Author's Note circa 2014: I started The Awkward Adventures way back in 2007, when I was still a baby. I've changed and grown since then, and this story has changed with me. I've thought about rewriting the first half or so - but I can't. It starts out pretty rough... so rough. At some point though, it shapes up into something halfway decent. I am so grateful for the positive response this fic has received, and for the friendships that have come from it. So to any new readers, welcome to the beginning of my best work! And to re-readers, welcome back. I would love to hear from any and all of you. :)
CHAPTER ONE - Of Feuding Fangirls, Pig Innards, and a Tacky Alias
Meghan was an ordinary girl of the sweet age of nineteen. She was not strikingly pretty; however, she managed to get by with her short, messy black curls and thick-rimmed glasses. She was one inch shorter than five feet, but she didn't mind being "vertically inept." Her philosophy was that it wasn't a hardship, but rather a challenge.
She was one of those people who looked eminently more comfortable behind a laptop or a sewing machine than in front of crowds, but in reality, Meghan was a feisty if somewhat weird individual. Her hobbies were a bit on the artsy side, including painting, sewing, cooking, crafting, and anything related to the theatre.
Her two best friends were Andrea and Stefanie. The threesome always sat together for lunch in the courtyard at their local college. One fine noon-meal, the topic of conversation was the varying degrees of "hottness" that the male roles of Lord of the Rings had. Actually, this was a frequent discussion.
"Legolas," Andrea announced firmly. "Legolas, Legolas, Legolas. He's definitely the hottest one."
"He's too girly," Stefanie countered with a glint in her eye. "I want my man to be, well, manly. Speaking of men…"
"Legolas is not your man!" Andrea exclaimed.
"Ew! I never want him to be!" Stefanie said. "As I was saying, men are totally the way to go. Scruffy, unwashed warriors. Mmm. Like nothing could stop them from protecting you."
"You can't pick between what's-his-face and who's-it," Meghan interjected.
"Boromir and Aragorn!" Stefanie squeaked, affronted by Meghan's lack of knowledge.
Yes, readers, truth be told, Meghan did not like Lord of the Rings. She had never so much as cracked the cover open on the books, and she fell asleep during the first movie. She didn't even try to see the second or third.
"But Legolas surfed down the stairs on that shield," Andrea said. She ignored Meghan and her 'pitiful ignorance regarding the finer points of any hott Elf in Middle earth.'
"That's not even possible," Stefanie snorted. "It was so fake."
"Not possible for a human," Andrea clarified. "Possible for an Elf."
"That's ridiculous. That shield would have shot out from under his feet and he would have fallen on his bum." Stefanie looked smug.
"Whatev, Stef," Andrea said, losing interest. "Meghan, guess what!" This last word was squealed in a fangirly manner. "I started another fanfic!"
Meghan had read some of Andrea's fanfiction, and it was almost as boring as the movies themselves. Except Andrea's fiction tended to include angsty she-Elves running around with swords and typically falling in love with a certain son of Thranduil.
"Who is it this time, Andy?" Stefanie sighed. "Legolas, Legolas, or Legolas?"
"No," Andrea said, shooting a glare at her friend. "It's about a tortured Elf-maiden who can't remember her past. She wakes up near Rivendell and she has these strange markings on her back. Anyway, Elrohir finds her and they…" (dramatic sigh) "fall in love! Then he helps her discover her hidden past with the help of Galadriel and Lúthien."
"Lúthien is dead," Stefanie said in her "duh" voice.
"I know," Andrea said, not to be deterred. "But I brought her back to life. I'm considering having Elladan fall in love with Lúthien, but she remains faithful to Beren and that breaks Elladan's heart. He'll have to sail to the Undying Lands."
"Sounds very tragic," Meghan said with a straight face.
"Oh, but Meg, I want to put you in this one." Andrea made a puppy-dog face.
"Oh no, not again," Meghan protested, putting her hands up in defense. "Last time I said you could put me in one of your stories, I ended up as Legolas' little sister. Thranduil abused me! And you married me off so some weirdo named Gloryfiddle or something."
"Glorfindel," Andrea corrected without missing a beat. "But I promise it'll be different this time. You get to be the Elf-maiden's best friend and help her out of all sorts of troubles. Please? Pretty please? I'll give you lovely dresses!"
That was one thing that Meghan liked about Lord of the Rings: the costumes.
"Well…" Meghan considered. "I guess so. But who are you going to force me into marriage with?"
"That was an awkwardly phrased sentence," Stefanie piped in.
Andrea gave Meghan a very innocent look. "Figwit."
"Who is Figwit?" Meghan demanded as Stefanie dissolved into gales of laughter.
"He's a very respectable Elf!" Andrea jumped to Figwit's defense. "Did you get to the Council of Elrond, Meg?"
"No, that's just where I nodded off," Meghan said.
"Well, Figwit's at the Council. That proves that's he's smart and important! And he's really good looking. Sort of a boy-next-door type guy."
"Show me a picture and I'll think about it," Meghan said.
Andrea pouted. "Fine. I'll bring one tomorrow. But he really is a nice looking guy."
"I'll believe it when I see it."
"Oh look, lunchtime is over," Stefanie declared, bored by a conversation that didn't concern her. She had long since forbidden Andrea from putting her into any sort of fanfiction. The first and only time that Stefanie had been featured, Andrea had paired her up with one of Haldir's brothers and declined to allow Boromir to live. The horror was unspeakable, and Stefanie refused to be included again.
"And of course we have lunch right before lab class," Andrea whined. "What are we dissecting today? Pigs?"
"Oh, don't remind me," Meghan moaned. "I can't believe we have to do again this for intro to biology, as if high school wasn't enough. You do the cutting; I'll do the note-taking."
"No way," Andrea protested.
"Aw come on," Meghan wheedled. "Please?"
Andrea shot her a calculating look. "Only if you let me put you in this new fanfic."
"Oh, low blow," Stefanie said. "You know that Meghan is afraid of blood."
"There's never blood in dissections like this," Andrea defended.
"It's a deal," Meghan said, sticking out a hand. She and Andrea shook.
A half hour later found them in lab, trays with small, hairy piglets in them on the tables in front of them. Meghan was looking a little bit green.
The professor briefed them quickly regarding their instructions and then the class gingerly dug in. Andrea brandished her scalpel and smote the piglet a long slice along its belly.
"Oh this is so gross," Meghan grimaced. She shielded herself behind her notebook.
Andrea didn't mind the process so much. She seized a pair of pliers and prepared to… well, you know, do whatever they do when they dissect pigs.
"Uh, Ms. Taylorson!" Andrea suddenly exclaimed in a bit of a panic.
"What? What is it?" Meghan asked, peeking over the top of her notebook.
"What seems to be the trouble, Andrea?" Ms. Taylorson also asked as she made her way over.
"Oh, oh, oh," was all Meghan managed to gasp out before she collapsed the floor, unconscious.
You see, apparently the pig was a special pig, and its intestines were arranged in an unusual manner, and there was blood pooling in the tray.
Meghan groaned and opened her eyes. The sun glared into them. That pig was nasty. Just the mental image resurfacing brought a strong bout of queasiness to Meghan's stomach. She closed her eyes again and fought to think about something other than blood and guts.
The nausea passed, and Meghan sat up, pressing a hand to her head. The ground underneath her was rocky and uncomfortable. She heard a noise very similar to a cough from behind her and she whipped around and to her feet all in one weirdly graceful movement.
Nine men stood there, all holding some sort of weapon in their hands. Well at least, some of them were men. Five of them were only waist-tall to the others around them.
The two parties stared at each other for a few seconds, the men looking fierce with their swords, bows, axes, and staffs, and Meghan looking somewhat unfortunate with her…well, her nothing.
"I'm dreaming," Meghan suddenly announced, snapping her fingers and pointing at the men. "You guys aren't real. You know how I know that? Because you're from a movie. I'm gonna wake up in about ten seconds. Please excuse me while I pinch myself awake."
She seized a patch of skin on her upper arm and squeezed really hard, squinting her eyes shut, too. When she blinked them open, the nine men were still standing there, except this time, they looked even more confused.
"A witch, perhaps?" one of the tallies asked. He had a scruffy beard and a big shield strapped to his back. He was one of Stefanie's favorites.
"I have been called many things in my day, Fuzz-face, but witch ain't one of 'em," Meghan said. She was trying to put up a brave face, but the situation was starting to freak her out. This whole Lord of the Rings thing was for her friends, not her.
"Where are you from?" the wizard asked. Meghan struggled to remember everyone's names. The blondie she knew well. Andrea's maxim came to mind: "Legolas. He's definitely the hottest one." Goodness knew that Andrea talked about him enough.
"Uh…" Meghan droned, stalling for time. Gandalf! Got it! Wait I can't just tell them I'm from an alternate reality. That would be too weird. Remember! Remember! Remember! What are the names of all the cities Andrea and Stefanie talked about?
"Ravendill," she said confidently.
"Rivendell?" one of the shorties said.
"Yes! Yes, Rivendell. Good ole Rivendell! I just love the…uh. Architecture." Meghan put on an encouraging grin.
"What brings you so far from your home?" The other scruffy man questioned.
What's with the Spanish Inquisition, here? Just keep stalling until you wake up. This will all be over once I wake up. "I went hunting, and I got lost… and my horse died, and… I… I'm still lost." She didn't really want to tell them that they were dissecting a pig and she had passed out at the sight of blood.
"You went hunting in a fine dress?" Scruffy-Number-One said in a menacing voice. He looked like he could clobber her with that shield.
For the first time, Meghan looked down. Then she screamed.
Her hair had gone from just brushing her shoulders to falling well passed her waist. The curls had loosened and become more like waves. Her clothing was also different – way different. Instead of a t-shirt and bermuda shorts, she wore an ankle-length, cream colored gown with belled sleeves that swept all the way to the ground. The neckline was in a V and it had embroidery along it and the hems of the sleeves. A belt of deep golden cloth hung around her hips.
"Oh my gosh!" she exclaimed before quickly glancing up at the Fellowship and smiling awkwardly. "You have no idea how bad I am at packing! I just…throw everything into a knapsack without looking! I must have been really tired this morning when I put this on, kinda caught me off-guard just now. Heh."
"If you were just going out for a simple hunting expedition, why did you pack extra clothing?" This time, it was Blondie that spoke up. He had a lightly flavored accent… of course they all had accents, but his seemed the most exotic out of the four that she'd heard speak.
"Ew," Meghan said like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "You men might be able to handle riding around for days on end wearing the same smelly clothing, but women actually have a sense of hygiene. Newsflash! I don't want to gut a deer and then wear the same outfit all the way back home. Gross." Images of the pig reincarnated themselves in her mind. She shuddered them back down.
"She does have a point," Scruffy-Number-Two conceded. She crawled deep into the bowels of her memory and pulled out his name: Aragorn.
"There you go," Meghan said with a smile. "Listen to the man."
"Very well, we will trust you," the wizard sighed.
"Great," Meghan chirped. "Now, uh…what do we do from here?"
"You must return to Rivendell, my lady," Blondie declared.
"I told you, I'm lost. I have no idea how to get back. Even if you pointed me in the right direction, I would still ramble alone in the wilderness and I'd probably get eaten by… whatever I would get eaten by here." Are they seriously considering just leaving me here?
"We are many weeks out of Rivendell," Gandalf said, again with the sighing. "And the only ones who could guide you back are Aragorn, Legolas, or I. None of us can be spared from our company."
Meghan bit her lip and stared at the ground for inspiration. "I…could go with you."
"Impossible," Scruffy-Number-One growled. "A woman, journey with us? It is madness, Gandalf."
"And yet we cannot very well leave her here," one of the shorties countered. He had dark curls and bright blue eyes…what was his name… Frodo!
"The Halfling is right, Mithrandir. Perhaps she can travel in our company until we reach another city?" Legolas suggested.
The wizard seemed burdened down by many responsibilities as he stood and pondered. Meghan shifted my weight from either foot, and it was then that she realized she was wearing soft, knee-high leather boots. She kept this miraculous and somewhat thrilling discovery to herself, figuring another outburst would probably earn her a few weapons in her body.
"So be it," Gandalf said. "My lady, you must accompany us to our next destination, whatever it may be. From thence, you may return to your home. Now, tell us your name."
"Meghan," she said.
"Meghan?" Legolas repeated, stumbling over the unfamiliar sound. "That is unlike any Elvish name I have ever heard."
"Elvish?" she said. "I'm not—" she reached up for her ears, and found that they were pointed. Once again, she wisely bottled up her surprise. "Uh… I'm not a normal elf. My real name is…uh…" She strained to think up a convincing name. Arwen, Éowyn, Thranduil…no wait, Thranduil was a man! Lúthien, Galadriel, oh, they were all taken! Andrea and Stefanie had given her an Elvish name once, what was it again?
"…Melethriel," she squawked the funny-sounding word. "But I don't like it, so everybody calls me Meghan."
"I see. Gather your things, Melethriel, so that we may continue," Gandalf said.
"Oh, well, I kinda lost my things awhile back. This morning, actually. You know, my bow and stuff. This is all I've got."
Boromir looked suspicious. "You lost your things." It was a statement, not a question.
"Yeah." Meghan nodded. "But look at the bright side, Boromir. It could be you that's in the dress."
Two of the shorties giggled at that and Boromir's face darkened a few shades of red. "I beg your—"
"Not now, Boromir," Gandalf said, holding up a hand for peace. "Very well then, Melethriel, you must travel without your gear, unless you wish to remain alone in this wilderness."
"No no, I'll stick with y'all." Meghan smiled. Gandalf nodded and wearily began to walk away. The rest of the Fellowship fell into line behind him.
Meghan trotted to catch up to them. The blondie was in the far back of the group, and she fell into step beside him.
It was distinctly quiet as they all marched along. Meghan alternately stared at the ground, stared at her dress, and tried not to stare at some of the members of the Fellowship. Now that she thought about it, Andrea did have a point when it came to the… attractiveness of a certain blonde Elf. Except he really was too pretty. And Stefanie wasn't kidding either.
If only Stef would choose between Aragorn and Boromir, Meghan sighed internally. Such unfaithfulness. Tsk. Oh well…
She refocused herself on the task at hand – ignoring everybody's hottness. And speaking of hot – the weather wasn't. In fact, it was kinda cool. As if her mind was being read like an open book, someone draped a cloak around her shoulders.
Meghan looked up in surprise to see Legolas smiling kindly at her.
"Th-thanks," she stammered. This was not her field of expertise at all. Andrea was the one who always ended up with Legolas. In the fanfiction, at least. Although Meghan distinctly remembered Andrea announcing on several occasions that she'd had a dream that involved Legolas.
"It is my pleasure, Lady Melethriel," he replied.
"Oh gosh, don't call me that. It's the stupidest name ever," Meghan said with a dismissive flutter of her hand. "It means 'crowned with love' or something preposterous like that."
"It's 'daughter of love,' actually," Legolas corrected her.
"Do you not speak Elvish?" he asked her.
This was getting ridiculous. An Elvish name, an Elvish dress, Elvish ears, and now she had to actually speak the language? The blond hottie was asking too much.
"I do," Meghan smiled. "But I learned how to speak…" Not English, but rather… "This language recently. I promised myself that I would only speak in it for a year so that it would get really solid in my memory. I like to do the whole immersion thing in languages."
"That is very devoted for you to only speak Westron."
Westron. Gotta remember that.
"I gotta fess up so something else," Meghan said tentatively.
"What is it?" Legolas said as she paused in an awkward silence.
"I don't actually know how to use a bow."
It had occurred to her that should the need arise for her to wield such a weapon, she would have a hard time explaining her incompetence. So she invented a new string of lies to cover it.
"When I said I was hunting, I was really learning how to hunt. I went out with my… brother. He lent me one his old bow, but I was really just learning how to track and everything. I have no idea how to even string a bow. And I don't know how to use a sword either."
Legolas looked like he was processing this information. "It does not matter, at any rate," he finally said. "You have no bow, so therefore you could not use it even if you knew how."
"Thanks," Meghan said. "You have no idea how much better I feel now."
" 'Tis no trouble, Lady Meghan."
Lady Meghan. I could get used to that.