Mandy rolled over, blinking confusedly, trying to get her eyes to focus. She still wasn’t used to sleeping with her eyes open. She had the appearance of an owl woken up from its day-time nap. It took her a few moments to register that there was a face looking down at her.
“Good-morning.” a cheerful voice said.
“It’s too early.” she moaned slightly, closing her eyes.
“C’mon, time to get up! You’re going to miss breakfast. Well, what’s left of it since Pippin is eating right now.” a hand grasped her arm and pulled her up.
“Oh, it’s you, Merry.” Mandy stretched.
“Yes, who else would it be?” Merry laughed, “I ate, so I came to see where you were, and I found you sleeping still. Most elves would have been up hours ago, with the sunrise, or so I’ve heard.”
“Yes, well…” Mandy broke off as she glanced around. All the tents were packed up and most of the Company was already mounted. “Elbereth. I did sleep late.” she muttered, gathering up the blankets. She whistled piercingly, watching Ilma gallop up. She swiftly saddled him, folding the blankets and tying them to the back of the saddle. Her tent was already gone and the horn blew.
“Well, now you’ve done it. You missed breakfast!” Merry shook his head.
“It’s alright. I have lembas bread with me.” Mandy swung up onto Ilma, “Do you want me to give you a ride up to the wain?”
“Thank you, that would be quicker than me running.” Merry nodded. She leaned down, and he grasped her wrist tightly. She pulled him up behind her and gently nudged Ilma with her heel.
“Why are you so tired, Aarien?” Merry asked curiously, noticing how her eyes seemed to not shine as brightly.
“I watched a dance last night.” Mandy answered vaguely.
“A dance??” Merry’s eyes shone, “Why didn’t you wake me? I would have danced.”
Mandy shook her head slightly, smiling, though he couldn’t see the smile. “Merry, it wasn’t that kind of dance. The stars…they were dancing. So I watched them and sang.” she laughed lightheartedly.
“Oh…” Merry went quiet, then said, “I thought I heard someone singing last night. Something like `we must dance….’ I don’t remember.”
“That was me…I didn’t realize anyone was awake.” Mandy answered.
“Well, I was only slightly awake. It seemed to be carried distantly on the wind.” Merry mused.
“Oh…” Mandy rode in silence, thinking. Suddenly, she was aware of someone beside her.
“Hello, Aarien.” Legolas said, “You slept late.” He grinned teasingly at her.
“Hello, Legolas, and yes, I did sleep in.” Mandy shook her head, “I was tired.”
“What’s that behind you? Have you now decided to transport hobbits as well?” Legolas laughed, ducking the punch thrown by Merry.
“No, I am merely giving him a ride up to the wain. He was gracious enough to wake me before the horn blew.” Mandy rolled her eyes.
“Ah, well, he seems to be enjoying the ride.” Legolas smiled.
“Legolas…I would hit you if you were closer.” Merry glared at him.
Legolas merely laughed, “I would not allow you to get that close for you would enlist all of the other hobbits to gang up on me as well, and then the odds would not be in my favor.”
Mandy laughed, her tiredness seeming to fade away as she heard the songs of the birds and the happy conversations of the elves. Legolas noticed the bright light in her eyes and wondered at it.
“Aarien, would you sing that song you did last night?” Merry asked hopefully, “I want to hear it.”
“Song? Last night?” Legolas looked from one face to the other, “What have you been up to, Aarien?”
“Nothing, Legolas. I merely woke in the night and watched the stars dance. And I sang with them as well….” Mandy explained.
“Ah.” Legolas smiled.
“I don’t know, Merry….” Mandy dodged the request.
“I would like to hear the song as well, m’lady.” Gimli roughly spoke from behind Legolas.
“As would I.” Legolas agreed.
Mandy sighed in defeat, “Looks like I have been overruled.”
“Does this mean you will sing it?” Merry asked.
“Yes, Merry, it does.” Mandy glanced at Legolas, “I will sing the song.” She took a deep breath, but realized they were passing the wain. She turned Ilma and came alongside it.
“Oh no.” Merry groaned as Mandy lowered him down onto the wain, “I wanted to hear the song.”
“I am sorry.” Mandy felt bad at the disappointed look on his face.
“Does this mean you will ride with me?” he questioned, “You have ridden with all the others.”
She laughed gaily, “Yes, Merry. I will ride next to you, for some of the way at least.”
His face brightened visibly, then grave as he took Théoden’s weapons.
Mandy rode alongside the wain silently. Legolas stayed by her as well, and they were each occupied with his own thoughts. They rode for a while like this, until Legolas broke the silence.
“Come, Aarien. Do you have any gay songs to sing?” he asked.
“I am not sure.” Mandy answered, gazing down at the ground as if deep in thought.
“Oh! I have one!” Merry called from the wain.
“Really?” Legolas raised an eyebrow, “What is it?”
“It’s a song that Pip and I sing at the Green Dragon. Would you like to hear it?” Merry asked eagerly.
Legolas and Mandy exchanged looks and shrugged. “Sure, Merry. I would like to hear this song.” Mandy smiled at him.
“Oh good.” Merry laughed, and then burst into the song rather loudly, “
Oh you can search far and wide,
You can drink the whole town dry,
But you’ll never find a beer so brown,
As the one we drink in our hometown.
You can keep your fancy ales,
You can drink them by the flagon,
But the only brew for the brave and true,
Comes from the Green Dragon!”
Merry stomped his foot the beat and suddenly, another voice, higher than his, joined in. Mandy laughed as Merry and Pippin both sang, trying to outdo the other. The second time, she could hear Frodo and Sam singing as well, though Pippin and Merry were still trying to outdo the other. The whole Company cheered them after it was done, their hearts feeling light once more. Mandy grinned down at Merry, thinking, “Yes, I will visit the Shire, even if it is only by night. For if all hobbits are this way, it will be very refreshing.”
“C’mon, Aarien!” Merry urged her, “Sing it with us.”
“I do not know the words, my good Perian.” Mandy shook her head.
“They are not that hard…here I will teach them to you.” Merry gave her puppy eyes.
“Oh, fine. I will sing it with you.” Mandy rolled her eyes half-exasperated, half-jokingly.
“Good!” Merry then proceeded to teach her the words and pretty soon, her high voice could be heard mingling with the other hobbits’ voices, singing the Green Dragon song. By the seventh time, some of the others had learned the words and half of the Company sung with them.
“What’s this? My daughter singing a drinking song?” Aragorn laughed, coming up behind them.
“Oh, hello Ada.” Mandy blushed, stopping in the middle.
“You slept late, my daughter.” Aragorn said, glancing keenly at her.
“Yes, I…I did.” Mandy flushed even a deeper red.
“I talked with Haldir.” Aragorn stated.
“You did?” Mandy answered, glancing down.
“Yes, and he said you have a beautiful voice.” Aragorn looked at her with eyes full of kindness, “And that the dance was beautiful as well.”
“Ai…” Mandy breathed in relief.
“But the next time you wish to dance at midnight, let me know.” Aragorn ordered her, eyes sparkling.
“Yes, Ada. I will.” Mandy nodded, smiling.
“I see that you are keeping Merry company…” Aragorn remarked, nodding to him.
“Yes, I promised I would for a little of the way at least.” Mandy answered.
“Ah, I see.” Aragorn said seriously, “We do not want any jealous hobbits, now do we.”
“No, Ada, we do not.” Mandy chuckled.
“Please try not to sleep late tomorrow morning, Daughter.” Aragorn grinned at her, “We do not want you to be left behind.”
“I will not sleep late.” Mandy agreed, eyes sparkling.
Aragorn nodded and swung his horse back towards Frodo and Sam. She watched him ride back, thinking, “I hope when we get back to Gondor that we will go riding…I do not want to be stuck in the City all day.”
“Well, well, well.” a voice broke through her thoughts, “What are you doing way up here?”
Mandy turned and gave a grin to Elwen and Tethcelebel, who had ridden up, “Hi.”
“Why are you riding way up here?” Tethcelebel asked, drawing her horse up besides Mandy’s.
“Because I asked her to ride next to me, M’lady.” Merry piped up bashfully. He still wasn’t all that comfortable around Tethcelebel. He had seen her from a distance at Lorien, in awe of how much she looked like Galadriel, and when she sang…Merry shook his head, thinking about it.
“Ai, I see.” Tethcelebel smiled warmly at him, “Do not worry, Meriadoc, I will not steal her from you.”
Merry smiled shyly at her, watching the Riders ahead of them.
“We are going to stop soon.” Elwen noted, looking up at the sun, “Would you like to practice fencing when we do?”
“Alright,” Mandy agreed, “I would like that.”
The three of them rode in silence, listening to the others conversations.
After a few hours, the horn blew to have them dismount. Mandy sighed, dismounting from Ilma. She unsaddled him, dropping it onto the grass. She stroked his nose and then shooed him off.
“Ready for our practice, Aarien?” Elwen asked, coming over.
Mandy nodded, throwing her cloak on-top of her saddle. She unsheathed her sword, slicing it through the air to get the feel of it again. Elwen did the same, though she had two long-handled silver knives, like her brother’s. Tethcelebel stood off to one side, her own sword still sheathed.
“Are you not going to practice with us, Celebel?” Mandy asked.
“Yes, I will.” Tethcelebel smiled, “But you get to go first, Aarien.” Tethcelebel’s eyes twinkled merrily, a knowing grin on her face.
“Thanks so much.” Mandy said sarcastically.
“Ready?” Elwen asked her.
Mandy nodded, and they started. Elwen had much the same skill as her brother, though it was different for Elwen was only a couple of inches taller than her. They spun and parried, grinning at each other. Elwen was very quick with her blades, but Mandy kept up. They blocked and parried, moving in a circle. Suddenly, Elwen knocked the sword from Mandy’s hand.
“I believe I won, if this was a contest.” Elwen spun the knives expertly, grinning, “Looks like it is your turn, Cousin.”
Tethcelebel came over and shrugged her cloak off. She drew her sword and easily twirled it around her, judging the weight. She looked at Elwen, and they started. Mandy watched, eyes wide. They parried and stabbed swifter than she had. Elwen started going even faster, but Celebel kept up. Mandy saw that her eyes had laughter shining out of them. Elwen’s eyes shone with the light of battle. They kept going, faster and faster. Both of their gazes went hard, and Celebel’s gaze was now harder. All at once, Celebel knocked one of the knives from Elwen’s hand. It landed several feet away from her, and Celebel stood between it and her. Celebel glanced at her, a challenge in her eyes. Elwen suddenly grinned, her eyes answering the challenge. She darted to one side, but Celebel spun with her. Celebel blocked the one knife, while swinging her sword around to block the other knife. Swiftly, she twisted with Elwen, not allowing her to try to get a stab at her. They went on fighting, their breath soon coming in gasps. They were evenly matched in fencing except for one small thing. Not important really, just that Celebel was quicker of foot than Elwen and more lithe. She whirled around, ducking Elwen’s blows and easily knocked both knives from her hands. Smiling, she stood there, the challenge out of her eyes.
“Well, I think we are even, Cousin.” Celebel grasped Elwen’s knives by the hilts. She flipped them and handed them to her, hilt first, “I beat you this time.”
“Yes, you did.” Elwen took the knives and re-sheathed them, “But I still hold one win over you.” Her eyes danced merrily, “And you will not be getting that so easily next time.”
Tethcelebel merely shook her head in amusement, “You will not find me easy to beat either, Cousin.”
They laughed and practiced some more, with Elwen and Tethcelebel giving Mandy tips. They did this well into the night. Once the moon had climbed above them, they called it quits. They grabbed their blankets, found their tents, and slept peacefully, each dreaming their own dream.
mae govennin, mellons! i hope you are enjoying my story! this is a more relaxing chapter, just showing some of the things that she does while on the journey…