It was a celebration like none other seen in the halls of Edoras. Young and old alike sang and danced and feasted upon the best Edoras had to offer. Even Merry and Pippin were atop one of the tables singing and dancing in the midst of a crowd who were cheering them on. Aragorn had Aliana up on the dance floor several times throughout the night. Aliana was grateful for the chance to build such wonderful memories. Gimli paired up with the two hobbits and they had all set themselves to the task to see who could drink the most ale. Even Gandalf had a huge grin on his face as he sat back in his chair and puffed on his pipe, happily watching the merriment going on around him. Several times Aliana caught a glimpse of something in Eowyn’s eyes as she talked to Aragorn. Aliana only wanted to see him happy. She knew that the love of his life had left these lands and she could see the heartbreak in him every time she laid eyes on him. Aliana hoped that he would let love in once again.
Aliana scanned the room from her place by the dance floor. She had been dancing with her brother when Eowyn came up and asked permission to take her place. As her eyes fell upon the table where not only Merry and Pippin were dancing, but now also Gimli, her eyes caught site of him just beyond it. He was engaged in a conversation with Gandalf, who was leaned against the wall. It looked like a serious talk and she noticed that Legolas kept looking in her direction. With her curiosity peaked, she quietly made her way towards them. As she approached the hobbits and Gimli, Merry cried out to her, “Aliana! Come join us!”
“No thank you, Merry. You are doing well enough without me”
Gandalf and Legolas finished their talk and each dispersed.
“Please my lady, come have a drink with us!” called out Pippin. Ah, why not, she thought to herself. As she reached the table she felt strong arms pick her up by the waist and set her gently on the table. She turned to see the guard who had of lately been her secret protector. Gimli offered her a full tankard and she accepted it gladly, bringing it to her mouth and emptying it in one long movement. The surrounding group cheered her on and she was handed a new tankard almost as soon as she put the first one down. This time all four of them raised their tankards at the same time. “To freedom!” she called out. “To freedom!” the hobbits and Gimli repeated. Together they drained their cups and slammed them down onto the table. As she leaned back up she felt dizzy and swayed backward. Aliana tried to catch herself but tripped over Pippin’s foot and before she knew it she felt herself falling over the edge of the table. She waited for the impact, but instead found strong arms catching her. She looked up and found Legolas’ face looking down on her.
“My lady, you should not trust this group to drink with. Believe me, I have woken many a morning with my head pounding from a night out with them.” He offered her a warm smile as he looked down on her. Aliana had dreamt of moments like this. In her dreams he would carry her out of the hall and take her somewhere private where they would claim their love for one another. But this was nothing but a dream. In reality he gently put her back on her feet.
“Are you alright, Aliana?” he asked her instead.
“Thank you for your concern, my lord. I am quite well. Thank you for catching me.” She looked up at him but could not bear it for long. His eyes were like deep pools of clear blue water that she got lost in every time she looked into them. She looked as long as she dared then lowered her gaze.
“Aliana, why do you do that?” the elf prince asked in a whispered tone meant only for her.
Without looking up she replied, “Do what my lord?”
“You have been so distant tonight. Did I do something to make you distrust me, my lady?”
Finding the courage to look up at him again she quietly answered, “No, Legolas, you did not. Please forgive my actions.”
“I believe my lady still owes me a dance”, he said with a smile.
As he led her to the dance floor, Aliana’s thoughts were on the last conversation she had with him before they left Helms Deep. She had been sure what she heard in her head had not been real. How could it be? They had to be linked for it to be true. But that was impossible……she was not of the firstborn. She played back in her mind the conversation she thought she had heard on her journey. They reached the dance floor and Legolas spun her around to stand in front of him. She curtsied and he bowed before they began. He reached out and grabbed her waist and she placed her left hand on his shoulder. He grabbed her right hand and started leading her through the other dancers. She was amazed at how graceful he moved. It was as if he glided across the floor. She felt so secure in his arms. In those moments Aliana felt like she was finally home. She closed her eyes and drank in everything around her.
“You dance beautifully, Aliana.”
“Thank you my lord, as do you.”
He came to an abrupt stop, making her open her eyes. As she looked up to see why he had stopped, he was staring down at her.
“Please don’t call me `my lord’. It is so formal. Please use my name.”
“Legolas.” Aliana felt things getting dangerously close. She had worked so hard to keep her feelings in check. Now he was making it wonderfully impossible for her to keep her feelings from showing. She decided to take advantage of the moment and try to find answers to the questions that had arose in the last twenty four hours.
“Legolas, you haven’t said a word about your journey. Was it uneventful?”
“For the most part. I believe Mithrandir is satisfied that Saruman is no longer a threat.”
“So you spoke to Saruman? What did he have to say?”
“Most of the conversation was with Mithrandir. At first I was worried and asked him to show caution, but Mithrandir proved to us all that Saramon’s powers are gone. Mithrandir has Saruman’s palantir in his possession. Saruman’s link with Sauron is no more.”
“You asked him to show caution?” Her voice was but a whisper.
She quickly gathered herself and tried to be nonchalant.
“Were any conversations about me?” That didn’t come out very nonchalantly, she thought to herself.
“Aliana, why would you ask me that?”
When she didn’t answer, he guided her to the edge of the dance floor and stopped.
“Aliana, is there something you are trying to tell me?”
She looked up at him and felt ashamed at not being able to answer. She tore away from him and ran through the doors into the great hall.
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.