolas into the palace and the healers, and we did not see him for months. The rumors were that the Queen was the only one who could reach him. He did return, eventually, to our unit, to fight again but he was quiet and still, withdraw and solemn. Many years did it take for the Legolas of light to show himself again. We do not speak of it, him and I, but now I wish we had, for how will I ever find him now?
"Take Taenor," I say to Erynion. "I will tend to Legolas."
I know that some of this blood at least must be my beloved; I saw him take the blow.
He does nothing as I care for him. He is an empty shell. I know I cause him pain but he does not flinch. He does not respond to my touch or my voice as I stroke the hair from his face and whisper my love. I tell him it is all right but I know it is not.
The wound is deep and nasty; I am sure there is poison for it bleeds more than I would like, and takes me far too long to get some control. Legolas is silent as I pull him to his feet; silent as I lead him to the horse which will carry us home. It is only when we ride, with the wind in my face and Legolas slumped against me, his head lolling back on my shoulder, that I cry. Nobody can see, nobody will know, and the tears—for Taenor, for Laerion, for Legolas—fall. I cannot stop them.
They take him from me the instant we arrive. They are so possessive, the healers, with the ones we love. They clutch them to their chests and shut us out so we must wait, pacing the halls until they deign to give us news.
I will not pace. I will not sit and wait as if I am their pawn.
Instead, I go with Erynion to speak with Taenor's family. It is a hard job and one I hate every time I must do it, but I do it for Legolas; we both do—Erynion as his second and I as his lover, for Legolas and I are a pair, and as much as there is discord between us now, our people still see us united. They expect this from me and I will not let him down. Neither of us talk of Legolas and the worry that is on our minds until we are done.
It is as we make our way to the halls, miserable and depressed, that Erynion brings it up.
"He is as he was before."
He does not need to explain. I know what he means.
"What shall we do?"
"I don't know!" I react with anger, for I am tired. “Why do you ask me this? I do not know the workings of his mind!"
"You know them better than the rest of us."
"I used to, maybe, but not any more. Not for a long time."
He tries again—Erynion is nothing if not stubborn and determined.
"I think we should call for Elessar."
I turn on him in astonishment.
"What? Why? Why do you say that? What business is this of his?"
"They are close. He is a great healer. You know this, taught by Lord Elrond himself."
I will not listen to this. I cannot believe he even contemplates it.
"Does he know anything of Laerion? Of what Legolas was like then? I do not think so. He may have been taught by the Noldor, but he is still a Man. You would betray Legolas by telling his secrets without permission?"
"Well, he can hardly give permission himself! Perhaps they have discussed it."
I roll my eyes for that suggestion is ridiculous.
"He has never discussed it with me, yet you think he will have spoken about it to a Man?"
"Maewen, it is no reflection on you if he has. Sometimes it is easier to talk to those who are...not so close."
I am heartsick and weary and I cannot hear more of this. I turn my back to him and stride away.
"No!" I shout back over my shoulder. "You will not do this."
But I do not for a minute think it is the last I will hear of it.
I head to Legolas' rooms. Surely the healers will be finished by now. I am furious, my stomach churning, and it is possibly not the best time to visit, but I need to see him, however he may be.
I yearn for it.
Perhaps he will be awake and himself again; perhaps it was an aberration, this stillness, caused by the poison and they will have cured him of it already.
I do not even believe it myself.
Of course he is not, for that would be too easy, and my life is never easy. .
They let me in, reluctantly I think. He is asleep, but it is not a natural sleep for his eyes are closed. They must have given him something. I wonder why when he was so already so passive anyway.
I look to the healer for answers.
"How is he?" I look to towards the pale still figure on the bed.
"The wound is survivable. There is poison which will hold him back, and he has lost much blood, but he will recover."
I had never thought he would not. It is not the wound that worries me.
"And the rest?"
I do not need to elaborate—the healer knows what it is I mean.
"Perhaps it is shock. I understand Taenor's death was traumatic."
He annoys me—why do they beat about the bush? Why do they always avoid the truth? In the end it achieves nothing.
"You know and I know that it is more than that."
He sighs and gives up.
"In truth, we do not know how long it will last, or how to reach him. If he is no better when he wakes I will call our King to come. Of all who are left here, it will be him who can most likely reach Legolas."
I do not know why that disappoints me. It is only what I had expected to hear.
So I sit beside him and I do what I can—I watch him as he sleeps and stroke his hair; I tell him I love him for I do, and my heart aches with the pain of being helpless. It should be I who can help him. They should call on me
But although I love him I no longer understand him and my love is not enough. I think back to the days when we did not spend our time in arguments. When he did not leave me behind to be with mortals who will only hurt him anyway. When he would tell me anything and I, him.
He was the sun around which my life circled. He still is.
But life has changed us.
It seems so long ago now, and I wonder if we will ever get it back.
The Darkness in Your Heart by cheekybeak