It was two hours after the dreadful news that horse hooves were heard striking the forest path. Plodding softly under the dense canopy of the trees and the hooves kicking up last years leaves; the silence reined heavy.
Avnean gazed down glumly at the reins she held her in her hands, lazily. She wasn’t trying to speak to her brother, his welcoming thoughts in her mind enough, even if they were just as deep in sadness as her. The eight guards rode silently around them offering no words to the twins and after just receiving the aching news themselves they didn’t know how to convey their feelings.
“It’s so glum,” Avnean spoke at last. Her voice though soft as it was startled everyone and she noticed a few of the guards jump in surprise at the spoken words; even though the words themselves seemed to die once they had been spoken. “Do….do you think mother went down this same road?” She knew once she said it that she had caused Legolas more pain but the question had been nagging her since they had left, Legolas had known it to.
“I don’t know,” Legolas’s answer was heavy with emotion. “Probably.”
“Oh,” Avnean started to choke on tears. “I shouldn’t have asked.”
“It was a good question,” Legolas offered her. “You’re not sitting right you know? You’re going to fall off.”
Avnean looked down, realizing that he was trying to change the subject on her. “I never could ride like an Elf could I?” she sighed softly. “Can you come over here and show me?” Behind she heard some Elves attempt laughter and perhaps would have snapped at them had the circumstances been different.
Smiling wanly himself Legolas expertly maneuvered his horse next to Avnean’s. “First sister you’ve got to stop being afraid that the horse is going to go insane on you,” he said knowingly. “And you have to…” releasing his horses’ mane he reached over and took Avnean by the waist and set her down in the middle of saddle as she had been slipping sideways. “….you have to stop leaning to the side.”
“You’ve known this all along,” Avnean accused glaring at Legolas. “I know it!” In an absent gesture she tapped her forehead.
Legolas smiled openly at her. “Perhaps,” he mused, his smile fading. “But it was amusing to hear your grumbles about it.”
“Stop reading my thoughts!” Avnean shot back and then fell silent. She lowered her eyes towards the reins and her hand. “Mother was always laughing at that wasn’t she?”
“Oh Avnean,” Legolas said, his voice welling with pain. He lifted a gloved hand and placed it over hers. “Don’t think about it. Think about Lothlorien! It’s the first time for both of us away from home.”
Avnean shrugged weakly her mind overcome again with her sinking despair, she tried to hide it from Legolas but he squeezed her hand tighter and she knew that he had listened. “You’re not doing so well yourself,” she whispered looking into his blue eyes. “You’re sad.”
“Of course,” Legolas said. “She was our mother who wouldn’t be?” he squeezed her hand encouragingly. “Everything will be fine, I assure you.”
“You could try convincing your mind on that one,” Avnean grumbled. She shivered involuntarily and reached a hand to rub her shoulder. “Brother.”
“What?” it sounded like a guilty murmur.
“You didn’t take that salve for that bite today did you?” Avnean asked. “You’re in pain.”
Legolas winced. “I forgot,” he lied. “I….with everything you and my mentor screaming at each other, the packing ah….”
“You’re lying,” Avnean cut off his rambling. “Just make sure you take it tonight okay?” she shifted and then forced to right herself in the middle of the saddle. She was glad when Legolas nodded and moved away from her, understanding quietly that it was time to let her have her peace. The guards behind them offered no words at all, though they had heard the entire conversation that had passed between them.
“This is Lothlorien?” Avnean said dimly. She turned her head to an Elf behind her before turning back. Not to far away she could see the tall firm trunks of trees as they soared upwards, their dark green leaves gave the grass that swayed near it a near pitiful color. To her it seemed a place out of memory and place away from time, secluded and forlorn. A place of the past and memories there. The very thought of past made Avnean’s throat constrict, the thought to return home entered her mind. She didn’t want to go back to the past, she didn’t want to go back when everything had been fine. It would hurt too much.
//Do not think such things Avnean. Lothlorien is beautiful.// Legolas admonished her.
//Just because you’re all right about everything doesn’t mean I am!// Avnean shot back angry. A moment later she realized that she had screamed at her brother and lowered her eyes. //I didn’t mean it…I’m sorry. I guess Lothlorien can be beautiful, it’s a refuge from embroidery.//
At her thoughts, followed by a string of anger Legolas threw back his head and started laughing. The sound of his laughter, the first laughter since they had left the trees of Mirkwood behind startled the guards and they jumped, before looking at each other trying to discern what had caused the Prince to laugh.
Avnean looking back and seeing the guards confused started laughing herself, finding, shockingly that somehow she felt better. Her depressing thoughts about her mother’s leaving had been her fault seemed to cower in the face of laughter. Legolas looked at her and they started laughing harder, this time for no reason except for the now flowing joy and exhilaration of all despair fleeing before it.
“Might I inquire,” an Elf spoke softly behind them, “as to why you are laughing?” He knew that they were twins and it could be very well be something they would not understand but his confusion had got the better of him.
“Nothing,” Legolas choked on his laughter, waving a hand “Race you sister to the trees?”
Avnean flashed him a grin, full of humor and clumsily, since she had never been a great rider, pressed her heels into the horse’s sides and let him go at an all gallop. Letting Legolas laugh and follow her. The guards sat upon the hillock and watched them, knowing that they needn’t follow so close. Lothlorien was near and the border watches would see them. They looked at each other and smiled to themselves, happy and relieved to hear the laughter after worrying for throughout the journey that Avnean would be cast in darkness and in linked to her thoughts Legolas would follow.
By the time they reached the eaves of Lothlorien Avnean was beginning to slip from the saddle and from the rejoicing laughter of Legolas behind her she knew that he had felt it as well. When she reined the horse to a halt, Legolas was there catching her as she fell from the saddle, laughing. He held her as he laughed as well; distantly she could hear hooves as the guards came at a more measured pace down towards the eaves of the forest.
“Legolas I beat you,” Avnean teased. “The least experienced rider and I win.”
“You caught me off guard,” Legolas defended his honor. “It was not my fault.”
Avnean laughed with glee, grabbing her brother by the shoulders. “But you knew I was going to run off Legolas. Admit it!”
“I admit,” he said throwing his hands up. He looked away towards the guards and a lopsided grin broke out on his face. “Oh Avnean look how slow they come! We fairly beat them!”
Avnean punched him in the shoulder with grin. “You won’t admit that you lost,” he said. “Sore loser.”
“You mock my honor,” Legolas said, sounding hurt, he lowered his eyes. “My fair lady.”
“Ah this must the Lady Avnean and her twin Lord Legolas am I not correct?”
The unexpected voice caused both twins to give startled cries and spin around each with guarded looks on their faces; to defend each other with their lives. An Elf was looking at them, seemingly materialized from the majestic trees from no where. He wore an open smile upon his face and he was watching them with amused content.
“I’m no Lady,” Avnean snapped automatically when she recovered somewhat and Legolas’s calmness swept through her. “Don’t call me a Lady, Avnean will do.”
The Elf raised an eyebrow noncommittally at them both and leaned on a strong longbow beside him. “The Lady of the Wood knows of your arrival,” he spoke plainly. “We will wait for your entourage to catch up first. We have been watching you since this morning.”
Legolas and Avnean looked at each other coloring slightly both with the same thoughts of being caught acting so much like children, although they were still young. The Elf laughed.
“I mean no disrespect,” he said and turned grave. “I heard about your mother. I’m sorry.”
At his words Avnean lowered her head and felt the grief overwhelming her again. Legolas reached out gently with his mind letting his sister know that everything would be fine and he was a wall to support her. Avnean lifted up her eyes to Legolas and he smiled encouragingly and she nodded thankful to have him with her and his support. Smiling almost she sent her own support into his thoughts. The Elf said nothing just watching their faces carefully as if trying to find out whether certain expressions would show themselves if they were talking or feeling their thoughts and feelings.
Avnean and Legolas turned to see their guard coming towards them. One of Elves lifted his hand in greeting towards the Elf that had hailed Avnean and Legolas while they had laughed. They were also aware of the Elf that had stood with them raising his hand in greeting.
“I see you have met the young twins Avnean and Legolas?” the guard continued.
“Indeed!” he replied, waving a hand at them. “And they are welcome to the Golden Wood. Come in haste now the Lady awaits.” Smiling and beckoning the guards he faded into the trees
Avnean and Legolas looked at each and smiled giddily. “Well looks like a new adventure eh?” Avnean asked. She offered her hand and Legolas smiled brighter accepting it and they both walked into the unknown woods of the Lady together. The escort behind them trading smiles and leaning back easily happy to reach the safety of the wood and seeing that young Avnean and Legolas were happy again themselves.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.