Author's Notes: You know, I'm not even going to apologize because there really isn't anything I did wrong. I was just lazy. All of you could just thank Naomi Maxwell for kicking and prodding and generally threatening me to write this monster...er, fanfic.
Rich diamond and pearl and gold
In every place was seen.
Rare splendors: yellow, blue, red, white and green
Mine eyes did everywhere behold.
—Wonder, Thomas Traherne
CHAPTER THREE – Caras Galadhon
Katie walked along the road paved with white stones with the rest of the company. The mellyrn trees' golden leaves swayed with the breeze and the stars that always seemed so cold and distant to her twinkled at Katie merrily, as if to prove to her that they weren't so unreachable after all.
"Merry," said Pippin slowly, "it is January is it not?"
"Yes," Merry replied easily. "Did you fall off the tree while the rest of us were sleeping? If so, then the drop seemed to have messed with your head."
"I did not fall down the tree!" said Pippin indignantly. "I was just wondering why the leaves are gold and are still on the trees."
Katie blinked. It was winter here? She thought it was still autumn! Looking at the forest with new eyes, she beheld the trees with even more wonder.
To a girl who grew up at the northern parts of the world and attended a school in Scotland for nearly eight years, the surroundings did not reflect the usual things Katie always associated with winter. To say that she was astonished would be an understatement.
The girl suddenly wondered if winters here were like this, how breathtaking would the surroundings be if it was spring?
The company had finally reached a white bridge and beheld the gates of the city. It was great, set between the ends of the encircling wall and it was tall and strong and hung with many lamps.
Haldir knocked and spoke, and the gates opened soundlessly. Katie looked around to see who opened the gates, but found nobody. As the company walked in, she looked back as the gates swung shut. She frowned in concentration, trying to figure out the puzzle.
Giving up on the conundrum, she heaved a sigh of frustration. Maybe it's just magic, thought Katie.
While she was figuring out the puzzle, Katie lagged behind the main group. As she hurried to catch up with them, Katie looked above and almost forgot to walk. Her breath caught on her throat: the Elven-city was beautiful!
Great platforms there were on top of the magnificent mellyrn, and silver and golden globes of light hung on the rails of the stairs they were climbing. Katie could hear the sound of fair speech above and around them, and the reverberating tones of musical voices singing filled the air. It was so harmonious that Katie almost wept from the beauty of it all.
The company went along many paths and climbed many stairs until they came to the high places and saw a fountain on the lawn before them, lit by silver lamps. On the south side of the lawn there stood the greatest and mightiest mallorn Katie has ever seen. Beside it a broad white ladder stood, with three elves clad in white cloaks sitting at its feet. They stood up; Katie saw that they were tall, and wore gray mail underneath their cloaks.
"Here dwell Celeborn and Galadriel," said Haldir, "it is their wish that you would speak with them."
One of the Elf-wardens spoke: "The Lord Celeborn had a pavilion spread out for the company and bids the girl, Katie Bell, to rest there while the Eight Walkers converse with the Lord and Lady." He nodded to an Elf-maiden Katie didn't notice earlier and was whisked away from the rest of her companions.
She suddenly felt a jolt of fear. This was the first time she was separated from the others since she woke up, and though she did not know them very well, they were at least familiar. The Elf beside her, however, was not.
As the pair walked away from the Eight Walkers and the wardens, Katie heard the clear note of a horn and three answering toots from afar. With a sinking heart, she followed her guide's lead and wondered what Alicia, the twins and Lee were doing.
Fred and George — along with their friend Lee — were in their private niche in the dungeons. The twins were experimenting with a potion to turn the person who drank it to look like Gwindelona Warwick, the new singer idolized by rebellious witches everywhere. Lee was there to chop up the ingredients for them, as the potion needed the twins' complete concentration.
After the twenty-fifth explosion and forty-third failure, Professor Snape strode inside the workroom and loomed over the three Gryffindors. "You are disrupting my weekend," he drawled, peering over their shoulders. "What, pray tell, is so important about that potion that even numerous failures do not deter you from perfecting it?" Glancing at the cauldron, he added, "The powdered yarrow needs to be stirred in now."
As the twins scrambled to add the ingredient and stir the potion, Lee Jordan grinned cheekily at his professor. "Alicia mentioned that she absolutely adored Gwindelona Warwick's unique eyebrows and cheekbones, so we're helping her achieve Ms. Warwick's absolutely stunning good looks."
Professor Snape snorted; he had seen hags prettier than Gwindelona Warwick. "You may continue as long as you strengthen your Muffling Charms and not use that on my Slytherins. I'd know exactly who spiked their drinks if my students suddenly look like that woman — though 'woman' might be giving Ms. Warwick too much justice." With that, Hogwarts' Potions Master pivoted and exited the room with an impressive swirl of his robes.
The three teenagers snickered and continued their work, not knowing that a very worried Alicia Spinnet was looking for them.
Alicia was very, very frustrated. Not only was Katie missing, the twins and Lee suddenly decided to experiment on something regarding their pranks. Even after almost eight years of having them as her year mates and friends, she still hadn't found their hiding place. The only place she hadn't searched in yet was the dungeons, which was why she was heading down there.
After hunting for her wayward friends for almost an hour, she saw Professor Snape walk out of a nondescript door. Curiosity piqued, Alicia waited a while before cautiously opening the door.
She gasped, quickly entered the room and shut the door. "Lee Jordan! Fred Weasley! What are you two doing here? And is that you, George? Seriously, the Gwindelona Warwick-look is simply awful on you!"
"I am seriously wounded, my dear Alicia!" cried George, striking an injured pose. "The Warwick-look is very stunning on me!"
Alicia snorted a very unladylike snort. "And I'm heir apparent to the kingdom of Gas'd'fadjah in the planet Y'rgafunergh," she said dryly. Suddenly shaking off her jovial mood, she asked the three boys grimly, "Have you seen Katie?"
The twins and Lee looked at each other. "Nope," they chorused. Then, concerned, Lee said, "Why, she hadn't gone up from detention yet?"
"No," said Alicia, shaking her head. "I think you should ask Snape if he remembered what time Katie left detention," she added.
"Why us?" the boys yelped.
With a long-suffering air of somebody used to talking to idiots, Alicia replied: "Well, you have a sort of truce with him, don't you?"
Katie sighed as she stretched out on a divan. It was as comfortable as her four-poster bed in the Gryffindor Tower; the mattress was neither too hard nor too soft and the feeling of pillows cushioning her felt like heaven.
Listening to the sound of fair voices singing, Katie fell into a half-asleep state and dreamily saw images of calm mountains and luscious green leaves dancing in front of her eyes. She could see her cousins meeting the Weasley twins for the first time, squeaking in surprise as Cousin Hera unexpectedly turned into a frog. She also saw Alicia berating Lee and her for not arriving at The Leaky Cauldron earlier.
Suddenly, Katie didn't mind that she was separated from the rest of her companions — she could certainly see them again tomorrow — and Alicia, Lee and the twins were the last things on her mind as she drifted off to sleep.