Title: Refuge from the Cold
Author: Kate of Kintail
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Spoilers: I don’t think this gives anything away
Disclaimer: LotR was J.R.R.Tolkein’s brain child and New Line Cinema owns the movie rights. I don’t own a bit, none of it’s mine, and that will probably be evident as you read. But I don’t get any money of any kind from this and it’s all for harmless fun and entertainment.
Summary: Gimli, Aragorn and Legolas take refuge in a mountain cave to wait out a blizzard and allow an ailing Legolas a little time to rest.
Thanks: Many, many, many thanks to my encouraging beta Hermione Eveningfall, as well as silverelf and traprose who took pity on my lack of knowledge
Translations: Translations of the Elvish used in this story appear at the bottom of the story
Feedback: Yes please! But it is my first ever LotR fic, so go easy on me
Refuge from the Cold
“I was under the impression,” Gimli rumbled, raising a bushy eyebrow that couldn’t really be distinguished beneath his dark hair and helmet, “that elves were immune to illnesses.”
Legolas narrowed his eyes at his friend, both dripping from snow-soaked hair and clothes. The mountain cave offered refuge from the cold winds and snow, and also a bit of rest from their journeying. “Actually,” Legolas snuffled, rubbing his nose against his shoulder as he scavenged through his pack for his handkerchief. “That’s a common misconcep… a common…” the tone of his voice raised an octave and he dropped his bag to make use of the crook of his arm instead. “Ihkstt! ehhKixt!” He gave quite a powerful sniff, blinked, then lowered his arm more slowly than he had raised it. “Excuse me.” He sniffed again, turning his attention back to Gimli. “It’s a common misconception that we’re immune to everything just because we’re immortal by nature. We can’t die from illnesses the way we can from mortal wounds. And we get sick very infrequently at that, but we do get sick from time to… wait a… moment…” His eyes narrowed and his arm snapped up again into place with lightning reflexes. “IH-kxtt!” Holding his arm steady, the elf sighed and rubbed his nose roughly against his sleeve with a muffled, “Excuse me. Besides, we tend to keep our ailments as private as possible… heh…” He dug around again in the bag for a moment more in search of the handkerchief before giving up again and cupping his hand over his nose and mouth. “heh-Ketchhh!”
A restrained laugh-turned-to-cough came from the back of the cave where Aragorn had chosen to set his pack down. “My apologies,” he said, noticing how they stared at him. “I wasn’t making light of this by any means,” he explained, holding a hand up in peace but clearly restraining more laughter. “Something from my childhood just caught my mind… one of the visits by the troop from Lórien. It was… Haldir,” he said with a smile of further recognition. “He locked himself in his room for a week and emerged eventually with a very red nose.” And this time he made no effort to restrain his laugh. “I hadn’t really thought anything of it at the time. And I suppose he would deny it if I were to mention anything to him now about it.”
Legolas nodded, but the visual had the effect of making him smile, in spite of himself. Gimli, who knew the elf only from their brief encounter when the fellowship needed a guide, was still inclined to laugh rather loudly over the image as well.
Aragorn strode towards the narrow mouth of the cave, peering out into the blinding white. “We should rest here a few hours. There is no way we will be able to see anything in that blizzard and we are liable to fall right off the face of the mountain.” He drew his cloak tighter around his arms as he returned to the back of the cave where it was still cold but out of the wind at the very least.
With secret relief that someone else had made the judgment, Legolas nodded in agreement. His intentions were to get as much rest as he could, while he could, before they had to head back into the cold and the wind and the snow. But first, he needed to find his handkerchief and stop his nose from running. He rummaged around in his bag again, his slender nose sniffling more continually now, and his body shaking with frequent shivers. At any moment, he was going to need to sneeze again, and still without a proper handkerchief to use. If he couldn’t stop the sneezes from coming, the least he could do was be prepared when they did. He took a cool, deep breath to calm himself; he refused to be frustrated over something as trivial as a sniffle in his nose. The roar of the blizzard had helpfully hidden the sound of most of his sneezing and coughing and sniffling as they trudged through it. He had been able to sniff as loudly as needed and neither of his companions had noticed how often he rubbed at his nose, as they couldn’t see him through the blinding snow. But here in the cave, everything was silent and everything was visible.
“Legolas?” Gimli called out.
Legolas stopped his search to look over at the dwarf. He sniffed and raised his hand to rub his nose at bit with the side of his wrist. “Yes?”
Gimli coughed nervously and rubbed the back of his neck. “You are all right… aren’t you, Laddie?” he spoke with uncertainty and worry though he didn’t dare let it show on his face.
With a slight smile, Legolas lowered his hand and gave a soft, affirmative nod. “Why Gimli, I didn’t know you cared.”
“Bah!” The dwarf angrily pushed his own bag into the dirt on the floor of the cave. Before he could deny the accusation, which he most assuredly had opened his mouth to do, the inevitable sneezes Legolas had been trying to prepare against struck.
With one hand tightened on his pack and the other cupped over his nose and mouth, his body jerked forward with sneezes. “huh-KEHshuh! Ketchhh! Kuhtchhh!” He gave several liquid sniffs and a deep breath out his mouth. His nose ran as he turned his head back down to give the handkerchief search one more try. A few wrapped pieces of lembas bread, a pouch of water, a fresh tunic… no handkerchief. He sniffed again and wiped his nose against his sleeve, then coughed from the congestion.
“For pity’s sake,” Aragorn sighed with a smile, striding over to the elf. “Just take mine,” and he extended a hand with a clean, folded handkerchief.
Legolas shook his head in refusal, sifting through more contents of his bag. A thin rope, a knife in its sheath, new bow strings… no handkerchief. He drew his arm back to his face, sensing the sneezes again. His body tensed beneath his cloak, deep blue eyes shut, mouth dropped halfway open. “hah-KIXT! Eh-Kixtt!” He tried to sniff again, but his nose was too stuffed even for that now.
Squatting down now beside the elf, Aragorn pushed the handkerchief closer. “Take it,” he repeated, more kindly this time. Legolas looked up, blinking away a tear that had formed in the corner of his eye from the forceful sneeze. He tried again to sniff, but that only made him cough.
Defeated, Legolas quickly took the handkerchief, careful not to make eye contact with either of his companions, and unfolded the cloth with a flourish. Choosing a spot, he lifted it to his nose, closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and blew. The feeling of utter relief was instantaneous, and he sighed as he wiped his nose dry afterwards. “Thank you,” he whispered, folding it up and tucking it in his pocket for easy access.
Aragorn nodded ‘you’re welcome’ accordingly, knowing the elf probably was still watching him out of the corner of his eye. Swiftly, he extended a hand with the intention of touching Legolas’ forehead. But the elf’s reflexes were still the better, even with the cold. Legolas moved out of reach, grasping his wrist tightly, annoyance burning in his eyes despite his still calm expression. “All right then,” Aragorn chuckled to break the tension, though his face remained serious, as he eased his arm out of Legolas’ firm grip. “I will just assume you’re running a fever with the way you’re shivering.” What they needed, what Legolas needed, was a warm fire.
He pushed off from the ground and rose, striding a few paces towards Gimli. “I believe there were some evergreens a ways back,” he said thoughtfully.
“Yes, I remember,” Gimli nodded, pulling his ax to his chest. He would be inclined to remember, as he’d clung to one to steady himself after rounding a very blustery corner of the mountain pass. With determination, “I will go chop firewood.”
Aragorn looked a bit worried. “Be careful. Keep one hand on the side of the mountain.”
But Gimli waved it off. “Yes, yes. I will not fall. Dwarves were born to climb mountains through the snow.” He rose, squared his shoulders, puffed out his chest, and took a deep breath before bowing his head and trudging back out into the blizzard. It was true his nature of being lower to the ground had kept him slightly more steady than the others, but the strong gusts of wind were perhaps more likely to wrong-foot him.
Legolas looked worriedly after him as his small form disappeared in the storm of white. He sniffed again, rubbing his nose with the side of his wrist. There was nothing to do now but wait until Gimli returned with the wood. With a sigh, he rearranged the things in his pack and lay down, using it as a pillow, drawing his cloak around himself like a blanket. Envisioning a burning, crackling fire in front of him instead of the cold, hard rock wall, he slowly closed his eyes.
He shivered with chill. Sensing a shadow moving in front of him, he opened his eyes at once. It had been only Aragorn moving between him and the snowy outside. Moving to drape his own cloak, folded in half for thickness, over Legolas’ body. Legolas realized, suddenly, that he was shivering relentlessly, completely unable to stop. The man squatted down once more, this time to reach out and rub his arm and explain. “You were shivering like mad. And I started to get worried when I could not rouse you.”
“I fell asleep?” Legolas asked blearily, blinking, clutching the cloth around him more tightly as his shivering started to slow.
“For a few minutes only,” Aragorn assured him, though Legolas noticed the man’s dark hair was lighter and wavy again, having dried sufficiently from the wet snows. “Gimli hasn’t even returned from—“ the grunting sound cut him off.
Gimli had returned, but only just. He pulled several long branches into the cave and gave a violent shiver. “Here you are. But they won’t do you much good,” he said heavily. “They are all soaked right through.”
“Build the fire anyway,” Aragorn commanded, looking over at Legolas, who nodded and propped himself up on one elbow, sniffling. Slowly, with recognition, the elf pulled the handkerchief out of his pocket, holding it at chest level as he breathed, holding it at the ready. Legolas focused on the small pile of wood, growing blurrier and blurrier as his eyes squinted closed. His breath caught, every muscle in his body tightened. “heh-Ketchhh! Kuhshuhhh! Ketshhh!”
“Bless you,” Aragorn called over, sympathetically as Legolas finished sneezing and started blowing his nose.
Gimli grumbled but eventually gave a rough “Bless you” though a bit reluctantly, looking sideways at the elf. Then he quickly changed the subject, “There is your wood, but it will not catch fire, I promise you that.” He stood back to give them a good look at the thoroughly wet pile of wood.
Aragorn raised his eyebrows at Legolas, who sat up completely and wrapped the extra cloak around his shoulders along with his own. He closed his eyes, sensing the wood, feeling the fire. With a few words in Elvish, he held his hands out, palms up, extended towards the wood. “Na gladfaer balan tog ammen naur.”
Seconds passed. After nearly a minute, Gimli spoke up in confusion, “Is something supposed to be happening?”
“There is supposed to be fire,” Aragorn said, reaching over and punching the dwarf’s arm in a friendly but scolding way.
Breaking his concentration, Legolas opened his eyes, sniffed, and nodded. “It is this cold.” He reached down and grabbed at the handkerchief again, rubbing it against his nose. “I cannot concentrate… enough…” With a sharp intake of breath, he pressed the handkerchief harder to his face. “heh-Ketchhh!” He lurched forward where he sat. “Ihh-Chishh!” And then paused, still clutching the handkerchief, still keeping his eyes closed, still panting with an expectant sort of expression. Aragorn and Gimli silently watched. Finally, Legolas lowered the handkerchief and gave a strong sniff, tilting his head a little to the right as his left nostril flared. He blinked and gave his nose a rub. “It is still there,” he mumbled, more to himself than for his companions’ benefits. “It just will not…” But it would. His hand snapped back to his nose and mouth as he drew another sharp breath. “KIHtchahh!” Relieved, he blew his nose and relaxed again. “Much better,” he stated with another sniffle. “Now…”
Tucking the handkerchief away, he held his hands out again towards the wood. With a deep breath, he spoke again in Elvish, “Na gladfaer balan tog ammen naur.” Just a few, short, quiet words. Then he repeated them, a bit louder, closing his eyes in intense concentration. He said them again. And again. “Na gladfaer balan… tog ammen naur!” And again, louder with each repetition, hands shaking as the muscles in his arms tensed.
After nearly three exhausting minutes, a spark of yellow-orange burst from one of the pieces of wood. It seemed to be dancing about, trying to find a suitable place to settle. As it did, it left little trails of fire behind in its place. Before long, there was a small but growing blaze eating away at the wood. “Annûn,” Legolas uttered and waved his hand at the rising smoke, ushering it towards the west. The grey stream changed direction to head straight out of the cave.
“Fantastic!” Gimli exclaimed, dropped to his knees at once, which was incidentally a very short drop, and rubbed his hands together in front of the flames.
Aragorn gave Legolas a thankful nod and sat down, himself, to be closer to the warmth of the new fire. “I take it the snows outside are still unrelenting?” he asked at Gimli’s shivering and eagerness to warm himself.
The dwarf nodded. “We would not make it very far to travel these conditions.” Especially not with Legolas as he was, but that did not need pointing out. The elf had made it perfectly clear, as they trudged through the feet of snow and battled forwards against the winds, that he might be sick, but he was much stronger than he looked.
“ehh-Ketchhh! Kushhh! heh…hehKeshhh!” again able to get the handkerchief to his mouth in time. He snuffled into the handkerchief, rubbing his tickling nose through the fabric. “hehKetchhh!”
“We should plan on staying here another few hours at least, then,” Aragorn said. “Until the blizzard dies down a bit. We have wood enough?”
Gimli confirmed proudly, “Enough to last through tomorrow.”
“heh-Ketchhuhhh! Chishhh! heh-Kishhhh! Cheshhh!” He shook forward with each, weak and tired. Sniffling, he pulled hair back behind his ears and forced himself to sit back up. “Excuse me,” he muttered, closing his eyes. The fire was having the effect of making him terribly sleepy. Without meaning to, his head hung, chin to chest, and his breathing slowed.
Aragorn noticed. “Legolas?” The elf’s head bounced back up into place, and he pulled heavy eyelids open. Comfortingly, he asked if Legolas needed help. “Carch baur thaed?”
With a weary shake of his head and a cough, Legolas replied “Im baur îdh.” Sleep was the only thought on his mind, even as his nose tickled and throat itched.
Aragorn nodded with a whispered, “Mae îdh, Legolas.”
Legolas briefly rearranged the contents of his pack so softer things were on top. With his cloak drawn around himself and Aragorn’s on top of that, he lay down on his side, his pack for a pillow, and quickly allowed himself to sleep.
It didn’t seem like a very long sleep when he woke again, though he noticed different sticks on the fire and Aragorn and Gimli were quite a ways away, talking in what he guessed they thought were hushed voices but which traveled over to his finely attuned elf ears just fine in the small cave.
“Should we wake him? It’s been hours.”
“No. Let him rest. It is obvious he needs it.” In thought, Aragorn chewed on the end of his pipe, thought it was filled with nothing to smoke.
“But he should have something to drink at the least.”
“We will get him something as soon as he wakes, Gimli. There is no use rousing him before he needs to be awake. You saw how exhausted he was.”
Exhausted was right. His mouth was dry and sore from sleeping with his mouth open, a result of his stuffy nose. He smiled, thinking how good a warm cup of cider would taste right now. He swallowed involuntarily, wincing at the pain, and decided sleep would be the better of his two current choices. Closing his eyes, he drifted back off to sleep.
“Legolas… wake up…” Legolas felt himself being shaken awake to Aragorn’s voice.
“What?” he mumbled, opening his eyes. Until he realized what it was; he wasn’t being shaken at all, it was the chills. He felt his face burn with heat but didn’t dare push off the cloaks for the cold shivers running through his body. “Oh.” Aragorn was settled beside him, kneeling, and now rubbed his arm again to warm it.
“Have some water,” Gimli suggested, coming into view from behind him, holding a cup out without giving Legolas a choice. Legolas propped himself up, realizing his head had sometime slipped from his makeshift pillow. He rubbed the side of his face clean of dirt, and then accepted the cup. The first swallow was the most painful, burning the back of his throat. But the swallows following that weren’t quite as bad, as long as he did so quickly. He handed the empty cup back with a nod of gratitude. He had long since stopped shaking, but he was still a bit cold, even with Aragorn’s strong hand rubbing his side. “Would you like my cloak?” Gimli asked, as though reading the elf’s mind.
But Legolas shook his head. “I am starting to feel warmer… but thank… thank you…” His nose wiggled and the sides of his mouth turned down slightly. Quickly, he searched for the handkerchief. But it wasn’t in any of his pockets, and he couldn’t seem to find it beneath the cloaks where it could have fallen out. Unable, to locate it, he sat up entirely, pushing off Aragorn’s cloak to search around beneath. Where in the world could it have possibly gone? Before he could figure anything out, however, he was overcome by the urge to sneeze. He buried his face in the crook of his arm as he took a deep breath in. “hahh…Kxxt! Kixtt! Heh-Kexttt!” He lowered his arm, his nose running, sniffling. He pulled open his bag and started rummaging through it again, determined to find at least one handkerchief to use. “heh-Ketshhhhh!” He sneezed wetly, freely, wiping his nose on his sleeve with a bit of a shiver at it. He wanted his handkerchief. Sniffing powerfully, he went through his bag. A comb, a stone he used to sharpen blades, a leather strap he used to keep his sword on his belt rather than his back… no handkerchief. His eyes narrowed again in recognition of the sensation. Into his arm once more, “heh-Kixtt! Kexttt!” Sniffling into the crook of his arm, which conveniently hid the light blush in his cheeks, he snuffled timidly, “Aragord… sniff, sniff… you dod’t habbed to sniff hab adother hadky? Sniff, sniff! Do you?”
Aragorn shook his head pitifully, but Gimli strode over and offered his. “You could have just asked ten minutes ago,” and he thrust the folded handkerchief at Legolas, who took it with another grateful nod and immediately blew his nose. Gimli rolled his eyes as he backed off to tend to the fire, muttering, “And they say dwarves are stubborn…”
With control over his nose once more, Legolas turned his attention elsewhere. It was dark out, he could see that much. But his cold had dulled his senses somewhat and, having fallen asleep and woken to a cave which had barely changed, he had a hard time judging the passage of time. “How late is it?”
Gimli shrugged, looking towards Aragorn, who had already begun to answer. “Pretty late into the night. You slept for quite a long while.”
Legolas noticed that both his companions looked tired; he guessed they had been staying up to watch over him. And though he didn’t really think it was needed, it was much appreciated. “Maybe you two should get some rest,” he suggested. “I can take the first watch tonight.”
Shaking his head, “I’ve got the honor of the first watch tonight, Laddie.” Gimli broke the end off a long stick and tossed it into the fire. “You just go back to sleep and feel better.”
Legolas smiled at the sentiment, but his nose had other ideas. However, with a relatively fresh, clean, and soft handkerchief in hand, he was prepared. “CHIHshhhh! heh-Ketchh! hihChishhh!” He blew his nose gently, rubbing at it. It was beginning to feel a little sore to the touch at the end, and he imagined it probably looked a bit like Haldir’s nose had in Aragorn’s memory. He looked over at Aragorn, who was starting to lie down for a few hours of sleep. “You cad hab—“ he stopped with a sniffle and blew his nose into the handkerchief once again. “You can have your cloak back,” he offered. “I am much warmer now.”
Naturally, Aragorn refused, lying on his side, drawing his arms close to his body. “Keep it, I’ve got Gimli’s.” And he pulled the dwarf’s cloak up so the hood covered his shoulder. The absurdity of this image was enough to make Legolas laugh, as the large man tried to fit beneath the small cloak which barely reached down to his knees. In fact it looked as though it was sitting on top of him rather than covering or warming him in any way.
“Come on,” Legolas insisted, pulling off Aragorn’s cloak, his body giving a shiver at the sudden change in coverings. “Just take it.”
He waved it over towards Aragorn who looked, shook his head, then closed his eyes. “Mae îdh,” he said to Legolas with a smile and made it clear that he would not respond to anything more, whether he had fallen asleep yet or not.
So Legolas draped it back over himself again, surprised at how much warmer it was with it than without it. He looked over at Gimli, who gave him a barely visible smile from behind his bushy beard, and he closed his eyes. Before long, he could hear the familiar sounds of Aragorn sleeping- the slow, heavy breathing, the soft click in the back of his throat when he began a breath out.
It was true that he was tired; in fact, every muscle in his body begged for more rest, especially if they were expected to go a further distance tomorrow to make up for the extended rest today. But he wasn’t so lucky as to quickly fall asleep again. His nose ran constantly, and several times he pulled his hands out from the warmth to rub at his nose with the handkerchief, which wasn’t very big but was nonetheless much better than nothing. He even tried just pressing the handkerchief beneath his nose and closing his eyes to catch the runs as he tried to sleep. But then his nose started tickling again. “heh-heshh! chishh!” Legolas tried his best to keep the sneezes quiet, so as not to wake Aragorn.
He caught Gimli’s face from across the fire as he blew his nose. “Bless you,” the sympathetic-looking dwarf mouthed to him. Gimli gave a quick glance over to Aragorn to be sure the man had not seen the sentiment. But Aragorn was still obliviously asleep.
Not bothering to lower the handkerchief, Legolas continued to rub at his nose as he felt the sneezey tickling continue to build. “heh…” He caught a glimpse of Gimli still watching him as his eyes closed and he took a sharp, involuntary breath. “hehchishh! eh-chishh! hehkishhh!” Legolas folded the handkerchief and rubbed his nose with a dry portion. This time, Aragorn had woken up, but just barely. The man stirred with a brief grunt and turned over onto his other side, pulling Gimli’s cloak against his stomach as he did so as if hugging lose ends of a blanket that was all around. In mere seconds, he was asleep again. Legolas sniffled and bowed his head against his shoulder as he blew his nose to try to muffle the sound a bit more.
The elf tried again to fall asleep, sniffling instead of making the effort to lift his hand and rub at his nose. He tried to ignore the tickles and runs and the scratches in his throat that begged for a cool drink of water. He tried to ignore the way his body ached for sleep that he was not getting and the way his head spun when he closed his eyes. He tried to ignore the strong, intense tickley sensations in his nose. “ehKESHHH! Hehcheshhh!” he sneezed, freely at first, then into the handkerchief as he lifted it into place. Aragorn grunted again but made no further movement or sound. Legolas bent his head again, giving a series of muffled blows that cleared his nose of the urge to sneeze for the moment. Reluctantly, he sat up with a cough. “Gimli?”
Wanting to help, but not exactly in the habit of serving ailing elves, Gimli only raised his eyebrows with an “Aye?”
“Maybe you should try to get some sleep. I don’t think that I am going to… to… sneeze-“ he warned urgently, clamping the handkerchief back into place. “heh-Cheshh! huhchushh!”
“But you did,” Gimli pointed out, joking with him.
“Excuse me?” Legolas blew his nose.
“You said you didn’t think you were going to sneeze, but you did.”
With a sigh, “I don’t think that I will be going to sleep much tonight. Sniff, sniff! I can take the first watch.” He rubbed miserably at his nose. “And… the second and third at this… this rate,” his voice rose at the end of his desperate attempt at finishing his sentence before he sneezed. “heh-Ketchhh! Huh-Chishhh! Cheshhh! Chushh!”
“Bless you,” Gimli said, looking from the fire to his friend. “I appreciate the offer, but with the way you’re sneezing, only Aragorn could sleep through all this noise.” Legolas winced apologetically as he blew his nose. “We had a long day of traveling… and you look like you need the rest… is there not some spell or herb that would help you to sleep?”
Legolas shook his head. “Nothing I could perform properly on myself. And there are no herbs up here in the mountains.” The taste of a nice, warm cup of herbal tea crossed his mind. He coughed and blew his nose again to relieve congestion. His whole body shook as he gave a very violent yawn.
“You need sleep, my friend,” Gimli said so plainly that it single-handedly made Legolas close his eyes, nod, and lie back down. He felt Gimli drape the extra cloak back over him and tuck it tightly around his body. Before he even had a chance to think on his cold again, he had fallen asleep.
Legolas woke sometime later, shivering again with cold. He opened his eyes and saw that the fire was still burning strong and it was still dark outside the cave. Aragorn sat against a rock only a few feet away, his legs up and bent, his knife out, whittling something out of a stick of firewood. On the opposite side of the cave, Gimli lay sleeping, curled in a little dwarf ball. “Garo sen,” Legolas heard and looked up to see Aragorn putting Gimli’s small cloak over his other two.
Legolas shook his head in protest but only managed to cough when he tried to speak. The coughing was painful, his throat scratchy and dry. “Im faug,” he whispered between coughs. He closed his eyes, the coughing worsening, shaking him, making him feel almost nauseous as it shook him inside-out.
“Garo sen,” came Aragorn’s whisper again and the most beautiful cup of water that ever existed was eased into his hand and escorted to his mouth. The water was cold, making his shivering violently worse for a moment, but he drank it down eagerly.
“Ad,” he managed, coughing again and sniffling too. And, in mere seconds, his cup was refilled and given to him ‘again’. The same happened when he finished the second, though he didn’t need to ask. After five cups of water, Legolas finally relaxed, licking his lips. “Thank you,” he breathed, wanting to thank to the man in his own language.
“Can I do anything else for you?” Aragorn asked the question Gimli wouldn’t bring himself to ask.
Legolas shook his head, half preferring Gimli’s more hands-off approach around him. The last thing he wanted was to be babied. A room he could lock himself away in for a week was starting to hold certain appeal. He looked around again, his eyes falling on the wood carving. “Her cheeks are too round, Ranger,” he noted.
Aragorn laughed, reaching over and picking it up for examination. “Do you think so?” It was an otherwise perfect carving of Éowyn, sword in her hand. He shrugged and tossed it into the fire. “The first two were better.”
“hehkshhhh! hehChushhhh!” Legolas had begun sneezing again. He coughed at the congestion.
“Sit up,” Aragorn suggested, scooting over a little to help him sit.
Sitting, Legolas managed to catch his breath just before sneezing again. “heh-Ketchhh! Kishhhh!” He rubbed his nose on the handkerchief, which was quickly becoming too damp to use. Looking over at Gimli, he smiled to see that the dwarf was still fast asleep, despite the disturbance, which was of little surprise and much comfort to Legolas who felt bad enough about his sneezing already.
“Gimli could sleep through a stampede of Oliphaunts,” he said with a laugh. “Do not worry yourself about waking him up.” He paused, then asked, “Another drink, or do you want to try to go back to sleep?”
With a shrug, “Both, I suppose.” Legolas raised a quick fist to cough. “The drink first.” He was starting to feel worse: very achy, very cold. He drank three more cups full before he’d had enough. Sniffling, rubbing his nose against his sleeve, he admitted, “I have had trouble falling to sleep… because of this cold. You do not need to wait on me.”
“Oh, is that what you think I am doing?” he asked, and Legolas nodded. “I have been bored out of my mind for three hours straight. At least when we are sleeping outside there are the leaves and winds and sounds to amuse me but here,” he shook his head. “Only the fire.” And his thoughts, which were perhaps more dangerous than the silence.
Legolas sneezed again, just as he laid his head back down. “heh-Kehshhh! Chishhh!” He tried to prop the bag up a little better to keep his head more elevated, but to no avail. He only managed to shrug off the extra cloaks in the effort.
“Here,” Aragorn offered, scooting closer yet and patting his lap. Legolas put his bag on Aragorn’s lap and his head on that, then they both covered him again with the cloaks as completely and warmly as before. He still shook a bit, but he assured Aragorn that he felt much warmer.
Sniffling, he reached up and rubbed his nose with the handkerchief. “I think I might…” his body seized up. “Sneeze-again-heh-Chishhh! hehKehshhh! Kishhh! Cheshhh!” He blew his nose wetly and rubbed at it, still sniffling but not as badly. “Excuse me,” he said finally, with a heavy sigh.
Aragorn put a comforting hand on Legolas’ side. “Just relax.” Gently, slowly, he stroked the elf’s side. Firm, reassuring strokes which made him relax all the more. “Deri laug. Deri dínen, Legolas.” And at these words, just as he had at Gimli’s, Legolas fell asleep.
It wasn’t long before he woke yet again, feeling as though he’d only just fallen to sleep. It wasn’t his cold that woke him, it was the cold. He was shivering again, without stop, and freezing. His legs wrapped around each other, his teeth chattered, his arms were close to his chest. “Ring… Ring,” he whispered through chattering teeth, and it was clear he was not referring to the Ring of Power. He said it from instinct, trying to be sure his voice still worked, not really expecting anything to come of it or even knowing where Aragorn was in order to hear it.
“Im ista,” Aragorn said from behind him, and Legolas realized his head, still on his pack, was no longer elevated from Aragorn’s legs but Aragorn’s bag. Aragorn was now coming up from behind, pressing the front of his body against the elf’s back, wrapping one arm around his body. Legolas started to move, but was petrified by the sudden warmth and comfort. “Your fever is very high,” Aragorn explained, reaching over the elf’s shoulder and touching his forehead, this time with success. “I will stay here until your fever breaks or you feel warm enough on your own. All night if I must. Can you feel the heat of the fire on your face?” Legolas nodded. “Then drink it in.” He rubbed the elf’s side to warm him.
Legolas relaxed back against Aragorn, taking in the fire’s heat in front of him and his friend’s from behind. In the man’s tight, secure hold, he barely felt ill at all any more. “heh-KEHSHH! Hih-CHISHH!” Apart from the sneezing, of course. “Excuse me,” he snuffled with congestion, rubbing his nose against his shoulder as he didn’t want to move his arms out from beneath the cloaks.
Aragorn pressed himself against Legolas more firmly, having backed off at the sneeze to give him room. “It is all right. It is only a cold, not the end of the world. Humans get these two or three times a year.” He pulled the elf’s hair back into place for him.
“How cad you all stad this? It is devastatig,” he whispered back, needing to blow his nose once more.
“The colds of mortals are no match for an elf such as you. This illness will pass more quickly if you stay warm and get enough rest.” He tightened his hold around Legolas. “Now, are you warm enough?”
His breath catching again, Legolas nodded that yes, he was. “heh-KEHshhhh! Eh-Cheshhh! Chishhh!” In fact, as he sniffled and rubbed his nose dry after the sneezes, he noticed himself that he had stopped shivering. Though sure to realize this as well, Aragorn still made no move to pull away, and for that Legolas was very thankful.
“You know,” Aragorn noted, pulling strands of the elf’s long, blond hair back from his face again. “Your ears twitch when you sneeze. This funny sort of wiggling at the tip. Must be an elf thing.” He traced a finger along the curved edges of Legolas’ ear then, swiftly and before Legolas could pull away, he applied pressure to a spot just behind and below the ear. That was an elf thing.
Legolas gave an involuntary sigh of intense relaxation and snuggled back, into Aragorn’s warm arms. And though he was still sniffling, and his throat still hurt, and his nose still tickled, Legolas Greenleaf barely heard Aragorn’s “Mae îdh. Mae oltha.” before seeking refuge from his cold in sleep and in Aragorn’s hold.
Sleep well and dream well he did. It was not until midmorning when he finally awoke on his own, finding the fire reduced to a barely visible flame and a pile of ashes. “Good morning!” Gimli called over to him, with something like relief in his eyes. “The snows have stopped.”
“Good,” Legolas croaked, startled at first by the deep sound of his own rather stuffy voice.
Aragorn was no longer still behind Legolas, though he had remained there all of the night, as promised. It had not been until after sunrise that Legolas’ fever had finally broken. Aragorn, packing away his mess kit which they had been using to boil snow into drinking water, now came over to him, caressing his face comfortingly. For a moment, it seemed he might say something much too sentimental. Their eyes locked. Then he gave Legolas a tight squeeze on the shoulder, “You look terrible.”
A soft grin spread over Legolas’ face.
“How are you feeling?” He asked with much more seriousness.
Legolas shrugged. “Sick… but not so cold,” he replied and let the man help him up. The fire was given a cup of water after Legolas finished four and they’d all refilled their canteens. Breakfast was a few nibbles of lembas bread and, after thanking both companions for the use, Legolas redistributed the cloaks.
His nose had begun to run again, which was no surprise in the least. He rummaged through his pack one more time, determined this time to find the handkerchief he clearly remembered packing. Mess kit, silverware, a sachet of herbs for sealing minor wounds… no handkerchief. With a sigh, he pulled out the handkerchief Gimli had given him, realizing only now how small it was. He searched for a clean portion quickly. “ehhh…ehh-Chishhh! heh-Keshhh! Heh…” he paused, sure there was one more hiding from him. After nearly a minute, he sniffed hard and lowered the handkerchief. He wiggled his nose and rubbed his wrist against it, trying to relieve himself of the constant tickle. Failing that, he turned his attention to resuming their journey. “I am ready to go whenev… when…” he trailed off, snapping the handkerchief back up and into place. “heh-CHISHH!” He sighed with relief and blew his nose. There was no need to finish his statement.
The three bid silent farewell to their overnight home and started back out onto the snowy mountain pass. After almost losing sight of Gimli amidst the snow drifts, Legolas curiously pulled an arrow from the quiver on his back, not to fire, but to measure the depth on the trail. About two and a half feet on average, he reasoned, after trying a few spots as they walked. Satisfied, he slid the arrow back in, but it didn’t go down as far as the others. He pushed, but it remained a few inches higher. With a sigh, he stopped for a moment, mumbling, “Go on ahead. I will catch up.” He pulled the quiver off his back altogether and tried again to replace the arrow, but it wouldn’t budge. Quickly, Legolas pulled a handful of arrows out and plunged his hand into the quiver. And he gave a deep groan.
Both Aragorn and Gimli froze and doubled back the few steps at once to be at his side in concern.
Legolas pulled from the quiver a large, folded handkerchief. “Found my handkerchief.” Gimli chuckled and Aragorn clapped him on the back. Almost as if he were meant to try it out, the urge to sneeze returned. His lips parted, pinkened nostrils flaired, brow furrowed, chest rose with a sharp gasp. “heh-Ketchhh! Kehshhhhh!” His ears twitched as he was tossed forward with each. But the handkerchief was more then welcoming, made out of special cloth that always seemed dry and soft no matter how many times it was used. He gave his nose a good clearing and looked up, smiling. Legolas’ companions looked much less worried and much more reassured that he was on the mend. Slinging the quiver over his shoulder, head and arm, and tucking his handkerchief into his front pocket, he took up the rear as they made a path through the snow.
Carch baur thaed?- Do you need help?
Deri dínen- Stay silent
Deri laug- Stay warm
Garo sen- Have this
Im baur îdh- I need rest
Im faug- I am thirsty
Im ista- I know
Mae îdh- Rest/Sleep well
Mae oltha- Dream well
Na gladfaer balan tog ammen naur- By the wood spirits power bring fire for us
Author’s note- I am no good at languages. I wish I had the gift, but my mind refuses to work properly for it. All sorts of tenses and possibly even adjective/adverb placements are probably incorrect. Please correct all my horrible inaccuracies if you know enough to.