For three days, Indile lay in a fitful sleep, tormented by dark dreams and a raging fever. She did not wake or speak, but it could easily be seen that the dreams she saw were terrible, and prevented the healing rest she needed.
Legolas was always at her side for none could persuade him to leave her. He held her cold hands in his and sang to her in his soft voice the quiet healing prayers and songs of the Elves.
It seemed to those who watched that Indile’s fever would cool and her dreams pass whenever she heard the gentle voice of Legolas singing to her.
But it was not enough, for Indile did not wake from her sleep. At last, even the Lady herself began to despair of the maiden’s recovery.
Nenlosse accepted with a disturbing calmness the possibility of her daughter’s death. Nobody understood it except Lady Galadriel, who had seen and heard what the orcs had taken from Indile’s mother in the past. Nenlosse stayed near Indile, but was not often in the same room. The silence of the sick-room, and her daughter’s pale, pained face seemed too much for her to bear.
Morelin, however, hovered constantly around Nenlosse and Indile, making sure the mother of her friend never wanted for anything. She often came to Indile’s room, seemingly to check on her friend and reassure herself of the Prince’s propriety. She never forgot to scowl at him in a most disapproving manner, and had the situation not been so grave, Legolas would have found it humorous.
But as it was, nothing could make him smile. His Indile was slipping slowly away from him, and he could not change it. His own words came back to haunt him time after time. “I promise you I will do everything I can to alter the course of the future.” And yet he could do nothing. He had failed her, indeed.
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
It was the morning of the fourth day since the orcs’ attack. Legolas, being exhausted from his vigil, had fallen asleep by Indile’s bed.
His silvery-blonde head rested on the bed, and his hands held Indile’s. He smiled slightly in his sleep and the two looked utterly content and peaceful, oblivious to any wrong in the world.
Sunlight shone in though the curtained window, telling of the dawn and the beginning of new day.
Light fell on the face of the Prince, awakening him from his sleep.
He sat up slowly, feeling stiff, and looked at Indile. It seemed to him that she now slept as if resting, and peacefully at that. Gone, he could see, were the dreams and the fever.
Perhaps.. perhaps there is a chance for her after all, Legolas thought has he gazed upon her fair face, daring to hope.
As if his thoughts were spoken aloud for her to hear, she opened her eyes and blinked, confused.
“Indile!” he cried.
She spoke, her voice cracked and raspy. “My Prince.. was it a dream?”
He squeezed her hands tightly. “No, my love, it was real. But it is over now.” He leaned forward to kiss her cheek.
She smiled weakly, saying nothing, and trying to remember all that had happened.
Legolas remained silent, studying her intently.
Her face was grown thin, and her eyes.. Those beautful blue eyes he had fallen in love with were changed, altered. They were no longer bright, shining, and happy. The sparkle and laughter was gone from them.
She noticed his relentless scrutiny and tried to laugh. “What is it, my Prince? Have I turned into an orc that you should stare at me so?”
“No. I am just glad you are awake and.. alive,” he finished quietly.
“Alive?” she questioned.
“Yes. Yesterday there came a time when even the Lady began to give up hope for you.”
“No, I did not. Never would I give up hope for you. Love knows not death or despair,” he replied, kissing the hand he held.
They heard footsteps in the hall outside, and then the door opened, announcing the presence of the elf-maiden Morelin.
She noticed at once the Prince holding her friend’s hand. She frowned at him, but much to her dismay, he only smiled.
Deciding it best to ignore him, she bustled over to Indile, finding her eyes still closed in sleep. She sighed, smoothing some hair away from Indile’s face. She stood there for a moment, looking at her friend. She heaved another deep sigh, and then turned to go.
Giving the Prince instructions on how to make himself useful, she said, “Prince Legolas, be sure that if she wakes you do not linger, but come directly to me or the Lady Galadriel.”
Legolas nodded in seeming acquiescence.
Indile heard the door close again, and opened her eyes, smiling.
“Indile!” Legolas chuckled, feeling both astonished and amused that his Indile would pull such a trick.
“Well? I am sorry, for she truly is a good friend, but I am not ready for her exuberance yet. I can scarcely endure the sound of my own voice, let alone Morelin’s.”
“Perhaps we should not speak. You must be tired,” Legolas said, concerned.
“No, I like to hear your voice, my Prince, yet I am indeed strangely weary.”
“Then rest, and be not troubled with dreams, my lady Almiel.”
She closed her eyes and in a soft voice, he began to sing, lulling her to sleep.
“Tìro! Êl erìa e môr. I ‘lir en luìtha ‘uren. Ai! Aniron..”
And she slept, peacefully, troubled by neither dark dreams, nor memories of the past.
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
The Lady had healed Indile of her wounds, yet Indile was not well. She walked and moved without pain, and she went back to the talan she shared with her mother, but her mood did not change. She was sad, subdued. She did not eat, and she grew thin and weak. She seldom spoke, and her laughter was never heard.
Her friends tried all things they could think of, as did Nenlosse, to cheer Indile and chase away her melancholy mood, yet it was to no avail. She withdrew from them, becoming even more silent and sorrowful.
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
Legolas, almost as a last resort, took Indile for a walk in the Wood, leading her toward the hill of Cerin Amroth.
They had walked a while in silence, and then Legolas spoke.
“Indile, speak to me. Why have you become so sad? It is not right that a merry Wood-Elf of Mirkwood should behave so.” He smiled, trying to keep his tone light.
Indile stopped walking and let go of Legolas’ arm she had been leaning on.
“Oh, Legolas. Do you not see? Do you not see that Middle-earth is no longer good, and that nothing in it is good? It is corrupted with evil, and it hates me now as surely as I hate it. It cannot be cleansed. Long have I lived, and always deluded, thinking Mirkwood and Lorien untouched. Always thinking them safe from evil. Now I can see the truth.”
Legolas was silent, so she continued.
“I see that Lorien is a beautiful place, as Mirkwood is, but they are like two small places of light in a sea of darkness. And the lights will not last. They will soon be put out, and darkness will cover all.”
“Indile, what you say is true, but is it not better to fight rather than flee? If we fight not, then surely darkness will put out the light. But the light can be spread and made stronger. The Dark Lord is defeated, and has been, and evil will grow weak and pass away in time,” Legolas said.
“No, it will not. Orcs, yes. Their servants, yes. All things made with the One, yes, they will all pass away and be forgotten. Yet evil itself will not, and I cannot stay in a place so consumed with it. Can you not feel it, Legolas?” Indile asked, meeting his eyes.
“Yes, I can feel the evil beyond these borders, but it can be fought and defeated!”
“No, Legolas. Men may fight, it is now their land to protect. Dwarves may fight, for they share it, but the time of the Elves is over. My time is over.” A tear slid down her cheek, for she watched Legolas, and he was grieved and sorrowful at her words. He knew what she meant.
She embraced him tightly, whispering,”No, do not be sorrowful, aranya. For when you come to Valinor, I will be waiting, and troubled no longer.”
He put his arms around her, holding her close as though she would slip away from him.
“But yet I am sad, for though I will surely see you again, many years will pass before I sail, and I will not have you with me.”
“My thoughts will be ever upon you,” she said, kissing him. “Do not doubt that.”
“I don’t. A very fine Queen of Mirkwood you would have made,” he said, letting her go and standing back to look at her, smiling in spite of himself.
“And you will make a fine King, and would have made a fine husband. But that can still be. Across the sea, we will be wed.”
“My lady! I have not yet asked!” Legolas said, pretending to be shocked.
Indile smiled and laughed, bringing joy to his heart once more.
Author’s Note: The words of Legolas’ song to Indile are not mine, but Enya‘s, from the song “Aniron”. “Tìro! Êl erìa e môr. I ‘lir en luìtha ‘uren. Ai! Aniron..”
The words are Sindarin, and mean, “Look! A star rises out of darkness. The song of the star enchants my heart. Ah! I desire…”
“Aranya” is Quenya and means ‘my king’.