Disclaimer: I stole Lord of the Rings from Tolkien's grave. Mwa ha ha.

A/N: For the record, I would like to say that I'm really, really, really sorry for making you wait so long and that it would serve me right if nobody reviewed me ever again. But please do anyway. I'll give you a brownie!

I apologize that this chapter isn't as funny as some of the other ones. But Brain has returned, a plot is semi-evident, and I'm working through school (OHGODHELPMEEEEE) and my worst block in recent memory. So yeah. Review to make me feel better! –cheesy grin-

Chapter 7: In Which I Make A Stirring Speech

Everyone was staring at me blankly, as if I had just announced I served Sauron. Maybe they thought I actually did, since I knew so much about their quest. This was not good. I was feminine, sharp-sighted, and powerful, but I doubted that would be enough to stop a very angry elf/dwarf/man from brutally eviscerating me.

Legolas was the first to speak, his melodic voice trembling. "Lady Jenniferiel, how could you? I…I thought you were special." Needless to say, the clichéd romantic dialogue didn't help the situation any, and earned the elf and me extremely dirty looks from our companions. Mostly me.

For some reason, I felt sort of sad that I'd let something slip. Even though I'd hated the running and the dress and the girliness and the undue attention, hanging out with the characters of one of my favourite books was beyond cool, and sometimes even fun, like when Aragorn forgot to be mean to me because we were all laughing at Gimli. Even though two of them hated my guts and one of them had a crush on me, I thought that we were almost-sort-of friends. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but…

Oh, stop feeling sorry for yourself and get out of the mess you're in, interrupted my brain.

I was just about to, thanks, I told it, although I had no idea what to say.

Of course, it picked up on this (it was right there in my mind, after all), and began to harass me about etiquette and such. It didn't seem to know any more than I did about this, which was not surprising, but it did make it hard to think.

I finally settled for the only thing that seemed even remotely okay. "I don't serve Sauron." Legolas perked up at this, but Aragorn and Gimli seemed both unimpressed and unconvinced.

"Really, I don't." I was thinking fast, trying to come up with some sort of Truth (capital t) that would have them acknowledge me as firmly on their side. My brain was little help in this matter, as it seemed to prefer snide remarks to actual thinking. "I do know of your quest, but I'm not a spy. You see…" Here I stopped, a bit unsure of what to say next. Aragorn's hard grey gaze fixed on me was more than a little disconcerting, too.

And then the Way Out of This Mess (capital w, capital o, capital t, capital m) hit me like a ton of bricks. If it hadn't been for that amazing Elven Grace (capital e, capital g), I might have fallen over. I paused dramatically, although I'd already paused for quite some time to think. "…I was looking for them too. I wish to save them from their captors. I was tracking them when I met you." Again unsure of what to say next, I looked around to gauge the reactions of the group. Legolas looked relieved, Gimli like he was starting to believe me, and Aragorn still looked skeptical and scary.

This was going to take some time. I frantically searched for something convincing to say, something that would not get me killed by one large unwashed man. "I'm not lying, either. My people are worried about these times just as much as…er…all the other people who are worried about these times. We heard of the Quest from Elrond, and wish to see it carried out. I mean, we think Sauron is really freaking evil."

Really freaking evil?

Oh, shut it. I don't see you rushing to help me, do I? I had bigger worries that my smart-aleck brain at the moment. Heck, I had bigger worries than the fact that I was conversing with my smart-aleck brain at the moment.

"Really freaking evil?" said Aragorn, raising a grimy eyebrow. He looked ominous, and I congratulated myself on using a vocab word even as I shook in my Sturdy Elven Boots (capital s, capital…oh, you know the drill).

"Aye," I said, the response I'd offered my brain not being formal enough. Gimli looked like he was about to burst out laughing and start spitting axes.

"Lady Jenniferiel, I can see Truth and Beauty shining from your Radiant Face," said Legolas (and bugger if I'm going to bother writing out what's capitalized there). "Aragorn, she is no spy."

"Pfft—what—heh—the—pfft—Elf said," Gimli put in helpfully.

Aragorn still looked doubtful. No doubt he'd been seriously traumatized and betrayed and scarred for life would never trust again or something—

Actually, to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't been—

—but, gosh, my lie was so terribly believable, wasn't it? What more did he want? His companions believed me! Wasn't finding those hobbits more important than sitting around looking annoyingly superior?

I was getting emotional about this. It was like math. If I calmed down and thought and looked at the problem, sooner or later the way to a solution would appear. It didn't mean that I wouldn't make some stupid mistake while doing the work, of course, but I would fall off that horse when it presented itself to me, so to speak.

Think, George. Think, Lady Jenniferiel. Think, Brain. What was Aragorn's Secret Weakness (I'm not even bothering with capitals)?

This time, it hit me like more than one ton of something other than bricks. Sob stories. Aragorn fell for sob stories and melancholy-looking Elves. I remembered this from the time he'd met with the Rohirrim and shoved me behind a rock.

Oh, this will be fun, George. My brain sounded like it was giggling sadistically.

"I do worry about my family and my home sometimes," I said, hoping that I sounded wistful enough. "This Quest is terribly important to them, for my father gave his life fighting Sauron when I was very young. I have never known him, but I hope he will be happy in the halls of Mandos if his daughter can help to bring down Mordor. I only wish I could see his pride…" Here I added a Mournful Look Towards the Sky.

I've never been much of an actor, but Aragorn seemed to fall for my charade. His dirt-encrusted face softened visibly, and a piece of gunk flaked off his stubble as his muscles settled. Okay, that was just disgusting. "Would you swear that what you say is truth?" (lowercase t) he asked, cautiously.

"Yes," I said. Please let this work, please let this work, please let this work.

"Would you swear it on your honor as a woman?"


The Other A/N: Slightly less of a cliffhanger than last time. Yay? Slightly longer chapter than I usually write for this fic, too. Yay?

And Aragorn does have a soft spot for melancholy-looking Elves. It's in Chapter Five, from like June or something. –hides under table- I'm so bad about updating.

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