An Aussie in King Aragorn's Court ~ Part 30 - The Hands of a Healer

An Aussie in King Aragorn's Court ~ Part 30

The Hands of a Healer

"She won! She won!" cried the Hobbits dancing about under the great tree with the swinging rope, where all the fuss about Coralie's swimming costume had first begun. Grinning she raised her fist in a triumphant salute and waded out of the water.

"Neninwe, Water Fairy" some of the Elves murmured admiringly. None could really believe the outcome of the race, for i titheniel, had not merely beaten both Aragorn and Legolas, but that by a great distance. She was climbing up on the riverbank to the many congratulations of Elves, especially Talagan who now smirked in Legolas and Aragorn's direction as they finished the race in turn. They too, were greeted by cheers as they looked up, almost not believing their eyes, for there stood Coralie on the bank surrounded by the remaining members of the Company, and delighted Elves all abuzz with her accomplishment. Coralie looked down at Aragorn and Legolas in the water.

"Now, I beat you both fair and square! Nothing was rigged in my favour this time, Gentlemen." she cried triumphantly.

Legolas looked over at Aragorn. "I can't understand how she could have done this Aragorn. If I didn't know better, I would say that either she possesses some magic we know nothing of, or that she must be stronger than us both, and neither answer can possibly be true." Treading water, they both faced each other with raised eyebrows for a moment before gazing up to where a now triumphant Coralie stood on the riverbank.

Coralie laughed and draped a wet arm over Támurile's shoulders as she came to stand beside her with the other Elven children who had gathered round as well. "I can assure you that my win had nothing to do with either magic or strength, other than that my own heart possesses, Legolas. It has everything to do with technique. They don't call that stroke the Australian Crawl for nothing you know. We invented it! Now granted, that's about six thousand years in the future from now, but no matter."

Coralie felt sorry for them as she looked at their downcast expression. "Don't feel too bad, that a mere woman beat you both. Why, once I was soundly beaten by a girl no bigger than our Támurile here! She lapped me and another woman twice in the pool. Mind you, she is probably an Olympic champion by now, so I can live with that. I couldn't believe it either. It all comes down to technique in your stroke. Anyway, I was going a bit sick there at the end wasn't I?"

"Lady, are you ill?" called out Legolas as all of a sudden, his wounded pride was replaced with concern for her well being.

"No Silly. I was going sick, you know flat out like a lizard drinking!" Legolas looked to Aragorn to see if he could possibly interpret Coralie's words. They both looked at her dumbfounded.

Coralie laughed as she replied. "Here is the interpretation from Australian to common speech for you; I was going as fast as I could!" She turned away momentarily from Aragorn and Legolas who were still shaking their heads, to look down at the Elven child who stood beside her.

"Anyway, Tammy, what was my actual time Love?"

Támurile grinned up at her and held her watch aloft. "19:15!" she cried with delight.

Coralie's eyes opened wide. "Say that again!"

The Elven child repeated the time.

Coralie started marching up and down the bank. "Oh My God! Oh My God!" she kept repeating over and over again. Haldir stepped down to join her from where he had waited under the tree with Boromir and Gimli.

"Congratulations on your win i titheniel, but why are you calling on God?" he gave her a wondering smile.

"Haldir!" cried Coralie as she ran to embrace him. The Hobbits gathered around excitedly.

"Hold girl!" he cried holding her at arms length after he unwound her arms from around his neck. "You will get me all wet," he said, noting the cloud that fell upon Legolas and Aragorn's face as she wrapped herself about him.

"Haldir! Haldir!" she danced. "I'm only three minutes off the world record over that distance! I can't believe it! Támurile! Show me that watch. There must be something wrong!" Coralie examined the watch and let out a loud whoop as she leapt up into the air.

"Amanda Pascoe, the highest ranked woman, (an Australian naturally), swims this distance in 16:18 minutes and I just did it in 19:15! Far out! What do you lot put in the water here?"

"An Australian by the look of it," smirked Haldir, and shook his head still trying to comprehend what he had just witnessed.

Just a Girl

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes
I'm exposed
And it's no big surprise
Don't you think I know
Exactly where I stand
This world is forcing me
To hold your hand
'Cause I'm just a girl, Oh little 'ol me
Well, don't let me out of your sight
Oh I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don't let me have any rights

Oh...I've had it up to here!

The moment that I step outside
So many reasons
For me to run and hide
I can't do the little things I hold so dear
'Cause it's all those little things
That I fear

'Cause I'm just a girl I'd rather not be
'Cause they won't let me drive late at night
Oh I'm just a girl,
Guess I'm some kind of freak
'Cause they all sit and stare
With their eyes

Oh I'm just a girl,
Take a good look at me
Just your typical prototype

Oh...I've had it up to here!

Oh...am I making myself clear?

I'm just a girl
I'm just a girl in the world...
That's all that you'll let me be!
Oh I'm just a girl, living in captivity
Your rule of thumb
Makes me worry some

Oh I'm just a girl, what's my destiny?
What I've succumbed to is making me numb
Oh I'm just a girl, my apologies
What I've become is so burdensome
Oh I'm just a girl, lucky me
Twiddle-dum there's no comparison

Oh...I've had it up to!
Oh...I've had it up to!!
Oh...I've had it up to here!

Pippin had changed the music over on the Clie to 'Just a Girl' with Merry's help, and all the Hobbits began singing along. Unable to resist the pop beat, and her current elation, Coralie fell to dancing with the Hobbits on the riverbank in time to the music with jubilation. The Hobbits all laughed at each other when joining in on the chorus, they realised that they were singing `I'm Just a Girl'. Merry looked at Pippin and laughed hysterically.

"See. You are a girl after all!" then ducked as Pippin swatted him.

Aragorn and Legolas were aghast, whilst Boromir folded his arms and leant against the tree behind him with obvious amusement. His eyes danced as he followed Coralie's movements. Gimli shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose with a sigh. Leaping her way over to Haldir, she grabbed hold of his hand and twirled herself around his arm. She laughed at his stiff frame and pulled on his arms in an effort to get him to him to dance, as she swayed in front of him. For a moment, he relented and responded in kind, but after catching Legolas and Aragorn's stony glances from the water, he pulled away. Spying Artapel nearby, she then ran over to him and took hold of his hands gaily. Laughing, he twirled her under his arm and then picked her up as he spun around, congratulating her on her win. Talagan and Calentaeg lined up behind him, awaiting their turn at a dance with the princess.

"Aragorn, this is too much!" cried Legolas from his position in the water.

"I agree," Aragorn was grim. "I'm going to put a stop to this now!" He called out to Pippin and after catching his eye, pointed at the Clie, then drew a quick finger across his throat. Suddenly the music stopped and Pippin gulped seeing the stern look upon Aragorn's face.

"Lady that is enough! Put your clothes on now!" he commanded.

"But I beat you. I can wear this now, when I'm swimming!" she replied not quite believing her ears.

"You are not swimming at the moment. Rather, you are making a spectacle of yourself and I won't allow it to continue," Aragorn replied firmly.

" You are not being fair! And I'm not making a spectacle of myself, I'm just having fun! I'm celebrating!"

Aragorn was adamant. "You will get dressed now!" His tone had become more forceful with each repeated command.

"No!" cried Coralie defiantly. "I'm tired of you telling me what I can and cannot do. I'm a free woman. Since when did I become your slave?"

"Actually, he has every right to tell you what to do, Lady. He is your kinsman after all," interrupted Boromir. The Hobbits all looked at each other with worried expressions, wondering what Coralie's reaction to this news would be. Especially since Boromir had told her in a rather indelicate way.

"Boromir!" too late Aragorn shouted.

Coralie turned on him in a flash. "My what?" She spun around to face Aragorn. He trod water in contemplative silence, wondering how to explain the revelation that Boromir had told out of turn.

"What is he talking about?" she demanded pointing at Boromir who now stood with a bemused expression upon his face.

"Boromir, that was not for you to say," reprimanded Legolas.

"Will someone please tell me what is going on?" Coralie's voice began to take on a shrill quality with her increasing frustration. None answered but instead looked expectantly at Aragorn.

"What? Are you all keeping secrets from me now?" She looked around at the sea of faces that surrounded her. None would meet her eye. Even the Hobbits looked down at their hairy feet, rather awkwardly.

"It is a matter that we should discuss in private, Lady. After you have gotten dressed," said Aragorn making his way out of the water.

"No! I want to know what's going on now. I'm not going to do anything until you explain exactly what Boromir just said."

"He has done you a great honour, Lady," continued Boromir.

"Honour?" cried Coralie. "Honour my foot! No one is going to tell me what to do! No matter what excuse they use!"

Boromir spoke up and stepped away from the tree, closer to Coralie. "Aragorn! It is clear to me, that this little vixen is openly defying you, and needs to be taken in hand. As your servant, I would consider it my duty to stand in your place and take any means of discipline you deem necessary." He bowed a little at the waist. Everyone but Aragorn and Legolas fell silent at Boromir's statement.

"You shall do no such thing!" they cried together with some force.

"Means of discipline?" Coralie asked.

"As your kinsman, he has the right to administer disciplinary measures in order to make you obey," replied Boromir with a little nod in Aragorn's direction.

"Boromir, that is enough!" spoke Aragorn swimming towards the riverbank.

Coralie's eyes widened as she looked between the two of them. It was clear from Boromir's expression that not only was he absolutely sincere, but also enjoying the moment immensely behind the mask of duty he now wore. Boromir walked around to stand in front of her with his arms folded.

Fear gripped suddenly at Coralie's heart, as no one spoke up to gainsay what Boromir had just revealed. She looked up at him as he loomed over her. "If you were to lay one hand upon me, I swear that these trees would probably bend down and give you a solid thrashing with their branches. A sudden murmur seemed to whisper through the overhanging leaves and all looked up in surprise.

"I do believe she may have something there," said Legolas looking up at the trees enquiringly for a moment.

Seizing her chance for escape, Coralie suddenly leapt for the tree that had the flying fox attached, and climbed up before any could prevent her. Aragorn flew out of the water and ran for its base as Coralie reached for the wooden handle that dangled from the metal chain attached to the long rope that strung out across the river from side to side. Looking down, she saw Aragorn rapidly ascending the tree beneath her. She gave a small cry and launched herself out, flying across the river on the handle attached to the rope. All looked up in wonder as she flew overhead. Aragorn reached the platform from where she had launched herself, and undid the belt from around his waist.

Dismay flooded through the Hobbits hearts as they watched Aragorn fling his belt over the taut strand and slide down the rope using his belt for slip, as the handle Coralie used was now on the other side. "Oh no! He's taken off his belt!" cried Pippin and Merry together. Gimli placed a hand on each one's shoulder as they watched Aragorn disappear into the woods beyond, following the direction that Coralie had just run.

He ran after Coralie as she weaved in and out of the trees of the far riverbank. Deeper she ran into the forest aware that Aragorn was chasing her. She could hear him gaining on her in spite of her fleetness of foot. Hot tears stung at her eyes, blurring her vision as she stumbled over a log and missed her footing. Turning to face Aragorn who was now advancing upon her with belt in hand, Coralie felt a sense of betrayal and dread overwhelm her. Coralie shrank backwards, tears streaming down her face and found her retreat blocked by the great bole of a tree. Her hands clutched at its smooth surface as she cried out to Aragorn. "How could you do this? What gives you the right? I trusted you," she blurted out in a series of sobs.

Aragorn suddenly realising, that he had not had time to replace his belt as he dashed after Coralie, held up his hand as he dropped it to the ground. "Have no fear Lady. I will not harm you." He took a step towards her and felt a small stab of dismay as he noted the fear she held at bay in her eyes, whilst she began to edge her way around the tree.

"How can I believe you?" she cried, choking back a sob.

Aragorn stood silent for a moment.

"Gandalf!" Aragorn started at her desperate cry. "Gandalf wouldn't have let you do this to me!" Coralie sank, crushed in spirit at the foot of the tree, cradling her knees as she lowered her head and wept.

Aragorn caught his breath at both her mention of Gandalf's name and the resigned accusation through her tears. In spite of her fearless demeanour during the football game, and courageous swim up the river since their reunion that day, he could now plainly see the sorrowful girl's fragile heart that Galadriel had warned him of, and almost he felt his own would break, as he sensed the depth of betrayal within her.

He sank to his knees in front of her and carefully reached out a hand to touch her gently on her arm. Flinching from his touch, Coralie looked up at him through her tears.

"Are you going to beat me now?" she cried. Inwardly, Aragorn recoiled at the suggestion and softened his voice as he withdrew his hand.

"Lady, I have never raised my hand to a woman, and I can assure you that I am not going to begin now. Especially with you."

"Especially with me? What makes me so special?" she gasped between sobs with her head on her knees.

Aragorn took her hand tenderly in his, as he knelt before her and covered it gently with his own. "I have sworn to protect you with my own life. Indeed, you have become special to me Thêldithen."

Coralie looked up at his words and was surprised to see a tear slide down his cheek.

"Lady, I have sworn you to myself as sister. It is as binding as if you had truly been born into my own family. It is not an oath that one takes lightly," his sincere expression pierced Coralie's heart as she saw sorrow mixed with hope in his eyes.

"But w-why?" she stammered.

"At first it was because I felt a certain kinship with you, and also for your own protection, Thêldithen. I would consider it an honour to be the one who would stand up for you and take your part if needs be, as is our custom. It is not seemly for a woman to be alone, without kith or kindred in Middle Earth." Uncovering his hand for a moment, he reached up and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "But after all we have been through together, I know my oath was not misplaced." For a moment his hand lingered over the thin red scar upon her upper arm and sighed.

"Thêldithen, I have come to love you more dearly than I could ever have imagined." He moved his hands to caress her face, slowly drawing his thumbs underneath her lashes to wipe away the tears that continued to spill down her cheeks.

"Why do you call me Thêldithen?" Coralie sniffed as Aragorn smiled tenderly down at her.

"It is Sindarin, for `Little Sister', for that is what you truly are to me."

As the full realisation of what he had told her, penetrated the veil of fear and sorrow she had drawn over herself, Coralie suddenly flung herself into his arms and wept anew. Her words, a tumbling jigsaw fell upon his shoulder as he embraced her.

"Oh Aragorn! You don't know how alone I've felt since I came here. I don't really have anybody to look out for me apart from you and the others like I would at home, I have no family here, and most of the time I've been afraid, except for being here in Lothlórien, but especially after Gandalf...." She stopped unable to go on and began to sob uncontrollably in his arms.

Aragorn wrapped his arms about her and rocked her gently. "I know Thêldithen. I know." He held her with profound tenderness as he kissed the top of her head until her sobs subsided.

"I am sorry I did not tell you sooner. The fault is mine. I was waiting for the right opportunity. You should not have found this out in the manner you did," he said softly as she looked up at him.

"So is that what Boromir meant by your being my kinsman?"

"Yes. He spoke out of turn. I wanted to tell you myself," he said as he wiped her face gently with his fingers again.

"And was he serious about correcting me? About taking disciplinary measures?" she asked.

"It is not unheard of, but I suspect that Boromir was probably trying to remove you from the scene and my 'possible' wrath at your defiance more than anything else.Though it may not have seemed that way to you at first." he replied.

"I've never had a big brother before," she said. "I was always the oldest."

"Well now you have one, Thêldithen. And as your older brother, I have certain duties that I must fulfill towards you," Aragorn replied.

Coralie looked up at him expectantly.

"Have no fear, I will not fulfill the duty of a sound beating for your open defiance of me," he laughed and felt the tension in her body dissipate in response, and then cupped her chin with his hand. "Though some would certainly think it my right to have done so. I am sorry I was harsh with you before. I can see now that I backed you into a corner of sorts, from which there was no retreat. Things are vastly different where you come from, are they not?" asked Aragorn tilting his head slightly.

"Yes. Men are not in the habit of telling women what to do. They wouldn't dare. Well at least where I come from they wouldn't. Not if they knew what was good for them that is," Coralie sniffed and drew her hand underneath her nose as she sat up. Aragorn reached into his pocket and drew out a rather damp kerchief. He smiled as he handed it to her. "I'm afraid it is a little wet, but at least it is clean."

"Not for long," she countered as she blew her nose, making them both laugh.

"I am only trying to protect you Thêldithen. I would not have you taken advantage of. Please understand. I find no pleasure in telling you what to do."

Coralie looked keenly at him. "Do you realise Aragorn, that this is probably the first time you are actually talking to me?"

He looked at her a little surprised by her last statement. "What do you mean?"

"Most of the time, you all talk about me, or over me, even when I am there. This is the first time you have made me feel like I'm a part of a real conversation. Perhaps if we talked about things more often, there would be no reason for you to have to tell me what to do."

Aragorn took hold of her hand and placed his own on top. "You are right Coralie," he nodded. She looked up at his mention of her name. He rarely used it. "I am sorry. I am too used to making decisions for others, for that is what I am called to do. It is my duty."

"Your duty?" Coralie queried.

Aragorn suddenly smiled at her. "Have you not wondered why the Elves here call you princess?"

Coralie nodded. "Oh that. Támurile and I played a game when we first met, and she dubbed me a princess with a golden flower. I guess the name kind of stuck."

"Well, I didn't know about that," he laughed in response. Then looking at her more soberly he held her hands fast in his own. "You understand now, what it means when I am referred to as your kinsman. That I have taken you unto myself as sister, Coralie, and that I am now to be considered as your brother?" She nodded her understanding. Aragorn paused for a moment as he measured her response. "Thêldithen, the reason they call you princess, is because I was born to be a king."

Coralie blinked a little at him, as the meaning of his words slowly sank in. "A king?" she asked, not quite believing her own ears. "A king of which country?"

"Gondor. I am the last of my line, and the one, true heir. Very few know of my true identity. It has been kept secret, in most part for my own protection for when my parents died, I was not yet ready to claim the throne, but more importantly, one day I myself must face the Dark Lord, Sauron in order to defeat him, and the element of surprise is one of the most powerful weapons we have," he said.

"So, is that where you are going when you leave here? To face the Dark Lord, this Sauron?" Coralie asked a little hesitantly. Aragorn rose and reached for his belt re-buckling it before he settled himself beside her and leaned against the smooth trunk of the tree. He took her hand in his own before answering.

"Yes and no. We still hope to enter Mordor without detection. It would lead to disaster if we were discovered before Frodo could destroy the ring. Our mission needs to be kept secret if we are to have any hope of success. Unfortunately, the Enemy is aware of us to some extent, although he does not know what our exact plans are. I do not think, that he could conceive of anyone wishing to actually destroy the greatest power that exists in Middle Earth and not succumb to the awful desire to try and rule with it instead. He knows that a Hobbit called Baggins is in possession of the One Ring, and is seeking everywhere for him. It is imperative that he does not find Frodo. I will do all that I can in my power to protect him, however, I am sure that the opportunity to face Sauron himself will unfortunately present itself. But this must be done, if there should be any hope left for the peoples of Middle Earth. Sauron would seek to enslave us all under his dominion. If he managed to regain the ring, then all would be lost. I will do whatever it takes though, to ensure that doesn't happen," Aragorn replied.

Coralie sat quietly for a moment considering all that Aragorn had just told her.

"I'm going with you, Aragorn. I want to help," she said turning to him.

Aragorn shook his head. "No. I'm afraid that is not possible. You must remain here for your own safety, and......"

"But, I want to help," she interrupted.

"I was also going to say that it is important that you remain behind for our sakes as well."

She looked at him not quite understanding what he meant. Aragorn brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it softly. "Coralie, you have already helped us more than you know. Your intervention in the Chamber of Mazarbul, saved The Quest from certain defeat, and furthermore, you were a ringbearer at great cost to yourself."

"All the more reason to take me along, Aragorn," she countered.

He shook his head determinedly. "No, Lady. I would not willingly place you in jeopardy if it can at all be helped. You are to remain here where I know you are safe. I cannot risk you being captured by Sauron. We are certain that he knows of your presence here in Middle Earth, and you would be a prize he would gladly obtain. You have no memory of the events that took place in Middle Earth, do you?"

"No, I don't. I can't remember anything really, I know I did in the beginning when I first met you all. But now it is gone. Poof!" she replied making a gesture with her hand.

"He would find a way to make you remember, both to your ruin as well as ours. I can't let you be put in a position where he may be able to capture you at all. There is too much at stake. And I know I could not bear it if anything were to happen to you, especially on our account." He gripped her hand in his as if to emphasize his last words. Coralie lay her head on his shoulder with weary resignation as they sat side by side under the tree in thoughtful contemplation. The afternoon wore on as sunlight filtered down with a hushed golden glow through the dappled branches above. Presently Aragorn roused.

"Come, we should be getting back. I am sure that the others are worried, and I would not cause undue alarm. Are you ready?" Coralie nodded as he helped her up. Standing to face her, he brushed her hair gently away from her eyes with one hand before kissing her softly on the cheek.

"I would have you know, that it is I who have been honoured, by having you as my sister and not the other way around, as others may suppose." Placing her arm around his own, they then walked arm in arm back towards the direction of the river beneath the quiescent golden boughs of the forest.

"Is this really considered decent attire for a woman, where you come from Coralie?" said Aragorn as the walked along waving a hand in front of her.

"I know you don't believe me Aragorn, but yes, it is considered decent attire for a woman when she is at the beach or swimming."

Aragorn clicked his tongue. "Well, unfortunately then, it is not so here. And now that you know the position you hold....."

"It is not seemly for a princess, such as myself to be exposing so much skin in mixed company," Coralie finished the sentence for him.

Aragorn gave a small chuckle. "Well, I may not have put it exactly that way, but you are correct about not wearing it in public."

"How about a compromise?" she asked. He raised his eyebrows at her waiting for her to continue. "If I wish to swim, during the middle of the day, I can wear my shorts and tank top, but when I am by myself, for example late at night, or early in the morning, when no one else is about, except for female company and the children perhaps, I can wear my cossie."

"Cossie?" he asked, not quite understanding her.

"That's Australian for my swimming costume, my bikini, Aragorn," she responded.

Aragorn thought about her proposal for a moment and then nodded in agreement. "I don't see why that wouldn't work. I understand that you like to spend a great deal of time in the water, as well as running everywhere all over Lothlórien for some peculiar reason."

"It's not that peculiar Aragorn," laughed Coralie in response. "I like to run and swim. It keeps me fit, and besides it is fun."

"Fun?" he asked incredulously. "I have never known a woman, apart from yourself, that would consider such pastimes to be fun. Indeed, I find you to be more amusing than you realise, Thêldithen. I have one other question, though."

"What's that?" asked Coralie, wondering what else he may have on his mind.

"Do you think, you would ever consider wearing a dress?" he asked a little tentatively.

"Of course, Silly!" she exclaimed. "The girls and I have been busy sewing a few skirts and such for me to wear."

"You have?" Aragorn's eyes opened wide with amazement.

"Don't pull a face like that at me. Do you find it that hard to believe that I can sew a little? Though I must confess that my real talents lie more in design and that the girls are far better seamstresses than myself."

Aragorn made no immediate reply but began to shake a little with half concealed mirth.

"What's so funny?" asked Coralie.

"I am trying to reconcile myself with the image of you participating in this most feminine of pursuits, dutifully sewing up some more lady-like garments, with the warrior queen of the football field I saw earlier," he laughed.

"Really? Then it may also surprise you to know that I can also cook!" Coralie exclaimed.

"And play a musical instrument, as well as sing like an Elf, Thêldithen," added Aragorn. "Really, you are the most accomplished young lady I have ever met. What else can you do?"

"I'm not going to tell you until you explain what you meant by saying that I sing like an Elf," countered Coralie as Aragorn suddenly broke away from her.

"Well, in that case Thêldithen, you will have to catch me," he added playfully, as he spied the river through the trees ahead and broke into a run with Coralie giving chase.

"Tell me what you meant! Wait until I catch up with you," cried Coralie.

The Hobbits sat forlornly on the other side of the river beneath the great tree, its branches whispering soft secrets on the timbre of the breeze, which gently lulled the leaves into playful conversation. Gimli and Legolas spoke in hushed tones a little to the side as Boromir waited with Haldir, Artapel and the Elven children. The other Elves had drawn back a little, wondering what the outcome of Aragorn's confrontation with Coralie would be, secretly hoping in their hearts that he would not be too harsh with her. Pippin looked up at the tree. The flirtatious swish of its golden leaves did nothing to ease the increasing anxiety he now felt. His eyes fell upon the platform, which Coralie had climbed to before she flew across the river on the flying fox as she liked to call it.

"Merry!" he said softly as he caught the other Hobbit's attention with a gentle nudge to his shoulder. "I bet we could see what was going on from up there. I say we climb up and have a look."

Merry nodded, then whispered to Sam and Frodo who sat beside him. Looking about, they could see the others all engaged in quiet conversation round about. Deciding quickly that Frodo would go last, one by one they crept to the base of the tree, and climbed up both swiftly, and silently, as is the wont of Hobbits, when the mood to remain unseen is upon them.

When Frodo, had at last reached the top and stood on the wooden platform with the others, they all quickly peered over the edge to see if they had been missed, and then gave each other conspiratorial smiles at the elusive ability they all shared.

"Can you see anything Pip?" whispered Merry to the Hobbit as he stood on tippy toes, holding onto the overhanging rope for support.

"No." he replied with disappointment.

"I thought we'd at least be able to see something from up here!" snorted Sam as Frodo nodded in agreement.

"Maybe, you can't see anything, but I can hear something at least. Is that shouting?" said Merry straining to hear.

The Hobbits all looked at one another as their faces paled.

"I don't like this one little bit," said Pippin. "Someone has to stop Aragorn before it is too late!" he stated slipping off his belt.

"And I suppose you're the one to do it then," responded Sam. "Don't you think that Legolas would have stepped in if he thought it would do any good."

"There you go with that ridiculous idea that Legolas loves Coralie again. Sam you are just plain barmy. I'm not going to abandon Coralie in her hour of need." Pippin flung his belt over the rope above. "Besides, how hard can this be!" he cried as he launched himself out over the river.

Coralie and Aragorn broke through the trees on the other side of the river, laughing and teasing one another just as Pippin began to slide across with his belt over the rope. They looked up at first in surprise, then horror as Pippin lost his grip on the leather strap and plunged with a cry into the water below.

"Pippin!" cried the Hobbits from the platform in the tree, as the others now alert to this new catastrophe jumped up and ran to the river's edge. He bobbed up for a moment, a little further down the river as the current carried him, arms flailing wildly about him and managed to cry out a weak `help' before sinking beneath the surface again.

Without hesitation, Coralie and Aragorn ran for the riverbank and dived in, swimming with powerful strokes in the direction they had last seen Pippin surface. The Elves and Legolas ran along the riverbank on the other side as the Hobbits watched horrified from their position in the tree.

Coralie and Aragorn dove beneath the surface searching the river bottom for any sign of the Hobbit before surfacing again to take another breath.

"There!" cried Legolas pointing a little further downstream, with keen Elvish sight. He too ran and dived in swimming in the direction he had just pointed. Haldir and Artapel raced along the riverbank, searching through the water so they could aid the rescuers in locating the Hobbit. Coralie was the closest and swam a few strokes before disappearing under the water followed by Aragorn and Legolas. They surfaced again for air.

"The current has carried him along. Swim over there!" cried Haldir as he pointed into the water. All waited anxiously on the riverbank as they watched Coralie, Aragorn and Legolas dive again below the water in search of Pippin. The Hobbits climbed swiftly down and ran to join the others, dread gripping their hearts.

Suddenly the water broke and Coralie surfaced with Pippin's limp form under her arm. Swimming for the shore on her side, Aragorn and Legolas swam hurriedly behind. Aragorn took Pippin from Coralie when they reached the shallows, and raced up to dry ground carrying the unconscious Hobbit with Coralie and Legolas in the rear. Carefully he placed him on the ground as the others gathered anxiously around.

Coralie ran up and fell to her knees beside him, feeling for a pulse, as Aragorn placed his head on Pippin's chest. For a moment he did not move, listening with all his might for any heartbeat there may be. He shook his head sadly and looked at the others whilst placing a hand upon Coralie's arm.

"He has gone."

"Drownded?" asked Merry his voice catching in his throat as the others gasped in sorrow.

"Not if I can help it!" cried Coralie pushing Aragorn's hand away.

Taking charge, she rolled him quickly over onto his side and checked his mouth with one hand for any obstructions. A little water dribbled out of Pippin's mouth. Kneeling down, with one leg on each side of his hips, she placed both hands, one on top of each other with the heel of her bottom hand on his upper abdomen and leant her full body weight in whilst giving quick upward thrusts into his upper abdomen. More water dribbled out of Pippin's mouth and she repeated the process, making sure that no more water was left in his lungs before she rolled him onto his back again.
Tilting Pippin's head back, by placing the palm of her hand upon his forehead, and opening up his jaw with the other she quickly sealed Pippin's nostrils by pinching them with her fingers, so no air could escape, then took a breath and sealed his mouth with her own. Being careful to keep his head tilted back, she blew five breaths in succession into his lungs. Coralie then turned her head to the side and strained to see if there was any movement in Pippin's chest. Seeing no sign, she tilted his head back further and blew another five breaths into his mouth.

Aragorn placed a comforting hand upon her shoulder as she felt for the caratoid artery in his neck, searching for a pulse with flattened fingers. "Lady it is too late. His heart is not beating."

"It is not too late!" she cried placing her middle and index fingers of one hand on the lower margin of Pippin's ribs. "We still have time!" Finding the notch where the ribs meet the breastbone, she placed her middle finger over it and then her index finger on the lower end, and placed the heel of her other hand on the lower half of Pippin's sternum against her index finger. Keeping the fingers of that hand off the ribs, she placed her other hand around her wrist and locked her thumb around it.

Coralie began to press down on Pippin's chest, keeping her arm straight and her shoulder directly over as she began to count to fifteen.

"Coralie," said Aragorn gently as she pressed, placing his hand on her shoulder. Without breaking count she fiercely shook her head, shrugging him off. Aragorn looked to Legolas who was watching the procedure with a sorrowful expression. The Elf nodded and took a step forward, but was intercepted by Frodo.

"Let her try!" he pleaded with tears in his eyes as he stood between the two. Haldir gently drew Frodo back and rejoined Artapel who had come to stand behind the Hobbits with Boromir and Gimli. They each placed a comforting hand on the Hobbits shoulders as they stood there openly weeping, overcome with grief.

Coralie followed with two breaths into Pippin's mouth, and then resumed pressing down upon his chest again. When she had counted to fifteen, she again blew into his mouth twice before resuming the pressing position again.

"Breathe Pippin! God don't let him die!" she cried as she lowered her head to breathe for him again, before pressing on his chest as before.

"How long are you going to let this go on?" asked Legolas softly beside Aragorn as they watched what they believed to be Coralie's futile attempts to resurrect the dead.

"As long as it takes!" said Coralie between breaths as she began pressing to fifteen again. Legolas patted Frodo on the shoulder and took a hesitant step towards her. Suddenly Pippin began coughing and opened his eyes. Coralie rolled him onto his side for a moment as he retched. None could believe their eyes as their former sorrow was replaced by surprise and wonder as they all rushed forward.

Coralie held Pippin to her breast as she smiled through tears of relief, exhausted by her efforts.

"Am I in heaven?" asked Pippin faintly, as everyone gathered around excitedly.

"Give him room," commanded Aragorn, kneeling beside Coralie. "If I hadn't seen that with my own eyes, I would never have believed it." Aragorn's smile held the expression of complete wonder as he looked between Coralie and Pippin.

Coralie smiled in return. "I wasn't a member of Southport Surf Life Saving Club for nothing you know. Everyone has to know CPR," she smiled again at Pippin, who lay there quiet for once, in her arms. "Now you are not to move for a little while, Master Pippin, until I think it is okay for you to get up.

"Pippin smiled weakly up at her. "I am in heaven after all!" The others laughed with both relief and joy to see that their beloved Pippin had indeed returned to them, and was apparently well.

"We need to keep him warm to try and minimise shock, Aragorn," said Coralie.

"Oh I'm warm enough," said Pippin, nuzzling into her embrace.

"I'm sure you are," said Aragorn whilst raising his eyebrows at Coralie.

"Pippin, I can't sit like this much longer. I am going to give you over to Aragorn as my arms are getting tired," she smiled at Pippin's disappointed look. "I can't check your pulse, or make you more comfortable like this."

Aragorn shook his head as he took the Hobbit. "It is good to see you alive and well, Pippin. But if you hadn't nearly drowned, we'd be having a little talk right now," Aragorn said, with a knowing smile to the Hobbit he now held tenderly in his arms.

Coralie sent Artapel back to the field to look for a sleeping blanket and her backpack, and then asked Frodo to sit at his feet. She placed them in his lap and sat beside Pippin as Aragorn lay him down on the ground holding his wrist as she took his pulse. Merry and Sam came to sit beside him on his other side.

"Pippin! Don't you ever do anything like that again!" cried Merry with tears in his eyes, relieved to see his best friend alive and apparently unharmed by his watery encounter.

"I second that!" exclaimed Sam as he wiped his eyes. "You have Coralie to thank for saving your life, you silly Hobbit," Sam said, correcting him with affection.

Presently, Artapel returned with the blanket and her backpack. Relieving Frodo of his position, she placed the backpack under Pippin's feet as Artapel covered him.

Coralie joined the rest of the Company and Haldir, as the Hobbits ministered to their friend. "You need to get him out of his wet clothes, and keep him quiet with his feet propped up to lessen the strain on his heart. Keep him warm by wrapping him in the blanket. I'll go change back into my clothes, whilst you do that. It is important that he remains calm. I'll come back in a few minutes to check on him again," they nodded as she walked off in search of her shorts and tank top she had earlier discarded.

"Describing her as unusual is an understatement, Aragorn. I'm almost at a loss for words," declared Gimli as they watched her walk away.

"She is more your sister than any of us realised. The hands of the King are the hands of a healer, but the hands of a princess?" Legolas left the question unanswered.

"Aye, I know Legolas," said Aragorn with sudden pride swelling his bosom.

Coralie returned shortly thereafter, now dressed, and resumed her position beside Pippin who smiled up at her with gladness. "Thank you Coralie!"

Aragorn and Legolas looked in wonder at Coralie who replied with a grin as she held Pippin's wrist again as Boromir and Gimli approached her.

"What can we do to help?" they asked.

"Well, I think he's stable now," she replied looking up at them both. They still seemed a little concerned as they held her with their eyes. Her gaze fell upon Boromir's powerful frame as he bent over the Hobbit to pat him gently on the arm.

"Could you carry him back, Boromir. He shouldn't walk anywhere for a while."

"Certainly, Lady," said Boromir with a smile. The Hobbits stood up as Boromir bent down to pick up Pippin. Pippin made to protest that he was perfectly fine and was capable of walking on his own, as Gimli shouldered her backpack and shook his head at him.

"Oh no you're not," replied Coralie sternly. "You just do as I say now. Boromir, I know it's hard. But do try to keep him quiet, and put him straight to bed when you get back."

"I think you had better do as your told," chortled Boromir as he carried him off. Haldir and Artapel accompanied him along with the other Hobbits and Elven children as they made their way back to the city of the Galadrim. The host of Elves who had previously watched both the football match, and swimming race, followed behind murmuring softly about all the events that had taken place that day, leaving Coralie, Aragorn and Legolas alone on the riverbank. Coralie sighed aloud both relieved and exhausted as she watched them leave.

"Lady, I know of the Kiss of Life, having had to use it on you once myself, but this...." said Aragorn momentarily lost for words as he swept a hand out in the direction the others had taken.

"What do you call this? How can you make someone's heart beat again?" asked Legolas with wonder.

Coralie laughed as she took each one by the arm and stood between them.

"I will explain all, while we walk back, and then you, Aragorn can tell me when and where you had to use the `Kiss of Life' on me, for I swear I can't remember it at all," she raised her eyebrows at them both for a moment.

Smiling at one another, they fell in step with her.

"I should like to hear more about this new wardrobe of yours as well, while we walk," said Aragorn with a slight wink to Legolas over her head, who raised his eyebrows for a moment and then replied with a secret smile in turn.

Coralie laughed and looked up at Aragorn. "I saw that!"

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