9. I Never
I spoke to Elrond for only a few moments. He was anxious to speak to his sons before they set out for wherever it was they were going. He asked after my comfort and if I needed anything. I dropped my eyes and mutely shook my head. I was still not able to have stimulating conversation with him. His looks still blew me away.
After leaving him, I found myself back on to the terrace. Both Elladan and Elrohir were standing there, deep in conversation with each other. As one, they turned when I approached, Elrohir smiling widely and Elladan barely looking my way, affording only a glance in my direction before turning his head to look out over the vista, almost quickly enough to be rude.
They came towards me, since to get in to speak with their father they had to pass me. Right before they reached me, they stopped. Elrohir dug his elbow into his brother's ribs. Elladan glared at him. Elrohir let out an exasperated sigh.
"Arandil, there will be a celebration this evening." Elrohir ended up saying. "Elladan and I are departing before dawn tomorrow, and some of our companions wish to see us off." He gave his brother a fierce look. "We both would like for you to attend."
I looked from him to Elladan and back. One of them wanted me to attend; I will let you guess which.
"I'd be delighted," I answered formally. Elrohir grinned and Elladan shifted his weight, looking annoyed.
"Brilliant. Elladan shall come for you before it begins." Elrohir silenced his brother's protest with an outstretched hand. "Now we must leave you. Until tonight, milady."
He inclined his head towards me as he walked by. Elladan met my eyes as he passed but his expression remained cold. Maybe I had imagined the smile before. Maybe I only saw what I wanted to see.
To call what occurred that night a "celebration" does not even come close to doing it justice. There was singing. There was dancing. There was much consumption of wine, ale and some other kind of alcoholic beverage I think may have been Miruvor, but since I had never tasted Miruvor before, I had no idea.
I danced with Justin, briefly, since he does not much like dancing. Yeah, we fight like cats and dogs, but we forgive each other quickly as well. I suppose that is for the best, considering…well… me.
I danced with Legolas several times; he made me feel like a klutz next to him. Years and years of dance training just cannot compare to elven grace. I danced with Elrohir a few times, which was not as bad. I even danced with some brown haired Mirkwood elf named Tirithel. He looked a little like Legolas except with a slightly broader frame and darker features.
As the night wore on, the guests began to thin. Justin left for bed, claiming he was too tired to carry on any longer. I asked if he wished for me to come with him, but he smiled and kissed my forehead and told me he knew I was much more of a partier than he was and that I could stay. I didn't argue.
Eventually there were nine of us left. (Amazing, huh? What is it about that number?) We sat in a circle around a small fire we had built, passing around a wine skin. On my left were two hobbits; I think Merry was next to me and then Pippin, but I kept mixing them up. A little bit, it was the fact that they looked remarkably similar for cousins. A little bit, it was the drink. On my right were the sons of Elrond. I was sure, although surprised, which one had sat next to me. It was probably part of his "keep an eye on me" plan.
On the other side of the hobbits sat Strider. (I had to keep reminding myself to call him "Strider.") I got my first glimpse of him earlier that night. I had spotted him easily, both because he spent most of the evening with Arwen and because Elrond kept giving him glaringly dirty looks. Arwen had left the party when her father did, but Aragorn … Strider … had stayed.
Finishing out the circle was Tirithel, Legolas and a Rivendell elf named Estella, although she seemed to look more like Tirithel and Legolas than she did the other Rivendell elves. Tirithel and Legolas seemed to know her well, and she ended up sitting between the two of them.
I don't know if it was the wine, or if it was the night air, but something possessed me. Otherwise, I would have never spoken as I did.
"Do you guys want to play a game?"
All eyes were on me.
"I love games!" One of the hobbits answered excitedly. "What type of game?"
I smiled and I knew it to be that slow deliberate smile of someone who is very close to the vicinity of drunk. "It's called 'I never'." Nobody spoke. I looked around the circle and saw questioning, hesitant glances.
"I never?" Legolas finally asked. "How does one play?"
"Well, first of all, I must tell you that it is a drinking game. Which means the main point of it is for everyone to get rip-roaringly drunk."
"Too late for you, then, Pippin." Merry snickered as Pippin elbowed him, earning them both a scornful look from Strider.
"Besides that," I continued, trying to ignore the hobbits shoving each back and forth, "it is a way to get to know your companions better. Ok, what we do is go around the circle, each saying a fact about ourselves that begins with 'I never.' If someone else has done what we just said we never did, they drink."
Everyone was still looking at me, intrigued, but very confused.
"Ok, let me give you an example. I would say, 'I never used a sword.' Then anyone who has ever used a sword would drink. And then it would be Merry's turn, and so on." For some reason I looked to my right to see if Elladan was agreeable. If I could sway him, the rest would be a piece of cake.
He had his brows drawn and he was watching me intently. "Very well," he finally said, his face relaxing, "shall we attempt this 'I never' game?" The final words he addressed to the group. Everyone muttered agreement. It wasn't the most enthusiastic response I could have hoped for, but it at least they would give it a try. We passed around glasses and filled them all with wine. This was going to be interesting; I had only ever played with watered down beer in the past.
They all insisted I start.
"I never…" While I was thinking I caught Legolas's eye. "I've never been to Mirkwood."
Legolas smiled and nodded his approval of my choice of statements.
"So now?" Aragorn asked me.
"So now, everyone who has been to Mirkwood drinks."
Aragorn shrugged and took a large sip of his wine. Legolas, Tirithel and Estella all grinned at each other as they tipped their glasses back. Elladan and Elrohir clinked their glasses together and then drank, earning themselves an astonished look from Legolas.
"Before you were begotten." Elrohir waved off Legolas's unspoken question. Legolas accepted the answer with a shrug and a tilt of his head.
Ignoring the exchange between the two elves, Merry jumped up excitedly. "My turn?" He looked at me and I nodded encouragingly at him. "I never swiped vegetables from Farmer Maggot." Pippin drank and Merry, sitting back down, took a big swig from his glass.
"No, Merry, you are supposed to say something you really haven't done." I explained.
He smiled unabashedly at me. "I wanted to make sure I got a chance to drink."
Well, I could not argue with that. Laughing, and noticing I was not the only one, I nodded at Pippin to go.
"I never stole vegetables from Farmer Maggot either." Both hobbits drank again. I sighed. Hopefully Aragorn … Strider …would understand the rules as I explained them better.
The lanky ranger pondered his wine glass for a few moments before speaking.
"I never…" he looked across at Elladan and Elrohir. "I never wished to be one of the Firstborn."
Elrohir nodded at Aragorn, his lips pursed in understanding. This seemed to be part of an earlier conversation. At the same time, Elladan frowned at me.
I shrugged and nodded sheepishly. Merry turned to me.
"Wait! So that means you do wish to be one of the Firstborn."
"Yes. No. Sort of." I shook my head. "It means that I have, at some point, wished it. You drink if you have ever done the thing the person said." I looked around the circle, uncomfortable with everyone's eyes on me for probably the first time in my life. "I mean, I'm happy with who I am, just, you know, sometimes when I was little…"
"I wished to be a horse when I was little." Everyone giggled. I looked at Estella to see if she was mocking me, but she was smiling encouragingly, her eyes betraying her drunkenness. "One of the Mearas…" She sighed wistfully.
Legolas blinked a few times at Estella and shook his head before addressing the rest of us. "Do I speak now?" Several nods. "Very well. I never…" His eyes narrowed suspiciously and he turned to Tirithel. "I never kissed my best friend's sister."
Tirithel's eyes widened in alarm and he held his hands out to me imploringly. "What if we do not wish to drink?"
"I knew it!" cried Legolas. "How could you?" He faced Estella. "How could you?"
Aragorn dropped his head into his hands. I squeezed my eyes shut and shook my head.
"This is a wonderful game." I heard someone hiss sarcastically in my ear.
I opened my eyes and glared at Elladan. "Well, how was I supposed to know what kind of secrets you elves hide in your closets?"
This was not how it was supposed to go. Legolas, Tirithel and Estella were all arguing with each other. Elladan was snipping at me about anything and everything he could. And the hobbits next to me, apparently not interested in the hornet's nest I had stirred up, were continuing their own personal 'I never' game, in which they just kept saying things they had done in order for them both to drink.
It all stopped when Strider raised his glass to his lips and took a sip.
Silence. Very long tense silence.
"You don't mean…our sister?" Elrohir's voice was naught but a whisper.
I felt my insides clench. Oh, what had I done? To my great surprise, and utmost relief, both Elladan's and Elrohir's faces broke out in smiles.
"We knew you fancied her, but we had no idea she…" Elladan began excitedly.
"…felt the same about you. I mean look at you." Elrohir finished for him. "You're so scruffy!"
Tirithel reached around Estella to shove Legolas. "They are happy. Why are you not?"
Legolas folded his arms and tried to look sullen, but his face eventually broke into a smile. "I suppose my sister could find a worse elf." Tirithel laughed and hugged Estella and Legolas in one giant embrace.
"Though not much worse." Legolas teased, his voice muffled from Tirithel's grasp.
"Still think my game is bad?" I smirked at Elladan who, to my immense surprise, not only smiled at me, but also put his arm around me and squeezed me against himself before releasing me. I attributed it to his happiness about his sister, not to mention the amount of wine we had all consumed.
After that, the game went somewhat without incident. We continued around the rest of the circle, and everyone had pretty much gotten the hang of the rules.
Estella never poured ink on her father's best robes. Legolas drank, and then swatted Tirithel when he fell over laughing.
Tirithel never read his sister's journal. Legolas did not drink, but could not help a guilty look, earning him a smack from Estella. Elrohir and Elladan both drank heartily, not being in any danger since their sister was not present to witness it.
Elrohir never split his pants falling off a horse when he was learning to ride. Elladan glared at him and took a drink. Tirithel, after being chided by Legolas, also drank.
Elladan's glare turned into a smirk. He never hid from King Thranduil in a closet. Elrohir laughed and took a drink, as did Legolas and Tirithel. The two Mirkwood elves looked at each other and cracked up.
By the time it came back to my turn, we were all laughing and drinking, including the two hobbits who were immersed in their own game of "I never," completely ignoring the rest of us, but their laughter mingling with ours.
I cannot quite say why I said what I did. It kind of just came out. I felt very warm, and the world was kind of fuzzy. I looked around the circle at the people, and elves, with whom I sat. I was flooded with such a feeling of contentment, of happiness, of giddiness, I cannot even explain. Anyone who has overindulged in alcohol knows exactly what I mean.
With a foolish smile, I tilted my head to the right and my eyes met Elladan's. I forgot what I had been about to say when I saw the stars reflected there.
"I never kissed an elf."
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.