“My lord?” a voice hissed. “My lord Harune?”
Harune opened his eye with a groan. He forced his head off the pillow. He could make out a dim figure standing in the doorway of his room. He wondered what time it was. It must be the middle of the night!
“Yes?” he inquired.
“My name is Calais, and I am training to be a Healer. My mentor sent me to say you are needed . . . urgently, my lord. At once.”
Harune hurled himself out of bed, flinging on his dressing gown the wrong way round. “Oh valar, oh valar, oh valar, please spare me this pain.” Murmuring prayers, he dashed past the startled apprentice and rushed for the healing wing. “Not my son. Please not my son. Legolas . . . oh valar!”
Healer Jailil turned around as Harune skidded to an unbalanced halt in the room. He took in the elf’s white face and wide eyes, and remarked, “Gracious, I never would have expected you to worry.”
“What?” Harune snapped. “How could I not be worried? The ones I love most in possible lethal danger and you expect me not to worry? Now, what has happened to them?”
Understanding dawned on Jailil’s face. He shook his head. “You thought Thranduil or Legolas—? I see.”
Jailil moved aside, explaining with a calm expression, “Landion wants you.”
Harune’s eyes opened wide. He grabbed a hold of the bedpost the steady himself, his usually calm demeanor rattled. “What?”
Healer Jailil gestured to Landion’s bed with a tip of his head. Harune’s eyes took in the shaking form buried beneath the blankets and his ears picked up small whimpers. His shaken appearance disappeared as he sat down on the edge of Landion’s bed, his mind returning to a similar situation occurring between Thranduil and Legolas some time ago.
“Landion?” Harune said softly. He reached down and folded the blankets down, revealing the elfling’s tearstained face.
Landion looked up at Harune. Burying his face in the mattress again, he mumbled, “No, it is all right. You can leave. You do not want me. I am nothing but an unwanted leaf on a tree.”
“Oh, Landion, that is not true,” Harune said in distress. “I was surprised, that is all. I am here to comfort you. It never occurred to me you cared for my presence.”
“But I do,” Landion mumbled, dragging himself into Harune’s lap. “Please stay with me?”
Harune wrapped his arms around Landion and slid into the bed. “Of course I will. Sleep now, and be comforted knowing you are not alone.”
“I will be one day,” Landion said softly as he closed his eyes and fell into his worst nightmare; dreaming about being a ward of the castle, unwanted and unloved.
Harune said nothing as he reached down to pull up the blankets. Healer Jailil blew out the candle. His footsteps walked out of the room. Harune leaned back into the pillows, feeling Landion clasped to his chest as he thought about the elfling’s words.
Landion yawned and opened his eyes. He shifted, uncurling his body as he wriggled out of Harune’s arms and stretched. He jumped as he saw Harune was awake, looking at him.
“You are awake,” Landion said. “Good morning.”
“Good morning,” Harune replied. He slid his arm across the bed to touch Landion’s cheek with his fingers. “I will come back at dusk.”
“Must you leave?” Landion asked in dismay.
“Yes,” said Harune. “I have work to do.” He lifted the blankets and slid out of bed.
Landion watched Harune leave. His dismal thoughts returned as he thought of being a ward of the castle. Harune was nice to come and be with him at night but that would all end once he was healed. Harune did not care for him any more then Healer Jailil did. No one cared for him like naneth. No one. He was alone. Misery overcoming him, he buried his face in the pillows and sobbed, dreading the day he would be fully healed.
Landion dangled his legs off the bed, staring at the floor.
“I would think you would be happy to be able to leave bed,” Thranduil said, watching him.
Landion managed a small smile. “I am thrilled . . .”
In truth, he was miserable. For this was the day when he really would become a ward of the castle. Healer Jailil would take him to the room he would live in alone for the rest of his life, without an ada or naneth. A prison cell of misery and pity.
Landion heard an impatient cough and took Healer Jailil’s hand with an unhappy sigh. He allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. Knowing he could not refuse, he walked around the room.
“Do you feel any pain?” Healer Jailil asked, watching him keenly.
“None at all,” Landion lied. His heart ached in his chest, bleeding within him.
“I wish I could leave bed,” Legolas said mournfully, watching from beside his father.
“You have yet to recover from your wounds,” Healer Jailil said, glancing at the elfling.
“But I feel fine,” Legolas insisted.
“You will not, if you leave bed,” Healer Jailil said disparagingly. He took Landion by the hand and led him from the room, smiling down at the drooping head of the elfling.
“This will be your room,” Healer Jailil said, opening a door at the end of the hall. He did no say “forever” but Landion felt the word echoing in his heart. He pulled his hand out of Healer Jailil’s and looked at the plain room before him, wondering how many other unwanted elflings had slept in the bed over the years.
“Thank you,” Landion said, forcing out the words and hoping his voice would stay whole.
Healer Jailil’s smile faltered at the elfling’s forlorn voice. Thinking it best to leave Landion alone for a few minutes, he retreated quietly and shut the door. He nodded to Harune as he passed the elf in the hall.
Harune dipped his head as he entered Thranduil’s room. his son looked up from the bed, shifting beneath the blankets, his eyes looking restless.
“I know you want to leave bed,” Harune said unnecessarily. “In fact, I wish you could leave bed. What a bother it is to do all your work!”
Thranduil knew his father was joking but he did not find it funny. “I am afraid, ada, I must agree with Legolas. I feel fine but I am confined to a prison of bed and sheets!”
“You must be restless beyond measure,” Harune said, sitting down beside Legolas and using his fingers to tuck a stray strand of Legolas’s hair behind his delicate ear.
Legolas squirmed. “I am. And ada has been grumbling all day now.”
Harune smiled. “We must be patient and trust in Healer Jailil’s judgment,” he said, looking over Legolas’s head at his son.
“And why must his judgment allow Landion out of bed and not us?” Legolas complained, climbing into Harune’s lap.
“Well, you were more injured then him,” Harune said, briefly, wondering how Landion fared. “Besides, even once you do leave bed, you will not be able to run around. You will have to take it slow.”
Thranduil muttered in disgust and leaned his head back against the headboard. Harune grinned pityingly, “I know how much you are suffering, ion nin, but it will soon be over, and we can think of the future with joy instead of the darkness of the past.”
Thranduil raised his head, “Indeed, ada, every little ache I feel for the rest of my life will remind me of Lord Katar.”
Harune’s eyebrows shot up. “Pessimism is not a good medicine.”
“Could you fetch me a book?” Legolas asked.
“Yes, and you might fetch me some paperwork from my office,” Thranduil cut in. “I am sure it must be piling up to a dreadful height.”
“I will ask Healer Jailil if you are allowed to expend your eyes reading,” Harune replied, planting a kiss on the back of Legolas’s head. Legolas slid out of his lap and sat on the bed, his hands clasped. Harune blew a kiss to Thranduil as he walked out of the room. He thought his son must be more then restless if he would be happy doing paperwork to keep him busy!
As he walked up the hall, a slight frown came to his face. He stopped and listened, his ears pricking up. He thought . . . yes, he heard someone crying. His kind heart pierced by the pitiful sound, he followed it to a door. Tilting his head to one side, he listened. He had heard Landion crying many times during the time he had spent with the elfling and he definitely recognized it now. He pushed open the door and walked into the small, plain room. It was furnished with a bed, a small table, and a chest of draws. Lying across the bed, tears streaming down his cheeks, was Landion.
“What is the matter?” Harune asked. “Are you not happy to be healed?”
Landion sniffed and shook his head.
“Why not?” Harune asked, coming to sit down on the bed. “Would you like to tell me about it?”
Landion wiped his eyes. “I do not want to be alone.”
“You will not be alone, Landion,” Harune said, stroking the elfling’s black hair.
“But I will be, now that I am a ward of the castle,” Landion said, a tear welling up in one eye. “I have no one; no parents, no family . . . no one!”
Harune looked down at Landion with a strange light in his eyes but the elfling’s face was buried in the pillow bunched in his hands and he did not see it.
“I do not want to be alone!” Landion wailed. “I am so scared . . .”
“I promise you will be happy,” Harune said, his fingers making soothing circles on Landion’s back.
“No,” Landion sobbed.
“You were happy before,” Harune said. “While you were healing.”
“But I was not alone then,” Landion said. “I had—” He stopped, afraid to say the rest for fear it was now a lie, but Harune sensed the words hanging on the tip of his tongue. I had you.
Slowly the elf rose to his feet, suddenly needing the presence of his son. Brushing his hand over Landion’s head one last time, he slipped out of the room. Leaving the door open, he hurried back down the hall.
“Where is my book?” Legolas demanded as Harune entered his sight.
“I forgot to ask if you can read,” Harune apologized. “I am sorry.”
Thranduil’s fingers stopped their progression down Legolas’s head. His father never forgot anything. Never. He looked at his father with curiosity, searching for something out of the ordinary. Harune looked agitated, and his eyes were apprehensive, even a little bit fearful. Thranduil bit his lip, feeling a small thrill in his heart. What was Harune afraid of?