FOR THE LOVE OF NIGHTINGALE
a Pre-LotR story
Unbeta’d so all mistakes are my own.
Pre-Reader: Tingilye, the brilliant fanfic writer of Sarlisse ,_,. Check it out, it’s wonderful!
Chapter 2: The Heart of a Bow (March 18, 2004 to March 21, 2004)
SHE was waiting for him beside a withering tree that had yet to recover it’s lush leaves from the abnormally harsh winter that the forest had been forced through. Legolas watched as she stared off into the oblivion, not aware that he was approaching. Then again, even if she could hear him, she wouldn’t. He had been taught by the best to be the quietest when moving through peace or through warfare. Stealth was always an asset.
It was beautiful to watch the heartbreaking joy on her fragile face. There were elves that loved nature, and then there were elves that seemed to be part of it. He had not thought her to be that type of elven maiden, but seeing her now immersed in the wild beauty around her–he was absolutely sure that she suffered to watch how Mirkwood had declined over the years. And yet despite the growing shadows, there was still a warm appreciation of the small splendor that still surrounded the Citadel.
He was careful though when he placed his hands upon her shoulders to let her know that he had arrived. A distinct tension arose in her body before she relaxed when she realized it was only him. It was a mere moment in time, she did not even have to bother to turn around. He supposed that her deafness made her reflexes more swift as she had to rely on her other senses to the extent that other elves did not.
Legolas could hardly imagine what it would be like to not have his hearing. It was such an essential part of an elf’s existence. To not be blessed with the Valar’s gift of keen hearing was a curse as she would never hear the beauty of elven voices nor the music of nature. At least she was not blind, if she had been–he could not bear to think of what a hardship that would be. There would be so much that she could not do! At least in her deafness, it did not prevent her from doing anything, though it did make her susceptible in an attack at the outer defenses.
She might not be able to hear the enemy, he thought, but she was able to see them and that was far better than hearing them if it was a direct attack. If it were an attack done in covertness, even the keen hearing of an elf could fail them if there was background noise skewing any forewarning that might be given. But still… never to hear voices, never to hear nature, never to hear at all… what a tremendous loss.
“Good morning, Lady Eleniel,” he whispered his greeting with deliberately slowness. “I am sorry that I have kept you waiting.”
She shrugged lightly and stepped away from him. “I am early,” she stated in her monotone thought lovely voice. “You are not late, and you do not need to speak that slowly. I am deaf but I am not blind. Nor am I slow witted. You only need to speak normally and make sure not to speak too swiftly.”
Legolas flushed slightly, ashamed that he had insulted her. He turned his face away, but he turned back when her hand rested on his forearm. “You did not offend me,” she told him. “I am only telling you what you need to know to be able to communicate with me, Prince Legolas.”
“Please,” he pleaded, “call me Legolas.”
“Then call me Eleniel.”
He smiled and held out his hand, “Agreed?”
She took it. “Agreed.”
It surprised him to find that her hands were soft. He did not expect that from a weaponsmith. Then again, he never would have imagined an elven maiden ever being a master bow-maker. It was an odd occupation, but there was no doubt that she was the best. He did not notice that he’d been holding her hand far longer than was necessary until she pulled her hand quite forcefully from his grasp. “My apologies,” he murmured.
She shrugged and gestured for him to follow her. He did not know where she was leading him, but it was a long walk through heavily forested area before they arrived at a fair good size field with several targets at the end. “I never knew about this place,” Legolas murmured. “How long has it been here?”
She did not answer him, and he was starting to get annoyed at her when he realized that she was not looking at him and thus had no clue that he had been trying to speak to her. He sighed and tapped her on the shoulder. When she turned around, he repeated his question, “How long has this field been here? I have never seen it before…”
“It has been here for several years. It is mainly a training field for mediocre archers, and you have never been mediocre,” she explained calmly. “The targets are not that far away and you will be able to hit the mark easily, but I brought you here because the other field was being used and I need to concentrate fully on how you handle your bow if I am to custom make you one.”
“So you want me to shoot at the targets while you watch?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
HE was beautiful, Eleniel thought, as she watched him shooting arrow after arrow until a quiver full of arrows had been exhausted. The way he poised his body was perfect and his technique could not be better. No wonder he was hailed to be the greatest archer of Mirkwood by all that knew him. She had seen him from afar, but never this close up. It was not like she doubted Morion’s words, but it was always different actually seeing it in person.
While he was certainly conditioned for strength, she reflected, a slightly lighter bow would probably be best for him. It would compliment his speed even more and it would also increase his already impressive stamina. She already knew what type of wood she would use, and it was not going to be easy to get. The Galadhrim were notoriously stingy with the giving of mellyrn wood, and she did not blame them. The mellyrn were glorious.
But for Legolas, he needed the best or else she would have chosen the oak or pine that grew abundantly around the Citadel. Besides, it would be a treat to work with mellyrn wood again. It had been a hundred years since she had last worked with it and that had been at the bequest of making twin bows for the grandsons of Galadriel, Elladan and Elrohir. The messenger would need to be sent soon, and perhaps she might be able to commission for several untouched moonstones. It had been a while since she had actually made any jewelry and her mother could use a new piece.
“More?” Legolas asked after he had touched her arm to draw her attention to his lips. “Or is that enough?”
“That is enough,” she said carefully, making sure that she didn’t slur her words clumsily as she had been apt to do when she was younger. “I will need several months, perhaps even a year to finish your bow.” She saw disappointment pass over his face. “Is something wrong?”
Legolas smiled at her sheepishly. “I was hoping to have it when I traveled to Imladris to see Glorfindel.”
So that was why he wanted the bow. If Legolas was the greatest Mirkwood archer, Glorfindel of Imladris was legendary throughout Arda as being the greatest elven archer since the beginning of the Third Age. That was truly an accomplishment for Eleniel had observed the Elrond twins many a day and had found their talent extraordinary. She even thought they might be a bit better than Legolas, but she was not sure. It had been a while since she had seen them handle a bow.
“I apologize,” she murmured, “but the mellyrn wood is hard to get and it must be carefully prepared once it is received. None of it can be wasted. There is precious little of it, and the Galadhrim only gather the wood that is felled from the mellyrn and the few that may die every few score of years.”
“Mellyrn wood for my bow?” He was astonished and he had every right to be. Very few things were made out of mellyrn wood, and even fewer that were not made by the Galadhrim themselves. The Galadhrim were fiercely protective of the mellyrn and did not give the wood out unless the carver was a Master and only for a good reason. “Is that even possible?”
Eleniel smiled and nodded. “It is.”
“I… do not know what to say.”
“You do not have to say anything,” she responded. “But you will need to be patient. It may take a good number of months before the wood comes and working with mellyrn is difficult and tedious. However, it is worth the while. It is the finest wood in all of Arda.”
“That I would have no doubt of.”
“Now we need to go back to my flet,” Eleniel remarked. When he raised his eyebrow up, since no elven male was ever invited back to a maiden’s flet unless there were serious intentions of courtship. She frowned at him and rolled her eyes exasperatedly. “I need to measure you.”
He blushed. “Oh.”
“MY beautiful Elen,” Morion greeted as he tucked the dark tresses that had tumbled out of her elven braid behind her ear, “how are you this eve?”
“As I always am,” she responded sweetly, smiling like usual. “And how are you?”
She clucked her tongue and disappeared into a side room and came out with some lembas she had been making in the back. “It is because you do not eat when you get distracted,” she admonished. “You need to take better care of yourself, Morion. What will the Guardians do without your guidance?”
“Turn to you,” he muttered, reaching for a lemba and breaking a piece to pop into his mouth. “They already look to you anyhow.”
“Yes,” she agreed with bemusement. “They look to me as a sister figure that will help them with their wounds until the healers will come. They look to me to make their weaponry. They look to me to protect me from the dangers that lie beyond our borders. Yes, they look to me indeed for guidance, Morion.”
He chuckled and pulled her into his arms to give her an affectionate kiss on the cheek. “How did your session with Legolas go this morning?”
“It went well,” she answered. “He was a magnificent as you said he was, and better than you.”
“I did say he was better than me.”
“It is hard to believe that anyone is better than you.”
“Such confidence you have in me,” he murmured. “Do I dare deserve it?”
“If you would rather not have it, then pray tell me.”
“Oh, I want it,” he retorted. “Your praise is harder to come by than mellyrn wood or mithril.”
“You exaggerate far too much.”
Morion shook his head and finished off the rest of his lemba. “I do not. I merely tell the truth as I see it. Come on,” he held out his hand, “if you want to help out during an attack, you need to improve your archery skills because you are too valuable to be allowed in hand to hand combat.”
More like you do not trust me to handle myself in hand to hand combat, Eleniel thought with a sigh, but she took Morion’s hand and allowed him to drag her out from her flet and toward the larger fields of that the experienced Guardians practiced with their bows and arrows. When will you, Morion?
Author’s Note: What do you think of all the characters so far? Elen? Legolas? Morion? Thanks to everyone that reviewed! Sorry this one is shorter, but at least I got it out ;p. Be thankful for that. Same thing goes, review and I’ll update! Toodles!
Contact me: (AIM) sevviepooh or (MSN) wan_mei_zhu_yi @ hotmail.com
Thank you Lady-Tirinwe, Elone_forgottenofRivendel, Nawyn, Vanea, Lady of Mirkwood, Minyahwae, Lady_Eruwesteniel, Iluvien, Eleniel_of_Lorien, LadyofRohan, and Elemmire Anarane.