Sorry for the LONG wait, guys… I love you all, and I’m sooo sorry if I made anyone lose their mind…
Chapter Four: Meet the Hobbits
At her words, two of the three hobbits looked up, and one leapt to his feet. The third kept his head bowed and rocked back and forth, acting scared, alone and helpless, which made Laureli want to go and grab him in a hug, anything to make his tears go away. But, she mused, this was a pleasure that would be denied of her, and the next best thing was to introduced herself and find out why they were so downcast. Walking closer to the one that was standing, she knelt down so she was on eyelevel with him. He stared right back at her with unblinking eyes, and she felt Legolas walk closer and reclaim her hand. Not wanting to put up a fuss, she smiled sweetly and spoke.
“Hello, lad. My name is Laureli, and my companion is Legolas of Mirkwood. What troubles your companions so? And, pray, what are your names?” Her voice was as sweet as honey and as flowing as a river, which did the hobbits good. It was like a salve to a wound; it naturally made them feel better. The one before her even smiled a bit.
“My name is Pippin, Lady, Pippin Took, and with me are Sam Gamgee and Merry Brandybuck. But, begging your pardon, our frief is still too near to us that we cannot speak of it loudly.” He jerked his head in the direction of the dispondant hobbit, and at once she knew why they wouldn’t speak of it. Nodding, she stood and nearly fell from lightheadedness. Legolas caught her in strong, well-toned arms that attested to his archery and held her.
“Take a moment,” he whispered into her ear, much too close for comfort. But, dizzy as she was, she would not look like some fool and she promptly lifted her head from his shoulder and smiled down on Pippin.
“Would you like to come for a walk with us, Master Took?” She asked it without thinking, and heard the sigh behind her with satisfaction. He wasn’t the only one who could play games. Saying he was going to find Arwen’s brothers and then going for a ride. Ha! She could do much, much better. Her smile lit up her face, and the young hobbit nodded at once.
“May I? I’d like to find something to eat… if it’s not much trouble.” Typical hobbit, mind always on the stomach. With a soft, silvery laugh, Laureli nodded.
“Of course you may. And, for good measure, we’ll take you on a tour so you don’t get lost.” Legolas nearly laughed behind her, but he forced himself to hold it in. She didn’t know where anything was, and yet she still offered the hobbit a tour? Such a girl. He let go of her hand and fell into step on the other side of Pippin, who ha begun to talk about the reason he and the rest were upset.
“So, Frodo, he got hurt by one of the Black Riders, and then we all came here. Actually, Glorfindel, the Elf I was talking about, sent someone ahead…”
“Yes, Pippin. We know that, for I was that messenger.” It was without pride that she said it, and the hobbit gazed on her in wonder.
“But… but you look so different! I had no idea that he sent someone’s wife to get help…” he trailed off at Laureli’s gaze.
“Wife? Young master, I have no husband nor a suitor. I am free,” here she sent a scathing glare over a laughing Legolas, “and I intend to stay that way. Free. Come, Pippin dear. We’ll walk in the gardens and leave the Prince of Mirkwood to brood.” She swept up her skirt and headed towards a trellis, looking every inch a lady. Legolas could only stare.
Fool! He berated himself yet again. How could he have let her slip through his fingers?! Every time he thought that there was something there for him, she managed to make him feel about two inches tall. No suitor. No husband. Who would want a woman like that? So disrespectful and willful and… lovely. Yes, she was lovely. And intelligent. And… well… he wanted her. Yes, he desired her company, but he also desired her love, her trust and her touch. He would die wanting her. Once, he’d thought only Arwen could make him long for something so much. Now there was another who could churn his emotions into a whirlwind of desire.
Her laughter drifted inside on the wind, and he looked out to see her. His heart did flips in it’s chest. In a few moments, the princess of his heart became the queen. She looked so happy, sitting in a pool of golden sunshine and laughing at the hobbit. For a moment, she was truly happy, and that brief instant made Legolas’ moulth water. Beauty wasn’t only skin-deep with this female, it was bone-deep. Inside and out. Risking everything, he walked into the garden slowly, his head at a normal height. He wanted to be near her… whether she wanted it or not.
Pippin was a charming companion, but Laureli found her mind wandering to Legolas. What did he want from her? It seemed almost impossible for him to stray too far from her side, as Pippin had noticed. His comment still rankled. Husband. Pah! Who would marry an arrogant, stuck-up prince? Well… he did have a nice smile. And he was handsome, sweet and caring… She still couldn’t forget the feeling of his arms around her. His strong embrace had both calmed her and terrified her. The gentle touch of his work-roughened hands was enough to cloud her senses, but his embrace had terrified her. So warm, safe… She’d felt like she belonged there, in his arms, with her head against his shoulder. She broke her thoughts when Pippin launched into a song that Frodo had sung, catching only the tail-end of it.
“The round moon rolled behind the hill
as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!”
He sang it out and looked so very boyish that Laureli couldn’t help herself. Laughter rolled out of her like fog from a lake. So intent was she that she failed to notice that Legolas had entered the garden and was sitting on a low tree branch, looking quite content and pleased. Pippin was the one who brought it to her attention. “Hullo again, Prince!” He sang. Laureli instantly stopped laughing.
“Legolas,” she nodded as she spoke, instantly turning back into the princess that had always been. That cool indifference made the situation ackward, and Pippin picked up on it.
“I’m off to find something to eat… I’ll be back,” he said it quickly, then walked away, leaving the other two standing there.
“Laureli… I’m sorry for my behavior inside. I shouldn’t have laughed at you,” he spoke softly, but she moved away, shrinking against the trunk of a tree.
“What do you want from me? The world doesn’t revolve around you, prince. I accept your apology, but that does not mean I have to accept you.” She nearly broke down as she said it, then she headed for her room, where she threw herself across her bed and sobbed. What had she done?
Legolas watched her go with a heavy heart. Once again, he’d let her go. But this time, he’d actually sensed something else there besides the anger. It was as if she was actually afraid of him, but not for the reason most were. She was afraid of loving him, he felt certain of it. Turning his steps inside, he walked down different corridors, pausing at her door when he got there. The sound of muffled weeping tore his heart in two, making him helpless. He slowly opened the door and leaned against the doorframe.
Good enough cliff-hanger for you? Stay tuned for Chapter Five!