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

This is absurd.

Father warned me about Elves. He told me I would have to be on my guard, for Elves were ever tricksters and not to be trusted, being generally concerned only with their own, immortal affairs. He warned me that I would have to approach them carefully, so as not to offend their particular sensibilities with my Mannish manners, but sternly, to show them we of Gondor were not to be trifled with. He warned me about many things.

And after months and months of hard travel, worrying all the way about what to do, what to say, what do I find but a lot of lovesick fools?

This is just daft. Surely we have better things to do than hang about the door of a swooning girl, waiting with bated breath to hear if she's found the will to get up out of bed yet. Yet every time I approach the subject, Lord Glorfindel begins approaching me with what seems a particularly murderous expression and I am forced to gracefully extricate myself.

The ignominy. Some Elf woman takes ill and suddenly no one has any time for politics. The brothers are the worst. They spear me with their looks whenever I happen to walk by, if they can spare the time from watching that other one, Greenleaf or some other leafy Elvish nomenclature. From what I can gather, there is some sort of feud between the two, and judging by the expressions they make at each other and what I've managed to hear whispered, Greenleaf ought to be careful not to walk into any sword points.

Why will no one speak to me about this? Surely I should be provided a reason for being kept waiting. But, nothing; Lord Elrond goes in and out of the sickroom day and night, muttering about poisons and infections and what have you, his sons glare at everyone and everything, Greenleaf moons about the gardens under her window, and I fear I eat too much of an evening. How Faramir would scold me if he saw how tight my belt has gotten.

This morning I have chosen to walk the grounds. At home I attend drill quite frequently, but here I am forced to stroll the fields for exercise. I would join the Elves in sparring if I could, but no one here seems interested in drilling and I don't put it beyond them to gut me by "accident." But I must do something. The premature belly is a curse of my family, and my father provides both an example and an effective warning as to what will happen if I do not take measures. Faramir already beleaguers me with his constant references to barrels and bears. I shall not go back to Minas Tirith with a breadbasket, this I swear.

Their home is lovelier than I had thought possible - not as lovely as the White City, of course, but passably so, with its own...charms. To walk the grounds here is to encounter a sense of quiet and peace I have yet to experience anywhere else. Truly, I wish my brother could have seen this. And perhaps he shall, someday, when the world is not so beset by trouble.

Their windows, too, are something I have not seen before, large and intricate, filled with delicate glass. I will see about having some made when I go home; Father spends far too much time indoors, and if he will not go out to get some air and light, then I shall just have to bring the air and light to him. In any case, Faramir has always been fond of these things, and I am sure he will enjoy the arcs, the woodwork, the abundance of glass, the...the girls climbing out of the open windows...

I watch, baffled, for a moment before I realize that her arm is weak and her grip on the sill is beginning to give. I rush forward just as her fingers slip entirely, intent on either catching her or at least cushioning the fall.

I begin to think that this is a bad idea just as her foot meets my face.

The girl gasps, squeaks, and tries to get up, succeeding in putting an elbow and then a knee in my stomach, perilously close to something of mine that no proper young lady should be anywhere near. Visions of enraged Elves flashing through my mind, I manage to gasp, "Stop! Be still!"

I have us sorted in good time, putting her on her feet and finding mine. I can tell my nose is broken, mostly by the blinding pain and the torrent of blood that spoils my shirt. The girl looks horrified, though I suspect I am giving her the same look. Her face is yellow and green with fading bruises, lines of healing pink along her arms and neck showing where she had been cut, and her eyes...

Her...her eyes...

I...I have never seen eyes like hers. I...

I have never been a man of eloquence. I am a man made for war and soldiering. I know nothing of poetry or fine words. I am not Faramir. But I wish I knew how to describe her, her wide, green eyes, her hair of light and gold...

She is so small.


She is...

She is shoving my handkerchief up my nose.

I manage to take it away from her. She pouts. I try to look stern, but she looks shyly down at her feet and I want to give her anything and everything.

Her feet are bare, I notice, and once I am paying attention I also realize that she is in a thin white gown, possibly her bedclothes. I am both extremely embarrassed and prostrate with gratitude that I should be alive to witness this. Though it does occur to me that, were any one of the Elves (in particular that singularly unpleasant Haldir fellow) to see us together like this, I am likely to lose a limb.

Fond of all my limbs as I am, I wrap her in my cloak before I realize that she is wearing my cloak. I try not to let on that this affects me in any way, but I think she knows because she blushes and looks away.

What a fool I am acting.

"What is your name?"

She looks at me with a frown, and it comes to me that perhaps she does not speak Westron. I try to remember what Faramir taught me of Sindarin before I left, but all I remember is the gyrfalcon someone was flying outside the window at the time.

I want to speak to her. I want to ask her her name. I want to ask her who her parents are and does she think she'll mind Gondor so much? Blistering hot in summer, I'll admit, but cool enough atop the White City, where our home would be.

She is nervous, and touches her hair like I have seen many young girls do when they are nervous. In the shadow of her hand I see the shape of her ear, and it is small and rounded. And suddenly I realize - she is of my own race, the race of Men.

And, to my own chagrin, I hear myself speak. "My lady, I fear I am lost."

We stand there in profuse embarrassment only a few more moments before someone happens upon us. It is one of Lord Elrond's sons, though which I could not say to save my life, and he is standing between us before I know he is there. His anger is apparent, especially to me, and when he places his arm across her shoulders and walks away, taking her with him, it all becomes clear and I understand everything.

I stand there, bleeding and cold, and watch him take her away.

And I fear I am lost.