Lalaith Elerrina--Ward of Rivendell - Chapter 14

Lalaith came slowly back to reality, to the sweet scent of growing things, and the soft whisper of wind through tree tops. Her body felt depleted, and the effort to open her eyes was straining, so she left them closed, though she listened, with interest, to the exchange taking place nearby.

"Welcome, Legolas Thranduilion." The voice, speaking in Elvish, was Haldir's, now civil and courteous.

"Our Fellowship stands in your debt." Legolas' soft voice answered in return.

At the tones of Legolas' loved voice, Lalaith forced open her eyes, her twilit surroundings swimming slowly into focus. Above her, the trees were too thick to see the sky, in all but one spot where a single star shone through, gazing gently down upon her, as with a mother's gentle gaze, and filling her heart with peace and hope. She found herself upon a cloak on the edge of a talan, a flat platform high in the trees, with another cloak, Boromir's again, by the feel and smell of it, wrapped around her. Her hair had come out of its braid, and lay, billowing beneath her head, in the place of a pillow. Most elves had no fear of heights, and the talan had no walls, nor even a rail. Lalaith, however, felt immediate discomfort at finding herself so close to the edge, but because of her weakened state, found herself entirely too weak to move her limbs. She was barely able to turn her head, and had to satisfy herself with simply glancing away from the edge, toward the sound of Legolas' voice.

Legolas and their other companions stood with their backs to her, speaking to Haldir as Rumil and Orophin, and several other elves stood near. The elf maiden, Lothriel, sat cross legged near Lalaith, her bow and arrows across her back, stitching something with a needle and thread, and occasionally glancing up at Haldir with wide, adoring eyes.

"Ah, Aragorn of the Dunedain." Continued Haldir's voice, politely. "You also, are known to us. Your skill with healing and with herbs is to be admired, and will not be forgotten, for the Lady Lalaith Elerrina is a maiden well known and well loved in Lothlorien."

"And in Imladris." Aragorn returned softly, with a slight bow. "Lord Elrond will not soon forget your help, Haldir, and that of your fair Lorien maiden." Aragorn nodded in Lothriel's direction.

"Nor will I forget." Legolas added softly, almost reverently.

Haldir glanced back at Legolas, and he nodded slightly at Legolas' hand. "I see you wear her ring. It is a token of her troth?"

Legolas nodded. "It is."

"I congratulate you." Haldir struggled to offer a smile. "She is a maiden of rare beauty and grace, and courage."

"I thank you, Haldir of Lorien." Legolas said with a slight bow.

"So much for the legendary courtesy of the elves." Came Gimli's voice in the choppy tones of the Common Tongue, horribly loud in the quiet after the soft, unobtrusive elven speech from moments before. "Speak words we can all understand."

Haldir turned his eyes on the dwarf, lightning flashing from his gaze. "We have not had dealings with the dwarves since the dark days." He said slowly, his voice taking on a hint of hardness.

"And you know what this dwarf says to that?" Gimli demanded, and then proceeded to speak in a tongue with which Lalaith was not familiar. It was harsher than the Common Tongue, but Gimli would never stoop to speaking the Black Speech, so it could be nothing but Dwarvish, a language she'd never bothered to learn. Haldir clearly understood what was said though, as did Aragorn, and by the change in Haldir's countenance, Lalaith was glad she did not understand.

Turning, and snatching Gimli's arm roughly, Aragorn hissed, "That was not so courteous."

To his credit, Haldir turned from Gimli, instead of rebuking the obnoxious dwarf as he might have done, and stepped past him, to face Sam and Frodo, who had been standing back.

"You bring great evil with you." Haldir breathed evenly, though with apprehension in his voice, his gaze fixed on Frodo. Turing quickly to Aragorn, he stated with decisiveness, "We will take the Lady with us, and return her to Imladris when she is fully healed. But you can go no further."

Lalaith tried to open her mouth to protest, but found herself entirely unable to make a single word come forth. Frustrated, she turned her eyes upward, toward the single star she could see through the leafy branches.

"Do not fear, dear one." The voice was feminine, and Lalaith turned her eyes to Lothriel, thinking she had noticed her awake, and had spoken. But Lothriel was still gazing, as if entirely captivated, at Haldir, who was now speaking with Aragorn in soft, respectful tones, though it was clear that both were intent on being the victor of their argument. "Thou shalt not be dissuaded from thy quest." The voice continued, and Lalaith realized it had come from above her, as if from the star she could see through the treetops. "Nor wilt thou be long separated from him, he who loves thee, and to whom thou hast given thy heart's love." The voice was soft and soothing, and though Lalaith could not remember why, it was somehow familiar to her. "Thy friends are true, and will not forsake thee. Now sleep, my sweet child, and fear not."

Obeying the gentle command, Lalaith closed her eyes once again, and drifted into peaceful slumber, to be half awakened some time later, for how long she knew not, by Haldir's voice that spoke with authority nearby, and she knew that somehow he was speaking to her companions as he said, "You will follow me."

A moment later, she felt herself lifted in strong, capable arms, and felt the soft brush of fine Elven hair against her face. "Legolas?" She murmured groggily, having found the use of her tongue, though now, she could not open her eyes.

"Im Haldir." Haldir's voice answered as he adjusted her slight weight in his arms. "But do not fear, lissi hiril. He is near, and will not be far."

"Thank you, melonamin." She sighed, and settled her head against his shoulder, letting herself drift once again to the sweet sleep the gentle voice from the stars had coaxed her into.


Lalaith woke again, suddenly, surprised to find her senses fully returned. She remembered vaguely, being fed something, some warm liquid while she was sleeping, to help bring her strength back, herbs mixed in broth perhaps, but she could not remember.

She was been sleeping in an open glade, and glanced upward, blinking her eyes at the night sky, strewn with bright stars above her.

"Ah, Lady Lalaith. You are awake at last. I have been hoping you would waken soon." The voice across from her was filled with pleasure, and she sat up quickly, casting aside Boromir's cloak that had remained tucked about her and studied Haldir, seated not far from her, his back against a tree.

She brushed a hand through her loosened hair that fell down her back, pushing back the few strands that fell in front of her face.

"Lembas?" He asked, offering a broken corner from a wafer of elvish waybread. Lalaith realized then, that she was famished, and took it gratefully, knowing that though it was a morsel, it would satisfy her.

"Take more." He said, offering her another fragment. "You must recover your strength."

"Thank you, Haldir." Lalaith breathed as she took the second crumb, and chewed on the slightly sweet lembas. She swallowed, letting the warmth of the small morsels fill her empty stomach.

"Think not on it. It was my pleasure." Haldir said with a slight smile, his eyes reminding her, strangely, of Boromir's when he looked at her.

Lalaith dropped her eyes then, remembering that look. "Have you been-, happy, Haldir, since last I was here?" She asked quietly.

Haldir smiled softly, and nodded, although slowly. "I must admit my Lady, that for a time, my heart-," he gulped softly, and his smile quavered, "was pained. But as time passed, I realized you were right. That you-,"

"That I am far too fickle and childish to be the wife of one such as you?" She finished for him.

"I would hardly call you fickle and childish." Haldir smiled with an affectionate gaze. "That you love being happy, and that you love to laugh are hardly flaws. You were right when you said that it would be unfair to me, and to yourself if you agreed to marry me when you did not love me." He glanced at a figure sleeping beside Lalaith and nodded at Legolas. "I am pleased to see that the one who has won your heart, is worthy of it." Haldir smiled, though sadly. "I had suspected it was Prince Legolas then, who possessed your love, though even you did not yet fully know it. When he speaks of you, I can see that he has loved you all your life. He deserves you more than I did."

"I am sorry if I hurt you, Haldir." She said quietly.

"I am not." Haldir smiled kindly. "Your words were wise. I have healed-, slowly. And things have turned as they should. And someday, perhaps-,"

As his words trailed off, Lalaith's eyes strayed from him to a group of Lorien elves who stood not far away. Lothriel was among them, as if conversing with them quietly, though her eyes were on Haldir. "Perhaps there one for you," she said, almost to herself.

Haldir nodded, and took a small bite from the same Lembas wafer he had torn the morsels from for Lalaith. "Perhaps." He said softly, his eyes remaining on her face. He had not followed Lalaith's glance.

Lothriel lowered her eyes then, sighed sadly, and turned away. Lalaith pursed her mouth softly, then turned her eyes to the side where Legolas lay, his breathing soft and even, his hand covering hers, which she had not moved from beneath his, even when she had awakened. Legolas was turned toward her, near enough for her to reach out and touch his face. Lalaith frowned suddenly as she studied his sleeping face. Why was he-, She glanced around at their other companions, scattered here and there, about her on the ground, sleeping. Boromir was asleep on her other side, turned on his side to face her, as Legolas was. It was the same with Boromir as it was with all the others.

"Haldir," she demanded suddenly, "why are they all blindfolded?

"By our law, for the Dwarf to come, it was necessary." Haldir smiled in remembrance, as if amused. "He refused unless Prince Legolas was blindfolded as well."

"Ohh!" Lalaith seethed, incensed. "A plague on Gimli's stiff neck!"

Haldir smirked, thoroughly amused. "Those are near to the same words your beloved used."

"And so the dispute was solved by blindfolding them all?" She demanded.

"It was at Aragorn's proposal." Haldir insisted, lifting his hands in defense.

Lalaith's momentary wrath cooled slightly. "Prideful though he may be, it must have been difficult for Gimli to be singled out, and treated thusly after all that we endured in Moria." Lalaith felt a ragged breath pull at her lungs as she thought of their loss of Gandalf. "To be told he was not trusted, must have wounded him, for I know Gimli to be honest."

Haldir drew in a sharp breath as he shot a stern look at Gimli, snoring boisterously near the edge of the glade. Haldir clearly had no kind feelings for Dwarves, but Lalaith understood his animosity all too well, for she had felt it herself. "I do not doubt you." He agreed stiffly. "Yet, still it is our law."

"But Legolas is an elf as are we." Lalaith moved nearer to Legolas as if she intended to remove the blindfold, but Haldir's voice stopped her.

"Do not do that, my Lady." He bid her gently. "I am not the maker of the law, simply the keeper of it."

Lalaith sighed in acceptance and turned to face him again. "And where are we now? How long have I slept?"

"We are a half day's journey from Cerin Amroth, and the city of Caras Galadhon. Aragorn stopped your bleeding and bound your wound. We dressed you in one of our tunics, as your own was torn and bloodstained. Since then, you have been sleeping for the better part of two days. We have traveled far in that time." He said. "And we are safe from orcs here in the Naith."

Lalaith grew silent then, noting what he had said about dressing her, and glanced down at herself, seeing for the first time, that she wore a new tunic, woven and fashioned in the style of the elves of Lothlórien. Lifting her eyes again, she shot Haldir a scathing, accusing look.

"And who Haldir-," she stammered tugging on the cloth of her new shirt, "who did this?"

At that, Haldir laughed outright, turning several heads of his comrades. It was not Haldir's way to laugh often. "Do not fear, dear Lady. "That was the work of Lothriel, our brave maiden. For myself, I saw nothing, for it was Aragorn who dressed the wound with our herbs and bandages. Lothriel helped him, and she is the only one who saw any more than that."

Lalaith glanced at the elf maiden who smiled shyly and nodded at Haldir's words. At last, Lalaith released a sigh of relief, and turned once again to Legolas, who, in his sleep, was slowly caressing the back of her hand with his thumb.

She moved her free hand, turned toward him, and ran a finger slowly along the strong line of his jaw. Legolas sighed softly, with deep contentment, and continued sleeping. "It is a pity, Haldir, that my love should walk blindfolded through Lórien when the sun shines so merrily, and the leaves are as gold."

Haldir's shoulders lifted and fell, and he nodded but said nothing.

"If Legolas must go blindfolded, then I will as well." She said, turning from Legolas to face Haldir.

Haldir's eyes disagreed. "My Lady, you are our kin. There is no need-,"

"I am one of this Fellowship, Haldir. No better than they. If they must walk blindfolded, then I must as well. Now that I am awake, it is only right. As a keeper of your law, you can understand that."

Haldir raised his brows in reluctant consent, and reached beside him into a small pack drawing out another blindfold as Lalaith rose slowly, testing her legs, realizing she had not stood in days, since the moment she had collapsed into Haldir's arms and lost consciousness. Shaking Boromir's cloak out gently, she stepped toward the Man of Gondor, and knelt beside him.

"Thank you, Boromir, my friend." She said softly in the Common Tongue, though he could not hear her as she spread it over him, and tucked it about his broad shoulders.

And then, in that moment as she smoothed his cloak over his chest, Boromir's hand reached from beneath his cloak, and rested upon hers. "Lalaith." He breathed through his sleeping lips, intense, impassioned emotion overflowing in that one, soft word. For a moment, her thoughts turned to Haldir, and the look that seemed so similar to Boromir's when he looked at her. Her smooth forehead furrowed then as she quickly withdrew her hand, and stood up.

"It must be a great comfort, my Lady, to have so many devoted-, friends." Lalaith spun, feeling almost guilty, to see Haldir who had been waiting behind her with a broad strip of cloth.

"It-, it is." She stammered.

Haldir smiled sympathetically, and lifted the blindfold in offering, his eyebrows raised, silently questioning her.

With a sigh, Lalaith turned, and closed her eyes as she felt the silky fabric slide gently over her eyelids. Haldir's deft fingers gently tied the loose ends of the cloth at the back of her head, firmly covering her eyes, yet soft against her skin as well, and then his large, strong hands rested gently on her shoulders.

"You are very fair, Lalaith." Haldir murmured softly against her loosened hair. "Your equal in beauty has never been, nor will ever be. Any man who has not given his heart away would be blind not to see it, and admire you, if only from afar."

"The number of my admirers does not matter to me, Haldir." Lalaith returned gently. "I love none but Legolas."

Haldir sighed, patting her shoulders gently. "That, I can see. As can he. I have seen the acceptance of it in his eyes." Lalaith was not sure whom Haldir had referred to with his last words, but she seemed to sense that he had nodded toward Boromir as he had spoken. "But I fear you have still, unwittingly, taken more hearts than you are aware, melon nin."

"You have recovered, Haldir, and you are an Elf," she sighed wearily. "Others will as well."

"I hope so." He acquiesced with a kindly squeeze of her shoulders. "Now take your rest, my Lady. I have wearied you with talking. We have not far to go tomorrow, but you are still healing. You have given him his cloak back. Will you take mine to keep warm?"

"No, Haldir, but thank you. I will sleep beside Legolas. He will keep me warm enough."

"Very well." Haldir agreed, and she felt him withdraw his hands.

She settled once again on the ground, and reached out, seeking Legolas' hand, and when she found its familiar warmth, she drew close to him, and settled with a soft sigh into the familiar curve of his arm, her head resting against his shoulder. His arms instinctively tightened around her, secure and protective, and drew her close. She could sense Haldir's eyes on them, but could feel no jealously from him. Haldir was indeed a true friend who deserved his own happiness. Soon, she hoped, he would notice Lothriel, as the maiden had clearly noticed him.

Lalaith sighed happily with that thought, and nuzzled Legolas' shoulder as she settled once again into a contented sleep.


Lalaith woke to the welcome warmth of morning sunlight on her body as well as the security of Legolas' arms around her. She could tell by the way he softly stirred, that he was awake already, and perhaps only waiting for her to awaken as well before he moved too suddenly.

"Legolas." She sighed, slowly sitting up, and stretching slowly.

"A, Lalaith," Legolas sighed, rising to sit beside her. "I was so afraid for you. For a time, I thought I would lose you."

"Legolas." She returned softly. "I am sorry I frightened you. But I-,"

Legolas suddenly cut her words off, with a sudden, unexpected, though not unwelcome kiss, soft and warm, as all his kisses were.

"I see you have found that your intended bride has regained her strength." Came Haldir's cheerful voice nearby. "Clearly, none is more grateful for her return to health, than you, Legolas Thranduilion." Haldir's voice sobered quickly, and he added in a more respectful tone, "One loss to your company is already more than enough." He sighed low, and finished, "The others are ready to begin. We will cover the last distance to our city before the sun reaches its zenith."

With a deep breath, Legolas rose at Haldir's words, and gently drew Lalaith up after him. Wavering on her feet, Lalaith quickly wove her fingers through Legolas' feeling secure with his nearness.

"My Lady?" She heard Haldir ask gently as he took her other hand lightly within his, and guided her forward.

"Of course, Haldir." She said with a nod, grateful to have someone she knew, in whom to trust as her guide through the forests and over the trails of Loth Lorien.

With her senses cleared, she could now hear the sounds of others around her. The soft voices of the four hobbits came from behind her, and Gimli stirring and snorting beside them. Muffled footfalls from a pair of heavy feet, and a soft voice, as of one clearing his throat, told her where Boromir was. She could not hear Aragorn, even with her keen senses, but it was not surprising. He could be as quiet as an elf if he wished. They were making their way along a trail, all of them in a file, Haldir leading the way, with Lalaith's hand resting gently in his, while Legolas walked willingly behind her, his thumb softly tracing her knuckles as it always seemed to when he held her hand. Though she was uncertain how the others fared, Lalaith did not once stumble, even slightly, as they made their way along, so careful was Haldir's lead.

Legolas drew in a deep breath that swelled in his chest as their company passed beneath an open space where the warming sun filtered through, and touched their faces. "Tell me, Lalaith," he asked quietly, "does the sun shine on the leaves of Lorien in hues of gold as I imagine them?"

"That is what I imagine also Legolas, but I do not know." She returned. "I woke in the night to the starlight, and when I saw you as you were, and the others, I insisted that my eyes be bound as well. I have seen no more of the beauty of the sunlit forests than you."

Legolas drew nearer, and his free hand rose to her face immediately as he felt the binding around her eyes with gentle fingertips.

"It was my choice." She reminded him softly. "I am a part of the Fellowship. It is only fair."

"Oh, Lalaith." She heard a sober smile within his voice. "I would not have known. You walk as gracefully without your sight, as you do when you walk freely beneath the sun."

"It is not me, my love, but the skill of Haldir with which he guides us." She said, and offered a grateful smile in Haldir's direction.

"Nay, my Lady." Haldir answered her, and she could hear a kind smile in his voice. "It is not my skill that lends you the grace to move as a willow in the most gentle of breezes."

Lalaith's smile faded, and she felt her face grow warm. Further behind her, she heard a soft sigh, and heard within it, a hint of sadness. It was Lothriel's voice.

"Lalaith?" Boromir's voice, further behind the Loth Lorien maiden, was filled with anxiety as he called out her name. "You are awake?"

"Yes, I am here, Boromir." She called softly in the Common Tongue as she unconsciously shrank closer to Legolas, remembering Boromir's reaction to her touch the night before, and Haldir's words afterwards. Hard for her to hear, yet truthful, she admitted to herself.

At Boromir's voice, the voices of the hobbits came at her as well.

"Lady Lalaith?" A small, anxious voice called. It was Pippin's voice, his mouth not surprisingly, was filled with food as he munched on what sounded like an apple, or some other fruit one of their guides must have given him. "Is that you?"

"It is, Pippin." She called in return. Are you and the other hobbits all well?"

"We're fine." The other three answered, echoing each other.

The hobbits' dear little voices lacked the usual merriment to which she was accustomed, but it was not surprising, for the pain of Gandalf's loss was too near the surface for any of them to be very cheerful.

"It is good to hear your voice, Lalaith." Aragorn's voice called to her closer to her than Boromir had been. He was speaking in the Common Tongue for the sake of Boromir and the hobbits. His voice paused a moment, then queried, "But why be blindfolded? You are known here."

"I am one of the Fellowship, Aragorn, no better than any of the rest of you." She returned. "And I will not walk freely while Legolas is left without his sight."

Legolas' hand gently squeezed her own as murmurs of admiration came from her other companions, and even an approving grumble erupted from Gimli's throat.

"And you, Gimli?" She called out. "Are you well?"

"The elf-girl actually asked about me. Imagine that." Gimli said gruffly, as if speaking to himself, though his voice was intentionally loud enough for everyone else to hear. He then spoke up and called out, "I'm fine."

Boromir had not spoken since the hobbits had, and Lalaith turned her words back in his direction.

"I must thank you, Boromir, for the use of your cloak." She said, trying to keep her voice light. "It was thoughtful of you."

"T'was no sacrifice, my Lady." He breathed, his soft voice trembling slightly, and fighting emotion.

A commotion from further ahead interrupted them, and Lalaith's senses suddenly became strung, until she heard the sound of their guides greeting the coming group, and many voices, friendly voices answered, speaking in Elvish all around her.

"Haldir," one of the new voices called, as one elf rushed toward them where Haldir had halted.

"What is it?" Haldir's voice asked sternly of the breathless elf.

"We are in haste toward the northern borders to guard against possible attack from Moria, but we have come to bring you news." He reported quickly. "The marauding orcs have been waylaid, and nearly all destroyed. The remnant fled westward to the mountains."

"That is good news." Haldir's voice answered, waiting for him to continue.

"Also, there was seen a strange creature, not one of the orcs, running with a bent back and hands near the ground, much like a beast in its movements, but not of beast-shape. We did not shoot it, not knowing whether it was evil or good. It vanished down the Silverlode stream, southward."

Lalaith felt herself shudder, and heard a soft moan come from Frodo's throat behind her as well. She and he both knew, instinctively, who the creature was, the elves had seen.

"Also," the elf finished, his voice turned now, toward their group, "we bring a message from the Lord and Lady. They are all to walk free, even the dwarf. The Lady knows who and what is each member of their Company."

The elf spoke his farewells, and then with a rustle of grass, the company of elves was gone as swiftly as it had appeared.

Lalaith could not withhold a gasp of delight as she heard the words again in the Common Tongue as Aragorn quickly translated them for the others, and her hand fell from Haldir's soft grasp, as she felt Legolas' hand leave hers as his fingers lightly traced along the lines of her arms, her throat, and her face as he found the knotted blindfold, reached behind her head, deftly unknotted the cloth, and drew the bandage away from her eyes.

She blinked quickly in the soft golden light of the woods, Legolas' welcome face, still blindfolded, taking up most of her vision. Quickly lifting her own hands, she slipped them behind his head, as he had done for her, found the knot of cloth, and quickly loosened it. A smile spread across her lips as she gathered the soft swathe of cloth in her hands as it fell away from his eyes, and he opened them, blue as a cloudless sky, catching her heart on a beat as he blinked them quickly, focused on her, and smiled.

"Lalaith, to see you now, awake-," he breathed in no more than a whisper as he touched her face, and smoothed his fingers through her unbound hair, studying her carefully, as if wanting to memorize every detail of her face. "When the Valar fashioned you-," he cut off, as if not knowing how to speak his thoughts.

"Lalaith," She turned to see Aragorn standing near, a small smile on his face.

"Oh, Aragorn." She sniffed softly, and stepped forward to embrace him, planting a kiss on his scruffy cheek. "Thank you." Beyond Aragorn's shoulder, she could see Boromir. His head was down, his eyes looking hard at the ground, and his chest was rising and falling with repressed emotion.

Lalaith gulped hard, then drew back, smiling once again into Aragorn's face.

"Your pardon!" Haldir's voice came now from beyond Boromir. He had moved down the trail, and she turned to see Haldir, just as he removed the blindfold from Gimli's eyes.

Gimli shook his head, blinking hard, and squinting upward at the trees about him, wreathed in golden leaves, with spears of sunlight piercing through, and giving the very air about them a golden sheen.

Haldir bowed before Gimli, and said in a voice, more generous than she had expected, "Look on us now with friendly eyes. Look and be glad, for you are the first dwarf to behold the trees of the Naith of Lorien since Durin's day."

Gimli smiled and slapped Haldir's arm in a friendly gesture, almost knocking him over, but Haldir simply smiled slightly, and started away from him, back toward Lalaith, and the front of the column. As he passed Lothriel, she looked up at him and offered him a hopeful, wide eyed smile, but he barely acknowledged the elf maiden, who then dropped her eyes, and sighed once again, when he had passed.

When Haldir marched past the two humans, however, the Lorien elf's eyes focused on Boromir, and by Haldir's expression, Lalaith could see that he guessed the Man's unspoken ache, as she had. When he had joined her once again, the tall elf turned his eyes on her for a moment, and offered her a quick, sympathetic smile before he spoke.

"We are not far. Cerin Amroth is but over the next ridge. Come."

At his words, the company started again, all in a single file, with the exception of Legolas and Lalaith, who walked side by side, their fingers interwoven. Legolas' eyes flicked between the golden treetops, and the light of Lalaith's face, his gaze almost hungry in each instance, as if he could not fill his senses with enough of the sight of each.

As the company drew to the top of the final ridge, and the trees cleared, the hill of Cerin Amroth came into view, its majestic trees bathed gloriously in a shower of golden sunlight. Lalaith had been here before, but as always, the sight was wondrous and breathtaking to her, and even to Haldir, whose home was here, as he gazed upon it with delight.

"Caras Galadhon." He said reverently. "The heart of Elvendom on Earth. Realm of the Lord Celeborn, and of Galadriel, Lady of Light."

Lady Galadriel, and Lord Celeborn. Lalaith repeated their names in her mind as the company started down the other side of the ridge. Two who were as grandparents to her. She remembered being dandled on Celeborn's knee, and the little gowns Galadriel had given her as a tiny child. She had been treated no differently than Arwen or her brothers. Lalaith drew in a deep breath, and released it slowly. Here, they would find help, and much needed rest. The danger of their quest suddenly seemed less treacherous, less perilous, at least for the moment.

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