To Dream - Ch22: Some Days are Just Like That

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.
`*' signals a footnote

A/N: Sorry it took so long. I was sick and then I had midterms, so life has been kind of crazy. I guess that this chapter kind of reflects that = P Don't worry, it has a nice sappy ending, and it extra long to make up for the wait. ,_~

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Chapter 22.) Some Days are Just Like That

***
O love, if you were here, this dreary, weary day,
If your lips, warm and dear found some sweet word to say,
Then hardly would seem drear, these skies of wintry gray

- Philip Bourke Marston
***

Recap: Elladan was on his way to Lothlorien with his brother and their guests, when a pack of orcs decided to try and sneak up on Imladris. Elrohir was about to volunteer to go back and warn the city when Elladan steps in. Because Elladan doesn't want to separate Elrohir and Nessúlë he takes up the mission himself.

Elladan crept through the underbrush carefully, moving with graceful, quiet ease over the rugged terrain. He had almost made it safely around the mass of orcs, but then had left his horse in a clearing some ways off so that he could better approach the enemy and ascertain their numbers.

The smell was overwhelming. Elladan was silently cursing his heightened, elven senses as the curling odor of sweat-coated, grisly orc flesh seeped through the trees and into his nostrils. Thankfully, the wind was in Elladan's favor, and so the orcs were not favored with a warning hint of him.

The careless shuffling of the many orc feet reverberated throughout the forest. Elladan knew that he was getting very close. Leaping up into a tree, he made his way through the branches until he could catch a glimpse of the moving mass. There were several hundred Orcs pushing and stomping their way through the foliage. He could see their gnarled, mutilated faces, grim and lifeless, yet ruthless all the same. The sight made him shudder slightly.

Having gathered the information that he set out to find, Elladan turned and made his way back through the branches. Unfortunately, he was not paying as close attention to his efforts as he should have. Stepping onto a rotten branch, he was unable to catch hold of another limb before he unceremoniously crashed down to the forest floor.

Elladan froze and listened. He had put enough distance between himself and the orcs so that they could not see him, but they would definitely have heard the commotion. Several pairs of iron-shod feet began to thump along the forest floor toward him. Elladan jumped quickly back up into the trees and started making his way cautiously toward the clearing where he had left his horse. The orcs were in view now, several yards away from the tree that he stood in. If they looked up there was a chance that they would see him. Elladan flattened himself against the large trunk of the tree behind him and held his breath.

The orcs looked around warily for some time, eventually beginning a retreat back to the group. Elladan let his breath out quietly in relief, but his worries were not over. Just as the orcs were disappearing into the foliage, his horse whinnied in the distance. Elladan rolled his eyes to the heavens in exasperation. The orcs growled and turned toward the noise, quickly making their way in that direction. Determined not to loose his horse, Elladan sprang into action, jumping through the trees in an effort to out-run the orcs.

He was almost to the clearing when an orc arrow whizzed past his shoulder. With an extra burst of speed, Elladan leapt onto a branch that hung out over the clearing and jumped from it to his steed. Begging his horse for speed, the stallion tensed its muscles and sprang forward with a mighty bound. Just then, the fastest orc sprang from the surrounding trees and charged at Elladan with his jagged, black blade. With deliberate calm, Elladan unsheathed a small dagger at his hip and threw it with deadly precision as the orc's head. The orc fell dead before it could lower its blow on the horse and rider. Without looking back, Elladan allowed his mount's churning strides to carry him swiftly out of the clearing and away toward Imladris. Orc arrows followed his departure, but none found their target.

Several orcs, alerted now to the presence of a spy, tried to bar Elladan's path, but each one was hewn down with his skillfully wielded sword. In moments, Elladan had carved himself a clear path toward Imladris.

~~~

"Lord Elrond, your son approaches!"

Elrond's attention shifted quickly away from the parchment he was reading and a look of confusion settled on his ancient brow. `My son? Which one, and for what purpose?'

Striding quickly to a window, Elrond looked out upon one of Imladris's many courtyards and spied a rider pulling up his high-strung steed before the steps of the house. It was Elladan.

With furrowed brow Elrond turned from the window and strode out into the hallway. He was almost to the front entryway when Elladan burst into the building, calling out to him.

"Adar, the enemy approaches!"

Elrond quickly rounded the last corner of the hallway and came in view of his son. "Orcs from the mountains? How many?"

Elladan breathing was slightly labored, but he had no trouble answering his father. "Yes. I expect that they driven by hunger; the winters are harsh in the Hithaeglir {misty mountains}. There were over two hundred of them at the least; they will arrive before sundown."

Elrond nodded briskly then turned to the guard that had announced his son's return. "Send word to Glorfindel, tell him to ready three squadrons to march out within the hour. Alert the guardhouse also; they must be ready to secure the defenses of the city."

The guard saluted Elrond solemnly and then departed on his errand.

Only then did Elrond allow fear to creep into his eyes. "Ion nín, why of all the company have only you returned?"

"Do not worry, adar, the others are safe. The orcs had wandered between us and the city, so it was decided upon that only one of us should attempt the crossing to bring warning."

"And you came back?" Elrond inquired. Elladan knew what the hidden question was: `You gave up seeing Oloriel?'

Elladan shrugged sadly. "I did not wish to separate Elrohir from a certain maiden."

Elrond nodded slowly. "Ah, so that is how it goes, does it?"

"Aye," Elladan smiled sadly, "All I can say is that, after what I've done for him, he had better make something of it... There are times that I just hate being noble."

His father chuckled softly. "I'm sure that you will think up a way for your brother to repay you. Come, will you ride out with me?"

"Of course, adar, how could I stay behind while the enemy stands at out doorstep?"

Elrond nodded in approval. "Very well then, let us go meet Glorfindel."

~~~

Elladan wiped the perspiration off his brow with a quick pass of his hand. The orcs had finally been driven back - the few remaining were in scattered retreat - and only now did he have a moment to pause and catch his breath. He looked around him with disappointment - it would take months for this section of the forest to rid itself of the awful stench of orc slaughter.

"It is a gruesome sight, is it not?" one of the younger guards commented as he came up beside Elladan.

"Aye." Elladan did not have any more to say; there was nothing more to say. Mangled bodies lay strewn across the forest floor; black orc blood was splattered everywhere. After his mother had been captured and tortured by the orcs, Elladan used to take an almost sadistic delight in waging war on them. But the more he fought, the more he realized that it would never make the sting go away. Orcs were a mindless, reckless source of evil, and he would continue to stand against them, but it brought him little comfort or satisfaction.

After another few moments of silence, Elladan turned to the guard. "Come, let's report back to my father."

~~~

It was night. Elladan had finally extracted himself from the aftermath of the battle, and now he stood wearily in the doorway of his chambers. He looked around the room despondently. Why had he chosen to come back? All he could think of was the merry time that his brother was probably having on the road to LothLorien and how he should have been there, sharing it with him.

Flexing his soar shoulder slightly, he grimaced as the bandage shifted over his wound. Apparently the gash across his shoulder blade was still quite tender. With care Elladan began to remove his tunic, trying not to enflame his wound. The fabric got caught on the leather cord that still hung around his neck, but with some maneuvering he was finally able to extract himself from the garment.

Sighing, he reached up and caught hold of the small leather bag that was suspended from the cord, lifting it over his head as well and setting it gently on top of a table by the fireplace. He looked at it for some moments, and then picked it back up again. Loosening the drawstring, he opened the bag and let its contents fall into his hand. A silver ring fell out, delicate and simple. A small opal rested in its setting, and elegant Elven tengwar {letters/writing} trailed down the band on one side of the stone. The words were simple as well: le ôl nín: "You are my dream."

Elladan closed his hand around the ring and frowned. He had meant to give this to Oloriel in two weeks time, but now, there was no telling when he would actually see her. His heart ached at the thought. Putting the ring back into the leather pouch, he turned away from it toward his washing room. He would take a quick bath and then make for his bed. At least he could still meet his love in dreams.


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

Oloriel growled in frustration, as the offending needle once again found its way into one of her fingers. She had been full of nervous energy that evening, and so had decided to finally mend her slowly growing pile of torn clothing. There had been several loose hems, a cloak that had gotten snared on a branch, and a well-loved nightgown that was looking worse for wear. Of course, there was a reason why she usually put this task off - she just wasn't very good at it. She always managed to get her string snarled, to accidentally sew things up that weren't supposed to be sown, or to torture her fingers with repeated pinpricks.

With another outraged cry she threw the whole bundle onto the floor, glaring darts at the offending tangled mess. It was at this moment that Oloriel heard a voice somewhere in a nearby flet ask, "Do I smell something burning?"

Another moan escaped her then. She had been trying to heat up two small meat pies that she had pilfered from the kitchens, but in her preoccupation with the mending, she had forgot all about them. The sharp sent of burning food invaded her sense, and caused her to flinch.

Getting up quickly she hurried over to her small hearth and tried her best to lift the pies out without burning herself. She accomplished this task, but not without letting quite a few ashes and embers escape the fire. Turning quickly to find a utensil with which to scoop them back in, she stubbed her toe on a sturdy, metal tea pot and spilled the last vestiges of its cold, wet contents onto the floor.

Yelping softly and grasping at her injured member, Oloriel tumbled awkwardly onto the now wet floor and promptly started to cry. She felt horribly foolish for doing so, but she just couldn't help it. This day just would not give her a moment's peace. Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong: from her work in the healing houses, to her archery practice, to running into Kallindo again at lunch - something was out to get her, she was sure of it. Her only consolation was the thought that the day could not possibly go on forever. Sleep would come, and with it, Elladan.

The throbbing in her toe finally started to abate. Using the edge of her apron to dab at the corners of her eyes, she sniffed one final time and then got to her feet. She was done - no longer would she try to accomplish anything of purpose. Grabbing a book from her modest collection she replaced her now tea-stained dress with a nightgown, put on some warm thick socks and crawled into bed, tired and defeated.


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

After some time of restless thought and movement, Elladan finally drifted into sleep. The dark room around him melted into a quiet orchard at evening. After a few minutes to searching he found his love huddled up beneath a small apple tree.

He was still disheartened and secretly wanted to be fondled-over a little bit, but when he saw Oloriel in such a subdued posture, it gave him pause.

"Oloriel," he called out to her softly.

She lifted her head up from where it had been resting on her knees. A soft smile turned up the corners of her mouth.

"I am glad you are come," she sighed quietly, "This day has been so wearying - you are the only good to come out of it. I can not wait until you are come to the wood, you will make for such a happy distraction."

Elladan flinched slightly. He did not look forward to breaking the bad news to Oloriel.

"What is wrong?" she asked perceptively, not missing his visibly uncomfortable reaction.

"Um... I... something happened..." he trailed off hopelessly.

Oloriel's countenance darkened. What more could go wrong that day? "Something happened," she repeated slowly.

Elladan rubbed the back of his neck and muttered something unintelligible under his breath before replying, "Aye, something happened... and... and you will not like it."

"Oh Elladan, what now? I do not think I can handle anything else going wrong. Just... just don't tell me; we will ignore it together."

Elladan chuckled dryly. "But you will have to know sooner or later, and I think you would want to know."

"Fine," she muttered in resignation.

She scooted over a little bit to give Elladan some room as he set down beside her. Leaning up against the tree he spoke. "I will not be coming to the wood; I am still in Imladris."

Oloriel just stared at him silently.

Elladan's heart fell when he saw the startled look on her face. He turned away in frustration; he hated letting her down like this, but it had seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

When Elladan turned away from her, Oloriel felt a slight sting in her heart. Why wasn't he coming? Why wouldn't he look at her? What was wrong? There were just too many questions, and her head was already full and spinning. She decided to try and calm down and just wait for a better explanation. She waited quite some time, but Elladan never spoke. Of course, Elladan never spoke, because Oloriel didn't speak. So both of them were expectantly waiting for the other one to say something and getting increasingly annoyed that they didn't. Finally, Oloriel broke the silence.

"Well?" he voice had a slight sharpness to it, and contrasted harshly against the pervading silence. "Aren't you going to tell me why?"

Elladan turned back to her with a wearied look. He really didn't feel like recounting the whole tale, and he didn't want Oloriel to worry about the orc attack, but he supposed that he should say something. "I... I had to return to Imladris."

"Why?" Oloriel questioned again.

Elladan sighed, "There was an emergency... can we just not speak of it. You were right - let's just ignore it for tonight. This day has had enough disappointments."

Maybe it was the stressful day, or maybe it was her unsettled state of mind, but something in Oloriel set her emotions on edge. Why was Elladan avoiding the question? She just wanted to know why he wasn't coming. She knew that there must be something wrong. Maybe... maybe he just didn't want to come! Her mind rebelled against this notion, but then, why wouldn't he answer her simple question?

"Fine," she shot out rashly, "If you don't want to answer the question..."

Elladan shifted away from her slightly. `Oloriel, it's not... it's not that I don't want to, it's just... Just please don't pester me about it right now. I'm just tired, so very tired-"

"Yes, and I am too," Oloriel cut it, "You're not the only one who has responsibilities, my lord. I have had a difficult day as well but that doesn't mean that I am going to be rude and carelessly toss you off in the middle of a conversation. However, if you find me so tiresome I will not `pester' you further."

Elladan groaned. Why on earth was she being so difficult and unreasonable? Couldn't she just drop it? Frustrated, the only thing he could think of to say in reply, was a short, "Fine."

Oloriel stiffened. "Fine."

A deadening silence fell between them. Elladan and Oloriel just sat there for many long minutes, neither speaking nor glancing each other's way. Elladan slouched against the tree with arms folded petulantly across his chest, while Oloriel sat rigidly upright, holding her head proudly. Both minds were caught in a turmoil of frustration, disappointment, and confusion. The silence continued to hang thick between them, like an invisible barrier.

After quite some time, Elladan's annoyance finally started ebbing away. It was almost as if he was waking from a dream and wasn't sure where he was or how he had gotten there. All day he had looked forward to being with Oloriel and now here she was, but somehow things had gotten turned up side down. Why were they fighting? Why on earth was she not in his arms?

As that thought floated through his mind he looked down at his folded arms. With Oloriel so near they felt empty. This was not how things were supposed to be.

Elladan took a tentative glance at her then. Her small shoulders were stiff and straight as though she was prepared to meet a fierce battle. Her delicate chin was held high, and gave her a look of regal dignity. Before he knew it, Elladan was smiling at her. `She looks absolutely adorable, tithenmeathor nín {my little warrior}.'

While Elladan was thinking these thoughts, Oloriel's were not too far away. She was mentally chastising herself for her angry outburst. She had taken her frustration out on Elladan and now she couldn't even remember what it had been for. There was no reason to be angry. There was, of course, a very sensible reason why Elladan was not coming - he would not be false with her.

But now what should she do? He was probably furious over her childish, discourteous actions. How would she mend the situation? She felt that she should apologize, but it was taking her some time to work up the courage.

It was as these thoughts were tumbling through her mind that she felt Elladan's eyes on her. Slowly she turned to meet his gaze. Her breath caught in her throat as she met his glance. His eyes were filled with such a tender light; it was not condemning at all. She sighed softly as her lungs began to function again. `Say something, Oloriel, you should say something!' Her inner voice kept urging her to speak, but her mind couldn't seem to form any coherent thoughts. Finally, she managed to whisper one word, "Elladan..."

It seemed to be enough. Elladan answered her call. Reaching out to capture her face in his hands, he drew her in to him and found her warm, pliant lips. The kiss was gentle, long, and searching, as though he were discovering something wholly new and wanted to explore all of its depth and beauty. It pained him to know that he could speak so harshly to his love, and he wanted to somehow repair the damage. Oloriel responded to his gentled ministrations, allowing him to deepen the kiss, letting his strong arms engulf her in their warmth and security. As he slid an arm around her waist to draw her in more snugly against himself, he let his mouth wander down to her neck, soliciting a small gasp from Oloriel. He smiled and made his way back to her soft lips, teasing them gently. Oloriel's wayward hands wandered up into his hair, working to undo the braids, and then down to the base of his neck, massaging the skin there in slow circles. The feel of her hands almost undid Elladan. Without realizing what he was doing, he gently began lowering Oloriel to the ground, never losing contact with her warm, sweet mouth. Only when he felt the grass against his arms did he come to his senses.

Breaking reluctantly away from the kiss, he looked down at Oloriel, lying prone against the soft earth, panting slightly and deliciously flushed. She was beautiful, but she was not his - he had not asked, and she had not given. He thought briefly of the silver ring that still lay on the table in his bedroom. Only Eru knew when he would have the chance to give it to her. But it was not just about the ring: war was coming, death haunted their footsteps. In times like these, when nothing was certain, could he ask her to give herself to him, body and soul? He sighed softly and brushed a stray lock of golden hair away from Oloriel's face.

"Le uir nedh inden; aphadil aradýl nín... Im melan le {You are ever in my heart; you haunt my waking dreams... I love you}. Nai, tan im gar pennin thaur. Úcargaro nin carha ad - ha naegran {Alas, that I have spoken so abominably. Do not let me do so again - it pains me}.

Oloriel's eyes glistened. "Ssshh," she crooned, caressing his cheek with her hand, "We both spoke in haste. I would ask of you the same forgiveness - I should have a little more faith in you."

Elladan smiled. "You're forgiven, of course," he murmured, taking hold of her wandering hand and placing a gentle kiss on its palm. "Still, I am sorry for my part in the business. Is there not any way that I can make it up to you?"

A stifled laugh bubbled up out of Oloriel as she replied, "You could start by getting off of me; it's rather hard to breathe."

Only then did Elladan realize that he still held Oloriel in a rather compromising position. With a lop-sided smirk he rolled off of her and got to his knees.

Oloriel sat up and primly adjusted her light blue gown. "We are getting rather inappropriate, aren't we?" she laughed nervously, "We can't seem to keep our hands off of each other."

Elladan looked at her face and noticed that it still held a healthy bloom. He chuckled softly, "Aye, my father warned me about that. I suppose that we will just have to promise not to fight any more; that way, there won't be any `making up' to do afterward." He winked playfully at Oloriel and then got to his feet, helping her up as well.

After she got to her feet, Oloriel leaned wearily into Elladan's chest, breathing in his warm scent, and letting her worries drift away. It was good to be with him. Finally, she tilted her head back to meet Elladan's amused gaze. She smiled, as a playful thought popped into her head. "You're very tall."

One of Elladan's brows raised slightly. "No, meleth nín, you are just short."

"Ah!" she cried in mock indignation, swatting his arm playfully. "No I am not - not for an elleth anyway."

"And I am not particularly tall for an elf. So the fact is, that we are both exactly as tall as we are supposed to be, and I for one am glad of it. You are just the right size to fit perfectly inside my arms: when I draw you close, I can tuck you in quite nicely underneath my chin." Elladan obligingly demonstrated what he meant, wrapping Oloriel in a tight embrace against himself and planting a kiss in her hair, before he rested his cheek there.

Oloriel laughed into his tunic. "You're so silly, hîr nín {my lord}."

"Why have you taken to calling me `my lord'?" Elladan inquired, allowing her to pull back slightly from his embrace.

"I don't know," she replied nonchalantly, "I just feel like it, I suppose... now come, will you not tell me what has kept you at Imladris? I promise, I will not bite your head off again."

Elladan smiled and then obligingly began his narrative. Of course, Oloriel was still disappointed that he would not be coming, but she couldn't fault him for his motivation.

She smiled up at him. "I'm sure that I will like Nessúlë. I shall have to tease her and Elrohir to make up for your absences; perhaps that will keep me occupied."

Elladan's eyes glinted mischievously. "Oloriel, you are truly a lady after my own heart."

***

No footnotes today!

Things to Know:

Oloriel: "dream daughter"
Nessúlë: "young spirit"
adar/ada: "father/dad"
elleth: "she-elf"
meleth nín: "my love"
hîr nín: "my lord"

Literal translations:

Le uir nedh ind-en; aphad-il arad-ýl nín... Im mela-n le: "You [are] ever in heart-my; follow-you day-dreams my... I (for emphasis) love-I you"
Nai, tan im gar pennin thaur. Ú-car-garo nin car-ha ad - ha naegra-n: "Alas, that I have spoken abominabe (couldn't find an adverb). Not-do-have (`do not have') me do-it again - it pains me"


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