Mandy woke in the middle of the night. She realized that she was back in the Healing House. Rolling over, she saw Frodo.
“Are you awake, M’lady?” Frodo asked softly.
“Yes. I was about to ask you the same thing.” she answered, sitting up. She looked up and saw the stars shining through the windows. “Oh…look at the stars. They are so beautiful.” she gasped.
“Yes, they are very beautiful.” Frodo said, “Are you homesick, M’lady?”
Mandy turned to him in surprise, “Why do you ask that?”
“Because your face looked lonely for a moment, as if you were wishing you were somewhere else.” he answered truthfully.
“Yes. I am homesick. I keep wondering about my parents, what they’re thinking. If they are scared half to death that I disappeared for good…for all I know, I’ll never get back. I don’t even know how I got here.” she said, tears streaming down her face, “I miss them so much. I don’t even know why I’m here!” She held her face in her hands.
Frodo silently slipped out of bed and came over to her. “It’s alright, M’lady. There is a greater work at hand…” he comforted.
“I know, but it’s just so…lonely, being in a place totally different from what your home is like. I mean, I didn’t even think that Middle-earth existed before this!” she got up and looked out the window, “I mean. Look at this. I see hobbits, elves, men…where I come from, the only race is men. Elves, hobbits…are stories, fantasies. Not real…!” Frodo stood next to her, coming to just under her shoulders.
“Maybe you have some part to play, and then will go home…” he reassured her, then they heard footsteps, “Hurry. That will be someone checking on all the patients. If they find us out of bed…” Frodo helped her back into her bed and then leaped into his own. Mandy stifled her laughter as Aragorn walked in. He sat in the chair near her bed. Mandy was quiet, watching Aragorn through the slits of her eyes.
“You should sleep, Mandy. You need your rest.” Aragorn said.
Mandy blushed and rolled over. Aragorn smiled and started to sing softly. Mandy listened and was lulled into sleep.
She started dreaming about her parents. They were looking frantically for her. Police cars, with lights flashing and sirens blaring, were in front of her house. Here parents were talking with the men. She saw a search party combing the forest for her. She started to toss and turn, muttering in her sleep. Aragorn looked at her, worried. Suddenly, she was back in the forest, getting chased by orcs. She was up in the tree, kicking at the orc. Then she was shot with the arrow again. She sat up screaming. Aragorn turned to her. She had a feverish look in her eyes, sweat rolling down her face. Aragorn put his arms around her and pulled her into his lap. She was trembling violently. Frodo had woken up from her scream and saw her. Aragorn talked to her gently in Elvish, rocking her back and forth. His eyes met Frodo’s in understanding. She slowly stopped trembling and fell asleep. Aragorn silently slid her back into the bed and covered her. He looked down at her, asking that the Valar would protect her.
When she woke, there was sunlight streaming in through the window. She had slept peacefully the rest of the night. She glanced around and saw that Aragorn was gone. She was surprised to see Frodo gone, but then saw him out of bed sitting in a chair, reading.
“Good morning.” she said tiredly.
“Good morning, Mandy. How are you feeling? You really slept the morning away!” Frodo asked cheerily, turning to look at her.
“Alright, I guess.” she answered awkwardly, “Did I wake you up last night?”
“Yes.” his face was instantly serious, “But I have done the same to many of them also. Do not think that I minded…I didn’t. I know how it is to be tormented by nightmares.”
“How…how did you get rid of yours?” Mandy asked.
“I finally…got rid of the Thing which was giving me the nightmares.” Frodo replied.
“Oh…but I don’t have anything giving me nightmares.” she said, puzzled.
“Then, I think it is normal nightmares of things that have happened to you. They should go away with time, Mandy.” Frodo responded, “Now, are you going to get up? Or do I have to send for Legolas to kidnap you again?” His eyes glimmered with mischief, his mouth turned up in a smile.
“NO!” she shrieked, “I’ll get up.” She flung off the covers and staggered tiredly out of bed. “Where’s the closet?” she grumbled, sleepily rubbing her eyes. She wore a white night dress.
“Right in front of you.” Frodo chuckled.
“Thanks.” she opened it up, “Wow! I’ve never seen so many beautiful clothes before!”
Frodo stood up and bowed, “I’ll leave you to figure something out. I will go keep my kinsmen company.”
Mandy watched as the hobbit set off to find them. She chose a dress of modest taste. It was colored light green. The sash was of a darker color of green, and the bodice had a thin layer of silver lace on top of it.
She brushed out her hair, “I think I’ll leave it down today.” She walked out of the room and went down the hallway. “Now, where are those stairs?” she wondered, glancing around, “Oh…there they are.” She came to the first floor and found the hobbits waiting for her. They all stood up as she entered the room.
“Whew!” Merry whistled, “You’re beautiful, M’lady.”
“Well, of course she is!” Pippin cuffed his cousin’s head.
“Now stop it, both of you.” she scolded good-naturedly, “Thank you for the compliment.”
“Mandy. Sam would like to escort you to the palace.” Frodo asked for him. Sam blushed and bowed.
“I would be delighted, Master Gamgee.” she took his proffered arm.
They led the way out of the Healing House. People turned and gazed at the odd sight. They walked towards the palace with Pippin pointing out all the landmarks. They went into the palace. Legolas and Gimli were talking outside of the throne room, when Gimli’s eyes went wide.
“Gimli, what is it?” Legolas asked, noticing the shocked look on his face.
“Lad…look.” Was all Gimli said.
Legolas turned and gazed in surprise at Mandy. “Kalwa Elena.”* he breathed in admiration.
Her green dress brought out her eyes and made her hair look even redder. He smiled slightly at Sam walking proudly next to her.
“Mandy, you look…” Legolas just shook his head.
“Thank you, Legolas.” Mandy smiled at him.
Sam glared at Merry and Pippin, both fighting for a chance to walk next to her. “Wait your turn.” he growled at them.
“Oh, Sam. It’s alright.” she laughed.
“Yeah,” Frodo butted in, “besides…I get her next.”
“You will have to fight for that honor, Frodo.” Legolas said seriously, “Because I would like it.”
“Ok, I’m right here. Don’t talk about me as if I can’t hear you. I can.” Mandy snapped, annoyed, “Besides. I think I will choose whoever I would like to be with next.” “Then choose, M’lady.” Pippin yelled out. They all watched, waiting.
“I choose…” she paused, thinking, “I choose…whoever can catch me!”
She lifted up her skirt and ran down the hall. Catching all of them off-guard, it was Frodo who took after her first. They all raced after her: Legolas soon out-striding them all. Mandy went around a corner and smacked into someone. She struggled. “What’s going on, Mandy?” Aragorn asked, noticing everyone skidding to a stop.
“They were arguing about who was going to escort me next and I said it was whoever caught me. So I ran and they came after me and you kinda caught me.” she blushed, looking up at Aragorn.
He threw back his head and laughed. “Well, it looks like I have the honor then.” he met Legolas’s gaze, “Come, there is someone I would like you to meet.” He led her away without saying anything to the others.
“Well, that’s not fair. He wasn’t even in the race.” Merry grumbled. Pippin nodded his agreement.
“Come, come, Master Hobbits. There will be other times for you to escort M’lady Mandy around. Tonight, I shouldn’t wonder.” Gimli clapped a hand on both their shoulders.
“Why tonight, Gimli?” Merry asked.
“Well, there’s to be a feast of course, celebrating Aragorn and Arwen’s marriage.” Gimli answered in surprise. All the hobbits brightened noticeably at the thought of a large feast.