The Awakening - Chapter 2-Of Fevers and Spider Bites
Rating: Ehh... PG, maybe bordering PG-13 later on, but we'll see. Nothing bad, only kisses. And blood.
Summary of the story: During a storm outside of Eryn Lasgallen, Prince Legolas finds a girl. No one knows who or what she is. Legolas watches her grow up and eventually comes to love her, but there is an impending and threatening doom upon all of them. There is a traitor within their groups who is controlling the spiders that are attacking Mirkwood and the Elves inside. In a moment's last hope, one person will change the future of everyone.
Chapter 2: Of Fevers and Spider Bites
Legolas slowly opened his eyes. What he saw first made him jerk his head back in surprise. A pair of deep brown eyes was staring deeply into his own. He heard giggling before he was able to react further. When the figure moved away from him, he saw Hetaura, already dressed in her riding clothes. But, instead of riding boots, she was wearing sandals and had her bow and quiver slung over her shoulder.
"Hetaura?" Legolas mumbled sleepily, pulling the blankets further up his bare chest. He looked at the girl in confusion. "What are you doing up? It is still early."
She giggled again and sat herself on the floor. "You said you would teach me archery today," she said in flawless Elvish. Resting her chin on the edge of Legolas's bed, she took on a pitiful look, one she had used for the past four years on him to have her way. Her eyes looked big and sad and her lips had a slight downward curve to them as she gazed at the prince.
"I know." Legolas shut his eyes to keep from seeing her cute, pathetic face. "But it is still early, little one," he yawned, turning on his back
"Please?" the girl pleaded. "Please, please, please?"
Covering his face with his pillow, Legolas groaned. "Go away, child, and let me sleep! I was awake well into the night," he complained.
"But that was your fault. You were up writing love letters to the Elf maiden you fancy, weren't you?" Hetaura chimed at him, crawling up onto his bed so she could lay next to him.
"What? How did you-have you been reading my journal again?" Legolas looked down at the girl and saw her nod. "You sly, insolent being. For that, you shall be punished," he told her playfully.
Hetaura's eyes widened and she shook her head vigorously. "No!" she cried as Legolas shifted and began tickling her. She broke out in laughter, and struggled to be free. Minutes later, she rolled off of his bed to the floor. "Please? Can we go, please?" she begged.
The prince made a miserable noise and shook his head. "Fine. Go so I may dress, before I change my mind," he ordered.
Letting out a gleeful noise, Hetaura jumped up from the ground. A second later, she bent down and kissed Legolas's forehead before running out.
"How do I manage to fall into these things?" Legolas asked himself as he slid out of bed. "I have known the girl for four years, and still seem to be caught in her devious traps." He raised his voice slightly, knowing Hetaura was only standing outside of his door. He heard her laughing at him through the wood. "I do not know how she does it. I guess the girl has a way with people and persuading them to do whatever she wants them to do, the manipulative thing." He kept his voice raised for her, as to appease both of their strange humors in the morning.
But, as Legolas was speaking, he was looking through his wardrobe for a pair of leggings. "And, also, she seems to have a way with hiding things, especially my pants," he exclaimed. He walked back over to his bed and wrapped the sheet around his waist. Adjusting his stride to the hindering sheet, Legolas trudged to his door and opened it slightly. "Hetaura, what did you with my leggings?"
She looked up at him and shrugged. "Why do you accuse me first? They could be in the washroom," she said.
"If you don't tell me where my leggings are, I will not teach you archery today-"
"Under your desk in the corner!" the girl spat out, quicker than lightning.
"Thank you." Legolas shut the door again and plodded over to the supposed location of his trousers. Once he found a pair to match his tan shirt, he shook his head at the Hetaura's strange and fun way of tricks. She reminded him of a fairy, sometimes. Or a pixie. Whichever, the girl was very tricky and crafty.
As Legolas stepped out into the hallway, he saw no trace of the girl anywhere. "Hetaura?" he called.
"Shh!" he heard from a dark corner.
"Hetaura, what are you-"
"Shh, Legolas! I'm hiding!" she hissed.
"From what?" he asked, trying to locate the child.
"Ainer. I saw her-oh!" She instantly quieted when she heard the familiar clicking of Ainer's shoes. Legolas quickly jumped back into his room. He closed the door just enough so that he could see Ainer. When she stopped in front of his door, he gasped. Deciding on a spur of the moment idea, he opened the door just as his advisor was about to knock.
"You are awake early," she said, surprised. "And dressed, too, I see. A pity." A sly grin came over Ainer's features as she looked over Legolas's form.
The prince looked over her shoulder and saw Hetaura shaking her head with a knowing look on her face. Legolas could almost hear her saying, "No! Don't let her in!"
"Why a pity?" That phrase alone from Ainer was enough to have Legolas wondering of Ainer's motives for this morning visit when it was his mother that normally woke him.
Ainer smirked and pushed Legolas back into his room lightly. He looked at Hetaura and saw her slam her hand against her face. "Let us not be discrete. We have danced around this for how many years?" The advisor stepped fully into Legolas's room and shut his door. She was now the only thing between him and his escape. It may have seemed easy, but it wasn't. "Ah yes, four hundred years. Do you not think it is time to confront everything straight on?" she asked, approaching Legolas. She ran her finger down his chest with her wry grin.
"Everything?" Legolas cleared his throat. "I don't know what you are talking about," he said, though he was frightfully aware that he did, in fact.
"Legolas, have you felt nothing in our time together?" She wound her hands around to the back of his neck and looked at him as though she were hurt.
But the prince shook his head. "I apologize that I have not, and I am afraid I have an engagement I must see to as soon as possible, Ainer. So if you will excuse me." Legolas pulled out of her grasp and exited his room swiftly. As he was reaching for the handle, he heard a knock on the other side. He opened the door and saw Hetaura standing there, smiling.
"Are you coming, Legolas?" she asked, holding up her hand to him.
"Yes." He wasn't lying now. He slipped out of his room into the hallway, and in a few short minutes, he and Hetaura were out in the fresh, morning air. It was early enough that the birds had yet to wake up, and the dew hadn't yet evaporated in the morning sun. But, there was reason enough for that as Legolas noticed the frost on the ground. He sighed and saw a slight cloud of fog in front of him. Was it really winter already?
"Legolas?" Hetaura said as she let go of his hand.
He looked down at her, fully attention to her every word. "Yes, lovely one?" he murmured, ruffling her hair. One strange thing, from the many, he had noticed about this girl was that her hair never grew. It had been this same length for four and a half years, strangely.
Hetaura blushed, though, at his endearment as nine-year-old girls do, and then asked, "Why do the Elves become so sad when it's wintertime?" She stepped daintily over a patch of fallen leaves, and then knelt down to inspect the frozen dew on them.
"That is a hard question for me to explain to you, Hetaura. But I suppose," he continued at the dismayed frown that formed on her features, "that it may be from the connection shared between Elves and nature. When the trees and leaves die or go to sleep for the winter, it makes us sad because we can't see or enjoy its beauty."
Legolas watched Hetaura stand, then walk over to him. In an understanding manner, she slipped her arms around his waist in a hug. "It makes me sad, too. I was wondering if I was the only one." Her voice sounded so sad and pitiful at that moment. Legolas had never heard her like that.
"Would you like to learn archery now, or talk about some things with me?" Legolas asked, kneeling down so he was at eye level with her now.
Hetaura seemed to be having an inner battle, but it quickly ended when she answered with, "Talk about things," with less than her usual amount of enthusiasm.
"All right." The prince saw the girl wipe at her forehead strangely and sighed. "Let us go back into the palace. We can go eat breakfast, and then talk in the library," he bargained.
"All right." Hetaura smiled and took the hand Legolas offered her.
Once they were inside, in the dining hall, they were immediately served two plates of toast and little bits of fruit. Legolas knew something was wrong with Hetaura from the way she merely played with her food instead of eating it. This worried him. She had seemed fine when she had woken him up. Why was she suddenly so sad looking? It hurt Legolas to know that the girl he'd watched grow up for the past four years was going through something she wouldn't or couldn't tell him.
"Hetaura," he murmured to her across the table.
"Hmm?" She looked up at him with droopy eyes.
"I am going to go speak with my parents for a little while. I will meet you in the library in thirty minutes, all right?" he told her. She nodded and looked down at her food.
Because he wanted to, and also to see if she had a fever, Legolas rounded the table and walked over to her. He tilted her head back and kissed her forehead lightly. It was as he feared. She was a little warm. He closed his eyes and walked out of the dining hall towards his parent's chamber.
Once there, he knocked twice on the door. "Enter!" he heard his father call sleepily. Legolas opened the door slowly and slipped in with a frown.
"What is it, Legolas?" Sheelewen asked, seeing his dismayed and worried look. "Why are you up so early?"
"`Tis Hetaura. I think she is ill," he answered, sitting on the edge of their bed and looking down at his feet.
"With what? What symptoms is she showing?" Immediately, Sheelewen was completely at attention to Legolas.
"I do not know what ails her. She is running a slight fever, and, though she seemed fine when she woke me earlier, she has lost interest in things, even eating." This was strange to them because the young girl loved food almost as much as she loved being with Legolas.
"Where is she now?" Thranduil asked, stepping back into the room. He, too, was worried for the little girl.
"She is in the dining hall, under Anthaer's watchful eye," Legolas answered. "She is to meet me in the library in half an hour. We were to talk about some things." What frightened him most was that Hetaura had never been ill before.
"Of what things?" Sheelewen asked, touching Legolas's shoulder lightly. He too felt a little warm, she noticed. But it was probably from his worry.
"Firstly, she asked me why Elves seemed sad during winter, and I explained to her my best ideas why. She told me she felt the same way and had wondered if she was the only one. She also just seemed so...so thoughtful when we were outside." Legolas squeezed his eyes shut. He turned to face Sheelewen and asked, "Mother, do you know what is wrong with her?"
The Elf shook her head. "Though I am knowledgeable on many illnesses, I am afraid I have not dealt with this type in a child so young," she murmured.
"But have you dealt with it in an older human?" Legolas sounded desperate, so desperate to know. That only added to his oncoming despair and worry.
"Yes, I have. It is depression. What Elves go through when they have lost a loved one," Sheelewen explained. "She must have remembered something from her past, and misses it greatly." At Legolas's silence, his mother continued. "I suggest you keep your appointed time to speak with her and ask her."
Legolas looked at his father. "But when Nana died, you did not experience a fever," he pointed out. "And you were in depression, as well."
Thranduil nodded. "Yes, that is true. But the race of men, you must remember, is different," he pointed out. "They may have different reactions to things than we do."
Sheelewen shook her head. "Nay. I have not dealt with a human in depression and having a fever unless there was an accompanying illness. Bring her to the halls of healing, Legolas, and I will examine her there. Go!" Though the she-Elf hardly ever raised her voice, she did so now in the urgency of the moment.
Legolas jumped up from the edge of their bed and stepped out into the hallway. He nearly sprinted back to the dining hall. He was almost there when he saw a figure step out in front of him. Trying to skid to a halt, Legolas bumped into the form. It was then he realized it was Ainer.
"I apologize again, Ainer, but I cannot speak right now. I have things of a more important matter to attend to," he said speedily and ran towards the dining hall. Once he entered, he saw Hetaura in her same spot as earlier. She was still toying with her food, but she looked slightly pale. Legolas glanced down the table to Anthaer, his "keeper" from his days of youth. He shook his head in a way of saying that the child hadn't moved very much.
"Legolas," Hetaura murmured.
"Yes, Hetaura?" Legolas rushed over to her, but tried not to arouse suspicion in the little girl. He knelt beside her as she turned to face him. Her eyes were big and she looked ready to cry.
The girl looked elsewhere around the room in a slightly guilty manner from how she was feeling. She sighed lightly, then turned her gaze back to the prince. He scooped her up from the chair and said, "Come with me. My mother wants to see you." He spoke gently to the child as he walked as calmly and slowly as he could out of the dining hall and towards the halls of healing.
Hetaura was burning up! She was hot to the touch, and her clothes were slightly damp from the sweat pearling on her now blanched skin. This greatly troubled Legolas as he tried to appear composed, as usual. It was harder than it seemed.
Time seemed to drag by as he made his way to the clinical area of the palace. It wasn't really that far, he knew, but it just seemed so from the current state he and Hetaura were in. When he was merely steps away from the halls, he heard Ainer call his name from behind.
"Legolas! I must speak with you!" she yelled. Legolas could hear her footsteps quickly advancing on him.
"I have not the time to fraternize with you at the moment, Ainer. Please wait," Legolas ordered as nicely as he could. He ignored her calling after him and stepped into the hall, where his mother was waiting already. It amazed him how she could manage to do things so quickly. He ran, now, to her and set the little girl down on a cot.
"Legolas, bring me a basin of cold water and two cloths," Sheelewen said lightly, though the worry was apparent on her usually serene face.
Immediately, the Elf prince sprinted off to the kitchen and washroom to retrieve the necessities for his mother. Meanwhile, Sheelewen proceeded to undress the young child from her near saturated clothing. One thing, though, caught her eye. There, on Hetaura's right arm, was a mark, like a tattoo. Why had they never noticed the strange shape before?
It looked like a crescent moon with a six-pointed star attached to the inside of the moon. A thin line started from one point of the holy star, and slashed through it and the crescent. It took a swift downward curve, and stopped abruptly.
`What could this mean?' Sheelewen wondered, but continued to examine the girl. `There, that is the source.' On Hetaura's lower left leg, was a large spider bite. It looked remotely bad, now. It also looked infected, Sheelewen noted ruefully.
"Mother!" Legolas cried when he rushed back over to her.
For the young girl's modesty, Sheelewen pulled the sheet up to her shoulders, and then folded it up to her knees.
"What in Iluvatar's name?" Legolas at the hideous purple bruise on Hetaura's leg and suddenly felt horrible and guilty for not realizing this already.
"A spider bite. It seems as though it came from a younger one, thankfully." Sheelewen stared down at the discoloration as well. Both had the same question on their minds, though, at that moment.
"How did she escape with her life?" Legolas voiced finally. "Even the little ones are deadly."
Sheelewen shook her head. "I don't know. It is a miracle the poison has not done anything worse than this to her, what with Hetaura being so small." The queen mother took the pitcher and poured it in the basin beside the cot. She dipped one of the cloths in it, and then set it over the girl's forehead. "Is there any athelas in the cabinet, Legolas?" she asked. Her mind drifted back to the design, however, on the girl's forearm.
"Yes, there is." Legolas turned and picked out a small linen wrap from the herb pile. He handed it to his mother. She promptly pulled a leaf from the pile and chewed it into a pulpy substance, which she placed over the bite to extract the poison.
"Refresh the cloth," Sheelewen murmured as she saw the wound bubbling slightly, and the puss-y substance that had been oozing from it evaporated almost immediately. A smile crossed her face until she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned and saw an older Elf looking down at her with wise, shining eyes. "Anthaer."
Legolas looked up from placing the cloth on Hetaura's forehead and saw the old Elf. He was nodding in approval of the prince's mother and her actions. They were murmuring in soft Elvish, so low that Legolas could barely hear them. But when Sheelewen moved to remove the athelas, she smiled at Legolas brightly.
"Hetaura will be all right," she said.
Hetaura slowly opened her eyes. She looked around, trying to gain her bearings, but only panicked when she realized she was in the halls of healing. She wasn't allowed in there, so why was she asleep on one of the cots? This confused her greatly, but even more so when she saw Legolas's form, leaning against the cot. He was asleep, so he wasn't of much help. Most of the healers either were not present, or were just switching duty with another Elf. Suddenly, she felt a sharp pain in her leg, and whimpered as the ache pulsed and throbbed under her skin. That was when Legolas awoke.
"Hetaura," he mumbled groggily. When he noticed the agony she was experiencing, he woke up fully. "What is it?"
"My leg hurts," she cried, feeling her eyes well up. "It feels like-" She broke off as the pain became too much for her.
Legolas filled a cup with water and handed it to her. "Here, drink this," he murmured. When the young girl did, she nearly spat it back out from the awful sensation. But, she dealt with it and swallowed the rest of the drink, trying not to taste it. She squeezed her eyes shut, though, and tried to ignore the pain.
"You poor little thing..." Legolas said lightly. He refreshed the cloth over her forehead, but didn't pass up the opportunity to run his hand over her hair in a brotherly way.
A long while later, when the pain had somewhat subsided in Hetaura's leg, she decided she would say her confession. "Legolas," she began pitifully. "I must tell you something."
"Yes, little one, what is it?" The Elf prince was at full attention to the girl, as always when she was speaking to him.
"Yesterday morning before anyone else was awake, I went into the forest to find some sticks to make arrows out of. When I was coming back, I saw a baby spider. It tried to bite me once, but I kicked it away. It chased after me, and b-bit my l-leg," she stuttered as guilty tears began to spill down her cheeks. "I d-didn't t-tell any-anyone because I-I was af-fraid they w-would b-be mad a-at m-me." Gradually, the sobs came, and rendered her to being unable to speak.
Legolas sighed. This was definitely a word of news to him. Why hadn't he noticed it? Surely, she would've been limping at least a little bit, unless she was that good of a trickster. And the pain? How was she able to subdue that until now? But more, how did she even escape from the spider? That was a question he would definitely like to know. So, shaking his head, he asked her. When she merely continued to cry, Legolas helped her sit up, then held her gently. "How did you escape from the spider, little one?" he repeated.
"I-I d-don't remem-member," she sobbed. "I j-just remember the spi-spider b-biting m-me, a-a bri-bright li-light, an-and the-then wa-waking up in m-my b-bed." Slowly, Legolas's tunic was becoming soaked with Hetaura's tears, but learning some truth about the matter was well worth a wet shirt.
`A bright light,' Legolas wondered curiously. `Why would she have seen a bright light? A side effect of the venom, perhaps?' Lightly, though, he rubbed her back. The thin shift Sheelewen had slipped the child into was damp from sweat already, despite the fact that her fever had already broken long ago. `I will speak with Mother and Anthaer of this later.'
Legolas lay awake in the middle of the night, listening to the thunder crashing outside in the forest. He had been unable to sleep that night. The past few weeks' events had been catching up with him finally. Firstly was Hetaura's strange encounter with a spider and her miraculous survival. Then, he had undergone a literal full week of meetings with Ainer about the increasing number of spiders still. Then, the border guard Elves had reported a...suspicious looking tree. One of the guards had sworn on his life that he'd seen it in two places in a matter of seconds. He also swore he had seen it moving. Then, Legolas had to add to the list the two attacks from spiders, and their webs being seen closer to the palace.
Why the prince was dealing with the defensive tactics for the kingdom when he was best with the offensive maneuvers, he didn't know. For some reason, Ainer had changed the generalship of defense to the prince, and had left him there for nearly five and a half years. He was ill with the feeling of trying to do something he had no idea how to do.
`But,' he thought as he yawned, `at least I am doing something.' Legolas turned on his side and had to have drifted off to sleep because the next thing he felt was extra body heat near his own. His eyes shot open as quick as the lightning blasting outside. He saw a small form, wreathed in an ethereal light momentarily before it disappeared. The prince rubbed his eyes before realizing who it was. "Hetaura, what is it?" he asked her.
"I'm afraid of the storm," she murmured, just loud enough to be heard. "May I sleep in here with you?" Glancing at the Elf, Hetaura let her hopes rise.
Legolas smiled. "Of course." He would miss Hetaura's little girl acts when she grew up. In just a short year or two, Hetaura would no longer be able to visit him in the middle of the night, so said his mother. The other she-Elves, while only knowledgeable on the scenes between them, both acting like children, warned Legolas that she would grow up, and if he didn't follow, she would leave him there. That had made him laugh, but he now realized what they were saying was true. These thoughts hit hard as Hetaura rested her head on his shoulder and snuggled closer to him and his warmth.
She was growing up, while he still thought of her as a little child....
"Good night, Legolas," she murmured.
"Good night, Hetaura," the Elf prince replied, but the girl was already asleep.