Mirkwood's Blade - Chapter Eleven - The Farewells

"Would you help me find Bilbo?" Frodo asked Novarwen. "Rivendell's so big, I get lost easily."

Novarwen grinned. "To tell you the truth, so do I," she replied, "but let's go find him." She started off in the direction she thought Bilbo's rooms were, and for once luck was with her - she found them quickly. "Mr. Bilbo?" she asked, poking her head into the room. The hobbit - she had finally learned what kind of people Frodo and the others were - turned around. "Frodo wanted to see you," she said, stepping aside to let Frodo in.

Bilbo's face lit up at the sight of Frodo. "Come in, my boy, come in!" he cried. "And you too, miss!"

Novarwen shook her head, but she couldn't help smiling at the hobbit's exuberance. "No thanks, Mr. Bilbo. I have to finish packing. We're leaving soon." She slipped out of the room and found her way to Arwen's. She wanted to say goodbye to the Elf maiden who had become a close friend.

Arwen was sitting in a chair, looking out over her little terrace. Novarwen caught a glimpse of her face - it was tear streaked. "Arwen?" she asked quietly. "Are you all right?"

Arwen quickly stood up and whirled around. "Oh, Novarwen," she said. She wiped her eyes. "I'm not exactly `all right.' "

"What's wrong?" Novarwen asked, although she had a pretty good idea what it was. "Is it because Aragorn is going?"

Arwen nodded. She bit her lip, and fresh tears seemed ready to spill out. "I'm sorry, Arwen," Novarwen said, squeezing her friend's hand gently. I wish I could tell you he'll come back, she thought, but I can't. She imagined if she had to leave Theryn, and her heart ached. Then she remembered that she was leaving Theryn, and it hurt all the more fiercely.

Arwen took a deep breath and wiped her eyes again. "I'll be all right in a little while," she whispered. "It just - thank you, Novarwen." One Elven princess smiled into the eyes of another. "It just hurts every time he goes, and I need to cry a while every time."

"I understand." Novarwen took Arwen's hand in hers. "Why don't you come and see us all off?"

"All right." Arwen followed her out of the palace and to the little clearing where the Fellowship of the Ring would gather before they left. Aragorn was already there, and Novarwen smiled to herself as Arwen dropped her hand and ran across the clearing to the Man. Still smiling, she turned away to give them privacy.

"I thought you would be here." Novarwen knew before she turned around who was speaking to her. Theryn put his hands on her shoulders, and she turned to face him. "I wish I were coming with you," he said softly.

"So do I," Novarwen replied, hugging him close to her. This might be the last time, she thought. You may die, and never see him again. She held him tighter at the thought.

Theryn pulled back and looked into her eyes. "Take care of yourself," he whispered. "Don't you dare let yourself die."

Novarwen smiled as well as she could. "I don't intend to. Not yet, anyway. Not for a long time, and not until I've spent most of that long time with you."

Soft footsteps approached behind them. Theryn quickly leaned down and kissed Novarwen. They pulled apart just as Frodo came into the clearing. Both a little red, Novarwen and Theryn looked at Frodo. Novarwen was upset by the look on the Ringbearer's face - he seemed frightened and haunted. "Frodo?" she asked. "What happened? You look - " Terrified, she almost said, but it definitely would not help him if she did.

"I am," Frodo answered. His face was white. "Bilbo - he saw the Ring, and he..." Frodo closed his eyes, then shook his head. "Never mind. I have to forget that." He moved away, towards the middle of the clearing.

"Another thing for me to worry about," Theryn added. "That Ring."

The memory of its soft, insinuating voice in her head sent Novarwen into shudders. "You have absolutely no reason to worry on that count. I guarantee it."

Theryn looked at her shrewdly. "Did you hear it? Legolas told me he heard it, at the Council."

"Did I!" Novarwen shuddered again. "And I never want to again."

"That sounds more like you," Theryn said with a laugh in his voice.

"And worrying does not sound like you," Novarwen replied, "so stop!" She held Theryn's hand in hers, memorizing the feel of it in her own. "I promise you, I can take care of myself, and I will come back to you."

"I believe you will," Theryn said. He held her close for a moment, then let her go. "I'll be waiting."

One by one, the rest of the Fellowship came into the clearing. Aragorn and Arwen joined them after a long talk alone, and then they were ready to set off. Novarwen shared a last glance with Theryn before she mounted Brethil, who she had insisted on bringing with her, and rode out after the others. Farewell, she thought, looking back at Rivendell. Farewell to you, beautiful haven, and to you, Theryn, and to my last days of peace. She snorted. "You're becoming a poet, Novarwen," she muttered under her breath. She paused for a moment, then added, "Valar forbid."

"Novarwen?" Legolas looked up at her. "What did you say?"

Novarwen grinned and looked ahead. "Nothing," she answered.

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