To Dream - Ch25: The Eye of the Storm

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: I'm sorry this took so long. I had relatives to deal with at Thanksgiving and then I had a week before finals that was crazy and then I had the week of finals. Life is hectic. Thankfully, Christmas break is here and I hope to be more productive on this story.

__________________________________
Chapter 25.) The Eye of the Storm

***
To drift and dream like a lazy stream
And walk barefoot across sunshine days.
- James Kavanaugh
***

Recap: The party from Imladris arrived in LothLorien the night before. Oloriel is taking Nessúlë on a tour before they meet Elrohir at the South Field to practice. Oloriel is scheming up ways to get Nessúlë and Elrohir together.


The silent trees stood witness as the two elleths walked down the path, laughing merrily, and trying to lick the last remnants of powdered sugar off their hands. After an hour or so of wandering around the community, Oloriel had introduced Nessúlë to the finest pastry chef in the Golden Wood. Camthalion, the chef, was a jolly soul who was always ready for company. He had treated them to a few pastries, and had presented Nessúlë with a basket of various delectables by way of a welcoming gift. This is where the powdered sugar had come from.

"You have some on your cheek," Oloriel warned, trying to suppress her giggles.

Nessúlë tried to swipe the offending powder away. Unfortunately, her hands were still covered with the moist confectionery.

Oloriel's laughter burst forth again. "It is no use! You're just making it worse. It is all over you now."

Nessúlë mock glared at Oloriel. "I wouldn't laugh if I were you. There is a large swipe of it across your own forehead."

Oloriel heaved a sigh of resignation. "I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about it. I swear that there is a spell upon this sugar - it will not come off!" she cried

The two elleths has just stepped onto the soft turf of the South Field. Elrohir was already there, waiting for them. He turned and threw them a quizzical look.

"Why on earth are you causing so much racket? ...And what is on your faces?"

Nessúlë set down her basket then strolled up to Elrohir with an amused smile. "We were just engaged in battle with a rather tenacious pastry, that's all, and I'm afraid we came out the losers." She spread her arms out akimbo to display the white dusting that covered her hands, skirts, and part of her face. "It won't come off, I swear."

Elrohir rolled his eyes. "If the two of you cannot defend yourselves against the onslaught of an inanimate pastry then you are quite hopeless I'm afraid... And don't think that I'm going to let you touch a bow with all of that mess on your hands."

Nessúlë growled softly and glared at Elrohir.

"If we are so hopeless, then will you be so kind as to show us the proper way to defeat this monster?" Oloriel's smooth voice cut between the other two elves.

Nessúlë's eyes sparkled. "Ah yes, show is the true way, master." She made a slight obeisance to emphasize the sarcasm.

A cocky grin spread across Elrohir's face. From somewhere on his person he withdrew a small, worn, handkerchief. Nessúlë held her hands out expectantly, but instead of tending to her, Elrohir turned around and walked several paces to a small fountain that had been set up by the practice field for drinking purposes. He dipped the handkerchief down into the water and wrung it out slowly and deliberately. Turning back to the two ladies, he arched his eyebrow in amusement when he saw their slightly sour faces.

"That's not fair," Nessúlë declared, "It doesn't count."

Elrohir gasped in mock outrage. "What? It most certainly does. Part of knowing how to defend yourself is knowing what sort of weapon to use."

Nessúlë's playful scowl deepened.

A smile broke out on Elrohir's face. "Admit it," he urged quietly, as he took her hand in his to wash it off, "Where you failed to conquer this foe, I have triumphed."

Nessúlë rolled her eyes. "Fine, I'll give you that. But I highly doubt that even you would wish to have a song written about this 'glorious victory'. Wouldn't that fit well in the books of lore?" She snorted in a rather undignified manner.

Oloriel grinned as she came up to clean her hands as well. "Most certainly it would. I can see it now: `How Elrohir Slew the Sugar Beast,' in heroic couplet*. Minstrels would sing it for ages, I'm sure."

Elrohir just chuckled softly. Oloriel had walked by him to dip her hands directly into the pool of water, while he continued to wipe off the last remnants of sticky sugar from Nessúlë's. When he finished he looked up hesitantly at her face. There were several large smudges across it, but he was not sure if it would be quite appropriate for him to wipe them away. Motioning toward her face, he handed the piece of cloth over to Nessúlë. With a wry grin she swiped it across her face. Unfortunately she didn't get it all. There was still some on her jawbone and just below her right ear. Elrohir was going to just let it slip by, not really caring as long as her hands were clean for archery, but Oloriel wouldn't let him get away with that.

"You've missed some," she called over.

"Where?" Nessúlë inquired.

Oloriel shrugged. "It's in a few places. Have Elrohir wipe it off."

Elrohir's eyes widened slightly. That woman was going to be the death of him. What did she think she was doing? He cast yet another suspicious glance her way (he had been doing that quite frequently lately), but Oloriel had already turned her back to him.

Sighing, he accepted the damp cloth and took a hesitant step closer to the elleth in front of him. Her eyes met his unflinchingly; she was blissfully unaware of what was going on inside of his mind. Unfortunately, Elrohir did not have that luxury. Every fiber in his being was thoroughly aware of how close she was to him. Thanks to his keen Elven senses he could smell, almost taste, her scent washing over him and it was... delicious. Blinking quickly, he pushed these thoughts from his head and let his hands quickly perform the task at hand. He stepped back from her as soon as it was completed, trying his best to flash her a casual smile.

"There, all gone."

She nodded her thanks and then stepped passed him to examine the equipment that he had brought. Early on it had been decided that, on his way from the Lord and Lady's flet, he would pick up all the necessary accoutrements for their lesson. She noticed that he had scrounged up her own bow and arrow, but that he had not brought her sword.

"Was my own sword not good enough?" She was very attached to that sword. It had been a birthday present to her many, many years ago. True, it was perhaps not the best size for her, but it had served her well thus far.

Elrohir hesitated. He knew that she loved that sword. "Well... from what I've seen, the sword is your best weapon. Now, you're sword was fine, but... if you really want to improve, it will help to have one what is better suited to your size and ability."

Nessúlë began laughing when she saw the worried "I'm walking on egg shells" look that flitted across Elrohir's face. "Don't worry, my friend. I wasn't going to bite your head off or anything. I do like my sword, but I don't have to throw it away and burn it, do I? I'm ready to move on if I must."

A sheepish look replaced the formerly anxious one as Elrohir rubbed the back of his neck. "Alright, then. Now that we've settled that," he walked over to the neatly arranged pile of weaponry and gently retrieved a blade; "this is your new sword, if you will have it."

Nessúlë received the blade reverently. It was simple in its design, yet very fine and beautiful. The handle was made of a dark, rich wood - almost black in color - accented with a few delicate swirls of inlaid gold. The blade itself was formed in a slight, graceful arc, and largely undecorated. Only a few Elvish words of blessing were engraved near to the handle.

Considering these things, the blade was not very much out of the ordinary. It was skillfully crafted and elegantly designed, as were all Elven blades. What caught ones attention, however, was a soft glow that emanated from the blade itself. When Nessúlë first grasped the haft, the glow seemed to intensify slightly and take on a violet hue.

Elrohir smiled. "I still do not know how the sword-smith did it, but the color of the blade is slightly different for every person. When I hold it the light seems more... bluish."

"It's beautiful," Nessúlë whispered quietly, "and just the right size." She gripped the handle more firmly and gracefully wove the shining blade through the air in precise form. Elrohir nodded approvingly.

"It suits you."

Nessúlë looked straight at Elrohir as she replied. "It is a very fine gift. I am honored, hír nín. Hannon lle. {...my lord. Thank you.)"

Elrohir bowed slightly. "It was my privilege. The sword has not seen use for some time - I felt it was right."

Oloriel smiled at both of them. "A very fitting gift, indeed. And now that you are thus armed, shall we not begin?"

"Seeing as that is what we originally came here for..." replied Elrohir, "Yes, we shall begin."

~~~

"You have good form, Oloriel, but you're letting Nessúlë take over. Defense is imperative, but if you want to win the fight you must know when to make the right move. You hesitate."

"Aye, so says Kallindo," Oloriel replied, panting softly. "For a while I was having some beginners luck with him, but the more I train the more my basic flaws are revealed. He can still beat me four out of five times."

Nessúlë's ears perked up as she heard mention of the quiet, somber elf she had met the day before. That same elf had given them all a little shock during their audience with the Lord and Lady. She desperately wanted to inquire more about him, but she did not want to appear too forward. Oloriel and she had struck up a pleasant and promising acquaintance this morning, but that certainly gave her no prerogative to nose around. Thankfully, Elrohir's thoughts were headed down the same path, and he seem to feel a bit bolder than she did.

"You have been working with Kallindo then? Is that how you met him?"

Nessúlë could discern clearly what the underlying meaning was: `How long have you known him? What is that history?' She mentally applauded Elrohir for his very tactful opening line.

Oloriel pursed her lips slightly. "No, we have known each other for many years - since we were children, in fact."

Elrohir acknowledged her statement with a small nod. "You must be very close then."

Both he and Nessúlë saw the elleth's hesitation before she replied. "Yes... I believe that we were - are - rather close. We were not always close, and perhaps never as close as some friends, but in our own way..."

She faded off as though she did not know quite how to finish the thought. Elrohir decided to respect her privacy and, instead of pressing her for information, announced that they would now move on to archery. Oloriel was very much thankful for being let off the hook. Everything was still so fresh and she had yet to sort out all her thoughts concerning Kallindo. Their relationship had gone through so many fluxes in so short a time that she was not exactly sure how to describe it.

Oloriel retrieved her own bow and arrows from the side of the clearing and returned to where Elrohir stood with Nessúlë, who was likewise equipped.

"You said that archery is your strongest point, Oloriel?" Elrohir questioned, "I suppose this is your chance to even the score with Nessúlë, then."

Nessúlë sighed in resignation. "Aye, it probably is. I usually try to blame my bad aim on ill-fletched arrows, but I think that cover is starting to wear a bit thin."

Elrohir smiled and agreed matter-of-factly. "Yes, it is... Did my brother ever tell you how she almost impaled him?" he threw a glance in Oloriel's direction.

The elleth shot an amused glance at Nessúlë. "No, I never head about that. Perhaps it was when Elladan and I weren't talking much."

A thoughtful look seeped into Elrohir's eyes. "As a matter of fact, I think it was. That was the day that Elladan was all out of sorts - quite miserable really. But don't worry," he smirked playfully, "I gave him a rousing, inspirational speech. And just look how things turned out. Yet another proof of what a fine job I have done in turning Elladan into the dashing, romantic fellow that he is today."

Oloriel chuckled and shook her head, but Nessúlë just looked confused. And she said as much.

"How could she possibly speak to Elladan when three hundred miles* lie between Lorien and Imladris? I am very confused."

"Do not worry, my lady," Elrohir cast a sympathetic look her way. "We all of us fall pray to that unfortunate ailment at some point in our life. You'll get over it eventually."

He picked up his own quiver and threw it over his shoulder. "Come," he waved them toward the other end of the field, where the targets stood waiting for them. "Archery."

~~~

Oloriel attempted to stifle her laughter as she watched Elrohir's back stiffen and tense. She was a genius. It had taken some skillful maneuvering, but somehow she had done it. Elrohir was currently trying to adjust Nessúlë's stance for shooting... by wrapping his arms around her from behind and helping her to learn and maintain the proper form. Oloriel had spoken of how Elladan once helped her with her stance by doing so, and had thereby wheedled Elrohir into taking up the same practice, professing that she herself was not yet skilled enough to instruct another.

Elrohir had given her a piercing look then. When would Elladan have ever corrected her archery stance? They had never even met in person. But, of course, Nessúlë did not know this, and so Elrohir reluctantly acquiesced, for fear of seeming rude or prudish.

Oloriel was having too much fun. After her nerve-wracking night with Kallindo, this "project" was the perfect cure for her anxiety. She had a feeling that if she pressed it too far, Elrohir would rebel. But that point hadn't quite come yet, and she was having far too much fun to ease back now. Elrohir and Nessúlë would make a darling couple, and Elladan would have a good laugh over the stories she would tell him that night about her matchmaking endeavors.

She could tell that Elrohir felt something for the other elleth, that much was apparent by the way his jaw clenched tightly when he touched her or by the way his eyes had taken on a bewildered look when she had teased him about Nessúlë the evening before. If she hadn't seen these evidences, along with the looks that Elrohir cast Nessúlë's way, and been convinced that there was already a spark to work on, she would never have presumed to undertake such a feat. But she had seen the looks, and she had become acquainted with the two and seen them together. They already seemed to be very good friends. What harm could be done by giving them a few nudges in what she deemed to be the right direction?

~~~

`If that woman weren't so dear to my brother's heart...' Elrohir let the aggravated thought hang, not wishing to finish it. He shook his head and walked up behind Nessúlë, tentatively easing his arms around her, and grasping her hands where they held onto the bow and string.

He wasn't really mad at Oloriel, just exasperated. On the trip to Lorien, his friendship with Nessúlë had remained unchanged, and yet his feelings had continued to stretch and pull at the reigns. Right now he was just trying to stay calm and in control, to let it pass by. After all, as Elladan often said, he had imagined himself in love with almost half the maidens in Imladris at one time or another. But those feelings had turned out to be only passing fancies, why would it be any different this time? He should just keep his distance. Elrohir smiled wryly at this thought as his face brushed against Nessúlë's soft hair. He definitely hadn't been keeping his distance today... and it was all her fault.

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

For the rest of the afternoon Oloriel put what wit she had to good use, trying to push Elrohir and Nessúlë together. Needless to say, Elrohir was getting more and more muddled, as his heart strove valiantly against his will. There was a great fight going on in his mind over whether or not this day had been gloriously wonderful, or miserably uncomfortable. In the end, he decided that is was a miraculous mixture of both. He couldn't be angry with Oloriel. Indeed, she was playing innocently ignorant so well that it would have been unjust on his part to be so.

Thankfully things calmed down a bit that evening. The whole company met back in the comfortable abode of Írima and Nimfallë for a repast. After supper, they sat closely around the cheery fire together, sipping on mulled cider and talking in low, calm voices.

"The Lord and Lady bid me to tell you that, as newly arrived guest, you should not worry about your lively-hood just yet," Nimfallë informed his niece and nephew, and their attendant. "When Elrohir dines with them, you may join him; otherwise, the lower banquet halls are open to you. Lady Galadriel specifically commands you to rest and enjoy yourselves for a least two weeks before you seek out more productive employment."

Lantél chuckled in amusement. "First we enjoy a holiday in Imladris, and now we've come into another one here. I begin to grow restless. It will be hard to follow the Lady's command."

"Oh, I don't know," replied Nessúlë merrily, taking another sip of her cider and enjoying the feel of the warm liquid sliding down her throat. She closed her eyes and let her head fall back against the chair she was leaning against. "I think that, perhaps, I could get used to this."

Lantél chuckled and laid his hand on top of Nessúlë's head, where it rested near his knee. "Aren't you usually the restless one, muinthel {sister}?"

She shrugged drowsily, but did not reply. Lantél began to gently stroke her hair, letting his fingers sink into it every so often.

Elrohir looked at the two, sitting so comfortably together. This was the first time that he had every seen Nessúlë in such an unguarded state. She was merry enough in her own way and open, but she never looked small or vulnerable or delicate. Even when she had been injured in Imladris, and had been forced to walk with the aid of someone else, she insisted on walking with dignity and purpose, though it often hurt her. At this moment, however, with Lantél sitting over her and caressing her hair, one would almost think that Nessúlë was the young one, not him, that she was the one innocent and naïve, the one in need of tender care and concern. Not that Lantél was in any way a fragile creature, for he was a warrior in his own right. But Nessúlë was always undoubtedly the kind, caring older sister - the responsible head of their expedition.

Elrohir smiled softly. Of course, there had been the incident with Hallandakil when Lantél had risen to the defense of his sister's honor. But Nessúlë hadn't been aware of that, and she probably would have scoffed at their righteous fervor and taken care of the situation herself - rebuffing Hallandakil or just plain ignoring him.

Murmured conversation continued to go on around him as he gazed curiously at Nessúlë. How could she look so submissive and peaceful under the gentle ministrations of her brother, what power did Lantél wield over her? This was a silly thought, really, for the answer was quite simple. Lantél did not cause her to abandon her façade, she gave it up willingly. He was her brother, and they had always been close. It wasn't curious at all - it was, in fact, the most natural thing in the world. There was no reason to be guarded around Lantél, for he was a part of her, as she was a part of him.

Like a lightening bolt, a disturbing shock of emotion burst into his head and heart then. Seeing Nessúlë like this finally made him understand the nagging want that had been growing in him since he first laid eyes on her, but which he had never been able to put into words. He wanted Nessúlë to submit to him in that way. Not in the way that we so often think of submitting - not as an unjust abasement or subjugation, but as a willing surrender flowing from a deep-rooted trust. He wanted to have the right to comb his hand through her hair; to sit with her wrapped in his arms in front of a cozy fire; to feel the warmth of both the red flames and her slender form mixing against his skin. He wanted to be as naturally a part of her as her brother was - inseparable, whole.

Elrohir shut his eyes quickly to block out the scene before him. An agonizing realization struck him like a whaling gust of wind, bending him almost to his breaking point. Nessúlë was not one to be caught - she was not one to submit. Lantél was her brother. That was different, that was right. But the thought of her bending to anyone else seemed out of place. How could that be changed without changing who she was? How could he want her to change when she was already perfect? Why had he not seen all this before and attempted to save himself from this deep, pulsing ache?

He shook his head quickly and opened his eyes, only to find himself locked in the sympathetic gaze of Alarkelú. Something in the hidden depths of the older, wiser elf seemed to reverberate with Elrohir's spirit. Somehow he knew, somehow he understood this earth-shaking chaos that was love... Love? Yes, that is all Elrohir could think of calling it. The one thing he had sought since he was a striving adolescent. Now, the one thing that seemed to open up a chasm before his very feet, blocking his path and leaving him frozen.

Alarkelú was not the only one to have witnessed the distress in Elrohir's features. Oloriel herself had stopped speaking in mid-sentence as she witnessed the phantom pass across the elf's usually bright eyes. Of course, when she abruptly halted her conversation and stared unguardedly at Elrohir, everyone else followed her gaze. That is, everyone except for Nessúlë, who sat, with her eyes still closed, on the verge of sleep.

Elrohir and Alarkelú were still holding each other's gaze. There was a tense silence for several moments, unhindered by word or movement. Finally, Nessúlë lifted her head slightly and opened her eyes, squinting slightly at the light. "What is wrong with everybody."

Elrohir started and turned to look at her, but quickly tore his eyes away. "Nothing... I... I have just forgotten something very important that... I must go." He got up quickly and inclined his head toward his hosts. "I am sorry, I must... farewell." Turning on his heels he quickly left the flet, leaving his cloak behind him.

~~~

"Elrohir! Elrohir, your cloak!"

Elrohir sighed in frustration and turned around as the elleth came running up to him, cloak in hand. She was slightly out of breath, for he had made quick time after descending from the trees, and it had taken some persistence to catch up with him. He had not known where he was going - he had just started jogging away into the trees, not looking back.

Oloriel handed him the cloak and he bowed slightly in thanks.

"Nîron {I am sorry}, Elrohir. I have made such sport of you today. I had not... I had not realized what a serious business I was getting into. Forgive me."

Elrohir's brows furrowed slightly, but then his forehead smoothed in understanding. "Oh, you mean your pushing me in the direction of a certain she-elf?"

Oloriel bowed her head slightly, feeling ashamed now of her actions. "I just... I told Elladan that I would be sure to tease the both of you, and when I met you and her I thought I might even try to help, you know... But maybe my help was not wanted. I do not know what the cause of your pain was back there, but if I have made you uncomfortable or brought more burdens upon you, I apologize."

Elrohir smiled softly, tilting her chin up so that he could meet her eyes. "No, do not feel ashamed. I'll admit, I thought you were up to something, and I was rather exasperated with you at times, but your actions were not the cause of my distress. I have merely come to realize a truth - a truth that is very painful for me to bear. But it will pass."

"Do you... would you like to talk about it? I am not Elladan, I know, but perhaps I can listen."

Elrohir laughed. "No, indeed you are not Elladan - he's not nearly as lovely as you are... But thank you for the offer, though I am not quite ready to speak just yet. You have a good heart Oloriel. You were very clever today, yet you are also humble enough to ask for forgiveness. I am glad that my brother chose you, for you seem to be a fine match for him - teasing, tricks and all. I think I would like to have you as a sister."

A slight flush began to creep up Oloriel's cheek. "Well... he has not said anything about that."

Elrohir's eyes twinkled for a moment before they faded back into a glazed look. "Do not worry. Elladan will not dare to lose such a precious jewel. He knows how lucky he is... now go to him now. Do not waste any more time on me. Send him my love, that will be service enough."

Oloriel bowed her head again, this time in respect. She then departed, making her way to her own flet. The stars were just now beginning to appear. Oloriel knew that Elladan would not fall asleep for some while longer, so she took the long way to her home.

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

"Oh Elladan, what a day I have had." Oloriel breathed out, her head situated comfortably on Elladan's shoulder.

They were both lying down, looking up at the wheeling stars above them. The soothing lights brought peace to both their souls.

Elladan chuckled. This made Oloriel smile as well, since his shoulder shook as he laughed, making her own head shift slightly in an amusing fashion.

"I was wondering when you were going to say something. You've been as tense and taut as a bowstring all this time. Want to tell me why?"

Oloriel turned her head away from the stars and snuggled deeper into Elladan's embrace. "Partly it is your brother's fault... but mostly it is my own, I suppose."

With that opening, Oloriel launched into an account of the day's events. Elladan was indeed amused at her matchmaking attempts, but also concerned at Elrohir's state. He comforted her admirably when she confessed shame at her own actions, and was happy for her in her newfound friendship with another she-elf. In short, he did everything he could to sympathize, console, and cheer up his love. For a time all was right with the world. Love could be turbulent and torrential, but right now Oloriel and Elladan were living in the eye of the storm. Not even the wisest knew what chaos lay swirling around them, hidden in the background. No one ever knows.

***

1. heroic couplet is a particular form of poetry. If you want to know more, look it up. ,_~

2. This mileage was roughly calculated using the map in the back of my FotR book.


Things to Know:

Hír nín: "my lord"

Muinthel: "sister" (I chose an alternate version of this word for Lantél basically b/c I felt like it. There are a few different ways of saying this word.)

Nîron: literally - "I-am-weeping"

Hannon lle: "thank you"

***It's the third "Win a Random Cute Elf" Raffle. Leave a review and you will be automatically entered to win 1.) A random cute elf, 2.) A four day get-away to the hot-springs of Imladris, or 3.) A palantír disco ball! Everyone who reviews within the first 48 hours of posting will get free e-cookies!***

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