A/N: As you all know by now that I'm a MAJOR procrastinator. Getting over that fact, this epilogue will touch on things that I did not have a chance to in past chapters and you'll also get a sneak peak into the future. The flashbacks are in italics and hopefully aren't confusing to read. I want to thank everyone for investing their time and patience into this story. It's been a complete pleasure. Enjoy!
"Life is something that happens when you can't go to sleep."
The comfortable embrace of plush blankets and cushy pillows could not lure her into the much needed rest her body had been craving for days on end. It was simply impossible for her to give into slumber when so many thoughts and concerns were weighing on her conscience. Each tidbit based on every single one of her fears that her brain conjured up begged for her attention. It was steadily becoming more and more difficult to give all her worries the consideration that was deserved of them. Because of this, because she could not shake off all that concerned her, she tip toed from the warmth of her bed and across the lengthy hall to hopefully what would be her refuge for the night.
If anyone was to see her out of bed at such a late hour, she knew she would have most likely been escorted back to the relaxing atmosphere that supposedly only her empty room could provide. The thought of such a threat held little of her apprehension as she twisted the elegant handle of the door to the room she was entering. It was mostly dark inside, only lit somewhat by the dim light the moon provided. The scent of honeysuckle wafted through the room and Elizabeth could not help the somewhat calming effect it begun to take on her.
Quiet, more quiet than she had been out in the hall; Lizzy tiptoed further towards the one spot she wanted to be more than any other place in the entire palace. She held onto the thought that maybe just maybe that very spot would serve to soothe her fidgety soul. Maybe she could relish in the moment of viewing something so peaceful, so carefree that it would give her just a little but of ease. Every instinct in her body pushed her to move silently across the room she'd entered, so as not to disturb the natural peace that had settled there. Elizabeth reached her destination, and standing quite still she reached out with both hands and wrapped them tightly around a smooth wooden bar.
She held her breath.
It was hard to believe that of which she looked down upon was a small piece of her, imprinted onto something so precious that sometimes she refused to accept. It was upsetting to her most of the time, not because of the new responsibilities tackled to her, nor because she had been unprepared from the start, but because of the looming fear that this innocence might inherit some of her less than stellar qualities. For most of her life she had been a magnet for bad luck and she had some habits that even got on her nerves at times, none of which she wished to pass on. The life she had lived, for the longest, was not the life she wished for this little one that slept so soundly in the crib before her. Time and time again she had been reassured that the worst that'd happened in her life would never happen to the little one.
She couldn't help the thought that the assurances could all be wrong. That one day all the promises she had received on how safe a future her little one would have would shatter into pieces that neither she nor anyone could put back together. Lizzy absolutely did not want the strokes of her luck to brush themselves onto a canvas that belonged to her child. She didn't want that happening to the one she valued the most in her life. She didn't want to be responsible for the cause of any pain that might come to who she now looked down upon.
Elizabeth wanted nothing more than to see to it that this new life had a much smoother transition into the world than she had. She wanted to ensure that all the cards that were dealt to her little one were nothing but fair. No one had been there to see to any of her own cards and she didn't want her child to be able to even think the same thing. Her eyes as tired as they were never wavered from the crib and its precious occupant.
She let out a breath born from a bit of depression and a touch of guilt. It didn't matter what anyone had told to her; encouraging words, healthy doses of advice and praise; it had all floated down to her heart, settled there for a minute or two and then faded away. The hesitation and insecurities had overruled all those who had shown her their support. Trying to wipe away all negative thoughts that were keeping her from a good nights sleep, Elizabeth shook her head. She ventured across the hall to clear her mind, not to bring up thoughts that would cause more sleep deprivation.
The overwhelming sense of feeling bad just couldn't be averted. As of late it just refused to shake itself from her, this feeling among others that this small wonder who had invaded everyone's lives deserved better, a whole lot better. Her thumb nail found its way to her mouth, a sure tail sign that she was worried. Eyelids feeling heavier than they had ever felt, she forced them not to close. Before she could even fathom sleep certain nerves had to wash away, that and she needed the knowledge that everything was alright with her little wonder.
Swaddled beneath a richly colored blanket of yellows and greens was who Elizabeth loved and felt more concerned for through each of her waking minutes. Elizabeth looked down into the lightly wooded crib and continued to gnaw at her thumb. She was steadily daring herself to perk up even though she had every reason in the world to feel the way she was feeling. It seemed that harboring these certain feelings was beyond her control. As much as she tried to push herself to shove them all under the rug, they kept coming back.
A small pink face that was usually so contented to see her rested peacefully, eyes closed and tiny breaths even. Looking at this small marvel she tried again to will her nerves down to a dull whisper. Focusing on what was before was all that mattered. All the problems her mind thought to conjure up did not exist where she was standing. Peace was right there in the room with her if she'd only just accept it.
Lizzy took a deep breath and looked into her bowl of cheerios. It had been quite awhile since the entire ordeal with the Red Hammer dealing with her uncle and what happened that afternoon always came back to replay in her mind. The memory of everything that happened, the violence that had occurred left an everlasting impact on Lizzy in more ways than one. It'd been hard finding a groove to fit into after what she had a hand in doing. It was hard to day in and day out stare in Nancy's face and pretend that everything in her life had been on the road to being hunky-dory, that absolutely nothing had been going on.
To her it felt completely dishonest to live in Nancy's house, share meals and conversations with her without letting her into everything that invaded her life. The woman had taken her in when in actuality she should have looked the other way when her uncle died. There were no obligations in the relationship Nancy had with Ed. She could have started anew and forgotten all about her. She could have found another boyfriend free of dramatics in this better grandeur life of hers and not given Lizzy a second thought.
But she didn't.
It wasn't in Nancy's nature to turn her back on those in need and the fact that she hadn't done that to Lizzy meant a lot. So much so, that Lizzy had been contemplating for a while whether to share in what happened with her and her other uncle. Nancy deserved to be respected and Lizzy felt that her hiding things were far from showing respect. She felt that Nancy deserved to know some of the truth about what had been going on. It wasn't fair to keep such secrets stored up from a person who had done so much for her, who had wanted to share her life with a teenager in need and make sure she had a home. More and more Lizzy was thinking that Nancy ought to have an inkling of what had been going on under her very own nose, what had been schemed under her very own roof.
Suddenly feeling sick, Lizzy dropped the spoon into her bowl and pushed it away, the urge to eat so far from her mind she could no longer see it. The pristinely clean kitchen felt as if it were drawing in on her, daring her to give into what she knew was right. The walls were no longer feeling inviting, the rich coloring of the entire home no longer felt inviting. It all felt as if everything around was being to alienate her. The pressure of making a decision was felt all too much by her.
Lizzy hopped up from the stool feeling far from happy and took her bowl from the sink. Absentmindedly, she looked up at the clock hanging above the refrigerator. All too soon she'd be shipping out with Nancy to find the quote unquote perfect prom dress. High on the list of priorities it was not, but she never had the heart to deny Nancy things that should have been simple enough for a girl her age. Lizzy ran a hand through her untidy hair.
The guilt was eating away at her much more than she thought it would. Here she thought she had been doing what needed to be done. It might not have been the exact right thing to do; having her uncle offed and ridding herself of tons of money by handing it over to an organized street gang, but it all had been resolved. It was over, or so she thought.
It wasn't quite done with, because she still had that gnawing feeling in the back of her mind that something wasn't yet resolved. Something was still left. Of course, she had divulged all that bothered her to those she could. Her conscience was not withering because she was simply keeping a hell of a secret. Lizzy crossed back over to the kitchen island and slid back onto her stool. The ring that she hadn't removed once from around her neck she stroked lightly with her thumb feeling the jewels encrusted into the band.
The small piece of jewelry gave her quite a bit of strength, strength that she didn't seem to be able to find within herself. Something had to be done to resolve the way she was feeling. The right thing had to be done and not only for the sake of her own self feeling better. Spilled everything, she had already to Legolas once the entire ordeal had been over and she'd went back to her second home. The whole threat on her life, teaming up with a gang member, giving up loads of money, the car crash and the murder she had poured out to him. As much as he had been angered by her actions and the criticisms he had shot at her for not seeing properly to her welfare when she came up with such a plan, she had come clean with him because he deserved it.
She loved him and he deserved to know such a truth. The same could be said for Nancy, so why hadn't she said anything yet? Lizzy spent an unknown amount of time just staring into the space in front of her. Her thoughts were ignited by guilt and a sense of duty to let Nancy in on what happened. Her thumb kept up its gentle strokes on the ring hanging from her neck. So enraptured by her head she didn't hear Nancy coming into the apartment, nor the drop of her car keys on the glass coffee table. All she heard was the gentle voice of her conscience telling her to tell Nancy the truth.
"Liz, you ready to go? We need to get out of here if you wanna even consider getting a dress. Everything's most likely picked over by now," the last part Nancy muttered to herself with a tinge of annoyance. How she could've let Lizzy keep delaying the shopping date she didn't know. She rushed into the kitchen and stared pointedly at the teenager.
"Come on; let's put a move on it."
Snapped out of her thoughts, Lizzy turned to look at Nancy fully intending to tell her she was coming and that was more than ready to get the whole shopping ordeal over with, but something stopped her clean in her tracks. Lizzy saw something in Nancy that she failed to fully highlight. The normality of the woman before her lit up like a beacon. Nancy had only just gotten over the death of a jerky boyfriend, she had only just begun to accept the fact that she was responsible for a teenager with a rocky attitude and too many problems to count. Her life had already been well put together before everything had occurred. Would the news of gangs and yet another no good uncle break her?
Did she really deserve more drama tossed onto her plate? And telling her everything that had occurred would get her involved in it all. Should anything happen, Nancy could be labeled an accomplice just for knowing about the information Lizzy wanted to give up. All that Nancy had worked for in her life could be taken in the blink of an eye. Nancy deserved the truth, that much Lizzy was certain, but did she need to know that Lizzy had not been fine, getting by on the protection she mustered up for herself?
Should she really know that things had been far from okay and Lizzy did not feel the need to come to her for help? Would knowing the things that Lizzy had gone through help or hinder? Would it move them forward towards a bright future or strain a growing relationship? The dawning on what this could possibly mean if everything was revealed drenched Lizzy's thoughts and danced before her eyes. And in that minute all those aspects poured forth to her and lined up clicking together.
"Earth to Lizzy! We gotta get going. You ready?"
"Actually, I need to tell you something." Lizzy's voice trembled slightly as her thumb rubbed at her ring a bit more. "I need to tell you the truth."
Important things awaited her in the morning. Important things were always awaiting her nowadays. It came with the title she carried around, like a shiny new badge, it epitomized all she was responsible for and the duty she upheld to those around her. It all weighed down on her shoulders and there was never a time that went by that she wasn't aware of it. It was too notable of a position to not forget it, to cast it aside at the end of the day, and not take it completely to heart, because the decisions she made affected people.
She still thought it was crazy to give her such a power to rule over certain sectors of the kingdom even if she always had an advisor at hand. Nothing existed in her background that would prove her capable of being competent enough to make the important decisions that were required of her. And she was not the only one who thought that way. No matter how many heartening words Legolas gave to her it did not take away from the fact that she knew there were others that held a prejudice older than her entire family line against her. A human ruling over elven kind and a lowly one at that, it was unthought-of amongst their kind, unfathomable. She'd heard the whispers and how unfriendly they were in nature.
How an elf and a human should never be coupled and how she was too simple to be queen.
The old her would not have cared at all. The old her would've done what needed to be done and kept herself moving, but this new her, the one that tended to listen to that small voice in her head wondered whether or not there was any truth to the whispers. Legolas could have picked someone to love that had a lot more experience at life than she had; someone a lot better than her. This concern was one of many and she dared not bring that up with Legolas. She buried it within, underneath all the other concerns and fears she had.
Daring a sigh, she continued looking down at what was a little piece of escape for her, a piece of escape she held high hopes of not disappointing. She chanced a small touch, just a finger on the incredibly soft cheek of her child. When no reaction stirred from the child she repeated the action only this time adding another finger. The touch between them sent a reassuring feeling coursing through Elizabeth.
So far everything –despite her nagging worries and various issues at hand-was fine. Nothing had fallen apart yet. Her subconscious was waiting for a shoe of some size to drop at any point, but it hadn't happened. It shocked, surprised and scared her all at the same time. Her fingers moved to feel their way through dark downy hair as she relished in the semblance of peace the room was providing.
A whimper escaped from the infant that was beneath her watchful eyes and she quickly withdrew her hand, not wanting to wake the child. Unlike herself, who had always wished for the comforts of sleep for many different reasons, her child battled it with a seemingly deep passion. There seemed to be no amount of walks that could be taken, soft songs to be sung, nor stories to be told that could lure the infant into a comfortable sleep. Elizabeth could only admire this early emerging characteristic in her child who looked to have a rapidly developing zest for life. Legolas had said that this was the piece of her that was showing through, that their child was only shunning sleep in fear of missing activities that could lead to trouble.
It had been said all in good nature, a jest but Lizzy hadn't seen it as such. She took it as a sign of what was to come and it had only fueled her worry that rested with her child. Elizabeth tried to shake off the wave of concern that kept gripping at her ever so often and live in the peace that was presented to her now. Living in a peaceful present was proving to be harder than the simple concept was. Elizabeth took a deep breath and forced her eyes to focus on the small child once more, a task that was proving tougher by the minute.
She should've just dragged herself to bed. Surely sleep would have pulled her in enough to make her forget the things picking at her. It was more than tempting at this point to just turn around and go right back to bed, but something in her just couldn't. Standing there looking down into the crib, she felt a certain warmth run down her spine that had seemingly rooted her to the spot. The sensation was a good one, one that she had felt every so often and always when in the presence of her child.
It never ceased to amaze her, the power this little person had over her. A wisp of a smile found its way onto Elizabeth's face and her thumb dropped itself away from her mouth. That small but powerful feeling was what she had sought. It made her see the brighter side of her life. Looking at brighter sides was something she could never do seeing as she never had a bright side to compare things to.
Appreciative she was of this sensation and of her new life despite its downsides. No matter where time took her, there would always be downs that needed to be experienced, that she knew, but it didn't take away from the emotion that stirred deep within her. The infant began to rouse underneath the security of the thick blanket making Elizabeth believe that her presence was disturbing her child's slumber. She wanted to leave so as to not wake the child who had a deep seeded hatred for sleep but her feet refused to leave still. It was as if her entire being knew that she needed to be here for whatever reason.
She wondered absently whether or not her child could pick up on the slight distress she was sure she was radiating. Crystallized blue eyes unfocused and half lidded looked up at her. Ear shattering howls too devastating to endure were sure to sprout forth of that she was certain, but after a second then two, nothing materialized from the mouth of her little one. Relieved, Elizabeth let the smile on her face evolve from tiny to full-size.
The past few days had been incredibly disconcerting for Lizzy. The opulent apartment she had grown used to and no longer thought of as just a place to crash, had quickly become almost foreign to her. A dull quiet had settled there ever since Lizzy had decided to tell Nancy the complete truth, a truth that she found considerably easier to deal with than the one that included a murderous second uncle. Lizzy knew it would be difficult, telling the truth, but she never thought it would end up leaving her feeling distant and completely uncomfortable in the place where she considered home on earth. Never in her life had she been so sorry to have kept things from a person that cared so much for her.
Because of her, home didn't feel quite like home anymore and she got the feeling that was because she had royally screwed up. It wasn't due to the fact that she had told the truth, came clean with absolutely every detail about her relationship with Legolas(that classified itself on an entirely different level) it was more because she hadn't been honest from the start. From the very beginning she had built her relationship with Nancy on deceit and with an ungracious attitude. The only person she had to blame for everything was herself. At least that was what Lizzy thought was the reason for the apartment being so cold, for Nancy suddenly having business meetings to attend to just when dinner was approaching, and for the sudden set of rules that needed to be followed to the tee with no negotiations.
Plain and simple, she had messed up.
The truth hadn't exactly set her free. In fact, the truth decided to let her sit and simmer in the mess she had created. Of course she knew it would never be as simple as telling the truth and instantly being believed or even forgiven for the secrets she had kept. Something like this was meant to hurt. It was meant to make her feel as if she were the lowest person on the planet and powerless to possibly fix things. Wishes of time reversal and mutterings of how things could've been different were to be expected. Ultimately, it was up to her to right the puzzle pieces after the fallout, the last test of a healing character.
Another night of silence enveloped the apartment, but instead of completing homework assignments underneath her bed covers, Lizzy was standing in front of the bathroom mirror with a tool of beauty she'd never imagined herself using, a curling iron. The overall quiet in the apartment currently reminded her of everything she missed about Nancy and it frustrated her more than trying to get her hair to look presentable. Feelings of being both betrayed and a betrayer welled up inside of her as she stood in front of the bathroom mirror in nothing but her slip. In all honesty, she thought Nancy wouldn't have left her alone on this night of all nights. Gripping the handle of the curling iron tightly she blamed herself for the millionth time that day.
That fateful night when Lizzy decided on telling Nancy the truth she had decided to do so after the shopping, brushing it off by saying the whole conversation could wait until they came from the mall. The woman had given her a reluctant look but okayed it in favor of the shopping trip. During shifting through racks upon racks of prom dresses and then moving onto what looked like to be the biggest shoe debacle the year had ever seen, Lizzy took to thinking about how to explain everything to Nancy. She had muddled herself with the thoughts and the impending doom of what had to be done and because of it she turned out to be a not so great shopping buddy. Nancy's darting looks had concern laced into each one and she gave them out frequently during the search for the dress.
To say it had been a fabulous trip of bonding over an up coming solitary event would have been a complete lie. With the admission of something that needed to be told coupled with poorly hidden looks of guilt on Lizzy's part, Nancy had no trouble figuring out that something gargantuan in size stood between them and what she hoped would be a nice prom dress hunt. Time seemed to have wanted the truth revealed as much as it thought it was right to tell it, for it passed quickly and soon Lizzy found herself back in the apartment and facing Nancy. She pulled the truth out of her like the action of ripping off a band aid, first with hesitation and then acting fast. Of course right after came the pain.
Right after receiving instructions from Nancy to hang the elegant dress up in a suitable spot in her room and following through, Lizzy forced Nancy to sit down. It had been now or never and she unleashed the truth about Middle Earth and her marriage. To say Nancy took it well or even serious for that matter was purely fantasy. Nancy's reaction had been to at first laugh but the seriousness on Lizzy's face had wiped the chuckles away. It was emphasized how much this meant to her, how true it was and ever since Lizzy had told the truth, Nancy had been silent, only talking when necessary.
It had been one of the few times that Lizzy had been serious in her entire life and it had caused Nancy to act out of character, it had caused Nancy to become troubled. Lizzy just didn't think the woman had it in her to stay silent for so long. Lizzy expected some kind of reaction, just not one that involved Nancy giving her a cold and awkward silent treatment. Nancy still hadn't found it a suitable time to speak to her. And that was how Lizzy found herself in the bathroom trying to prepare her for prom alone.
She was getting fed up with the curling iron and was starting to think that curls were a bad idea. She wasn't used to dolling up her own hair and didn't think it was too fun an activity. To her defense she had been perfectly content to put her hair up into a ponytail, the only style she'd known for years. Lined up on the bathroom's counter was a plethora of makeup from eyeliner to lipstick and Lizzy was a teenager with little experience on how to apply any of it. Biting down on her lip, she puffed up her chest in determination to make this work.
She wasn't a complete imbecile, and it couldn't be too hard to dab on a little lipstick and paint on some eye shadow. Lizzy looked down at the selection before her wondering where to start. Her fingers skimmed over pencils, tubes and powders before settling on eyeliner. She uncapped it, brought her eyes to the mirror fully prepared to start but froze. Looking into the mirror, she found Nancy standing behind her.
Lizzy cast her eyes back down to the counter but not before catching the look on Nancy's face. What she saw on Nancy's face could only be described as trepidation. Nancy strolled across the bathroom pulled down the lid to the toilet and took a seat. She was ready to talk. Lizzy braced herself for what was to come.
"I hadn't thought things with you had gotten so bad."
Lizzy nearly poked her eye out with the makeup pencil. It fell from her hand and onto the counter with a clatter. "What do you mean?"
Nancy shook her head and intertwined her fingers. "I mean your story. I thought things were going okay with you."
"My-my story? Wait, you think that I made everything up?"
"Lizzy," Nancy started, her eyes drilling unbelievable holes into Lizzy. "You can't expect me to believe that what you told me is real."
"So you think I just made it all up to screw with you?" Lizzy turned around, her task at hand forgotten.
Nancy shook her head and for a minute said nothing.
"I'm lying. You think I'm lying."
"I don't think you're lying," Nancy slowly said. It seemed like she was trying to work something out in her head. Like she was trying to get what she was thinking out without showing too much emotion as if it might hurt Lizzy's feelings. "I think that maybe you're stressed,"
Lizzy's face contorted in confusion. "Stressed?"
"You've working hard to graduate and I think that it factors in to what you told me."
More confusion snaked in on Lizzy and she couldn't for the life of her see where their conversation was going. She crossed her arms and waited for Nancy to continue.
"I think that making up this lavish story of going to another world and having another life there where you're married sounded appealing to your overworked mind. Maybe you took it a little too far and…" she didn't really have the heart to finish her line of thoughts.
"Aaaannd," Lizzy dragged out.
Nancy nodded once. "And I think you might think that this dream of yours is really real."
There it was out in the open for Lizzy to assimilate. Nancy, after all her days of silence towards her, had thought she was suffering from some kind of mental breakdown. She thought that Lizzy had gone out of her mind to due all the events in her life. Could she really blame the woman for coming to such a conclusion? She hadn't exactly shown Nancy that she had ways of copping with everything that'd happened, other than the counselor she talked to every couple times a week.
In front of Nancy all she did was put up a front. She pretended that she was getting by like any other person would have. She acted like she wasn't trying to fix a mess that had been accumulating ever since her grandfather had been alive. The only refuge she sought had been in Middle Earth and Nancy couldn't see that piece of her life. For the moment Lizzy could only gape at Nancy's seated form.
"I want you to see this doctor I've spoken to."
It was more than official now that Nancy thought Lizzy was crazy. She didn't know what else she could possibly do to get her to believe that what she'd said was real. Thoughts that the entire thing had been a terrible idea popped into Lizzy's head. She continued to stare at Nancy. All out of ideas she was and she questioned whether or not making Nancy believe was even worth the effort. Lizzy had the same doubts the first few weeks she'd spent in middle earth and it was only due to physical events that had her believing.
Turning back towards the mirror, Lizzy shook her head and picked up her eyeliner again. Uncapping it she said, "No thanks."
"Lizzy, I really think that you need to deal with this issue. It ─It isn't normal to experience things like this."
"What about the ring I showed you? If I'm making it all up, then how did I get it?"
"You could've gotten it at a pawn shop or the thrift store for all I know." Nancy ran a hand through her hair. "The doctor says that sometimes people with your situation sometimes seek things out to make their delusions a little more solid."
"I'm delusional to you, huh," Lizzy muttered under her breath. She tried not to stab herself with the eyeliner pencil. "My situation."
Lizzy felt Nancy stand but didn't want to look at her. Even though this conclusion that Nancy had come to was expected and not unreasonable, Lizzy couldn't help the tinge of anger that began to creep through her veins. Nancy stood beside her and toyed with a strand of Lizzy's hair. It was the beginning of an attempt to lighten things up on her part. At the moment all Lizzy wanted was to pull away and finish her lousy efforts at becoming the bell of the prom.
"I'm not trying to be the grim reaper of your prom night Lizzy. I just want to let you know that despite," Nancy swallowed hard, a bit ashamed of what she had to say next. "The way I've been behaving towards you that I still care about you. I just─ I just want the best for you."
Lizzy dropped her hand away from her now darkly lined eyes. She felt the worry seeping from Nancy through her words and instantly her anger towards the woman drizzled away. The irritation couldn't exist within her any more when she knew that Nancy had only ever just wanted to help. Nancy was the innocent one in all of it and from day one had tried doing the right thing. Lizzy felt Nancy pulling on certain strands even more now and looking back at her reflection she saw Nancy fixing up her mess of spiral curls.
"I know you want to help, but you'll see that I don't need it." Lizzy turned to face Nancy, looking her in the eye for the first time in many days. "And you'll see that my delusions aren't delusions."
They stood like that, facing each other not saying a word. Some what of a challenge sparked between them. Lizzy wished that Nancy believed her, that she wouldn't have to experience the hard truth when it came time to, but there seemed to be no other way. For a second she caught a glimpse of determination well up within Nancy's eyes. It was like Nancy was dead set on seeing her live out a normal life free of these 'delusions'.
"Well," Nancy breathed out with a laugh, breaking the short silence between them. "It looks like you need my help now. Are you meaning to go for the raccoon look?" She motioned towards Lizzy's eyes.
"What?" Lizzy whirled around to check her appearance.
"You apparently need my help with getting ready. I've seen men do better makeup jobs then yours is coming along."
"Hey there cookie monster," Elizabeth whispered. With the utmost gentleness she scooped up her baby and felt the heaviness that responsibility brought melt away. Things were simple at that very moment and she had found exactly what she sought out. She held up her christened cookie monster in front of her and dozy eyes looked back. Warmth from the small body in her hands spread to her and made her smile grow even more.
The night was still as quiet as ever. Elizabeth found herself slowly but surely becoming more and more relaxed as she held her baby. The tranquility seeped into her like a welcoming friend and not for a second did she want to let go of the sensation that her little one gave to her. For as long as she could she was going to hold on to the little piece of calm that had washed over her. Lightly, Elizabeth jiggled the waking child and in response the pair of eyes looking at her widened.
"Did I wake you?" Of course she didn't receive a response but she continued any way. "Who am I kidding, I probably did. Just don't tell your father alright cookie monster?"
A ghost of a smile drifted onto the infant's face, apparently finding what Elizabeth said to be humorous.
"No don't smile," Elizabeth whispered bringing the child closer to her. "It takes a long time for your father to get you to sleep. If he found out that I woke you I'd never hear the end of it."
The smile on the child grew.
"You like seeing me get into trouble with him don't you?" She brought her child to her chest, holding closer to the precious little person. The standing was beginning to take its toll on her energy so she meandered towards the rocking chair situated in the corner of the room. Into the chair Elizabeth sat and settled the baby comfortably in her arms. She drank in the pleasure of holding her child and without anyone around.
There were others that were constantly doting on her child and while that was nice, surprising even that someone could see so much about a child of no relation to them, it grew tiresome after awhile. It was nice to be around her child without having to thank someone about how fine a baby she had or worrying whether or not the stares at her child were going to be judgmental or accepting. She was sick of having baited breath and being on the brink of defense mode when with her child.
These moments of it just being her and her child weren't very often. There was always someone with her, whether it was Legolas or a random maid set about to do some task or another, there was always someone else present. Lizzy sat in the darkened room and unconsciously began to rock the chair. Holding the title both queen and mother would always be a challenge , a struggle of balancing the two, of proving that she had it within herself to raise up a child and handle the responsibilities that came with her title as queen. She wouldn't say that she quite enjoyed it much, the challenge, but despite all that worried her constantly she couldn't hate it because it brought with her so many things she loved. It meant she was extremely lucky. She reveled in the fact that she'd been lucky to have such a healthy adorable kid.
"Mom's kinda having a rough night so is it okay if I just hold you for a minute?"
A small gurgle came forth and Lizzy nodded to the kid. She ran her fingers through the dark hair that belonged to the child and sighed. "I don't know whether or not I'm doing okay at this gig cookie monster." Lizzy bit her lip. "I know there are others that no matter what I do won't like me and the old me would've said fu─"
Lizzy caught herself and shook her head. "Forget 'em. Forget 'em I mean to say. Yeah, but I just don't know anymore."
Lizzy stopped talking and the room was sent back to silence. A smile half gloomy and the other half happy settled on her lips. She watched as the little lips of her baby formed an 'o' and faint eyebrows curved somewhat downward. It was as if the child understood her and was urging her to continue on with a look. That was of course impossible because who Elizabeth held was only a baby.
"I should cut the worrying out, huh cookie? I mean I made it this far and your father hasn't tried to kill me yet," Lizzy laughed but then quickly sobered up remembering her present company.
"Not that he would, ever kill me I mean. Your ada would never do that. Never."
The last thing on her list was to give her child an iota of doubt against her family even if her child was only just an infant. She wanted the positive energy to flow when anyone was around her kid, because as she reminded herself day in and day out her child was not going to have a childhood like hers. If ever she wanted something more it was for her child to not experience what she had. Thoughts that she was thinking had to at least be pushed aside for the moment. Holding one baby as precious as hers left no room for the thoughts on her mind.
"Thinking too much aren't I?" Lizzy wiggled her fingers against the small delicate tummy of her child. Giggles sprouted and in that instant Lizzy stopped.
"Can't be too loud cookie monster, gonna sound the alarms."
The smile she saw glowing from her child was enough to melt just about any glacier, ensnare anyone within a good distance and it didn't even matter that the smile was a toothless one. It tugged on the heartstrings Elizabeth had always tried to conceal and she had to give in.
"Alright, okay one more little tickle but that's it and that's only cause you're cute."
Elizabeth let her fingers dance over the small plump stomach. They both took delight in the small playfulness and laughter jingled through the room chasing away the silence.
Lizzy stared at her dolled up image in the mirror and was already set for the night to end. Nancy had worked a miracle and fixed her curls so that they gently fell behind her shoulders and a few of them had been pulled back and pinned away from her face with a glittery hair clip. Her body donned a crisp halter topped dress, rhinestones spread horizontally across her abdomen and disappeared somewhere on her back. The dress was simple in design and on such short notice had been a lucky find. It was nice enough to Lizzy, but she couldn't wait to get out of it. The dress didn't quite have the softness of the elven material and her shoes…
Lizzy looked down at the three inch heels that matched her dress and could do nothing but frown at them. She would have much rather worn the killer boots she had received for her birthday from Elrendor's mother. Never would she forget the tooth and nail fight that happened in the store between her and Nancy over the shoes. Giving in was her fault because of the guilt that was eating away at her. Standing alone in the bathroom looking at her reflection was not where she thought she would ever be. Standing in the bathroom looking every bit the part of a teenager nervously waiting for her prom date to pick her up was not how she had envisioned herself.
Nancy was somewhere fretting over her lost camera and no doubting knocking over knick knacks to find it. Amnesia had taken over her brain after their small conversation and currently for her, Lizzy was as normal as any other kid, not at all suffering from made up delusions. At a last minute attempt to escape from the prom's clutches, she brought up the point that if she was indeed suffering from delusions it wouldn't be safe for her to go to prom. It hadn't worked of course. Her itinerary was still set for the Atrium Hall on Eighth Street.
The door bell rang clear as a crystal and sounding very much like an executioners call. Lizzy wondered how Legolas would react to seeing her in her full blown prom regalia. She imagined him going against her prom activities, at least dressed how she was or without him by her side. The dress she wore was a bit more revealing than the elven dresses she had grown accustomed to. Lizzy didn't know whether to be relieved or disheartened that Legolas was not here to witness this event.
The sounds of people talking drifted through the bathroom door and Lizzy felt like her stomach was about to drop from its secure location. Everything that she had previously experienced that could have given her the strength flew out of the window when Nancy had called to her and just like that, in that second, that very instant, she was just an eighteen year old kid, going to the senior prom. Lizzy looked at her reflection one more time. She smoothed down imaginary wrinkles in her dress, checked to make sure all parts were appropriately in place and then turned to grasp the door knob.
It was now or never.
Lizzy walked through the door. The short march down the hall made her feel self conscious. Again, the thought that she would've never imagined herself in such a spot came barreling through her head. The hall ended too soon and she was staring at Nancy talking to the guy who was escorting her to the prom. For the life of her she still couldn't remember his name. It started with a B that much she knew was certain. Was it Bryce or Benjamin?
"Man you look…hot." The flustered words came spilling out of the young man's mouth before Lizzy had even fully made into the room.
Lizzy couldn't help but look Bryce up and down. She took in his slicked back hair and spiffy black suit. No doubt he had been making some kind of impression on Nancy. The woman was grinning ear to ear and it looked as if she had found her camera because she waved it around as if it were the certified camera for proms and other such events. She would rather not have any evidence that she had actually gone through with something like this.
Lizzy smiled a pained smile, the comment Brent said making her want to change into the rattiest pajamas she owned and went straight for the door.
"Thanks Bre-" She thought better of calling him a name she knew probably didn't belong to him. "Buddy." Lizzy settled with buddy.
"Right." Making it out the door was far more important than getting the guy's name right. Lizzy grabbed his arm and dragged him with her on her hastened stroll towards the door.
"Wait! I haven't gotten a picture of you two yet," Nancy complained. "Don't you even think about walking through that door."
All her thoughts at that moment were centered on doing just that, but she stopped herself and whirled around letting go of Brian in the process.
Nancy motioned with her hands for the two of them to scoot together. "Come on now, big smile."
Lizzy buddied up to Brian as best she could but didn't have the strength to muster up a smile.
That was until Nancy adopted a somewhat suggestive and scary tone. Feeling like Wednesday in Adam's Family Values, the smile slowly grew on her face and didn't feel quite natural. It would have to do and seemed to appeal to Nancy because she was soon out the door and one step closer to a prom free life. The ride in Brian's car had gone exactly how she imagined. Conversation revolved around his athletic reputation in school and nothing much of anything else. Every now and then he'd ask her questions that in all her life she hadn't ever thought about.
They were more trivial type questions, questions she would probably find in a game for ages five and up. Her right hand fiddled with the corsage set around her left wrist. Brian wanted to put it on her dress, dangerously close to her chest but she insisted that they use the stretchy loop that accompanied the light pink and white flower bunch. She tuned Brian's voice out, not really caring if she appeared rude and watched the city fly past her vision. Legolas entered her thoughts and the memory replayed itself of when he'd taught her how to ride a horse.
As much as she would hate to admit it, she'd been afraid to even go near a horse let alone ride one. The only horses she had seen were through either through a television or a magazine, never up close and in person. Therefore she was shocked to see how big a horse actually was. It had taken lots of coaxing, lots of promises and lots of threats before Lizzy mounted a horse. After a few days of learning and consistent hours on the back of a horse, she'd grown used to the feel and come to love the wind in her hair and the view flying past her eyes, much like being in the car but so different.
"Ready to go babe?"
Lizzy was shaken from her thoughts by a sudden tone change in Brian's voice. The car had come to a stop, no longer trying to whiz by in busy street lanes, but parked in a spot in the lot of the hall. Gaggles of teenagers dressed in tuxes and dresses of all different styles and colors were making their way into the building that would house the one night they'd all hope was the best in their young years. They all looked jovial and excited for what the night would hold. Lizzy almost felt that if she walked in it would curse the whole thing due to her not really wanting to be there in the first place.
Hesitation made its way through her when she made to open the door. It couldn't have been as big of a deal as she was making it out to be. All proms were were a grander version of a dance, not a big deal at all. Before she could even blink the night would be over. With a nod undetectable to Brian, she opened the door and cautiously stepped out becoming apart of the night.
"We are so gonna light it up," Brian said as he came to her side and grabbed her hand instantly threading his thick fingers through hers.
Lizzy grimaced and wiggled her fingers away from his grasp, crossed her arms against her chest and gave him a pointed look.
"Look, let's get one thing straight," Lizzy spoke as the two of them continued to walk towards the lighted entrance. "We can do the whole prom thing; we'll get drinks, talk to people, heck maybe even dance, but we won't," with her index finger Lizzy motioned between the two of them. "Go there."
Brian looked at her confused. "What are you trying to say?"
"What am I trying to say? I'm saying that we're at this thing-"
"Prom," Brian interrupted.
Lizzy exhaled sharply. "We're at prom as friends. Nothing more." Saying friends was quite a stretch seeing as she only accepted his invitation to prom to get him to go away and she didn't know anything about him. Before the mention of prom she hadn't even know that he existed.
"You need to loosen up." Brian wrapped an arm around Lizzy's shoulder and put on a bright smile waving to one of his buddies he spotted. He guided them inside the building without anymore words. Lizzy walked the pace that he set, her regret for coming building within her at each and every step, but she squandered it, instead focusing on pushing Brian's arm from around her shoulder. Fortunately, he let his arm fall from her without any drama. Her mouth opened about to let out a warning on touching when they stepped through the doors of the hall.
The entire room that had been rented out for the senior prom was made to look like a giant tent. Sheer white linings adorned the ceiling forming soft loops that dropped down from the ceiling every so often. Deep rich reds, browns, greens and hints of gold decorated the hall; the theme of Casablanca manifested its way through the large room. In each corner of the room were what looked to be paper Mache palm trees. The tables appeared old, but on purpose, antique almost and they were very low to the floor. Throw pillows matching the color scheme of the room and some with Moroccan patterns were around the tables and used as seats.
Instead of using the hall's lighting fixtures, lanterns were strewn about creating an outdoor feel that only served to enhance the Moroccan theme. The decorations were impressive to say the least. As she looked around, drinking everything all in, Brian went forgotten. Lighted dots glittered and swarmed all over and looking up there was a disco ball suspended from the ceiling, gigantic in size, shiny but also the only thing unbefitting of the prom's theme. Lizzy looked away from the big ball of light in time to see Brian whistle lowly.
"Wow ain't this something." By the tone of his voice she could tell that he really didn't care too much about the decorations.
Short loved was Brian's observation. A few of his friends meandered from the dance floor looking both excited to see him and flushed from dancing. It was then that Lizzy noticed the fast paced music that was playing and decided the first thing she was going to do involved standing by the punch bowl. Lizzy squared her shoulders in preparation for the onslaught of people she shared no connection with or interest in.
"Brian, what up?" A guy same height and build as Brian greeted him in a way that was entirely common of guys, by slapping each others hand in some complicated way. Lizzy knew him as Keith linebacker to the football team. On his arm was a girl shorter than herself with longer hair and a much shorter dress. The pixie of a girl eyed her suspiciously. Lizzy tried not to scowl her.
"Nothing much," Brian smirked slugging his arm around Lizzy's shoulders. It was like he wanted to draw attention to the fact that she was there and with him. Lizzy fought the frown that wanted to escape onto her mouth and all the other actions that were being evoked by Brian's touch.
Brian waved a hand at the others behind Keith. Another couple who Lizzy actually recognized around the school halls as Alex Smithson on some sport team whether it was hockey or basketball she couldn't remember and Daphne Edwards a socialite who knew everything about everyone, stood slightly behind Keith and his date. A hesitant hey from Daphne and a nod from Alex was their form of a greeting.
"I see you found a date," Keith chuckled.
"Like I couldn't," countered Brian.
"Elizabeth Montgomery though. I never thought in a million year that I'd see this happening.'
"Me either," Daphne agreed with Keith.
For numerous reasons steam wanted to blow from the orifices in her head and anger was climbing the crest of her high hill of patience. Being talked about as if she wasn't even there irked her. And the fact that the apparent implications were rude weren't exactly camouflaged. She knew what everyone thought about her. She wanted to snap back, say something to put them in their place, but her mouth felt like a load of cement had been dumped on her tongue.
Her eyes slid between the people before her, knowing she didn't belong with them. She didn't want to pretend that she did and never had an iota of an urge to do so. Stepping forward and out of Brian's grasp she muttered her urge for punch and left the group. Their eyes followed her retreating form all the way to the table baring punch and she knew it because she could feel it. Each and every pair of eyes seared onto her back.
Side stepping people, she made it to the table, grabbed up a clear cup and filled it with the red punch. Her hand gripped the sides of the cup, the hold so tight the cup caved a bit on the side making the liquid rise. Her eyes wanted to drift shut to gain some semblance of peace but she didn't for a fear of someone walking up to her concerned about whether or not she was spazing out.
"No witty comeback? No smart remark? Nothing?" The familiar voice reached her ears and the vice like grip on the plastic cup loosened.
"I figured I'd rather not waste my breath on those who won't understand my witty comebacks or smart remarks." Lizzy turned to see Glenn standing in front of her. His shaggy hair as gone and in its stead was a much neater slicked back style. His tux was the traditional black nothing special and he'd coupled with it a blue tie.
Lizzy put her cup down and smirked. Things hadn't ended exactly on the positive end of the spectrum with Glenn. Cutting him out of her life at that point had been the best thing to do. So she had used him to get what she needed and then dumped him. Not one of her brightest moments, but it had to be done unless she wanted to see Glenn tangled in the mess she was caught up in.
Glenn had been to put it in simple terms, another person caught in the emotional crossfire thanks to her. When it came to Glenn she had another approach when interacting with him after everything that'd happened and that was to pretend that nothing ever was wrong.
"Where's your date?"
Glenn nodded towards one of the low tables. "Jen, the girl in the red with the big hair." He motioned with his hands to his head to demonstrate just how cumbersome the girl's hair was.
Lizzy didn't bother to look, "Knew you wouldn't head here solo."
"Jen and I are just friends." The words blurted out faster than he intended.
Lizzy opened her mouth to reply but was interrupted. An arm went around her shoulders, something she was starting to become sickeningly familiar with. It was an instant reaction to roll her eyes at Brian. She shrugged his thick arm off her, this time not restraining her scowl.
"What's your deal tonight?"
Lizzy laughed bitterness. "What's my deal? Your friends are completely rude."
Brian shook his head and sent his eyes skyward. "Whatever, lets just go dance or something. We can even go get our picture taken, I'm sure your aunt would eat that up."
Glenn observed the heat rushing to Lizzy's head as her cheeks flushed with what could only be anger.
Skipping the fact that he hadn't even bothered to get to know anything about her, Nancy being her aunt was proof; she got straight to the point. Wanting to know nothing more than the whole reason for her being here besides out of her dumb approval to the conquest she asked, "Why did you even invite me to prom?"
Something in her said that Brian had other intentions than just simply going out and having a good ol' time. There was more to it than that.
"Was I just a desperation date. Cause all your cheerleaders were taken?" The question was asked with barely contained fury. It was spoken so low to Brian that no one else but him could possibly catch it. She moved so that she was standing a hares breath away from him. Glaring with steely gray eyes, the seriousness of it all projected from them like a bright warning. There hadn't been any idea of this endeavor being one that could lead to something laced in romance, at least not for her, but Brian─ she studied his face, waiting for him to give her whatever answer he had to give─ she didn't know what he had in mind,.
Brian shook his head and licked his lips. "Will you cool down?"
"Will you quit telling me in various ways to cool down?"
Brian having seemed to have lost his patience let out a half grunt half sigh. "Come on Elizabeth."
Lizzy knew that Glenn was watching the interaction between herself and Brian but ignored him. "Why'd you invite me Brian?"
The resolve left Brian. It was either that or he just stopped caring. In the small amount of time they had been at prom the shoe had already decided it was time to come down. Brian looked over his shoulder at no doubt his pals who were either eyeing him, waiting on him or both.
"Look, we both know you're damaged goods, but that don't stop you from being hot."
Lizzy blinked before blurting out how that made absolutely no sense.
"You're a bad girl around here─"
"And if you went to prom with me it'd be so kick ass," Lizzy finished up for him.
"Right! Exactly." Brian looked completely relieved that she understood.
Lizzy crossed her arms feeling the heat rolling off her own body.
"So… you coming back?" he gestured towards his group as if their small conversation had squashed the issue. Lizzy couldn't help but look at him with disbelief.
Glenn stepped up, making himself known. "That seems kind of a shitty thing to do man."
"Glenn, don't─" Lizzy started, not wanting anything to escalade.
"Yeah don't Glenn," Brian eyed him. The look dared him to try something.
"Go ahead Brian; I'll catch up to you." Lizzy placed her hands on his arm and gave him a light push in the direction of his friends. Reminding herself that the night would be over in no time, she didn't bother to watch him walk ahead or to see if he had listened to her in the first place as she turned around towards Glenn. Things had gotten to a point where they shouldn't have and Lizzy didn't want to it continuing. Brian on the other hand, didn't seem to know when things were enough, when to draw that line, nor what was and was not appropriate.
Instead of meandering off to his friends at her insistent push, he turned back and gave her a stealthy kiss on the cheek followed by his hand giving her bottom a rough swift pat. "Bad girls like that, right?" He said more as a statement than a question, then took off towards the dance floor.
Unbelieving of what had just taken place, Lizzy looked at Glenn almost in confirmation. Glenn looked at her, the same expression pretty much reflected onto his face. There was nothing else she could do but stare at Glenn, an array of emotions buzzing through her system. He hadn't just done what she thought he had. No, it couldn't be true because as much as Brian was a dumb jock who hadn't taken no for an answer, he couldn't be that stupid.
Lizzy just stared at Glenn for the moment and he her. A look swollen with something unidentified passing back and forth between them, A tennis match of understanding. Lizzy had toned herself down quite considerably after her handling with her uncle, had tried to blend into the crowd and not draw too much attention to herself. She didn't know how she knew, but Glenn understood this.
"Just because you've been through stuff doesn't mean that you have to necessarily give up who you are."
For a few seconds more she looked at Glenn, ruminating over what he said. Here she had been trying to erase all the she had been and…Lizzy creased her brow. Almost on auto pilot, her feet swiveled around and her body followed storming towards Brian and his friends.
Glenn was right,
The outdoor conditions had been steadily growing more and more cold by the day. Greenwood's trees were missing their leaves, the ones that still held onto the branches were few and far between but still were vibrant in color. The moon held itself high and full in the sky on top of a diamond encrusted background. The autumn night was filled with a pre wintery chill but it had been far from uninviting for others who desired a stroll. Deep chirpings resonated through the air from crickets, in the distance an owl was letting out a pattern of hoots, nature seemingly getting settled in with the transition from day to night.
Lizzy walked closely beside Legolas listening to the crunching noise that came from stepping on fallen leaves. It was a soothing sound that helped in letting go of the memories that prom had created. Glenn's simple sentence had flicked on a light inside her head and on that she opened the door that she thought should've stayed closed. Prom was supposed to be simple and uncomplicated unlike her life but it seemed that someone upstairs had other plans. That night she was done, done before it had really even started.
"And so I decked him." Exactly three minutes ago she had told Legolas what happened on her prom escapade. Lizzy had thought that she would feel a little ashamed of herself and revealing to Legolas that she'd reverted to using tactics that her old self had been accustomed to, but she hadn't. In fact she felt downright pleased.
Legolas hadn't said anything.
Her left hand clutched his forearm as they walked slowly down a designated gray stone path. Waiting for him to say something was nothing new to her. It was odd to her that she knew he was thinking on what to say to her, gathering his thoughts together. Nothing that he could say would change how she felt about the entire thing. Her mind was dead set on the satisfaction that had been felt after hitting Brian.
"You let your anger get the best of you."
Lizzy looked up into his face, fire creeping into her eyes. "He grabbed my ass."
"And it was your solution to hit him."
Lizzy repeated the part about him touching her inappropriately as if it gave her every right in the world to do what she had did and it finally came back to her that it did. Her old logic seemed to return to her like a long gone friend. Legolas looked down at her not being able to refute her. Had he been there certainly there wouldn't have been just words exchanged between the two.
"I suppose any atonement you feel will be through your hand."
The right hand that had smashed into Brian's face sported the evidence. Her knuckles were bruised and turning a steady shade of purple. He was right though, she was paying for it because her hand hadn't felt as bad as it did now since she'd stayed up all night doing makeup school work. It probably felt worse.
"You suppose right," she mumbled. She held up her injured hand in front of her face. "I guess I should get this looked at, put some ice on it or something."
Legolas took her injured hand with the slightest of touches and nodded in agreement. "It is simply amazing how trouble seems to follow you everywhere," Amusement danced in his eyes with his words.
Lizzy nudged her shoulder hard against Legolas' side. Of course this barely budged his extremely tall slender form. It didn't stop her from trying though. "Even though my hand will probably turn black and end up best friends with this lovely shade of purple, I learned something from hitting Brian."
"Oh and what might that be my lady?"
Lizzy grimed at being referred to as a lady─ nothing more than an acquainted habit. Lizzy smirked, Glenn's face popping into her head. Quoting him she said, "Just because I've been through stuff doesn't mean that I have to necessarily give up who I am." The words kept a smile on her face.
The sounds of the night marched into their conversation, putting to ease any more words for the next few minutes. Lizzy dropped her eyes downward and watched their feet walk the path. The weather's chill started to cling to her sock monkey pajamas and just a bit she shivered. Being cold was something that she hated but she wasn't ready to head back in yet. She actually enjoyed the walks that they took on occasion, especially when she just arrived from her earth.
They gave her a chance to shake it all off calmly. It was like stepping out of that life and every tread allowing her to shed all the baggage that accompanied it. Legolas, feeling her shivers pulled his arm from her grasp and threaded it around her waist. The act shifted her closer towards him, shielding her from the cold air.
"And who bestowed these words to you," he asked breaking the silence.
Lizzy rested her head against her husband's side. A light went off in her head. "Why did someone have to tell me that? Why couldn't I have come to that conclusion on my own?" Her eyes darted upwards, looking into his face whilst waiting for the answer. It came quick and unhesitant.
"When you are angry you tend to not think of things that are even close to profound. In fact you do not think at all."
"I resent that!" Without any thought she slapped his chest with her injured hand and winced at the outcome.
"My point has been proven."
She didn't have to look at him to know that there would be a know it all smile on his face. There were many times when she simply hated Legolas and now was one of those times. Their steps abruptly changed courses from leading further onto the path to back towards the palace. She let herself be led as she adopted a confused look. Usually they walked until they were either interrupted or one of them needed something. She even wore her beat up tennis shoes to bed so as to not have to hear his mouth talk about proper footwear and how she neglected to look after herself.
"We should get your hand seen to," Legolas answered her unasked question before it left her mouth.
While Lizzy was far from predicable, there were certain things about her that he knew and being forced to take care of her for months had made him learn the habits that were embedded in her nature. The shock of hearing the things she got herself into had well worn out and it was only due to the tough skin he'd developed that stopped him from going completely mad over the things she told to him. Legolas sucked in a breath fully aware that an arsenal of words protesting going back to the palace would come. There were things that Lizzy had done that he regretted and knew she probably had to. There were things that she had done that he absolutely despised and thought she was never capable of doing, but what could he do about it?
The answer was just about as simple as they came.
The only thing he could do was love her for her. Long ago his heart had chosen her even before he knew it, a complete opposite of himself and never had he regretted it. Listening to her incisive chatter about how her hand would still be there when they finished their little stroll, he continued walking towards the palace. Bella, from out of nowhere, raced towards them, her tongue lolling out and she let out a gigantic bark by way of a greeting. At the sight of her dog, Lizzy dropped the one sided argument and pulled away from Legolas to greet Bella.
Legolas allowed a minute to go by before he chalked Lizzy's actions up to stalling. "Elizabeth─"
"Hey girl!" She said with a somewhat loud tone, louder than Legolas' voice. "You're so gorgeous."
"Elizabeth, you know you are not that excited to see Bella." He watched her continuing to pretend to be engrossed in the overly large dog, patting Bella with her good hand and ignoring him.
His mood flared. "Will you come to your senses please?"
She began to making annoying kissing noises at the dog and Legolas shook his head. This was what he had married, a girl who ignored him at times and came with more tribulations than he had seen since the war of the ring. Avoidance was a part of her package. It was a piece of who she was and Legolas had found that although it was highly annoying at times, it was also endearing in the strangest of ways. He looked at her and shook his head.
Unable to muster up anymore urges for her to see the healers, he simply gave in. "Don't change who you are Elizabeth."
She stopped her repetitive praises for Bella and looked at Legolas her eyes confused until she remembered what she had said a few moments ago.
"I have been meaning to talk to you about that."
Lizzy straightened up and abandoned her attention on Bella. "Huh?"
"I know that you feel the incredible need to prove to everyone that you can handle your position, but I fear I have neglected to tell you that you should not. I love you as you are, not as who you try to be."
Lizzy was a little bit numb as she stood there. Not at all did she expect that from Legolas. In some way or another he was able to catch her of guard by doing one thing or another. Letting out air through her nostrils she looked into Legolas' eyes. Even when she hadn't been the easiest person to be around and even when she had done some things that were not to be proud of, he stuck by her. Even when there had been a little bit of scrutiny over her becoming queen, Legolas had never slinked away from it and always defended her.
Lizzy walked the measly two steps towards him and reaching up on tip toe placed a kiss on his cheek. "No need to get all mushy on me. I'll go to the healers, jeez." She stalked passed him and towards the palace.
Legolas turned and watched her go only managing to shake his head in wonder.
There were a million other things that he had rather been doing. He could've been getting better prepared for the trip he was to take with Gimli. The two of them had been putting it off constantly for one reason or another and now it was finally a good time. It was only days away and he was not nearly set for it. There was that and he could have been gaining much needed rest, something he had not done for days. There was an important event he had to attend in the morning and rest was to be needed. The title of king demanded certain things of him that required he put aside himself. So there he was, held captive in his study looking over numerous things that demanded his attention.
He sat at his desk, the very desk that used to once belong to his father with mountains of parchment surrounding him. The place had to look like a complete mess to someone who would dare to enter, but he'd stopped trying to keep the room neat after the last dozen or so batches of parchment had been delivered to him. The few candles that were lit and spread around the room were quickly melting down, their life dwindling. The windows behind him displayed the inky night. The room was quiet making him all the more ready to be done with everything, for such a quiet had now become foreign to him.
He dipped his quill in the inkwell nestled between two stacks of parchment. Tired he grew of seeing his own handwriting sprawled neatly against lightly colored parchment. His name was beginning to become one big blur of black ink to him twisting around his vision and settling there. It became so constant, signing his name, that without thought his hand went through the motions of forming the letters. Legolas returned his quill to the parchment before him and scrawled his name. Unconsciously he scrunched his forehead as his eyes darted to the next papers awaiting his attention.
"No end in sight," he mumbled to himself as he dropped his quill and gathered the signed papers. Barely thinking, he moved onto the next monotonous task by grabbing up the next batch of parchments. The motion of placing such a stack in front of him created a mini drift of air that ruffled some of his loose blonde hair. No second thoughts required, he dove right into reading. Half way through the first few paragraphs and suppressing the urge to sigh, the door to the study opened but only a few centimeters at first.
The motion of the door was enough to distract Legolas from his work. He caught the door opening the rest of the way and when seeing Bella entering he pushed away the papers. Bella the big coffee colored dogwas usually scampering about outdoors, only coming inside to seek attention from Lizzy or to sleep. On the rare occasions that she did come to him, it was because Elizabeth was either too busy to see to her or was neglecting responsibility. So when she entered into his study, walked around the desk and stared up at him with large chocolate eyes, he finally did let out his trapped sigh.
Silently he cursed. Elizabeth was constantly forgetting to either feed Bella, bathe her when desperately needed, brush her fur, or just give her needed attention. She'd argued with him the first few days she had Bella that she didn't need someone to see to the responsibilities that accompanied Bella and reluctantly he agreed. Even after his father left and they took up their titles as king and queen of Greenwood, she insisted that she could handle Bella's care. Year three they were on and Legolas decided it was time for Elizabeth to reconsider having help with giant dog.
A lot of Lizzy's excuses were very legitimate, having to do with royal duties or handling their child of six months, which she refused help too, unless it came from one of their close friends. It was tricky, sometimes, getting Lizzy to accept help when she needed it, but he had finessed the art of convincing her when she needed it by now. Just thinking of Elizabeth and her obdurate mind brought a smile to his face. Bella thumped her tail against the floor and unable to wait any longer, skittered back out into the corridor. Legolas stood and followed Bella's path, his legs feeling as if he hadn't used them in years.
Maybe a distraction was what he needed. As he followed Bella towards what he knew to be the kitchens, he took note that the corridors he walked through were mostly vacant. Those he did encounter gave him the respectable bow and continued on their way. Making it down to the kitchens, he asked the cooks for whatever they could muster up for Bella. Bella sat beside his standing form impatient, her panting tongue and busy tail was proof. Legolas patted the top of the dogs head.
"Sorry girl, Elizabeth was to feed you before she retired for the night," Legolas said.
Bella whined in response and then let out a loud bark. Legolas frowned at Bella the dog. Her deep droopy eyes locked onto his and again she whined and barked. Animals held knowledge that was beyond the understanding of many and right there, to him it felt as if Bella was trying t o communicate something more to him than the need to eat.
"Here you are my lord."
With a nod of thanks, he accepted the metal bowl of leftovers and scraps from a dinner that had ended hours ago. He placed the bowl in front of Bella and then asked the kitchen staff if they could clean up after Bella once she was finished. It was something Renomere would have laughed at him for, asking instead of telling. 'You are king now,' Renomere would say, 'Past the point of asking.' Legolas didn't see that as a habit he would give up. Thanking them and seeing Bella tuck into her food, Legolas then made his way back to his study. It was time for the distraction to end.
He took the long route to his study wanting to stretch his legs more before they became once more confined. Bella's interruption had been what he needed and suffice to say he was in no hurry to get back. There was always tomorrow. Putting it off would mean that he could finally find rest beside Elizabeth. It had been days since he had done that. He missed it, resting alongside her, listening to the light snores that she swore she didn't make.
That was what he'd get if he blew out the candles in his study. He knew he shouldn't put off all the business on his desk. It might mean that his presence would be missed or even tardy at the wedding he was to attend and that simple wasn't an option. The direction he walked had him passing wistfully by his quarters where his wife slept, or at least was supposed to be. At the sound of soft giggles his ears perked up.
Perhaps that was what Bella had been trying to communicate to him.
The door didn't need to be opened to his room, their room, to know that Elizabeth was not inside sleeping as she should have been. For days now, sleep had been evading Lizzy but not because of the same reasons sleep avoided him. She just couldn't sleep as far as he knew. Ellesa suspected it was because of her subconscious and a healthy mixture of stress. She was pretty sure it would pass.
Legolas crept towards the familiar laughter and stopped just outside his child's door. Usually, it took both of them to get the child to sleep, hate for the activity was just that strong. That night, before starting the work that awaited him, it'd been left to him to get their child into slumber's hands. Hard was putting it lightly. Lizzy had to help with things pertaining to Ellesa's wedding, the wedding that he was attend the next day and other duties her title had her upholding.
An hour and a half, almost two it'd taken to get their child to sleep. He'd rocked the angry child in his arms, sang songs his mother used to sing to him, whispered soothing words of assurances, promises and just sat holding their child. Eyes that mirrored his own had gazed up at him as the hour passed growing more and more heavy. There hadn't been a need for a walk through the halls and the screams and cries had been cut out through the first hour. Nevertheless, it'd taken a substantial amount of time to get his little joy to sleep.
And there Lizzy was giggling with their child after having unraveled all of his work. Merriment reflected onto him to see his wife and child together in such a touching sight. He would have loved it even more had it been morning, not night when the two of them should have been asleep. Thoughts entered his mind against going into the room for a minute making him a silent observer for that time. Elizabeth, sitting in the rocking chair, thrill filled giggles from their child and little fingers reaching up towards her face, the picture brought the memory of when they first found out about their child forward.
Cloudless was the sky they were all beneath and the heat had toned down to be pleasurable. It was quite the change for a summer in Greenwood. And what was even more of a change was that all five of them─ Ellesa, Renomere, Elrendor, Legolas, and Lizzy─ had been able to spend the day together. Each of them felt the time spent together was important. In less than a days time, Legolas would be riding off with Gimli, finally able to enjoy a nice gallivant around Middle Earth's terrain after a number of cancellations.
To get away from any frustratingly dreary tasks a king and queen endured took much planning and delegating. Ellesa, Renomere, and Elrendor had their own lives ladled with responsibilities, some of which even tied in together. Currently they were cutting through a meadow to get to a brook that Renomere had discovered a century or so ago. Taking the horses would've gotten them there a lot quicker but none of them were in a hurry to speed up the day's activities.
Ellesa swung a basket full of food on her arm, a tune hummed from her mouth as she walked with a certain spring in each step. Elrendor was gently gripping onto her hand and sneaking loving looks at her. Everyone saw that they were bound to end up together and ever since they had finally taken that step, one could rarely find one without the other. It was such a pleasant sight that many could not help but smile when they saw them.
"Ugh, you guys make me sick."
Legolas expected those words to come from Renomere, being the only one in their group who still preferred to chase around different maidens as if he were still an adolescent. He was off mark when it was Lizzy's voice that invaded his ears and not the one of his jokester friend. All morning she had not quite been herself, much more irritated and she skipped breakfast which was most unusual. He chalked it up to his departure and her getting handed the proverbial reigns. So he ignored her foul mood and tried to find it appealing.
"I must agree with Lizzy." Renomere twirled a berry twig between his long fingers. "Must you two do that all the time?"
Ellesa abandoned her happy hum to stare at Renomere. "Do what exactly?"
"You know," Renomere demonstrated by batting his eyelashes at Lizzy and puckering his lips. Lizzy too shot him a disgusted look. Either he ignored her or took no notice because he continued on to his point. "In the vicinity of others," he continued on. "Down right nerve racking it is."
"Oh, you are only jealous," said Ellesa.
"Jealous?" Renomere scoffed at her comment.
"Yes jealous that you are in some twisted game of juggling different maidens," put in Elrendor.
"No, I just don't understand why the two of you cannot be like our queen here, so in love that she is mad. Yes, do not think I've missed the foul mood you are in and have not equated it to something no doubt involving Legolas." Renomere so elegantly switched topics turning her attention to her.
"Why must Elizabeth being in a foul mood be my fault," Legolas needn't really ask to receive an answer.
"Is that not always the case?"
Legolas frowned at Renomere.
"Would you stop it Renomere!" Ellesa darted in. "It is not polite to speak of Lizzy as if she isn't even in our presence."
"I'm─ I'm not mad at Legolas? I'm just─ I─ I just haven't been feeling too well." The words struggled from her, almost like she didn't want them known to her present company.
Legolas studied her small form with concern as she walked beside him. She had to have known what those words did to him, how much his heart sped up at even the thought of her sick. In almost the two years he had known her, the most he'd seen her sick was when she had behaved like a hobbit and adopted her stomach for eyes, at Elrendor's parent's anniversary party. Seeing her over eat was enough almost to sicken him. Nonetheless, Elizabeth ill did not settle well with him.
Before he could even ask Lizzy raised her hand to him, waving away his unasked question. "Don't even. I'm fine."
The wrinkle in her brow told him otherwise. The alarm Legolas could not help and it began to dwell and fester within his chest. Birds chirping in the distance clouded over the fact that no one said anything else. Renomere, never one for uncomforting silence, threw a joke out there, having to do with nothing but showing light to a heavy atmosphere that Lizzy had created.
It hadn't taken much on Renomere's end to draw attention to himself. He'd always had that affect. The concerned glances were still thrown at Lizzy, and Legolas had not even been taken with the quickly formed joke. Lizzy's announcement of not feeling well hadn't deterred their energized walk, it was only put aside to think and worry on later, at least in was for some. Legolas kept his steady ever watchful eyes on his wife, not liking that she hadn't mentioned her unease before.
Sensing she was becoming the downer of the group and not wanting to worry Legolas before his big gallivanting trip with Gimli, she settled up closer to him and tried to smooth out uncomfortable features on her face. A tone down of her attitude was going to be called on despite how much she didn't feel well. From the start she should have played it inconspicuously, but the ill timed flares of stomach pains made that close to impossible. Right now she was in the clear, her stomach not behaving like a storm for the moment.
"Don't worry about me, elf boy," she tried making her voice lighter. Nothing was going to be ruined by her. It'd been way too long since any of then had experienced days like this, where they could push back responsibilities and wallow in each other's company. It was like old times that hadn't been so long ago. Mentally shaking her head, she reinforced the no in her will to not ruin things, not over the most likely stale chicken she had at the Chicken Fried Chicken in the mall's food court, which was the probable culprit. The sudden thought of chicken made her want to grimace but her want to push on made her hold it back.
As they continued on walking, their friends voices growing a bit distant, Lizzy noticed Legolas expression didn't exactly portray the utmost confidence in her. For nothing they hadn't been a match made with more mystic than even the tooth fairy could comprehend. He worried and Lizzy knew it. More than talking, his silence told her everything she needed to know. His worry was teetering towards something a lot more.
"Look I know what's going on in your head and I'm telling you the truth. It's only a little stomach ache. I'm going to turn down the knob to my attitude and try to lighten up," Lizzy stepped over a moss ridden rock and was met with more of Legolas' thought filled silence. "You'll forget all about what I just said in a few minutes." It was a statement that she wished could even remotely touch as true.
"No." Legolas was growing extremely frustrated with this worry he was experiencing. She was attempting to make him forget about her declaration. The regret of telling seeped from her pores. He was beginning to wonder whether or not to tell the rest of them that they would have to get together another time. Because where Lizzy lacked in self concern he picked up her slack. Sometimes it astounded him how unconcerned and irresponsible she could be about her own well being.
"You've an attitude because you are not feeling well, which I do not understand for the life of me why you just did not tell to me." The anger slipping from his voice did not go undetected.
"Are the two of you coming?" Elrendor's question floated to the two.
"I didn't tell you because you probably would've over reacted and called everything off. Did you honestly think I was going to let that happen?"
Clenching his jaw, Legolas paid more mind to his friends whom had gained several more feet away from them. A tug on the strings of his judgment told him that it was not right to not turn around and head straight for the healers with Lizzy. This time he should have put his foot down, present company be damned.
Arrangements, as hard as they would be to make, could be settled for another time between their friends. An afternoon with friends would be a small price to pay if it met seeing after her health. But as always, Lizzy had a way about her that sometimes melted his heart and made him relent. Certain words, looks and actions from her, coupled with the right circumstances could make him give in without much effort and dozens of times Lizzy used this to her advantage. Of his weakness to her he was well aware, but the urge to give in came all too quickly, hitting him like a ton of boulders.
In a very unexpected and what must've been desperate act to not break up the day, Lizzy hopped up on his back. There was no thought only reaction as Legolas brought his hands to grip underneath Lizzy's knees. She wrapped her arms comfortably around his neck. The act she had just performed jarred her stomach and resulted in a wince that went ignored by her and unseen to Legolas.
"We are coming." Legolas responded as he hiked Lizzy more securely onto his back. The added weight did not take from the grace in his steps. As he proceeded further, feet barely making marks on the ground, Lizzy, at almost regular intervals would tighten her grip around his neck and then let up. The action, though small, could have easily been misinterpreted or even dismissed as a healthy fear of falling but Legolas of course knew better.
"I'll be fine and we'll have fun, as bout as much as a person can have by a stream of water," said Lizzy as a last ditch effort to put her husband at ease.
The next words from him were said quietly as he entered into the presence of his friends once more. "Any sign that you are not feeling in adequate health, we go back."
The finality was present in his voice and Lizzy noted what that meant. There'd be no budging him in his decision, it being as serious as a heart attack and Legolas would be adamant in seeing that she did as he said.
Her time sitting leisurely by the brook was sure enough cut short when she tossed her cookies, barely missing Elrendor as she stumbled behind a bush. Effectively, it had been Legolas' opening to get to his feet and help her. Lizzy couldn't even argue as he lifted her into his arms and took long quick strides back towards the palace, their friends trailing closely behind. Her stomach was waging war on her and it was all over the picnic basket Ellesa had unpacked. Even as Legolas made a fierce passing back to the palace the heaving wouldn't let up as her stomach became an unrelenting enemy.
There were comments made to the both of them, ones that assured Legolas that she was going to fine and calming words that soon she would be seen to for her. Renomere made the ghastly mistake of commenting immaturely on her face turning from certain pallor to an unsightly green. The comment had brought forth an angry bellow from Legolas. "Would you please set aside your childish ways for a minute? Just a minute?" Other comments on how insensitive he was being came from both Elrendor and Ellesa.
What was being said fell on Lizzy's deaf ears for the moment, she being too preoccupied by an angry stomach and trying not to vomit on Legolas. The time it had taken to get to the healers had been within minutes but to Lizzy it felt a lot longer. There, she was examined in every way shape and form and even had a strand of hair plucked from her head and haphazardly dumped into a glass filled with a sludge looking substance. The sight of it brought forth more from her stomach which she emptied into a provided bowl. Legolas was at her side rubbing her back and questioning the healers relentlessly.
Ellesa was running fingers through Lizzy's hair as the sick woman sat hunched over the bowl in her hands. Elrendor stood with his arms folded, eyes watching the happenings in the room and Renomere sat beside her but at a fair distance. The soothing strokes on her back helped in calming her but did nothing for her stomach. Lizzy appreciated the fact that everyone was standing with her and it only served to iron in the fact that everyone present loved her. They were her family and the only ones she'd ever need.
"Sorry for vomiting on your parade guys." The apology was weak but she meant every bit of it.
Legolas sighed and stopped rubbing her back to touch the spot in the middle of his forehead. Even sick she thought of a crude way to dispel an apology. It probably had even sounded alright to her if she had even taken time to think of it before it fell from her mouth. A short chuckle made it past the lips of Elrendor.
"It is quite understandable," Ellesa replied.
"Yeah─" Renomere gripped her shoulder and in a momentarily lapse of judgment making him forget why they were even in the healing ward, he gave her a rough friendly shake. "Another time."
The motion forced her to gag into the bowl but having given up most of her stomach contents she had very little to offer.
"Sorry," Renomere apologized quickly, more so to Legolas who was shooting him a warning look than to Lizzy. "Sorry, my deepest apologizes. Don't know where my mind is." He went back to keeping his distance.
Bed rest was what she was instructed to do, at least until they could come up with what she had. So under plush covers she retreated with Bella lying across her ankles. One hundred percent sure she was that it had been the mall food that had done her in. Lizzy didn't complain when Legolas handed her the large bowl she'd emptied her stomach contents here─ bare of anything now─ and sat in front of her reclining form. Lizzy looked down into the bowl hating that she had broken up the day all over a sudden impulse for chicken stripes at a mall outing.
"I've come to the conclusion that I need to stay."
It didn't register for the first few seconds what Legolas was talking about. When it had, she looked up at him. "No, you can't put off your big trip. Not again," with a shake if her head instantly regretted she spoke up more disagreement. "Gimli would be mad and─"
Legolas took her hand in his own. Placing a feathery kiss on her knuckles he said pointedly, "You are sick."
"It's no big deal." Food poisoning came to mind but she dared not say that in front of her overly cautious husband. "I'll be over it in a few days."
Bella barked at her. "See Bella's on my side with this one."
Legolas looked into the eyes of the ever pushy Lizzy and took in their familiarity. Her eyes couldn't hold back the truth from him and like the back of his own hand he knew them, the gray orbs always seemed to glisten these days, which was why when he saw an extra sparkle in them he grew confused. Her eyes, as beautiful as they were to him, always shined but when seeing this sparkle added to the usualness of her eyes his mind went blank. Lizzy didn't notice his stare and kept up the effort in convincing him to go.
"It'd be a complete waste if you don't go. Besides, I've got a whole gaggle of lookouts here, cept for maybe Renomere."
Quickly the king of Greenwood recovered. He took the bowl from her hands and set it aside on the bedside table. "Should that be the case, you getting well in a few days, then I will ask Gimli if he would not mind staying the few days it will take for you to recover."
Lizzy trumped him though by responding that she could be in her world by that time. A fact like that made Legolas curse silently. The days could not pass quick enough for when Lizzy would have to make the decision to stay in Middle Earth, being by now he was pretty confident of her answer it was appropriate, he thought, to count the days down to when the two year mark would reach them. This, of course, he would never tell her. Not giving her the satisfaction in letting her know that she'd won, he leaned over, placed a kiss on her forehead and got up retreating towards the door. Outside in the corridor he knew his friends were waiting.
"Try and rest."
Lizzy watched him close the door and flopped down on her pillow, a clear mistake that had her grabbing for what she christened her barf bowl.
Gimli took a deep breath of the fresh air around them. The levels of his happiness knew no limits as relief settled in. Of course he was not outwardly showing this for the elf to see. No, that would be much too touching and unmanly of a thing. With all the put offs and reschedules there was little hope held for Gimli when it came to wandering the glorious lands Middle Earth had to offer. Never would he have thought that the two of them would be so demanding that it would be a rarity just to even visit one another. Most glad was he that all things in his land were docile and even more relieved was he to hear that all things had come to calm in Greenwood.
Of the queen being ill he had been informed and offered his thoughts. Humans becoming ill were not necessarily something to be too over concerned. Dwarves too often fell ill from tine to time, nothing odd about it. For an elf it was a peculiarity, sickness, but Gimli understood his elf friend's point of view. Despite all his words laid back in nature, Legolas still had been uneasy about leaving her. It wasn't right he had said as they left Greenwood's reach.
"The lass made her decision," Gimli retorted. The dwarf eyed the giant horse Legolas pulled along, still feeling a bit uneasy about the white beast. "If you were really needed she would not have let you go."
Legolas chortled as he gave Arod the horse a pat. "Do not be so sure my friend."
"I still can not understand why you had to bring that beast along. What's the matter with relying on your feet?" The silence couldn't be held back any longer for the dwarf's disdain of the horse. Even after the war he had not relented in his dislike. Talking or debating rather on how Arod would be a good addition to their trip had thankfully and effectively taken his mind away from Elizabeth. The defense of a horse who had served him so well during many battles lightened his mood considerably and nothing could at this point except for the livid mouth of a dwarf. His last thoughts before he left the worry behind him were of how fine Lizzy would undoubtedly be.
"Arod has served me well too many times to count and she may prove needed on this aimless journey of ours."
"Bah!" Gimli waved a hand. "Horses are-are more trouble than they're worth if you ask me." He consisted to mutter about how foul they were until Legolas interrupted him.
"Have you any word from Aragorn," veering off the subject of his beloved horse.
"Aye, a few weeks back. His hands are tied with the little ones and his kingdom of course. Can you believe it, four little ones and another on the way/? Those two have certainly been busy in these free days. Can't imagine having children let alone five." Gimli physically shook in disbelief. "And all of them girls," he prattled on.
"So busy I have been that I've not the chance to visit him and Arwen," said Legolas.
"You exchange letters?"
"Of course, I just wish for the chance─" Mid sentence Legolas stopped. Arod neighed and breathed harshly, discomfort displaying in the horse, stomping its hooves as the two traveling companions came to a stop.
"What is it?" Gimli took out his axe.
Legolas looked around with keen eyes. He didn't sense anything sinister in nature, just another presence. The elf king calmed Arod down and continued to walk. "Another traveler I believe."
"Dangerous?" Gimli asked the question with unabridged eagerness in his voice.
Legolas shook his head. "I believe it to be nothing to cast worry on."
Gimli huffed but kept his axe out anyway.
Legolas picked up their conversation as if nothing had interrupted it. "I wanted Lizzy to have the chance of meeting Aragorn and Arwen."
Gimli grunted, "The lass hasn't meant any of the nine has she?"
"Gandalf and yourself being the exception."
"Pity we have yet to all gather for a reunion. Those hobbits, I miss them dearly."
Legolas smirked remembering the fondness Gimli held for the hobbits. The small ones did win over the hearts of those they had encountered with their childlike innocence and curiosity. At the mention of them, Legolas found himself too missing them. In a world such as Middle Earth at that time, such naiveté the hobbits possessed was endearing and hope inspiring. The sound of hard and steady hooves beating against the earth took precedent over Legolas and Gimli's conversation. The smile died on the elven king's face when the sound of a fast approaching horse drew close to them.
Their walk crawled to a stop and both turned to see who was approaching. The steed finally came to a stop before them. Legolas looked up to a discovered just who approached them, the figure meeting his eyes was friend not foe and in an instant dread shot through him. Everything around him seemed to still as he looked on with desperation waiting whatever news was brought.
"It is Elizabeth," Elrendor sat atop his steed, face like marble, cold and emotionless.
Nothing else was needed but those there words and within the seconds that transpired he mounted Arod, glad that the decision on bringing her was the right one and galloped off. Gimli and Elrendor were left to look on in his wake, scrambling a minute or two after him. For hours on end Legolas rode, not stopping for anything and barely aware of the status of Elrendor and Gimli behind him. Night fall had sunken in by the time Legolas set foot in Greenwood. He leapt from Arod's back and bounded through the palace.
He just knew that she would not be in the healing ward. Never had she like that sector of the palace and had said it reminded her of too many bad things. Things like injuries, torn apart feelings and death. She had gotten all of that from the healing ward, showing him the depth in which she thought, of course all of that was thrown from a window when she so elegantly nick named all the healers death dealers. Legolas sprinted down the corridor to his room, in sight standing outside the open door to his room was Renomere, a solemn look rare in nature on his face.
As he came to him, he slowed expecting the worse. Renomere never adopted a serious persona and yet his stance was tense, arms folded against his chest, jaw clenched and eyes focused straight ahead.
"Ellesa is inside trying to calm her down, convince her."
Trying to hold on to calmness, he looked into their room. Ellesa was seated on the large bed whispering nonstop to a nearly hysterical Lizzy. He saw them, the tears sprouting from her eyes and a look of exasperation drawn into her features. His mind was shouting at him to go to her that she needed him, but instead he turned eyes to Renomere asking the very question he should have been finding out from his wife.
"Convince her? Convince her of what?"
Hard clamors that could only belong to a dwarf were heard sprinting down the hall coupled with the light but hurried footfalls of an elf.
"That what has happened is great news."
Confusion showed on his brow. There was no need for Elrendor's words to go in. There was no need to look at Gimli's forlorn facial expression and there was no need to listen to anything else Renomere could offer. The sound of his rapidly beating heart thudded in his ears loud and unyielding. As he entered his room, he prayed that Renomere's cryptic words led to something that would not shatter him.
His presence made known to the room had Ellesa on her feet giving Lizzy one last comforting touch before making way to the door. She shot Legolas one fleeting look, a look caught somewhere between giddiness and disquiet. Legolas waited until he heard the door close before going over to Lizzy. Her knees were tucked under her chin, arms circled around her legs, her attempt at making herself as small as possible. Tear drops seem to fall from her eyes one after another.
For the life of him, he could not find his voice, lost the ability to comfort his crying wife. A league of questions were bottled up waiting to be answered but instead of asking them, relieving himself from the nagging feeling they produced, he just sat beside Lizzy enveloping her into his arms. Her head fell willingly on his chest and he felt her shoulders shake. Legolas found his throat tightening as her tears seeped into his tunic.
"You are still ill," it was all he could muster for the moment. The sound of her occasional sob had disarmed his inability to speak.
There was a whimper from her. "No not sick."
No time was wasted in revealing what was wrong to him. When it came to actually spilling the truth and not hiding it she was never one to beat around the bush. She much preferred to treat it like a band aid approach. Legolas felt her move her head from side to side, a universal sign for no. On their own accord, his fingers ran a path through her unruly dark locks. What had her upset was mumbled shakily passed her lips and the sound of his intake of breath resounded through the both of their ears.
It made sense then, the unfamiliar sparkle in her eyes. There had been a reason for it and he'd just been told what that reason was. A funny dance his heart had taken up, along with a feeling unidentified right in the center of his stomach. Lizzy pulled away from him, her eyes puffy and nose an angry red. She reached for a glass on the bedside table and jutted it in his direction.
Encased inside liquid clear as a crystal, was a single long hair. Befuddled, he took the glass from her hands before the liquid could slosh onto him.
"They came in and told me that's why I can't keep anything down and this─" Lizzy pointed towards the glass he held. "Was the proof."
She remembered one of the healers plucking a strand of hair and plunking said strand into a murky concoction, but never thought it would be for determining whether or not what was wrong with her was that she was pregnant. Right now, she was barely getting by on this conclusion based on a glass of water that had once looked like sludge with her hair in it, the only reason she was finding it half way plausible was due to a certain visitor having not visited for a while. For her it hadn't been an unheard of thing, but adding two and two together and throwing in the timing it made sense. Too much of it fit together and because it all did a wide range of emotion ran untamed through her.
She willed her eyes to look at Legolas. His head was down looking into the glass in his hands. Whatever was going on inside of his head was his own and his quietness was beginning to scare her even more than she already was. Lizzy took to gnawing on her fingernail, silent tears still falling from waterlogged eyes as she looked on. The lack of a response from Legolas lengthened in time.
"Say something." Lizzy rubbed her nose harshly.
He looked up from the glass and placed it to the side.
'Was this what it felt like to be ill,' he couldn't help himself from thinking. Legolas reached out with a hand and thumbed away tears from her cheek. The smile he put on his face was meant to reassure her that he was fine, but instead ended up being weak and unconvincing. Over the past few years he'd been experiencing loads of cherished emotions from elated to saddened, but it always took Lizzy to make him feel fear. It was felt by him when she had disappeared towards the beginning of their forced relationship, when they had been trapped inside a network of tunnels dug by orcs, when told to him the dangers her life found in her own world, when she had stepped in the way of an arrow meant for his father, and even their first confused kiss elicited a small amount of fear inside him. It was always Lizzy giving him fear and now along with a healthy dose of the emotion she was also giving him the promise of a child.
Fear wasn't the only thing he was experiencing. It didn't so much take over him, ruling out all the rest of his emotions. There was still the initial shock jolting through him, but it wasn't alone. He was without a doubt exultant, excited at the very prospect of becoming a father. Being bestowed a child was the greatest gift the Valar could give.
It was the most serious thing that could happen between two people, which was why he cast aside his feelings for the moment to focus on Lizzy. She appeared beyond frightened. The time for silence was done with and their news needed to be addressed. She was waiting for him to say something.
"This is the best possible thing that could happen to us, a child," his voice naught but a whispered.
Loudly Lizzy snorted before rubbing her nose again and a fresh onslaught of tears came.
"It is most─ most joyous news!" The beginnings of Lizzy not thinking along his line of thoughts were sprouting fourth revealing itself to him. There weren't many things she could hide from him, the least of all her opinion. Not one ounce of happiness was emitting from her not even underlying within.
"You do no think so?" With it all beginning to seep in, the thought of becoming a father was more and more appealing. The things he would be able to teach, seeing the various stages of his child and the moments that came with having a son or daughter fueled the natural happiness that the news brought. How Lizzy couldn't find any happiness to what was happening he didn't understand. Before settling on this happiness factor he decided on hearing her out. Maybe she was happy but the fear was too thick to let it show through.
It was a long time before Lizzy answered him.
"No, I don't think so! I'm barely an adult. I've got no business having a kid! It's not the best thing to happen to us, are you insane? I can't raise a kid!" All these things and more wanted to spill from her mouth and it was only due to the look on Legolas' face that she didn't let them. There had been a time when she loved trying to hurt Legolas' feelings, but that'd been a long time ago. Now, as she looked into his blue eyes spilling over with worry, she felt ashamed that she wanted to say all those things. The joy that was supposed to come with having a baby wasn't included in her shipment, the shipment she hadn't exactly ordered.
Sniffling she hoarsely said , "I think….I think so." The words went against what she felt, but if that was what it took to keep Legolas from being disappointed in her, then so be it. How convincing she was she didn't know, but Legolas didn't ask her any questions there after, and had taken to pulling her closer to him. He promised that every step of the way he would be there. The declaration hadn't stilled her tears though and it was these that gave away what she desired to hide.
Legolas rested his cheek against her head and knew that she was not happy.
The smile on her face now made up for the time when she was not happy about their child. Legolas decided against going into the room, loving what he was seeing too much to disrupt, even though the two of them should have both been in their respective beds and cribs, gaining much needed rest. It was only that as of late there had not been many chances to see Elizabeth in her role as mother. Folding his arms into him, he watched the tickle game a little longer.
Elizabeth made her fingers stop moving against the infant's stomach. The toothless grin was still held on the child's face. The innocent blue eyes stared back at her expecting more of their small game of tickle. In that little amount of time each and every one of her tribulations melted away, dissolved at the mere gummy smile of a baby. It never seized to amaze her just how quickly her child's smile could calm.
"Thanks for cheering me up cookie monster," Elizabeth whispered.
There in that moment, holding her child at an insane time of night, she had been reminded of just how much her life had changed and for the better. It took a little reminder every now and then to realize all that was had and a reminder was Lizzy hadn't had for awhile due to being buried in queenly duties and criticism. A soft yawn escaped from the child and Elizabeth instantly felt guilty for waking her small bundle. She watched her child's struggle to remain awake, eyes almost glazed over and tiny lids half drooping. Whispery unintelligible baby gibberish began spewing from her child's mouth which was a sure sign that it was time for sleep.
If there was one thing Elizabeth learned about herself by becoming a mother it was that she loved to look out for her kid. It wasn't the burden she thought it was going to be. There was nothing she enjoyed more than having to bathe her baby, getting to see the funny facial expressions when she or Renomere took to making weird faces or watching the kid gum but mostly spit out oatmeal. Those and more were a pleasure that she hadn't seen coming. It had taken her whole pregnancy to get used to the idea that she was really going to become a mother and sometimes, a lot of times it still felt surreal.
She swore that her kid's life would be nothing like her own. Every step of the way she was going to be there looking out for her kid. Her whole life no one in her family had stepped up to the plate. Even as she had entered into adulthood, she found that hints and such of her family continued to follow her in a negative way. Luckily, all of it was behind her now and never again would she have to focus attention on murders, money and violence. Elizabeth stood up from the rocking chair, walking her child and herself towards the crib, not exactly quietly.
She lowered the whimpering infant into the crib and smiled at the unpleasant expression being presented to her.
"I know you don't like sleeping but ya gotta get some."
Of course this didn't put a plug on the sounds of a protesting baby. Instead of more talking, she lifted the rich blanket and covered the baby contentedly, ignoring balled up little fists that waved their fury. Elizabeth promised to be a good parent, even though she had to search for answers on how to be one. She promised that always no matter what she would be there, that absolutely nothing would keep her from her child. And even though the fear of following in her own mother's footsteps was there, it was always chased away at the loving sight of Legolas and his on occasion deep seeded verbal vow to never let anything happen to either of them. Having a family brought certain sensations in her that hadn't ever in her life been felt and only served to enforce her promise to be a good parent, very unlike the one she had.
It had disappointed Nancy that she decided to skip college. It had hurt Nancy that she had made up her mind on moving out of the loft apartment once she got a crummy job at a local hardware store, and when she finally spilled the beans about being pregnant Nancy had been upset. She imagined in Nancy's eyes she was royally screwing up. Barely out of high school and already pregnant and living in a low end apartment building with a dead end job. At that point there was nothing to be done to make amends for how her life was seemingly turning out to others.
To show a little loyalty and respect for the woman who'd taken her in, she kept up wit the psych visits and went over to Nancy's place often. It didn't stave off the nagging questions of was she eating properly, when the father of her unborn child was going to make an appearance and whether or not she was double checking the locks to her door at night because Nancy still didn't like where she was living. As irritating as these questions were, Lizzy knew her time on Earth was in its countdown stage and so dealt with them with as much pleasantness that she could muster. Each question was answered with gritted teeth and a smile. Yes she was eating properly as proper as Cheetos dipped in peanut butter went. The father of her unborn child was a fortune teller from England and he'd probably already left to go predict when there'd be peace on earth. When she'd see him again she didn't know. She doubled checked all four locks on her door.
There hadn't been a day that went by where Nancy hadn't been bugging her or lecturing her about something. In fact, five months into her pregnancy and the mouths of everyone she knew hadn't stopped giving her tips and telling her information on birthing children she really didn't want to know. So when she stumbled upon a day off from work, she spent it inside hr small dank apartment that she hadn't bothered to unpack. In her comfortable penguin pajamas she stayed and invaded the old worn couch she'd gotten second hand. Mindlessly, she flicked through channels on the television, trying to avoid the news which had been reporting on the unsolved murder of Francis Montgomery and its connection to a possible gang.
Thank god no names had been brought up. Everything about that fateful day had been taken care of by the Red Hammer. Apparently, they had experience and many connections when it came to covering their butts. Who'd have thought a street gang had that much power and influence. From the handful of channels she had to choose from, she settled ion an old rerun of Happy Days and stroked the roundness of her stomach which wasn't big but wasn't unnoticeable either. Despite not being crazy about her pregnancy she couldn't deny the feeling of a connection between her and the new life inside her. The stroking of her stomach became a newly acquired habit.
She was warm─ for a change the furnace decided to work─ and comfy on the couch with a box of caramel corn and a can of pop watching the ever entertaining TV when the doorbell to her apartment rang, disrupting the peace. Mumbling about Nancy and her surprise just wanted to see how you were doing visits; there was serious thought about not letting her in. The ringing kept up and she found there was no choice. Lizzy got up from the couch with a deep groan and padded to the door, throwing it open without too much thought. The only people to ever visit her were the landlord come rent time and Nancy. Contact with Glenn had been reduced to email as he took to out of state college. So when neither the landlord, Nancy or the one percent chance the Glenn could be in town was at her door, the look on her face revealed the shock she felt.
"How did you find me," her voice dripped with anger.
"It wasn't too hard kiddo, you're listed."
Lizzy stared into eyes that matched her own, the eyes of Mark Winston, her father. She couldn't believe that he was standing there in front of her as if there wasn't any bad blood between him. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at him wondering what factors could make him want to pay her a visit.
"Don't call me kiddo."`
His eyes took in her form and Lizzy's hand tightened on the doorknob while the other covered itself over her stomach. There was nothing she wanted more than for her father to disappear.
"Oh well," he said once his eyes met her face again. "You got─ a ─um..."
"I'm pregnant, yeah. So what do you want?"
"You should've called me when you got news like that/" A smile that didn't have a right to be on his face reflected in her eyes.
"Right, like you call me all the time." She felt her blood starting to boil.
He ignored the smart comment to ask," How far along are you?"
"Um....no," she shook her head. "Don't act like you all of a sudden care, okay?" Lizzy took a couple of deep breaths. "Just don't."
There was a downtrodden look that she didn't believe on her father's face.
A few seconds of silence passed between the two before Lizzy couldn't stand it anymore and repeated her earlier question.
"I just wanted to see how you were."
Lizzy shook her head eyes focusing on a spot down the hall. All of this garbage was supposed to be behind her. Her father acted as if he wanted to make amends but he hadn't shown any interest in her her entire life. He'd rather let other people raise her than himself. What she had to say to him was limited, very limited.
"Cut the bull Mark and just tell me what the hell it is you want." Her voice sounded tired even to her own ears. For whatever reason she felt slightly nervous.
"Can I come in?" It was a simple request, but it was one that had Lizzy glaring suspiciously at her father. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his worn jeans and tried to give her a smile. He wanted something, of that she was positive and it wasn't to just catch up. Subconsciously, she let go of the doorknob to bite a nail.
"I feel kind of stupid talking to you out here, kiddo."
Regrettably she stood to the side and let him pass through. Lizzy closed the door and turned around watching him, feet not leaving their place by the door. He walked around the small open living room, side stepping a few boxes in the process. Warily she watched as he covertly examined her apartment and felt like ordering him out. He wasn't being quick enough in telling her what he wanted. Crossing her arms, she began tapping her foot.
It was only a few more seconds that Lizzy allowed for him to peak at what she had been watching on TV before she cleared her throat more loudly than needed.
"When did you move in here?" He was asking because of the boxes scattered about and not unpacked. She didn't have many possessions to begin with, and unpacking what she did have seemed pointless when soon she'd be leaving for good.
"You're avoiding my question."
Her father slumped his shoulders and flopped down on her couch. The action made Lizzy deepen her frown.
"Can you make this quick? I have somewhere to be." She walked from the door and sat down in a folding chair directly to the right of the couch. Again her father's eyes slid over her taking in the pajamas, uncombed hair and then he looked at the opened box of caramel corn coupled with her mountain dew. He was a lot of things her father, slimy, an abandoner, arrogant, but dumb was not among the long list. On her lie he didn't comment just clasped his hands together, looked down at the floor and then back up at her.
"Do you know if it's a boy or a girl? Looks like a boy to me."
Another thing that was getting on her nerves was people telling her she was most likely caring a boy. Either way she was having the thing that was ultimately going to change every aspect of her life. What did it matter if it was a boy or a girl? It was just a delight she didn't care to partake in, guessing the sex of her baby. It was unbelievable that Mark Winston was here and what was more unbelievable was that she allowed for him to sit in her living room. There was no one she hated more than the man before her and he was sitting there trying to chit chat about what wasn't his business.
"Cut the crap now."
Please would never come from her mouth when it came to a father who'd abandoned his family and practically left them for dead. God, why was she so stupid?
"The only─ only," she stressed her words calmly. "Reason I let you in is because I've changed. Couple years ago you would've still been outside that door."
"But would you still have been behind the door," he countered.
"I've been keeping up with the news, connecting dots and I think I know what happened."
Lizzy shook her head slightly, not quite understanding where Mark was going. He began to tap his fingers against the arm of the couch. His face adopted a frighteningly serious look. Lizzy moved her arms down from her chest and coiled her hands protectively around her bump. She reminded herself that the last time she'd spoken to her father, nothing good had come out of his mouth.
"Your uncle dead, how the police think it might be gang related but don't have any leads. All I want to know is one thing."
Lizzy didn't ask what that one thing was. She wasn't dumb either and as soon as he started speaking about the police and her uncle she knew just what he'd come for.
"You're an adult now. You've come into that inheritance and I'm curious to know what happened to it.
"It's gone," snapped Lizzy.
"Well that I can see." He cast a look around the room.
"So...." She trailed off hoping he'd fill in the blanks.
"So with your uncle being dead and all I'm thinking that it has something to do with you and your inheritance."
"How do you even know that I know Francis?" A legit question for a father who knew was never in her life. Ed hadn't cared for anybody in the family and as a consequence cut off all ties from everyone.
"No one in our family that knew about that money was going to leave you alone," he phrased it as if he were talking to a small child.
"Why? It could've been a number of things he was caught up in," Lizzy spoke getting back to his deduction. "Police even say they think a gang is involved. Do you think I'm the type to screw around with a gang? I mean I'm screwed up enough but not that screwed up. But I mean you wouldn't know would you?"
A laugh that sounded hoarse and cough-like sounded from his mouth. "Then what happened to the money?"
Lizzy cocked her head to the side. "Why do you wanna know?"
"I want to make sure you are safe. That this won't screw up your life any further." When she didn't say anything he sighed. "Elizabeth, kiddo, I can connect dots."
"Good. Great, I'm glad." Lizzy stood and stalked passed her father to snatch up her caramel snack and soda. Walking to the small kitchen area she slammed the items down on the counter trying to keep cool but failing. "So you can connect dots. Excellent, but I'm not a dot to connect." She gripped the edge of the counter with both hands, facing away from her father and two seconds away from ending the encounter with him.
"I'm sorry but I don't quite see it that way. You're just like your mother─"
"Oh how would you know?" The calmness that she struggled to show had now fizzled out with the mention of her mother. Her mother should've never even crossed his mind. Nothing had changed about her father and nothing was ever going to. He was still a rat sniffing around for cheese. Lizzy was beginning to think she had a hidden weakness for anything connected to her family because inviting her low life father in made absolutely no sense.
"How would you know anything about me?"
Mark stood up but didn't move from the spot. Lizzy liked to think that her stare was just that menacing that it could hold him to where he stood.
"I didn't come here to pick a fight with you kiddo."
"No, you popped by to see how I was doing," growled Lizzy between clenched teeth and thinking he was years too late for that.
"Do you know anything about your uncle's murder?"
"No." She grabbed the box of popcorn behind her and fisted up a handful shoveling it into her mouth.
"You're a dot as much as you deny it. I know you are and I don't want you to get hurt."
Lizzy rolled her eyes. "Psssh. How much is it?"
"And don't play dumb. This kind of case is bound to have cops shelling out a reward for tips. You wanna know if I'm involved so you can tip off the police."
He didn't say a word, not one word. His silence gave way to his guilt. And Lizzy shook her head in disbelief. Visiting time was over.
"Get out." Her feet walked from the kitchen towards the door. Her breath felt hitched and her skin about twenty degrees warmer.
"Elizabeth, your pregnant and living in this─ this dump. God knows what you did with your inheritance, probably something stupid. Just tell me what you know and I'll split the reward money with you."
"Don't! I don't need money, just for you to get out!" Her hand was on the doorknob.
"Think about your child," he pleaded as a last attempt. "It can't grow up in a hole like this."
There it was a fuse blowing off in her head. The volcano lodged in the pit of her stomach erupted. The legendary red was seen.
"Do not bring my child into the middle of your bullshit! You don't have the right to be here talking to me, let alone make any judgments or comments concerning my baby. You w-were a─" Lizzy paused to sniffle, trying not to cry and damning her unbalanced hormones. "You were a first class fuck as a father," she said failing miserably at keeping the tears at bay. "So don't even bother pretending to care. And don't try and use my kid to your advantage."
She swung open the door with a nice amount of force. "Now get out and don't even think about coming back."
For a long while Mark stood there just looking at her. He sauntered over towards the door after the realization struck that he wasn't going to get anywhere. Only did he stop when he heard his daughter speak again, voice more soft.
"I don't know whether or not I'm having a boy or a girl, but I do know one thing." Lizzy had to let him know this, "Because of you I'm going to be the parent that you weren't."
Not with a slam or a flourish did she close the door with, but calmly. Her body shifted to lean against the barrier between her and a life time of heartache. Once again her hands found her stomach and reassured what was inside by giving soft pats. This was the first time she'd ever felt protective of her unborn child and it had came as natural as the sky was blue or the grass was green when her father gave off threatening vibes. And in that moment she felt as if she would prevent anything from coming between her and her child.
She felt like as long as she was standing there'd be no danger or harm that she wouldn't protect her kid from. The shaky feelings she/d been having about being pregnant all dissipated in that very moment he said something about her child and all she felt was protectiveness. Now the not so positive feelings towards having a child, no longer existed. Her strokes on her stomach relaxed her body and washed away the harshness that her father had brought her.
"Come on monster. Just you and me till we get back to your dad and your uncles and aunt."
She began to push herself from the door, when a flutter strong enough to stop her in her tracks came from her stomach. It wasn't unusual, the flutter. There'd be lots of flutters for when Legolas stayed up at nights or was there in the morning just speaking to her stomach, even some for Ellesa and the others, but none for her, not until just then.
Lizzy smiled as the flutters continued. "Missed Happy Days but I bet we can still catch Family Matters."
Lizzy listened to the cries of her child that weren't really cries of need but more of anger. No tears even escaped the tired blue orbs. On top of the blankets she rubbed the tiny stomach knowing that sometimes it helped to calm the child. The cries tapered off and devolved into something more of a whine. Leaning against the crib, Elizabeth found her own eyes beginning to droop when she felt a familiar hand on her back.
Even though she knew who was behind her, she was caught off guard and shocked into a jump.
"You've undone all my work I see."
Elizabeth spun around and looked up into the expressionless face of her husband. His hand stayed at the small of her back. Her heart continued to thunder within her chest at the surprise and she made the effort to fully open her eyes. There were no witty comebacks to be found for her seeing as she could've fallen asleep right there on the spot and been dead to the world. The comforting circles being massaged into her back were definitely not helping her stay awake.
"I couldn't sleep." Lizzy looked up at him with a shrug and a small smile.
"You could not sleep and decided on waking our child for the company?" Legolas asked her with no hints of anger or displeasure in his voice. Before she could answer he leaned down and kissed her soundly on the lips, something he had not the pleasure of partaking in for a while. It was late in the night and the kiss was meant to be a light one but some how transformed itself into one swirling in an ardor beyond comprehension. Unforeseeable lights went off behind Legolas' closed lids as he felt Elizabeth try to gain more height by pushing up on tiptoe.
He smiled as he wrapped his arms tightly around her, pulling fingers soothingly through her hair. Their tongues mingled together slowly, telling each other of their love. As intense and breathtaking as it had been, Elizabeth pulled away to turn back to their gurgling awake child.
"I didn't exactly wake cookie monster up," Lizzy spoke using her idea of a sweet nickname. She peered over the crib again to watch her child's fight with Mr. Sandman.
"Why do you insist on calling our child a monster?" Legolas never understood the epithet Elizabeth had bestowed to their child. It hadn't sounded cute as Elizabeth had once said it was. Legolas stepped beside Lizzy and at seeing him; the child began to kick its feet in excitement.
"Cause cookie monster was my favorite growing up. It was a furry blue monster on a children's television show I used to watch."
Television was something Legolas understood more than he should have. Elizabeth did sometimes prattle on about the things that she missed from Earth, Cheetoes, mp3s, and television but it wasn't too often that she discussed these things. So when she spoke about something she missed from her world he tended to listen a little more intently than normal.
"Our child is neither furry nor blue." He offered a finger in front of the child and relished in the feeling of a small hand wrapping around his slender finger. The baby contested to waggling his finger too and fro, pleased to see it move so.
"No," Lizzy agreed. "But cookie monster helped me forget a lot of stuff, like kiddo here does."
Legolas let the explanation go in favor of something that warranted a little more attention. "The two of you need sleep. Tomorrow will prove to be long with Ellesa and Renomere's wedding."
Elizabeth dragged her attention from the little one occupying the crib, already knowing that unbridled concern was just dripping from her husband. There were times when she snuck looks at him and he appeared to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Then there were times when he held their child and certain lightness danced around him. Elizabeth never wanted for Legolas to look at the baby before them and have that heavy weight felt on himself. With a pat on the arm, she hoped it conveyed for him to not worry.
Legolas felt the simple gesture that didn't at all acknowledge his statement. Elizabeth had a way of avoiding things when she wanted to by bringing up new topics or thee blatant but simple solution of not saying anything on the subject that was brought up. The light of the moon cast an ethereal glow over Elizabeth, allowing him to see unhealthy shadows imprinted under her eyes. He felt both guilty and sympathetic as he looked over Elizabeth, who was at a struggle to remain awake. When it came to her health he was more than a little unyielding
Because she and their child was his only family left it was only natural that he sought after their well being. His father was an immeasurable distance away and at last he stepped into his shoes to become everything he had been. A kingdom he had to see to, a wife of his own he had to love and a child to care for and he was desperate to not loose any of them. There was a strong desire to see his family have a much better life than he, one with no more loss than had to be, no battles leading to wars, no threats, just peace, peace and contentment. If they were to see what he had envisioned for them, then keeping their health up to par was vital and that meant sleep.
With each passing day he found his promise to keep them safe intensifying. Every smile, every laugh, every precious moment had to be encased in security, because he knew all too well what it felt like to loose those things. The death of his mother had effectively ended his carefree lifestyle. That was something he absolutely did not want for the magnificent child that was tugging on his finger, attempting to pull the appendage into its mouth. This promise that he had settled himself with was something that he was reminded of every time he looked into the blue eyes his child inherited from him. It was a sentiment most astounding, most incredible, yet indescribable.
Bella sat a few feet away chewing away on an old paintbrush. Lizzy felt the chocolate dog's eyes on her as she stood covered in paint splatters and contemplating what to paint next on her landscape painting. The end of her paintbrush was settled between her lips as her brow furrowed in thought. Adjusting to life permanently set in Middle Earth was fairly easy since she'd grown used to its atmosphere. The parting with her life of Earth had been as easy as leaving earth could be.
She hadn't faked her death as a way to part with the people in her life, and hadn't lied too much either. The father of her child had made arrangements to whisk her away so that they could be together. She'd be able to care for their child and focus some attention on her artwork. He was going to give her everything that she ever wanted, could ever dream of and all she had to do was go. Nancy had always for as long as the woman could remember been a romantic but had been skeptical of the story Lizzy had spun her.
Every little detail she wanted to know and Lizzy had plucked answers effortlessly from the top of her head. That was where the lying began. The aforementioned father of her child was still a traveling fortune teller only this time around he had taken a job as a painter and still wanted to travel about the world but not without the girl he loved and his child. Lizzy couldn't believe the sap she had come up with. Even with her own real little fairy tale riddled in angst bullets, it hadn't sounded half as appealing as what she'd told to Nancy. It felt like she was pulling rainbows and colored candies out of her ass.
Lizzy had pleaded with her that this was what she wanted, that all the rest of her supposed delusions were just that, something she had made up to escape the horrors that her uncle had brought on her. Lizzy hadn't believed any of it anymore but she told Nancy that she did believe in being with the father of her child and that a kid needed both its parents. She even produced a picture she'd found off the internet of a blonde haired man set in some little foreign town sitting atop of a powdered blue scooter. And after that Nancy had fell hook line and sinker. Glenn, the only other tie she had to cut, had been pleased that she was finally chasing her buried romantic heart and wished her the best of luck.
She would've liked to have been able to send letters to Nancy, little notes, something to let her know that she was okay and how her baby was but it wasn't going to be possible. Living between two worlds was no longer going to be an option and her time was up. So instead she left one long letter explaining how traveling from place to place would be hard for her to keep in contact but she was going to be fine and if Nancy did get a letter or a call then that was when she should worry. She left the note with the rest of her belongings that were to be sent to Nancy and that was that. On the very second of the deadline of choosing between worlds, whatever magic was at work read what her heart truly wanted and her vision had spotted with dots and before she knew it she was in Middle Earth to stay.
Lizzy huffed and dipped her paintbrush into a glob of brown finally deciding to touch on some of her trees that hadn't quite met her expectations. Her art was vastly approving, being that she spent most of her time in her room dedicated to art. There were to be no responsibilities given to her as ordered by the king. It was because she was as big as a house, maybe bigger, and long over due to pop. She was in the middle of the tenth month and frustrated beyond belief. Ellesa had told to her that most elven woman's pregnancy lasted an entire twelve months. Lizzy prayed that because she was one hundred percent full blood human that it wouldn't be the case for he, but so far the end looked so far away.
Barely could she stand anymore which explained the chair situated directly behind her and her latest art project. Her attitude was something that she could no longer check seeing as everything made her mad one way or another and most of the time she was uncomfortable. Allowing herself to become devoured in her artwork made her forget that she was a whopping ten months pregnant with a child that seemed to have set up shop for good inside her womb.
Collapsing into the chair behind her as she took a deep breath, the painting before her demanded her attention. It was missing something but she couldn't quite put her finger on it.
"What do you think Bella?"
The dog so faithful had been at her heels and had not too much separated from her ever since her presence in Middle Earth became permanent. Bella was a cool dog even though she had a bit of an overly protective nature, snapping more than once at Elrendor when he came around her. Lizzy just thought that Bella could smell the dislike radiating from Renomere. The dog stopped its steady chewing and perked its head up. A bark was offered up before Bella went back to chewing on her paintbrush. Lizzy nodded pretending she knew what Bella meant.
"Yeah I see what you mean. The color of the leaves don't really pop out at you, do they?"
The want to dab her paintbrush in a bit of red and give something extra to her painted trees was strong, but not strong enough to get her up and out of the comfortable chair. Her feet hurt; a more than familiar pain flamed up in her lower back and at the base of her stomach so huge was the start of a pain. This was something new. It was waved off in favor of leaning more into the cushioned chair, trying to capture and hold onto the comfort it offered. It didn't seem to be written in the stars though, because none of her bodily problems were alleviated except for her feet. Her mind wasn't on her feet, just the cramping pain that was beginning to amplify.
To her right side she heard the heavy pants that could only belong to Bella. Dog breath hit her in the face anchoring her to the room she was in and not allowing her to forget she wasn't entering into the pits of hell…just yet. One thing was concrete in her mind and that was that what she was experiencing wasn't a usual pain. Her head bowed in weakness of a pain that was scaling to an enormous intensity. All of a sudden she understood why Legolas and Ellesa had been urging her to have someone at her side at all times. She cursed herself for not listening to them.
Suspicions were confirmed when she felt something related to the feeling of a small pop inside of her and then the pressure she'd been carrying around for months now released. Liquid slid down her legs and splashed onto the floor. An object cold hard and wet pressed itself into the side of her neck. She knew it was Bella but didn't have the will to look over at the dog. It was taking all her strength just to breathe. She ran both hands through her hair as pain exploded through her body much more powerfully. Bella pressed her nose to Lizzy's neck and then jetted off.
"They want to erect a fountain in the middle of the town's square." Elrendor scanned over the parchment dismally. He praised Lizzy for being able to go through similar pieces of business like the one in his hand. Elrendor knew Lizzy to have a short attention span and could not see her sitting for hours on end going through endless amounts of parchment because even he was growing tired of it. Looking up from the parchment, he saw the concentration in Legolas' brow. He was determined to see that all work was finished so that he may spend time with Lizzy. No blame could be felt considering Lizzy and Legolas were approaching the arrival of their first child soon and seeing to a highly desired fountain was not high on the list of priorities.
"Yes." Renomere readied a quill to write Legolas' answer.
"How large do the people intend for this fountain to be?"
Renomere quickly scanned over the parchment. "Approximate─"
RUFF! A hideously loud bark interrupted Elrendor. With all intentions of ignoring what would only be a distraction, he continued on with what she as about to say. The only thing to come out of a disruption of the canine kind was trouble. And trouble was something that wasn't wanted or desired in the room. All that was sought after from Elrendor was the ending to proposals and much loathed paperwork so that he may see Ellesa. Seeing the mutt that belonged to the royal family was not something on his to do list.
Valar he hated dogs.
He cleared his throat and pretended to have not heard the dog. "Approxi─"
The barking grew louder and Renomere knew that a visit from Bella was inevitable.
In a last attempt to hopefully salvage up an ending to at the very least the fountain request he gripped the parchment firmly. "Approximately─"
Legolas dropped the parchments he'd been sorting through and turned towards the closed door of the study. Renomere was persistent in telling him the information he'd asked for, but as Bella's consistent loud barks, what he two seconds ago wanted to know went forgotten. Legolas rose from his chair and in three swift steps made it to the door. Sure enough, Bella, the chocolate hulk of a dog greeted him with nonstop barks as he pulled open the door. No warnings had Legolas pulling the material of his pants from Bella's iron grip.
There was no need for Bella to capture his attention. There were no glances to Elrendor, no instructions as to what to make of the proposals they were going over, all that was left was put firmly behind him in favor of chasing Bella down the corridors leading to Lizzy's Art Studio. In the nick of time he made into the room laden with everything related to art and by Lizzy's side. She was still sitting crouched in a chair by her painting. The patch of water at her feet told him everything that he needed to know. Bella stood off to the side whining and whipping her tail every now and then.
"Elizabeth." He tried keeping his voice as calmed and steady as possible even though every nerve in his body was unnerved. Their child was on its way and he was almost basking in the warmth of its introduction into the world. No response Legolas got from Lizzy only a low moan equated to pain.
Action needed to be taken and first thing first they needed to get to the healers and quickly. The hands raking frustrated through dark brown locks were taken into Legolas' own larger hands.
"Mellamin, it is time."
Lizzy looked into his eyes and took a deep breath appreciating the feel of his hands engulfing hers as she tried to forget about the intense cramping pains she'd experience every so often. "I know. I know." She bit her lip.
Legolas placed a chaste kiss on her forehead. "Are you not ready?"
Lizzy shook her head. "No, I'm ready. I'm really ready." It felt like she had been pregnant forever. "Just-Jus─"
Legolas watched as she squeezed her eyes shut. Her hands clamped down on his. "Just scared."
The laugh that came from Legolas sounded a little hesitant and not at all at ease. "Much worse you have faced before." His blue eyes sparkled almost letting out the nervousness that he felt. "You've stared death in the face before. Now you are looking into the face of life and I can assure you that all the effort you put forth will be worth the reward."
Lizzy could only nod when another pain in the form of a contraction hit her. Legolas pulled her from the chair and guided her towards the door.
"How long have you been having them, the contractions I mean?"
Lizzy shook her head. "I dunno twenty minutes maybe."
"Have you timed them?"
Legolas received another shake of the head. Bella trotted closely behind them in their walk to the healing ward where a special room awaited Lizzy for the very moment she went into labor. In answer to Legolas, Lizzy shook her head again and gritted her teeth.
"I believe it is safe to say it is pretty early then," said Legolas as he gave her hand that gripped his so tightly a light squeeze. "You must remember to breathe and breathe quiet deeply."
"I'm sorry." It came from out of the blue from Lizzy. What she was apologizing for allowed for questions to form in Legolas' head. He searched his mind for something in the recent past that could have been found to be her fault but came up blank. Whatever crime she'd committed didn't matter right then any how, because as he watched his wife struggle in the grips of pain, it became even more real that it was finally happening. Their child was on its way.
"Sorry? What ever for mellamin?" The nerves in him were rising.
"F-For all the names I'm gonna call you when-ugh-I'm pushing this kid out."
When the hours had persisted turning the day into night, Legolas had seen Lizzy at her personal all time worst. Despite days and days of preparing the room for her, it had ultimately become too uncomfortable about five hours into having unforgiving contractions. The room was too stuffy, too hot, the bed she was in was too soft and, the walls which were a cream-ish color had been too bright. The healers overseeing the birth instructed Legolas to ignore the irritated comments in a whispered hush of course. It was just the pain making the queen spew off mean insincere comments.
He'd made sure there had been enough pillows supporting her back, made sure she had enough ice in her cup that was offered to her every now and then, and occasionally extracted the perspiration from her forehead with a cloth while moving hair away from her face. For all the loving touches he showed, none of them quite made up to her cantankerous attitude. According to her, he wasn't doing anything right. None of this he took to heart seeing as he was witness to the pain she was going through. Her hands strayed away from his own to grip the sheets of the bed tightly, whenever a contraction hit her eyes screwed themselves shut and a colored curse would raise from her throat.
Every now and again Lizzy would ask whether or not it was time and for the past nine hours had gotten the same answer. 'No'. Legolas sat in a chair by her bedside unable to do nothing more than watch. She panted, huffed, groaned and cursed, but nothing seemed to alleviate the pain she was feeling. Outside of the door waited their friends for any news they could get. This baby was theirs as much as it was his or Elizabeth's.
Ellesa had helped Lizzy study numerous books on baring children, coming to her with new facts daily. Renomere helped the two of them come up with ideas to name their child whether it turned out to be a boy or girl. When the readying of their child's room befallen to Legolas, Elrendor aided him in the design. He'd have no other help him with the room his child would grow up in. Their friends had been there every step of the way and for that, they would be forever in their debt.
"I should tell them how you are doing," Legolas looked between the door and his moaning wife. He was stuck between not wanting to leave and desperately wanting to escape her biting comments.
Lizzy barely threw a glance his way; too busy focusing on riding the wave of another contraction.
"They are probably beside themselves with worry."
Breathing in deep through her nostrils, she let the air escape through her mouth and closed her eyes, trying to block out his voice. His voice wasn't helping, it wasn't making the pain go away or easing it and therefore unessential. With every passing minute the pain was worsening and what Legolas had to say was the least of her problems. None of what was going on around her concerned her, just the searing pain that made her feel like she was beginning to split in two.
"I should see─"
"For the love of- just go! I don't care what you have to do! Can't you see that I'm in the middle of something!?" The screech couldn't be left from her voice. The healers floated about her room serenely, checking every few minutes to see whether or not she was dilated enough and it was beginning to annoy her. Her annoyance was therefore cast upon Legolas.
Before she could spout out anything else, Legolas strolled from the room and into the peaceful atmosphere the corridor provided, free from angry pregnant wives, and busy healers. The peace hadn't been kept though as concerned friends began bombarding him with questions. Ellesa was first to go to him, asking whether or not her nephew had been born to the world yet. Elrendor reigned her in only to get a question in himself centered on whether or not Lizzy was doing well. Renomere's questions had been similar to Ellesa' but wholly inappropriate, inquiring if the new boy had a misshapen head.
Legolas held up his hands as a barrier for them to ease off of him. He was pretty sure that his stress levels could have exceeded the capacity of the entire palace. Still the questions came at him, one after another, not letting up. Between his three friends he could not get one word in. The unruffled atmosphere he had been hoping that would come from outside the room was now shot down with inquiries and excited emotions from his friends. Legolas' eyes darted between each face, not settling on one friend or one query.
Not one question was he able to answer. He wasn't even able to step further into the corridor. The multitude of screams behind him penetrated through the door beckoning him back. The door opened and a healer coolly stopped the questions from the three friends by saying, "It is time."
For all the hours of pain experienced by Lizzy, for all the name calling, bad mouthing Legolas endured it had been all worth it. It had been worth dropping anything and everything he'd been doing for the past ten months to get cater to her latest cravings or help her lace up her boots. It was worth sore feet, the feeling like a cow and morning sickness that Lizzy had experienced. That single moment had been worth every thing that the two of them had gone through. The sound of squeals saturated the room, making it all worth it.
A clean and calmed bright skinned bundle was pushed into her arms after a few minutes of preparation and eyes of the brightest blue opened to look up at its parents. Legolas, beside Lizzy, watched as the naturalness of motherhood settled in her as she held their child in her arms. The nervousness she felt brushed away at the mere sight at what she worked so hard for. All the pride in the world was felt by the king of Greenwood and he couldn't find it within himself to take his eyes away from their baby. The blue eyes of the new life disappeared behind closed lids, apparently accepting of the two people staring in wonder.
Lizzy looked at the smooth healthy pink cheeks, the button nose, long eyelashes and the trademark pointed ears of an elf and smiled, She took in the small balled up hands so tiny it was almost unbelievable that it was a person she was holding. A knitted cap covered the small round head. It was in an instant that Lizzy fell in love with the little one in her arms.
"I think you should tell them."
Legolas looked at his wife and newly born child and found that solid vow to protect them was being reinforced. A warming sensation spread throughout his chest. Seeing Elizabeth hold their child brought forth more than a proud feeling within him. Her voice barely caught on to his ears, but it did and he knew that she was right. The feeling didn't go away, didn't leave him alone and began to attach and nestle itself into his heart. It was a sentiment most astounding, most incredible, yet indescribable. And he was going to feel more than jubilant to pronounce to his friends that Elizabeth and he had been gifted a daughter.
"Nellaris is a growing child. Sleep for her is imperative." Legolas pulled his finger free from his child's mouth and found it saturated with slobber. He wiped it against his tunic. "And you need sleep to take the irritability from you."
Elizabeth looked into the knowing eyes of Legolas. "I'm not irritable."
"Not yet," Legolas chimed.
Elizabeth looked down at her daughter for what she knew would be the last time for the night and whispered her name. "Nellaris Laura Thranduillion."
Her daughter's eyelids finally drooped closed. Legolas wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Come, let us get to bed."
"You're going too this time," Lizzy asked surprised. Legolas was not one to sleep often, but as of late, neither was she.
"Yes. A feeling tells me that Ellesa's wedding will require much strength."
Lizzy let out a quiet chortle. Before she let Legolas pull her onward, she leaned down and gave the small baby girl a kiss. "Night night cookie monster."
Legolas pulled Lizzy forward towards the door and away from their sleeping daughter. Any worry or distress her mind had focused on went forgotten as she left the room. Finally she was going to be able to sleep and all thanks was owed to one baby girl with the golden toothless smile and the magic touch she held over her parents. With a child like that belonging to her, the worry of anything else was of no importance and should not have taken up the space in her head that it did. Legolas closed the door to Nellaris' room and in doing so closed out all Elizabeth's worries, doubts and fears.
From then on out life was what they made of it, no other life threatening factors included and with their daughter acting as their light, life was more than good.
A/N: Again, a thanks is in order to all those who stuck by me all these years. Your reviews were and are much much appreciated. For all those wondering on my first story, see my profile page for the update. At writing the end of this story, ideas of a sequel popped into my head and my muse desperately wants to play with Legolas and Lizzy's daughter, but we'll see how that goes. If I decide on doing a sequel I probably won't post until it's already half written, to keep the updates frequent. Until then I'll be retreating to the bat cave for a bit.