Chapter 6: Of Dreams and Surprises
Hetaura awoke with a start. The fire in the hearth had long since died out, she saw from the way the little bits of kindling and wood glows surreptitiously. She shivered as a cold gust of air swept down the chimney. The frozen breeze blew straight through her long, knitted sweater and nipped at her arms. The near woman rose from the winged, high-back chair, picked up the book that fell from her lap, and tossed a few more pieces of oak wood onto the ash. Glancing around, she found some starter wood and a tinderbox. In a few short moments, the fire was blazing again, secreting the warm Hetaura had missed, even in her sleep.
It was winter, now, about six months after she had agreed to marry Legolas. Ever since then, however, Hetaura had been dreaming of her demise. It was always the same way. She was alone in a tower room in some castle. She remembered the pain all over her body, and the blood she coughed up onto her hands. She remembered the chill of the air and in her body as life slipped through her fingers like the thick, sticky blood. As her final consciousness seeped into eternal blackness, Hetaura heard a cold, maliciously laugh, ringing in the story room, in her head, and in her mind.
Despite the warmth from the fire, a shiver ran down the woman’s back. The memory was still fresh in her mind, too fresh. But it didn’t seem like a mere memory. It had seemed…surreal.
Hetaura let out a slight cry when she felt arms snake around her waist suddenly. A moment later, a kiss was placed on the crook of her shoulder and neck. Willing herself to calm down again, she took a deep breath and leaned her head back.
“I found you,” Legolas murmured, grinning devilishly. When Hetaura didn’t respond to his playful assumption, he began to worry a little and feel a distance in his love’s mind. “Hetaura?” He kissed her shoulder again lightly.
“Hmm?” She sounded, indeed, as though she was returning from her own little world.
“Is something wrong? You seem…faint,” Legolas wanted to know. He ran one hand up along her arm to her shoulder to rest there.
“No, Hetaura lied. “Everything’s fine.” Angling her head, the young woman stole a brief kiss in hopes of convincing her fiancé that she was fine.
Legolas, though, wasn’t so easily tricked after the thirteen winters he had known her. The prince kissed her cheek, trailed another sweet caress up to her temple, and pressed his lips finally against her hair for a prolonged half minute.
“Please do not tell me stories. It is not very becoming for one such as yourself, Hetaura,” Legolas mumbled against her black curls.
Hetaura sighed and pulled out of his grasp, rubbing her arms. “I’m just cold. You Elves feel no change in temperature,” she adlibbed.
Legolas chuckled and draped his thick green cloak over the young woman’s shoulders. “Come with me, then. I wish to show you something,” he murmured, taking her hand and brushing his lips across her knuckles.
Hetaura, used to his routine by now, followed him out of the library. When she stepped into the hallway, though, she felt the change in temperature immediately and shivered. Legolas turned to her quizzically. Hetaura shook her head and continued walking.
“Just cold, still,” she told him lightly. She was beginning to wonder if the cold she felt was on the inside. When she gave him no chance to respond, Legolas kept his pace, but soon took a slight lead.
When they reached the corridor the prince normally led Hetaura down, he continued walking, partly jerking her with him.
“Fooled you, didn’t I?” he murmured, close to her ear now.
A shiver went down her back as she said,” Yes, you did.” As they neared the kitchen, curiosity overtook Hetaura. “Where are we going?”
“You shall see,” he whispered. “‘Tis a surprise, love.”
They passed the kitchens. There was only one other door before the palace opened to a different wing. Wondering what Legolas had planned for her, Hetaura sighed lightly. It was still cold. Since the Elves couldn’t feel temperature changes, the palace was always either too hot or too cold in summer and winter.
When they turned into the dining room, Hetaura’s breath caught in her throat. Drawing her hand to her mouth, she took in the sight before her. There was a little round table, set for two, and a candle in the middle. Two plates, remaining covered, were there, and a bottle of Elven wine was in a crystal cooler. It looked like something from a book Hetaura had read once.
“Oh, Legolas,” she whispered. She was almost afraid to speak any louder, for fear of breaking the spell put over them.
Pulling her close against him, the prince held Hetaura gently. “We haven’t been able to spend too much time together lately, so I wanted to arrange this for us. For you.” Legolas leaned down some and touched his lips to hers once, then twice, before staying there for a long, full minute.
When he pulled back, Hetaura could feel the room spinning out of control. Blinking for a moment, she tried to regain some sense of thought before moving.
When a small sliver of conception came into her grasp, the couple walked over to the table. The dinner was a luxurious, leisurely one of the best foods, carefully prepared. The wine, a delicate, pleasing selection, was sweet and warm as it trailed down. Even after Legolas and Hetaura had finished dining, they sat and shared speech for a long while. They held hands during their entire talk, which Hetaura found both charming and touching.
Finally, Legolas stood. When his lady began to stand as well, he shook his head. He felt in his tunic pocket for a moment before producing a small shining object. Without missing a beat, he fell to bended knee gracefully before her.
“Although I asked you once before, six months ago, Hetaura, I want to ask you again, formally.” Legolas took a deep breath. “Hetaura, will you marry me?” he asked, opening his hand to reveal a ring with an emerald the color of her eyes, carefully placed on the golden band.
Choking for words nearly, Hetaura nodded. ” Yes,” she managed. “Yes, I will.”
Slowly, Legolas slipped the ring onto her finger. Hetaura admired the stone for a moment before putting her attention back to her formally approved fiancé. He was smiling hugely. She had no choice but to smile back at him.
Her gaze went to his eyes. There, she saw so much emotion, so much…feeling, her breath stopped in her throat. The blue orbs stared intensely into her green ones. Her heart skipped a beat under the look that promised her so much.
Hetaura turned away, swiping under her eyes as she did so, and took a shaky breath. She forced her eyes back and smiled. Her eyes were still wet with tears, glistening in the soft candlelight.
“What is wrong?” Legolas asked. He stood, but stayed level with his eyes. Slipping his index finger in the crook of her chin, he brought her gaze back to his.
Flashbacks of the past six months came back to Hetaura. Memories or how their relationship had blossomed passed through her mind. Though there was obvious affection between them, and a definite attraction and connection, not once had the phrase “I love you” been uttered from either of them. Right now, Hetaura saw the love for her in Legolas’ eyes and could not deny it.
“Hetaura?” The prince’s voice brought her back from her reverie with a start. “Are you all right?” He touched her cheek softly.
Hetaura stood from her chair and embraced Legolas. She was a great deal shorter than him, so her head fit right below his chin perfectly, as though that spot had been reserved and created for her especially. Letting out a long sigh, she wondered how many other she-Elves had been there before, how many she-Elves he’d held like this. At that moment, she couldn’t imagine him holding anyone else.
“Legolas?” she asked, twisting her fingers in his hair.
He kissed her dark, contrasting locks. “Yes, love?” the prince murmured, curious as to her strange and different mood. When Hetaura’s hands ran down his back, an inward and cold shiver followed her fingertips.
“Do you care for me?” she asked as casually as she could. Squeezing him tighter for a moment, Hetaura rested her cheek just below Legolas’ shoulder.
“OF course I care for you.” Now, he was greatly curious to her question.
“Do you…love me?” Surprisingly, the young woman was calm. Even as her husband-to-be pushed her back at arm’s length slowly to see her, she was calm.
“Yes,” he answered after a moment of thought. “I do.”
Hetaura smiled up at him. Rising on her toes, she brushed a kiss against his lips. Before she had retuned completely to the ground, Legolas caught her and held her close again. Their eyes were locked for a short while until the Elf prince kissed her in return, slowly, fully, and passionately.
Skipping beats and fluttering, Hetaura’s heart went into overdrive. With her mind spinning in chaotic circles, everything was in a glorious, confused heap. By the time she and Legolas came back down to earth, she was dizzier than anything she knew. She doubted she would be able to stand on her own for a while. So she didn’t…
The two stood in silence for quite a long time. Legolas held Hetaura against him tightly. Hetaura clung to Legolas as though her life depended to it.
When they finally broke apart, it was to move back to the library. Once there, the two sat closely together on the couch, watching the fire, whispering of this and that. Occasionally, there would be a silence, or Hetaura would tilt her chin up for a light lingering kiss in response to something or other.
“Have you ever loved someone else?” Hetaura asked after much time had passed.
Legolas was silent for some moments before responding. “As what? A sibling, friend…a lover?”
“As you love me,” Hetaura supplied.
“I have loved another, yes, but not this strongly.” At the moment, Legolas was combing his fingers through Hetaura’s short curls. She was resting her head against his chest. Her hear was just over his heart, sot he young woman could hear it beating. With reach breath the prince took, Hetaura moved up and down with him.
“Who was she?” Hetaura couldn’t put her curiosity into words; though she was almost positive Legolas could understand.
Which he did, of course.
“Her name was Earen. Our time together did not last more than a few month’s time.” He fell silent after that.
A reasonable time after, Hetaura spoke once more. “Why?” She looked up at her prince with curiosity.
“Earen…it means `from the sea.’ Needless to say, she loved me, yes, but she loved the sea more, so she left me to sail.” He sighed, and Hetaura’s head went up and down with his breath.
“I don’t like her,” Hetaura declared.
This puzzled Legolas. “But you have never met her,” he reminded the girl in his arms.
“She left you. Anyone who could have chosen something else over you must have poor judgment, and you know how I feel about people like that.” Teasingly, she poked at his side.
Legolas pulled Hetaura closer, and she instinctively cuddled more so against him. “Tell me…” she began quietly.
“Hmm?” HE tilted her shin up to see the fire dancing in her eyes. Brushing his lips against hers in a lazy way, he murmured, “Tell you what?”
She blushed. “Tell me…you love me,” Hetaura whispered.
Legolas held her gaze. “I love you with all my heart. I have loved you since I have known you,” he said, stroking her cheek.
Hetaura smiled, but turned her gaze back to the fire, which was slowly dying. Her thoughts traced their way back to her dream from earlier, the same one she had been dreaming for six months.
Slowly, her eyes drooped shut from the hypnotic flames and the rhythmic feeling and sound of Legolas breathing. She drifted halfway into sleep, still thinking of her dream. Eventually, complete slumber took her. Memories of the dream seeped back into her mind, then became a reality in her sleep. But this time, she saw more of the delusion.
She saw the hand of her captor, her torturer; the hand that had put her in conditions of death. She heard the sadistic and evil laughter, cackling at the misery she was in, at the sight of her blood spilling and dripping to the floor. She heard the voice clearly, speaking to her with the false sympathy before that distinct and same hand struck her once more on her cheek. He gripper her chin tightly, blood she’d coughed up coating his hand, but he seemed not to care. Hetaura felt pain shoot through her body from that. He was speaking to her again.
Though she couldn’t understand his words completely, Hetaura heard his voice, yes. It would be forever etched into her memory.
This dream-this premonition-was so in depth and overcoming, Hetaura didn’t feel the movement beneath her as she was gently laid down on the couch. All she felt was the pain in her dream. Eventually, the dream caught up to where she was familiar with it. The sinister laugh, the thunder rumbling through the ground, and finally, that cold, final feeling of dying, unloved.
Hetaura woke with a shrill cry. Immediately, she sat up and wiped sweat fro her brow, realizing how clammy her hands were. A moment later, the library door opened, and Legolas rushed to her side.
“What is it?” he asked, breathless. He clutched her hands between his, and then embraced the terrorized woman. “What’s wrong?” He could feel her trembling in her fear. Hetaura took in deep, gasping breaths as she clung to Legolas.
When she said nothing, he rubbed her back, murmuring comforting and soft phrases to her. It took a short while for Hetaura to return to being somewhat calm, but she did finally. When Legolas held her at arm’s length, he could see the shock in her eyes still.
“Hetaura, what is it?” he asked gently, but with a firmness that represented his concern. He rubbed her hands to bring warmth back to them.
In a few short minutes, Hetaura found her tongue. “I’ve been…having these dreams of late, and I’m…dying…in them. I can hear someone laughing at me as I die,” she stammered. “He’s talking to me. He tells me that I die…unloved.” Tears welled into her eyes as she realized that she’d broken a vow she’d made to herself. She had promised herself she wouldn’t burden Legolas with her dreams.
Yet here she was, cradled now in his arms, being comforted and soothed for her troubles. He whispered lightly to her, reassuring words in attempts to calm her. Still, Hetaura’s tears fell, soaking Legolas’ shoulder. She shivered in his arms as an inner cold came through her.
Would she ever feel warm again?
Slowly, Hetaura moved to the changing room of the bathing hall. This new addition had been built only a few months before. She she-Elves were grateful for it, but they wouldn’t complain if it were taken away, either. When the princess-to-be found a spot to use to change in, she quickly took it, knowing the other Elves were ravenous and greedy when it came to these issues.
After stripping and wrapping a towel around her, Hetaura made her way to the pool. The moment she stepped into the hall, an uncomfortable silence reigned and heads swiveled to the woman. Pursing her lips, Hetaura walked to the shallow end of the water and slipped in after shedding her towel a few feet away from the pool.
In a few short moments, chatter picked up once more. That cold shiver from two nights ago went through Hetaura again. It hadn’t left. It was like a part of her had escaped and abandoned the rest of her along to cold and darkness. The woman wrapped her arms around her small form in a feeble and useless attempt to warm herself at the thought.
She turned at the familiar voice and the tap on her shoulder. It was that she-Elf, Tharel, that had spoken to her a few months back. “Yes?” Hetaura waited expectantly for some notion of meaning to the conversation-again.
“Legolas wishes to speak with you,” the young Elf said.
Hetaura waited a beat before answering. “All right, Tharel, thank you,” she murmured.
A look of surprise, then delight came over the Elfling’s face before the trotted off proudly. Hetaura, meanwhile, was walking to the changing room. She quickly donned her thin shift, then ran to the exit door. But as she was stepping out through the door, she overheard two she-Elves, speaking quietly of her engagement to Legolas.
She didn’t much like that. How had the news spread so fast in two days?
When Hetaura stepped into the hallway, there was Legolas. His back was facing her at the moment, and he was staring into nothing, it seemed. As Hetaura was about to slip her arms around his waist, intending to startle him, Legolas turned around and startled her, instead. She nearly let out a squeak of surprise, had she not been used to the sudden shocks. The woman knew there were many when involved with Legolas.
Little did Hetaura know she was about to receive a very sudden and surprising shock.
Um, hi all. Hehe…sorry about the, ah, delay. I know excuses won’t appease you all, but I do have reasons why I haven’t been able to update. I won’t bore with all of them. I’ve just been quite busy, and I haven’t had Internet put up in my room again since returning home. So, hopefully, that will sate your possible curiousity of my absense. But, in the meantime, everyone in my family is fine, as is the cat, whom we are now calling Nemo. He’s had name changes so often, poor thing. But Nemo and the dog, Duke, are getting along pretty well. Nemo will even walk by Duke; warily, might I add. School is starting soon for me. My real classes start September 13th, a Monday, so homework might slow things down. But, as I’m homeschooled, I’m only doing a unit study in history. We’re still working out math… :-/ (Riona <–doesn't like math) But anyway, I won't bore you with details of school, as most of you probably have started already. But, now that you know what’s been going on in my life, here’s the story line thus far, and a few teasers: Hetaura’s about seventeen summers, eighteen winters, so you decide her age there. Her real age is only approximate, as the Elves only guessed she was about five when they found her. She and Legolas are getting married come spring, perhaps, if events don’t hinder the day. Kaanel is still here, he’s just lurking about. He’s going to be making more regular appearances now. A new character is going to be coming in the next few chapters. I think around chapter eight or nine. Then, I think that most of the characters will be here. Original characters, such as Ainer and that other guy…umm…the one that I said was old enough to be Legolas’ grandpa, will hopefully be showing up soon. Maybe in chapter nine or ten. Not sure how far I have written in my notebook. But Tharel may become a regular character. Otherwise, she just does cameo appearances when needed. I have some ideas for future things, and Tharel may be in them, or I’ll create another person. Okay, I think I’m done rambling at you. Hope you all followed it! Thanks for reading! LadyRiona
But, in the meantime, everyone in my family is fine, as is the cat, whom we are now calling Nemo. He’s had name changes so often, poor thing. But Nemo and the dog, Duke, are getting along pretty well. Nemo will even walk by Duke; warily, might I add.
School is starting soon for me. My real classes start September 13th, a Monday, so homework might slow things down. But, as I’m homeschooled, I’m only doing a unit study in history. We’re still working out math… :-/ (Riona <–doesn't like math) But anyway, I won't bore you with details of school, as most of you probably have started already.
But, now that you know what’s been going on in my life, here’s the story line thus far, and a few teasers:
Hetaura’s about seventeen summers, eighteen winters, so you decide her age there. Her real age is only approximate, as the Elves only guessed she was about five when they found her. She and Legolas are getting married come spring, perhaps, if events don’t hinder the day. Kaanel is still here, he’s just lurking about. He’s going to be making more regular appearances now. A new character is going to be coming in the next few chapters. I think around chapter eight or nine. Then, I think that most of the characters will be here.
Original characters, such as Ainer and that other guy…umm…the one that I said was old enough to be Legolas’ grandpa, will hopefully be showing up soon. Maybe in chapter nine or ten. Not sure how far I have written in my notebook. But Tharel may become a regular character. Otherwise, she just does cameo appearances when needed. I have some ideas for future things, and Tharel may be in them, or I’ll create another person.
Okay, I think I’m done rambling at you. Hope you all followed it! Thanks for reading!