“Well,” Elwen and Tethcelebel looked up as Legolas slid down from Arod, “you certainly gave us a race.”
“Wasn’t that the whole idea?” Elwen grinned, “We weren’t going to get caught easily.”
“You weren’t, I assure you,” Legolas rubbed a hand through his hair, “now we really should get to Gondor before anything else happens.”
The next three days past uneventfully. The company rode swiftly to Gondor, taking few breaks. Mandy sighed in relief as she saw the white walls of Minas Tirith gleaming against the sun.
“Look!” she cried out, pointing, “Minas Tirith!” and rode swiftly back to the company. “We should get there by nightfall.” she told Tethcelebel and Elwen excitedly.
“You are very excited,” Elwen looked at her.
“Yes I am,” Mandy looked back, “I am almost home.” She said it without thinking, but all of a sudden it sunk in. She shrugged to herself, thinking, “Well, it is my home. I have no other here in Arda.” She realized that she has been in Middle-earth for a little over a year now. “I must be eighteen now…I wonder if my birthday has passed….I wonder how everyone is…” she thought to herself, brushing a few tears from her eyes.
They reached Minas Tirith that afternoon. Mandy was weary from riding, her back aching. She had forgotten for a little while about her beatings but now her back was a painful reminder. She closed her eyes, taking in deep breaths, but her spirit brightened as she gazed upon the gates. The gates were thrown wide, and they rode into the City. A soldier went racing up the levels to let Aragorn know that Mandy was here. Mandy slid off of Ilma, allowing the stable-boy to take him. She leaned wearily against a wall, passing a hand in front of her eyes. She looked up as she heard a horn being blown.
Suddenly she was enveloped in her father’s arms. Aragorn hugged her tightly, smiling. Mandy returned the hug, though she couldn’t conceal a look of pain that flashed across her face. Elwen and Tethcelebel looked worriedly at each other.
“How are you?” Aragorn asked, leading her up the levels, “You stayed two months in Lorien, Daughter. What were you doing? Getting into trouble?”
Mandy laughed lightly, “Not exactly, Ada.” she murmured, wondering how to explain her kidnapping. It turned out that she didn’t have to. Arwen rose as she entered the room and came up to her. Mandy gazed at her in amazement, for she didn’t show any signs of pregnancy.
“Daughter,” Arwen came silently over to her and hugged her, “it is good to see you.” She gazed long and hard into her face, “You have been in great danger…” she murmured, glancing at Mandy’s much thinner figure and pain-filled eyes.
“I…I have,” Mandy said softly, “I never reached Lorien.”
“What has been going on?” Aragorn asked quietly.
Mandy told them the whole story: her kidnapping at Moria and rescue by Beorn, her healing at Rivendell and stay there for a few weeks, and then their leaving. Arwen was silent after she ended. Aragorn stood and paced, fuming.
“To think that they would…” he muttered angrily, running a hand through his hair, “Did Gwaihir kill all of the orcs?”
“I do not know…most I believe.” Mandy answered, “but I was so ill…I didn’t realize much.”
“We can answer that for you, M’lord,” a voice said.
Aragorn turned and saw Legolas, his sister, and his cousin standing in the doorway.
“We traveled with Mithrandir,” Tethcelebel told him, “we killed whatever Gwaihir missed.”
“That is so,” Legolas agreed with her, “and then we rode to Beorn only to arrive too late. Gwaihir had already flown her to Imladris.”
“I see,” Aragorn motioned for them to come further into the room, “I thank you my friends.” They lowered their heads in respect, “And I invite you to stay with us as long as you wish.”
“My thanks,” Legolas replied, “but I have a promise to keep to Gimli.”
“But we will stay for a few days!” Gimli stalked up, “Thank you for leaving me behind!” he muttered to Legolas.
Aragorn laughed, “Well, it seems that we will have a few visitors for a few days at the least.”
“Yes,” Glorfindel walked silently into the room, “you will have many visitors, Estel.”
Arwen raced over to Glorfindel, greeting him like an old friend.
“We will journey back to our lands with Glorfindel when he is ready,” Tethcelebel told Aragorn, “until then, we will stay here.”
“Good,” Aragorn smiled, “then let us find you all places to sleep! And then we will have a feast tonight much like the ones at Lorien and Mirkwood.”
Mandy lay in her own bed in her own room. It was two days after the feast. There had been much singing and dancing, with Mandy and Tethcelebel singing songs together. Mandy sighed, sinking into the pillows. “It seems like a long time since I’ve been here,” she murmured to herself, “there’s no place like home.” She fell asleep, her eyes gazing at the jewel necklace hanging from a holder. The jewels sparkled and twinkled in the moonlight, like miniature stars. It was the necklace from Gwaihir. She had found the bag containing it by her bed in Rivendell. When she had gotten back to the City, she had hung the necklace on the peg.
Mandy was dreaming again. She was watching her family from above them, as if she was floating. She saw her mother and father walking down the path towards the river that ran in their backyard. The leaves were changing colours. Her mother’s face was drawn and worn, her eyes red. Her father’s face seemed older and graver. She wished she could comfort her parents that she was alright and safe. She followed them down the path, watching her parents talk softly with each other. She couldn’t hear what they were talking about. She saw that they had fixed the gazebo next to the river, putting new stone steps up to it. She found that she could wander around, so she went over to the gazebo and walked inside it. The creeping vine had grown some more up the lattices and the benches were brushed off. She sat down, remembering the times she used to play in here that she was getting married. She started to cry, missing her family.
Mandy woke suddenly with tears on her face. She sighed, glancing about her room in Minas Tirith.
“Be with them, Father,” she prayed softly, “help them know I’m alright.”
Mandy tossed and turned, trying to go back to sleep. She finally got up, wrapped a robe about her, and stole silently out of her room and down the hall. She avoided the guards, going out into the garden. She wandered on the paths. She appeared to be ghostlike in the moonlight or an Elven spirit wandering among the forest. It was silent in the garden except for the soft chirping of crickets and quiet noises of the birds. She found herself near a bench, realizing that it was the one where she had talked to Arwen with Lady Eowyn, seeming to have been years ago. She sat down in the grass, relaxing in the quietness of the night. She sat there motionless, and seemed to be a statue: one hand on her chin, the other laying limply beside her; one leg was drawn up, her elbow resting on her knee. Her head was tilted, gazing thoughtfully at the sky, where the stars were bounding and leaping about. The only thing that moved about her that gave any sign of life was her eyes. They flickered and sparkled in the moonlight, giving the appearance of stars in her eyes. To her, time seemed to stop, not knowing if she had sat there for minutes, hours, or days.
Legolas walked down the path, restless. He couldn’t sleep either and decided that fresh air might help him. He had seen the stars falling and bounding and had watched them for a few minutes. Now he was starting to go back to his room when he suddenly came upon Mandy. He paused, noting that she had no idea he was there. He gazed at her, eyes full of love. She looked so peaceful, just sitting in the midst of the trees in a silver nightdress and robe cast about her. Her red hair gave off a slight sheen from the star-light. Legolas debated whether to disturb her or not. He walked softly till he was almost behind her and stood in the midst of a group of trees where he could see her.
Suddenly, she stirred. She glanced around, her eyes lighting on him. She gazed at him questioningly, her eyes peaceful and quiet.
“Mae govennin Legolas,” she murmured quietly.
“Mae govennin, Kalwa Elena, (Beautiful Star)” he answered her.
Mandy just looked at him, smiling. He came over and sat next to her, looking at the stars and then back at her. He placed his arm about her shoulders. Mandy leaned into his arm, her head on his shoulder, her eyes not straying from the stars. They stayed still, feeling the slight breeze that flittered through the trees and hearing the night-creatures move about. He felt her hair brushing against his arm and could hear her soft intakes of breath. He smelled the soap on her hair and skin, soap that had seemed rough to him but on her seemed soft.
“I love her,” he realized. He smiled as he remembered Elwen’s words: Brother, you keep saying you will never love. Just wait, when you find the right girl, you will fall so deeply in love with her that you won’t ever be the same again!
She had spoken in jest, but he knew that it was true. He recalled Galadriel’s words at the feast about Mandy, but also knew that Mandy had stolen away his heart for good. He rested his head against hers, his hand rubbing her arm. He had never felt so at peace before and knew he couldn’t live without her. He wished this night would never end.
Mandy also felt at peace. She loved the feel of Legolas’s arm about her: the protective way he held her but also gentle touch. She murmured thanks to her Lord for bringing him into her life. Legolas glanced down at her as she stirred. A smile played on her lips, giving her expression like that of a small child with a secret.
“It’s a beautiful night,” she said softly.
“Yes,” Legolas breathed out, “yes it is.” He looked down at her as he said this, not meaning the night or stars…well, perhaps one star: the one he was looking at.
Mandy suddenly seemed to awake from the enchantment of the night and realized that she was tired. She gently stood up, waiting for him to get up as well.
Legolas stood, sad that the night had to end. He stopped her from going with a hand against her arm. “Aarien,” he whispered, “I…I am leaving in the morning.”
“I know,” Mandy told him, “I will miss you, mellonnin.”
“I will miss you too, Aarien,” he answered her, stepping closer. He gently kissed her, his hands encircling her waist. She closed her eyes, her body feeling as if it had fire shooting up and down it. Her arms went about his neck.
Legolas could feel her trembling slightly at his touch. He slowly drew away, glancing down at her. Her eyes gazed into his sadly.
“Come,” he took her arm, “I will walk you to your room.”
She walked with him up the path, her hand intertwined with his.
Aragorn stood in the balcony of his room. His eyes strayed into the garden, alighting on Legolas and Mandy walking back towards her room. He watched them, his eyes taking on a keen light. He turned as Arwen came up to him, releasing the railing which he had been gripping unknowingly.
“What is it?” Arwen asked quietly, her hand taking Aragorn’s.
“I just saw Aarien and Legolas walk up from the garden,” Aragorn half-muttered, his eyes slightly dark. To his surprise, Arwen laughed merrily. “What is it?” he asked, “It’s not funny! She’s too young…he’s too old for her…”
“My dear Elessar,” Arwen murmured, brushing her hand across his face, “do you not remember how we were?”
Aragorn looked at her, and she gazed back at him with seriousness in her eyes. His face relaxed, and he lapsed back into Elvish.
“Ai, Arwen,” he brushed his lips against her forehead, “Amin voite u-enyala. (I had forgotten).”
“Yes,” Arwen laughed softly, “and also you forgot the way my father acted….much like you are now.”
Aragorn laughed with her now, “No,” he answered, “I had just put it out of my mind.” They went back into the room with Aragorn thinking about Mandy and Legolas.
how did you like the chapter? see, it’s with Aragorn and Arwen:-P i made it relaxing for you guys….hope you enjoyed it!