The Undying Lands - (chapter 78)

The next day Ariengil slept in until late. She woke slowly, after having a lovely dream- this was one of the first nights that she had not had a nightmare, so she was very happy when she got up. After dressing, she smiled and looked down at her hand with the ring on. Her life was perfect and she had her friends to share it with.
Her smile fell as she realised that she hadn't seen Elladan for long, the previous day. She had told him the good news, and he seemed pleased for her, but he had left rather quickly without a word to the others. The last thing she remembered of seeing him was that he left the building, and turned to back to look over his shoulder at Ariengil. Ariengil had smiled, but he did not return the smile- she could not interpret his expression, but she did not dwell on it as so much was going on.
Now she dwelt on it, fretting about her friend. She hurried to his room, but he was not there and there was nothing that could tell her where she was. Sitting on his bed, she thought about where he could be. She deduced that he would either be with his brother, or by the Trees of the Valar, next to the lake. On the first day that they had arrived at the Undying Lands, Elladan had fallen in love with the trees and was filled with awe by them- he now visited them very frequently.
Ariengil made her way to the lake, stopped every now and again by random elves congratulating her on her engagement. She went down the steps towards the lake, and saw two men sitting beneath the trees. They were identical twins. Ariengil smiled as she realised she was correct- Elladan was with Elrohir and was at the trees. She knew him so well now, and she was pleased to be such great friends with him.
Ariengil quickly ducked out of view as she thought about creeping up on her friends and scaring them. She went the long way around to get to the back of the two elves, and she crept so quietly that they wouldn't notice. At one point, she trod on a twig, but neither elf heard as they were talking so intently that they were not concentrating on anything else.
However, Ariengil also heard a twig crack behind her a few seconds later, and she turned quickly, expecting someone to attack her. She was so paranoid recently, and could do nothing without expecting the worse. She smiled as she saw her sister, who seemed to have exactly the same idea as her- to creep up on the twins. Becoming a wife had not stopped her childish nature.
The girls smiled at each other and nodded- they knew exactly what to do, for they had done this so many times with Elure. They crept forwards step-by-step, until they were very close. They now stopped and waited for a few minutes, as the plan had always been. Now they listened to the twin's conversation.
Elrohir was speaking at the time when the girls started to listen. `-so you just have to decide what you feel.'
`But I don't know what I feel,' replied Elladan. Both girls looked at each other and grinned as their childhood memories came back to them. `I love her, but I think I love her only as a friend. So I don't know why I feel so sad,' he cried. Ariengil looked at Elen and giggled silently; but Elen wasn't smiling. She seemed to have noticed something, which Ariengil had not yet realised.
`Maybe, don't be cross with me, but maybe you are jealous,' suggested Elrohir.
`I'm not jealous; I think. But when I heard the news, it was so difficult for me to give my congratulations. I wanted to cry out loud, to rip my heart out, to hit Harma, and to run away, all at once. But I just calmly gave her a hug and then left. I'm going to lose my best friend, Elrohir. Maybe that is why I'm so upset.'
Suddenly Ariengil realised what her friends were talking about. She covered her mouth with her hand, to stop herself from crying out, and she looked at Elen in shock. Her sister gave her a comforting smile, but could not move from where she stood, in case her husband and brother-in-law heard.
`It must be, Elladan. You don't love her, do you? So it must just be regret that she'll be leaving you. Or that you aren't married, and the two people closest to you have married or are marrying.'
`Maybe I do love her,' whispered Elladan, but Ariengil still heard this. She turned away and leant against a tree, shaking her head. She breathed a sigh of relief at his next sentence. `No, it is just love of a friend. But I don't want to lose her. What shall I do?'
Before Elrohir had a chance to reply, Ariengil stepped forward and answered. `Well you could speak to her about it, couldn't you?' She didn't know whether to be angry, upset or pleased that she had walked into their conversation, so she settled with a bemused expression on her face.
Elladan jumped to his feet and looked at Ariengil in shock. `What? Why? How long have you been listening?'
`Not long, and I didn't mean to. I was coming to see how you were, as was Elen. We were worried about you,' Ariengil replied. She decided to leave out the fact that the two girls had not met up to meet the twins, and that they were going to scare the two of them. Elrohir welcomed his wife with a swift kiss, and then suggested that the two of them went to find Nárfin. They hurried off and left the two friends alone.
`Couldn't you have come straight up to me, rather than creeping up and listening to my conversation?' asked Elladan in an annoyed voice.
`I thought it would be funny,' fumed Ariengil. `And it isn't as though you've never crept up on me,' she cried.
`That was different- you were alone and not spilling your heart out to your sibling, were you?'
`It is no different, Elladan,' shouted Ariengil. `I came here because I was worried about you, and now all we're doing is shouting at each other.' She stopped, and calmed her voice. `Why are we arguing anyway?' she asked in a bemused voice.
`I'm not really sure,' admitted Elladan. `It is something to do with you being my best friend.'
`Then let us remain best friends,' replied Ariengil. `I won't pretend that I heard none of your conversation, so I'll get to the point. I love you to pieces, and I will never leave you just because I am getting married. You one of my dearest friends, and that will not change.'
`Thank you, Ariengil, and I wanted to say that I am here for you whenever you need me. I am pleased that you are marrying Harma; in fact I'm overjoyed. I was just worried too. Please forgive me.'
`Forgive you?' asked Ariengil, and then she laughed. `I forgave you ages ago, you idiot. Come on, let's go back.' They linked arms and started to walk back, but then Ariengil stopped. `Elladan, will you be my ring bearer at the wedding? Oh, that sounds like Frodo; well I mean will you hold the ring for me and be at my side- like I was at Elen's wedding.'
`I'd love to, Ariengil, but I think Dînhith should do it for you- she was your best friend first, and it is more traditional that a female does it for her friend. Also, I don't want to take you away from her. Thank you for asking though.'
`And thank you for respecting Dînhith like that. Talking about ring bearers has reminded me of dear Frodo. I wonder where he is. I shall find him this evening, I think.' They walked back peacefully, both feeling very pleased with themselves.
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