Vampiric Dawn - Chapter 4

The next morning came the same as the previous. The sun shone brightly, the birds sang, and a gentle breeze made the trees whisper. Arwen had awoken with the sun, and quietly thought over the events of the day before as she waited for Maida to wake up. Maida was curled up underneath a blanket, sleeping peacefully despite her hysteria the day before. They had spent the evening in Elrond's study, playing with Arwen's stuffed animals. Although it had been difficult to do so, Arwen had overheard Elrond talking to Glorfindel. The woman that had attacked her had been quietly buried not far from the pool.

She didn't know what to think about the attack. The soreness hadn't lasted long at all, and right now she could almost bring herself to believe it had never happened. She wasn't angry or scared. She had seen and felt the woman's pain. The woman had been suffering, right to the last moment of her life, and it grieved her to think that it was the act of attacking that had brought about the woman's death. Arwen had never been close to death before, and so was unable to comprehend why it was so feared. To comfort herself, she mentally vowed to talk to her father later on, to get him to explain the things she felt. Until then, there was no need to spoil her good mood.

Arwen finally gave up waiting for Maida and walked out into the corridor, heading out into the gardens. There was going to be a feast tonight to celebrate Thranduil's arrival, so she was sure her mother would be out here somewhere, gathering flowers. She skipped down a path, deciding to start her search near her favorite flower garden, the one with all the colors. To her luck, that was exactly where Celebrían was. She hugged Celebrían, who turned and smiled down at her.

"What brings you out so early, my Undomiél?" she asked, smiling.

"Maida's still sleeping," Arwen replied, smiling back radiantly. "What are you doing, Ammë?"

"I am collecting flowers for the feast tonight," Celebrían replied. "Would you like to help me?"

Arwen considered it for a moment, then smiled up at her mother sheepishly.

"I would like to go see the fishes," she said. "Is that okay?"

"Of course, my love," Celebrían replied. "As long as you don't try and join them. I don't want you ruining another day dress."

"Yes, Ammë," Arwen replied, and gave her mother a slight kiss on the cheek before turning and skipping off.

She loved going to see the fishes. The pool they lived in was connected to her favorite fountain, and in the early morning light, the fishes glimmered like little streaks of gold. Of course, she had her fair share of mishaps by the pool, but she was a good swimmer, and her Ada and Ammë were never really angry when she went for a swim. However, she was fully intending on listening to her mother's request. She didn't want a punishment spoiling the day she had planned with Maida.

When she reached the pool, she approached its edge and crouched down, looking at the fishes as they swam contentedly below the surface. Playfully, she tried to grab a few, but they quickly moved out of her reach. Despite her failure, she laughed. The fish instantly returned once she had retracted her hand, and she tried again. Still no fish, but it was fun watching them swim about.

"Arwen!" the strong voice of her father called out suddenly. "Arwen, come back!"

"Coming, Ada!" Arwen replied, then stood.

Arwen walked along the edge of the pool, deciding that the reason why her father was calling for her was because Maida was awake. She smiled as she imagined what she would do with Maida today, and skipped a little in her glee.

She didn't notice that the marble she walked along was damp when she skipped, and was unable to do anything more than cry out when she slipped. The momentum of her skip made her topple sideways, and she wailed again as she fell. She dimly felt her head connect with the side of the pool, and for a moment, she blacked out. When she came back to herself, she realized that she was in the pool, slowly sinking to the bottom, but the shock of the blow had paralyzed her body. Her heart thundered in her ears, her lungs already screaming for air.

Suddenly, a dark form appeared overhead. Her vision greatly blurred, Arwen couldn't make out who it was, even when it dove into the water and started swimming towards her. She felt powerful arms embrace her, felt herself being pressed against a distinctly female body. Was it her mother? Had her mother heard her cry and come to save her?

She didn't comprehend much else between being grabbed and being dropped onto the dry, cool grass. Voices were shouting her name; people were rapidly approaching. She felt herself being turned onto her side, and felt a hard, firm blow against her back. Then, all the air rushed back into her lungs, and she started coughing up water she had swallowed. A moment later, she started crying.

Commotion, shouting, the sound of hard footsteps all around her. Arwen felt herself being lifted into strong arms, and recognized her father's voice. Coughing and crying at the same time, she gripped her father tightly, burying her head in his shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Ada!" she cried. "I slipped! The marble was wet and I didn't see it and I slipped!"

Her father gently shushed her, and she opened her eyes. There was a look of deep relief on Elrond's face, and the distinct shadow of terror and tears. Her mother was hovering inches away. . .completely dry. Her mother hadn't been the one that saved her. Arwen turned, looking at the woman that crouched on her knees close by, water dripping from her long hair and dirty dress. Glorfindel, Erestor, and several others were standing around her, and Glorfindel was helping her to her feet. For a moment, the woman looked up, and their eyes met, and Arwen gasped.

It was her. The woman that had attacked her. The woman that was supposed to be dead! She seemed much stronger now, unrecognizable from the wraith she had been the day before, but Arwen knew those eyes. Nobody else seemed to recognize her, though, for they were speaking warmly and gently to her. Arwen held the woman's gaze for a beat longer, then the woman turned away, her attention distracted by something Glorfindel was saying. Arwen wanted to listen, but her mother was now speaking.

"We have to get her to the house, Elrond," she was saying, tears in her eyes. "She must have hit her head. She's bleeding."

Celebrían's words made her remember the fierce pain radiating from the back of her skull, and Arwen burst into tears once again. Elrond carried her away, and Arwen dimly watched from over his shoulder as the woman was led off in another direction by Glorfindel and Erestor, stumbling along like she was dazed or drunk. Arwen then buried her head in the soft cloth of her father's cloak and closed her eyes, not daring to open them until they had reached the safety of Elrond's study. Arwen sniffed as Elrond set her down in his chair and wrapped her in a thick blanket. While he headed off to collect medicine and bandages, Celebrían knelt at Arwen's feet, grasping her hands.

"What happened, my Undomiél?" she asked.

Arwen didn't want to speak; the pain in her head was too fierce. She leaned forward and allowed her mother to wrap her in a tight embrace, but did not speak. Celebrían did not press for answers; she merely held her and comforted her until Elrond reappeared. Arwen peeked out from the protection of her mother's arms, watching as Elrond knelt before her and gently placed a small cup in her trembling hands. Celebrían released her, but did not move away.

"Drink this, Arwen," Elrond said. "It'll help with the pain."

Arwen obediently swallowed the bitter-tasting medicine, knowing better than to argue. She could see the firm look in her father's eyes. He wanted an explanation as much as her mother did. The medicine worked quickly, and she looked at her mother while her father gently bandaged her wound.

"I was watching the fish when Ada called for me," she explained, her voice timid. "I stood up and started walking, but then I slipped. I didn't see that the marble was wet. I didn't know. I'm sorry." She sniffled loudly, starting to tremble.

"Do not be afraid, my Evenstar," Elrond said quietly. "We are not mad at you. It was an accident." He knelt again, taking her tiny hand into his own. "You could have drowned."

"But the woman. . ." Arwen began, then stuttered to silence. She had abruptly remembered what the woman had done to her the previous day.

"Yes," Celebrían said. "We will thank her for saving you."

Suddenly, Maida rushed in, followed by Elladan, Elrohir, and Legolas. All four of them looked worried, and Maida approached and wrapped Arwen in a clumsy hug, ignoring her dampness.

"You're okay!" she cried joyfully. "I was so scared when I heard."

Seeing Maida and hearing her declaration cheered Arwen greatly. She smiled back, then looked up at the others. Elladan, Elrohir, and Legolas seemed relieved to see that she was well.

"You've gotten yourself into a bit too much trouble lately," Legolas said. "I hope it won't be a pattern throughout this entire visit."

Arwen sighed, her gaze shifting from Legolas to her brothers, then to her parents.

"Yes," she agreed, rubbing her head. "Me too."

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