Disclaimer: Only borrowing Tolkiens characters for my fantasy.
Inside the Darkness
Part 15 - Reunion
Legolas' aim never wavered; his arrow was directed at Lurtz's heart, but seeing Elrond in such a miserable state froze him for a few seconds. "By the grace of the Valar, what did you do to him?" Seeing Lurtz holding Elrond had shocked him, proving to him that the Uruk-Hai was involved in hurting the Lord of Imladris. Behind him, Glorfindel gasped softly and Legolas realized it was time he took control of the situation again. "Put Elrond in front of Glorfindel. One wrong move and this arrow will pierce your heart... and others will follow."
Lurtz felt saddened seeing the distrust and disappointment in Legolas' eyes, but he couldn't blame the Elf. He knew what this looked like. Slowly, he advanced on Glorfindel, lifted Elrond carefully and placed him in front of the blond. "Be careful, his ankles are broken and he suffered one broken rib at least."
Glorfindel stared at Elrond in shock. Elrond's skin was chilly and Glorfindel quickly removed his cloak and wrapped it around the dark-haired Elf. Tears threatened to spill from his eyes, but he forced them back. Elrond needed him to be strong, not to sob against him when the Lord of Imladris needed help. /Ai, Elrond, what did they do to you?/ The bite marks and scratches from fingernails infuriated him and he wanted to slay every Uruk-Hai inside that camp single-handedly, but he couldn't.
Looking up, he caught sight of Elladan's concerned features. The twin raised a shaky hand and touched his father's face cautiously, drawing a moan from Elrond's lips.
"Ai, Ada, they hurt you..." Elladan failed to stop a tear from sliding down his face. A rage unlike any other he had ever felt filled him and his glare shifted to Lurtz, who was still in front of them, not moving away and Legolas' arrow still aimed at him. "You..."
Legolas stopped Elladan. "We do not have the time to address this now." He wanted to sort this out now as well, but he heard sounds of battle coming from the camp side. "Elrohir has attacked and we must aid him." Legolas ignored Lurtz's questioning expression on purpose and addressed Glorfindel. "Take Elladan with you and ride to that deserted cabin. Take good care of Elrond. We will join you once we extracted our revenge."
"Do not send me away! He is my father and I want to revenge him as well. It is my right!" Although part of him wanted to comfort Elrond, another, stronger, part wanted to punish the foul creatures for hurting Elrond like that. He drew his sword, released an angry yell and stormed toward the camp, his faithful mare obeying his commands and speeding up.
Legolas cursed. "Glorfindel, you know what to do." He looked at Elladan, who was fighting his first Uruk-Hai and finding them stronger and more cunning than the twin had expected. "That one is going to get himself in trouble..."
Lurtz realized Legolas' dilemma and drew in a deep breath. "I cannot kill my own kind, but I can protect Glorfindel and Elrond. Let me go with them."
"Nay!" Legolas lowered his bow, but maintained eye contact with Lurtz. "You are not going anywhere. You will stay and after we finished our business here, we will talk. Leave now and I will kill you." From the corner of his eye, Legolas saw that Elladan was having trouble fighting two Uruk-Hai simultaneously. "I do not have time for this. Glorfindel, leave!" He slapped Asfaloth's rear hard and the horse whined, breaking in to a run.
Glorfindel tightened his hold on Elrond, fearing further injury to the already battered body. /Ai, I failed you, meldir. I should have prevented your capture. Now they got their foul mark on you. What will it do to you? You, who always are so strong. I will help you heal, if you want me to, but I fear my failure will always stand between us.../ Glorfindel let his tears flow freely, the wind almost instantly wiping them from his face. Elrond felt cold against him and the cloak did little to keep him warm. Looking over his shoulder, Glorfindel's heart danced a wild rhythm, seeing Elladan fight without his back covered. "Legolas, protect him!"
Then the scene faded as the distance increased, and he determinedly looked ahead, his eyes already scanning for the deserted cabin where he could tend to Elrond's injuries.
Legolas continued to ignore Lurtz, who stood frozen, and charged the Uruk-Hai who were gaining the upper hand over Elladan. Shooting his arrows too quickly for the eye to see, he disposed of one of them, allowing Elladan to finish off the other with his sword. Scanning the camp, he found that few Uruk-Hai were still alive. Elrohir swept through the camp like an all devouring fire, taking out one Uruk-Hai after the other. Now that Elrond was safe, Legolas locked eyes with Elladan. He wanted a moment alone with Lurtz and sent Elladan away. "Elladan, join your brother and keep out of trouble." Elladan glared at him, but Legolas simply glared back
Elladan reluctantly obeyed. Knowing the twins safe with the archers, Legolas turned his horse around and stared at Lurtz.
Mixed emotions whirled through him. Part of him wanted to embrace Lurtz and feel the Uruk-Hai against him, but another part was determined to get the answers he desired and then turn away in disdain from Lurtz. But could he leave Lurtz like that? He still greatly cared for the other man, no matter who Lurtz was or what he had done in the past. "Did you hurt him?"
"No," said Lurtz, shaking his head. "Ugluk questioned him, I didn't. I was about to escape with him when you appeared."
"Escape? Why?" Legolas steered his horse closer to Lurtz, but one hunting knife slipped in to his hand, just in case he couldn't trust Lurtz after all.
"I owe Elrond. He welcomed me at Imladris when I didn't expect it. He was kind to me. I wanted to replay my debt to him by taking him back to Imladris." It pained Lurtz that Legolas felt it necessary to remain at a distance and armed. "Put that knife away, you know I would never hurt you."
"I do?" Legolas laughed bitterly. "I told you not to run and yet you did. You hurt me by leaving like that."
Lurtz's eyes were drawn to Legolas' leg and he was relieved to find a spotless bandage in place. "Your wound stopped bleeding."
"Elves heal fast," sneered Legolas. Hurt of abandonment and affection for Lurtz were at war within him. "Where will you go now?"
Lurtz cocked his head. "Does that mean you will let me go?"
Legolas' eyes hardened. "I do not plan on keeping you with me against your will. I won't kill you either as you seem to have had no part in Elrond's torture. You are free to go then, but never cross my path again."
"Are you so willing to give up on me?" Lurtz's eyes narrowed. Now that Legolas allowed him to leave, he no longer felt the desire to do so. /Why can't I say the words? Why can't I say I was wrong in leaving you? I should have stayed, should have trusted you./
"You were the one who gave up on me, us. Do not turn this around." Legolas quickly looked over his shoulder to see how the twins were doing. And they were doing well. They had done away with most of their enemies and the archers kept a close eye on the two brothers. "We are almost done here..." announced Legolas, ignoring the sudden wave of pain radiating from his leg. He had overestimated his strength. "I wish you a long and blessed life, Lurtz." Legolas turned his horse around, no longer able to look at Lurtz, who would have been his beloved mate, but Lurtz had chosen differently.
Lurtz raised a hand, which Legolas couldn't see now that he had turned his back on him. He wanted to stop Legolas from leaving, but no words flowed from his lips. Then a sudden motion to Legolas' right caught his attention and his heart beat faster. "Ugluk..."
Ugluk jumped from the trees, caught Legolas around the waist and pulled the Elf from his horse and on to the ground.
Legolas, angry that he had been caught unaware, tried to fight Ugluk off, but his leg hampered him and he howled in agony when Ugluk kicked his leg vehemently, realizing his weakness. A cold knife, slippery with a black substance appeared at his throat and when Ugluk pulled him to his feet, he obeyed.
Lurtz growled angrily, seeing Legolas at Ugluk's mercy. He knew full well what cruelty Ugluk was capable of. "Let him go..."
Ugluk shook his head, baring his teeth. "Never, I don't want to die yet, traitor. Wish I could take you out as well!"
Legolas' thoughts raced. Ugluk was trembling and the knife was close to his throat. Lurtz suddenly appeared in front of him, and his dark eyes were filled with anger. /He does care about me.../
Lurtz's hands clenched in to fists, seeing Legolas' eyes softening. /Yes, I love you.../ But speaking the words aloud would give Ugluk an advantage. "The Elf is nothing to me, Ugluk, let me join you in your escape attempt. I don't want to die either." Legolas' eyes darkened at his betrayal. /Please understand that I need to get close to him.../
Ugluk wavered, but seeing his men go down one by one, he realized he needed Lurtz. "Quickly." He signaled Lurtz to follow him, and his hold on Legolas weakened for a split second.
It was enough for Legolas to make his move. He twisted away from Ugluk and tried to put some distance between them. Lurtz appeared at his side, grabbed his right wrist and pulled him toward him. Legolas wavered. Could he trust Lurtz?
That one moment was all Ugluk needed. The knife flashed in the sunlight as he aimed for Legolas' back.
"No!" Lurtz, seeing the danger Legolas was in, pulled Legolas behind him and gritted his teeth as the poisoned dagger buried itself in his shoulder. Lurtz's eyes narrowed, and focused on Legolas, making sure the Elf wasn't injured. "Run!" But Legolas stood frozen, staring at him with the most peculiar expression in his eyes. /What are you waiting for? Ugluk will kill you as well!/ "Run!"
Legolas slowly shook his head, uncovered his sword and taking Ugluk by surprise, beheaded him with one swift stroke.
Lurtz fell to his knees, unable to stay on his feet as the poison attacked his nerve endings. Suddenly Legolas was beside him, speaking softly, soothingly. "Leave me alone..."
Legolas smiled warmly. "Why are you being this stubborn, Lurtz? Why can you not simply accept that you love me?" Legolas studied the injury and decided to remove the knife. "Do not move, Lurtz."
Lurtz gritted his teeth, but still a smothered howl escaped from deep within his throat. "It's poisoned..."
Legolas sucked in his breath. "Poisoned? By the Valar, we must act quickly then."
Lurtz wondered what Legolas was up to as the Elf moved behind him. He startled, feeling lips pressed against the wound, sucking. "What are you doing?" he hissed.
"Trying to get the poison out and now be silent!" Legolas closed his lips over the wound and sucked hard, spiting out the blood and poison and repeated the same procedure.
Lurtz placed his hands in front of him on the ground in need of support. Knowing Legolas was trying to save his live felt incredible to him. After all he had done, the Elf remained at his side. Hearing voices close to him, he looked up and found that the twins were rushing toward him.
"Legolas, what happened?" Elrohir knelt at Legolas side and cringed, seeing the angry wound. "Poisoned?"
"Aye," said Legolas, spitting out more poisoned blood.
"We will take him with us," decided Elladan. Elrohir had already told him that Lurtz had been on his way to take Elrond in to safety. They could discuss this later. "We killed them all." he added, carefully watching Lurtz' reaction, but the Uruk-Hai was slowly losing consciousness. Elladan looked about and saw Ugluk's headless body. "Your work, Legolas?" Seeing Legolas' expression, Elladan grinned. "Let us put your Uruk-Hai on to a horse. I am eager to be reunited with Ada."
"Let me help..." Elrohir helped Legolas in getting Lurtz to his feet after Legolas had removed as much poison as possible.
Legolas staggered; his still injured leg couldn't take the extra weight and Elladan quickly moved in to take Legolas' place, taking Lurtz from him. Legolas wanted to protest, but decided against it, knowing he couldn't support Lurtz. Instead he fetched his horse and together, they placed Lurtz on the mare's back. The mare was nervous, didn't like this charge and Legolas took the reins, walking beside her and talking soothingly.
"Legolas, you cannot walk all the way," said Elrohir worried. "Let me take the reins and sit behind me."
Legolas gave in and nodded once. He handed Elrohir the reins and accepted the twin's help when the raven-haired Elf pulled him behind him.
"I will gather some herbs," announced Elladan. "Do not wait for me. I will catch up with you." He knew the healing herbs were necessary to fight infection and pain.
Elrohir ordered five archers to help his twin and then led the rest toward the deserted cabin. /Ada, are you well? I can no longer feel your pain. Please be alive.../
Glorfindel firmly ignored any discomfort his head injury caused and carried Elrond in to the deserted cabin. After kicking the door open, he headed for the bed and returned to the entrance to close the door and shut out the cold. He hurried back to Elrond's side and gentle hands began to examine Elrond's injuries. First, he checked for head injuries and was relieved when he didn't find any. Absentmindedly he stroked the long black locks, removing any tangles from them. Next, he examined Elrond's face, cursing privately at seeing the lash that would leave a scar in time.
Glorfindel got to his feet, fetched some spring water and ripped some fabric from his tunic, using it to clean Elrond's face. Dirt and dried blood gave away easily, but he wished he had some soothing balm to put on the cut, which still bled. "I am so sorry, Elrond... It is my fault you were taken and tortured."
Blinking once, his hands drifted lower, cleaning the dried blood from Elrond's chest, finding at least one rib cracked. Cursing the fact that he didn't have any bandages, he shredded his cloak and used the longer pieces to bandage Elrond's ribcage, letting Elrond lean against him while he worked. He felt immensely grateful that Elrond remained unconscious during his ministrations.
He privately debated removing Elrond's leggings to search for more injuries, but decided against it. It was cold in here and the dark-haired Elf felt chilly to his touch.
Tears erupted from his eyes, seeing Elrond's ankles limp and twisted. "By the Valar, what did they do to you? It should have been me, not you, never you! Why did they not take me instead? I would have gladly born this pain for you, Elrond..." He wiped at his tears angrily, then wrapped fabric around Elrond's ankles, not daring to mend them. He wasn't a healer, Elrond was!
Guilt and self doubt deeply drove their claws in to his soul. Glorfindel couldn't stop staring at the battered face, hoping the Uruk-Hai hadn't resorted to raping Elrond in order to make him talk. Maybe that was the true reason why he didn't dare remove Elrond's leggings...
Rummaging through the cabin he located a warm blanket and he placed it over Elrond's shivering body. Hating to leave Elrond's side, he did it anyway to build a fire. The wood was old and damp, but the fire warmed the cabin nicely. The fire cast shadows on to the walls, and in Glorfindel's mind they pointed an accusing finger at him for failing his Lord.
Feeling utterly worthless, Glorfindel refrained from touching Elrond, guarding him from a distance. His eyes swam with guilty tears and he hugged his waist, rocking back and forth. "It should have been me, lying there, not you, Elrond. What use to you am I? I, who failed to keep you safe? You should send me back to Mandos. I am an utter failure..."
He held his breath when Elrond moaned softly. The vacant eyes lost their emptiness and searched his surroundings. Panicking, Elrond released a scream. Glorfindel acted at once and knelt at Elrond's side, trying to make Elrond look at him. "You are safe, meldir. You are safe. Please listen to my voice and let it reassure you." Glorfindel's heart ached, seeing the hurt expression in those dark eyes. "You are safe, meldir. I will look after you..."
Elrond blinked once, trying to focus on Glorfindel. Where was Ugluk? Why wasn't he in the tent any longer? Ai, his feet didn't hurt that bad anymore and he finally felt warm. His eyes met Glorfindel's and he startled seeing the tears in them. "What...?"
Elrond tried to sit upright, but gasped at the pain that coursed through his chest and ankles so he remained flat on his back instead. "Glorfindel?" Shakily he raised a hand, trying to place it against Glorfindel's cheek, but the blond pulled back. Elrond frowned, wondering why Glorfindel shunned his touch. "What... happened?"
"Lurtz carried you out of the tent when we attacked. I brought you here. Your sons will join us shortly and tend to you. You taught Elrohir well and he will help you heal."
Elrond frowned once more when Glorfindel moved farther away from him. The dark expression in the blond's eyes spoke of guilt and self hate. Why? He desperately wanted to talk to Glorfindel, but his strength was deserting him. "Come... here," he whispered, hoping to remain conscious long enough to reassure Glorfindel. The reluctance in Glorfindel's approach made Elrond apprehensive. Thankfully the poison was leaving his body and rational thought was returning to him. "I know you well..." started Elrond in a soft tone. "None of it was your fault... You fought well... It was not your fault... that they caught me..." He made another shaky attempt to rest the palm of his hand against Glorfindel's face and he grew sad, feeling the blond flinch at the touch. "We will talk about this some more when... when I feel better..."
Glorfindel lowered his eyes. "Elladan and Elrohir will be here shortly. They can care you for you better than I can..."
Elrond sighed. "It was not your fault..."
"I am responsible for your safety," exploded Glorfindel in a harsh tone, aimed at himself. "I failed you!"
Elrond managed to shake his head slowly. "Nay, Glorfindel, it was not your fault..." Exhaustion crept up on him, but he fought off sleep a little longer. He had something important to say before he could give in to blissful sleep. "Nīn ind, do you not know I love you? You, who have always been my strength... Do not desert me now... melethron."
Elrond's whispers were Glorfindel's undoing. Tears flowed down his face and he tried to hide from Elrond, but the raven-haired half-Elf had unnoticed gained a tight hold on his right wrist and he was unable to move away. Bleary-eyed, he stared at Elrond. He had guessed some of Elrond's feelings when the half-Elf had kissed him, but things had changed now. "I am unworthy of your love, my Lord."
"I lack the strength to... to talk some sense in to you," said Elrond, feeling drained. "Vow you won't leave my side until... I wake again."
Glorfindel looked stricken. He had planned to ask Elrohir to look after Elrond, not wanting to burden Elrond with his worthless presence.
"Vow!" Elrond called upon his last strength and commanded Glorfindel to speak, using the power that lay in his dark eyes. "Vow!"
"I vow to stay at your side," mumbled Glorfindel defeated. Why Elrond still wanted him close was a mystery to him. Even if Elrond loved him, the Lord of Imladris should chose a more worthy lover.
Elrond sighed and relaxed somewhat now that Glorfindel had given him his word. "Stay..." Elrond shivered, feeling cold to the bone.
Glorfindel caught those shivers and wished he had more blankets. The fire was dying as well. "The twins will arrive shortly," he said, comforting Elrond. He flinched when determined black eyes looked in to his.
"Keep me warm, nīn bellas; you always were my strength." Elrond's hand twitched, releasing its grip on Glorfindel's wrist. "Cold..."
A lump had formed in Glorfindel's throat, hearing Elrond's request. Could he do what Elrond asked of him? Elrond's eyes turned vacant and Glorfindel drew in a deep breath. He removed his sword and boots, and sat down on the side of the bed, studying Elrond's too pale face. Slowly, he slid in to place in front of Elrond, opened his arms and pulled the dark haired Elf close to him. Wrapping his arms and legs around Elrond, he took great care not to jostle the half Elf's feet. Staring at Elrond's vacant eyes, he forced back the tears that didn't seem to want to stop. /I must be strong for you, for both if us until you regained your strength, mellon-nīn. You think you need me, but you do not. You will always be the stronger one of the two of us./
Indulging himself, he tucked Elrond's head beneath his chin. /And when you are strong again I will pay for my failure... I do not deserve to be at your side, not after letting this happen to you... Maybe it is time to return to the Halls of Mandos and to set you free./
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