2. An Important Dinner
"Elurin! Slow down!" I shouted, digging the heels of my boots into the side of my horse. "I can't keep up!"
We had been racing along the river for an hour already without stopping, and the twins had begun to pull ahead of me considerably. I really didn't want to appear to be a pathetic elleth, but I just couldn't go as fast as they could. I knew that they would mock me for wanting to go at a slower pace, but I figured that relieving my aching back would be worth the teasing.
"Fine, little sister." Elured yelled back in reply, bringing his dappled stallion to a sudden halt. "We will rest, but just for a bit. Wouldn't want the horses to get antsy, after all."
I sighed in relief, allowing my mare to slow down to a trot as I closed the distance between us. It was a beautiful day, though the darkness was starting to grow and soon I knew it would be winter again. The three of us had set out only a little bit after lunch, but the sun was already beginning to set in the west.
"I don't care." I replied, finally reaching them and carefully dismounting. "Must we always quarrel?"
"Ah, but isn't that what siblings do?" Elurin said, backed up by a nod from his brother. "Plus, what fun is life without a few... surprises?"
I yelped as I felt his hands on my shoulders, shoving me into a pile of leaves that lurked behind me. Had my balance been just a bit better... no, it was useless. I toppled over, quickly becoming covered in musty, damp leaves. Certainly not the right place for a lady.
"Elurinnnnn!" I whined, struggling to my feet. "What was that for?"
"Do I need a reason?" He replied, his voice cocky as he leaned against a tree, arms crossed over his chest. "You were just asking for it. I could not resist such temptation."
"Well.. well..." I said, secretly stuffing my hands full of leaves. "Try resisting this!"
I charged at him, knocking him into another leaf pile, and did my best to try and stuff the nasty leaves down his tunic. Sadly, I was outnumbered- Elured came to his aid immediately, and they quickly grabbed me by both ends and tossed me right back into the pile that I had come from. I sighed, beating them was virtually impossible.
"Let's go home." I said, picking the leaves out of my hair as they helped me up. "Ada and Nana will worry if we're out too late, and I don't want to miss dinner."
They did not protest, and soon we were riding towards home with the last rays of the sun caressing our backs.
"I heard that we'll be having a guest for dinner tonight." Elured said as we brought the horses back to the stables. "Ada was talking about it this morning."
I was a bit surprised. We usually did not have guests to dinner unless it was a larger, more public one like what we had the night before. And who could possibly be coming? We had no relatives to speak of, at least none that I was aware of. And Ada and Nana had not mentioned that they had a friend coming to visit.
"Really?" I inquired, hoping to pry a bit further. "Do you know who it is?"
"No." Elured replied with a small shrug. "Ada didn't say. I didn't ask, because it seemed like he didn't wish to talk about it. He has been so strange these past days, as though something is troubling him."
"Ouch, don't pull so hard!" I squealed as Lairiel yanked the comb through my hair with more force than what was necessary. "I'd like to still have a scalp when all of this is over with!"
"My apologies." She uttered, taking care to relax a bit. "Your Naneth only wants what is best, and she can't have you showing up for dinner looking like a common elleth."
I grunted, having nothing more to say. I did not see why this dinner was any different from any other dinner, and I was most annoyed at not being informed who was coming. Why should I be getting all dressed up if I didn't know what I was getting dressed up for?
"There." Lairiel said, putting in the last pin. "Now, doesn't that make you look like more of a princess and less like an elleth who spent the day out riding with her brothers?"
She had done it up in a beautiful style, using numerous tiny braids and enough pins to stab a small animal to death. I could not keep myself from fidgeting a little as I tried to adjust it so that it scratched my scalp less, but my hand was promptly slapped away.
"Now, run along and get dressed." She replied, exasperated at my persistently boyish actions. "I've laid something out on your bed. Don't take too long."
I quickly scampered back to my room, relieved to be free of the relentless poking. Upon my bed lay a dress of a dark blue color, one of my favorites. I smiled- tonight must truly be a special occasion if they were letting me wear such a creation. I put it on happily, using the mirror to clasp it closed in the back. After sliding into a pair of midnight blue slippers, I took a step back to take a look at myself in the mirror.
I usually did not think myself beautiful. Pleasing to look at, yes, but I knew that I could never hold a candle to my mother. She was the lady of the house, and I admired her more than myself. But I could not escape the fact that there was something about me tonight that almost made me feel like I was glowing.
Pleased, I ran out of the room with a skip in my step and headed for the smaller dining hall. It was still five minutes until dinner was due to be served, so I felt that it was safe to think that I was going to be on time.
"Ada? Nana?" I called out, bursting into the room in a manner most unfitting of my outfit. "I have the best story to tell you from when me and 'Red and 'Rin went riding today..."
I stopped short, suddenly finding five pairs of eyes upon me. My voice died in my throat as I looked at each one in turn. Ada, Nana, Elured, Elurin... and an elf, with black hair and enchanting gray eyes. The stranger from the night before... Earendil.
"I am sorry..." I mumbled, taking a small curtsy before slinking over to my seat. "I've forgotten my manners... forgive me."
His eyes were still on me. Why was he staring? I could not bring myself to meet his gaze, instead turning my eyes to my Ada. He was just as Elured had said; stern and with a worried brow. I shrunk back and shifted over to looking at Naneth instead, for she did not look half as troubled.
"I am Earendil, of Arvernien." He said suddenly, forcing me to look at him. "Dior did mention having a daughter... would it be rude of me to assume that you are Elwing?"
"No... not at all." I replied, soft spoken for perhaps the first time in my life. "It is a pleasure to meet you."
"Well met indeed." He said, a smile working on his face. "So tell me, are you just as daring as your brothers have told me?"
I paused for a second, letting my eyes sweep over him once more. Strong body with a tall build, black hair down to the middle of his back and a friendly face. I tried to guess his age, but I had a hard time- he could be as young as 80 or as old as 800. I did not dare to ask him.
"Probably not half as daring, sire." I answered in a feeble attempt to remain humble. "I am sure that they flatter me."
The twins snickered, quickly silenced by a look from Ada. Earendil, meanwhile, laughed. He appeared oblivious to our family going-ons, and unlike my father had the ability to leave work in the library and bring his best conversation to the table.
"I guess we will have to see." He said, raising his forefinger to his chin in thought. "I will be here for quite some time, so surely I'll be able to see if they were telling me the truth."
"I would be glad to entertain you during your stay, should my parents allow it." I replied, trying to appear as a kind hostess.
"Oh, but are you sure it wouldn't be any trouble?" He said, his voice sounding as innocent as an elfling's. "I would not want to disturb your routine. Or get in the middle of any sibling spats."
"It would be my pleasure." I answered, grinding my teeth to keep from jumping out of my chair and strangling him. What arrogance. And he had seemed so polite and gentle at first sight- that only proved that first impressions were not always the best ones.
"That is an excellent idea, Elwing." My naneth chimed in, either not noticing or not caring about the subtle signals of annoyance that I was giving off. "Earendil is only a few decades older than you, so I'm certain that the two of you are going to get along so well together."
Elured and Elurin looked innocent, staring off into space as though they had never even seen this coming. I knew that they hadn't been telling me everything in the stables- of course there was something going on. I should have pressed them further.
"So, will I see you tomorrow?" Earendil said, dragging my mind back to the present. "Perhaps you can give me a tour of the gardens, or maybe even attempt to best me at archery... but be warned, I am the best in my land."
"Well, pride goeth before a fall.." I mumbled, scowling at his cheery disposition. It was amazing how quickly he could transform from demure diplomat into annoying prick.
"What did you say?" He inquired, his voice innocent as the twins stifled their laughter with dinner rolls.
"Nothing." I said, unfolding my napkin and placing it in my lap with ladylike flare. "I'll meet you out at the gate tomorrow morning."
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.