Authoress Chat: Two words. November Two-thousand and ten. I thoroughly regret leaving you guys hanging. Been going through so much, and so depressed. How do I apologize for being gone a year and a half? I've been through the ringer. But I'm finally getting out of a terrible situation with terrible family members. To all those who had faith I'd return, thank you. Your reviews gave me the inspiration I needed. Thank you for more than you guys can ever realize.

Chapter Thirty-Four- Energy

"It pleases me to announce to all in attendance of court the betrothal of my son, Legolas. To Lady Barawen of Tirion!"

The hall erupted into applause, as the couple rose to present themselves. It had been a bit impromptu, the entire feast, but King Thranduil was no stranger to short notice. He enjoyed surprising his subjects and he felt that his son deserved to be the most honored subject tonight.

The cavern had been covered in blue and green silk scarves, draped over the lanterns carved in to the ceiling. Thranduil had requested the most aged Dorwinion wines to be brought out. The hall glittered in the lights of a thousand candles, all resting in crevices of the walls. A choir of dedicated minstrels sang in the background.

"Settle down; I have more good news. My son is soon to scout out the forest of Ithilien and he will take with him a colony of Elves who wish not to leave the shores of Arda very soon. I bid you use this time well, both to consider whether you wish to leave and to assist my son in preparing to start his new House."

Legolas and Barawen seated themselves, smiling all the while. Barawen reached out to touch his hand, relishing the warmth that radiated from it, hot like the light of the first sun. Looking out at the crowd, it saddened her to see that Hirvegil and Nenlas were not among the bright faces. News of new places, weddings and children rang through the air.

"Perhaps they will not despise me as their Lady. Perhaps my sins require no more atoning. Mishaps, I will meet my parents as an elleth they can be proud of...'

Silver platters were brought forward with the finest foods. Roasted pheasant, boar and duck were on two of the platters. Two were filled with whole fruits and summery fruit tarts loaded with blueberries, strawberries and peaches. The last two were loaded with bread rolls, both sweetened and unsweetened.

"This all looks so delicious, Thranduil! How did you know to prepare this wonderful meal?" she asked.

The Elven-king just winked.

"I do make a habit to know what my smiths are commissioned to make. My riches help to feed and protect my people. So I have known of Legolas' intent since this morning. That reminds me, where is your sister?"

Legolas and Barawen exchanged glances. Neither thought it too wise an idea to tell all of what happened. For Barawen's part, she wanted to maintain some friendly exchange. That superficial camaraderie she had shared was a step in the right direction. As for Legolas, where he felt that his father may have sympathized with his feelings towards Nenlas' disrespect, he would never have condoned Legolas laying hands on her.

"I have not seen her all night. Perhaps someone should check on her," Legolas finally answered coldly.

"Why not enjoy yourselves. I sense there has been some hesitance to truly be yourself. I just want you to know, Barawen, that our people still do admire the Noldor. Just be who my son fell in love with and your people will follow suit. Feast, drink... I will be back."

Thranduil walked with a cool swagger. The knowledge that his walls were once again truly safe seemed to radiate in the room. He was warm and effervescent, stopping frequently to talk to those at court. Many wanted clarity on when the prince would be leaving. Some just wanted to feel like he cared about what they thought. As usual, he did care, but he was discreet with what troubled him.

He was worried about Nenlas' well-being. Nenlas had arrived before Legolas and his betrothed, running and visibly shaken. She had quickly put on a black riding hood and took her mare Suldal (wind foot) on a hard ride. He remembered trying to stop her from leaving.

Nenlas pulled the hood tighter to cover up her face as she made a break for the stables. Thranduil, who had been in the middle of hanging a drape, took off after her. She had yet to cry, and had never been much of a crier, but he could see hot red in her face. She was slipping.

As she slipped the bridle in to the horse's mouth, Thranduil slipped into the stall behind her.

"What's wrong?"he asked. "Where are you going?"

She raised her head, yet did not face him. Even though she was choking back tears, she still managed to maintain her ever present hubris.

"Why do you ask, 'father'? Would it matter to you if I were to ride far and meet the same fate as my parents? Let me go."

Thranduil was shocked. He had not told her that she was adopted for many years. Merilwen had often pressed him to inform her, to ease the elleth's curious and confused mind. He could never bring himself to do it until Merilwen had almost been killed by a giant spider. Whereas it would not normally have attacked, it had sensed the new life growing in her belly. It snuffed out the child with its painful grip. The loss of a third child had hurt him badly and losing Merilwen hurt worse. When she left for Aman, he decided that he would tell Nenlas. She deserved to have the truth.

"Do you truly hate me that much? Have I ever treated you differently?"Thranduil asked, barring her from leaving.

Nenlas turned slowly.

"You know, when Legolas would watch me as an elfling, I felt safe. I felt like he could possibly be mine. But I tortured myself for years thinking that I was a monster; a monster like Maeglin!" Her eyes narrowed, twisting her usual beauty into something crueler. "Only I beheld that I shared no blood with him at all! To be so near yet never know his love. I hate you for your lies! Why could you not leave alone to die! Or give me to another couple, so that I may have had hope!"

Thranduil moved close to hug her but she pushed him away. He tried again, to be side-stepped. Finally, he just took her by the arms and held her. He noticed her wince.

"What happened? What happened to my minstrel?"

Finally she broke down and rolled up her sleeves. He arms were blue and purple. The tears flowed freely then. She told him of Hirvegil's affection for her and how Legolas had been enraged by her insults.

"Why would you...Iell vuin (beloved daughter)..."

"I am not your daughter. Please, I have a ride to go on, my Lord."

Thranduil shook his head as soon as he entered the hallway. To hear Nenlas openly admit to hating him had been almost to much to bare. He could only hope that she had returned safely. If not, he would have to send a search party to look for her.

"Maybe I'm just keeping her here for my personal feelings. Have I ever asked her where she wants to be? Will Hirvegil be alright?"

/ / / / /

Barawen had separated herself mingle and found herself swarmed with well-wishing married ellith. The sweetest of them introduced herself as Camaen. She had a cute face with a small nose, wide grey eyes and rosy pink cheeks and lips. Her auburn heir was combed back into a bun which was held in place by two long braids with ribbons woven in them. She wore what Barawen freely admitted was a breathtaking emerald green dress, with daffodils embroidered into the collar, sleeves and train. She wore pearl necklaces and earrings.

"What a beautiful dress!" Barawen exclaimed. "If you do not mind my asking, who was it who did the embroidery in the gown?"

Camaen giggled a little bit before doing a slight curtsey.

"You are looking at the elleth who stitched the dress. I generally do not trust others to breathe life into my sketches. They call me the Lady of the Needlepoint. King Thranduil invited me to court to offer my assistance in planning your wedding day. Allow me to make you dress."

Barawen blushed fiercely.

"Oh, Eru!"she stammered. "I...I do not know how to thank you. What a...lovely gift!"

Camaen held out her arms for an embrace, which Barawen fell into, laughing as she had not in years. Out of the crowd, a figure wearing a black hood burst through the crowd. Barawen stared in confusion, especially when a pale hand raised a dark glass of Dorwinion up to her. Then she heard a bitter yet melodic voice.

"Congratulations," the female said before wandering off.

'Nenlas?" she thought to herself.

She saw Nenlas walk toward Odin, who was doing surprisingly well with the Elves of court, and bend down to whisper something in his ear. Afterward, the two of them wandered off into the corridor leading to the study and vanished from sight.

/ / / / /

Legolas found himself catching up with old military friends. They were all imploring him to heed various warnings. The each had tales of the ways of ellith and what to expect of a wife.

"Be sure to have an attendant at the ready when she is pregnant. The pregnant elleth's appetite is insatiable!"

"Ellith enjoy presents. Do not shy from the idea of surprises!"

"Enjoy your hony moone whilst it lasts! Children change your marriage!"

Between all the advice on which months were good to surprise wives and how to please an elleth, Legolas felt about ready to stove his head in. He noticed Gimli had yet to lay in to him.

"What, have you no clever advice for me?" Legolas asked.

Taking a great big gulp of Dorwinion, he chuckled and sighed.

"Alas, I have no clever words of forewarning. Mining has been my wife, and knowing Dwarf-women, I doubt I'll be trading her in any time soon. Can't say the same for Odin though."

He pointed Legolas' eyes to a cloaked figue leaving with him and disappearing out of sight. Deep in the pit of his stomach, he could not find it in him to trust the situation.

/ / / / /

"Do you remember me?" Nenlas asked, taking off her hood. Her smokey grey eyes held a dangerous sort of power in them; a power that was drawing Odin in to them.

His brown eyes lit up to see her once again.

"Of course I remember you! How could I forget your hair, shining like silver and gold?"

A sinister grin crept across her lips.

"I'm so glad to hear that," she said sweetly. "I have missed you, and I know you have been busy. Allow me to give you a gift?" she asked, running her fingers through his coppery beard.

Slipping a silver necklace adorned with a blue gem out of her sleeve, she showed him how the gem was crafted like a flower, with vines of silver.

"Please, I do not want any of your people to fight for it. Keep it for me, to remember me in Ithilien. And keep it secret, as a reminder of how fond I am, regardless of how our people view interracial relations."

Odin clasped it tightly in his palm before bowing deeply. He took Nenlas' hand and kissed it.

"I will never let another's eyes fall upon it!" he promised. "You, the fairest of all women in Middle-earth, shall always be able to rely on Odin's word!"he said, puffing out his chest.

Nenlas smiled, kissing him on the cheek and slinking away to her room.

Authoress Chat: Hopefully this chapter whetted your tongues. And I hope it revealed some motivations of characters. Let me make it clear: NENLAS (though fucked up) IS NOT EVIL! She just is motivated by spite. And Thranduil is picking sides with his children. He wants everyone to feel loved. Let me know what you think. Till later. Ja ne!