7. Bait and Switch
Chapter 7 - Bait and Switch
A week had passed. Rhavaniel managed to avoid Legolas for the remainder of the camp. Training was about to start back up. The only thing left was the birthday dance. Many times that week, she came very close to calling the whole thing off. The more she thought about Legolas' proposal that she accompany him, the more she doubted his honesty. Why all of a sudden was he being so nice? Then again, she would not be the one to run away from the challenge, if there was one. He would never let her live it down. So she decided to go along and be his dance partner, if just this once.
Rhavaniel was dressed in a beautiful green gown. She stood at the doors that led into the royal ball room of the palace. 'Here we go' she thought to herself. She took a deep breath and approached the door. Two very tall golden guardsmen opened the doors and she strolled in. All eyes were immediately on her. She scanned the crowd. Where was Legolas? Shouldn't he be there to take her arm and lead her in? She stood there a moment when she finally saw a familiar face.
"Antien, what are you doing here?" she whispered as he held his arm out to her. She took it gracefully and he led her down the steps and into the hall.
"I was given a… special… invitation to the event." he said as if he was trying to hide a secret. "I wasn't going to go until I found out that you were going too. So, the Prince has finally come around has he?" Antien teased.
"I am not quite sure what Legolas is up to just yet. I'm not ready to let my guard down." she said looking around the room. "Where is he anyways? It should be him, not you taking my arm. No offense Antien."
"None taken." he answered. "Well, he was here a moment earlier. Maybe he was needed somewhere else." Antien was nervous for her.
"Thank you Antien. I will take over from here." said a familiar voice from behind them. Legolas stepped in beside Rhavaniel as Antien released her arm. Her friend smiled and let the new couple go on their way.
Rhavaniel took a sidelong glance at Legolas. He wore his royal robes, dark green and silver with shirt, leggings, belt and boots to match. His circlet completed the look. The light green color of her gown complemented his attire very nicely.
"You look wonderful tonight, mellon nin." he said with a smile. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it lightly. He had never before done anything like this and Rhavaniel's heart skipped a beat, but only once she thought. She still had reservations about him.
"As do you Prince Legolas." she answered.
With that out of the way, they finally relaxed a bit. "Happy begetting day Rhavaniel." Legolas said sincerely.
"Happy begetting day Legolas." she smiled.
They went on for a while, arm in arm, meeting with different friends and couples. They danced. They ate and drank together. They were actually enjoying each other's company. Rhavaniel began to relax as Legolas proved to be a gracious host and partner for the night. It was all rather civil. After a while, they decided to step outside to the balcony for some fresh air and to give their ears a break from the music. Each with a glass of wine in their hands, they exited into the night air.
"Thank you Legolas, for inviting me here tonight. I must admit, out of all the parties we were forced to be a part of, this one is by far the best." she said, feeling the effects of the wine.
"I agree wholeheartedly." Legolas said. They stood silent a moment looking out over the forest.
"Rhavaniel, I feel I need to apologize." he began.
"I should never have acted out and recommended you to Suiauthon. He is reserved for those in need of the most training. It should not have been you. You were not the worst in your class. Actually, you were at the top of the list. I let my anger get in the way. If you want, I will request you be put with someone more deserving of…"
"No, Legolas. Having Suiauthon as a mentor was the best thing you could have done. He has trained me hard and taught me things that only he knows. He has instilled in me some of his own teachings of the Galadhrim. It has made me a better warrior. You have done me a favor, mellon." she quickly answered.
"Truly? You are not just saying this to make me feel better?"
Rhavaniel laughed. "I thought you knew me Thranduilion. Since when would I go out of my way to make you feel better?"
They shared a muffled laugh. Silence fell upon them once more and they sipped more wine from their glasses. "You were also the best instructor I had." she whispered.
"Me? How?" he asked, now facing her as they leaned against the railing.
"You taught me much. You made me a better fighter. You paved the way for my training and for that I am also thankful." she replied.
"I must admit, to fight with you on the field that day was exciting to say the least. It was the first time I fought without reserve. I knew you could handle my blows and I did not worry about injuring you. I knew you had it in you. I saw the fire in your eyes that day. You have the soul of a warrior." Legolas said honestly as he remembered the feelings she brought out of him while they battled.
"It was quite exciting wasn't it? It's a shame really, that we will be stationed in different sections. You will be at the borders and I will be in the palace. I would have liked to have fought side by side with you one day. You are a fierce fighter." she said remembering the feel of his warm breath as she pinned him to the ground.
"Perhaps we can hold another challenge. Just you and me; hold nothing back." His voice had changed to something a little more seductive.
Rhavaniel felt and heard it too. "I would very much like that, Legolas." she answered, now examining the features of his face. Since when had he looked so mature? His chin was more pronounced. His eyes had more determination than ever before. And his lips, his parted hungry lips. Her heart began to race as she felt herself being drawn towards him. That's when she noticed his hand on the small of her back.
Legolas had not seen her in this light before. Rhavaniel was always on the defensive. Now she looked soft and alluring in the moonlight, dressed like she was in her green gown, his favorite color. Her dark blue eyes scanned his and he felt a heat rise within his core. He had never known her to look so feminine, so lovely and beautiful. He especially had not noticed how full her lips were and wondered what they would feel like on his own. His hand seemed to move by itself as it came to rest on her slender waist. He could feel the heat of her body emanate from her and pulled her to him. His curiosity got the best of him. Just one taste of her lips…
They were mere inches away from each other when suddenly they were interrupted by someone, another ellon.
"Ah, Legolas mellon. I was wondering where you had gotten off to. And just who is this lovely creature you seem to be hiding away from the rest of us?" It was Arandorion (Are-ahn-dore-ee-on), a fellow warrior and good friend of Legolas. He was a very pushy ellon, always needing to have things his way, which is why Rhavaniel thought him and Legolas got along so well. She never thought much of him though. She would be too 'wild' for his personality. He was among the nobility of the palace as his father was chief advisor to King Thranduil. Why he was interested in border patrol was a mystery to her. He did not seem like the type to want to get his hands dirty. She figured he was only doing it because of Legolas.
Legolas' face fell as Arandorion interrupted their first possible kiss, if that was what was about to happen. The Prince's uncomfortable shifting was not wasted on Rhavaniel. Something was taking place here. She had a feeling the truth was about to rear its ugly head.
Arandorion seemed to push Legolas aside as he stood before Rhavaniel and reached for her hand. "Ah Rhavaniel, you look quite elegant this evening. I can see why the Prince has chosen to hide you away."
"We were not hiding, Arandorion. We merely stepped out for some fresh air." she countered as her mood switched and she was once again on the defensive.
The pushy ellon glanced to Legolas. "Fresh air. Yes, I can see that. Well, I have heard so much about the elleth who bested our fair Prince and I just had to see for myself that it was really you. Now that I have, I must admit, I am quite smitten to be in your presence." He then turned to Legolas. "It seems the Prince went back on his word."
Rhavaniel's eyes turned to slits. "And just what did he promise." she said, watching Legolas look to the floor.
Arandorion smiled. "Why... not more than an introduction mind you."
Now she knew what his plan was all along. Legolas only invited her to this dance so he could put her off on Arandorion. Well, she was not some toy to be passed around. "And you have received it. Consider your Prince to be true to his word. Now if you'll excuse me, I have somewhere else to be." she spat as she pushed past them and entered the ballroom. She was steaming with anger as she thought about how she almost gave into her feelings for Legolas. And all along he was only trying to set her up with his best friend, which she had nothing in common with. She should have known better. Her gut told her something like this would happen. Why didn't she listen to her first instincts? That was the main rule of a warrior and obviously something she needed to work on.
As she walked the long hall aiming for the doors, she passed Antien. She noticed him smiling and laughing with another ellon and wondered who invited him and where she was? The thought quickly left her mind as her only goal was to get as far away from Legolas and Arandorion as possible. Antien saw her hurried steps, excused himself from his company and ran after her.
"Rhavaniel, wait. Where are you going? What happened?" he said grabbing her arm to stop her.
"It seems Legolas only used me to pass me off to his friend. I am nobody's prize. I am leaving." she said, her anger at a boiling point.
"Rhavaniel!" she heard him call. It was Legolas, the last person she wanted to see right now. Unfortunately, he caught up to her. "Rhavaniel, please forgive me. I was… I just…"
"Don't waste your breath. I know what you were up to. You were only trying to please your friend by putting us together; a set up. I need not be 'set up' with anyone, Prince." she growled.
"No… well yes… but…" Legolas wanted to explain but his words left him.
"Save it Thranduilion. Find someone else to be the bait." She got up close to Legolas and stared him in the eyes. "And just what was all of that about, back there on the balcony? Or were you just trying to hold my attention while you waited for your friend to show up?"
"Please, let me explain. I will admit I invited you because Arandorion has a deep interest in you. I thought it was a good way to introduce the two of you. But what happened on the balcony was unexpected and now that it has happened I…" Legolas wanted to tell her that he genuinely felt something for her but could see she was not in a mood to listen.
"You are nothing but an arrogant, selfish, spoiled…" she said before Antien interrupted her.
"Rhavaniel, I think we should leave now. Others are beginning to stare. Let's take this out in the hall if you are to continue."
"I have nothing else to say." If looks could kill, Antien would have been dead by now from the look Rhavaniel was giving him. Then to make matters worse another person entered the scene.
"Legolas. Oh there you are." It was Valisilwen. "Legolas, I made it after all. My mother decided she did not need my help so I thought I would surprise you."
Legolas closed his eyes and accepted his defeat. Rhavaniel turned a new shade of red from the anger she was feeling. Antien took her arm and led her out of the ballroom. As soon as the doors closed and they were far enough away from the hall, she stopped and let her emotions out. Antien held her close as she cried. He could feel her pain and it angered him that Legolas would behave in such a manner. He thought for sure that tonight would be the night that they discovered their feelings for each other. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
He eventually guided her out into the palace gardens and found a bench to sit on. Rhavaniel finally managed to pull herself together. She felt like such a fool. Again, Legolas had belittled her. She knew they did not get along but never thought he would be so shallow. She thought about the kiss they almost had and felt used. What did she ever do to deserve this kind of treatment, least of all on her birthday? She looked up at Antien and noticed, though he was sad for her, he still had a slight smile in his eyes. At least one of them had a good time. Then she looked at his shirt and noticed a big wet mark from where she cried on his chest. She couldn't help but giggle. "I must be quite a site now, a far cry from a ruthless palace guard."
"Yes, but you managed to ruin my favorite shirt in the making." Antien said and they shared in a laugh. Antien was good at cheering her up. She was never so glad to have him as a friend.
"So, you never told me who invited you tonight. What is her name and where was she?" Rhavaniel asked wanting to change the subject.
Antien's face flushed and he looked down at his hands. "Well, I never told you because I wasn't sure what you would think of me."
Rhavaniel abandoned her sorrow and was glad for the diversion. "What do you mean?"
"'She' is a 'he' and his name is Glandur (Glahn-dur). You may not have seen him as you were running by quite hurriedly." He waited for her response, not knowing how she would behave towards this bit of interesting news.
Rhavaniel smiled and hugged her friend. "I am happy for you. Is it serious? Will you see him again?"
Antien was shocked. "What? No speech? No curiosity as to why I mentioned an ellon?"
Rhavaniel smiled. "I guess I always knew you were different. Antien, you are quite handsome yet I have never seen you as much as talk to an elleth besides me. It matters not. You are my friend no matter who you love. I think it is wonderful."
He blushed. "Well I wouldn't call it love just yet."
"You should go back. Don't let me spoil your evening. Go and enjoy the dance, enjoy your new company. Please, do it for me." she begged.
"Are you sure? I feel I should stay with you in your time of need." he said hesitantly.
"I will be fine. I am a royal guardsman after all. Now go, but promise me that if this is real, you will introduce me to him soon mellon nin." she said forcing a smile.
"As soon as I know anything, you will be the first to know. I love you Rhavaniel." he said in a brotherly tone.
"I love you too Antien. Now hurry before the dance is over." she said, watching him head back to the ballroom. Rhavaniel sat on the stone bench a little while longer and then headed back to the palace. She needed to get her things together since tomorrow she was headed back to training camp. She also wanted to get to her room before the dance was over so as not to run into Legolas. She did not want to see him again, though she knew she would, if only in passing. It was time to switch into her warrior mode. No more stirrings of love or whatever it was. She needed no ellon in her life, especially Legolas. It was time to get serious.
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.