A/N: Helloo thar! While working on my parody Legolas Thranduillion's 30-Day Character Transformation, I realised that there was another idea that I've had in the pipeline for a few years. Which is having Elves in the modern world and dealing with the kinds of problems they might face in the 21st century, little or big or otherwise. Their survival in a world which might hurt them if they were discovered, their involvement with Mortal ventures, and just a touch of the supernatural...
(Also, my fanfic-writing attention span is pretty terrible. I can't seem to work on one thing at a time!)
This story follows the adventures of Aragorn's latest Heir in the 21st century, a history student who despite her general love of fantasy fiction never expected to discover that Elves were real. Scattered throughout history are hints that some remnants of a time long passed from Mortal knowledge are extant, too - including an ancient darkness that threatens to shatter the fragile peace of the Elves' lives...Lindir/OFC.
This is going to be a little AU. There might be a few things that are are either a bit of a twist on what The Great Professor of Oxford wrote, or even in blatant opposition. You have been warned.
Please enjoy and don't forget to review!
Year 122, Fourth Age
There was an oppressive silence that hung heavy, pall-like, over the white stone that rose around the procession which steadily wound its way downwards. Solemn faces, both Mortal and Eldarin, replaced the usually joyous ones that milled about the streets at this early hour. Shuffling feet upon cracks and pebbles, the occasional sob, the rustle of autumn winds divesting the trees of the last of their browned leaves.
It was the song of a city in mourning.
It didn't matter how many lives Lindir had seen lost to violence and bloodshed. He trailed along between Glorfindel and Erestor, still hardly able to believe it. After everything it was this death that felt the most unjust, precisely because its chooser had embraced it willingly.
Lily-white hands clasped older ones wet with weeping.
"Please, adar." Arwen's voice was filled with pleading.
"At last it comes to pass, and still I cannot let you go." Elrond's ragged voice shook with a bitterness so seldom heard that it was enough to move even stoic Erestor. Lindir himself looked away, not wanting Gondor's queen to see his weakness. She had been strong enough for all of them. The last thing she needed was to see all of Rivendell, all of the White City, weeping at her imminent passing.
But an unexpected smile lit her beautiful face. Death's ghostly pallour was in her voice, her hands - had been there since the passing of King Elessar, once known as Aragorn of the Dunedain. But there was life still in her eyes.
"We will never leave one another for as long as you hold to what I shall ask of you."
Elrond chuckled and wiped his eyes. "So many promises have I made throughout the years, what is one more from my beloved daughter?"
"You have pledged your service to the Hither Lands so that our people will ever have aid." For all the sadness of the day, Arwen's smile held - for just one moment - the last hints of a fast-fleeing mischief. "While you're busy doing that, I want you to look after my children."
And when Lindir dared lift his head to steal a glance at his lord's face, he saw a hope there that turned his grief to new purpose, and all of Rivendell's people followed him.
It was a good night for a party, and maybe under different circumstances, Fiona would have heartily agreed. With the summer heat lingering well into the night, most of the denizens of Melbourne found it easier to stay up late and crank up the tunes rather than try to sleep in sheets still soaked with sweat from the night before.
As it turned out, Fiona was passed out on her bed, still in her work clothes. Only a thin sliver of streetlight had made it through the half-drawn curtains when her eyes stiffly creaked open. Yawning, she groped about on the little table next to her bed for her phone and checked the time.
Eleven PM. Her eyes widened. Wow. How long have I been asleep?
She lay still for a few moments, staring at the darkened ceiling before finally hauling herself out of bed. Her stomach lauded the move with an approving grumble. Definitely time for food, especially after such a long shift. Quietly she tiptoed down the hall, fumbling for the light switch when she reached the lounge room.
There, the horror awaited her.
Shot glasses littered almost every flat surface. The heavy smell of pizza leftovers lay thickly on the air, the source of which sat in open boxes on the coffee table and the worn green of the carpet. Her inner history nerd hyperventilated at the sight of yet more sticky glasses sacrilegiously lining the painted Victorian mantelpiece.
She jumped at the violent crunch that broke from beneath her foot, and looking downwards found a sadly shattered corn chip. Shaking her foot to try and get all the crumbs off, Fiona stumbled her way into the kitchen. Apparently, she thought ruefully, the fact that she had completely died for a few hours meant that her housemates had full opportunity to desecrate the lounge room.
The day's heat still lingered about the place, stifling and oppressive. As she passed she gave their ancient ruin of an air conditioner a wistful glance and wiped away the little sweat moustache forming beneath her nose. The poor thing had finally given up on life a few days ago. Just in time for a heat wave too. She stopped in front of the fridge, staring pensively at it before pulling out her phone and thumbing idly through her Facebook feed to try and distract herself from the fact that neither her crappy Kalehouse café wages, nor Mackenzie's, nor Ryan's, nor Sebastian's, would be enough to pay to fix it.
It kind of sucked, being perpetually broke.
Increasingly often, the thought of moving out had been surfacing every time she found more mess in the lounge room, or every time something broke that none of them had the money to fix. Wonder what Dad would say to that, she mused, distractedly saving a funny Lord of the Rings Tumblr reblog to her phone. Give up the independent life. Move over to the US and do Honours over there. It would be nice to actually be able to afford coffee again.
She put her phone down and rested her elbows on the table, rubbing her eyes as she felt a headache begin pulsing dully behind them. Maybe it wouldn't have been a bad idea to have followed her dad over there to begin with - but that was half the problem. Living with an absentminded-professor-type dad who spent long hours burying old grief in study meant that she was the one who usually made the wiser decisions. The embarrassing thing was that she had been the one who had begged to stay in Australia instead of moving overseas with Dean and going to an American college. Because she'd thought it best at the time.
And now, here she was, with her bank account looking less happy by the day, in a beautiful old house that her loveable yet thoughtless housemates frequently trashed, and without any certainty as to whether she would have the means to finish her degree. For the first time her careful planning was unraveling faster than she could keep up with it, and she was less and less sure of where she was going or what she was doing anymore.
I didn't have all these problems in high school, she thought dejectedly, wondering when her evening had taken such a depressing turn. Welcome to adulthood, Fiona Lockwood.
The dull ache in her head began to take on a rhythmic, pounding quality. Urgent, almost.
Ugh. Someone was knocking at the door.
She turned and glared grumpily at the sound, but it seemed to make no difference - the insistent rapping continued. Letting an annoyed sigh slowly escape through her nose, she stomped over to the door as the thumping continued and tried not to scowl so hard that the words piss off appeared in the air.
Wicking away sweat from her forehead, she swung the door open.
It was no secret that Mackenzie liked a good night out, and so Fiona hardly batted an eyelid when she found her friend there on the doorstep, slumped all over a rather tall figure who was clearly the only thing keeping her upright. The stranger cleared this throat apologetically as Mackenzie poked at one of his shirt buttons experimentally. "Is this number 20? There appears to be no number on your letterbox."
Taken aback by the unexpectedly lyrical tones of his voice, Fiona blinked and stood aside as he shuffled up the step and pushed past her with Mackenzie mumbling incoherently. "Where did you find her?"
"Out on the street, trying to hail down a booze bus," answered the guy wryly as he deposited Mackenzie on the couch. A long fall of straight chestnut hair obscured his face from view as he knelt and gently began removing her stained bright pink heels. "That probably wouldn't have gone down too nicely. So I asked her where she lived and here we are."
Fiona groaned. "That's at least the third time this last month she's come home with some guy!" Some corner of her whispered that she was being petulant, but she was too tired and full of rising headache to bother with politeness. She plonked into a chair and threw her hands up in frustration. "And then there was that time she needed her stomach pumped—why am I never awake when—"
"She is indeed fairly intoxicated, but I do not believe that her stomach will need any tampering with," came the light response. He pointedly ignored her implied accusation. "Her shoes, on the other hand, may need to be placed in the circular filing cabinet. One of the heels has become detached."
As he held up a shoe in demonstration, he met her gaze.
And his brown eyes widened in recognition.
Fiona leapt to her feet, heart in her throat. Not only because that flash of emotion in his eyes was so stark she thought she might forget to breathe. Not only because there was a strange beauty and some sort of power that almost rippled off him in waves. Memories suddenly surged at the edge of her consciousness, annoyingly out of reach. The thought hit her: I've seen him before. Where could she have seen him before? He looked like—
Holy—He's Flynn Rider, with long hair.
She jumped when sudden guttural Dwarven chanting from the Flight from Moria burst out ridiculously from her phone in the next room. A quick glance revealed that the eyes of Mackenzie's rescuer betrayed none of his earlier comprehension. She shook her head. I must be losing the plot. "Um—would you mind if I—?"
His response was to smile and incline his head.
She scampered off into the kitchen, feeling oddly childlike and grateful to be safely out from under that intense gaze. Something about him spoke of something way older than Disney. With his long hair and beautiful face he looked like he'd just finished shooting a scene from The Hobbit and was off to grab coffee with a few models.
Seriously, where did Mackenzie find this guy?
Fiona had no idea that her evening was about to get a whole lot weirder.
It turned out her dad had a strange request to make of her.
Fiona blinked when he had finished. "…What?"
"Seeing-stones. You know the ones."
"Palantíri?" she said, incredulously. "But—"
"Think about it." He was excited now. Of course he was - his passion for history was what kept him buried in research at the American university he worked at. "At the heart of every legend is some kind of long-forgotten truth, some distortion of memory – you know this from all the studying you've done. The reality is that, behind every tale you've ever heard about magical objects through which one can see things far away, is a truth that very little of recorded human history hints at in any substantial way. Old, and forged from unknown material by arts long lost to the world, and lost to mortal memory."
"Yeah, that would be because there probably is no truth behind it," said Fiona tiredly, wondering why Dean was calling her in the middle of the night to talk about seeing-stones. "Wouldn't there be something more than a few hints throughout all of recorded human history if something as weird and otherworldly like a palantír existed?"
"There are," said her dad mildly. "They just happen not to be in recorded human history. I know a few people who could probably produce enough first-hand evidence for it. One of them happens to be the reason we're trying to find one in the first place. Remember those independent researchers from the UK that I may or may not have mentioned earlier?"
Slumping in defeat, Fiona stopped picking at the crumbling wood of the table's edge. It was no use attempting a serious conversation when her dad was bursting with enthusiasm over something or other. She suppressed a sigh. "Yeah."
"You'll like this. Every one of them goes by a pseudonym of some sort – I suppose they have to, when they're out and about amongst the rest of us. One of them goes in private by the name of Legolas Thranduillion."
All thought of moving to the US vanished. "Who?"
"Oh, you can't tell me you haven't heard that name before. Don't you have plenty of Tolkien things floating around on that ridiculously overstuffed bookshelf of yours?"
"W-well, yes," she stammered, bewildered. "But none of them say that it's real."
"I suppose they wouldn't," said Dean pensively. "I highly doubt that either Legolas or any of the others would be too keen on letting the world know of their existence now, especially when they've successfully managed to elude the prying eyes of Mortals for the last few thousand years."
A few thousand years? I think I need to sit down, Fiona thought weakly, sinking down into a chair. She propped her aching head up in one hand and squeezed her eyes shut. "A bunch of crazy cosplaying historians are trying to get you to look for a lost rock?"
"Of course not!" snapped Dean, sounding affronted. "They're looking for it themselves. And it's not a lost rock. It's a palantír."
"You didn't deny that they were crazy cosplayers."
"I am perfectly serious, Fiona. This is an incredible opportunity - not everyone gets to meet people who have lived through so many historically significant events. Besides, don't you want to meet a real Elf?"
Her eyes stayed closed against the pain in her head as she struggled to gather her thoughts. She should have seen it coming. Clearly, between their last conversation and this one, something had happened and her father had finally gone round the bend.
It wasn't the first time. Her mind flashed worriedly through a few images of her dad being hospitalised. Bipolar apparently did that sometimes.
Realising that she was going to have to try and gently tell him that whatever he was talking about was not real made her heart sink.
"Alright." Fiona took a deep breath. "Dad, I can't just jet off to the UK. There's still another semester to go, and I have too much to do to just drop everything to go play with the Elves."
"You'll not be just playing with the Elves, sweetheart. While you're there, you'll be with family. Believe me," he added with a bitter-sounding laugh, "when your mother told me she was related to a bunch of otherworldly creatures, I thought she'd gone right off her rocker. Her own father had had a falling-out with Lord Elrond, and it was only about two or three years before she—she passed away that Miriam began tentatively reaching out towards her estranged relatives again." He cleared his throat awkwardly and fell silent. It was difficult for him to talk about Miriam without regret creeping into his tone.
Fiona tried to absorb all the information he had just thrown at her. "Um, thank you for telling me," she said, trying to be sensitive. "Just…who am I related to, exactly?"
"Lord Elrond, I think. You're one of his descendants in some way. Through Aragorn, I believe. Anyway," he continued, apparently oblivious to the fact that on the other side of the world his daughter's jaw was falling open, "I'll have to talk to you more about it later. I have an absolute stack of first-year papers to mark."
"Talk soon, Fiona!" he said cheerfully, and hung up.
Well, thanks for that, Dad, Fiona groused silently, plopping her phone onto the table. She glared at it sullenly for a few moments, turning his bewildering words over in her mind.
A small part of her suggested quietly, hopefully, that maybe she should give what Dean had told her some consideration and call him back in the morning, when she had had the chance to sleep. None of it was real, probably. Yet the idea stirred her anyway.
And a much larger part of her grimly ordered her to take stock of reality. She needed more work to pay the rent. She needed to study as hard as she could during her last semester to keep up her marks and get into postgrad history. No amount of hoping would sweep worries like that under the rug.
Shaking her head, she remembered where she was, and that her friend needed her. Cautiously, she poked her head back into the lounge room, where she knew Mackenzie had probably passed out by now. A quiet murmuring made her look up at the tall young man whose long fingers rested upon her forehead.
A curtain of sleep descended upon her, so subtly that she hardly noticed, and something in those strange words washed away the throbbing in her head and spoke of…something…old forests shrouded in grey mists, and hills blanketed in—
He pushed his hair back, and Fiona snapped out of exhaustion straight away. She stared in disbelief.
It was - it just couldn't be -
One pointed ear was peeking out from behind the chestnut locks.
And she could have sworn that he was glowing in the dimly-lit Victorian parlour. No, he was definitely glowing. Muted light suffused his face, his hands.
He half-turned at Fiona's gasp, startled.
"Oh my gods," she breathed.
I admit I'm a little nervous posting this, as I don't often write non-parodies! Reviews be appreciated. :)