The tears streamed down my face. Once they had started, there was no stopping them. So, here I sit, in a secluded part of the woods, away from the Fellowship, hands pressed hard against my face, forehead resting against my knees. Alone.
We had stopped to make camp for the day when it was just past dawn. It was unsafe to travel during the light of day. There was a greater risk of being spotted by enemies. Gimli and the two youngest Hobbits began to kindle a fire while Aragorn spoke with Gandalf. Frodo and Sam prepared a light supper to cook. The only Elf in our company scoped out the surrounding areas, while Boromir organized the bags and the camp, clearing out sticks and stones.
Only two nights before we had suffered an attack by wolves. The fighters of the group, including myself, had easily eliminated them. At night, the group was dogged, but no more attacks had been made.
The traveling had already begun to drain my body, mind, and spirit. Mordor was still many leagues away, the journey not even half over. Agents of the enemy were out for our heads. The only hope we had was the objective of our quest remained a secret.
Despite having nine companions, I felt strangely cut off. The Hobbits spoke to Gandalf or amongst themselves. Aragorn, again, only really spoke with Gandalf and Legolas. Boromir didn't speak much to anyone. Legolas, on the brief occasion he did speak, communicated in Elvish to Gandalf and Aragorn, Otherwise, the pointy-eared prince was too in tune with the land around us to speak much.
No one, however, really wanted anything to do with me.
Not being from Middle-Earth made everyone a little wary of me. Gandalf made it clear I was not a threat, Lord Elrond gave his word that I could be trusted, and I swore on my life that I had no ill intentions toward any of them. Still, I was usually left alone.
In truth, I am hurting. Solitude is often my only comfort, for I rarely find people I want to be around. Wanting to be alone yet also wanting to talk to someone is a very difficult combination. Being at home on a Friday night is so much nicer than going out with friends to a bar or a fraternity party, and yet when a friend can't hangout a different day, I am disappointed.
That was back home, however. Here in Middle-Earth is where I feel I belong. The people are fascination and I adore everything about the Elves. This world is so untouched by its inhabitants. The whole of it is beautiful. The energy of the earth and the beasts is so strong even I, a mortal girl, can feel it with little effort.
I would not leave Middle-Earth for anything in the world, but I cannot help but feel lost and disregarded on this journey. I am homesick, but with little desire to return. These people could have me talking for hours if only they would be open to converse with me. Perhaps if I had stayed back in Rivendell, I would not feel this way. The feeling of solitude came from utter loneliness.
This quest is long and hard. My waning mind and dampened spirit brought with them sleepless days and long nights of traveling. Food is no longer appealing, I only eat enough to remain more-or-less in good health. I want to sleep, but during the long days it does not come.
I feel like a burden on my companions. The constant fear of being discovered has us all on edge. My mind and body being unfamiliar with being in a constant state of alertness, is fraying ever so slightly with each passing night. Even with nine companions, I feel alone.
That is where I find myself, utterly alone on the forest floor in the early hours of the dawn, crying as silently as possible. No point in endangering the entire Company because of my stupid decision to join the Fellowship of the Ring.
The tears are from so many conflicted emotions bottled up for too long. I want to do everything in my power to help Frodo on this quest. However, I cannot think of how I am helping. Two wolves had fallen to my blade when they attacked the Company, however, even if I were not there, Aragorn, Legolas, Boromir, Gimli, and even Gandalf were more than capable of comping out the victor. I didn't give anything that wasn't already there.
Frustration began to bubble up behind the tears. I want to talk to someone; a friend, someone who wasn't afraid to talk to me. These folk are so strange and wonderful, and I want nothing more than to find out all I can about them. If I didn't feel like such a burden, I would try harder to befriend my nine Companions.
The beautiful trees swayed lazily in the early morning breeze. Birds began to chirp and whistle high up on their perches, and squirrels dashed across the leaf strewn forest floor, eventually scampering up the rough bark of a tall forest guardian. The spot where I sit is quieter than the surrounding area, and not too great a distance from camp if danger arises.
My eyes burn and my cheeks itch from the salty tears. The more I cry and the more I think the angrier I become. "What is wrong with you?" I choked out past a sob, "you're not hurt, so why are you crying? So what if you are lonely? You have nine people with you, get over yourself."
Yes, I have nine Companions, but no one I can call "friend." No one to speak openly with. I always mind what I say around the Fellowship. "Still no reason to cry," I chided, "none of the others would be."
I sat quietly, tears rolling freely down my red cheeks. The sobbing and spluttering had stopped. Leaning back against the trunk of the tree, I close my eyes, occasionally hiccupping. I didn't bother to wipe the salty moisture from my skin yet. Engrossed in getting myself back together, I did not hear the light footfalls slowly approaching.
"Emily, are you well?"
Surprised to suddenly hear that musical, yet very masculine voice, my body jerked from its semi-relaxed state, head smacking painfully into the tree behind me. Vision swimming from the headache caused by the combined efforts of the tree and the tears, I bit back a string of colorful curse words.
"Legolas! I didn't hear you approach."
I furiously attempted to wipe my face clean with the sleeve of my tunic. Clearing my throat a few times, I added as casually as possible, "I am alright, just…" I hesitated, "taking in the scenery, and gathering my thoughts is all."
Not looking up to meet the Elf's gaze, I know he saw right through my lie. 'Damn, so much for hiding being a weakling.' I thought. The light boots took a step closer and the gold-blond elf crouched down beside me. I turned to face him as not to be rude, but I still did not look him in the face. "I heard you crying," he stated, "that usually entails that someone is not well."
My temper flared. Can't he see that I want to be left to myself right now? "I am alright, Legolas." I said sharply, "Nothing that I can't handle. I will be back at camp in a little while. Please leave me." As soon as I spoke I regretted the words. I didn't want him to leave.
A moment past in silence and I thought he would leave. My heart was beginning to sink when the elf continued his graceful decent to the ground. He sat cross-legged next to me. No words were spoken. I fiddled with the frayed hem of my tunic. We sat in silence for a while, only the sounds of the forest and the camp a little way off to fill the air. Eventually, Legolas spoke, "I haven't heard you sing for some time." I looked up at him finally, briefly meeting his cool blue eyes before looking back at my tunic's hem. "I didn't think the Company liked the noise since we are on a mission of secrecy. The music seemed to annoy everyone." Pulling my knees up to my chin, I mumbled, "and the lonely bird eventually will stop singing for her fellows."
I barely saw his ear twitch. Another moment passed. "I must apologize to you, Emily," he began. I looked up at him, confused. The elf's face was a little sad. "Lord Elrond had asked Aragorn, Gandalf, and myself to do everything we could to ensure you felt yourself a part of the Fellowship. While I do not believe we have done anything to drive you away, we also have not made an effort to express that you are a valued member of the Fellowship.
You are a respectable swordswoman, you share an elven love for the natural world, and have the selfless will to help Frodo with this task." Legolas paused, "you also have a gentle personality, a sweet-sounding voice, and beauty to match any elleth." He smiled broadly as I blushed.
I was a little taken-aback by the Elf's words. A small, self-deprecating voice tried to convince me he was lying to make me feel better, but for once I ignored it. Elves, let alone Legolas, did not throw compliments around so easily. I knew he was being honest.
Sitting up a little more, I rubbed my eyes. "Thank you, Legolas, your words mean more to mean than you could ever know. There is nothing to apologize for. We are in a difficult situation and probably marching to our deaths. No one is at fault." Facing the prince fully now, I said, "You were right, I was not well when you asked, but I feel much better now. Thank you." He laughed softly. It was a wonderful sound that has me wanting to hear more. "I am glad I could do something to start making amends." His eyes twinkled in the morning sun, his fair hair and skin gleaming. The smile that overtook my lips couldn't be helped.
Legolas got to his feet with ease, "Come, mellon nîn. The others will have the food ready by now, and if we do not hurry, the Hobbits and Gimli will devour it all." I laughed as he helped me to my feet, "Right you are, Master Elf, we must make haste."
We returned to camp and to the rest of the Company. A great weight seemed to have been lifted from my heart. After we all finished our meals, I helped Sam clean the plates and utensils in a nearby brook, all the while talking about different water plants.
When Boromir began the first watch, and the rest of us settled into our bedrolls, I told the Hobbits the story of the Last Unicorn. Frodo, who always had trouble sleeping, drifted off easily after a short while. The others in the camp quietly listened from where they lay around the fire. Eventually, I lulled myself to sleep while humming a soft tune after the story had ended.
Even with the trials I know await the Fellowship as we draw closer to Mordor and Mount Doom, I feel things are looking better.