“You are up at last! You had us all scared for our lives my friend!”
“Oh, just a little inside joke that has being going around Caras Galadhon concerning your welfare and the repercussions with the Lord of Imladris, nothing to worry about.”
Haldir’s explanation went in one ear and out the other, Tae was busy trying to piece together the events before she had ‘died’ upon finding out that she hadn’t really been brutally murdered in her vision and she was in Lothlórien after all. She could remember leaving Rivendell but after that things were blurry.
“—he didn’t even say goodbye—” she whispered to herself as her memories became more coherent.
Haldir sighed knowingly, he didn’t want to broach the subject of Elladan with her, he just wanted her to get back to normal as soon as possible so she could enjoy the splendor of the Lady’s realm. He wisely pretended to ignore Tae’s whisper, though he heard it perfectly; he knew she would be feeling delicate for the next few hours and he could recognize the underlying sense of hurt in her voice. He set his plan into action.
“We are having a welcoming party in your honor Tae, it was Lord Celeborn’s idea—any excuse to crack open a bottle of wine that one!”
Tae paused a few moments before speaking; she was still re-assembling her thoughts into a somewhat linear fashion.
“That’s nice” she murmured non-commitedly.
Haldir was not put off by her abstract reply, he was going to cheer her up if it was the last thing he did today. There was no way he was going to let her remember her days in Lorien with a grimace on her face.
“It’s a kind of all day event starting in two days time, unfortunately Prince Legolas has already set off home so you will have to face the wasps alone and Lord Glorfindel won’t be present to bore you with his army anecdotes.”
Tae smiled for the first time at his mention of Glor and his drunken escapades at the Gathering, all that seemed years ago as she stood there, yet again in unfamiliar territory with the elf when in reality all it had happened but six days previous. Tae had spent the best part of three days on the journey to Lorien and she had been comatose in bed for the next three; that leaves us at Friday.
Noting the change in mood the marchwarden inwardly grinned in relief, the melancholy side of Tae was a sight which troubled him; whether it be issues with the heir to Imladris or issues more private and hidden he did not know.
“The Lady Galadriel wishes to see you, she instructed me to bring you to her as soon as you were fit and ready, do you feel up to it?”
“You say that as if meeting the Lady of Light will be an energetic experience.” Tae said dryly.
“You will see—there are a few clothes in that chest, you can’t very well go meeting her wrapped in naught but a bed sheet now can you.” smiled the flaxen haired elf, bowing and leaving through the door.
“I will wait outside to take you to her.”
Tae blushed involuntarily as she remembered she had only a sheet upon her naked body, she shrugged off the embarrassment and moved over to a pale wooded chest situated at the opposite end of the room next to one of those vertical beams. Rummaging around she picked out a pale green tunic and light grey leggings.
“Never thought I’d ever wear leggings again” she said to herself as she surveyed the tight woollen trousers, much like the ones she used to wear when she was knee high to a grasshopper.
She found a black leather belt in a seperate compartment in the chest and bound the roomy tunic more tightly to her slim waist. She could have sworn she had lost half a stone when she saw how far the belt tightened on her. She looked in the mirror again to see if there were any physical differences that she could see, notably, she pulled her chin to see if it’s double had vaporised yet.
No such luck, she made a mental note to keep her neck straight so nobody could notice her double chin.
“The word around here is that you slept with Matarese the other night.”
Elladan ignored the statement.
“You did, didn’t you. I cannot believe you shared a bed with that—-that she-elf!”, proclaimed Elrohir.
“Yeah, what of it?” was Elladan’s nonchalant reply.
“What of it? How can you do that when only a few days ago you were professing your undying love for Tae? You do realize that if there is ever any chance of you and her getting together when she returns, she must not find out about this”.
“Why ever not?” replied the stubborn elf lord.
“Brother, stop acting like an orc. Don’t forget that I know you better than anyone. I know how you feel about Tae, so why even go near Matarese? You know the reputation of the female”.
“So what, ‘Tae and I’ will never happen ‘Ro. She made that clear enough herself”.
‘Ro sat down next to his brother on the bench, grabbing the stones roughly out of his hands that he was distractedly throwing into the pool before them. The younger elf lord dropped the stones into the grass and positioned himself so Elladan had no choice but to listen to him. His brother was so frustrating these days, one minute he was love-struck and now he was messing everything up after bedding some random elf.
“So she told you she didn’t feel the same way? So what! When have you ever given up on something you wanted? You are the most stubborn elf I know; finally it could turn out to have a positive effect. It is obvious to all of us that Tae feels for you, she’s just a bit disorientated for Eru’s sake; wouldn’t you be if you got dropped onto a foreign world?”
“I told her I would give her time and she still refused me.”
“Well, give her time then, she needs a while to get used to her feelings and work out where her life is heading now that she dwells with us. Just don’t give up on her just yet. That morning she left and you didn’t turn up, she was so upset, though she masked it well. I asked her what was on her mind; I knew it would be you.”
“What else did you speak to her about?” snarled the older twin.
“—ELLADAN, there is no point getting insanely jealous of me talking to her! I merely told her how you felt about her, I asked her how she felt about you, but she said naught. I told her to enjoy her stay in Grandmother’s realm as it would ‘sort her head out’ as Tae herself would say. She just nodded impassively and left.”
“She made me feel so foolish ‘Ro, like I was an elfling again.” Elladan’s voice softened greatly at his admission, his powerful shoulders sank and he cradled his head in his hands; the last few days bottled up emotions finally exploding.
“Well, you do act like one sometimes. You were a bit foolish discussing matters on the morning of her leaving. I bet right at this moment she is sitting in her new flet thinking of how much she misses you already.”
Elrohir put his hand to his brothers shoulder sympathetically, he was surprised Elladan had even opened up this far, usually things ended up in full out brawling after some choice insults being hurled from both sides. Of course, Elladan would have started it.
“If I could just turn back time—-”
“If only ‘Dan. Lets just hope that Matarese knows your little ‘meeting’ was meaningless to you and she doesn’t get any ideas, you remember what she did to Kellindel—-”
Elladan shuddered at the memory; he had to sort things out with that female before Tae got back.
“I don’t know Tae as well as you do, but I guarantee, if she finds out about Matarese you can kiss your hopes of romance goodbye. It would seem to her that you were telling a pack of lies and you only told her you loved her on the chance of getting her into bed.”
“I-I would never do that to her, how could you even suggest that?” shouted Elladan hotly.
“You misunderstand me brother.” assured Elrohir holding his hands up defensively.
“That will be how Tae will see it. Any feelings for you she had previously will be hidden from view for a long while—if not eternity. We do not even know that Tae has that choice yet, you may not have that long with her even if the two of you does get together.”
“Nonsense! She’s a half-elf, she’ll have the choice and she will choose against mortality. She has nothing left in her mortal world worth going back for, and I am sure if she would live among elves, she would live ‘like’ elves; forever!”
Elrond was troubled, he had just heard of the occurrences on the journey to Lothlórien, by all accounts Tae had only just recovered from it. He wished that it had happened on the return journey instead, then she would be here and not in the Golden Wood. He dismissed the thought; Celeborn and Galadriel would take just as much care of her as he himself would. The admission did nothing to soothe his worried mind.
Evil had already touched her; the Lord of Imladris had no doubt that whatever form Serbitar had taken; it would have affected his ‘foster- daughter’ deeply. The half elf resolved to question Tae upon her arrival back ‘home’. He missed having one so young and innocent around, Arwen never spent that much time with him these days and though he would not admit it to anyone; he was lonely.
His thoughts stayed inevitably to his departed wife and the pain he had gone through watching her begin to fade, get slightly better and then resolve to leave him for the havens. The scars of their parting were evergreen; Elrond still blamed himself for what happened to Celebrian, if only he had sent out a larger escort with her. Deep down he could not wait for the day he joined his soul mate once more in Valinor, even if it meant giving up the refuge he and Gil-galad had labored to create all those centuries ago.
“Where is the pain?” asked the elf quickly, noting the misery in her companions eyes as she doubled over in pain. The two had gone out walking, a chance to get to know each other better and for Tae to see the sights of her realm.
“—–urghh—–” Tae attempted to stand straighter so she could point to her stomach; she failed miserably as another wave of merciless agony assaulted her.
Lady Galadriel got the message and bade her lie down amidst the carpet of yellow elanor and the pale nipherdil, while she lifted her hands above where Tae had indicated the source of her suffering to be. The Lady of Light closed her eyes and mentally envisioned Tae’s body as a thing of many colors, predictably, Tae’s body flared an angry red- originating from somewhere near her stomach contrasting to the cool blues of their surroundings. Galadriel ignored the small purple speck the size of a plum that was imbedded at the centre of the mess.
“It will be alright Tae.” soothed the elf as she whispered a few words of a rare incantation which soon saw the bright crimson cooling to a more satisfying pale pink shade.
“—why—is—t—this hap—-p–ening to me?”
“I know naught my child, but you will be fine for now——”
Galadriels reassuring words where interrupted by one of Tae’s famous coughing fits, she sat the girl up and patted her back affectionately until the hoarse hacking subsided eventually. Although she had only met the girl a few hours ago, she already felt a steadfast bond between them; she realized now why Elrond was acting so protectively over her, not just for the reason that she alone held the key that could save Middle Earth
Somewhat recovered from the onslaught Tae lifted her head up wearily, she brushed her swollen lips with the back of her hand and wiped the redness on a nearby clump of grass which competed with the swath of unfading flowers. Her head swam with the after effects of pain, she felt lost, tired and emotionally drained.
She closed her eyes and was met instantly with swirling images of Elladan, he was saying something to her but she could not hear him, the look in his eye was serious and he held his hand out to her. Tae did not know how she would take his hand or if she even could, but as she was thinking this she felt her stomach roll and then she saw a cliff face and she was hanging from it. Elladan was trying to save her!
She tried to will her hand to his but her body wouldn’t move, heartbeats later she was falling, and falling still away from her savior into a colorless empty void in which Tae could distinguish nothing. Eventually she reached the bottom, but she landed on her feet perfectly instead of with a sick crunch as she would expect. At the other end of the nothingness Tae could discern a faint light in the misty haze and she began walking towards it, finding nothing else worth doing. After she had taken about three steps, she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end; something was behind her.
Tae began to run for the light, and it brightened as she drew nearer; the feeling behind her disappeared as she met the light and was forced back to reality into the sunshine of the Lorien glade. She sat up with a cry into the arms of the light source which had rescued her.
Lady Galadriel wrapped her arms comfortingly around Tae and rested her chin upon the half elf’s soft hair. None could see the troubled look with which the Lady stared off into the distance.
“Twas a bad dream, nothing more my dear.”
“I’m not this bad with foreign food usually.”
That night Tae plucked up enough courage to venture out and meet some more elves. She was anxious not to have another turn as before with Galadriel, but she was driving herself up the wall on her own up in the flet. She stepped out of her door wrapped in a thick cloak atop her other garments and cautiously descended the spiralling staircase to the ground below. This morning she had found out to her surprise that her room was above ground, and the vertical beams that she thought were mere tasteful decoration were actually the living branches of a great mallorn tree. After that, Haldir had lead her to Galadriel and the pair had set off on a private tour of the realm.
“Why am I so cocked up lately?” she asked herself.
Back on Earth Tae had hardly ever caught a cold, never broken a bone and had generally been a healthy kid. Dumped now in Middle Earth she felt like she could break at any time, and did suspiciously often. First, there was fainting in Elrond’s study, then again on the way down here and yet again this very morning. There had to be something seriously wrong with her; healthy people didn’t cough up blood normally.
Then there were the visions, Tae could not decide which were worse, the physical pain of coughing her guts up and like today- her insides setting alight or the weird dream sequences that had twice now struck her.
She had informed Galadriel willingly of the first one where she had seen
herself die, but she was yet to tell her of the latest one. She liked the Lady, after all she had read and heard of the elf queen she had thought Galadriel would be nigh unapproachable and wise beyond scariness.
Tae was happily proved wrong, for the elf was friendly and had quite the sense of humor, she was indeed intelligent beyond reckoning; knowing the names of every being in her realm and telling Tae about all the ecosystems that operated within her realm (though she put it quite different than her biology teacher back on earth). Tae felt warm and safe whilst she listened to Galadriel’s animated tale of how the Lorien elves collect the deadfall in autumn and winter and stack it in large cradles so that they can use it next spring as magnificent compost. Galadriel spoke about her people with much love and adoration, Tae compared her humorlessly with the leaders of the lands of earth in her mind; they didn’t even come close.
Reaching the bottom of the tree, Tae made for another which held a massive flet from which Tae could hear much singing and merriment, having eaten already she hoped this place would do as a place to meet some new people; and hopefully the Lorien elves she already knew.
“I do not know what it was my wife saw Talen, but I tell you she is worried. She said the healing spell she cast on the thing would keep the pain at bay for a good few weeks, but after that I do not know how Tae will fare. She will be due to return to Elrond around the time the spell wears off, let us hope she will be in his company when her affliction reoccurs, for I know not how we can heal her”
“What makes you think Peredhil can help her, you said before that your wife could not begin to understand what the thing was, how do you know Elrond, or any of us has a hope in hell of treating her?”
“I don’t know my friend, I just have to believe that somehow she will be saved and Serbitar’s seed, or whatever he has implanted inside her, will not grow—”
“I will question her tomorrow when we begin our training, I am sure that it is nothing as drastic as Serbitar’s child—-” Talen’s voice lacked the necessary conviction though, the dark haired elf stood and left the Lord of Lorien’s study, crossing a canopy bridge into his own flet. He had preparations to make if Tae was to become even half the mage her mother was.