13. Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
The thwap of Legolas's bow sounded through the clearing. The elf watched as the arrow hit the target before turning towards me. He had a blank look on his face. He always had a blank look on his face.
"Why do you ask?"
Oh, and besides always having a blank look, he liked to avoid questions he didn't want to answer, kind of like my wife, when I think about it. No wonder she liked him so much. But thinking about her and her taste for elves sends me over the edge into a fit of rage, so instead I decided to concentrate my effort on getting this dumb elf to answer my questions.
"My wife mentioned it the other night. You know, when she was in the woods with Elrohir."
"Elladan." Legolas corrected.
"Whoever." Honestly, did it matter? "She said something about the Light of Eardil or Erendil or…"
"Eärendil?" Legolas asked.
"Yeah." If he knew the word, he knew what it was, and he was not getting out of answering my question. "So what is that?"
Legolas furrowed his brows. "What was the context in which she mentioned Eärendil?"
I couldn't decide if he was avoiding the question or not, so I tried to think of what she had said exactly, despite how much it hurt to remember what I had seen.
"She said something about sitting in the light of Eärendil, that it gave her comfort."
"Eärendil is our brightest star." Legolas looked thoughtful. It wasn't much different than his blank look. I'm sure my face looked similar since I had no idea what any of this meant.
"Elladan seemed to think that looking at it would bother her. He said something about the 'grief of the world' and that it was caused by this star."
Legolas raised an eyebrow. "It has caused the world grief."
He waited a minute longer before launching into a lengthy description of the history of this star – which, it turns out, was not actually a star – that had a lot of words I didn't know. Apparently, elves killed each other over it, someone lost a hand, someone else got chained to a mountain naked and caught on fire and they all swore a lot. I don't know. I also didn't particularly care, but I didn't want to offend the only almost-friend I had here so I let him finish.
Once he was done, I tried to pull out the pieces that were relevant to my own questions.
"So, this simril…"
"Silmaril," Legolas corrected.
"Right. It's a star now?" Legolas nodded. "I still don't get how it would either comfort or upset my wife. I don't understand why she would care about it at all."
Legolas turned and shot another arrow at the target. I knew he wasn't ignoring me so I let him go. He was probably the most normal of these elves. The other ones were fine just standing around looking at each other for hours, but Legolas was much more active, especially when he was thinking. That's probably why I didn't mind him quite so much. That and the fact that I hadn't found my wife with him alone, in a…
Oh, never mind.
After one more shot, he turned back to me. "I think we must discuss it with Lord Elrond. Between this and my unexpected meeting the other morning, I fear something fell is stirring. I shall bring it up at the council."
"No!" Legolas frowned at me. I hadn't meant to shout. "You can't." Even though the thought of her made my insides hurt right now, I remembered something my wife said about not changing things. I had seen the movie. There was no discussion of jewels turned into a star at the Council of Elrond. All they talked about was the ring. Her urgency when she told me that everything must stay the same was so strong; I didn't want to take a chance. But what would I say to Legolas?
"I think it is the best course."
"No…" I stalled. "I think it would be better…" Oh no. What to say? "…if instead you…" Um. "…spoke to him in private." Oh thank goodness I thought of something.
Legolas seemed to consider that. "Perhaps you are right." He shot one more arrow. "Come; let us seek out Elrond now."
We didn't get far before we heard someone walking through the woods to the side of us. Legolas held up his hand towards me and I stopped. Out from between the trees walked my wife. I looked at the ground. I didn't want to talk to her right now.
"Arandil," Legolas said, not sounding as if he was surprised to see her. That caught my attention and I looked back up. "I'm glad you decided to join us."
I bet he told her where we were going to be. These elves, I swear, they butt their noses in where they're not wanted. But I didn't have long to stew about that; my wife narrowed her eyes at both of us. Well, she narrowed her eyes at Legolas. Me, she practically looked right through.
"Greetings, friend." She continued to eye him warily. "I do not know by what name you call me, but I assure you, I come in peace."
She looked like my wife; she sounded like my wife; but she did not act at all like my wife. And I don't just mean because she was all, "don't know what name you call me by;" her mannerisms were all wrong: the way she walked, the way she moved, I don't know, it was just… off.
Legolas inclined his head towards her. "And I meant no insult by naming you. Might I inquire, what shall we call you?"
I rolled my eyes. I couldn't help it. It was just, come on with all this.
"Yes," my voice sounded harsh with that one word so I tried to ease up a bit. It didn't quite work. "What should we call you now? Has 'Arandil' gotten old and you want to change your name again? I know how you get tired of things that have been around a while."
She looked at me as if she didn't even know who I was. "You may call me Nerdanel, the same name I have borne my whole life."
I couldn't talk to her anymore. I turned, walked a few feet away and stood with my back to the two of them. I would have walked all the way to my room, but I wasn't sure I could do so without getting lost so I remained there.
I heard Legolas continue his conversation with 'Nerdanel', or whatever she would change her name to five minutes from now.
"Greetings, Nerdanel, I am Legolas of the Woodland Realm."
"Greetings, Legolas." A pause. "Forgive me, I must ask. Are you acquainted with Galadriel?"
"I am not, although my father had dealings with her and others of the Golden Wood, but that was many years ago." Silence; then, "Might I ask how you know the Lady?"
"She is my niece."
I turned around. Legolas was staring intently at her eyes.
"Nerdanel!" he finally exclaimed. "Upon first seeing you, I took you for someone else, but it is clear to me now I was mistaken."
I stormed over to them. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Legolas put a hand on my shoulder. "We must seek out Lord Elrond. This is not your wife."
"What?!" I looked at her, this person who looked exactly like my wife. "What are you talking about?"
She examined me in the same manner and then narrowed her eyes again, murmuring to herself. "You do resemble my husband… slightly, though only outwardly. By your eyes I can clearly perceive you are not he."
"Well," I answered, "you look, exactly like my wife." Then I added as an afterthought, "And by your eyes I perceive nothing."
A corner of her mouth turned up and she exhaled, as if I had amused her.
"What?" I asked.
She shook her head. "I apologize." Her smile grew wider. "Your response…" she shook her head again and glanced at the ground before meeting my gaze. I was surprised by the warmth I saw in her eyes. "Perhaps it is not just outwardly that you resemble my husband."
I smiled back at her, though I didn't exactly know why. Then a thought struck me.
"Were you in the woods last night with Elrohir?"
"Elladan," Legolas corrected again. Wow, I had forgotten he was even there.
'Nerdanel' looked at the ground. "He is but a child. He knows not what he does."
"So it was you." I didn't know what to feel: relief, obviously, but also guilt. I had so easily believed that it was my wife in that clearing. What did that say about my trust? Obviously, it was Nerdanel's husband that had to worry. I felt a little sorry for the guy.
"Come," Legolas urged again, "let us all speak with Lord Elrond. It is unprecedented that you should be here." He directed that last bit towards Nerdanel.
"These are dark times," she said. I didn't think her response made any sense but Legolas didn't question it so I silently followed as they walked back towards the buildings.
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.