I own no part of any copyrighted materials. I barely own my house. I own my own creations only. This is just an obsession of mine that is getting out of control. (Just ask the Dude, who does not get Tolkien at all. I know, sacrilege).
Later chapters will deal with stronger issues. (Death, rape, torture)
Time sometime in the TA. May run until 3021. This is a rewrite of an earlier story. Any similarities were intended. It is a rewrite. Both are posted under my name, but different titles. If you have read the original story somewhere, please forget it. Pretty please? I hope you will like this one better. I do. I plan on four parts running up to 2004 AD. (Yeah, try to figure out how that will work)!
If you have any questions about issues dealt with in this story, please let me know. I have read the books and seen the movies, but as it is a very complex world that has been woven, I cannot think that anyone knows everything about it. So, if I have slipped up somewhere, I would appreciate knowing of it. Issues with the vacillation between American and UK English are due to reading too many historical novels. I happen to like some of the spellings (which did not make my English teachers or professor happy) You will just have to deal with it.
Issues with phraseology will be squelched. I find it difficult enough to read the style of Tolkien's writing, I am not about to try to emulate it in mine. So, although I have tried to keep it formal, I hope it is not cumbersome.
Outside of a very few words (Ada, sell, Iell) I have used little actual Elvish. This is partly due to the fact that I am not knowledgeable enough to just whip out the words I want. But it is mostly because the story is set in the Elves' world. It would be redundant to use Elvish words when they are already speaking Elvish. So, only a few choice words. Again, deal with it.
I want to thank snowdrop for taking on the job of beta. I would also like to thank the people in the OSA forums who jump on the wagon when I am journeying through areas of which I am not sure. They are very helpful. When possible, I will give the credit where it is due. To all others, thank you for your topic deviations. They give a much needed break and a chuckle here and there that develops into a laugh at times.
A Butterfly Effect- Chrysalis
The low clouds covering the upper heights of the land emphasized the name given to the highest known chain of mountains, Hithaeglir-the Misty Mountains, to men. They hung like a gauzy curtain, shifting form with the wind. The swirling eddies gave the view upwards a surreal feel. It daunted any not used to the majesty of the sweeping peaks. The stiff breeze tearing down the narrow valley carried a promise of the coming season. It swept over the ground stirring up loose gravel and leaves left over from the preceding winter.
The valley below was bathed in shadow. It had been so for several days. The sun hid behind the heavy drape of clouds. No rain fell, but neither did sunlight. All life held its breath waiting for the change.
The mountains lay within sight of many settlements. The grandeur of Imladris; the mystery of Lothlórien; the disquiet of Isengard; the humbleness of Misty Haven, the edain village east of Imladris, all lay under the watchful eye of the range of mountains. To some, it was a daunting sight. To others, a comfort. To some, it was just home. To one, it was a stop on the journey to her destiny.
Ela woke to the sound of running water. Sitting up, she winced. Remembering the night before, she groaned. Would she never learn? Wine was not one of the things she tolerated well. A birthday was not a good enough excuse for the suffering she was sure would follow her day. She gingerly felt for her robe. Ah, there it was-dancing beyond her reach. She lunged for the robe, tripping over her shoes. he "dancing" robe turned out to be a mere chair. Wrapping the soft material around her chilled body, she slipped her feet into the shoes. Walking from her bedroom, she shuffled to the small kitchen. Ah, hot water. She would be sure to say thank you. Fixing a pot of tea, Ela looked over the letters on the table. Turning at a noise behind her, she smiled.
"Good morning, Grandmother."
"I am surprised to see you up so early. You were quite late last night." Elestra looked closely at the younger woman. Satisfied she was all right, she continued. "Your father was asking about you. He noticed you had left."
"Did he ask long? I did not mean to upset him, but there was something that caught my interest."
"I am sure," Elestra laughed. "What are your plans for the day?"
"I think I shall go riding. It has been too long. I feel the need to run along the upper meadows. Maybe I will bring back some conies for supper."
"I think you are expected elsewhere for supper."
Ela gave a small pout. "This is the first day I have had to myself in months. Do you think he would mind if I was absent?"
"I think he would send out search parties." Elestra smiled. The girl rub at being confined so much. No, not a girl any longer. She watched as Ela went back to her bedroom.
Lady Elrénia had changed little. At first glance, it was easy for strangers to dismiss her. Other than her hair, she had nothing physical to draw one. However, her temperament and willingness to help others set her apart. She had become a presence in the town at the west end of the valley. Her reputation as a healer had enabled her to meet many she would not have met in Lórien. However, not many knew her. While friendly and willing to aid any who asked, she jealously guarded her private time. Very few were allowed to infringe upon her solitude.
She carried her small frame with pride, the muscles hidden beneath the sleeves of her robe. She could ride with the best and shoot better than most other elleth. She distained the servants that her father employed, doing most of her own work. She allowed Garan, her father's gardener to tend to the grounds, but only because she had no time to do so herself. The muscles she had built up had not come from the fields alone. She had insisted on helping with the building of her house. From laying the foundation, to finishing the roof, she had been in on all of it. She could lovingly caress a wall support, knowing that she personally helped raise it and nailed it in place. It was a mark of pride that she had no qualms showing off. Her house was hers because she had helped create it.
Ela returned to the kitchen dressed in her riding clothes- soft grey flannel riding pants and a grey tunic. Even her boots were grey. It was as if she were trying to hold onto a past that she had left behind. Her coppery-gold hair was twisted upon her head, leaving her face clear. The bright blue eyes glanced around the room. All was as it should be. Ela sighed in contentment. Only one thing seemed missing, and she would see him later.
"I will see you later, Grandmother," she said, bending to kiss the proffered forehead. "I shall return for dinner. You may tell him."
"Please, be careful. I do not like it when you ride in the upper reaches."
"I will. And, the horse is sure-footed. He has not fallen once."
"Have a good ride."
Ela waved. Turning, she left the kitchen, going through the dining room. This was vastly different from the small kitchen. There was seating enough for twenty comfortably. One thing drummed into her at an early age was the importance of dining. It not only satisfied a natural need, but also served as a very social event. Even dinners with the family had been a chance to catch up on the day's events, discuss problems, review lessons learned. Dinner was an important part of the day.
The family room was no less grand. A huge fireplace lined one wall. Another held shelves of books from all over the known world, and a few from lands not so well known. A large cabinet held liquors from various realms. Ela herself did not indulge often, but she did entertain enough to keep something on hand. The carpets lining the floor were worn with use. The furniture was solid, but showing the wear of many happy gatherings.
To the rear of the house were the bedrooms used by her and Elestra. Her small one contained a cabinet filled with bottles and a few favourite books. A larger wardrobe held her trousers and tunics with just enough room to hang a few dresses. The open window gave passage to whichever cat wanted in at the time.
Next to her room was another small room for her grandmother, when she chose to visit. It was similarly furnished and kept open and ready at all times.
Upstairs were the guest rooms. Three smaller ones that were kept for storage. There was a master room waiting for the time a man would finally come home to posess it. It was as large as the two rooms downstairs combined. It contained two beds and a wardrobe. The guests this room had seen over the years would astound the average landowner. For such an unassuming dwelling, quite a parade of visitors had travelled through; elves…Dwarves…Hobbits. It was even rumoured that some more unsavoury characters had passed through. None had the temerity to ask, and Ela was, as ever, not very forthcoming with her private doings.
Glancing around the family room once more, Ela went to the closet where she kept her bow. Closing the door behind her, she sighed in satisfaction. Glancing up at the overcast sky however, caused a frown. The hope that rain did not spoil her ride ran through her head.
Returning home, Ela bathed and dressed for dinner. Her grandmother was already gone, so Ela set out on the walk across the valley to her father's home. Glancing up at the heights, she admired the vast dwelling. She never grew tired of the beauty of the home. Nestled in folds of the mountains themselves, the building of rock and wood seemed a work of nature, rather than one of flesh and blood. The entire front of the edifice was made up of glass, surrounded by well-laid stone. The terrace itself was nearly as large as the house. Ela smiled, thinking of the tea parties that very terrace had hosted. One, she remembered fondly, had included the vaunted Lord Celeborn of Lórien. Now, thinking back, she was appalled at her temerity. But, back then, she had been but a child, looking to find new friends.
She had crossed the wide meadow and was now approaching the road leading to Imladris. Gathering up her skirts and started up the stairs leading to the balcony, Ela remembered the first time she had come up those stairs, in Elrohir's arms. A mere child that would be mistaken for far fewer than her ten years. She had come many miles since that day. Many memories crowded her thoughts- the good and the bad. She turned at a slight noise behind her. She saw an ellon gaining on her. She turned back and continued up the stairs. Ever uneasy with heights, she did not move as quickly as another would. Her breath became short and her hand shook slightly. Hearing footsteps behind her, she gave a small start and turned, finding herself looking levelly into the face of one of the fairest elves she had ever seen.
"I am sorry, my lady," he said. "I did not mean to startle you." His voice was soft and melodious. He was struck by her very un-elven appearance
Ela felt her breath catch. "No, it is my fault," she answered, her voice even softer.
"No, I should have backed off a bit."
"It would not be an issue, if I did not loathe climbing the stairs."
"You do not like the heights?" His voice carried surprise. "I cannot imagine an elf fearful of heights."
"Yes, well, you are not the only one."
"I apologize for my rudeness. My name is Legolas."
Ela started. "Then you would be Thranduil's son. I have always wanted to visit Mirkwood." Damn, she sounded like a girl. Not at all proper.
"Mirkwood would be graced by a visit from you."
Gaining her composure, she turned back up the stairs. He followed at a slight distance, giving her space. At the top of the staircase, she paused.
"Are you all right, my lady?" He began to suspect who she was.
As she turned, he was struck once again with her. He took in her stature and fair skin. The freckles skipping across her nose and cheeks gave her a mischievous look. Her pale gold hair held enough copper glints to make her bloodlines suspect. But her eyes held him in thrall. They were so deep and blue, deep enough to drown in. Ah, yes. He had heard rumours of Lórien's half-elven women, each of them different in their own way. His father may shun contact with his cousins to the west, but that did not mean that there was none between their peoples. Several of the couriers had spoken of Ela and Meliel in passing. Mostly it was the joke that Ela had captured Rúmil's heart, when it was well known that he had dallied with young hopefuls in both kingdoms. He had garnered quite a reputation even in Mirkwood for broken hearts. Then it all stopped. Abruptly. And, if the rumours concerning the two of them were true, he could see why. While she did not physically resemble her father in any way, saving the eyes, she drew one's attention nonetheless. Her hair; her skin; even her petite shape was so different, it was intriguing.
"No. I... mean yes." She closed her eyes until the dizzy spell ended.
"Ela, are you well?" She looked up to see Haldir standing in front of her. He took a moment to nod to Legolas.
"I will be fine. It always takes me just a few minutes to adjust." She smiled up at him. "See? All better now. Thank you." She took the arm Haldir offered her and went with him to the door.
Legolas followed them into Elrond's house. They walked down the broad corridor to the Hall of Fire, where Elrond was waiting with Erestor and his lady. Ela left her escort to approach her father. She did not know he had watched her progress up the stairs with concern. Giving her a kiss, he nodded to Legolas.
"Welcome, Legolas. It is good to see you, again." Elrond was warm in his welcome. "We see you so rarely. Has your father something for us?" Whatever the feelings Thranduil had for the other realms, Legolas had ever held Elrond in esteem.
"He might have had, had he known I was coming. He frowns on my visits, so I do not always tell him. I am here on my own." His grin showed just a trace of irreverence.
"Oh. And what draws you here, now?" There was a glint of amusement in his eyes.
"Curiosity, my lord. Things are slow at home, and I desire a bit of excitement, so I decided to go exploring."
"And what have you discovered so far?"
"That Lórien hides more secrets than are suspected. For example, you know my father has allowed men to settle parts of Mirkwood. Moreover, we know Lórien will not. Yet, there are persistent rumours that even they have that which they once did not. It is well known that Lórien may hold many things, but a word is not one of them. And now I find that the reason for a visit to Lórien is no longer there, but here."
"And what do you think of your discovery?"
"That I have not actually been introduced. It is a poor way to begin, do you not think?" He managed to throw just enough humor into his tone of voice to not offend. The grin he gave Elrond did not hurt. The Lord of Imladris laughed.
Erestor stood and addressed Legolas. "Well met, Lord Legolas. You are a courtier worthy of even Imladris. Do you not agree, Elrond?"
"Very much so," he smiled. He stood and took Ela's hand.
"Ela, this is Lord Legolas of Mirkwood, Thranduil's son. Legolas, may I present Lady Elrénia, my cousin and daughter of Dorlandad. She is also the heir to the throne of the Indrel."
"Would that not make you a princess?" Legolas asked, a gleam in his eye. He had caught the wince she gave at the last title. It was apparent even to one who did not know her that she found it distasteful.
"It would, if I cared. I do not. I do not care for the subject at all. It seems royalty is much overrated, in my opinion, present company excepted." She said this quietly, with no sign of disrespect towards either Elrond or Legolas. Elrond had been through the attempts of the Indrel to cajole her to return. Legolas had been told by Rúmil how much she disliked the notoriety her parentage caused her.
Haldir held his breath at the blatant insult she had just thrown. Legolas blinked twice, then threw back his head and laughed. Haldir relaxed. He agreed with Ela to an extent, but it did not do to slight those above you. Then it suddenly dawned on him that maybe Legolas was not above Ela. He had never given much thought to her status, other than the fact she was Elrond's daughter. Yet, from what he had learned from Galadriel concerning her mother's people, and the common knowledge concerning her father's parentage, it may well be that Ela was Thranduil's son's equal, if not his superior. As if she would ever trade on that. He knew Ela placed no store in her own social status. She placed her respect in the person himself. To her, the ellon who cared for her horse was just as noble as was Lord Celeborn. All knew it, and it amused the Lord and Lady. She had actually invited Unimandil's assistant to tea with her and Celeborn. Only she did not see the problem. It had made Celeborn smile, and had embarrassed Barnel to no end.
"It seems that Lórien has hidden more wit than it does men. How is it that Mirkwood has never seen you?"
"It was not by my doing, trust me. Those who knew better thought it not a sound idea to visit. Perhaps someone could change their minds." She glanced first to her father, then to Haldir as she said this.
"Actually, my father has expressed an interest in a visit. He is intrigued by the stories he has heard. The latest rumour has him even more interested."
"And what rumour would that be?" Ela asked with a sinking heart.
"That soon you will be returning to Lórien."
Ela's head jerked up in surprise. "Who says that?"
"When things are in hand, talk turns to other subjects. Right now, Lórien is more interesting than is Mirkwood.
Legolas had the distinct impression that Ela thought he was going to say something else. He would have, but had been warned not to bring the subject up. It seemed she was touchy about it.
"Will you be here long?" asked Erestor of Legolas.
"Until I feel the need to return, if it is all right with Lord Elrond."
Elrond turned as Ela laid a hand on his arm. She asked to withdraw with Seldala. He nodded and turned back to Legolas. "Stay as long as you like. You are always welcome."
"Of course." Legolas bowed and waited until the ladies had withdrawn to turn to Haldir. "Well, she is charming. Where did you find her?"
"You would have to ask her father."
He looked at Elrond. "She is quite cheeky, is she not?" he said with a grin.
Elrond stood up and walked over to Legolas.
"No," he said, passing him.
"No, what?" asked the prince in mock confusion.
"No, she will not come to Mirkwood. No, your father can stop his scheming. No."
Legolas laughed. "How did you know what he planned?"
"He is ambitious for his son. I am only surprised that he would reach so far. Surely Mirkwood has its charms, also."
"It does. Yet, he is ambitious. I am curious. Has she and Rúmil made a formal announcement? There are several wagers against it. Mostly by the poor heartbroken he has left in Mirkwood."
"Tell them to collect their winnings," said Haldir. "There will be no announcement."
Legolas looked surprised. "By all accounts, they should already be wed."
Haldir looked disgusted. He really thought his brother had gone too far.
"That is greatly exaggerated."
Legolas hid a small smile. So, the other rumours he had heard were true. It was not Rúmil, but Ela who had refused. That was an interesting piece of information.
Elrond watched the interaction between the two of them. Legolas' probing had set Haldir on edge. His attention was drawn away by Seldala and Ela returning. Ela was smiling. Thinking back on the years he had known her, he sighed. Would it not have been easier to go to the West with Celebrian? Then he would have been spared the troubles of being responsible for yet another child. But, smiling to himself, he knew he would not have missed in the last forty years.
Dinner was simple, by Imladris' standards: only six courses through which to sit. When the time to withdraw to the Hall of Fire arrived, Ela was more than ready to go. She could sense Haldir felt the same. Twenty years had not been enough to wear at the simplicity she had enjoyed in Lórien. Even in her own home, she seldom ate more than necessary to keep going.
Erestor and Seldala's son, Ethien had found a corner where he hoped his parents would not notice him. His plan was to stay up as long as possible and gather stories to add to his collection. He was following in his father's footsteps as a scholar, but his demeanor was not as staid as his sire's. He had inherited his temperament from his mother. Though he was kind and gentle, he had a rash streak that tried Erestor at times.
Ela went to the corner to collect her lute. Sitting down on the flagging in front of the fireplace next to Glorfindel, she began tuning her instrument to his. Haldir acquired a drum for the corner and sat on Glorfindel's left. Legolas grinned and went to find an instrument of his own. Coming up with a flute, he sat down on a low bench not far away. Glorfindel started a tune that had the others joining in not long after. It was a simple piece with a gentle melody that quickly led to a livelier song about young love. They convinced Arwen to sing a song, weaving the music around her voice. At the end of the song, there was a quiet that permeated the room.
No one noticed Ethien slink along the outer wall to tap on Haldir's shoulder. Taking the drum from the warden, he sat down as the older man got up. Glordinel started another song. Ethien picked up the beat and settled into it as Legolas followed on the flute.
Elrond watched, intrigued, as Haldir went over to Ela. Bowing, slightly, he held out his hand to her. She smiled, taking the offered hand and let him pull her up. When they had reached the middle of the room, he gently took her in his arms and they began to dance. It was a slow, sweeping dance that took them to the far reaches of the floor. Their eyes never left each other.
Well, thought the Lord of Imladris to himself, it may not be long, after all. He thought back on the promise he had extracted from her over thirty years ago. She had kept her word. It had not been easy, he knew that. She had confided in him more than once the burning need move down a road that only she could see. However, she had found other things to occupy her time. Coming back home to study with Melkin had been one of those things. As it brought her back home, he had not objected. He had enjoyed the close proximity. He had hidden his disappointment when she had moved into her own home, but was content in the knowledge that she was just across the valley.
He started as Arwen came up to him.
"Would you dance with me, Ada?" she asked.
"Of course, iell." He stood and led her out to the floor.
"You were lost in thought," she said to him, held in his embrace.
"I was. I know what you would not tell me all those years ago."
Arwen glanced around at the other couple dancing. Laughing softly, she said, "It was not such a great secret, if you were there. It seems he is the only one who does not know. However, I think that is changing. He is different at home. Some say moodier, after these visits. Others say happier." She looked into her father's eyes. "Are you prepared for when she leaves?"
He glanced at her. Sighing, he shook his head. "No more so than when you leave. I still do not understand your need to be so far away."
"Ada, when the time is right, I will return. Some things you cannot control. I am at peace. Can you not just accept?"
He sighed once more. Pressing her head to his shoulder, he gently kissed her hair. How he missed Celebrian. She was his light, his soul mate. Just the decisions of what to wear for dinner would have been much easier with someone to share. There were times he longed to have gone with her; at others, he almost hated her for leaving him. He looked forward to the day when he and their children would once again be with her. Then he glanced at Ela. Could he convince her to go, also? He knew Elestra was looking forward to the day she would finally go to be with her beloved. Surely Ela would want to meet her grandfather.
His thoughts were interrupted by the ending of the song. Bringing himself back to the present, he turned as Dalgren brought in a tray laden with wine and cheese. Setting it down, she turned to leave, only to have Ela ask her to stay. Glancing at Elrond, the woman shyly nodded.
Around the edges of laughter and the clinking of glasses, the conversation turned to talk of past deeds. Erestor pretended not to notice that Ethien had crept into the background once more, a sheaf of paper in his lap. The stories would keep the boy busy for weeks, placing them just so in the book he was compiling. Erestor gave a rare smile. It was a distinct difference from the boy who only last week had been caught milling around the tavern in the village. The proprietor had allowed it until things appeared to be heading for a rough brawl. Then he had sent the boy packing with a messenger following to report to Lord Erestor. The boy was well liked in the village, but his parentage made most of the men leery of too much influence.
Well into the night, Ela announced that she was going home to bed. She had work to do in the morning and could not sit around drinking and spinning tales all night. It was lost on no one that she had drunk little. Furthermore, she spun no tales. Elestra stood and nodded to Elrond, deciding that she was ready to leave, also.
Legolas offered to see them home, but both ladies declined, smiling. When Ela had gathered her grandmother's wrap, she walked over to Elrond. Giving him a peck on the cheek, she turned and bid the others goodnight. Taking Elestra's arm in hers, she went with the older elleth out to the terrace. Ela taking the inside of the stairs, they started down. When they had reached the bottom, Elestra looked back at the sound of footsteps following them.
Catching up, Haldir said to Ela, "You forgot your lute. Your father suggested I return it to you."
"Thank you," she said softly. "That is twice in two nights. I am getting forgetful."
Elestra smiled in the dark. Forgetful, indeed. So, Elrond had finally caught on. It took him long enough.
They walked in silence. Reaching the house, Elestra excused herself and went indoors. Ela sat on the cushioned swing hanging from the porch ceiling. She left enough room for him to sit, should he be inclined. Taking her lute from him, she plucked a few notes. She pretended not to notice when he sat down. She picked out the tune of a song that she and Meliel had written together.
"Was Legolas correct?" he hesitated to know the answer.
"In what way?" she asked.
"Are you returning?" He held his breath. She stopped playing.
"I am. Soon. But not yet."
He sat back. Looking up into the mountains, he glanced at the sky above. A single star shone through the clouds. At last. It was the first in days. He could not remember such a run of overcast weather.
"Would you like to go riding tomorrow?" she asked him, unexpectedly. He glanced at her to gauge her seriousness.
"I cannot," he said, regretfully. "I must return home. I have delivered the messages I was sent with and your father will have some for me to carry back."
"Oh," she said. "When will you return?"
"I have no idea. Whenever the Lord or Lady has need. I do have a duty to them."
"Ah, yes. A duty. Well, then, I will bid you farewell. I am up early to my duties. Please send word when you or Rúmil may be coming. I would like to hear from those in Lórien. I do miss Gariel and Orophin."
"I have news; Gariel is expecting a child. She wanted me to tell you. Something about speeches not being wasted." He had a slightly confused look on his face.
She laughed. "That is wonderful. She has wanted a daughter for so long. Please, give her my best. I will see her soon."
"I will, but she will want to know when. She has missed you sorely."
"I miss many. It will be soon enough." She stood. "Thank you for coming to dinner last night. It made a pleasurable evening even more so." She turned to go into the house. Did he notice the slight pause? If so, nothing was said, so she went in and closed the door. He sat for several minutes before rising and heading back across the field. He did not look back. Had he done so, he would have seen her standing in the window watching him leave, once again.