The Undying Lands - (chapter 75)

Ariengil woke up slowly, listening to the birds singing happily in the trees. She felt refreshed and satisfied as though her dreams had told her something, although she could not remember them. She rolled over to look at her friends, and sat up immediately. Everyone and everything they owned had vanished.
'What?' cried Ariengil. She stood up and ran a little way in every direction, looking frantically for some sign of her friends. Perhaps she had sleepwalked; perhaps they were getting water; perhaps... Ariengil sank to the floor and put her head in her hands, then screamed at the top of her voice. Birds flew away from their branches in shock, and a peaceful rabbit bounded back towards its home. There was silence for a minute, then someone giggled quite loudly.
'Sssh,' came an angry hiss. The giggle was muffled, but someone else snorted. Ariengil stood up uncertainly, then ran to the boulder nearby and went behind it. Putting her hands on her hips, she glared at her friends, then they all burst into laughter.
'I thought you'd left me,' cried Ariengil whilst laughing.
'When you screamed, it was hilarious,' shouted Nieninque. They all picked up their bags and, still giggling, headed away from their camp, with Mereth in the lead. They followed a rough path, not big enough to be a road, for quite a way until they reached a river.
'This is the Brandywine,' announced Thaliondil as he searched for a crossing. They quickly found a bridge, and crossed into the Shire. They had a quick debate, and decided to pass straight through without stopping. Ariengil did not want to stay, for she felt a strange need to hurry; but Nieninque wanted to visit the kind hobbits who had looked after them, and wanted to thank them. However, she was outnumbered as most of her friends wished to go straight home; for they now called The Undying Lands their home. The day passed very uneventfully, and they went to sleep peacefully in a sheltered area, surrounded by hills, trees and bushes.
However, as they woke the next morning, they felt uncomfortable and were wary as they cooked their breakfast. As the smell of bacon drifted through the trees, the bushes began to rustle. Soon a few hobbits had stepped out of their hiding places, and they edged towards the elves in a group. Nárfin smiled and gestured for them to join the group. The youngest hobbit seemed eager to eat, but her elders held her back and sent her back towards the bushes. The child sat down grumpily, her blonde hair swishing around her red cheeks.
'Friends,' called Mereth in a cheerful voice, 'come and join us.' The hobbits edged closer again, but looked nervous and slightly scared. They eventually sat down with the elves, but a couple of metres away, and in a group. The young girl ran to her mother and snuggled into her chest, looking at the elves with frightened blue eyes.
The elves offered food around, speaking gently to the hobbits, who jumped at the slightest sound. 'What is wrong with them?' whispered Ariengil. 'They seem so worried. You'd have thought they are scared of elves.'
'Perhaps they haven't seen elves before,' replied Elladan quietly.
'Oh no,' murmured Mereth. 'I completely forgot that there is an edict, passed by the King Elessar in 1427 of the third age, that states that we are not to enter the Shire as it is a Free Land under the protection of the Northern Sceptre. Therefore we should not be here.'
'But we were allowed to see Merry and Pip,' Nieninque pointed out.
'Yes, but we were probably not allowed. We should leave soon.' Mereth turned to the hobbits, and after a bit of gentle questioning, he determined that they were not allowed unless they posed absolutely no threat to anyone, and if they were kind. The hobbits then laughed, saying that these elves were kind as they were cooking. However, Mereth decided that they should clean up quickly and leave. The hobbits bid them goodbye, through mouthfuls of bacon, but welcomed them back another time.
Later that day, as they were riding, Ariengil cried for everyone to halt. They did so, and turned to Ariengil with worried expressions. It sounded as though she was injured, but she was fine- she had spotted some flowers that she wished to take home. There were star-shaped and golden ones, and she told her friends that these were Elanor flowers; and there were also beautiful white flowers, called Nimrodel flowers. Ariengil was determined to take them for Frodo and Sam, though she was not sure how they came to be in the Shire- everywhere they went, there were amazing flowers, which, before the Great War of the Ring, were only found miles from the Shire. Ariengil picked a bunch of flowers and set them carefully on her saddle, making sure that she could hold onto them.
An hour or so, of riding, later, they could see the water and the boats taking elves to the Grey Havens. There were not many elves there, but they found out that they had arrived just in time- a boat was to leave within the hour. Círdan, the shipwright, welcomed the friends, and smiled at Ariengil in a seemingly knowing way. She just smiled back although she didn't know what he could mean.
For the second time, Ariengil of Lothlorien crossed the sea to the Undying Lands. She was silent for the whole journey, for she felt dead in the mist- her heart rested in the air like the hundreds of drops of water. As they neared the Havens, her heart seemed to return to her, drop by drop, and she felt refreshed as she stepped onto the land again. Thanking Círdan profoundly, she turned and looked at the beautiful land again. She breathed a sigh of relief- she was home again.
Looking up, the elves saw Tuor hurrying towards them with a broad smile on his face. He nodded at Ariengil knowledgably and welcomed everyone.
'Why does everyone act as if they know something I don't know?' Ariengil asked Dînhith.
'No idea,' replied her friend, just as mystified. They let it drop, and followed Tuor to the dining halls. The old elf dropped behind and let everyone else lead. He went to walk by Ariengil.
'Welcome back, my friend,' he murmured in a tuneful voice.
'Thank you, I am very glad to be home,' replied Ariengil with a pretty smile.
'Home,' stated Tuor. 'Yes, this is home. Home to many- ones that we love too.'
'It may be home to the ones you love, my Lord, but I am afraid to say that I have lost the one I love.' For some reason, Ariengil seemed to find it easy to talk to Tuor without feeling as terrible as before.
'You have not lost the one you love,' whispered Tuor. 'Not only is he in your heart, but he is here.'
'No,' cried Ariengil. 'His spirit and memories of him may be here, but Harma- Harma is gone- forever,' she choked out.
'Not forever, my dear. Please, if you do not believe me, follow me.'
Ariengil followed Tuor, although she desperately did not want to, into a large building. Tuor led Ariengil along numerous corridors and through many doors, until she felt utterly lost. Finally the old elf stopped outside a final door. Ariengil trembled.
'Enter when you feel ready,' stated Tuor.
'What will I see?' whispered Ariengil.
'What does your heart wish you to see?' replied Tuor. Ariengil bit her lip and shook her head. Tears came to her eyes, and a vision of Harma dying came to her eyes. What she wished was to see Harma, but as that was impossible, she also desired, above all else, to have Tarma at her mercy. She knew what she would do to him to make him suffer.
Shaking with rage, and knowing who to expect, Ariengil opened the door and stormed in. She was correct- Tarma was sitting down on a bed, with his head in his hands. He looked up just one second before Ariengil launched herself at him. He stood quickly, but not quickly enough to avoid a sharp slap on his left cheek. When she moved her hand back, there was a red mark there; but no scar.
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