Paradox of the Fourth Age
14. Chapter 13 ~ Blood and Honor
Author's notes - As always - thanks to my beta Elliska - who keeps me in line. =) And to the Garden Gang, LJ buddies, and OSA friends who motivates and support me. <3 U all. Hope you enjoy!
7th day of September
Fourth Age, Year 79
Elladan looked over his shoulder as he hurried down the path to Laurëanna's house. So far he had not seen any sign that his brother was aware of his plans for a secret, and hopefully romantic, picnic with Laurëanna. It seemed too easy to have eluded Elrohir today. Considering that every time he had made plans to be alone with the lovely elleth, his brother managed to arrive and destroy any chances of Elladan winning her affection. Ever since they had been competing for her time, Elrohir had proven to be a ruthless adversary, never allowing Elladan more than a few precious moments alone with Laurëanna while at the same time eluding his twin on days when he had planned to spend time with her. In fact, Elrohir had many hours enjoying her company, alone, while Elladan usually was spending the same time being teased by Rumil about the game that he was clearly losing.
If he had not been competing with his brother, Elladan probably would have given up chasing Laurëanna long ago. He was not usually one to have to work so hard for any lady's affections. However, now it was a matter of pride, and stubbornness, that he continued this battle with Elrohir.
Today, his plan was foolproof. Elladan had made sure that Elrohir was safely on his way to see Galadriel with his mother, because he thought that Elladan was with his father while Elrond thought that Elladan was with his twin. He had managed to keep everyone separated and therefore unable to confirm his stories before they all left for their plans earlier. But still, he sensed that something was not quite right, which kept him on edge as he moved quickly to Laurëanna's house.
Seeing her in the garden made him smile. She adored her mother's gardens so much that he felt like she would prefer to sleep outside amongst the flowers. Now she was sitting with her head resting on her palm, hair draped over her shoulder, while she read a small book. Hearing him she sat up and smiled.
"Good afternoon Elladan. I thought you were not going to come today or had chosen instead to spend time with another," Laurëanna teased.
Elladan could not help but be impressed every time she knew, even at a distance, which twin she was seeing. His brother had also noticed that she had never confused them since she had first met them.
Grinning, Elladan replied, "Now my lady, you know there is no other I would prefer to spend my time with instead of you." Reaching her side, he bowed down gallantly and kissed her hand.
Laurëanna raised an eyebrow at him and smirked, "Rather odd that you would say that, Elladan, considering that I have already heard of your other plans."
"Other plans?" he asked, his face confused then his eyes lit up in realization but before he could speak, he heard someone coming from behind him.
"Elladan, next time you insist on going hunting at the last moment, perhaps, you should arrive on time rather than an hour late," Glorfindel said with a scowl seeing the intimate way he was holding his daughter's hand. He knew they were friends, of course, but it did not make him happy about that fact to see him so brazenly expressing affection towards her.
Laurëanna had to bite her lip to resist laughing at Elladan's face, realizing at that moment he had once against been tricked by Elrohir. She could see him trying to come up with a reasonable and respectable answer to her father before realizing he was still holding her hand. Dropping it with a look of horror, he twirled around and opened his mouth to speak, then clamped it shut seeing Glorfindel's face.
"Good. You are here, Elladan," Elrond said exiting the house with Erestor. "We should go now if we expect to return before dusk, should we not?"
"I…well, I…had planned to…" Elladan began, but seeing all their faces looking at him expectantly knew that he had no choice unless he wanted to tell Glorfindel that he planned to spend time alone with his daughter on a romantic picnic. "Where is Elrohir? I better find him so he can go with us."
Elrond looked at his son with curiosity then answered, "You told us at the stable that he had escorted Galadriel and your mother to Alqualondë."
"Oh yes, of course, I forgot," Elladan muttered, trying not to show his irritation.
'How did Elrohir managed to outwit me yet again?' he thought furiously. When he turned to look at Laurëanna, he saw her struggling not to burst into laughter and it was all he could do not to scream. Once again Elrohir had managed to make him look like a fool in front of her as well as ensure that there was nothing that Elladan could say about it or risk Glorfindel's anger by revealing their games to win his daughter's sole attention. So far Elrohir had spent many times alone with her and Elladan had not managed to spend any significant time without his brother or another party's companionship. It was maddening.
Laurëanna could see the storm brewing in Elladan's eyes and took pity on him. Feeling he needed a moment to collect himself, she said, "Ada, Elladan and I were discussing something that will just take another moment. Perhaps you could go on and he will be along momentarily?"
"Fine. But do not be long, Elladan," Glorfindel replied kissing his daughter's forehead as he and the other two began walking towards their horses.
Elladan let out a sigh causing Laurëanna to giggle. "I apologize, Elladan. I do not mean to laugh, but you must admit your brother has been rather…"
"Devious? Sneaky? A cad?" Elladan interjected angrily.
Smiling mischievously, Laurëanna kissed him on his cheek, then whispered, "And of course you have not been any of those things Elladan. I am so proud of you for not sinking to his level."
Elladan glanced over at her and seeing the wicked twinkle in her eye merely sighed as he wished her a good day and followed the path after Glorfindel, Erestor, and his father.
Laurëanna could not help but feel smug that once again Elrohir had proven how much he wanted to spend time alone with her. Although he had not put it in words, she knew that he was growing even fonder of her each day. She, on the other hand, was hopelessly in love with him more than she ever thought possible. It took every ounce of dignity not to scream it out to him and everyone else in all of Arda. Instead she had to be content with talking about it nonstop with her mother and Airemir.
She was so deep in contemplation she did not hear the object of her thoughts enter the garden until he spoke and startled her, causing her cheeks to turn slightly pink.
"My lady, please tell me you are not pining away over the loss of accompanying my brother on a picnic," Elrohir smirked when she blushed. "I wanted to explore some of the mountains and hoped you might join me but if you would rather sit here all day waiting for my brother to return…"
"No!" Laurëanna exclaimed, then blushed even more before she regained her composure. "I will join you. I would hate for you to get lost." Realizing how ridiculous her answer was, she frowned and quickly picked up the picnic basket Elladan had left behind, shoving it into Elrohir's arms. "It would be a shame to waste this."
Taking the basket in one hand and holding his unencumbered arm out to her, Elrohir said, "It would be rather difficult for us to go exploring with a picnic basket so let us go find some place where we can enjoy lunch before we explore."
"I know exactly the perfect spot," Laurëanna smiled brightly.
Elrohir could not resist watching her all through their meal by the small brook, surrounded by large flowering shade trees. The sun that managed to break through the thick foliage reflected in her thick golden hair. They spoke of many things as they ate, rarely stopping the conversation. Now she was sitting with her knees draw up in front of her as she listened intently to his opinion on why Hobbits were not known to most people of Middle-earth.
"Elrohir, why…" she began then stopped suddenly.
"What is it?"
"Nothing. It is none of my business, and it would be rude to ask you," Laurëanna said dismissively and looked away.
"You can ask me anything. If it is none of your concern, I will tell you as much," he said seriously.
"Why…" Laurëanna said after a moment. "Why have you never married?"
"Ah. A frequent question I am asked," he smiled. "Middle Earth has not been the ideal place to marry and have children for many ages."
"But you were not married even in your youth, during more peaceful times. Was there ever someone…?"
Shaking his head, Elrohir replied, "I have met many ellith in my days that are beautiful and intelligent, as well as charming, but I have never met someone who made me feel…well, someone who caused the same depth of emotions and devotion as my sister and Estel or my parents and grandparents. After many years, I was past the age of marrying and we were in wary times, so I accepted it was not something that I would do."
"It is not too late," Laurëanna said without thinking. "I mean…I am not saying that you should or…what I mean is…"
"I understand," he smiled. Lying back on the blanket, he looked at the sky for a long time in silence. "It is beautiful here. Thank you for showing me this spot. I hope you do not regret that it is me that you brought here rather than Elladan." His grey eyes turned to gaze at her intensely.
Laurëanna could not speak for fear of blurting out her true feelings for him, so she merely shook her head. She held her breath as he reached out and took her hand in his own, still watching her in a way that made her feel as if her soul was in flames. After a moment he finally spoke.
"If we wish to explore, we should go now. Otherwise, I am afraid I will be unable to leave this spot."
"How could you do that to me? My own brother!" Elladan said bursting into the room.
"Did you enjoy your hunting Elladan?" Elrohir said lightly as he gazed over at his brother with a bored yawn.
"You are…" Elladan glared. "Evil. That is it! You are evil. Do you know how much I have endured today? Not only spending countless seemingly unending hours in the woods with Erestor and father listening to them reminisce about when they were young, I had to endure being interrogated by Glorfindel about every moment I have spent in the company of his daughter. All this rather than spending a nice, peaceful day with her."
Elrohir could not resist chuckling at Elladan's indignant face. "It could not have been that bad, Elladan. It is not like you were being tortured."
"You have no idea," Elladan said with a groan. "I am beginning to think this is not worth it. Surely, she is a beautiful and charming elleth, but she is Glorfindel's daughter and I dread the day when she reveals some of his personality traits that, so far, she has kept hidden from us."
"Perhaps it would be better for you to admit defeat at last," Elrohir said. He honestly hoped Elladan would because after spending many enjoyable hours with her today, he was even more determined to win.
Observing his brother's demeanor carefully, Elladan replied, "You care for her, more than you wish to admit."
"Honestly? Yes, I do. I do not wish this competition to end with Glorfindel discovering that we were actually attempting to win her from each other."
"If you ask it, I will step aside," Elladan said.
"You know my feelings brother, yet you request that I say it out loud to you rather than merely doing it," Elrohir shook his head. When Elladan raised an eyebrow at him, then smirked, he knew he would have to swallow some of his pride or continue this charade. Sighing, he said, "Fine. I ask you to stand aside and allow her some peace from your relentless pursuit so she can spend more time with the brother she prefers."
Chuckling, Elladan nodded. He knew deep down that his brother's feelings for Laurëanna as well as her feelings for him were growing more and more obvious. Plus, Elrohir had never asked this of him, nor would he, if he did not have strong feelings for her. Elladan wondered how long before his stubborn brother would acknowledge the depth of his feelings. He also wondered with amusement how Glorfindel would react to the news.
13th Day of March
Third Age, Year 3019
Pelargir, Middle Earth
Laurëanna had no idea how long the battle had lasted before she lost sight of most of the members of Grey Company. It was mass pandemonium as they overtook the Corsairs. As the smells, sounds, and sights assaulted her, she tried without success to find her husband amidst the fray. The ghost army seemed to sweep through the fleeing men, cutting them down as they ran. The battle screams mixed with the wails of the injured and dying men. Many times, Laurëanna ached to look away in horror from the gruesome sight, but she felt that if she closed her eyes for a moment, she would waste precious time finding Elrohir. Everywhere she looked seemed covered in blood and bodies. The men still on horses had to negotiate through the gore-covered ground and sometimes she could hear the sickening crunching as hooves impacted with the bones, or worse yet skulls, of the dying men. Laurëanna wanted to scream in both fury and agony seeing all of the death around her.
"I do not see Elrohir," she called to Damrod, without thinking how strange that might sound to him. He did not answer, not that she noticed.
Between the men fleeing from the ships and the Dead Army driving them away, it was easy to lose track of the smaller group she was with, the Grey Company. Damrod attempted to keep them far back from the battle, but they managed to be pushed further into the battle as it surged against them in all directions, feeling as if the world was ending around her. Some of the enemies desperately tried to fight Damrod for their horse. Laurëanna sat behind him, ready with her sword drawn, to defend them if needed, but the Dunedain fought them easily, slicing through them swiftly, shocking her further with how easily he killed, or mortally wounded his fellow man.
Laurëanna tried hard not to think of her husband as a killer, though she knew he was. The realization hit her hard as she watched Damrod protecting himself, and her. Elrohir's hands, the hands that had caressed her in the night so many times, were the same hands that now ended life. Even though she knew these men would kill them if they did not defend themselves, she was having a hard time comprehending how men could kill one another.
Feeling overwhelmingly desperate to find those she loved, Laurëanna searched the battle for Elrohir, Elladan, Legolas, even Gimli praying that they all survived this. She heard Aragorn's shouted commands frequently and knew the future king still lived, but it was little comfort to her if she lost Elrohir.
"It appears that most of these men are trying to flee rather than fight," she called to Damrod after noticing a large number of men were running past them, stepping over the injured and dying without attempting to aid them.
"Yes. Perhaps this will be easier than we realized, but do not let down your guard," the man warned her. "A desperate man is more dangerous."
The ghost army had scared away the greatest number of men easily. The ones that did stay to fight barely had their hearts in it, as they were terrified to the bone, only fighting for survival.
"Damrod, I think you need to go over there," she exclaimed finally seeing that Elrohir and Elladan were both outnumbered amidst this melee.
"My lady, my orders were to keep back…" he argued.
"But your orders were from Elrohir and his death will be on our heads if we do not act," she pleaded.
"No!" he shouted to her, his voice carrying a warning and Laurëanna knew he would not yield to her wishes.
Despite his intent to keep them further back, the battle had grown so crazed that they were in fact being pushed further into the middle of the fray. Every way Damrod turned seemed to be blocked by fleeing men or ghostly warriors. Laurëanna tried to keep her eyes on Elrohir, but felt danger all around them. When she did risk a glance towards Elrohir, he and Elladan were heavily under attack. At the moment, they seemed to be defending themselves quite well, as they were skilled and fierce fighters, but the enemy's numbers seem to grow by the minute.
When Elrohir was knocked from her horse, Laurëanna shouted, "No!", and felt as if she would lose her mind. Her heart was racing as she and Damrod were in more immediate danger and she could no longer watch Elrohir. More and more men were attempting to attack them. She fended them off without doing much more than injuring a few. As the fighting grew more intense and they were too close to manage to use the sword, she began kicking at them or hitting them with the hilt of the sword, anything to keep their hands off her, Damrod, or the horse.
In a moment's lull, she spared a glance for Elrohir again and saw he was still managing to do as much damage on his feet as he had been on his horse. So focused she was on her husband, that she did not realize that a huge man had jerked the reins of their horse away from Damrod until the horse reared on its hind legs. When the horse rose up, Laurëanna fell to the ground, knocking the wind out of her. She rolled a short distance, luckily away from the horse's hooves. Barely a second passed as Laurëanna tried desperately to catch her breath and rise to her feet. Her shoulder had taken the brunt of the fall and now throbbed painfully, making it difficult to even raise her sword arm. Having no choice, she pushed through the pain. The whole world around her seemed fuzzy and distant as she tried to recover from the fall. Damrod was attempting to regain control of his mount and get back to her, but two men blocked his way.
"Laurëanna, behind you!" he shouted, bringing his sword down on one of the men.
Not consciously thinking as much as impulsively acting, Laurëanna turned and ducked at the same time, holding her sword up defensively. Not two feet from her, a dirty man that reeked of both the smells of the sea and the blood that darkened his clothing was brandishing a very large sword and seemed intent on impaling her on it. Ignoring the pain and the confusion she felt, Laurëanna swung her sword to counter his well-aimed attack. He was yelling something at her, but she could not even focus on his words. Her sole intention was to prevent him from burying the sword into her gut. Behind her she heard Damrod calling to her as well, but she could not turn to see what was happening to him. Blocking another swing, this time at her neck, she stumbled over a man on the ground, and slid in the slick blood and gore on the grass. As she regained her balance again, the man reached over with one hand, grasping her and jerked her closer to him as if she weighted nothing. Thrashing and kicking away from him, Laurëanna did manage to knock the sword from his hands as she tried to gouge one of his eyes out, forcing him to pull her hand from his face. She fought in a frenzy without any thought but survival. The man managed to knock both of them onto the ground. Then she felt him put his hands around her throat. Her mind raced and blackness bordered her vision. She heard only the pounding of her heart. Drawing her knee up, she drove it into his stomach with little effect. He had knocked her sword away, had her pinned down and he was double her size.
'This is it,' Laurëanna thought as angry tears filled her eyes. 'This filthy evil mortal is going to choke the life from me and I cannot do anything to stop him. Eru! This is not how it was supposed to end!' She was still kicking and trying to push him off her, but his grip tightened so much she could barely breathe.
Closing her eyes so she would not have to look into his face, she had to cease struggling to ease the pressure on her windpipe, save her energy, as she furiously tried to think of another way to defeat him. Her right hand groped the ground around her then fell on something metal. A sword? No, it was a dagger of some sort, slick with blood as she felt the razor sharp edge of it. Carefully, breathing as shallowly as possible, she ran her hand up to the handle. It was a sturdy dagger and felt heavy in her hands since she was growing weaker as less and less oxygen passed into her lungs. But she knew this was her only chance. Gripping the handle tightly, she drew her arm in and drove the sharp point of it with all her remaining energy into his side, angled upwards towards his heart. Her eyes flew open as his grip on her neck slackened, but she did not stop until the dagger was completely buried into his body.
The man did not move; his furious face slackened as shock filled his eyes. Laurëanna could not help but gasp as she realized what she had done. The light in his eyes was dimming now and even though he had released her throat, she could not move and still struggled to breathe as she watched this man die. He clutched at the knife trying to remove it, moans of pain mixed with his ragged breath. Tears ran down her cheeks when she thought that perhaps he had a wife and children to whom he would not be returning; because of her actions, she thought painfully. She had ended his life. Laurëanna tried to move out from under him, then noticed he had stopped struggling with the knife. When at last his eyes were staring blankly at her, all signs of life gone, she felt anguish ripping through her fea as she struggled frantically to move him off her, to get away from him. Her body finally free of him, she crawled a few feet away, still stunned. Nothing else around her seem to exist, in fact, she forgot where she was. Wiping the tears away with a blood-covered hand, she looked down seeing even more blood and gore on her clothing and in her hair. She stared as if she had never seen blood before.
"Eru forgive me," she whispered as she tried to wipe the blood from her hands onto her clothing, but it would not wipe completely off. Sitting on her knees, Laurëanna just stared wordlessly at the man she had killed for a few moments.
A groan nearby snapped her out of her thoughts and she turned to see four men lying nearby, including Damrod. His horse was lying close to them, apparently dead. Stumbling, she ran to his side, pushing away the man who was partially on top of him. He had to be alive. She had heard his groan. Once again, she heard a sound, but it was not coming from Damrod.
Laurëanna's hands touched Damrod's face gently as she wept. "Please, do not die. Eru please. Please do not let him die." The sounds of the man dying nearby were getting louder, but she ignored them as she pleaded with Damrod to open his eyes, before she finally knew it was too late. As the battle grew quiet at last, she bowed her head and tears fell upon the man's youthful face. In the background, Laureanna heard trumpets, but did not look up. She knew the battle was over, but she could not manage to feel any sense of triumph.
Gimli ran to her and, seeing that she was in fact not hurt, attempted to get her to leave the man's side. Realizing one of the men nearby was fatally injured yet still alive, he began to move through the bodies. Releasing the man from his misery Gimli was surprised when Laurëanna looked up and screamed at him in shock and horror.
Legolas saw her as he and the twins dispatched the final man that had cornered them into a ravine. Breaking into a run, he quickly was by her side and grabbing her into his arms. She looked at him with wild eyes then turned to glare at Gimli once more. The dwarf was looking at her sympathetically, realizing what was wrong.
"Legolas, I think she is in shock," Gimli said quietly before he left the two elves alone.
Concerned by the blood all over her, Legolas had to confirm that she was not injured before he spoke. "Laurëanna, you do not appear to be injured," he said. She jumped when he touched her shoulder. "Ah. Your shoulder is hurt, but I am certain you will be fine"
Laurëanna stared at him blankly before whispering, "He is dead. I killed him."
"You killed Damrod?" Legolas asked confused.
"No…" Shaking her head, Laurëanna pointed in the direction of the man she had killed, unable to look at him again.
Legolas took a few moments to realize she must have had to fight one of the fleeing men and had in fact killed the man. "You defended yourself," Legolas said not fully grasping why she was so upset.
Laurëanna did not speak as Legolas studied her intently. Suddenly it occurred to him that not only had she never been in a battle before, she had never seen death first hand before. The fact that she had actually had to kill someone was too much for her to comprehend at this moment.
"Laurëanna, listen to me. Look at me," he said sternly. When she raised her face to look at him, the sorrow in her eyes made his heart ache. "You had to kill him. If you had not, he would have killed you."
"But those who loved him…he was a man, not an orc or some evil creature, he was a man like Aragorn and Damrod and…" she argued "And I killed him."
"Yes, he was a man, but not like Aragorn or Damrod. Not all men are good Laurëanna, you know this. Some are just as evil as the orcs or the Uruk-hai. They serve Sauron because their soul is black and their greed is great," Legolas explained, still talking to her in a stern voice, trying to make her understand what he was saying.
Suddenly Laurëanna jerked and asked, "Is Elrohir…"
"Yes, he is fine," Legolas said quickly. "As are Elladan and Aragorn. We lost one besides Damrod."
Laurëanna nodded and allowed him to pull her to her feet. Surveying the carnage around her, she felt a hard lump in her throat and her head swam. Even though the battle was over and most of the men had fled into the mountains, they had left behind their wounded and dead. Cries of anguish carried through the wind and she wanted to cover her ears to block them out. Another sound however made her heart soar. Not far from her, Elrohir was shouting commands to some of his men a short distance away. Looking in her direction, their eyes met and held for a moment, before he smirked slightly, thinking of his last comments to her.
Laurëanna knew Elrohir would not have admitted it to anyone, but seeing she was alive and unhurt seemed to give him more relief than she had expected. given their current location and situation. Elladan looked relieved as well. Returning to the job at hand, Elrohir tried to calm the horses nearby.
Legolas took Laureanna's hand and led her to his horse. "Laureanna, stay here for a moment."
"My sword," she said softly. "It is…by the body."
Walking swiftly to the area she had pointed to earlier, Legolas found her sword and returned it to her. "Stay here until I am finished. I need to find Aragorn." She and Legolas both turned to see Aragorn talking to the King of the Dead. They were too far away to hear his words, but the King broke his spear and bowed. Laureanna gasped in surprise as the ghost army faded away completely.
"They have fulfilled their oath and been freed," Legolas explained. "We will leave on the ships so it would be best if you go to the shore and wait until we are ready to depart. I will join you when I can." He gave her a reassuring smile and watched her walk slowly away, leading his horse with her.
Laureanna tried very hard not to disturb the bodies on the ground while walking to the shore and took great pains to avoid any men that were still alive and wounded. She knew the compassionate thing would be to put them out of their misery, but she could not bring herself to kill again. Not yet, not this soon. The gloom in the air fit her state of mind and she wondered if she would ever see the sun again. It seemed so long ago that she had been surrounded by love and beauty in the warmth of the sun. As she neared the shore, a spark of hope was ignited in her heart by the thought of seeing the water again. But reaching the sandy shores she was confronted with the painful realization that these were not the shores she had missed. These were tainted with the recent blood split.
Finding an out of the way spot along the banks, she let the horse graze while she watched Aragorn and the Grey Company make plans and prepare to leave. Exhausted like she had never felt before hit her and she struggled to stay alert.
The smoke around her burned her eyes as she coughed and tried to get her bearings. She was alone in the woods. It was someplace Laureanna had never been, yet it was very familiar. The sounds of the fire muted her footsteps. She jumped when she heard someone. Turning, she saw a raven haired beautiful elleth smiling and walking beside her. Once again Laureanna could not help but feel like this elleth was familiar to her.
"I have been waiting for you," the elleth said.
"Who are you? Do I know you?" Laureanna asked in between coughing.
A smile played on her lips and she answered, "Yes, you should know me. Keep in mind, this is only a dream and the smoke will not bother you."
Laureanna tried and realized that if she really ignored the fire, the smoke did not bother her. Studying the elleth a little, Laureanna soon knew who she was since she had her mother's face and smile, she shared the tell-tale eyes of her brothers. "Arwen?"
Nodding Arwen took Laureanna's hand and urged her to follow faster. As they grew closer, Laureanna stopped in tracks forcing Arwen to stop as well.
"I do not wish to go closer," Laureanna said firmly.
"But you must. You cannot close your eyes to things you do not wish to see. Surely you know this now," Arwen replied. "I closed my eyes to many things and in the end, it cost me my life. But even if it had not, I would not have been prepared to die a mortal death as I know now. I loved Estel and in that one rash moment, I let that love blind me to all else rather than letting it open my eyes. If I had listened to my father, or even your father, I would not have gone to Estel when I did and died. Who knows what that might have changed? Perhaps Legolas and the rest of the Fellowship would have lived. King Thranduil would not have been devasted by the loss of his son." Guilt filled her eyes. "My parents would not have had to suffer through the loss of me and perhaps my brothers…"
"But all of that has changed now, has it not?" Laureanna asked, confused. "Aragorn walked the Paths of the Dead, he defeated the Corsairs. Everything is as it should be."
Pulling her along again, Arwen said firmly, "You still have not learned, what should be easiest for you of all people, to understand. One thing, one tiny thing, can change the fates of many people."
Arwen was now walking in the fire ravished pathways of Imladris. Laureanna waited for her to say more as they walked along in silence. Finally they came to the gazebo and Laureanna felt sorrow surround her, overwhelming her to the point that she could not breathe. It was as if all of Imladris mourned and it was flowing into her heart and soul. She could not help but sink to her knees and lower her head, gasping as she heard screams of anguish in her head.
"The city mourns," Arwen said. "I feel it too." Crouching beside Laureanna, she stroked her hair. "But I have felt sorrow many times in my long life. I have walked in Middle earth and felt the sorrow of all of the many creatures that live here as well as the trees and ground we tread upon so harshly. Over time, you learn how to manage it, to control it somewhat."
"Arwen, how…" Laureanna asked, desperate to end this pain.
Arwen watched her sadly. "Laureanna, the sorrow here is worse than most places in Middle Earth because Sauron pushed all the elves of many ages into this place—it became our prision instead of our sanctuary. This is why I brought you. I needed to make you see."
"See what? I do not understand," Laureanna asked frustrated.
"Sorrow will be your undoing if you allow it." Laureanna jerked awake, gasping for breath and was surprised to find that she was not surrounded by fire and she could no longer hear the sorrowful wails that had almost ripped her apart not moments ago. She struggled to regain her composure as she saw Legolas approaching her.
Elrohir kept glancing over at Laureanna with concern. She had been quiet since they had boarded the Corsair ship and had not even spoken during the debate he had with Legolas about being on the same ship with her. He often wondered what Legolas was protecting her from. Was it what was going on around them or was it more Elrohir himself In the end, Aragorn had decided to keep all of Grey Company, as well as Laureanna, with him for future planning. Legolas did not feel it would be safe for Laureanna to be unescorted on a ship full of Men.
"Why do you not go speak with her and see if she is comfortable?" Elladan suggested quietly.
"Comfortable? Do you think that is necessary?" Elrohir snorted then shook his head. "She is alive, she should be…"
"For once in your life, can you please stop acting like a boarish man?" Elladan replied, his irritation written on his face as well as in his eyes. "I do not think she was prepared for that battle. She seemed so…"
"Does that alone not strike you as odd, brother? An elleth from Thranduil's land never having dealt with death or fighting? Is that possible? I understand she is young, but she is not young enough to be completely unaware of these things, especially if she traveled from his lands to Rohan," Elrohir said vehemently.
Although his heart ached for her sorrow, Elrohir was bothered by the fact that nothing she had told him thus far appeared possible. Even though Thranduil's caves were well protected, she had traveled outside of them to reach Helm's Deep. In fact, she had supposedly arrived immediately after the battle, therefore, she could not have been far from the fighting and must have seen something. He watched her now and was amazed at how fragile she looked. Despite his questions, he could not help but yearn to comfort her.
Elladan watched the internal conflict in his brothers eyes. He too had wondered some of the same things. Perhaps that dream was just that: a dream. Though he did not for any reason believe in his heart that Laureanna was capable of betraying them to Sauron, he knew she had deceived them about some things because too many things were impossible. In fact, he was greatly troubled by the fact that there was nothing he could even begin to think of to explain these facts.
"Whether you believe her or not, does not mean you cannot show some compassion towards her," Elladan finally replied. "She is clearly exhausted, as well as very upset by the trek through the mountains and the battle we just left. Perhaps as a seasoned warrior such as yourself, that seems like a normal way to spend a few days, but for most, it would be trying at best."
Elrohir glared at his twin for a moment then replied, "If you want compassion and charm, you are talking to the wrong person. But I will go to her since you obviously think she would prefer my company to your own." Before Elladan could retort, Elrohir strode away.
So lost in thought, Laureanna did not hear Elrohir's approach until she sensed him standing beside her. When she did not speak, he sat down beside her, studying her intensely.
Finally he asked, "How is your shoulder?"
"What?" she answered blankly, then shook her head, as if clearing it. "Oh. I am sure it will heal."
"You seem…" Elrohir struggled for words. "Lost."
"I suppose it seems silly to you, a seasoned warrior, to be affected by all of that death," she smiled weakly. "I am certain in time I will be immune to it as well."
"I hope not," Elrohir admitted. "Once you are immune to killing someone, you become as evil as Sauron."
"Are you not immune to it?"
"No. Simply because I am used to it, does not mean it does not affect me as well. Some would say it affects my charm and polite conversation," Elrohir teased.
Unable to help it, Laureanna laughed aloud. "Perhaps that is true. Although you seem to have very little experience with charm. I do not think you can blame all of that on being battle hardened. Some are born without the ability."
"Perhaps," he smiled. "Then what would be your excuse My Lady?"
"Pardon me, Lord Elrohir. I am perfectly charming and polite," Laureanna gasped. "You act as though I am anything but a lady."
"I must bring out the worse in you," he shrugged. "Strange that no others have complained of this malady to me before." She was quiet again and he noticed her staring out at the water. "Are you frightened?"
"Yes," she nodded. "I know that as bad as that battle was, the one on the horizon will be so much worse. I wish I had the ability to see all things in the future and know that it will end well. All I know is that it cannot be avoided."
"No, Aragorn cannot avoid the future battle, nor would he if given the chance. This battle has been coming for many years," Elrohir said wearily. "But perhaps you should get some rest. Let me take you to find some place to lie down." Standing he held out his hand to her.
"Do you not need your rest as well, my lord?" Laureanna asked, her eyes staring deep into his. Unconsciously she reached up and touched his cheek gently.
Elrohir was stunned by the desire that coursed through him with the simplest touch from her. Unable to pull his gaze away from hers, he whispered, "Laureanna, I do not think that it would be wise for us to spend too much time alone together. It tends to cause both of us problems."
"I do not wish to be alone, Elrohir. Please, I would prefer to stay on the deck here with you than alone in the cabins below," she answered.
Knowing people would soon notice them, Elrohir took her hand away from his face saying, "I will stay with you until you fall asleep, but that is all."
When she nodded her consent, he led her to the stairs leading to the below deck cabins of the former crew, taking a lit lantern by the railing. A few of the men had already arranged to rest down there and change places with the others on deck after a few hours, taking shifts with the duties, so Elrohir looked for a cabin that did not appear to be occupied already. He also attempted to find one that was suitable for a lady, which appeared impossible.
Laureanna was so exhausted she did not care what condition the cabin was in. She honestly could have slept on the deck if she had to.
Finally Elrohir opened a door that led to a small cabin that was fairly neat and had only one bunk in it. Looking around, he noticed a few items that indicated that it had appeared to be occupied at one time by the healer on the ship. At least it was the cleanest one he had found so far.
"I will go get you some water if you wish to clean up," Elrohir offered, feeling slightly uncomfortable as he realized they were alone. Leaving the lantern, he took a metal basin on the shelf and left.
Laureanna glanced around the room for a few seconds before sitting down on the bed. Looking down she realized she was still wearing clothing covered in dried blood. Standing again, she removed her suede jerkin and her leggings, leaving only her long tunic on. As she looked around for something to cover herself, Elrohir entered the cabin, quickly shutting the door behind him. He stood and stared at her, surprised at the sight of her bare legs.
"My clothing…the blood…" Laureanna started to explain, but swallowed hard when she saw the desire in his eyes. She knew this look very well, but had not hoped to see it again so soon. Finally she walked over to him and reached out for the basin full of warm water.
Elrohir did not speak as he watched her. She had found some soap and washed her face, hands, and hair of the blood that had dried on it that she had been unable to wipe away earlier. When she was finished, Laureanna cleansed the rag and, walking over to him, pulled him closer to the basin. He allowed her to wash the dirt and grime from his face. He could not remember the last time something so innocent felt so intimate, if it had ever happened in his life.
"Laureanna," Elrohir began, but she put her fingers over his lips.
"Elrohir, perhaps it is best if we do not speak. We will be less likely to argue that way," she pointed out with a small smile.
When she finished, Laureanna put down the rag and simply gazed at him silently, blue eyes looking deeply into gray. Elrohir reached out and ran his fingers along her the sides of her face, his rough calloused fingers gliding gently over her soft flesh, causing her breathing to speed up slightly. Cupping her face, he leaned forward, barely brushing his lips upon hers. He did not feel uneasy about her anymore. In fact, all of this seemed so natural, he could not stop it from happening.
Whispering his name, Laureanna wrapped her arms around his neck pulling him even closer to her as his next kiss lingered longer. The gentle rocking of the boat and the water moving against it seemed to make the moment even more intense, shutting out the rest of the world and enveloping them safely in their own reality. No longer was she thinking of the horrors of earlier that day because everything at this moment seemed perfect. After a few more heated kisses, he stopped and gently stroked her damp hair.
"Laureanna, you need your rest," he whispered and she was relieved that he did not seem to regret kissing her this time. She nodded, scared to ruin the moment by speaking. He stepped aside and allowed her to climb onto the bed, covering herself with a blanket.
"Please do not leave yet. You promised you would stay," she reminded him. He nodded and then dimmed the lantern so the room was almost completely dark. When he sat down on the corner of the bed, Laureanna reached out for his hand, needing reassurance that he remained. After a few moments, she finally fell into a dreamless sleep as he watched over her.
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.