Paradox of the Fourth Age
9. Chapter 8 ~ In My Dreams He Binds Me
A/N Thanks yet again to the wonderful Elliska, the Silmaril of Betas. And of course, thanks to Tolkien for creating elves and letting me play in his world. I am making no money doing so.
Laurëanna – Golden Gift
Indil – Iris
Mellon nîn - my friend
Wilwarin- Butterfly Quenya
Faica ulundo-mean monster Quenya
13th day of July
Fourth Age, Year 40
Thranduil laughed at he watched the Lorien elf rise from the ground and brush off his clothes. "Rumil, hand me your sword. Let me show you how it is done." Removing his shirt in the hot sun, he strolled over and took the weapon from the younger elf.
Glorfindel calmly handed Laurëanna the cup of water back. "Wilwarin, run back to your nana so I may teach King Thranduil how to fight."
"Do you think you can best me, old man?" Thranduil replied, cocking his head to the side.
"With my eyes closed," the Noldo chuckled.
Rumil picked up Laurëanna and carried her back to where Taravil and Celebrían were sitting with Indil. Collapsing into the chair beside Indil, he moaned.
Laughing softly, Indil asked, "What is it, mellon nîn?"
"Your husband…is a tyrant. I have never been so humiliated in a sword fight until I met him," Rumil sulked.
Celebrían laughed. "Had no one ever warned you about Lord Glorfindel's skills, Rumil? I do believe we have been trying to remind you every year since you arrived."
"I keep hoping he will forget how to fight. I practice; he does not. Yet every time I challenge him and think this time I could possibly win, he bests me once again," Rumil sighed dramatically, drinking the wine that Taravil had poured him while the three watched him with sympathetic eyes.
"I remember he and Elrond fighting one time. The only time they ever fought, as far as I know. Elrond would not speak to him for a week." Celebrían smiled at the memory.
"Glorfindel beat Lord Elrond?" he asked surprised.
"Worse. He let him win so that he would not embarrass him. Elrond told me it was more humiliating than being bested. The warriors watching knew that Glorfindel allowed him to win and Elrond was angry that now they would never know who would have truly won," she replied with a chuckle.
"My ada can best anyone," Laurëanna pronounced with authority.
"Hush little balrog," Rumil snorted, as he tickled her.
Her laughter was interrupted by the clash of metal. Watching with fascination, Laurëanna climbed into Rumil's lap. Still small like her petite mother, she looked younger than her age, but when she spoke people often wondered if she were much older. Her mother's thirst for knowledge had provided her with the knack for learning quickly and her father's air of confidence allowed her to display that knowledge with a sense of authority. She had developed a fondness for yelling at Rumil in Quenya when angry with him, knowing he did not understand a word of it, and informing Thranduil of everything he was doing incorrectly in his garden. Despite his love for the child, Thranduil had threatened to ban her from the house if she did not stop preaching to him about how her father did everything. According to Laurëanna, Glorfindel did no wrong, and she was quick to let Thranduil and Rumil know where they were lacking to live up to her standards. Indil's admonishments fell on deaf ears because her daughter would hear her father's laughter about the subject. Taravil and Celebrían both thought it was amusing as well, which did not help the situation, as Thranduil reminded them frequently.
Indil smiled at her now, her eyes wide as she twisted her braid around her fingers. Unable to harness her abundance of energy, Laurëanna had developed a habit of playing with things, either her hair or something on her clothes, when trying to be quiet. Looking back to her husband, Indil felt a familiar flutter in her stomach. He was shirtless and the sun was glistening off the sheen of sweat that clung to his golden skin. His silky hair was tied back and she was reminded of the night at the docks of Mithlond before they left Middle Earth. His perfect form with well-developed muscles moved gracefully, the sword merely an extension of his body, as he battled effortlessly deflecting every blow. It was like watching a dance as the two elves faced off.
The most noticeable difference in Glorfindel now was his face. His smile and laughter was beautiful to her heart, brought about by years of the peaceful happiness in Aman. His once tired fëa had finally healed as he allowed himself to love and be loved by his wife and daughter, and it reflected in his calm contented eyes. In the last few years, he eagerly helped the new arrivals from Middle Earth as the ships slowly sailed in sporadically every year or so. Former warriors that had fought beside him lived with them if need be until they found houses of their own. Indil comforted them with her generous hospitality, while he counseled them in recovery, listening to hours of late night talks to ease their troubles.
Laurëanna was never told of the events of Middle Earth despite Indil's suggestion. Glorfindel did not wish her to be troubled with the burdens. Unwilling to push him into it, Indil merely told her daughter that the elves had come from a place where bad things had happened and Laurëanna treated each of them with compassion, leaving her personal touch on their heart. More than once a tearful survivor had told Indil that the purity of Laurëanna's fëa gave them hope of a new life in Aman.
Taravil watched Indil's obvious appreciation of her husband and with a smile suggested, "Perhaps Laurëanna would enjoy staying with us tonight." When Indil looked over at her, she could not refrain from adding, "And perhaps Laurëanna's father would appreciate time alone with her mother as well."
Indil blushed as Celebrían chuckled. Laurëanna pouted and said, "Ada said that tonight we were going to…"
"Laurëanna, did you know that we have baby ducks in the pond behind our house now?" Taravil interrupted her.
The little girl's eyes lit up and she looked at her mother. "Please nana, can I go see the ducks? I promise I will behave."
Indil smiled gratefully at Taravil before saying, "Yes, but you must mind Taravil and Thranduil. And do not tell Thranduil all of the things he has done wrong to lose this fight."
Taravil glanced up surprised to see Thranduil glaring at Glorfindel from the ground. Laughing she said, "I wish he could have let him win this one time. I will hear about this all night."
Celebrían reached over and lightly tugged Rumil's hair. "See, even King Thranduil cannot best him."
"I told you so Rumil," Laurëanna said gleefully before running and flying into her father's arms.
"I told you so Rumil," Rumil mimicked her while rolling his eyes as the three ellith tried to restrain their laughter.
Watching Laurëanna helping Thranduil up made it impossible however and he glared over at his wife, as he was walking over to them. "Taravil, you have you no shame, disloyal wife."
Glorfindel broke into laughter when Laurëanna promptly kicked Thranduil in the shin. Trying to bite back his smile, he admonished her, "Laurëanna, do not disrespect your elders."
"Ada, he was disrespecting a lady," she said with her hands on her hips.
"I am telling you, your daughter is turning into a balrog," Rumil smiled.
"Faica ulundo," Laurëanna said with a pout.
"What did she call me this time?" Rumil asked, shaking his head at the little girl who began to laugh at him.
"Sore loser, I believe," Glorfindel said squeezing his shoulder.
Indil's laugh told Rumil that once again, the spawn of the beast of Thangorodrim, as he affectionately called her away from her father's ears, had mocked him again.
After everyone had left, Glorfindel went to the washroom with heated water for a bath. Indil changed into a thin, sleeveless, gossamer gown and, bringing an opened bottle of wine, she joined him. Looking up when she entered, he smiled seductively as his eyes took in the low cut gown.
"I thought you might need some assistance," she explained gazing at him with desire filled eyes.
Glorfindel chuckled low in his throat. "I would appreciate that."
Pouring him a glass of wine, she handed it to him and then ran her hands down his rippled abdomen before unlacing his leggings slowly. He sipped the wine while watching her, his eyes darkening with desire. She slid the leggings over his hips and down his thick muscular thighs. As he stepped out of them, Indil leaned forward to run her lips across his chest and wrapped her arms around his waist resting her hands on his firm buttocks. When she lifted her face, he gently caressed her cheek, running his long fingers over her delicate jaw line.
"You are beautiful, my sweet Indil. Every day, even more so," he murmured before bringing his lips to hers. Burying his hands in her hair, he brought her close, as his kiss grew deeper.
Heat flooded her senses as she moaned softly when his velvety tongue stroked hers. Pressing her body against his, she allowed him to sweep her away to a place where only the two of them existed.
Slowly walking backwards towards the tub, Indil led Glorfindel to the steaming water, not releasing his lips as he climbed in and sat down.
"Are you going to join me?" Glorfindel murmured against her lips.
"No, I am going to bath you," Indil whispered.
Picking up the soap, she gave him a seductive smile. She pushed him gently into the water to wet his hair and then ran the soap through his thick locks. After rinsing his hair, she ran a soapy washcloth across his broad shoulders enjoying the feeling of his thick ripples underneath his soft skin. He leaned forward and she smiled at his beautifully taut back. Slowly cleansing him, her hands trailed down the muscles of his chest and the tightness of his abdomen, as his sultry gaze followed her hand.
Glorfindel moved her hand to a place on his chest. Entwining her fingers with his, he had her rub the spot with the soapy rag. Then he moved his hand lower to his ribs. Grinning, she followed his hand. He pointed to a place on his belly. Taking her time, she swirled the rag around his taut belly. Grasping her hand, he brought it lower to wrap around his hardened arousal.
Leaning forward, she kissed him as she lightly traced his shaft with her fingertips. Glorfindel ran his hands around her waist and pulled her into the tub with him.
"Glorfindel!" Indil squealed in surprise.
"I am still dressed," she laughed.
Staring at the way the water soaked fabric clung to her curves, he smiled, "Yes, but you look even more enticing than before."
Heat filled the blood in her veins and she felt a tingling sense in her body under his gaze. With a seductive smile on her normally innocent looking face, she wrapped her arms around his neck as he kissed her passionately.
Rolling over, Indil groaned and tried to sit up. Glorfindel's arm caught her waist and pulled her back down to the floor.
"Glorfindel, perhaps we should get off of the floor before Laurëanna comes home," she smiled over at him.
"It is cooler here on the floor," he murmured, not opening his eyes.
They had never made it to the bedroom the night before after their bath, making love on the rug of the washroom floor before she curled up in his arms and they fell asleep where they lay. Now a gentle breeze was blowing through the opened windows carrying in the scent of honeysuckle and the sounds of birds chirping. Indil sighed contentedly. She felt peaceful and happy, finally almost complete. Once the remaining elves sailed to Aman, she could rest easy and feel whole again. The nightmare would always be there with her, but she healed a little each day with her new family.
"Melethen, we must get dressed. Taravil and Thranduil could be here any moment," she said rising from the floor.
Her eyes drifted from his golden head leisurely over his magnificent body. Squinting up at her, he grinned. "Are you sure I cannot convince you to take a nap instead?" He slowly moved his hand over the smooth alabaster skin of her leg.
"Well…I might be able to stay for a few minutes," she grinned back as she sank down beside him catching his soft lips in a fiery kiss.
"I merely need an hour, two at most," he chuckled pulling her on top of him.
The knock on the door came when Indil had just finished dressing. Leaving her husband in the bedroom, she ran to the door. She opened it with a smile, which faded quickly when she saw Celebrían. Her eyes were red from crying.
"What is it?" she said quickly.
"Another ship came last night," Celebrían said, her voice full of sorrow.
"Is it Elrond? The twins?" Indil asked in horror.
"No, they are fine as far as I know. Sauron has begun the attack on Gondor. Dol Amroth has fallen."
6th Day of March
Third Age, Year 3019
Helm's Deep, Rohan
The company reached Helm's Deep late in the night, before the dawn. Laurëanna was exhausted and had grown quiet hours before. Elrohir and Legolas both watched her with concerned eyes. As they all dismounted, Legolas asked if she was all right. Sighing she smiled slightly.
"I am fine. A few hours sleep and I will be good as new," she answered as Éomer walked over to them.
"Laurëanna, I will take you to my sister's quarters and send for servants. Legolas and Gimli, you can come with me and Elrohir and Elladan and stay in the family's quarters as well. And of course, you as well Merry," Éomer offered. Turning to Aragorn, he asked, "Do you plan to rest now?"
Aragorn shook his head, saying, "No, I need to speak with Halbarad for a while." While he and the ranger stopped to speak with King Theoden, the elves, Merry, and Gimli followed Éomer to the keep.
Stopping a servant, Éomer requested that hot water and fresh towels be brought to their rooms. Gimli and Legolas were shown quarters, then the twins. Before leaving her side, Legolas said, "I will find you before we leave."
Laurëanna nodded as she noticed Elrohir watching her closely. Elladan also noticed his brother watching her and said, "My lady, rest well." He then nudged Elrohir into the room where they were to stay.
Smiling tiredly, she followed Éomer to Lady Eowyn's chambers. He turned with a grin and said, "My sister is a little taller than you, but perhaps you can find some clothing that fits. The servants can wash your clothes so they will have time to dry before we leave."
"I do not wish to be a burden. I can…"
"It is a small comfort as your host, not a burden," Éomer interrupted.
"It is a comfort I am most grateful for. Thank you for your kindness," Laurëanna bowed her head and he nodded.
As he walked away, male servants began bringing in a tub, hot water, and clean towels. A young girl came in bringing soap and a brush, then retrieved a robe from a chest. When the male servants left she waited while Laurëanna changed into the robe and took her clothes from her.
"There is a sleeping gown in the trunk as well if you wish to wear it. I will wash these clothes and set them near the fire so they will dry in a couple of hours. Do you need any further assistance?" the girl asked her.
"No, thank you. You are most kind to help me," Laurëanna said tiredly. She was not used to having servants waiting on her and wondered how a girl that young would be required to work rather than being tutored. Realizing that most likely she was poor and therefore was not being taught to read or write, Laurëanna thought how unfortunate it was that humans did not educate even poor children.
"My lady," the servant nodded and left the room.
Finally alone, Laurëanna walked over, dropped the robe, then sank down into the hot water with a loud sigh. She did not think she had ever enjoyed the feel of steaming hot bathwater so much in her life. Scrubbing every inch of her body and then washing her hair, she finally laid back and allowed the bath to sooth her tired body and relax her mind. She found it hard to believe that a few days ago she was in Aman. So much had happened already and there was still so much more to be done. Trying not to focus on the impending journey, she smiled, thinking that Elrohir was with her now even if he did not remember her.
After almost dozing off, she left the tub before the water cooled completely and dried off. Retrieving the gown from the trunk, she put it on. Then she sat down to brush and braid her hair.
Elrohir waited until he heard Elladan's even breathing from the other bed and then slipped from his own. Feeling guilty about the way he had treated Laurëanna, he decided to go apologize to her. Something about her was so familiar, but he could not quite place it. Whatever it was he seemed unable to rid her image from his mind.
Quietly, he walked down the hall and knocked on her door. She opened it after a few moments and looked at him surprised.
"Forgive me for intruding. You were not already asleep were you?" Elrohir asked softly.
"No, not yet," Laurëanna shook her head. She opened the door a little further and noticed his quick glance over her body in the thin gown. Biting her lip to hide a smile, she wondered what he would do if she dragged him into the room or threw her arms around him and kissed him. She knew she should seem more modest, so she stepped behind the door slightly.
"I have come to apologize for my earlier behavior. We have had a long trip and so I was somewhat short. Forgive my rudeness," he said leaning against the doorframe. "I am usually not quite so ill mannered upon an introduction."
"Do you usually save your rudeness for your second meeting?" she laughed and then said, "Well, it appears you have it backwards this time."
Elrohir chuckled, feeling a warmth at the sound of her laughter. It was beautiful and pure, with no pretense and he was shocked at how much more naturally happiness seemed to come to her. He wondered if she had always been so easily amused. As she continued to smile at him, he could not help but return her smile.
"I will let you rest, my lady," he replied.
"Please, simply Laurëanna will do, my lord."
Reaching down, he took her hand and brought it to his lips. Gently, he kissed her soft delicate skin as the feminine scent of her filled his senses. He smiled at her slight intake of breath before she blushed.
"Then I must insist you call me Elrohir," he murmured, holding her fingers for just a moment more.
"Very well, Elrohir," she whispered as he released her hand. He nodded and turned to walk back down the hall. He waited until he heard the door close before going into his room.
After he undressed and returned to his bed, he heard Elladan mumble, "Did you tell Laurëanna good-night for me as well?"
"Be quiet Elladan," Elrohir sighed and threw a pillow at him. His brother chuckled and put the pillow under his head with a smirk.
At noon, Laurëanna woke and dressed in her newly cleaned clothes, pleased to not have to smell like a horse any longer. She felt much better after her first night in Middle Earth without a horrifying nightmare. She knew that Elrohir being nearby had made a significant difference in her state of mind. She smiled while she brushed her hair, leaving it loose as her husband preferred. Gathering her cloak and sword when she heard a bell from the dining hall, she made her way to the hallway. Elladan greeted her and walked with her to the meal since the others had already departed their rooms.
Merry was sitting with the king and Éomer when she took her place beside Legolas. She greeted Gimli with a small nod and then smiled shyly at Elrohir.
"Good morning. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to join us," Gimli said. "You should eat, for you must keep your strength up so your wits continue to be sharp."
"Do not worry Gimli, I can still outwit you without any sleep," Laurëanna chuckled.
"Aye my lady, perhaps you are still dreaming," Gimli retorted.
"Has anyone seen Aragorn this morning?" Laurëanna asked as she noticed he was not in the hall. Suddenly distressed, she looked over at Legolas.
"He is with Halbarad. He has been all night and this morning. I do not think he has rested at all," Elrohir replied with concern. "I am certain he will come down soon now that everyone is up and about." He wondered briefly why she looked so concerned.
"Did you sleep well?" Legolas asked watching her closely. She nodded with a smile and he felt relieved.
Studying the two of them, Elrohir felt a sudden flicker of anger and jealousy. Before thinking about what he was saying, he asked, "Laurëanna, that is Quenya correct?"
"Yes," she replied hesitantly.
"Unusual for a Mirkwood elf to have a name such as that, is it not?" he continued.
"Are you always so suspicious El…my lord?" she answered with a heated glare.
Elladan looked over at his brother, surprised and wondering what had set him off so suddenly. Before he could say anything, Elrohir answered her with a cold tone, "My lady, I merely asked a question. I was unaware it was a secret that your name is not a Sindarin name."
Legolas glared at him and opened his mouth to answer before she interrupted him, "If it will make you feel more comfortable, my lord, I can trace my entire family history for you. My father was a Noldo. He explored the land after the Last Alliance ended the Second Age. He met and married my mother, a Sinda, in Mirkwood. Developing a fondness for the forest, he settled there." Pausing she took a deep breath, before saying sharply, "Any more questions, Lord Elrohir?"
Elladan chuckled behind his hand as Legolas bit his lip to hide his grin. Gimli snorted, "I would not recommend it Elrohir. She might turn you into a toad."
"Too late for that." Laurëanna got up and stormed from the hall.
Legolas rose to follow her and Elrohir said, "No. Allow me. This is my fault, I will apologize."
"Again," Elladan pointed out.
Legolas hesitated. If he had not known their actual relationship, he would not have let Elrohir go alone, but under the circumstances he felt it was probably best. Nodding he sat down.
"Why can those two not get along?" Gimli asked.
"Elrohir is always that abrasive with the ladies," Elladan chuckled.
"Well you need to inform him that it is my duty to be rude and abrasive with Lady Laurëanna, not his," Gimli replied and the two elves chuckled.
Storming outside, Laurëanna bit her lip to keep the angry tears from falling. Running up the steps to go to a higher level, she then walked over and sat down on the low wall. She gazed the horizon trying to sooth her hurt feelings.
Elrohir finally found her on the balcony when he had walked onto the bridge and then turned back towards the keep. He saw her golden hair blowing in the wind and felt like the air had been knocked from his lungs. In this moment, he knew he had met her before. He could see this very image of her, on a balcony above with her hair lit by the sun making her look as if she were wreathed in light. Confused, he merely stood there and watched her trying to clear the images in his mind to force himself to remember where and when it was he had seen her before. But the longer he lingered, the more the old vision of her faded and was replaced with what was in front of him now. Reluctantly he returned inside the keep, dreading apologizing again. He did not understand what was happening with him, but he knew he had been unfair and cruel to her. Rather not fond of making apologies in the first place, he did not look forward to inventing another excuse for his rude behavior.
When he came to the balcony, he stood and silently listened to her singing to herself a song about the Two Trees. He felt guilty when he saw the tears on her cheeks. Laurëanna heard him and quickly wiped them away as she stopped singing. Scanning the horizon again, she refused to look at him.
"So I am a toad?" Elrohir smiled.
"I was being kind. There are other words I would have preferred to use, but in an effort to appear polite, I refrained," she said coldly.
He chuckled and she glared at him. "Perhaps you can explain to me what I have done, my lord, that you find so suspicious and untrustworthy. Or perhaps you merely dislike me. Do you feel this way about all ellith or just myself?" she asked.
"I admit I have been rude and offensive to you, my lady, and I humbly beg your pardon. Traveling with men so often, I forget how sensitive the fairer sex is," he said, instantly regretting his words when he saw the flash of anger in her eyes. "Not that you are overly sensitive. I mean…I tell Elladan every day what an ugly halfwit he is, and he barely notices."
"He seems the smarter twin," Laurëanna retorted.
"I deserve that, I am certain, but trust me when I say that you do not know him like I do," he replied. "Forgive me for being an abrasive toad."
"Yes, yet again," he grinned.
"On one condition," she responded looking at him intensely.
"Anything. Well…most likely anything," he answered hesitantly.
"If you have any suspicions of me going forward, you ask me away from the group rather than making a fool of me in front of everyone then apologizing in private," she demanded.
"Yes my lady," he answered with another grin.
"Laurëanna. Just Laurëanna please."
"Only if you call me Elrohir."
"I was thinking toad would be more suitable," she giggled.
Sitting beside her on the wall, he said, "That song you were singing…I remember that from my childhood. My grandmother and my mother used to sing it to us. My grandmother saw the Two Trees in her childhood in the Undying Lands."
"Yes I know," Laurëanna answered without thinking. "I mean I have heard the story of Lady Galadriel, of course. So I knew she was in Valinor before the Two Trees died."
"Was your father born in Aman as well?" he asked.
Laurëanna hesitated. She hated lying about her family's history, which she was very proud of. Knowing she had no choice because it was possible that it would come up at a later time with Galadriel, she shook her head.
"No, he was born here in the Second Age."
"Is he in the Undying Lands now?" Elrohir asked gently, seeing the hurt cross her face.
"No. My parents are both…gone now."
Laurëanna could not help the tears that filled her eyes. She was incapable of uttering the word 'dead' in relation to either of her parents and felt more honest saying they were gone. The parents that raised her were gone, alive only in her memories now. And if they failed to save Middle Earth, they would never be part of her life again.
"Forgive me, I did not mean to upset you." He took her hand in his own and squeezed it reassured.
Elladan walked out onto the balcony and the two of them looked up.
"Estel is ready to speak with the king. He is looking for you two," Elladan said.
Reluctantly, Elrohir released her hand and rose. Wiping away the tears, she followed him and his brother downstairs to where the others were standing talking to King Theoden and Éomer.
"The Paths of the Dead?" King Theoden asked as they walked up. "Why do you choose that path? The gate to the Dunharrow will allow no living man to pass it."
Laurëanna saw the fear in the faces of the nearby riders including the king and Éomer. Aragorn looked stern and resolved, however, and she felt comforted by that fact. Events were falling into place, as they should now.
Éomer looked at Aragorn with sad eyes and said, "I had hoped that we should ride to war together; but if you seek the Paths of the Dead, then our parting is come and it is less likely that we shall ever meet again under the Sun."
"That road I will take, nonetheless," said Aragorn. "But I say to you, Éomer, that in battle we may yet meet again, though all the hosts of Mordor should stand in between."
"It that is your will, then do as you must, but it may be your doom. I am saddened by our parting for my road is another. I must ride into the mountains roads and muster the Rohirrim," Theoden said grasping Aragorn's shoulder. "I can delay no longer. Farewell, Aragorn, son of Arathorn."
"Farewell, Theoden King and to you, Éomer. May you find great renown in your travels." Aragorn walked over to Merry and said, "Farewell my hobbit friend. You will be safe with the king. Certainly much safer than you have been since leaving the Shire."
Merry grinned at him and said, "Farewell Strider." Sadness crossed his face then he looked at Gimli and Legolas. "And to you as well my dwarf and elf friend. Be safe in your travels and hopefully one day we will meet again under less dangerous circumstances."
Both Legolas and Gimli bid the hobbit farewell. Laurëanna tried not to show her sadness, hoping his future was not as she knew it to be. She walked to him and bending down kissed him on the cheek. Merry blushed crimson as he said farewell to her.
"Namárië, mellon nîn," she whispered.
She stood with the twins watching the king's company mount their horses and depart. Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn stood silently nearby.
"Is it not best that you ride with the king now, Laurëanna? Would it not be safer for you with him?" Elrohir asked.
"No," Legolas said abruptly. "She will stay with me, ride with us."
Elrohir studied Legolas for a moment once again silently questioning the relationship between the prince and Laurëanna. Finally, he nodded and Legolas looked away.
"Come with me, Gimli and Legolas. I should speak with the two of you while I dine," Aragorn replied before walking back up the causeway to the Keep with Gimli at his side.
Legolas glanced at Laurëanna with concern, saying, "Do you wish to join us?"
"No, I will be fine. Thank you," she responded with a reassuring smile.
After he had walked away, she caught Elrohir watching her. Sighing, she asked, "You are not going argue again are you? I grow weary of it."
"I am merely concerned for your safety as well as the others' since you are coming with us," he explained.
"How does my being there affect the safety of anyone but myself?" she asked confused.
"Because we will all have to protect you…"
"I can take care of myself," she proclaimed, trying to lose her temper.
Elladan glanced over at Elrohir with a warning look before responding, "I am certain you are capable of protecting yourself and my brother, who shows little tact I am aware, meant no disrespect. This is a dangerous road; surely, you saw the faces of the Rohirrim at its mention. We are merely concerned."
Smiling gently, Laurëanna explained, "I understand and appreciate your concern, but I must stay with Prince Legolas. We all have our paths before us and mine is currently the same as yours, so if your brother will allow it, perhaps we can take this path without this constant and senseless arguing."
Grinning, Elladan said, "Elrohir, are you capable of not arguing?" Looking at his twin, his eyes twinkled with mirth.
Elrohir glared at his brother and answered, "Yes, Elladan, I am capable of not arguing. Are you capable of not acting like a fool?"
Laurëanna and Elladan chuckled. Turning towards her, Elrohir spoke softly, "I do not wish to argue, but as I said, I am concerned for your safety. I will not debate this further with you, however, if you and Legolas are committed to this."
She blushed under his tender gaze and proceeded to gather her things, in preparation to depart.
They rode hard for the rest of the day and late into the night. Stopping finally in the early morning hours, the riders were quiet as they made a small camp and set up guards. Laurëanna helped one of the rangers gather firewood. Exhausted, she barely spoke while eating and fell asleep soon after on blankets between Legolas and Elrohir, who had quickly claimed the spot beside her to Elladan's amusement.
When she woke her eyes struggled to adjust to the dimness of what appeared to be a forge. Laurëanna looked around hesitantly in the room thick with oppressive heat and smoke.
She saw a dark haired elf towards the back of the forge seated at a high counter working on something small in his hands. Slowly he turned and faced her, saying nothing, simply watching her as if expecting her to say something. A pure light filled the forge from behind her and she saw the sad smile on his face when it was illuminated. She turned her head towards the light and her breath caught in her throat when she saw Lady Galadriel smiling at her. Rushing to her, Laurëanna wept in her arms for a few minutes before the Lady of Lórien withdrew from her.
Cupping the young elleth's face, Galadriel said softly, "Laurëanna, there is not much time. You must listen to me now." She led her over to the smith, whose attention was once again focused on the task before him.
"It began with the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, a brotherhood of elven master-craftsmiths led by Celebrimbor, son of Curufinwë, grandson of Fëanor. Annatar, Lord of the Gifts, came to Ost-in-Edhil, feigning good intentions, and taught them to make the Rings of Power. First it was seven for the dwarf lords and nine for the leaders of men. In secret, Celebrimbor created the three Elven rings, never touched by the hands of Annatar: Narya, the Ring of Fire, Vilya, the Ring of Air, and Nenya, the Ring of Water."
Laurëanna was silent watching the scene before her as suddenly the forge was filled with other elves crafting the delicate rings. Even though she had heard the story many times and knew it well, she was now seeing it play out before her. She could hear the sounds, see the smiths working, and feel the fires raging in the forge.
Galadriel continued, her voice eerily distant, "In the heart of Mount Doom in Mordor, Sauron alone forged the One Ring, pouring his power and cruelty into it."
Watching him, she knew the quiet dark-haired elf before her was Celebrimbor and she felt in awe that she was in the presence of the grandson of Fëanor himself. Despite the crimes of his family, as well as any guilt he might share in the kinslayings, she had always felt the story of Celebrimbor was tragic, his death by the torment of Sauron the cruelest deed in Arda until the slaughter of elves when the War of the Ring was lost. He turned to look at her with eyes of midnight as he spoke in a rich and powerful baritone.
"Three Rings for the Elven kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie."
"The Elven rings were hidden. Narya was given to Cirdan, Lord of the Havens of Mithlond, the land of your mother's kin. Seeing the wisdom of the wizard when he arrived in the Third Age, Lord Cirdan passed Narya to Gandalf. Vilya was given to Gil-Galad, High King of the Noldor, your father's kin. With his death, it was entrusted to Lord Elrond. And Nenya was given to me," Galadriel said showing her the ring on her finger. "The One Ring will make Sauron unstoppable. He must not find the ring or all hope is lost for Middle Earth."
"Am I too late? Will the Fellowship fail?" Laurëanna asked.
"It is too soon to tell. Remember what your parents have taught you. Do not lose sight of who you are, Laurëanna. You were sent by the Valar to right this wrong. You were entrusted with this mission because you have the strength in your blood, in your fëa. Do not doubt yourself. You are of the House of the Golden Flower, daughter of a high Elven lord renowned for bravery and honor. You also have the blood of the Teleri in you, strong and wise elves. To fulfill your destiny, you must remember all of the lessons your parents taught you and draw strength from their gifts to you. Your journey has just begun, but it will fail if you do not remember that you are the chosen one of the Valar and lose faith in yourself," Lady Galadriel said to her sternly.
Laurëanna felt a swell of pride about her ancestry; both Noldor and Teleri, once enemies, now both a part of her.
Hearing the clash of swords behind her, Celebrimbor rose and Laurëanna saw the fear on his face as he looked past her. Turning quickly she saw the elves running about, yelling and fighting with the orcs that streamed in the door. They ran past the two ellith like they were not there, capturing Celebrimbor despite his ferocious attempts to fight them off. Tears streamed down Galadriel's face and she reached out to him before letting her hand fall to her side, her head now lowered to avoid the sights around her.
Paralyzed, Laurëanna watched in horror as Celebrimbor was dragged and forced to his knees before their leader, Sauron. An evil smile crossed the face of the fair and powerful Maia when he appeared to look right at her before gazing down at the elf before him. She trembled hearing his voice demanding the Elven rings as his soldiers fought the other Mírdain, taking all of the rings and slaughtering the elves, who fought to their last dying breath. Sobbing, Laurëanna closed her eyes at the scene, but could not block out their screams in the throes of death, nor stop feeling the fear and pain of the dying surrounding her, cutting through to her heart like the blade of Mithril.
Feeling someone gently stroke her cheek with an ice-cold hand, the sounds of the battle fading to the background, Laurëanna cautiously opened her eyes. Before her stood the evil she feared most, Sauron, the Dark Lord. Unable to move, she trembled before him; his face no longer fair, but twisted and dark. Behind him she saw Celebrimbor dragged off by the orcs, bodies of the elves all around, and all of Ost-in-Edhil was burning. The air around her seemed to disappear as she struggled to breathe under the weight of the ominous words he spoke to her.
"Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul."
She tried to break away in terror from the hands that held her, crying out, until suddenly she recognized Elrohir's voice and realized she was no longer sleeping. When she stopped fighting him, Elrohir pulled her into his embrace holding her trembling body tightly against him, stroking her hair trying to sooth her. Legolas woke with a start at her cries, but seeing Elrohir comforting her, he turned away, leaving them privacy.
"Shh…you are safe," Elrohir whispered over and over until she finally stopped trembling. "It was merely a nightmare. It was not a vision was it?"
"No," she shook her head pulling back to look into his eyes. "It was a nightmare, a horrible nightmare, about…never mind. I do not want to speak about it." He began to release her and she whispered, "No, hold me a little longer. Please."
His gray eyes studied her and she blushed slightly under his gaze. He tentatively stroked her hair back behind her ear, causing a chill to run up her spine. Unable to look away, trapped in the depths of his eyes, she reached her hand up to nervously caress his cheek, causing him to take a deep shuddering breath. As fire raged in her veins, he leaned forward catching her lips in a hungry kiss, startling both of them. His tongue swept into the heat of her mouth and he pulled her closer to him, shocked at the sweetness of her. She tasted like lush ripe strawberries, causing him to moan softly.
Laurëanna felt the terror of her nightmare flee her mind completely, entranced in his aura, safe and secure in his arms. For the first time in days, she felt completely at peace in her heart. When he broke the kiss, her eyes opened slowly, and she saw the confusion in his eyes. Regret soon replaced the confusion, cutting her to the quick.
"Forgive me…I should not have…taken advantage of your vulnerability, your fear," he whispered. "I did not mean to do that."
"You regret kissing me?" she asked, hurt.
"Things are happening, they are already in motion. I cannot be distracted by…a beautiful yet young and naïve elleth with a mysterious nature," he replied trying to ignore the pain filling his heart knowing he was hurting her.
Anger consumed her and she pulled away from him, rolling to face the other direction. She wanted to strangle him. He was so stubborn! His moods changed with the wind and he seemed incapable of not making her angry. How in Arda had she ever fallen in love with such a difficult elf, she would never understand. Well, if he thought she would beg for his affection, he was completely misguided. She would rather marry Gimli than give him the satisfaction of seeing her lose her pride. Lying awake the rest of the night, she fumed at him.
Elrohir could almost feel the anger radiating from her and had to force himself to not reach out to her again. Rolling on his back, he glared at the moon, his fist clenching at his side. Why did he meet her now? He could not afford to lose focus on his mission and she was quickly becoming dangerously distracting. His body yearned to hold her once again, to taste her innocent lips again. Tormented by thoughts of her, sleep eluded him.
"She is beautiful," Elladan said, watching his brother. His gaze never left the elleth who was washing up by the stream with Legolas.
"Hmm…" Elrohir murmured.
"What is it about her that has you acting like such an ass?" Elladan asked.
Glaring at his twin, Elrohir said, "Not all of us fall under the spell of a beautiful and charming elleth so easily. We have a mission to worry about. I do not have time to…"
"Beautiful and charming? Ahh…so you are not as blind as you pretend to be," Elladan chuckled. "I was beginning to worry that you were blind, deaf, and dumb. Now I see you are merely being a fool, I feel much better."
"Be quiet Elladan." Rising quickly, Elrohir walked over to his horse to finish his preparations to leave. He ignored his brother's frequent looks of amusement and chuckles.
Laurëanna spent the morning avoiding Elrohir completely. Sensing the tension between them, Legolas did not ask. He was disturbed by Elrohir's attitude and wished to discuss his behavior with him, but he did not wish to interfere and possibly make things worse between the pair. His main concern needed to be protecting her safety not her heart. But he was not happy that she was hurting. Knowing all she had sacrificed already, he wished to see her have some small comfort. For now though he did not push her to talk, allowing her to sort her feelings in her own time.
They arrived in Edoras in the late afternoon and rode directly to the Golden Hall of Meduseld, where they were greeted by Lady Éowyn, the White Lady of Rohan. Laurëanna admired her beauty and proud, regal bearing, remembering her legendary act of bravery that cost her life at such a young age.
"Lady Éowyn, this is Lady Laurëanna of Mirkwood," Aragorn introduced her.
"Welcome to Edoras, Laurëanna," Éowyn said graciously.
"It is an honor to meet you my lady," Laurëanna bowed her head with her hand over her heart, a typical Elvish greeting.
"Please, call me Éowyn." Éowyn smiled at her. "Perhaps you would like to refresh yourself before we dine, Laurëanna."
"That would be wonderful. Thank you very much for your kindness," Laurëanna replied gratefully with a shy smile.
Éowyn had one of the Rohirrim servants show the men to their chambers to prepare for dinner. She took Laurëanna personally to a cozy and elegant room. Walking to the armoire, Éowyn pulled out a simple gown and brought it to her.
"No, I could not impose," Laurëanna shook her head.
"I am certain you will enjoy being out of those clothes for the night and the servants can return them to you in the morning, freshly clean. Please, I insist," Éowyn replied in a tone that did not allow an argument.
Too grateful for her kindness, Laurëanna did not argue further. Éowyn left sending in servants with a bathtub, water, scented soaps, and thick towels. Taking her time, Laurëanna enjoyed the quiet moments alone with her thoughts. Her muscles were sore from riding so much and she was tired after another disrupted night. After her bath and dressing in the gown, she felt better. It was nice to have some feminine comforts after traveling with men and sleeping outside for days. She braided her hair while sitting on the bed. Overwhelmed with weariness, she lay down for a moment and soon fell asleep.
She did not know how long she slept before she woke with a start. Seeing it was now dark outside, she straightened out her gown and rushed into the hall trying to remember the way to the main hall. After a few wrong turns, she found her way to the dining hall. Dinner had already begun and they started to rise as she approached.
Blushing Laurëanna said, "No, please do sit. Forgive me for being late." As the men returned to their seats, she sat down beside Legolas across from Éowyn and Aragorn.
"I did not wish to disturb you while you were resting. I felt you probably needed some time to yourself after traveling so much lately," Éowyn winked at her. "And in the company of men, you rarely receive any of the necessary comforts such as bathing."
Laurëanna laughed. "Yes, that is true. I have been lucky enough to have been able to bathe at Helm's Deep at least. But sleeping on the ground made the comfortable bed in my quarters call out to me. I did not mean to sleep, but I find myself incapable of fighting it."
"Then you must have truly needed it. Aragorn tells me they plan to leave tomorrow to ride to travel the Paths of the Dead. I have tried to discourage him, but he seems set on doing so. But luckily, I have convinced him and the sons of Elrond that it is best to allow you to stay here in Edoras."
"No, that is not possible. I need to stay with Legolas," Laurëanna argued glancing at Aragorn.
"It has been decided that it is best for you to stay here," Aragorn said dismissively. "As Elrohir said, the Paths of the Dead are no place for you."
Laurëanna glared down the table at Elrohir before looking back at Aragorn. "Lord Elrohir does not make decisions for me, nor is my safety his concern. Do you wish me to disobey my king's orders?"
"No, but if King Thranduil were here, he would agree that it is best to keep you safe. Besides, we do not need anyone slowing us down," Elrohir said.
"I have not slowed you down thus far."
"It has been decided already, Laurëanna. I appreciate your bravery and loyalty to Legolas and King Thranduil, but this is for the best," Aragorn said in a soothing voice.
Terrified at the thought of being left behind, Laurëanna looked at Legolas helplessly. The elf struggled for a moment before saying softly to her, "I will speak with Aragorn later. We will find a way to work this out."
A servant placed a plate of food before her. She looked down at the food, suddenly feeling nauseous, then glanced up at Éowyn. "Forgive me, Lady Éowyn, I am afraid I have lost my appetite. Please excuse me." Rising, she quickly left the hall before the tears in her eyes fell on her cheeks.
**Direct Quote from Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien, Chapter 11 – The Passing of Grey Company.
Éomer looked at Aragorn with sad eyes and said, "I had hoped that we should ride to war together; but if you seek the Paths of the Dead, then our parting is come and it is less likely that we shall ever meet again under the Sun."
"That road I will take, nonetheless," said Aragorn. "But I say to you, Éomer, that in battle we may yet meet again, though all the hosts of Mordor should stand in between."
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.