Memory of Darkness

Chapter 8: Memories of Darkness

by Jay of Lasgalen

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Calmacil warded off all visitors for the rest of that morning, leaving Thranduil and Legolas to sleep.  Thranduil was clearly mellowing – at one time it had been necessary to surreptitiously drug him to force him to rest.  Though rather unethical, Calmacil had never had any qualms about it.  There were some times when such things were necessary.

He even managed to rest himself, dozing lightly in the chair next to the bed.  Now that he was confident that Legolas would recover – and for a while he and Elrond had been anything but certain of that – he did not need to monitor Legolas’s condition constantly.  It was sufficient that his outstretched hand rested lightly on Legolas’s shoulder – he would know instantly if his patient stirred or awakened. 

The sound of a soft knock woke him, then Elrond was standing by the bed.  “How peaceful you all look,” he commented quietly.  “My sons told me that they had spoken to Legolas.  Now Arwen is pestering me to let her see him as well.  I came to see if he was awake – but as it is, we can return later.  I will leave you now.”

Before Elrond could take his leave, Thranduil, always partially on his guard, awakened suddenly.  He blinked and sat up smoothly, a little discomfited to have been, quite literally, caught napping.

“My apologies,”  Elrond told him.  “I did not mean to disturb you. Arwen can come back later.”

“No,” Legolas murmured, also awakening.  “Tell her to come back now.  I told Ellahir I wanted to see her.  Is she outside?”  He blinked and shook his head, a little disorientated by the medication.  “I want to see her,” he repeated.

Elrond glanced at Thranduil for confirmation.  “Are you sure?  I had no intention of awakening you all.”

Thranduil looked questioningly at his son, then nodded.  “Of course.”

Arwen, hovering by the door, did not wait for a further invitation, but approached, a little hesitantly.  “I wanted to come before,” she explained.  “But they wouldn’t let me.  Then, when they did, you were asleep.”  She sat carefully on the edge of the bed, and hugged Legolas.  “Are you really all right?  Elladan and Elrohir said you were looking better.”

“I feel a lot better than I did.  If your father and Calmacil would just stop dosing me with their potions, I’d feel even better!  Arwen – thank you.  For everything.  Just having someone to talk to … thank you.”  He moved restlessly again, then continued, “What about you?  Are you all right?  I thought …”  he paused, frowning with the effort to remember.  “Weren’t you hurt when the rocks fell the second time?”

She shook her head.  “It was nothing.  Just a bruise on my back.  Ada’s already seen it.”

“What do you mean?”  asked Elrond sharply.

“The rocks fell a second time?”  Thranduil added.

Legolas and Arwen exchanged a glance and laughed.  For a moment, the two anxious fathers had sounded remarkably like the twins.

“Legolas, I still do not know exactly what happened in the caves,” Thranduil continued.  “Can you tell me now?  And what is this about the rocks falling again?”

Legolas explained, as best as he could recall events, everything that had happened.  “There are some parts it’s hard to remember,” he admitted.  “Everything seems rather – blurred.  As if it happened to someone else.  But I remember the rocks falling.  And do you know what Arwen did then?” he demanded.

“Legolas, no!  Please don’t!” she protested in embarrassment.

Legolas ignored her pleas, and continued, “I was trapped; I couldn’t move at all.  The stones were falling all around me – I was scared.  I really thought I was going to be killed.  Then Arwen, she leaned over me.  Elrohir and I both shouted at her to move, but she wouldn’t.  She said she wasn’t going to leave me.”

Arwen’s ears were pink, and she would not look at Legolas or her father.  Elrond lifted her chin with one finger and smiled at her.  “That was rather foolish of you, but extremely courageous.  Well done, my dear.”

“It was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen.  Thank you, Arwen.”  Legolas kissed her cheek, and she blushed again.  As he moved uncomfortably yet again, Calmacil watched carefully, noticing his tension, and the lines of pain around his eyes.

“Is your leg hurting again?  Do you need some more of the medicines?”

“It is hurting, yes – but I don’t want to take anything for it yet.  I can put up with it for a little longer,”  Legolas told him.  “I don’t want to sleep all the time!”   Despite his words, he yawned, scowling as the others tried not to laugh.

Calmacil crossed to the table he was using as a workbench, picked up a small bottle, and poured a little into a cup of wine, topping it up with water.  “Try this.  It will ease the pain a little.  It is not quite as effective as the peles, but does not induce sleep.  Remember, though, that you will need to rest and sleep far more than normal as you heal.”

Legolas took the goblet, sniffed it, then took a cautious sip.  “At least it tastes better than the peles,” he agreed.  “When will I be able to get up?  I hate being confined to bed like this!”

“Not for several days yet,” Calmacil told him firmly.  “Do not even consider it!  If you fell, you could do irreparable damage, and at the very least have a permanent limp.”

Legolas gazed at Calmacil, reading the stark truth of his words.  Behind Calmacil, Elrond was nodding his agreement.  Reluctantly, Legolas nodded.  “Very well, I’ll stay here.”  He sighed.  “This is going to be the longest week of my life!”  He took another drink of the wine Calmacil had given him, relaxing a little as the pain eased, and turned to his father.  “Did you find whatever it was that lived down in the caves?  I never did see it properly.  What was it?”

Thranduil looked at him oddly.  “What do you mean, elfling?  We found nothing.”

“There was something there, lurking in the shadows.  I saw its eyes – at least, I think it must have been its eyes.  Arwen?  What did you think it was?”

Startled, Arwen shook her head, her eyes wide.  “There was nothing there, Legolas,” she whispered.

He looked at her in surprise.  “Of course there was!  It was quite big, whatever it was.  And dark.  It blended in with the shadows.  But you must have seen something!”

Before Arwen could answer, Thranduil spoke.  “There was nothing.  The warriors who accompanied me stayed to see if it would be possible to seal off the cave.  If there had been anything there, they would have seen it.”  He sounded troubled.

“It was there!”  Legolas insisted.  “I saw it.  I heard it.  It was moving …”  He shivered at the memory.

Thranduil moved a little closer, putting his arm around his son.  “You said something similar last night.  You half-awoke, and seemed to be able to see something in the shadows cast by the candle flame.  You were only semi-conscious.  Calmacil said – he said it was a hallucination.”

“He thinks I imagined it?”  Legolas asked indignantly.

“Yes,”  Thranduil confirmed gently.

Calmacil nodded.  “When we arrived, you had been trapped for some time.  You were not quite – rational.  I think a combination of the blow to your head, the pain, and the blood loss, caused you to hallucinate, and see things that most definitely were not there.”

Legolas stared at the two healers; then at Arwen and his father, who both seemed rather stunned by this revelation.  Then he sighed, and dropped his face into his hands.  “It seemed so real,” he whispered.  “I thought it was there …”

“I know you did,”  Elrond told him, speaking for the first time.  “Such things appear as real and substantial as any one of us.  Do not fear for your mind, elfling,” he added shrewdly, guessing what Legolas’s main fear was.  “It was simply a result of your injury.  I know when Elrohir had a serious knock to his head he became quite convinced that there was a line of purple cats parading through his room.”

Arwen smiled at her father’s words – she had been looking rather concerned.  “I remember that.  I wanted to see them as well!”

Legolas managed to smile.  Although his father still looked rather worried, both Calmacil and Elrond – whose opinions he valued most in this matter – were supremely unconcerned.  And he had to admit that Elrohir was reassuringly sane – most of the time.

He drank from the cup that Calmacil gave him, recognising the bitterness of peles again, but did not protest.  He did not want to dwell on the thought that his mind had been playing tricks on him, not now, not yet.  Relaxed by the soothing presence of his father, he was already falling into dreams as Arwen and Elrond left.

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