The dryer hummed softly in the background from the laundry room, and James was silently praying that Naira’s clothing wouldn’t shrink. He was currently making scrambled eggs while she told him all about her accident. Naira sat at the table, looking the mysterious necklace laying in front of her.
“Gandalf had his hand on my shoulder and he was saying something I didn’t understand. I think now he was casting a spell of some sort. Then, he said I would find happiness and that he would see me again…” her voice drifted away for a moment. “I think he sent me here, wherever I am. And this,” she gestured to the jewel, “is his way of telling me. This is an exact replica of Narya. Gandalf bore it, the third Elven ring of power. He knew I didn’t want to forsake my beloved Lothlórien. What do you think?”
She looked at James, who was standing with an oddly shaped spoon in his hand, staring at her. He caught her looking at his hand, and smiled. He had already given her quick explanations of the laundry room and kitchen. She had found the stove particularly fascinating, especially since it used gas and not wood. He wasn’t sure if she understood everything he had said, but she was eager to accommodate herself to her new surroundings.
“This is a spatula. It is made from something called plastic. Plastic is very hard to damage, so therefore useful to cook with.” He gave the eggs a few more pokes before he turned off the stove and transferred the eggs to the waiting plates. James walked to the table, and placed Naira’s portion in front of her. She was looking at him expectantly, but he was still processing what she had said.
“Well, what do you think James, son of Charles?” she asked impatiently. He smiled, fighting the urge to let out a laugh at the title she had used. He sat down and looked at her earnestly.
“Eat first, and let me think. Okay?” He then began to eat. She watched him for a moment, then picked up her fork as well. Trying to not look unsure of herself, she took her first bite. James was watching her out of the corner of his eye, and smiled even more when she began to eat with zest. He returned to his thoughts and when they had finished, he spoke.
“I thought I had seen that somewhere before when I picked it up. I must have recognized it as Narya, as you say it is. Also, I know that they don’t make necklaces like that, I mean replicating Narya.”
“How do you know?” she asked eagerly. James instantly realized his mistake. He had seen rings online and in catalogues of Narya, but he was well aware that you couldn’t buy a necklace like that. He looked at Naira, weighing whether or not to tell her about the book and the huge following it had in Earth.
“I…” he began, “I just know they wouldn’t do that. The thing is… the point I am trying to make is that I believe you Naira. I want to help you do whatever it takes to get you back to Middle-earth.” A smile spread across her face, and James was enchanted. It lit up her eyes, and she looked like she had some hope for the first time all day. She hadn’t smiled in weeks, and it surprised her that she was actually happy. For the first time since her parents had told her they were sailing into the West, she felt secure. She knew James, son of Charles of West Carlisle would take care of her. Even if he did dress like a hobbit. Then, her smile faded as quickly as it had appeared.
“But, how am I going to get back?” she asked. He took her hand gently, and said, “I don’t know, but we’ll think of something.” Before he realized what he was doing, he was around the table and hugging her from behind. Naira was surprised, no boy had ever remotely touched her, save for Encaitar. But the biggest shock was how nice it felt. Tenderly, she lifted her hands and placed them on James’s arm which was across her chest. She let her head fall against his chest. James realized that she trusted him. He felt even worse now for how attractive he found her.
He fully believed her story now, and she would be going back to Middle-earth eventually. She probably wouldn’t even be interested in him anyway. She was so beautiful, there had to be hordes of elves after her. I wonder if she knows Legolas, he thought. The very idea made him chuckle. Naira stiffened and got up.
“Why are you always laughing at me?” she asked, hurt. Great, James thought, now she’s mad at me.
“I wasn’t -” he tried to explain but he heard a car door slam in the driveway. “Good God, I forgot!” he cried, looking frantically at the unlocked kitchen door.
“What, what is it? Are we going to be attacked?” Naira demanded. James was flustered, and it showed clearly. He snapped, “Get upstairs. Go to my room or my sister’s but for the love of all that is holy do not come out until I come and get you!”
She stepped towards him, hurt and confused. “Why?” she grabbed his arm. “Tell me what is happening!”
“Naira, I will explain later. Just go! Trust me!” he pleaded urgently, trying to not sound mean. The look on her face was stony, and she turned and ran swiftly through the kitchen, into high-ceilinged living room and up the stairs. She got to James’s room first, and slipped inside. She shut the door quietly, afraid of what might be happening downstairs to James. She looked frantically around the room, noticing something hanging next to the desk in the corner that she hadn’t before.
Eli got out of the car, and heard voices inside the house through the open kitchen window. He wasn’t very tall, barely scraping five-foot nine. He was stocky, with short black hair. He wore sunglasses, and was dressed stylishly in a knit top. He slammed the door to the car, and wondered who else James had invited up to the cottage to help him get over Lena. Curiosity overwhelmed him, momentarily forgetting his bag in the back, he walked toward the kitchen door. The voices suddenly gout louder, and he could hear James was agitated, but there was also a female voice.
He doubled his pace, and opened the door in time to see James dump two plates into the sink. James turned around, his face flushed. James instantly knew he had been caught, but if he could trust anyone with Naira it was Eli.
“So, James…”Eli said, pausing to take off his sunglasses, “who is she?” He waited for James to respond, and his friend was practically squirming. Eli walked to the table, and placed his glasses and cell phone on it. James felt the pit of his stomach drop to the floor. The necklace was still sitting in plain view, he had totally forgotten about it.
Eli reached out, and hesitated before gingerly lifting the jewel up for closer inspection. After a moment, he let out a low whistle. He looked at James, who if he got any redder would begin to turn purple.
“Spill it, Varden. I caught you red handed with a girl somewhere in this humble abode of your stepfather’s. There are two dishes in the sink and what looks like every penny you own is lying out on the table. You know red isn’t my color, so I know it isn’t for me! And, may I remind you, that I can always tell when you’re lying.” Eli said with confidence, and smiling slyly. He put the replica of Narya down carefully.
James decided to tell Eli, and was opening his mouth to speak, when a cold voice interrupted them. “Don’t move, or I’ll slit you like an Orc!” Eli and James wheeled towards the doorway to the living room. Naira stood there, wielding James’s replica of Narsil that Eli had bought him for his birthday. James let out an expletive under his breath.
“Eli,” said James, “this is Naira. She needs our help, she is an elf from Middle-earth.” Eli looked like someone had knocked the wind out of him.
“Naira, put that down please,” James asked in a tired voice, “this is my roommate and best friend, Eli. He couldn’t hurt a worm.”
Eli turned to James, his eye flashing back to Naira to make sure she wasn’t going to attack him, and asked unbelievingly, “She’s a what?”
“I’m an elf.” Naira relaxed and dropped the sword. She walked towards the table, and put it down. Suddenly, she too remembered the necklace and picked it up. As she placed it around her neck, she continued. “My name is Naira Cemendur. My father is Corinturion. The nephew of Lord Celeborn, former lord of Lothlórien.” She looked at the cell phone and sunglasses on the table. “And what, Eli friend of James, are those?”
James didn’t know what was funnier, the bewildered look that had been on Eli’s face all day or the endless questions that Naira asked of them. She was so curious, and proud too, always trying to make it seem like she already knew what things were. She was currently wearing Eli’s sunglasses, and Eli was explaining, rather pathetically, what television was. They were all sitting in the living room, relaxed on the couches.
“I don’t understand what you mean by taping? And these actors, as you call them, what is their purpose?” Naira asked, clearly no understanding the concept of pretending. The phone rang, and James went into the den to answer it.
Naira looked at Eli, noticing again how unlike James he was. Short, yet jovial and entirely sure of himself. He too wore hobbit style clothes, but his were nicer looking. James was more comfortable though, with who he was. Eli was still trying to explain how a camera captured movements, and finally gave up.
“Naira, just pick a movie and I will try to explain it.” Eli was still a little confused at all this, but he instantly believed her. Ordinary earth girls don’t try to dice strangers, he thought, and knew to watch himself around her. He wondered what would happen if Grant ever crossed Naira, and laughed to himself about it. His hands would probably not wander anymore, or work for that matter.
She was scanning the case, and couldn’t make out the writing. Naira looked at Eli, and said, “You pick one.”
He suddenly had a brilliant idea. He jumped off the couch and quickly found the case he wanted. He turned on the DVD player and television. Grabbing the remote, he slipped the disk into the machine. Eli turned around and smiled at the pointy-eared girl staring in wonder at him.
“Just think of this, as magic!” he said, the sly smile spreading on his face again.
In the den, James switched the phone to a different ear, trying to pay attention to his mother’s lamentations about Lena. His mom didn’t understand how he felt about her, and how hurt he was right now.
“You’ll get over her, Jamie,” she was saying in her best mother-knows-best voice, “just relax up there. Isn’t it great that your dad bought that place?” Something deep within James snapped, and he blurted out: “Mom, do not call me Jamie, you know I hate that. And Tony Roy isn’t my father!”
His mother was quiet, and she cleared her throat before speaking again. “James,” she said in a low voice, “that wasn’t very nice or mature. But, I’ll just chalk it up to your present situation with Lena.”
“Mom, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean that!” he said quickly.
“After all, I’m only your mother. But I know one thing, there are always more fish in the sea.”
Thinking about Naira, James wondered what his mom knew exactly how right she was. But he instantly chastised himself. Immortal elf, immortal elf, he reminded himself yet again. From the other room, he heard music that sounded vaguely familiar. A woman was speaking, and James realized what it was.
“Mom, I love you, Eli is here, gotta go!” Without waiting for a reply he hit the power button and ran into the living room. Eli was playing The Lord of the Rings, and Naira looked as though someone had stabbed her through the heart. She turned to him, Narya flashing in the sunset around her neck. She looked at him in utter disgust as a tear slid down her cheek.