Hello!

To those of you that have been reading my other story: I've kind of hit a bump in the road with that. I don't know where to go with it. I have ideas, but not for the next chapter. So I'm doing this little story that's been tugging at my mind for a bit now.

Disclaimer: I don't own Lord of the Rings. At least, I don't think I do. I wish I did, though.

'Oh no!' said Treebeard. 'None have died from the inside, as you might say. Some have fallen in the evil chances of the long years, of course, and more have grown tree-ish.' -from The Two Towers, chapter four- Treebeard.

~*~

Ellen looked up at the tall tree standing by the little stream. In all of her seven-and-a-half years, she hadn't been able to climb this one yet. There were no proper branches close enough for her to reach. It was going to be a challenge.

Of course, Mama didn't want her to climb trees anymore, not with her experience of falls and injuries. But that just went ahead and added another challenge to the whole deal: the challenge of not getting caught.

Gritting her teeth, which was hard to do, as they were rather loose and wiggly, Ellen stepped up to the roots of the tree and felt the bark for a good handhold. She found a little crevice that she could squeeze her fingers into and a good stub for her foot. Hoisting herself up, her agile fingers flew over the surface of the trunk, looking for another crack.

As she traveled higher, Ellen noticed a difference about this tree that she had not seen before in other trees. When she reached the branches, her hair didn't snag in them like it usually did. Normally when she climbed, her tightly wound red curls would get caught on twigs and branches. Sometimes that was her fault, because she had moved her head against a bough and it had tangled itself with the sticks and leaves. But other times, the branches almost seemed to move themselves, tugging her hair like the mean classmates at her school.

One such incident with the mobile trees had left her with a cut and a black eye.

~*~

Ellen had been walking through the trees on a previously unexplored route when a great gust of wind swept along and blew her hair into a gnarled branch that was level with her head. Somehow, her hair had gotten tangled in a very strange way amongst the branches. It looked as if a small hand of twigs was holding on to a clump of her curls. After a few minutes later, she had untangled most of her hair, but was too impatient to do the rest. She clenched the strands of hair in one fist and pushed the offending branch away with the other hand, freeing the trapped lock. Her head smarted a little, as some of the strands had been pulled out. Just as she was about to turn away, the branch whipped back at her and struck her across the face on its own accord. A cluster of acorns caught her in the eye, and the twigs raked her face with shallow scratches.

When Ellen sat up (for the force of the blow had knocked her over), she was sobbing and clutching her at the left side of her face while staring fearfully at the branch with her good eye. Through her tears, she could have sworn that she saw the twigs curl up into little fists around her torn- out hair. The branch swayed menacingly and took another swipe at her. She shrieked and ran home as fast as she could. Her mother had attempted to soothe her, but to no avail.

"Shh, shh, shh, it's okay sweetie, mummy's here. Let me see your face. That's it."

Ellen had reluctantly surrendered her face for closer inspection, still sniffling a little. "B-but mommy," she had stuttered, "the tree was alive! It moved by i'self!"

"Honey," crooned her mother as she applied antiseptic to Ellen's cheek, "trees are living things, yes, but they can't move by themselves. You know that."

"Alive?" Ellen paled visibly. "They are alive? Really?"

"No no no," said her mother quickly, realizing what she had implied. "That's not what I-" But it was too late. The idea had fixed its self in her head. Ellen's mother had condemned herself to nights and nights of waking up from Ellen screaming from nightmares of giant walking trees that tapped at her window at night, reaching with long branches.

~*~

But Ellen had soon gotten over that, her urge to climb the trees overpowering some nighttime fear.

She still kept away from that tree, though.

At the top of this tree, Ellen couldn't see over the other tree tops, but she did like to look at the little white buds of small flowers that were about to bloom. There were also little orange-red berries. She was very tempted to eat them, but her mother had told her not to eat berries that she found in the forest. But there was something very familiar about this tree. Something about what she had seen in a book. What was it? Was it the name of this tree?

"R-" she sounded, trying to think. "Row- rown, rowa- Rowan!" she said triumphantly. "Rowan tree!"

Proud with her success, she decided to take a birds-eye view of the stream. She crawled out to the end of a branch, which was spread out like a hand with surplus fingers, and looked down. It was very pretty. She stared at it, wondering how deep it was. Probably not too deep at all. Ellen fished into her pocket to see what she could drop into it. Bits of string, candy wrapper, smushed chocolate bar (she crammed that into her mouth), aha! A marble!

She threw the marble down at the water as hard as she could. It made a surprisingly sizable splash for a little marble, and she was amazed to see that the droplets that landed on the banks didn't slide down the blades of grass and sink into the ground. They lay there, glistening, like little colored beads.

"Wow," she whispered. She leaned over as far as she could, staring at the drops. "Sparkly!" Ellen giggled, and then sat back up. She swung herself upside down and dangled by her legs, shrieking with laughter at how the world looked topsy-turvy, and at how, when hanging there, at the top of the tree it looked astonishingly like an upside-down face. She hung there for a while, and it was only after she felt her head pounding from the blood rushing down that she thought that she should get up and get down. The problem was getting up.

At first she struggled to reach the branch and find a hold to get back up, but that made her swing back and forth, which scared her very much. She hung there for a little more, before beginning to contemplate taking one leg off and then trying to swing herself up. That thought scared her even more than swinging back and forth. But she figured, as the pounding feeling in her head escalated to a full-blown headache, that it might work.

Unfortunately for her, she didn't have a grasp of Newton's laws concerning gravity. And, even more unfortunate for her, she had never had her legs this numb before. Under normal circumstances, with her legs with full feeling, it would have been hard for her to pull off at best. But now, with absolutely no feeling below her knees, it wasn't a possibility.

"AAAIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!" She screeched as she fell from her precarious perch. Falling headfirst at the ground, she had no chance of survival whatsoever.

But, luckily for her, her antics on the branch and her loud screech had woken up the creature that caught her. Of course, that frightened her just as much as falling, as the large limb of the tree she had been climbing swooped down and caught her halfway to the ground.

"MAMA!" she screamed, as she stared into the face of the "tree". "MOMMY! THE TREES ARE ALIVE! LEMME GO! PLEASE!"

The creature holding her let out a small "hoom" and brought her closer to its face. Ellen went silent, and quaking with terror.

"Hmm," it said slowly, looking her directly in the face. "Hmm, yes, you look familiar to me."

Ellen let out a little squeak, then strengthened her resolve a little. "Whoaryou?" She looked it in the eyes and was surprised to see that it did not have that malicious air to it that the trees that pulled her hair did.

"Hm, you are quite like them," it said, as if it didn't hear her. "But they did not seem so young as you."

"Who is they? Who are you?" she squeaked. Despite the fact that this creature had saved her, and it did not seem to want to harm her, she was still terrified.

"They were little folk like you, probably gone by now. I have not seen one in many ages, as you would say. And I am Bregalad, or Quickbeam in your language."

"Quickbeam," she whispered. "What do you want?"

"I do not want anything, at least not from you, child." The tree stopped and thought. "Yes, you are very like Treebeard's friends, the little folk."

"Who are the little folk?" asked Ellen, now somewhat over her fear.

"Oh, they are-" Quickbeam was cut off by a loud cry.

"ELLEN! WHERE ARE YOU?"

Quickbeam lowered Ellen to the ground and set her down. He rose up and stood still, just as Ellen's mother burst into the clearing.

"Ellen!" Ellen's mother ran over to her. "What happened?"

Suddenly, Ellen felt as tongue-tied as she had been in front of Quickbeam. "I was- climbing. And- I thought the tree was alive. Not this tree," she added as her mother glanced at Quickbeam. For some reason, she wanted to keep this tree a secret. "It was- back there," she motioned vaguely, "somewhere. I just got scared again and yelled without thinking."

"Oh Ellen-" her mother swept her up into her arms. "Don't ever do that again. You scared me half to death." With Ellen secured in her arms, she began to walk away.

Ellen looked at the tree standing by the stream, with the beads of water still on the grass, and gave a little wave. She wasn't positive, but she could have sworn that Quickbeam waved back.

~*~

As soon as the woman and the child were gone, Bregalad began to hum to himself. "Yes, she was very like Treebeard's friends, What were their names? Oh, Merry and Pippin. Now, how did that verse go?

"And hungry as hunters,

The hobbit children,

The laughing-folk,

The little people.

"Hmm," Bregalad hummed, "Yes, I remember them well." With that, he strode off deep into the forest.

~*~

So, I would like comments on this! I might just keep it a one-chapter fic, but I might expand on it, with Ellen growing up and visiting Quickbeam periodically in her life. Your wish is my command, reviewers!