To Dream - Ch14: Putting up a Fight

Things you need to know about this story...
1.) Elven dreams are very realistic
2.) Elves shouldn't normally meet *real* people along the Olórë Mallë (Path of Dreams)... but something happens in this story that is not normal

Names/Pronunciations will come at the end of each chapter.

A/N: I have heard that Elves never get sick, but I'm going to bend that rule a little bit. I certainly don't think that an elf could die from sickness, but that doesn't mean that they *always* feel 100%, or that they can't be weakened temporarily by some malady. How could you live for millennia and never get a cold or a headache of an upset stomach?

____________________

Chapter 14.) Putting up a Fight

***
Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light...

- Dylan Thomas
***

Oloriel grimaced as the bitter liquid slid down her throat. Having developed a headache soon after waking, she hoped that the herbal drought would help to ease the pounding behind her eyes.

It had not been particularly good morning.

Aside from the headache, she had gotten a splinter stuck in her foot, broken a small bottle of perfume, spilled juice on her dress, and been plagued by the knowledge that this afternoon she would see Kallindo for the first time since i'Merendë Enyalië*. And, to top it all off, she was also harassed by a feeling of guilt at how she had treated Elladan the night before. She may have convinced herself that she did not love him, but she still could not stand the thought of hurting him. And she certainly had hurt him; no matter how much he tried to hide it, her coolness last night had stung.

`I couldn't help it,' she grumbled inwardly, `I just needed to be alone.'

It was true. For reasons that she would not admit to herself, being with Elladan would have been very risky. Despite her determined mindset, her heart was still walking a very thin emotional line, and she had not wanted to risk an encounter that could push her in what she believed to be the wrong direction. On the one side was the possibility that she loved Elladan; this possibility her mind had already rejected. On the other side was the certainty of a quiet friendship: one that her heart was trying to return to. Going back is not always easy.

But life isn't generally easy; Oloriel knew that first hand. She had already closed the door on her deeper feelings, whether her heart was ready for it or not, and she now refused to accept that they ever existed. And yet, even she could not erase every trace of their existence. Elladan still held a place, albeit a small place, in her heart.

`I shall try to make up for my cold behavior when I see him again. There can be no harm in my being friendly; after all, we are friends. I will just be myself tonight - things will be as they were.'

While she was thinking the pain in her head had already started to abate. She still felt a little off, but it was much better than before. She stepped out onto a walkway, which led from the healing room where she had mixed the medicine, into watery sunshine. She breathed deeply the crisp winter air (it's coldness, the only sign that winter was there) and smiled. She looked up into a pale sky; the position of the sun slowly ate away at the smile on her face. It was almost time for lunch, and after that she would be meeting with Kallindo.

She sighed. `Now, what shall I do with him? How should I act? How will he act?' Her brow wrinkled in confusion. `Why must this year start out to be so complicated?'


*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Elladan slowly meandered down the shrubbery-lined path that led toward the archery field, his bow in hand, and his quiver slung carelessly across his back. His feet trudged up the gravel as he walked in a dejected manner: head down, eyes following the ground, and shoulders slightly bent. He was the perfect picture of confused, besotted manhood. Nothing could take the spirit out of a full-grown Elven warrior like the burden of unrequited affection. If it were not for his tall stature, strong build, and strikingly handsome features, he would have looked much like a lost puppy. At the moment, he certainly felt like one.

Oloriel didn't love him. That was the hardest blow. But, to make it worse, she didn't even seem to care much for his presence. He thought that they had gotten past the "leave me alone, I'm thinking" stage. As of late, Oloriel had always spoken to him of her thoughts; told him of her cares; asked for his advice; accepted his comfort; trusted him. But now... now she just wanted to be rid of him. Why?

`I know that I'm not well-versed in the art of wooing fair maidens, but I had not thought that even I could make such a royal mess,' he thought dejectedly.

Of course, in all fairness, Elladan was not as inept as he believed himself to be. If Oloriel had not heard his hasty, and unfortunately worded statement the day before, things might have turned out very differently. But they didn't; she had heard, and now things were just as they were.

~~~

"Elladan! Watch out!" Arwen called to her brother as an arrow whisked by him, no more than two inches from his nose.

Elladan had made it to the archery fields, but then had absentmindedly continued walking. Unfortunately, his feet had taken him underneath the trees, which stood about fifty feet behind the row of targets that Arwen and Lady Nessúlë were shooting at.

He stepped back quickly as the arrow flew by him. Taking in a shaky breath, he turned to see the offending object projecting defiantly from an ancient oak tree. Regaining his presence of mind, Elladan shook off his dull spirits and walked over to where his sister and Nessúlë were standing with their own bows and quivers.

"You silly boy," Arwen called, when Elladan was still several yards away, "You should know better than to walk behind the target range."

Elladan favored her with a dry smile. "I suppose that I had too much faith in Rivendell archers. I did not think that there was one elf among us who could miss a target altogether by six inches."

Arwen grinned. "Ah, but you did not take into account the visiting archers from the Mithlond*. After meeting at the festival, Nessúlë and I found that we had much in common - including a mediocre talent with the bow. We decided to practice together since neither one of us could possibly laugh at the other one, being both equally challenged."

Nessúlë laughed merrily. "It's true, neither one of us can claim to be brilliant with the use of the bow. But, in defense of myself, I must say that never have I missed a target before. I believe that the blame must lie with the fletching of my arrow; I tried to make it myself, but as you see, I lack sufficient skill." She grinned impishly. "I am sorry for startling you so. But, I daresay it did you good. You looked as if you were sleep walking over there, but I think that you are sufficiently alert now."

Elladan certainly was more aware of his surroundings. Also, being near his sister always helped to calm his ruffled his nerves. But still, all was not quite right with him; his eyes still held a dull pain, and Arwen could see it.

Trying to ignore it, Arwen inquired cheerfully, "And shall you join us brother?"

"That was my intention, but I'm not entirely sure that it's safe to stand within a hundred yards of you two."

Nessúlë rolled her eyes. "Ah, but the closer you are the safer you are. Even I could not create an arrow that turned directly back from the way it was sent."

Arwen grinned. "Not yet anyway - she's still working on that one."

Nessúlë sent Arwen an evil stare. Elladan just chuckled softly. He smiled: it felt good to laugh again.

"The two of you certainly have gotten along quickly," he commented. To Nessúlë he whispered confidentially, "She only teases people who don't annoy her."

Arwen laughed, then countered with a sly grin, "That's not entirely true. I tease Hallandakil all the time... just not while he's around."

"Hallandakil?" Nessúlë inquired.

"Oh, he's just another one of Arwen's unfortunate suitors," Elladan explained, "a particularly tenacious suitor: he doesn't seem to know when to call it quits."

"Ah, I see. I can sympathize with you greatly, Arwen; I've had a few of those myself."

As they were speaking Elrohir had appeared on the archery field and made his way toward the small group.

"What have you had, Lady Nessúlë?" he inquired.

She looked pointedly at him and replied, "Unwanted suitors."

A strange look came into Elrohir's eyes, but Elladan did not know what to make of it, so he ignored it. "Well, I don't know about you all, but I came here to practice. Shall we take to our bows for a while? Perhaps we can make a sport of it - see who can miss the target by most without trying."

The two women groaned, and Arwen shoved him playfully. Elrohir looked confused, but then muttered, "I don't even want to know."


*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Oloriel gazed timidly into the clearing where she usually met with Kallindo. He was there, sitting on the ground, cleaning one of his blades. Oloriel noticed that the blade already looked clean, but Kallindo was still attacking it with determined vigor. Stepping out carefully into the open she commented, "I believe that your blade will be shining as brightly as a Silmaril* if you keep that up."

Kallindo started slightly and looked up. His eyes held a mixture of fear and hope. Since he had heard her muttered comment the morning before he was not sure what to believe. Did she despise him? Did she care for him? Could she possibly ever love him? He didn't know. But he was determined to make the best of the current situation and try again. He decided that the best thing he could do was to act as if nothing had ever happened - start from square one.

"Well, I had nothing better to do. And, since you were late..." he smirked, "But, I suppose I shall forgive you. You're looking so lovely this afternoon that I couldn't hold anything against you if I tried."

Oloriel was slightly taken aback. She had expected a hurt Kallindo, a bitter Kallindo, but here he was, acting like the cocky gentleman that he always was. `Well, at least he doesn't seem to hate me now. Perhaps he has gotten over his foolishness and wants to repair the damage. Perhaps we can still be friends.' Oloriel brightened visibly at this thought.

"So, if I throw dirt in your eyes during our match you won't get mad at me like you did the last time?" She inquired innocently.

Kallindo cocked an eyebrow and looked pointedly in her direction. "Good looks will only get you so far, Aiwë. Come now: ready yourself. We must get to work and make up for lost time."

Oloriel rolled her eyes then flashed him a challenging smile. "I'm always ready."

"Then let the games begin."

Soon, any awkwardness that might have remained was lost in the heat of competition.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Alright brother, enough pretending - what's wrong?" Elrohir cut straight to the chase after he and Elladan had parted ways with the ladies.

Elladan smiled dryly. `I'm not sure if I should feel blessed or annoyed by your talent for reading me."

"It doesn't take much talent. You're emanating misery so strongly that I wouldn't be surprised if grandmother* could feel it in the Golden Wood. What is the matter?"

"Well, if you must know," Elladan relented, "My turmoil is caused by an elleth {she-elf}."

"Lunyellë?"

"No... Oloriel."

Elrohir's eyebrows shot up. "Good old `green-eyes'? What could she possibly have done to make you look so forlorn? It's not like you're in love with her."

There was no reply. The poignant silence told Elrohir everything he needed to know.

"I don't believe it: you are in love with her. How could you fall in love with someone you've never met?"

Elladan sighed. "I have met her... sort of... just not face to face... I mean, I do know her - I know everything I need to know... I just... I love her, Elrohir."

His brother started laughing. Elladan did not take very kindly to it. "It's not like you've never pined over a girl. You take one look at a pretty face and fancy yourself in love. I have gotten to know Oloriel, and... and it's not like it's my fault."

Elrohir's laughing toned down to a soft chuckle. "I am sorry, brother - I did not mean to mock you. It's just that I've never seen you looking so... so lovesick. It will take me a while to get used to. Now tell me - what is the trouble? Does the lady not return your affections?"

Elladan took this opening to unfold everything that had gone on so far between him and Oloriel. It felt good to get it all off his chest. To his credit, Elrohir listened in concerned silence, realizing that his brother really did need some counsel. When the tale was finished Elrohir made the first observation that came to his mind.

"So, you never really told her that you love her?"

"Well... no."

"Then you don't really know anything, do you? She could have interpreted the kiss any number of ways. Maybe she thinks you're just playing with her, maybe she's frightened, I don't know. But, neither do you. You're not going to give up just because of what you think she thinks, are you? And even if she doesn't love you... well, that's the whole fun of it. There's a reason why the old stories always talk of heroes `winning' fair maidens - you can't win something without a fight. You have to wheedle, convince, plead, sweep her off her feet - anything to make her understand. Didn't it occur to you that if she's worth having, then she's worth fighting for? Don't give up so easily."

Elladan stopped in his tracks. His eyes widened slightly and a look of understand passed through them. "I... I never really thought of it that way... I just assumed -"

His words were cut off as Elrohir started chuckling again. "For being so wise you certainly can be thick-headed sometimes."

Elladan rolled his eyes, but chose to ignore the jibe, instead attacking his brother from a different front. "I saw that strange glint in your eyes when you first spoke with Lady Nessúlë this afternoon. And the way she looked at you when she spoke of `unwanted suitors' was quite mysterious to me. What goes on there?"

"To tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure. She's intriguing, intelligent, and friendly, but a little guarded at times. I definitely get the feeling that she's trying to scare me, and every other available male, away from the thought of pursuing her. That wouldn't normally stop me, except that I'm not sure if I want to pursue her. I enjoy her company so much that I'm not sure if I want to spoil it by falling in love." Elrohir grinned cheerfully. "I'll let you know if anything changes.

Elladan returned the grin, and the brothers continued down the path in companionable silence.

~~~

A wind came up the valley and ruffled through the trees, filling the air with the soothing sound of rustling leaves. Elladan's hair caught in the breeze slightly as he stood on his balcony. Breathing deeply the cool night air, he tilted his head back and gazed up into the starry sky. His mood had definitely improved since this morning.

He had been thinking on Elrohir's words, and they had greatly altered his out-look. After all, it made sense - why should he give up before he had even tried? He loved Oloriel; he would have to make her understand the way he felt about her. He let a grin creep across his face. `You won't get away so easily, Oloriel - I'm not giving you up without a fight.'

***

A/N: This chapter was shorter than usual, but I didn't have time to do anything epic b/c I'm leaving again for a week and I just wanted to make sure that you all had a little something to hold you over. = ) I hope that this chapter was more `fun' that the last. Can't you just see the gears in Elladan's brain turning? ; )

1. i'Merendë Enaylië: "The Feast to Remember (or, The Feast of Remembrance)"
2. Mithlond is another name for the Grey Havens.
3. I don't even know the whole story, but Silmaril is a jewel created by Fëanor(?), and it is supposed to be absolutely dazzling.
4. Galadriel is, of course, their grandmother

Names to Know:

Oloriel: "dream daughter"
Kallindo: "noble heart"
Aiwë: "small bird"
Hallandakil: "tall victor"

Now repeat after me "I will be a good reader and review... I will be a good LotR fan and review... I will be a good citizen of Middle-earth and review..." Got that? Good...

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