Sometimes a person's mind is bombarded by its muse with a strange barrage of ideas, and this time I happened to be at my laptop when this happened. My fingers ran away with me and half an hour later this strange story had appeared on my screen. Hopefully it will make sense to someone else, and no one will take it too seriously. It's supposed to show the way in which some people love characters of fiction so much that they become real in their minds. I guess here of all places, I have the best chance of people understanding this feeling!

I am not JRR Tolkien, I did not create the world of middle-Earth and nor did I create any of the characters except Sarah in the following story. It's simply a tribute to his and many other authors' genius. Enjoy!

The story of a girl who loved stories to life.

Sarah sat in front of her laptop screen, flicking through several hundred of the pictures she's downloaded off the internet. One face was present throughout.

Long blonde hair. Solemn expression. Various eye colours. Lean but well muscled body. In many pictures he held a bow, or two knives.


She sighed the word.

The double clicked a different folder, this one contained fan-made pictures of the Legolas inspired book. She scrolled through them, deleting one here and there, discarding those which didn't match her idea of what her man should be like.

And he was her man. He was hers, and she'd willingly give her life to him.

Sarah both loved and hated Tolkien, the creator of her love. His was the brilliant mind which had conjured Legolas from the mists of the limbo-plane, where authors visited in their subconscious and conjured characters from the infinite possibilities. She owed him for the creation of Legolas, her one and only love.

Yet she hated him too.

She hated him for being the constant reminder that Legolas was a work of fiction, just as easily dissolving back into the mists of the limbo-plane Tolkien had created him from, just as thousands of other characters who had been created and then forgotten.

"I will not forget him, he lives in my mind."

Sarah whispered to herself.

Far away, a creature of shadow heard her whisper, the desperation and hint of madness her voice carried.

"This man lives in your mind, and in your dreams." It whispered back, though none heard it.

"Let us journey there, and see what happens."

That night, when Sarah had turned off her laptop and fallen into sleep, the creature of shadow spread its wings and soared faster than sound to Sarah's window, and breathed a stream of air into the night.

Sarah's spirit was caught in the stream, and was stolen away into the world of dreams – more deeply in than any human wishing to wake again should go. The shadow creature took wing once more, and with a quiet sigh, followed Sarah, to watch, to wait.

In the dream world, Sarah wandered around, lost, confused. Images swirled past her. A giant spider, a hillside pierced with round doors, a city in the treetops, an army on a suicide charge, a child with golden hair running joyously down a path. The dream creature was sifting through Sarah's mind, to find the right scene.

The images swirled, of not much more substance than smoke. And Sarah did not recognise them as scenes from her favoured legendarium, for she was not herself at that moment.

Then a figure appeared, and she loved this one almost as well as Legolas.

"Beleg!" Sarah gasped, and ran towards the elf, as she had done so many times in her day dreams. At that moment Sarah became Nellas as she thought Nellas should be. Raven haired, dressed in the wild but lovely garments of an elvish maid of the trees, and the lover of Beleg. Beleg smiled, and held out his arms to her.

So immersed was Sarah in the belief that she was Nellas, that she remembered, truly remembered the time when Beleg had sought her out to act as witness in the defence of Turin at his trial. She remembered his hand upon her waist as he guided her through the court to stand before the king, and the gentle smile he had encouraged her with.

"I was told you died, that Turin killed you in a fit of madness. But you live! You live!" Sarah/Nellas cried, tears pouring down her face, so wild was she with grief and joy.

Beleg buried his face in her hair, and held her tightly. He whispered something, and a memory stirred in the mind of Sarah, distancing her from Nellas. A memory of her mother, holding her tightly like that, and whispering on the night before her first day of school…

The creature of shadows ground its teeth, and spat in irritation. With a single word, the scene was gone. Sarah was Nellas no more, and Beleg was forgotten.

Now she stood on the edge of a raging inferno, hot air blasting her face and exhaustion making her shoulders bow. Her feet were bare, but she felt no pain from the sharp, volcanic rocks. Her shirt, once white but now stained with dirt, venom and blood, was torn and hung from her emaciated shoulders. And torn felt her heart, as she watched Frodo struggle at the edge of the cliff with the loathed creature Gollum.

"Frodo!" She cried in horror, as he slipped. Sarah was now Sam, but the female version of Sam that Sarah had created in her mind. This Sam, Samalia Gamgee, maid and cook of Frodo had accompanied Frodo on the journey. Now the creature of Shadow had found those stories Sarah had created for herself, and gone on to create and plant memories in her head. Sarah remembered the fear she's felt as they'd been captured by Faramir and his men, of the heart wrenching grief she'd felt when Shelob had bitten Frodo and she'd had to leave him for dead, the terrifying trek through the Dead Marsh, and the soul consuming hate and jealousy of Gollum. Sam/Sarah ran forward to the edge of the cliff, and threw herself down trying to see her beloved master, and hope filled her soul as she saw him swinging there by one hand. Anger then invaded, as she saw the hopelessness on his face, and knew as well as if he had spoken the words that he wanted to let go, to end it all there and then.

"Don't you dare!" She shrieked. "Don't you let go!" The face changed, but only slightly. Now there was uncertainty, indecision.

"Reach!" she cried, willing him with all her soul to live.

The shadow creature crowed in ecstasy as the girl it had stolen created so much emotion, a veritable feast of joy and rage and despair and hope. This is what it wanted, for Sarah to lose herself in the dream. Only creatures of the real world could create so much feeling, and this feeling is what the creature thrived on.

But something else changed.

"Sarah." Whispered Frodo. Shock passed Sarah/Sam's face. That name – so unfamiliar, yet so…like a half remembered dream…

The shadow creature opened its eyes in shock and rage. What was this? The dreams couldn't do that! They were of the imagination, and nothing more. The girl must have done it, something must have reminded her of her real life. The creature whipped its hand with the sound of a crack and the image disappeared once more.

Now Sarah sat a-horse, a hobbit in front of her. She was Eowyn, ready to ride into battle and die, for she had lost hope in the world.

"Courage Merry, courage for our friends."

Sarah was immediately Eowyn; she was so willing to believe in any of the characters the shadow creature made her.

Now, as Eowyn, a quiet rage and desperate longing for something just out of reach filled her. The creature smiled, and enjoyed this new emotion.

Sarah/Eowyn gripped Merry's arm, willing some of her courage to pass onto the scared little hobbit. She liked him, she was half-hoping to live, to protect this little creature who had so much to live for. And she knew he loved her too, not in a romantic way, but in a cross between the way a knight of old loves his queen, and the way he loves his brother-in-ams. For she was both to him. They fiercely loved and wished to protect each other.

The shadow creature blinked in surprise: Not only was Sarah giving the character she became emotion, but she was giving the other dream-characters emotions and feelings. Double the emotion, double the food, double the strength for the shadow creature!

But before the creature had time to realise, Sarah had once more remembered something, and Merry turned to face her. His removed his helmet so her could look at her properly, and he smiled. "Sarah." He began. "I do not think…"

But the shadow creature panicked, and shrieked the word which would remove Sarah from Eowyn's mind. No, the dream characters didn't think, they could not be real, they couldn't be speaking to Sarah that way! They were not real, they were not anything except what the author who had made them imagined them to be! What was going on? The shadow creature created a new scenario, and in a moment, Sarah became the dying Boromir. It was always a risk, the shadow creature knew, to make a human girl into a male character, but this girl, this Sarah, was so in love with each and every character that she seamlessly fit into him, and became him.

Sarah/Boromir gasped, short, shallow breaths as life slipped from him, and mourned the hobbits he had tried to save. He'd loved them like a father, and he knew they'd saved him from going mad and killing Frodo to get the Ring. There, what was that noise? Those running footsteps? Oh, it was Aragorn back from killing the Uruk who had been about to finish him off. Aragorn fell to his knees at Sarah/Boromir's side, and went to pluck the arrows from his chest.

Aragorn's grief, regret and guilt ripped at him. He had never liked Boromir much, never trusted him, and resented the fact that Boromir felt himself worthy to take the throne of Gondor. But he had sacrificed himself to save the hobbits, whom he had never sworn to die for. He did it not from a sense of duty, as many soldiers would, but of love. Aragorn admired him for that. And he was of Gondor, and loved him like a brother now after seeing his heart.

Boromir/Sarah rushed to tell Aragorn about the hobbits, trying to make him understand that they were gone, that the Uruks had taken them, that they should go after them. But Aragorn sat there, doing nothing, and it frustrated Sarah/Boromir.

Gimli appeared in the corner of his vision, and immediately the shadow creature felt the complex range of emotions Sarah sub-consciously created for him. It laughed, but stopped short as another figure appeared…Legolas. He was running. "Sarah!"

Immediately a memory burst forth, ripping Sarah's mind from Boromir's. Her love, or obsession, or whatever you may call it, was too strong even for the strong connection she had created between them, and for a split second Sarah was aware, knew all, knew what was happening to her. The shadow creature howled in anger, furious at itself for forgetting Sarah's passion for Legolas and allowing this to happen. The creature waved its hands once more, and Sarah was in a new scenario.

The shadow creature was angry, and hadn't wanted to do this scene, but things were getting serious. Sarah's love for these characters was strong, stronger than the shadow creature ever imagined a human's could be. Was this why the creatures were coming to life? And what did they mean by calling Sarah by her name? They shouldn't be aware! What would they tell her, if they got the chance? Well, the shadow creature did not want to find out. No mortal must ever know of the dreamworld, the place where characters were created and humans were stolen away to by shadow creatures to steal their emotions. She wouldn't be allowed back to the mortal world if that happened, and if this scene worked like the creature thought it would, Sarah wouldn't be leaving the dream world…ever again.

Sarah was now an elf maid, sitting in a tree on the edge of a forest, looking over a grassy meadow. Sarah had played out this scene many times in her head, as she had been unsatisfied with how the movie had ended in regards to Legolas. She wanted him to have a lover, so she had made him one. She had never given the character a name, but knew her back-story. Now, so immersed in the character, and so sub-consciously happy to be living out her fantasy, she could remember the events she had created as clearly as the day. She was Arwen's half-sister, an elvish maiden born to Celbrian and another elf, not Elrond. She did not live in Rivendell with her half sister and brothers, but in Lothlorien with her grandmother, Galadiel.

She was fully an elf, not half mortal as Arwen was, and had been in love with Legolas for many years, but had been afraid to ruin their friendship by admitting it to him. So he had gone away with the fellowship without ever knowing her true feelings, and she knew now that he would be exceedingly lucky to have survived the War of the Ring. The Elf Sarah shuddered at the very thought of the Ring, so deeply did she believe that she was an elf and that the Ring was real. She felt the same horror all elves did at the mention of it.

He friends and family had warned her that Legolas was probably dead, but she wouldn't believe it. She had left the elvish city, and made her way here, this meadow and this tree, to the place where she and Legolas had played as children in the blind hope that he would return from the war.

The shadow creature sighed in satisfaction. The girl Sarah had gone too far into the dreamworld, was too immersed in it to ever return. Soon her sleeping body would die, and her spirit would linger here until it faded as people forgot her. The shadow creature had wanted to keep her alive, to keep bringing her back here and feed off her emotions night after night. But this girl Sarah was proving far stranger than the shadow creature had anticipated, and the shadow creature had now decided it would be too risky to let her go. So it had brought her here, into the very deepest of Sarah's desires, where it knew she would never be able to escape from, where she's never want to escape from.

"Legolas!" The cry split the cool morning air like a ray of sunlight through a dark room, and the Elf Sarah jumped from her branch and went racing across the field to meet Legolas. She had seen him from miles away, but as an elf she ran as swiftly as the wind to meet him. He threw himself from the saddle of his horse, and swept her up in his arms. For in Sarah's story, Legolas loved her too.

This Legolas was the one Sarah had imagined – he was a mix of many different people's imaginings, but with a spark of life that he'd lacked in her mind. His eyes shone with love and behind them flowed the memories of thousands of years…

"I knew you weren't dead! I knew you'd come back for me! She gasped, as Legolas spun her around, holding her tightly. Her soul rejoiced with such passion that she thought she would die. This – this is what she'd wanted for so long now, to be held in his arms, for him to gaze into her eyes like this, to love her! She was complete.

The shadow creature also thought it might die with ecstasy, with the overload of emotion. It triumphed; it knew it was right to bring her to this! It felt the last connections Sarah had with her sleeping body, with the human world, begin to fray, but didn't care. This much joy would last it a lifetime!

Legolas and the Elf Sarah stopped spinning slowly, and he drew back slowly to look into her eyes. They held an overwhelming sorrow.

"Sarah." He said. A memory surfaced, but the Elf Sarah and the human Sarah pushed it away. She had all she wanted here, she wanted to stay.

"Our time runs short. Know this, Sarah…" how she wished he's stop using her name!

"…know this: I love you." He enunciated every word distinctly, meaning each and every syllable.

"I love you. Another voice joined. Sarah spun. There was Beleg!

"What…?" began Sarah, her voice faint with shock and confusion.

"I love you." Frodo appeared, as he had in Mount Doom, his hand bloody and maimed.

"I love you." Said Merry, holding his helmet and straightening his clothes, as thought he'd just dismounted.

"I love you." Aragorn appeared kneeling, as he had when she was Boromir, but now stood to face her.

Sarah looked back to Legolas, who was watching her, grief clear in his eyes. He closed his arms around her, and she buried her herd in his chest. Sarah remembered now, all of it. She remembered as she stood in Legolas's arms, how she had been Nellas, how she had been Sam, how she had been Boromir, how she had been Eowyn. And she remembered she was human, how these people who loved her…were not real.

"No!" she howled, her voice cracking with real emotion, her own, raw emotion, not the calculated and theatrical emotion she had felt as these works of fiction. Her howls carried on, muffled by Legolas's body, which tightened around her as her grief and longing spilled from her. For once she had been loved, and now it was gone. She couldn't stand to be sent back to unfeeling reality where there were few who even noted her existence.

"Why?" She cried, looking up at her love. "What does this mean? What is happening?"

"I love you." He began again.

"No! Stop saying that! You are all figments of my imagination! Who has done this?"

Suddenly, as if her words had summoned it, the shadow creature appeared, but now heavy chains covered it. It glowered, thrashing against its bonds, and Sarah threw herself back to Legolas's embrace, away from the shadow creature.

"This creature felt your love for us, and brought you here, making your fantasies seem real so that it could feed off the emotion you felt for us. It's what these creatures, these shadow creatures do." Legolas told her, his voice a comforting hum in his chest as Sarah leaned against him.

"But it underestimated you, and the degree of love you felt for us. You loved us so completely, with such passion, that we have been brought to life, made solid. And we love you, really love you, in return." He waved his hand gently, gesturing to the other people who stood around. As Sarah looked, more appeared. People filled the meadow, characters Tolkien's brilliant mid had created, but Sarah's love had brought to life in the dream world.

"Yes, we love you, and so we cannot let you die. Sarah, or time runs short, you must return to mortal world, for even if you die, you cannot remain with us. We tried to tell you, but the shadow creature was too strong. But your love for me has saved you, for my love together with yours was too much for it. We created chains which bind it, and stop it from clouding your mind. You must return to the mortal world, Sarah my love. For we love you, and want you to live. Live for us, and more of our kind. We love you Sarah, and we'll live on here…" as he spoke, Sarah felt herself fading. Legolas's heart broke in grief, for he really did love her. As she faded, he tried to grasp her hand. He caught it, and placed an object in her palm. The last thing she heard was Legolas's cry, mingling with the shrieks of anger of the shadow creature, which had been defeated by its own victim.

Sarah's spirit retuned to her own body, gasping. She opened her hand, and there shone a delicate mithril ring, gleaming as she had always imagined it would.

"Of course it looks like I imagined, it's only here because I imagined!" And she lay on her bed and wept, because she truly loved Legolas, and because he truly loved her. She never once took the ring off for the rest of her life.

Sarah lived, as the characters she had brought to life wanted her to, and never once did she doubt that the events of that night were less than reality. But she never fell in love with any mortal, for her soul now knew the way to the dreamworld, and every night she would linger the borders of dream and waking with Legolas. He never faded, her love had brought him to life, and he loved her too much to fade back to mist. The years passed, and one day, when she was very old, Sarah died, as mortals are wont to do. Waiting on the borderlands was Legolas, and she laughed with joy. She took his hand, and together they went on. Not to the dreamworld, but somewhere far beyond.