Home Sweet Home
Thank you Martiny the one and only still, Manwaithiel Melda and Ron Brown for reviewing last chapter! Your support makes my day :)
Legolas silently dismounted the horse. They were just ten minutes away from the palace, but he knew that this was it; he would not go further. Quietly jumping into the thick, concealing branches of a nearby tree, he made his way towards the other Elf without being noticed. Kemen remained unaware of his presence, probably believing that Legolas was still locked up in the bedroom. But the dark-haired Elf had seriously underestimated his one-time friend - Legolas would not let the one who had harmed his best friend walk free. He would rather risk his own life than do that.
Carefully, Legolas continued until he rested on a branch just over Kemen's head. Narrowing his eyes, he reached for an arrow in his quiver but did not string it. Instead, he waited while the other Elf murmured comfortingly to his horse. Clearly, Kemen was making the decision as to where to go next, after deciding that he had escaped the palace without detection.
Legolas had killed many before. Hundreds. Thousands, even. Orcs, Uruk-hai, deer, oliphants, men, trolls, spiders and countless others; but the fact remained that not once in his lifetime had he killed an Elf. Indeed, he had never even considered it before. Had the very idea of him killing a fellow Elf occurred to him even just two hours previously, he would have felt physically sick; Elves did not even fall ill!
Now, faced with that very possibility, Legolas found that he was shaking. He didn't dare try to shoot the arrow at anything, for he would miss by many feet, so badly was his hand shaking, his head throbbing and his heart thumping against his rib cage.
He watched with bated breath as Kemen sat up straight on his horse once more and prepared to carry on. Legolas, high above him, nervously fingered his bow. It was the moment; something told him that if he didn't act now, then he would never get the chance to stop Kemen again. At least, not like this. Legolas told himself these things yet still, he didn't move. A voice in his head was screaming at him to move, to do something, but Legolas blocked it out. He needed to concentrate.
Kemen urged his horse - no, Maegóre's horse - onwards, a few steps away from Legolas and a few steps towards freedom.
Thranduil stood at the window, peering out into the swiftly descending curtains of darkness. Hard to believe that not long ago he had been upset at Legolas's lateness to dinner. If what Maegóre had told him was true, then dinner had been the last thing on his son's mind.
He frowned, his brow furrowing. He truly could not make sense of it. He didn't understand, not for one second, why an Elf - one of his Elves - would want to do something as twisted and prejudiced as what Kemen had supposedly done. Then again, the evidence was right there in front of him. He sincerely doubted that the Dwarf had been in any position to hurt his son, and Maegóre certainly hadn't stabbed himself.
The two of them - Maegóre and Gimli - were being treated at the very moment, by healers that had quickly come after being summoned. The Dwarf had not been well enough to move and was being looked after by three or four healers in that same toyroom; Maegóre's wound was being treated in Thranduil's own rooms and after the healer had finished his work, no doubt Maegóre would be back in here, discussing things with his father.
Legolas had, it was true, done some idiot things in his lifetime. What he had just done, though - in Thranduil opinion, that was the most idiotic of all. Why would he go after someone who had already tried to kill him once and had almost succeeded in killing his friend? Thranduil could only hope that the warriors would find his son and the lunatic before it was too late. From experience, he knew that Legolas didn't always think before acting. If Legolas wasn't careful, he would end up doing something that he would regret later on.
Something like killing a fellow Elf. Thranduil shuddered at the thought; it sounded vulgar even in his mind. Especially when considering the close bond that the two boys had shared, both as Elflings and adults. Surely an act like that would have serious consequences on a persons character. And for a person already torn apart from the call of the sea, Thranduil did not like to think about what could happen to his youngest child.
"You are worried about Legolas."
Startled, Thranduil glanced to his right to find Maegóre standing there. Disconcerted, for he hadn't even heard his son come up to him, he tried to put together an answer.
"Are you not?"
"Of course. But standing here worrying about that will not do any good. What are you going to do with Kemen when Legolas brings him home?"
"I do not think that Legolas will be bringing Kemen home." Thranduil said sadly.
Maegóre blinked, looking at his father in shock as he realized what was meant by that statement.
"Legolas," Maegóre said with a tremor in his voice that was most unlike himself, "Would never do a thing like that."
Thranduil said nothing and continued to gaze into the steadily arriving night. He had a lot to think over. Maegóre had been right when he had acknowledged what Thranduil should have been doing. Unfortunately, Thranduil was incapable of thinking about anything with a straight mind right then; in fact, he did not really know what to do with himself. Whatever he had been expecting when he had come to the bedroom, it certainly had not been this.
For lack of anything else to say, Thranduil merely asked Maegóre how his shoulder was. It sounded lame and trivial even to his own ears.
With a desperate surge of adrenaline, coming from the Valar only knew where, Legolas projected himself off of the branch and forwards, down, until his feet hit the ground and he was staring right into Kemen's astonished grey eyes.
"You thought you were getting away with it, did you?" Legolas asked coldly, before taking advantage of the other Elf's surprise to grab the Elven knife from his quiver and point it at Kemen's throat. "You thought wrong."
Kemen looked mournfully at the silver blade poking his throat. A lone trickle of blood slipped down it and Legolas recoiled slightly at this, before he determinedly thrust the knife back where he had put it.
"Get off of the horse, you thief." Legolas hissed. He himself had no idea what he was doing; the words simply fell from his mouth, as though it was his subconscious doing the talking and acting.
At this, Kemen raises his eyebrows. "Admirable." He said. "I'm sure there are many words you wish to call me, Legolas, yet you have settled for something so, frankly, unoffensive it is almost laughable."
Legolas narrowed his eyes, but refused to rise to the bait. "Get off of the horse." He repeated, pushing the blade a little more into the skin of his opponent until a second and third drop of blood fell. Kemen complied, but he was laughing; perhaps not out loud but one only had to look at his eyes to see the mirth that was hidden in them.
"What are you going to do to me, Legolas? Kill me?" The ridiculing smile that tugged at his lips made it obvious that he found the idea absurd.
"Push me too hard," Legolas replied icily. "And I might."
All of the initiative that had led Legolas so far had disappeared. Now, he had no idea what to do. Did he kill him? Did he wait? For what? Did he wait, just so that Kemen would have a better chance of getting the upper hand? Surely it would be better just to kill him.
No, he told himself fiercely. Just wait. Maybe he was paranoid, desperate, but Legolas had an uncanny feeling that if he waited just a little longer, something would happen. And he was right; something did happen. He let his attention wane just a little too much, too long and things really did turn to Kemen's favor.
The dark-haired Elf thrust Legolas's hand - and knife - away and pulled out his own as he launched himself at Legolas.
The force behind his movement brought them both to the ground and they fought and grappled there for a while, each desperately trying to remain with the advantage. Each had no shame and to a passer-by, they might be mistaken for young children, friends, playing with each other. This may have been true, once, but those times were no more. It was difficult to say who had more hate for the other etched into their faces as they gasped for breath and hurt each other as much as they could, putting all of their effort and more into every movement they made. The knives lay forgotten nearby, on the floor, and the pair merely fought with their bodies now. As though savages, they both fought for what they believed to be right, and the intensity of the fight rose with each passing second. It was becoming clearer and clearer that this would not end until one or both of them was dead.
Legolas, finally getting the advantage, pressed his hand down on Kemen's throat to prevent the Elf from moving. "You are a coward," He hissed. "You do what you do and then run away - just like - just like a coward! That's all you are! Some kind of monster!" Throughout this, his voice had been steadily getting luder until he was shouting into the other Elf's face. Tears gathered in his eyes, but he pushed them away and didn't let them fall. He lowered his voice to a deadly whisper, bending to speak right into Kemen's face. "When did you become so- so-"
"So what?" Kemen choked out. He struggled to breathe, but trying to draw in another breath hurt more than it helped. His voice was rasping, and still he desperately tried to draw in another breath, one more precious breath.
Shocked, Legolas looked down and his eyes widened when he realized what he was doing to the other Elf. As he gazed into Kemen's eyes, which were slowly loosing their shine, it was as though he were lost in a trance. He could hear nothing; not even that voice, screaming at himself to loosen his hands and get up, just GET UP, but he couldn't. Or maybe, he wouldn't. Kemen's breathing became scarcer and scarcer in front of Legolas's eyes, and he couldn't believe that he was actually doing this, taking Kemen's life. His arms were shaking as he held them steady and the tears did now fall. They fell and splashed onto Kemen's paling face, breaking just like everything Legolas stood for was breaking. Legolas was no longer in control of himself, and the dark-haired Elf was slipping-
The trance that Legolas was in shattered, like shatter glass dropped on the floor, and his arms fell away from Kemen, who gasped for breath. Relief washed over the blond Elf and he closed his eyes - but that wouldn't block out the memories of what he had done. Or tried to do.
"What happened here?"
By the time Legolas reopened his eyes, Kemen was bound and standing between two grim-faced warriors, while a third approached him and several more stood nearby, surveying the scene.
"Nothing." Legolas lied. "I was just holding him, until you got here." He carefully avoided looking in the others eyes. Surely, if he made contact with anyone else, they would know his secret. His horrendous, dirty secret. The emotions that ran through him were overwhelming. Shame, of what he had done, what he had felt, overpowered him. He had, for a moment at least, considered killing a fellow Elf.
That was inexcusable. Why had he even thought that? How far gone had he been?
He shook his head, as though that would get rid of the terrible guilt that rested on his shoulders, and made to follow the others back to the palace.
Legolas stood looking down on the sleeping Dwarf. He swallowed. Outside, dawn was just breaking and he could feel the palace coming to life. The normal activities went on, but Legolas could scarcely believe that anything could ever be normal again; the quiet chatter of the maids as they began lighting the candles throughout the palace; the excited buzz of the traders and petitioners from various parts of the forest as they explored the public areas of the palace; the confident steps of the guards that could be heard when they passed by the healing rooms - for that was where Legolas was. In the healing rooms, by his best friends sleeping form.
The healers had left the room perhaps an hour ago, perhaps two, when they were finally sure that the Dwarf was going to be alright. Gimli had gone without food for days, and for a Dwarf, that was far too long. His wrists had been nearly broken thanks to how tightly the ropes had been tied; after a while, the motionless Dwarf had become too numb to even notice the pain that enticed his body. It had been longer still since he'd last had a drink, and he was so dehydrated that he had been slipping into a come when they had found him. Despite his weakness, his heart had been beating abnormally quickly and it was incredibly lucky that Gimli had been reached in time.
Legolas knew that he had been lucky, too. Lucky to still have his friend with him after he had failed the Dwarf so badly.
As the healing room door opened, with a barely perceptible creak, Legolas didn't flinch. He didn't even look around to see who it was. He felt he had a good idea of that anyway.
It did not surprise him when his brother stepped next to him and also began looking down on the Dwarf. They stood like that for many minutes; neither of them saying anything, or moving, just taking comfort in each others presence. So long, in fact, that Legolas forget Maegóre was even there. He was startled when Maegóre's voice rang sharply across the room, contrasting to the deep silence that had previously filled it.
"How are you?"
Disbelief crossed Legolas face. He truly could not believe Maegóre had just asked him that. He certainly didn't bother to answer it.
"Shh. He's sleeping." Legolas whispered, gesturing at Gimli.
"So I see." Maegóre replied, speaking with his usual volume. "He will not be woken, though. Not with our voices alone."
Legolas shook his head and said nothing. He didn't fell like conversing with anybody, then or in the near future.
"Adar sent me, to see how you are," Maegóre tried, unconsciously running a hand through his hair. "I know how you must be feel-"
"You have no idea!" Legolas snapped. Regret flashed across his face and he took a few deep breaths to calm himself.
Maegóre averted his eyes and the pair stood in silence for a few moments, before Legolas spoke up.
"I'm sorry," Legolas said quietly, glancing at his brothers arm. "How is your shoulder?"
"It is fine." Maegóre assured him, making a clear effort to get on with his brother. There was a short, awkward and uncomfortable silence until Maegóre broke it. "Adar wanted to come and see you...but he is...occupied right now."
Legolas scoffed. "I'm sure he is. What is he going to do to him? To Kemen?"
Sighing, Maegóre turned away and gazed at the window. The window looked out onto the forest, and all that could be seen were trees - with the occasional bush or flower thrown in. Already, he had many things on his mind and the monotonous view was not helping.
"I believe that he was thinking about exile when I left him." Maegóre admitted eventually.
Legolas didn't realize he'd been holding his breath while waiting for Maegóre to speak until he exhaled loudly and vigorously.
"I wouldn't blame Adar if he executed him, but we all know that would never happen." Maegóre continued, unable to keep a note of bitterness from entering his voice. "He has kidnapped- well, a Naugrim, yes, but moreover he is one of the Nine companions, he is your friend, he is a guest of the king, the lord of...those caves in Rohan. If he had died, do you have any idea how much trouble we- Adar- would have had to deal with? I was stabbed by him! What if he aim had been different and he had found my heart? I would be dead by now. He tried to kill you, Legolas! Twice, if what I hear from the guards who found you two is right. Deny it if you will, but we both know the truth."
Unsure of what to say to this, Legolas said nothing. However, he was surprised to find himself smiling. He wouldn't have thought it possible to smile, with all that had happened, but he was smiling. "Who knew a simple trip to visit home could be so much trouble?" He wondered aloud, ignoring his brother's scowl.
"It isn't funny." Maegóre snapped. Shaking his head, and returning his gaze to his brother, he said, "Legolas, I came here to see if you wanted to talk about what happened in the forest earlier."
Instantly somber again, Legolas smoothly brushed the question away. "Nothing happened in the forest."
Maegóre shook his head. He had expected something like this, but that didn't make dealing with it any easier. "I am here to help you." He said softly. "Just remember that, alright? When you want to speak, I'm here. Adar is here."
His words fell of deaf ears, though, because Legolas had just noticed something that was a lot more interesting than listening to Maegóre speaking.
Gimli's eyes were open, and watching the pair drowsily.
"Gimli! Do you- should I- go and get the healers, Ray!" Legolas exclaimed, dropping to his knees.
Gimli chuckled. "Calm down, Legolas. I'm fine. Thirsty, though." He admitted.
Legolas had passed him the glass of water on Gimli's bedside table before the Dwarf had finished speaking. "Gimli," Legolas began. He knew that he had to say it, and he had to say it quickly. He had to get it off his chest. "I'm sorry. I can't believe- I never would have thought that Kemen would-"
"Kemen?" Gimli frowned. "That friend of yours?"
Legolas cringed. "He is no friend of mine. He-"
"Kemen took me?" Gimli demanded.
"Yes. Drink it, Gimli." Legolas encouraged. "I can't believe I didn't see it. He was there, telling me that you had gone all along. I was so blind. If I hadn't-"
"Aragorn warned me about this." Gimli said knowledgeably, setting down his now empty glass. Although he was still weak, his night in the healer's care had done him a world of good. "He told me how you have a tendency to blame yourself, unreasonably, for things that go...badly. I believe he called you a guilt-oholic."
"Listen here, lad. You can't blame yourself for this. It is no-one's fault, certainly not yours. You found me, and that is all that matters." Gimli assured him.
Staring at the Dwarf, Legolas finally nodded. He meant it, too. Only Gimli could have settled his guilt, anyway, and he had done so. It felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders, and now he could finally smile. So he did.
Outside, through the window, dawn had arrived and the sun was rising, casting a beautiful orange light over the dark sky. There was still a long way to go until daylight came, but Legolas and Gimli could finally see the sun. When they were headed there together, the journey would be so much easier.
Thank you for reading! I hope you've enjoyed it :) Feedback, as usual, would be wonderful, especially concrit, because I can't know what to improve if you don't tell me. And at the end of the day, I'm on here to improve my writing so concrit is always welcomed!
I know this was a long chapter, but it needed to be done. I could have split it into two, but they would have been really short. If you've read all 33,000 words or so of this story, thank you and well done!
So this is the end! I can't believe I started this back in January! Thank you to all my wonderful reviewers - your comments have really inspired me to write the next chapter each time. And thanks to everyone who's favourited/alerted the story - you've kept me smiling through the writing of this! So have a great day/night, depending on where you are everyone :D
Ron Brown - Thank you for your reviews! I know what it feels like when you're reading a story that you really like and it's rarely updated. I would never have sat down and concentrated on this chapter so much if it weren't for your reviews :) I glad you like the story!