Paradox of the Fourth Age
8. Chapter 7~ Facing the Enemy
A/N Thanks once again to my FABULOUS beta, Ellisk. You're consistantly supportive and I value your input so much. You are a gem of a friend. And of course, thanks to Tolkien for creating elves and letting me play in his world. I am making no money doing so and unfortunatly own none of them.
Suilaid. Elladan eneth nîn. Telin o Imladris– Greetings. My name is Elladan. I come from Rivendell.
Mae govannen. Laurëanna eneth nîn. – Well met. My name is Laurëanna.
Laurëanna – Golden Gift
10th day of October
Fourth Age, Year 30
Imladris, Middle Earth
Elladan yelled a warning to his brother as the orc's blade swung towards his neck. Elrohir turned and having no time to deflect the blow, he ducked. Bringing up his sword as he rose, he managed to catch the orc in the chest. Pain shot through his leg as the orc's blade sliced into him as the creature's arm fell, followed shortly by the rest of his body.
Looking around, Elrohir saw that the rest of the orcs were dead and Elladan and the elves with them were all alive. Sitting down on the ground, he cut his leggings to see the damage the orc blade had done.
"You could have been killed," Elladan said angrily.
Elrohir glanced up at him and saw the rage in his eyes. Elladan dropped to his knees and cutting part of Elrohir's cloak, began to apply pressure on his brother's gushing wound
"But I was not. Although you seem to be trying to see that I suffer as much as possible," Elrohir said through clenched teeth, pain filling his eyes.
"I told you it was too risky to attack them. But you did not listen. You put all of us in danger and almost got killed and for what? Over twenty-five orcs nowhere near our borders. We were outnumbered and could have bypassed them completely," Elladan snapped.
"That is more orcs that will not attack the next group of elves bound for the Grey Havens," Elrohir replied.
Elladan did not respond because he knew it was no use. Elrohir had been getting more and more dangerous every year. He had tried to get through to him, but since destruction of Lothlorien his rage had not dwindled. On the contrary, every day it seemed to grow worse. Elrond and Galadriel watched and worried, yet did not interfere, feeling that if anyone could get through to him it would be his twin.
"Elrohir, you need to get back to Imladris soon. You are losing too much blood," Elladan said concerned.
"I am fine. We can do one more pass near…"
"No! We are all going back to Imladris before you get yourself or anyone else killed!" Elladan shouted.
Elrohir glared at his brother and tried to stand. Unable to rise alone, he held onto Elladan's arm and stood up. Glancing at the faces of the other four elves with them, he saw the strain of the previous weeks on them. None would look him in the eyes and he knew they felt as Elladan did. He was being reckless.
"Fine, let us leave now," Elrohir said quietly.
Elladan sighed in relief. Helping his brother to his horse, he insisted they ride together worried Elrohir would lose consciousness. The other elves had taken the weapons and armor from the orc bodies to be melted down for use by the elves. They all began the half-day's ride to Imladris leaving the orcs for the crows.
Elrohir was barely conscious when they reached his chambers. As Elladan and Malino carried him to his bed, a servant was sent for Lord Elrond. Elladan cut his brother's leggings off and continued to try to stop the bleeding.
"Elrohir…" Lord Elrond said rushing in.
A wave of nausea rolled through Elrond as he saw the pallor on his son's face. Taking the cloth from Elladan, he examined the wound. It was not a large cut, but it was deep. The blood was still seeping from it but had slowed down somewhat.
'I will not lose another child in these lands,' Elrond thought angrily.
Together he and Elladan worked to cleanse the wound and stitch it closed. After a few moans, Elrohir lost the battle against the blackness surrounding him. The exhaustion of many nights without sleep in addition to his blood loss was too much for him to muster any more strength. Elrond laid his hand across his forehead gently as he watched his shallow breathing.
"He should be fine," Elrond declared in a tone that betrayed his relief.
Turning to Elladan, he embraced him tightly. He then noticed Lady Galadriel standing in the doorway. He nodded to her and she released a deep calming breath. Walking to her grandson's bedside, she kissed his brow and whispered, "Esteë hinya."
Asking a servant to watch Elrohir and send for them when he awoke, Elrond led Galadriel to his library. Elladan promised to join them once he had bathed and changed into clean clothes. Removing his mail and boots, he walked into the bathing chambers he shared with Elladan. He smiled gratefully at the servant who had filled the tub with steaming water. After she left, Elladan removed the rest of his clothes and sank down into the relaxing hot water. It had been weeks since he had a hot bath. In the wilds he bathed in cold streams or creeks when there was time and opportunity.
As he let the water sooth his tired muscles, Elladan tried to ease his troubled mind. The realization that Elrohir could have died today kept running through his thoughts. Many times the brothers had been in battle, yet this time disturbed him more than any other. His twin had been so careless today. Normally Elladan watched him fight with grace and ease, every movement deliberate and fluid, much like a well rehearsed dance. Thousands of years fighting orcs had made them both finely honed warriors.
Today Elrohir fought like a man possessed, completely unaware of his surroundings, only thinking of killing the orc before him. He had killed more than his share, but in his single-minded urge to kill, he had almost been struck down himself. Elladan had watched in horror as he had been caught completely unaware by that final orc. He felt his stomach tighten with nerves when he realized if he had not shouted, it would have been too late.
Dreading facing his father, Elladan waited until the water had cooled completely before getting out of the tub with a sigh. He dried off and then dressed slowly. Finally unable to prolong it further, he walked to his father's library.
"Elladan, I had food and wine brought here for you, so please eat," Galadriel said embracing him. She held him a moment before drawing back to look at him, running her fingers down his cheek. "You are so weary. It is good you have returned home."
"Yes. It is good to be home," he nodded and kissed her cheek.
While he ate, Elrond and Galadriel sat quietly drinking wine, both allowing him time to enjoy his meal in peace before discussing their mission and the events of the day. When he finished eating, Elrond handed him a glass of Miruvuor to aid in his relaxation. Elladan thanked him and drank it slowly before relaxing back into the deep cushioned chair. Elrond took the tray from him and placed it on a table near the door before sitting down in front of his son.
"Were you ambushed again?" he asked directly. He watched as Elladan hesitated. "No need to lie for your brother now, Elladan. I cannot help if you are not honest with us."
Elladan was quiet for a moment before saying, "No. We were not ambushed. We came upon orc tracks this morning and followed them northwest."
"And how many were in their party?" Galadriel asked.
"About twenty five."
Elrond was quiet for a moment before saying, "Twenty five orcs headed away from Rivendell and you tracked them down despite the fact you were outnumbered. Then you attacked them. What were you thinking? The number of orcs grows rapidly as the number of elves diminish and you continue to act foolishly with no thought to those with you."
His jaw tightening, Elladan said nothing to betray his brother nor would he. He had been arguing against this attack the whole time, but he knew Elrohir was reckless enough to do it without him or possibly completely alone if Elladan abandoned him.
"Elrond, please do not blame Elladan solely for this. You know, as do I that Elrohir has continued to act rashly in these missions. His boldness in battle has become the talk of Rivendell. Elladan is not his keeper; he is his reluctant accomplice in order to possibly protect him. If we continue to ignore the fact that Elrohir is doing his best to get himself killed, we cannot stop him before its too late," Galadriel said impassioned. "I, for one, have lost too much in this war. I do not intend to lose my grandsons because we are not willing to confront Elrohir on this matter."
The room was quiet for a long time, each wrapped in their own thoughts. Finally, Elrond said, "Forgive me, Elladan. Galadriel is correct. We must talk to Elrohir about this soon. I know you have done your best to try and prevent his actions. You have been a loyal protector of your brother for so many years that we have come to take it for granted."
"It was not always this way. We always fought side by side and protected each other for as far back as I can ever remember. When Lothlórien fell…something just changed in him. I can no longer reach him. I think about what happened today and…" Elladan trailed off as his emotions overwhelmed him into silence.
Reaching over, Galadriel took his hand and squeezed it. "Elladan, this is not your fault. Elrohir needs help from all of us now and we will bring him through this. Your father says his wounds should heal quickly, so at least he is physically well now. We merely have to sooth his fëa somewhat. You are not alone in this."
"Elladan, you need rest as well. You are exhausted. We can discuss this further tomorrow," Elrond said rising from his chair. When Elladan stood, the two embraced. "I am relieved you are home safely, my son. Tomorrow we will find a solution for this, but tonight, you need to put your concerns aside and rest. You will need your strength to deal with your stubborn brother when he wakes."
Elladan chuckled and nodded, relieved to not have to carry this burden alone any longer. After a kiss from Galadriel, he went to his chambers and slept peacefully for the first time in weeks.
Elrohir awoke with a start, confused by where he was. Glancing around, he realized he was back in his bed in Rivendell. Attempting to rise, pain shot from his thigh and he moaned.
"Do not try to sit up yet Elrohir," Galadriel said softly. "Here, try to drink some of this." She helped him drink some Miruvuor. Refilling the cup with water, she watched him drink it quickly.
Smiling gently at him, she asked, "How do you feel?"
"I am well considering, I suppose," Elrohir murmured still groggy with sleep. "I feel weak though."
"You have lost a lot of blood. It will take a few days for you to regain your strength," she replied.
"Is Elladan alright?" he asked quickly.
"Yes. He is still asleep I imagine. All of you were quite exhausted from what I have seen."
"It was a long mission. I will be fine in a couple of days," Elrohir said.
"Perhaps," Galadriel responded. "Yet you will remain in Imladris for a few months to fully recuperate, I am certain."
"What? I will be needed for patrols and…" Elrohir argued.
Galadriel interrupted him before he could finish. "It is best for you to heal and recuperate to full strength before you end up getting yourself killed as you almost did this time."
"It was not that bad. I do not know what Elladan said…"
"Your brother has been protecting your secret too long Elrohir and he did not betray you this time either," she reprimanded him in a stern voice.
"No, he would never betray you even if you risked his life as well," Elrond said from the door.
Elrohir felt the anger building in him and tried to refrain from a response. He felt them watching him and finally could not stay silent. "I will not be treated as some misbehaving child because I was doing my duty. My injury could have happened to any of those with me. Do not treat me like I am to be punished for being wounded."
Elrond glanced over at Galadriel, who watched him sadly. Soothingly she said, "Elrohir, you are not being punished nor are we treating you like a child. You are being reckless and we are concerned. We know you do not mean for others to be harmed when you take these risks and that you would risk your life to save anyone with you. Yet they are loyal to you and will not abandon your leadership even if you are being careless or dangerous. You are hurting Elrohir. As it always has, your hurt turns to rage and you vent it by throwing yourself into killing orcs. Just as you did when your mother left for Valinor."
Elrohir said nothing, but pain filled his heart. Elrond came to sit beside him on the bed. After checking his wound, he turned to face him. Elrohir could see the tears glistening in his eyes.
"Elrohir, we have lost so much in this war. I cannot lose another child. I know how much rage you feel over all that has happened--we all do--but you cannot let it destroy you. Soon we will be in Valinor and you can begin your life anew, free of death and killing. Your mother is there waiting for you and I cannot face her if I lose you. She has already lost her father and her daughter, she cannot lose you or Elladan as well," Elrond said in an emotion filled voice.
Still Elrohir said nothing as he looked away from his father. Elrond could see the pain in his features and wished he could take it from him, but he knew Elrohir needed to first acknowledge it before he could heal.
"She haunts my dreams…" Elrohir said softly. "Every night I remember her face: so beautiful yet she was so cold. There was so much blood and I can still remember Estel's cries. He had come so far only to lose what he loved most. I never wish to love like that. I could not bear to love someone so much and lose her like that."
Elrond and Galadriel said nothing, but she reached over and stroked his hair. Elladan had walked into the room quietly and listened to his words. He too could remember the sight of Arwen's body as if her death had happened yesterday. He knew the memory would never leave him, but the pain had grown bearable for him, having mourned her loss while he healed from his injuries. Obviously Elrohir had not dealt with his feelings.
"Then to lose Legolas and the others…and almost lose Elladan so soon after. Then grandfather and Lothlorien, it was just too much. Why was I spared and not them?" Elrohir asked his father.
"Elrohir, only Illúvatar knows the answer to that, but you should not feel guilt for living…" Elrond started.
"Of the three of us, it should have been me. Arwen was so beautiful with a gentle heart and caring fëa. All that knew her loved her and she sacrificed so much to be with Estel. It was all for naught! And Elladan is loyal and…he is the better person by far. I am nothing compared to them. It should have been me that died. My fëa is weak and dark compared to them…" Elrohir said angrily.
"Elrohir," Galadriel interrupted him. "None of you 'deserve' to die. You cannot think about it that way. And no one wishes it were you instead of Arwen."
"I do!" Elrohir yelled. "Every day I wish it had been me that died instead of her!"
Galadriel shook her head, saying, "Listen to me. Illúvatar has not shown you what your purpose is, but he has a plan for you, a greater purpose that has not be revealed to you yet. You must have faith in him to guide you."
"I do not want to talk about this anymore. I am tired and wish to rest," Elrohir said in a monotone voice.
Galadriel sighed and kissed him. Looking into his silver gaze, she said, "I love you Elrohir. I do not want to lose you as well."
"Nor do I," Lord Elrond said squeezing his hand.
After a few moments they left the room. Elrohir glanced over and saw Elladan watching him.
"What do you want Elladan?"
Elladan glared at him. "You are a fool to have kept this from me for so long. Always I have been there for you and you decide now to try to face these feelings alone. What were you thinking? We have always been there for each other. How do you think I would feel if I lost you?"
"Elladan, do not lecture me…" Elrohir warned.
"You are right. It is a waste of time to lecture you. You are too stubborn to listen to anyone. If Glorfindel were here, perhaps he could beat some sense into you. Stop being so selfish. Naneth and Adar have lost too much to face losing you so stop trying to get yourself killed." Angry tears filled Elladan's eyes and Elrohir looked away to hide his own tears. "You are a fool but I…I need you. I cannot continue to live in this darkness without you by my side."
Elladan sat beside Elrohir on the bed, and after a moment, he looked up at him. "Forgive me Elladan. I never meant to put you in danger. The pain was too great and I did not see what I was doing." Sitting up slightly, he embraced his brother.
"I will forgive you if you swear to me that you will stop doing this and allow us to help you heal your heart," Elladan said in a stern voice.
Unable to speak, Elrohir nodded. Elladan sat and talked with him until he fell asleep.
5th Day of March
Third Age, Year 3019
Laurëanna stretched her arms above her head in an attempt to relieve some of the soreness in her muscles. Sitting awake most of the night, terrified, had made her body feel as if she had lain on a bed of rocks for days. Crouching back down, she scooped up a handful of the cool water that once again flowed through the Isen and brought it to her face. Her second day in Middle Earth was off to a very rough start.
"Are you all right?" Legolas asked her. He had been watching her since she had walked down to the river and was concerned by the toll last night had taken on her. The strain of the sleepless night added to the shadow of sadness on her delicate features.
Legolas had never doubted the wisdom of the Valar, so he knew that things would happen as they were meant to happen. Yet, he wondered sadly if Laurëanna, much like her father, would sacrifice her life for others. And the ones who mattered most to her would not know her to mourn her loss. Knowing that he would be the only one who truly knew who she was made him feel an overwhelming responsibility for her. He would sacrifice himself if the need arose, but as Boromir's death had shown, sacrificing himself would not guarantee her safety. In addition to that, no one would be left to assist her if anything happened to him. Their lives were intricately tied to each other, just as Sauron's fate was tied to the ring. Like the ring was to Sauron, Legolas was her protection, yet while he could survive without her just as the ring could exist without Sauron, part of him would be lost in her death and his failure to prevent it. She on the other hand could not accomplish her mission alone and the fate of Middle Earth had been placed on her shoulders.
Legolas watched her sympathically. He could not imagine coming into this world from the peace of Aman. All his life he had watched those around him battle the evil in Mirkwood. To be thrust into this after a lifetime of peace was much like what the hobbits had endured when they first left the Shire. And it had taken an immense toll on each of them.
Laurëanna sighed and replied, "As well as can be expected, I assume. I do not think I am strong enough for this journey. Or brave enough."
She felt an overwhelming sense of disappointment in herself for being so weak. Feeling selfish, she thought how much she wished she could be lying on the beach with Elrohir rather than be in this horrid place. Any other day she would be waking up in Elrohir's arms, perhaps making love, or making breakfast with Elladan underfoot every time she turned around. Smiling slightly, she thought back to the time that Elladan had caught one of his braids on fire trying to tickle her while she was cooking. Elrohir had teased him for months that the smell of burnt hair signaled that breakfast was ready. Her fascination with the newness of her surroundings was dimming quickly in her loneliness for her husband and family. Soon she would be with Elrohir and Elladan again, she reminded herself as tears stung her eyes.
Gently, Legolas reached out and squeezed her hand, still cold from the water. When her blue eyes looked into his, he saw even more pain and sorrow then yesterday.
"Laurëanna, you are doing well under the circumstances. Last night was difficult for the men with us and they have faced many battles. Do not be so hard on yourself. Once you are reunited with Elrohir, you will feel some of your strength return, but until then, know you are safe in my care. I will not allow anything to happen to you. The Valar have laid this task upon you and I will protect you," Legolas reassured her.
Laurëanna nodded, too emotionally drained to even speak of her gratitude. Eru would guide them through this and, as Galadriel had told her, she must put her faith in him.
The king and his company once again set out for Isengard. The morning was gray and foggy, causing the riders to feel dismal and quiet as well. In the reek and mists, they passed through lands that were filled with the burned and hewn stumps of ancient trees. Laurëanna was mortified with the destruction of the land. After many miles, they reached a highway that was paved with stone and had water filled gutters.
When they came to a tall pillar of black that had a stone carved and painted to look like a long white hand pointing north, everyone felt a sense of dread fill them knowing that they drew close to Isengard. The red that now stained the white hand reminded all of blood--an eerie warning to them perhaps, they wondered. But Gandalf rode on unflinchingly and they followed. All about now were large pools of water and the mists cleared as they reached Isengard's doors at midday.
Everyone looked about in amazement at the ruin before them. The doors were broken and twisted; the stones were cracked and thrown about. There was an arch still standing before them, but the roof was destroyed. The walls surrounding Isengard had gaping holes torn into them and their towers were nothing but dust. Through the tunnel, a ring surrounding the tower of Orthanc was filled with water with steam rolling off it into the air.
Everyone was surprised by the fact Saruman had been overthrown except Gandalf and Laurëanna. But she was awed by the damage of Isengard nonetheless. Her attention, as well as the others, was quickly drawn to two small figures seated on a pile of rubble smoking while surrounded by the remains of a feast.
"Welcome, my lords, to Isengard!" Merry called out to the king's company as Pippin waved gleefully.
Laurëanna watched, amused, as the two hobbits introduced themselves and bantered back and forth with Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and Gandalf. The riders and the king were equally amused with the banter. Her father had told her of these two hobbits, Merry and Pippin, as well as Sam and Frodo, who he had helped on their journey to Imladris. The story of Glorfindel's encounter with the Ringwraiths to save Frodo at the Fords was well known throughout the Imladris elves of that age. Elrond had once teased her that she had never made Glorfindel angry enough to light up and glow, as he did that day according to the legends. But he suspected Elrohir had come close to seeing it when her father discovered their romance.
As Éomer and his men followed Gandalf into Isengard to talk to an Ent named Treebeard, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas chose to stay with the hobbits. She did as well despite her curiosity about meeting Treebeard.
After the others left them, the hobbits turned to her and smiled. Legolas said, "Merry, Pippin, this is Laurëanna. She is from Mirkwood also. She was sent with a message from my father."
"You came to Rohan alone?" Pippin asked.
"No," Laurëanna thought quickly. "I traveled with three ellyn from Mirkwood." When Aragorn glanced over at her, she continued calmly, "They left me shortly before Helm's Deep once they assured themselves the battle was over. We worried that three heavily armed elven warriors would perhaps cause alarm so soon after the battle, so they stayed out of sight."
"She appeared without a horse or her escort, seemingly out of nowhere, with claims of a vision…" Gimli muttered under his breath.
"What Master Gimli?" Laurëanna asked. "Do you doubt my word? I have no reason to lie. Do you truly believe I would continue on in your company if I had a choice?"
Legolas and Aragorn chuckled. Merry said, "Here we go again with the elf and the dwarf arguing."
"We are not arguing. I am merely pointing out the fact that Lady Laurëanna can appear magically," Gimli explained. "Perhaps she can show us how she disappears magically as well." The dwarf turned to look at her with a smirk.
Laurëanna smiled sweetly. "Master Gimli, if I were capable of any sorcery, trust me you would be a turned into a toad by now. Or perhaps something useful."
Aragorn shook his head and interrupted the arguing with more questions for the hobbits. Then the hobbits promptly set about getting them food and drink from a damaged guardhouse. Laurëanna sat quietly, listening to them as she ate. She worried too much about saying something without thinking, so she listened, fascinated by the tales of all that had happened to the two hobbits since the Uruk-hai kidnapped them.
Of course, she knew the general events, but she had never heard the details. Learning of them now, directly from the two hobbits, the story took on a new meaning—one that was all too real.
Throughout her life, Laurëanna had learned of the history of Middle-earth, just as she had learned geography and math. Her parents had exposed her to every aspect of her history, including her father's death. At a young age, she had even come to her father to ask him about his part in the kinslayings and he had reluctantly explained that he had come upon the grisly scene in Alqualondë after it had occurred. Wishing to shield her from the truly terrible details of this event, he focused his story on the fact that he had followed his friend Turgon, son of Fingolfin and Prince of the Noldor, to Middle-earth. Turgon had also been a distant relative to Elrohir's both on his mother and father's side.
But the stories that Glorfindel had told her and her tutors' history lessons had always seemed more like legends or even fairy tales. No one had wanted her to be touched by the evil that had been part of Middle Earth or the first ages in Aman. Now she was hearing the stories uncensored and seeing first hand the fear the hobbits had felt. She could not help the tears that fell on her face hearing the tales.
They told of their sorrow over losing Boromir, who they saw as a noble man who, though tempted by the ring, sacrificed his life for them. In their eyes, he was a hero who died valiantly. They told of the horror of their captivity at the hands of the orcs. And they told of their time with the Ents and the Battle of Isengard. This story made her smile, glad that the Ents had their retribution against the fallen Maia. She also smiled at their joy in response to discovering that the others were well. The fellowship was no longer whole, but the ones that remained together here were loyal to each other.
When Aragorn decided they should seek out Gandalf and the king's company, Laurëanna remembered Gandalf's warning about being seen by Saruman.
"I think it best if I stay here in the guardhouse. I am tired and would enjoy some quiet time to rest before our return trip," Laurëanna said with a tired smile.
Legolas turned to speak to her away from the others. "I am not certain it is completely safe for you to stay here by yourself. I will stay with you," he said.
"No. I think you need to go with the others. I will be fine. The danger is gone and I am armed if I encounter someone," she reassured him.
"It is too dangerous. We do not know that the orcs have all been driven from this land," Legolas argued.
"Legolas trust me. It is safe. The hobbits have been walking about unharmed all of this time in plain sight. I will be in the guardhouse. I promise I will be careful. I think I will be safer here than if I go with you into Isengard," Laurëanna said then smiled. "Besides I can scream quite loudly, if need be. Do not worry, I will scream first then defend myself until my rescuers arrive."
Legolas felt that he needed to heed her advice on this despite his misgivings. She perhaps knew some reason why he needed to be with the others and she was not meant to be there. Reluctantly, he nodded and watched her walk up the stairs to where they had eaten earlier. Then he joined the others.
Laurëanna heard noises downstairs and grew wary. Looking out a window opposite the tower of Isengard, she saw the Ents were destroying the white hand that they rode by earlier. She smiled slightly. Saruman was defeated and perhaps this time, it would be forever. Suddenly, she remembered something that dampened her mood. Saruman was able to escape Isengard in her past. What if she had not prevented him from taking over the Shire? She honestly did not know what would happen now. Shaking her head she realized there was nothing she could do about it. If he did in fact escape, perhaps the elves could aid the Hobbits. Or even the men of the West. Without Sauron, Saruman would not be as powerful.
Going back downstairs to breathe some fresh air, she sat on a rock watching the Ents. They were beautiful to her. Each was very unique. She could imagine them in Valinor; in fact, she wished they were in Valinor. The splendor of the forests there was more suited for these graceful caretakers of the trees. She heard some of them making sounds, which she assumed was their own language. It was melodic and soothing, relaxing her frayed nerves to hear them. She sat with her eyes closed, listening to their song.
Sooner than she expected, the king's company and her companions returned. She stroked her horse's muzzle, watching the Ents come to speak to Gandalf. Their fluid strides were slow yet sure. She smiled at the affectionate way Treebeard talked to Legolas about Mirkwood and the elves.
As she mounted her horse, Legolas nodded to her and said to Treebeard, "This is Laurëanna. She also is of Mirkwood. Perhaps one day she will visit your forest as well."
"It is an honor to meet you." Laurëanna bowed her head to the Ent. "I would love to spend time in your forest as well."
"And you will be welcome, fair elf," Treebeard said. Laurëanna smiled at him and nodded.
After saying their goodbyes, they started out to go back to Rohan. Laurëanna asked Legolas, "What happened with Saruman?"
"Gandalf tried to encourage him to help us, but he would not. His staff is now broken and his power diminishes," Legolas replied.
"Let us hope it is enough," she muttered under her breath.
Legolas heard her and asked quietly, "For what?"
"Nothing. He is merely very dangerous," she answered evasively.
Studying her for a moment, Legolas realized that the danger Saruman represented might not be defeated and he felt a sense of dread in his stomach. "A most unusual thing happened as well. Grima Wormtongue threw something from the windows of Orthanc."
"Really? What was it?" Laurëanna tried to appear curious, yet she had her suspicions of the answer.
"A Palantír," Legolas said, studying her reaction and seeing no surprise.
"Aye, that is unusual. I wonder how he came by a Palantír. Let us hope he has not been using it. They are also very dangerous," she muttered half to herself.
Gimli watched their exchange and could not help but feel apprehensive. He no longer felt she was a threat or a spy of any kind, yet he could plainly see she was hiding something from all of them. He hoped her secrets would not bring more danger upon them all.
When they stopped for the night, Laurëanna was exhausted but could not sleep. She closed her eyes until she knew that Legolas had fallen asleep rather than worrying about her. Then she nervously watched Pippin and Gandalf. Finally, she decided that the past had been changed enough that the hobbit would not look into the Palentír. Unable to fight anymore, her eyes drooped shut.
Laurëanna opened her eyes to see Elrohir lying beside her, looking at her strangely. Confused, she sat up and glanced around her bedroom.
"Wait. How did I come back here? Am I dreaming?" she asked softly.
"Come back? You never left. You have been here all night unless you know something I do not," he chuckled and kissed her. "You have been having nightmares. What is troubling your sleep so much?"
Was it possible that it had all been a dream? Jumping out of the bed, she grabbed a robe as she ran through the house and outside. It was dark and foggy, the air thick and rank. Elrohir wrapped his arms around her waist and whispered in her ear, "What is it, Melethen? You act as if you have seen a ghost."
"What is happening Elrohir? I went back to Middle Earth. I was in Isengard. How did I come back here? It is dark and terrible here, worse than it was before I left," Laurëanna exclaimed, terrified.
He laughed. "Do you not recognize your own husband? I am not Elrohir. My brother is dead. And you never left, Laurëanna, nor have you ever been to Middle Earth. Sauron has come and finally defeated the Valar. We no longer have to fight as long as we follow his rule," he said calmly.
"What? Have you lost your senses completely, Elladan? We have never been married and Elrohir is not dead. Where is my father? You need to take me to him. You are obviously suffering some type of madness," Laurëanna stepped away from him slowly.
His eyes turned cold, chilling her blood completely. "Lord Glorfindel and my brother were not spared as they chose not to follow the Dark Lord's rule. Do not mention their names again in my presence. It is a betrayal to our lord to mention the Defiant Ones."
Laurëanna backed away from him quickly, then turned to run from him, but he caught her and grabbed her roughly. Jerking her around to face him, she was looking now at Aragorn, not Elladan. He was squeezing her arms, bruising her flesh. As she tried to pry his fingers from her arms she noticed it. He was wearing the One Ring.
"This is not possible. It is only a nightmare; I just need to wake up." Calming slightly, Laurëanna tried to make herself wake up.
"You are a fool to think to can change anything. Do you honestly think you can make a difference? You are insignificant to all. No one will even mourn your passing. You will fail because you are weak and powerless. The only difference you will make is to bring death to those you love that much swifter," Aragorn said through clenched teeth. "Now go from my sight."
He hurled her to the ground. Looking up tearfully, she saw Elrohir lying beside her covered in blood.
"No! This is a nightmare! You are not dead!" Laurëanna cried kissing his face. His eyes flickered open and she saw he was breathing faintly.
When his gaze fell on her, he whispered weakly, "Melethen…do not stay in the Golden Hall. Stay with me."
"I am here. Elrohir, I will not leave you," Laurëanna cried and kissed him. Drawing back, she realized he was gone. "Elrohir! No! It was not supposed to happen like this. You cannot leave me here alone."
"He is gone; you are too late," a familiar voice said.
Raising her head, she cried, "Ada, please do something. Help me."
"I have no daughter. Who are you?" Glorfindel said watching her suspiciously.
Laurëanna lay down across her husband's chest and wept. The pain from her heart breaking was tearing her apart. She held onto Elrohir tightly, stroking his face and whispering words of love.
Laurëanna felt someone shake her lightly. Her eyes flew open and Legolas was watching her.
"You are crying. Are you alright?" Legolas asked concerned.
Wiping her eyes, she nodded. "It was just a nightmare. I…I am fine now."
"You seem unwell, are you sure…" Legolas began before a piercing cry tore through the night.
"Pippin," Laurëanna jumped up and ran towards the hobbit, closely behind Aragorn and the others.
The hobbit lay on his back, eyes wide and staring at the sky. Gandalf knelt beside him and tried to rouse him. Pippin screamed out something about Saruman that Laurëanna could not fully understand. Gandalf finally settled him as the hobbit begged for his forgiveness. She listened closely to what Pippin said about what he had seen in the Palantír. This part of the past had not changed. She wondered if this was good or bad.
As Gandalf laid Pippin back in his bed, Legolas turned to her and said, "You do not appear shocked by any of this."
"No. It has happened before and I think it was meant to happen again. But we must…" she began.
"What was meant to happen again?" Gimli asked coming from behind her.
"The Palantír has tempted many people to look into it before. Obviously, if Pippin gazed into its depths and did not betray us, then he was meant to be the one who picked it up," Laurëanna said nervously.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Gandalf giving the Palantír to Aragorn. She shivered thinking of the Aragorn in her nightmare. A shadow fell over them and they all glanced to the sky in terror, as the moon seemed to have been swallowed whole. The sight of a huge winged creature above them caused many to cry out fearfully.
"Nazgûl!" Gandalf cried. "The messenger of Mordor. The storm is coming. The Nazgûl have crossed the River! Ride, ride! Wait not for dawn. Let not the swift wait for the slow! Ride!"
Laurëanna's stomach was a bundle of nerves. Now she would learn if things were corrected in history. As she rode beside Legolas and Gimli, she searched the night for some sign of The Grey Company.
Gandalf and Pippin had left for Minas Tirith after seeing the Nazgûl. Taking her aside, Gandalf had said, "Perhaps we shall meet again Laurëanna, if it is meant to be. I must leave your care in others hands, but I sense Legolas to be part of this as well. When in doubt Laurëanna, search your fëa for the answers you seek. You will be guided through this if you listen carefully. The Valar will not abandon you in your quest. Stay close to Legolas."
The King's company left shortly after Gandalf's departure and she knew that soon Elrohir and the Dunedain should find them. Soon after they crossed the Fords of the Isen, the king called the company to a halt. She watched as the men armed themselves. The sound of many horses riding fast upon them was like music to her ears and she turned around to watch their approach.
"Laurëanna, you and Merry stay out of sight," Legolas called to her as he urged Arod in front of her. She lowered her face and smiled to herself.
Moving her horse close to Aragorn and Merry, she jumped down beside the hobbit. She reached over and squeezed his shoulder reassuringly. When their pursuers were closer, Éomer called for them to halt, demanding to know who rode in Rohan.
Laurëanna heard Halbarad calling out to them, then Aragorn moved to embrace him. She searched the shadows for her husband and Elladan. Growing nervous, she held her breath until she heard Halbarad's words that Elrohir and Elladan were among the thirty with him.
When finally she saw them in the moonlight, tears filled her eyes and it was all she could do not to run to him. The moonlight reflected off their silver mail and they appeared as she had never seen them before. Their dark hair had warrior braids, much like those that Legolas wore, and even from a distance she saw how serious their faces were. Even Elladan had no trace of a smile, which surprised her.
As the company began to ride towards Helm's Deep again, Legolas smiled at her. The two of them held back to ride with Aragorn, Halbarad, and the twins. After Halbarad updated Aragorn of the events going on in the North and the South, Elrohir rode up beside Aragorn.
"I bring word to you from my father: The days are short. If thou art in haste, remember the Paths of the Dead." Elrohir said solemnly.
"Always my days have seemed to be too short to achieve my desire," answered Aragorn. "But great indeed will be my haste ere I take that road."
"That will soon be seen," said Elrohir. "But let us speak no more of these things upon the open road!"
When Aragorn asked about the tall staff that Halbarad carried, the ranger answered, "It is a gift that I bring you from the Lady of Rivendell. She wrought it in secret, and long was the making. But she also sends word to you: The days now are short. Either our hope cometh, or all hopes end. Therefore I send thee what I have made for thee. Fare well, Elfstone!"
"Now I know what you bear. Bear it still for me a while!" Aragorn said then fell silent.
Elladan watched her for a moment before smiling at her and saying, "Suilaid. Elladan eneth nîn. Telin o Imladris"
"Mae govannen. Laurëanna eneth nîn," she replied.
"I find it most awkward when elves act as if all of the world speaks their language or speak as if we are not even here," Gimli grumbled.
Laurëanna laughed, "Forgive me, Master Gimli. Sometimes I forget that you have not evolved to the level of the First Born."
"Evolved?" Gimli snorted. "Evolved to what: braggarts and sorceresses? I think not."
Elladan chuckled at the dwarf. "Forgive me as well, Master Gimli. I merely told her my name and where I am from."
"And which one are you again?" Gimli asked.
"That is Elladan," Laurëanna answered.
"I am the one more fair," Elladan winked at her. "This is my brother Elrohir."
Laurëanna's breath caught in her lungs as he first looked at her, hoping he would recognize something. He barely glanced over before saying, "Suilaid."
"Mae govannen," Laurëanna smiled gently. His eyes searched hers for a moment before he nodded. She realized painfully that, while he was curious, he did not sense anything about her.
Legolas saw the pain cross her eyes and quickly said, "Laurëanna is from Mirkwood as well. She was sent with a message from my father and joined us a couple of days ago."
"It is too bad we did not encounter your party on your way here. We could have perhaps saved you the dangerous trip to Rohan," Elladan said.
Elrohir watched the elleth closely. Something made him feel uneasy about her, yet he felt a strange sense that he knew her. The wind had blown some of her hair loose from the braid and he had a strong urge to brush it out of her face. The thing that most unsettled him was the feeling that he had done so many times before.
"It seems unwise for King Thranduil to have sent an elleth so far from home in these times of war. He is not known for risking the lives of the elves of his realm so lightly," Elrohir said to her, ignoring the others present.
"The king needed me to come see Lord Aragorn on an urgent matter. I do not question his decisions nor should you," Laurëanna replied, surprising herself with her biting tone.
She could not help but feel a sense of anger towards him. He loved her so much at one time, yet now he showed nothing but suspicion towards her. She felt her hurt turn to anger. Valar, she could not believe his nerve.
Elladan almost laughed at Elrohir. Most ellith would fall all over Elrohir and this one acted as if she would prefer to run him through with her sword. Amused, he turned to Elrohir and saw he was surprised by her tone as well.
"I was not questioning his decisions. I am questioning whether or not it is wise to have you with us. It would be most unfortunate for something dreadful to happen to you," Elrohir retorted arrogantly.
"That almost sounded as if it were a threat," she narrowed her eyes slightly. "Are you always so gracious with strangers or do you just become arrogant and rude to all females?"
Legolas burst out laughing, but tried to muffle it with his clenched fist while Gimli and Elladan chuckled openly. Aragorn and Halbarad glanced back at them and they all managed to quiet down.
"Elrohir, pretend you have some manners, you big orc. Forgive my brother, my lady, father has never been able to teach him charm or manners. He often acts like a troll among others," Elladan said quietly to her.
Laurëanna smiled slightly before saying, "Forgive me for sinking to his level then."
As the others smiled at her comment, Elrohir smirked at her. Beautiful and witty, this elleth intrigued him. He could not explain what drew him to her, but he felt a surge in his fëa that he had never felt before.
The following were direct quotes from the books as I felt to rephrase them would lessen the impact or dilute the meaning of the words:
~~"Nazgûl!" Gandalf cried. "The messenger of Mordor. The storm is coming. The Nazgûl have crossed the River! Ride, ride! Wait not for dawn. Let not the swift wait for the slow! Ride!"~~ The Two Towers, Chapter 11, The Palentír
~~"I bring word to you from my father: The days are short. If thou art in haste, remember the Paths of the Dead." Elrohir said solemnly.
"Always my days have seemed to be too short to achieve my desire," answered Aragorn. "But great indeed will be my haste ere I take that road."
"That will soon be seen," said Elrohir. "But let us speak no more of these things upon the open road!"
When Aragorn asked about tall staff that Halbarad carried, the ranger answered, "It is a gift that I bring you from the Lady of Rivendell. She wrought it in secret, and long was the making. But she also sends word to you: The days now are short. Either our hope cometh, or all hopes end. Therefore I send thee what I have made for thee. Fare well, Elfstone!"
"Now I know what you bear. Bear it still for me a while!" ~~ Return of the King, Chapter 2, The Passing of Grey Company
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.