Lalaith Elerrina--Child of the Stars - Chapter 1

A hundred days have made me older
Since the last time that I saw your pretty face.
A thousand lies have made me colder
and I don't think I can look at this the same.
All the miles that separate,
disappear now when I'm dreaming of your face.
I'm here without you baby
but you're still on my lonely mind.
I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time.
I'm here without you baby,
but you're still with me in my dreams.
And tonight, there's only you and me.
The miles just keep rolling
as the people leave their way to say hello.
I hear this life is overrated,
but I hope that it gets better as we go.
I'm here without you baby
but you're still on my lonely mind.
I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time.
I'm here without you baby,
but you're still with me in my dreams.
And tonight girl, there's only you and me.
Everything I know and anywhere I go,
it gets hard but it won't take away my love.
And when the last one falls, when it's all said and done.
It gets hard but it won't take away my love.
I'm here without you baby,
but you're still on my lonely mind.
I think about you baby and I dream about you all the time.
I'm without you baby,
but you're still with me in my dreams.
And tonight girl, there's only you and me.

Chapter 1

Arod's hooves picked his way lightly over the jutting roots upon the barely visible path as Legolas atop his back, let him pick his own course. He barely paid heed to Gimli behind him, for the Dwarf, to his credit, had become more comfortable on Arod's back, and did not crush Legolas' breath from him as he used to. The forest that seemed to watch them as they went, towered above them and about them, warm and humid, with a vague murmur that ran through the trees, as of watchful, steady breathing.

The feeling would have been almost eerie, but for his anticipation that caused his heart to leap wildly in his chest whenever the thought came to him. Lalaith was near. He could sense it. He was drawing closer to her with every step Arod took. In only a short time, they would be together again. He would feel the reality of her in his arms again, for no longer would she be a mere dream. It had seemed like years since he had held her last upon the banks of the Anduin. So much had happened since then. So much he had to tell her, and she, especially with the two young Hobbits having been her companions these last days, would doubtless have many stories to tell him.

After all the sleepless nights he had spent worrying about her, dreaming so vividly of her, yet knowing they were not truly together, their reunion would be a joyful one. He drew in a breath imagining the delighted light of her smile when they met at last. When they found themselves, once again in each other's arms.

Legolas smiled, thinking of the shocked look that would come upon young Éomer's usually somber face at this sudden and unexpected display of Elven emotion. The young Third Marshal of the Mark knew little of their race, and had until now, only seen Elves at their grimmest need, upon the plains of Rohan, and in battle at Helm's Deep. Legolas chuckled softly to himself, imagining Éomer's jaw falling slack at the display of merriment of which Lalaith was so capable.

"What're you laughing about?" Muttered Gimli from his place behind him.

"Nothing." Legolas returned lightly. "I am only looking forward to telling Lalaith of our final count."

Gimli made an unpleasant noise in his throat at these words. "Are you still sore that I beat you by one?"

"Our final score was even. Forty-three, each." Legolas stated firmly and smiled, turning his gaze into the trees.

"Of all the confounded Elvish pride!" Gimli grumbled loudly. "As I distinctly recalling having told you before, several times, that last orc was already dead!"

"Gentlemen," Aragorn's voice, carrying a gentle warning, called out to the arguing pair.

"It was twitching." Legolas finished, his voice a firm whisper.

"Did you miss the small detail that was my axe sticking out of its head?" Gimli grated through clenched teeth. And to this, Legolas remained silent. But it was not because of the Dwarf's reprimand. For off in the trees, beneath the green muted shadows of the distance, there were eyes watching him, golden eyes that were filled with the wisdom of ages beyond recall.

"I see eyes in the trees!" Legolas called to the others, furrowing his brow as the watchful golden eyes disappeared from his sight for a moment as he turned Arod's head off the trail.

"Oh, no you don't!" Gimli crowed in protest. "You'll not be going off after any eyes in the forest while I'm your passenger."

Reluctantly, Legolas drew up on Arod's reins, bringing him up short. With a nudge, he turned him again back upon the trail as the Dwarf behind him uttered a breathy sigh of relief.

"And Lalaith's not that way, anyway." Gimli muttered, half to himself.

Legolas could not help but smile at the mention of her name, and behind him, Gimli chuckled softly, sensing the Elf's anticipation.

"She'll be glad to see you too, Lad." Gimli assured him, his gruff voice growing gentle.

"I have so much to tell her." Legolas breathed, smiling as the shadows of the trees passed over them. "Of Rohan, and of Helm's Deep." He sighed low, as a somber thought came upon him, "and I shall have to tell her of Boromir and of Haldir. She will take the news hard, I fear." A shadow passed over his heart, darker than the first. "And I must tell her of Greta-,"

"Agh, but what's there to fear?" Grumbled Gimli. "You didn't do anything! That strumpet got better than she deserved. Banishment? Phrr."

As he said these words, a spear of light cut down upon the winding path where the horse's hooves trod softly, and the trees parted at last, revealing a high wall, through broken where they stood, a great cracked gouge where two small child sized figures sat leaning upon ragged stones, leisurely smoking away at their small pipes, expressions of complete contentment upon their faces. About them were strewn the remains of a fine feast, gnawed apples cores, scattered bones of fowl, and half empty wine bottles amongst other scattered remnants.

Legolas' heart leapt. If Pippin and Merry were here, then Lalaith was sure to be nearby.

One of the Hobbits looked up at their approach, Merry, and after a hurried second glance, he leaped up, straightening his waistcoat as best as he could at the sight of them. Pippin, cast them a glance and grinned, though he remained sitting happily where he was.

"Welcome, my lords to Isengard!" Merry drawled, indicated that he was somewhat intoxicated. A small grin touched Legolas' face in spite of himself.

"Pah!" Gimli cried at the sight of them. "A merry chase you led us on! And here we find you, feasting, and-, and smoking!"

A low murmur of soft laughter ran through their small group, before Legolas at last, stood in the stirrups, and unable to hide the eager tones from his voice called out, "Where's Lalaith?"

"Up there!" Pip called, pointing up the ragged, almost sheer rock face to the ledge of the unbroken wall above them. "But she's um-," Pippin faltered and cast what seemed to be a look of worry mixed with confusion at Legolas. "I think she'll be glad to see you."

Legolas leapt eagerly from Arod's back, in spite of the unease Pippin's words caused him, and scrambled lightly up to the ragged tear in the wall where the Hobbits stood. And with the inborn grace of his people, and a hunger to see his love at last, he lightly and swiftly scaled the rocky slope of wall to the crest. The top of the wall was wide and flat where Lalaith stood facing away from him, her back straight, her hands hanging heavily beside her as she gazed at the rising sun in the east.

Her hair hung unbound down her back in a shimmering mass, still beautiful in spite of the fact that it had not seen a brush since Lothlórien. She barely moved, but for her soft breathing, and Legolas smiled, swallowing a soft lump in his throat. How he would always remember this moment, seeing her like this, the morning sun catching her hair, all in peaceful repose.

"So here you are." He called at last, the words sweet on his tongue as he reached out, and touched lightly, the soft curve of her shoulder.

"Legolas?" She asked, stiffening at his touch, and Legolas furrowed his brow and drew his hand back, tipping his head in a silent question at the ragged, fragile tones of her voice as she turned to him, her brilliant eyes finding his, as beautiful as they had ever been, though they shimmered with unshed tears. Tears that Legolas sensed with growing alarm, were not happy ones.

"Lalaith nin." Legolas murmured. His arms ached to draw her to him, to bring a smile to her face, to taste the joy of her eager kisses. Yet something in her eyes pushed him back. Gently he whispered, "What's wrong?"

"Oh, Legolas." Lalaith sighed, shaking her head and struggling to offer him a brave smile, though her lower lip trembled softly as she did. "Nothing should be. You are here, safe, in spite of my worst fears. And my heart tells me that everything she said, was a lie. Still yet-," Her eyes studied his own, breaking his heart with the wretched pain they carried. "Everything is wrong. How could she know so many things about you, about me, unless-,"

"What do you mean, everything is wrong?" He breathed softly, his heart beginning to pound with painful throbs at her broken words, fraught with misery.

"Because," she sighed raggedly, her eyes dropping away, "you are not one to do such a thing, frivolously. You must feel something for her. And after all you said, claiming that I am too far above you, it could be true. And if it is true, then I have lost everything."

Legolas furrowed his brow, pleading with her with his eyes, his heart burdened with questions he did not know how to even begin to ask.

"Do you not understand, Legolas?" She asked, her words soft and agonized. "I could let you go, feeling some peace, if I knew you would be happy. If she spoke the truth Legolas, then-," She drew in a ragged breath and finished, impassioned, "Then the one your heart has chosen, does not love you back! It was all a lie. All of it!"

At Lalaith's words, Legolas heart stopped upon a beat, only to resume at a furious pace, each ragged beat tearing his heart as he tried in vain to deny what he had just heard.

He gulped, feeling his face grow ashen as he studied the look of misery upon the face of the maiden before him. He loved Lalaith. With all that he was, and all that he ever would be, he loved her. He would stay at her side, though all the powers of Morgoth sought to destroy her. He would die for her, if he was called upon to do so. How could she say, with her own lips, that she did not love him?!

But they were betrothed! He reminded himself desperately, grasping at that thought, as a drowning man snatches at shreds of straw. She had told him that she loved him, she had promised herself to him, in what seemed an age before. The memory of her softness in his arms, the thrill the touch of her brought to him, her kisses, moist and sweet like summer fruit, wafted warmly through his mind.

Yet upon the heels of these tender memories followed the cold, bleak reminder of his rebuff in Lothlórien. When he had learned of her divine origin, and believed himself unworthy of her. She had tried so many times to reclaim him only to be denied, that he had lost count. His apology to her upon the banks of the Anduin had been unfulfilled, and perhaps she had not understood what he had tried to say to her. Was he too late now? Had she given up on him at last?

Legolas struggled to remember all the words she had spoken to him, in the last few moments. But most of her words were a haze now, their meanings vague, lost in a jumble within his mind. Forgotten beneath the weight of the last words she said, the words that rang loudly again like a death knell. Their meaning was clear. "The one your heart has chosen, does not love you back! It was all a lie. All of it!"

As these words tore anew at the already jagged wounds upon his heart, Legolas released a ragged breath, and dropped his eyes to the cold cruel stone beneath his feet.

*"Here without You", Three Doors Down, copyright 2002, Universal Records.

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