Don't Wake Me Up
Darkness Before Dawn
We walk through the forest of Lothlorien, the golden leaves above us comforting me after the terror inflicted by the mines of Moria. We walk in silence for the most part, only speaking when we absolutely have to. Each of us walks solemnly, our feet dragging and our hearts heavy with sadness over the loss of Gandalf.
"Stay close, young hobbits. They say a Sorceress lives in these woods." Gimli catches the attention of the hobbits and a feeling of paranoia settles in, as though I'm being watched. Gimli continues a bit more quietly, but he's obviously trying to lighten the mood.
"An elf-witch of terrible power. All who look upon her fall under her spell and are never seen again." He finishes, letting it hang dramatically. Pippin and Merry seem entranced by the notion. Boromir smiles a bit, amused by Gimli's tale. Frodo looks distracted, as if he hears something we can't.
"See, I told you Elsira's bad news." Pippin says solemnly, nudging Merry. I giggle, allowing myself to laugh despite the loss of Gandalf.
"Mr. Frodo?" Sam asks quietly, nudging Frodo gently. Frodo looks at him suddenly, as if just realizing his presence.
"Well, here's one dwarf she won't ensnare so easily! I've the eyes of a hawk and the ears of a fox!" Gimli says proudly. A bunch of elves suddenly appear out of what appears to be thin air, bows drawn and aiming at us. One steps forward, and I assume him to be the leader. He looks at Gimli disdainfully.
"The dwarf breathes so loud we could have shot him in the dark." He says, eying Gimli. Gimli's eyes narrow dangerously and I take a deep breath, noticing just how many arrows are aiming at me. I really hope Gimli doesn't say anything stupid because right now they have no reason to shoot us. We're just passing through.
"Haldir of Lorien, we come here for your help. We need your protection." Aragorn says. Ah, so that is his name. Everyone but Legolas looks wary and confused by his words and it hits me, that wasn't english. That's twice now that I've understood elvish with no explanation. What's going on with me?
"Aragorn! These woods are perilous, we should go back." Gimli says a bit nervously, and a bit late. I bite back a small smile; this isn't the best of times for that. My thoughts wander to Gandalf, and I push them back. I need to focus on making sure we survive this.
"You have entered the realm of the Lady of the Wood. You cannot go back." He looks at Frodo, and then his eyes drift lazily over to me. I shudder under his pale, icy eyes.
"Come, she is waiting for you." His words are directed towards Frodo and me specifically. We follow Haldir through the forest, the dusky light casting long shadows. We walk quickly, not tarrying for even a second to take in the beauty around us.
We finally stop walking, coming to stand before an elven man and woman. The man has long silver hair and a face that can only be described as beautiful, though he pales in comparison to the woman who stands at his side. The woman beside him has long gold hair, set aflame by the setting sun. Her skin is pale and flawless and her face has a beautiful, unearthly quality to it.
"Greetings, I hope your greeting was not too inhospitable. My name is Galadriel and this is Celeborn." The woman says, motioning to the man beside her in turn. Gimli looks awestruck, and his eyes never waiver from Galadriel. Her voice, too, is beautiful. Gimli stares, unflinching and I worry his eyes will just fall out of his head.
"Nine there are, yet ten there were set out from Rivendell. Tell me, where is Gandalf, for I much desire to speak with him." Celeborn says, and I feel as though I've been slapped. Galadriel looks at us all silently, taking in our reactions.
"He has fallen into shadow." She says quietly. She looks at Aragorn, who nods subtly. I close my eyes for a moment, determined not to show any weakness. I open my eyes once more, forcing myself to focus on what Galadriel says next.
"The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all… Yet hope remains while the company is true." She says, and I can't help but frown. What if we mess up? If what she says is true, then the slightest of missteps could lead to disaster.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Go now and rest for you are weary with sorrow and much toil." Galadriel's eyes linger on Sam, and I get the feeling that she knows something. We are shown to our rooms, and I instantly lay down on the bed, exhausted. Every time I close my eyes, I watch Gandalf plummet to his imminent doom. I sit up, my head in my hands. I hear a knock at my door and run my fingers through my thickly braided hair.
"Come in." I call from the bed. I'm not in the mood for visitors, but anything to get my mind off of Gandalf is welcome. The door opens, and Legolas steps into the room. He closes the door, then walks in and stands in front of me.
"Sit down Legolas." I say, and he sits in a nearby chair. I turn to face him and try to keep my heart rate normal as I look at him.
"What's on your mind?" I ask calmly. His eyes meet mine, and for a second, everything almost feels normal. Then Gandalf's death works its way back into my mind, almost making me wince. He stands back up and walks over to me. Then he takes my hand, pulling me to my feet. We walk out onto a balcony that is attached to the room and I look up at the stars. They are so flawlessly beautiful. Never dying, never aging, near so many others, but always alone.
"Are you all right? I know you were close to Gandalf, and you weren't even given a chance to mourn him." His words snatch me from my reverie. I feel my breath catch in my throat and I fight back tears once more. Damnit, I was determined to stop crying about the whole ordeal. I blink back tears, breathing to try and keep from crying.
"I'm fine." I say, my voice shaky. Legolas looks at me, his eyes once again showing an emotion I don't recognize. I try to take a deep breath and my resolve cracks. It's just too much. I lean against the rail, my shoulders shaking slightly as I cry. Strong arms envelop me, holding me tight. I sob, much like I did before. Moments later I find myself crying onto Legolas's shoulder, his arms still around me.
We stay like that for a long time, until eventually I feel as though I've cried out all my tears. I take a shuddering breath and look up at Legolas. I'm speechless. He stayed here with me, because he knew that I needed a shoulder. I hate him though, because I wouldn't have cried if he didn't come.
"Why?" I ask feebly. I don't know what to say. A small smile touches his lips, and my heartbeat stutters.
"It could have been any of us. It could be any of us. I could die tomorrow, and so could you. We don't have time to mourn now, and I doubt we'll have any next time either." My voice is frailer than I'd like it to be. I swallow, trying to find some method of suppressing my tears. I look away, gazing up at the stars.
"You're right, it could be. So let's make the best of the time we have." His eyes glint with a new determination, and once again I am reminded of how fragile our lives are. Yet somehow, Legolas shows no fear. He embraces it, and just savors the moment instead of wishing for more. Aragorn does it too. Gimli does it. The warriors of the Fellowship all do it and I need to catch up to that sort of thinking. I'm reminded of something I heard back in my world. It was something like; it's not the number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away. I thought it was just a useless waste of time at the moment, but perhaps there's some truth to those words. Maybe that's why the other members of the Fellowship can keep going despite what happens.
"That isn't so easy to do right now. We're on a deadly quest with no time to stop and just enjoy living." He seems thoughtful, and pauses before answering.
"That does not mean there isn't time to stop and enjoy the little things. We all have something we want to do, and though perhaps we can, we do not. We wouldn't do it normally, so we don't do it now, even though any day could be out last." He says. I wish I could do as he says. If I could, I would do so many things, but I can't. It's not up to me.
"I say this because there's something I wish to be able to do." He adds. I instantly look back up at him, wanting to know what it is.
"What's preventing you?" I ask. What could trouble him so, as to come to me about it? I imagine he'd rather confide in Aragorn than me. He smiles slightly, as if reminiscent or even sad.
"Fear." He says simply. Fear of what? What could he possibly fear? He faces death every day and doesn't back down even a little bit. He's strong, agile, smart, fast and breathtakingly handsome. Few things are outside of his limits.
"You're afraid? What is it that you fear?" I ask quietly. I feel like it should be obvious, but I just don't know. I know what I want it to be, but that's not important.
"Rejection." That catches me off guard. I'm starting to get an idea. A very good idea.
"We only have one life, and each day could be our last. Just go for it." I say smoothly, hoping against hope that I'm right. His eyes are so incredible, is my last coherent thought.
He steps towards me and in an instant his lips are on mine. He's actually kissing me. I was right. I kiss him back and my eyes close as he wraps his arms around my waist. He pulls back abruptly, stepping away from me. Did I do something wrong? My eyes are wide and my breathing is erratic. A thousand thoughts go through my head, and few of them are good.
"Elsira, I just met you… But you are like no one I've ever met before. I apologize. I should not have been so bold. I acted impulsively, and apologize for that. I'm not sure what I was thinking. Forgive me; I'll take my leave now." He turns to leave and I don't stop him. I can't. I'm shocked by what just happened. He opens the door and I still stand there unmoving, as if I've been turned to stone. He leaves, closing the door behind him and I finally snap out of the silence that held me. I sit down and stare up at the stars, a thousand more thoughts going through my head.
I open my eyes and find myself in my bed. I don't remember getting here… Thoughts of last night flood my mind, and I shut my eyes tight. I eventually climb out of bed and change out of my armour and into some clothes I find on a dresser. They're just simple outdoor clothes. I retie my braids in their usual ponytail, forgoing brushing the mess that it would be. What I wouldn't do for a bath right now.
I jump slightly when I hear a knock on my door. I walk over and open it to find Gimli. He looks rather sheepish, and I can't help but wonder what he's doing here so early. We aren't leaving until tomorrow, and I'm still not particularly fond of him after our little disagreement.
"I came to apologize, lass. I figured it was overdue, and I ought to jus' get it over with. I didn't treat ya right, and I judged ya unfairly. I just figured I knew ya, and didn't stop to ask 'bout none of it. A warrior is nothing without his honor, and I dragged mine through the mud. I just wanted to tell you I'm sorry." He doesn't talk very loud, but I can still hear his voice very clearly. It seems Gimli is never quiet.
"It's all right. I know many people who would have done much the same. The fact that you are taking the time to apologize for your actions makes me feel inclined to forgive you. Apology accepted master Gimli." I say with a smile. He takes that as his queue to leave and turns away as I close the door. I lay down, feeling reminiscent of my old life. This won't be the last time I miss it, that's for sure.
I let out a sigh before hearing a knock on the door. It seems everyone wants to speak to me. I open the door to find a small female elf. She has light brown hair and big brown eyes.
"Lady Galadriel sent for you, my lady." She says quietly. She turns and begins to walk away, not waiting for an answer. I follow her, closing the door behind me. She leads me to a little clearing where Lady Galadriel is waiting. She's beautiful, wearing a long white dress that flows about her and her hands clasped behind her back in formality. The little elf leaves and Galadriel's hands fall to her sides.
"Alessia, it's been awhile." She says with a smile. The smile is faint, but there. My confusion must have shown, as she begins to explain.
"I assisted Alessia in bringing you here." She says sweetly. Ah, so perhaps she can answer for me the questions that Alessia did not.
"I can tell you have questions. Ask them." She says in her lilting voice. I try and figure out where to start.
"I can understand elvish. I'm fighting well, except I never learned how. What's going on?" I fall silent, having finished my rant. Galadriel nods thoughtfully, thinking of a response to my outburst.
"It is Alessia's influence. She too could speak elvish and she was a talented warrior." Galadriel explains, and I accept the answer without many questions. It makes sense.
"Is there a way for me to return home?" I ask quickly, wanting to know if it is possible for me to go home where I belong. Galadriel frowns, shaking her head.
"No." My face falls."But, I can bind your magic if you wish. I understand that it is a danger to you, and I can prevent you from using it if you wish." The longer she speaks the more elated I become. I could be safe from myself. More like how I used to be.
"Yes, please." I reply eagerly. She nods her consent to my request and for the first time since I got here I am starting to have real hope that I might make it out not just alive but doing ok.
"The spell will take awhile to prepare. A hot bath will be prepared for you and you'll be called back here when it is done." She gets the attention of a nearby elf and sees me off, a grin on my face as I return to my room. No more magic! This is too good to be true! I return to my room and find the elven lass from before waiting for me. The elf who led me here leaves, presumably returning to Galadriel.
"Follow me madam." The elven woman says quietly, and steps through the adjacent door. She holds the door for me, and within it is gorgeous. Plants cover much of the room, flowers growing everywhere in a beautiful and somewhat unkempt way. In the room, there is a tub of hot water and a few towels. I thank her and she leaves.
I sigh contentedly as I lower myself into the water. I work at finally getting the braids out of my hair, as I hadn't bothered to take them out until now. I sit for awhile in the warm water before I start scrubbing the dirt and grime off of myself. I start at my feet, working my up my calves to my thighs, and then thoroughly scrubbing my arms and torso before washing my hair. My skin is a few shades lighter and my hair is soft and clean, falling to my elbows in soft brown waves. I look around for a hairbrush and find one on a table nearby next to a grey dress. I brush my hair, reveling in its silky softness as it lays on my shoulders and upper back.
I lay down the hairbrush, having untangled all the knots in my hair. I put on the dress, which falls to my knees. It fits perfectly, and is feather light and soft as velvet. It has short, simple sleeves and is nothing particularly special. It's tight on my upper body, but is loose around my legs, giving me full mobility. I take the hairbrush to my room and lay it down on a dresser, intending to take it with me. I step out into the hall, preparing to go back to Galadriel.
I am such a fool. I've spent hundreds of years maintaining near-perfect control, and then I just completely lose it. I shake my head and open the door, intending to go and speak to Aragorn. I hear footsteps turn to see what appears to be a goddess walking towards me.
Long, dark brown hair no longer held in braids and a ponytail cascade down her back and frame her face nicely. Almond shaped grey eyes rimmed by long dark eyelashes meet mine. Full pink lips that are slightly pursed in thought draw my eyes and alabaster skin, cleaned and free of dirt draws my imagination. A knee-length gray dress clings to her skin, hugging her curves but flowing around her legs. She is indeed, a goddess.
The way she walks down the hall, not bothered a bit by anything around her, she looks happy. This is the first time I've seen her happy, dressed in anything remotely feminine, or with her hair down and with all those things together I find myself unable to speak. She flashes me a smile, those beautiful eyes of hers alight with glee. Wow.
"Something on your mind Legolas?" She asks innocently, her brow lightly furrowed with curiosity and concern. Think of Tauriel. Think of anyone but her. She isn't ok to think about. She is absolutely off limits.
"No, I was just going to go talk to Aragorn." The half-lie feels heavy as it falls from my lips but her smile wipes away my doubt and concern. How can I feel bad when those eyes are looking at me and promising that every single thing will be ok. What has her so happy? She continues on her way, walking down the hall and rounding a corner. I watch her go, impressed. Where did that come from? She was a scruffy warrior girl, and now she looks like royalty. Is it just me that sees her like that?
I shake my head, resuming my walk to go and talk to Aragorn. I have a lot on my mind.