Chapter 10 – Surprise, Surprise
For the next few days, Hetaura felt calm enough. There hadn’t been any more occurrences after that one night she thought she’d heard other footsteps. The next morning, when she’d woken up, Kaanel had told her he’d found nothing of consequence to share with her. It had unnerved her for a little while, but she’d just accepted it had been her imagination. After about ten minutes of telling herself that, she had felt much better. And for the past few days, she had been actually feeling happy and somewhat normal. Her night terrors had ceased and she hadn’t heard anything in the hallways.
But presently, she was sitting in the great dining hall, lost in deep thought. Her mind was straying back to her conversation with Legolas Sheelewen had encouraged. It had been a lengthy conversation, taking up most of their evening. It had left them enough time when they’d finished speaking to eat a late dinner in silence and retire to their chamber to sleep. Legolas’ words came back to her and made her sigh a little.
“Things will not stay like this forever. They will change; Hetaura, and it will be for the better,” he’d said.
Oh, how she had wished to believe him, and how she still wished to do so! She just could not bring herself to accept it, though. Why, she couldn’t say. She just couldn’t. No matter that, when she had seen him finally in the hall, she had broken down into tears, or that he’d ushered her to their chamber, she found her heart wouldn’t take it. Despite everything she’d told him, every morbid detail of her dreams, that he had comforted her and held her through the whole ordeal, she would not recognize that things would be all right.
“You look as though you’re having a hard time thinking,” a soft voice said from across the table.
Hetaura looked up dazedly at the tan figure. She shuddered a little and wondered why. It was only Nandin, and he appeared to be a decent enough fellow. She knew he wasn’t an Elf; Legolas had told her. But she sighed and lifted her shoulders helplessly. “I am thinking of my discussion with Legolas from the other day,” she murmured. “I suppose you may have heard that I am having troubles sleeping in his council?”
Nandin nodded a little. “And night terrors, your husband has told me. What did you both speak of then, may I ask?” he inquired politely.
She forced a weak smile. “Of course. I only told him most of the details from my dreams…things I hadn’t told him before.” A sheepish expression came across her features. “Things I should have told him from the beginning. I wish I had.” She sighed.
“Well, what ails you, then?” The old being gave her a searching look. “It appears that you have both talked it over.”
Hetaura looked down in her lap, a little ashamed. “I cannot believe what he tells me. Legolas says things will turn to the better, but I cannot help but think he is wrong. My dreams…they are heralding something that I believe will not change.”
“What is it?” Nandin asked patiently.
“I-I cannot tell you…” she murmured.
Just as it seemed Nandin was about to protest and question further, Legolas swept into the hall with a flourish only he could manage. Hetaura threw a look heavenward when she caught his expression. He looked rather annoyed, so she could only assume he had just ended a meeting with Ainer. Obviously, it had not been for the best.
With a glance at Nandin, she stood. “Excuse me,” she told him and waited until Legolas was a few feet away. She stepped out and into his line of vision. Immediately, his gaze softened when he saw her.
“My love,” he told her and took her hand in his. With an affluent bow over her hand, he brushed his lips over her knuckles. He straightened and smiled a little. “Have you eaten yet?”
She shook her head. “No, not yet. Cook was very probably fretting I would only push it around on my plate,” Hetaura murmured.
“Why is that?” Legolas sent her an incredulous look when he took his seat near his parents. “If memory serves me correct, you only do that when you are ill. Are you?” he asked and touched her cheek.
She blushed. Even though it really did not matter that they were talking about illnesses at the dinner table, she still felt a little embarrassed for carrying on such conversation. “I was feeling poorly this morn, but it has passed,” she informed him. “I’m afraid Cook was the one to help me to my feet afterwards. She is fair convinced that I am still unwell.”
“But it was only this morning?” Legolas asked when plates were set before them.
The color heightened in her cheeks. “For two days past, as well,” she murmured. As he opened his mouth to speak again, she cut him off. “But I am fine now, I promise you. Tell me of your meet with Ainer.”
Legolas gave Hetaura a displeased look. “You are changing the subject. I would very much like to know when my wife is ill, and why. But very well, as you insist upon hearing.” He sighed a sigh that would have knocked down his wooden goblet had his fingers not been curled around it. “She carries on about the spiders incessantly. Why can she not accept that you, my mother and father, and I have said her nay on an attack? The Elves are not living miserably. I have held speech with many of them, and they all said they are very happy under my father’s rule. Ainer only appears to be only thinking of war.”
“She lost her father to a war,” Hetaura murmured. “Her mother followed after, leaving Ainer alone.” She pushed around a bit of her food before she caught her actions. Immediately, she picked up that portion on her fork and took a bite. She was chewing thoughtfully when she caught Legolas’ look.
“How did you hear of that? Ainer has never told anyone of her past,” he said suspiciously.
Hetaura swallowed. “I hear much through the gossips, and one of my most reliable sources is the vagabond half-breed who stalks through the passageways,” she told him. “And how Kaanel came across such news I did not ask and I dare not even think to do so.”
Legolas nodded a little. “A reasonable thought. What else have you heard?” he asked her. “Out of curiosity.”
With a bit of a laugh, Hetaura shook her head. “I would betray the confidence he has in me. You must ask him yourself if you wish to know what he does,” she told him. “Speak of the devil.”
In walked Kaanel with a bit of a smirk on his face. His usual arrogance was magnified and it showed especially in his eyes and the swagger he had as he walked to them. He made a show of bowing before Legolas and Hetaura, still smirking. Hetaura was afraid to ask, but Legolas seemed not at all perturbed by their friend’s behavior.
“What did you find out now?” Legolas inquired. “And be quick. I am dining with my wife.” He smiled at Hetaura a bit before transferring his attention to Kaanel.
The half-Elf nodded. “I did as you told me to and found out her reason for obsessing. I will tell you all about it later, Legolas, when you are finished eating,” he said then looked at Hetaura. “How are you?” he asked her.
Hetaura smiled. “I’m–“
“She was ill this morning and has been for the past few days,” Legolas answered for her with a scowl.
Hetaura returned the frown then looked back at Kaanel. “I am fine,” she insisted. “My husband cannot stand to be ignored and left in the dark.”
After Kaanel nodded curtly, he took a seat next to Legolas and launched into an animated explanation about something that Hetaura did not understand. But it was just as well. The more she could block Kaanel out, the better she could think. And think is just what she did.
Her thoughts strayed back to that morning. She hadn’t felt ill at first, but suddenly the wave of nausea hit her like punch in her stomach. She’d excused herself from her current conversation with a she-Elf and ran to the garderobe. About five minutes later, when she felt like it was passed, Cook had come in and gasped at Hetaura’s state. The young princess had pleaded something hadn’t sat well with her stomach, but Cook was a hard Elf to impress, especially when it came to one of the people she fed regularly vomiting so early in the morning. She had been dragged to the kitchen and given a talking to after that.
Coming back to the present for only a moment, Hetaura excused herself from the hall with a soft look. She was halfway aware of Sheelewen following her as she left to go to the library.
But following her lecture, Cook had sent her off to Sheelewen for a nonplussed look only and dismissed without anything else. Strange how people were acting now, it seemed, all bothering her and hovering over her. She was tired of it! And curse anyone who dared to interfere with her any further. She had had enough. The next person to ask her how she faired was going to receive a tongue-lashing that would peel the coloring right off of Lord Elrond’s walls so far away.
“Hetaura, is there anything wrong?”
She stopped where she was and cringed for a moment. Mentally counting to ten, she turned around to face her mother-in-law, who wore a look of concern on her face. No, ten was no going to be good enough to make her forget her frustration. She proceeded to twenty.
“I think that you and I should talk about your condition,” Sheelewen went on.
Twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three.
“Please come with me.” Without waiting for an answer, the Elf took Hetaura’s hand and forced her to walk to her study in silence.
When they reached the room, Hetaura was positively seething. Forty-four, forty-five… Had someone really told her that counting to ten was good enough to rid herself of her anger?
“Sit.” The edge to Sheelewen’s tone let Hetaura know that her mother-in-law was just as displeased. Did she know the joy of counting higher than ten worked well, too? But Hetaura obliged the Elf and sat down before the fire and scowled into the flames. “You say you have morning illness?” Sheelewen asked.
Hetaura nodded wordlessly.
“You appear to be moody.”
She frowned more.
“And you have been wed to my son for how long?”
One hundred. She looked at her mother-in-law dubiously. Had the Elf gone daft or had she really forgotten? “A fortnight,” Hetaura said, her voice low. “Why?”
Suddenly, it clicked. Everything fell into place, and Hetaura was rendered speechless. Her jaw dropped a little as she looked up at Sheelewen. “I cannot be…?”
“It appears that you may be, Hetaura,” she said quietly. “But nothing can be for sure yet. If your illness in the morning continues, please see me and I will take you to a healer for affirmation.”
Hetaura was still in the shock that she might be carrying a babe. How could it be? They had only been wed for two weeks. Well, the possibility was thrown into the whirlwind of things she was experiencing, and there was nothing she could do about it, was there? And if there was something to do, could she bring herself to do it?
“Hetaura?” Sheelewen put her hand on Hetaura’s shoulder. She immediately shuddered at the thoughts that had been going through her mind. She hoped her mother in law would not read her thoughts. “Would you like something to drink?”
She shook her head. “N-No. I’m fine.” With a deep breath, she stood. “I think I will retire to my chamber to rest for the night,” Hetaura said. Sheelewen said nothing, but she let Hetaura go.
Once out in the hall, the burning behind her eyes magnified and she ran for her chamber. This was becoming too much on Hetaura; first her dreams of her death, then the possibility of being with child? She shook her head. It was indeed terribly too much for her to deal with on her own. But she did not wish to tell Legolas until she was certain. No use in giving him false hopes. If anything, she wanted good hopes that her life would turn out right for once.
As she turned the corner just before her chamber, she blinked back the tears that threatened her. There would be a time for tears later, but not now. Now, she just wanted to crawl into her warm bed and fall into oblivion. She wanted to sleep forever and never wake up. She wanted peace.
As she opened the door, Legolas was sitting in a chair before the fireplace, rubbing his neck. He looked stressed. Hetaura could relate. When he sensed her presence, he looked at her and forced a smile though it didn’t reach his eyes. Yes, she could definitely understand his weariness. She returned his smile with a weak one of her own and went to him. When she stood behind him, Hetaura put her hands on his shoulders lightly. He leaned his head back against her and shut his eyes.
“I’m sorry for not telling you of my being ill,” she told him. “I should have said something.”
He sighed a little. “But you didn’t. There is no changing it.”
“I imagine you are not pleased with me.”
Legolas stood and rounded the chair so he was in front of her. “I am not pleased that you kept it from me, but I am not upset with you, Hetaura. You did what you thought was right, and doing that it what means most. But in future–” He lifted her face when she looked away “–in the future, I would like for you to tell me when you are ill.”
Oh, how she wanted to tell him of hers and Sheelewen’s conversation. The entire tale was on her tongue to say, but she just couldn’t open her mouth to do such. Instead, she wound her arms around his neck and rested her head on his shoulder. Legolas’ arms came around her, albeit hesitant at her disposition. But after a moment, he held her to him tightly.
“I fear that I may lose you to these dreams, Hetaura,” he whispered hoarsely. “I am afraid that you will be taken from me and I will not know until it is too late.”
Hetaura shivered and held on to him just as closely. She felt tears stinging behind her eyes again and let them come. She was in her love’s arms now; she was safe. Nothing would take her away from him. Not even the grips of the most feared beast would spirit her away. She wouldn’t let them.
The next morning, Hetaura woke and shivered a little. She was alone again, but she was used to waking alone now. For the past three days, since she and Sheelewen had spoken of her “condition,” Legolas had been waking early and going off to do his usual duties. For most of the day, she didn’t see him unless it was at meals. At dusk, he would come to her, and they would sit before the fire in their bedroom and just talk of things.
Married life was wonderful. It could have been excellent, but there was the occasional quarrel that accompanied everything. Just two nights ago, they had been arguing over something Hetaura failed to remember now. But she had been offended by something he had said and shoved Legolas out into the hall. Following him had been a few pillows, blankets, and a curt “good night,” from Hetaura. Guilt had worn away at her for about four hours before she could no longer bear it. She opened the door to find him absent, and then gone on a search for him in the dark. His hiding place had been the library and a few books. The prince had been passed out on the floor in a corner with a halfway read book open on his chest. It had taken everything for Hetaura not to double over in laughter then and there. Legolas had no idea how silly he looked with the piles of pillows and blankets around him!
Or maybe he had from the smirk that crept onto his features. She grinned to herself over the memory.
But then a completely different sensation from mirth washed over her body. She jumped out of bed and rushed to the chamber pot. Her morning illness had been continuous. It was the fifth day of it. Hetaura would have to resign and allow Sheelewen take her to the healers. In all honesty, she did not want to go. Too many hours there in the past reminded her of things better left forgotten.
She straightened and went to the water basin to wash her face. If the illness did not cease soon, Hetaura had the feeling that her insides would be protesting sorely in the future. After her face was clean, she went to her wardrobe and changed into a gown. It was becoming warm, and soon her heavy winter dresses would be replaced by the light summer dresses that she had been sewing all winter. As it was, she felt a little warm in the thick cotton that her dress was made from.
With a determined set of her jaw, Hetaura left her room and proceeded the walk to her mother-in-law’s study. She did not want to do this. There was a part of her that knew already the answer that she was seeking but the rest of her mind ignored it and pressed on. That was how she felt: ignored. She knew the answer to the question, she was shouting it to everyone, but no one was listening. No one cared to hear what she had to say. They could care less. Still, that part of her continued to say that the visit was not necessary.
Or was it just that she did not want to go to the healers that her mind thought so? It was so confusing. First she thought she’d latched onto reason only to have it contradicted. With a great sigh, Hetaura rounded a corner and bumped into something solid. Well, not as solid as a male may have been. She blinked and saw a young girl standing before her. She could not be Elf-kind. She had freckles all over her face, and it was rare that Elves possessed such markings. And, Hetaura saw when the girl pushed her long hair behind her ear in a very embarrassed manner, her ears were rounded.
“Forgive me, your ladyship,” the girl said quietly, bowing her head. “I did not see you.”
Why did this seem familiar? Ah yes, because Hetaura had bumped into scores of people in the halls before when she had been shorter. She was still very much shorter than Legolas, but that was beside the point.
“I will be more careful next time,” the girl was saying and was about to dismiss herself.
A slightly amused grin came over Hetaura’s face. “What is your name?” she asked.
“Nwalmaer, my lady,” she said.
Hetaura nodded. “An Elven name, but you appear to be human,” she said softly.
Nwalmaer blushed. “My mother’s first love was an Elf, but he passed to the sea. My mother married a mortal man from Gondor and had me, my lady. She gave me an Elven name in the Elf’s honor,” she explained.
“The things we do for love,” Hetaura said and smiled. “What brings you to Eryn Lasgallen?” The girl was terribly nervous speaking with Hetaura. She wouldn’t even look her in the eye!
“I am here with my brothers. We have traveled from Gondor to speak with King Thranduil,” Nwalmaer murmured. “If my lady permits, I must seek out my brothers.”
Hetaura smiled encouragingly. “Of course.” The girl ducked her head more and walked passed Hetaura. “Nwalmaer?”
The girl turned and swallowed, her uneasiness obviously increased. “Y-Yes, my lady?” she squeaked.
“How long are you staying?” Hetaura asked.
Nwalmaer took a deep breath and Hetaura knew she thought she was in trouble. “A se’nnight or more, my lady.”
“Please, call me Hetaura. And I would like to speak with you again before you leave,” she said softly and brightened what could be taken as displeased words with a smile. “If you have the time, of course.”
The girl’s eyes widened. She nodded. “Surely, my l–Hetaura,” she said.
“Until then.” Hetaura waved slightly and started back on her journey to Sheelewen’s study. On the way, she contemplated her previous meeting. The girl could not have been older than sixteen summers. She was too shy to be any older, but a younger girl may have been more outspoken. Hetaura knew she had been outspoken, thanks to spending most of her time with Legolas and his friends. There had been nights that they would raid the wine cellar, and Hetaura would drink them all under the table and still be able to walk in a straight line. Though the next day, she suffered a headache and a little nausea, she would go out the next night and to the very same thing again. It was only when she and Legolas had announced their engagement had he stopped allowing her to participate in the drinking sessions. But all the other Elves knew that, while Legolas had been in Rivendell, it had been one of her few havens to do just that to forget her pain. No one had told Legolas, obviously, since he had said nothing to her of it. She had good Elven friends that she could trust. But, if she truly carried a babe, she would have to refrain from slipping into her cups. It could not be healthy for her or for a child.
When Hetaura reached Sheelewen’s study door, she felt the sudden urge to turn tail and run the other direction. The sudden fear of the answer was staggering and made her sway in the hallway. She put her hand to her head and sighed. Before she even knocked, Sheelewen told her to enter.
“Mother?” Hetaura said upon entering.
Sheelewen smiled and looked up from her book. “Yes, love.”
Where had this nervousness come from? Hetaura now felt the same as Nwalmaer had in the hall. “My…morning illness has not subsided any,” she murmured, feeling very sheepish. “I thought that we…that you and I would need to see the healer.” Sheelewen actually laughed at her! Oh, but that stung Hetaura’s pride. Why was her mother-in-law laughing at her when she was obviously distressed? `Twas a cruel thing to do.
“We shall go. Let me finish this chapter in my book, though,” Sheelewen said lightly.
Hetaura scowled at the desk and remained where she was. It couldn’t take her that long to finish the chapter, could it? So there was no real need for Hetaura to sit. Her mind began to wander to her past, to things she had almost forgotten. She thought of the day the spiders had attacked her and Legolas in the forest. They had been stuck in the cave for about another hour, but it had felt longer. The only way to pass the time was for them to talk, though Hetaura had veered away from the subject of Legolas’ previous behavior. Instead, he had told her that the cave they were in had been the one he’d stayed in before he found her. Death had been on Hetaura’s mind then; she hadn’t thought she would live so she thought it appropriate that Legolas found her there and would lose her there. He’d given her a sound tongue-lashing when she’d voiced that thought.
More than once, he’d had to pull back from unconsciousness and it had been none too gently, either. Her cheeks had been stinging for a good hour after each slap. But it had been inevitable, she thought. It was either sore cheeks or death. She decided on the former.
They had spoken of their futures, mainly Legolas’ and the title he bore. He knew his father would one day sail to the Grey Havens, leaving Legolas to rule Eryn Lasgallen, but he did know when it would be. He had thought he’d rule by himself, without a wife but that had changed definitely. A proud smile came over Hetaura’s face. But after a while of talking about their futures, she had voiced her despair and said she would be cheering for him wherever mortals went when they died since she likely would not live past the day.
How she had been wrong!
Her mind searched further than that, to when she and Legolas had gone on one of their infamous horse races to the naiad’s pool. It hadn’t taken them too long to ride. It was about two leagues from the palace to the stream nearby. But she had won that day and chosen her victory prize by watching the naiads. What had overcome her to go to them? They were beautiful beings, yes, but violent for no apparent reason. Even if an outsider were mere feet away, the water spirits would beckon the watchers to a wet death.
But when she had been pulled into the spring, it had been a shock. If Hetaura had been able to forget her initial shock at first, she may have avoided that near death experience. Instead, it had taken her a few moments to actually realize she was underwater and unable to breathe. She’d thrashed and tried to pull out of the nymphs’ grasps until she had fainted. In that brief time of oblivion, she’d tasted the death that would soon threaten her. First it had been darkness, then a swirling of color before her eyes. Following had been a sudden burst of cold and warmth at the same time. She had been shivering while sweat was joining the water around her.
Then she’d woken to Legolas checking her pulse. That had triggered her reflexes, causing the water in her lungs to eject itself. Following the tingly feeling of that had been a burning lack of oxygen. A gasp had fixed that.
But when she looked at Legolas, she saw all the emotion in his eyes; the fear, the love, the concern, everything. Tears had sprung to her eyes momentarily until she had realized his state. That had set her to retreat immediately. The memory still made blush.
The next significant memory had been her spider bite. She remembered feeling the guilt of not having told anyone and the truth coming to the surface the hard way. The pain in her leg still plagued her because of the self-reproach. If she thought about it too long, then the scar would begin to throb dully. It was funny how things worked that way.
A few weeks after she had recovered as much as expected, Sheelewen had told her about the tattoo on her shoulder and asked about it. The mark was still there, just the same as it had been. The six-pointed star was still attached to the inside of the crescent, and the slash going through them was still there. She still didn’t know what it meant. When Sheelewen had asked her so many years ago, all Hetaura could manage to tell her was that she remembered nothing before waking up in the halls of healing.
She still couldn’t remember anything before that. Even when she had lain awake at night, racking her brain for anything, she couldn’t fine one detail about her life before Legolas found her. It was rather distressing.
Hetaura looked up when Sheelewen shut her book with a snap. “Are you read, Hetaura?” she asked.
With a very large amount of wariness, Hetaura nodded. “Yes,” she squeaked, then cleared her throat. “Let’s go.”
Hehehe, cliffie. Um, anyway, yeah. What’d you guys think? I took me only a few days to write this, so I’m happy! Next chapter will be up soon. No big news in Riona’s life that she feels like sharing and rambling on about except she’s getting a dagger soon, courtesy of a fellow TORCer. ,_, Anywho, that’s my two pennies worth on the world.
Any suggestions for future chapters? You don’t need to wait for permission to email me, just go on ahead. Angelof_Music001@yahoo.com or Freebluewings@hotmail.com. Whichever. I have MSN messenger, and AIM, and AIM is RionaofDromin. Feel free to add/contact me with any ideas you come up with and would like to see. Just make sure they’re doable and not too elaborate. Thanks! I’ll talk to you guys next chapter!