Betrayal - Chapter One
A myriad of voices whirled inside her head. One of them was very familiar-it was her mother's. No, that wasn't right. What was it? Liedral struggled to remember.
"Arwen!" she burst out, opening her eyes wide.
"Oh, Liedral!" cried the Elf, tears running down her face. "I was so worried! What happened?" Gently she pressed Liedral's head to her breast.
"You-You're not my mother!" sobbed the girl. Arwen froze.
"Who told you that?" she asked quietly.
Liedral hiccupped for a few minutes. "Haldìr," she said finally in a tiny voice. "It isn't true, is it?" she asked hopefully. "Haldìr was just playing a cruel joke, right?"
"I'm afraid what he said was true," said Arwen, tears in her eyes. "I wanted to tell you when I deemed the time right, but he went against my wishes."
"You've lied to me my whole life?" cried Liedral, her anger rising. "You couldn't take the time to tell me?"
"I took you in when your mother couldn't support you. Do you think it was easy? You are the symbol of my husband's infidelity. How many women you know would do that? But you are my granddaughter, and I love you," said Arwen. She stroked Liedral's cheek. "I love you as one of my own, Liedral. Do not let anger spoil the love between us."
Liedral sighed. At barely 27 she was quite young, deemed by many too young to take on the knowledge of her ancestry. "No, Mother, I won't." There was a few moments silence. "I suppose I can't call you mother anymore, can I?" she asked heavily.
"If you want to. I am the only mother you've ever known. And it would only confuse your brother and sisters if started to call me grandmother," she said, an amused smile on her face.
"Alright," Liedral said. She was the oldest of Aragorn's children by nearly ten years, and she loved her siblings dearly. To confuse them, hurt them, or put any doubt in their minds about the virtues of their parents would be blasphemy to Liedral.
"Now, we have guests. I must see to them, and you rest." Arwen patted Liedral's arm under the blanket.
"No, I'm fine. Really," she added, seeing the look on her mother's face. "I'd like to mingle with our guests."
"Alright," said Arwen doubtfully. "If you feel tired or anything, tell me, alright? I'll see to your clothes."
"Thank you." Liedral kissed Arwen's cheek affectionately. "I'll be down soon," she promised.
"You had better," said a masculine voice from the door. Arwen's face hardened with anger.
"Haldìr. You are a guest in this house. I suggest you not walk into rooms without permission. As it is, you are on probation-"
"Probation?" said Haldìr, an eyebrow raised. "For what, pray tell?"
"For revealing something I strictly forbade you to and for walking in on my daughter while she was unclothed!" snapped Arwen furiously.
"Alright!" said Haldìr, still smiling. He raised his hands in a gesture of defeat. "She left the door open, for the record."
Arwen stared open-mouthed at him. "How dare you?!" she cried, her voice trembling in anger. "Accusing my daughter-"
"First, she isn't your daughter, and second, I'm not accusing her of anything," said Haldìr sharply, his voice rising. "I simply said she left her door open!"
"Calm down!" shouted Liedral. "You are acting like children, the both of you!" The two adults looked at her, wearing the surprise openly on their faces. "Mother, I think I did leave my door open," she said more quietly. "But that did not justify Haldìr at all. A gentleman would have closed the door and forgotten what he had seen, not entered and engaged in conversation," the girl said, shooting a nasty look at Haldìr.
"You are right, of course," he acknowledged.
"It seems she does know her etiquette, contrary to what she would have us believe," said Aragorn mildly, stepping in. Arwen let a sigh escape.
"Is nowhere sacred?" she asked huffily. Aragorn smiled apologetically.
"I just came to see where you were, and heard raised voices," he said, kissing his wife's brow. "Besides, we have more guests."
"More-Who are they this time?" demanded Arwen.
"What're they doing here?" asked Arwen, her tone changing from exasperated to curious and concerned.
Aragorn's voice was grim. "It seems there has been an attack. The Elves were at unawares, and the survivors have fled from haven to haven, gathering together, presenting ore of a target. Ours is the last free land of Middle-earth."