To Dream - Ch23: About a Broken Heart

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: You know what terrible thing I did? The last time I had a "Win a Random Cute Elf" Raffle I never announced who the winners were! How silly of me... anyway, here they are...

1st place: Mynarquen - you've won your very own Rúmil!!! Take good care of him. = )

2nd place: Lalaith-Elerrina - you've won a coil of elven rope... it comes in very handy when trying to scale the heights of the Emyn Muil.

3rd place: Lagolases_eyes - you get the bottle of miruvor! Careful now, don't drink it all at once! ,_~

Everyone else gets e-cookies baked with love. = P

_________________________________
Chapter 23.) About a Broken Heart

***
...or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending
...
- e. e. cummings.
***

Time: It's been about two weeks since the company set out from Imladris; they are just now reaching LothLorien.


They had left the snows of the mountains several days before, but the air still held a slight chill as the traveling companions entered the golden vale of Lorien. Elrohir dismounted his horse first, and then the others followed his exampled, leading their horses into the still forest.

Nessúlë gazed upon the gold and silver mellyrn* in awe. She had heard tales about these majestic trees, but those words could not rival the reality. They stood tall and watchful, regal and steadfast, witnesses to a time almost forgotten. Nessúlë forgot about her companions temporarily and did not even look back to see if they were following her. LothLorien seemed to have placed her beneath a spell: her careless footsteps taking her deeper and deeper into the wood. The quiet and peace that pervaded the air sunk in like a sweet perfume. The gentle murmur of a waterfall in the distance made her heart feel light and yet subdued at the same time. Time itself seemed to stand still in this place, and all that was beautiful could take refuge here.

Nessúlë was so caught up in her visual exploration that she forgot to look where she was going. Her foot got caught on a root in the forest floor and she almost fell flat on her face. Suddenly there was someone before her, placing a steadying hand on her arm to help her regain her balance. Startled, Nessúlë looked up into the eyes of a strange elf clad in differing shades of gray and silver that blended in quite well with the large trunks of the mellyrn. She froze for a moment, but when the elf smiled at her and let go of her arm her tenseness receded. Looking around cautiously she saw that their whole company was surrounded by a group of these gray-clad elves. One of them spoke up.

"Hail, Lord Elrohir. We are glad indeed that you have returned to the Golden Wood."

"Thank you, Haldir. I am very glad to have returned myself - and hopefully I will be able to stay a little longer than the last time."

Haldir just smiled in reply. Rúmil, the elf that stood in front of Nessúlë, took this opportunity to speak himself. "We knew of your coming, Elrohir, but we do not yet know the rest of your company, nor the reason for their coming. What trickery have you employed that we should find you in the company of two respectable looking elves and," he paused and swept up Nessúlë's hand to place a courtly kiss on it, "a particularly lovely lady?"

Nessúlë blushed slightly at his compliment, but didn't take it too much to heart. This elf looked jolly and carefree - no doubt he was a born flatterer.

Elrohir cocked an eyebrow and replied. "My, my... you're still the lady's man I see? What would Mynarquen* think? I thought that when you found her you would leave off chasing other women."

Rúmil just laughed. "She knows what a rogue I am, but she also knows that my heart is only hers. And yet, while my heart does not wander, my eyes cannot help but see and pay tribute to the true beauty and grace that stands before me - it would be ungracious."

Nessúlë chuckled softly. "Well, that `true beauty and grace' would be honored with your acquaintance, sir, for you do seem to have a merry heart indeed." Turning to Elrohir with a smile she continued, "Since you seem to have a history with these elves would you care to do the honors."

Elrohir readily obliged. "May I present Nessúlë Ëarwen and her brother Lantél Tindollo of Mithlond; also their guardian Alarkelú. Their family has sailed into the West, and they come now to seek a new life with their mother's kin under the Lord and Lady's protection."

Rúmil bowed low and replied, "Rúmil at your service. You have already heard the name of my brother, Haldir. He is Marchwarden of the western borders and a most reluctant bachelor. Also with us is yet another brother, Orophin, already happily married and domesticated; then Haldayúla, who is more of a lady's man than I am, and Kallindo, who is currently lovesick and moping. So you see, we are all of us entangled with the fairer sex and there is nothing for it. Yet I am sure that we can all find it in our hearts to welcome you warmly to our wood. I hope that you will not find the hospitality of LothLorien lacking in any way. Come, Kallindo and I will bring you to Caras Galadhon now. It is several leagues* from here, but if we move quickly we may arrive shortly after nightfall when the hearths are still warm the doors still open."

Nessúlë smiled cheerfully up at him. He certainly did have a merry heart and a quick tongue. When he offered her his arm she did not hesitate to take it, and so they began, leading their horses, to walk deeper into the Golden Wood.

With her back turned to him, Nessúlë did not perceive the sour glances that Elrohir was casting in Rúmil's direction.


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

Oloriel smiled at the lively conversation that was flying between the women sitting at the looms, as she turned one of the pegs on her harp ever so slightly to bring it back into proper tune. It had been quite some time since she had sat with these women as they worked and she had forgotten how very entertaining they could be, giving their tongues free reign as their hands attended to the intricate weave of the cloth.

One of the older women rolled her eyes at the comment of another and then turned to Oloriel. "Come, dearest, play us another song. We need something to sooth our spirits otherwise we may all loose our good sense amidst this prattling... play!"

Several other women joined in calling for a song as well, so Oloriel obliged them. As she was singing, another elleth appeared in the doorway with a searching look on her face. Her eyes locked onto Oloriel, but she did not interrupt the song.

When the gentle melody came to an end, and the ladies had all murmured their approval, the elleth sidled up to Oloriel and whispered something in her ear. Nodding quickly, Oloriel got up from her seat and gently rested her harp against the stool, then followed the maiden out of the weaving room and into the dappled sunshine.

Oloriel breathed in deeply to try and calm her ruffled nerves. She knew that this meeting was inevitable, but she was still not quite prepared for it. As she attempted to compose her spirit, the maiden who had summoned her led her to one of the many flets that composed the complex of the Lord and Lady's dwelling. Ducking beneath some of the vines that hung lazily from the lattice-worked roof, Oloriel came up in the presence of Galadriel. The Lady was sitting in front of a stretched piece of cloth, which was set up in a very large frame to allow for the embroidering of a delicate design. The piece of material was so large, exceeding even the dimensions of the frame to drape along the ground, that it was perhaps meant to be a tapestry that would one day adorn the wall of some great library, recounting a tale of days gone by. The Lady, however, was not focused on the task before her. Instead her eyes gazed off into the distance as though she was trying to see something afar off, the needle momentarily forgotten and held hovering in mid-air.

Oloriel stood quietly for some moments, wondering if she should speak or wait to be spoken to. The silence continued to reign. Finally, Oloriel grew so uncomfortable that she was about to interrupt the Lady's reverie. However, as soon as she opened her mouth Galadriel spoke.

"Patience little one - there is time yet for words. Come, sit with me."

Oloriel did as she was told, sitting tentatively next to Galadriel on the carved bench. Her breath caught slightly as she saw the picture that was being formed by the Lady's skilled needle.

It was Elladan. And also another, very like to him in form and countenance - she supposed it to be his twin. They stood poised in battle, a raw light gleaming from their eyes. They were beautiful, and yet terrible at the same time. Oloriel's heart beat quickly as she gazed upon them. Was this the elf who had captured her heart? Although she had always been aware of his lineage, never had he seemed so lordly or so perilous to her before. She smiled softly even as confusion settled on her brow. This was the same elf who treated her with such gentleness and kindness. How could the same person be composed of such opposites? How could someone so regal and deadly be at the same time so compassionate and affectionate?

Without thinking, her hand went out slowly to touch the image of his face. Only then did reality force itself back upon her. Her mind cleared as her fingers brushed over the threads - just threads, not him. She ducked her head down then and twined her fingers in her lap.

Galadriel smiled down on her. "He has grown into a fine man, has he not? - The pride of his people."

"Aye," Oloriel whispered softly. Then, gaining more courage, lifted her head and asked, "How can one man be so glorious? What on earth can he see in me?"

The Lady laughed softly. "It is all in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps he is not quite as glorious as he seems to you now. We all of us have our faults, but sometimes love blinds us to the shortcomings of those we love. No doubt he sees you in the same light that you see him. Everything takes on a golden hue when your heart finds its home with another.

Oloriel's brow furrowed slightly. "Are you saying that we are both of us deceived? That we are both caught up in some illusion that will not hold under the light of day?"

"Nay, I said not so. The light of day need not destroy your love; it may perhaps strengthen it. One day you will discover something far greater than what you perceive now, for instead of loving him for his perfections, you will learn to love him regardless of his faults. And that is a wonderful thing indeed. Blessed are those who find refuge with one who sees all of their shortcomings and loves them anyway."

Oloriel looked away then, through the branches of the mellyrn up into the watery blue sky. Everything seemed too surreal. That she was sitting here, speaking of love with the Lady of Light; that she was in love after so many years of detachment; that she was loved in return after so many years of loneliness. She shook her head slightly as if to clear the cobwebs out, and sighed softly. Turning back to the Lady she spoke softly. "I am honored by your concern for me. Your words are wise indeed. But... this is not the only reason you had in summoning me her, was it?" The question came out more like a statement.

"No, you are right - I had another purpose in mind."

Oloriel nodded then braced herself for the coming conversation.

Galadriel did not speak right away. Instead she went back to her task - letting her needle glide through the shapes and forms. Oloriel watched in wonder; she had not seen such skill at work before.

After several minutes Galadriel finally broke the silence. "I have heard that you do not meet with Kallindo any more? How have you kept up with your instruction these past weeks?"

Oloriel looked at the wooden floor of the flet and wondered how much she should say. "I... I have gone to the archery field almost every day to practice... but I have not worked with my long knives or with the sword." Oloriel frowned slightly at the thought of her long-knives. They had been a gift from Kallindo, but she had not picked them up since the rift had formed between them.

Galadriel set down her needle and sighed. "I believe I know something of the reason for this, but perhaps you can set the record straight."

Oloriel grimaced. She did not feel comfortable talking about this with anyone other than Elladan. It would make her feel oddly exposed.

After several minutes of silence, Galadriel stood up then and walked to the edge of the flet, looking down on the world below. "He has made some sort of declaration to you, yes?"

"...Aye," Oloriel finally whispered.

The Lady nodded her head, but still stood with her back to the younger elleth. "You must not withhold these things from me Oloriel - I am not one to fear and I hold your allegiance. Do not defy me for such a petty issue. You hold the heart of my grandson and that is enough to procure my goodwill. Now you must trust me."

Oloriel bowed her head in shame but did not reply.

Galadriel turned back to her then and softened her tone as she spoke. "I will not force you to meet with Kallindo, but you must continue with your training. I will think on the matter and see if I cannot come up with an alternative. Is there any other elf that you would feel comfortable working with?"

Oloriel cocked her head slightly as she analyzed the situation. Was there any other whom she felt at ease with? For several moments her mind could only draw a blank, but then it hit her. "Nimfallë." Yes, Írima's husband was skilled and gentle and patient - he would do quite nicely

Galadriel inclined her head. "The husband of your friend, is he not? He is a good warrior. We shall see what we can do. You may go back to the other women now. Doubtless they have missed your songs while you have been so busy these past weeks." In parting she added, "Keep a light heart, Aiwë* {little bird}, all may yet be well."

Oloriel froze mid-step. "What did you call me?"

Galadriel's expression did not change, but by the glint in her eyes one could almost say that she was... amused. "It is a fitting name, no matter who gave it to you."

Oloriel's looked warily up at the Lady but decided not to argue. Turning to leave yet again she murmured, "Good day, m'lady."

Galadriel smiled then, and the turn of her lips spoke so many different things: sadness, joy, foresight, wisdom. With a gentle shake of her head at the ways of the young, she sat back down onto the carved, wooden bench, and gazed at her work. Then, taking up the neglected needle, she began to let the colors and the textures of the threads lead her mind to more peaceful places.


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

"You jest, certainly! He really did that?" Nessúlë laughed heartily as Rúmil continued to recount an embarrassing tale from Elrohir's younger days. Looking back over her shoulder she caught Elrohir's sour look and laughed harder. "Oh come now, Elrohir, you were crowing about your own devilish exploits earlier on in our trip, why so testy now?"

"There's something about having control over the telling that doesn't make it quite so distasteful," Elrohir shot back grouchily. "Besides, Rúmil is just as inclined to lie as he is to tell the truth. Things hardly happened that way."

"Oh no?" Rúmil inquired, his eyebrows raised in disbelief. "I think that they did indeed." He leant down to whisper in Nessúlë's ear, "Just ask my brother, Orophin - he shall tell you exactly the same thing."

Nessúlë laughed aloud once more. This elf was certainly entertaining. For a moment she felt a prick in her heart for Elrohir. He was a true friend, and she would never want to hurt him. But then she remembered the "friendly" torture that he had put her through during their journey, and she didn't really feel guilty any more. `Let us have some fun with him, he will recover soon enough.'

~~~

Kallindo watched the pair in front of him carefully then he looked back to the elf that stood beside him. He had never met any of the Peredhil* before, but he took a liking to this one. Perhaps it was because he perceived their common plight. Kallindo may have been preoccupied in heart, but he was not so wayward in mind. He recognized the glances that Elrohir was throwing the lady's way.

"You know," began Kallindo softly, "The others always joke about how sodden I am in love, and that I have grown clumsy in my watch, but I still see many things. This may be too bold on my part, but...you love her, yes?"

Elrohir's head jerked around to look at Kallindo. He wasn't sure how to reply to that. "I... well, won't deny that I... I like her..."

Kallindo raised a slender eyebrow in disbelief, but chose not to reply.

Several moments passed in silence and Kallindo thought that the conversation was over, but then suddenly Elrohir spoke up. "Did you tell her... of your love?"

Kallindo's eyes dimmed slightly, but he replied. "Yes... she rejected me."

Elrohir nodded gently with a thoughtful expression on his face. "I do not know how to tell her... I am a coward I suppose."

Kallindo smiled sardonically. "We are all fools in the game of love - do not feel too ashamed. No man treads these waters without faltering a few times."

"Aye," Elrohir agreed softly, and then did not speak again until the company reached Caras Galadhon.


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

"Hail, friends. It is not often that we are honored with the presence of any of our western kin, but they are always welcome here. The hospitality of the Wood is at your disposal." Lord Celeborn spoke in regal yet warm tones to the elves of Mithlond.

"We are grateful for your welcome, Lord," Lantél replied.

Celeborn smiled then, turning to Elrohir, spoke more lightly. "And ever is your sight a joy, child. Is peace with you and your family?" Elrohir came up to his grandfather and embraced him, beginning to recount the news from home.

Meanwhile, Galadriel attended to the strangers. "You have journeyed far; no doubt you are both tired and hungry. However, while I bid you to partake of refreshment, I would also ask you to wait with us here and not yet retire. I knew of your coming and have summoned your kin to welcome you." As she spoke, servants brought in several trays of food to set on a table to the left of where the guests were being received.

Nessúlë smiled in return. "Thank you, Lady. We have yet some strength in us and are eager to meet with my mother's kin."

Rúmil and Kallindo were about to depart when Galadriel stopped them. "Nay, do not be so hasty, guardsmen - you are welcome as well. Your vigilance is worthy of reward. Come eat with us."

Rúmil hesitated. "Your offer is most gracious, but my heart yearns to see Mynarquen. However, I am sure that Kallindo would enjoy the repast - he has no one to make haste for." Rúmil smirked and cast and laughing look Kallindo's way. Kallindo just arched an eyebrow at this not-so-veiled jibe at his bachelorhood, but did not protest since the food and drink did indeed look appetizing.

Galadriel excused Rúmil, and the rest of the company took some food and settled down into quiet conversation.


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

"When was the last time you saw them?" Oloriel asked eagerly. She had been spending a leisurely evening with Írima and her family when the summons had been received. Being eager to welcome the new arrivals herself, she had come along as well.

Írima sighed. "Alas, it has been too long. Nessúlë was still a young girl when my sister left with her husband to make the journey to Mithlond. Lantél was only a babe in arms then. He will not remember me."

Oloriel gasped slightly. "Why... that must be at least two thousand years, if what I remember about their ages are correct. How you must have missed them."

"Aye, it is a long time. I certainly missed having my sister at my own wedding." Írima cast a loving glance at Nimfallë, who was carrying the sleeping Almarië in his arm.

"You will see her again one day, love." Nimfallë assured her.

"Aye, but I am glad that I will not have to wait so long to see my niece and nephew. How they must have grown - I probably won't recognize them at all!"

They soon arrived at the vast talan of the Lord and Lady and were announced by a servant. Írima and Nimfallë were in front of Oloriel, and as they bowed respectfully to Galadriel and Celeborn, Oloriel caught a glimpse of the company within. Her eyes were quickly drawn to Elrohir. Her breath caught quickly and for a moment her heart sped up. But she brutally yanked her emotions back to reality, reminding herself that this must simply be Elladan's twin brother. And yet... that was something. Meeting one of Elladan's siblings was nerve wracking in itself - what if she didn't make a good impression?

The joyful introductions were being made as Oloriel continued to scan the room. Her eyes rested on a lovely, smiling, dark-haired elleth, and then an elf who appeared to be near kin of the maiden. There was another elf as well and then... Oloriel's mind froze suddenly. Her eyes locked onto Kallindo and both of them visibly paled.

"...And this is my close friend, Oloriel," the voice of Írima began to register in Oloriel's mind, "She helps with our child sometime; she was with us when we received the summons and was eager to meet you."

With strength she did not know she possessed, Oloriel tore her gaze away from Kallindo and tried to focus her mind back on the company at hand. Unfortunately, her control was not strengthened as she heard Elrohir gasp softly and send a piercing glance her way. "Oloriel?" he inquired.

She stood motionless for a fraction of a second and then dipped into a curtsy. "Aye. It is an honor to finally meet Írima's kin... and you, my lord."

Elrohir's face split into an enormous smile. "The honor is all mine. I have longed to meet you, but did not expect to do so until the morning, at least. My brother sends his love. I'm sure that it nearly broke his heart to have to give up seeing you."

Oloriel's face paled slightly, and then a rosy hue began to creep up her cheeks. The whole room froze. Kallindo's face went pure white and a strange spark ignited in his eyes, Nessúlë cocked her head in curiosity, Lantél raised a questioning eyebrow, Nimfallë momentarily ignored the fussing of his infant child, and Írima crossed her arms across her chest and gave Oloriel a look that read, "I knew you were hiding something." The only people who didn't seem to be affected were Galadriel, Celeborn, and Alarkelú. The first two, because it wasn't a surprise to them, and the last because he had seen too many seasons to be so easily surprised.

Silence reigned.

Elrohir looked around at everyone with a quizzical expression. "What?" he finally asked. Nessúlë was the first to reply. She shrugged her shoulders lightly, as if to indicate that, after all, the affair really wasn't any of her business, and said, "Nothing - I suppose that we are all just a little tired. We have been offered guest flets tonight, aunt, but I should like to come and visit you in the morning. Perhaps you could show us where you live?"

Írima nodded her head slowly then turned to her niece with a smile. "Yes, we shall." She cast one more quick, searching glance at Oloriel and then rested her hand on the arm of her husband as they exited the talan. Elrohir declared that he would stay behind, and so bid the others goodnight. Oloriel stayed rooted in her current position, not quite sure what to do. Kallindo remained also, simply staring at her with the oddest look in his eyes.

Elrohir turned back to Oloriel with a smile. "Shall I walk you home? I am anxious to know you better."

Oloriel replied with a shaky smile, but did not have time to form a verbal response before Kallindo cut her off.

"What?!" he spat out.

Oloriel closed her eyes and tried to breathe steadily. Elrohir gazed at Kallindo with a confused expression.

"What call do have to know her better?" Kallindo blurted out. "Few indeed have been given that privilege and it has been dearly won! What are you to her, and who is this upstart of a brother?" Elrohir stiffened visibly at these words, but Kallindo did not heed the warning sign. "How does he know her? What right does he have -" He was cut off then by Elrohir's strong voice.

"What exactly are you implying?" He bit out the words slowly, trying to remain calm.

Kallindo did not answer (not really knowing himself), but instead stood their fuming, and throwing daggers with his eyes. All he knew was that he didn't like another elf acting in such a "friendly" way toward Oloriel.

The tension in the air might have grown until the trees caught fire if Celeborn had not intervened. "Enough, Kallindo," he said gently, "Elrohir has no part in your quarrel, or your hurt. Do not be foolish."

Kallindo flinched at the words and then, several long moments later, stormed out of the talan.

Elrohir relaxed and then turned to Oloriel with a confused look, which turned into a concerned one when caught sight of her pale face. "Lady Oloriel, are you alright? What was that all about?"

Oloriel looked up into his eyes and sighed quietly. "It was about a broken heart."

Elrohir was about to ask for clarification when it suddenly dawned on him. "You were the maiden... the one that rejected him?" Oloriel pursued her lips and looked away.

"Please... not tonight Lord Elrohir, I am weary of thinking on it already. Let us be merry. I have so much that I would like to ask you."

He hesitated for a moment, but then nodded in agreement. "Very well... shall we?" He offered her his arm, and then, bidding farewell to his grandparents, led Oloriel out into the star-studded night.

***

1. mellyrn = plural of "mallorn" - the golden trees of Lorien
2. Get it, get it? Mynarquen just won Rúmil in the "Win a Random Cute Elf" raffle. = )
2. I know that it's at least several miles between the western border and Caras Galadhon. I didn't really want to work out all the details, though, so let your imagination run wild.
3. peredhil = plural of "peredhel": half-elf... Elrond and his brother, Elros, were known as the peredhil b/c of their human and Maia ancestry. Elrond's surname is Peredhel.

Things to Know:

Oloriel: "dream daughter"
Aiwë: Kallindo's nickname for Oloriel, "small bird"
Nessúlë Ëarwen: "young spirit/ sea maiden"
Lantél Tindollo: "falling star/ silver cliff"
Alarkelú: "swift stream"
Kallindo: "noble heart"
Írima: "lovely, desirable"
Nimfallë: "white foam"
Almárië: "be blessed"
elleth: "she-elf"


**boxes of e-brownies for everyone who reviews***

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