Lalaith Elerrina--Ward of Rivendell - Chapter 26
"I have taken my worst wound at this parting."
Lalaith glanced over her shoulder at Gimli who had spoken in melancholy tones.
"Having looked my last upon that which is fairest." He finished with heavy wistfulness.
The stream upon which they rode had not even joined the Anduin yet, but Gimli already seemed sad. He sat behind her, hunched and dejected, his bearded face gazing out at the water with a thoughtful look to his eyes.
"Is it the Lady Galadriel you speak of, Gimli?" Lalaith asked.
"It is." Gimli sighed wistfully. "From henceforth, I will call nothing fair unless it be the Lady's gift to me."
"What was her gift?" Legolas asked from behind Gimli.
"I asked her for one hair from her golden head." Gimli sighed thoughtfully. "She gave me three. Now, I will see nothing else as beautiful, since I have parted Lorien."
"And what am I, then?" Lalaith asked, pretending hurt.
"Auh," Gimli paused, and Lalaith could see a blush beginning beneath the red brown of his beard, "You're eh, spoken for."
Lalaith lifted her eyes, seeing Legolas' grinning face over the top of Gimli's head. "And what of Lord Celeborn?" She asked playfully, though she feigned a demanding tone.
"Euh," this time, Gimli's pause was longer, and more awkward than his last. "He is-, not here."
"Then you would be praising Lalaith as highly as Lady Galadriel, were I absent?" Legolas asked, flashing Lalaith a warm glance over the dwarf's head.
"I would, perhaps." Gimli admitted.
"And what would you say of her, were I not present?" Legolas queried.
"Auh," sighed Gimli, with a shy grin, and a friendly wink at Lalaith. "I would say that she is almost as beautiful as Galadriel. And that the two are fairer than all other women, who have ever been, or ever will be."
Sunlight fairly danced out of Legolas' eyes as his glance once again met hers over the dwarf's head. "You need not fear any jealous reprimand from me, my friend." He said gently, his words spoken to Gimli, though his eyes did not leave Lalaith's. "I cannot fault your speaking the truth, with but one flaw. For the Lady Lalaith far outshines the Lady Galadriel."
At Legolas' words, Gimli smirked, and glanced over his shoulder at the elf, noticing the expression his face carried as Legolas tenderly studied Lalaith's lightly flushing features. Gimli chuckled, glancing between the two elves, and shook his head, slapping his sturdy knees in repressed glee.
The moon that rose above their camp along the west bank of the great Anduin was full, and shone with a luster that brightened the land and the ever flowing water with a soft, sliver brilliance. Lalaith sat silent, cross legged and still as stone, upon the ledge of a foliage shrouded rock that edged out over the rocky bank where the boats had been dragged for the night. The night air here at the river's edge felt warm to her, and she had removed her quiver along with her Lorien cloak and her jerkin, and she had unfastened the top clip of her tunic as well. But now she was beginning to regret that she was without her weapons as she watched the shadowy scrap of a log slip quietly down the flow of the water, and bump softly into the rocky bank some distance downstream. In spite of the warmth she felt in the night air, she still shivered. She could see the glimmer of large dark eyes peeking just over the top of the rotten wood, and she caught a soft gasp in her throat and flinched a little as the back of her shoulder, the spot where she'd been branded so many centuries before, began to pulse with a low ache.
She reached a hand over her shoulder to massage the ache through the thin cloth of her tunic. But the pain did not ease.
"'Tis Gollum." A warm voice whispered at her shoulder as Legolas came near and knelt behind her.
"Yes." Lalaith whispered in return. She felt Legolas' warm hand trail along her golden braid until it came to rest on her shoulder. His thumb instinctively brushed the spot where her shoulder was beginning to burn, and within an instant, the pain receded and faded, her skin cooling beneath his touch. "The Men have noticed, as well." She added, nodding downward, through the branches that hid them, toward Aragorn and Boromir.
"Gollum." Aragorn's quiet voice echoed Legolas' as Boromir peered out from behind a large boulder, watching the same rotten log as it slowly drifted along. "He has tracked us since Moria."
Legolas' hand had not left her shoulder, and Lalaith smiled, closed her eyes, and leaned into his touch, forgetting the humans below her, and turning all her senses to Legolas. "I have missed this, Legolas." She murmured quietly to the cool night air.
"As have I." He returned, inching closer.
Lalaith glanced below here where her quiver was resting, propped up against a twisted, dried out husk of a log, with her cloak and jerkin folded neatly on the log's smooth surface between Merry and Pippin as they slept, the weak firelight dancing off of their sleeping faces, both of them turned toward her belongings as if they were guarding them for her. Gimli slept not far off, his customary snores interrupted by occasional mumblings. Frodo was not sleeping, yet, and Sam was not, either. Sam, with worried tones, was trying to convince Frodo to eat something, but the small Ringbearer seemed too troubled and occupied, to take Sam's offer. At last Sam reluctantly retreated, and went to his own bedroll. Frodo lay down also after a few more moments, but he did not close his eyes. By the troubled look on his face, she guessed that he was listening to Boromir who was speaking to Aragorn, his once soft words now escalated into harsh, argumentative tones.
Lalaith sighed. Frodo did not need any more to trouble him. He had enough as it was, having the responsibility of the One Ring thrust so unwanted, upon him. If it had not been for Sam, dear little Sam, now tossing restlessly in an effort to sleep comfortably, the journey would have been even more difficult for the poor Ringbearer than it already was.
By the tones of Boromir's raised voice, it was clear that he was at odds, painfully so, with Aragorn over their future path. Boromir wanted to go by way of Minas Tirith, in Gondor. Aragorn did not believe such a path would be a wise choice.
"You are afraid!" Boromir fairly shouted at Aragorn. His voice harsh and accusing was magnified in the quiet, causing Lalaith to flinch where she watched from her perch. Legolas' hand tightened upon her shoulder. "All your life you have hidden in the shadows! Scared of who you are, of what you are!" His words cut off then, and he glanced about, his gaze half angry, half ashamed. A battle was going on inside of him. That was clear enough, and Lalaith pitied him.
"I will not lead the Ring within a hundred leagues of your city." Aragorn hissed quietly, yet decisively, effectively ending the argument.
"Lalaith, come." Legolas urged from behind her, taking her mind off of the conflict between the humans below her. "I found something I want to show you."
His hand slid down her arm from her shoulder to her hand, and he stood up, lifting her to her feet.
Intrigued by the suddenly eager tones of his voice, Lalaith followed him, as he led her through the thick, shadowy brush. So curious, she was, as to what Legolas wanted her to see, that she did not noticed Boromir stalk angrily, silently away from Aragorn, and into the mass of trees that bordered their rocky encampment on the edge of the river. The shadows were deep and the trees were thick and gnarled about them, the underbrush too, so that the two Elves had to stoop beneath tangled, overhanging branches every so often as Legolas led her along. But ahead of them, she could see an open space, lit by the light of the moon, open and grassy, and dotted here and there with wildflowers of varying colors and shades.
"I found it but minutes ago, scouting the area." Legolas said with a proud grin crossing his face, as they at last broke into the modest clearing. He stooped and plucked up a small flower, offering it to Lalaith. "This is nothing like Imladris, but I thought you would like it."
Lalaith smiled as she accepted the flower, and tucked it behind the peak of her ear.
"It is lovely, indeed, Legolas. Thank you for bringing me here."
"Consider it the beginnings of my clumsy attempt at an apology." Legolas said quietly, his voice almost sad as he reached for, and took her hand within his.
"An apology?" Lalaith asked gently, lifting her eyes to his. His countenance had taken on a penitent, endearing look, and she smiled. "There is no need."
"Oh, but there is." Legolas interrupted, in a somewhat mischievous voice. The hand that held hers within it rose into the air as if he were preparing to dance with her, and his free hand reached out, touching lightly at her waist. "For I owe you a dance. May I have the honor?"
Lalaith laughed lightly, and rested her free hand upon his shoulder in joyful consent as he led her effortlessly around the glade in graceful dance steps to a silent song.
"You were wearing pink silk that night." Legolas recalled as they moved in time to the silence of the night. "With flowers of the same color tucked into your hair as it fell long about your smooth, perfect shoulders."
Lalaith smiled lightly and blushed as Legolas spun her under his arm, then caught her against him once more.
"Ah, yes." Legolas grinned at her flushed face. "That very color."
They laughed softly together, before Legolas' face grew somewhat serious. "I wanted, more than anything, to dance with you, that night. But because of my foolishness, Boromir got you instead." Legolas' eyes grew wistful, and a faraway look came over them. "How I envied him, watching him there, with you in his arms."
"There was no need for you to envy him." Lalaith said gently. "Though I danced with Boromir at the feast, it was you with whom I danced in my dreams."
A warm look softened Legolas' features at these words. Their feet slowed to a stop, and Legolas released her hand to bring his fingers to her face, studying the warm blue depths of her eyes that caught and held the starlight within them as they gazed up into his own. His hand at her waist tightened, slipping slowly around, to press against the small of her back, drawing her closer.
"Indeed?" Legolas murmured. His fingers brushed against her neck as they caught the rope of her hair in his hands. Legolas drew it over her shoulder, letting its weight run through his fingers until he came to the small strip of white cloth bound at the tip of her hair. "We must have shared the same dream, then."
Lalaith glanced away from his eyes, feeling the white cloth binding her hair slip away in Legolas' hand as her braid slowly began to loosen and unravel. She felt like a child, suddenly shy as he lifted his hand, and caressed her smooth cheek with the gentlest touch of his fingertips. Her hair had fallen completely free now, and tumbled in loose waves down her back, and about her shoulders.
The fingers that swept so lightly against her cheek trailed slowly down over her jaw until they touched the pail, smooth skin of her throat. His thumb brushed softly under her chin, gently tipping her face upward toward his own.
She lifted her eyes now to his, studying the way his eyes seemed to hold warmth within them. His smile and his eyes were inviting. Her hands rested shyly, tentatively against his chest, her fingers feeling the movement of his breath beneath the supple leather of his jerkin.
"Legolas-," she sighed as his warm, fragrant shadow enveloping her, his hand about her waist tightening even more, pulling her against himself. She fell silent as his head lowered toward hers, and she shivered like a child, feeling strangely vulnerable, as if this were her first kiss, as if he'd never held her like this before. Someone's heart was pounding rapidly, and she wondered detachedly whether it was her own, or his, or perhaps, a mingling of both.
Lalaith caught her breath as Legolas paused, his lips mere inches from her own. She could feel the sweet warmth of his breath against her face, and she knew his fingers could feel her racing pulse beneath the flesh of her throat. With a soft sigh, she closed her eyes, awaiting the heavenly pressure of his warm mouth to capture her own.
"What are you doing out here by yourselves?"
Lalaith stiffened in surprise at the rough tones of the common tongue, and the harsh resentment within Boromir's voice. The human, in spite of the noise he must have surely made, had somehow come upon them without either of them noticing. She and Legolas slowly drew apart to face him. Lalaith did not fail to notice the look of vague distrust that crossed Legolas' face. Nor did she overlook that he drew a protective step forward, partially blocking her from Boromir's sight where the Man stood at the edge of the glade, glaring back and forth between herself and Legolas.
"This is not a time to be wandering alone. Not with Gollum about." Boromir grumbled unhappily. He was clearly smarting still, from his lost argument with Aragorn, and perhaps now, from something more.
"Then what are you doing here, Boromir?" Legolas queried, his voice mild, though it carried a hint of challenge in it.
Boromir frowned, and allowed a flash of anger to shoot through his eyes, "Not allowing myself to become so distracted by a woman that anything short of a troll crashing through the trees could surprise me unawares."
Lalaith flinched at the tone of Boromir's voice. She could sense Legolas stiffen, but thankfully, he said nothing.
"Nor am I the one who has brought Lalaith out here alone, where she could very easily, be-," his eyes narrowed accusingly at Legolas, "hurt."
"I am not a little girl, Boromir." Lalaith said as gently as she could, though she could hear a tremor in her voice.
Boromir eyed Lalaith over, taking in her unbound, disheveled hair, and her thin white tunic, unfastened at the throat. "I am certain, my Lady, that Legolas is already well aware of that." He finished viciously, "In more ways than I wish to imagine."
"What is your meaning?" Legolas demanded, his eyes flashing angrily.
"You know what I mean, elf." Boromir hissed darkly.
Lalaith shivered in sudden fright. Never had she seen Boromir behaving like this. If she did not know better, she could easily believe that this man standing before her was not the Boromir she knew, but a cruel imposter. This man could not have been the one who had so awkwardly, yet so hopefully presented her with a flower in Imladris at their first meeting, or the one who had saved Legolas' life in Moria. He could not be the man who had so gently held her when she cried out her grief in Lorien, the day after she had found out the truth of her past, and believed that Legolas did not love her any more.
Legolas stepped forward until he stood toe to toe with Boromir, glared at him levelly and ground out, "Are you questioning the Lady's honor, Lord of Gondor?"
"No." Boromir drawled slowly, flexing his fingers where they hung at his sides. "I'm questioning yours."
Legolas' jaw grew taut at these words, but before either man could move, Lalaith thrust herself between them, and shoved Boromir so forcefully in the chest, that he stumbled clumsily backward several steps before he was able to find his balance again.
Boromir frowned disapprovingly. "Lalaith-," he managed before her hand cracked resoundingly across his bearded cheek, stunning him into silence.
"No dinen, Boromir!" Lalaith cried, surprised to feel tears pushing suddenly into her eyes, and even more astonished at the fierce emotion in her voice. "Legolas is nobler than you could ever hope to be!"
Boromir staggered backward at her words as if she had struck him again, his expression betraying more pain than what he could have felt from the stinging in his face alone. His voice was broken and weak as he stammered, "Lalaith, I, I-,"
"Go away Boromir!" Lalaith ordered, her words laced with fury. "The sight of you behaving like a sniveling, selfish child, sickens me!" She made as if to march after him, to strike him again, but Legolas snatched her wrist, and gently, but firmly pulled her back.
Legolas' touch brought calm back to Lalaith's mind, and the fury she had felt moments before melted away as Legolas turned her gently toward him and pressed a warm hand against her cheek, his eyes seeking her own, and silently questioning her with gentle concern. And with the release of her anger, the tears came suddenly, and she fell against Legolas' chest, sobbing.
The warmth and the security of his sturdy, comforting arms circling about her, drawing her tightly against him, only served to bring out more tears, and Lalaith buried her face against the warmth of his neck, and continued to cry.
"I-, I-," Boromir stammered. He stared at Lalaith, sheltered now against Legolas' chest. His face stung and burned, but its pain was nothing compared to the wounds that had been gouged into his heart at her expression of furious disapproval. He had not meant to hurt her. In truth, as he pondered the confrontation between himself and Legolas, he had meant for none of it to happen.
He had been angry, and his pride had still been smarting when he stumbled into the clearing unawares, and saw Lalaith in Legolas' arms once again. The light of the moon and the stars rested upon the pair standing together in the middle of the moon washed glade, as if the Valar themselves took joy in seeing them as they were, less than a breath of air between their parted lips, soon to be joined. Something dark had come over him when he had seen the two elves together, something that now, frightened him to think of. A wave of angry, almost violent jealousy had gripped him then, and he had stepped forward with no other thought but to keep them apart.
Never in his life had he been so eager to inflict pain on anyone as he had Legolas at that moment. And indeed, if Lalaith had not stepped in and struck him, voicing her absolute disgust with him, and stinging him back to reason, the conflict between himself and the Elven Prince would have come to blows. The thought filled Boromir with a sudden surge of self loathing and horror. Legolas was his comrade, his brother in arms. It was Legolas who had prevented him from falling to his death in Moria. Boromir owed him his life. Yet moments before, he had felt an eager surge to take Legolas' life from him.
"I-, I-, I'm sorry." Boromir finally muttered, knowing how pathetically lame his words must sound. "I-, I'll go now."
Legolas glanced up at him, offering him a glance of commiseration, which, Boromir knew, was more than he deserved, after what he had almost done. But Lalaith did not acknowledge him at all.
Boromir turned away from the clearing, wanting to leave, but unable to tear his eyes away as Legolas bent compassionately over the sobbing elf maiden, whose sorrow Boromir was entirely responsible for.
"Dina." Legolas breathed soothingly in Elvish, smoothing her glittering hair away from her delicately peaked ear. "Dina, meleth nin."
"Amin hiraetha, Legolas." Lalaith whispered through her tears in return. "Nallon ve selde."
"Avo `osto, Lalaithamin." Legolas murmured softly, and gently kissed her smooth brow. "Henion."
"Le hannon, Legolas." Lalaith sighed raggedly, nuzzling closer to him.
Boromir shuddered, turned, and stumbled away into the shadows, his feet made heavy with grief over Lalaith's sorrow, and his own self hatred. If he lacked such control over his passions that he could come to near blows with Legolas, was he indeed as strong as he thought he was? Could he truly turn the powers held within the One Ring for good?
It is only a simple tool! The thought sprung vehemently into his mind. A gift to those of great enough courage, that they do not fear to use it against Sauron! I am not as Aragorn. I do not fear myself! I am not ashamed of who I am! A smile began to form upon Boromir's lips at this thought. And if I possessed the power of the One Ring, I could make her love me. Legolas would be unable-,
The smile that had been growing upon his lips faded suddenly away at this thought, and he thrust it angrily away. "No." Boromir muttered beneath his breath, and shook his head. "I would use it only to protect my people. To restore the glory of Gondor. I will not use it to take what is not mine."
Boromir grew silent now, for the trees had opened onto the rocky shore where the others slept. He glanced toward the dying fire where Frodo was sleeping, and his eye caught the glint of gold beneath the folds of the hobbit's shirt.
His eyes shot up to see Aragorn still awake, thoughtfully sharpening his sword sitting almost invisible beneath the shadow of a boulder.
"You are still awake?" Boromir gulped. "It is my watch."
"I will watch with you." Aragorn answered mildly. "Four eyes are better than two."
"Very well." Boromir nodded awkwardly.
"Have you seen the Elves?" Aragorn asked, rising to his feet and sheathing his sword.
"I have." Boromir gulped.
"And they were together?"
Boromir nodded, his throat constricted shut.
Aragorn managed a slight grin, though his smile did not reach his eyes, which were fixed, mistrustingly, on Boromir. "Good."
Boromir remained silent, and turned his eyes to stare out at the ever flowing river, not trusting himself to speak.
Henion- I understand * ve selde (like a child) is actually Quenya, not Sindarin, but I couldn't find the Sindarin translation for these words.
No dinen- be silent
meleth nin- my love
Amin hiraetha- I'm sorry
Nallon ve selde- I cry like a (female) child*
Avo `osto- Do not worry
Le hannon- I thank you
Henion- I understand
* ve selde (like a child) is actually Quenya, not Sindarin, but I couldn't find the Sindarin translation for these words.