Change One Thing, See What Happens

Paradox of the Fourth Age

7. Chapter 6 ~ Whispers of the Past

A/N Please review. Reviewing me is the best way to let me know what you think and I value your input. Thanks once again to my FABULOUS beta, Ellisk. Your help has proven to be invaluable. Thanks to the gang for being supportive! Thanks 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.

Elvish sayings:
Le melon – I love you
Melethen - My love
Melethrilen - my beloved -feminine
Melethronen - my beloved -masculine
Gerich velethen – You have my love
Laurëanna – Golden Gift
Indil – Iris
Mellon nîn - my friend
Wilwarin- Butterfly-Q
Hebo estel - Have hope




10th day of October
Fourth Age, Year 30
Tirion, Aman



Indil stifled a yawn as she stretched out on the blanket beside Glorfindel. They had taken a picnic lunch to Alqualondë for the day, and Laurëanna had proceeded to exhaust the two adults with her endless energy. Even now, she was bouncing up and down on her father's stomach, giggling non-stop.

"I am weary just watching her," Indil sighed.

"Ada, let us swim more," the little girl pleaded.

"No. I am too tired. If I were to try to swim, I would sink to the bottom of the ocean and Ossë will have to come and rescue me," Glorfindel replied as he tickled his daughter. "Take a nap Wilwarin and then we will swim again."

Even though Indil had been pleading with her daughter for an hour to settle down for a nap, Laurëanna had stubbornly resisted all attempts to stifle her enthusiasm. This time, however, she promptly climbed off Glorfindel's stomach and curled up in the nook of his arm. He gloated as he looked over at his wife.

"You lack the charm and finesse my daughter requires to be convinced," he smirked.

Biting back a laugh, Indil said, "No, I do not resort to promises to do as she asks. Have you ever said no to her without a negotiation?"

Glorfindel pondered that question for a moment, but said nothing.

Indil chuckled, "As I had thought."

~~~~

Despite the sadness that continued to lurk in the shadows of their minds when they thought of the elves that remained in Middle Earth, Glorfindel and Indil had found a happiness within their small family unknown to either of them. They both learned to see the world again through their daughter's innocent eyes. The decades of hardship that Glorfindel had suppressed faded with each of his daughter's dimpled smiles and he fell more in love with Indil every day. The nightmares ceased and he could be heard laughing out loud, which Celebrían swore he was incapable of in Imladris. He tolerated her good-natured teasing usually with a comeback about her wicked sons. Indil knew that both of them looked forward each day to welcoming the twins to Aman at last and their deepest fear was that they would never come.

Indil felt her life had begun anew. Her happiness in her new roles as mother and wife added to the near completeness she felt in her new home with her friends and activities in the cities. She spent hours in the library studying everything she could possibly absorb in one sitting. Enjoying learning, she also wanted to make sure her daughter was educated in all things. Glorfindel had taught her Quenya as well as Westeron and the two of them were teaching Laurëanna to speak all three languages.

Laurëanna had given all of them hope of a new life. Even Thranduil grew fond of the elfling. Taravil and Celebrían frequently would disappear with her for hours and Indil wondered at times if they intended to return her. Eventually, they would bring her home because they were too tired to care for her anymore. Even Rumil seemed unable to keep up with her. Laurëanna had developed a fascination with him early on in her life and from the moment she was able to walk, she was often his shadow.

Although she was close to their friends, Laurëanna could not stay separated from her parents for long, or they from her. Being left by one parent or both had caused the few temper tantrums she had thrown. She had the charm and outgoing personality of her mother, but when provoked, the temper of her father. Thranduil once teased that it was the Noldo in her only to receive an icy glare from Glorfindel.

~~~~

After her nap, Glorfindel did as promised and took her back into the ocean. Unlike her mother, she had not been taught to swim by being thrown in the water, but thankfully she had learned much more quickly. Holding her as he went into the deeper water, Glorfindel was surprised when she began squealing with happiness.

"A ship, Ada! A ship!"

Looking over, he saw another elven ship from Middle Earth that would soon be docking in the harbor. It was only the second one in four years and the first had been nearly three years ago. Some had feared it had been the last, yet Glorfindel felt sure it was not. Quickly, he waded to the beach so he could tell Indil.

Indil had heard Laurëanna's squeals and turned to see what they were looking at. By the time Glorfindel was beside her, she already had their blanket and basket packed up. She changed her daughter into dry clothes while Glorfindel dressed as well. Not knowing what caused the excitement, Laurëanna knew her parents were rushing to go somewhere and so she behaved.

"Do you wish for me to go tell Celebrían and Taravil?" Glorfindel asked.

"No. I am afraid I would lose Laurëanna in the hectic crowd. I will go to the city and you keep her with you. Just keep a firm hold on her," Indil warned with a quick kiss on his mouth and her daughter's head. "Laurëanna be good for Ada and do not try to get down from his arms. Do you understand?" she said sternly.

"Yes, Nana," Laurëanna nodded solemnly, her arms tightening around Glorfindel's neck.

"I think I can manage not to lose her," Glorfindel smirked then pulled Indil to him in a deep kiss. "Hurry back, Melethrilen."

~~~~

Glorfindel watched Laurëanna studying the ships in the harbor with a smile. Her eyes seemed to take in every detail. She was thrilled to be at the harbor when the ships arrived and he was glad she was with him as he saw the elves departing the ship. Their eyes were more haunted than the elves that had arrived three years ago and he knew that Middle Earth's struggles had worsened. His heart tightened as he held his daughter a little closer.

"Ada, these elves are all sad," Laurëanna whispered, her eyes wide. "Why are they so sad? Do they not like to ride on the ship from Tol Eressëa?"

"These elves are not from Tol Eressëa. They are from somewhere else. It is not a nice place and they had to leave," Glorfindel said, unwilling to tell her about Middle Earth yet. Brushing her forehead with his lips, he gazed over the faces of the elves.

Nothing could have prepared him for seeing Galdor. An elf from the Havens, Galdor had been the messenger than Cirdan had sent to the Council of Elrond. His once fair face seemed to have aged centuries and he was now lame, being aided from the ship by two others. Glorfindel heard a gasp beside him and turned to see that Indil had arrived with Taravil and Celebrían. Her expression seeing her old friend was one of horror. Tears filled her eyes and began to spill on her cheeks. Glorfindel shared a concerned look with Taravil then handed his daughter to her.

"Indil, I know this is hard for you but you must be strong now. Let us go welcome Galdor together, but he needs to see your warm smile not your tears," Glorfindel whispered in her ear and she nodded.

Wiping her eyes, Indil took a deep shaky breath and allowed Glorfindel to lead her closer to Galdor. On either side of him was a couple from Mithlond. They smiled seeing Indil.

"Laire, it is so good to see you again," Indil greeted the elleth. She turned to the ellon and said, "You look well, Arnarmo." Both embraced her in greeting.

"Galdor, you on the other hand have looked much better," Indil teased but her forced smile did not quite reach her sad eyes. "Galdor you have met my husband but Laire, Arnarmo, this is Glorfindel of Imladris."

"Your husband?" Galdor exclaimed. "When did you become a glutton for punishment Glorfindel? Was one Balrog not enough for you?"

Indil gasped indignantly but the jest had the desired effect and everyone laughed.

"I fear she suffers more than I do. And she is much more diplomatic and open to negotiations than that Balrog was," Glorfindel joked.

Indil shook her head and said, "I cannot believe you jest so easily of your earlier demise. It is not normal."

"Ada! Nana!" The high-pitched, angry cry came from behind them. Rumil had taken Laurëanna while Taravil and Thranduil greeted some Mirkwood elves and the elfling had grown impatient of being left out.

"Would you like us to help you get into the city? Perhaps you would stay with us until you find housing," Indil offered and Glorfindel nodded.

"We have family here in Alqualondë, but thank you for the generous offer," Laire replied.

"I could not impose…" Galdor began.

"Nonsense, I insist," Glorfindel interrupted. "But let me allow you to meet the ruler of the house before you decide if it is safe."

Glorfindel and Arnarmo led Galdor to meet Laurëanna leaving their wives behind. Laire's tears could not be restrained and Indil held the other elleth tightly.

"I am so glad we made it. It has been so hard," Laire sobbed. "We have lost so many and Sauron's power grows stronger every day. Saruman sends orc attacks as well. The hobbits are all enslaved now, except the few that escaped to Mithlond or Rohan. Some are even living in caves with the dwarves."

"You are safe now. In time the nightmare will fade. Valinor has cleansed my fëa of so much hurt," Indil reassured her. "What has happened to Galdor?"

"We were attacked before we left. He was not even supposed to be coming with us on this trip. They were captured and tortured as they were being taken back to the Shire, to Saruman. Before they got to there, the five warriors and Galdor managed to escape but the orcs killed four of them. Galdor practically dragged Nárello back to Mithlond," Laire whispered, her face growing pale. "Nárello died that night. Galdor almost died as well. Lord Cirdan delayed the ship a few days so Galdor was recovered enough to make the journey. He is much better than he was mellon nîn. We feared he would not survive the first few days."

Indil hugged her tighter as tears rolled down her face. She was overwhelmed with sadness and guilt that she and Glorfindel had such peace and happiness while her friends were dying.

~~~~

Laurëanna looked at the strangers with some trepidation while Glorfindel introduced everyone. Finally with bluntness only a child can be forgiven for, she asked Galdor, "Why do you limp? Who hurt your leg?"

"Laurëanna, you are being disrespectful," Glorfindel admonished her and instantly her lip began to quiver as it always did just prior to the tears that eventually would flow. This was usually the outcome of a reprimand from her father.

"Nonsense Glorfindel, she is just curious," Galdor smiled. "I am a very clumsy elf. I fell off my horse."

Laurëanna studied him for a minute before she burst into laughter, her tears forgotten. She became a fast friend with Galdor while he lived with them and she tried to teach him to be less clumsy. When Galdor moved to Alqualondë, his limp was all but gone. He continued to take 'lessons' on grace from her for awhile until she felt safe that he was no longer in danger of hurting himself.






Whispers of the Past




4th Day of March
Third Age, Year 3019
Helm's Deep, Rohan


Laurëanna followed the man to find Lord Aragorn and tried not to appear as disoriented and afraid as she was. There was no turning back now. The future she knew was gone, as was her life there. If she failed now, she would never have any part of her life back. Stiffening her resolve, she pushed the fear to the back of her mind.

Everything was dirty here. Even the sun seemed less bright in this land. The men had sweat, dirt, and blood from themselves and others dried on their skin. Their hair was not neatly tied back in braids, but fell wildly around their shoulders. Most had hair on their faces as well, and it was equally grungy.

When Laurëanna saw the eyes of some of the Rohirrim, her heart went out to these people. Some she knew must be young, yet they had such pain and weariness in their eyes, it made her heart ache. Unlike elves whose bodies altered very little over time, the men's faces were lined with age. Even the younger ones were beginning to show the years of hardship in their faces.

The outer walkways were littered with the bodies of the enemy and the Rohirrim, all lying where they fell. There were pools of blood that had been walked in and tracked through the filth on the ground as the men were making piles of carrion. She blinked back tears when she saw the way they carried their own dead with dignity and honor, yet the enemy was handled with no such regard.

There were so many bodies. She could not imagine how many lives would be affected by the loss of these men. How many people would mourn for these poor souls tonight? She thought of her last days with her friends and family and her heart tightened. Did these men have time to say their farewells? Biting her lip, she tried desperately to hold back her sorrow.

She saw one man weeping beside one of the bodies and felt that the younger man knew the fallen soldier, perhaps it was even his father. She wanted to go to this man, to offer comfort, yet she knew she could do nothing for these people. The ones that noticed her walking by stared at her and she almost pulled her hood up to avoid their looks, unable to face their sorrow.

As they entered within the walls of the keep, soldiers were drifting through the areas she where walked. Since the battle had raged on through the whole night, some were sleeping on the ground still in parts of their mail. She saw quite a few injured men being tended to in a large room. The smell of blood was making her feel nauseous and the sounds of their cries of pain were horrible. She cursed her heightened elvish senses for the first time in her life.

The man she was following stopped a few times and asked other men about Aragorn and she could feel the men studying her. She did not know if it was because she was female or an elf, but she pretended not to notice and avoided their gaze. Finally, they came to a room and there was a dark haired man tending to a dwarf with a wound on his head. The dwarf was very perturbed at the man, who was in turn chuckling at him.

"Now look here, you young…" the dwarf trailed off noticing her and the man with her. Aragorn turned to look at them with a weary smile.

"Lord Aragorn, this woman…elf…elf woman wishes to find someone. She says he is an elf and that he is with you," the man gestured to her and she tried not to be offended at his tone of disbelief.

"Legolas, I need to find Legolas. I bring word from his father," Laurëanna spoke quickly.

"My father? Has something happened?" a startled voice from behind her asked.

Laurëanna whirled around and barely resisted the urge to run and throw her arms around him. Although she had never met him, she felt as if she knew Legolas very well. She had heard stories of him all of her life and she instinctively took comfort in seeing something familiar. She could not resist smiling when she looked at him. His beautiful, silky, pale blonde hair was the same color of his father's as was the noble bone structure of his face, which she heard had been typical of Oropher's family line. But his eyes were his mother's: compassionate, gentle, and blue the color of the sky. Realizing she was smiling at him quite strangely after been insistent on seeing him as soon as possible, she grew serious again.

"Prince Legolas, your father has sent me and I must speak with you," she said in a rushed manner. Glancing at the other two, she said quietly, "Privately."

Legolas studied the elleth before him, his expression concerned and confused. She was not from Mirkwood, nor would his father send a lone elleth to find him. His father had no possible way to know he was here. Yet she did. Perhaps this was some trickery of Saruman's, though he did not sense malice or threat from her. He realized everyone was waiting for him to speak.

"Yes, we will find somewhere to speak," he nodded at the Rohirrim so he would leave them.

"We have been given a place to rest so Gimli and I will leave you two here. We are to leave this afternoon, so try to get some rest, Legolas," Aragorn smiled at her and said, "I did not hear your name, my lady."

"Laurëanna, my lord," she smiled at him shyly and he nodded before leaving. Gimli also nodded to her.

Legolas followed them to the door then shut it behind them. Laurëanna walked over to a chair and sat down quickly with a long sigh, feeling rather out of sorts.

"You and I both know you are not from Mirkwood, nor did my father send you, so what is the meaning behind this deceit of yours?" Legolas said quietly as he walked to her. He sat down so he was facing her and she chuckled.

"You are most likely not going to believe me," Laurëanna said. "Despite your gentle nature, I have been assured that King Thranduil has taught his son well to be skeptical to a degree. Surely you see no threat from me?" She grinned weakly, yet did not let him answer. "Your father may not have sent me but he knows I am here, as does your mother."

"My mother?" Legolas' eyes narrowed at her with more suspicion.

Laurëanna turned to look at him and gently reached out and touched his face. Although he watched her strangely, he did not stop her as she then took his hands.

"Legolas, I have been sent back through time by the Valar to warn you. Aragorn is about to make a grave error. If he goes directly to Minas Tirith rather than with Mithrandir to Isengard, the fellowship will fail," Laurëanna replied bluntly. "I have been sent to warn you of this and we must change his mind without telling him of these consequences."

Legolas face was a mask of pain and confusion as he studied her. Laurëanna bit her lip in regret she had been so blunt. But there was little time for gentle tactics right now.

"What are you saying? How can this be? Who are you?" Legolas said, jerking his hands from hers.

"I probably should have practiced what I had planned to say a little more. I had no idea how much being in Middle Earth would disorient me, despite all of the warnings. Let us hope my sword practices were more worthwhile," Laurëanna sighed and tried again. "Today Aragorn, Gimli, and you were planning on riding straight to Minas Tirith, correct? This is a mistake. You already did this in my past. Well, before I was born. I mean…Legolas, I was born in the Fourth Age, Year 26. This morning, before I came here, it was Fourth Age, Year 88. Just days ago, the Valar decided that I must be sent back through time to help guide Aragorn to fulfill the destiny that has already been foreseen by both Lord Elrond and Lady Galadriel. If Aragorn goes to Minas Tirith this afternoon, he will destroy that destiny and all of Middle Earth will be in ruin."

Legolas stared at her dumbly for a moment before saying, "This is some trick of Saruman's. Or perhaps Sauron's. You are one of his spies."

"I had hoped you would be easier to convince. I guess I do not look as sweet and honest as my husband always said I did," Laurëanna said frustrated. "Legolas, I know your mother, Taravil. I have known her all of my life. She was even there the day I was born. She told me to remind you that her words to you before she left Middle Earth were for you to 'listen to the sea and you will hear my prayers for our swift reunion.' She said you two were alone when she spoke those words to you."

She hated the look of sorrow on his face, but she knew she must continue. Reaching behind her neck, Laurëanna unclasped the chain and gently put it in his hand.

"She also said if you still did not believe me to give you this. She was wearing it when she left for Aman and had not taken it off since the day you were born and King Thranduil gave it to her."

Legolas was quiet as he studied the necklace. She watched his face and could see how much she had upset him and felt horrible. Reaching out, she caressed his cheek and smiled gently when he looked up at her.

"She is very proud of you and asked me to tell you how much she loves you. And your father said the same as well, plus he says to be brave and true yet he wishes you to return home to him soon," she said, gently. "You are a great hero in my time Legolas."

"If my parents are giving you messages from Aman, I must not be there with them," Legolas observed after being quiet for a few moments. "Am I still in Middle Earth?"

Tears sprang to her eyes. She had not thought about possibly having to tell him his fate. She quickly looked down at her hands.

"You…you…were not in Aman, no," she whispered painfully.

Legolas glanced away and they were both silent. Finally, he asked, "So the fate of Middle Earth is tied to this one decision of Aragorn's?"

"No one is sure of other mistakes that have been made, but they know this mistake was costly. Eru has shown us this to be true. Lord Elrond is sending Elrohir and Elladan with a message to Aragorn. If he does not receive this message when he is supposed to and where he is supposed to, the fellowship will fail. By not going to Isengard, he will not receive the message until it is too late," Laurëanna said, solemnly. "I cannot tell you more or it might affect other decisions you make as well, but you must help me convince him."

Legolas was quiet for a long time. Occasionally, he would look at her but mostly he stared at the necklace in his hands.

Finally, she said, "Legolas, you do believe me, do you not?"

"I am just wondering why you were chosen," Legolas said casually.

"I wish I knew," she muttered. "I was chosen because a person cannot exist in the same time period as their previous selves. I was not born until after Sauron comes into…until the fellowship failed."

"And who are you?"

"My parents are Lord Glorfindel of Imladris and Lady Indil of Mithlond," she smiled at his look of surprise. "My husband is…" she trailed off sadly. She was not sure if she should tell him.

Legolas watched her for a moment before saying gently, "Your husband is who, Laurëanna?"

"Elrohir." Tears filled her eyes and she looked away quickly. "Well, he will be. Or he would have been. Or…I do not know now. That future is gone."

"You have given up your life to do this. Why? And why did the Valar send you back now?" Legolas asked her softly.

"Legolas, I am not sure how much I should tell you," she paused, thinking. "But since hopefully this will never happen and it might help you understand how dire things are, I will tell you part of the story."

Taking a deep breath, Laurëanna continued, "Sauron has destroyed Middle Earth. He is now on his way to Aman. This morning before I left, his ships had been spotted two days from Valinor and our days are completely dark."

Laurëanna could not keep the panic or sadness out of her voice. Legolas' eyes were wide with shock.

"So we must make this right, Legolas. Or he will bring his evil to Valinor and darken it once again," A tear slid down her face as she beseeched him. "You must help me."

~~~~

Legolas and Laurëanna discussed how to approach Aragorn for a short time before she insisted he get some rest. He stayed with her rather than going to find Aragorn and Gimli. As he was falling asleep, she hummed under her breath a song his mother used to sing to her all of the time when she was a young child. He smiled and reached for her hand. While he was sleeping, Laurëanna watched him for a long time, still holding his hand, his mother's necklace now around his neck.

He was alive. It was unreal. She had met Aragorn and Gimli. King Theoden, Éomer, and Mithrandir were somewhere in these halls. She thought of all of the stories of these people that she had heard and now she was with them -- had a chance to perhaps save some of them. It was too overwhelming to imagine.

Sadly, she realized she could not save the mortals for long. Their fate was to die someday. Would Aragorn be a good king? Would Éomer become king at such an early age again? She wanted to save Aman and the elves of Middle Earth, but she found herself curious about these mortals. Elrond, Elrohir, and Elladan all had mortal blood as well. Her husband and his brother spent much time with mortals, the Dunedain of the North.

Elrohir had told her many times how he felt the pain of being mortal. He was blessed with the life of the Eldar, yet he felt his mortal blood drew him to the second born Men as well. He talked of watching them age and die. She could not imagine. She had never seen an old man or woman. Even those remaining Calaquendi of Valinor did not appear to age. Only their eyes showed the years of their lives. Here she would see people whither and die. The thought terrified her.

Shaking the morbid thoughts out of her head, she gently extracted her hand from Legolas' and went to look out of the one small window in the room. She watched the men work for hours before she finally woke Legolas and they prepared to go see Aragorn.

~~~~

Laurëanna smiled when Aragorn came outside with Legolas and Gimli following. She waited for Legolas and his companions on a balcony. Sitting there, she looked out into the distance and could see far away. If she looked down, she would see the horrors of the battle the night before, so she kept her eyes level along the tree line in the distance. Turning back to the three approaching her, her gaze fell upon Gimli and she wrinkled her nose. Knowing all she did about the dwarf, it was difficult to be rude and unfriendly to him but she knew she must. A Mirkwood elleth would hate a dwarf at first.

"Aragorn, Gimli, this is Laurëanna of Mirkwood. You met her earlier," Legolas reminded them.

"My lady," Aragorn nodded.

Gimli looked her over and nodded. She looked at him with obvious distaste.

"Prince Legolas, why must this…dwarf…be here? I was sent to talk to Isildur's heir not…" she began, trying to ignore Legolas' look of shock.

"Master Gimli is a good friend and traveling companion of mine, as well as one I would trust with my life, my lady," Aragorn said smoothly as Gimli sputtered.

"Laurëanna, may I speak with you for a moment?" Legolas interjected before grabbing her elbow and steering her out of hearing distance of the other two.

"What is the meaning of this? Surely you know who Gimli is and…" Legolas began.

"Yes, but an elleth from Mirkwood would have no love for a dwarf. No more than an elven prince did at one time." Turning her back so that Aragorn and Gimli could not see her face, Laurëanna's eyes twinkled and she barely held back a giggle as she reminded him of his first feelings towards the dwarf. Elrond had told her how Legolas had felt about Gimli and knew the feelings were mutual.

After a moment, Legolas nodded with a slight smile. "You are correct. I did not think of that. Try not to be too rude, however."

"Legolas, I would personally love to hug and kiss that little dwarf myself. Lady Galadriel was quite charmed by him and speaks very highly of him. And if we live through this war, I do intend to hug and kiss him!" Laurëanna smiled. "However, for now I will pretend that you reprimanded me and I will be nicer to him when we go back to talk to them."

Legolas nodded and the two went back to where Aragorn and Gimli were standing.

"Forgive me, Master Gimli. It appears you have proven to be a valuable asset to this group and I … apologize for my rudeness," Laurëanna said, pretending it was distasteful to even speak the words. Gimli gave her an equal look of distaste.

"Legolas said the two of you need to speak to me before we departed," Aragorn reminded her, trying to detract from the uncomfortable feelings between the two.

"Yes. Yes we do," she nodded and once again, blurted out without so much as a preamble, "It is very important that you go with Gandalf today to Isengard not directly to Minas Tirith."

Aragorn looked at her oddly for a long moment and Laurëanna bit the inside of her lip. Apparently, she had picked up more of her father's diplomacy than her mother's natural tact and grace at these things.

"Sauron will soon strike Minas Tirith. I need to be there to help Lord Denethor and his son, Faramir, in any way possible. No. We will leave for Minas Tirith as soon as we can prepare," Aragorn said as he began to walk away.

Laurëanna's heart dropped into her stomach and she looked at Legolas desperately.

"Perhaps it would be best if we did stay with Gandalf. Things seem less unsure if we stay together," Legolas added.

"Why did you not make this suggestion earlier when we discussed it?" Aragorn looked at Legolas curiously, then turned back to look at her. After studying her for a moment, his gaze returned to Legolas. "Is there something I should know? If there is a reason why we should change plans now, you should share it with me."

"I…" Legolas started but looked lost for words as well.

"I have the gift of foresight," Laurëanna blurted out, suddenly inspired.

Legolas' eyes widened in shock as the other two turned to observe her curiously.

"And your visions brought you here? Now?" Aragorn said walking towards her studying her closely.

Laurëanna tried not to look too deeply in his eyes; afraid he would see the lie in them, yet she knew that if she looked away it would look suspicious so she ended up looking at him anyway.

"I know that if you go to Minas Tirith today rather than going to Isengard with Gandalf, the results will be disastrous," she stated.

'That is not a lie and I did not tell him his fate if he did not go. Did I?' she asked herself, concerned.

Aragorn walked to the wall, stroking his bearded face, deep in thought. Legolas came up and put his hand on his shoulder.

"I do not think it wise to ignore a vision from the future, but I will trust you to make a wise choice and I will follow you wherever your path leads us," Legolas said, quietly.

Laurëanna felt like she could not breathe. The moment of truth had come and she could feel it slipping away already. Gimli's face was full of distrust as he watched her and the way Aragorn was taking so long to decide, she felt sure he would choose to go on to Minas Tirith.

Screwing up her courage, Laurëanna walked over to where Aragorn stood and lightly touched his arm. When he turned to her, she smiled as gently as possible and said, "Aragorn, I know how tormented you are. You did not want this legacy you have been given any more than Frodo wanted the Ring. But the failure of Isildur is not your future. You can rebuild the honor the men of Numenor have lost."

Aragorn did not answer her so she continued. "I know when you learned who you were, you took the guilt of your ancestors upon yourself and have never let it go. You have hidden from your destiny for many years, Aragorn but you have been unveiled now. You can run from the truth no longer. The people of Middle Earth need you to guide them. Did you not stay here and defend Helm's Deep with your life? Do you not owe it to Gondor to do whatever you must to save them? Can you abandon them in their hour of need?"

Aragorn glanced away and she could see she had angered him by the tension in his jaw. At last, he turned heated eyes on her.

"Why have you come, Laurëanna?" Aragorn said studying her.

Laurëanna could see Legolas looking very nervous and she tried to appear calm when she answered him. "I have come to advise you to go with Gandalf to Isengard as I have said. I have come to stop you from making a grievous error."

"But why?"

"Because I know how easily this path is to stray from. I have faith in you as a leader of Men. I know you are what the people of Middle Earth need. You will help to restore this land, make it beautiful once more so that men and hobbits, and even dwarves can have a future here. I also know that when your mother died you swore you would never fail your people," Laurëanna said confidently.

Elrohir had told her that night that Gilraen had died, Aragorn had confided in his adopted brothers of his feelings about being Isildur's heir and how he pledged he would not fail his people. Elrohir explained that Aragorn thought that if he claimed the throne of Gondor, he would bring only failure to his people. Laurëanna hated to use his own words against him but she would stop at nothing short of breaking her oath to the Valar to convince him.

"How did you know…" Aragorn exclaimed.

"I know of your oath to your mother as surely as I know that if you go to Gondor now, you would only destroy them. Please Aragorn, trust me when I say this," Laurëanna said earnestly.

"Aragorn, I'm glad you are still here," a voice from behind her said, startling her. She turned and her eyes rested on an elderly man dressed all in white and she grinned, despite herself.

Gandalf the White was smiling at her warmly. "And who is this?" he asked

~~~~

Laurëanna resisted the urge to break into tears and beg the Maia for help. Why had the Valar not sent her back to warn him? He would have listened once he determined she was telling the truth and Aragorn would not have questioned his advice.

"This is Laurëanna of Mirkwood. My father sent her here with a message," Legolas explained.

Gandalf turned to study her and once again she feared she would be exposed. She had only been here a short time and she was already living in constant fear. How could she spend the rest of her life here? If Aragorn went to Minas Tirith, it did not matter anyway.

"Yes. Laurëanna claims she has had a 'vision' and insists we must go with you to Isengard," Gimli grumbled and Laurëanna shot him a dirty look.

"Ah. The gift of foresight in an elf is not one to be questioned, Master Gimli," Gandalf said, his eyes never leaving her face. "And what is this vision, my lady?"

"If Aragorn goes to Minas Tirith today, it will bring dire tidings upon the fellowship, Mithrandir," she said truthful, yet evasively.

The wizard studied her for some time then walked to Aragorn slowly with his hands clasped behind his back. Once again, Laurëanna waited with baited breath for his response. Every one watched the wizard. Stopping before Aragorn, Gandalf nodded.

"And what do you think, Aragorn?" Gandalf analyzed his features.

Aragorn looked at her and she could see a slight uncertainty in his eyes yet he said, "She knows things one could not know without some power guiding her. I cannot imagine that she would bring danger upon herself to come here alone if she were the enemy's servant."

"Perhaps you should go to Isengard. We might find some useful information from Saruman before you go to Minas Tirith. This will delay your journey to Gondor by a day." Turning to look at her, Gandalf continued, "Whether her vision proves to be true or not, King Thranduil believed in it enough to send her, so we should not doubt her."

Aragorn nodded thoughtfully as Gimli looked less than pleased. Laurëanna almost fell to the ground and wept tears of joy and finally released the breath she had been holding in. She looked over at an equally relieved Legolas.

Legolas and Gimli went to find a horse for her as Aragorn went to see Lord Éomer and King Theoden about the change in plans. As he was walking away, Gandalf stopped in front of her.

"My dear, I do not know your full purpose for being here, but I have a feeling things are not as they seem," Gandalf studied her and she looked at him at levelly as possible. "If I suspected you of any trickery, I would not have aided you so far, yet I believe you were sent by those far wiser than myself."

Laurëanna said nothing as she tried to keep her mouth from dropping open at how quickly the Maia had uncovered her secret.

"I would suggest that you work on remaining less impassioned by your duty here. While we are in Isengard, you need to stay out of sight of Saruman for surely he will see what I have seen," Gandalf smiled faintly. "You have only lived in the Undying Lands have you not, my child?"

Laurëanna smiled as she blushed. Gandalf lightly touched her shoulder.

"You have the beauty of youth and purity as well as the grace of one born in peace. I am curious, but I will not ask for I know you are not allowed to answer," Gandalf smiled faintly. "Something about you, fair lady, is very familiar, however."

They both began to walk to the horses, but when they saw the men ahead, he laid a hand on her arm.

"You must be careful Laurëanna. These are very dangerous times and you are ill prepared for what you must face. Stay close to Legolas and be safe," Gandalf warned her in a low voice. She nodded sadly.

Even though Gandalf did not know the full story, it was comforting to her to know that he knew what he did. At the same time she worried that she would have a hard time keeping this from others. As he warned, she would stay far away from Saruman, but what if Lord Elrond or Lady Galadriel discovered her? Yet if they did, she knew it was Eru's will and it was no fault of her own. She must put her faith in that knowledge.

~~~~

When Laurëanna and Gandalf joined Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli, they were standing with many men. Two were obviously royalty and judging by their ages, she assumed one was Lord Éomer and the other King Theoden. As they were introduced to her, she bowed her head respectfully. While the men finished their discussions, she watched the king and his nephew subtly.

Based on how an Elf matures compared to how a Man matures, she knew that Lord Éomer and herself would be considered similar in age. She could not imagine having the burdens he would soon have on him at her age. She felt so young. Of course, she would not die and he would die most likely before he saw one hundred winters. Looking at him now, so youthful and virile, it seemed such a waste to her that Men's lives were so short.

Noticing the elf watching him, Éomer turned to her with a slight smile.

"This seems an unlikely place for an young girl such as yourself," he teased.

"I am older than you I assure you, Lord Éomer," she replied. "Perhaps you are too young to realize a female, elf or woman, should never be judged by her appearance. We can easily surprise you."

Éomer chuckled. "Yes, Lady Laurëanna, you are correct and I do know better. If my sister, Éowyn, were here now, she would surely set me straight with less graciousness than you are showing. My apologies."

Laurëanna nodded with a grin and took the reins of the horse the stable boy brought her. Éomer looked at the horse strangely then back at her.

"Was your horse injured or too weary when you arrived?" he asked.

Her face paled for a second as her mind raced.

"Her horse bolted in the madness when she arrived. She came soon after the battle had finished and there was still much activity," Legolas said calmly and Éomer nodded.

Laurëanna reproached herself for not thinking of an answer previously. Truly, if she was to make it through this, she needed to be better prepared when questioned. She looked at Legolas gratefully and nodded. Legolas helped her mount her horse, then he and Éomer both went to their own mounts.

As she followed closely behind Legolas and Gimli, the riders rode down the dike and they halted at the edge of the wood. Eventually Gandalf went into the woods along the pathway beyond. Laurëanna barely listened to Gimli and Legolas discussing the woods as she, like Legolas, wished to stop and walk among these trees. She felt Yavanna's presence here and it was a comfort to her. There were trees here as old as Middle Earth and some species that did not grow in Valinor. She would have loved to have taken time to hear their songs. Despite the discomfort of her companions, especially Gimli, she enjoyed the time they spent in the trees.

When they came out of the woods, Legolas cried out about the eyes of the trees looking out from the shadow and attempted to go back. She was shocked as she watched the Mirkwood Prince's desire to stay with the trees and grateful that Gandalf stopped him. Gimli was also grateful.

Out of the forest, Laurëanna began to once again feel uneasy. This world was so strange to her and she missed her family. This would be easier with Elrohir beside her. Biting her lip, she tried not to think about the night without him.

Her eyes widened as creatures that belonged to the eyes Legolas had seen began to exit the woods. They were like nothing she had ever seen before, yet she did not feel frightened by them, as the riders around her appeared to be. They called to others like themselves that came from the North. She heard Gandalf explaining to the others that they were Ents and allies of the free people of Middle Earth.

Tears stung her eyes as she heard Gandalf say to King Theoden, "The evil of Sauron cannot be wholly cured, nor made as if it had not been. But to such days we are doomed. Let us now go on with the journey we have begun!"

If only they knew how true that statement was. Even if Aragorn walked the Paths of the Dead, there was a chance Sauron might not be defeated. There was no guarantee that she had done enough to fix the future. She gazed longingly at the woods as the riders continued their journey. Legolas and Gimli rode beside her at the back of the procession. Darkness was falling and she was glad. The constant barrage of this dreary place was wearing on her more than the long hours they had ridden. When the wolves began to howl, chills ran up her spine and she glanced nervously over at Legolas, lit now only by the nearly full moon.

"You will be safe," Legolas reassured her quietly seeing the fear in her eyes.

Laurëanna wanted to believe him but she had never deluded herself with the thought that she was a warrior. She was safest in her husband's arms, not with a sword in her hands. She blinked back tears as she thought of Elrohir.

When they reached the banks of the river, all were stunned by the nearly dry bed of sand and one of the riders that was nearest her exclaimed, "Saruman has destroyed the river as well."

They were all hesitant to ride where so many of their fellow Rohirrim had fallen, yet Gandalf urged them on. The wolves ceased their howling as they moved further down the river, but Laurëanna still felt they lie in wait. They came upon a large mound in the middle of an island that was surrounded by stones and spears where the Rohirrim who had fallen were buried. She could not help the tears that fell on her face, feeling the grief of the men around her. Hope was fading fast for these people and she could not reassure them that it was not lost.

As if reading her mind, Legolas turned to her and said, "Hebo estel."

Laurëanna drew a shaky breath. He reached out and squeezed her hand. Gimli watched their exchange and for the first time, she did not sense distrust from him. Turning away, she wiped her eyes.

It was midnight before they stopped at the base of Misty Mountains beside the bed of the Isen River. Laurëanna could barely keep her head up she was so exhausted. Legolas kept her near him at camp and she felt Gandalf and Aragorn's eyes on her as well. She was too tired to decipher if their fear for her well being lay with what was outside the camp or the fact she was the only female within the camp. Growing up in Valinor, she never had to worry about such things a man taking advantage of her, but both her husband and her mother had explained such dangers to her in her final days in Tirion.

Lying on the ground between Legolas and Gandalf, she half-listened to the quiet conversation between Aragorn and Gandalf to prevent herself from becoming overwhelmed with sadness. With Aragorn so close by, she could not even talk to Legolas in Sindarin, as she had been able to do throughout much of the day, despite Gimli's annoyance. Weariness overtook her and she fell asleep.

Pale wisps of smoke curled enveloped her as she searched for the stars. Never in her life had she seen such an infinitely black night. Gandalf turned to glance at her and she could see the sadness in his eyes.

"You were too late," he sighed and turned to look away.

Turning to following his gaze, Laurëanna saw that all of the men in the camp were dead as wolves weaved among their bodies and the carrion picked at their flesh. She cried out and rushed to Legolas side. Shaking him, she pleaded with him to help her, but his eyes never opened. She felt stickiness on her hands and held them in the light, sobbing aloud when she saw the blood dripping from them.

"Laurëanna."

Elrohir stood smiling at her near the body of the king and she ran to throw herself into his arms. He hushed her as she wept. After a few moments of her loud sobs, she heard him chuckling and she pulled back to look at his face. It was no longer her husband but a black shape of sheer evil.

Laurëanna sat up with a scream. The camp was already awake, having been awakened by the watchmen who had cried out when a solid form of blackness rolled towards them. Terror began to overtake the men and Laurëanna grasped for Legolas' arm, watching wide-eyed as both he and Gimli seemed to surround her. They too watched in amazement.

Suddenly Gandalf jumped up and spoke loudly to them. "Stay where you are! Draw no weapons! Wait! And it will pass you by!"

Even as the words came out of his mouth, a mist began to gather around them all. Legolas pulled her back towards the center of the group. The men drew towards each other and spent the rest of the night awake, and afraid of the whispers in the dark.



A/N Directly quoted the following two comments by Gandalf from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, J. R. R. Tolkien, Chapter 8
"The evil of Sauron cannot be wholly cured, nor made as if it had not been. But to such days we are doomed. Let us now go on with the journey we have begun!"
"Stay where you are! Draw no weapons! Wait! And it will pass you by!"

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.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Alassante

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 02/16/10

Original Post: 03/13/07

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