Is this Heaven? - Chapter One

(Thanks to the few people who posted comments about the story! It's enough to keep me going...)

Chapter One: Waking up outside of Rivendell

A sudden gust of wind whistled past the woman's ears, surprising her very much. After hearing nothing but the deepening shroud of silence, it was both a welcome and startling change. Her first thought being she'd knocked herself unconcious, only to wake up, Lori put both palms flat on the ground and went to push herself up. Gritting her teeth against the cold she'd expected, she blinked to feel soft, springy turf between her fingers. Pushing herself to a sitting position in almost a daze, she looked down. Verdant grass streched out as far as her eye could see, even when it became a mere patchwork of green. That was another thing; she could see much farther than she'd thought possible. Hardly daring to breathe, she lifted her gaze to the hem of a skirt.

It was a satiny-type material, sturdy as cotton yet shimmery like silk. She reached down to touch it, and felt it's texture to be as soft as a rose petal. It's hem was golden, contrasting with it's dark green, almost black, color. Trailing her gaze from it, she realised that it wasn't merely a skirt, but a dress that she wore. It's fitted waist showed her trim, shapely figure, while it's scooped neckline exposed the creamy color of her skin. It's sleeves rested on her arms, as it was held up by two thin straps of that gilded thread. Needless to say, Lori was shocked to see something so lovely on her, and even more surprised to see that she was in the open air, surrounded by lush vegitation. Where in the name of all things holy WAS she? She didn't have much time to ponder, for almost instantly she caught the sound of a host of feet, including one horse.

Tense and ready to fight, she stood up, ignoring the full-length skirt that had fallen to her ankles and the fact that she was unarmed. If they tried anything, she'd be ready for them. To her releif, however, she only saw two average-height figures and three smaller ones, not including one that rested upon a pure white horses back. A family, perhaps? Standing still, she was surprised when one of the tall figures turned to her. "M'lady, I beg you to run ahead to Rivendell and tell Lord Elrond that I found the hobbit's."

Lori blinked in confusion; he obviously mistook her for someone else. But before she could correct his mistake, he spoke to her again. "Well, don't just stand there! Can't you see the hobbit is suffering? Imagine an Elven maid like yourself in his place! Now, run ahead and tell this tale," he spoke sharply to her, and at once she did as he bid. She started to run ahead, not even asking where she was going or why. She had to get to this "Lord Elrond" fellow and tell him about this "hobbit". Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, it hit her.

"I'm in Middle-earth... I must be," she thought, too winded to speak aloud. The one who had hailed her must have been Glorfindel, and the other tall figure Aragorn. The three trailing figures were Merry, Sam and Pippin, and the one on the horse had to be Frodo. It all began to make sense to her as she neared the city. Her heart pounded in her chest with the rythmn of her swift-moving feet. Bursting through crowds, she spied the palace and never took her eyes off it. Somehow she knew that there was a reason for her speed, though she couldn't remember what it was. Something to do with Black Riders... but she had forgotten the rest. Perhaps, like most dreams, she would forget everything and learn it in her unconcious delerium, but, then again, perhaps not.

Faster and faster her feet flew beneath her; with the haste borne of fear and wonder. But now wasn't the time to think, nor explore; that would come later she knew. For now, all she could do was run as swift as the wind and hope she wasn't too late for the poor hobbit. Her hair streamed out behind her in golden waves, throwing the sun's light into a million different directions, though she didn't care a twopence for it. So intent was she upon running that she failed to see a tall young "man" that was ahead of her. Seeing him too late, she had no time to check her speed. 'SLAM!' She banged right into him, knocking them both off their feet.

Her fall was cushioned this time. Unfortunatly for her, she fell right on top of the guy she'd bumped into. Red with embarrasment, she tried to push herself up, only to look into the most gorgeous blue eyes she'd ever seen. She was held fast by two strong arms, though it was in anger. "Watch where you're going! Can't you see a Prince on an errand?"
She went even redder. "I'm sorry, sir, but I have an urgent message for Lord Elrond. It cannot wait... a life depends on it," she said in a rush, not noticing that he'd said prince. Instantly he let her go.

"A life, you say? Then your mission is as urgent as mine. Come! let us be good to one another. My name is Legolas, son of Thranduil, king of Mirkwood. And now, your name, Lady?" He asked in the sweetest voice she could have imagined. His eyes seemed to bore right through her, and she knew he'd know if she lied. Thinking fast, she spoke.

"My name, sweet prince, is Laureli. I take it you also crave an audience with the Lord of this land?"

"Indeed, sweet lady, but had I known you were here, I'd have come quicker." He nearly whispered it, making her blood run warmer than usual. Why was he making her feel like this? He'd long since stood, and was now offering her a hand to stand up with. Taking it, she felt her pulse begin to hammer at his touch, and almsot gasped when she found herself only inches away from him. Had she given in to desire, she could have kissed him easily, but instead she let his hand go and ignored his offered arm.

He could see that she was acting skittish and knew why. Almost any female in Rivendell would have leapt at the chance to hold his arm, but this one was too shy to even consider it. Now that his anger had passed and he was walking in stride with her, he looked at her in a different light. She was beautiful; there was no use denying it. Yet, in his heart hope still flickered that Arwen would turn from her mortal lover and love him again, but even that was getting faint. This female had his interest, yet she chose to ignore it and walk through the streets bravely, without the support of anyone. They turned their steps towards the inner courtyard, and reached it within minutes.

Laureli looked at the high walls and turrets with awe and wonder; this had to be a fantasy. Never in her wildest dreams had she known things like this could exist, and she stood like a fool for a few seconds before Legolas gently grasped her arm. "Come, Lady. It's time for you to go to Lord Elrond. My business can wait, but yours cannot. Go along," he released her, pointing her for the great hall, then he walked away to talk to one of the guards, leaving her utterly and completly alone. She walked into the room silently, almost like a shadow. Elrond was the first thing she laid her eyes on.
His hair was very dark and longish, accentuating his intense eyes. But that was all she saw of him, for she instantly dropped into a curtsy. "Lord Elrond, I bear a message for you from Glorfindel. He says he found the hobbit and is bringing him to you, wounded but alive." She had stayed low and didn't notice that Legolas had crept into the room until he stood at her side.

"Lord Elrond, I also bear a message, but mine is not hopeful as hers. Smeagol, now called Gollum, is gone." He spoke softly, almost as though he was ashamed to say it. Elrond looked at both of them before he rose.

"Both of you I command to find a member of my court to guide you to your rooms. I will go to Glorfindel and bring the hobbit here. Rest and be merry, friends. Until we meet again," he said, then he was gone, walking smoothly away, silent like a panther. Legolas smiled and watched him leave before he offered her his arm again.

"Will you walk with me again, Laureli?"

Laureli blinked in confusion as he held out his arm to her as before. This time, however, there were watching eyes everywhere. It would be both foolish and impolite to resist in front of others. Gingerly taking his arm, she stepped a tiny bit closer. Ignoring the glances cast her way, she allowed the Prince of Mirkwood to lead her out into a large garden that was scented with sweet flowers, as if summer were still in it's prime. She cast another nervous glance at Legolas' handsome face, then quickly averted her eyes. He was so handsome, but so different. She couldn't think where she'd seen him, but she knew him somehow. It puzzled her, but she couldn't dwell on it without blushing.

Legolas had a smile upon his lips and one work-roughened hand resting atop her smooth ones, but only lightly. The last thing he wanted was for her to run away, or act like he had some deadly disease that would kill her. No, he wanted to walk with the lovely creature, to talk to her. Reaching up, he picked a white flower off a tree and handed it to her. "For you, sweet Laureli. A humble gift from the Prince of Mirkwood."

My, but wasn't he a flirt! She took it with a trembling hand, wondering what in the world to do with it. Her brain was so fuzzed with the presence of the prince that it refused to function properly. She didn't pull away, not even when she felt them stop and his hand rested against her cheek. All she knew was she didn't want him to move away... she was content. He pushed back her hair, then tucked the flower behind her ear. The movement made her powerless to resist him.

He seemed to know how utterly he affected her, just by the quickness of her pulse throbbing under his hand, or perhaps her heart was beating too loudly for her to deny it. The quick, dazzling smile lit his face again as he stepped back to inspect the flower. "Hrm... very pretty. But it just doesn't go with your dress," He muttered, looking every bit a critic. Laureli gulped in an attempt to act normal, but she knew it didn't come off very well, especially when Legolas broke into a soft chuckle. "Many other females would die for this chance, Lady Laureli, yet you seem to almost dread it. What is it you fear?"

"You," she whispered in a tone that was so soft it was nearly inaudible, even for a keen-eared elf. His eyes widened in wonder, then amusement.

"Me? Why, Lady, I have done nothing to frighten you, nor harm you. All I have done is ask you to walk with me, and offer my arm, yet you fear me? How can that be?" His voice was soft, though there was a hint of pain underneath his light tone. He'd always prided himself on his courtly manners and gentle demeanor, but this female had somehow humbled him. It was strange, but he almost felt the tugging at his heart Arwen had once brought. Could he be falling for this elf, even though they'd just met? No, it was impossible. Yet... no. He shook his head as though to clear it, only to notice that the lady had wandered off a little distance.

She was softly singing to herself, a lovely tune she couldn't put a time to, nor a name. But it was a song all the same. "You can reach me by railway. You can reach me by trailway. You can reach me on an aeroplane. You can reach me with your mind. You can reach me by caravan, cross the desert like an Arab man. I don't care how you get here, just get here if you can." She swayed slightly, forgetting the words here. For an instant, she couldn't see clearly for the tears in her eyes. Where had she heard that song? Why was it making her want to throw herself to the ground and sob? She didn't know. It was almost like she was living someone else's life, and this feeling didn't pass until the prince carefully placed one hand on her shoulder.

"Lady, that is a beautiful song. Whence came the words? I've never heard the like, so sad and expressive, without any joyfulness," he said with a smile, noticing the tears in her eyes with distress. He hoped he wasn't the reason, and instantly fished for a handkerchief, hoping that it would show her that he bore no ill-will towards her, nor any hard feelings. Finally finding it, he handed it to her with a slight feeling of guilt.

Laureli took it, wiped her eyes, then looked up into those sky blue eyes. "Thank you, Prince. As for the words, I think I made them up; I must have. I can't remember... it seems so dark and long ago. Almost like another lifetime. Do you understand?" She was shivering violently, but not in fear. It was as though a cold hand had just stroked her, making her muscles tense up. She was almost sure that he would think her crazy for saying what she had, but to her surprise he nodded.

"I understand. After living for 3000 years, one tends to understand the concept of another lifetime. Do you know any other songs, one that you could perhaps teach to me?" He was getting her mind off of it, calming her down with calm, assured ease. He wanted to reach out and hold her, but as she was afraid of him, he didn't dare. Instead he sat at the base of an old oak tree, his back resting against it's rough bark as though he were completly at ease now. He looked so happy that Laureli couldn't help but go and sit at his side.

"I guess I could teach you a few songs. Hrmm... let's see... what's an easy song to teach you?" She pondered this for a few moments, her eyes alight with her thoughts, making Legolas take notice. Didn't she realize how lovely she was when she was relaxed? He didn't have time to think, for she turned to him with a smile.

"I'll teach you 'Come What May'. It's pretty, and it's a duet. I think you'll like it. Or, do you want to learn something else? Wait; 'Come What May' is hard to pick up. Maybe I could teach you 'Something Worth Leaving Behind'? That one is really easy to pick up." Without further ado, she launched into song. Her voice was absolutely beautiful, with clear tones in it.

"Hey Mona Lisa who was Leonardo? was he Andy Warhol were you Marilyn Monroe? Hey Mozart what kinda name is Amadeaus? its kinda like Elvis you gotta die to be famous. I may not go down in history I just want someone to remember me I'll probably never hold the brush that paints a masterpiece I'll probably never find the pen that writes a symphony But if I will love, then I will find that I have touched another life and that's something something worth leaving behind. Hey Midas they say you had the magic touch but even all that shiny stuff someday's gonna turn to dust. Hey Jesus must have been some Sunday morning in a blaze of glory we're still telling your story. I may not go down in history I just want someone to remember me. I'll probably never dream a dream and watch it turn to gold I know I'll never lose my life to save another soul But if I will love, then I will find that I have touched another life and that's something something worth leaving behind. Hey baby see the future that we're building our love lives on in the lives of our children and that's something something worth leaving behind."

She sang it loudly, and Legolas just stared at her for the first verse. He was enraptured by her beauty as always, but there was something different now. It was as if she had suddenly turned into a radient creature who could sing like nothing else. By the third verse, he'd picked up the melody and was humming along. She was about to go over the words again when a trumpet blast sounded. Both she and the prince leapt to their feet, and he looked suddenly ashamed. "Lord Elrond is back... We should go inside." He stood and pulled her to her feet beside him, then they both took off at top speed, racing towards the palace on feet that were as swift as the wind.

(*Something Worth Leaving Behind is credited to Lee Ann Womack)

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