The Gift of Death, Part 25
One battle ends, another begins, Buffy thought as she made her tired way from the ruined gates of Minas Tirith to the plains that stretched to the river. In the weak light of the torches stuck at intervals into the bloody ground, one crew searched the hip-deep drifts of bodies for survivors, or the corpses of their allies; another was piling dead orcs and Wild-men up for burning. Already the stench of scorched flesh was thick over the battlefield, and Buffy was glad it was nighttime and too dark for her to see the extent of the carnage.
It didn’t take her long to reach the tent erected for the Fellowship’s use. One of the Rangers had told her back in the city that Aragorn was refusing to step inside the walls of Minas Tirith while he was yet uncrowned, but Dawn and the others suffering from the mysterious shadow sickness were worsening, and one of the healers had stated that ‘the hands of a king are the hands of a healer’. And so, she trudged her way through the dead and dying to persuade Aragorn to enter the city and save her sister’s life.
It didn’t end up being as hard as she had thought. Once she’d stepped inside the tent, she’d been swept into the fierce grip of Legolas, then tugged from his arms by Gimli, passed to Aragorn, who was pried away from her by Haldir, and finally even the aloof Eomer embraced her before Legolas claimed her once more.
“So, I guess that means you’re happy to see me?” she asked them from the circle of his arms, enjoying the triumph shining on their faces.
“My heart rejoices to know we have not lost but a few of our number, Dagnir,” Aragorn replied gravely. “Rohan has suffered deeply this day.”
“Yeah, I heard about Theoden,” Buffy said, offering a sad smile to Eomer, who stared down at his feet and blinked rapidly. “But Eowyn should be fine.” She slid her gaze to Aragorn. “If I can get a king to come heal her, that is.”
Both men blinked in shock. “Eowyn lives?” Eomer whispered, uncaring now that tears filled his eyes. “I had heard she was struck down, and Meriadoc with her.”
“And Dawn too,” Buffy said. “It took all three of them to kill the Black Captain, but they did it.” She paused a moment. “Of course, they’re all as sick as Faramir because of it. They need you, Aragorn.”
“Then they shall have me,” he declared with a grim smile. “None shall perish if I may stop it.” And he followed her into the city, pulling his hood up so none might recognize him as Isildur’s heir.
Buffy was immensely grateful for Legolas’ arm around her waist, supporting her as they went. Usually she was pretty perky after waking from her latest death, but the emotional upheaval of the day had worn her down quickly.
“Soon you shall rest,” Legolas whispered into her ear.
“I need a bath,” she muttered in disgust at her own ripe aroma before glancing up at him. “You smell just as amazing as always, though. How do you do that?”
He just smiled at her. “I am not as… amazing as I usually am,” he demurred. “Death will do that to an elf. Perhaps we can bathe together.”
Suddenly her fatigue was a distant memory as naughty ideas swiftly filled her head. “Sounds like a plan,” she said faintly, concentrating on placing one unsteady foot ahead of the other as his laughter echoed around them.
There was some confusion in the houses of healing over the matter of finding athelas, or kingsfoil as the herb was sometimes known. Once some was procured, however, Aragorn crushed it between his hands and sprinkled it into boiling water. The sickly smell of the ill and dying that filled the room departed instantly, and the air almost sparkled with clarity.
Aragorn dipped a cloth into the bowl of sweet-smelling fluid that Boromir held at his brother’s side, and bathed the younger man’s face gently. Almost instantly colour returned to Faramir’s face, and his eyes opened. “You have called me, my king?”
“Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!” Aragorn told him. “Awake, and be ready for when I return.”
Faramir promised he would, and admonished Boromir to go to Dawn. “I am in danger no longer, brother,” he said. “Your place is now by her side.”
Reluctantly, Boromir released his hand and made his way across the room to join Buffy and Legolas by the bed where Dawn rested. Her long limbs seemed very young and gangly against the white sheets. Some unknown struggle was being fought behind her eyelids, and he found himself reaching for Buffy’s hand, squeezing tightly in shared anxiety as another bowl of steaming water and more athelas were brought to Aragorn.
“Join us, Minuial, in the realm of the living,” he murmured to her, running the cloth over her face and throat before moving to her injured arm. She began to glow then, a faint tinge of green that suffused her entirely and made her limp body twitch just once before falling still again. It was over in a moment, though, and she slowly opened her eyes as if the lids weighed a thousand pounds each.
“Buffy,” she whispered so faintly only her sister’s Slayerly hearing allowed her to catch the word. “Boromir.” Each came up on a side of the bed and took one of her hands. “Please don’t yell at me.”
Buffy smiled through the tears that broke through her stony façade. “Not now, at least,” she said. “I’ll yell at you later.”
“I shall not yell at you,” Boromir told her, and she rolled her head on the pillow to gaze at him, eyes alight with love, “for I am more proud than words can express.” He had spoken to Gandalf, who told him how fiercely Dawn had fought, how many orc she had taken down. And Merry, before lapsing into unconsciousness, had informed them all that it was Dawn who had defeated the Nazgûl Lord’s demonic beast. Boromir lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it fervently. “If I did not love you before, I would be helpless before you now.”
Aragorn took his leave of them then, moving on to where Eowyn was being hovered over by her brother. Buffy decided to leave Dawn and Boromir to their romantic moment, and threaded her fingers into Legolas as they joined Aragorn by Eowyn’s side.
“It has never been me that she loved,” Aragorn said in a low voice, and Buffy glanced sharply at him. So he knew about Eowyn’s crush, did he? “In a trying time, she loved a hero, and a king.” He glanced up at Buffy. “But I am a Man as well, and loved by one who knows me as such.” He turned sad eyes to Eowyn, then leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Eomund’s daughter, awake! For your enemy has passed away!”
She stirred then, but did not open her eyes. “I must go to Merry,” Aragorn told Eomer, who hovered anxiously on the other side of the bed. “Continue to call to her.” The Rohirrim nodded and sat, taking up his sister’s hand in his own.
Buffy and Legolas followed along behind Aragorn, and it wasn’t long before Merry was sitting up in bed, demanding food and his pipe while Pippin cried tears of joy that his cousin would live. Laughing, they left the Hobbits to their reunion and left the houses of healing.
Outside a good-sized crowd of people had gathered to wait for Aragorn. Some were begging him to come heal them or their loved ones; others were just eager for a glimpse of their new king.
“He’s not doing anything until he eats something,” Buffy informed them firmly, for she had observed how her friend was visibly drooping with fatigue. Pippin had told her earlier where to find Boromir’s house, and she practically dragged Aragorn to it and heaped a plate with leftovers from one of the Hobbit’s cooking binges.
Joining him, Legolas ate sparingly but Buffy like Aragorn was ravenous and the two of them demolished dish after dish until all was gone and nothing but crumbs were left and they had to lean back in their chairs to accommodate their bulging bellies.
“Ah,” Aragorn sighed complacently. “Just a few more moments until I go again.”
Buffy frowned at that. “I wish you would rest a while first,” she said, and crossed her arms over her chest to indicate that she was serious.
Legolas smiled. “You will have to talk quickly, Strider,” he teased. “For I have seen that expression often, and it bodes ill for you.”
Aragorn smiled a little at his friends. “Dagnir, glad I am that you worry for my welfare, but there are wounded who need tending.”
“Then the rest of us will tend them,” she replied stubbornly. “The twins are already at it, I’m sure, and--”
“There are many more with shadow sickness that need the hands of a king,” he told her gravely. “Would that I could share that duty with a prince,” he said, grinning at Legolas, “but alas, only Eomer and I qualify, and I fear he will not leave his sister until she wakes.” A tinge of bitterness tainted his dirty features then, but whether at having to take up Eomer’s ignored duties or regret at Theoden’s demise the others could not be sure.
“I would not blame him for that,” Legolas said softly. “For he has lost his uncle this day; his fear is deep, and it is not long since his cousin Theodred has died, either.”
“Will you at least wash up a little, and lay down for a half-hour?” Buffy pressed.
“Yes,” Aragorn agreed, slumping in defeat.
“Smart move!” she chirped, and ushered him into a bedroom to rest while she put on water to boil. When she returned, it was to find Legolas cleaning up after their meal. “A guy who does dishes,” she murmured, and slid her arms around his waist from behind. “Don’t I have all the luck?”
He flicked a glance at her over his shoulder, causing his hair to cascade over her face, and she inhaled deeply of his divine scent. “Aragorn is not the only one who will bathe this eve,” he informed her. “I have put on another cauldron of water.”
Buffy hid her smile against his back. “You say that like it’s a warning.”
He turned in her arms and put his own around her. “It is,” he said, and nibbled at her lips. “I give you fair warning now; tonight I will strip your clothes from your fair body and lather the soap over your breasts until they gleam like pink pearls.”
Heat zinged through her at his words, and her chest tightened with the now-familiar twinge of lust. “Oh?” she asked breathlessly. “And then what?”
Legolas trailed his mouth in tiny kisses over her cheek to her ear. “Then I will explore the treasure between your legs with my fingers and tongue,” he whispered, his hot breath teasing the strands of honey-brown hair that escaped her braid. “I will taste you, and then I will fill you with my flesh.”
“Sounds good,” Buffy gasped, her fingers clutching his shoulders to keep from dropping to the floor, as her knees had turned to pudding. “But can’t I be an active participant in this whole thing?”
“Most certainly,” he replied, and took her earlobe between his teeth briefly before kissing down the side of her neck to where it joined her shoulder, and pushed aside the collar of her tunic to place a love-bite in the hollow of her clavicle. “What will you do to me?”
Buffy had to work hard to make her muzzy brain think. “I would… touch your skin, all of it,” she began, and when he hummed encouragingly, grew a little bolder. “I will slide my mouth over you, and know the feel of you on my tongue.” Legolas shuddered against her, just once. “I will take you inside me, and wrap my arms and legs so tightly around you’ll think you can’t breathe.”
He exhaled then, a tiny ‘ah’ that told her how deeply she was affecting him, and slid his hands down her back to clasp her buttocks, pulling her tightly against him so she could feel his arousal. “And then?”
Buffy allowed her pelvis to rock gently against him. “And then I’ll flip you over and ride you,” she murmured into his ear, trailing her lips over the outside edge up to the point and flicking her tongue against it, then smiling as he jerked in surprise. “I’ll ride you, and pull your hands up to squeeze my breasts. I’ll reach down and pinch your nipples while I clench myself around you—“
“The water has been boiling for a while now,” Aragorn said mildly as he entered the kitchen, and smirked at them as they sprang away from each other, breathing hard.
“Yeah,” Buffy gasped. “On it. Just about to bring it to you.”
His grin only grew wider. “I doubt it not.” And he hefted the pot of water by its handle and carried it out of the room. She and Legolas stood on opposite sides of the room, staring at each other and panting as the sounds of splashing could be heard from the bedroom.
“I should… find Elrohir and Elladan,” Legolas said at last. “To tell them to make ready for Aragorn and a long night of healing.”
“Yeah,” Buffy agreed. “I need to check on Dawn one last time, and see that Boromir has eaten and is going to sleep at some point.”
They each turned and fled in opposite directions, knowing that if they did not, they’d never make it out of the house again that night.
Buffy fled toward the houses of healing, enjoying the cool night air on her flushed cheeks. Desire thrummed through her, and the anticipation of the lovemaking to come made her almost jittery as she banged open the door and jogged in.
“Hey, Dawn, Boromir,” she greeted them, plopping down at the foot of the bed. “Feeling better?”
“Tons,” Dawn replied weakly. She was sitting up and propped against about a dozen pillows, and Boromir sat beside her with his arm draped protectively over her shoulders. She peered at her sister shrewdly. “Making with the elf-smoochies again?” she asked.
Buffy blinked. “How did you know?”
“Your eyes are shining, your mouth is swollen, and you bounced in here like Tigger on speed,” Dawn retorted. “It’s fairly evident.” She tilted her head to the side consideringly. “Question is, which elf were you smooching?”
“I think it rather obvious that her heart—and her smoochies—belong only to Legolas now, sweet,” Boromir admonished teasingly.
Buffy stared at him. “You’re picking up on our lingo,” she said in amazement.
“It’s actually pretty creepy, isn’t it?” Dawn asked, and then yawned hugely. “God, I’m tired.”
“We shall leave you to sleep, then.” Boromir stood and kissed her lingeringly before turning to gaze down at his sleeping brother. “I will return early tomorrow. If Faramir wakes in the night, you will comfort him?”
“You know it,” Dawn assured him, and snuggled down into the blankets. She was asleep almost instantly.
Merry too was dead to the world, so Buffy left the houses of healing with Boromir by her side. “We’re staying at your place, I hope that’s ok,” she said.
“There is no need to share that humble place, Dagnir,” he told her with a faint smile. “Your place is in the palace with all other honoured guests.” His smile turned bitter. “Now that Denethor is not here to decree banishment, it falls to me to decide who stays where.”
“Boromir,” Buffy began, but he interrupted.
“I do not wish to speak of him yet,” he said softly before coming to a halt and turning to face her. The street around them was utterly silent, and though smoke still floated in wisps around them, the air had cleared for the most part and stars sparkled far overhead. The moon was but half-full, and its dim light cast harsh shadows on Boromir’s face, making him seem old and weary. “Much have I learned this day,” he continued. “I have heard a tale that pleases me little, of Legolas treating you poorly.”
Buffy frowned. “Haldir’s got a big mouth.”
“It was not Haldir, but Gimli,” Boromir corrected. “He worries much about both of you.”
“Why did he tell you about it?”
Boromir slid a glance her way and resumed walking. “I believe he feels that, as your future brother, I am the closest thing to a male relative you have in this world, and as such, your head of family and protector.” Buffy opened her mouth to protest with fury, but he held up a hand. “I know, I know. Do not begin a tirade; I am too exhausted to endure it. I only ask because of my love for you, as my sister.”
She exhaled sharply, her anger gone in the face of his concern. “What do you want to know?”
“You and the elf seemed… comfortable this day. Are matters mended, then?”
Buffy stared out over the wall, able to make out the dark shapes of people walking in the battlefield below as work continued. “I think so,” she said at last. “I hope so. Haven’t really had time to sit down and think the past few days, it’s been crazy, but…” She grinned suddenly, thinking of bath-time. “I think things are mended, yeah.”
He placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed gently. “Then I am glad, Dagnir.” They had reached his house now; Legolas’ trim figure could be seen in silhouette against the candlelight within as he moved from room to room. Sensing Buffy’s return, he went still and faced the door as they entered, and bestowed a lovely smile upon them.
“Elladan and Elrohir came for Aragorn,” he informed them. “I have made them promise not to allow him to work all night; they will tie him to a bed and force him to rest if necessary.”
“Kinky,” Buffy quipped, and Legolas smirked at her as he held out his hand in greeting to Boromir.
There was just the slightest moment’s hesitation before the Man accepted Legolas’ hand, but all three were aware of it. “I will sleep now,” Boromir announced, then mentioned, “I am a very sound sleeper, and my chamber is upstairs, in the farthest corner of the house. So if… certain noises were made in the bedroom downstairs, I would not hear them.” And with that he stalked from the room, leaving Buffy and her elf standing there gaping after him.
“He is as subtle as an arrow through the neck, is he not?” Legolas muttered and busied himself by wiping up a few spilled droplets of water. So intent on his tidying was he that he didn’t notice until too late that Buffy launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck and legs around his waist, until it was far, far too late.
Not that he would have wanted to evade her, anyway.
minuial = dawn