Arwen peeked around the doorway, quietly spying on the woman Faye as she sat before a mirror, staring at her reflection. She had been in the small bathing room for over half an hour, and still had not attempted to clean or bathe herself. Behind Arwen, Maida waited for her to report what she was seeing. Arwen glanced back at her friend, shaking her head.
“She hasn’t done anything,” Arwen whispered. “She’s just sitting there.”
Arwen looked at Faye again. The woman seemed to be paralyzed by her thoughts. Pain, terror, confusion, and worry were all echoed in the look on the woman’s face. She seemed deeply uncomfortable, unable to comprehend everything that was happening to her. Arwen frowned as she watched Faye attempt to wipe away some grit from her cheek with an equally gritty hand. It did nothing, and after another moment, Faye turned her head and looked longingly at the window.
“Maybe we should help her,” Maida suddenly suggested timidly. She had glanced around Arwen to witness Faye’s feeble attempt to wipe off her cheek. “I don’t think she knows how to take a bath.”
Arwen glanced warily at the door to the corridor. Celebrían had cautioned her to leave Faye alone while she bathed. . .but Faye wasn’t bathing yet. With her childlike reasoning securing her resolve, Arwen entered the bathing room and approached Faye, Maida close behind. She touched the distracted woman on the shoulder. Faye let out a deep animal-like growl and turned sharply, and for a moment her gaze was sharp and piercing. However, upon seeing Arwen, she immediately calmed.
Arwen had noticed this same kind of reaction before. Whenever Arwen was not in sight, Faye seemed to experience a drastic change in character. She became withdrawn, wary and distrustful. Arwen had seen how agitated Faye had become earlier when Celebrían had asked her and Maida to find a clean dress for Faye to change into. Arwen believed she had returned from the task only just in time, for Faye had been pacing the room like a caged wolf, her attention completely focused on the balcony. Faye had immediately stopped pacing, even offering Arwen a reassuring smile to tell her that all was well. Luckily, Celebrían had left minutes before to speak with Elrond, so nobody had been present to witness her strange behavior.
Arwen could see the effect her presence had on Faye, but she was only a child. Her mind, so innocent from the harshness of the world outside the Valley, could not comprehend how such a powerful and deadly creature could find comfort in her.
For Arwen knew what kind of creature Faye was. Maida’s cries of “she had pointy teeth!” had reminded her of stories her brothers had once told her to scare her. Stories of creatures that prowled the night, and fed only on fresh blood. Her brothers had called them vampires.
Maida and Arwen had quietly talked about it a long time, finally coming to the conclusion that Faye was a vampire–Arwen knew of no other creature with pointy teeth–but a special one. Her brothers had said that vampires couldn’t walk in sunlight, yet Faye was sitting in a shaft of sunlight even now. Her pale skin, strange-colored eyes, and inhuman growls and grunts all pointed to vampire. Yet Faye was as gentle as an old pony around her. . .not counting the attack.
“Here,” Arwen said, retrieving a wet cloth from a nearby basin. “This might work better.”
Arwen approached Faye and crouched down, gently rubbing the cloth over her cheek. The layer of dirt and grime immediately wiped off, revealing warm copper-colored skin, a shade Arwen had never seen before. Faye closed her eyes briefly, then took the cloth from Arwen and wiped off the rest of her face. Arwen smiled brightly, seeing very pretty features now that the grit was gone.
“I bet you feel better already,” she said. “Now you have to get the rest of it off.”
Faye smiled softly, turning her gaze to the waiting bathing pool. Arwen stood, watching as the woman began to move towards it.
“We’ll wait outside,” Arwen said, turning and grabbing Maida’s hand, dragging her friend out of the bathing room.
Arwen and Maida waited patiently, speaking softly to one another about their differing suspicions. Arwen still firmly believed that Faye was harmless, but Maida still seemed to hold some resentment and fear.
Faye stepped out, wearing the dress Arwen had found, just as Celebrían returned. Elrond, Glorfindel, and Thranduil were with her. Arwen approached Faye and grasped her hand, calming her, for she had frozen in place when the others had appeared.
“You look so much better now,” Arwen said, giving Faye another big smile.
And Faye was rather pretty. With her cleanliness and the Elvish dress, she seemed no different from an Elf, if one discounted her rounded ears and coppery skin. Her hair, long enough to brush her waistline, was thick and full, the color of the midnight sky. Her eyes, though strangely colored, accented her skin perfectly. She seemed uneasy, but with her hand firmly grasping Arwen’s, she turned to the new arrivals with a steady gaze.
“I agree with my daughter,” Celebrían said, also smiling.
“Yes,” Elrond added, glancing at Glorfindel and Thranduil. “And I hope you have calmed, Faye. There are still questions that have to be answered.”
Faye stiffened, her grip tightening slightly. Arwen bit her lip, trying to think of a way to avoid the subject. She didn’t know what would happen to Faye if they found out what she was, let alone she was the one that had attacked her and Maida.
“Ada, does this. . .” Arwen began, but abruptly stopped at a deft squeeze of her hand.
Faye looked down at her, softly shaking her head. Arwen dropped her gaze, releasing Faye’s hand. There was no way around it, now. Faye had to answer Elrond’s questions.
“Where did you come from?” Elrond began, his voice firm, but soft.
“The water,” Faye replied.
Arwen nervously chewed her lower lip. Nobody seemed quite pleased with the answer.
“Explain,” Glorfindel said flatly.
“Water carried me,” Faye replied. “Carried me over falls. I wake up here.”
“The falls are outside the gardens,” Celebrían said. “How did you get into the gardens without being seen?”
“Hole in big bush,” Faye replied, neither her flat tone nor expression ever changing. “Saw flowers. Saw Arwen. I followed.”
Now Arwen had to choke back a giggle, seeing Maida, from behind Thranduil, do the same. The simplistic way Faye had described the outer hedge just struck her as funny at that moment. Celebrían frowned at her, and Arwen straightened up. The last thing she wanted was to be sent away.
“Did you do anything before entering the gardens?” Glorfindel asked, his eyes narrowing. “See anything?”
Faye turned to him, giving him her own narrowed gaze.
“No,” she stated flatly.
The questioning went on for several more minutes, but Arwen was deeply relieved in the end that Faye had not been asked questions too difficult for her to answer. Finally, Glorfindel and Elrond left, and after a few whispered words to his niece, Thranduil followed. Celebrían smiled reassuringly.
“Do not be worried, Faye,” she said. “You are welcome here.” She offered her a hand. “Come. Let me show you around.” She winked at Arwen. “There are others who would like to meet you.”
Happily, Arwen followed Celebrían and Faye, glancing up to give her reassuring smiles. As before, Faye seemed quite stunned at all the grandeur, but she was no longer letting it overwhelm her. Maida was by her side, slightly calmer than before, and she too even managed a smile.
“I think he knows,” Maida whispered, referring to Thranduil. “But he told me not to worry. He thinks Faye is trustworthy enough.”
That reassured Arwen greatly, for she had been concerned about the looks on Elrond and Glorfindel’s faces as they had left.
After a short while, Celebrían led them past Elrond’s study, and the instant Arwen heard Glorfindel’s voice inside, she stopped and approached the door, listening. Maida stopped with her. Distracted, neither Faye nor Celebrían seemed to notice, and walked off without pausing.
“That woman cannot be trusted,” Glorfindel was saying. “You all know my suspicions. The evidence for it is looking us in the face. Even now, I shutter to think that she is alone with Lady Celebrían and the children.”
“Faye has shown no aggression since being taken into custody,” Erestor stated firmly. “Although her story is suspicious, we cannot discount the fact that she saved Arwen’s life.”
“I agree with Erestor,” Thranduil added. “If she was hostile, she would have left Arwen to drown.”
“One dead fawn cannot fully support what you claim, Glorfindel.” Elrond’s voice seemed the most firm of all of them, and Arwen swallowed nervously. Something was going on.
“True, Master Elrond, one dead fawn does not,” Glorfindel agreed. There was a pause. “But a dead fawn drained of every last drop of blood is cause for caution.”
There was silence, and Arwen bit her lip. Clearly, the way the fawn had died had been a piece of information not revealed before now. She glanced at Maida, who also appeared nervous.
“And what of the attack?” Glorfindel continued. “We all heard Maida’s claims. She said the woman had pointed teeth.”
“But you yourself buried that woman,” Erestor replied.
There was another pause, this one longer.
“I had scouts check the grave,” Glorfindel finally said. “It was empty.”
Shocked silence. Arwen wanted to cry out, but she forced herself to remain silent. They knew about Faye, and none sounded happy. What were they going to do to her?
“I don’t think any of us wants to risk letting a vampire run loose in Rivendell,” Glorfindel finished quietly. “Especially one that seems to be attracted to the children.”
More silence. Arwen had long started trembling in fear. Maida reached out and grasped her hand.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered. “They can’t do anything to her. She saved your life.” She paused. “My uncle will take care of it.”
For a moment, Arwen’s spirits were lifted, but then Thranduil spoke, and she fell back down to earth again almost immediately.
“What do you propose be done, then?” he had said. “Vampires are not creatures you can hold against their will.” He stopped, and Arwen strained to hear him. “If you find one, you have to kill it.”
Arwen would have interrupted the meeting then. She would have dashed right inside and begged for Faye’s life. But Maida held her back, fear on her face. Even she was stunned at what her uncle had said, despite the fact that she liked Faye a lot less than Arwen did.
“We cannot do anything that drastic right away. We still don’t have concrete proof,” Elrond said, and Arwen held her breath. “She must be detained long enough to ascertain the truth.”
“How do we tell?” Erestor asked.
“Offer her blood,” Thranduil suggested. “Vampires feed solely on blood, and they need to feed frequently. If she’s a vampire, I can assure you she will react quite violently to it.”
Low murmurs of agreement. Both Arwen and Maida pressed themselves against the door, desperate to hear the rest.
“What do we do if she reacts?” Erestor asked.
“The only thing we can do,” Glorfindel replied. There was a low hiss of metal against leather. Glorfindel had unsheathed his sword. “We end it.”
Arwen gasped, her eyes growing wide. Gritting her teeth in terror, she turned to Maida.
“We have to warn her!” she hissed. “We have to tell her to run. . .”
Arwen didn’t get a chance to finish, for suddenly the door they were leaning against opened, spilling both girls down onto the floor. Erestor, who had opened the door, stumbled back in surprise. Arwen slowly stood and faced the gathered Elves, seeing the look on Elrond’s face turn from surprised to severe.
“Arwen, what are you doing?” he demanded.
“No!” Arwen cried, feeling a wave of courage well up in her. “No, you can’t do it! You can’t kill Faye! She saved me!”
“And before that, she attacked you,” Glorfindel said sternly.
“Arwen, Faye is a monster,” Elrond said, his tone cooling slightly. “One good deed cannot undo ages of killing.”
Tears started sliding down Arwen’s face as she tried to puzzle out what was being told to her. She didn’t understand. Faye had saved her life. Erestor, Glorfindel, Thranduil, and Elrond were making it sound like the heroic act meant nothing. Maida, who had remained close by, grasped her arm comfortingly. Looking into the stern, cold faces of the four Elves shattered Arwen’s courage, and she started to cry.
“You can’t do it,” Arwen sobbed. “It isn’t fair.”
Elrond’s expression could not remain stern in the face of his daughter’s tears. He embraced her, whispering gently to calm her. The others were quick to soften their expressions as well, and Thranduil came forward to pick up his niece. Glorfindel sighed, sheathing his sword.
“I guess Faye merits one chance to prove herself,” he admitted. “Arwen, she trusts you. You must get her to tell us everything. Once we have the full story, we can judge her accordingly.”
“I’ll try,” Arwen said meekly, wiping her tears away.
New hope had arisen in Arwen again. Her father was just. He would give Faye the time she needed to admit the truth. And she would help her any way she could.
Suddenly, just as they were starting to move off to find Faye, a loud, long, drawn-out screech echoed from outside. Elrond immediately turned and rushed to the balcony, for the sound had come from directly below it. Arwen, who was still in his arms, cried out when she saw what was happening below.
Celebrían and Faye were below, standing near a line of rose bushes. Celebrían was clutching her hand, and even from here Arwen could see the thin line of blood dripping from her palm. She appeared to be petrified, and for good reason, for Faye was rounding on her, her body stiff and tensed. Shrieks and animal growls were issuing from Faye’s throat as she paced back and forth, eyeing Celebrían like a wolf ready to pounce. Arwen knew, somehow, that Faye was doing just as Arwen feared she would do. She was smelling Celebrían’s blood.
And the blood was driving her mad.
“Faye, no!” Arwen screamed as Elrond put her down and dimly started barking orders. “No, don’t do it! Don’t hurt my Ammë!” She thought desperately, wondering how she was going to get Faye’s attention. “Ananyé! Ananyé! Please don’t hurt my Ananyé!”
Faye paused, glancing up at her. For a moment, their eyes met, and Arwen saw the woman that had attacked her, the wraith. Only the wraith hadn’t had the strength to finish her deadly work.
But Faye did.
And there was nothing Arwen could do to stop her.