Anorien drank in the loveliness of Caras Galadhon speechlessly. She’d never seen anything but the crude rocks and hills of her homeland, and the brilliantly lit talans in the trees and the huge mallorns were welcome to her admiring eyes.
Dusk had fallen, and Elladan stood patiently by her side, holding her hand and waiting for her to finish gazing at the city’s sights.
“Where are the people?” Anorien finally managed breathlessly.
Elladan snorted in a manner that didn’t suit a Lord of Imladris at all. “At the feast, most likely. The city is comprised of my grandmother’s admiring sycophants and their families. The decent kind are in the Watch, and they guard the borders. Their families are near them, so the city is vacant until the feast draws to a close. Actually, I think it’s being held in mine and ‘Rohir’s honor, but I’d much rather go for a walk with you. Dreadful boring things, feasts.”
“Is that where Elrohir is?”
“Probably. He can’t go too long without charming the ladies. Now, come on! I’ll take you into the woods and show you around a bit. Are your feet all right?”
Anorien nodded affirmatively, and Elladan led her away down a little path that was nearly invisible in the faint light. It seemed well worn, with packed blades of cool grass mingling with the cool earth.
They walked silently, hand in hand, taking in the beauty of the forest. The leaves still glimmered goldenly in the fading light and Anorien could hear streams trickling happily in the distance, along with…
“Elladan, did you hear that?”
“Those voices… There aren’t.. things in these woods, are they? Because Elrohir has my sword and you aren’t wearing your knives.”
“Ah, voices.. Yes, I hear it now. Probably escapees from the feast, if I had my guess. There are a few, my brother included, who’d infinitely prefer a few hours with one maiden than six hours with ten maidens. I imagine that is what you heard.”
Anorien smiled. She knew what Elladan was talking about. Her Naneth had warned her that she’d have her heart broken faster than she could snap her fingers if she ever became one of those kind of maidens.
Elladan startled her when he called out, “Hello there!”
An answering scramble in the bushes ahead confirmed his speculations. A few second and broken twigs later, a smudged, flushed Elrohir emerged onto the path a few feet ahead.
“Adan, what a surprise! And who’s that you’ve got there?” Elrohir leaned in closer for a better look, raising one eyebrow and flattening the other. “Anorien? Good Arda, but you do clean up well! I barely recognized you!”
Anorien, determined to keep her temper in check when around Elrohir, smiled politely. “It’s me, all right.”
Another scramble in the bushes drew their attention to a slightly dirty maiden in a fine gown wiping her face and lips anxiously. and coming toward them with an embarrassed grin on her pretty face.
“Elrohir, would you be so kind as to introduce me to your friends?” she asked sweetly, trying to recover from their appearances from the bush.
“But of course.” Elrohir gave an exaggerated bow and said hurriedly, “Narëwen, may I present my brother Elladan, and our friend, Anorien? Adan, Anorien, this is Narëwen…”
Elladan smiled at the improper introduction, but took Narëwen’s hand politely and kissed it. “A pleasure to meet you, m’lady.”
Narëwen smiled in a sickeningly sweet fashion and contented herself to nod her head in Anorien’s direction. She was quite certain that this Anorien was the ugliest maiden she’d ever laid eyes on, what with that mane of brown curls, that dark, tanned skin, and those horrid dark eyes. And she was much too tall… If Narëwen had been honest enough and humble enough to see the truth, she would have realized her immense jealousy, but she was used to being the lovely one, and she didn’t like the thought of being shown up by an outsider one bit.
“Oh, dear, did you realize you’re still wearing your nightdress?” Narëwen asked innocently, though smiling deviously inside.
“Yes, I did. I wouldn’t be seen dead in anything as ugly as what you’re wearing,” Anorien retorted, annoyed and fully understanding of what Narëwen was about. Her Naneth had told her… “I’d sooner go without.”
Narëwen’s blue eyes flashed angrily, but she muttered rather ineffectively, “Yes, I imagine you would.”
Elrohir saw the potential danger arising and suggested they all return to their respective talans. He needed to talk to Anorien, he claimed.
“Well, Rohir, why don’t I walk Narëwen home, and you can stay behind to talk to Anorien,” Elladan offered.
Elrohir took the offer gratefully, kissing Narëwen’s cheek tenderly and whispering an, “I’m sorry!” in her ear.
He took Anorien’s arm forcefully and propelled her in the opposite direction of Narëwen and Elladan.
When they were sufficient distance apart, or at least out of earshot, he demanded angrily, “What do you think you are doing?”
“What do you mean, Elrohir?” Anorien said, intentionally ignorant of the recent past.
“You know very well what I mean. Narëwen did nothing to you!”
“That wench? I thought you were more intelligent than to curl up in the bushes with a hag of those proportions, Elrohir! Surely you can see what her heart is like!” Anorien spouted loudly, incensed. “And you are the.. hundredth male she’s escorted into the forest, or is it more than that?”
“How do you know what she is like? You’ve never spoken to her before tonight!” Elrohir said, offended.
Anorien froze. How DID she know? She just knew..
“What does it matter? Why bother to lecture me now?” she asked, by way of buying time.
“It matters because you will do the same sort of thing again. You’re terribly ingrateful, after all we’ve done! After all, it would have been a much sweeter choice to leave you where we found you, and much less trouble!”
“It would, would it?” Anorien asked dangerously.
Elrohir didn’t catch the threatening note in her voice and blustered on. “Yes!”
Anorien kept the snarl in the back of her throat and balled her fists, making her knuckles crack menacingly.
“Well, Son of Elrond,” Anorien said calmly, drawing herself up to her full height. “I consider myself thoroughly scolded. I assure you I’ll never waste breath on the.. girl you chose to spend your time with again. And give me my sword.”
“Oh..” Elrohir reached down at his waist and fumbled with the heavy buckle of the belt, unsuccessfully.
Anorien stepped over and yanked it free, elliciting a groan of pain out of Elrohir.
She buckled the belt around her own waist, welcoming the heaviness of Morelin hanging at her side.
And then she was gone, retreating up the path and disappearing around a bend in the trail before he could even gather his wits about him.
Author’s Note: Sorry this was waaaay shorter and later than usual! Christmas is taking it’s toll, as well as writer’s block. The next part will be submitted soon, and will be drastically longer than usual, owing to the appearance of.. well, you’ll see! Let’s just say it’s what nobody has ever seen before in the Reading Room! Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noelle! –Alassë
P.S. Thanks a million for reading and reviewing!