2. The Space She Asked For
A couple months later…
Legolas paused. It would be rude for him to ignore the lady, but he really wished to be left to his own wanderings. "Lady Ninglorwen." He nodded to her when she curtsied.
"It is a lovely day, is it not? Too lovely to spend alone." She smiled prettily at him, lowering her eyes, then glancing back up through her lashes. Why did ladies do that? He found it quite distracting; it always made him tongue-tied. "Perhaps we could walk together."
Having no good excuse for not walking with her, as he had been headed in the same direction as she through the garden, he inclined his head. Of all the maidens he had to run across, why did it always have to be this one? He had long avoided her, but in the past months, it was as if she purposely put herself in his path! Yet, she always seemed surprised to see him, so he supposed it could be coincidence.
His mother's training nudged him to offer her his arm. She beamed up at him as she took it, letting him lead her along the path. But her fingers were too bold, lightly caressing small circles where they rested on his sleeve, making him uncomfortable. This one liked to touch too much. She chatted away about mundane matters that held no interest for him, but he found himself unable to politely excuse himself. So he forced a smile and nodded politely, not really listening to her nattering.
They had been walking for about ten minutes when he felt eyes on him. Glancing up, his gaze collided with Cellinn, standing under a tree not far up the path. She looked as startled as he felt, and he lowered his eyes, uncertain of what to say or do. Of all people to run into in such a situation! He tried to pull slightly away from the maid at his side, uncomfortable with how it must appear; but Ninglorwen's fingers tightened on his arm, holding him close to her side.
"Oh look!" she exclaimed, ignoring Cellinn and pulling him from the main path and down a trail darkened by an arbor covered in ivy. He started to glance back towards where they had left Cellinn on the main path, but Ninglorwen picked up her skirts in her other hand and hurried forward, tugging him along. "Listen! I hear water!"
He let himself be led along the trail. After all, Cellinn had not spoken to him in several months. She had kept her promise, avoiding him at all turns. Several times, he had thought of approaching her, but then he would remember her anger and his pain. The latter more than anything kept him from her. He had no wish to reach out only to be rejected by her again.
A small gasp returned his thoughts to the present. He found himself standing beside a small fountain in an isolated nook. Ninglorwen's fingers had slid down his arm until her fingers gripped his. She looked up at him with a small, charming smile. "Isn't this a romantic place?" she asked breathlessly. Fluttering her lashes at him, her thumb lightly traced down his palm, sending a shiver down his back.
Legolas gulped. He did not like the way she looked up at him so expectantly. He did not like her touch or the odd sensations it caused in him. And he especially did not like that they were now quite alone in a secluded part of the garden. Such would be considered highly improper. "We should return to the main path." His voice sounded strange, strained and slightly hoarse.
But Ninglorwen moved closer, facing him, one hand settling on his shoulder, the other gripping his fingers and bringing them to rest at her waist. Now he felt beyond uncomfortable. He felt her bosom brush against his chest, and his breath seemed to still even as his heart raced. "Don't you want to kiss me?" she whispered. She pressed closer, lifting her face to his, eyes fluttering...
Legolas stood transfixed, his eyes on her pretty red mouth. She was quite lovely, and his body hummed at the suggestion, but, inwardly, he felt appalled at his reaction. He did not want this! Not with this lady. But he could not bring himself to move. What was wrong with him?
He watched, frozen in place, as her lips moved closer. Her breath brushed against his mouth…
Above them, a bird called out, startling him to action. He stepped back, tearing away from her grasp, causing her to stumble forward. He stood a few steps away, glaring down at her hurt expression, breathing hard. "You presume too much, lady."
Furious at both his traitorous body and her, he spun on his heel, leaving her there without a backwards glance.
Cellinn sighed and moved away from the chattering young ladies in the garden. When she had ended her friendship with Legolas over the summer and began socializing with the ladies her age, she had thought she realized what she could expect. She had known that her life would be much less exciting, but she had not been prepared for the insanity of the other maidens. Their reaction to her joining their group had been…well, insane!
All five females in the group had either just reached their majority or would do so in the next year or two, and their only focus was on finding a suitable mate. The fact that a certain prince was the only male within fifty years of their age (Cellinn was sure it had more to do with his title than his age) resulted in him being the most frequent topic of conversation, and pursuit, especially by Ninglorwen. That lady brought out the worst in Cellinn, requiring her to frequently bite her tongue to prevent her saying something scathing and unladylike in reply.
Because Cellinn had been Legolas's best friend, she was pounced upon for information. Was he courting anyone? Interested in anyone? Could she pass along this or that information to him? Could she bring them one of his hairs? One of his shirts? One of them, blushing, had even asked her to get some of his small clothes!
The worst had been when Ninglorwen had given her a fake smile and asked in a sweet tone if Legolas had ever kissed her. Cellinn had been horrified; the other lady had seemed pleased at her response, giving her a smug smile, flipping a long blonde lock over her shoulder and watching her with those calculating green eyes. Cellinn had never hated anyone in her life, but Ninglorwen came close to driving her to such an emotion.
Cellinn found all the questions and requests to be quite irritating, and oft times distressing. Of course, the group of young ladies was very disappointed to learn that not only had she ended her friendship with Legolas, but she had no desire to speak of him at all. Any reminder of the loss of their friendship was too painful, something of which Ninglorwen took advantage by bringing up the prince frequently and giving elaborate accounts of her encounters with him. Cellinn suspected much of what the other lady shared was greatly exaggerated, but having seen Legolas's eyes on Ninglorwen often enough since their adolescent years, she could not help but wonder if he now pursued the haughty lady. For all Cellinn found her annoying, Ninglorwen was lovely to look upon with her shining blonde hair, flashing green eyes, and her easy charm. But the lady had a coolness to her that at times greatly disturbed Cellinn. Ninglorwen only cared for Legolas's looks and title! Not that Cellinn cared, or so she tried to convince herself.
So, now she sat on the edge of their latest chatter, wishing for anything other than the squealing and giggling over how handsome 'the prince' was, or whom he had danced with at the last feast, or walked with in the gardens. She found their prattle more revolting than the slimy critters Legolas forced upon her in their childhood. At this point, Cellinn would gladly restore the friendship between them, except that he had made himself scarce.
Legolas had not spoken to her since that day, and that hurt her profoundly. She had thought at the outset that he would at least approach her once more about their friendship, but he did not. The few times she had seen him, as soon as he realized she was near, he had averted his eyes and disappeared, twice in the company of Ninglorwen. Cellinn was unsure how to handle the emotions that caused within her. She did not understand them. What she did understand was that she missed her best friend terribly.
Another squeal from the group of maidens caused her to roll her eyes and stand. She could take no more of their nonsense! She had tried for weeks to fit in and befriend them, but it was not going to happen. Without a backwards glance, she left the group and headed for the gate and the creek.
As she strolled beside the babbling brook, she realized she had not been to their tree since that terrible day almost two moons ago. She increased her pace almost wishing to find Legolas perched within the now leafless branches.
She stopped underneath the large oak and leaned her head against the trunk. There was no sign of him, but just being near their tree again helped to soothe her sore heart. She reached her arms around the trunk and opened her mind to the tree. She was unprepared for the onslaught of emotion which came from the ancient oak. The tree grieved the loss of the friends and their friendship, and that meant Legolas had been here.
Cellinn moved around the tree, trailing her fingers over the bark to a certain side of the great trunk, and froze when she encountered something new. Where their initials had been so carefully carved by a young Legolas, there was nothing but deep scratches, marring the letters so that she could not see them at all.
Pain shot through her. Dropping to her knees, she wept, great sobs wracking her frame. She had not cried over the loss of their friendship after that first day, but now, seeing it so blatantly defined in the bark of the tree, her heart broke and she wept for a long time.
The sun had begun to sink when she stood and bid the tree farewell. She could not come back here; the loss was too great. Wiping her face with her handkerchief, she squared her shoulders, determined she would move on beyond the loss...somehow. Deep in her heart, she knew it would take a long time to heal, for the memories of a laughing golden-haired boy sitting in the tree would haunt her for a long, long time.
Legolas ducked and spun around, bringing his practice blade up to block Arandur, whose wooden knife bore down on him. The blades thumped together, but he could not hold the block under Arandur's assault. His older brother's experience and use of his greater weight forced Legolas to release his knife, leaving him with only one.
Arandur stepped back, allowing Legolas to retake his defensive stance. Clicking his tongue in disapproval, his brother taunted him. "Come now, little brother. Saelvathor will not accept you into training if you cannot do better than that!"
Legolas moved in, slicing towards Arandur's gut. But instead of making contact with a blocking blade, his knife met empty air. His brother had twisted around out of the way, coming up behind him while he stumbled at the loss of expected contact. A wooden blade came to his throat, and Legolas yielded with a deep sigh.
Arandur released him and eyed him with a look of concern. "Legolas, you have not fought so sloppily in a long time. Is something wrong?"
His brother had been away for three moons with the Home Guard. He had only arrived back at the halls two days ago, and Legolas had not seen him until last night. Wanting to improve his skills with blades, he had asked Arandur to spar with him today. Arandur had agreed, though Legolas knew his brother would rather be with his wife after being gone for so long a time. Arandur and Minuialwen had only been married for a few years and were still considered newly wedded. As such, tended to spend much time alone.
Legolas appreciated his brother taking this time with him. He and Arandur had never been very close, but when he needed him, his brother was always there, usually to get him out of trouble. He felt unsure whether to confide in Arandur as a friend about his troubles with Cellinn. Would Arandur tease him? Or help him understand the new emotions he was trying so hard to deal with.
Legolas decided to take a chance and answered honestly. "Actually, yes, but I'm not sure how to explain it."
Arandur eyed him for a moment, then sighed. "Does it have something to do with the fact that I have not seen you with Cellinn since I've been home? Did you two have a fight?"
Legolas lowered his eyes. "Not exactly." He paused, and then spit out the words. "I-I borrowed Gwaloth and a fox startled her and she slipped and hurt her leg. When Cellinn found out, she said she did not wish to be my friend anymore." He took a deep breath and looked up at his brother sadly. "She has not spoken to me since, though I have not approached her either. It's been months now."
Arandur studied him for a moment, then asked, "That is all? Or is there something else bothering you?" His eyes narrowed. "You aren't seeing Ninglorwen, are you? There are rumors…"
Legolas blanched. "No, I'm not seeing Ninglorwen." His voice sounded as cold as he felt. "Those rumors are not true!"
"Glad to hear it." Arandur looked relieved. "That one…" He shook his head.
Legolas agreed. The lady was full of herself and her position in the court due to her father's closeness to the king. He was well aware the lady pursued him, but he had no interest in that lady.
"So what bothers you, brother?"
Swallowing, Legolas dropped his eyes again. "I…It hurts, Arandur. I miss Cellinn terribly, and…"
"And you finally realized you care for her as more than just a friend?" His brother smirked when his head jerked up in shock.
"How…Wh…" Legolas gasped in disbelief and started to turn away in embarrassment, his cheeks heating. He hated these new emotions and their affect on him!
Arandur stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "Legolas, you are no longer a child. It was inevitable that you would have feelings for a lady, and the fact that it is Cellinn? Well, I'm not surprised is all. Indeed, I've seen it coming for several years now. We might not be the closest of friends, but I do know you, little brother, and you have loved her since you were children."
Legolas turned back to his brother, pain filling him. "But she hates me! I do not know what to do. I can hardly stand her not being a part of my life, but I do not wish to show her any more disrespect than I already have." He ran a hand over his hair and puffed out a great puff of air. It was hard to ask for help, but he had no other options. "What do I do, Arandur? I do not wish to lose her!"
Arandur smiled and began to walk back to the armory, dragging Legolas with him. "You have taken the first step already, Legolas. You have given her the space she asked for. You now realize how you feel. You need to spend the next few months respecting her request, and getting to know yourself better." He paused, holding Legolas's gaze with a stern look. "You need to grow up, little brother, before you can court the lady. And she is not yet past her majority, so you have time to do so."
Arandur opened the door of the armory and glanced inside, then pulled Legolas into the weapons storage room. It was empty. They replaced their practice weapons, as Arandur continued giving advice.
"Get to be confident in who you are without her, then see if you still feel the same. If you do, and she has not yet made an effort to restore your friendship, then approach her and attempt to do so." Arandur patted him reassuringly on the shoulder. "You will need to woo her, Legolas, and thatis something I can help you with!"
Legolas chuckled at that. Arandur's courtship of Minuialwen had taken many years, the first few of which his brother had spent convincing the lady to simply tolerate him. Now they were in love and rarely could be separated when Arandur was home.
"Thank you." Legolas hesitated, then held out his arm to his brother. Arandur took it, returning the warrior's clasp. "It will be hard to give Cellinn her space, but it will be worth it if in the end she could love me as well."
Arandur gave him a strange look, but kept any further comments to himself.
Arandur smiled as Legolas walked away. Shaking his head, he went to find his wife. He could not wait to tell her that his baby brother was in love with the girl who had loved him since the day she had first set eyes on him. Cellinn just did not know it yet.
As he walked, he considered how to help, not just Legolas, but Cellinn as well. It would help if the girl had a close friend to confide in, someone who could advise, someone who loved to meddle with matchmaking.
He grinned to himself and increased his pace. Oh yes, he could hardly wait to tell Minuialwen this news! And he would need to speak to his father.
To Be Continued…
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.