Hey everyone! This story is one I've had on my mind for quite some time now and I wanted to share it you all! I've been rewriting and editing some of my other stories and plan to bring each one to a conclusion. That being said, going through some old stories has inspired me to begin this one and I hope you all find it entertaining!
Please leave some reviews or thoughts and let me know if there are glaring mistakes or grammatical errors, I seem to miss some even when I proof read several times.
That's all for now, so please enjoy this new little creation of mine!
"Adeena, slow down!" Elladan's voice called from behind me. I glanced over my shoulder to see Lord Elrond's twin sons, Elladan and Elrohir, galloping furiously on their steeds behind me. I laughed at the determined looks on their faces and willed my horse to go even faster. I closed my eyes and let the wind whip my hair around in the light of the afternoon sun, enjoying the closest thing I had ever experienced to flying.
For miles we raced each other, each vying for the lead, but their horses were nothing compared to mine. Father had made sure of that. Imladris' fastest horse was a birthday gift from my father many years ago, and I loved this stallion dearly. He went with me on each and every trip and always knew the way home, even when I didn't. Right now it seemed he was just as excited to be home as I was, especially since we had been away for nearly two months this time, the longest I had ever been away from home.
Elladan and Elrohir were with me however, father never left me unattended, and we spent the last couple months tracking orcs and surveying the landscape so that Lord Elrond could update his maps. Or at least that's what they told me. Father had this nasty habit of sending me away when visitors came to Imladris, always making excuses and saying he didn't trust whoever was coming, and then he would send me with Lindir or the twins or even take me away himself when he wasn't too busy. I got used to it eventually, but it also made my life fairly mundane, what with never meeting new people and missing all the fancy parties Lord Elrond threw when dignitaries came to visit.
If I counted the days correctly, my birthday was two days from today, meaning father most definitely had something exciting in store. He never missed a single birthday for nearly two centuries, and he had been hinting that his surprise for me this year would be one of 'life-altering proportions' for my 200th year. I think I knew what he meant by that.
I had been asking for decades now to be able to travel outside of Imladris on my own, to explore all Middle Earth had to offer, to meet humans and dwarves and other elves alike. I was so tired of being cooped up here and only allowed to traverse the lands close by, tired of the same faces and the same animals and the same shrubbery that I saw every day. Perhaps this year was the year that he finally let go of the reins and let me do what I wanted to do and be who I wanted to be.
"Adeena!" Elrohir called this time, finally catching up to me and pulling his horse up alongside me as I reluctantly slowed to a canter. Elladan rode up next to me on my right and Elrohir was on my left, each of them with pouty looks of displeasure on their face. They knew they could only catch up if I allowed them to, and I was too caught up in my thoughts to realize I had slowed down considerably.
"Please do not do that again, Adeena," Elrohir sighed, ever the responsible and level-headed brother. "You know your father would kill us if they saw you approaching the gates by yourself." I rolled my eyes at the elf beside me. Elrohir always overreacted when it came to my safety. Elladan was the one who would get in trouble with me when I was just an elfling, but his brother was the one who took the job of protecting me much too seriously. I think it was because he revered and respected my father more than his brother did.
"You worry too much, Elrohir," I chuckled as we trotted closer to the gates of Imladris, the smell of the rivers and beautiful flowers drifting on the wind.
"And you do not worry enough, Lady Adeena," he said with a haughty smirk, knowing I didn't like when others used my official title.
"Must you always have such a responsible stick up your ass, Elrohir?" I asked lazily, drawing a chuckle from Elladan and a scoff from his twin.
"You know how dangerous it is for you to be alone out here. If something were to happen, if you were to get injured-"
"Yes, yes I know, the world itself would shatter into a million pieces and we would all die in a fiery explosion," I interrupted. I had heard this lecture a thousand times from father, I didn't need to hear it again from Elrohir. "And I wasn't alone, I have you two here, remember?"
"Brother, she was just having a bit of fun, no harm done." Elladan said simply, casting a smile over to me. I gave him a grateful one back, happy that he was here to alleviate some of the tension. I could tell that Elrohir wasn't done arguing, but we had finally reached the front gates and that meant that the argument was officially over for the time being.
We waved up at the tower guards and they waved back, signaling to us that they were opening the gates. The three of us waited patiently as the heavy gates slowly opened and we trotted our horses inside. Being home again felt like both a relief and an annoyance, as if it were a place to relax in my own bed and enjoy a hot bath, but that bed and that bath were both part of a gilded cage from which I could never escape.
"Lady Adeena, Lords Elrohir and Elladan, welcome home. Lord Elrond wishes to speak with the three of you in his study," Lindir greeted us in his very official manner. I nodded to him in understanding and steered my horse toward the stables, the twins following my lead. When I reached the stable I dismounted and lead my beautiful black stallion to his stall at the back of the little building. The smell of fresh hay and horse manure greeted us as we hefted the saddles off of our steeds and left them to be cared for by the stable hands.
The sound of laughter drew my attention and I glanced out the sole window of the stable, spotting a group of unfamiliar children and men in the courtyard, practicing their swordsmanship. I furrowed my brow as I studied them, thinking one of them looked familiar, and it was only when he turned to face me that I spotted the rugged and handsome features of a certain ranger.
"Estel!" I gasped happily and darted down the aisle of the stable to go greet him. My progress was halted, however, by Elrohir and Elladan, both of whom stepped into the aisle to block my exit.
"What are you doing? Estel has returned, don't you want to go greet him with me?" I asked in confusion, pointing out the window for emphasis. Both brothers looked at each other for a quick moment and then back to me before shaking their heads.
"Father wants to see all three of us," Elrohir stated firmly. "You can see Estel later." I furrowed my brows at them, not sure what to make of their united front. They were twins, no one could dispute that, but it was very rare that they both had the same goal and worked together to attain it. I remember how they used to argue when I was just an elfling about the correct way to brush my hair.
"Okay then," I said hesitantly, and followed their lead as they exited the stables. I looked over to where I had seen the group of people training, spotting the white-blonde hair of an elf and the bright red hair of what looked like a very short and portly man. There were four or five smaller children it seemed too, and another man about the same height as Estel. I had never seen so many new people in Imladris! Perhaps Estel would introduce me to his companions after this meeting with Lord Elrond was over.
We made our way through the winding stone corridors of the main halls and finally came to the large wooden doors of Lord Elrond's study. Elrohir knocked firmly on the door and opened it once a voice inside permitted their entry.
"Father!" I chirped happily as I spotted him standing a few feet to Lord Elrond's left and threw myself into his waiting embrace. I hugged him tightly and laughed as I felt him lift me slightly from the floor.
"Welcome home, Ilmarë," Glorfindel said softly as he set my feet on the floor once again. He didn't smile very often, but when he looked at me I could tell that the corners of his lips were turned up into a small smile and his eyes shone with the love of a father. Many thought that he was a cold and calculating elf, a warrior that never let go of the battlefield, but I saw a doting father who was always concerned with the safety and happiness of his only daughter. I looked around and saw Lord Elrond a few feet away and embraced him after he greeted his own two sons.
"Lord Elrond," I said with a smile and felt the arms of the elf lord wrap around me in a hug before he released me with a soft smile of his own.
"Lady Adeena, I am glad to see you home safely," he said with a bow of his head.
"As am I," A gravelly voice from the other side of the room said. I whipped around so fast my long, brown hair obscured my vision for a split second before I spotted the tall figure clad in gray robes and a gray, pointed hat.
"Gandalf!" I cheered excitedly and quickly crossed the room to embrace the old wizard who had become a grandfather figure of sorts to me.
"Hello, my dear," he said, his crystal blue eyes shining and his beard lifting as he smiled down at me.
"What are you doing here? I thought it would be at least a few more years before we saw you again," I looked up at the wizard, watching as he produced his long pipe from the sleeve of his robes and lit it quickly, a habit he had developed when he would rather let someone else do the talking.
"That is the purpose of this meeting, to discuss recent events that carry significant weight for each of us here in this room," Lord Elrond stated, taking his seat behind his desk. "Things have been set in motion which we cannot ignore, nor should we, and Gandalf and his companions have travelled here to seek refuge. A few days prior to your return, a fellowship was formed to see through that which holds all our lives in the balance."
"Father?" Elladan asked with a furrowed brow.
"We are afraid the dark lord Sauron has returned. It is the aim of the fellowship to destroy the One Ring by casting it into the fiery depths of Mount Doom. My sons, you will help train the halflings and make sure they are prepared for their journey. They leave in three days' time."
"Yes, father," both brothers said at once, bowing respectfully. Lord Elrond nodded to them before glancing over to me, a hint of a smile now pulling at the corner of his mouth.
I waited patiently for him to give me a task, something important to do or something to kill some time before this fellowship left on their epic journey.
"I believe a certain elleth's 200th birthday draws nigh, does it not?" he asked with a smirk, causing me to chuckle and nod my head excitedly. "Despite all the depressing news and talk of dangerous quests, we have some good news to share with you, my dear. A gift, for your 200th year." My heart hammered in my chest as I watched Lord Elrond open a drawer in his desk and retrieve a piece of parchment, holding it out for me to take. I smiled ear to ear and dashed forward to take the piece of paper, unrolling it and reading the contents aloud.
"Lord Glorfindel, after due consideration, I hereby accept the honorable and most gracious offer of your daughter's hand in marriage..." I trailed off when I read that last word, feeling my heart stop cold and the world around me slow to a halt. I looked up at the smiling face of Lord Elrond and the content face of my father, the piece of parchment shaking slightly in my hand.
"Father, I- I don't understand. What is this?" I said softly, hoping that this was a dream I would soon wake from. I studied his eyes, hoping to see that little sparkle they held when he was jesting or playing a trick on me, but I didn't see it.
"The marchwarden of Lothlórien has accepted your hand in marriage," Glorfindel stated simply. "An envoy will arrive in five days to escort you to Lothlórien. It is time, Adeena, that you settled down and began a family of your own. You are an elfling no longer and gone are the days of gallivanting through the woods. Haldir is an ellon of nobility and he will protect you and be a fine husband to you, it is a very respectable match."
"But, father, I don't even-"
"This is not up for discussion, Adeena. An agreement has been reached and my mind will not be swayed. A few months and you will be the wife of the marchwarden." I looked behind me at Elladan and Elrohir, both of which were looking anywhere but at me. Elrohir's hands were clasped tightly behind his back as he studied the toes of his boots, and Elladan had his arms crossed over his chest and he admired the tiles of the floor.
"Did you two know about this?" I asked, my voice trembling slightly as a frustrated tear escaped down my cheek.
"We thought you'd be excited," Elrohir said lamely while his brother kicked at the floor and remained silent.
"Excited? Excited?!" I nearly shouted, slamming the piece of parchment to the floor. "You thought it would be exciting for me to be sold like a cow to the highest bidder? To be shipped off to live with some strange ellon I've never met?"
"Adeena, please curb the dramatics," Glorfindel sighed, looking down at me with a look of disapproval. "This agreement has been months in the making and you will not find a more loyal and devoted husband than the marchwarden."
"So that's why you sent me away again," I smiled sarcastically, folding my arms over my chest. "You wanted me out of the way so that you could broker a deal to get rid of me."
"Stop this foolishness at once, Adeena," Glorfindel's voice rose an octave as he stared down at me with a disappointed look. "I know what is best for you. And what is best is for you to be married to someone who can give you the life you deserve and protect you from harm."
"I don't want to be protected from harm!" I shouted, tears flowing full force now down my cheeks. "I don't want to be married! I don't even know this marchwarden! I just want to be free to do what I want to do and explore the world. I'm tired of being cooped up like a little bird in a cage! Father please, reconsider. Tell Haldir you made a mistake, that I'm not ready to marry, tell him anything, just please don't do this," I sobbed, looking up at him with tearful eyes.
"My mind is made up," he said firmly, not meeting my eyes, because he knew if he did he would not be able to say no to me. I stood there, chest heaving and eyes blurred with tears, not able to speak another word around the lump in my throat. I couldn't stand to look at any of them anymore, these people who had been my family and were now bartering me away, so I turned on my heel and pushed past the twins, slamming the door to the study as I left. I walked a few paces down the hall before I started running. I ran as fast as I could to the opposite wing where my room was. I didn't know what to do with all this anger, all I knew was that I needed to find a quiet place by myself. Lord Elrond always said that I had a temper like my father's when he was young, but the difference between us was that young ellons could relieve their anger in a sparring match or by punching a tree. Elleths always must remain cool and proper, even when they were angry or depressed or distraught, and that never sat well with me.
When I made it to my chambers, I flung the doors wide and marched straight to the tub on the far side of the room. I stripped off all my clothes and climbed into the large basin, grabbing the bucket of cold water resting on the table next to it. I scrubbed angrily at my skin, watching the dirt mix with the cool water and slide off of my body. Then I proceeded to wash my hair as best I could in the little bucket before I heard a knock at my door.
"Go away!" I yelled, but my voice broke as I did so. The door opened slightly and the head of Elladan and Elrohir's sister, Arwen, poked through the opening. She gave me a sad and knowing smile, sliding into the room and holding two more buckets of warm water. She approached the tub and grabbed a comb before starting to drag it through my long, chestnut locks. She was like a sister to me and she always made sure that I looked my best or had someone to talk to when I was upset.
"I heard the yelling," she said softly, massaging some soap into my hair.
"So you know that they're marrying me off to the marchwarden then," I said glumly, swiping at the tear that trickled down my cheek.
"I know," she said softly. She always knew the right thing to say, even when I didn't want to hear it. She was a shoulder to cry on and a confidant, someone I was lucky to have in my life. She didn't speak as she dumped the bucket of warm water over my head to rinse out the soap.
"I figured you'd want a warm bath once you returned and I was hoping to have a few more buckets brought up before you got here," she smiled, pouring the last bucket of water over me and grabbing a fresh towel from the side table. She held it out for me as I clambered out of the tub, thanking her quietly as she wrapped me in the towel like a little elfling.
"I can't do it, Arwen," I said finally, all my energy sapped from the yelling I had just done. "I don't even know him!"
"I know, Adeena, it isn't fair," she reassured me as she steered me to my vanity, taking a silver brush in hand and beginning the arduous task of brushing out my long hair. Everyone always commented on how different my hair looked from my fathers, his being a pin-straight, silvery blonde and mine a dark, chocolate brown with thick waves and loose curls. Some even suggested I might have been Lord Elrond's daughter and not Glorfindel's, but the similarities of our features put those rumors to rest.
"Maybe you'll grow to love him, like I love Estel," she suggested, her gentle smile in the mirror one of hope. I shook my head, looking down to study my fingernails as I spoke.
"Nothing could ever come close to the love you two have for each other," I sighed, picking at my nails. Arwen swatted my hands and set the brush back on the vanity before gliding over to the dresser. She was always the picture of grace and I admired that about her.
"You never know what the Valar have in store for you," she said simply, shuffling through my dresses and pulling out a deep scarlet dress and matching slippers and laying them on my bed.
"Your father loves you very much, you know. And he would do anything to keep you safe." I huffed and rolled my eyes at her response.
"Then why is he doing this?"
"Maybe it's the only way he knows how to keep you safe when he can't be there with you," she explained thoughtfully, coaxing me to stand and guiding me toward the bed. She took the towel from me and helped me slip into the soft silk of the dress she had picked out.
"I've always loved this color on you, Adeena. It compliments your hair and eyes so well," she sighed happily, tying the laces in the back. "This will be your first dinner with the fellowship, and I'm sure you'll love meeting the little hobbits. They are such a lively bunch."
"I'm not sure I want to go to dinner. I think I'd rather just go to bed early and forget today ever happened," I groaned.
"Nonsense." Arwen tugged the final laces closed and turned me around to face her. "You always complain about never being able to meet new people, well now there are seven new people you have yet to meet and they are all in the dining hall waiting for you." She pulled me back over to the vanity, picking up a few hairpins with little pearls on the ends and pulled my hair over my shoulders. She pinned back the sides so that you could see my face clearly and my long, now-dry curls hung beautifully down my back.
"There," she said, satisfied with her work. "Now let's go down to the dining hall, have a nice dinner, and then you can come back up here and sulk for as long as you want." She took my hand in hers and pulled me out the door once I had slipped my shoes on, eager I'd imagine to spend as much time as she could with Estel before he left again. I allowed her to pull me along behind her, down the corridors and around corners until we finally came to the dining hall. She dropped my hand and turned to me, an encouraging smile on her face.
"Take as much time as you need, but just know I'll be there and so will Estel and we'll help you avoid any interaction with either your father or mine," she assured me. I nodded numbly to her and watched her open the doors and let herself in, leaving me alone in the hallway. I stood there for a few minutes, deciding if it was too late to run back up to my room or not, but eventually the growling of my stomach made the decision for me.
I took a deep breath and opened the heavy wooden doors, entering the dinning hall and spotting an open seat on the left side of Estel. The long table in the middle of the room had almost all of its seats filled and there was a clear dichotomy in the seating arrangement. Lord Elrond was in his usual place at the head of the table, Glorfindel and his sons seated around him, and the typical empty seat next to Glorfindel that I was always expected to fill. The new faces all seemed to be congregated at the other end of the table and I just knew that Arwen had made certain that I would have a seat either next to her or Estel for comfort. The chatter seemed to stop as I walked across the room, all eyes turned to me and I blushed heavily as I walked around the large table, careful not to make eye contact with Lord Elrond, his two sons, or my father at the far end.
"Adeena," Estel smiled brightly at me and stood to embrace me when I reached his side. I felt an involuntary smile grace my lips and hugged the ranger tightly.
"Estel," I said quietly. "I'm so glad to see you again." He grinned and pulled my seat out for me and I took the seat gratefully with as best a smile I could muster.
"Everyone, this is the Lady Adeena," he announced to those around us, all of whom either said hello or waved at me. I blushed slightly and waved back, not knowing who to look at since there were so many new faces.
"Adeena, this is Gimli, son of Glóin," Estel said and pointed to the red-haired dwarf across the table. He had a very large beard and deep-set eyes hooded by thick, red, bushy eyebrows.
"Hello, Gimli. It's a pleasure to meet you," I said sweetly, trying to be as polite as possible. I knew that elves and dwarves seldom got along, so I tried my very best to not further that kind of interaction.
"Aye, lass, to you as well," he said gruffly, his long red beard bouncing up and down with every move of his mouth.
"And this is Boromir, warrior of Gondor and son to its steward," Estel continued, pointing to the the sandy-haired man seated to Gimli's right.
"A pleasure, Lady Adeena," Boromir said in a confident and suave voice, a handsome smile on his lips. He looked exactly like how I had envisioned the typical human man, all broad shoulders and rugged features, not unlike Estel, although he had a much more refined disposition to set him apart.
"The pleasure is mine," I responded cordially. Next to Boromir sat two smaller people, and there were two more across from them at the end of the table.
"Down there is Pip, Merry, Sam, and Frodo. They are hobbits from the Shire." Each of the hobbits stood when their name was called and either waved, or in Pip's case, made an attempt at an elegant bow with lots of flourishes. I chuckled at their antics and waved to them.
"Nice to meet you all," I said happily, feeling a bit better now than I had an hour ago.
"And this is one of my dearest friends, Legolas Thranduilion, Prince of the Woodland realm," Estel gestured to the figure on my left and I turned to face a blonde ellon with deep, ice-blue eyes.
"Lady Adeena," he said smoothly, taking my hand and pressing a warm kiss to my knuckles, all the while never breaking eye contact. I felt my heart speed up a little as I studied the handsome elf beside me. He had hair the same shade as father, but his eyes were far more kind. He had broad shoulders and a muscular build from what I could tell, but not as broad as the man from Gondor. He had a chiseled jaw and handsome features, the kind that could make any elleth melt into a puddle at his feet.
"Nice, um, nice to meet you, Prince Legolas," I said quickly, almost forgetting how to respond entirely. It wasn't everyday that a strikingly handsome elf appeared in Imladris, and the prince of the Woodland realm no less.
"I find it strange that this is our first meeting. I visit Imladris once every few years and have never met you until now," he said as he picked up his glass of wine and took a small sip. I did the same, relishing in the slight burn of the alcohol, and set the goblet down again.
"Well then you must have visited while I had been away. Otherwise I'm sure I would have remembered meeting you," I said with innocent smile. Elladan and Elrohir knew all of my tricks, having seen me use them on any handsome ellon that came my way, and they would certainly disapprove of this interaction. But could you blame me? 200 years in the same place tended to get boring, and male company was hard to come by when you knew every ellon in the entire city. The twins had been off the table from the very start since they helped raise me from an elfling, making them brothers in my eyes, but the same could not be said for some of the other eligible ellons. The fire halls were famous for being the place where most young elves mingled and had romantic encounters, and I was no different. Imladris was a bit different from other elf cities in that it did not frown upon romance between unmarried individuals as much as the other elven cities.
A time or two I had been known to bat my eyes at an attractive ellon, share a few passionate kisses, maybe even a little more, before moving on the the next one. Gandalf had been the one to inform me that my father was not very different from me at my age either. Apparently he was quite the charmer when he was young, before the battlefields hardened him into the reserved elf he was today.
"I heard congratulations are in order," Estel finally said after clearing his throat, pulling me from my thoughts and drawing the attention of everyone at our end of the table.
"Darling, don't-" Arwen tried to stop him, but it was too late now.
"Who would have thought the most spirited and bull-headed elleth would finally settle down to be married?" he said with a smile, holding his glass of wine up to as if to toast to the 'good news'. I felt tears instantly spring to my eyes and I scooted my chair back roughly as I stood up from the table.
"Excuse me," I said shakily and dashed to the door as quickly as I could, not heading for my room this time, but the gardens. I ran down the steps leading into the courtyard and across the grass to the large willow tree that stood on the far side of the grounds. I felt both shoes slip from my feet as I ran, but I couldn't care less about them at the moment. Dinner was going just fine, and I was actually stating feel much better and enjoy myself, until he reminded me of my impending marriage to this 'Haldir'.
When I finally made it to the large willow I collapsed at the foot of the tree, a heart-wrenching sob escaping from my throat. I slammed my fists against the trunk of the tree and let out a scream of anger. I screamed so loud it made my throat raw and I fell onto my side in the grass, crying hot and salty tears.
There was no way I'd be leaving with that envoy in five days. I would pack up and run away before they arrived if I had to. Why couldn't father see that what I craved was adventure? That I needed to be away from this place and do things my way for once? But no, little Adeena always had to be protected, heaven forbid anyone find out what she truly was. That was father's worst fear, that if someone discovered my secret, my 'condition' they called it, then all hell would break loose and I would be kidnapped or killed in the forthcoming.
Elladan, Elrohir and Arwen knew, and they never treated me any differently, something Father never seemed to remember during our arguments. He had even trained me in combat with a sword and daggers to protect myself should anything happen. If anything, he was preparing me for the outside world, not grooming me to live inside this gilded cage. And by the way, I was 200 years old now, he couldn't just trade me like property! If I didn't want to marry someone, I didn't have to. Who cares if there was an 'agreement', my happiness should mean more to him than that.
"Addy?" a man's voice called from the far side of the garden, making me swipe the tears from my cheeks and sit up against the tree trunk. Eventually the large form of Estel peeked around some bushes and he spotted me under the willow.
"Addy, I'm sorry. I didn't know you were upset about the arrangements. Arwen told me about your conversation after you left, and I wish there was something I could do," he said softly, plopping down on the grass beside me.
"There's nothing anyone can do now, no one but father, and he says his mind is made up," I sniffed. He draped an arm around my shoulder and pulled me closer to him, letting my head rest on his shoulder.
"You know your father just wants to protect you, in any way he knows how. Maybe this is the only option he can see," he suggested. Oh, and Estel also knew about me, bringing the grand total to seven people besides myself. The only reason Estel knew was because I had fallen out of a tree when he was a child and I was much younger than I am now, slicing my arm open on a sharp twig on my way down.
"But what if this marchwarden finds out about me and decides he doesn't like me anymore? What then?" I asked, knowing this was a very real possibility, and he knew it as well.
"I know Haldir personally, and I can assure you that he is a very understanding elf, your father wouldn't have chosen him if he doubted him." I nodded numbly, listening to the man I had watched grow from a child to a man, he was certainly wise beyond his years. We sat in a comfortable silence for a while, neither of us needing to say anything else, just enjoying the company and admiring the stars. It was maybe an hour before he finally stood up, reaching a hand down to me, and lifting me from the grass. I brushed some of the dirt off my dress as he lead us back toward the main halls. I took this as his way of saying it was time to go to bed. That, or it was his time to be alone with Arwen and he wanted me to go to bed so he could sneak off to see her.
He walked me to my room and pulled me into a strong embrace, planting a kiss softly in my hair.
"Sleep well, Adeena. I'll see you in the morning for breakfast," he smiled at me and I gave him one back, although I suspect his was much more sincere than mine.
Ilmarë = Starlight (Sindarin)