Arvariane Estel - Epilogue

Sorry this one took so long, I just wanted it to be right.<br /> <br /> I dedicate this to Lalaith-Elerrina, who gave me a lot of writing tips, to my sister, for listening to my many ramblings and ideas, to Lady Elwen for encouraging and supporting me, and last but most definitely not least, Eve_Naeband, for inspiring me to finish this story. To all, thanks so much!<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>One year later, 2510, Rivendell</em><br /> <br /> Far and wide, they were coming. The Lady Celebrian was leaving Middle Earth. And now Ariane had to decide: would she stay in the sorrow of Middle-Earth among her friends and family, or would she drift away to utter joy and peace, to Valinor with the Lady Celebrian, bound to forget her past?<br /> <br /> Ariane sat on a bench in the courts of Rivendell, swinging her legs and deep in thought. <em>This is too big for just my opinion. But who to ask? Arwen? Figwit? Suddenly she thought of someone. Gandalf! He had arrived just yesterday, and surely he could help me make up my mind.</em><br /> <br /> Ariane rose from the bench and rushed in the direction of the Lord Elrond's house. Figwit was passing by with a stack of blankets in his hands. <br /> <br /> &quot;Where are you off to, in such a hurry?&quot; he asked.<br /> <br /> &quot;Do you know where Gandalf is?&quot; Ariane asked anxiously.<br /> <br /> &quot;Well, he might be with the Lord Elrond right now. Or maybe he is in the Festivity Hall with your father. You know how he likes the bread baked in Rivendell,&quot; Figwit chuckled.<br /> <br /> &quot;Oh, ok,&quot; a tiny smile sat on Ariane's lips. &quot;Thanks. Do you need help with those?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Oh no, I can handle it. They are for tomorrow.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;I see. Well, I will see you later, Figwit.&quot; Ariane turned away and headed toward the Festivity Hall.<br /> <br /> Figwit stood watching her go. &quot;Maybe not,&quot; he whispered under his breath.<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>Festivity Hall, Rivendell</em><br /> <br /> Ariane chuckled to herself as she approached Gandalf eating a stack of bread slathered with honey, remembering Figwit's earlier remark.<br /> <br /> &quot;Arvariane Estel, what a nice surprise.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Can I join you?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Please.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;I need your advice on something, Gandalf.&quot; Ariane reached for some bread.<br /> <br /> &quot;On what, may I ask?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Tomorrow.&quot;<br /> <br /> Gandalf chewed thoughtfully. &quot;I see where this is heading.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;I don't know what to do, Gandalf! I cannot stand under this kind of pressure!&quot; Ariane scraped her bread with honey viciously.<br /> <br /> &quot;Pressure? But all you need to ask yourself is what do you want?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;But alot of people-they want me to stay.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;What do their opinions matter?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;They are my friends. Obviously their opinions matter to me.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;And mine? Why does mine matter to you, Ariane?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Because-you're you. You've known me since I was a child. You have more wisdom than me. You can look deeper into this than I can.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;No, you just make this something it's not. It's all up to you. You shouldn't consider what others say. It's on you.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;I have my birthright to consider. I still have a duty to Arwen, regardless of how I feel.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Your days of duty are long fulfilled now. If nothing restrains you, your decision should be clear.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;What does Middle Earth hold for me? Everyday, Gandalf, I remember what happened. Everyday I am haunted by those events.&quot; She bit the bread bitterly.<br /> <br /> &quot;Ariane, I always say, there are stronger forces in this world, beside the will of evil. Like love perhaps?&quot;<br /> <br /> She looked up at him suddenly. The wizard seemed to read her thoughts perfectly. &quot;It was over a long time ago. He didn't want to be with me.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;I'm sorry,&quot; Gandalf sighed. &quot;Look, I will not tell you what to do. Choose your fate wisely, because you will live with your choice for the rest of your life. All I can say is let it come from you, and nobody else.&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane sighed and didn't say anything for a while. Finally she spoke. &quot;I need to ask my father where he keeps my travelling bags. Thank you, Gandalf.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;It was all you, dear girl.&quot;<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>Outside the House of Glorfindel</em><br /> <br /> <em>Now where would my father be? Perhaps in his room, making preparations for tomorrow?</em> Ariane climbed up the steps of the House of Glorfindel and down the hall, to her father's room.<br /> <br /> Just as she was about the open the door, she heard a sad voice.<br /> <br /> &quot;I'm losing her too. Just like I lost her mother. She'll leave, and what will I have to live for?&quot;<br /> <br /> <em>No doubt, that was Ada's voice. What was he talking about? Who was he talking to?</em> Ariane leaned in closer to the half-closed door, her gut telling her not to eavesdrop.<br /> <br /> She saw the Lord Elrond, empathy imprinted all over his face, through the crack in the door. She instinctively pulled away from the door but flattened herself against the wall.<br /> <br /> &quot;Ariane's fate was not meant to be chosen by you, no matter how much it affects you. She is different - changed - I remember, you know. She is no longer herself. That spirit that grew up in her is all but vanished. If she chooses the course to Valinor as a course of happiness, then so be it.&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane's mouth dropped open. <em>Why didn't he tell me?</em> Footsteps scuffled near the door. Realizing she had overstayed her welcome, she rushed down the hall to her room and shut the door behind her, panting heavily. Suddenly something on the bed caught her eye.<br /> <br /> A silky, shimmering Noldor dress, pale pink, had been laid out carefully on the bed. Beside it lay a folded note, her name written beautifully on it. Ariane recognized the writing immediately.<br /> <br /> <em>'Ariane, <br /> You have a big decision to make. And I want you to make it on your own. But regardless of your decision, I want you to have this - it belonged to your mother - she wore it on the day we were betrothed. It's all I myself have left of her, but her wish was for you to have it one day. And I can't think of a better time to give it to you. <br /> ~Ada'</em><br /> <br /> Ariane picked it up carefully. She ran her hand over the material and unfolded it. It was stunning, beautiful. She could imagine her mother in it, tall and fair and spirited. She put it on her dresser, kicked off her shoes, and got into bed, confusion creeping in.<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>Ariane's bedroom, Rivendell</em><br /> <br /> The bed seemed discomforting, awkward, ready to spit her out any given second. It would not have her tossing shape under its soft covers. Beds were for rest, for refreshing. And this one deemed her unfit to be inside. Making up her mind, Ariane pulled a light sheet off her bed, rolled it under her arms, and quietly stepped into the hallway.<br /> <br /> The Lord Glorfindel was most likely asleep. Maybe not, but Ariane decided to chance it. Making barefoot paces to her father's room, she entered and looked at his face. The corners of his mouth were tensed and tired as if with age. She knelt beside the bed. &quot;Ada,&quot; she said, barely above a whisper. &quot;You will never lose me. Please be assured of this - whatever I choose tomorrow, I will love you. Always.&quot; She leaned and kissed his cheek. Then just as quietly as before, she left the room. <br /> <br /> The front doors of the House of Glorfindel opened slowly. Ariane appeared in the doorway, a shimmering white figure on the grand balcony, a star descended from the heavens. Almost ghostlike in movements, she floated down the steps and into the Valley of Rivendell.<br /> <br /> All was tranquil and quiet. <em>A field will be my place of rest,</em> she decided. Ariane lay down on the soft grass and heather. Amongst the flowers she let her head fall back into peace, away from haunting memories. The stars glittered faintly. Cold and distant they seemed, yet she couldnt help but wonder if anyone else, in the dark hours of night, were looking at these celestial beings far away. Little did she know that one she missed was looking also very close by, wondering about someone close to his heart, one that had been far away for so long. Ariane sighed softly. <em>Why couldn't I just go back to the beginning? I wish...I could start over. Everything's gone...</em><br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>Midnight, Valley of Rivendell</em><br /> <br /> Thoughts provoked her dreamless sleep. <em>Not again, she thought, not again.</em> Memories dug deep into the dark chasms of time, bringing up sorrow after sorrow. Shapes in her mind came together to form dark, maniacal faces, a closing abyss, sharp flames of hatred. Tears pooled in her unopened eyes. Blinking awake, the night sky became a blur, all a blur of space and stars. Spasms shook her body as each sob brought her away from oblivion. The grass around her became wet as with fallen dew from heaven. Teardrops lay nestled on the delicate petals of the blossoms near her face. And still they fell.<br /> <br /> Hours passed, and dry chokes still wracked her body.The tears no longer came, only the pain that constantly jabbed at her weary mind. She sat up suddenly. The grass fluttered, the wind blew breaths of safety through the mists. Pulling the tousled blanket over her, she put her head back down, inhaling the scent of woodland flowers. <em>Will morning never come?</em> she thought anxiously. <em>Leaving this wretched Middle Earth seems like the only thing left to do. What do I have left? What waits for me here? Nothing...no...my father loves me. If I leave I will never see him again. And there will be nothing for him also. And Arwen...Elrohir...Elladan...Figwit...how can I leave them?</em> <br /> <br /> The name Legolas finally surfaced in her mind after minutes of suppression. <em>No. There's nothing left. I should leave...shouldn't I?</em> With those shaky thoughts in her muddled head, she closed her aching eyes, and fell asleep.<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>Morning, outside the House of Glorfindel, Rivendell</em><br /> <br /> Ariane stepped onto her balcony after a long, deep sleep. The day was young, the world was fresh, but today, despite its hopeful beginnings, would go down as a sad day, a tear day. For today the grace and once-bright light of Lady Celebrian was leaving the darkening shores of Middle-Earth. Like a waning candle, she would dwindle away to the land of the Elves, to Valinor, where she hoped she would once again find beauty in the daylight.<br /> <br /> <br /> But the House of Lord Elrond would not be the only one crumbling today. Today was also decision-day for Ariane. Upon her safe arrival from that tragic journey a year ago, her duty to Arwen was considered fulfilled by mostly everyone but herself. The Lord Glorfindel had done all he could to mold his daughter back into her former self, but that playful spirit had vanished a long time ago. <br /> <br /> <br /> In fact, his discomforting fears seemed to be stuck in her head. <em>Just yesterday, my father vented his fears to Lord Elrond, not to me. Why wouldn't he just tell me how he felt?</em> She was hurt by this unintentional ignoring. <em>Wait, the dress...was that a bribe?</em> Suddenly, she it dawned on her. <em>He wants me to stay. All his actions seemed pointed to this simple conclusion. I can't leave him if he wants me to stay.</em> <br /> <br /> A clear bell sounded near the gates of Rivendell. <em>Someone has arrived, some party of friends from distant lands wishing to farewell Lady Celebrian, and quite possibly, me.</em><br /> <br /> &quot;Ariaaaaaane! Where are you?&quot; The unmistakable voice of her nanny, Florinya, rung through the halls.<br /> <br /> &quot;Coming!&quot; Ariane called out, and dashed across the balcony, flung open the doors, ran down the hall, and into her room, the blanket flying behind her.<br /> <br /> &quot;Arvariane Estel, your father has been looking for you all morning.&quot; <br /> <br /> &quot;I am sorry, Florinya, I really am.&quot; Ariane quickly shed her white dressing gown and put on the pale pink gown that her father had given her the night before. She smoothed it out, hoping to look presentable in front of the newcomers. <br /> <br /> &quot;You know, the party from Lothlorien and Mirkwood will walk through that door any minute, and your father will have your skin.&quot; Florinya warned in her calm voice. <br /> <br /> Ariane ran to look at herself. The mirror on her wall revealed a face with puffy eyes and tear-stained cheeks. She drowned her face in a nearby ceramic basin of cool water, intertwined with leaves. Suddenly she emerged from the depths, water splashing everywhere. &quot;Party from Mirkwood! Who's coming from Mirkwood?!&quot; <br /> <br /> Florinya shook her head, amused at how long Ariane took on the uptake. She held out a soft white towel. &quot;Why don't you go see for yourself?&quot; <br /> <br /> Ariane snatched the towel and made one long sweep down her face.<br /> <br /> &quot;Are you trying to plough a field? You should be more careful, especially with your delicate skin.&quot; Florinya shook her head.<br /> <br /> &quot;Desperate times,&quot; said Ariane quickly, and handed the towel back to her nanny. &quot;Thank you!!&quot; she called out, and with silver slippers halfway on her feet, she hopped out the door and down the pathways, straight to her father's side at Rivendell's gates.<br /> <br /> &quot;Arvariane Estel, where have you been?&quot; Glorfindel suddenly beamed at his daughter. &quot;You look like your mother.&quot; <br /> <br /> &quot;I do? I mean, I was sleeping. I'm sorry, Ada, I didn't know you were looking for me.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Well, you're just in time. They are about to enter.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Who??&quot;<br /> <br /> But Lord Glorfindel did not answer. Instead, the gates swung open, and woodland Elves from out of Mirkwood and Lothlorien entered Imladris, looking stately atop their white horses. The sun's rays shone down gently, making perceived halos around the regal party.<br /> <br /> &quot;Hail and well met, Thranduil King of Mirkwood! Welcome, Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel!&quot; said Lord Elrond, with his wife, sons, and daughter already properly dressed and at his sides. <br /> <br /> Ariane looked upon the influx of faces in the crowd. Gandalf was busying himself, greeting the party. She saw Saelbeth, his face looking unchanged after a year. Lady Celebrian was kissing the cheek of her glowing mother. Haldir, Orophin, and Rumil talked with Elrond's sons. <br /> <br /> And then she saw him. His golden hair shone in the morning sunlight as he walked with his father toward Lord Elrond and his family. No smile graced his fair face as he greeted each one, only a polite nod showed he did, in fact, see them. He looked toward the ground as his father walked up to Lord Glorfindel. <br /> <br /> &quot;Hail, Thranduil, my friend. Welcome to Rivendell.&quot;<br /> <br /> Thranduil smiled warmly at Glorfindel. &quot;I'm sorry that we meet again under such circumstances. I trust that you, Legolas, remember Lord Glorfindel and his lovely daughter.&quot;<br /> <br /> Legolas looked up. His blue stared at Lord Glorfindel. &quot;Aye. Hello again, Lord Glorfindel.&quot; His gaze softened as he turned toward Ariane. &quot;Arvariane Estel, we meet again. You look -&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Hello.&quot; said Ariane coldly.<br /> <br /> Ariane and Legolas looked awkwardly at one another. When she could not bear it any longer, she she looked up at her father.<br /> <br /> Thranduil, however, was the first to catch the hint. &quot;Well, we have others to greet,&quot; said King Thranduil with a sigh, and looked confusedly at the young elves' faces. &quot;We shall speak later, my friend. Come, Legolas.&quot;<br /> <br /> Legolas' eyes turned to gray stone. &quot;Gladly.&quot; He turned from Glorfindel and Ariane with one defiant sweep of his green cloak.<br /> <br /> As soon as they were out of earshot, Glorfindel turned to his daughter.<br /> <br /> &quot;Ariane, where are your manners? I know you've lost a lot of things, but I certainly hope that your manners aren't lost.&quot; <br /> <br /> Ariane did not look at his face.<br /> <br /> Glorfindel lowered his voice to a whisper. &quot;What was that about?&quot; He chuckled sofly. &quot;I once thought that you two were fond of each other.&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane looked into his face. &quot;So did I.&quot;<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>Library of Knowledge, Rivendell</em><br /> <br /> &quot;Arwen! Arwen!&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane ran through the mountainous shelves of books and found her friend hidden behind The Silmarillion. <br /> <br /> &quot;Ariane, oh, you startled me,&quot; She looked at Ariane's face. &quot;What's wrong?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;He's here.&quot; sighed Ariane.<br /> <br /> &quot;Yes, I noticed. Is it just me, or has he lost all his arrogance? He seemed awfully sullen today at their coming.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Him? Lost his arrogance? I doubt it.&quot;<br /> <br /> Arwen paused. &quot;Well...are you going to talk to him?&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane pulled up a chair beside her. &quot;Are you kidding? Of course not. Why would I talk to him? He's the one that apparently didn't want to see me anymore. I'm not going to go grovelling back to him. I'm not going to re-live last year.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Ariane, you know he probably had a good reason.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;So you don't think we could have had a long-distance relationship? You and Aragorn, you have - had one. Are you going to just going to wait for him to come back?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;I'm going to wait as long as I have to. If it's fate, he will come back. I trust him. And maybe Legolas didn't want a long distance relationship. You live on two opposite sides of the map. Maybe he wanted to wait until he could be close to you. You know, get to know you a little. Don't push him away. Besides, Aragorn and I are different. He has his destiny ahead of him.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;I don't want to wait anymore, Arwen. I'm tired of waiting on something that's lost. He wants nothing to do with me. And I, I have nothing in Middle Earth except my father and my duty to you.&quot;<br /> <br /> Arwen looked at her. &quot;Your duty is done.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;No.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;A year ago, you escorted my mother to Lothlorien and back. Well, she's back, and you're back, and now she's leaving.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Which means that you will need somebody to help you even more.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;No. It means that I need to learn how to get on myself. Your duty to me is over.&quot; said Arwen shakily, standing up slowly. &quot;You are released from my service. Now you go and get on with your life.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Arwen, please don't do this to me...&quot;<br /> <br /> Arwen shook her head. &quot;Please, Ariane. Look to your own heart, for once.&quot;<br /> <br /> With that remark, the Evenstar left the Library of Knowledge, leaving a stunned Ariane behind.<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>Courtyards of Rivendell</em><br /> <br /> <em>She was alone, solemn, reading a book, yet probably deep in thought. After all, she hasn't turned a page for the last twenty minutes. Have I been watching her for twenty minutes? What kind of a person am I? <br /> <br /> But I can't help but wonder what she could possibly be thinking of. Should I go over? No. She may not want to talk to me. After all, she gave me the cold shoulder, even when I was going to compliment her on how lovely she looked this morning. I can't go over there. She probably won't even acknowledge my presence. Ugh, why do I care so much? It's not like anything is happening between us.</em><br /> <br /> Taking a deep breath, Legolas stepped from the shadows of the wildly exotic gardens of Rivendell and into the circle of benches with a I-know-I-will-regret-this sigh. He sat down quickly on a bench across from her and looked with dismay at her face still buried in the book.<br /> <br /> <em>Confidence, Legolas.</em> &quot;Hello, Ariane.&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane's face emerged painfully slowly from the book. She gazed at him with cold eyes.<br /> <br /> &quot;Hi.&quot;<br /> <br /> An awkward silence issued between them. For a minute, nothing could be heard but the faint voices of elves in the houses and halls, the white surge of the river below them, or the birds chirping softly above. It was time to break the silence.<br /> <br /> &quot;What are you reading?&quot; asked Legolas politely. <br /> <br /> &quot;Isn't it rather obvious? I'm reading a book.&quot; Ariane dug back into the text.<br /> <br /> Legolas chuckled nerviously. &quot;Yes, I'm aware of that. What book?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;A book I was supposed to read a while ago.&quot; she answered, without looking up.<br /> <br /> Legolas sighed. He was getting tired of her coldness.<br /> <br /> &quot;How long are you going to keep this up, Ariane?&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane looked up at him quickly. &quot;What are you doing here?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;My father and I are here to say goodbye to Lady Celebrian when she leaves Rivendell. But we cannot accompany her to the Grey Havens - we both have some unfinished business to take care of.&quot;<br /> <br /> She looked at him and shook her head. &quot;I meant, what are you doing here, talking to me? Why aren't you taking care of your 'unfinished business'?&quot;<br /> <br /> A determined look came across Legolas' face. &quot;I am.&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane laid the book on the stone bench. &quot;What are you talking about?&quot;<br /> <br /> With a deep breath, Legolas explained, &quot;I want to make you a proposition. I heard about...your being released from Arwen's service. So-&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Who told you that?!&quot; Ariane's cheeks flushed with embarrassment. <br /> <br /> &quot;They chose to remain anonymous.&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane scowled at him. <br /> <br /> <em>Why was she being so difficult?</em> Legolas wondered if he should continue. <em>After all, it does seem like she doesn't want me to be here.</em> &quot;I wanted to know...are you leaving today?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Why does it matter to you?&quot; Ariane said sulkily.<br /> <br /> &quot;It matters a lot to me - but mostly because if you said you weren't leaving, I would go on and say that you need a break, to put it lightly. And then - then I would beg you to come to Mirkwood with me. That is, only if you said you weren't leaving.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;You, beg? You don't strike me as the type that can make a request. But why?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Last year-&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Please, don't. Don't bring up last year.&quot; Her voice began to get shaky, and he could see her previously defiant eyes turning glassy and wet.<br /> <br /> Suddenly, Legolas got up from the bench. Ever so slowly, he got up, and after what seemed like an eternity later, he sat down beside her. Shivers ran through Ariane's spine as she tried to control her breathing.<br /> <br /> &quot;Why did you just leave?&quot; Ariane said sadly. &quot;You didn't wait to say goodbye, you didn't even explain yourself. You left two words - 'duty calls'. And then you were gone in the morning. You just left.&quot; At that moment she realized that tears were rolling down her reddening cheeks. She wiped them carelessly with the back of her hand. &quot;I didn't need that, Legolas. Especially since I had just gotten back from - from that journey. And you - you made me think that you cared, what with you coming back to save me, and offering to take my place in Moria at the council, and...&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Ariane, I do care.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Then why did you do all that to me?&quot; Bitterness and anger overflowed through her lips.<br /> <br /> &quot;I had a duty to my father, to my people, just like you had a duty to Arwen. I didn't want to be thinking about us being so far away if we...had something going. But - I've thought about you every single day since I left. Every day I wondered if we could have had something even though we were apart. I missed my chance last time, I know that,&quot; Legolas swallowed, wondering why his throat was so dry. &quot;I don't want to wonder anymore. So I'm asking now - please come back with me?&quot;<br /> <br /> For a while, Ariane stared away at the tumbling waters of the river Bruinen, wondering why so many decisions were being thrust upon her at once. Legolas seemed to have become uncomfortable in the space of silence, shifting awkwardly.<br /> <br /> Suddenly she spoke. &quot;I can't just make a decision like this. I have to think about what my father will say when I tell-&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;I already asked your father for permission to escort you to Mirkwood. He said that the decision is in your hands.&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane talked to her knees. &quot;Mirkwood would mean going near the Misty Mountains.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Naturally. And my father, having already come this way, plans to pay back Lord Balin whatever he may owe him to prevent any further trouble.&quot;<br /> <br /> A cold shudder ran through Ariane. Shaking her head, she whispered, &quot;I can't.&quot; <br /> <br /> Legolas looked her straight in the face. Her violet eyes seemed doubtful. &quot;Run out of excuses?&quot; <br /> <br /> &quot;What?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;If you're too scared, just say so. Don't bring your father or your duty to Arwen or last year or any of that into this, because that's not what this is about.&quot; Legolas stood up again, all previous nervousness dissapated. &quot;If you're too scared, just bloody say so. Stop making excuses.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Legolas, it's not like that...&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;That's exactly what it is. You know, it doesn't matter anymore. My conscience is clear.&quot; His eyes were rapidly turning colder and colder. &quot;It doesn't matter.&quot; He turned to leave.<br /> <br /> &quot;Legolas, I'm leaving. No matter where I go in Middle Earth, be it Mirkwood, or Lothlorien, or anyplace else, I won't find happiness. I'm going to Valinor.&quot; He stopped in his tracks, and turned to face her.<br /> <br /> &quot;I thought you, of all people, were stronger than that,&quot; Legolas said. &quot;You are the most - <em>amazing</em> she-elf I have ever met. You changed over the last year. But do really believe that running away from those who love you will solve your problem?&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane sighed and stood up, book in hand. Taking a deep breath, she said, &quot;I have to go pack.&quot;<br /> <br /> Legolas looked blankly at her and shook his head. &quot;Farewell, Arvariane Estel.&quot;<br /> <br /> Somehow she could not look into his face. &quot;Goodbye,&quot; she said in a choking whisper, and rushed past him, away to the House of Glorfindel.<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>The Grey Havens</em><br /> <br /> The crowd had gathered. The sun still shone brightly on a party of elves who masked sadness with little smiles as one-by-one they kissed the cheek of the Lady Celebrian, one-by-one saying <em>namarie</em>. Gulls cried faintly near the wind-blown cliffs or circled above the shimmering water of the sea. The beautiful ship, made by Cirdan the Shipwright lay waiting - waiting to bear away Lady Celebrian and Lady Arvariane to the Undying Lands. <br /> <br /> Ariane looked on sadly as Lord Elrond and Lady Celebrian kissed for what seemed like the last time ever. His face was inconsistent - sometimes smiling when his wife looked upon him, at other times looking downcast when he looked upon his children's faces. Ariane caught Arwen turning away from her mother's glances, tears rolling down her fair face. They looked lost, as if a light had disappeared and they were left stumbling in the dark.<br /> <br /> It was only when Lady Celebrian had boarded the ship that she realized it was her turn.<br /> <br /> &quot;Arvariane Estel...&quot; began Lord Glorfindel when he realized that his daughter was frozen in thought.<br /> <br /> Ariane remained deep in her reverie. Looking at the familiar faces, she couldn't help but ask herself, <em>will I see these people again? My friends, my father...they aren't coming. She looked at Arwen, Elrohir, and Elladan smiling at her through tears. Figwit, away on the edge of the crowd, gazed at her sadly. Haldir seemed confused about why she still stood beside her father, unmoved. Her father, proud and yet desperate, stood looking at her with searching eyes. They will all get on with their lives, but will I, alone, in Valinor?</em> She looked to the horizon. The sunlight burned white hot on the surface of the water, but a life in Valinor suddenly seemed to her distant, cold; a lonely life. A life without love. Her thoughts turned to a previous conversation, to a certain someone she had run away from. She faced the crowd again. <br /> <br /> &quot;Arvariane Estel.&quot; Lord Glorfindel said firmly. <br /> <br /> The sea breeze blew gently against her face, tossing her dark hair playfully. She looked up at her father's face. &quot;Ada, I do not wish to go.&quot;<br /> <br /> Someone in the crowd let out a small gasp. &quot;What do you mean, Ariane?&quot; asked Lord Glorfindel, perplexed.<br /> <br /> &quot;I don't want to go to Valinor.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;I don't understand. Why?&quot; Lord Glorfindel, confused still, tried to understand his daughter's words.<br /> <br /> &quot;I suddenly realized what it means to look to my own heart.&quot; she said softly. Ariane looked over her father's shoulder and saw both Arwen and Gandalf smiling encouragingly at her. She took a breath and went on. &quot;I'm not going to leave Middle-Earth, because there is still something left for me - love. I'm going to Mirkwood with Legolas.&quot;<br /> <br /> Lord Glorfindel suddenly saw a change in aura about her; somehow, Ariane seemed like the daughter he once knew. <br /> <br /> Ariane smiled. &quot;I guess I must still tell you all <em>namarie</em>.&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Not '<em>namarie</em>'. 'We will meet again' is much more appropriate,&quot; explained Gandalf.<br /> <br /> Ariane looked at her friends. &quot;We will meet again,&quot; she said sweetly, beaming at them.<br /> <br /> At that moment Figwit spoke up. &quot;Ariane, dear,&quot; he said kindly. &quot;King Thranduil and his son are leaving Rivendell this very minute. By the time we go back, they will be near the Misty Mountains.&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane, unaware of this setback, sighed and shook her head regretfully. &quot;I missed my chance...what should I do?&quot; she said quietly.<br /> <br /> &quot;Well,&quot; said Haldir, chuckling softly, &quot;For starters, I guess you'd better take a fast horse.&quot;<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>Outside the Gates of Rivendell</em><br /> <br /> Ariane had ridden over hill and through stream, and now her father's horse was tiredly leading her on through the woods. The sun had hidden itself in the blue cloak of evening. As she slowed at the Gates of Rivendell, she realized the party of Mirkwood had passed hours ago. <br /> <br /> <em>I must catch up!</em> But her father's horse, haven ridden for miles on end without any sort of break, seemed fine to rest beside the gates of his home. The horse slowly began to sink down. <br /> <br /> &quot;Oh, come on, no...&quot; she said. &quot;You can ride some more, you have some strength left, come on!&quot; But no amount of encouragement would make the poor horse rise. Quickly, she dismounted, grabbed her bag from the horse's back, and ran to the gatekeeper. <br /> <br /> &quot;Please, I need my horse - Sulwyn. Can you bring me her as quickly as possible?&quot;<br /> <br /> &quot;Yes, milady.&quot; responded Ethorien, and started off toward the stables. <br /> <br /> &quot;Oh, and sir, please take my father's horse. <em>If</em> you can get him up.&quot;<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> <em>Plains beside the Misty Mountains</em><br /> <br /> Sulwyn was a fierce, tireless creature, proving her endurance as she ran freely through the darkening night, toward the Misty Mountains. The place brought evil memories to Ariane's mind, but this time she knew that there was something more important than her fears. As she began to wonder how far ahead they could have gotten, she saw in the distance small shapes moving.<br /> <br /> Ariane swallowed nervously and forced herself to think that she was safe. &quot;Ha!&quot; she shouted, and Sulwyn's powerful muscles rippled and her speed increased. The bright stars flew overhead as she, to her and Sulwyn's relief, approached a party of elves travelling slowly across the plains.<br /> <br /> Thranduil looked with astonishment at the young she-elf, without an escort, as she rode up and dismounted. He whispered something to an elf, hooded and cloaked, riding gloomily beside him. The elf looked in Ariane's direction.<br /> <br /> &quot;What on Middle-Earth?&quot; the elf muttered to himself. Quickly he stopped and dismounted. Then he walked over to Ariane, and removed his hood.<br /> <br /> &quot;What are you doing <em>here</em>? Alone? At night?&quot; Legolas' blue eyes filled with joy and confusion all at once.<br /> <br /> &quot;I made a mistake,&quot; Ariane said, gripping the reins of her horse tightly. &quot;I went to the Grey Havens because it seemed like a way out, because I didn't know what I wanted.&quot;<br /> <br /> A look of uncertainty surfaced on Legolas' face. &quot;So what do you want, Arvariane Estel?&quot;<br /> <br /> Ariane smiled mischieviously. She let go of the reins, and gently led Legolas' face to hers. He stroked her face delicately in response. His lips met hers. And they kissed a kiss <em>long</em> overdue as the glittering stars watched on overhead.<br /> <br /> &quot;Well, I take it you figured out what you want,&quot; he said with a laugh, looking into her twinkling eyes. She smiled and nodded. <br /> <br /> Legolas took her hand and helped her onto her horse. &quot;I guess I did,&quot; Ariane said softly, as she twisted her mother's Ainur bracelet on Legolas' wrist and looked into his blissfully blue eyes.<br /> <br /> ****<br /> <br /> Thanks for reading!!<br />
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