Earwen looked around the trees surrounding her. She saw that no one was near and stripped off her rags. She quickly ran to the river and dunked her head in. She began washing herself of the dirt and grime that had collected over the past few days. Earwen opened her eyes under water.
Her surroundings took on a light green hue. She smiled as the long, green plants tickled her chin. Earwen suddenly felt the cold chill of some one watching her. She reached for her sword at her side, but remembered that it was laying on the shore, bundled in her clothes.
Earwen slowly brought her head above the surface and covered herself with her arms. She froze as she saw a silver tipped arrow pointed directly at her head. She tipped her head down to her chest, but raised her eyes. She saw that her capture was a golden haired, slim figured male elf. His back hunched as he pulled the bow string tighter.
“Who are you to bathe in the Forbidden River?” said the elf.
“I am Earwen, Sea Maiden and I am a lonely traveler; away from my former life of slavery.”
“This river you swim in is forbidden. It is the river by which Beren watched the lady Tinuviel dancing. My people do not wish to permit forsaken love.”
“I have heard that tale once before…long ago. My father told it to me.”
“M’lady if you would please dress, I would like for you to follow me. Swimming in the Forbidden River is punished under the penalty of…” he paused. “Death.”
Earwen froze once again at the sound of the word. She finally turned and walked to the bank where her clothing lay.
“Please turn around, lord. I do not wish for you to see me.”
The elf turned and Earwen dressed quickly. Seeing no other way across the water, she finally walked through the cool water to join the guardian. He brought her arms behind her back and tied them with a thick rope of hithline. He marched her off into the woods.
“If you don’t mind my asking, m’lord, where are you from?”
“My father is the cheif guardian of the Mirkwood realm. The responsiblity of guarding the king was passed down to me many years ago.”
“Mirkwood?! That is my home as well! My father is King Thranduil.”
“Thranduil! Why did you not tell me this before?!” He cut her bonds and immediatley dropped to his knees and bowed his head. Earwen placed both her hands on each cheek and raised his face. He met her blue eyes and feel into the deep pools of her mind. She bent and kissed him lightly on each cheek.
“You need not kneel. I do not consider you a servant. You are more than a guard to me. Forgive me but I did not hear your name.”
“My name is Meneldil. Whatever you need, your highness, I am at your service.” He stood and bowed. Then, he bent and picked up her glimmering sword with one swift movement.
“You needn’t carry the sword. I’m perfectly capable of carrying it myself.”
“Oh no I insist!” He said. Earwen made a grab for her sword but Meneldil was too quick. He spun out of her grasp. Earwen dove for it again and somehow wound up tangled in his arms. He brought his hand to her cheek and brushed a stray strand of gold away. The tenderness in his eyes made her uneasy. She flushed bright red and quickly moved away. Earwen took her sword from his outstretched hand.
“Thank you.” she whispered. She smiled weakly. Earwen turned and started walking away from him. Meneldil stood still for a moment and watched her leave. It was in that moment that he realized that he may have fallen in love with the maiden he had only just met, and recently learned, was a princess. He loved the way her hair caught the light through the trees, the way her body swayed as she walked, and the pride that danced in her eyes.
Meneldil jogged after her and caught her in a tight embrace. Before she could protest, he had kissed her. His lips were soft and he held her close. Earwen felt her knees go weak. She admired his bravery, not to mention his appearances. He ran his fingers through her hair. Earwen pulled away and looked into his eyes. It was his turn to feel weak in the knees.
Earwen’s gaze seemed to peirce right into his heart. She tipped her head to his and their foreheads touched. Her small, slender hand slipped into his. They both turned and walked towards the edge of the trees.