Title: Reluctant Comfort
Disclaimer: I don't own any of it. They belong to someone else. I'm only borrowing them.
Distribution: whoever wants it, just let me know where it ends up.
Pairings: Willow/Graham to Willow/Legolas, Buffy/Haldir, Cordelia/Éomer, Fred/Faramir
Spoilers: Sequel to ‘Reluctant Allies'
Feedback: It is my muse!! I'll beg if I have to. Pleeeeeeze!!!
Notes: , /Willow's telepathic thoughts/, \\Others' telepathic thoughts\\, *dream sequence*
Notes 2: I just want to thank my wonderful Betas!! Thanks especially Judy, Sarah, Chastity and Deborah!
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Life has a funny way of changing in an instant. Everything is going perfect, according to plan, and then *poof*, everything is different. Even after living on the Hellmouth, life has a way of throwing unexpected curve-balls that can change one's life forever.
"Graham, honey, wake up," Willow spoke softly in a sing-song voice. Willow still couldn't believe it. She and Graham had been together for almost three years, married for nearly two of those years. Willow Miller. She still had to pinch herself sometimes to make sure that it wasn't a dream.
"Five more minutes," Graham mumbled into his pillow. He'd been having a great dream about him and Willow in a secluded section of forest, next to the lake in Lothlorien, like they had been three years ago, only in his dream he wasn't comforting Willow, he was showing her again and again how much he loved her.
"Nope, time to get up." Her voice was more stern, but no less affectionate. "You're going to be late if you don't get up. The General will have my hide if you're late again." Willow and Graham's Commanding Officer had come to an understanding. Graham could still help the Scoobies, as long as it didn't interfere with his regular duties. Graham was late to work one morning due to a rather hectic battle the night before, and the General nearly had Willow's head for it. Not a situation she would like to be in again.
"He'll have to get through me first." Graham smiled sleepily at his wife.
"That'll be easy enough if you're in the brig. Now get out of bed. Breakfast is ready." Willow kissed Graham on the forehead then made her way back to the kitchen.
Less than ten minutes later, Graham was in the kitchen dressed and ready for the day. Graham kissed his wife passionately. After three years together, the fire was still there. "Morning, Berg."
"Morning. Sleep well?" She sat in the chair next to him as they began eating breakfast.
"Yup. I was having that dream of you and me in Lothlorien again." He winked at Willow who smirked at him knowingly. He had told her of his dream before, it seemed to be one of his favorite dreams.
"You do know that you're obsessed with that dream, don't you?" She teased.
"Not with the dream, just with you." He leaned over and kissed her. She returned the kiss eagerly.
"If you keep that up, you'll never make it in to work." Willow sighed against his lips.
"And that would be a bad thing why?" He asked as he trailed kisses down her neck.
"Well, one, you like your job. And two, we need the money. I rather like having a roof over our head and food on the table," she answered as she tilted her head to give her husband better access to her neck. This was her favorite part of their morning routine.
"You know, I hate it when you're right. Although, you'd think that I'd be used to it by now." He kissed her on the lips silencing any reply she might have made. "I better get going."
"Yup, you better." They stood and walked toward the door.
"I love you Berg. I might be a little late tonight. We have maneuvers, but don't forget that I have something special planned for tonight."
"I love you too, Graham. Be safe. I'll be ready when you get home." The two kissed fervently, then he walked out the door. Willow shuddered as a wave of dread swept over her. Ignoring it, she went about getting ready for her day.
\\Wills, how are you?\\ Legolas and Willow had kept in touch since her return from Middle Earth. They both looked forward to their daily conversations. Graham knew about her conversations with the Elf, and was glad that she was able to keep in touch with the other dimension, even if he was a little jealous that he couldn't join in on the conversations. Willow had tried a ‘three-way call', but to no avail.
/I'm great. I can't wait for tonight./ Willow put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher.
\\I bet. Do you know where he is taking you?\\
/He won't tell me. But I'm supposed to get dressed up./
\\It sounds like he is planning something very romantic.\\
/I would hope so, it's our second wedding anniversary today. I still can't believe that Graham and I have been married for two years./ Willow grabbed her bag and her keys and headed out of the apartment, to head of to school. She was a senior at UC-Sunnydale.
\\Nor I. It seems like only yesterday that the two of you were here. I still wish that I could have been there for your wedding. I am sure that is was spectacular, and I'm sure that you were absolutely radiant.\\
/I wish that you could have been here too. I miss you. I miss everybody. I'm just so glad that you guys sent us with the portraits./
\\Everyone here still says hello. Did I tell you that Boromir and Éowyn are expecting their first child?\\
/No, you didn't. That's so cool. Tell them I said congratulations./
\\I will. Are you off to school now?\\
/I am. What are you up to today?/
\\Just the usual. Wandering around, making sure that everyone is healthy, happy, and safe.\\
/Sounds like my nights./ Willow heard Legolas laugh. /So, you found yourself a girlfriend yet?/ Willow teased the Elf.
\\Not yet. The woman I love is still painfully unaware that I desire her.\\ Legolas had told Willow all about the woman that he loved, but he left out the part that she was married, a human, and in another dimension. Basically, he left out the part that he was in love with Willow.
/I'm sorry to hear that. Is she still involved with the other guy?/ Willow truly felt bad for her friend. He deserved so much happiness. She wished this female elf that he was in love with could see how wonderful Legolas was and dump the other guy she was with. Hell, if she wasn't married to Graham, and not in a different dimension, she'd seriously consider falling for Legolas.
\\Yes, she is. I don't see that changing anytime soon. So, I am destined to wander the world alone.\\
/You're not totally alone. I'm still in your head. And I still love you. I know it's not the same, but it's true./
\\That means more to me than I could begin to explain. I'm sure that you are at school by now, so I'll let you attend your classes in mental silence.\\
/Trust me, my head is never silent. I'll talk to you in the morning, okay./ Willow wandered up the stairs into her class.
\\I look forward to it. Farewell.\\
/And Legolas, remember, I love you. Take care./
\\And I love you, Willow. Until next time.\\
Willow sat in her normal seat in class. Something was bugging her friend but she wasn't sure what it was. And not knowing what it was, she wasn't going to be able to help fix it. Willow wished that the woman Legolas was in love with would return his feelings.
Class seemed to go by in a blur. Between worrying about Legolas and the excitement of the evening with her husband, Willow wasn't really into her classes today. Willow was on her way home around 2 pm when she suddenly collapsed to the ground clutching her head.
/Graham! What's wrong?/
\\I'm so sorry. I love you. Never doubt that.\\
/Graham, stop it. What's going on?/
\\There was accident at training. I was . . . hurt.\\
/No! Tell me you're going to be okay!/ Willow began to cry.
\\I never could lie to you Berg. I don't . . .think . . . I'm going to . . . make it.\\
/You have to. I need you. I can't live without you./
\\I . . .love . . . you so . . .much . . . Willow. Remember . . . that. I . . . love you.\\
/NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!/ Willow sobbed uncontrollably. /Graham, please don't leave me!/
\\Willow are you alright?\\
/Legolas! It's Graham . . . he's . . ./
\\What happened to Graham, Willow?\\
/He's dead./ Willow began to sob anew.
\\Oh, my sweet Willow. I am so sorry.\\
/I don't know what to do, Legolas. No one knows. He told me he loved me, then he died. No one knows!!/
\\Where are you, Tathar?\\
/I'm in the park by my apartment./
\\Can you make it to your apartment?\\
/I don't think I can move. I'm so scared. What am I going to do now?/
\\We'll get through this together. I'll be right back. I have to talk to someone first, alright.\\
/Hurry. I don't want to be alone./
Willow tried to get up, but her body rebelled against her mind. It didn't want to function.
+ - + - + - + - + - +
Buffy jumped up from her spot on the grass where she had been studying. She looked around for the owner of the voice. Finding nothing, she sat back down.
\\You're not losing your mind. I'm in your head.\\
\\Who . . .who are you?\\
\\My name is Legolas.\\
\\You're the Elf that's a friend of Willow's. Right?\\
\\Yes. You must listen to me. Willow is in trouble.\\
Buffy sprang to her feet and began gathering her things.
\\Where is she? What happened?\\
\\She said she was in the park by her apartment.\\ Buffy took of running.
\\Graham just died.\\ Buffy stopped in her tracks.
\\Yes, just a few minutes ago. She screamed in her head so loud that I'm sure that everyone that she's ever talked to heard. I'm just used to her voice, so I knew it was her. Please hurry. She said that she can't move.\\
\\I'm on my way. Will you talk to her until I get there?\\
+ - + - + - + - + - +
/Legolas. What took you so long?/ Willow's sobs had calmed to streaming tears.
\\Buffy is on her way to find you.\\
/Thank you. I don't know what I'd do without you./
\\Oh, my sweet Willow. If I could take this pain from you, I would.\\
/I know. Thank you. Legolas?/
/I'm so tired. How am I going to make it through this?/
\\You have your friends and those around you who love you. You still have all of us here in Middle Earth. Know that all of our prays will be with you.\\
/That means a lot to me. I think I hear Buffy. Thank you for finding her for me./
\\It was the least I could to. I'll check in on you later. Get some rest. And remember that you are loved.\\
/I know. Thank you./
Buffy sprinted into the clearing and dropped at Willow's side. Buffy pulled Willow into her arms and allowed her best friend to cry over the loss of her husband. Once Willow's tears had begun to slow a little, Buffy got Willow to her feet and led her back to her apartment. Willow was too in shock to notice. Buffy managed to get Willow tucked into bed.
Once Willow had drifted off into a fitful sleep, Buffy called Giles, Xander, and Riley to have them meet at Willow and Graham's as soon as possible. Buffy knew that Riley would take Graham's death nearly as hard as Willow. Within an hour, all were gathered at the apartment and seated in the front room, while Willow still slept.
"Guys," Buffy spoke softly, her voice broken by her own tears. "I have some bad news."
Buffy held Riley as he cried over his friend's tragic death. What was so hard for all of them to deal with was the way the Graham died. All of the Scoobies figured, and readily accepted, that they would die at night at the hand of some big evil, or at least a vampire. But nothing had prepared them for Graham's death during an everyday training accident, during broad daylight.
\\Buffy? It's Legolas.\\
\\Hi. Thank you for telling me about Willow.\\
\\How is she? I didn't want to disturb her if she was sleeping.\\
\\Hold on, I'll go check on her.\\ Buffy slid out from under Riley who had fallen asleep with his head in her lap. \\She was in shock when I got to her.\\ Buffy reached the bedroom and saw Willow tossing and turning, in the throws of what could only be a nightmare. \\She seems to be having a nightmare. Maybe you should disturb her. Or at least see if you can help soothe her dreams.\\
\\Thank you. I'll see what I can do. Take care of yourself.\\
\\I will. Hey wait. How come you can talk to me and Willow can't?\\
\\I think it's because you're power as the Slayer is grounded in the earth. Willow probably hasn't put it togther that she could talk to you.\\
\\Makes sense. Please try to help her.\\
\\I will. Now go take care of yourself. She'll need you strong.\\
\\I know. Thank you.\\
Buffy walked back out into the front room know that she was leaving Willow in capable hands.
\\Willow?\\ Legolas whispered into Willow's mind. She was unable to answer, but he was, as Buffy thought, able to see into her mind. She watched over and over again her version of how Graham had died. Each time it was a different cause of death. Shot, stabbed, run over by a tank, poison, vampire, orc. The list went on and on. Legolas was frightened for Willow. If she did not come out of her nightmare soon, she would destroy herself.
Legolas envisioned himself standing next to Willow, his arm around her shoulder, comforting her. It seemed so real to him that he could actually feel her body next to his as he lay on the ground in the dark forests of Mirkwood.
\\My sweet Willow. You need to wake up. You are not alone.\\
Willow looked up as she heard her friend's voice. It was then that she noticed that he has his arm wrapped around her shoulders. He seemed to life-like. She could've sworn she could actually feel him touching her.
/Is this a dream? Are you real?/
\\Yes, this is a dream. And yes I am real. Willow, I'm so worried about you.\\
/I'm so sad Legolas. I keep having nightmares./
\\I know. I saw them. How can I help you, Tathar?\\
/Just hold me./
\\Of course.\\ Legolas pictured in his mind the fire and candle lit hall where he and Willow had first met, in Lord Elrond's house. He pictured it empty, except the two of them. He sat her on a fur rug in front of the fire and held her. She snuggled into his arms, feeling safe in the arms of her friend. He gently rocked her and sung soothing words to her. Willow started to drift of into a peaceful slumber.
Legolas held her as long as he could. He reveled in the feeling of her in his arms. He had loved her since he had first laid eyes on her, in this very room. He had wanted her to leave Graham and to come to him, but not like this. Never like this. He wouldn't wish this on his worst enemy. He would show her only friendship now. He wouldn't, no couldn't, let her know of his feelings toward her. They were highly inappropriate at a time like this. What he wouldn't give to be able to be in her world, to be able to really hold her. To be able to comfort her and protect her while she was in this weakened state.
Legolas liked Graham, he always did. If anything, he was jealous of the human man's relationship with Willow, even in the beginning. But he never wanted it to come to this. Not ever. Legolas was content to love Willow from afar. She was happy with Graham as her husband. And as long as she was happy, Legolas was happy. He still got to talk to her everyday. He still got to have her in his life. But now, everything was different. In one brief instant, everyone's life had changed dramatically.
"Giles," Buffy pleaded. "It's been a week since the accident. I had to shower and dress her for Graham's funeral two days ago. She still won't speak, she barely eats. We have to do something, or she's not going to make it. I'm pretty sure that the only thing keeping her sane is the fact that Legolas is in her head while she sleeps. He's managed to keep her nightmares at bay, but I don't know how much longer he can keep it up."
"What do you suggest we do?" Giles was at an end. He had no idea how to help the girl that had been like a daughter to him.
"If only there were a way to have her with Legolas. Somehow, he can get through to her when the rest of us can't." Buffy began to pace Willow's front room. The gang had started taking shifts to watch over their grief-stricken friend.
"I don't know how that would be possible. But I'll begin researching and see what I can some up with."
"Thank you Giles. I'm just so worried about her. I've never seen her like this. I've never seen her so broken."
"I know. I'll head over the Magic Box now and start looking."
"Thank you Giles." Buffy gave Giles a quick hug, then the Watcher took off to the shop.
Buffy continued to pace the floor. She made her way to the bedroom door to watch her friend.
\\I couldn't agree more.\\
Buffy jumped, startled.
\\Damn it Legolas, couldn't you knock first or something?\\
\\Sorry. I haven't figured out how to do that. Mental privacy was Willow's specialty, not mine. I just tend to barge in.\\ Buffy heard Legolas laugh, and she couldn't help but smile. \\But, really. How is she?\\
\\I should be asking you that question. There's been no change here. She still won't talk, and she barely eats. I'm fairly certain that you're her only link to sanity right now. Has she said anything to you that might help us get through to her?\\
\\No, I don't think she even realizes that I'm there. I just keep putting images from here in her mind. Places that she would recognize as safe, and she would have only good times to remember.\\
\\That's a good idea. I wish you could put some good places from here in there too, but there really aren't that many happy times on a Hellmouth.\\
\\I would imagine.\\
\\Legolas, I have to ask you something.\\ Buffy walked over to the bed, sat down, and held Willow's hand.
\\What is it?\\
\\Do you know of any way to either get Willow to you, or for you to come here?\\
\\I'll talk to Elrond and Gandalf. I headed to Elrond's house as soon as I made sure that you had Willow last week. I thought he might be able to help, but we hadn't considered what you're suggesting. I'll see if either of them have any ideas.\\
\\Thank you. I have Giles looking into it on this side. I'm really worried about her, Legolas. I've never seen her like this. She's usually so full of fire. Now she's just a shell of who she used to be.\\
\\I know. It worries me too. When I first met Willow and Graham they were always fighting. She said that it was their way of dealing with the stress of being in a different dimension and trying to stop an apocalypse. She would never back down from a fight, no matter who it was with. I watched her save us over and over again, and then get mad at me when I tried to give her the credit she so fully deserved. She wouldn't talk to me for almost an entire day when I told everyone that she saved Graham and Boromir. I know of her inner fire of which you speak. She gave hope to the Fellowship, when hope was hard to find.\\
\\You're in love with Willow.\\
\\Willow and I are friends, that is all. Her heart belongs, as it should, to the man she wed and buried.\\
\\I'm not talking about her heart, I'm talking about yours. I know that it's hard to get to really know Willow and not love her. How long have you loved her?\\
\\The night she and Graham came to Middle Earth there was a banquet. She walked in wearing a white gown. In the light of the fire and the candles, she looked like she was glowing. I hadn't even been introduced to her. I didn't even know that she was the woman of whom Graham had spoken. But when I first saw her, I loved her.\\
\\You never told her.\\
\\No, I did not. It would've been inappropriate. There was obviously something between her and Graham, although neither of them would've admitted it at the time. He was so mean to her sometimes, and she defended him to ‘her boys'.\\
\\I don't think that she knows that I know that's what she used to mentally refer to me, Aragorn, and Boromir as. We took it upon ourselves to look out for her, like three big brothers. We wanted to protect her from everything, especially the heartbreak that Graham seemed to cause in her with his rash words. As the Fellowship continued, Graham relaxed around her, and we - her boys - backed off. \\
Buffy wandered back out to the front room to study the portrait of the people of Middle Earth. \\In the portrait that Willow was given, who's who?\\
\\The front row, from left to right, is Pippin, Merry, Éowyn, Willow, Frodo, and Sam. The second row, from the left, is Gimli, Éomer, Boromir, Graham, Aragorn, and me. The back row, from the left, is Faramir, Gandalf, Lord Elrond, King Théoden, and Haldir. Boromir and Éowyn married and are expecting their first child. Éowyn and Éomer are brother and sister. Boromir and Faramir are brothers. Éowyn and Éomer's uncle is King Théoden. And Aragorn married the daughter of Lord Elrond. I think that about covers who's who in the portrait.\\
\\Wow, that's quiet the crew you've got there. I can see why she liked it there.\\
\\It's a beautiful land. Although now, it's probably boring by your standards.\\
\\Boring can be good.\\
\\I would imagine. I'll see if Gandalf or Elrond have any ideas how to help.\\
\\Thank you Legolas. I'll go check with Giles. Take care.\\
Buffy walked over to the phone and called Giles. Still no answers forthcoming from the research. Xander would be at the apartment in less than an hour, and then Buffy would go help Giles research. Buffy was even more convinced than ever that the key to Willow's recovery was everyone's favorite Elf, Legolas.
"Are you sure this will work?"
"Yes, Buffy. I'm sure this will work," Giles reassured his Slayer. But Buffy would not be placated so easily, as she continued to pace around the Magic Box.
"Are you sure that we'll be able to open it whenever we want, and that it can be opened from the other side just as easily?"
"Yes Buffy, I'm sure." Giles took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. He understood Buffy's concern, but it was still getting on his nerves that she didn't trust him. "I'll make a copy of the spell, gather all the ingredients, and send them with Willow so that whenever she is ready, she can come home. I suggest you try to get in touch with that Elf and make sure that he is ready. I'll finish setting up, then we can bring Willow here."
"Okay. Thank you Giles. I know that I've been a pain, but I'm just worried about Wills."
"I know. I am too. Now go. You'll probably need to head back to her apartment to pack a few things for her." Giles shooed the blonde out the door.
Buffy walked to Willow's apartment. She was almost there when she tried to contact Legolas.
\\Giles is certain he's found a way to get Willow to you. Are you sure you want to do this?\\
\\I'll do everything I can to help her. Messengers have already been sent to gather everyone in the portrait here to Lord Elrond's house.\\
\\She'll love that. She's missed everyone so much.\\ Buffy walked into the apartment.
\\You may want to pack some clothes for her. Most importantly, is she still wearing her silver necklace?\\
Buffy wandered into the bedroom. \\No, we took it off of her a couple of days ago.\\
\\Make sure that she at least has it with her when she comes. I would suggest that you actually put it back on her. It should make the spell easier. The stone will be called to this world.\\
\\Never thought of that. Okay. I'll pack her a bag, and then Xander and I will take her to where we're going to do the spell. I'll let you know when we're starting.\\
\\I'll be waiting. Take care.\\
Buffy turned to Xander who was waiting patiently for her to say something. "Sorry, I was talking to Legolas."
"I figured as much. You had that same far away look that Willow gets. What did he say?"
"Giles is ready. I'm just here to pack a few things for her then we'll take her to the Magic Box."
"Okay. Let's get going. The sooner she gets to Middle Earth, the sooner she'll get better and come back to us."
Within minutes, Buffy and Xander had Willow packed, dressed and ready to go. They carried Willow out to Xander's car. Xander drove them to the Magic Box where Giles had set up for the spell. Xander carried Willow in and Buffy had Willow's bag.
"Put the bag over her shoulder then put her in the circle," Giles instructed.
Buffy put the strap over Willow's head so that the bag couldn't slide off, then Xander gently placed Willow on the floor in center of the circle that Giles had formed.
\\Legolas, we're starting.\\
\\We're ready here. Elrond, Gandalf, and Haldir are here with me.\\
\\Okay. Giles is starting now. Take care of her.\\
Willow was vaguely aware of where she was and what was going on. In the distance she heard bits and pieces of what Giles was chanting in what sounded like Elvish.
"Lema ed' ando en' templa . . . voronwer . . . poikaer . . . Tel' Mithrim . . . vana tel' Seldarine . . . tanka harwar . . . Lema ed' templa."
The circle began to glow a strange red color. Light shot up from the ground to the ceiling, surrounding Willow in a wall of red. When the color was gone, so was Willow.