Haldir left, leaving Kelsey alone in the woods. She just stood there for a while, she had not been expecting that. Feeling her legs giving way, she sank slowly to her knees. She put both her hands flat on the ground, palms down, and closed her eyes. She focussed on her breathing, and on trying not to burst out screaming.
She needed someone to talk to. She needed a parent figure. She needed Aragorn.
She had gotten his whereabouts from Galadriel. She revealed to her that Aragorn was, for the moment, in Northern Mirkwood, seeing about an ‘important matter’. Kelsey figured this so-called ‘important matter’ was Gollum, and he had escaped.
Messages had been sent out ahead of her, telling of her coming. No one went with her, but she had not told Haldir where she was going. Galadriel was to tell him she had been sent on errand.
Riding on the west side of the giant forest, she passed through the Gladden Fields, and came upon the Forest River in about twelve days. Having never been alone for that long by herself, she had plenty of time to think this out, but she didn’t. She dismounted her grey horse, a mare named Arieldei, and followed the river until just before nightfall.
She percieved she was being watched, but kept on until she saw it; a huge palace, built twenty feet above the ground. There stood a guard at the base of a tree, almost exactly like in Lothlorien. But this was different.
Instead of being light and airy, Mirkwood was dark and camouflaged. Everything was either a shade of green or brown and everything was more closed than in Lorien. Kelsey could see no stairs leading down from any of the ‘treehouses’, but they all had circular holes, out of which there came a ladder made of rope.
The guard whistled a bird call and the ladder toppled out of the hole. He didn’t say anythingk to Kelsey, but took Arieldei’s reigns and led the horse off to the stables. Kelsey climbed the ladder to find herself in a small chamber with a door on the opposite side. There was a cloak rack with a servant asleep a chair beside it. The elf-maiden awoke sharply as Kelsey tapped her on the shoulder.
“Um, excuse me…” Kelsy said as she woke the elf.
“Oh, forgive me! I shouldn’t have fallen asleep! Here, let me take your cloak,” she handed it to the maid and hung it up. “Lord Thranduil has been waiting for you.” She walked to the door and opened it.
Kelsey walked in with as much composure as possible, finding herself in the throne room of Mirkwood. Thranduil sat upon a very ornate green throne, and Kelsey noticed Aragorn and another elf cease their conversation as she entered the room.
Lord Thranduil stood. “Hail! Lady of Lorien.”
Kelsey curtsied, though in her breeches it looked strange. “Hail! Lord Thranduil of Mirkwood.”
“We have long been expecting your arrival. Anything we can do for you, let it be done.” he looked past her to Aragorn. “Will you show her to her room?”
“Gladly.” he replied.
She took his offered arm and followed him out of the chamber, but on the other side from the entrance. As they left, she thought she could hear the elf say to Thranduil, “Who is she, Father?”
Kesley distinctly felt King Thranduil’s eyes on her back. “Kesley Hunter, from Lothlorien.”
She stood in her room; it looked much like the one in Lorien, but the patterns of the bed and windows were different. She turned to Aragorn.
“That was Legolas, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, do you know him?” he asked back.
“No. Look, I came to see you because I have a problem with Haldir.” only then did she realize she hadn’t told him about her and Haldir.
“Ah. When I first saw you two together, I thought you might have had something for him.”
“Well, he asked me to marry him.”
Aragorn just stood there, much the same way Kelsey had stood there after Haldir had popped the question.
“What did you say?” he sat down on the bed slowly, as Kelsey began pacing.
“I didn’t answer. He thinks I’m on errand, but I needed someone to talk to and sort this out, so I came to you.”
Aragorn was deeply touched. Although they had only met once and had seen each other only a few times when Aragorn passed through Lorien, she had trusted him enough to take council with him. “Well, do you love him?”
“Do you believe he loves you?”
“Then what is the problem?”
“I don’t know.” she answered slowly. She sat down next to Aragorn. “If I say yes, and I get sent back home, to Earth, then I leave him here alone. If I say no, I won’t be happy and neither will he, because he knows I love him. And if I say yes and he…” she was going to say ‘dies’, but she didn’t think she could tell Aragorn.
“If he what?”
“Where I come from, this has been written and made into a movie, a kind of continually moving picture. And in the movie, Haldir dies, but he doesn’t in the book. I don’t know if I want to take that risk.”
Aragorn wrapped his arms around her and gave the most father-like answer he possibly could have given, “Love is always a risk. Arwen and I have taken the risk that if I die in this final war, for that is what it is going to become, she will never have love. I cannot tell you what to choose, but I can give you advice. Follow your heart.”
She exhaled heavily into his chest; she knew what she was going to say.