Memory of Darkness

Chapter 7: Dawn

by Jay of Lasgalen

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Elrohir awoke slowly, coming back to awareness gradually.  He blinked sleepily, and gave a soft sigh as he stretched, still drowsy and half asleep.  The sudden sharp ache in his shoulder brought him fully awake, and he opened his eyes to near darkness. 

It was still night, and pale moonlight illuminated the room faintly.  Pushing himself upright, he looked around, and saw Elladan, laying with his back to him, asleep on the other side of the room.  The pain in his shoulder had now eased to a dull throb, and he adjusted the sling which had been placed to support his arm.   Clearly his father had displayed his usual magical touch in healing his shoulder, and he was grateful for the cessation of the stabbing pain which had been the last thing he remembered.  However, his father’s enthusiastic use of peles had, as usual, left him with a slight headache, and a foul taste in his mouth. 

Elrohir knew that a drink of cold water, and a little more splashed on his face would probably cure his ills, so he pushed the covers back and as quietly as possible, not wanting to disturb Elladan, slid from the bed.  He felt a little unsteady, but put it down to the after-effects of the peles.  He stood still for a moment, his free hand resting on a chair back, then padded across to the bathing room.  Before he had got halfway across the room he suddenly stumbled, and even as he tried to regain his balance, his legs completely gave way beneath him.  He fell, ending up half-kneeling, half-sitting, in an undignified heap on the floor, and gave a gasp of pain as the impact jarred his shoulder.

Behind him, he heard a muttered complaint as the noise woke Elladan, then his brother shot out of bed.  “El!  What’s the matter?  What are you doing out of bed?”  Elladan knelt anxiously at his side.  “Are you all right?  What happened?” he asked.

Elrohir nodded.  “I’m fine,” he said, a little bewildered.  He tried to stand, but found his legs would not respond.  In an attempt to ignore his sudden fear, he continued,  “I just – fell.  I don’t know why.” 

“I do,”  Elladan told him cheerfully.  “Come on; let’s get you back to bed.”  Pulling on Elrohir’s uninjured arm, he hauled his brother to his feet and helped him the few steps towards the bed, steadying him as one leg buckled, and he nearly collapsed again.

Elrohir, back on the bed, regarded his twin suspiciously.  “What do you mean, you know why?” he asked warily.  “What’s wrong?  El, I can’t walk properly!”

“It’s just the medicines father gave you,”  Elladan explained quickly.  “As well as the peles, there was one that relaxed your muscles, to make it easier for him to fix your shoulder.  He said you’d fall over if you tried to stand!  He made me promise to make you stay in bed, but I don’t think he expected you to wake up just yet.”

Elrohir relaxed at the straightforward explanation.  “Well, I wish he’d told me that!” he complained.  “I was only going to get a drink.  The peles has given me a headache.”

“It always does.  Let me get you some water.  Stay there!”  Elladan ordered, as he disappeared into the other room, and returned moments later with a cup and a jug, filled to the brim with water.  He filled the cup, and handed to his brother.  “Can you hold it?”

“Of course I can!”  Elrohir all but snatched the cup from Elladan, splashing the contents a little.  He found he had to concentrate to close his fingers around it, but at least he did not drop it.  He drank, then sighed as he put the cup down carefully, his hand shaking a little. “Thank you, El.  Did Father say how long this is likely to last?”

Elladan shrugged.  “I think he expects it to be gone by morning, but he said he wants to look at you first.  How’s your shoulder?”

“Better,” Elrohir said, rubbing it slightly.  “It still aches a bit, but it’s a lot better than it was.”  He turned his hands over, inspecting them.  They too were healing, though still a little tender.  There had been deep lacerations across the palms, ingrained with dirt, and his fingertips had been scraped raw, the nails torn and broken from where he had tried desperately to cling to bare rock.  Now they were clean, the dirt washed away, the nails were trimmed, and a light salve had been rubbed into the raw skin.  “He did my hands as well,”  Elrohir commented.

“I did that,”  Elladan said.  He gave a sympathetic smile.  “Poor Father, he was torn in every direction.  He wanted to look after you, and Arwen, and see to Legolas.  In the end, after he’d done your shoulder, he had to go to Arwen.  She woke up with a nightmare – I can’t say I’m surprised.  So I saw to your hands – I thought it would be easier while you were asleep.  It looked painful.”

Elrohir inspected his hands again, then looked up at his twin with a smile.  “It was.  You know what grazes are like.  Thank you, El,” he said again.  “Is Arwen all right?  You said she had a nightmare.”

“I think so.”  Elladan crossed the room again, returning to his own bed.  “Mother was going to stay with her tonight, but I don’t expect she’ll wake up again.  Not if Father has anything to do with it!”

Elrohir smiled.  At home in Imladris, he and Elladan had had their own rooms for many years now, and he relished the privacy it gave him.  But there were drawbacks, too.  Late night discussions like this, when they had talked about anything and everything, both on the edge of sleep, were one of the things he missed most.

He yawned, fighting the remnants of the last dregs of the peles.  “El?  Do you think Legolas is going to be all right?  Did Father say anything else?”

“He didn’t say anything to me.  But he was worried, wasn’t he?”  Elladan sighed.  “I suppose we will find out more in the morning.  There’s nothing we can do now.  We’d better go back to sleep, little brother.  Goodnight.”

“Don’t call me that!”  Elrohir protested, for what was probably the thousandth time.   “We’re twins,” he explained, yet again.  “That means that our conception was the same time.  So you’re exactly the same age as me!  Just because you were born a few minutes earlier makes no difference, you know.”

“I know,”  Elladan responded sleepily.  “But it always annoys you so much.  Goodnight, little brother.”

Elrohir gave a snort of exasperation, and would have responded.  But he was more than half asleep.  He fell into dreams still trying to think of a suitable retaliation.

By morning, the headache had gone, although his shoulder still throbbed.  He was impatient to rise, but Elladan proved unexpectedly stubborn in refusing to allow him to move.  “Father said you weren’t to get up until he said so,”  Elladan repeated wearily.  “I told you that!  Why are you always so difficult?”

Elrohir scowled.  “Well, go and get him then.  But if you’re not back in a few minutes, I’ll come and find him myself!” 

Elladan glared back at him.  “Yes, and  probably fall down the stairs as well if the drugs haven’t worn off!  El, please wait until I come back.  I’ll be as quick as I can.  Just stay there!”

Elrohir waited impatiently, but Elladan had barely left before he returned with their father.  “He was already on his way,”  he explained.

Elrond placed his hand on Elrohir’s shoulder, sensing the healing muscles and tendons beneath.  Warmth spread from his touch, and Elrohir again felt the discomfort ease.  “How does that feel now?”

“Much better than it did last night.  But it still hurts if I move my arm too much,” Elrohir admitted.

“Then try not to move it, at least for a day or two.  You will know when it eases.  Now, let me see if the drugs have lost their effect.  Grip my hand.”

Elrohir took his father’s hand, squeezing it as hard as he could.  When he released his grip, Elrond’s fingers were white.  “Well, there is no weakness there,” he said calmly.  “Now close your eyes and hold out your other arm.”

Elrohir obeyed,  making a remarkably rude gesture at Elladan as he heard his twin give a snort of laughter.  His father ignored it, but merely said, “Now touch your nose …  good.  Your coordination is not affected.  In that case, I see no reason why you cannot get up.”

His delight in this pronouncement was tempered by the sheer awkwardness of having one arm immobilised by the sling.  The greatest frustration was his difficulty in doing even the simplest task.  Attempting to do anything one-handed was awkward, but if he moved his injured arm even a little, a jolt of pain stabbed through his shoulder.  He could dress – slowly – and could even fasten the lacings with care.

Yet some things were beyond him.  After brushing his hair, he threw the brush down with a growl of impatience.  “El?  Would you – ” he began.

“Help you braid your hair?  Yes, of course, little brother.  I was just waiting for you to ask.”  Elladan gave him a broad smile.  “It will be easier if you sit down.”  Swiftly, Elladan plaited his hair into the style Elrohir usually favoured, then produced a mirror with a flourish.  “You see?  As good as ever.  And remember, any time you need help braiding your hair while your arm still pains you, let me know.”

Elrohir sighed.  “Thank you, El.  I just wish I could do things for myself!  Come on, I want to see if Arwen’s all right, and if Father knows anything else about Legolas.”

There was little news.  Arwen was restored to her usual self, if a little self-conscious of her tears the night before, and Elrond reported that Legolas was much the same, and still not well enough for anyone to see him for more than a few minutes.  The day dragged.  There was little to do; a storm raged outside, and an atmosphere of gloom pervaded Lasgalen.  Eventually, Elladan and Elrohir joined with the warriors who had also been mapping the tunnels and passages,  and they set to compiling a map as Thranduil had originally planned.  There would be something to show for it, at the end of this disaster.

Meanwhile, Calmacil and Thranduil maintained their mostly silent vigil.  Elrond joined them, and he and Calmacil conferred quietly, knowing all they could do was wait.  Legolas alternated between sleep and deep unconsciousness.  At times, as the drugs wore off, he would stir restlessly, sometimes trapped in nightmares or hallucinations.  He would shy away from a touch, or stare unseeingly into the shadows of his room, murmuring about the darkness.  Finally, in the evening, he regained consciousness again, appearing at first a little more lucid.  However, as Thranduil offered a little more of the medicines, Legolas flinched away in distress. 

“No.  No more.  Please …”  He looked around, a little desperately, an expression of extreme discomfort crossing his face.  Calmacil, experienced in the needs of bed-bound patients, appeared at his side, holding a squat, oddly-shaped bottle, flat sided, and with a short, wide neck.  Legolas snatched the bottle from him, and it disappeared beneath the sheet.  He leaned back against the piled-up pillows with a sigh of relief.  “Thank you, Calmacil,” he breathed.

Calmacil watched him with a sense of relief nearly as great as his patient’s.  “Good,”  he nodded.  “Very, very good.”  He smiled at Thranduil.  “Everything is working exactly as it should,”  he explained.  “Now I know he will recover.”  This time, when Thranduil offered the cup containing  the sleeping draught, Legolas did not protest, but drained the contents quickly.

He grimaced.  “I thought it would taste better as I got used to it,” he whispered.  He shifted in discomfort, and leaned against his father as Calmacil rearranged the pillows, struggling to stay awake, but the drugs and the continuing pain in his leg were overwhelming him again.  As he drifted into sleep, he felt Thranduil’s strong arm around him, protecting him, warding off all evils.  He slept, peacefully.

Early the next morning, Calmacil was startled awake by a gentle tap on the door.  After a very short pause, it was repeated.  Shaking himself awake, he staggered to the door and opened it to Elladan and Elrohir, easy to distinguish for once because of the sling on Elrohir’s arm.

“Good morning, Calmacil.  I wondered how Legolas is today.  Can we see him, do you think?”  Elladan had started the request,  but halfway through, the conversation segued seamlessly between them, until Elrohir was speaking at the end.

Calmacil glanced behind him, then nodded.  “I see no reason why not.  He is asleep at the moment, though, so please do not wake him.”

The twins crossed the room silently, and greeted Thranduil, who again looked as if he had not slept all night.  Elladan had seen exactly that expression of helplessness, exhaustion and fear on his own father’s face when Elrohir had been seriously injured in a fall from the rooftops of Imladris when they had been much younger.  Elrond had kept a silent watch over his son in just this way.

“How is he?”  Elrohir asked quietly.

“A little better, according to Calmacil.  At least he is just asleep now,  and no longer unconscious.  But it will be several days before he is able to move from here.”

Elladan and Elrohir perched together on a chair beside the bed, seated on one arm each, and looked at Legolas.  He was very pale, and the bruises and scratches on his face and hands stood out in startling contrast.   Long, dark lashes showed up starkly against the pallor, but although his eyes were still closed, there was a subtle difference from the blank unconsciousness of the day before.

“What about his leg?”  questioned Elladan.  “Will it heal properly?  Will he be able to walk?”

Calmacil appeared behind them.  “It will heal in time,” he assured them.  “He may have a limp for several months, and some scarring, but he is lucky.”

Lucky?”  they echoed in incredulous unison.

Calmacil smiled.  “Yes, lucky,” he repeated lightly.  “He has two of the best healers in all of Arda here to care for him.  Between us, your father and I will ensure he recovers now.”

Although they had been speaking very quietly, their voices gradually penetrated Legolas’s sleep – a further sign that he was indeed a little better.  Slowly, his eyes opened, and he focused on his visitors.  But then, with a soft sigh, he turned away again.

Thranduil was immediately alarmed.  “Legolas?  What is it?  Are you in pain?”  He was about to call Calmacil, but the healer was already at his side.

“Father?  Was I struck on the head as well?”  Legolas asked softly.  “For my vision is faulty.  I fear I can see double.”

Thranduil smiled in response, immensely relieved that Legolas was able to make a joke, even one so feeble.  “Alas, I fear your eyes see truly.  There are indeed two.”

Elladan smiled.  “Well, we’re pleased to see you as well.  Aren’t we, El?”

Elrohir nodded.  “Although I think perhaps you did strike your head – clearly your wits have been affected.  You can usually think of a far better insult than one so well-worn!”

Legolas gave a half-laugh, but it changed to a grimace of pain.  Silently, Thranduil handed him a cup containing watered wine, mixed with sleeping herbs, which Legolas drained without a murmur – a clear indication of his agony.  “My wits are addled,” he agreed.  “Between them, your father and mine seem determined to keep me drugged senseless.  I don’t think my mind will ever be clear again!”  He blinked as the draught began to take effect.   “Where is Arwen?”  he asked with a yawn.  “I wanted to thank her.  I wanted – ”  He was struggling now to stay awake. “I wanted to say thank you,” he murmured, as his eyes closed again, and the expression of pain eased.

“We’ll ask Arwen to come again a little later,”  Elrohir said to Thranduil.  “I know she’ll be relieved to see him looking a bit better.”

“Yes,”  Elladan agreed.  “I could tell how worried she was when she looked in earlier.”  He stood, glancing down at Legolas one last time.  “I’m glad you’re a little better, Leg’as,”  he said softly.

Elrohir nodded.  “We’ll come back later,” he promised.  “Goodbye.”

As the twins left, Calmacil approached Thranduil with another dose of his potion.  “I am going to invoke my healer’s prerogative,” he announced.  “I want you to rest.  Either voluntarily, or not.   I insist on it.  He is sleeping now, and will be well.  Now that the danger is over, you will rest.”

Thranduil did not even argue.  Legolas’s bed was large – as a child he had been a restless sleeper.  There was more than enough room for two.  He lay down at his son’s side, and was asleep almost immediately.


 Author's Notes:  Ithilien requested an explanation of what's wrong with Legolas (apart from the broken leg).  As I understand it, when someone is trapped for a period of time, the lack of blood flow causes lactic acid and electrolytes to build up in the crushed muscles.  When the patient is freed, the chemicals are also released as blood circulates again, causing great pain.  They can then clog up all the major organs, leading to damage or death.  Crush injury syndrome or multiple organ failure is apparently a real hazard in such accidents.  His symptoms are nothing to do with the rocks themselves, just the fact that he was underneath them for rather a long time.

Nilmandra sent me this information a month ago, and I think I have the basics.  If any of it's wrong, it's my memory at fault, not her!

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