Woah! Okay, long story short: got back from Germany, went on vacation, moved into my new apartment, and classes started back up. Busy, busy, busy! But here's the next chapter! Hope you guys enjoy!
"You are off balance," Boromir said sternly, moving one of his feet to push Arianna's right foot back. "Your feet must be your center. Hold them too close to one another and your opponent may easily uproot you and gain the upper hand."
Arianna nodded, planting her feet and pushing Boromir's sword away with a fierce swing. The sound of blade-on-blade normally made her spine tingle in the worst of ways, but now, she found it only added to her adrenaline. "I'd like to try and see someone get the upper hand on me," she spat, her breath uneven. They had been going for hours, and Arianna felt it in every one of her muscles.
Boromir laughed. "You are as self-assured as ever. I dare say you are fiercer than you ever were. The Lady's words must truly have upset you."
Arianna stepped forward, swinging her sword low. Boromir blocked her easily, her blade sliding away from his. She pulled through, turning and swinging again, aiming high. Again, Boromir blocked her, and this time instead of following through, Arianna pushed against him until she stood but inches away, their crossed swords between their chests. She glared at him angrily, a bead of sweat tickling her nose. "Don't talk about that," she threatened quietly.
Arianna had not taken the news from Galadriel as gracefully as she would have liked. She had spent most of the night in Legolas's arms, crying on his shoulder like a child. He had been kind, though, staying with her for hours until she eventually slipped into an exhausted sleep. The last thing she remembered from that night was the soft brush of his lips against her forehead as he laid her out and tucked her into her covers. The memory caused her some discomfort. It had been nice, his attention – a little too nice. The thought of it caused her stomach to squirm and her cheeks to warm, and as much as she tried, she could not push the feeling away, even after two days.
She had resigned herself to pulling away from Legolas, spending a great deal of time with Boromir. Focusing on her swordsmanship was helping her push away all the hectic thoughts that had been swarming in her mind since that night. There was so much to think about that she hadn't the faintest idea of where to begin – so she didn't. Instead, she pushed it all to the back of her mind, willing the unhappy thoughts of death away.
Arianna freed one of her hands, making a fist and sending it directly towards Boromir's gut. He moved just a step to avoid her, and when he did, she swung her leg about, catching him behind the knee and sending him to the ground. She stepped away as he crumbled, throwing her sword to the ground. The guilt in her heart was something that she couldn't push away, even with all the training in the world to distract her. To think that I even thought it…even for a moment. She lowered her eyes to the ground as she walked to the small spring beside the field, splashing her face as Boromir grouched behind her about dishonorable tactics.
I could never take the Ring from Frodo, she thought sadly. It has to be destroyed to save Middle Earth, I know that. And yet…I still thought—just for a second—I thought about taking it to save myself. Arianna stared at herself in the water. Her high cheeks were flushed from exertion and the hair against her forehead was damp with sweat. How could I be so selfish? How could I have thought about betraying him like that? Still… she sighed. Arianna stood slowly, wiping at her brow with her forearm. She'd changed into her tunic and shorts, and they were much more comfortable than that dress, and much easier to move around in. I don't know what's going to happen to me. She worried her lower lip. Galadriel said the power of Lothlórien is what's keeping him out of my head – that's why I haven't had any nightmares since coming here. But as soon as I leave, what will happen? Will I be susceptible to the Ring's power?
Arianna had decided yesterday morning that she would be accompanying the Fellowship out of Lothlórien, whether they wished her to or not. She had no intentions of staying here in the forest to laze about and be coddled by Firverior, however nice that sounded. Knowing what she did now, she couldn't possibly imagine hanging about to be a sitting duck if Sauron decided he suddenly wanted her to make good on Adonnenniel's promise. I have to fight his influence as long as I can bear it, she thought seriously.
"You truly wish to accompany us?"
Boromir's voice made her start and she turned, running a hand through her bangs and ruffling them in frustration. "Of course I do. I already told you."
"And I have already told you they intend for you to remain here," Boromir said. Boromir had told her days ago about the conversation that he'd had with the other warriors in the group. They had all agreed that it would be best for Arianna to remain in Lothlórien, and Boromir made no secret that it was exactly the reason Legolas and Aragorn had refused to teach her to fight. "They will no doubt insist that you remain behind."
"They will no doubt have to blow it out their asses," Arianna replied, tugging her hair up into a sloppy bun, "because that's not going to happen."
Boromir chuckled, shaking his head. "Your manner is a constant source of concern."
"Well, I did have a friend who told me one day my attitude would be the death of me." Danny, she thought sadly, maybe I should have listened to you more. Then again, if you take away my attitude, I'm not left with much.
"I am sorry to say your friend may have been correct. However," he let a teasing smile slip across his face, "I must admit, I would not have you any other way. Despite our earlier disagreements, I have always found your mannerisms to be quite entertaining."
"Awe," Arianna cooed back playfully, "so even when you hated me you loved me? Story of my life."
Boromir gave her an exasperated look. "How many times must I say that I do not love you?"
"How many times must I say that it's just an expression? Just cool your jets and let me pretend somebody cares about me, will you?" Arianna pulled her right arm across her body, stretching out the taunt muscles. Man, I'm sore all over. It's getting late, too. Must be getting close to dinner time.
"Oh, I believe there is someone who cares about you," Boromir said mischievously. "I certainly do not believe I imagined the way the elf handled you the other night. The kiss was a nice touch, though a bit daring on his part, I would say. As I understand it, Elvish courtships normally take much longer to develop."
Arianna's face lit up like a wildfire, and she sputtered. "C-courtship?! You're out of your mind!" She turned around, folding her arms stubbornly. "You're just as ridiculous as Pippin!"
"You are in denial," Boromir responded. "Do not think I have not seen you steal glances at the elf."
"I will literally kill you," Arianna responded, willing the heat on her face to disappear. "Literally. Kill you."
"Your embarrassment is only a testament to the truth. Of course, you needn't worry. The elf has stolen glances at you as well."
"You're a lying liar who lies, and this conversation is over." Arianna turned back around, breezing passed Boromir without looking at him. "I am going to have dinner and then take a bath, and we will never speak of this again."
"I make no such promise," Boromir called after her, laughing.
Despite herself, Arianna quirked her lips to force back a smile. Jerk, she thought, just bordering on fondness. If she were honest with herself, Boromir reminded her a bit of Danny: caring and loyal, but overall infuriating at the best of times. A great guy, though. He's been looking out for me this entire time, and he's teaching me to fight when the others won't.
Spending so much time with Boromir was opening Arianna's eyes. He really was a wonderful man; loyal, kind, a bit of a joker once he opened up – she was glad they had sorted out their differences. It was nice to have an adult friend to be able to talk to. Not that Legolas isn't an adult, Arianna thought, but it's different with Boromir. I suppose there's Gimli and Aragorn, too, but we don't talk all that much. Boromir was probably the most normal of all the Fellowship, she supposed. But maybe I only think that because he's a man? I mean, Aragorn's one, too, but he's a Dúnedain, so he's sort of special. Boromir is just…Boromir. And he's just like me. Just a person, no long life, no special talents other than what we fight to earn.
"I bet that's it," Arianna muttered to herself. "As far as the Fellowship is concerned, we're the most alike."
Dinner was uneventful. Arianna couldn't help but feel restless. Sitting down gave her time to realize how things were beginning to feel a bit mundane. Lothlórien was beautiful, and Arianna had been happy for a rest at first, but now that she was learning to fight and had been blessed with the knowledge about her mysterious appearance in the world, she was eager to continue on with the journey. She was anxious, even, to get a move on and face whatever it was Middle Earth had to throw at her. The fight with the Uruk-hai ought to be interesting…I hope I can handle it. Her lips twitched in a soft smile. Who am I kidding? Even with all this practice I'm doing, I'll probably be scared witless by the sight of them. No matter what, though, I've got to stay by Boromir's side.
Arianna's heart dropped at the thought of Boromir's impending death. She began to chew slowly, dropping her piece of bread and cheese onto her plate unceremoniously. Boromir's death…the words echoed in her mind like a mantra. It hadn't been something she'd particularly thought about before. Everything happens for a reason, isn't that what I told Gandalf? She furrowed her brow. But…back then, I was just referring to his death. Gandalf, he gets to come back. But Boromir…
"Don't you want the rest, Arianna?" Merry piped up from beside her.
Arianna turned her gaze towards her plate, looking impassively at the unfinished food. She placed her chin on the heel of her palm and passed her plate to Merry lazily. His face lit up and he grabbed the plate eagerly.
"Merry." Both Arianna and the hobbit turned, surprised, to Boromir, who sat opposite the circle. "I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to return the plate to Arianna." Boromir turned his strong gaze to her. "She needs to eat to keep up her strength."
Arianna flushed, averting her eyes. She pouted her lips, chin still resting on her palm as Merry passed the plate back, disappointed. Arianna sighed. "What, now you're going to go all 'babysitter' on me, too?" She sighed, picking at the food before breaking off a large bite, shoving it in her mouth spitefully. She turned her eyes back to Boromir, challenging him with a glance.
Legolas watched the exchange with narrowed eyes. Arianna seemed to be particularly close to the Gondorian recently – and what he found particularly irksome, she seemed to be pulling away from him in order to spend time with Boromir. Now, he watched as Arianna continued to eat grudgingly, and it worried him how easily she bent to Boromir's will. Arianna had nearly always been adverse to doing what Legolas said, but one insistence from Boromir and she—
"All done!" Arianna cheered. She stood, presenting the empty plate to Boromir by placing it in his lap. "Aren't you proud? Now I'll grow up to be big and strong!" The smile on her face nearly hurt as it stretched across her cheeks. "I'm going for a bath. No peeking this time!" She waved a reprimanding finger at Boromir, turning on heel and sprinting away, grabbing her things haphazardly as she passed her cot.
She made her way quickly to the bathing pools and stripped, slipping into the cool water with a sigh. She dunked herself, running her fingers through her hair slowly. When she resurfaced, she grabbed the vial of soap and began to wash away the sweat. She sighed as she massaged the fragrant liquid into her arms, humming underneath her breath. "Man, I miss music," she muttered. As she rinsed herself off, she began a low tune.
"I'm awake in the afternoon, I fell asleep in the living room, and it's one of those moments, when everything is so clear…" Arianna swam around, enjoying the water on her skin. "Before the truth goes back into hiding, I wanna' decide, cause it's worth deciding, to work on finding something more than this fear."
"I was wondering if you had any honest flaws. Your voice is appalling."
Arianna shrieked, spinning around and sinking lower into the pool, folding her arms over her breasts. How clear is this water?! "Firverior!" she screamed angrily. "What the hell?!"
He smiled, walking further into the small clearing. "My goodness. I've never heard something so coarse."
Arianna glared. "So sorry I wasn't blessed with a set of magical elvish pipes. We can't all be perfect."
"Clearly," Firverior returned, grinning as he stopped at the edge of the pool. "Enjoying your bath?"
"I was," Arianna snapped. "What are you doing here, anyway, spying on me?"
"Spying?" he repeated cheekily. "I was not spying. I was merely taking a stroll when I heard the sound of an animal in pain. But it turns out it was only my favorite human."
Arianna huffed. "My singing isn't that bad."
Firverior laughed charmingly. "I beg to differ."
"Well, fine. My singing sucks. That doesn't give you permission to peek-a-boo on me when I'm washing. It's coarse."
Firverior lifted a brow smugly at the return of his comment. "Somehow," he said slowly, "I do not believe you mind all that much."
Arianna paused for a moment, considering the thought. Sebby, Danny, and Remy had all seen her naked at some point in their friendship, and if she were honest, Firverior wasn't really any different. Sure, she hadn't known him as long, but the love was there. Platonic love, she reminded herself. He's a bro. She sighed. "What the hell. You're right. I don't give a shit."
"I saw you practicing swordplay with the Gondorian. I suppose that means you have resolved your differences?" He sat down fluidly, dipping his fingers into the water and swirling them about.
"Yeah," Arianna cheered, breaking into a grin. "He's actually a great guy! He agreed to teach me to fight when the others wouldn't, obviously." The smile on her face dropped slowly as her thoughts turned back to Boromir. "He's…great," she repeated.
"Oh my," Firverior said. "That did not sound convincing."
Arianna swam around mindlessly. She debated silently for a moment, glancing back at Firverior sadly. "Hey, Firverior," she began softly, "if you knew something really bad was going to happen to someone, would you…do something to stop it?"
Firverior raised his brows curiously. "Well, I think that might depend. How bad is bad?"
Biting her lip nervously, she turned back around, swimming closer to the edge of the water. "What about death?" she challenged, looking Firverior directly in the eye. "What if you knew someone was going to die?"
His eyes widened in surprise, and he was silent for a moment. "Death is an inevitable part of life," he said at length.
"Not for you," Arianna responded immediately.
"No, perhaps not for Elf-kind. But your companions, Aragorn and Boromir, the Halflings, the Dwarf…even you," at this, his eyes dropped for a moment, and Arianna furrowed her brow. "You will all face death eventually, and the time at which you face it is not up to you to control."
"Why not?" Arianna contested. "If I know someone's going to die, why can't I try to save them?"
Firverior sighed. "Arianna," he said evenly, "of what do you speak?"
"…I…I'm finished with my bath. Can you turn around or something? I need to get dressed."
Firverior stood. "Allow me." He moved towards her clothes, grabbing the cloth that the handmaidens had given Arianna to dry with. He held it open for her, and she resigned with a sigh. She waded out of the water and allowed him to wrap the towel around her. She tucked the corner and wrung out her hair. She ruffled it, her stomach twisting uncomfortably. "The Fellowship knows," she began, "but I never told you. It, uh, never came up."
When she was done wringing out her hair, she made her way to her clothes and changed quickly. No sense in modesty now. I'm about to bare everything else, anyway.
"Are you decent?"
"What? Oh, yeah."
Firverior came up behind her, tucking a wet curl behind her ear. "Tell me," he requested gently.
She shrugged moodily. "Long story short, Galadriel told me that a rogue elf soul made its way into my body, into my world, and it brought me back here to Middle Earth. But back in my world, Middle Earth is real in the sense that it's a story. It's a book, and I've read it. I know everything that's going to happen with the Fellowship, almost every major event that's going to happen in the entire Third Age of Middle Earth – before and after this war."
Firverior stared at her in shock for a moment. "You—is this the truth?"
She rolled her eyes. "Why the hell would I make something like this up? Besides, surely you've noticed I'm not exactly like other women from this world."
Firverior nodded his head in agreement shortly. "I see," he whispered. "So then you know the many lives that this war will claim."
"And I assume," he continued in a low voice, "you feel such great concern because you are worried for one of your companions."
The thought knocked around between her ears, causing her stomach to lurch. "Firverior," she whispered, "He's going to die." Her voice broke. She gasped, her throat constricting. "I don't want him to die!"
She dropped the bundle of clothes in her arms, winding them tightly around Firverior. He returned the embrace sadly, laying a hand atop her head tenderly. How cruel mortality seemed – he had never been exposed to it so personally, but seeing her sadness brought him closer to it than he ever thought would be possible. He closed his eyes, sighing as he held her. Behind his eyelids, he saw her sad face, peculiar black lines tracking her cheeks. Behind her, a strange scene played before his eyes: a cluster of people in strange dress staring at him in fright, and in his hand, a strange ache. Turning his gaze to his knuckles, he saw that they were brightly bruised.
"Touch my sister again, and I'll blind you," the voice echoed through his mind menacingly, and he jerked, starting as his eyes snapped back open.
Firverior turned wondering eyes towards the young woman in his arms, who seemed not to notice his sudden movement. Oh, Valar, he thought slowly, why do you continue to send me these visions? Why do these scenes haunt me so?
Everyone together now: "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." (; As always, feedback is always welcome, and I appreciate any and all criticism you want to give! Until next time! x