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Butterfly-Cocoon

Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen

by Rous

Ela looked up at the figure before her. She took in his pale skin and silver hair. Without a word between them, she knew who he was. Taking a moment to glance at their surroundings, she turned back towards the man.

“Adar.”

“Laeriell nîn, my Summer Girl. Long have I dreamed of seeing you again. You are as beautiful as your mother.” He smiled at her. Her gaze drifted from him back to the surroundings. She looked back at him in confusion.

“So, this is how it ends? I am cut down before I even begin? What of the things I am to accomplish?”

“No, Iell. It is not your time. You are not yet strong enough to do what you try. You must release the boy.”

She glanced at Del, standing beside her. “Let Del die? I cannot. If I let go, it will be to save myself. How could I live with myself if I did that?” Del looked at her, startled. “And what of Meliel? She loves him. It would tear her apart. No, I will trust that Eru has a purpose. If I am to live, it will not be at Del’s expense.”

Dorlandad smiled at her. “You choose well. You have made me proud. I could not have asked for a better daughter.”

“What of Naneth? Is she with you?”

“No. It is not her time, either.”

“Are you telling me my mother is still alive? But, how can that be? She drowned, long ago.” Ela’s thoughts were already ahead of any answer he would give. Her mother, still out there!

“No," he said, gently. "She did not drown.”

Ela was silent. “How do you know these things?” Suddenly she looked to her father.

“Is there a snake here?”

“A snake?” he asked, a small smile tugging his lips. “I do seem to recall one passing through. He was most unusual. He spoke of a strange girl who could talk to him.”

“Did he speak well of me?”

“He spoke of your kindness to him. That said enough.”

She turned back the way they had come. They could hear a faint voice, calling.

“That is for us,” she said, wistfully. “We must go. See, I told you Eru had a plan.” She looked back to her father.

“Are you happy, Iell?” he asked, tenderly. He felt as if a hand clutched his heart. How like her mother, his beloved Ceria, she looked. Tiny and fair, with the freckles he had so loved. But, how carefree this image of his wife looked. She had been spared the hard childhood her mother had suffered.
He ached with love for this daughter he had not been allowed to raise.

“I am happy, Ada.” Looking back towards the battlefield and the ones there, she turned back to her father. “And I will be happy in the future. The Lady and I have both seen it. I shall tell your mother I spoke to you. She loved you very much and told me great things of your father. And I told her small things of you.” She suddenly threw herself into her father’s arms. “I have missed you so much. I once asked Glorfindel if you could come back to me. He said, no. Many times I wanted to come to you, but others would not allow it.
And now, much as I miss you, I am drawn back."

Del gently pulled on her arm. “We have to go, Ela.”

“Always will I think well of you, Elrénia Dorlandadiell. Think of me when you hold your firstborn. I will be watching.” His voice faded into the whisper of the wind. “I love you.”

----


The sun beating down was torture. Ela felt she was suffocating. Her last memory was of the man striking her to the ground and her reaching out to Del. She knew that if she let him go, he would not return. The body falling across them had knocked the breath from her, and now she was struggling to breathe under its weight. The lack of air and the drain of keeping Del alive were slowly taking her life. Time dragged by and she thought the last thing she would ever experience was the sound of two voices: one calling, I love you, the other crying out from far away.


----

“Over here! I found them!”

Orophin and Elldar came running. Haldir was removing the bodies from a pile. Elldar reached to help him. The cut down his arm made the job difficult. Orophin paled when he saw the small hand with the bonding rings visible under the bodies. With renewed effort, they pulled the bodies away. Del gasped and shuddered.

“Pull her away from me!” he said through clenched teeth. “It is killing her.”

Haldir removed her hand from Del who immediately fell unconscious. He gently turned her over, checking her for wounds. She was not breathing. The only thing he found was a blow to her head, nasty, but not life threatening. With a gasp, she shuddered and opened eyes that did not focus.

“Adar?” She appeared disoriented.

“No, he is still in Imladris.”

“Del?” she whispered.

“He is alive, Ela. Why did you leave the protection of the forest?” Haldir asked quietly. He was not happy with her.

“He fell. They would have killed him.”

He smiled weakly.

“Rest now,” he said, gently picking her up. He carried her back to the station where riders from Caras Galadhon were setting up a tent to treat the worst of the injured.

Twenty-one men and two elves were dead. Those with superficial cuts from knives and grazes from arrows were sent back to the station.
Glordinel followed the stretcher holding Del’s unconscious form. If the young ellon made it through the night, it would be a miracle.

Glordinel started with Del. He removed the arrows. The one to the abdomen had managed to miss vital organs, but the greatest danger would be loss of blood. The leg wound was more serious. It took him some time to work the arrow out without nicking the artery. He packed the wounds with herbs and wrapped them in bandages. Time now would decide the boy’s fate.

“This boy should be dead,” the healer said quietly, turning to Orophin. He glanced at a weeping Meliel.

“I know.”

“How long did he lie there, before being found? Who kept him from bleeding out?”

"It had to have been two hours before they were missed." Orophin glanced down the line of wounded to where Elldar sat, awaiting the healer.
"Ela ran out when he fell. She took down one attacker before she also fell.

“Ela was injured? Why did no one tell me? Where is she?” Glordinel was visibly upset.

“She is back in a talan. She sustained a blow to the head and not breathing when we found her. She could not focus her eyes, but she was coherent. Enough so that she was worried about Del.”

“Did anyone send word to Rúmil?” He knew that nothing could stop the captain of the northern fences from coming once he heard the news.

“I did. He should be here before morning.”

“Most of the wounded are not serious. They can remain here for another day or so. I want Del and Ela back in the city today. A head blow is nothing to ignore. I will go check her now.” He glanced at Celeborn.

“Go. I will finish here. I think I can still wrap a wound well enough.” The ruler of Lórien smiled at the speed with which the healer left. He turned to Orophin.

“I have never seen him dote so on one of his students.”

“Have you noticed any who do not dote on her? She is spoiled beyond reason.”

“And you are one of the worst. Second only to Gariel.”

Orophin laughed. “She does spoil the girl, but I think Ela has spoiled us even more.” Shaking his head, he turned back to the cut he was stitching.

Glordinel made his way back through the trees to Celedien’s office where he found Haldir tending Ela. The warden had gently washed the gash on her left temple. It was deep, but short. The bleeding had slowed to a trickle, and a bruise was forming down her cheek. There were scrapes along her ear and a small patch of hair was gone, caught in her attacker’s wrist guard. A knot had formed below the cut.

“How is she?” Glordinel asked Haldir softly, sensing his reluctance to leave the girl.

“I could only find the head injury.” He moved to allow Glordinel to check her. “She was not supposed to be out there.”

“Maybe not, but if she had not been, Delinfel would not be with us now. He is still in danger, but he is alive, a fact for which his parents will be grateful. Yes, you have done well cleaning it up. It will require a stitch or two, but the damage will not be physical. Did she not have an adverse reaction before to a head blow?”

“It took her months to get over it, although a great part of that was due to the circumstances.”

“Do not talk about me as if I were not here,” she whispered.

“How do you feel, sell?” Glordinel’s voice was almost as soft as hers.

“Like someone backhanded me with a vambrace. Oh, wait, they did. Valar, it hurts. How is Del? I know he is still here. Just.”

“Do you feel him?”

“He is hovering.”

“Can you open your eyes?” Glordinel moved to block the softening light from the window.

“How long was I out there? It is so dark.”

Haldir moved to close the shutters on the windows.

Glordinel moved his fingers in front of her eyes. Haldir opened the shutters back up. There was no difference. It seemed the blow had done more than raise a knot. Glordinel rose and motioned for Haldir to follow him out.

“This could be temporary. I will know more once we are back in the city. I have seen it before. It could be days, weeks,” he hesitated, “or it could be permanent.”

“You will have to move farther off if you do not want me to hear,” she called, her voice strained. Glordinel went back in.

“You heard, did you?”

“You keep forgetting that one thing I have that works properly is my ears. Yes, I heard. Do not worry. It is temporary. It will just be an inconvenience for a while."

“We are heading back to the city soon and I want you to go. They have already left with Del.”

“Very well, but only because we must get this mess cleaned up before my birthday. If not, Rúmil will trade my blue dress for a grey, and I will not even know it.” She could not see the scowl that crossed Haldir’s face.

They left her to rest. A waiting Elldar looked up as they came back to the common area.

“How is she?”

“She will live. Let me see you arm.” Glordinel examined the cut and determined that it would not require stitches. He cleaned the blood away and sprinkled a powder on the wound. Wrapping it in clean strips of bandages, he patted the boy on the back.

“You were all lucky today. Del and Ela will recover. You stood yourself very well today, I am told. Your father is proud.”

“He would not feel that way if he had seen me.”

“But he did. He is the one who told me you had done well. And you may not know it, but it was your arrow that brought down the man that attacked Ela.”

“Then why was I so afraid?”

Glordinel peered into Elldar’s eyes. “Only a fool would have no fear. If you have no fear, then you do not think of yourself or those around you. The ellon with no fear is more dangerous than the enemy. He will take chances that endanger his allies. No, fear is to be desired. It keeps you aware.”

“Honestly?”

“Honestly," the healer chuckled. "Now go. Your friends are heading for the city. You may join them.”

“Thank you, Lord Glordinel. I see why Ela respects you so much.”

“She does? That is good to know.”

~*~*~*~*~*~

Elldar overtook the party escorting Del back. Meliel looked a little better. Elldar took his friend’s pack from her and slowed his pace to match hers. Shortly after, Haldir caught up to them. He was riding and carrying an unconscious Ela. Glancing up, Meliel could make out the cut on her head.

“Elldar, go straight to your mother and explain what happened. She may have heard something by now and will be upset. Tell her that you and Ela are alright.”

“Yes, uncle. Ela will be alright?”

“With some rest and quiet, Glordinel believes she will recover.”

Elldar took off at the distance-eating pace that was common with the wardens. Haldir watched him go. It would keep him from brooding about his friends.

“She is not alright, is she?”

Haldir looked down at Meliel.

“No, but Glordinel believes it is temporary. Most symptoms with blows like this are. We will know in a few days.”

“Are you angry with her for leaving the woods?”

“Yes, I am, but not her reasons for it.”

“She saved Del’s life. I will never be angry she disobeyed.” There was defiance in the girl's voice.

“How much farther?” asked Ela dreamily.

“Not far. Does your head hurt much?”

“Not unless a whole legion of Orcs dancing on it hurts much. Can we hurry? Do you remember Imladris?”

“Yes, I do, but if we hurry, you will become even more nauseated. I do not think that will do either of us any good.”

“No, I suppose not.” He could tell by her voice she was drifting off again. “Do you remember the dance when I was fifteen?” Her question startled him.

“Yes. You were trying not to dance on my feet.”

“Mmmm. You told me to look up and not watch my feet.” He nodded, forgetting she could not see him. “Today, I watched other than my feet and felt the music rush through me. I could feel the strength leave me and enter Del. It was the same rush of accomplishment I felt when I found I could dance. Today, I danced differently.”

“Yes, Ela. Today you danced.”

“The dance leads me in another direction. It pulls me away and then throws me back to the center.” She seemed to sleep. After several minutes, she said, “I still dream of that dance. What you said to me, what you did not say. I have never danced with another in the same way.” He felt her relax.

Glancing at Meliel, he saw a dawning on her face. She turned abruptly and went to Del.

Haldir looked down at Ela. A small drop of blood was seeping through the stitches. Her face was paler than usual. The dried blood matted her hair, turning it a dark brown. He noticed, not for the first time, surely, that she was no longer a girl.

He was drawn back to the incident in the woods when they had fallen. She had sounded angry, but his brother had just laughed at him. Something had happened that day. Something he still could not quite put in perspective. He had been too busy to dwell on it, but it stirred his thoughts now. Questions surfaced that he had put away. Why did he fight her so about the marches? Well, he had proven right on that account. Children did not belong there. Orophin had convinced him that they deserved the chance, and Rúmil had done his share. And what of his youngest brother? He had been skirting a dangerous area for a year now. Was he interested in her? Would he wait twenty more years?

He felt her stir again before settling back down. She was warm, lying in his arms. He could smell the faint aroma of lavender through the metallic scent of blood. He was aware the slightly musky odour was her favourite, and her brothers made sure she always had at least one bottle of the oil, but he had never taken much notice of it.

He knew she was in for a rough spell. The last time the nausea and headaches had kept her ill for several weeks. He hoped it would pass more quickly this time. She did not have Elrond’s house in which to hide.


***********************************


Haldir glanced up as they reached the gates. Nodding farewell to Meliel, he pushed the horse to a faster walk. He ignored the questions thrown to him by passing guards. Leave the explanations to Celedien and Orophin. One face he caught was obviously not pleased. He shook his head. He risked nudging the horse to a slow trot, but a low moan quickly changed his mind. He pulled the horse back to a walk. When he finally reached Glordinel’s infirmary, his patience was wearing thin. Elldar and Gariel were waiting for him. He handed Ela to his sister-in-law and dismounted. Without a word, he took her back once he was on the ground. Going into the long, low building, he went to the far back where it was darker. He laid her down on the bed and turned to Gariel.

“She will need clean clothes and her bathing kit. As soon as Glordinel will allow, she will want a bath.”

Gariel went to the bed. Their turn was to be a hard and uncomfortable two-week stint, unpleasant, but not dangerous. Yet Elldar came back injured and while he tried to assure her that Ela was not seriously hurt, Del was coming in on a stretcher and she had already heard that two others had been killed. This was not the way it was supposed to happen. She now looked down on the girl she had come to regard as a daughter. The cut on her temple was sewed shut, but the bruising under and around it was deepening. Gariel bit back a small cry when she saw the bare spot where Ela’s hair had been pulled out. However, what pained her most was how pale the girl was.

“What happened?” she asked, tearing her eyes from Ela to look at Haldir.

“You will need to ask your son and husband. They were there; I was not. I only went when the Lady sent me. I just chanced to be in the city.”

She looked at Elldar.

“We were on guard with Holelien and Dorelmin when they were attacked by men. We turned and made for the woods, but stopped to return fire. Father and other wardens came out and it turned into a hand-to-hand fight. When Del fell, Ela ran out. She was supposed to stay in the woods. They were not supposed to leave. I shot a man. I do not really know what happened after that.”

“The man you shot fell on me, that is what happened.” Elldar spun at her words. “This has been a most unpleasant experience. May I have some water?” Elldar went to find a cup.

“How do you feel?” asked Gariel.

“You tell her, March Warden.”

“Something about Orcs dancing on her head. She was incoherent coming in.”

“I was not. I remember everything. Do not blame my aching head for your confusion.”

“Here.” He took the cup of water from Elldar. “Remember to drink slowly. I do not have a basket.”

“You had better find one. I am not feeling so well.”

“I will get you one. Meanwhile, just breathe slowly and do not try to sit up.”

“Are you going to sit beside me and sing again?” she asked.

He looked slightly embarrassed. “Do you want me to?” he asked softly.

“It is not necessary. I was just curious. It was not un-enjoyable. But, I know you have more important things to do. How is Del?”

“He should be here any time. Glordinel says he will live, no small thanks to you. You realize that you disobeyed a direct order. You deserve to be punished.”

“Well, if you can think of something worse than this, go ahead and punish me. I rather think you cannot. Besides, your heart is not in it.”

“How do you know?”

His question went unanswered. She had drifted back to sleep. Setting the cup on a table, Haldir turned towards the entrance. Glordinel came through the door, followed by Galadriel. Del was laid down next to Ela. Meliel sat down in the chair close by.

“How was she on the ride in?” the healer asked Haldir.

“When I tried to hurry, she became ill. So we walked the entire way.”

“That is to be expected. It will pass. She kept down the water?”

Gariel nodded.

“Good. Now, they need rest, so I would like everyone to leave. Gariel, come back in a couple of hours. If she is awake, we will see about getting her cleaned up. Right now, rest is more important.”

When Meliel did not move, Gariel went over to her.

“Come. I will take you to see Del’s parents, and then you should go home to see your mother.”

Meliel reluctantly rose and let Gariel lead her out.

When they had all gone, Galadriel went to Del. She laid a hand on his forehead.

“He rests.”

“Yes,” said Glordinel.

She went to Ela. Hesitantly, she laid a hand on her forehead.

“This one does not.” Withdrawing her hand, she looked down at the girl. “Please let me know how they fare in a few hours.”

“Yes, Lady.” He watched as she left.

****
“How long have you been here?” Rúmil started awake.

“All night. How is your head?” He stretched.

“The dancing has subsided. How is Del?”

“Still unconscious. Meliel was here late last night. Glordinel finally sent her back home.”

“She is worried.”

“You are not?”

“He will recover. As will I. Is your brother still angry with me?”

“I do not believe so. He realizes why you disobeyed. Of course, you may have to deal with Celedien. He is in a state. He did not want you out there from the beginning. You will be hard pressed to find a commander willing to let you back on the fences.”

“My current condition makes the issue moot at the moment: which should make your brother happy. Have you seen Lord Glordinel this morning?”

“He is outside. Do you need him?”

“I need a bath. He said Gariel would see to it when I was ready. I am past ready. And I am hungry.”

“Just a moment.” He went to find the healer.

Ela slowly sat up. Having only a small bout of nausea, she took her time swinging her legs over the side of the bed. By the time Rúmil had returned, she was sitting, waiting.

“Let me see your head,” said Glordinel. He checked the stitches and bruising on her temple. “Nausea?”

“A little. Nothing like the last time.” She licked her dry lips, and then swallowed the slight nausea that threatened to erupt.

“Dizziness?”

“Not too much.”

“Then you may go when Gariel arrives. But nowhere else.”

“Thank you. What of some breakfast? I would settle for some bread and tea.”

“I will take care of it. Then I want you back in bed.”

“So the library is out of the question?”

“If I catch you anywhere but here, the dancing Orcs will return.”

She started to laugh, and then caught herself.

“Oh, that hurt.”

“Well, now I know how to curb that tongue of yours.” He smiled at her. “I want you to rest. Just a few days will make a great difference.”

“I know. It is just so boring. I cannot read. I cannot write. I cannot do anything.”

“You can listen for Del. I have some errands to run. If he wakes up, you have enough training to know what to do. Rúmil can help you.”

“Very well. Maybe things will be better after a bath.”

“They usually are.”



****

Del slowly crawled back up from the pit in which he had been hiding. It had been so hard to return. The lights that had beckoned him forward had been so inviting. The closer he had gone, the less pain he felt. He remembered the fight. The searing pain as the arrow had ripped through his thigh, then the cold from the second arrow. Then he looked up and saw a Valar. Except the colours were wrong. No, it was a Maia. But, that could not be right. Then he realized it was only Ela, which made no sense whatsoever. She had been ordered to stay in the trees. Poison! That was it. The arrows had carried poison and he was dying. Or dreaming. Or hallucinating. What does one do when dying of poisoning? Whatever it was, she was a part of it, kneeling over him, telling him to shut up. Well, that sounded right. She reached for her medicine bag, then grabbed her knife. He watched her kill the man using a trick that most of the guards had learned to guard against. It had saved her life this time. However, she had not seen the second man. Then he remembered her hand reaching out and falling on him, then the man dropping on the both of them. There was a confused period when he was somewhere beautiful with Ela. And an ellon, but he could not remember anything else. The last thing he recalled was looking up from the deep pit and seeing Meliel, calling to him.

He finally opened his eyes. It was dark in the building. He could make out the sunlight through the door at the far end, so he knew it was daytime.
Other than that, he had no idea even what day it was. He gave a low moan.

“Del?” He looked over at the voice.

“Ela? You are all right?”

“Better than you. I was not stupid enough to be struck by two arrows, just clubbed over the head. How do you feel?”

“Punctured.”

He watched her stand up from the chair. She teetered slightly before regaining her balance. There was a wide bandage wrapped around her eyes. Before she could take a step, Rúmil came into Del’s line of sight. He took Ela’s arm and led her to the bed. She pulled back the sheet and laid her hand on his abdomen. Feeling around she gave a nod.

“It is healing nicely. You will carry a scar, but you will live.”

“What is wrong with your eyes?”

“Just a little side effect from the blow. The light hurts, so Lord Glordinel wrapped them for me.” It was a little white lie that she hoped he would not see through, but she gave him not enough credit. He knew how bad head injuries could be, and the effects of them. He glanced at Rúmil, who shook his head.

“Your parents were here, and I think Meliel spent the night. You had them worried.”

“But not you.” His voice carried a surety he did not understand.

“Well, I know how you feel about Meliel, and how she feels about you. I knew you could not leave her.

“How do you know these things?”

“It is a gift. According to some, not a very desirable one, but a gift nonetheless.”

Del laughed.

“At least you can laugh. I almost passed out yesterday. Do you need anything? Would you like some water?”

“How long was I out?”

“It has been three days.”

“Then, yes, I want water. Is food out of the question?”

“No. You may have the same thing they are forcing me to eat: bread and weak broth.”

“Is that necessary?”

“Of course not. But, misery loves company, and if I have to eat it, so do you. Rúmil, do you mind?”

“No. I will be back with something for both of you.”

“Does it hurt much?” asked Del when he had gone.

“It is uncomfortable. If I remember to move slowly, it is not too bad.”

The silence stretched awkwardly.

“So,” she finally said. “What was the rumour you were not supposed to tell me?”

“That was a mistake on my part. Can you not just forget it?”

“I find out the most interesting things by mistake. Now, what was it?”

“I cannot tell you. Meliel will be angry.”

“Are you so enamoured of her that you cannot even think on your own?” Ela allowed a tone of disgust to colour her voice.

“Yes,” he whispered.

“Good,” she answered softly. “It is forgotten. Now, here is Rúmil. Eat, and then rest.” She returned to her chair.

She heard the tray set down on the table next to her. Shaking her head, she sat back against the wall. Well, now she knew that Del was as serious as Meliel. At least her friend would not get hurt.

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Chapter name
Chapter Fifteen
Created
14 Feb 2005
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14 Feb 2005
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