I am SOOOOO sorry, everyone, that I didn’t update this sooner! *bow bow* I know I should have. It’s just…I’m so lazy -_- and I didn’t have the Internet in my room for the longest time…and it’s just a hassle to be online downstairs…but anyway! I’m here now! But I’ll most likely have to form a new group of readers…*sigh*
Chapter 7: “I Will Continue Loving You”
Legolas took Hetaura’s hand and brought it to his lips, brushing a gentle kiss across her knuckles. The prince wondered how Hetaura would react to the news he was going to tell her.
“You needed to speak with me?” Hetaura asked, swiping at a drop of water on her forehead. Or was that sweat, she thought.
“Yes,” Legolas murmured. He knew Hetaura was picking up the nature of the situation and would either yell at him or demand to go with him. Had he really become that transparent?
Immediately after that thought, Hetaura’s smile faded. She knew that look on his face. “What’s wrong?” That was his `obligated’ look. His brows were knitted together, and there was something of a sorrow in his eyes. Yes, he had become transparent.
“I have to…go away for a while,” he murmured, still grasping Hetaura’s hand. He saw the confused look appear on her face. It was one the prince could recognize from her early years, when he would yell in Elven she hadn’t yet learned. Her eyes glossed over in thought and her lips curved downward.
“Go where?” she asked quietly, though she was trying to figure out on her own why he would be leaving and where. “Why? As if he were going to leave that very instant, Hetaura lifted her hand to Legolas’ cheek to keep him with her, like that small connection would keep them together.
“To Rivendell, for a meeting with Master Elrond over some important and…confidential matters,” he told her, copying her movement tenderly. He, too, wanted to believe that the gesture could keep him from leaving.
“R-Rivendell,” Hetaura repeated in shock. It felt weird on her tongue, since it wasn’t a place she referred to normally. Her look of confusion deepened. “Why do they need you for their affairs? Can’t they decide things on their own?”
“They could, I suppose, but they want outside views and assistance, which I want to give them, Hetaura,” Legolas told her. “I don’t want to leave you here, and I can’t take you with me. I don’t want to give Rivendell reason to ignore us if we ever have a time of need.”
She was silent a moment. “You already agreed to go, didn’t you?” Hetaura took a deep, slow breath, as though she were steeling herself for the worst.
“I…Yes, I did. I already agreed to go to Rivendell,” Legolas confessed and confirmed.
Pursing her lips together, Hetaura kept her gaze on Legolas’, even as moisture welled in her eyes. “But what if–“
“I love you. Being hundreds of leagues will not change that.” Leaning down, he kissed away a tear from her cheek. “Please don’t cry, Hetaura. I will come back to you as soon as I can. I Promise you.”
Still, Hetaura sniffled as she softly rubbed Legolas’ cheek.
“I love you,” he whispered again. The prince brushed against her lips.
“I know.” Hetaura smiled weakly. “When do you leave?”
“Dawn,” Legolas replied hesitantly.
The girl winced. “So soon,” she murmured.
He nodded. “It is very urgent.” Changing his tone to a faux conspirator whisper, he added, “Meet me in the library at dusk,” as one of the older and somewhat snootier she-Elves passed them by. Already, the Elf-maiden was appalled that Hetaura was standing in her dressing gown, but to hear the prince scheming some daft, youthful plan with his fiancé–that really sickened her and made her quicken her pace. Legolas laughed at her reaction. Hetaura smiled faintly again.
“Hetaura.” Legolas pulled her back to him so he could hold her close. “But please do meet me in the library. I wish to spend time with you before I leave.”
The look he held in his eyes suddenly dazzled Hetaura. It was a magnificent look of the undying love he professed for her. “A-All right,” she murmured before they departed with a long, lingering, and dizzying kiss.
Hetaura worriedly checked the titles of books she had once read, wondering about her meeting with Legolas. It was well past dusk, and he still had not shown. Had something come up to cause him to leave early? She hoped now.
As the girl replaced a leather bound book with gold lettering on the binding, a cold shiver went from her arm to her shoulder and down her back. She felt like someone was watching her. She had felt like that for quite a few minutes, once she thought of it. It felt like someone was breathing directly down her back. That thought made the hair on the back of her neck stand up without her permission.
Could someone be watching her? Were there secret entrances to the library Hetaura hadn’t discovered in her youth? She hoped not, she thought as she put another book back up on the shelf. That one made her feel uneasy especially, because it was about a she-Elf being stalked everywhere she went, and she never knew it until the end of the book, when it was already too late.
As Hetaura turned to check the hallway for any sign of Legolas, once again, she came face-to-face, instead, with a tan skinned half-Elf. A shriek started to work its way up her throat, but it caught in her mouth. When her lips parted, all that came out was a squeak.
“Shh.” It was Kaanel. “You have good senses.”
Hetaura blinked. She had never been alone with him since the first time they had met, six months previous. As Kaanel continued to watch her–but moreover smirking at her–the girl stared in shock.
“Congratulations on your engagement,” he went on, drawling in some different or mixed accent she’d never heard before. “It was really, a touching scene, if I say so myself. It brought tears to my eyes. “He smiled, then swiped under his eyes as though he was crying at the moment.
“May I?” He pointed down at her hand, where her ring rested on her finger. Without Hetaura saying a word, Kaanel took her hand to admire the stone.
Yes, the thought that he was a thief and could very easily rob her at the moment did crossed her mind, but she was too stunned to react to anything.
” `Tis a very good stone. One of the best I have seen in my travels,” Kaanel was saying. “He must really love you.”
Finally, Hetaura spoke. “He does.” She stared defiantly at him before a truly amused smile appeared on the half-Elf’s face. “What do you want? I carry no money, and Legolas is supposed to meet me here soon.”
“But, he is late because there was an incident in his father’s study,” Kaanel said, sounding well rehearsed.
“How do you know?” Disbelief marred Hetaura’s voice.
“I know many things. I know many of the thoughts you believed were completely private. I know things about you and your fiancée neither of your thought to be possible for the other.” He smirked. “Many things that were once secret are a secret to me no longer.”
Suddenly, Kaanel’s eyes became distant before he came back to the library. “Tell no one of this conversation. Trust me, I will know if you do.”
The library door opened, drawing Hetaura from her entrancement in Kaanel’s words. Legolas rushed into the room. When Hetaura turned back to where Kaanel had been a moment before, he was gone. While still in her confused stance, Hetaura turned her head back to Legolas, but still wondered how Kaanel disappeared so quickly.
“What is it?” Legolas asked, taking her hands.
“Wh–” Breaking off as she remembered Kaanel’s words, she shook her head. She wondered if the sneaky half-Elf was still watching her. A cold shiver going down her spine confirmed her thoughts. “Nothing,” she murmured and forced a smile. “Just thinking.” Quickly, she slipped her arms around the prince’s neck to distract him.
“Are you sure?” Legolas wrapped his arms around her waist gently, becoming aware of her discomfort.
“Yes, I am, Legolas.” To keep him from questions her further, Hetaura pressed a tender kiss against his lips, then gave him the will to take it where he wished.
When they broke apart, Hetaura’s eyes were deep and shaded. The ivy green was a dark color, the tint of the leaves on the trees in mid-summer. Legolas’ eyes, usually an icy blue, were the color of the sky in the dead of night. Both were fixed on the other until Hetaura rested her head on his shoulder.
“I’ll miss you,” she whispered to him.
“As will I.” Legolas rested his cheek against Hetaura’s hair lightly.
The swing swayed forward and backwards every so gently. The wind was pushing it, but its occupant used her feet to assist it occasionally. There was a slight chill in the air still, though winter was almost over. The light cloak Hetaura wore, neatly fashioned in a soft sea green, was billowing around her. Her periwinkle blue dress skirts fluttered about her bare feet in the breeze.
Her hair, which had strangely decided to grow at last, now curled around her ears and brushed her neck. As the woman, now with seventeen winters to count for her age, stared out into the distance absently, her lips were in a downward curve, and her eyes were dark and sorrowful. The green that used to be a cheery shade was now a dreary color.
For the past two months, Legolas had been gone. He had sent her a couple missives, telling of his small, but meaningful “adventures’ in Rivendell. In one, he’d promised he would tell her of the conference when he returned in half a fortnight. It turned out that it hadn’t been as confidential and secretive as everything had thought. Still, imaginative as she was, Hetaura couldn’t guess–logically–what the meet was about. She still had about four days until Legolas returned to tell her, so she often occupied her mind with that, instead of torturing herself with thoughts of him.
Legolas rode in silence. One might have guessed, from his lack of speech, that he was trouble, or at least deep in thought. His eyes were an intense sky blue, staring ahead into the innermost part of Mirkwood forest. Sure, he would have been assumed to be bothered, but he wore an overjoyed smile, plastered on his lips.
“You are happy to be returning home, no?” an Elf-like being asked from beside Legolas.
The prince turned his gaze to the rider beside him. “Aye, very much, Nandin,” he replied enthusiastically.
“To a woman, no doubt.” Nandin snorted at Legolas’ overly excited nod. “I figured so much,” he added. “Your eyes–one can see your love there.”
Legolas grinned broadly. `Good,’ he thought. `Let everyone know I am in love.’
Legolas glanced at the rider beside him. Nandin wasn’t Elven; nor was he human. The prince knew that much for sure. They had seen him on their journey to Rivendell, two days’ ride out. Seeing no other alternative, they had taken him with them. He had been part of the meets, a worthy delegate surely. After the conclusion of the conferences, Nandin had pledged his fealty* to Legolas and Mirkwood. Just to see how well the new member of the guard wielded a blade, they had sparred many times, especially when they were stopping for a rest on the ride home. Indeed, Nandin was held his sword well, with many years of skill and practice within his belt. There was also buoyancy about him that Legolas had to admire; not many Elven swordsmen were so confident with the blades.
“Who is your woman?” Nandin was asking, pulling Legolas from his thoughts.
Smiling again, the prince spoke. “Her name is Hetaura.”
“Splendid,” Nandin murmured, as though he was filing it away for future use.
“Her hair is black as ravens, and her eyes the color of the grass on a fresh spring morning, always laughing, they seem to carry some secret in them. All the time,” he sighed wistfully.
“You love her very much.”
“Aye, I do.”
Nandin smiled now. “You with their absurd and rather imaginative minds. Also,” he grunted as he shifted in the saddle, “that abounding energy the lot of you never seems to be without. It runs us old folk to naught more than our bones.” He laughed, a gruff, deep, rasping sound.
Legolas laughed, too. When he looked at the older being, he saw the sage in him. His light brown hair was flecked with gray, which the sun, when it made its not-so-often appearances, reflected off of. His face had hard, set features, and his skin was tanned to a leathery brown color. The man’s hands were sinewy and strong looking. There was also an apparent roughness, caused by so many years of work and endeavors. When Legolas noticed his eyes, they were what threw him.
They were soft, unlike the rest of his face. They were a yellowish-hazel color, a quite haunting feature. The shape of almonds, though cliché and not uncommon, were how his orbs took shape. The Elf prince knew Nandin was tall, as well, much taller than the fair-haired Elf was. But, again, his eyes were drawn back to Nandin’s hands.
Marred from work, yes, and they made one believe he could wield the blade as readily as it was possible for him.
Legolas fingered his shoulder, where a fresh cut resided, a smirk crossing his features. This man was no less than that of a mystery, indeed. And not only was his appearance shouting a secret, his background was, as well.
Although Nandin was not a closed book, for he did tell a little about his past, but that was all. Yes, they were suspicious as to why he was wandering around outside of Rivendell, but his story had been sufficient and truthful sounding enough.
Suddenly, Legolas had a tingle of sensations run down his back. He turned his head impulsively to the north, and, very distantly, he saw a form deep in the forest. He immediately recognized her.
They were only a league out from the underground palace, but wasn’t that a bit far for her to be out–without an accompanying friend? Shaking his head, the smile from earlier, the one that spoke his love clearly, crossed his handsome features.
“Do you see her?” Nandin asked suddenly, as though he could have read Legolas’ thoughts?
Calmly, Legolas nodded. “Yes. Yes, I do,” he murmured.
“Go to her, then.” The strange person beside Legolas smiled at the prince. “From what you have told me, the palace is merely a short ride from here.”
Legolas returned the smile gratefully and shouted out an order to an Elf who was trustworthy enough to lead them home. With that, he turned his horse around and rode off towards his love.
Hetaura sighed lightly. Refolding a missive she favored from the tender words within it, she slipped the parchment into her cloak. She still had three or four days before she would see Legolas again, and had finally resigned to letting herself think of him. Oh, she missed him dearly. It had been too long since they had last seen each other. She passing believed she wouldn’t’ let him from her sight or grasp ever again.
The young woman closed her eyes and leaned her head against the soft rope her swing was fashioned from. Legolas had made it for her in late fall, when the first bits of snow were falling, shortly after their engagement. Hetaura had bid him not to do so with the chill in the air, as she had forgotten that Elves didn’t feel overly much in the changes of weather.
The thought of the winter chill made her pull her cloak tighter around her shoulders. It was not that the past winter had been particularly cold, outwardly. It was merely the heralding dreams of her own demise had strangely ceased once Legolas had departed for Rivendell. They had yet to begin once more. She dreaded their second comings.
There was something strange about those dreams. Other than the fact that they were about her death, they had a strange appeal to them that caused an eerie sensation within her when she thought of them. Hetaura knew dreams often happened just before a body woke, and were only seconds long, but these seemed to be longer than seconds. They left her feeling exhausted and without clear thoughts.
They were terribly vivid, and she felt much in them; the cold and the pain. She could feel the life leaving her, and the silence that came over the stone room and within her left her ears pounding when she woke. The very thought made her want to weep more, as she had when she had found herself cold and alone in her room. It had only made her tears fall more when the thought of Legolas gone occurred to her. Every now and then, she would feel that sensation of being watched, and knew Kaanel was checking on her. Sometimes, that made her feel better. Other times, it made things worse.
Forcing her thoughts elsewhere, Hetaura found naught else to think of. At least, nothing of cheer to make her happier from the depressed state she’d put herself in. She sighed once more, and then repositioned her head on the rope.
A moment later, though, she stood. The woman walked to a small pool, her dress skirts ruffling around her feet. Brushing a shaggy piece of hair from her eyes again, Hetaura leaned against a tree, becoming lost in thought once more.
Before she realized anything–a change in atmosphere, a different sound–she felt arms around her waist. No fear or alarm swept threw her. From the moment she’d felt the grasp around her, she had known who it was. Surprise, though, and relief flooded through her. Tipping her head back, she saw familiar blonde, silk locks covering his and her faces. A smile, she saw, formed on hi slips before they covered hers briefly.
When he drew back, the smile was still there. “I have missed you,” Legolas murmured. Hetaura’s lips curved as well, despite that her eyes welled with tears of happiness.
“As have I,” she murmured as the prince–her prince–turned her in his arms so she faced him. Hetaura wrapped her arms around Legolas and held him tightly. They both heard the crumpling of parchment.
Legolas drew her back and watched her bring a sheet of folded paper from her cloak. “What is it?” he asked her.
“A missive you sent me,” she answered quietly in the joy of seeing him once more, for the first time in two months.
“Oh?” Hetaura nodded at him and smiled through the tears coursing down her cheeks. He kissed them away softly. “Which is it?”
She reached up and wiped her tears dry with her sleeve. “Read it and find out.” Hetaura’ smile widened. ” `Tis a favorite of mine, from the letters you sent me.” She didn’t mention the small amount of missives he’d sent, though.
Legolas grinned as he opened the folded paper. He immediately blushed slightly. “I sent this one to you?” he asked teasingly. The prince sounded awfully devilish and sent her a look to match.
Hetaura nodded. “Meant for someone else?” she asked.
“Nay, my love.” He kissed her again soundly.
She smiled at him. “I found it charming and well-written. And,” she replied after returning the lavish kiss on his mouth, “quite romantic.”
Legolas smiled at her. He had to. Anyone who did not give into Hetaura’s sweet naivety was lovely and emotionless. Or they were blind, since they couldn’t see her sweet smile.
“I have missed you so much,” Legolas told her as he brushed his hand across her cheek. He wrapped his arms around her once more.
She nodded, unable to speak suddenly for the emotion welled in the breast. She rested her forehead on his shoulder. Oh, how she had missed the feeling of being in his arms. The warmth she felt there had left with him so long ago, but was now back. The security and strength washed over her, making her feel safe again. She loved that feeling.
But did she truly love him? She was due to marry him in a pair of fortnights, so she obviously had to. She was agreeing to spend the rest of her life–her mortal life–with him. Hetaura had to love him, then, didn’t she?
The girl had thought of this overly much during the past two months. She had not come up with any satisfying answers. How would she know if she honestly loved him?
“Where have you gone?” Legolas asked suddenly. Hetaura blinked back to reality and out of her world of thought she frequented.
“Everywhere,” she answered. “But it was dull, for I was alone and didn’t have you.”
Legolas grinned as he pressed a gentle kiss on her lips. “That was a good answer,” he told her.
“Mm, so was yours,” Hetaura replied. “Could you tell me again?” A wry grin crossed her features.
Legolas was blank for a moment before her meaning dawned on him. “Of course,” he granted, and then kissed her fully and passionately.
They were lost in one another’s embrace. They were blissfully dependant on the other.
Though with the bliss they felt, lost in each other’s arms, came ignorance.
Unseen, a third pair of eyes was watching them. Moving slightly, the viewer caught a better angle. There, he saw what he was searching for. A tan hand pushed dark hair away from his eyes to have a clearer look.
On the girl’s left shoulder, he saw the mark. Though he had had his doubts before on this form truly being her, he had no doubts now. He had to do away with her, but not yet. He would wait.
Slowly, the form withdrew from the moment as the two pulled apart.
He would have to act quickly if he were to end her existence soon after her wedding, but before she would be with an heir, as he knew she would be before the Vernal Equinox ended, in three short months. Yes, he would have to plan for two or three fortnights after her wedding. Hopefully she would still be only Hetaura, and no child within her.
It was later that evening, during dinner, when Hetaura was introduced to Nandin. She was intrigued, at first. There was a slight feeling of recognition within her when their hands touched, a spark that might have ignited a memory had there been more to remember. All throughout the time she dined in the Dining Hall, she had felt like someone was watching her, intently. Kaanel was not at dinner that night, so it was entirely possible he was stalking her once more, as he had the entire time Legolas had been gone. She could swear that Legolas had instructed the half-Elf to watch her, as a type of a one-man guard.
Pushing her past thoughts away as Legolas excused them both from the Hall, she began to wonder what her love had in store for her. He blindfolded her a few feet away from the Hall, and was leading her to some unknown place. They had been silent, even as they left the confines of the fortress and entered the forest surrounding them. Hetaura knew he wouldn’t tell her anything about his surprise, so she hadn’t asked where he was leading her.
But now, as they halted, Hetaura felt Legolas turn her to face him. When she began to speak, he quieted her by pressing his finger over her lips softly. Hetaura could almost hear him telling her, “Don’t speak,” but wasn’t sure over the noises of the night, and the blood pounding in her head.
Legolas heard his name whispered from his love’s lips. Finally, he slid his hand up to the back of her neck, tangled his fingers in her hair firstly then untied the blindfold. Hetaura’s eyes were dazzling in stars at the moment; moonstruck and misty. He smiled at her.
A moment later, her gaze was off of him and surveyed the place around her. She had never been to this part of the forest before. There was a lake that was a frigid blue color, and threes surrounding it. A few boulders dotted the landscape. A clearing, large enough for a type of party was what caught Hetaura’s eye, though. It looked like it hadn’t been used in ages; for parties or even being trod upon. It wasn’t overgrown with underbrush, or tree limbs everywhere. It just had an unused feeling about it. It was passing eerie.
“What is this place?” Hetaura dared to ask. It had become so quiet, her voice sounded loud to her, even.
“This…” Legolas swept his arm over the area, “…this is where we shall be wed.” He smiled down at her still. “There has not been a gathering here such as ours will be. It will be remembered through the ages.”
As the woman looked out over the area, she was entranced by the stillness of the forest. As she stepped from Legolas’ arms, she surveyed the grounds more. She heard naught more than her own breath, and her heart pounding in her ears. She was sure that the crack of a twig would sound like a giant branch being struck by a bolt of lightning.
“I love it,” she whispered. “It is beautiful here.”
Legolas stepped over to her and wrapped his arms around Hetaura. “You are beautiful. I love you,” he whispered to her.
Hetaura sighed suddenly, a deep sigh of long-suffering. “Let me ask you something,” she began. “Doesn’t it bother you that, in the nine months that we have been engaged, I have not once been able to tell you I love you?” She turned in his arms to face him.
Legolas blinked at her in astonishment. “Yes, it does. But I know–“
“Then how can you stand the idea of us marrying, and quite possibly starting a family, when you don’t know if I love you or not?” she demanded.
The prince sighed. “I can stand it because I know you can. I hope that one day you will tell me. But until then, I am satisfied with the fact that I love you more than life itself,” he declared.
Hetaura stood still, unable to speak for a moment. She lifted a shaky hand and placed it on Legolas’ cheek. “How can you stand loving me,” she whispered, near tears, “when I am but a human?”
“Aye, love.” Legolas drew her to him gently. In the same manner, he embraced her. A moment later, she sobbed against his shoulder. “I love you for many reasons, despite the fact that you will someday pass from here into a better place.” He ran his hands down her back slowly, trying to sooth her.
Hetaura sniffled a little as she regained her composure. “What will you do…when I pass?” Her voice cracked on the question. “You will be heartbroken, no?”
He was silent a moment. “I will,” the prince assured her after a moment. “I may yet follow you. But I will continue loving you for ages after. You are the one who possesses my heart, and always will. Even in death.”
Numbly, Hetaura wrapped her arms around her prince’s neck. She drew in a deep breath and held it in for a moment, looking him in the eye. She almost choked on her words and the emotion welling in her throat, but she finally managed to speak. “I do love you, Legolas,” she whispered very softly. “I do.”
*Fealty – a pledge of honor from a vassal, or a servant, to his lord. In other words, Nandin has sworn by his life and sword that he’d protect Legolas at all costs, even his life. Just thought I’d clear that up.
Again, sorry. I hope that you guys enjoyed this…if you’re still there…
*Fealty – a pledge of honor from a vassal, or a servant, to his lord. In other words, Nandin has sworn by his life and sword that he’d protect Legolas at all costs, even his life. Just thought I’d clear that up.