Disclaimer: I don't own the recognizable characters, just Atheana.
The walls were painted with lush forest views. But it wasn't the same. Those bows didn't sway lightly in the breeze. Those leaves never turned colors, nor did they fall from the trees on which they grew.
No animals made these trees their home. No life was spawned under their canopy.
These were just lifeless drawings meant to simulate the forest for one who had never ventured forth into it. And who never would, if her father had anything to say about it.
"Legolas, I grow weary of these fake trees. I wish to see the forest, the babbling brooks, the wild creatures in their natural habitat. These walls are closing in on me the older I get."
Atheana wasn't old by Elvish standards. She had only graced Middle-Earth for a millenium and had much more life to live. But she was already growing weary of the world, and that was dangerous.
"I know, sister. But there is no swaying father. I have tried speaking with him. He'll not let you any further then the palace gates. Every time I bring it up he blows up at me and I am tired of his ire." Legolas was lounging on a soft sofa, looking intently at his dark-haired companion.
Atheana was next to him in a plush armchair. She wasn't wont for luxury, she had all the trappings of a Princess. Except freedom. "If this is royalty, I'd rather be a common maiden."
Legolas frowned. "You must have respect for what you have, Atheana. Not all Elves have this fortune."
"Fortune," she snorted. "I cannot leave the palace gates. I cannot venture out and meet the people of my kingdom, or explore its nuances. What is there to respect?"
The Prince stood up and padded over to the window, his soft shoes barely making a sound. He was younger then Atheana, but he had seen the sorrows of this world and it had changed him.
"There is much to respect, Atheana. You should not be so eager to discover all of this world, for there is much in it that is not desirable. Father only seeks to keep you from the hardship and pain that this world can often offer."
"I do not wish his coddling."
Legolas turned to Atheana, his eyes clouded with an unspoken emotion. "One day, when you venture into the world and see what I have seen, you will wish he were still coddling you."
"Then you think he'll let me out someday?"
"No," Legolas said quietly, turning away again. "I fully expect one day you shall leave of your own accord. You are far too like Father and myself not to."
Atheana was silent.
This wasn't a good idea, she knew it wasn't. But Legolas' words echoed in her ears. He knew she was going to do it. Why let him down? She longed to see the forest, to touch firsthand a natural brook.
And she was bound and determined to do it.
The cloak effectively shielded her identity from the gate keepers who were about to change shifts and were not too observant. Slipping through the gates as if she had done it numerous times, Atheana was free.
The trees loomed up all around her and she couldn't help a deep breath. All sorts of new sights, smells and sounds assailed her and the young Princess walked without thought for her destination.
So entralled was she with her surroundings that she didn't realize how long she had been gone, nor how far she had gone. All she knew was that this was bliss and she never wanted to be parted from it again.
She didn't hear the soft rustling of leaves above her. Nor did she hear the light 'thump' of something with mass hitting the ground behind her.
The Princess spun around, her hood falling back and showing her face. She was looking into the eyes of none other then Legolas.
"What are you doing out here? How did you get out? Does anyone know you are here? Are you armed?" His questions came out in a torrent and Atheana couldn't help but laugh.
"Rest easy brother, I'm just out for a stroll. I fully intended to return shortly."
The Prince huffed in frustration. "Oh you did, did you? Do you realize you are nearing the Eastern border of our lands? Did you know that home is hours away? Did you think for a moment that soon it will be dark?"
Atheana frowned. "I hadn't realized it had been so long or I had gone so far, Legolas. I am sorry. I will turn back now."
He sighed, falling in step beside her. "And I will make sure you get there." He looked backward a little and whistled. Two more Elves materialized out of the folliage. "Remain here on the border until my return. Let nothing through that does not have due course."
The Elves nodded and then melted into the nearby growth. Atheana watched the exchange. Her brother was so different when he was out here. He was not carefree, he was not nonchalant. He was grown up.
"You do not seem like my little brother when you are out in the wilds, Legolas."
The young Elf nodded, but did not answer. He was intently keeping a lookout for danger, but also trying not to seem too cold to his sister. After all, he had predicted she would do this and it didn't really surprise him.
They traveled in silence for an hour as the forest grew darker. Legolas began to fidget, something he rarely did. Something just didn't seem right about their surroundings. The trees were too quiet. There was a sense of foreboding in the air and it worried the wood-Elf.
"Atheana? You never answered me...are you armed?"
The Princess looked at Legolas more closely. "No, why? Do you hear something?"
"No," Legolas said quietly. "But I sense something amiss. I would feel better if you were to take this." He pulled a dagger from his belt and handed it to his sister. The ornate hilt felt alien in her hand.
"I know not how to use this."
Legolas smiled lightly. "If the need to use it arises, I am certain you will figure it out in no time."
Atheana stuck her tongue out at the young Elf. He wasn't tall, he stood about her own height. Being in this situation, with both of them holding weapons rather tensely, Atheana fully realized how young her brother was.
He was a warrior, he even bore the braids of a Mirkwood archer. But he was still unusually young. He had grown up too fast in her mind. He had been there when their mother was killed, though he had never spoken of what had happened to anyone.
Her thoughts were broken by a cacophony of footfalls.
Legolas thrust his hand out, stopping his sister in mid-stride. The beings making all the racket were far enough away that they could not see the Elves, but Legolas and Atheana could hear them.
The Princess shivered a bit, fear creeping into her mind now that it seemed they may be in real danger. Legolas, however, seemed undetered. "We must proceed with caution. We still have a ways to travel. With luck, those beings will not cross our path."
But luck wasn't on their side. As they continued on, the noise grew louder and more distinct. Orcs.
"What are we to do?" Atheana whispered, fearful of speaking too loudly.
Legolas frowned deeply. This wasn't a good situation. Without Atheana, he would have taken to the trees and probably escaped unnoticed, but with his sister there he knew he couldn't do that. She wasn't a seasoned woodsman.
"We will try not to attract attention, we will be silent and wary. It is all that we can do."
"Silent eh? Too late for that Elf brat."
Legolas and Atheana spun around, their gaze greeted by five powerful Orcs standing a few feet away from them.
Legolas could have kicked himself for not paying closer attention to his surroundings. But he had assumed that the Orcs would all be in the main group, he hadn't taken into account that they might have scouts. Never underestimate your enemy's prowess.
Atheana's hand tightened on the dagger. Legolas, his bow in hand, glared at the Orcs. He wouldn't let them be taken hostage. He couldn't allow this to happen to Atheana. The situation was too familiar.
Without a second of warning, he had an arrow notched and flying at the nearest Orc. Of course, once the Orc fell the others were immediately charging at the young archer. But Legolas was prepared for them, firing off another arrow before thrusting Atheana back behind him.
She obeyed, knowing full well she wasn't any match for these creatures. Legolas made a quick decision and pulled his twin daggers from their harness, brandishing them in front of him.
A brave Orc jumped forward. Only to be immediately impaled and gutted by the blonde-haired Elf. This angered the remaining creatures who howled their fury and attacked as one.
Legolas couldn't stand still and fend off the attack of two Orcs, so he slashed at one then spnn and stabbed at the other. Both reeled a little but came right back at him. He was ready for this reaction and parried and thrust again.
Atheana watched him, her eyes locked on his unemotional face. He was so good. She knew her brother was a talented fighter, it was the talk of the realm. But she had never seen him in action before.
Noise began to approach and she turned to her left. More Orcs. "Legolas, reinforcements!" the Princess cried.
Hearing his sisters call, Legolas turned toward the approaching threat just in time to see the bowstring of an Orc leader snap back into place. Which meant, an arrow had been fired.
He soon learned where as an agonizing pain ripped through his stomach. He lost hold on one of his knives and instinctively grasped the wound, his hand making contact with a firmly imbedded arrow shaft.
Pain was coursing through him in waves, but he gritted his teeth and swatted away the blade of another Orc. Atheana's cry of horror burned in his ears. He turned toward her.
The Prince half expected to see her backing away from an Orc. But that had not been the cause for her scream. Tears were streaming down her face as she stared with wide eyes at the bloody mess her brother's tunic had become.
She had now seen the horrors of the world too.
Legolas gripped the shaft and broke it off, tossing the piece he had removed on the ground. There was no time to worry about it now. They had to get out of here. He hurried to Atheana who was shaking.
"Come on. We must move on, we cannot linger."
Nodding in a daze, the she-Elf followed her brother as he wobbled unsteadily through the trees. Orcs were not far behind and arrows began to rain down on them. Atheana shrieked in fright and covered her head.
Legolas turned for a moment and returned fire, taking out a few Orcs. His aim was far better then theirs, but he knew it was only a matter of time before he or Atheana were hit.
And unfortunately, he was right. The impact knocked him to the ground and he grunted as he hit the ground. Atheana hadn't heard him fall, but noticed his absense. She saw him standing and resuming the retreat, thinking nothing more then he had fallen.
She couldn't see the arrow jutting from his back.
Before long, the gates were visable and the Orcs stopped their pursuit as Elves materialized out of the trees and chased them off. A golden-haired Elf hurried from the palace gates, his deep green robes billowing behind him in his haste.
"My children! Atheana, you are safe, I had feared the worst!" He pulled her into an embrace.
But he quickly let go.
"Legolas, I am glad you found your wayward sister."
"So...am I," the Prince answered, swaying lightly.
Thranduil frowned. Then, his eyes widened. "Ion nin! You are hurt!" Rushing forward, he reached the Elf just in time to catch him as his knees buckled.
The King let a sob escape him when he saw that his son had two arrows in his body. He gently lifted the young Elf, surprised by how little he weighed, and turned and ran.
Atheana was right behind him, her tears flowing unbidden down her face. She blamed herself. This was all her fault. If she hadn't been so foolhardy, Legolas would be fine. But he wasn't, he was dripping blood along the corridors of the palace as they rushed to the Healing Chambers.
As soon as the Healer saw the Prince, she rushed over and instructed Thranduil to sit Legolas on the bed. The young Elf swayed and would have fallen if Atheana hadn't caught onto him.
She wouldn't let go. This was her fault, she would help. Legolas, sensing the motherly presence, latched onto her arm and held on for dear life. His eyes were full of pain and his breathing was labored.
"Hang on, ion nin!" Thranduil said with worry, seeing the blood soaking through the Elf's clothing. The Healer had gotten a firm grip on the arrow and suddenly pulled it free.
Legolas shrieked, but quickly bit his lip and squeezed Atheana's hand until she thought it would break. But she dared not let go. He was now shaking and she feared to lose contact.
Thranduil gulped in his emotions.He couldn't bear to see this. His son in such pain. It tore at his heart. But he knew it tore at Atheana's more. He knew what was going through her mind. He would let her think on it for a while.
Legolas leaned into Atheana's grasp as she pulled him back against her chest so the Healer could access his other wound. The shaking Elf gripped her arms again and squeezed, preparing himself.
Another swift tug and piercing scream and the arrows were out. But so was Legolas.
Atheana felt his tense, then suddenly relax. He was limp in her arms and she suddenly began to sob uncontrollably. Now, Thranduil came forward, pulling Atheana out from behind Legolas.
The Healer took over again, working over the limp body on the bed while Thranduil held Atheana close, cringing at the blood on her dress that had accumulated in the short time she had held the Prince.
"Ada, I'm sorry, this is all my fault. Will he be all right? He has to be, he saved me, Ada. He saved my stupid self when I went out."
Thranduil hushed the Princess. "No more of that. He did what any Elf would have done. It could have just as easily been you hit by those arrows. I'm sure Legolas doesn't blame you."
But Atheana wasn't so sure. Legolas had never taken grievous hurt before. Sure, he had taken his fair share of scraps and slash wounds, but never anything serious. He was so pale and lifeless that Atheana thought she would die of grief then and there.
However, Legolas lived, and from that small comfort she drew strength. If he lived, there was a chance. He had made it this far, who was to say he would not make it farther.
"I wish to stay with him tonight," she whispered, reapproaching the bed as the Healer stepped away.
Thranduil nodded. "I will return shortly. I must make certain those creatures have been taken care of. Watch him, Atheana. He needs our strength now."
The Princess nodded. "Yes, Ada."
Then she took her spot beside his bed and stood vigil over him. Thranduil was gone for hours and she knew he wouldn't be able to come any time soon. It had to kill the King to be away from his wounded son. But she knew he had a duty to their people and so did Thranduil.
"Oh, Legolas. I am so sorry. I never meant for anything to happen. I just wanted to see the forest so badly," she whispered, leaning over and resting her head on his shoulder.
The slight rise and fall of his chest comforted her and she sighed with exhaustion. Soon, sleep overtook her.
Legolas winced, wrinkling his nose. The pain was muted, but there none-the-less. He hated being in this much pain. He had never felt anything like it, but as consciousness slowly returned to him he found it was near unbearable.
Then, he noticed the pressure on his right shoulder. Forcing his eyes open, he saw nothing but dark hair. For a moment, he thought that perhaps he had failed and he was lying beneath his dead sister.
But then he saw the Healer bustling about in the background. Pain chose that moment to rip through his back and he jerked a little, pulling Atheana from her sleep. The Elf's head snapped up and she gasped, her eyes lighting up.
"Legolas! Oh, Legolas, you are awake! I am so sorry, please forgive me...I didn't..."
She would have continued, but Legolas gripped her hand tightly and shook his head once. "Not your fault," he whispered, surprised by the rasp to his voice.
Atheana smiled and squeezed back. "You are too giving, brother. I love you so much, I was scared I was going to lose you."
"He is out with the patrols, making sure those Orcs are taken care of. Don't you worry about anything."
Legolas nodded once. It was all he could manage at the moment. Then he spoke, haltingly. "All I could think was mother, Ath. Mother. They killed her, I couldn't stop them. I couldn't let them have you too."
And Atheana's heart melted at that. "Legolas, you could have done nothing different, you did all you could for mother. No one blames you."
He smiled wanly. "I know that now."
Atheana gripped his arm. "You saved my life, Legolas. I'm sure Mother is watching from Mandos' Halls and she is smiling at your bravery. You have done her proud today, brother."
Legolas really smiled now. His eyes were fluttering dangerously, but he had to say this one last thing. "Atheana, do me a favor..."
"Next time, ask me to take you out...much easier."
Atheana laughed. "Okay, I promise I will!"
A/N: This is me doing a little Legolas and sister story. Of course, this BEING me means Legolas gets hurt. AS usual...please r/r!