I Love You, But…

Summary: Victoria, your average high school senior, longs for some freedom from her overprotective parents. After convincing them to let her go backpacking in Australia, she finds more than that… An entrance to Middle Earth! (Possible Legolas/OC Haldir/OC)

A/N: Hey, this is Fluffy'sMate17. I'm Lady Wednesday's editor and co-writer. Please bear with us; the first chapter is pretty slow. If you're going to judge our story, please wait until the next chapter to do so. Thanks, and on with the fic!

Disclaimer: Lady Wednesday doesn't own Lord of the Rings… but she wants to. It's kind of scary how much she wants to…

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Chapter One: Passage to Middle Earth

"Flight 291 – departure from the Philadelphia Airport of Pennsylvania, USA – has arrived at Gate F. Passengers have been unloaded, luggage is in the process of unloading. Again, flight 291 has arrived at Gate F."

Victoria sighed as she waited with the rest of the passengers to get her luggage. There was no denying that she was excited to be away from her overprotective parents, but at the same time…

Victoria swallowed. She could feel the lump of homesickness forming in her throat. She'd never been so far away from home before and, frankly, she'd never expected to be.

Her parents usually never let her out of their sight for long, but here she was – thousands of miles from home – and her parents seemed relieved. Happy, even. She just didn't understand it.

Flashback

"Mom, Dad, I want to go backpacking in Australia," the black-haired teen blurted out breathlessly as the front door slammed behind her.

Her parents exchanged a glance. "Now, Victoria," her father began to the willful girl, "what with all the AP courses you've been taking this year…"

Victoria interrupted him. "Dad, summer vacation starts in a WEEK. It's not like I'm gonna have any homework over the summer!"

Her father seemed flustered. "Well, yes, but… Australia is so impractical, sweetheart. I know! We can do our very own camping trip right here – just the three of us!"

Victoria was skeptical. "Dad, we live in Philadelphia. Where do you expect us to go camping? Independence Hall?"

"We could…"

This time it wasn't Victoria that interrupted, but her mother. "Harold," she murmured, laying a restraining hand on his arm. To Victoria, she added, "We'll think about it, honey. Now, run along."

'We'll think about it.' By now, Victoria had learned that whenever her parents said those words, they actually meant 'we'll pretend to think about it and take so long doing so that you'll hopefully forget all about it'.

Victoria stared at her parents, her emerald green eyes full of anger and hurt. "YOU NEVER LET ME HAVE ANY FUN!" She cried, racing up the stairs to her room. "WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO PROTECTIVE?" She slammed the door and threw herself on the bed, wallowing in self pity.

Victoria wasn't sure how much time had passed when her door slid open and her parents walked in. They sat down on her bed and her mother began to stroke her hair. Victoria ignored them, and the silence plainly stated that she had not forgiven them.

Finally her father spoke. "Victoria, we came to apologize. You're right. We are a little…" Victoria's mother cleared her throat. "All right, maybe we're very protective, but it's because we love you. We don't want anything to happen to you."

At this, Victoria raised her head and met her father's gaze squarely. "You don't want anything to happen to me? You don't want anything to happen to me?" She repeated scornfully. "You want me to stay locked up in this (expletive) house until I die of old age?"

Her father winced under her verbal attack, but Victoria was too fired up to care. "Victoria…" Her father tried again. "As I said, we came to apologize. We were wrong in not giving you any freedom."

Victoria's mom continued from there. "So, we think it would be a great idea for you to have some time to yourself."

Victoria stared, totally caught off-guard by this unexpected turn of events. "You mean… I can…?" She fumbled with her words.

Her mother nodded. "Yes. You can go."

And, just like that, they had paid the 2,500 dollars that the trip cost. Scarcely two weeks later, they had waved their only daughter off at the airport.

Victoria bid them goodbye, then hurried off to a security screening line. Eager as she was to be rid of her overprotective parents for the first time in her life, she couldn't help glancing back one last time. She wasn't sure what she expected to see on their faces. Worry. Tears, maybe. But she certainly didn't expect what she did see.

On her parents' faces was relief. They were smiling at each other, looking more relaxed than Victoria could recall ever seeing them. They looked as if… as if a giant burden had been lifted from their shoulders.

That was all Victoria had time to see before the security guard motioned for her to step up, saying, "Next."

End Flashback

'Why did they let me come?' Victoria wondered for the thousandth time. 'Why did they let me come all the way to Australia, if they wouldn't even let me go to a haunted house? What are they up to?'

Victoria was so caught up in her thoughts that she almost didn't notice her luggage in time. Making a wild grab for it, she sighed in relief as she made contact with the handle and managed to pull her suitcase off the moving rack.

'Self, check. Baggage, check…now what?' Glancing around, Victoria noticed a group of people with a big sign in front of them. The sign read, "Cross Australia Backpacking".

"Guess that's me," Victoria thought. With growing excitement, she began to make her way towards the group.

Sometime Around 11pm

Victoria was exhausted. All the time changes hadn't been kind to her, and sitting in a van for several hours definitely hadn't helped.

Victoria yawned and stretched, attempting to stay awake. Almost everyone else in the van looked about as awake as she felt. The constant motion and steady hum of the van were very soothing… Giving into her desire, Victoria closed her heavy eyes.

'I'll only keep my eyes shut for a minute,' she thought groggily. 'But not for long… I don't want to miss anything…'

The van came to a sudden, jolting stop, and Victoria woke with a start. Surprise lent her adrenaline, and she quickly regained her bearings.

'Oh no!' She thought in despair. 'How long was I out for?'

A glance at the clock told her that she had only been asleep for 10 minutes. She breathed a sigh of relief.

Just then, the leader of the Cross Australia Backpacking group – Evan – called, "All right, folks, we've just reached our last stop. Outback International Airport. Anyone who wants to join me in picking up our last member, feel free to come and stretch your legs."

His invitation was met by sleepy declines, are-you-freaking-crazy looks, and even a few snores from the people who were still asleep. Victoria blinked a few times to clear her sleepy mind. The night air might be able to wake her up…

"I'll come," she said, squeezing out of the van. The cool, Australian air slapped her face, and she immediately felt more alert.

Evan grinned at her. "Thanks for joining me. This way." He began to lead the way toward terminal four. Victoria hurried to keep up with his long strides.

"How many people are we picking up here?" She asked, rather breathlessly as Evan strode quickly toward the baggage-pickup place.

"Just one," he replied. They reached their destination and stopped.

"Who?" Victoria asked.

Evan checked his clipboard. "This says that her name's Andrea and that she's 17 years old."

Victoria smiled happily. "She's my age!"

Evan nodded. "All sorts go on these backpacking trips."

A sudden touch on Victoria's shoulder caused her to start and turn around. A girl with pale, golden hair smiled sheepishly at her. Victoria's breath caught. 'She has my face too!'

"Hi, sorry for scaring you," the girl said. "Is this the Cross Australia Backpacking group?"

Victoria gaped wordlessly at her. 'We… we could be twins!' She thought faintly. 'If she dyed her hair black, even my own parents wouldn't be able to tell who's who! How is this possible…?'

The girl seemed uncomfortable under Victoria's stare, so she turned to Evan for assistance. Unfortunately for her, Evan was gaping as well. Deciding that neither were going to answer her, she cleared her throat. Victoria and Evan snapped out of it.

"Er, yeah, this is the Cross Australia Backpacking group," Evan explained. Then, glancing back and forth between Victoria and the girl, he asked helplessly, "Are you two related?"

The girl blinked in surprise and looked at Victoria. For the first time, she seemed to notice the similarities of their appearances. "N-no…" The girl answered, apparently in shock. "No, we've never met before. I'm Andrea." She held her hand out to Victoria, who took it in a daze.

"Victoria. Wow… This is just… wow…" Though Victoria was having a slightly difficult time explaining how she felt in coherent words, Andrea seemed to understand.

"Yeah...We're, like… twins…" She exclaimed, awed.

Now that the shock had worn off, they were both becoming increasingly excited about the whole predicament. "Wanna tent together?" She asked happily.

"Yeah, of course! So, where do you live?" Victoria replied. As the three of them headed back to the van, the two new friends quickly fell into a conversation about each other's hobbies, friends, and over-all lives…

Half an Hour Later

"We're staying at a hotel?" Victoria asked in disbelief. "I thought this was a backpacking trip!"

"Well," Evan replied, addressing the whole group, "since this is probably all of your first backpacking trips, I didn't think many of you were exactly experts on the topic. Since it's already…" He checked his watch. "…11:45, I somehow don't get the feeling that you're all excited about the prospect of learning how to put up a tent before sleeping."

"That's true," someone yawned.

"Besides," Evan added, "you're going to need your strength for tomorrow. Best way to ensure that is to get a good night's sleep and to eat a hearty breakfast in the morning. Now, please separate yourselves into groups of no more than four. And please be quick about it. I, for one, am asleep on my feet."

Victoria and Andrea glanced at each other and grinned, knowing fully well whom they were rooming with. Less than twenty minutes later, they were flopping tiredly onto their hotel beds.

"Well, g'night, Victoria…" Andrea murmured sleepily.

"Night…" Victoria whispered in reply, her eyes already shut tight. Smiling slightly, Victoria drifted off to sleep.

The Next Day

The next morning, the CAB (as they all called the Cross Australia Backpacking trip), started off on horseback. According to Evan, though, the horses would only be provided for the first few days. After everyone became relatively comfortable being in Australia, they would be returned and the CAB would be on their own.

About ten miles from the CAB's starting point, the adventurers were far away from civilization and headed deep into the grassy plains of Australia.

Victoria and Andrea had become fast friends, and had opted to lag behind the group, talking. Just then, Andrea spotted something golden off to the right from where the CAB was headed. "What's that?" She asked to Victoria, who blinked at it in wonder.

"I think it's a forest!" Victoria exclaimed. "A yellow forest!"

"That's probably just a trick of the light. I wonder why we aren't headed toward that?" Andrea wondered aloud. "That looks a lot more interesting then some tall grass."

"Yeah," Victoria agreed. A sudden spark of mischief lit up her eyes. "Come on!" She called to Andrea, urging her horse to a canter. "Let's check it out!"

Andrea hung back, wary. "What if we lose the group?" She worried.

"Don't be such a pansy. Besides, look around you! The land is flat. We can see for miles around here!" Victoria argued.

Andrea glanced around. Victoria was right. There was no way they would lose sight of the group. Andrea relaxed. "Okay," she consented, also urging her horse to go faster.

About five minutes later, the two girls were at the edge of the forest. As it turned out, the yellow look wasn't just a trick of the light. "The leaves are like gold!" Andrea whispered in awe.

It was true. The leaves had the healthy look of any happy, green leaves. The only difference was… they were yellow. It wasn't the type of metallic yellow one sees in jewelry stores, though. It was a softer yellow that reminded one of daisies, melted butter, and all sorts of wonderful things.

"Come on!" Victoria cried, feeling inspired by the beauty of the forest. "Let's get a closer look!" She trotted her horse forward. Andrea followed. Both girls felt at peace with their surroundings. All thoughts of getting back to the group were forgotten… until they stepped into the wood.

"The plains!" Andrea cried out suddenly, her voice shrill with fear. "The plains are fading!"

The peace of the forest was broken by Andrea's voice, and Victoria felt herself paling as fear took hold. Turning her horse around, she stared as the plains were slowly replaced by a golden wood that seemed to go on forever.

"What's going on?" She cried in panic. Both girls attempted to spur their horses after the fleeing grassland, but the horses had picked up on the girls' fear. Screaming wildly, both horses reared in a terrified attempt to escape whatever had frightened their riders.

Victoria grabbed her horse's mane when the horse began to panic. Pulling desperately on the reins, she slowly managed to get all her horse's feet on the ground. Whispering soothing words in the animal's ear, she finally succeeded in getting the mare's fear under control.

Looking over to see how Andrea had fared, Victoria saw that she, too, had been able to calm her mount. Victoria then looked back to where the plains had been only moments ago, but they had vanished in the short time it had taken to get her mare under control.

"What are we going to do now?" She asked quietly, looking back at Andrea. Andrea, however, was silent. Her wide eyes stared at something behind Victoria.

Fear reared its ugly head again, and Victoria turned around with unnecessary force. Then she screamed.

End of Chapter 1

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Bonjour! This is Lady Wednesday, i just want to thank Fluffy'sMate17 and all of you that have read my first LOTR fanfic. I hope you all liked it and please review. Title might be changed in the future, although probably not. Thanks again! Please review! Flames will be used to heat my fireplace.