Aliana and Aragorn stood frozen in time, staring at each other. Legolas and Gimli had heard every word and brought themselves to each stand beside their friend. Aliana rose to her feet and started to say something to Aragorn but he stopped her, wrapping her in a long embrace. Aliana began to cry uncontrollably. Aragorn held her face in his hands and lifted her gaze to meet his.
“Is something wrong, my dear sweet sister?” Never in a million years did he think he would be able to say those words.
She searched in his eyes and definitely found something familiar within them. “It is just that I never thought I would find where I belonged. You do not know what it has been like for me.” She lowered her gaze, trying not to let him see the pain inside her. But he lifted her face upwards again, looked deeply into her eyes and told her, “Whatever you have had to endure is behind you now. I will never let anything hurt you again.”
As Aliana looked into his gaze, she knew his words rang true. For the first time in her life she truly had someone that she could count on. He embraced her once more, shrouding her from the outside world for the moment they stood there, wishing he could shroud her for the rest of her life. He vowed to himself that he would make up for all that she had missed in her life. He was her family, and she was his. Aragorn had never felt more proud.
It was Gandolf that finally broke up the reunion. “I am sorry, but we must be moving. We are almost to the edge of the forest, and we are needed elsewhere.”
“Where are we headed,” asked Aragorn.
“To Rohan”, replied Gandolf.
“But what about Merry and Pippin”, asked Legolas.
“They are safe. They are with the ent, Treebeard. And there we will leave them for now.”
As they walked thru the forest, Aliana listened intently to Aragorn as he told her of their family. For the first time she could envision her mother and father in her mind. She knew she would spend many nights dreaming herself into these stories. Aragorn soon turned the subject towards his love, the beautiful Evenstar that he missed very much. Aliana could see the pain of separation on his face as he spoke of her. She could tell how much he loved this woman and it made her happy to know he had found true love. As Aragorn talked and Aliana listened, the other three kept an eye out, knowing that the two needed this time together. Only Legolas noticed that Aragorn did all the talking. When Aragorn would ask her questions, she was quick to change the subject so that Aragorn would fill her with more stories. As Legolas read her discreet body language, he could tell she was afraid to give up too much information about herself. He knew there was much that laid beneath the surface of this woman. He wondered on the events of her life that would make her so guarded, finally deciding that it was too early to have this question answered.
“I hate to intervene, but I have some questions myself, Aragorn,” declared Gandalf as he walked up next to the two of them. Aliana motioned her brother to indulge the wizard. Aragorn bowed slightly to her and they walked ahead, leaving her to her own thoughts.
As she found herself alone for the first time in what felt like forever, she finally had the time to think. Even though she was not truly alone, as she looked at each of her comrades, she found at that moment she did not hold anyone’s attention. This relieved her. Aliana had never had so much attention in her life. It made her very uncomfortable. Even though she was very glad to finally know the truth about her life, she had spent too much time alone to be thrown into a situation that found her the center of attention. Galadriel and Celeborn had been the only ones she had ever really trusted. Now she knew that they had lied to her ever since she was little. Aliana felt very betrayed. How could they have let her live a life that was a lie? She played the wizard’s words over and over in her mind. There were answers there that should have made her feel better. But it was all too overwhelming to be able to sort it out in one afternoon. She glanced behind her, realizing she could feel eyes upon her back. Aliana turned to see Legolas watching her.
When her eyes met his, he could clearly see her pain. Even though he wished he could offer her more, all he could do was give her a reassuring smile. Aliana smiled back, stopping long enough in his gaze to see sincere worry for her. She had lived among the elves long enough to know that they felt things very deeply. Out of all her new-found comrades, Aliana knew that the Elf prince was the only one who had an inkling of how deep her feelings were running at the moment, which was very clear as she looked at him. Aliana broke their gaze and turned back around. She felt guilty at being the cause of his feelings. She spent the rest of her quiet time pulling herself together to be the strong independent woman she had always fronted.
The group walked for another hour and found themselves drawing their way out of Fangorn Forest.
“It’s going to be a long walk to Rohan”, said Gimli, mainly to himself.
Gandolf stopped, scanned the countryside and let out a shrill whistle. Hoof beats could be heard coming over the horizon. Four horses came into view, the leader being a white stallion.
“Do my eyes deceive me”, asked Legolas, astounded.
Gandolf looked at Legolas with a smile on his face.
“Yes, it is Shadowfax, the meara.”
“The lord of all horses”, finished Legolas.
“Farion!” exclaimed Aliana. Turning to Gandolf she asked, “But how?”
“Obviously you have a fine horse, my lady. I believed he has tried to follow you since you were taken.”
The horses came to a stop in front of their masters. Aliana threw her arms around Farion and kissed his neck. The horse nuzzled her, just as glad to see his master. She jumped on his back and felt more at ease than she had in days. Gandolf whispered to Shadowfax and jumped on his back. Aragorn was now seated on his horse, and Gimli had made his way up behind Legolas on the fourth horse. Legolas made his way to Aliana’s side.
“Are you up to this journey, my lady?”
With a smile and a pat on her horse’s neck she replied, “very much so, my lord.”
Legolas studied her for a brief moment and decided she was telling him the truth. Obviously the return of her horse, the one constant she had in her life, had done her much good.
“I feel a peace in you that I have not seen before….except in…” he trailed off. He looked deep within her eyes and thought for a moment that he saw a glimpse of something, but she looked away before he could be sure. Aliana quickly drew herself to Aragorn’s side and left the elf to his thoughts. He was drawn to this woman, this kin of Aragorn’s. He guessed the reason was because now it was so obvious how much she looked like the man who had become one of his best friends in such a short time. At that moment he vowed to himself that he would protect her with all that he was.
“I feel a change in you my friend, every time you lay eyes on her”, Gimli remarked from behind Legolas.
“There is something about her”, started Legolas, but he could not finish his sentence. He could not put it into words.
“Do not worry lad, I have a feeling that we will have plenty of time to find answers to unanswered questions.”
Legolas knew that the dwarf was right. They had plenty of time to learn the answers to the questions this woman had placed in their path. If only Aliana had not looked away a few moments before when he was looking into her soul. But there was too much in front of them to think about this now. He did allow himself a view of what he thought he had seen in her eyes…..
A glimpse of himself and Aliana dancing in a moonlit glade.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.