AN: I recently reread the LOTR books and decided to take a crack at this idea that's been in my head for a while. Reviews are appreciated and if anyone wants to Beta for me PM me. Happy Reading and look for weekly updates!
Disclaimer- I do not own anything from LOTR.
Chapter 1- In The Beginning
In the 45 seconds between the doors of the hospital and being placed in the car carrier her father really hoped was locked in place correctly Nina fell in love with the open air. It was unseasonably warm for early March in New England and the smell of fresh rain was still hanging in the air from the shower the night before. Of course being all of three days old prevented her from expressing her discontent at being put inside in any way but whimpering when the door was shut and the wind no longer touched her face. The small sound had him checking in the mirror for her constantly as if he was afraid she'd disappear.
Before her birth Nina's father, Allard was not a worrier. Then again, before Nina's birth he had thought his wife would be there to take the lead in parenting. The car crash three days ago that led to their baby being born a week early also took his wife from him. Though he knew she was gone the shock hadn't quite left him yet and he clung to it, trying to keep it together for the little girl who was all he had left of her mother. She was beautiful; she'd been born with a full head of completely black hair and large place green eyes that looked far more intelligent than any newborn had the right to be. The ride home form the hospital was nerve-racking for the new father who desperately wanted to get his baby out of the city and into the safety of his suburban home as soon as possible.
In the weeks to follow Allard tried to balance the responsibilities of unexpectedly being a single parent and keeping up with the work which was backing up while he stayed home with her. Eventually he admitted defeat and hired a nanny to be with her for a few days a week while he went to work. Nina's mother never wanted the baby to go to daycare or have a nanny but Allard couldn't see another option if he was going to keep making a decent income. He was lucky that the PR firm he worked at was willing to let him work from home twice a week considering his circumstances. By the time Nina turned one the nanny Mary had moved in and become a part of their makeshift family. Nina's first word had been Da followed by a mangled baby version of grandma which she directed at Mary. It was Mary who suggested putting a skylight in the baby's room to keep her from crying out when she was forced inside. Nina, they both discovered very early on, was in love with being outside. Instead of setting her in front of the television to watch those baby movies with too many primary colors Mary or Allard would carry her to the porch facing the woods behind the old house and point out the different plants and animals.
Nina's entire baby vocabulary was filled with words like bunny, deer, fox, squirrel, chipmunk and bird. She'd squeal in excitement whenever she saw something nearby on the grass and whimper in disappointment when her noises scared them away. Mary would always tell her "Be still Nina. Don't startle them. If you are patient they'll come to you" Not ten minutes later a rabbit was at most five feel away from Nina's hand munching on the carrots shed tossed on the ground earlier.
At age six Nina was getting into little fights at school, mostly with bigger kids who were picking on the girls and boys smaller than them. Nina's innate sense of right and wrong wouldn't let her sit by as they made the other children cry so she got in the middle and made herself the target. When Allard found out he spent all night doing research and the next morning instead of going to the state park as they did every Saturday Allard dropped Nina off at the best martial arts studio in the area. "If you're going to fight I want you to be the one who comes out of it unharmed. Besides, a little discipline wouldn't go amiss".
For her tenth birthday Allard helped Nina build a tree house in the large oak tree just out of view from the house. He'd wanted to wait until she was older but she'd been climbing the trees behind their home for years and he'd rather she be in something sturdy than give him another heart attack falling from a weak branch as she had the week before. Shockingly, she'd only gotten a few large cuts on her shorts clad legs but he'd still taken her to the hospital. She sat in the emergency room looking around curiously and wrinkling her nose at the antiseptic smell and in that moment decided that when she grew up she was going to be like the lady fixing her leg- only maybe she would do it somewhere where it smelled better.
When Nina turned 13 her father gave her an archery set. When she'd asked for it a few months previously Allard had laughed as his odd little girl just kept getting stranger by the day. She'd told him that she'd tried it at the camp she'd been at the summer before and wanted to actually learn how to do it. So, bow and arrows in hand Allard had found her an instructor who was willing to come by the house once a week and teach her how not to kill herself with the old style weapon. Only a few months later Mary brought her to her first horseback riding lesson. The instructor laughed when Nina enjoyed brushing and caring for the animals more than actually riding them but as time wore on she was becoming a proficient rider and was even starting to help train some of the younger girls.
Nina was 15 when she discovered books. Within months she'd devoured every bit of the written word Allard had in the house and had gotten her own library card. Being the slightly odd child that she was the other children her age at school were not overly accepting. Sure, she had a few friends from her classes who had gotten so used to her that they were largely immune to her antics and she'd spent many a weekend watching movie marathons with them but she didn't truly identify with a group like so many of her peers did. Most afternoons found Nina walking to the library from school and cloistering herself in one of the chairs on the roof of the flat topped building reading whatever her hands fell upon. Fantasies, biographies, or mysteries it did not matter. She'd just finished the Tolkien books the week before and was now working on a book about the American Revolution.
The December before her 17th birthday the second car accident of Nina's life occurred. She, Mary, and Allard were driving north with plans to go skiing for the weekend when the tuck came around the corner and skidded on the ice towards them. Their little sedan was hit head-on by the out of control truck and the next thing Nina remembered was waking in the hospital. She knew where she was before she opened her eyes, the over clean smell making her stomach churn.
She heard a woman holding what appeared to be a phone conversation judging from the one sided words. "-in surgery does she have any other family we can contact?" The woman paused "Alright can you get someone from social services down here? He probably won't make it through the night." The voice sounded tired and almost apologetic. Nina's eyes flew open.
The sound of the beeps monitoring her pulse jumped up and the woman, a nurse, by the phone ran over to her. "Nina! You're finally awake. You gave us quite a scare little lady." Briefly Nina wondered if this woman realized that she wasn't four years old 'Seriously' she thought 'little lady?'
"Where's my dad and Mary?" Despite guessing the answer she refused to drop eye contact with the nurse. She just needed to hear it.
"Oh sweetheart…" the woman began before putting on her brave face and coming out with it "your car was hit straight on and Mary and your father were in front. I'm sorry but Mary didn't make it. Your father is in bad shape but he's in surgery and we're doing all we can" Nina would have been more convinced by the nurses hopeful voice if she hadn't heard her before 'He probably won't make it through the night'. The words kept running through her head and she sat silently refusing to listen to any of the people who kept coming in to check on her. Hours after her conversation with the nurse a middle aged woman in a pants suit and a doctor in scrubs came in with apologetic looks on their faces.
"He didn't make it did he?" She mumbled just loud enough to be heard. She was crying, she realized absently as a drop of water hit her hand but she kept her head as clear as possible. This was not the time to fall apart.
"We're very sorry for your loss. We're getting them prepped and then you can see them." The doctor said appearing to be uncomfortable with the silently crying girl in front of him. She nodded and mutter something that may have been a thank you and he walked out closing the door behind him. The pant suit lady came to sit in the chair next to her bed.
"My name is Amanda, I'm form Social Services. We're trying to track down a family member do you know anyone we can call?" The woman looked harried like she'd been over stressed. Then again, she should be considering as far as Nina knew the only people she had as family were dead.
"If I didn't have any other family what would you do?" She ask in response. A beginning of a plan was forming in the back of her mind and she wanted to buy herself a little more time before she had to make a decision.
"Well you're still a minor so we would need to place you with a guardian until you turned 18. Do you know who we can call?" Amanda was clearly not playing this game.
Sighing Nina sat up. "Did my dad's cell phone make it through the crash? I need it." The social services woman's eyes lit up 'Wow lady shouldn't you have tried that already?' she thought to herself. The woman excused herself to go search it out and returned a few minutes later with two large plastic bags labeled personal affects with Mary and her father's names on them. As she grabbed the phone she gave Amanda an expectant stare before turning her eyes to the door. Flushing, the woman muttered that she'd give her some privacy and left. Scrolling through the contacts Nina found the name of her father's lawyer and pressed call.
A few hours later when the man who stepped into the room introduced himself as Ms. Hunter's lawyer as opposed to a relative Amanda was less than pleased. When the meeting continued into Nina signing documents for a request to become an emancipated minor she thought the woman was going to have a fit. A few days later when the hearing judge declared that as she had the funds, residence, and transportation left to her by her father there was no reason she couldn't be allowed to live her life for the three months between then and her 18th birthday.
The moment she returned from court that day when she was finally legally free she allowed herself to feel the grief that had been building up since the moment she learned of their family's fate. It took her hours to even move herself from the middle of the kitchen floor where she collapsed to her bedroom. The day before she'd held a memorial for her father and Mary where all of their friends and a few people from school showed up to tell her how sorry they were and pay their respects. Tomorrow, if she could get herself out of bed and the grief didn't crush her, she would spread their ashes through the woods they had all spent so much time in.
She finished out her senior year of high school while also taking two classes at the local technical college to begin her training as a paramedic. After all, it was a way to help people that didn't involve her spending her days inside a hospital. She took classes straight through the summers and graduated in the spring just after her 19th birthday but continued to take classes on homeopathic medicine and medicinal herbs while she was working. Nina enjoyed her job and worked as much as she could but she wasn't happy. She'd made friends with the other EMT's and gone out a few times trying to find something to fill the ever-present gap but she always felt like something was missing even beyond the loss of her family. That fall is when the dreams began.
Always she would find herself walking in an unfamiliar forest. The light that shone between the branches above was unusual and the dew that clung to the scene glowed a faint silver. She would make her way to a fallen tree by a swift running brook and sit down. Only then would the oddly familiar voice come to her. 'You are chosen child of a distant land. The Valar honor you with their blessings. The path ahead will be perilous but it will ease the sorrow which holds your heart so fiercely. Be not afraid when they come for you for I will meet you when you truly awaken' the voice sounded in her head and despite knowing she was not actually hearing the speaker she always looked around to try and spot them. As always she would spot something glowing in the river and would wade in to try and touch it. The silver glow would expand and she would be sucked into the light only to wake up gasping in her bed. 'What odd dreams' she thought before turning over and trying to catch an hours more of rest.