The Calling - Chapter Thirteen

"Urghh" thought Tae as yet again her stomach lurched and a wave of nausea washed over her. She straightened herself in the saddle and took a deep breath; blocking out the pain in her middle.

"Hangovers----I'm sooo never drinking again" she muttered to herself; unaware that the thirty or so elves behind her had heard every word and were sniggering quietly amongst themselves.

She turned around suddenly, twisting painfully in her seat she sought out the marchwarden who rode some way behind with two elves Tae had been introduced to as his brothers Orophin and Rumil.

"Haldir! Stop the bus I wanna get off!" she shouted, swinging her legs over Onyx's' powerful back and landing unevenly on the soft earth track making her stomach take another spin. She left Onyx standing there; sure he wouldn't wander, and walked a small way into the bushes and trees at the side of the road.

"You Ok Tae? What's wrong? Do you need a hand?"

"Legolas, I really don't want to think about what you have just implied. I don't need a hand I'm fine---just getting rid of a bit of extra weight is all"

The elves were bemused at her choice of words; and slightly sickened. They were not used to ladies talking about toilet habits in that way. Their contemplations were interrupted a few seconds later however, when a loud retching sound was heard followed by a series of wet thuds. The elves looked at each other knowingly.

"Looks like someone can't handle their wine" smirked Rumil

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"What happened?"

"What do you mean what happened?"

"Brother, you did not turn up to see her off, you have been training out here all day, I see four snapped arrows at your feet and the scowl on your face is enough to melt Caradhras. Now you can either keep it all bottled up as usual or you can tell me, Eru knows it's glaringly obvious"

After a pause, Elladan loosened his tight grip on his bow, the pink colour returning to his knuckles. He sighed greatly and sat down; the scowl softening slightly.

"I don't know where to start Ro'.

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Elrohir was on his way to the library, he was plotting to find a piece of poetry or something romantic that he could send to Tae, pretending that his brother had sent it. He knew his brother was anything but dim, but sometimes sheer stubbornness overruled Elladans mind when it came to delicate matters such as his relationship with Tae. Ever since their mothers leaving Elladan had refused to show emotion to or about anyone but his closest family or friends.

The younger twin was suspicious as to Tae's reason for kissing his brother, he had an idea that it hadn't all been one big alcohol fuelled mistake, he wasn't about to voice his concerns to Elladan though. Anyone who happened upon the pair as they tumbled around Rivendell in the last few days could immediately see that there was something between them, and not just coming from Elladan. Ro' loved his brother and deeply desired to see him happy, and if with Tae he would be happy so be it; if Tae wanted to of course.

Elrohir changed his route and headed for his sister's quarters, she could be of some assistance in his little plan.

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Tae got back on Onyx and carried on down the path, she hoped feverently that she hadn't any carrot chunks or the like on her face; her stomach had practically exploded out of her mouth, spewing wine and the remnants of food in all directions

"I'm fine, jus got a gob like Gandhi's flip flop now so Id keep away from me for a few hours" she replied to Legolas' concerned glance.

"I wont ask what you meant by that" he answered with a winsome smile and a flash of humour graced his blue eyes.

"Just as well" commented Tae, resuming her place near the front of the line of elves alone. She bent down to the pack that was tied on her saddle and delved around for some toothpaste, squeezing a large amount directly into her open mouth her eyes began to water with the menthol strength but she refused to open her mouth.

Next she extracted her CD player, hoping to mellow out and forget the weird anxious feeling that was nagging her. She selected her fellowship CD, slipped it into the machine and was greeted with Enyas' 'May It Be'. That got Tae thinking about The Lord of the Rings, here she was in the world yet nothing along the lines of the tale was happening; she hadn't joined the Fellowship, met a hobbit or even a dwarf. She pulled out one earphone and shouted back down the line of travellers, directing her question to the Mirkwood prince.

"Say Legolas, you know any dwarves?"

"Dwarves? Why would I want to associate with one of those dirty skulking creatures-----" he continued to rant but Tae lost interest, she had learnt what she wished to know; from the disgusted sneer on his face Tae guessed that Legolas hadn't yet met Gimli, his sidekick in the story.

That would mean that the 'adventure' hadn't happened yet, Elrond had never mentioned it so maybe it was a long way off. Tae's elven mother had told her the tale, so maybe it was her magic powers that allowed her to see into the future; unless she had made it up after running out of true stories to tell her eager daughter.

The hangover was beginning to wear off after emptying the entire contents of her stomach and Tae was glad of that at least, though now all she could think about was Rivendell and saying farewell to everyone.

Maybe Elladan thought there was no reason to say goodbye, after all, a month would pass quickly for one of the fair folk. But deep down Tae could sense that the reason was more complicated, she had upset him and he had retaliated by ignoring her. She could well enough figure the cause of his reaction- he was jealous of Legolas and probably every single male travelling to Lorien with her.

Tae felt infinitely guilty that she couldn't tell him that he wanted to hear and hurt that he hadn't said goodbye to her; could she ever love Elladan?

Did she already?

Tae had no idea where that last thought came from; it certainly wasn't her 'voice' that spoke inside her head that time. Tae dismissed the scandalous voice, she did not love Elladan.

'Are you sure you couldn't?' asked the same voice

'Who the hell is this? Get off this frequency, this is my head!' thought Tae desperately as the strange woman's voice that she thought she had imagined spoke again.

'Think Tae, you know who I am, I'm Elladans grandmother, you are nearing my realm'

'Sorry, just didn't expect you to be in my head, especially not commenting on my love life' she thought sourly

Galadriels sweet musical laugh echoed through Tae's head. 'I am just trying to see you happy Tae, even if that means sorting out the confused emotions sharing space up here. My grandson has deep feelings for you, as I am sure you have been told. Haldir has informed me of your discussion, he thinks that Elladans love does not quite go unrequited'

"The little turd, never trust an elf!" she muttered out loud. Tae wasn't seriously angry that Haldir couldn't hold his own water, though she tucked it away in her mind for future reference.

'I understand that coming here was a shock for you, it would be to anyone, I must congratulate you on handling the change so well! Your mother was a great friend of mine and I promise to repay that friendship by looking after you. We will speak again when you arrive-------Just don't rule out loving him' and with that Galadriel severed the mind link and went back to watering her little window box full of white pansies with a wide grin on her face.

Tae was slightly overwhelmed, she had just held a conversation with the Lady of Lothlórien about Elladan; things were definitely starting to get weird.

Maybe she should just go ahead and admit to herself that she found him to be the most attractive elf in Middle Earth and just being with him made her felt all giggly, not to mention the suggestive comments he had a habit of coming out with making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

Tae pictured the way his silver spun eyes smirked at her, the way his lips sensuously spelt out what he wanted to do with her and the quirk of the corner of his mouth when he wickedly feigned innocence.

--------flashback----------

'Come on darling, it is a warm night after all'

'Elladan, I am not taking my clothes off again, if you think I'm spending the night in bed with you bollocko think again!'

'Why?'

'Wha? What dya mean why? I'm not sleeping naked with you, end of conversation. Its bad enough you staying in my bed fully clothed-can you imagine what your old man would say if he caught you in here? Just go find someone else to indulge your fantasies and let me sleep'

'But you're the only person worth fantasising about--honestly, after the hard day I've had it'll relax me----eventually'

'I've just given you a massage---- (Tae twigged what Elladans afterthought had implied-*gasp!*). You must be the dirtiest minded person I have ever had the misfortune to meet! You are unbelievable!'

'You know you love it' he smirked

'Bog off' said Tae turning over in bed so she no longer faced him. She hid the blush well.

'You wouldn't have me any other way' he said matter-of-factly

'Elladan, nobody will be having anybody--'

'--tonight' he finished

'Ever Elladan!' she cried exasperatedly

'Fine, you just remember that when you are begging me to spend the night with you'

'You're messed up in the head'

'No, I just know what I want, and I know what you want but you wont admit it-----'

Elladan's last remark was met by a pillow, full force to the face.

'Fine, you try to ignore it' came his muffled last reply before he left her to sleep. The smile still on his face, he lay down and closed his eyes.

-----------

At first she took her feelings as simple lust after the gorgeous being, but after getting to know him better in the short amount of time they had shared made her realise that the attraction wasn't just physical.

Tae enjoyed being around him, he made her laugh and as much as he made her mad. She supposed that it was his moods that drew her to him more of late, the sense of loss she felt keenly when he wasn't around.

Though Tae, in her stubbornness wasn't about to admit to her secret. She had no desire to become a real living 'sue' and fall in love, get married and start shooting out sprogs within a month. Relationships took time to develop and grow; her and Elladan were barely in the flirting stage.

Her secret contemplations were abruptly stopped when Onyx stopped moving, Tae looked up and saw that they had reached a clearing and everyone had stopped and begun to dismount. Tae looked up to the heavens, it would be dark in a few hours and Tae had no wish to spend the night on the outside of a circle of elves. She wasn't daft!

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Rumil, Haldir and a few others set off to collect some firewood whilst Tae and the rest of the elves began setting up camp. They organised their bedrolls in a circle around what would be the fire when Haldir managed to get his arse into gear.

Tae set her bed roll between Haldirs and Legolas', she figured the two to be the best warriors here so she would be safe from the bogeyman during the night.

Once the marchwarden returned he and the others piled the wood into a heap in the middle of camp, Orophin on fire lighting duty. Once lit Tae sat silently mesmerised by the dancing flickers of flame, it was only when Orophin nudged her that she zoned back in and accepted the platter of bread and cheese that he offered.

"Cheers Orophin, hey are you trying to give me nightmares?" she asked, motioning to the cheese. The Lorien elf just laughed and sat down on his brothers' bed roll.

"I'm sure you'll be fine Lady Epsom, mind you, you are sleeping near to my brother; the king of nightmares, you should see him when he wakes up in the morning"

"Coming from you? If I remember correctly you were petrified of a balrog under the flet for a decade or so" called the king of nightmares, making his way with Legolas towards them.

Tae scooted up so Haldir could sit on her bed roll as Orophin decided to lie down on purpose, Legolas stretched out likewise on his own bedding. Tae watched the firelight reflecting on the army of blondes that surrounded her.

"So, what do we do now?" she asked

"What do you want to do fair lady?" replied Orophin, the firelight lighting up his forest green eyes. Tae wondered if the elf had been taking lessons from Glofindel and she smiled when the same thought led her to remember Saturday night and the way Elrond had calmed the drunken balrog slayer with his war reminiscing.

"I don't know, I'm not ready to sleep yet though. What do you usually do at night in the middle of a forest?"

"Well----

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After a night spent chasing each other through the forest and singing bawdy songs Tae slumped down on her bedroll exhausted. She rubbed her grazed elbow where she had fallen over.

It had been her groups turn to run and Rumil had found her and given chase in the gathering darkness, she had twisted and turned ferociously to prevent the elf tagging her but she had arrogantly turned to shout a friendly insult at him, failing to spot a tree root that stuck out in front of her. Rumil was at her side in an instant, fussing and apologising thinking she was hurt.

Tae just rolled over onto her back with a deep crimson blush contrasting with her brown skin. She held her hands over her face in embarrassment and threatened Rumil that if he told a soul she would hunt him down. He sincerely believed her as well.

"Now for the nightcap" said Legolas, approaching with a leather flask in his hand. He took a gulp from the bottle and passed it to Tae.

She cursed after taking a moderately sized draft of the strange liquid, it sizzled her tongue and burnt all the way down to her stomach. "Now I know why elves don't feel the cold" she quipped.

Legolas laughed and passed the flask of fire on to a nearby elf. He glanced at Orophin who sat next to the exotic half elf and hoped that the hormone filled youth wasn't getting any ideas about Tae; especially since he'd have his eyes ripped out by Elladan if he ever found out he had competition.

He had nothing to fear though, Haldirs brother had already been briefed about her situation with Elronds son and had no desire to compete with the hot headed elf lord; though at times like this when Tae sat ever so close to him he wondered if maybe he should get a death wish written out and go after her.

"How did you spend your time where you used to live?" asked Haldir, shoving his brother so could sit on his own bedroll this time. Orophin moved up for him, sour faced that his brother had pushed him further from the object of his thoughts.

Tae just giggled at the brothers and for the first time in her life wished she had a brother or a sister in her life, she had never wondered why her parents had only ever had one child and now the pain of her mothers leaving and her fathers death resurfaced despite Taes best efforts of keeping her pain inside.

She cast her eyes to the floor and concentrated on stopping them from filling up when Haldir asked again. She tamped down the anguish and silent hurt in her heart once again and forced a smile on to her face. For once the elves were none the wiser.

"For the last fourteen years I have been in full time education, now I am three years off finishing my university course----- though I doubt that'll be finished anytime soon" she finished glumly.

"When I have the time I read, paint, or go out with friends" Tae wisely left out the part about playing on her computer most of her waking hours; she was too tired to explain the mechanics of the machine.

"You paint? You will have to do something when we get to Lorien, maybe Celeborn will give you a few pointers" laughed Rumil

"That's 'Lord' Celeborn to you" admonished Haldir, ever protective of his lord and lady.

"Maybe I will, mind you, I will probably be run off my feet with this guy I'm here to see, he's supposed to be teaching me some magic"

There was a shifty silence as the Lorien elves realised who Tae was here to see. Legolas and Tae, looked at each other questioningly before Haldir coughed to break the silence and spoke.

"You are to meet Talen, he is wise in the ways of magic, and some say he even taught Mithrandir a few tricks, though the grey pilgrim will not admit to this"

"I hope he doesn't mind teaching a complete beginner, I don't know a thing about magic" Tae said as she shifted into a lying position on her bedding, stretching her limbs before snuggling into her cloak which lay across her body like a blanket.

"Me neither, once he tried to teach me to levitate---it was painful" commented Rumil absently, his face held a faraway look as he remembered the incident in question.

"Talen is an accomplished mage, you will be in safe hands" assured the marchwarden, hoping that his statement would bring an end to the subject. Talen was the kind of elf that nobody could describe accurately, Tae would have to experience him for herself for he acted differently to different individuals.

Orophin caught his brothers' far flung hint and swiftly changed the subject of conversation.

"So are all the women of your lands as beautiful as you?" he asked innocently.

Tae blushed profusely and had no idea how to answer his question, she simply smiled demurely and let a silence envelop the group once more before she changed the subject herself.

"Elves love nature right?" she asked, her thought had been nagging her ever since her mother had taught her the Tolkein tales, now she had the perfect opportunity to ask what her mother would never answer seriously. At the nodding of blond heads she continued.

"If you had no home and were searching Middle Earth for a place for you and your kin to dwell, and you finally found a beautiful clearing in some beautiful woods----" she paused to allow their minds to imagine such a situation.

"If there was a tree in the middle of the glade and there was no way of building your homestead around it---would you cut it down?"

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Elladan sat alone in the garden, the black of night matched his black mood as he watched several moths cart-wheeling around the light of the candle set beside him on the bench before the pool.

He had never expected love to find him so quickly, yet in the scant days that he had known Tae Epsom he felt as if she was the one. He thought back to their first meeting when he and his brother had barged into his fathers study to find her standing there.

Head on one side as she considered them, Elladan remembered her exact expression when he had introduced himself that night, the slight widening of her eyes and the playful sparkle in the hazel orbs as she likewise introduced herself.

He flicked a pebble into the pool with the toe of his boot; hearing a satisfying 'plop' as the stone broke the reflective surface of the body of water, producing circular ripples that lapped the edges of the elf-made ornamental pond.

Elladan regretted not saying goodbye, even if she would only be gone for month, he wished they had left on better terms; then maybe his heart wouldn't feel as if it had been squeezed through a mangle.

He stood up and walked back to his quarters though he knew full well that he wouldn't be able to sleep, he returned there anyway. Taking one last glance up at the heavens he searched for his grandfather; swearing by the star that he would make things up to Tae when she returned. Then maybe their relationship would continue as normal. After all, friendship with her was better than nothing.

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