5. The Dance
Chapter 5 - The Dance
As expected, the feast was to be one of grand proportions and style. Lamps were lit, garland was strung and only the best musicians were at the ready. The newly appointed royal guard trainees were dressed in their battle clothes. They lined up in front of King Thranduil's throne and the ceremony began. Each one was given a shiny new dagger. Each dagger was inscribed with a blessing for the individual elf. As Thranduil handed Rhavaniel her dagger, he smiled and kissed her cheek. "May the blessings of the Valar be with you always. You are very special to me and my family." he whispered only for her to hear. "It seems like only yesterday you were a babe in your mother's arms. You have made us all proud."
Rhavaniel curtsied and accepted the weapon. She examined its perfection, a thing she one day hoped to accomplish. On the hilt was a single rune. Hers read 'Patience'. It was a reminder that it was the one thing she needed to work on most. Without it, she could never accomplish her dream.
The new recruits sat at their table, enjoying song, food and stories with each other. Throughout the meal, several guests approached them, congratulating them on their accomplishment. Rhavaniel's heart sunk as she saw Legolas approach. She wasn't sure of his mood. He was probably still angry with her but he hid it well. His smile seemed genuine. He regarded each elf in turn with congratulations and a few words. Then he came to Rhavaniel. He simply bowed his head. "Well done Rhavaniel." he said and turned to let them get back to their meal.
"Oh, by the way." he said looking back to the elleth. "I have requested that you be trained by none other than Suiauthon (Soo-ee-ow-thon). I think he is the best choice to further your training. Enjoy your meal." he said sarcastically and left.
The other ellyn looked at Rhavaniel. "I knew Legolas would make you suffer somehow." one said.
"So did I." Rhavaniel growled as she took a sip of wine.
Suiauthon was the toughest, cruelest, and most hardened of the Captains of Greenwood. No one wanted to be under his command. Usually the student who needed the most improvement was assigned to him. Not many completed their training that had him as a mentor. Rhavaniel felt she was not the worst of the bunch, but knew this was Legolas' doing, punishment for beating him on the field.
"It matters not. I will take whatever he has to throw at me… stubborn, arrogant prince that he is." This last part she muttered to herself.
Then her friend and fellow trainee, Antien (Ahn-tee-ehn) put a gentle arm around her shoulder. "What the Prince forgets is that it may be you who has to save his hide someday." Then he altered his voice into a high pitch and imitated Rhavaniel, acting out a scene that might happen. "Oh, so sorry Prince Legolas. I did not see that Orc hiding behind that tree. Maybe if you had been nicer to me, I might have saved your royal ass." He then batted his eyelashes and everyone at the table laughed.
Rhavaniel merely smiled. "Now Antien, you know I would not let such a thing happen. Besides, then I would have to haul him over my shoulder all the way back to the palace."
As the others laughed at the Princes expense, Rhavaniel peeked over her shoulder to where Legolas sat with the King and Queen. He was watching her, expecting this from her and raised his wine glass, wearing a smirk upon his fair face. He thought he had one up on her, but Rhavaniel would eventually retaliate. Sooner or later, she would win the next round.
* * *
Later, when the sun had set and the moonlight filled the glade, the elves began to gather for the dance. The trainees were given enough time between the feast and the dance to change into clothing more appropriate for the night. There were no ranks of warriors or students. Everyone was equal for the night's festivities. Rhavaniel sat in her room and stared into the mirror. She hated these dresses. Not that they were uncomfortable, but that it just was not her. It reminded her of the ladies in waiting around the palace. This was almost her future, one she would surely come to despise had her mother not intervened. Rhavaniel's father did not want her to follow the path of a guardsman. Gondien (Gon-dee-ehn) wanted her to be prim and proper, a good little elleth ready to answer the call of the court. He had hoped that she would one day marry into the royal family. Well, there was only one person she could marry to make her father's dreams come true and she was more likely to marry an Orc before Legolas would see her as such. Still, her father abided her wishes and sat back quietly observing her accomplishments as of late.
As she looked in the mirror, Rhavaniel sighed and tried once more to make her wavy hair behave. Just then, Faelwen entered her room.
"Shall I help you sell nin?" she said smiling at her daughter in the mirror.
"I can't seem to do anything but braid it lately."
Faelwen picked up a brush and began working on her unruly hair. "Tonight you will look nothing like a warrior. You will be the most beautiful elleth anyone has ever seen, even the Prince."
Rhavaniel glared at her mother. "Can we not mention him? I have had my share of Legolas for a while."
Faelwen laughed. "I could say the same thing about your father when we first met."
"Surely you are not suggesting that there could be anything between Legolas and me. He has been nothing but a pain in my…"
"Rhavaniel! Watch your tongue hennen. You see, being around warriors and training will cause you to lose some of your refinement. You must remember where you will be stationed one day. If you are to guard the palace or the royal family, you must still remember proper etiquette for a lady in the palace. Do not forget, you are a hidden warrior. No one must know of your deadly stealth."
"I understand Naneth. It's just… Legolas can be unreasonable sometimes. I know I shouldn't let him get to me but he does."
"So did your father." Faelwen laughed.
Rhavaniel ignored her mother and finished getting ready. Her mother finished up with her hair by tucking a blue flower behind her ear. "There. No one will recognize you. You look beautiful."
Rhavaniel got up and went to the full length mirror. She wore a long light blue silk gown with sleeves that hung low. Silver embroidery lined the neck and the upper sleeves, representing her heritage. As she looked at herself, Faelwen came up and stood behind her smiling from ear to ear.
"You have made me so proud. I know in my heart you will make a very strong warrior. It is in your blood. It is in your heart and in your soul. Never let anyone tell you you cannot do something. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to." she said to her daughter and then hugged her.
"I love you." Rhavaniel said as she embraced Faelwen.
Faelwen wiped a tear from her daughter's cheek. "Now, let us go. I am sure there are many ellyn who will want a chance to dance with you tonight."
* * *
Rhavaniel entered the glade and all eyes were upon her. One of her fellow guardsmen elbowed Antien. "Who is this beautiful elleth? I do not believe I have seen her before."
Antien rolled his eyes and sighed. "Fool, it is Rhavaniel."
"But it cannot be. She is much too wondrous a creature to be her." said the first.
They watched as she came towards them. "Why do you stare? Is there something wrong with this dress? I hate wearing these confining garments." she complained.
"Rhavaniel, I did not recognize you. You look so… different."
"If that is a compliment then I thank you." she answered looking around the glade.
Antien went to her side. "You are very lovely this evening. You must excuse us, but we have only ever seen you in your battle gear. It is nice to see this softer side of you."
"You are too kind Antien. This must be why we have been friends for so long." she laughed. Her eyes went back to scanning the crowd.
"He has not shown up yet." Antien said.
"The Prince of course. This is who you search for is it not?"
Rhavaniel did not know it was so obvious. "No not at all. I was just looking to see who all has shown for the evenings events."
Antien laughed. "Say what you will, but you do not fool me. I saw it on the battlefield. You carry a flame for him."
Rhavaniel regarded Antien with slanted eyes. "The only thing I carry for Legolas is a feeling of animosity. He is the most arrogant, uncaring, egotistical…"
"Yes, yes. But you cannot deny that something transpired between the two of you as you fought. It was poetry in motion to see you fight each other. You were so in tune with one another. I have never witnessed anything like it before. Together, you could be as deadly as the sons of Elrond."
She thought about this as Antien spoke. She could not deny that something had happened. It was quick and Legolas turned on her immediately, which infuriated her. Still, she had felt his emotions and they were quite strong. "Nothing of the sort happened. He was a good fighting partner is all. And why shouldn't he be? He is the son of a King. It is to be expected of him."
Antien could see he would get nothing out of her. "Fine then, go on believing what you will but…"
As he spoke, his words seemed to trail off as she laid her eyes upon the Prince entering the glade. He wore a long silver robe tied at the waist with an intricate belt made of mithril. Silver leggings and boots to match could be seen through the slit in the front of the robe. On his head he wore a mithril circlet, curved in two teardrop shapes that came together in the middle and housed a brilliant emerald upon his forehead. Legolas looked every bit the Prince in his regal attire.
She noticed that he too was glancing around the glade. Could it be that he was looking for her? Why would she even think that? What did she care who the Prince was looking for?
Rhavaniel turned away from him and made her way to a table which held the wine. She picked up a glass and sipped the sweet nectar. It was the finest wine she had ever tasted. King Thranduil had certainly outdone himself tonight. As she stood there, the musicians started playing their soft music. She closed her eyes and let the music fill her mind. It soothed her and soon she forgot about her troubles. Suddenly, she sensed a presence behind her.
"My lady, would you care to have this dance with me? I believe they are looking for a couple to break the ice so others might join in. I would be most honored if…" Legolas said to the blonde beauty. But as she turned to face him, his words failed him for he was looking at none other than Rhavaniel.
"Legolas." she whispered, not knowing what else to say.
His jaw dropped to the floor as he looked stunned to see who he was just trying to woo. "Rhavaniel, I thought you were… I thought…" he stuttered.
She glanced around them and noticed that all eyes were upon them. "Everyone is waiting to see their Prince dance. I think we have no choice but to follow through with this. I'm willing to call a truce if you are."
Legolas looked around and saw the hopeful faces watching their Prince address the beautiful elleth. She was right of course. To walk away now would not look good. "Very well. One dance cannot hurt."
"Depends on the dance." she replied and noticed how her response made him crack a small smile.
Legolas held his arm out for her and she accepted his offer. He led her out onto the dance area. Every elf in attendance watched them as they took their dancing positions. Their fingers entwined with one hand. Rhavaniel placed her free hand on his shoulder while Legolas laid a light hand at her waist. Soon they were stepping in pace to the music. As they danced, others joined in and soon the dance area was full.
The couple moved in silence, avoiding each other's eyesight. The tension between them could be cut with a knife. They were never as uncomfortable as they were in this moment. It was Rhavaniel who decided to break the ice.
"I feel I must apologize for gloating on the field. You are our Prince and it was disrespectful of me. I did not mean to belittle you." she said honestly.
Legolas smiled to himself. He knew it took a lot of courage for her to say this, so he would not tease. "I accept your apology and may I say you fought quite well."
"Thank you." she answered. She was glad they were being civil towards each other but she knew it was only because they were the center of attention. Had the circumstances been different, none of this would have happened.
Antien watched as Rhavaniel and Legolas danced. He had to laugh. Their movements were very stiff. It was almost too painful to watch. Yet, he knew that deep down; they both had feelings towards one another. He was very susceptible to such things. It was a gift he supposed. These two were destined for each other, or at least he thought they were. When he felt like they had been tortured enough, he strolled up to the dancing couple.
"Prince Legolas, might I have a dance with this beautiful elleth?" he asked.
Legolas immediately released Rhavaniel. "Yes of course. Please do." he said a little too eagerly, relieved for the diversion. Antien took over the dance.
Rhavaniel squint her eyes at the Prince. Did he have to make it so obvious, the pain he was in from dancing with her? This just made her loathe him even more. Still, she had taken the high road and apologized. Now to plan her revenge for assigning her to Suiauthon.
"You know, if we had not been friends for so long, I think I would ask to court you this night." Antien said bringing Rhavaniel's attention back to them.
"Antien, surely you jest. You know we are more like brother and sister than bond mates." she said turning pink in the cheeks.
"I know, but an ellon can dream can't he? Truly you look absolutely stunning tonight." he said and twirled her around the dance floor. Rhavaniel laughed and began to relax as Antien lead her on with his dance. When she wasn't paying attention, he casually glanced at Legolas. The Prince stood off to the side, watching every move they made. Antien smiled to himself and spun her around again, causing her to giggle aloud. It seemed his little plan was working. Legolas seemed the slightest bit jealous. Maybe he thought he should have been the one to dance this way with Rhavaniel. Antien heard the song coming to an end and dipped her low, looking into her eyes. "Yes, I guess you are correct. There will never be anything more than friendship between us."
"And will that be enough?" she asked playfully.
"It is more than I could ask for." he replied and laid a gentle kiss upon her forehead. Then he led her from the dance floor in search of some refreshments.