Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lord of the Rings belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and J.R.R. Tolkien.

There are too many.

The morning air is cold. We sit still in the grass.

She stands boldly in front of us. The blunt noises of her own language tumble from her tongue. She speaks loudly, angrily, and desperately. The light catches in her hair, ignites in her eyes. The cloak I lent her is in pieces, torn to shreds. The grass was damp when we lay against it, and too much is exposed by clinging fabric.

I think I am the only one who sees the knife in her hand. The orcs do not pay it any mind; they are too engrossed with what they have before them.

One of them jabs at her with its spear. She trips forward, but rounds on the spear-bearer, shouting various, incomprehensible things that must be insults by the ugly sounds of them. The orcs howl and laugh and come closer to her.

We remain. My maids and friends are afraid, though we try to face our fates with stoic silence. I saw our two guards cut down, swords still sheathed. How could it be? How could orcs come so close without our knowing? I cannot explain it, but they have, and we are caught unawares.

I shall suffer as my mother suffered, and more.

Strangely, I am not afraid. I feel dull, in a stupor, as if I am not awake, but I am not frightened. All I can think is that I regret being unable to see Estel again before I am sundered from him forever.

She is still speaking, and she has gotten farther away from us. They have cut her, here and there, and her blood seems to have inflamed them. They are gathering around her now, following her as she stumbles, each eager to inflict its own wound.

Unhappy girl, to have lost her home only to die here, like this. The orcs are maddened by her, behaving as if intoxicated, shoving each other aside in trying to get to her. There - one has just killed the one at its right for impeding the way.

A memory rises in my mind, unbidden, unwilling. I see my brothers, speaking together in a part of the house at an hour of the day where and when they thought they would be unobserved. I watched them, by happenstance more than by wont, and I knew what they were arguing. They hardly seemed like brothers then, standing face-to-face, glaring as if each hated the other, talking in low, hard voices.

She has changed them, broken them apart. But I cannot blame her, for she did not want such a thing, and I know she regrets ever coming to Imladris. My brothers pull and pull at her, each as fierce in his love as the other, and she cries out with pain and fear in her sleep.

Would that there were two of her, as there are two of them. But there is only one, her alone, and perhaps that is fitting, for how could any place ever withstand two such creatures?

We are the Eldar, the Firstborn, and she drives us to madness. I see the desire fill their eyes at the sight of her, the longing as if she were the sea itself. What is it in her that we recognize, that we want so urgently?

I see more than is acknowledged. I am, perhaps, the only one who knows that the marchwarden, who came to us on behalf of my grandmother, now stays only for those few moments in the morning when he might see her walking in the garden. That Rumil is neither ill nor ill-mannered, but only sick with love, so much so that his brothers worry for him. That a single, flashing glance from her eyes would bring a golden lord to his knees.

That my father, who faced losing a daughter and now faces losing his sons, is in anguish.

There is a piercing shriek, a glint of metal, and then we see her.

She stands in the middle of a mob. The knife in her hand is black with blood, her clothes hanging by threads. Terrible wounds bleed into her free hand. Her eyes, her fatal eyes, lock with mine.

Run, she screams, and the word brings me to my feet. Run!

We are standing. I see suddenly that the orcs are indeed a distance from us now, their backs turned, not one left to guard us. They have forgotten their other prisoners, they are so hungry for her.

They close on her again, and someone pulls at my hand. "My lady, we must, I beg you, we must," and then I am pulled away, pulled into the trees, and we are running, running away from the screams and the blood and the girl who has bought us our lives with her own.

We run.

My thoughts run with me. What have I done? I have abandoned her to torture and worse than death for my own safety. I have proven coward. I...I have left her to suffer as my mother suffered.

This makes me slow, near to stopping, but their hands pull at me and I am forced to keep up.

There is no pursuit, though we are constantly looking back for it. She has drawn them well and truly. Does she live? Does she still struggle, though surely by now she has been dragged down? Perhaps there is still hope; if we were to find help, if we were only to reach my father in time. I know, at the least, my brothers would...

My brothers.

Oh, Nienna, have pity. Do not let her die. Do not, do not. I plead you, for love of my brothers, for their sakes, I beseech you, do not let her die.

I do not know how long we run before they find us. They come like shadows, one cloaked, blade-bared figure after the other, and the two at the fore are Elladan and Elrohir. When they see us, their faces are filled with sweet relief, a heartbeat before they realize that we are missing several of our number.

"They have her," I gasp, before anyone else may speak. "The orcs, they have her, she led them away..."

I cannot bear to look at them, but neither can I bear to look away. I see the terror born in their eyes, the unspeakable dread that makes them slip past me, vanishing into the wood. I cannot bear to think of what they will find.

But we are alike, my brothers and I, and, despite those who would keep me back, I turn and follow.