Paradox of the Fourth Age
10. Chapter 9 ~ Secrets in the Night
A/N Thanks yet again to the wonderful Elliska, the Silmaril of Betas. Thanks so much to my friends who keep me going. And also to Space for my wicked cool banner. 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
Adar - father
Nanadhril - Maternal grandmother
5th day of April
Fourth Age, Year 56
Imladris, Middle Earth
Elrohir rolled over and stretched lazily. He had been in Rivendell for ten days now without leaving and was feeling some of the weariness leaving him. At first he had been restless to be on patrols again, but finally the years of unceasing peril had forced him and Elladan to remain at home for longer than a few days.
Rising, he dressed in a pair of leggings and walked out onto the patio to watch the sun rise over the falls. Imladris, though the safest place in Middle Earth now, had lost much of its beauty over the years as evil filled the air and haunted the valley. What once was peaceful serenity to him now was filled with an emptiness that he felt deep in his fëa. No longer was this the home he loved. It was merely the last remnant of good, somewhat faded, left in these lands. It smelled of death to him. Even the trees mourned for the horror of Sauron's wrath on these lands.
Since his injury years before, Elrohir had made a promise to himself to no longer keep his family in fear of losing him. He was cautious now, but he still felt hollow inside, living only for them and the hope that in the Undying Lands he would find what he had lost long ago.
"It seems even darker today than yesterday," Elladan said quietly from the doorway to his room.
"Yes, I think it is. Something feels…" Elrohir's voice trailed off, unable to name his feeling.
"I feel it too. Less hope…more fear…it is carried on the breeze," Elladan spoke softly, as if unwilling to disturb the moment further.
The two were quiet as the sun slowly made its long journey into the sky. So few elves were left in Imladris now, but it seemed like it was empty at this moment. Elrohir turned to Elladan when he heard a distinct sound of weeping nearby. Both followed the sound into the house and through the hallways to the library to find Lady Galadriel trying to stop the tears that flowed from her eyes.
"Nanadhril, what is it?" Elrohir rushed to her side.
"Sauron has entered Minas Tirith," Elrond said in a stunned voice. "He wanted to be the one to end the life of Elessar at last."
Elladan swallowed hard and sat down in the chair before the desk. Watching his father and grandmother, there was no need to ask if they were certain. Elrohir looked at him, a pained expression on his face, as he pulled Galadriel into his comforting embrace. She was silent now, her eyes haunted.
"All is lost now in Middle Earth. Soon Rohan will face the same fate. King Éomer will not be able to protect his lands, his people, from Sauron. He is too strong now," Elrond continued, barely registering any emotions.
Rage unknown to him before filled Elladan and he rose, slamming his fist down on the desk before his father.
"Then we must do something rather than cower here until the Dark Lord devours the remainder of life in this forsaken place," he seethed, startling them all with his outburst.
"Elladan, we cannot…" Elrond began only to be interrupted by his son.
"We are to hide behind the magic of those cursed rings and allow it to happen? How long will we stand by and do nothing other than save ourselves? We allowed Saruman to take over the Shire. We stood by when city after city fell in Gondor and we did nothing. Nothing!" Elladan yelled. "I will no longer sit here idle while we allow Estel to die."
"It is too late Elladan," Lady Galadriel said in a soothing voice. Walking to him, she turned his face towards her and said gently, "I am sorry Elladan but it is too late to do anything for Estel. There are too few of us left in Imladris and Mithlond to do anything other than survive and sail for Aman."
"We are nothing but cowards then," Elladan replied pulling away from her and storming from the room.
The room remained silent, each wrapped in their own thoughts of regret and sadness. Finally, Elrohir said, "I will go talk to him. Assure that he does not do something foolish or dangerous."
"Elrohir, he may simply need time to grieve," Elrond suggested.
"I will give him time after he calms down," Elrohir replied as he left the room.
"Elladan will be fine, Elrond. He is merely striking out," Galadriel said. She gracefully sat down in the chair that Elladan had recently vacated. Smiling slightly, she said, "I was not expecting him to react that way and was quite surprised when he did. I have learned to expect anything from Elrohir, but Elladan has always been so…predictably carefree and mellow."
"Yes, but under the circumstances, it is understandable," Elrond pointed out.
"Even the most tranquil among us has reached the limit of anguish," Lady Galadriel murmured. "I wish I could do more to help him come to terms with this, but I find myself without the words to comfort him."
"As do I," he agreed. "There is no longer comfort to be found in Middle Earth."
Elrohir watched his brother warily. Elladan had been silent for a long time and he could feel the pain radiating within his fëa. He tried, to no avail, to think of Estel without the feelings of helplessness overwhelming him. Understanding that his father was right did not sooth him much, but he knew that Elladan, this time, needed him to be calm.
"I cannot believe he intends to do nothing," Elladan said suddenly.
"Do not blame adar. He is doing the right thing," Elrohir replied, receiving a glare from his twin.
"When did you become the voice of reason?" he snorted.
"One of us had to be," Elrohir shrugged. "And since it appears it would not be you this time, I thought it was my turn to be the rational one."
Sitting up quickly, Elladan said, "We could go now to Minas Tirith. Take a small company with us. At least we could try to save Estel."
"And you assume he would simply leave his city at Sauron's mercy. You know better," Elrohir argued. "There are not enough of us to fight Sauron's armies. You need to accept the fact that we are forced to remain here, to defend the Eldar that remain."
"But are we not Man as well? Do you not feel that you are abandoning that part of yourself to leave them so…helpless?" Elladan asked.
Elrohir was quiet for a moment before saying, "We were given a choice, long ago. Whether we realized it or not, we made that choice when we returned to Imladris after the war."
"I never made the choice to forsake my bonds with Estel," Elladan replied. "If Arwen were still alive, Adar would go to Minas Tirith now."
"Elladan, you are not being fair. Adar is not able to rescue Estel and he knows this. Estel made a choice to become king, knowing that the battle was not won. He was not a fool. Once the attack on Lothlorien came, he knew the elves could no longer aid him in any defense of his lands. He fought hard and withstood Sauron's attacks longer than anyone could have hoped for," Elrohir reminded him.
Elladan lay back on the bed with an exasperated sigh. "Yes, I know I am being unfair to Adar, but I am just so…enraged that I can do nothing but allow this to happen."
"Muindor, we need to stay focused on bringing the remaining elves safely to the Grey Havens so they can at least be away from this evil and find peace. Perhaps we also will find some peace in Aman," Elrohir replied.
"We will. We must," Elladan answered quietly. The two fell silent again, thinking of all they had lost.
Elrond left the library to wander in the gardens alone. He sensed Estel's death and it almost took the breath from him. Sitting down on the bench, he lowered his head, overwhelmed with the loss. How had this happened? All of the ages fighting the Dark Lord and to have failed so miserably was almost more than he could bear.
"Celebrían, my love, I wish I were with you now, yet I am no longer the one you once knew. I feel an emptiness inside of me that I have never felt, even when I watched you sail west. I do not know if I still have the strength to bring our sons home to you. Elladan has broken from this sorrow; I feel his fëa weeping. And Elrohir has lost the light in his eyes over the years until I fear there will be nothing left to heal," Elrond whispered to the trees and bushes in the garden that his wife had planted long ago. They now lay dying. "What strength I have left in me is based only in knowing that your love will once again make me whole. Without you, I would crumble under the guilt and sorrow that fill the very core of my being." His plea for strength was unanswered in the still air.
7th Day of March
Third Age, Year 3019
Helm's Deep, Rohan
Laurëanna rushed to her room before she was overwhelmed with tears. Once there, huge sobs wracked her body. She could not believe that Elrohir had betrayed her merely to stay away from her. Did he loath her presence that much? And now she was to be separated from him and her only protection, Legolas, as well. Even Gimli treated her better than her own husband did.
She had been a fool to think that he would actually remember their bond. He had warned her, yet she irrationally felt that he had loved her once and would again. But, she reminded herself, even in Valinor, he had not fallen in love with her easily, fighting it for a long time. And that was in the peace and beauty of Aman, not in the midst of this nightmare. Hopefully, Aragorn would follow through with his plan to walk the Paths of the Dead. If he did not, there was nothing more she could do other than pray Legolas could convince him.
Laurëanna decided she would leave here and go to Rivendell. No matter what happened with Grey Company or the Fellowship, she would be better off with her father than with strangers in Edoras. Lying on the bed, she cried until she could cry no longer. She could not believe that this was going so wrong for her. Sitting up and wiping away the tears, she began realizing that this was not about her.
A surge of anger filled her and she rose from the bed. The Valar had sent her; she could not allow Elrohir's feelings interfere with her duty by making her act like a foolish, lovesick child. After this was over, she could confront the situation with him, but her duty was more important than that. If the Fellowship failed again, there was a good chance that one or more of them could die, including her or Elrohir. And what would become of Middle Earth? Would it repeat the same horrid events that were in her past? A fate worse than death to her was failure or the death of those she loved. Her duty to help prevent the loss of Middle Earth was more important that anything else and she needed to keep that in mind and stop being so foolish.
Rising from the bed, Laurëanna wiped the tears from her eyes and straightened her dress. She went in search of Aragorn, determined to make him understand. She found him still in the Great Hall finishing dinner. She approached him and when he turned to look up at her, she said, "Lord Aragorn, may I speak with you for a few moments, in private?"
Elrohir saw her swollen eyes and felt a stab of guilt pierce his heart. He did not want to hurt her, but he could not allow her to endanger her life simply to protect her feelings from being hurt.
Aragorn studied her face for a moment before rising. "Of course, Laurëanna."
When Legolas rose as well, Laurëanna shook her head, saying, "No Legolas. I need to speak alone with Aragorn."
After a moment's hesitation, Legolas resumed sitting, a look of worry crossing his face while he watched Aragorn lead her outside to the terrace. He caught Elrohir watching him and glared at him.
"What?" Elrohir said confused.
"Why are you being so stubborn and mistreating Laurëanna? What has she done to deserve this treatment from you?" Legolas asked quietly.
"Nothing. I am more worried about her safety and our completing this mission that apparently you are. I do not feel the need to keep her nearby, no matter the cost," Elrohir shrugged.
Blue eyes glared into gray before Legolas replied, "I do not know what you are implying, Elrohir, but it is unfounded and inappropriate. My relationship with Laurëanna has nothing…"
"Your relationship with her is making you less objective. She is a distraction and it is foolish to risk her life merely because you enjoy her company," Elrohir replied his anger reflecting in his tone.
"What is wrong with you two?" Elladan asked frustrated. "Elrohir, Legolas' relationship with Laurëanna is none of your business, nor do I think it is affecting his judgment. Legolas, Elrohir is trying to protect her, not hurt her."
Both elves were quiet and everyone resumed eating. Throughout the rest of the meal, however, Elrohir wondered if it were not his feelings that were affecting his judgment and Legolas worried what would happen if Laurëanna could not convince Aragorn to change his mind.
Aragorn led Laurëanna to the porch that ran the length of the front of Meduseld. It was a cool night, the trees swaying in the breeze, the rustling of the leaves the only sound. The two were quiet for a few moments, Aragorn waiting for her to speak, Laurëanna trying to gather her thoughts.
"Lord Aragorn, I know you believe it is best for me to stay behind rather than risk the danger of traveling the Paths of the Dead. Normally, I would not debate your decision, but I strongly feel you are mistaken about this," Laurëanna spoke calmly, but her eyes showed how resolute she was.
"Laurëanna, please know that I am doing what I think is best for your safety," Aragorn said placing his hand on her arm.
"If my safety concerns you, then it makes the most sense that I go with you."
"I do not understand what you mean," he answered puzzled.
"Lord Aragorn, I would never question your judgment in battle or in leading men. I have never done either. And I am not questioning Lord Elrohir's knowledge in this matter either. I have never even left my home until I came to Rohan, so I know I lack your experience. But I know my duty as much as you know yours. My visions are given to me by the grace of Eru only. I sense from deep in my fëa that I am meant to be here. Do you think it wise to question His wisdom?" Laurëanna asked.
When he did not answer right away, she continued, "King Thranduil sent me to deliver the wisdom of my vision to you. If he thought it was a single vision or not my duty to go with you, he would have merely sent a messenger to you, would he not?"
Aragorn studied her as he stroked his beard. Finally he answered, "Yet your mission was to deliver the message to go to Isengard, which I have done. The path I take from here is much more dangerous. Too dangerous for you, Laurëanna."
"If I have another vision, it will much more dangerous for me to have to follow you than if I were already in your protection."
"So you are telling me that if I leave you here, you will follow," Aragorn asked, mildly amused.
"It would be my duty to deliver any information I receive in visions to you, would it not?" she asked seriously.
"I suppose, yet I am very concerned about your safety if you accompany us. How can I guarantee your protection?"
"Despite what you may think, my skills with a blade are fair enough to defend myself if I need to. My father was a great warrior and taught me well. You do not need to guarantee my safety, I have never asked that of you or anyone else. I am aware of what risks I am taking, yet I am willing, no, I am obligated to do this. It is my duty," Laurëanna said adamantly.
Aragorn smiled gently before saying, "You make a very persuasive argument Laurëanna. Perhaps you have spent time with King Thranduil learning diplomatic maneuvers."
"No, my mother was a very persuasive person. Unfortunately, I did not learn her subtle ways. In that respect, I am much more like my father," she grinned.
"However, I have no doubt that if you would follow us, so perhaps I have no choice in this matter," he commented wryly.
"You have a choice, Aragorn. You can leave me here with that knowledge, or you could simply take me with you where I can be more protected by Legolas and the others."
Chuckling, Aragorn said, "Fine, we will take you with us. Going forward however, you will follow my command."
"Yes, my lord." Laurëanna smiled with relief.
Leaving Aragorn outside to smoke his pipe, Laurëanna entered Meduseld and walked towards her room. In the hallway, she encountered Éowyn.
"Forgive me for leaving dinner so abruptly, Lady Éowyn," Laurëanna said quietly, embarrassed by her rudeness earlier.
"No, forgive me. I did not mean to upset you. I know how…difficult it is to be left behind when the men depart for battle," Éowyn replied.
Laurëanna watched her for a moment compassionately. "You were doing what you thought was right. However, I have discussed the matter with Lord Aragorn and resolved the issue."
Eowyn's eyes filled with concern as she said, "Surely you do not mean to accompany them."
"Yes, I fear I must. It is…hard to explain, my lady," the elf looked down. Suddenly she was overcome with a slight panic. "Éowyn, I must tell you something. I need to warn you of something. You cannot…"
"Laurëanna, I have been searching for you," Legolas interrupted her as he walked into the hall. Giving her a meaningful look, he continued, "I must speak with you, now."
"I will merely be a moment. I…" she attempted to warn Éowyn again.
"No, I am afraid this cannot wait," Legolas took her arm and nodding to Éowyn, he said, "Forgive us, Lady Éowyn."
Laurëanna glanced at him oddly as he led her back to her room. "Legolas, what are you doing?"
"I am preventing you from making a horrible mistake," he muttered under his breath.
Stopping before the door to her chambers, she turned to look at him, tears filling her eyes. "Legolas, you do not understand. She will ride to Gondor without the knowledge of her brother and be killed by the Witch King of Angmar."
Sadness reflected in Legolas' eyes but he shook his head. "If that is her future, you cannot interfere."
"What? Surely you do not mean I should do nothing," she whispered, shocked.
"You cannot alter her future, Laurëanna. The Valar did not send you back to do this, to save everyone. If it is His will for her to die, then she will. Do not force her to make a choice based on a warning from you that might change many unforeseen things."
"But she is so young. It is not right to merely let her waste her life when I can save her," Laurëanna argued.
"That is not your duty," Legolas said adamantly.
She was silent as she studied his face. What he was proposing was madness: to allow Éowyn to die for no reason when she could prevent it easily.
"I will merely tell her I had a vision and warn her against her plans to ride into battle," she replied.
"No. You cannot interfere in her destiny. Besides, the events of her life have already been altered by your arrival and Aragorn's new path. We do not know what her choices will be now. To warn her of anything might affect them adversely. The outcome could be more severe," he shook his head.
"More severe than her death?" she asked.
"This is not about one life. You must realize that by now, Laurëanna. All of our lives are intricately woven together and any changes you make based on your knowledge of your past, or what may have been our future, could have disastrous effects on all of us. Just as Aragorn not riding to Isengard in your past proved to be the ruin of Middle Earth, one change could…" his voice trailed off as he saw the terror in her eyes.
"Legolas, I must stand by and possibly let her ride to her death, waste her life, willingly?" Laurëanna struggled to finish her question.
"I know this will not be easy for you. That is why the Valar allowed you to tell me, to aid you, and comfort you, through this. But you must keep in mind: your duty was to make sure that Aragorn walked the Paths of the Dead to gather the men of the mountain. Once he has done this, you can no longer interfere with anyone's choices based on what you know. For your past will not exist anymore."
Laurëanna nodded reluctantly. She knew in her heart he was right, but she felt so helpless and small. Legolas embraced her and gently stroked her arm for a moment until he felt her stop trembling.
"We will make it through this, Laurëanna. It will not be easy but you have more strength than you realize. You will be tested greatly but you will overcome your doubts and persevere," Legolas reassured her.
Laurëanna nodded and tried to force a smile.
"Are you feeling better about earlier?" Legolas asked her.
"Yes. I have talked to Aragorn and will be riding with you tomorrow. I basically threatened to follow him if he left me and I think he felt he had no choice," she chuckled slightly.
Looking at her with amusement in his eyes, Legolas said, "I am certain you probably would do so if you had been left behind." Growing serious he added, "I am sorry if Elrohir has hurt you the last couple of days. I know it is very hard for you."
"Yes, I thought that perhaps…I do not know what I thought. Perhaps I thought he would remember his love for me and all would be well," she murmured looking at the floor.
"I think a part of him does and that is why he is being so difficult. He feels uneasy because he does not understand these feelings," Legolas explained with a smile.
"Do you think that is why he is being so impossible? Perhaps. Although, to be fair, Elrohir was not the easiest person to be in love with to start with," Laurëanna giggled.
Legolas embraced her again and wished her goodnight. After she went into her room, he returned to the room he was sharing with the other men.
Unknown to either of them, gray eyes watched them closely. Elladan stood silently pondering what to do after hearing her comments about her love for and with his twin. He had never lied to his brother, nor kept anything from him and he was confused how Elrohir had kept it from him that he had known Laurëanna before. Was it possible that he had once loved her, as she said, and Elladan had never known about her existence? Elladan did not understand what was happening. It was obvious that Laurëanna was keeping something from them, but he somehow felt certain that she was a good person.
"Elladan, what are you doing?" Elrohir said from behind him.
"Nothing, I merely…lost my way in the halls," Elladan replied quickly.
Elrohir chuckled. "You must have drunk too much wine with our meal." Noticing where they were, he turned back to his brother. "Were you going to see Laurëanna?"
"No, of course not. I am certain she is most likely asleep by now. Besides, she would most likely strike me assuming I was you," Elladan muttered as he turned down the hallway towards the rooms where the men slept.
"You most likely are correct," Elrohir said shortly.
When they reached the end of the hall, they saw Aragorn talking to a distressed Lady Éowyn. Soon after the two were settled on their cots, their friend came into the room, obviously signs of the stress of the previous days showing in his face.
"What is it Estel?" Elrohir asked, concerned the pressure his friend was under was too much.
"Nothing that a good night's sleep will not make better. That, of course, and the destruction of the One Ring," Aragorn grinned.
"That would make all of us feel better. Yet until that happens, can we have some quiet so we can at least have the good night's sleep?" Gimli grumbled.
"Forgive me, Gimli," Aragorn chuckled and the twins soon joined him.
"Elrohir, let me warn you. Laurëanna will be going with us tomorrow," Aragorn began. When he saw Elrohir's expression, he said quickly held up at his hand, "Please allow me to finish. I know you feel she would be safer here, but I am not certain that she is not meant to be with us. In fact, I feel that she is destined to be with us and we should not question what is meant to be."
Elrohir was quiet, but he nodded. Looking at the others he realized that everyone felt certain it was best she went with them. As the others settled down and attempted to sleep, Elrohir thought long about his misgivings. He knew he was allowing his personal feelings to interfere with his logic. Finally exhaustion overcame him and he fell asleep thinking of Laurëanna.
Elladan opened his eyes and tried to shake the fog from his mind. He began coughing and looked around realizing that he was in Lothlorien, which was set ablaze. Jumping to his feet, he saw Lady Galadriel standing beside her mirror in front of him.
"Nanadhril, what has happened? We need to do something. The trees…the trees are burning. We must leave," Elladan replied reaching out to her.
Galadriel serenely looked around, her face barely registering any emotion. "Yes, Elladan, Lothlorien is burning. But that is not why you are here." Turning to him, her eyes bore into his and he felt a strange pull on his fëa. Fear filled him, the strongest fear he had ever known. Gasping for breath, he could not look away from her. "Elladan, I need you to look in the mirror."
Elladan shook his head slowly, replying, "I do not wish to. I do not want to see what it has to show me. My heart tells me I cannot…" His voice trailed off and his head hung in shame.
He felt a light caress on his cheek and turned to see his mother standing beside him, stroking his cheek with a slight smile. Her beauty no longer haunted by the torment she suffered long ago, she was radiant and full of light that called out to him, making him ache. Overcome, he began to weep as he allowed her to embrace him in a loving hug. After a moment, she pulled back and cupped his face in her hands.
"Elladan, listen to me. You must look. There is a reason you have been graced with this dream. I need you to be strong and look into the mirror," Celebrían said softly, her voice a peaceful embrace to him.
Taking a deep shaky breath, Elladan turned to look at Galadriel again. Tears ran down her cheeks as she filled the vessel with water. Grasping his mother's hand, he took the final step to the carved pedestal that held the mirror. Celebrían nodded reassuringly and he looked at last into the mirror.
At first he saw nothing, the water reflecting only the fire in the trees around them. He felt as if a weight had been lifted on his shoulders until images began to form in the mirror. He saw first Lothlorien, the flames burning the mallorn until they were blackened. Elves running and screaming as orcs ran freely through the Elven stronghold. One by one they were slaughtered. He had to resist the urge to look away, his heart raced and pain filled his fëa to an almost unbearable level. He cried out seeing his grandfather cut down by orcs. The vision dissolved and he tried to catch his breath before he spoke.
"There is more Elladan. You must see it all," Celebrían's placid voice intruded on his mind.
The sight of Arwen lying broken, covered in blood, and Estel weeping by her side, almost brought him to his knees.
"No…Eru, no…no more…" he pleaded, shaking his head.
Even as he spoke, he saw himself and Elrohir fighting side by side, trying to defend themselves and their friends as orcs assaulted them. He watched in horror as Gimli, Merry, and Pippin were killed and Legolas lay dying. Attempting to get to his friend, Elladan pushed through the orcs and did not realize until his legs collapsed beneath him that he had been struck as well.
Once again the mirror reflected the fire burning around him and as the images faded, Elladan collapsed to his knees, gasping for breath, feeling as if his still beating heart were being ripped from his hroa. Weeping like a child, he looked up to his mother and realized that she was gone. Rising, he glanced around and realized he was alone.
"Naneth, Nanadhril, why did you show me these things then leave me alone? I need to know if these images…these horrifying images can be changed. Do not abandon me with no answers!" he called into the night, rage and anguish feeling him.
"Elladan, you must trust your heart. Elrohir will not see until it is too late. You must help him, do not let him fight his destiny any longer or it will destroy him." Elladan heard Arwen's voice and searched for her. He screamed in rage when he realized he was still alone.
"What must I do? I do not understand!" he cried. "Arwen…tell me what I must do."
"I already have. Trust your heart. You have been given this gift from Eru and your fëa knows the answer to what you seek. The Valar have entrusted you to protect her, but you must help Elrohir see his fate. Only you can assure that he opens his heart to her," Arwen's voice carried through the breeze. "Elladan, Ilúvatar will guide you. Listen to his song and you will know all that is needed."
When Elladan woke, he could almost still smell the smoke from his nightmare and it took him a moment to realize he was, in fact, awake and in Edoras, not Lothlorien. He could not shake the feeling of horror and fear that lingered and he rose from the cot to get some fresh air. Dressing silently, he knew that Elrohir was awake as well, but he merely watched Elladan until he whispered, "I just need some air. It is almost dawn and I will see you when we depart."
"Do you wish for me to come with you?" Elrohir asked drowsily.
"No, I think I can manage on my own," Elladan grinned as he picked up his things and left the room silently.
Walking to the stables, he checked on his horse while he packed his things onto the saddle. Giving the horse a final pat, he walked back towards Meduseld. Laurëanna had come outside on the porch and was sitting, watching the sky and drinking something hot from a mug, her hair blowing in the breeze.
"The Valar have entrusted you to protect her, but you must help Elrohir see his fate. Only you can assure that he opens his heart to her."
Remembering Arwen's words caused a shiver up his spine and Elladan wondered if Laurëanna was the one she spoke of. His concern for his sister and Lothlorien was weighing heavy on his mind. He did not even know if Arwen was still alive. The thought that she may already been dead was too horrible for him to bear but he felt certain Estel and Elrohir would sense the loss as well, if it were real. But the dream made no sense to him and the more he struggled with it, the worse he felt. But he knew one thing in his heart. He had to find out what Laurëanna's connection was to all of it. If he were meant to protect her, he would do so. Unsure how he would guide Elrohir to lose some of his confusion and anger towards her, he decided he would at least talk to her to find how what he could now.
As Elladan climbed the steps to the porch, Laurëanna looked at him and gave him a gentle smile.
"Good morning. I am surprised you are up so early Elladan," Laurëanna said.
He paused for a minute then smiled. "How did you know it was me and not my brother?"
Laurëanna chuckled. "He would have most likely scowled at me rather than smiled. Besides, your dimple shows more than his does."
Elladan raised his eyebrow at her and laughed. "Ah, I see. Now I have never had anyone notice that other than my family. How odd that you, a complete stranger until the other day, would notice it immediately."
Laurëanna tried to look innocent under her gaze, her own smile betraying her somewhat. "I am very observant."
"Oh, is that it?" Elladan asked merrily as he sat down beside her. "Tell me then. What color are Aragorn's eyes?" He laughed seeing the expression on her face.
"They are…blue. Yes, they are blue," Laurëanna said confidently, searching her mind for the answer.
"I thought they were brown," Elladan smiled.
"Oh, I must have been thinking of Legolas then. Yes, Aragorn's are brown," she answered flustered. As he kept watching her, she realized that he was testing her and she had given away the fact that she had no idea.
"Actually, they are gray," Elladan replied. "I would ask you what color his cloak is, but I do not think you would remember that either, would you?"
"What are you implying?" Laurëanna asked defensively.
"Simply pointing out you spend more time observing my brother's face than Estel's eyes or cloak," Elladan said trying to hide a smile at her indignant expression.
"I beg your pardon Elladan. I have not been observing your brother's face!" Laurëanna replied, her cheeks coloring bright pink.
"Of course not. I mean…he is so hideous to look at," he teased.
"Yes, he is." Laurëanna giggled, unable to resist.
"Why do I feel such a sense of familiarity with you, Laurëanna?" Elladan asked her bluntly. "It is like…I do not know how to explain this feeling…"
Laurëanna looked away quickly, her heart racing. She knew she had to lie, but the desire to tell him everything was so strong. Elladan and she had been so close over the last years in Aman and she missed that bond almost as much as she missed the one with Elrohir. But Elladan saw it, where Elrohir did not, and she greatly desired to tell him the truth. "Perhaps I remind you of someone you know," she said quietly and shrugged.
"Perhaps." Elladan grew quiet, watching her face. He had seen the shadow pass over her eyes and knew now without a doubt that she was the one that Arwen referred to in his dream. Relief washed over him as he reached out and gently took her hand. Neither spoke again nor did she look at him as they rose and went inside to find the others.
Legolas came rushing out of the room looking for Laurëanna and nearly ran over Elrohir. Both elves jumped back and gave the other an uneasy look before passing one another. Thinking twice, Elrohir stopped and called out to Legolas.
"Legolas, a moment?" Elrohir asked. When Legolas turned to him, he said, "I do not wish there to be tension between us, so why do you not just say what you are thinking and be done with it? Otherwise, it will continue to grow worse and soon we will be unable to remain in the same room together."
Legolas glared at him before replying, "Elrohir, you question whether or not my personal feelings for Laurëanna are affecting my judgment, yet you are the one who is clearly affected. You have treated her horribly for no reason other than your need to prove to yourself that you do not have desires towards her. I suggest you accept your feelings rather than fight them. Sauron has unleashed enough for us to fight without you adding to the problem."
"Are you comparing me to Sauron?" Elrohir asked then chuckled. "I did not realize you felt so strongly about this situation and I promise you, it will not be a problem again. My…feelings…for Laurëanna, whatever they may be, will not affect our mission and I will not interfere where she is concerned any longer."
Sighing, Legolas said, "Elrohir, you are a fool to be honest. As old as you are, I would have thought you would have realized that you will only find that one person who touches your fëa the way she touches yours."
"Now is not the time for romance, Legolas. You know that," Elrohir replied looking away.
Legolas chuckled. "I believe that most would say that love is not known for convenient timing." Seeing how conflicted Elrohir looked, he took sympathy on him. "Elrohir, imagine this though. If we survive this battle, Middle Earth will be a whole new world for us all. Would you not wish to have someone there beside you with whom to enjoy it? Perhaps now is the best time for love." Legolas squeezed his shoulder and continued his walk to the stables.
Elrohir leaned back against the wall and sighed. Legolas might be right, but he could not think about this now. He knew having her there with him would not be easy, but he knew he had to wait until a time of peace to resolve his feelings for her.
Aragorn and Halbarad were the final ones to join the party that was already mounted on their horses and ready to go. The sun had not risen, but it would not be long before it did and the breeze smelled of the morning dew on the spring flowers. Aragorn was surprised when Lady Éowyn came to bid them farewell clad as a rider and carrying her sword.
She also carried a cup and after drinking some and wishing them a safe journey, she handed the cup to Aragorn. He watched her as he drank then handing the cup back to her he said, "Farewell Éowyn. I drink to the fortune of your house and your people. Tell Éomer that we may meet again."
Laurëanna could not stand to watch their farewells and nudged her horse forward. Legolas followed her and when they were a safe distance away he asked her in Sindarin if she was well. Nodding, she remained quiet, but did not look upon Éowyn again. She felt strongly that she was condemning her to death by not warning her of her fate, but she understood Legolas' thoughts on the matter. Whether he was correct or not would only be told by time, but it did not make it easier on her to keep silent.
The day was still gray when they came to the Dimholt. Dread filled the company to the very last man and Laurëanna felt physically ill with fear. When they came to the opening in the mountain, there was a stone that the horses would not pass. Having no choice, the riders dismounted and began to lead their horses past the stone.
"My blood runs chill," Gimli said, his fear evident in his voice.
Laurëanna followed silently behind Legolas. Her horse became even more skittish than the others seemed to be. When they came to the Dark Door, an opening in a sheer wall of rock, they all were silent and afraid.
"This is an evil door," said Halbarad. "And my death lies beyond it. I will dare to pass it nonetheless, but no horse will enter."
"But we must go in and therefore the horses must go too," said Aragorn. "For if we ever come through this darkness, many leagues lie beyond, and every hour that is lost there will bring the triumph of Sauron nearer. Follow me!" **
And Aragorn led the way and his strength of will was so strong that the Dunedain followed him. Arod, the horse that Legolas rode, began to panic and he sang to it to sooth its nerves. However, Laurëanna's horse reared up and tried to pull away from her in terror. She attempted to sooth it, as Legolas was doing, but she was so nervous, the horse could sense her fear in her voice. Finally, it jerked away from her and fled, leaving her feeling even more unsure.
"You will ride with me, Laurëanna," Elladan said softly surprising them all.
Elrohir looked at him questioning, but his twin offered no explanation as he smiled reassuringly at Laurëanna. Elrohir followed the others wondering why his brother was offering to take on the added responsibility of Laurëanna. He could not help but wonder what his motivations were and he struggled with a rising feeling of jealousy at how she looked at Elladan. There was something deeper than gratitude in her eyes and it made Elrohir very uncomfortable. But he could not focus on it now. If they made it through the Paths of the Dead and lived through the upcoming battles, he would worry about his feelings for her then. For now, his focus was on staying alive and helping to insure his friends did as well, including his brother and Laurëanna.
Reassuring himself that she was all right, Elladan then followed the others through the doorway. He had spoken very impulsively, giving Elrohir no chance to react, but he did not want his brother to further aggravate the situation by making another insensitive comment to her when she was so obviously shaken.
When it was just the three of them left outside the door, Legolas turned to her again. "You are not hurt, are you?" he asked her, his concerned eyes trying to study her in the gloom.
"I am well. That horse merely ran off with all of my belongings, other than my sword and the clothes on my back. Not to mention any courage I had left," she answered lightly. Sensing him still watching her, she tried to smile. Legolas paused another moment and she said, "I am right behind you, do not worry."
Leading Arod with him, Legolas entered the doorway and left her standing with Gimli. The two of them looked at each other for a moment then Gimli said, "Well that is a thing unheard of. An elf will go underground and a Dwarf dare not."
Laurëanna almost laughed at his expression, so frightened and so embarrassed. It was almost a relief to see him as scared as she was. When he entered the doorway and left her standing alone, she sighed.
"Well unless I plan to walk back to Edoras, I have no choice, but to follow them," she muttered. Taking a deep breath, she hesitantly crossed into the inky blackness of the door to the mountain.
**Direct Quote from Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien, Chapter 11 – The Passing of Grey Company.
"My blood runs chill," Gimli said.
"This is an evil door," said Halbarad. "And my death lies beyond it. I will dare to pass it nonetheless, but no horse will enter."
"Well that is a thing unheard of. An elf will go underground and a Dwarf dare not."
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.