Change One Thing, See What Happens

Paradox of the Fourth Age

13. Chapter 12 ~ Spellbound

 

A/N: Thanks for my supporting cheerleaders and reviewers. And as always thanks to my wonderful beta, Elliska.


Elvish:
Naneth – mother
Melethrilen - my beloved -feminine
Meleth i guilen – love of my life
Anar – sun


18th day of April
Fourth Age, Year 79
Aman


Celebrían felt tears running down her face as she watched Elrond and her sons step onto the dock. Seeing the weary looks on their faces and how much her children had changed was hard to bear. But the worst of it was the fact that one child, her daughter Arwen, was never coming home to her.

"Naneth," Elladan said as he folded his arms around his mother. "You are such a pleasant sight to see."

"As are you," she smiled and then hugged Elrohir. "My sons, you will never know how much I missed you both."

When Elrond smiled at his wife, the tears flowed freely down both their faces as they embraced. "Melethrilen," he whispered as she sobbed into his robes.

"Meleth i guilen," Celebrian said softly. "I thought this day would never come."

"Forgive me for…" Elrond began, but could not form the words expressing his deep regret and sense of failure about Arwen's death.

"There is nothing to forgive," Celebrian said looking deep into his eyes. "You are not responsible for what happened. I am proud that you and Naneth did so much for the elves of Middle Earth. You both sacrificed dearly for others, but have done nothing to feel shame for."

"Our choices and actions cost you as well Melethen," Elrond sighed as he lowered his head. "I wish our reunion could be only one of joy and not reminders of our losses."

Celebrian shook her head and replied, "This is a joyous reunion." Kissing him gently, she then turned to see Lady Galadriel standing near her.

"Naneth," Celebrian exclaimed with a smile and her mother smiled back at her. Feeling overwhelmed with relief and happiness, she walked to Galadriel and the two women embraced tightly. "I am overjoyed to see you again, Naneth."

"My dearest one," Galadriel smiled and stroked her daughters hair, holding her tightly. "Seeing your smile again soothes away so much sorrow."

"We have so much to talk about, but tonight I finally have my family home and I intend to spoil you all," Celebrian laughed. "Come, let us return to my…I mean, our house so you may rest."

Glancing along the beaches of Alqualondë as they departed the dock, Galadriel felt a surge of pain in her heart. Elrohir reached out and took her arm. "Do not think of the day you left here. A lot of time has passed and many things have happened. I was told that this was a new beginning for us all by my very wise grandmother," he reminded her gently.

"Yes Elrohir, you are most certainly correct," Galadriel laughed. "A new beginning for us all, even myself. I was not merely expecting it to look so beautiful. I do believe I would enjoy spending time here along these beaches. Perhaps I will even settle here so I can wake to see the ocean everyday."

"Queen of the Golden Wood living by the sea," Elrohir asked raising his eyebrow. "A new beginning indeed." The two laughed as they followed the others.

Galadriel and Celebrían pointed out different interesting and beautiful places along the way. Within a short time, everyone felt a new sense of wonder in their surroundings and excitement for the upcoming days.

Later that night, Elladan glanced at his brother with a grin and said, "I think this place is growing on me already."

"Yes you can finally live that life of comfort and indulgence you sought so often in the past," Elrohir grinned. "I imagine within a few weeks you will sleep most of the days away and celebrate long into the night. Be careful though, too much indulgence will make you fat and you will resemble a troll."

"Like you do now?" Elladan smirked.

"I do not look like a troll. I merely have the temperament of one," Elrohir grunted as he drank the rest of his wine. Hearing his mother's laughter from the sitting room made them both smile.

"It is good to see her at peace finally. I think in time, Middle Earth will merely be a bad memory for us all," Elladan mused. "At least I hope this is true." Elrohir said nothing, but his thoughts were much like his brother's. He wished for one night without the nightmares plaguing him.

~~**~~

"It is good to see you both," Rumil said, embracing his childhood friends.

"You are looking well. Aman seems to have had a peaceful and healing affect on you." Elladan smiled.

"It heals many wounds, my friends," Rumil smiled softly. "You will see in time."

The two, along with Elrohir, walked into the city roaming the streets to the various vendors and laughing together for the first time in many decades. The twins had not been in Valinor but a short time and it was already lifting their spirits. After weeks of reuniting with their mother, the two had finally decided to see the rest of Tirion and give their parents some time alone together. Lady Galadriel was visiting friends in the city as well.

The reunion was still bittersweet for their mother. Celebrían was overjoyed to see her family after so many years and the endless ships that had come without them, but the sight of her husband and two remaining children was like a knife in her heart: Arwen was never coming to Valinor.

Rumil was showing them some of the gardens and fountains along the border of the city near their house. As they passed by the house beside theirs, Elrohir was following his brother and Rumil and looked up, seeing her for the first time. She was standing on a balcony above them with her long golden hair shining in the sun, making it look as if she were at one time part of Anar. She was leaning on the railing looking in their direction, but when she looked away, he stood and watched her. When Rumil and Elladan realized he was not following, they turned and walked back.

"What is it that has caught your eye so, brother?" Elladan smirked as he followed his twin's unwavering gaze. "Ah, a fair maiden perhaps."

Seeing Laurëanna on the balcony, Rumil felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. This could only end badly, he thought to himself before warning the twins. "If I were you, I would recommend that both of you not look at said maiden in that manner."

"And why is that, Rumil?" Elrohir said not even looking at him.

"Perhaps you do not know who her father is," Rumil chuckled.

"We have only been in Valinor for a short time, Rumil. Of course we do not know the fathers of all the ellith here," Elrohir replied, shortly, annoyed with his friend's evasion of the question. "Is there a reason why we would know her father?"

"Oh, but you do know him. You know him quite well, in fact."

Finally, Elrohir stopped watching the elleth and looked at Rumil confused. "And who is her father?" he said. Elladan also looked at a smiling Rumil with great curiosity.

"An old friend of yours, a certain lord of Rivendell for most of your lives," Rumil responded. When the two brothers continued to look at him blankly, he added, "Take another look at her. Do you not notice anything familiar about her?"

Two sets of gray eyes returned to the balcony. After a moment, Elladan started laughing and Elrohir glanced at Rumil, shocked.

"That cannot be Glorfindel's daughter, can it?" Elrohir exclaimed. "No, his daughter would be much younger than that."

"Indeed that is Lord Glorfindel's only daughter, Laurëanna. Not a child, but very young. Her mother is Indil, of the Gray Havens. They were in Alqualondë for a few weeks before you arrived. I think they just returned last night," Rumil said, still watching Elrohir, who appeared mesmerized. Once again, he tried to warn his friend, "As I have said, it is best that you do not look upon her for long, Elrohir, nor have any thoughts of wooing her. Glorfindel's young daughter is not one you should pursue."

"Actually, I was thinking that it was time to go see our lifelong friend. It would be rude to not see Glorfindel as soon as we could," Elrohir said walking towards her house with a determined stride.

Rumil and Elladan glanced at each other surprised. All of them had respected, and feared, Glorfindel in Middle Earth. Why Elrohir would openly risk his anger was beyond either of them. Quickly, the two followed him, unwilling to miss what would likely be an interesting reunion.

Indil greeted them when they arrived at the house. Rumil introduced Elrohir and Elladan to her and she was greatly pleased.

"Glorfindel and your mother have told me so much about both of you. I feel as if I already know you," she smiled at them warmly and embraced each of them, as well as Rumil. "Come, Glorfindel will be so pleased you are here."

Indil walked up the stairs and they followed her. At the top of the stairs was a large room where Glorfindel was sitting in a large chair near the open doors to the balcony. Seeing them come in, he smiled fondly and rose to greet their guests.

"I had heard you were here, but did not expect to see you so soon. I assumed your mother would have kept you to herself for at least a month," Glorfindel said as he embraced them both tightly.

"She has tried, but we escaped for a brief walk. When Rumil mentioned you lived here, we wanted to visit. I hope this is not poor timing," Elladan said, smiling.

"No. It is wonderful timing. We were just enjoying the peace of the day and were going to have a glass of wine. Please join us," Indil said. "Glorfindel, why do you not introduce the twins to Laurëanna while I am pouring the wine? Or Rumil could take them to meet Laurëanna if you prefer."

"No, I will assist you," Rumil offered quickly. Rumil did not want to be the one to introduce the twins to Laurëanna. That is something Glorfindel should do. That way, if either brother did something foolish where she was concerned, he received none of the blame. He winked at Elladan as he followed Indil to the kitchen.

Glorfindel looked at the twins for a moment before speaking. He was so relived and glad to see them, but knowing them as he did, especially Elladan, he wanted to make sure they were clear about their behavior with his daughter. Reluctant to spoil the joyous mood, he still felt he needed to be direct with them.

"I am assuming that I do not need to warn you about being inappropriate around my daughter. She was not born in Middle Earth; therefore, she is innocent of the way of things. I prefer her to stay that way. While she has been told what happened, she does not need to hear endless gory details of wars and orc slayings from the two of you, nor do I need to worry about either of you saying something that might displease me in any way. I know how charming you two can be if you wish to be. Understand me clearly, when I say that you will be polite and respectful, but not overly charming to my daughter," Glorfindel warned.

Both Elrohir and Elladan were amazed at how Glorfindel could still make them feel like young elflings so soon after arriving. They both nodded respectfully. As Glorfindel walked towards the balcony, Elladan gave Elrohir a warning look, hoping his brother had nothing foolish in mind. Glorfindel was not one to stand for it from either of them. They walked onto the balcony and his daughter turned with a smile. Seeing the twins, her eyes lit up.

"This must be the infamous Elrohir and Elladan of Imladris. Welcome to Tirion. I have been greeting almost every ship from Middle Earth since I was a child waiting for your arrival. Forgive us for not being there when you arrived. I know your mother must feel so overwhelmed with relief and happiness now," she smiled.

"As you have guessed, this is Elrohir and that is Elladan." Glorfindel put his arm around his daughter protectively. "And this beauty is my daughter, Laurëanna."

"Ada! Do not embarrass me!" Laurëanna blushed as she playfully pushed him away. Turning back to the brothers, she replied, "Forgive my father, he has a tendency to embarrass me first thing just to be done with it. I am honored to meet you both."

"No, it is our honor, I assure you. We had heard of you from our mother, but her comments of your beauty did not do you justice," Elrohir smiled at her completely unaware of the glare he received from Glorfindel.

Laurëanna was impressed. Her father had not told her that the brothers were so handsome. He said they were identical, but something about the way they carried themselves made them seem very different to her. She had always had the impression that Elrohir was the more reserved, serious one though. He did not seem that way now as he was smiled at her warmly. And his compliment made her blush. Her heart felt like it was beating way too fast and she knew in that instant her life had changed forever.

"Laurëanna, it is an honor to meet you. I think if we had seen you in the city we would have known who you were, for you favor your father." Elladan smiled at her after a quick glance at Glorfindel.

"I think I am insulted," she smirked and elbowed her father in the ribs.

"Let us go inside. Rumil is helping your mother gather some wine. We should not make them wait," Glorfindel said, his eyes never leaving Elrohir's unflinching gaze at his daughter.

Elrohir had forgotten anyone else was on the balcony with them. Once he saw her face, he noticed little around them. And her eyes had barely glanced away from his either. She was studying Elrohir as intently as he was studying her.

When they were back inside, Rumil greeted Laurëanna affectionately as he set down a tray of fruits and cheese. Knowing Laurëanna since she was an infant, he was still amazed at how she had matured to the graceful elleth she was now from the spoiled elfling that used to shadow his every step to torment him. Laurëanna still was a notorious prankster and never failed to convince her father she was completely innocent. Indil knew her daughter better, so she rarely tried to deceive her mother about her participation. Rumil worried what she and Elladan would do if they ever combined their mischievous minds. He knew that Laurëanna would be perceived as the innocent one in the end. Rumil sat back enjoying the thought of Elladan finally being blamed for something after all of the trouble he caused in both Lóthlórien and Rivendell that other ellyn had been punished for.

While they sat and visited, Indil noticed more and more the stolen glances Elrohir and Laurëanna shared. She was pleased, yet she knew her husband most likely would not be. She found herself engaging he, Rumil, and Elladan in more conversations to perhaps prevent Glorfindel realizing what was transpiring between the two. Finally, she and Laurëanna began to gather the empty trays and dishes. Alone in the kitchen, Indil watched her daughter lost in her own thoughts and smiled.

"Laurëanna, it seems you are quite taken with one of the twins," she commented softly.

Looking up, Laurëanna blushed with guilt in her eyes.

"No, mother, I am merely a child in their eyes," she shook her head dismissively.

"While Rumil and some of the other ellyn who have known you since birth may not see it, you are no longer a child. It seems perhaps that some of the newer arrivals see a very grown and beautiful elleth of marrying age." Indil tucked a stray lock of hair behind Laurëanna's ear.

"You think I am beautiful because I am your daughter, as does Ada. I could have a face like a mule and neither would admit it," Laurëanna laughed. "I only wish others saw me as you do."

"Laurëanna, how could you not see the way he looks at you?"

"Hmm? The way who looks at me?" Laurëanna turned away and began busying herself washing a glass. After a moment though she looked at her mother and they both erupted into laughter.

After they both calmed down, she said, "Mother, mark my words. One day, I will win his love." She sighed then smirked at her mother. "In fact, he does not realize how much he will love me one day."

"Should I worry?" Indil asked as she raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps I should warn you that he is a grown ellon and you will not toy with him. You are not a child, therefore, do not play childish games. Nor should you play dangerous games with your heart. I fear your father would kill anyone who broke your heart."

"I will be careful, but he will not hurt me. I sense something…unique and sensitive…about him. Beneath that quiet exterior is a beautiful and passionate fëa."

"Laurëanna! What do you know about passion?" Indil gasped.

Sauntering out of the room, Laurëanna replied over her shoulder, "Only what I heard Rumil and his friends talking about one night."

"Sweet Eru, help me," Indil said shaking her head with smile as she followed her daughter. Joining the others, she sat beside her husband. She remembered how she felt when she first met him all too well. A warm glow filling her whole body, she still felt it every time he looked at her.

"Rumil, Laurëanna, you should take the twins back to the city so they can see the night time events. I feel certain they would enjoy the music. They might see old friends or perhaps meet new ones," Indil ignored the look Glorfindel gave her for suggesting her daughter go with them.

Never a fool, Laurëanna jumped up quickly before her father could object. Rumil and the twins said goodnight to her parents as she rushed out the door.

When the ellyn joined her, they walked to the center of the city where the musicians were and usually there were many people dancing. Rumil and Elladan smirked at each other as they noticed the other two lagging behind and walked faster than the couple.

Laurëanna quickly grew nervous when she was alone with him. She had absolutely no idea what to say to him and he did not appear overly talkative. Subjects of conversation tumbled through her brain, each discarded almost as quickly as she thought of it.

"My father has told me many things about the two of you," she finally said.

"Most, I am sure, are greatly exaggerated. I fear my brother and I were quite rambunctious when we were younger than you and did not grow out of it for years maybe a decade or more," Elrohir smiled slightly at her.

"Actually I believe my father said it was closer to a couple of millennium. And he has an affectionate nickname for the two of you as well," she said raising an eyebrow in amusement.

"I can only imagine what that is. He has called us quite a few to our faces over the years. So what is our newest nickname?"

"I believe his exact words were 'you will do much better Laurëanna if you do not associate yourself with the Twin Terrors of Imladris when they arrive, for I fear one, if not both, will lead you astray' " Elrohir laughed at her impression of her father. Growing serious, Laurëanna added, "He also said he missed you both and hoped you would find peace and happiness in Valinor that you did not have in Middle Earth. I do not think he will ever admit it to you or Elladan, but he is most fond of you."

Elrohir laughed. "You are right. He would never say such a thing to our faces. I think he and Erestor still cringe when they think of us. We were rather difficult. Especially towards Erestor, since we were not terrified of him."

"Well, if anyone needs to laugh, it is Erestor. He can make a roomful of others squirm in their seats if they look too mirthful. My mother says he only needs to fall in love and he will be less ornery," Laurëanna laughed. "That is the most disturbing thought to me. What elleth would you wish that chore upon?"

Elrohir chuckled for a while at the image. He could hear the sounds of music coming closer and he wished they could continue walking instead. Smiling at him, Laurëanna grabbed his hand.

"Come with me. I am sure you will find many friends from Rivendell here. Let us see how many we can convince that you are Elladan."

~~**~~

As they walked through the city streets, Elrohir found himself looking at her often. She seemed to know everyone and was very charming when she introduced him to the ones that he did not know. He was reunited with friends from both Rivendell and Lóthlórien. More than one ellon took him aside to ask him about her presence with him. It appeared that Glorfindel had scared away most of the ellyn who seemed remotely interested in her. Elrohir chuckled at the comments of his bravery or lack of sense. He knew that Glorfindel was going to have words with both him and Elladan as soon as he could. But he would enjoy tonight.

Soon after they met with Rumil and Elladan again, Laurëanna ran excitedly over to an elleth. Pulling her over to them, she said, "This is my closest friend, Airemír. Airemír, this is Elrohir and Elladan of Rivendell."

"Yes, I know. We have not met, but I have seen both of you in Lóthlórien and in Rivendell many times," Airemír blushed.

"It is a shame we did not meet before, Airemír," Elladan said with a wink.

Rumil looked at Laurëanna and rolled his eyes. Elladan was the charming one at all times and many fell under his spell. Airemír was looking at him in a way that proved she was one of the fallen.

When some of the elves began dancing, Elladan promptly asked Laurëanna to dance, ignoring the glare he received from Elrohir. Quickly, Laurëanna glanced at Elrohir and realized she could not refuse the offer without embarrassing herself. She reluctantly took Elladan's hand and he led her to where the others were dancing. Elrohir stood and watched, very irritated at his brother. He knew Elladan had asked her simply to annoy him.

"He is a wonderful dancer," Airemír sighed.

Rumil chuckled. Half of the ellith of Lóthlórien were infatuated with one or both twins, usually Elladan. Elrohir did not try to charm them like Elladan, so usually the ellith who admired Elrohir were enthralled by his mysterious nature rather than his charisma.

"So tell me Laurëanna, how is it that Glorfindel has such an enchanting daughter? You must take after your mother in that way," Elladan asked as they were dancing.

"What are you implying about my father?" Laurëanna smiled as she raised an eyebrow at him. "My father is quite charming even if he is not social."

"Then he must have changed much since he has come here. He was not known for being very approachable in Rivendell," Elladan said with a chuckle.

Laurëanna feigned shock. "Are you implying that you did not think well of my father?"

"No! That is not what I am implying!" Elladan said quickly, then caught her amused look. "Oh, you take great pleasure in the fact that your father is terrifying to most."

"No, I take great amusement in it. There is a difference," she said with a smile. "To me, he is not terrifying. He is kind, gentle, and very loving father."

"Kind and gentle?" Elladan burst into laughter. "Well then, he has changed quite a bit."

"Is it true what he has said about you?"

"And what would that be?" he said dreading what she might say.

"He said that you were so charming that most people looked past the fact that you were so reckless. And you were not very bright when it came to your actions," Laurëanna said trying not to smile. "He said that you were dangerously impulsive I believe were his exact words."

"He said I was not very bright?" Elladan said irritated.

"Not his exact words, but the implication was there." Finally, she could not hold back her laughter, and he grinned.

"You are wicked, just as Rumil said," he chuckled.

Laurëanna gasped. "Rumil said what? He is one to call me wicked. He has led me astray many, many times."

"Yes, and he said that you would claim that as well."

Laurëanna frowned. "And what else has he told the two of you?"

"That you were beautiful and wickedly funny," Elladan winked. "But you were rather gullible and naïve." Seeing the anger in her face, he added, "Dangerously naïve, I believe his words were."

Laurëanna laughed. "I supposed I deserve that."

"He was correct about you being beautiful and wickedly funny," Elladan said as the music stopped.

Laurëanna blushed. "And you are very charming. I am sure that you say that to every elleth you speak to."

"Only the beautiful ones, I assure you," Elladan said kissing her hand. "Thank you for the dance. It was most enjoyable."

They had walked over to the other three. Elrohir glared at Elladan. When the two ellith went for more wine, Elladan turned to Elrohir with a bright smile.

"She is beautiful is she not? She is also very charming, witty, and funny. I think I am rather fond of her," Elladan said with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

Not rising to the bait, Elrohir shrugged. "If she is witty, she will most likely shun you soon once she discovers how shallow you are."

"Did I touch a nerve, brother?"

"Do you not always touch a nerve? You live to be a thorn in my side, I believe." Elrohir rolled his eyes.

"Ah yes, but I am very good at it."

"Yes. You are."

Rumil smiled at the two. Elladan knew just how to get under Elrohir's skin like no one else. But he knew in the end, Elrohir would repay Elladan in kind. They both had their ways of making the other one squirm.

Unfortunately for Elrohir, Elladan had found a weakness in his defenses. Rumil knew Elladan was mainly interested in Laurëanna because he had seen that Elrohir appeared to be fascinated with her. Elrohir was not one to dote on or moon over an elleth. Elladan seemed to be amused at the fact that Laurëanna had have caught Elrohir's eye. Therefore, Elladan, being Elladan, would turn this into a competition. Rumil smiled thinking how entertaining the twins competing over Glorfindel's daughter would be. What they perhaps did not realize; Laurëanna would not play any game she could not win. And Glorfindel would not tolerate any games involving his daughter.

This would be very entertaining indeed and Rumil could not wait for the game to begin. For once, he would not be the loser in a game involving Glorfindel and Laurëanna.



 Spellbound




11th Day of March
Third Age, Year 3019
Near Linhir, Middle Earth


Laurëanna watched nervously as Aragorn met with Halbarad and the twins to discuss their next actions. She knew he was upset with her for not giving him more details about the vision, but how could she ever explain without telling too much? Elrohir had studied her every expression and word and Laurëanna knew that he doubted her more now than ever before.

"Is it possible that you are wrong?" Legolas said quietly, startling her.

"No. I am sure that if we meet the Corsairs in battle, it will be a mistake," Laurëanna insisted.

"But…" he began, his face concerned. "How do you know this? Based on the past that has been changed or based on something else?"

"Legolas, I cannot explain, but trust me. I know that the Corsairs were responsible for the attack on the Havens in my past. And I have been warned against facing them now," she said reluctantly.

"Warned? How were you warned? Do the Valar speak to you in dreams?" Legolas asked, surprised. "Have you gained the gift of foresight in reality?"

"I…well, no…at least I do not think so. Oh Legolas, this is too hard to explain. Sometimes you have to know that you are doing what is necessary based on what you know and other times you have to have faith in what you feel," she said with a sigh.

But as they spoke, she began to feel as confused and doubtful as he did. What if she had interpreted the dream incorrectly? Or what if it was just a nightmare due to her exhaustion? She had never seen the Havens, so she could have imagined what they looked like from her mother's description, but she had no way of knowing if it was correct in her dream.

Seeing her confusion, Legolas pushed harder to find out the source of her thoughts. "Laurëanna, you need to tell me what you know. The Valar wanted me to aid you in your quest, so they would want you to talk about this with me."

"Legolas, I told you already, I cannot explain it. Why do you not go find out how their discussion is going?" she said evasively.

Knowing she would obviously not tell him more, Legolas nodded and walked to where the others sat with Aragorn. After he left, Laurëanna began to search her mind for the answers she needed. There had to be a way to be sure that she was doing the right thing. Certainly, she would not have had that dream unless the message had been to warn her. Perhaps she was being warned of something else. Possibly Elrohir's death or something that affected her personally? If that were the case, then his death might be unavoidable for Aragorn to accomplish his mission and she was, in fact, possibly making a tragic mistake.

Could she knowingly allow Elrohir to die if it saved Middle Earth? Tears filled her eyes as she realized that might be what she had to do. She was not certain she was strong enough to do so. Perhaps the Valar had overestimated her strength of character and wisdom. She was so tired of these nightmares; they were making her feel close to madness. She had to be positive about her advice to Aragorn. There had to be a way to know.

As her mind raced with all the possible interpretations of her dream, her eyes darted around the camp. Hoping to find something to distract her thoughts, her gaze finally fell upon Aragorn's bags, one of which held the palantir. Realization dawned on her. The palantir is what gave Aragorn the knowledge about the Corsairs, so it would make sense that if she looked into it, it would tell her the truth about her dreams and possibly even let her know what the future held if they continued on this path.

Laurëanna looked around and realized that no one was actually watching her now. Most of the men were still sleeping except those meeting with Aragorn, and they were far too engrossed in their debate to pay any attention to her movements, plus she was in a darker area of the camp. Glancing over to where Aragorn's belongings were, Laurëanna made the decision that she had to reassure herself, once and for all.

Rising quietly, she continued to watch the others to see if anyone looked her way. After a few moments, she silently crept over to Aragorn's sleeping mat and the saddlebags from his horse. Glancing back, she assured herself that no one was aware of her movements. She then began searching his bags for the palantir. Finally finding it, she pulled the fabric wrapped orb out of the bag and laid it on top.

'What are you doing foolish girl?' she thought to herself. 'You are not strong enough to look into this! What are you thinking?' After a moment of inner turmoil, she knew she had to risk it and unwrapped the fabric carefully. She sensed the power emanating from the stone and even in the darkness, she could see the pale glow within it. Reaching for it, her hand shook and felt a strong pull to touch it. Instantly, she quickly pulled back with a gasp.

Forgetting all else but the palantir, Laurëanna warred with herself about her actions. 'You were sent here by the Valar. Of course you are strong enough to look into it. It is just a stone after all. The Númenóreans used them long ago and surely I am stronger than a mortal.' Thinking to herself, Laurëanna did not even realize how odd her thoughts were. All she could think about was her husband and the palantir possibly saving his life.

'Then again, what if I look and see someone I am not supposed to see, like Sauron?' she trembled when she remembered Pippin's terror at seeing Sauron. If Sauron saw her, would he know all that she knew including her history and the Valar's plans, ruining everything she accomplished so far. Even as this doubt crossed her mind, she felt the pull of the palantir and forgot her concern, feeling the sense of urgency to find out the answer to her quest.

"I have to look. The Valar would want me to be certain before I gave Aragorn advice," she whispered. Once again she reached for the stone and felt the strong desire to simply hold it. Her fingers grazed the orb and she was fascinated by the tingling sensation she felt traveling through her body by the mere touch. The shaking in her hands was now completely gone and she felt a surge of power and confidence. "Yes, this is what the Valar would bid me to do to be certain that my dreams are true. And I must look, for Elrohir's sake as well as my own." Once again, she whispered to herself as she reached out with the other hand to pick up the palantir.

Elrohir returned to check on Laurëanna and found her gone. Looking around the camp, he saw her crouched beside Aragorn belongings and wondered what she was doing. Striding quickly to come up behind her, he heard her whispering to herself. Unable to hear much of what she said, he did hear his name and her mention of the Valar.

"Laurëanna, what are you doing?" Elrohir asked suspiciously as he walked closer.

Startled, Laurëanna gasped and quickly pushed the palantir back into the bag. She looked back at Elrohir guiltily and said, "Nothing. I was merely looking for…a…umm…a map. To see where we were and how far from Minas Tirith." She felt slightly dazed and struggled for an answer.

"A map?" he asked, tilting his head to look at what she was doing with her hands. The bag before her was the one with the Palantir he knew, but surely she would not be so foolish as to think to touch it. Unless…Elrohir felt pain deep in his heart when the thought occurred to him that she could possibly be one of Sauron's spies. Grabbing her arm roughly, he pulled her to her feet and said in a low voice, "A map? Could you not think of a better lie Laurëanna? Or perhaps you think I am a complete fool who has fallen under your spell so thoroughly that I would believe such a weak explanation."

"Elrohir what are you talking about?" Laurëanna exclaimed in shock. "What are you implying? That I am trying to seduce you into…something…I do not even know what. How dare you?"

"How dare I? I find you seconds away from looking into the Palantir and you want to talk about my nerve to accuse you," he said furiously.

"What is wrong?" Legolas asked as he and Elladan walked over to where the two of them were standing. Their voices were low, but both elves heard Elrohir's accusation. "Elrohir, certainly you do not think Laurëanna would…"

"Would what, Legolas? That Laurëanna would steal the Palantir to contact Sauron?" Elrohir glared at him for a moment. "What I wonder is how much you are under her spell as well."

"Elrohir, this is madness," Elladan said, trying to diffuse the situation. "Let her go and we can all discuss this rationally."

"Rational? I do not think your brother is even capable of rational thought at this time. To accuse me of being one of Sauron's spies is complete madness," Laurëanna replied, trying to pull her arm out of Elrohir's firm grasp, but was unable. "He talks of spells when he is the one that is acting like an utter and complete fool." Although she was hurt by his comments, she was angrier that he could ever suspect her of such a thing. Who was this before her? This lunatic could not possibly be her serious yet rational husband.

"Let her go Elrohir. She is not a danger to anyone and you know that," Legolas replied in a tight voice. As soon as Elrohir released her arm, he looked at Laurëanna sternly. "Perhaps you had better explain what happened."

"But…" Laurëanna objected, but seeing Elrohir's angry face and Legolas' concerned one, she realized she had to tell them something that made sense. "Fine. I will explain. I was not looking for a map. I was looking for the palantir."

"As I thought…" Elrohir began.

"No!" Laurëanna exclaimed. "Not as you thought. I was not trying to contact Sauron or anyone else. I was worried that perhaps I had misinterpreted my dr…vision, so I thought the palantir could show me for certain if I was right. Now I think I might have made a mistake in thinking about looking, but I was not doing what you think Elrohir. In fact, I cannot believe you think I am capable of lying and manipulating you or anyone else here into believing me to be a friend when I am in league with Sauron."

Seeing the pain in her eyes, Legolas knew she was being as honest as she dared without revealing too much, but realized that not knowing the full story, Elrohir could not completely trust her. And there was no way possible he could be told everything.

Elladan studied Laurëanna's face and knew she was telling the truth about the palantir but was still hiding something from them all. He thought back to his dream and wondered if perhaps he was also being deceived into thinking he could trust her. But everything in his being felt that she was not the enemy here. What other forces were involved, he did not know, but he did not think Laurëanna was capable of hurting someone, least of all deceiving them all. His brother's confused feelings towards her were causing his irrational behavior, but he could understand. Elrohir sensed the fact she was hiding something as did he, but because he was conflicted in his heart, he could not see the purity in her fëa.

"I believe you Laurëanna," Elladan said quietly and he received a scathing glare from his brother. "Elrohir, I know it is hard for you to have faith in someone you do not know, but you know Legolas. He would not be false with us and he trusts her, do you not Legolas?"

"With everything I have, I trust her," Legolas replied. "Laurëanna wanted to do the right thing. She is under great strain as we all are and her visions could be influenced by her emotions. Attempting to make certain that her vision was true was an honorable thing to do. She merely chose the wrong way to reassure herself."

Elrohir studied both the elves, then looked back at her. His anger was still intense, but he could see the honest hurt in her eyes. Could she deceive them all so completely that none of them could see through her lies? He was not certain, but something told him she could not. Shaking his head, he replied, "Perhaps she is telling the truth, but I will not idly sit back while she makes a dangerous mistake again." Looking intently at Laurëanna, he continued, "I will be watching you and do not think that I trust you enough to let down my guard again."

Laurëanna's pride and anger kept her from giving into the despair she felt in her heart. She merely glared at him, furious that he could not see that she could never hurt him. Turning swiftly towards Legolas, she said, "If I am through being accused of treachery, I will attempt to sleep the remaining hours before dawn. That is, if you are in fact allowing that, Elrohir?"

"Do not dare act indignant with me after what you have done," Elrohir warned her. "But yes, feel free to rest some. Tomorrow we will continue on the path we have been taking and we do not need you slowing us down."

Resisting the urge to scream at him, Laurëanna walked stiffly away without looking at anyone. Passing by Aragorn and Gimli, she said nothing and went back to lie down where she had spent the earlier hours of the night.

"What is it?" Aragorn asked, sensing the conflict between the three elves.

"Nothing that needs to be discussed now. We should get some rest while we can," Elladan said after a long silence from Legolas and Elrohir, who were glaring at each other as if Aragorn had not even spoken.

Legolas turned away and Gimli followed him, asking what had happened. Although he said nothing, Gimli was certain it had something to do with Elrohir and Laurëanna. The two had clashed for days in the beginning, but had seemed on better terms until now. Apparently, their truce was over.

"Elrohir, what is wrong?" Aragorn asked again.

"Nothing Estel. I am merely tired. I will speak with you in the morning," Elrohir said and left. Walking back to where he had slept earlier, he debated whether he should move away, but decided it was best to keep an eye on her anyway. As soon as he lay down, she turned her back on him and he smirked. If she thought he was a fool, she was sorely mistaken. She would not make him her pawn in whatever game she was playing.

~~**~~

Dawn came much earlier than the exhausted company would have liked and with it came the realization that their time was growing shorter. There was no sun as they rode. Elladan told Laurëanna that was most likely caused by Sauron's darkening of the skies so the orcs could travel without the sunlight interfering with their movements. She said nothing as she thought back to the skies of Valinor growing darker as her time there grew shorter.

Laurëanna rode now with Elladan, refusing to even acknowledge Elrohir's presence with them. That was fine with him, however, for he knew that way it would be easier to keep his distance from her. The tension between him and Legolas was regrettable, but he refused to put his pride aside. He did not trust Laurëanna and obviously he could not fully trust Legolas to be objective about her. Regrettable but unavoidable in his eyes.

The company continued to push towards Pelargir with the Dead Army at their backs and the Corsairs amassing in front of them. They rode through night into the day of March 13. Everyone was tense for the upcoming battle when Aragorn stopped them for one last respite before they reached the port side town.

"We are so close, Estel. Should we not continue?" Elrohir asked as he dismounted.

"This will most likely be our last chance to stop until we defeat the Corsairs. I think everyone needs to be prepared for the battle and it would do no good to have our horses collapse from lack of food or water," Aragorn reminded him.

"Laurëanna?" Legolas held out his hand and she allowed him to help her dismount from Elladan's horse. "Are you well?"

"Terrified of what is to come," she admitted. "All I can think is what if we are too late or the battle does not go well. I do not know how everyone else is so calm." Her eyes watched the riders as they took care of their mounts quietly. Even in the gloom, she could see the pale shapes of the Dead Army and it made a shiver run down her spine. "I hope the Corsairs fear these ghosts as much as the men of this region considering how outnumbered we are."

"It is out of your hands Laurëanna. Do not trouble your mind with anything other than protecting yourself from those who wish you harm," Elladan replied.

"Damrod, please come here," Elrohir called as he walked up behind them.

The young Dunedain walked over to them swiftly and nodded towards Laurëanna before turning to Elrohir.

"I want Laurëanna to ride with you near the rear of the company. There is no need for her to be part of this battle and we need Elladan to be unburdened," Elrohir said ignoring Laurëanna's glare. While she appreciated the fact he did not want her to be hurt, she was insulted by his calling her a burden. Thinking to herself that at least it was better than being called a spy and traitor, she did not say anything to him. She merely turned her back and walked away.

"Yes my lord," Damrod said with a nod. He had been curious about the elf during the journey, but had yet to speak to her. Having the least fighting experience of the men, it made sense that he was asked to stay in the rear and protect her, but his pride bristled slightly. Seeing Aragorn watching him, however, he nodded. "It is an honor you trust me with such an important duty."

After the man walked away, Legolas turned to Elrohir and said, "That was uncalled for Elrohir. Not only have you made Laurëanna feel horrible, but you have insulted Damrod as well. Considering they have made the same journey and faced the same trials we have on this path, the least you could do is to leave your personal feelings out of this and…"

"This is not about personal feelings and I do not have time to coddle anyone's pride, especially hers," Elrohir interrupted and stormed away.

"Legolas, I know this is hard for you but please remember Elrohir has much experience in battle and I trust his judgment. Laurëanna will be safer this way, I assure you," Aragorn said grasping Legolas' shoulder.

Nodding, Legolas said, "Yes you are right Aragorn. Forgive me for interfering."

"There is nothing to forgive. We are all wary of what is to come," Aragorn replied with a tired smile.

After he walked away, Legolas glanced over and saw Laurëanna standing by herself, but nearby the others. Knowing she was safe, he began to attend to his horse as Elladan did the same.

Laurëanna watched the riders completely detached from this world. She was reciting all the things her father had taught her about fighting and trying to calm herself with thoughts of those fond memories. A slight smile pulled at the corners of her mouth as she thought back to the time she almost accidentally sliced a hole in Glorfindel's ribs and in the process, cut her hand open on his blade. Her father had snuck her into the house to clean and bandage her wounds before her mother found out. For a week she had kept one hand in her pocket whenever Indil was in the same room.

"Very little to smile about for most of us," Elrohir's voice startled her and her smile faded.

"I was thinking back to a fond memory," she answered quietly. Realizing this might be their only chance to speak before he went into battle, she swallowed hard and began to apologize. "Forgive me for the other night Elrohir. I know you do not trust me and I cannot blame you for some of your doubts. But if you are honest with yourself, you will realize that in your heart, and in the very depths of your fëa, I am not capable of what you have accused me of. I made a mistake thinking to use the palantir. I have admitted that, but it was only because I was trying to be certain I was not making a much greater mistake by giving Aragorn incorrect information."

Elrohir studied her for a few moments before he answered. "Laurëanna, I do not know whether to believe you or not, but the matter still stands that you are hiding something from me." When she adverted her eyes and looked down, he sighed. "Until you can tell me what it is, I fear that I will not ever be able to trust you completely."

Biting her lip, Laurëanna nodded. As he began to walk away she said quickly, "I wish you would realize that what you do not know does not matter now. What you feel and what you know about me based on those feelings are all that matters between us."

"Perhaps, but secrets from your past always end up haunting your future," Elrohir replied. "If you do not believe me, look at the ghosts that surround us now."

'I have no past without our future,' she thought to herself before answering him.

"Elrohir, if anything happens, I do not want our last words to be ones of anger or regret." Walking to him, she grasped his hands and looked into his eyes intensely. Her voice shook as she whispered, "Promise me that you will survive this fight Elrohir. If you do not…I will…well, do you really want to worry about what I will do if you are not here to watch over me?"

After a moment, Elrohir squeezed her hands and said, "No. If I am not around to watch over you, who knows what trouble you will cause. You cannot be rid of me so easily." Pulling away from her before he was unable to do so, Elrohir walked back to his horse.

Laurëanna felt a knot in her stomach as she watched him. She could not lose him. He was difficult, hardheaded, and completely maddening, but he held her heart from the first moment she saw him until this one.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Alassante

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 02/16/10

Original Post: 03/13/07

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