Avnean hesitated, half poised for flight before continuing her quiet steps. Shivering she held her robe tightly about her frame and checked nervously to make sure that Legolas was firmly asleep. If he was awake then it would take some time before he even noticed she was awake and walking about. The sounds of coming footsteps alerted Avnean and she jumped around a corner, almost laughing at her giddiness. The footsteps past, continuing straight and Avnean detached herself from the wall, starting to breathe normally again. She felt like some naughty child about to do something bad, even though she actually wasn’t doing something bad.
When Avnean finally reached her destination, her hands were trembling and she cloaked in sweat from her fear. Slipping into the small stable, small since hardly any of the Galadhrim rode horses, she walked to the far end of the stable where her mount was kept. When Avnean crept closer the horse lifted its head startled from sleep and gave a frightened neigh.
“Hush!” Avnean whispered, placing a hand on the frightened horse’s nose. “Easy boy. Easy.” She stroked it gently until he had calmed and pressed his nose against her hand. “I know, I know I haven’t visited you for a little while. Spoiled thing.” Avnean had to admit that she hated riding the horse, never a skilled horseman but she loved her horse for the quiet companionship he offered.
“Talking to horses are we?”
Avnean gave a small squeak and jumped, whirling around and glaring at who had startled her. She hastily checked to see if Legolas had noticed but her brother was still out cold sleeping. “What are you doing here?” she hissed. “Go away.”
“I couldn’t sleep,” the Elf shrugged. “I can’t sleep at night sometimes. Couldn’t sleep either?”
Warily Avnean shrugged her shoulders, turning back to her horse and slipping into the stall, grabbing the brushes as she did so. She heard the Elf follow her and stop just outside the stall.
“What is his name? I come down here a lot, I like horses so I know most of their names. I don’t know his though.”
“Horse,” Avnean answered blandly, starting to brush him down. “His name is Horse.”
“Horse?” the Elf asked baffled.
“I didn’t know what to name him and `Horse’ just stuck,” Avnean shrugged. “It doesn’t bother him and he answers to it.” She looked at the Elf sharply. “Why?”
He shrugged and leaned against the post and watched Horse, who leaned forward and butted his head against the Elf’s chest, who laughed in response. “Do you mind if I gave him an apple?”
“Hmm?” Avnean asked. “No.” She didn’t like the Elf much, although it wasn’t new not to trust someone. “What’s your name?” she realized her voice was harsh but didn’t try to amend it.
The Elf shrugged. “It’s ah well….it’s Thenil.” He shrugged. “I was raised in Rohan until a year ago. That’s basically why I like horses, if you wanted to know.”
“Rohan?” Avnean, asked and stopped brushing. Horse stepped over pushing her against the wall until Avnean shoved him over and began brushing him again. “I’ve heard of Rohan, not very much though.”
“It’s a beautiful place,” Thenil said. “Very beautiful. I haven’t heard your name.”
“Avnean, Princess Avnean but leave out the Princess.”
“Legolas’s twin?” Thenil raised an eyebrow. “That explains your distrust.”
“What do you mean?” Avnean demanded, glaring at him.
“Twins are very close,” Thenil shrugged as if that concluded everything. “Very close they are.”
“And that’s supposed to mean?”
“That they don’t often look for other’s.”
Avnean shivered that sounded a lot like Celeborn there. “That’s disconcerting. I look to others.”
Thenil smiled and stood up. “Then would you call us friends Avnean?”
“You are very shrewd,” Avnean answered and, scooted out of the stall before Horse could pin her against the side as she stopped brushing him. “You’re twisting everything I say.”
Thenil grinned. “A habit,” he said. “It’s too early for friends. Are you going back to bed?”
“No,” Avnean shook her head, checking and making sure Legolas was still deeply asleep. “I’m afraid to sleep, I guess.” She shrugged, noticing that she spoke when she hadn’t wanted to. “I had a bad dream.”
“I had those when I was young,” the Elf smiled. “Gruesome but I’ve overcome those. Why don’t we take a walk Avnean and we can talk about it?”
“Umm,” Avnean felt exposed and uncertain. She shifted and hugged the robe tighter. “I guess.”
“You have nothing to fear,” Thenil told her. “We won’t go far.” Almost grinning the Elf held out his hand, Avnean declined and instead followed him out.
Silently the two walked with Thenil guiding her on city paths that she didn’t know and Avnean walked on almost in daydream checking constantly with Legolas. When Thenil happened to speak her Avnean jumped. “Why do you keep checking up on him? Not getting into mischief are you?”
Avnean gave a surprised shout and clenched her fists angrily. “How do you know about everything?” she demanded. “What I’m feeling and in the stall?”
Thenil looked out. “Because I had a twin once, my brother,” his voice cracked as he shrugged. “He died, and I nearly died but I kept at it. It’s out now Avnean.”
Avnean looked down. “How….how did you survive? I couldn’t live without Legolas. I was away from him for only an hour once and nearly went insane.”
Thenil looked at the towering trunks of trees and the darkened homes above, only lanterns suspended above the paths guided their feet. “I nearly didn’t I was holding on by a thread Avnean I was alive only because I promised him I would try. I left Rohan and I ended up here. The Lady helped me out Avnean. You should listen to her, she’s got a bucketful of wisdom but you need a lot of patience with her. When she says something it’s either got a thousand different meanings or she’s just trying to get you confused. It is mostly the latter.”
Avnean grinned, now liking the Elf beside her. “I’m sorry for your loss, I know how it would feel,” Avnean told him. Uncomfortably she placed a hand on his forearm and then quickly took it away.
Thenil shrugged. “I’m okay, I think about it a lot but I’m good,” he said. “We’re getting out far we’d better head back.”
“I guess,” Avnean looked back. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep though Thenil.”
“No?” the Elf asked. “I won’t either, I don’t sleep often I dream too much about him. That’s when it all comes up.” He looked away and gave a trembled sigh. “You should go in case Legolas wakes up and wonders what you’re doing.”
Avnean nodded. “I’m lost,” she admitted though. “I don’t know where I am.”
“This is your first time in Lothlorien isn’t it?” he asked. “Well here I will show you back.”
“Thank you Thenil,” Avnean nodded allowing him to lead her. “Perhaps I will be able to call you friend.”
“It is a treasured thing for a twin to say that,” Thenil smiled. “I should know.” He led her back to the base of the great mallorn in silence.
When they arrived, before Avnean slipped away back to her room he spoke once more. “Galadriel is only trying to help Avnean. Just agree, it will help. If at any point you need me during the training let me know? I’ll help.”
“All right,” Avnean agreed. She smiled, a bit forced at the idea of Galadriel’s plans and hugged her robe around her tightly once again. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight Avnean,” he tipped his head again, all grins. “May Irmo guard your dreams.”
“And yours,” Avnean replied and hurried up the steps at a much slower pace. She had learned a lesson the first time she had darted up those steps and she wasn’t about to repeat it.
Celeborn smiled from the shadows, he realized that he wasn’t the only one sleepless this night. The uncovered wound that had come with telling Avnean his darkest secret had left him unable to sleep. Any sleep rendered him helpless back on the bank as his best friend succumbed to drowning. Celeborn shuddered and forced the dark memory down, although he did feel relieved that he had finally told Avnean about it. He had felt the bond between them when he had revealed it all. He knew that Thenil wouldn’t be sleeping, the poor boy hardly ever slept at all but he hadn’t expected Avnean to be awake and about.
“How long have you been standing there Lord Celeborn?”
Hiding a startled jump, Celeborn looked up and gave a wan smile seeing Thenil walking towards him. “Just long enough to see that you have been speaking with Avnean.”
Thenil stopped before Thranduil. “She’s headstrong,” he smiled. “And very strongly attached to Legolas, I expect Legolas would be the same?”
“Aye,” Celeborn agreed looking upwards. “Too strong as my lady thinks.”
Thenil nodded. “She’s a good girl too,” he commented. “Wary of anybody to come between them. I spoke to her about what the Lady’s wanting to train and I think you told her the same?”
Celeborn nodded. “Agreed,” he said. “Very much agreed.”
Thenil stared at him for a moment. “Want to come raid some pantry with me? I find food always helps me sleep somehow.” He cocked his head and smiled. “Yes or no?”
Celeborn looked down at the boy. “And who’s pantry do you plan on raiding?” he demanded.
“Yours,” Thenil laughed. “Are you coming Lord Celeborn?”
Celeborn sighed. “Very well,” he sighed. “Since you insist.”
“I do,” Thenil smiled. “You know Celeborn I think she’ll agree to what Galadriel has planned. I think both of us talking helped her a lot.”
“That makes me relieved,” Celeborn said. “Well are we going to go raid that pantry or not?”
Thenil gave a lopsided grin and nodded for Celeborn to follow. As Celeborn walked behind the Elf he couldn’t help but feel relieved that Thenil thought that Avnean would accept what Galadriel wanted them to know. Celeborn blew a sigh and gazed up at the twinkling stars. Eru lets hope that girl listens he thought, remembering the image in the mirror that Galadriel had told him about. He shuddered he didn’t want that to happen.
“Lord Celeborn are you coming?”
Celeborn nodded and allowed his pace to quicken. And, he added silently If I can’t talk to Avnean about it then I know Thenil can. The boy knows what its like to go through that. Feeling relieved and unburdened with those thoughts, he strode towards Thenil so they could both raid the pantry.