A/N: I'm really, really, really sorry that I haven't updated this story in what seems like forever. My muse totally left and I've been trying to reign it back it, however, it's been mostly unsuccessful. I perfectly understand if you all want to flail my hide. Even though I'm posting this chapter, I don't know how long it will be until I post a new one, so I ask for your immense patience with me as I try to rack my brain and get the ideas floating around my head down on paper. I hope you all enjoy this chapter and please review. It would be very much appreciated and I will work as hard as possible on the next chapter when time and life decide to grant me a reprieve.

Disclaimer: I think we've figured out that I own nothing to do with the Lord of the Rings. If I did, I would actually have money for college.

Chapter 5: The Elves

The sun was just beginning to creep over the horizon as Gandalf, Frodo, Sam, and I made our way through the sleeping Hobbiton. Gandalf hurried along leading his large chestnut horse with Frodo and me walking a few paces after. Sam was trailing further behind us since he was carrying more then Frodo and I combined.

"Come along, Samwise. Keep up," Gandalf shouted back to Sam who was trying to hurry along as fast as he could. The poor hobbit. Apparently Gandalf's 'better use' was as a pack mule. That's what you get for dropping your eaves.

Soon after, we left the village behind us, entering a secluded forest on the perimeter of the town. The leaves and branches seemed to foretell something ominous as they stretched outward, blocking the rays of the rising sun. Gandalf stopped us after we had walked only a few hundred feet into the forest's depths.

"Be careful, all of you!" He warned. "The enemy has many spies in his service: Birds, Beasts"

"Oh, so he's the Beastmaster?" I uttered sarcastically. Gandalf glared over the top of the heads of the hobbits at me. "Sorry."

He turned to look at Frodo. "Is it safe?"

Frodo placed his hand over his breast pocket in his brown vest just as Gandalf kneeled down to eye level.

"Never put it on of the agents of the Dark Lord are drawn to its power. Always remember, Frodo, the Ring is trying to get back to its master. It wants to be found."

He patted Frodo on the shoulder when the hobbit nodded. Standing up he glanced quickly at Sam and I then leaped onto his horse.

"Gandalf, wait!" I shouted before he could gallop off. I ran up to the side of the horse, gazing up at the wizard above me, my amber eyes locking with his blue. "Look, um, be careful alright. Not everything is what it seems. Not everyone can be . . . trusted." Wow is that cliché.

His face held a look of puzzlement for a fraction of a second before he smiled reassuringly and patted the top of my head in an almost grandfatherly way. I . . . um . . . think.

"Do not worry, I will be quite safe," he tried to reassure. "Watch over Frodo and Sam. Protect them if you can. I know you have more then a vague idea of what is after them. Be sure that they make it to Bree safely. I will meet you there."

Sorry to burst your bubble, but you're gonna have a hell of a time with the Dumbledore wanna-be.

I nodded and stepped back, letting him gallop away. "I promise," I muttered into the wind and I meant it.

Quickly I turned to the frightened looking hobbits, plastering a smile on my face as if this would be a stroll in the park.

"Shall we?" I asked as I walked forward and took the pack from Sam's shoulder, dropping my lighter backpack in his arms.

"What are you doing, Miss Anie?" He asked bewildered.

"I'm helping you. My pack is lighter so you carry that and I'll carry this."

"You don't have to do that," he tried to reason.

"Yes I do. Don't worry, I used to go hiking all the time back home and had to carry packs that weighed like this, sometimes more."

He opened his mouth to argue some more but I tried one of my "Gandalf" looks on him and it worked. Hmm, I could have some fun with this.

"Let's get moving, alright?" I said strapping the pack on. They both nodded and with one last look at where Gandalf disappeared, started forward towards Bree.

Move we did, very well in fact. We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked. For hours on end we walked. Over hills, through trees, across rivers, up cliffs, we walked them all. It was as beautiful as it was boring. After the first hour, the trill of walking wore off when my feet started to hurt and my back began to cramp.

To pass the time, I took out my ipod and skipped along to whatever song was playing. The music helped to give me energy, and reminded me of home. Subconsciously I stopped, thinking about my life before the Shire. I really missed it back in Connecticut; back on Earth even. My life wasn't that bad, if fact it was pretty good. I got A's and B's in school; I got along fine with my family; I had a bunch of friends and had a life. I never really wanted to leave it, but apparently fate had other ideas. Why did it send me here anyway? Am I supposed to stop something, help something?

Oh, you're probably wondering how my ipod could work? Random I know, but you have either already realized this or went "Yea" when I said it. Well, it's a bit weird to understand. It hasn't died; in fact the battery hasn't even gone down. It is in the exact same spot where it was when I came here. I don't know why, but I'm not about to complain. My music is my life.

"You alright, Miss Anie?" Sam asked.

I shook my head, bringing me back to reality and answered, "Yea, Sam, I'm fine."

We continued onward through the rest of the day, the sun rising higher above our heads. About midday, Frodo, Sam and I were crossing through a barley field, heading toward a corn field. We had all shed out cloaks, the fall sun warming our skin as the last remnants of summer tried to hold on with an iron grip. Frodo and I had walked ahead, unbeknownst to us that Sam had stopped at the edge of the barley field.

"This is it," he said, looking up and down at an invisible barrier. Frodo and I both stopped, turning back slightly to stare at Sam peculiarly. Well, Frodo as perplexed, I knew exactly what Sam was going on about.

"If I take one more step, it will be the farthest from home I've ever been."

"That makes two of us, Sam," I muttered. Frodo glanced back at me, not quite sure what he should do. I shrugged and waved my hand, telling Frodo to walk back to Sam.

"Come on, Sam," Frodo encouraged, wrapping his arm around Sam's shoulders and gentle pulling him that imperative step.

"That's one small step for hobbit!" I shouted as they walked closer. "One giant leap for hobbit kind."

Both Sam and Frodo gave me strange looks as they approached, but laughed all the same.

"You are a strange one, Miss Anie. No doubt about that," Sam said, shaking his head.

I laughed as I plowed my way through the dense cornstalks. "Yea, but just think of how boring I'd be if I weren't like this." One stupid stock decided to snap back and hit me in the nose as I tried to walk between it and its neighbor. "Flipping A!" I shouted, brushing the thing aside and rubbing my sore appendage.

"You sure have made life interesting in the Sire," Frodo imputed, trying in vain to contain his laughter at my attack from the cornstalk of doom.

"Aye, that I have," I answered quietly as Frodo began to speak.

"Remember what Bilbo used to say, Sam? 'It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet—"

"There's no know where you might be swept off to," I ended, smiling to the hobbits over my shoulder.

We continued onward the rest of the day, stopping under a large, gnarled tree as the sun began to fall below the horizon. Quickly we set up camp; I got a fire going while Sam cooked the food. Frodo climbed into the branches of the tree, laying back and smoking his pipe as he gazed at the stars shining brilliantly above us.

Within minutes I was bored, so I rustled around in my bag until I had my sketch book and a few drawing pencils out, and then began a few rough sketches of the area around us. Although I had my camera, it was far more personal and sentimental capturing the images by drawing than just pushing a button.

We sat that way for a while, lost in our own heads and thoughts when an unearthly sound began to permeate the area around us, faintly at first and then growing in volume and pitch. I paused in the middle of my sketch and glanced up, straining to hear from which direction the eerie music was coming from. It was more beautiful than anything I had ever heard before. I could almost feel the notes wash over my in a gentle wave as my skin prickled with goosebumps.

Frodo had heard it too. He sat up quickly, twisting his head back and forth as he tried to listen to the music and understand where it was coming from.

"Sam, Anie," he said, bringing Sam's attention to the sounds. "Wood-elves," he smiled.

"I vote checking out where that music is coming from," I voiced, turning my eyes between Sam and Frodo.

Frodo jumped down from the tree, nodding enthusiastically as Sam pulled the pan off the fire, also agreeing with me. Quickly, we scurried up the slope we were camped under, brushing our way through the thick underbrush until we hid behind a fallen log at the top of the hill. The leaves of the bushes were blowing in the breeze as we peeked over the rotting wood, the sight we beheld robbing our bodies of breath.

A caravan of elves was gliding their way through the woods, the glow from their ethereal bodies illuminating the forest around us. Some were on beautiful white horses while others walked on their own, many carrying banners. They continued to sing as they walked. It was the most majestic, the most beautiful and the most terrifying sight I have ever seen.

"Holy cow," I muttered, roaming my eyes from one end of the caravan to the other.

"They're going to the harbor beyond the White Towers. To the Grey Havens," Frodo whispered, unable to tear his gaze away.

"They're leaving Middle Earth," I whispered sadly as Sam responded louder.

"Never to return," Frodo added.

"I don't know why," Sam remarked. "It makes me sad."

I nodded, watching as the silvery blue of the dresses and cloaks floated in the air like the fragile wings of a fairy. "Me too."

We continued our watching of the great first people for only another few minutes. Sam and Frodo decided to head back to camp, but something kept me rooted to the spot, my gaze unwavering as I stared unblinkingly outwards.

"Aren't you coming back, Miss Anie?" Sam asked as he turned to leave.

"Yea, I'll be there in a minute," I replied, glancing backward for a moment before I returned to gazing forward.

"Leave her be, Sam," I heard Frodo say behind me. The scuffling of feet sounded behind me as the guys headed down the embankment and I was left alone.

The music grew stronger as the silence of the forest closed in around me. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why the haunting image of the elves rooted me to the spot. Maybe it was because they were leaving to go home and I had been so rudely uprooted from mine. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't even have a home in Middle-Earth and couldn't tell yet if I ever would.

Whatever the reason, tears dotted my eyes and then sprinkled down my cheeks to the point where I either had to leave, or burst unto tears. Reluctantly I stood and turned to head back to the camp. However, a blurred image caught the corner of my eye and I turned looked back to see a pale-haired elf with eyes darker than the green leaves that dotted the trees stop and regard me in the waning light of dusk. We stared at one another for what felt like a millennium before he smiled and dipped his head to me as if saying good bye, raising his arm in the gesture of farewell. I smiled and returned the motion, my tears still leaving pale streaks, before I turned and stumbled my way back to camp.

By the time I staggered my way into camp, Sam and Frodo had already rolled out their bedrolls and were trying to sleep on the very uncomfortable and uneven ground. Seeing no need to stay up any longer, I quickly got ready for bed and laid down as well, turning this way and that in hopes that I would find a position that wouldn't leave me screaming in the morning. Closing my eyes, I tried to sleep — trying being the operative word since sleep was not happening anytime soon.

The ground was sharp, hard and knarled with twisting roots and embedded rocks. Also, the image of the elf's farewell to me would not allow my mind to rest like it so desperately need. Add in the fact that Sam was complaining and there were all sorts of fun happening here.

"Everywhere I lie," Sam complained in frustration. "There's a dirty great root sticking into my back." He shifted around again, wriggling around in a way only a hobbit could.

"Just close your eyes," Frodo responded sleepily. "And imagine you're back in your own bed with a soft mattress and a lovely feather pillow." One could almost believe that and I did. Almost.

Sam shifted and wriggled a bit more, trying to place himself just as Frodo said. For a few blessed moments, only the sounds of the forest permeated the air until. . . .

"It's not working Mr. Frodo. I'm never going to be able to sleep out here."

Sighing in my own frustration and growled, "and neither will I if you don't stop complaining. Just relax."

I closed my eyes and pictured myself back home in America, in my bed, surrounded by my awards and pictures with my family in just the other room while ever so slowly drifting off to sleep.

Liked it, hated it? Let me know and Like I said before, will work as diligently as possible on the next chapter.