I Like My Lembas Soft in the Morning: Chapter 25
He walked slowly, deliberately, surveying the damage and ruin before him with a well-trained eye. Old women, with weathered faces and singed dresses hobbled about, handing thin woollen blankets to those in need. Mothers cried, searching for their lost children. New boats were coming in by the minute, carrying more weary and injured passengers.
He scanned the riverbank once more. She was not there.
His heart quickened a step as he took in the news. Where could she be? He was not a faithful elf, but in that moment, he sent a heartfelt prayer to the Valar that she had not been consumed by the flames that the dragon had wrought upon Lake-Town. She was staying with the Bowman, wasn’t she?
Legolas took another swift glance around him, and his keen eyes spotted Bard’s youngest daughter, Tilda, climbing out of a longboat that was just pulling up on the shore. Tauriel was there, thank the Valar, and Bard’s other two children, along with the three dwarves that hadn’t accompanied Thorin on his journey to the mountain. There was one face, however, that Legolas could not spot. Running over swiftly, carefully dodging the abandoned crates and bundles of blankets on the floor, he reached the small boat, and placed his hand on Tauriel’s shoulder.
She spun around with a gasp, her red hair flying as she reached for the sharp sword in her belt, however she smiled in relief when she saw Legolas’ face. She knew he was no threat to her. Her expression of joy was short-lived, however, as she saw the glint of panic in his eyes.
“Mellon,” she queried urgently, “What is wrong?”
He grabbed her shoulder, slightly too tightly for her liking, and replied, “(Your name), the human girl, where is she? I thought you said you would protect her!” his voice had risen to a shout now, causing the dwarves to look around in confusion and shock.
Tauriel shook his hand off her shoulder, glaring at him with fire in her eyes.
“She’s damn well able to protect herself, Legolas. She stayed behind to help more people escape from the Town.”
The blonde elf’s eyebrows rose in shock and he stepped back a pace, “And you let her?”
“I’m not a human-babysitter,” the she-elf replied snappily, “You’ve seen her fight. You know she’s able to handle it. I’m sure she’ll be along shortly.”
With a curt nod of respect, Tauriel spun around and walked away , her hair blowing in the light breeze.
Legolas sighed deeply, the feeling of panic in his gut not ebbing. He had specifically asked Tauriel to keep a keen eye on the human before he had left Lake-Town. Just as an extra precaution, of course. She had a terrible habit of running into trouble wherever she could find it.
It wasn’t like he had feelings for her or anything…
Legolas had to struggle to keep the expression on his face neutral. He couldn’t keep telling himself that she had no effect on him. The night at the bar flashed back to him. He had been drunk, drunker than he had been in many a century, and she had looked so beautiful that night. Dried orc blood stuck to the roots of her hair, and a large bruise was forming on the left hand side of her face. Her lip had been split wide open, and drips of red blood were falling from her mouth. He had wiped the blood from her chin with his index finger, then after, with his lips.
What the hell had he been thinking? The wine had clouded his judgement, and his usually rigid inhibitions had been broken down. Then after, he had run off like a scared little boy-elf of merely eighty! His face burned in shame every time he thought of it, which had been a lot over the past few days. What she must have thought of him! An immature fool, too embarrassed to even face her.
Of course, Legolas had had no lack of suitors, but none of the beautiful elven princesses with their flowing hair and embroidered robes made him feel the way that she did. Surprisingly enough, he felt himself more drawn to her violent outbursts of bad language than he had ever done to the softly spoken she-elves he had been in contact with.
“A HEALER!” came a loud shout from the lake, and Legolas spun around, blonde hair flying. He knew that voice.
“I NEED A HEALER!”
In a boat not far from the shore, stood a human woman, her bare limbs and face covered in soot, mud and blood. In her arms, she carried a limp young boy, no older than ten.
Despite himself, Legolas smiled. Of course she would have managed to get out of there. If anyone could, it was her.
“IS THERE A HEALER NEARBY?” She shouted again, struggling to be heard over the din of wailing and shouting.
The boat stopped to a halt by the shore, and the rower, a young man with a youthful face, jumped out and gently helped the human woman onshore, stroking the sweaty hair back off the unconscious boy’s head. He was taking to her. Intently.
Too intently for Legolas’ liking.
One of his calloused hands rested upon her shoulder, and Legolas saw her almost lean into it, drawing comfort from the touch.
A beast stirred within him, and almost without knowing, he found himself walking toward the shore purposefully, a fire in his belly that he had not felt for far too long. He got close enough to them to hear snippets of their conversation.
“-It’s too late to save him. He’s almost gone.”
“Almost, but not yet. You underestimate the powers of the elves, Jack. IS THERE A HEALER ANYWHERE?” she shouted again, whipping her head around"
“Allow me.” said Legolas, calmly walking forwards and holding his arms out, “Give me the child.”
“Holy shitting dickbags, Legolas…” she muttered, and the young man’s eyebrows raised in surprise at her language.
You get used to it, friend, Legolas thought.
“You sure know how to turn up at the right moment, elf.” she muttered, handing the boy gently over to him. Legolas felt the dead weight, and the coldness of his pale skin. The young man, Jack, was right. He was nearly gone.
Do you trust this man?“ asked Jack, his voice concerned.
"Surprisingly enough, yes,” she replied, and Legolas’ heart skipped a beat, “With my life.”
She looked directly at him with that line, her eyes connecting with his azure ones, and he nodded, before turning his head, searching the busy horizon for a certain face.
He saw her almost instantly, her long red hair billowing in the breeze.
“TAURIEL!” he yelled, and she looked around instantaneously. Seeing the young boy in Legolas’ arms, she sprinted towards him, reaching him in mere seconds.
“Give him to me,” she urged, already grabbing a handful of dark green leaves from a small bag on her belt, “He needs attention immediately.”
Legolas handed the boy to her, and she looked up, seeing the human girl looking on in worry. Despite the graveness of the situation, a small smirk twisted on her lips.
“You did well,” she said, nodding at her, “For a human…” and with that, she sped off.
Without the weight of the boy in her arms, the human plonked herself down on a large rock and sighed. Legolas noticed a large, red shiny patch on her forearm.
“What happened?” he asked urgently, kneeling down in the cold mud, and carefully holding the injured arm. The skin had cracked and peeled, and large blisters were beginning to form. She hissed in pain as Legolas’ nimble fingers ran over the damaged flesh.
“Burnt it.” she muttered, looking up at Legolas.
“Why didn’t you bind it?” he chastised her, tearing a long strip of fabric from his green tunic and soaking it in the saltwater of the nearby lake.
“Legolas, I’m quickly running out of materal to bind injuries with,” she grumbled, gesturing to her own clothing, which stopped just above her midriff. The tones flesh was covered in grime, and Legolas had to try not to stare. His mouth had gone dry and he swallowed deeply.
“I… um… yes.” he replied, and inwardly cursed himself. Why could ne never speak properly around this girl, it was ridiculous.
“Um… do you need any help or…” asked Jack, awkwardly standing with his hands in his pockets, “Or should I…” he gestured away with his hand, “go…”
The human girl smiled, and nodded, “Thank you. So much. You saved my life, Jack, I owe you one.”
“I can handle it from now on,” added Legolas, not unkindly, “You have my gratitude. (Your name) is a very good friend of mine, and without you, she would not be here.”
The corner of Jack’s mouth quirked upwards in a smile, “You are most welcome.”
He sauntered off, and Legolas returned his attention to her singed arm.
“This is going to hurt,” he muttered, looking at her, waiting for her permission.
“It already hurts like a bitch, I can’t imagine it could get any worse.”
He took that as his signal, and wrapped the salt-watered fabric tightly around her arm, once, twice, before tying it with a secure knot as quickly as possible.
She hissed through her teeth.
“FFFFFFFFFFUCK…” she muttered, tears forming in the corners of her eyes, “You weren’t bloody kidding, were you?”
He grimaced in response, “I am sorry.”
“No, no,” she replied, “It’s better to have a sore arm than no arm at all.”
He smiled and helped her up onto her feet, “Well, you deserve a rest. I am travelling to the orc fortess of Gundabad. The ride will take me a day at least. Would you like to accompany me?”
Her eyebrows knotted together in confusion, “You want me to come with you? What happened to all of your ‘stay out of the way of danger’ talks?”
He shook his head, smiling.
“It appears it is impossible for you to stay out of danger, (your name), I’ve decided to stop trying.”
She grinned at that, and walked with him towards the large chestnut horse that stood in the tall grass, surrounded by milling Lake-people.
“I think that’s a good idea.” she agreed, stroking the horse’s mane, and looking at him with a glint in her eyes, “I’m quite a fan of danger.”